All material in this blog (written/audio/visual) is copyrighted. Do not duplicate without explicit consent from the author.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Purveyor of Stories

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.
~Author Unknown

Two years ago, I began riding the train to work. Granted there were buses I could have taken previously but those involved transferring and other interruptions and, this new train route boasted a full uninterrupted 40 minutes ride each way while dropping me off and picking me up in front of my place of employment. I couldn't resist for very good reasons. One was to save on parking costs downtown, of course and my job pays for a significant portion of my train pass so it was a good budgetary move. But the real reason was, the train ride to and from work would allow me to luxuriate for 80 minutes in my favorite pastime - reading books.

There you have it. I am a book junkie. I guess there are worse things to be addicted to. During extreme episodes of jonesing, I've been known to sneak into the bathroom stalls at work just to get in two or three pages of my latest paperback. In fact, if the book was good enough, I'd put off fixing dinner, doing laundry, walking the dogs and whatnot, just to delve fully into my reading. What is it inside of me that is so twisted that I would prefer living vicariously through the lives of the characters in my books, all the while reaping the benefits of their happiness, crying with them in their twisted sorrows, feeling their pain, frustration, terror and injustices?

I've been reading books since literally, the day I could read. Wintry, snowy nights of my childhood were spent with all members of the family curled up comfortably in every nook and cranny of the house, each of us lost in our stories, oblivious to the world around us. A lot of the books I read are recommended by friends or family but when I buy a book or pick one out at the library, I read the back cover. If that along with the title speaks to me, I go on to read the first couple sentences of the first chapter. If that grabs me, I'm hooked and the book is mine. I'll read anything but I prefer rich novels that span generations or book series whose central plot defies accepted norms. Then there's the 'why did i just read that' books. Tales that were unexpectedly or otherwise twisted, leaving a foul imprint on my mind, making me want to sleep with the light on, or constantly look over my shoulder. No matter what work of fiction I am furiously devouring, I dread beginning the last chapters. Anxiety of having to forever say goodbye to the characters I have grown so close to is enough to make me slow down and to savor each and every last word.

The thrill of finishing a story is undeniable, in a sense, too, because I never ever put a read book back on the shelf. For it is pure pleasure to be the purveyor of stories, passing on the books I have consumed to others who are awaiting to immerse themselves into the narrative time warp. I have sisters, a mother and couple of friends that wait patiently for me to announce I have another book for them. And do I ever. Each week I finish a book. Each week I get a call from a sister asking for the next book. Each week I make special arrangements to get that book to her. The books are passed on and on, only rarely returning to me. And that's the way it should be. No house should have a big library, for those books are just sitting on shelves collecting dust and bugs. But every house should have an open book that is read every single night, whether alone or to another. Books give us occasion to escape, just for a while. A chance to live in someone else's shoes without the repercussions of their actions. An opportunity challenge our convictions and to add insightful chapters to our world view.

Now, I've really got to go now because even though I love writing, I love reading more and I've got to get back to my novel, the characters are missing me!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Righteous Hissy Fit

you may think i'm on quite the roll in dealing with bitchy people lately. i guess, after all i am on a roll. but i have just one more story to share.

i have this skin cream i get from the medicinary at the local naturopathic college. it is the only herbal cream that helps my sensitive skin and all the conditions that affect it including allergies, intolerances, accidental contagion resulting in a rash, and on and on. a while back, i found that a natural grocery chain was selling it in their stores and yep, it was a couple dollars cheaper there, not to mention a lot closer to my house. so, i started buying the cream at the grocery, that is, until one day, i arrived and found it gone from the shelves. I inquired with the sales staff and was told they actually were not legally able to sell it on the shelves so they had to remove them from sale but the good news was, they could order it for me at the same price and it would be here within a week. i probably go through a 1 oz container every couple of months so it's not a bad investment. i call in my order about a week before i know i'm going to run out so i can pick up a new container just in time. this process has gone well, until of course, now, hence, the reason for my blog post. otherwise, you know, i'd never burden you with this useless information otherwise.

as usual, i called in my order just before my cream was about to run out. i waited the usual week but never got a call that my order was in. then the holidays hit and i was distracted by lazy days, late nights and other important stuff like that. when the second week passed, i called the store to inquire. to my complete chagrin, the order was never ordered. alright, mistakes happen, yes, they do, so I was promised by 'Karin' that she would order it and it would be here on Thursday! Wait - Thursday? Thanksgiving? Karin corrects herself and tells me no, it will be here Friday and that I will get 10% off for wasting my time (the latter part in my own words).

so, i wait actually until Monday to go, just for convenience sake. Monday I walk into the store to pick up my order and lo and behold, it is not there. that should be no big surprise by now, right? it takes the lady, Karin again, to even find my order. when she does, she verifies it really has been ordered this time but it wasn't even ordered until the day before. now my blood pressure is beginning to spike. what is wrong with these people. furthermore, what is wrong with customer service everywhere. cannot anyone do their job? i do keep these thoughts to myself but I am so dissapointed. i really need my cream. i tell karin that she told me it would be here. karin denies it, all the while, i'm wondering if she is going to wipe her runny nose that is dripping way to close now to her lips.

luckily for me, the manager walks by and karin brings her into our conversation, explaining away the events of the last 21 days. i feel the need to put in my 2 cents so i reiterate the fact that my first order request was 21 days ago and that i am a frequent special orderer and this is just really disappointing. the manager, without even a smile or an i'm sorry we screwed you, says, your cream has been ordered and when it gets here we will call you. we will also give it to you for free. FOR FREE? no way! how cool is that. i try to hide my total joy at not having to spend the extra money that i really do not have, plus the fact that luckily this time, i ordered the bigger bottle, so i'm really getting a serious deal here.

i thank them and continue on my way.

i think the moral of this story is that in customer oriented situations i have learned to somewhat behave myself when i don't get what i want or what i expected. instead, i have learned how to have a righteous hissy fit by playing (sincerely) the role of the poor woman done wrong. it unexpectedly got me a truly surprising bonus to what was otherwise a situation tilting towards my inherited ability to throw a public tantrum.

unfortunately, i got a call from the manager again this afternoon that the special order box came in and my order was not in it. before i could reply with a loud WTF is wrong with you people, i was informed that my product is out of stock and that it would come in as soon as the company received more. and yes, i could still get it for free. well, ok, then, as long as i don't have to pay for it, then we're all good. i nicely thanked her, hung up the phone and smiled.  it's the small things that matter sometimes.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Divine Bitchyness

The alarm went off this morning and the first thing I thought was damn.  I rolled over and decided to blank it all out and go back to sleep.  But the pissed off feeling grew and I knew there was no getting out of today so I got up. 

Thankfully my lovely husband had already made coffee so I poured myself what is normally my cup of happiness and sat down to watch the stupid morning news.  What is wrong with me?  Its my day off, I can do anything I want but all I want to do is punch holes in the walls.  I'm angry, more than that, I'm seriously pissed off.  Why, you ask?  I don't know.  I don't fucking know.  Maybe it's because I'm having my period which seems to usually be where the bad feelings stem from.  Who really cares at this point. 

The morning news anchors began to recount the drama of the evening before with frigid uncaring faces.  I found myself wanting to kick them in the stomaches so I turned off the tv and headed for the computer where I can at least pick and choose the news I catch up on in silence.  But not this morning.  In a world where new technology is obsolete only a few months after purchase, our computer would be considered to be a relic from the ice age.  For one, it has no wireless capabilities so we have installed a small satelite device that picks up on the signals around us.  This works about 60% of the time, and this morning was the other 40%. You catching my drift?  No internet.  Fine, screw the news anyway.  I resorted to sitting in fuming silence while I nursed my now luke-warm cup of joe. 

Maybe I needed a god damn long walk up the mountain by my house.  To stay warm in the 19 degree morning heat wave, I put on layers and took to the hills.  Apparently this was not going to go well for me either.  Black ice patches kept me sliding around and 3 times almost landing on my ass.  Can we just start this day over please?  What the fuck is up with the star alignment today? Is the moon stuck in a phase?  Was the planet rotation temporarily side tracked?  After I was sure the dogs had gotten enough fresh air, I headed home determined to somehow find an outlet for my frustration other than beating the frozen ground with my fists. 

I locked the dogs up and turned on a work out program on the tv.  As I started to sweat, I started to get even more pissed.  The more the workout lady said 'keep it up, you can do it', the more I started to swear at her.  With each weight lifted, an expletive aimed at the universe flew from my lips.  Over and over and over until I was swearing in time with the exercises.  After 45 minutes of sweating and swearing, I did the cool down and laid there on my mat huffing and puffing.   I was spent and shaky but I was also in a much better frame of mind.  

There are many ways to get through days that are not on your side but I've never had much luck with any of them, except for a sweaty swearing work out.  It does a dually good job of working out both the mind and the body.  Now that I've had my temper tantrum for the day, I think I can go on.  In fact, I am starting over.  I brewed a fresh pot of cofee, put on my sweats and warm socks and have selected a movie to get lost in over the course of the next few hours.  I'm not feeling 100% but my bitchyness is more centered and divine.  Enough so that I can relax my shoulders, loosen my jaw and let the weight of the world sit on someone elses shoulders for a while.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My War With a Gluten-Free Byatch

The gluten-free world is like a commune - a community of people sharing their favorite recipes with alternative ingredients, sharing what works, what doesn't and forming a sort of comaradare among the wheat intolerant.  Sharing recipes is the way we form our bonds.
So I was perusing websites and found a gluten-free blog with homemade recipes.  The post that caught my eye was for pan de muerto.   I was so excited I email the blogger for the recipe. Little did I know, I would be encountering over the course of the next 10 days, the worlds biggest meanest byatch. So I thought you could get your laugh on at our email exchange.  Can you say CREEPY LUNATIC?  You will after you read this. 

Here's an exerpt of the post:

10/31/10 Gluten Free Pan de Muerto
"......So today, while I was baking my Gluten Free Pan de Muerto, I was thinking about a number of people that have made a special place in my heart. I was also thinking about how happy some of them would be to see me making this bread and sharing it with others...
If you would like my recipe, please send me an email and let me know whose life you will be celebrating this Dia de los Muertos. I would love to hear just a little bit about someone that was special to you...

P.S. ...I will be giving the recipe to a limited number of people that share their story and for a limited time." 
_____________________

On 11/3/10 sas wrote:
Hi, I'd like the recipe for the GF day of the dead sweet bread! Thanks so much,

On 11/5/2010 gluten free byatch wrote:
If you read the posting it asked that you share a story. It was also for a limited time and for a limited amount of people that would recieve it. Both have expired.

On 11/5/10 sas wrote:
Oh that is too bad. Would you please reconsider? I saw it just this week in Bobs Red Mill Blog and they listed your website as a good one to go to to get the gluten free recipe. My sister's son has a lot of food allergies and is really in need of some good bread recipes. He can't eat any gluten and they have really been struggling. I thought sharing your recipe with her would be my way of helping her out. That's too bad.

On 11/5/2010, gluten free byatch wrote:
Do you want the pear fig muffin recipe or the pan de muerto?

On 11/5/10 sas wrote:

Hi, The pan de muerto. Thank you so much! I want to surprise my sister with it for Thanksgiving day.

On 11/5/2010 gluten free byatch wrote:
The recipe is best made the day of and then if there are leftovers it is best to slice and freeze. It can be used for French Toast or bread pudding too! This is not a bread for sandwiches it is a sweet bread. Is that what you want?

On 11/5/2010 sas wrote:

Ok, that is good to know. No, I'm not looking for sandwich bread, I'd like the pan du muerto. I'm interested in the extra 'specialness' of the sweet bread for her son. I like the idea of using the bread for french toast!

On 11/8/2010 sas wrote:

Were you going to send the pan de muerto recipe? Thanks!

On 11/12/10 sas wrote:
(NOTE: i got tired of playing the 'please please give me the recipe' game by now, it just wasn't worth the trouble, she is obviously a lunatic)
Actually, nevermind! I don't need your recipe anymore. My sisters and I got the recipe from an actual chef - which is really what we needed all along. And his recipe rocks! We cooked it this weekend and it was soooo good and her boy loved it. So nevermind, we don't need your recipe anymore. Thanks anyway....

On 11/12/2010 gluten free byatch wrote:
Enjoy your attitude it will take you a long way!
____________________ 

Obviously she is a lunatic and possibly crazy.  Her responses were so immature, I decided a retort would be childish.  I'm sure her attitude will take her straight to... well, you know, I'm sure you can visualize exactly where.  I do feel sorry for her in a sense.  She seems to lack common courtesy and does not seem to interact well with people.  Maybe she just needs to take her gluten-free bitch-ass and...  Ok, that's all folks!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Layin off the sauce

After intensive meetings with a naturopath for a few months, I have healed my thyroid and adrenals (which were very tired before), and dramatically improved my overall digestion of nutrients.


What has come out of this is a major diet change for me. I have massive food intolerances to Dairy and Gluten.

And I have an intolerance to Fruit and Sugar eaten together - this means no mayo or mustard (sugar and vinegar in them), no tomatoe sauce (unless it has no sugar in it - like homemade), no wine with dessert (wine and meats are fine, thank the good lord above), no margaritas (sugar and lime), no cashews with dark chocolate (cashews are from a fruit tree), no fruit pies, etc. I can have wine, I can have cashews, I can have dark chocolate, just not in combination. I'm trying to avoid potatoes and corn too since they are mostly sugars.
So basically, I can have nitrate free meats and lots o green vegetables and anything gluten free. Each meal consists of 80% greens, 15% proteins, and if necessary, 5% Gluten Free Grains (brown rice, rice pasta, etc). I can also substitute pure maple syrup for sugar so in theory I could have fruit desserts if they are cooked with maple syrup instead.

The good thing that has come out of all this is that for the first time in 25 years, I have the energy of a 6 year old. Not that I am running around with my head cut off like a kid or anything, but I most often now, can stay up till 11pm - which is a MIRACLE in an of itself for those who know me well. And even better, even more miraculously, I wake up with ease with only 7 hours of sleep. I'm treading carefully on this last miracle, b/c I'm waiting for the bottom to fall out on this one - deep down I am waiting to collapse with exhaustion after not getting 13 hours of sleep a night AND a nap.

When I tell folks of my dietary changes, they say they feel sorry for me. But realistically, I think this is the way that the gods meant us to eat. All I have to do basically, is throw processed foods, sauces and drinks out the window, then bring in the simple wholesome home-cooked meals made from scratch. It's healthier that way. And when you think about it, cows milk really is for only cows. The same goes for goats. All us mammals are weened at a certain age from our own species milk and only us go on to drink others milk.
With that being said, you are wondering, will she cheat? Lets just get things out into the open here. In regards to gluten, no, I won't cheat - I learned my lesson on that one. Only because any tiny bit of gluten (in salad dressings, tums, sauces, etc) will produce a lovely mustache-shaped rash around my mouth that will not go away for at least two weeks after exposure. Dairy, it is possible I will introduce a little dairy into my diet here and there. For instance, if I'm at a wine tasting and they are offering a lovely mound of homemade organic cheese to pick at, I will definitely take a bite or two. Or if I'm starved and the only food available is pizza, I will pick off the veggies along with the cheese and eat a little. But this tiny bit of dairy immediately clogs me up, making me feel like I have a cold and I become quite irritable after consuming.
So really, all in all, I'm better off without. If I want to feel like a million bucks, I've got to lay off the sauce.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Easy Breezy Beautiful

It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.  ~P.D. James

I can't quite put my finger on it, but there was something about today.  No set plan, an i'm-cool-with-whatever sort of attitude, and an ease with which the day flowed.  I'd normally say it was because I awoke naturally with the light of day as it filtered in on the wings of a breeze through my bedroom window, sans alarm clock. That is a good start to any of my days. 

After a long hike up the mountain with the dogs, I enjoyed a perfectly brewed cup of coffee with Warren.  Ok, make that 2 or 3 cups of coffee.  But anyway....  For breakfast I indulged in a first.  I cooked waffles for the first time ever.  After over-filling the waffle iron, I learned quickly how to achieve the right batter consistency and how to trust that the waffle iron was a capable of cooking all on it's own, without my interference. Pumpkin waffles, presto! 

Thinking about my mental to-do list for fall, I asked Warren if he'd build me a shed door this weekend.  His face lit up like I had said we'd won the lottery.  A man project was in the works.  He called up his friend who immediately agreed to join him in the shed door making.  And to work they went.  Feeling a bit ambitious myself, I winterized my keyhole garden and after that I was feelin a relaxation period was called for so I grabbed my book and read on the futon for a while.  When my stomache started growling, I was reminded of the fact I should cook some hearty food for the boys who were workin so hard in the backyard.  Since in Idaho time it was 5:00 and thus happy hour, I figured I'd open a bottle of red.  You know, to bring out the chef in me.  Which of course worked, because what I created in that kitchen was the most savory black bean soup and cornbread, I have made to date.

Later, as night fell, I read my text messages, emails and chatted with one of my sisters.  As I caught up on their days, I realized that this easy, breezy, beautiful day was catching for them, too.  One sister harvested her summer's bounty and planted in it's place a winter garden.  Another sister slept in, started the day later than usual,  nd enjoyed a leisure walk and dinner out.   She said it was the air today.  Something was up with the air.  It was fresh and cleansing, crisp yet warm, with a touch of easy in the breeze.  Ladies, we call that the last day of a well-deserved Indian Summer.  Finally, my other sister called to chat and described to me her day.  "Well, I got up and did 45 loads of laundry.  And that made me very cranky".  I laughed my ass of with her about this household duty that never ceases.  But her day was still good and her mood was easy. 

It's days like these when I not only know magic exists, I see it in action.  I am a part of it's act.  There's a bit of magic at the turn of each season but most of all, at that moment when summer says it's final long goodbye, leaving us with the most beautiful, cherished, and memory longed for during the winter months. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Weather Dance

Spring and Summer have been waltzing around each other for a while now.  Spring should have said it's goodbyes long ago and you'd think Summer would be nicely settled in by now, just beginning to think about packing it's bags.  But tradition does not have it's way this year.  Spring has delayed it's departure, pushing away our hot Summer sun, bringing warm rains, soft winds, and cloudy skies.  Summer struggles against odds to bathe us in hot rays and coax the shy flower buds out of their shells.  This weather dance has us in a suspended state of extremes.  Should I bring an umbrella and shawl today or sport sandals and sunglasses?  It's anyone's guess because this struggle for season supreme has left us guessing almost daily of what the weather will bring, or more accurately, which will be leading the dance today.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hairy Tales

I've been a long haired beauty  (ha!) for most of my life, if you don't count the few mishaps in between.  But those debacles are always spur of the moment and I regret them almost instantaneously.  Luckily for me, my hair grows at super speeds, spurting out at least an inch every 3 weeks.  You'd think with this super high power growth, that I'd have hair like Rapunzel by now.  Well, I would except....

When I was about 7 years old, I begged my mom to cut off my lovely locks which fell well past my shoulders.  I have no idea what my little mind was thinking at the time but the second it was cut off, I immediately regretted it.  I looked like a boy.  A boy that wore dresses.  So I set out on a quest to get it to grow back as soon as possible.  Anytime I was alone in the bathroom or near a mirror, I pulled and pulled on the ugly short strands, trying to coax them to become longer.  With time, I was me a again, with long hair and life was good.

Although I was a young child of the 70's, the 80's did not spare me and thus began the decade of not just bad music, but bad hair-do's.  In fact, most of those years my hair was feathered, curled, sprayed, permed and spiked at one time or another and most always cut above my shoulders. 

I don't like to think much about those so let's just fast forward to the 90's where I became a blonde but at least my hair was long again.  But not for long.  As life would have it, I got a job at a hair salon where I fell victim to the stylists wanting to try all the new do's on me and am ashamed to say that during my tenure there, I went from permed to straightened, long to layered, from light to dark, and ultimately, got the 'Rachael' do.  Yes, I did. And don't you dare laugh because you know you wanted one too.   But all of those do's were time consuming as I spent mornings washing, conditioning, putting in endless arrays of products, blow drying and curling.  I felt like a big vat of hairspray and god forbid if I had to go camping or got caught in a rain storm.  It just wasn't me.  So I began to grow my long hair out once again.  I chopped off the Rachel 'do' and wore my hair back in a short bun until it all grew back in long.

Things have been a bit better since we entered the new millenium.  I've learned my lesson - keep the hair long.  But that hasn't stopped me from messing with what's already perfect.  Again, I've gone blonde for a few years, and then hopped on the dark brown bandwagon and kept it that way for the most part.  Sometimes though after watching back to back episode re-runs of ANTM, I will get inspired and chop off some locks to make some cool 'bangs' or some model-esque long layers.  Of course, I hate it instantly and have to wear a head band for months to hide the bangs until they grow back out.  Just this month I decided to go blonde again over a few glasses of wine with my sister.  We put in some bleach blond highlights which turned blonde at the roots and red farther down.  Of course I went back to dark brown soon after - closest to my natural color and easiest to cover the gray, yes gray strands, that insist on appearing out of nowhere.

Can't you just see it - 'Rapunzel, let down your hair'.  'Why I can't Prince, I was bored and I've just cut it.'    Why do I do this?  Have there not been 100's of hair lessons lived and learned by now?  Just the other day I was going through old photos (remember those days?  the ones where we actually had to get film developed!).  Almost every other roll of film showed a differed hair color or a funky do.  I can't say I've found a happy medium - just yet - as of now I am working on growing out these long layers that I cut on a whim last winter.  Only one rule I have now -  keep the long hair.  That's the me I've always felt best as.  Learning to curb the urge to cut and then regret is a cycle that I must not repeat!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Staycation

What to do when it's late summer, you've got vacation time built up and your husband doesn't get any time off until next fall?  You take a staycation!  Staycation's are spent at home, in town and cost little to no money.  But most importantly, to have a true staycation you must follow one simple rule:  Prepare to get some shit done but leave plenty of time for some rest, relaxation and fun.  It's also good to stock the liquor cabinet or the wine holder.

I prepared beforehand by making of list of items I wanted to accompolish on my days off.  Stuff that I wish I could get done on the weekends but never do because weekends are just too short to spend the time working.   Clean the attic, clean one room a day from head to toe, emtpy the fridge of all rotten items, wash the moss off the sides of the house and gutters, prune the climbing rose, etc. 

Ten days off and I'm on day seven.  It's actually taken me a good five days to fully come out of work mode.  I caught myself quite a few times checking my work email but I've slowly weaned myself to peaking once a day now.  When I wake up, sans alarm, I have my morning coffee with the news, lounging on the couch until I feel awake enough to begin my day.  If that motivation never comes, I just pull a blanket over me and find a good lifetime movie to get lost in for a few hours.  That's what I love about staycations, there's no agenda.  If miraculously, the motivation hits me early, I get a good walk in with the dogs and then throw on some Budos Band and begin one of my projects.  However as soon as the afternoon sun comes through the windows, that is my signal to chill it out again with a glass of wine and my book of the week.  Dinners are relaxed and could vary from a wonderfully aromatic steaming crock pot of happiness or simply take-out burger and fries.  And who needs a bedtime when the next day promises anything I wish for and involves no going to work.

The thing about staycations is you have to love being by yourself. You have to be ok with being your own company. Because my hermit genes run extra high, it's good to get some socialization too. Get outta the house every other day and visit someone or invite a friend over. I highly recommend it or once you go back to work you will forget how to interact with the public and you will mourn for your  staycation cave.

I have to admit I have been quite productive as well as slothful. My wine is now running low and my projects are almost complete.  Relaxation has hit a full-time high and thoughts of work have slipped way way into the background.  I've slowly rejuvenated my senses and gotten my groove back.  I am always one to raise my glass to getting away from it all but if the away part can't be on a private island, then I make damn sure that I use my staycation time to the fullest. 

Usually as staycation draws to a close, that old friend 'anxiety' tries to call.  I conquer this intrusion by booking a full body massage the day before going back to work, then a late afternoon nap and being fully organized and prepared for the first day of work.  I highly recommend a staycation to one and all.  Now don't get me wrong, there really is nothing better than getting the heck outta dodge and that is just what I plan to do next - vacate the premises, and take a friggin vacation!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Going, Going, Gone!

 Last weekend we went to the coast to meet up with my sister who had rented a beach house.  Since it was a last minute decision to go, we couldn't take the dogs to the dog ranch so we bravely loaded them into the car and headed down the highway.  We only stayed one night and it ended up going pretty good.  Lots of walks on the beaches, left the pooches pretty chill. 

The next morning we put a stake in the grass and tethered the dogs so we could have a little freedom and time away from holding leashes and supervising (don't you wish you could do that with the kids? ha!).   As we were hanging on the upper decks, keeping one eye on the dogs, our yellow lab, Huckleberry, began to whine as she always does when she's not getting all the attention.  My nephew Riley decided to go give them some love.  I grabbed my camera so I could get a could shot of them all together.  What happened next made laugh my ass off and got the rest of the clan to come look at what my neice Hope and I were howling at, and best of all I actually caught it all on film! 


Hey pups, whats happenin'


Going, Going...


Gone!
Oh man, my aunt got this all on camera.
I'm so screwed!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Grounded

Yesterday, about mid day, I realized I was in serious need of a nap.  I knew without a doubt that the second my head touched the pillow, I'd be gone to dreamland for a long long time.  You know, that kind of tired that you get when you sleep in the same position for hours.  Well, I had the most coolest revelation as I was laying there completely aware of the sensations in my body as I was falling asleep.  As my body relaxed, it seemed to me that the energy in my body was alive and in full force.  As I lay there, I focused in on this.  It seemed that the vibrations moved like waves, starting in my head and rolling down through my shoulders, over my chest and down my back. I almost couldn't feel my body on the couch.  It was as if I was as light as a feather, floating just slightly above.   As it got to my legs, my feet started to tingle and this overwhelmving sensation came over me as if I was connected to the network of the energy of life.  I began to drift weightless on the most comfortable cloud.  When I awoke some hours later, my mind was at peace and my body refreshed.There is nothing cooler than knowing without a doubt that I am part of something bigger.  It keeps me alive, fully grounded and intertwined with the divine.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Freakin Mess

Ok folks, I've been seriously busy and had so many things going on at once that I haven't been able to sit down to write. And to be completely honest, there may have been a few times I could have blogged but I needed to spend that time chilling out - down time as you might call it.

So, to recap on my last post...

The last time I wrote, I was a freakin mess covered in an intense itchy and devilish scratchy rash. It was so awful I had to stay home for an entire week. A visit to the doc and then the derm, got me some creams which didn't work. So the next week, I got me a prescription of prednizone which began working within 4 hours of the first pills. Awe, relief. I could finally relax and not itch. However, before I began the pred, I got a huge series of blood tests and skin biopsies to try to figure out what the heck was going on in my body. The results showed some food allergies, most highly to gluten. So I have had a major change in my diet. Lucky for me, I am not a picky eater. I could be classified as an adventurous food explorer so this change was definitely swaying in my favor. It's been over a month now since the rash and I'm itch-free. My sister has baked me many loaves of GF bread and cake and my husband promises to buy me a bread maker soon. I love having a baker for a sister! In fact, two of my three sisters are dealing with food allergies in one way or another so I have a lot of company in that department. I did also verify and re-verify with my derm that I could indeed still have wine and chocolate. The answer was a big fat YESSS, although I am sure that he was wondering about my priorities in life. A big WHATEVER to him! I know what's important and I can still get my buzz on!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Itchy Scratchies

I've been homebound since last Sunday night when I noticed the beginnings of a rash on my belly and arms.  Monday morning I awoke completely covered from the ears to my toes in tiny little red bumps.  Those little red bumps itch like mother fuckers.  Pardon my language but I can't find any other word to describe it.  I've been spending every waking hour with no sleep itiching every crevice of my body - ears, neck, armpits, arms, shoulders, back, and legs.  Luckily for me, the rash has so far neglected to infest my face, scalp or private parts, thank the good lord above for that one.  Just so you know, you can quit reading now if you want.  I'm not going to censor myself in this post in case you haven't noticed yet. 

And yes, I saw a doc first thing Monday morning.  She took 6 viles of blood to test for food allergies which have been a pain in my ass lately and also to test for lupus - the skin condition type of lupus that goes along with a rash and achey joints.  Of course, I won't know for a week what's wrong with me so I sit here, itching the minutes away.  I'm going back to the doc tomorrow to try to see if we can figure this out once and for all.  Could it be shingles?  scabies?  some unknown disease? I don't know but I do know that I want to stop the itching and stop it NOW.  I'm known for my remedies and I've tried them all to no avail - creamy oatmeal body rubs, tea tree oil slathers, prescription antihistamines, creams, homeopathics, vodka, etc...  Nothing works long term, yeah, I may get 10 minutes of relief but then it's back to itching.  I'm not getting even slightly better and if anything, I feel slightly manic now.  I can't sit still, I can't sleep, I can only itch and itch and itch.  It's wrong, fucking horribly wrong to itch like this. 

I don't feel sick.  I have no fever.  I'm not stressed.  I could even run 10 miles just to get the heebie jeebies outta me.  So, I sit and wait.  I wait for test results, I wait for relief, I wait for respite.   And meanwhile, I itch, and itch, and itch....

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Daily Affirmations

Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself.
When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire,
you run away from yourself and you lose yourself.
The practice is always to go back to oneself.
-- Thich Nhat Hanh

Daily affirmations - these are words of wisdom that help shape my outlook on life.  Before I rise from bed every morning and after I've cursed my alarm clock thoroughly, I reach for my phone to read my first email of the day - Daily Words of Wisdom.  A quote a day keeps the doctor away, it's true.  Over a year ago, I subscribed to these and I cannot tell you how much they mean to me.  Every week is 5 daily quotes pertaining to a certain sense of being. Some weeks deal with fear, others with knowledge, sometimes courage, other times intuition, many times faith, and a lot of times just pure age old wisdom.  Yet each and everyone of them inspries me to get out of bed each morning which is a feat in and of itself.

As you've noticed, these words also give me a small seed of an idea of which I can write a whole blog post on, relating it to my life and my feelings of life.  Sometimes I don't fully understand the daily words of wisdom but my husband has this tremdenous gift for explaining them to me, bringing meaning to an otherwise tangle of words.  I've read some authors perceptions of quotes.  They think that a real writer wouldn't need to use recycled quotes to get their thoughts out on paper.  But I think they are just arrogant and are missing a precious chance to ponder life, even if just for a minute. 

Every now and then one of the daily quotes will hit me hard, making me sit back and consider how such a small phrase of words can hold so much meaning and have so much heart.  These are the ones that I save, referring to often until I have absolute certainty that I fully grasp their concept.  Wise words from wise people encourage me to grow within and to keep my spirit alive.  No matter what I will always be drawn to them and you can always expect me to write about.  They are the building blocks of my soul.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Little Memories

We do not remember days; we remember moments.
~Cesare Pavese

Sometimes the littlest memories are the best ones, the ones I reflect upon the most.  The ones that make me feel nostalgic and all warm and fuzzy.  A lot of mine have to do with the weather.

Summers in Idaho were hot and air conditioning was not a luxury in those days.  So you had to trick the weather.  As the days grew hotter, the mountain air almost always grew cooler.  The minute the sun would set, my dad would make his way around the house to open all the windows - all 18 of them.  I'd be sitting in my room watching TV and could hear the windows open one by one.  Soon the cool night air was rolling in and we could finally breathe easy falling into a sweet slumber.  Sometime early, just as the sun was waking up, I would hear the windows sliding shut, one by one.  Then the curtains being closed tight, not to let a speck of sun in.  That was how we  tricked the weather.  It was also at that time that we'd go out with our parents to hunt tomatoe worms in the garden.  We'd flick them off into buckets and dispose of those ruiners of home grown tomatoes. 

In the mornings the house was so cool, we forgot that the day before we were roasting, begging to take turns sitting in the fridge.  Wrapping blankets around us, shivering, we began our days.  But once the sun rose onto the parched Idaho neighborhoods, we began to sweat.  And with us girls going in and out all day, little by little our house became stiflingly warm.   No wonder my dad would say, shut the door fast, you're letting all the cool air out.  Those summers, day after day, night after night, the climate in our house changed drastically and kept us in comfort as we slept through cool nights.  But every summer without fail, there would come those days that were so hot, that so baked the land, that even the nights did not cool.   With all the windows open, the coolest place to be was in the basement and there we'd tread with our sleeping bags and pillows.  The whole family camped out , hoping to try to cool off just enough to get a little sleep.  Lazy days of mid summer.  I liked those best.  I still do.

Winters in Idaho were cold and snowy.  Thanksgiving seemed to signal winter and before we knew it we were blanketed in white.  Sometimes it snowed so much, my parents had to go shovel every hour - for in Idaho, snow was not an excuse to call in sick for work or stay home from school.  It was a way of life and you dug yourself out and got to where you needed to be.  Not to mention there was probably a snowplow for every street in every nook and cranny of the city. 

My favorite part was when it would snow and snow and snow and snow because as the snow accumulated, huge,  menacing snow drifts would form, looming haphazardly over the roof of our front porch.  We had to be really careful walking out the front door, shutting the door softly so as not to disturb it.  It would be there for sometimes for days.  Sometimes we'd knock it down but I think it fascinated all of us, even my parents.  If the drift didn't fall, then as the snow would begin to melt, the biggest and baddest icicles would begin to form from it's edges.  Now that was where the true fun began.  It was a challenge to see try to knock them all down.  Some were dainty and broke easily with a touch.  Others were as big, as solid and as pointed as the dagger of a giant.  

I also loved that in the winter we never ran out of snow.  There was a fresh supply daily, meaning we could build families of snowmen, form slides down the sloping front lawn, craft igloos and watch our snow angels disappear in the blizzard.  Evenings we spent thawing out by the crackling warm fire mom and dad had made - and we'd sleep upstairs because that was where it was warmest!

The four seasons were extreme in Idaho, each one with their very own identity.  Those dependable changes in weather, always signaled changes in our family.  In spring, we'd break out the boxes of summer clothes and pack our winter ones away.  Mom's big bed of red tulips would fill the backyard with a red royal carpet and work out in the garden and yard would begin.  There would be a sense of thrill in the air.  Nights were shorter in the winter and we'd spend them lost in long books, talking on the phones to friends, sitting by a fire and eating nachos that my mom prepared for evening snacks each night.  Fall was always where we did the most preparation - school clothes, raking leaves, registering for classes, harvesting the garden and celebrating all the birthdays - for most of my family (excluding me) were all born in August and September.   It's almost as if remembering all of this is my specail way of holding onto the things I cherish, the things I am, and the things I never ever want to lose.  

Saturday, March 13, 2010

New Territory

Good for the body is the work of the body,
good for the soul the work of the soul,
 and good for either the work of the other.    
~Henry David Thoreau

Try something new once in a while right?  Well that's what I'm about to do.  I"m embarking on a journey of food.  It's spring and instead of deep cleaning my house, this year I'm going to cleanse my soul by way of putting food in my belly.  Through an enchanted combination of forming new habits, I expect to thoroughly wash and rinse away the build up of physical and mental sludge and re-awaken my soul.  In an effort to put a twinge of reality on things, to keep me honest and give me thoughts to reflect upon, you can follow me for 21 days of uncharted waters and unexplored territory HERE.  Enjoy the ride, I know I will.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Awaken

Spring arrives at the heels of Winter with Summer pushing in from behind. Although it never rushes into things, the magic by which this mysterious season deposes its beauty around us always lures me into sheer amazement. When did the flowering fruit trees suddenly turn pink and the tiny green sprouts pushing through the hardened winter earth become bright yellow blooming daffodils? Birds begin to appear with their morning melodies when yesterday and in the long months before there was only silence.

After months of plowing through Winter's monotony, Spring reminds me to slow down and coast in neutral for a while. Just as the withered world around me is coming back to life after a long slumber, so it is as my spirit awakens.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Little General


Did you know that a cat could become a legend? I had no idea what I was getting into when I visited the county animal shelter one afternoon, 13 years ago. I was looking for a second cat - one that had enough spunk to get my other cat up and moving more and of course to give her a buddy. It was love at first chase. Inside the cage sat a tiny, beautiful all white kitten with big bright blue eyes. He looked up at me and gave me a tiny little meow. I wanted to hold him so they opened the cage door and reached in to pick him up, but he had other ideas. He shot out of the cage and ran out of the cat room and down the hall of the shelter. What ensued was a wild chase after that tiny streak of white dashing in and out of offices and around corners so fast he looked like a flash of lightening. We finally caught him. Out of breath and laughing, I held him in my arms. He looked up at me confidently, almost like it was a test that I had to pass. Well, he was a ball of energy alright and I was willing to take the chance with him. I paid the fee, signed the papers and took him home.

Life changed drastically after that. Oh boy did he love his food. He would eat and eat until his belly became bloated at which point he would sit on his butt with his two feet and lick his extended belly. He looked like he had a big ole beer belly and after much teasing about this fact, I named him Boozie, which he liked. His honorary personality was ever transforming. During nail clipping and bathing, he'd growl and hiss at me but I didn't let up as I had grown accustomed to his attitude. Some things just had to be done! Plus, he never bit me or scratched me. He just liked to threaten to do so.

When Boozie was just under a year old, I met my future husband. We soon moved in together, much to Boozie's dismay. According to Boozie, he was the man of the house and he wasn't going to give up that post easily. One afternoon after I had left for work, Boozie cornered my husband in the hallway, arching his back, hissing and advancing slowing towards him in a classical animal planet male showdown for dominance. My husband, initially frightened, realized that he must gain the upper hand so he changed his stance to be dominant and advanced quickly toward Boozie, shooing him out of the way. Boozie backed off eventually.  Somehow, the two of them came to an unspoken agreement to share the spotlight. After the initiation rights were over, we became a true family. We spent hours on the floor throwing hair ties for the cats to chase and throwing nerf footballs that Boozie would literally intercept in the air. He and his sister would go on wild rampages through the apartment, leaving plants knocked over and destruction in their paths.

During Boozie's first 7 years we moved a lot. We were renters who ran the gamut of roommates gone bad, landlords divorcing and taking over our living space, homes with no insulation, and a landlord who passed away - All of which kept us moving almost yearly. It was during our first move from an apartment to a house that Boozie, the inside only cat, got his first taste of the outside and other cats in the 'hood. Immediately he became territorial and by that I mean he started spraying in the house. Of course this meant he had to be an outside cat now because no amount of explaining, reasoning with him or reprimands, he just wasn't going to change his naughty ways. With worried hearts, we let him and his sister outside one early summer afternoon. Figuring he would be scared and sniff for a while, we settled in to prepare to giggle and watch him explore the wild outdoors. Well, his sister did just that but Boozie had other plans. Having never jumped more than 3 feet his whole life, he gracefully jumped 6 feet onto our neighbors fence, smoothly strutted across the 1/2 inch boards, and jumped into the neighbors yard. Shocked and horrified that he would lose his way home, we tried desperately to cajole him back to us. Looking at us for just a moment with defiant eyes, he turned around the corner and disappeared. Trusting that he had some instinctual genes in him, we waited like worried parents until he finally returned home hours later, just before the sun set. So that was how it was going to be. Boozie let us know that he was just fine being outside, in fact, we believe he actually preferred it.

Soon Boozie was roaming the neighborhood, strutting his stuff in his now lean yet muscular frame, his bright white fur coat sticking out like a sore thumb. Neighbors marveled at him, doing his 'rounds' each day. Enchanted by the little general, as he was now called, they would come up to him yearning to pet this magnificent and confident creature. However, as they reached their hand down to pet him, Boozie would pull of the most amazing set of karate chops with his front paws all the while hissing and barring his teeth - making the neighbors run for their lives.

Life was not going to be easy for him or us though. Boozie 's instinctual side had it's bad parts too. His need to claim territory and be the king cat, cost him many fights, horrific wounds, and cost us many many trips to the vet. There was a pattern to his madness though. We would move to a new rental house and the vet bills would increase as he worked his way up the chain, eventually claiming the coveted top cat spot, fighting like a gladiator until the death (or at least we hoped not). Once he was king of the neighborhood, life was usually peaceful as he made his daily rounds, running squirrels off his land, eating hoards of baby birds fallen from their nests in the spring and squaring off with any dogs, cats or humans encroaching on his terrain. I even learned how to set up a surgical unit on our dining room table to drain the abscesses and clean out his fighting wounds, saving us hundreds of dollars in vet bills.

He seemed to be consistently healing from a fight wound or from allergic reactions to fleas or his food. Always trying out new diets with him, he was the subject of many experiments to get his fur to grow back in. We never did find a perfect cure. Raw food, organic food, changes in protein, mixtures of both, never worked. But he sure did like the variety! IN the mornings we would hear him and his sister outside our bedroom window crying for their breakfast.

As an outdoor cat, Boozie never stopped spraying. He sprayed the front doors and porch chairs of the houses on his land, the wheels and car doors of any car that parked nearby and climbed into home grocer trucks and any open car windows to sniff around and also to spray. We had to warn friends and neighbors to keep their windows rolled up and to check their garages before they closed them down for the night, just in case he was in there checking things out.

Probably the best thing about Boozie and his bad ass self was that deep down he had the goopiest heart. In the evenings, we would bring him in the house for 'supervised visits', meaning that he was not allowed to leave his fuzzy blanket on the couch because if he did, he would immediately turn his butt towards something and spray it. On his blanky he would show us his soft side, purring, kneading and slobbering all over his blanket as we petted and cooed at him. He did not allow many people to see his soft side as he had to keep up appearances in order to maintain his kingdom he fought so hard for.

In Boozie's 5th year, his sister came down with a mysterious illness. Sensing perhaps before we did that she was soon to join the spirit world, he insisted on being inside with her. Reluctantly we acquiesced and brought him in. Urgently he walked over to the couch where she lay and sat down gently beside her. Knowing that if he got up he would spray, we slept with one eye open to catch his rebellious spraying act. However, not once did he move, not even to stretch or change positions. He never left her side the entire night. When the morning sun awoke us, we lay dazed watching this tough cat comfort his only friend. We let them finish their goodbyes and later that day his sister left this world behind. Then a day later, we moved... again, but this time, with only one cat.

Tradition has it that cats have nine lives, Boozie was an exception. When we moved this time, it was farther into the country, on a cul-de-sac surrounded by elderly doug firs and small mountainous hills that eventually led down to the river. We would hear stories from our neighbors about Boozie's wanderings. He was spotted down by the river which meant that he had to traverse at least a mile from our house, down through thickets of forests to even come close to the rocky beach. Nights were filled with the sounds of coyotes howling in the distance and every now and then the sound of some small creature of prey. Worried as I was, Boozie filled me with a sense that there was really nothing to fret about. He was going to be around for a long time. But he was lonely and missing his sister. Ever more needy, we allowed him into the house for extra sessions of love on the couch. Then one day we arrived home to find him hanging out in the front yard with a bunny. My heart skipped a beat as I was sure to lose his life in seconds flat. Boozie never tolerated anything on his property, much less had he ever seen a bunny before. However, my fears were soon unfounded as he and the bunny began to chase each other around a big cedar. Soon this unlikely pair were best of friends, sneaking up on each other then gallivanting through the yard after one another. They became inseparable and before we knew it, Boozie was back to his old self, making a name for himself while patrolling his grounds.

When the bunny disappeared it was no doubt to a coyote and Boozie was lonely once again. We knew we needed to get him a buddy but our hearts weren't completely mended from the recent loss of his sister. But life has a way of making decisions for us. Less than a month later we brought him home an 8 week old sister who wasn't afraid of grumpy ole Boozie. After the initial awkward of first impressions and introductions, the two of them bonded and once again, life was normal.

The one thing that Boozie never had was a permanent place of residence. We constantly promised him that we would buy a house someday and that he wouldn't have to claim new territory time and time again. Finally our dream came true. We bought a house early one summer. As we drove the cats over to our new and final abode, Boozie sensed immediately that he was going to live out the rest of his life here. No more moving. With a practiced and skilled quickness, he gained the upper hand on our new neighborhood. One by one, the large pack of feral cats disappeared and the bird population declined. Boozie was king and life was good. Over the next 3 years Boozie ruled with a firm hand. After a while, he didn't fight anymore for he was supreme ruler now. Instead he would spend his time sunning on the porch and teaching his sister how to catch birds.

One evening as we were sitting outside enjoying a late summer evening, Boozie approached us. Something about his manner was different. I couldn't place it though. He lay down on a pile of blankets next to us, purring and fell asleep. He did this for the next couple of nights. Very unusual for him as his MO was standoffish and he preferred to be alone. Then we noticed he wasn't eating. We couldn't even coax him to try wet canned food - stuff he'd normally cry like a little kitten for. So we brought him inside - we couldn't risk the peasants catching wind that the king was taken ill, his guard down. Soon we found out he had a tumor in his stomach and that he wasn't going to be around much longer. For a week, we cared for him. We made him a comfortable bed in our spare bedroom and stayed by his side constantly. We told him stories about his youth, let him know what a great cat he was and showed our appreciation for his years of guardianship.

Word got out that Boozie was sick. Family, friends and neighbors came over to say their goodbyes. When and how did Boozie make all these friends? We had no idea how much he had touched the hearts of those who knew him, the real Boozie, underneath all that attitude. Finally, we heavy heart we let him go join his older sister in the spirit world. We laid his body to rest in his favorite fuzzy blanky next to the sage bush he always slept under so he could always stand guard yet remain hidden. The day he died, his sister immediately took over his role. Not as domineering as him, but she was still queen. Just after we buried him, she caught her first bird, right in front of us and ate every piece of it. That was our sign - he had done his job, passed on his kingdom, ensured of keeping his rule.
[UPDATE] Seven years later (Sept 2014), Marley visiting her old friend's resting place
I don't think I have ever felt a loss cut so deep. For two days we stayed home and cried. I lit sage and asked the spirits to guide him safely on. I didn't ask him to stay because I know that he needed to go. As I put away his bed and cleaned up the spare bedroom, I noticed that even in his extreme weakness, he had still managed to spray once on the wall. His one last rebellious act. It made me smile. Time does tend to heal and old wounds do close, but it still hurts sometimes. I've learned that deeply loving our animal friends gives us courage to let them go when it's time, yet being so deeply loved by them, gives us strength to go on when they depart this world.

Boozie lives on in our hearts and in all the hearts of those he touched. His stories have become oral tradition, legends embellished and passed on and told over and over. Sometimes I feel he is with me. Other times I have no doubt that he still guards our house and watches over his sister. Boozie was our little guardian. He worked his whole life as a cat to protect us. Never before have a felt such a connection with a cat. Thank you Boozie, you enriched our lives with your big heart, your secret sweetness and your fierce protectiveness.  We will always love you.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Nauseous Hiatus

Stomach: A slave that must accept everything that is given to it, but which avenges wrongs as slyly as does the slave. ~Emile Souvester

No sooner did we rid ourselves of winter colds then the winter stomach flu stopped by for a visit. I awoke in the deadest part of night to my husband bowing to the porcelain god. Back and forth from the bedroom to the bathroom he stumbled urgently for hours. Eventually he was emptied from the inside out but that didn't stop the onslaught of his intestinal convulsions. Sick, drained and pretty much dehydrated, he lay restless in bed for days, unable to sleep. Eventually he won back his health.

The very day he awoke well, I did not. Achy, chilly and out of sorts, I relinquished my grip on the world and fell into an oblivious three days of alternating sleep and one too many trips to the powder room. We are heading towards the road to recovery, although optimum health remains at arms length and not quite tangible yet.  Surely soon, I will be myself again, back to filling these pages with something more worthy than a nauseous hiatus.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Coming To A Dinner Table Near You!

Grocery shopping is my household duty.  I have gladly taken it on not because I love to shop, which I don't, but because I love the whole planning your meals for the week deal.  Hmmm, what sounds good this week.  Do I have a lot of time to create a dish from scratch or do I need fast cooking and pre-packaged?  Usually it's a little of both.  This weekend, I was meandering around the frozen food section when this colorfuly delicious box of spanakapita practically jumped into my shopping cart.  Oh man, I haven't had spanakapita for years and I mean, years.  When I was a poor starving college student, my friend, Fariba, cooked up a graduation dinner beyond compare.  One of her main dishes was her family recipe for Spanakapita.  Fariba, a lovely cook, someone to which I'd never even compare my culinary skills to, prepared it with utter perfection.  The philo dough was light as a feather, flaky and buttery.  The spinach melted in your mouth while the garlic and feta left a satisfyingly strong aftertaste, making me wish I could take the whole casserole dish itself, hide in her closet, and eat it all - with my fingers.  So when I saw that frozen box in the store, I did not hesitate as it found an immediate home in my grocery bag and then into my freezer at home. 

Thursday was the day to cook it for dinner.  We weren't busy and I"d have time to cook it properly and then savor each bite with a bottle of wine.  As it cooked, I could literally taste the smells eminating from the oven.  As I sliced it into large square pieces and onto our dinner plates, I marveled the stunning green of the spinach.  It looked impressive.  Proudly, I brought our dishes to the table.  My savory dreamy fog was soon parted as my husband wasted no time to announce that he was horrified by 'all that green'.  He laughed nervously as he cut a bite and put it on his fork.  Tentatively, he brought the fork to his mouth.  Then as if doomed to drink from a poisonous vile, he took a bite.  He chewed, slowly at first, testing his tastebuds.  Then he started chewing faster and faster until finally he swallowed.  I sat there wondering to myself if he would find it as delectable as I.  He opened his mouth but then hesitated.  Yes, he must be trying to figure out how to put into words how wonderfully amazing this was.  How he couldn't believe that spinach could taste so good.  Then he found his voice... "It tastes like grass clippings rolled up in philo dough".  Ok, I have never laughed so hard and been so pissed off at the same time.  What followed was a hilarious exchange of remarks pertaining to my grass clippings meal and his picky taste. 

Was I mad?  Not really but I did offer to make hime something else.  In fact, I had a can of something in the kitchen that I could cook up really fast.  He looked relieved that he may be off the hook.  I got up and opened the pantry and reached for a can.  I put the can in the pan with a spoon and brought it out to him. Huh? I think he was confused so I cleared things up for him.  I was serving him up  a steaming hot can of whoop ass. 

Well, to make this long story a little shorter, I'll sum it up by saying, he went to a drive through and picked himself up a burger, laughing all the way about me and my 'cooking'.  I let him go, happily, of course.  Just because I'm a freakazoid when it comes to worldly dishes, doesn't mean he has to be.  Yeah, part of the fun though is trying to get him to try it and see him shudder in response.  But it was a really good laugh and I will certainly never forget and neither of us will ever let the other live it down!

Coming to a dinner table near you!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Forbidden

For every man there exists a bait which he cannot resist swallowing.   ~Friedrich Nietzsche


No one would ever call me a picky eater. I'm happy to try anything, at least once. Well, almost. Once I had the chance to taste pigs feet but the jar of floating, liquefied, swollen and bloodless pale pink feet made me want to hurl. However, within reason of course, you ask me to taste and I will indulge you. It seemed almost unimaginable to me that anyone or anything could forbid me the taste testing opportunity. Some religions and eco-conscious thinkers consider it a grievous sin, sometimes with the penalty of death, to eat of a certain animal or food. Knowing that, I never once thought that I would be put in the most uncomfortable position of having to give up my most favorite food item - and not, mind you, for religious or political reasons, but because my body decided that it would become allergic.

After a steady yearly series of headaches, it was discovered, much to my chagrin, that I was allergic to peanuts. Not in the deadly way, where a kiss on the lips of a peanut eater would send me into anaphalactic shock and on to the spirit world, but I would suffer an incurable headache for days as my body tried to rid itself of what it was now considering toxic to my system. I did not ask for this. I was not consulted about this. Peanuts have been a regular and delectable part of my food intake my whole life. In fact, fresh ground peanut butter, peanut butter cookies, peanut butter cups, PB & J's, peanut filled pretzels, most thai food and fondue oil went from my all time favorites to the 'do not even think about eating' list. Being the optimist that I am, I happily found substitutes that didn't just merely give me an alternative ingredient but ones that I loved. Almond butter - freshly ground, beats just about any type of nut butter. Cashew, sunflower seed and tahini rock too.

I was now, headache free and loving life. Well almost. It's not that easy to give up a favorite food. What one cannot have, one wants even more. I assure you, well, at least I'd like to say that I assure you, that if eating peanut butter meant almost instant death, I'd be more inclined to adhere to a strict regime of trying to stay alive. But since that is not the case, I have these irresistible, unstoppable, crazy-person peanut butter binges. I have my freak outs and my low points where I indulge, successfully blocking out all internal warning alarms going off in my head. I'll jam 3 huge spoonfuls of peanut butter into my mouth, relishing in my sinful indulgence. I'll order a large chocolate ice cream with PB chunks in it at Baskin Robbins. If the coffee shop is out of everything but PB cookies, I'll buy 3. Yes, I am a peanut-butter-holic. I'd never be able to tell you why I do this except that I can now easily put my self in the shoes of addicts, understanding perfectly now, the undeniable sadist urge to do whatever it takes to get my fix, at all costs. Now, I'm only hurting myself with this PB addiction and the days of headaches that follow but I cannot stop myself. Let me just say, I-know-it's-wrong. And if my body suddenly decided to add bacon, maple donuts, chocolate and coffee to the allergic items list, I would not hesitate to secretly binge on those too.

Of course, after the secret binges, my headaches come on fast and strong. As I'm wallowing in my own self created misery, there is a tiny part of me that is sinisterly happy and full of forbidden peanut buttery memories. Remember the old bible legend about Adam and Eve? I feel Eve's pain. If apples tasted like peanut butter but were forbidden, I'm sorry but I'd take a bite, too. Call me crazy, say I need help, dismiss me for a lunatic.... whatever, I'm ignoring you! And if you'll excuse me now, I've got to go tempt fate.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Regaining My Equilibrium

What no spouse of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window.
~Burton Rascoe

There is this folder in my closet. You know, the old peechee folder from the 80s. I think it's actually taped together now. Inside the folder are a variety of papers - napkins, scratch papers, pieces of envelopes, ripped out spiral notebook pages, receipts. All of them with yellowed and tattered scribblings of my mind, beginning from maybe 25 years ago. Constant writing was not a regular routine for me but when something would pop up in my mind, I'd write it down and file it away in the folder.

A little over a year ago my sister started her blog - Midnight Marvel. Instantly I became hooked, daily checking to see if a new post was up yet, laughing, crying and relating to her stories. Even though we've shared a lifetime of experiences, it was a glimpse into her heart, mind and daily life, something that brought me closer to her soul. Soon I was itching to write. She kept telling me to start a blog and I resisted, for a while. My writings have always been personal and rarely shared. They acted as more of an outlet, letting loose thoughts and feelings swirling around in my head. If I were to make those public, I would be baring my innermost soul and for all it's worth, my true and crazy self. Then I realized that I am who I am. Hiding the real me has never been my forte. People already have had a pretty good picture of what's in my heart, whether they like it or not. So that is how it all began. A year ago, on January 25, I wrote my first blog post and the rest is history. I've never felt more alive. There is a freedom in opening yourself up and putting your thoughts into words, words that you can re-read over and over, reliving each moment. My writings are rainbows of raw emotion. Real, live and boldly not censored for readers' discretion.

The ability to write, getting the thoughts onto paper, is most always mentored by someone who sees your talent. In my case, that was my mother. An english teacher who insisted that you don't start each sentence with an "I", leave out the word 'very', and most importantly "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass" (Anton Chekhov). She nurtured my creativity and encouraged my individuality. She hates when I put in the wrong punctuation or misspell something, but she also understands that sometimes that is my way of getting a point across. As a writer, you want the reader to know you. You must fully capture them in your moment of time.

When I write, my soul renews itself and clears my mind of clutter. That in and of itself is essential to my spiritual well-being, which is of utmost importance to me. Today is not the end of a year of writing, it is the beginning of regaining my equilibrium. I live in two worlds, both very real, one that is seen by all and one that cannot be seen with regular eyes. And now instead of being torn between them and feeling the need to choose one, my writing has firmly rooted me in both, and I am nourished and thriving for the first time in a long long time.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Story

You know when you have found your 'home' because you not only have a smile on your face but in your heart as well. ~Author Unknown


Hello everybody! I want to tell you my rescue story and I'll let you know ahead of time that I have a very, very happy ending! I'm a strikingly handsome mixed breed dog of German shorthair and Cattle dog decent, ok, and probably some labrador, too.  My birth name is Freckles, probably because I look like I have a million black freckles all over me. I used to live with my dad. He had a girlfriend, a daughter and another baby on the way. I was 9 months old and had a pretty good life until my dad lost his job. He got really depressed and started having some problems with anger; then he broke up with his girlfriend. He finally decided that I would be better off if I went to a new home so he called Dogs Deserve Better - which is a national non-profit that rescues dogs, mostly chained dogs. Luckily, I wasn't ever chained but I knew that I deserved better.


Within a week, I was on my way to meet my new foster parents. We arrived at a park where I met my foster mom and dad, along with their two labs. I tried to really put on a show for them so they would be willing to give me a place to stay. I'm super fast on my feet so I ran after the ball they threw, swiped it up fast and ran back in seconds flat. I showed them how I could jump five feet to catch an air ball. They were amazed and welcomed me into their home.



My foster home proved to be a really fun place. It was spring time so we went to the dog park almost every day where I chased ball after ball and wowed every dog and human at the park. We got to go on walks every morning and snuggle together on the couch in the evening. I liked my foster dog sister and dog brother but I had a hard time adjusting to having to share the spotlight. Sometimes I'd get angry and snap at my foster brother. I really longed to be an only dog where I could have all the attention to myself.


After six weeks, I felt more relaxed and had learned to sit, stay, come and walk pretty well on a leash. That was when my foster parents decided it was time to start searching for my forever home. They took some really handsome pictures of me (I’m a pretty good looking fellow) and posted them on Petfinder and Craigslist. A lot of people replied but only one couple stood out. They were young, had just bought their first house and they had two cats. Did I mention that I like cats? They were looking for a companion to jog with daily and to accompany to work sometimes. When they came over to meet me, I held my head high and tried to look as handsome as possible. They couldn't believe how fast I ran and how well I caught the ball. They decided immediately that they wanted to take me home but the adoption process required an application, a fee (donated to the non-profit), and home visit, so while we waited for the approval process, they took me for a weekend visit to their parent's farm that they had grown up on. I showed them how I could run without a leash and not run away; and I thoroughly impressed the grandparents. After the visit to the farm, I even got to spend the night with them. I met their cats, who decided I was boring but that's just how cats are, right?


One day, as I was napping on the couch, my foster mom came to tell me that everything worked out just fine and that I was going to my forever home. I was so excited I jumped around the house for joy. My new parents came to pick me up the next morning. My foster parents cried, but they said it was because they were so happy that I had found the perfect home. We packed up my bones, blankets, dog bed and leash and I said goodbye to my foster home. I was going to miss them but I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to be top dog!


After a year went by at my forever home, which by the way is AWESOME, my new mom decided to give my old foster family an update on me. We all arranged to meet at a park nearby. When I saw my foster parents, I immediately showed them how much I had grown up. I walked without a leash next to my new mom and dad. I showed them all the new tricks that I had learned. My foster family was thrilled to see how happy I am. I even showed them that I can come when they call me by my new distinguished name, Cooper. I am a lucky dog and I know that. I truly believe that there is a family out there for every dog, I mean, look at me; I got exactly what I wanted, which was to be loved and to be the only dog. I'm thankful for my foster family and for Dogs Deserve Better rescue, but especially that they all were willing to let me stay while we all searched for my forever home.
My Forever Family

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ya Ya Sisters

"Stop fighting and bickering.  One day you will realize how thankful you are for one another."  ~ Our Mom, Mother of 4 Girls

I could not wait for this weekend to happen.  All my sisters would be in town and most important of all, we'd all be together for one evening - Sarah, Susan, Jan Jan and Barb.  Taking advantage of the early afternoon, I headed to Susan's house on the train, leaving my husband at home to feed and walk the dogs before he came over later.  Susan and Barb picked me up at the train station and our eyes filled with tears of longing when we hugged.  On the ride to Susan's house as we chatted, I became fully aware that Barb was now comfortable in her new role as a mother.  As I gave them a pile of books I'd recently read, we laughed about how they all related to mother, daughter and sister relationships, something that we all know a lot about.  Upon arrival to Susan's, I was greeted by Hope, fully dressed in her Ms. Santa dress and a hip Hannah Montana hat.  She immediately brought in a basket full of princess crowns of all shapes and sizes.  She asked us each to pick one and wear it, unspokenly making us all sisters.  With our crowns securely fastenened on our heads, we figured it was happy hour and therefore uncorked a bottle of wine.  After a cheers, we began preparations for dinner.   Soon after, Janet arrived.  She'd had my same idea - leave her husband at home with one of the kids so she could fully engage in sister time.  We poured her a glass of wine and got her a princess crown.  There was a comfort with us all being together, just us, with the kids all busy watching movies. 

As we chatted away, the rest of the family began showing up.  First Daryl came down the stairs with Finleigh, the newest baby girl in the family and the one we all couldn't wait to see, hold and coo over.  Then Roger woke up from a nap along with Riley and they trudged downstairs to say hello.  Then Phil arrived with little Kevin and a laundry basket full of dessert for later.  Not long after, Warren entered through the front door - to the delight of all the neices and nephews.  Soon the house was swarming with aunts and uncles and kids and the smell of food cooking made it feel just like home.  With all the commotion, us sisters still had an invisble bubble around us, allowing us to catch up and talk about our lives, including roping in all our husbands to do a photo shoot of us, with all of our cameras. 

There is something about having sisters that is an incredible gift.  My sisters are my best friends.   No matter where we are in life or where life takes us, we always have eachother.  We are sometimes strewn miles apart in our locations, differences and habits, but our hearts are melded together in a bond that cannot be broken.  A bond that does not judge and a bond that only gets stronger with time.  Of course as young girls, we fought, yelled and slammed doors in one anothers faces.  We stole clothes from the others closets and tattled when appropriate and to our advantage.  But as we grew up into young women, then wives, then mothers, we restored our sisterhood when we found we could balance life a little easier when we could revert to our familiar and comfortable role as sisters.  There is nothing in the world like having sisters.  And there is nothing in the world that I wouldn't do for any of one of them.  So when special weekends like these come around, I slip back into my sister role and get ready to have my soul renewed again.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

For The Love Of Dogs

The human spirit is not dead. It lives on in secret.... It has come to believe that compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.  ~Albert Schweitzer, Novel Peace Prize address, "The Problem of Peace in the World Today"

Just recently, I came upon a new path, allowing me to help spread the word about the beautiful rewards of fostering or adopting rescue dogs - my essay on our rescue dog Tahoe (a revised version) was just published in a book called: Lost Souls Found - Inspiring Stories of Labrador Retriever Rescues.  Yay, I know, I'm published now!!  The book company, Happy Tails Books, publishes books on every type of dog breed, including mixed breed dogs. All are inspiring rescue stories that will make your heart swell for these pups and their rescuers. The proceeds for the books benefit the dog rescues (authors are not compensated for that reason).

My love of dogs has morphed into a need to protect them. Hence, my involvement in dog rescue groups and foster homes helps to nurture that desire. But sometimes I feel that it's not enough. How can I save every dog from being neglected, abused, and chained? Well, I can't. But I can join the loving hearts of many doing their part to protect. And by sharing this rescue story, I am creating compassion in the hearts of others and each little step is a huge achievement toward saving one little doggy life at a time.

Enough Already

Patience is the ability to count down before you blast off.    ~Author Unknown

People are freaking out this month. I know it's because of planetary alignment with Mercury finalizing it's retrograde and such, but geez, enough already. Even my usual calm in the face of other people's storms is ceasing to exist. My patience is at a serious all-time low and I am running the risk of telling someone just exactly where to stick it which is probably why my wine stock has increased along with sweat-induced crazed fits of running UP hills (instead of a nice easy jog) in an effort to ease the universe's subjection of emotional burdens on me. Once again, I am reaching down into the abyss, scraping for any reserve of patience that may be lost in some dark corner of my soul, that will save me from myself!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Motivational Activation - A Living Recipe for 2010

Like I said the other day, I feel a new level of consciousness is beginning to take hold.  I perceive a philosophical shift in the thought process of humans and our being.  Because of that I think that my New Year's Resolutions must mirror this transformative phase. My living recipe for 2010 is going to be full of motivational activation.  I'm going to plan for change, open myself to the new energies of the universe yet I will keep my eye open and watching for anything new. 

Even though I am a free thinker and doer, it seems to me that this year I am going to need to do some intensive and creative combining of the aspects of my life in a way that I have never experienced before.  I'm going to have to rethink the very structure of my life and go beyond my current worldview and find the courage to release my old ways of thinking.  I'm going to have to be sure that my heart is fully engaged in everything that I do, with a touch of compassion and faith to take me to the next level.  When I'm making a decision, I need to walk for a while on the path first. 

Although I know this, I must remind myself that everything is connected and that what I do this year will shape all parts of my life and others.  I need to regain balance starting with myself and then with other relationships, resting assured on the fact that we are all in a flux of change. And most necessary and most importantly, I must trust that I am being divinely guided to my highest good.  Cheers to the New Year.  May the universal force be with us all.

Monday, January 4, 2010

It's Coming

Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard. ~Anne Sexton

For many years I have been bothered by a nagging question - why am I here? Why was I born in this time? This time of chaotic uncertainty, economic troubles, over-consumption, polluted landscapes and skies, environmental ignorance and a food system that incorporates animal abuse - all of which I abhor. I knew there was a reason but it was not within my grasp... Yet.

Many many months ago I spoke with a spiritual counselor. Something interesting came up in our conversation, something that was completely unexpected. She told me that I (my spirit) had specifically wanted to come back (as a human) to this particular time in history. Why? She could not tell me. Only I could figure that out. Now please, why would I decide to come back to the age of darkness, as I call it. The age where mankind has forgotten their origins and where spirituality is discouraged, even outlawed. If it appears that I had a choice, I would think that I would have chosen a time where the earth, stars, planets, universe and all it's inhabitants were existing in an alliance of a simple and peaceful co-existence. I mean, seriously.

Lately, it has become apparent to me that a change is coming. I can smell it in the air, the wind whispers it in my ears, I can feel it on the hairs of my arms. I KNOW a change is coming, that part is real. What kind of change? I'm not sure yet but I do know now that it has to do with answering that nagging question - Why am I here. Possibly this change has to do with a shift in perception and consciousness - a universal spiritual awareness that has been growing - at first underground and shunned but now fully exposed. There is an overwhelming urge in me to see and witness this change. To be in the midst of it, absorbing the energy, taking part in reconnecting the webs of the universe, rediscovering the magic that lies dormant.  If you pay attention, you will see it too.