Cooking · Dogs. · Eating Locally · Garden · Healthy Eating · On Being Green · Small Joys

Embracing All of This

The dog asks to go out into the bright morning, and I climb back into bed grateful she wants to come in too, it is so cozy and I begin to drift off but there is a nagging sensation that I have forgotten something.  It is an hour before I realize it is Saturday and I am down to three radishes, a dozen and a half eggs, a lemon and a handful of wilted scallions in the fridge.  

I park in the shadow of a tractor trailer without it’s tractor and open the windows half way.  I am still saying there should be designated dog parking all summer long.  It is only 68, this is the only shade anywhere. How hard would it be, to make a corner of the lot safe for those who are out with their pets?

Now later I feel such a sense of peace and contentment.  There is a moment at which you find yourself, in a place where everything comes together and begins to make sense.  It is really just an inkling, but it is there and it feels like it will become more profound.  

I would not have this home, nor my yoga teacher without my ex husband.  I would not have this belief in my personal strength and integrity without the pirate nor would I have known that the problem was not with me with regards to our difficult relationship, would not have my daughter if it were not for her father… you get the picture.  I would not be cleaning my house organically and with such a small footprint without A.  and a Tau sister I lived with who reminded me that there was a time when this was what I did.  Oh. Yes.  The dogs at my side, my ex again, and a Tau sibling.  I feed them pea pods, blueberries, strawberries and sour cherries.  The pup putting her paw on my knee, asking for more.  What would my life feel like without them?

I wash and cut and prepare my fruit and vegetables.  Storing some in freezer bags, some in the fridge.  I slice cucumbers, the little ones with no seeds, and poor hot vinegar over them, cutting up cilantro and parsley from my garden, trimming lettuce to put it on later, with chickpeas.  

My sour cherry jam is boiling away on the stove and fresh homemade scones baking in the oven. A lifetime of having to live poor, now coming to fruition through living clean.  My six face cords of wood on order, I look at this wood stove and do math in my head, 75 dollars a month to be warm all winter.  Sometimes my gas bill was as high as 350 dollars a month, and that is cheap.  I really can get used to this.

I embrace this, it is perfection.  What a gift.  I am filled with gratitude.  

 

Dogs. · Dreams · Musings · Nature · Small Joys · Strong Woman

Morning Constitutional

 

Rusted Post and Ring
Rusted Post and Ring

In the dream I had, I was trying to cross a river which was now raging where before it was barely a trickle, and I am immediately swept away, I give in to it as the rush of the water picks up speed, I am throw over a raging and deep water fall and pulled from the water.  The man who pulls me out is like a fairy, only human sized, and he has a magical fire burning bright but smokeless.  He tells me he does not know how to build the kind of fire I need to warm me from the shivering hypothermia of the icy cold river, I tell him to collect wood and we begin to build up a warm cozy fire.  I wake with her body against mine like a lover warm and snuggled, she kisses my hand as I gently stroke her, and then gentle becomes playful.  After a bathroom break for all of us, I get back into the warm bed with my kindle, and then knowing the day promises to be hot and sunny, I offer a walk.

They are a bit off their guard, where exactly is breakfast their faces ask, while they enthusiastically line up for the leashes.

There is a small park near my home, and this is where we wander sometimes, still exploring, still a new place, but a favorite.  I never go to Clark Reservation anymore, it was once a sanctuary, now spoiled by a person who has every right to walk there, but who has smashed my peace in that place, in so many places.  This new park, filled with the people of the city,  but in the hush of the early morning, a solitary woman, a neighbor and her two dogs, and I.  The best part is, I can step out my door and be there.

Yesterday I met an old friend at the Oriskany Herb and Flower Show, sponsored by the Cornell Cooperative Extension.  And when I came home, I planted my rose campion, which will reseed itself ten fold, my two white yarrows, “they will spread”, “I know, I want them for their medicinal properties”, my lavender, and a pack of strawberries in the strawberry pot.  I also talked with my landlord and placed the sedum and hollies as he wanted in the front.  Then I mowed the lawns.  “The house looks great” he tells me, “we both love how you have it set up”.  “Well I guess I am done here, since you did most of the jobs I had on my list”.  I feel proud.

The pirate comes to bring me a Polish lunch, which of course I have to pay for.  He is here not more than twenty minutes, he spends half of it communing with Marley.  I cannot help but wonder what he thinks, when he sees the made bed, the tidiness of the house and the work done in the yard.  Does he self reflect and ask himself, what the hell was I thinking by knocking this woman down?  And I find I do not care.  I like him like this, at a distance, I chastise him for yelling at the dogs, and model the correct way to speak to them.  When they respond, he makes a noise of surprise.  When he leaves I take a book and quiet now, read about Elizabeth Warren in my big comfy chair while the dogs nap nearby.

Is this not bliss?

 

Dogs. · Musings · Strong Woman · Uncategorized

Moving Day

hardwood

12 hours ago I did a final walk through with my friend, and new landlord.  The hard wood floors shone with fresh varnish.  I had butterflies in my stomach with the excitement of leaving this place, of  starting off new.  And now sleepless with imagining where I will put the dog crate or my desk, or if the movers will help me put together the spare bed my friend left behind, I decide now is as good a time as any to update my address on the dmv website.  I will be without internet for several days.

The dog has crawled under the warm down, burrowing next to me for warmth, this pleasure of having a short haired dog; she rests her chin on my bare feet as I pat her skinny little backside.

I feel like a box full of sunshine, my rays all spraying out of the cracks, like a tin lantern.

This last year has been a slog, I have trudged through it, holding on sometimes, like fingers scrambling on rock, at times my soul has felt bloodied and raw.  Or wound tight, talking too loud, being too much on edge, hard and brittle and cracked just a little.  My therapist assures me that I am quite sane, and an easy client.  I love that.  But here is what I love best, I have left this relationship with integrity.  We both knew it was over, a while ago.  And he has helped me pack, we have had open and honest discussions about how it was going to go. I still will, for the time being, have keys to his house; he still will, for the time being, dog sit if I need it.  And every step of the way, I have informed him of my choices and what I would be doing.  I have consciously done this.  Because leaving a relationship any other way is cowardly and immature; packing your bags and leaving without warning or saying goodbye, is weak and pathetic.  I am none of these things.  And when you leave someone this way, it is a brutal, heartless and cruel way to treat them, it results in unbearable pain, no understanding of the meaning behind it, and a vile anger.

My brother had a friend, who, many years ago, came home from work, or a weekend away, only to find that his girlfriend had left him.  She took everything, including the toilet paper hanging on the roll.  And there were people, who advised me to do the same.  But i remember thinking, then, that it was a pretty heartless and petty way to go about leaving a relationship.  Is this what I wanted to do?  The message about myself that I wanted to show the world?

I am better for having done it this way, I am better for knowing that my strength and integrity will always carry me.

I feel like my tin lantern is made of tempered steel.

Changing Seasons · Dogs. · Uncategorized

First Day of Spring

People make the mistake of thinking they will wake on this day and there will have been a magical transformation, the night elves will have been hard at work vacuuming up the snow, blow drying the mud, planting crisp and shiny snow drops and firm nubs of daffodils in the ground while we all peacefully slumber and dream of sugar plum fairies, and margaritas by Caribbean waters.  And when we rub the seeds of sleep from our drowsy eyes we will step up to a window and look outside, seeing first the reflection of our bed tousled hair and then this wondrous blanket of newness on the ground, and perhaps, if we look out of the corners of our eyes, the last elf putting his finishing touches of dew drops on a bright yellow crocus.

The reality is that it wakes slowly, it needs coffee to get it going, it needs you to be awake to notice its magic is not an overnight occurrence, it needs you to be aware enough to realize that it is not all snowdrops and elves and rainbows and pots of gold, spring is sometimes downright ugly, or more accurately muddy, and sloppy and it always takes longer than the single day to happen.

There is the angle of the sun, it is warmer some how, and even with the wind bringing tears to your eyes, you can smell some minute change in it.  A 35 degree day would elicit a wool sweater in autumn, but in March, in spring, it elicits a light cardigan but you will suffer through freezing in the spring in a way you won’t in the winter.  People say the birds are back, but the birds really never leave, it is just that they are now sitting on wires and bare branches soaking up the warm sun, and singing a little louder, and singing a song of hope, its coming, they say, its coming.  And yes, now we see robins, and flocks of geese and hear red winged blackbirds.  There is still snow on the ground, but it is no longer the crisp clean snow of winter, where it truly is a magic blanket that transforms overnight.  So pretty.  No, in March it has all gone to hell.  It is brown,  black, sooty and muddy and covered in dog shit people pretended not to see happening, not wanting to take off their gloves to clean it up.  The dogs come home now covered in a layer of salt, sand and slop, a towel at the door as essential as a water bowl.  A trip to the groomers, for a bath, on the to do list.   And if you listen, you will not only hear the bird song, you will hear the sound of the water melting under the snow, under the mud, a tiny trickle of life.  I imagine on these warm melty days, a Native American listening to the spring in the hard wood forest, and putting her ear to a maple tree, and wondering, what is that?  What is that trickle?, and discovering the sweet taste of the sap did she take some home and try to make soup with it?

You wake in spring, and feel too the blood in your own body melting.  The mega doses of vitamin D, maybe not so necessary any more, and when you get home from work, you feel spring in your feet, you are tired but instead of craving soup and homemade bread and a warm blanket and a doggy cuddle by the fire, you crave a long walk outside, where your ears burn and your cheeks sting and you are smiling by the end, because, you can hear the hope in your song, it is coming.  It is coming.

Birds · Dogs. · Nature

Bird Dog

She is not the same as he, he herds, he stays close, he is a loner.  She is high energy, always happy to say hello to anyone, to anything.  He pays attention, but only as a means of protection.  She pays attention to, to smells, to people, to birds.  She watches as the murders of crows wing through the windy grey sky, at the doves as they watch us from the wires, at the hawk that circles and circles.

It is afternoon, cold, and snowy, and she is wound from a day in her crate.  She throws herself into the banks of snow, buried up to her nose, leaping like a horse over some high obstacle in the steeple chase, up and over, up and over, and then into the snow pocket of the fire hydrant.  It is the home owner’s duty to shovel around it, keeping it clear and visible in case it is needed.  And she comes out from behind it with a bird in her mouth.

I am dismayed, a dead, diseased, rotted or covered in lice, little bird.  But as I look, I cannot tell if it is the wind or her breath or a beating heart I see movement, either way this must be dropped.

Drop it.

Drop it.

And she does.  It hops off, trying to fly, and failing, it is hopping in the road, saved from the mouth of dark slobbery death only to be smashed by a speeding car.  I quickly tie both dogs to the hydrant sign.  And hop along after it, trying to catch it as it hops and flaps and flaps and hops.  Finally, it stops, realizing flying would not be happening, and giving up to the giant creature, trying to peep like a baby chick, and uttering such lies as, I won’t hurt you, I promise.

It waits, looking back at me, immobile.

I pick it up.

I cup my soft alpaca covered hands around it making a nest of mitten, it is turning its head waiting to look death in the eye, defenseless with its tiny beak against the lumbering land bound giant who know holds her captive. I feel her heart beating in my hands, I talk soothingly to her, seeing that death is not immediate and  passing the dogs, I tell them they are good for standing so still, but she sees I am not delivering her into their snapping jaws.  I take the little wren to the brambly bush they often congregate in, making a racket in the afternoon sun, although the birds in the neighborhood, have gone from, its almost spring,gabbering, to silence as this drama unfolds.

I set her carefully on a branch and shortly she drops to the ground, burrowing through snow deep into the  bramble.

Later I clumsily throw seed into the bush, hoping she will live, hoping her wing is only bruised.

I worry that I will get lice or bird sickness on my mittens.

I see this dog’s predatory nature, she is bred for hunting birds.

I hear the birds in the neighborhood, they are saying something to me, it is a directed noise, a sharp questioning cheep.

I hear it, but I understand nothing.

 

marley

 

All things melancholy · Dogs. · Musings · Strong Woman

Discovering four in the morning

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.  ~ Anatole France

There was a time in my life when I was quite satisfied to work the 4pm to 12 midnight shift, I would come home too keyed up to go to bed, and would paint until two in the morning, a practice which changed immediately upon giving birth.  Over the years my sleep cycle has changed dramatically depending on where I am in my life, and this ongoing sleep disorder.  Having a puppy is like having a baby, your life is no longer your own, and you have to embrace moments where it is your own, you have to embrace the life of being a dog owner, a life of some routine, and stability.  I wouldn’t have it any other way right now.

I have a confession to make, I am slowly going crazy here in this place.  And I need to come to some solution.  And the realization comes to me at four in the morning.  I wake because my little turtle bean is awake.  I take her out and we both try to go back to sleep, but it swirls in my mind, like the spirals of an armed galaxy, the  infinitesimal becomes huge, and I spin and churn and roil with my internal life.

I fantasize about screened in porches, hardwood floors where a puppy can have an accident and I simply scold and mop up.  Not that she has many but when she does, I do not want to be the one scolded.  I fantasize about the constant heat of a wood stove, and the ability to sleep in the cool rather than the constant noise and heat of a furnace.  I fantasize about not hearing the constant tick of clocks.  I fantasize about calling in sick and not being accused of faking it, or being weak, I fantasize about not bothering to shovel snow until I feel like getting dressed, it must be done it must be done it must be done it must be done.

I get up, and it is now nearly six.  I break from the routine and am punished by a wet spot on the carpet, at least it is my carpet.  I trudge through the garage, blinding my eyes to the mismatched detritus of thirty years of mild hoarding.  Oriental carpets, on avocado and marigold striped carpets on South Park rugs on towels left on the floor after hot tub, two weeks ago, on top of Duck Dynasty men looking up my pant legs and sniffing my cold bare feet.  I do not dislike this place, the woodstove, the long fenced yard, full of plant life, cars zooming by, a constant sound you become numb to.  I listen in the quiet to TED Talks, scroll through Facebook and sometimes knit or read.  This is the discovery.  Four am, seven am.  The dogs resting, puppy in her crate, where I have to put her for sanity.  Food and walk to come shortly.  But here it is.  I sit in the only comfortable chair in the house, directly facing a 50 inch television, which sits like Darth Vader’s suit ready to envelop my life force.  It looms over me like a gaping maw, ready to eat my brain like a mud pit full of zombies.  Last night as I made relish with my food processor taking a quarter of the time to chop the cranberries and apples, the noise of the television screamed and tore and rent through the house.  I was too loud, you see, for the violence of some movie to be heard.  Not a real time movie that could not be paused, but a video, that could be.  You have to understand, I have been watching TV since I was four years old.  Oh.  But do you understand that I have lived for years without one?  No.  You are always on that computer.  Yes.  Yes.  I am.  And I know I shouldn’t be.  I have better things to do, but here is the problem, my only choice is to sit in this one comfortable chair in the house, dominated by a 50 inch television, the computer, is like a solace, it soothes me when a man in a toupee wearing no shirt in a junk yard yammers on about nothing and when a man with no teeth gives a hillbilly holler as he throws a turkey in front of the camera and then pretends there is that bugger now and pretends to catch it.  Live Action.  Did you notice how at my old house, the one you called cold and dark, the TV was in one room but the dining room and the comfortable furniture was in another?  Separate from the action of the home.  Do you notice how my adoring friends stand awkward and uncomfortable in the cluttered corners, not sure where to put their bodies, or their hands.  All intellectual conversation stops as we stare numbly at rednecks and jackasses and fast food commercials.

I ask my therapist, why do I still dream of this other thing that I really don’t want and was relieved to see it go?  What is it that you miss?  Ah.

I watch the dynamic of two women clamoring for his love, his attention and for the right to provide and care for him.  I watch as one man sinks in on himself, chastised for being lazy, criticized for trying to start an intellectual conversation at the breakfast table, called a clumsy inadequate oaf for not putting something together right, or breaking something else, criticized for not doing enough to help.  Please, do not misunderstand he is an utter jackass, uses racial slurs, and intentionally stirs up hostile debate; I suddenly see that in this triangle I am him, the role I will play in this triangle is that of him.  Who will care for me?  Morgan and I go into the weather to attend an intellectual event together, and she goes first to the back seat and tells me to get in the car as she takes out the brush and sweeps snow off my windows.  I sit still and quiet thinking, he has done this for me only once in now almost three years.  Who will care for me?  I will.

It isn’t him though.  He is who he is, and I know that ultimately I am not particularly good at male female relationships.  I love hiking with him, canoeing with him, fishing with him, even watching shows and sci-fi movies with him, I love teasing him and being teased (the gentle times) by him, I love so much about him, but can we not live apart?  Where I have my peaceful home, where it is my home, and he has his loud and cluttered and walled in home, protected by his things and the comfort of two women vying for the chance to serve him.  They want to come in and care for him, they want him to stay with them while he recovers from surgery, they want to make him lunch, oh but they don’t want to offend.  They want to rush to the store to buy him a new winter coat when four more hang in the closet in the basement, they want to give him money, they want to make his favorite foods, they want to weed his garden. Can you ask them not to dig up my comfrey roots and tansy?  No they paid for this house, they have more say than you.  I want to control my home and environment, I don’t want them in my bedroom leaving the door open for a cat to piss in, I want to be free from being called a slob, from the judgmental eye on my yard and my unmade bed and the dishes left in the sink.  It is awesome to have someone say, I am running to the store do you need anything, to say you have the flu?  Do you need anything?  To say, you are hurt can I drive you to the hospital?  But this?  This has never been my house, and it never will be.

Three hours of quiet.  Soon the bull will wake and another day in the china shop will begin.  I have much to be thankful for.  So much.

Thank you for listening to the voice that kept me awake at four in the morning.

fourinthemorning

 

Climate Change · Dogs. · Musings

moonlight and orion

it is early morning, the air is crisp and cold and the wind is blowing.  she wakes me with chewing on my pillow, I pad out in my hard soled slippers and fleece jacket over my pjs.  not to be scatological but this first trip of the day, is the one where she likes to do her business, i walk up the hill to the first tier to encourage her, if i stand by the door she doesn’t always take the time she needs to.  i look up in the sky and the moon is just peeking through a crack in the overcast sky and it shines light on clouds in the shape of a heart, silver against the purple-black of the sky.

i go to work, but am immediately regretting it.  my hands ache, my fingers ache, my shoulders and back ache and i am nauseous from anti inflammatory.  I try to work with paper and my fingers cannot grasp it to tear it.  I huddle inside of myself, waiting for the day to end before it even started.  i look at my schedule and realize that a day off today will not be so bad.  i go home sick and spend the rest of the day in bed, though the sun is shining and perfect for a crisp autumn walk.  washing the dishes feels good on my stiff fingers.  half gloves after hold in the heat.  ah.  this is fun.

i walk the dogs after they eat their dinner.  i put on more glove than i usually would for this time of year.  even if you are sick, and i am not so much sick as sore all over, a puppy needs to be walked.

I have come to love, over many many years of it, this quiet walking.  and now she has come to walk quite pleasantly beside me.  halfway through she stops me nipping at the back of my knee until i bend down to hug her and pet her, he joins her and we are just three dogs loving each other.  i make them walk farther than either of them want to.  puppy energy i say, and achy old bones.  we can do it, sancho is not so sure.  he knows the pirate is making food. inside.

and outside.  there is Orion in the autumn sky, and in my heart.  these night walks are a part of me.  they make me whole, even when parts of me are missing.

Dogs.

Bad dreams.

He has returned to me, and then after a week goes back to her, she was on vacation?  I scream, you didn’t have any place else to go?  He cowers on the floor, you are immoral, I scream, immoral.  He wears a mask, and I put my hands on the sides of his mouth and like a puppet make him say I am shit, say it, I tell him, I am shit.  I punch repeatedly at his groin and miss.

And I am sobbing.

She is nuzzling my face, her paw on my back.

I cry into her warm velvet soft body.  She just cuddles up and licks me.

Its cold, and I am barefoot and in my pajamas.  She is going to the bathroom, and I am shivering in the doorway, he is standing beside me.  Come on, I call and go into the sun porch.  He looks at me askance.  He waits outside until she has leaped into the house and patiently follows her in.  I praise him profusely.  He has accepted her as part of the pack.  Whenever we walk, he always waits for the stragglers, be it the pirate or another dog.  He talks to me in that dog way, telling me he is okay with her.  I still don’t trust him, he still wears his gentle leader, a kind of halter that is meant for walking a bossy dog, whenever she is out of her crate, he can still pant and chew and drink with it, but biting is harder, and he knows it is a control.  Last night he even played with her, while wearing it.

She is sharing my pillow and I am drifting off to sleep, she puts her head on mine, her warm chin against the side of my neck.  She begins to twitch, and then growl and then bark in her sleep.  I whisper into her ear, its okay honey, Mama is here, and her movements calm.

I fall asleep.

I do not dream.

Black Lab Puppy Nose
Black Lab Puppy Nose