Thursday, January 8, 2015

The head and the heart

For the first time in over a year I did not rush home from work to let Ramona out.

Instead, I went to the main squeeze's house where we ordered in pizza as the snow blew around outside, watched silly sitcoms, snuggled, and ate the most delicious popcorn drizzed with coconut oil and honey. Oh, and I got a backrub. Perfect.

Except, on the drive home, overflowing with love and warmth, I remembered why I was able to go right from work to my squeeze's house and I remembered that when I got home Ramona wouldn't jump off the couch to lick my nose and beg for dinner.

Tonight Ramona is with the woman who is thinking of adopting her, and with her two-possible furball siblings.

In my head I have known for awhile that Ramona is not a good fit for my social lifestyle and my growing relationship. Her aggression towards visitors has grown and worsened, and my ability to control it has also worsened and ultimately failed. For the safety of all, I have finally accepted she needs a more experienced caretaker.

But in my heart, she is my dog and I am her "mom."

This is my first pet and my first pet failure. It is a pain that is hard to touch on for too long, too hard to focus on, for doing so leaves me a little breathless. She is going to be gone from my life soon I realize, and I choke on the words as they form. Our paths are heading different directions, my heart sobs.

I keep looking down at the foot of my bed, where her empty bed is, and I can barely believe she isn't in it, groaning and snoring, turning and scratching, occassionally craning her neck upwards towards me. It's hard to believe there is a possibility that soon she will not be the last thing I see every night and the first thing I see every morning.

She has been my company this last year, most times in a positive way, but sometimes in a burdensome and hard way. She is my shadow and companion - never more than a few feet away at any given moment. I know her noises and what her movements mean. I know when she is giving me sincere affection versus treat-motivated licks. I know when she is sick of hugs and my high-pitched sing-song conversations. I have come to cherish when she treats me to the rare and much loved morning snuggle. I try to tell her every day how much I love her. I hope she forgives me for being unable to fulfill the commitment I made to her a year ago.

My house is so quiet without her.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Last Five Months....OR What I Have Been Doing When I Haven't Been Blogging

The last five months...nearly the last six months...many times my thoughts have wandered to this online blank page and I have thought, "I should write. I should reflect. I should share."

Instead I have been sinking into this thing called life, in ways nourishing and needed, in ways challenging and needed.

Writing is this whisper in my heart that is always there, and yet for these five (nearly six) months I have ignored the call for other things.

I have ignored it for a dog that wakes me up before the sun is up, chin on the edge of my bed, begging for the morning meal that I can only assume has been cycling through her doggy brain all through the night and wee morning hours.

This dog has slowly sniffed her way through our shared neighborhood, started to come out of her shell in the most subtle of ways - a tiny tail wag on our afternoon stroll, a lick on the tip of my nose when I return from my 9-to-5 - and both expanded and broken my heart in countless ways.

I have ignored writing for a job that demands more than 40 hours a week, that is unrelenting and punishing, that makes me cry in the office bathroom and question my strength, my boundaries.

This job that I put so much hope into has taught me about the risk of expectations and the risk of always saying "Yes." I seek new opportunities with the promise to myself that I will never again give my A++++ game, that my B game is more than enough, that boundaries in the workplace cannot be overvalued.

I have ignored this space to fall in love with a boy. (Saw that coming right?)

This boy who has taught me through his introvert-self about the truth of my extrovert-facade. This boy who has helped me slow, who has given me permission to relax and let the to do list wait a day, who has waxed poetics about social justice and topics of EXTREME nerdery.

In his way, which is so different from my way, I have discovered the things I value, the things I stubbornly fight for, and the places I need to bend and give way a bit. I believe he has made similiar discoveries about himself, and in this - in this learning together - these last six months have been something altogether new.

When I was 18 I took a semester off school and moved to California. Even though I'd been living in a college dorm the year prior, my move to California felt like the first time I was truly "on my own."

I was on my own and I had no friends.

Until I met a coworker, Shannon, ten years older, who - in a profound and real way - took me under her wing. I'll never forget the weekend we first hung out - I had been so excited when she'd asked me the day before if I wanted to go to a park with her. I had been so bored and lonely all the weekends leading up to that one. When the planned excursion ended up lasting hours less than I expected, I started to feel a bit panicky thinking about how I would fill the rest of the day.

Shannon asked me in the car a mile from my house, "So, what do you do on the weekends usually? What will you do when I drop you off?"

And because I had no defenses up I just straight up said, "A lot of reading and staring at my wall."

I'll never forget the look Shannon gave me, or the very swift u-turn she made as the silence after my comment filled the car. As she turned her car around she said, "You are coming to my place. There will be no wall staring today."

Every weekend there after I would wait for Shannon to pick me up and when I heard the beep of her car horn, I would run downstairs, and jump into her passenger seat. Shannon's passenger seat became the most important "place" of my six months living in CA. And the symbolism of having an occupied passenger seat has followed me.

Throughout my twenties my passenger seat held many friends, and bags, and books, and flowers for my garden, and tools for my house, but mostly it was a quiet, blank space waiting to be filled.

So imagine my surprise when, in my 30th year, my normally empty passenger seat suddenly became occupied by a tolerant and quiet furball named Ramona. We took many drives in our first three months together and she was a nice - thought silent - co-pilot.

Or when, in the spring of my 30th year, I suddenly found myself driving home after dropping off this amazing boy I was getting to know and I looked to my right - to the passenger seat I had spent my last decade trying to accept in its emptiness and trying to not beg or long to be occupied - and I felt so swiftly and strongly that the seat had found its inhabitant.

I thought, "It's not just empty now; it's empty without him. It's empty when he's not in it. My passenger seat is full."

Which is why I haven't been blogging, and what I have been sinking into - and letting sink into me - over the last five (nearly six) months.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Ramona Update - Independence Day

Here's a very important collage I made about Ramona's reaction to fireworks.

Puppy can't be bothered.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Making a Kumquat Pie

Making a Candied Kumquat Tart Pie is not so bad.

If you have three hours to kill.

First Row: 1) Wash kumquats 2) Slice kumquats 3) Be sure to get all the seeds 4) Boil kumquats in sugar water 5) Dry 

Second Row: 1) Roast hazelnuts 1-2) Forget to document boring parts of making dough 2) Throw hazelnut dough on pastry mat 3) Knead 4) Push into pie pan (instead of tart pan recipe calls for) 5) Bake crust weighted with rice on foil (but burn it anyway)

Third Row: 1) Semi-sweet chocolate chips go in bowl 1-2) Do not document heating of cream and pouring of cream 2) Stir together decadent ingredients to make filling 3) Fill tart shell / crust 4) Start arranging kumquats 5) Think about how much your pie doesn't look like the photo from the blog.

Recipe can be found here.

Bored sous chef not included for all chefs

Review: Not dentist approved aka immediate toothache, but excited to know how to candy fruit.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saturday Morning, Pondering the Big Questions

Read this.

Words to live by: You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.


(Just something I've been ruminating on a lot as I've started again doing this thing called "dating.")

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dog is Co-pilot

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about my dog, Ramona.

That's where I have disappeared off to, this world of dog ownership and the swiftest growing of my heart, expanding with love that increases every day.

I have bonded with other dogs before, notably my parent's newish dog Bea and even more significantly the resident dog on the farm I worked at in 2006, Loki.

I'll never forget the day that the lunch bell rang and I lingered in the harvest shed with Loki. Normally, the sound of the lunch bell felt so overdue after a morning in the fields that it was all I - and the other workers - could do to not sprint towards the house. Go slowly, look less desperately hungry, I'd tell myself.

This particular morning, I found myself alone in the harvest shed with Loki by my side. Like Ramona, Loki was a dog that was always underfoot, and like Ramona, I often tripped over him, so surprised I was to find him by my side.

That day, I found myself compelled to plop down on the ground and begin to pet him from forehead to tail. I remember gazing into his eyes and thinking to myself, "I am going to try something. I am going to manifest the biggest orb of love I can and try to transmit it from my hand into Loki."

So I sat there in the shed for a good ten minutes, just petting him over & over, with each pet thinking to myself I love you so much, Loki, I love you so much. Finally the lunch bell rang a second time, with more urgency, and I picked myself up and headed to the house.

Interestingly enough, Loki was not at lunch that day, doing his normal graze between chairs for fallen food. I noticed this but didn't think much of it until hours later when I was back in the field.

I was crawling on my hands and knees, pulling weeds (oh the joy of organic farming) in a field at the top of the hill, when I had the distinct feeling that someone - or something - was watching me. Imagine my surprise when I looked up, and saw Loki just a foot away from my face. Due to my position, we were eye level. I looked at him, thinking What the heck are you doing, pup? And then he took a half step forward, maintaining eye contact, and licked me square on the nose, turning afterwards to run off into the distance.

I felt certain this was his acknowledgment of the exchange we'd had before lunch. Love passed back to me in the way he knew how.

I recall this story as I think of the deep love I felt for Loki and how it compares to what is growing for Ramona. I think there is a difference in the love you feel for a creature you are responsible for,  rather than just enjoying.

I look at Ramona and I think of my friend who said, "You are both rescued." I think that is true. In no disrespect to my wonderful life, career, community, Ramona truly gave me something outside of myself and my goals to be connected to: a reason to rush home after work, awake at the crack of dawn to get in a walk, abuse Google with my dog care questions, and build relationships with strangers who share this one thing in common with me: a canine companion.

I have seen those bumper stickers that say "Dog is Co-Pilot" and though they always made me chuckle, I never really got them until getting Ramona.

It's funny, because a lot of my twenties were about existing without a solid co-pilot. I remarked to many coupled friends how often I was alone, taking care of my mundane tasks and errands, looking at the passenger seat with a bit of longing and uncertainty. Towards the end of my twenties I began to see the gift in my independence, and actually found myself cherishing the moments after dropping off a friend when my passenger seat was empty again and I got to drive home with by myself. And in this space of less desperate longing for a companion, I found Ramona, and she found me.

The other day, I was transported back to the harvest shed with Loki, when I found myself petting Ramona one evening. She was curled up in her dog bed at the foot of my human bed, and I was lying at the very edge leaning over to stroke her with my right hand.

I looked at my hand, and it was like as if I could see golden rays of love and light and nurturing transmitting from my hand to her body. Or, to articulate it another way, I saw myself.

As I pet Ramona and poured my love into her, I realized I was pouring myself into her. Though all I could see was my hand petting her, we never really see ourselves fully, right? Even a mirror image is skewed. And in this moment, in just my hand, in just the action of loving this animal, I saw myself so clearly.

I feel so lucky to have found her.

Monday, January 6, 2014

What Was, What Will Be

I've always been the reflective type. Thus, honoring have the start of the new year with some heartfelt reflection on the year ending and the year to come has been my go-to New Year's tradition. Setting intentions for myself feels about as natural as taking a breath in, a breath out. It feels good. It feels like the right way to close one chapter and start another.

So, to my surprise, as 2013 came to a close and 2014 jumped to a start - with my 30th birthday just a few days into the New Year - I've felt no such inclination to step aside and dream of what's next.

Not that I'm not dreaming...

Perhaps starting a new decade requires more concentration or focus. Perhaps reflecting on the year past has felt a bit surprising and so I've wanted to linger there longer. Or, simply put, I have been living into my intentions and felt less bound to the actual ritual of stating them.

When I think about this past year I recognize that I put up a lot of walls - a sort of fortress around myself - to quite literally protect myself. 2012 had a lot of heartache and I went into 2013 a little weathered and exhausted. In my bubble - created through fear, heartbreak, disappointment, and needs I couldn't yet articulate - I ended up digging deeper into self-care and discovered someone I rather like: me.  It was a year of looking back to name the hurt and looking forward to say how it could be different. It was about self-love and forgiveness, which includes loving the bits that will always be broken. It was also a year that ended with serious career transition that put me face-to-face with my walls, fears, BS, excuses AND power, humor, sensitivity, competency, and passion.

It was a year about quoting from Dear Sugar; cooking adventurous and epic meals in my new kitchen; expressing love and accepting rejection; acting courageously in my career; finding support in surprising places; being less surprised when things don't always work out the way you expected but they still work; speaking my own truth; laughing through tears and crying through uncontrollable laughter at therapy; and driving home more times than I can count filled with overflowing gratitude for my community of wise, loving, wonderful people.

All that being the case, I know 2014 has to be about kicking down some of those self-protection walls. It can't all be about self-work: eventually you have to try out your tools in the field instead of just sharpening them over and over again in the shop. This year I looked within and came out on the other side liking who I am, scars freckles and all. This year I aim to be open to new experiences, new people, new challenges, and the possibility of new hurt, if it means new growth.

Seemed like a dog was a good way to start.

Hello, Ramona