Archive for December, 2015

October Thoughts

A beautiful fog hovers over the ground this morning. The sun rises behind this scene, amber in hue.  It is a beautiful autumn morning. I love this time of year. The crisp air, the warm colors, and the mellowness of the season please me. I was born in October. Perhaps that is why my soul responds to this season more than the others. While spring shouts “look at me” and summer calls “join me at work and play”, autumn beckons “enjoy me before I’m gone”.  I will enjoy. I will drink each last drop. I will be present in the moment. I will celebrate with nature one more time before winter arrives and says “rest”.

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How I Write

I’ve read that writers do all kinds of things to get their creative juices flowing.  From dressing in formal wear, setting up sprinkBrenda in Hatlers on their roof to mimic the sound of rain, writing in the nude, drinking and more.  Eighteen months ago, probably after reading about all these odd methods to get into the mental state to write, I decided that I would don a writing hat and special top.  I need to feel pretty and desirable to write.  Alcohol helps,too, but once I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, I decided I didn’t need or want to rely on booze.

Lately, I have taken to wearing a cap that I wore as a twenty something.  It makes me feel young.  Scarves and pretty blouses work great, too.  Yesterday, I found a beautiful beaded bracelet.  Things that are sensuous, in the truest definition, make me feel creative.  I love the feeling of long earrings grazing my shoulders, the sound of wind and rain, and the sight of the bracelet on my wrist.  So these are my current trappings for writing.  Currently, I am writing a novel that takes place in Seattle and Hawaii, mainly Hawaii.  I wonder if I apply sunscreen, if I’ll get a better sense of location.  Better yet, bake some banana bread.  

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Marketing vs Shopping

Today was supposed to be a sleep-in day.  What was supposed to be a 3-day weekend (my family has a rotating schedule that allows for additional time off in the offseason to counter the soemtimes 11-14 days straight work during the busy season) is just a standard 5 day workweek this week because of a special event.  The weather forecasters accurately prodicted a rainy day today, so I figured that was the best day for me to take off.  Plus that meant that either myself or my sister, Erica, would be working each day.  Since it was supposed to be stormy and therefore not “gardening weather”, I figured I would sleep in.  I didn’t watch my drinking or my bedtime as I was planning on my favorite way to relax: a late morning wake-up followed by reading.  Unfortunately, my sleep was disturbed (the drinking?).  I got up 4 times during the night.  I was still happy because I was planning on sleeping in, so who cares if I got up 4 times.  Then my husband got up.  I missed his warmth.  I heard the coffee-maker start.  It got lighter in the room.  Mitch kissed me goodbye.  And then he came back for something and I had to go to the bathroom.  And then I was awake.  Why bother going back to bed.  I wasn’t sleepy.  It was so abnormal.  I can sleep through anything, go to sleeep after anything.  Okay, maybe that was 5 years ago.  I’m getting old!  Whatever the reason, I decided to read the paper in bed, figuring I would just doze off after I finished.  After the paper, I read the rest of Bon Appetit, that I had started the night before.  I did get sleepy after I finished.  Then suddenly I had a wonderful thought.  It’s Wednesday in the summer which means that the farmers market is going on downtown.  And I could possibly find the squash blossoms featured in a recipe for zucchini and corn salad.  It was 9 am, it was rainy and it was farmer’s market Wednesday.  Suddenly, I had wings.

So sometimes I live in a fantasy world.  I can do anything, no constraints on time, location, or energy.  I imagine I am Julia Child, going to the Paris market daily.  I am a Swedish ancestor, on a dairy farm: chickens, milk cows and huge garden available to me.  But mainly I am a housewife, shopping daily for supper and coming home to prepare a gourmet meal for my husband.  What that says about me, I’m not sure I want to contemplate.  It shoots down a whole lot of the backstory that I have concocted for myself.  What it does mean is that today, I did exactly what I wanted to do and what I have fantasized about doing.  I went to market to shop for my dinner.

I must begin the rest of the story with the caveat: I like to grocery shop.  I love food.  I love cooking.  I love research.  Finding the freshest, tastiest food that fits into my diet ideology rocks my boat.  I enjoy it, I love it.  So to say I am going shopping for my food seems average.  After all, this is a pasttime that I enjoy.  But going to the farmer’s market rachets that up just a little.  Now I am in the Julia Child territory.  Maybe Rachel Ray.  Certainly I am joining my local hero, Matt Bennett.  I am buying my food directly from the grower at the farmer’s market.  I am going to market (marketing) not just shopping.  It feels so much better to embrace a fantasy, to do something I don’t do regularly.  It is actually funny that I was very goal-oriented and finished “shopping” in record time.  Did I pay more?  Perhaps.  I hope I made up for the fact that everything was fresher.  I had a better selection, possibly, than in the grocery store.  It doesn’t matter.  For that instant I was Julia Child (or any other European housewife), going to the outdoor market to obtain tonight’s dinner.  And I was happy!

For the future, what the hell does it mean that I no longer sleep in unless my husband sleeps in with me?  This just isn’t going to work for me.  I need to know (and therefore plan) if I am not going to sleep in.  I mean, I need to be mature and self-controlled if I am not going to “sleep off” the effects of the previous night.  And really…I find luxury in sleeping in.  It is selfish!  And sometimes I need to be selfish!  I need to do exactly what I want to do, and nothing that someone else wants me to do.  And there is nothing wrong with that, occassionally.   So if that means I have to grow up and act like an adult-okay I’ll do it.  Just as long as I get to be Julia Child, going to market for tonight’s dinner!

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All For Love

Two weeks ago, my world turned upside down and I was totally unprepared.  That day, which will be forever embedded in my memory, was the day my husband and I adopted a pure bred, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Diva Grace!  I did not realize the depth of feeling I could have so soon for this tiny creature, nor how her big personality and puppy energy could totally disrupt my life.  I have owned a dog for the last 25 years.  Before that, my family always had a dog.  I don’t remember a time in my life without a dog in it.  I remember all the heartache and pure joy that Mitch and Divahaving a dog brings.  So many of my memories involve dogs, it seems silly.  Yes, I have memories of cats, but they are not as strong and clear nor as emotional.  So I know the work, patience, love and time that owning a pet entails.  And my wonderful husband shares the work load with me, so it isn’t even as if I am doing all the work myself.  In fact, my husband’s reaction has been part of the deep and conflicting emotions that have beset me.  There is so much to this story.  To understand the now, I have to relate the past.  But instead of starting at the beginning, let me start in the middle.

Three or so years ago, I lost the doggie love of my life.  Her name was Tumbles.  TumblesShortly into my marriage to Mitch, he and his daughter talked us into getting a dog.  Actually, I still owned a dog, named Digger.  My ex-husband and I had adopted her as a young adult dog.  She was possibly a cocker spaniel/black lab mix.  We never did a very good job of training her, but she endeared herself to me and my dad.  When I divorced my ex-husband, after another traumatic experience involving yet another dog, Digger and I moved in with my parents.  This was not the first time my parents had taken in one of their children’s dogs, but it was the first time they took in one of their adult children.  By the time I moved out to marry Mitch, my dad felt that it would be best to leave Digger in his care.  Since I adopted her, she had always lived at the family nursery.  I was moving into an apartment, which was a totally inappropriate home for an elderly dog.  So I moved out and Digger stayed behind.  After less than a year, a family friend talked to me about a house they had up for rent.  It would allow me to have Digger again, as it was in the country.  Mitch and I ended up renting it but Dad still felt that it was better to leave Digger in his care.  Plus, I think he had become pretty attached to her.

Well, not long after we moved into the house in the country, Mitch’s daughter started trying to convince us to get a dog.  Being the strange and unique (okay, damaged) person that I am, I felt we should not get another dog until Digger passed away.  She was not living with us, but I wanted to remain loyal to her.  I was so young!  Eventually, Mitch was worn down and it just happened that a co-worker’s parents dog had a litter of puppies.  My husband begged for me to take a look at them.  He had worked out a plan to adopt 2 puppies so that they would keep one another company.  Knowing myself well, I let him know that if he was serious that he could bring them out for me to look at, but if he wasn’t I didn’t want to see them at all.  For I knew that once I saw them, I would fall in love and I would adopt all of them if I could.  When they came to visit at the nursery in my parent’s home, Mitch chose one immediately.  There was another co-worker that wanted one, so after we make our first choice, we let him select his pup.  He chose the one that I would have picked next.  But since he had chosen that one, Mitch and I selected the most bedraggled, mangy looking one of the lot.  From a young age I have a sympathy for the underdog, the damaged, the imperfect.  And that sensibility kicked in.  We named the first one Tipper, because she had a distinct white tip to her black tail.  As it was a presidential election year, we considered naming the second one Laura, but decided that perhaps that was not wise.  Since the second dog was a ragtag mess, we decided Tumbler was appropriate, as she reminded me of a tumbleweed.  Somehow, for me, the name Tumbler lasted about a week.  In very short order, she was Tumbles.  It is funny, that to this day, some people still refer to her as Tumbler.

Mitch and I decided to divide and conquer.  We would each take a dog to love and train.  Mitch got Tipper and I got Tumbles.  From the beginning, Tipper was the star pupil.  She was beautiful, regal, and well-behaved.  Everyone adored her.  She had a traditional look to her that appealed to everyone.  Her docile personality further endeared her to all.  Mitch had a very strong, domineering approach which succeeded quite well with Tipper.  In contrast, Tumbles was unkempt, overly enthusiastic, always hungry, and somewhat domineering.  Her love of life exploded onto the scene everywhere she went.  And I as the human trainer, was lenient and coddling.  So from pitiful puppy, she became the outcast dog.  But I showered my love on her.  I loved her completely.  I saw her as an extension of myself.  She was imperfect, unkempt and non-traditional.  It wasn’t that she was unloved but that everyone loved Tipper more.  Tipper was somehow perfect.  And I could definitely transfer my feelings of inadaquacy onto Tumbles and the fact that everyone favored Tipper over Tumbles.  Tipper, being Mitch’s dog, received only a small portion of my attention.  I felt that as she was Mitch’s dog, Mitch should be the one to show her attention.  The problem was, Mitch’s definition of attention was about 2 minutes of petting and mine was 10 minutes of grooming and petting.  When Mitch and I bought a house in Albany, the two dogs started to go to work with me.  We put up a kennel and they arrived there in the morning.  A coworker often walked them at lunch in the beginning.  She adored dogs and it was a voluntary thing to walk them.  I walked them on occasion.  They seemed quite content with their lot.  On days off, they often rode with me in the back of my VW beetle convertible, enjoying the wind blowing through their fur.

Mitch and I were not as careful and forward thinking as we should be.  Mitch owned a Jeep and we let the dogs jump into and out of the back.  Eventually that took a toll on them, first on Tumbles (being the weaker dog) and later on Tipper.  Tumbles had joint problems at middle age.  Mitch and I decided to pay for surgery rather than putting her down.  She did really well after the surgery and regained all her youthful energy.  We enjoyed several years after the surgery.  Her hunger got the best of her, though.  Mitch and I and the family went out for dinner and drinks with a speaker set to talk at a seminar at the nursery the following day.  We left our 2 dogs, my sister’s 2 dogs, and our dad’s dog (they were away from home) in her backyard and headed to dinner.  Upon returning, we may have noticed that one of the dogs had gone through the trash.  At this point, I am a little fuzzy as to whether we noticed this or this memory is from a previous time.  All of the dogs seemed fine and we took our 2 plus my parent’s dog and went home.  I started loving on the dogs on the floor.  I noticed that Tumbles seemed a little hot and lethargic.  I went to bed.  My husband stayed up to do some work.  A couple of hours (or perhaps only an hour later) he woke me, telling me that Tumbles was having real problems.  After that it is a bit of a jumble.  I think we went to sleep anyway, thinking she would be better in the morning, only to be awakened in the wee hours of the morning to sounds of physical distress.  We knew we had to take her in.  I thought about the vet that is a sponsor of my sister-in-laws business and advertises about their round-the-clock hospital.  Then I remembered a vet that was closer, that several co-workers had been to that also offered 24 hour service.  That is where we decided to take Tumbles.

Mitch and I had consumed a few drinks the night before.  Also, this happened at 3 or 4 in the morning, so we were sleep deprived.  To this day, I believe that if we had either been stone-cold sober or it had happened in the middle of the day, that we would have given better feedback and been able to problem-solve on our own and contribute to the diagnosis of our dog’s ailment.  But as it transpired, we answered several questions incorrectly and then made decisions that were not well thought out.  We brought Tumbles home and really should have taken her the next morning, when she was even worse, to our regular vet.  But our regular vet is not open 24/7 and only has a small (probably 1 person) caretaker staff over the weekend.  Mitch, without telling me this, felt it would be best to take her back to the original vet on Saturday morning, when she had worsened.  But the “official” vet wasn’t there until Monday morning.  And although we were able to visit Tumbles and get updates and know she was well cared for, she really wasn’t attended to or diagnosed by an experienced vet until Monday morning.  At that point she was in dire straits.  The vet mentioned cutting into her to see what was up or taking her to OSU.  In the translation/phone conversation, I thought I saw inaction.  So I made the decision to transfer her to our regular vet.  But coming in late, our vet didn’t recognize the seriousness of the problem.  I was not able to communicate that seriousness to him.  I think I was distraught and tired.  He waited 24 hours, but that was too late.  Tumbles passed away the next morning.

When I look back on all of it, I blame myself for not being sober, alert and calm.  I feel like we made so many bad decisions.  I have spent all of the time from then until about 6 months ago, agonizing over her death.  Questioning, mourning, blaming, taking responsibility.  It weighed upon me like an anchor.  And I missed her so much!  Tumbles was the spokesdog of the two of them.  She was gregarious but the first to sound the alert if threatened.  She would bark a few, meager barks, but Tipper was called to action and raised a ruckus.  Tumbles was gregarious, always going right up to people.  Tipper hung back.  Tumbles loved to be brushed.  Tipper hated it.  Tumbles ate first and more.  She was first out the door.  She nuzzled me for attention, was very demanding and was very vocal.  When she passed away, my world changed.  It became very quite and sedate.  Granted, Tipper was probably in mourning, too.  Tipper didn’t talk.  It was almost as if Tumbles took Tipper’s voice.  Everything was so quiet.  Looking back, Tipper was probably in mourning.  We should have introduced a new puppy into the household then, but I wasn’t ready.  When I finally was ready, everyone convinced us that it wasn’t fair to Tipper.  Tipper took advantage of being the only dog by throwing all her affection and interest at me.  In a few short years, I made up for all the attention I didn’t give Tipper.  She enjoyed being the only dog and slowly she started talking again.  She never did completely come out of her mourning.  In the last 2 years of her life, she took to sleeping in the closet, usually with her bottom tucked in under my clothes.

Diva entered our lives while Tipper was still alive.  From the beginning, Tipper squawked her protest at having to share physical space and attention with a playful, exuberant puppy.  She did not want Diva to come near her.  Perhaps Tipper was in pain or just didn’t want to put out the effort.  We hoped that Diva might rejuvenate her, but it was too late.  However, eventually Diva wormedTipper and Diva-1 her way in and we very rarely found them close to one another.
Whereas Tumbles left life early, Tipper dragged on until Mitch and I decided for her.  I hoped, prayed and tried to communicate to her that she make the choice and not force me into doing so.  In the end, it was a matter of convenience and choosing to not prolong physical suffering.  I certainly could have waited longer.  It was amazing the sense of relief I felt, though.  That has it’s own guilt but I was not distraught.  Life moved went on, I felt peace, and Diva captured my heart completely.


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