Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mid-Week Musings...

90 degrees on the last day of April.  And that's all I'm going to say about the heat.  No, really.  There's no point bemoaning something I can't do a damned thing about.  (Though I reserve the right to grouse at a later date...)

Monday was the end of a wild storm front with torrential rain and truly strong winds.  I was able to finish my 1008-page mega-novel by early evening, then spent the rest of the night mulling over the plot, the characters, the author who wrote a book so intense and amazing I'm still rehashing things today.  It was great the weather was so foul for the three days I was lost in a time warp...

Yesterday was Ozzy's monthly trip to the vet for blood work to see if his liver is responding to the meds. It's not, so he'll have to keep taking the liver pills along with the other three meds, probably for the rest of his days.

So, we're sitting in the waiting room, he's on my lap hyperventilating and shaking like a leaf.  I'm talking to him, trying to calm him down, when I see this weird thing on his brow. We've just come from our morning walk so I think it's a piece of dirt or something and try to brush it off.

Frigging hell.  It's a tick.  I really, really don't like ticks, or anything remotely like a tick, or any kind of freak thing that can suck blood. And no, not because of Dracula movies I wasn't supposed to be watching on late night Elvira shows.


The Summer I turned twelve, I got to stay with my grandparents in Alaska.  One day my grandmother took me and two friends to this beautiful lake/pond in the middle of the woods to swim.  The water was warm--pretty unheard of for Alaska--and we frolicked and swam and had a great time.

Until we got out.

And found ourselves covered in leeches.

Screaming, hopping, crying...chaos ensued.  My grandmother was suddenly faced with three hysterical girls who couldn't hold still.  Eventually she did the Voice of Imminent Demise, we calmed down (sort of) and she was able to get the horrors off, though the little round marks from their sucker mouths lasted for weeks. EEEEeeeeewwwwww.  My skin is crawling just remembering...

If I have any kind of childhood trauma...that's it, right there.


Flash forward to 2014 and there's a blood sucker thing on Ozzy's brow.  I can hardly sit still until they call my name and the first thing I say to the vet is "Get it off!!"  He does, in short order, though is laughing at me the whole time--especially when I couldn't even watch as he yanked the thing out. Though after I told him the leech story, he stopped laughing, shuddered and got all grossed out on my behalf.

This experience just totally makes a case for living in a city, peeps.  Now every little twinge or itch, and I'm convinced a bloodsucking tick is crawling on me.

Today I worked outside for quite awhile after the morning walk.  Planted some Snapdragons to replace the ones lost over the Winter, cleaned out the four hanging baskets for the Fuchsias I haven't bought yet, and filled a couple of pots with Geraniums.  The slope looks really cool in the back with all the poppies.  I love that they have just sprouted on their own...

My sister gave me a really cool carafe-type jug when I was visiting last week.  When we were out shopping, I was looking for a new sun tea container--I live on iced tea in the Summer. She said I might like one she had that wasn't as big as the store-bought style. And she was right...I love it.  The glass is thick, the design is very cool, and it won't take up much room in the fridge.  It's a perfect container.

Six bags of Earl Grey, two quarts of pure, filtered water, and the sun...

It's a relief to have some of my outside chores done, though later--once the nuclear orb has set--I will mow the lawn in the cool of the evening.  But for now, cleaned up and non-sweaty, dirt scoured from under my fingernails, a cold, delicious glass of iced tea and my book sound just about right...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Book, Blooms and a Green Dragon

I haven't watched my Desolation of Smaug movie yet.  As a storm raged across the land yesterday afternoon, I thought I would read a chapter or so in my book before I settled into the film.  I should have known better.  Hours later--between chores, dinner, walking the dogs--I was 337 pages into a monumental 1008 and had to stop before I stayed up all night or went blind, whichever came first.

It's when I read books like this--gripping, mind-boggling, absorbing, perfect--that I waver in my belief I can write.  I know not everyone can be Hemingway or Dan Brown or Lynn Viehl, but damn.  I'd be thrilled at this point to finish a bloody short story, let alone write a plot so intricately convoluted and breathtaking.


Since I was out of town last weekend, I haven't taken the boys to the VA complex for two weeks.  I was amazed at the flowers and shrubs that bloomed in such a short time...


While at my sister's, I bought a few different blends of tea from the same company that makes 500 Mile Chai, my most favorite tea of all time.  I got a tin of Earl Grey made with Italian Bergamot, and one called Green Dragon, an oolong made from mature leaves that are gathered and withered in the sun. Then the leaves are wrapped in tight balls and roasted, re-rolled, re-roasted...until tada...Green Dragon tea:

I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened the tin...but it wasn't this.  I think in most states, I could be arrested for what this looks like.  The big question might be, do I smoke it or drink it?

After steeping for five minutes, the leaves had unfurled and the tea was a lovely, light golden color. I usually drink my tea with milk, but this blend was best by itself.  The flavor was...odd.  It had a grassy fragrance (no pun intended), though tasted a bit toasty with a floral hint, though I can't identify the flower...

This won't be a tea I will drink regularly, but it's interesting enough I'll certainly have a cup now and again when I'm feeling like a pure green.

So, now I'm off to read my mega-novel.  I made myself stop last night around midnight, though the plot swirled in my dreams last night and has been filling my head today. Time to get back to the story.  Thankfully it's still raining and I don't feel compelled to do anything other than read.

My favorite kind of Sunday afternoon...

Friday, April 25, 2014

Rambles on a Friday

Since getting home on Monday from my wee holiday, the weather has been wonderfully atrocious, meaning I've had to postpone the dreaded Two Decks Project (oh, boo hoo).  It has stormed and raged all week...and yes, I'm really glad to have the excuse not to get started on what will surely been the DIY nightmare of the year.  At least the most grueling.  Next week things are to gallop into the 80s so my reprieve will be short-lived. Until then, I am reveling in this, my view across the valley. And yeah, I took this photo about an hour ago and it really was that dark at High Noon...

While walking the boys this morning, I actually saw a funnel cloud forming.  Course, I didn't have my camera as I was juggling two leashes, an umbrella and a couple of rambunctious critters.  The funnel was truly headed for tornado status--albeit a small one--but just as the tip began to narrow and spin toward the ground, the clouds above it burst with heavy rain and the funnel dissolved before my eyes.

I love wild and crazy long as there are no tears before bedtime.

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Yesterday, regardless of the weather, I had to swamp mow.  The grass in the back garden was nearly over Ozzy's head and even Max was having trouble with the...ah...the manly bits; dangling participles; Willy's wonka.  So, in the rain, there I was, slogging through foot-tall grass, yanking my push mower through the soggy swamp.  When I was finished, I decided the pushing, pulling and drenching counted for my daily aerobics.  The boys were very happy later to discover they could lift their legs without...well...issues.

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I had to mail a birthday card whilst out this morning.  A small annex to the main post office has opened near me, very cool because now I don't have to go clear across town. Oddly--to me--the annex is in the local video store.  I'm standing in line when I glance over to the rack where the new movies are on sale.  Amazed, I see the second part of The Hobbit for $10.  I quickly snag the only copy and at some point over the weekend--still savoring my reprieve--I'm going to sit down and watch The Desolation of Smaug...a movie I've been waiting months to see.

Then there's the 900+ page novel I'm about to start reading--another thing I've been waiting months to do.  A stormy, dreary weekend is just about the perfect scenario because once the rains stop and that nuclear yellow orb returns, I've got to hit the deck running...literally.  Times two.

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I'm still having trouble with my writing.  I have beginnings, or endings, but no middles.  Or I have endings and nothing else.  Or beginnings that go nowhere.  I could become worried, but for now I'm just letting things percolate, writing on the blog instead, enjoying my books and keeping my mind open to possibilities.  I was reading a post over at Paperback Writer the other day about sparks, those wondrous little gems that fire the imagination.

Maybe while I'm power-washing, sanding and staining the decks, the drudgery and heat will erode my mental roadblocks and the sparks will fly.

I live in hope, dear readers, I live in hope.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Love Letter

Dearest ~~

I find it so hard to believe it’s been three years since that sunny April afternoon when everything changed so irrevocably.  With just a thought, I can be instantly transported back into nightmare: The 911 call as you lay at my feet, doing CPR—a skill I never thought in a million years I would actually use—while the heartbreaking wail of the ambulance echoed up the ridge; even as it raced closer, I knew it was too late.

How my world shifted on its axis that day, how my breath labored in my lungs as if I were drowning, how my heart stuttered as I found myself, between one moment and the next, a widow.  Far too young, too soon, too much.  Too…everything.

I got through that first year.  Somehow.  I spent hours, days, months wondering why.  Why now, when we were just starting our Grand Adventure in America?  Why was I alone on top of a mountain in a strange town when all our friends and family were 6,000 miles away?  Why did you leave me?

Eventually, I stopped asking questions that had no answers. You know I’m not a Buddhist for show, I actually embrace the concept of living in the moment, I understand that life is just…what it is. You can’t come back no matter what I wish, and I can’t change the inevitability of death, no matter how cruel or painful.  That doesn’t mean I don’t think of you, smile at our life together, talk to you when I hear something, see something that I know you would think was funny or outrageous or annoying.  I still cry sometimes, though mostly these days it’s more because of a perfect, happy memory than a mournful sorrow.

It’s funny the things I miss.  Your laugh, that quirk at the corner of your mouth when you tried to keep a straight face whilst winding me up.  I miss your mind.  I miss being able to ask you for a particular word I can't remember and you would know it immediately. I even miss your occasional irascible, bossy laird of the manor attitude, our quiet talks, our wonderful road trips.  But what I miss the very most, love, are your hugs. You could wrap those arms around me like a shield, protect me from the world, warm my neck with your breath, your kisses.  Oh, I miss those full-body, encompassing hugs.

Tonight I will raise a dram of Dalwhinnie—yes, that same bottle of whisky we brought with us from Edinburgh—and I will toast your life, our life, and the fact I’m still standing even without you at my back.

I hope wherever you are, you will know...  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

There and Back Again...

I had a most excellent long weekend.  Not only was it liberating to get away from the drudgery of the same ol' daily stuff, have a plethora of shops, stores and restaurants to entice, but I was able to spend time with my sister and the bro-in-law.

I didn't take as many photos as I wanted, mainly because I was having too much fun ogling the wonders of a large city.  Honestly, I have never been a country bumpkin, nor wanted to be, but I had a moment or two over the five days where I felt like one.  Oh, how I miss the bright lights and big city energy.

On Friday, my sister and I went to a few of my favorite shops--ones that will never appear in the hinterland of southern Oregon.  I bought teas, exotic spices and breads.  I found some biscuits (cookies) that I haven't seen since leaving Edinburgh.  We bought some gourmet cupcakes for our Easter dessert that were as big as softballs. Only two actually made it to Sunday...

Saturday was relaxed and easy, a bit more shopping, some reading.  Then Saturday night we went out to dinner at Bernie's, a bistro in an eclectic neighborhood of Portland, with lots of cool eateries, art galleries, food trucks, old Victorian houses.  The specialty at Bernie's is the southern-style food: buttermilk chicken, hush puppies, collard greens, corn bread.  It was incredibly delicious...all of it, not just the chicken.

Sunday it was time to hike off three days of wine, whiskey and great food, so my bro-in-law took us to his favorite weekend dog walking haunt, the Washington State University campus on the outskirts of Vancouver. The original university is in eastern Washington, but now there's this new campus annex with nine miles of wetlands, hidden artworks, and glorious hiking up hill and down dale.

Go Cougars!!

Not only were the grounds and surrounding acres beautiful, but the campus itself was truly stunning, with Art Deco flourishes and unique mosaic columns...

Wetland areas were scattered between buildings, down trails, under walkways, across bridges; even the culverts were cool. The entire campus was a working, growing, thriving eco-environment that was just...totally wonderful on a quiet Easter Sunday...

There were artworks displays that appeared out of nowhere.  We were walking down a steep trail, wild grasses and giant rocks to our right, when out of the seemingly barren landscape stood this bronze sculpture...

After an hour or so, and just when I thought it was time to turn back, my bro-in-law said he wanted to show me something that I would really like. It was a long hike down (which meant an equally long hike up), but he said it would be worth it.

And it so completely was.  We entered a portion of old forest, dense and lush.  Around a slight bend...The Wailing Bell.  It was at least 14 feet tall (based on my height), the posts were massive, and the bell actually rang.

The clapper was really heavy and the sound was deep and terrible and mournful.  I understood why when I read the message inscribed on the bell itself.  Hopefully, dear readers, you can read it if you click on the photo.

I loved the way the base of the posts were wrapped with hammered copper...

What a perfect way to spend a couple of hours.  We went home, had waffles and Mimosas, and eased into a late Easter dinner.

I had such a great time, though somehow five days flew by faster than should have been possible. Before I knew it, the boys and I were back on the highway and heading south. The drive seemed endless, but wasn't really, and both dogs were thrilled to be home, rolling on the carpet, throwing toys around, then suddenly falling into their beds to sleep away the rest of the afternoon.

How I would have loved to do the same!  Numerous trips up and down the stairs, lots of unpacking, laundry, a walk to the mailbox, dinner and I was done for.

Just like you're supposed to feel after traveling...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring Break

Okay, so I've got the food, snacks, water, blankets and meds ready to go for tomorrow's road trip. And that's just for the dogs. Honestly, it's like having two toddlers with all the stuff I have to pack and organize.

I'm leaving the laptop, taking just my tablet and camera.  My sister is fully wired in case I have a meltdown or a sudden withdrawal spasm, though I'm hoping to just fall off the grid until sometime Monday when I'm back in the wilds of southern Orygun.  We'll see how it goes.

And so, because I won't be around this weekend, dear readers, let me wish you an early...

Happy Easter/Chocolate Bunny/Egg Salad For a Week Day!!

See you on the flip side, peeps...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


I got a few emails today from friends across the Pond with some questions about yesterday's post.

To clarify:  DQ = Dairy Queen, a fast-food place with the usual suspects (burger, fries, etc.), and also some really good ice cream treats, like sundaes and cones and my favorite:

The Peanut Buster parfait.  A layer of hot fudge, peanuts, soft ice cream, repeat until the container is full of yummy deliciousness.

Just looking at the photo makes me want to drive to the other side of town to get myself another one...though I will resist. Summer's coming after all.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Today has been slightly crazed, fraught with many errands, appointments and scurrying from one side of town to the other and back again.  Mondays.  No matter who you are, where you work, what you expect, Mondays are just...Monday.

I had to drop Oz off at the groomer's, especially now the heat and humidity are becoming a daily event and the poor wee thing has too much hair. Then it was a trip to the vet's to refill prescriptions and possibly get Max's demon claws cut at the same time.  No such luck on the claws, the place was mobbed.  Monday, don'tcha know.

After the vet's I got gas for the trip north Thursday morning, went to the grocery store, the post office, then to the bank.  It's about 12:00 when those tasks are finished, Max is grumbling for his lunch and I'm sweating in the mugginess of a semi-cloudy day with temps running toward 80 degrees already. Buggers.

Home for lunch, then I planted the peony--with difficulty since I'm on solid bedrock; the lavender didn't need such a deep hole.  I had to reconnect the hose now the danger of frost is over, then since I'd hauled the ungainly and heavy POS up the slope to water the peony, I decided to wash out and refill the birdbath.

That work done, I get cleaned up and think I should have time to sit for a while with a nice cuppa and my book. While the tea is steeping, I remember Ozzy's meds, get them out of my purse...and discover the tech gave me the wrong pills.  Quick glance at the clock. 1:45. Okay, I think I can get across town to the vet's, and with any luck at all, dash across town in the other direction and still make it to the groomer's by 2:30 to pick up Ozzy.

Are you laughing yet, dear readers, at my blithe intentions?  My idiotic naivete?

The pill mix-up is taken care of fairly quickly.  Lots of apologies, etc., which I am gracious about, mainly because I just want them to hurry up so I can get going.  Finally, back in the car, correct prescription in my purse, I give Max some water and a cookie before driving away with all windows down to help him stay cool.

You know those tiny little decisions, usually made on the spur of the moment?  The ones you always regret when it's too late to change your mind?  Uh huh, yeah, those.

It's now 2:20...I'll be late, but not too late, and I've got options.  I can head through the center of town then meander side streets to the groomer's...or take the secondary highway which skirts the high school but drops me within blocks of the groomer's, bypassing the congestion of downtown altogether.

I choose the high school route.

Of course I do.  Because there is some kind of major event going on there with traffic backed up for miles--literally--and kids, parents, cars, buses everywhere.  It is a jam of epic proportions.  There are more people along this road than live in the entire frigging town!

At last, I make it to the groomer's just a hair after 3:00.  Max is hyperventilating in the back seat, I'm sweating and my left eyelid has begun to twitch.  I run in, all ready with my find the groomer has fallen behind due to a very matted and unkempt dog that has thrown off her entire schedule.  Can I come back in an hour?

I gave Max another drink of water, and another cookie, while I pondered my next move. I totally refused to even think about my stress levels, or the heat, or that my left eyelid is doing the rumba.  I don't want to drive all the way home, I can't go shopping because I have Max in the car and it's too hot.

Driving to no purpose or destination I pass a DQ. Huh. I haven't had a Peanut Buster parfait in years. I pull in, order, then drive to the river where I parked in a perfect spot under a large shade tree. It was quiet and peaceful with a slightly cool breeze coming off the water.  My twitching eyelid was gone by the time I was scraping the last bits of hot fudge from the bottom of the container.

I found a few precious moments of tranquility in the midst of mayhem.  It made all the difference.

Because it's Monday...but I had ice cream...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Nothing Much...

The weather has been warm and sunny, making the lawn and the weeds grow practically before my eyes, so I've spent the last three days working outside whilst battling Mother Nature.  She's winning.

My gorgeous French Lilac bush is just blooming on the back slope.  The deep purple color, with the nearly overwhelming scent...well, it's not only drawing me, but the bees and hummingbirds, too.

I saw the most beautiful peonies the other day while shopping and just had to have one. My sister gave me a lavender plant a few years ago that bit the dust over this past Winter. I'm going to put the peony in the large empty space and hope the blistering sun doesn't fry it. The plant is supposed to love sun, but it's pretty relentless in the back during the Summer.

The deer have disappeared.  Why?  Because little bambinos are being born, no doubt all across the mountain ridges, even as I write this.  At first it seems perfect timing as this will save my newly budding trees and shrubs.  Unfortunately not. What it really means is just when my garden is starting to look good, all the babies will come and eat everything in sight.  And they're so adorable, all gangly and speckled and tiny, that I almost don't even begrudge them.  Almost.

I took this shot the other day of what, I'm totally sure, is a very fed-up and ready to pop pregnant dove.  She sat on the edge of the birdbath for most of the morning taking little naps and occasionally snarking at her partner when he'd drop by to check on her. Apparently those cranky don't ever touch me again feelings are universal. She didn't even care that her tail was in the water the whole time...

I'm going on a road trip next Thursday.  Heading north to visit my sister, do some shopping in a real city and have an adventure or two for the long Easter weekend.  I'm looking forward to hanging out with her and the bro-in-law, and the boys will enjoy seeing their cousin Cooper, the Jack Russell. Chaos will ensue.  Makes me smile just thinking about it.

I plan on having lots of fun because when I get back I have to face the grueling task of power washing the two decks, then staining front and back and two flights of stairs. I skipped it last year, but can't do that this time around.  To say I'm dreading the monumental work involved is an understatement. More like I'd rather have a root canal.

Have I mentioned before that I love Winter?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Opinion vs Censorship

I belong to GoodReads, a wonderful site for writers, readers and book lovers.  One of the advantages to GoodReads is the plethora of reviews by folks across the globe, which often help me weigh the pros and cons of a book to see if I'm interested in reading it even though, in the end, I'll always make my own decision; books are just too subjective.

Now, on to the crux of this post.

Yesterday I was reading the reviews for a book I was pretty sure I wanted to read. The reviews were 4 and 5 stars for the most part, with excellent praise for the author, the plot, the characters.  There were several references to the deep, dark secret, which I found intriguing.  I was just about ready to order the book when I scrolled down to read one more review...a 1 star rating and curiously very negative mixed in with so many positives.

Imagine my irritation and total surprise when in the first damned sentence this reviewer reveals the deep, dark secret!  I was really pissed!  There is a kind of unspoken agreement, a common courtesy if you will, that pertinent, crucial details of the novel are not explained.  Otherwise, why read the book in the first place?  That's what spoiler alerts are for so the book is not ruined by someone with an attitude or personal issues.

After the Big frigging bloody Reveal, the rest of the review turned out to be one of the most scathing I've ever had the misfortune to read.  I'm not going to get into the plot device this person found so utterly offensive, but it occurs at the start and drives the entire rest of the story. And frankly, peeps, I don't know about you guys, but I sure don't live at Disneyland.  The world is cruel, life often sucks, shit happens.

This woman could have stopped reading at any time, donated the book to the Goodwill, ripped it to shreds, whatever.  But to purposefully foist her attitude on other readers, ruin the story and actually say that no one should buy this book (from a best-selling, award-winning author, with exemplary reviews)? Well, correct me if I'm wrong, but that smacks of self-righteous censorship to me.

Or does it?  After all, she's entitled to her opinion, and I will always respect anyone's right to have one, even if I completely disagree.

But then again.  When does the right to opinion shift to censorship?  For me, the moment someone tells me what to think, how to think, or feel they have the right to stop, influence or intimidate me.

Which is why I immediately went to Amazon and ordered the book...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Magpie Tales 214...Currents

photo by Kelsey Hannah

Afloat in sunbeams
Infinitesimal flotsam
Drift on gentle tides

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I really like the prompt this week from Magpie Tales.  It's a great photograph...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Week of Summer...Ugh

Yes, yes, I know.  Most folks would be reveling in the mid-70* temps, especially later in the week when it's to reach almost 80*.  I am not one of those people.

As I've mentioned before--no doubt more than once--I was born in the middle of the Bering Straits on a small Alaskan island.  I spent my school years and a goodly portion of my adult time in the Pacific Northwest before moving to Scotland. And yeah, though I've sailed the South Pacific, lived in more than one tropical climate, can you see the underlying pattern here, dear readers?  It's the chilly, cold, stormy, loads of rain environment that speaks to me; it's abundantly clear that I am not programmed for heat. The fact I will soon be facing at least six months of sweltering, sweaty, mind-melting humidity and heat almost warps my brain.

I really need to find a little cabin up north, or maybe a beach shanty, igloo.

While outside this morning, trying to figure out what to tackle first in the garden chores, I was most pleased to see the California poppies are starting to bloom on the back slope. Because I had to pull out several of the Snapdragons that didn't make it through the Winter, the backyard looks like a big ol' weed patch right now, except for the startling vibrancy of the poppies. They're so bright, and orange, and cheerful...

Well, break over.  Time to get back outside in the nuclear sunshine and spray my shrubs with the deer repellent before the voracious marauders arrive for dinner.  And pretty soon there will be little Bambi kidlets all over the place too.  I'd really like to save some of my front yard while I still care.

Because once the endless Summer hits, I will lose my will to do anything except lay on the cold kitchen floor, panting with the dogs...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Love My Boys

I was walking the dogs around the VA complex this morning.  It was quiet, one of the main reasons I enjoy going there on weekends.  The grounds are lovely, with lots of flowering shrubs and trees; the new blooms helped to offset the dreary, damp weather and my mood.  Alan was heavy on my mind--this being the month I became a widow three years ago--and of course, I can't think of him without also getting homesick for Edinburgh, my friends, the old life.

As we left the large field where the dogs can run free and crossed the road back to the sidewalk, I could feel that painful prickling in my eyes, a warning of imminent tears. Thankfully, before I could lose the plot, the boys spotted a squirrel and dashed toward a tree, dragging me with them as they were leashed. Ozzy went around the tree to the left, Max to the right, and naturally, I got stuck pressed against the tree.  It was funny...and chased away the demons.  Such good dogs.

Nearly back to the car, just passing the main entrance to the hospital, a woman came out the doors and began to walk toward us.  She was tall, attractive, with long gray hair past her shoulders even though she only appeared to be in her late 40s or so.  She was wearing scrubs and a coat and at first I thought she was one of the nurses or doctors on staff. Except then I saw she was clutching a medium-sized, very scruffy black and white teddy bear, and her face was...sad, careworn, distressed.

At that point, I had sidewalk options: left around the building, straight on to meet with the woman, right to skirt a parking lot.  Rather than bother her, I decided to turn left, but just as the boys and I veered away, she said, "Oh, please! Don't go!"

Startled, I turned back and waited for her to catch up with us. Now I could see the lanyard around her neck, her patient tag and ID in the plastic holder.  "I saw you from my window," she said, pointing toward the upper floors of the hospital.  "I just had to come out and see your dogs."

She told me that her dog had recently died and she missed him terribly...and was it okay if she petted mine.  I told her Max was the love puppy, Ozzy wouldn't give her the time of day.  The words were barely out of my mouth when Max went right up to her, wagging his tail like a windmill.  She knelt down to pet him, then pulled him close and began to sob into his neck.

Oh man.  I had been teetering on the brink myself just moments before.  Now the lump in my throat was so big I could hardly breathe.

And then Ozzy came over.  Mr Aloof, the dog who never speaks to strangers, let alone allows anyone to touch him, pokes his nose under the woman's arm and she's holding them both as she cries.  It was horrible and heartbreaking and painfully wonderful that my boys were giving this woman comfort.

Course I cried.

After a few minutes she collected herself, gave them each a hug and a scratch and stood up.  I handed her half of a crumpled tissue I had in my jacket pocket; I took the other half.  She showed me the teddy bear that had belonged to her dog and I could see the telltale slime marks around the bear's middle.  I asked her if she was going to be all right. She nodded, then thanked me for the "therapy" and walked back into the hospital.

Swept away by my own pain and memories, I have a tendency to forget one crucial thing: There's always someone out there who has it worse...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Holy Jet Li, Batman!

Snake Creeps Down

So.  In the attitude of wellness, getting fit and killing improving myself, I've stepped up my t'ai chi forms.  I used to do the flexibility and strengthening postures, but yesterday I changed it up, adding in martial arts movements.

Can I just say that the lovely sounding 8 Pieces of Brocade is totally excruciating?  Those gentle words seem so...fluid and soft and wispy, don't they?  Ha. Though perhaps my shroud will be fashioned from those 8 pieces, because--with heart racing and sweat dripping--Snake Creeps Down is bar-none the most evil, tormented pose ever invented.  I can hardly move my legs today without groaning.  Okay, I can hardly move my legs with lots of groaning.

This afternoon is the treadmill.

Will crawling on my hands and knees count?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


April Fool's.  A concept that took hold in the Middle Ages, though much farther back the Romans had a festival around the same calendar period called Hilaria.  Considering my track record with the gods during this, my least favorite month, that word works really well for me.

I make an effort each April to stay positive and mindful; I try not to anticipate worse case scenarios--self-fulfilling prophecies and all that--but in a month historically fraught with memories and loss, pain and chaos, it's hard not to dwell...there are just too many monsters under my bed.

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In the spirit of taking charge, moving forward, being in this moment, I decided to start my new regime of exercise on April 1st.  I made up a schedule, alternating with one day of treadmill, one of t'ai chi, followed by meditation, starting this afternoon.

The weather has warmed after several days of wind and rain and the grass is too tall for the dogs, so a few hours ago I thought to do a quick lawn mowing before the treadmill workout.

An hour and a half later, I'm revising my schedule.  Yard work counts as exercise.  I mowed, edged, swept, weeded and hauled the rubbish across the road to hurl down the ridge.  My shirt was stuck to my chest/back, sweat was running freely down my red face, my hair plastered to my neck.  I didn't mean to get so carried away, but with one thing leading to another, well, what can I say?

Still. The point of exercise is to sweat, get the heart pumping, move, stretch, utilize those muscles. Mission accomplished.

And only 29 days to go until May...