Monday, June 27, 2016

eli

if you have read my book "Trooper's Run," you know that the Spirit Wolf was based on a real wolf mix that i really did rescue in a hurricane.  unlike his character in the book, Eli had a long and happy life.

i found out today that Eli passed on the 7th of March this year, 11 years after i rescued and rehomed him.  perhaps he was there to greet Trooper at Rainbow Bridge.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

father's day ...

my father has been gone nine years now.

my uncle, my father's twin brother, stepped in as a surrogate father until he passed five years ago.

my step-father has also been gone for three years.

it is odd now that i realize how much time has passed when i know that for my brother and me, my cousins, and my sisters there are times for all of us that it feels like it was just last week.

my husband is a father to three amazing people, and a step-father to two others, one of whom has already made him a grandfather once with another on the way.

his own father is now getting hospice care ... a call we expect and dread.

as a woman, whose own father was distant emotionally, sometimes even geographically so, i can relate to the emotions that my step-daughter feels for her father.  i've come to believe that the father-daughter relationship can be as difficult at times as the mother-daughter relationships can be.

we are destined for those challenges because they teach us, model for us, and sometimes scar us with the knowledge of who we want to be and who we don't.

my father taught me how to love myself.  he taught me how to love others.  he taught me how to forgive myself.  he taught me how to forgive others.

so it is with gratitude today, that i think of my father, and his father before him, and his before him.  men who set the standard for the type of father i would have.  it is with compassion and forgiveness that i think of my father's mistakes because he was not perfect, but he did not know differently.  it is with love that i think of my father because he loved me the best that he knew how.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

things i learned in May ...

i'm joining today for the first time with [emily p. freeman], author of a book that really had an impact on me  "[a million little ways]"   
May was a hard month for us; a very emotional month with three deaths, a father in hospice, a sister getting surgery for cancer, and the pain that a father felt when he unintentionally disappointed his daughter.

hard times are usually the teachers of hard lessons, lessons you aren't likely to forget anytime soon.  but hard times can also give us priceless memories that we wouldn't trade for anything.  May gave us both.
  • death can take someone we love from the physical world, but it will never take them out of our hearts.  we can cherish the memories we have of them, grieve over missing them, hold tight to the things that remind us of them.  they are still there with us in spirit.  love never dies.  Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.  ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT
  • even when things seem so dark you doubt there will ever be light again, know this:  there are still stars that shine behind the clouds; the reason we can see the moon in the sky is because it is reflecting the light of the sun; and no matter how much it feels like it is the end of the world ... it's already tomorrow in Australia.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.  ~ John 1:5 NLT
  • there are things in this world that we won't ever understand.  why do things happen?  why her? why him?  why us?  why me?  we can "why" and "what if" our lives away because we are so focused on the questions and not on the answers.  there are things we are not meant to know, and all we can do is keep waking up, keep stepping forward, keep moving, keep trusting, and keep believing.  What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.  ~ Hebrews 11:1 TLB
  • family is a loose term that can include friends, ex's, fosters, and steps in addition to those related by blood.  regardless of how you define your own family unit, the one thing that will always be true is that no matter what the relationship is between you, respect, forgiveness, and love will be what holds you together when times are difficult.  when there is no respect and no forgiveness the family unit will collapse.  A family cannot last if it is divided against itself.  ~ Mark 3:25 NLV
  • that being said ... family ties, blood, marriage, or otherwise, does not give someone the right to demean, insult, or disrespect you.  one of the hardest things about self-esteem and self-care is remembering that it is not selfish or unreasonable to expect respect from those who call themselves family.  there may be times when you have to cut ties and move on without someone in your life because their presence is negative, toxic and unhealthy.  “Proud,” “Self-important” and “One who laughs at the truth” are the names of the man who acts without respect and is proud.  ~ Proverbs 21:24 NLV
  • this was the month i learned about rhubarb.  this picture is of the patch of rhubarb in the yard of our rental house.  this month i've learned how to 'harvest' and freeze rhubarb.  i got (and taste tested) a recipe for rhubarb crumble [see here] and will be pinning more to try.  the flower/seed pod coming up i will probably let come up and flower instead of cutting it back.  there are several bunches of rhubarb growing in the yard and wild across the street that i will harvest from, but i'd really like to see the flower.
  • i also learned that i have value, much more than what others think. and that it is okay for me to stick to what i believe.  it is okay to agree to disagree, and i don't have to accept less than my worth for work i believe in.

Friday, May 27, 2016

at what cost love?

last December a friend contacted us about taking in her cat
she needed to "downsize" her number of animals because
she didn't have time for them
too much drama in her life

Aragorn has a laid back personality
immediately walking into the house, brushing up against Trooper
and claiming us as his own

two months later,
his previous owner asked if she could buy him back
$50 was the price she named for his love
her life was just as hectic as before
even more
but she claimed she missed him

we told her we weren't interested in selling him
he had bonded by then, with us and with Trooper
and his funny little habits made our lives richer
far richer than money could buy
five months later he grieved for Trooper just as we did

there are changes coming for us soon
(cue willie nelson and on the road again)
we weren't sure if we would be able to move with Aragorn
and we reached out to his previous owner,
wanting to do what was best for him, we asked
was she still interested in getting him back?

we made arrangements to meet and return him
(cue whitney houston and i will always love you)
and she rescheduled because of family drama
she assured us she would be at the second set meeting
and so we arrived this afternoon,
with a highly stressed and scared cat in the car
(cue tears and gut wrenching commercials on television for animal shelters)

she wasn't there.  she wasn't even in town.

David and i discussed again moving with Aragorn
he had gotten used to being an only "child"
being lavished with time and attention
since Trooper passed,
our bond had grown even stronger

when his former owner contacted us to reschedule again
we told her that we had reconsidered and decided that
he would stay with us and we would make a move,
including him, work because we felt it was the best for him

she offered $50 again
i told her that there wasn't a price you could put on love
and she replied with the promise of "lots more money"

when i read those words
the thought of Judas Iscariot came to mind
and the 30 pieces of silver that bought his love

i told her no, that i couldn't put a price on love
she replied that if i wasn't willing to sell him back to her
for $400 then i could 'just forget it" and i could keep him
which i agreed would be the best for Aragorn

there isn't a price you can put on unconditional love
especially the unconditional love we get from our companion animals
could we have used that much money?
of course.  who couldn't?
but i never would have forgiven myself if i had sold him out
for 30 pieces of silver

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

tsunami ...

he has been gone a week now
i'm still not used to the emptiness in the house
or the space on the bed
it hits me at times, unexpected, like an earthquake
followed by wave after wave of grief and tears

he had been easily startled this past year
as his vision became clouded with cataracts
sometimes when he was drinking water from his bowl
a splash would surprise him and he would jump away

loud noises, thunder, fireworks
he would shake and lean into us
tonight while washing dishes,
i dropped a handful of silverware into the sink
i turned to tell him it was alright, it was just me making noise
instead, i had to bite my tongue to keep my sobs from escaping

i wasn't ready to lose Trooper
i wasn't ready to lose Oreo
i wasn't ready to let them go

few of us ever are i suppose
few of us ever are

Saturday, May 7, 2016

he was the best

my dog died three nights ago on 4 May 2016.  it was totally unexpected and it totally broke my heart.  it was the day before my birthday.

he had been acting ... different ... for several weeks.  but not the kind of different that you would take him to the vet for

he was eating, drinking, peeing, pooping, breathing, running, and walking without any indication that he was sick.  the morning he died, you would never have thought that it was going to be his last.

over the last several weeks, he wanted to be closer to us.  he wanted to snuggle, cuddle, and sleep between us on the bed so we made a sandwich, with him as the spread holding us together.

when he sat at the far end of the sofa with my husband, some nights he would get up and walk towards where i was sitting at the computer, so he would be standing behind my husband's back and he would just look at me.

he would look at me so intently, that i realize now he was just coming closer to look in my eyes and say ... "hey, i love you.  i really love you."

i knew something was going on with him, but you don't walk into a vet's office with your dog and say, "he's loving me too much, i think there is something wrong with him."  they would have laughed me off the planet.

i believe he knew his time was short, and i think he was preparing us by comforting us in advance, and giving us happy memories with him.

the day he died, we had gone to Ashland, Wisconsin to look at job opportunities, came home and went fishing for an hour.  in all, we were gone for about six hours.

when i took him out for a walk once we were home, he acted as if it hurt to walk so i took him off leash to let him go at his pace.  he peed and pooped (3x!), and seemed to feel better.  he wanted to walk across the street with me.  then he stopped, sat and laid down in the middle of the street.  i could barely get him to stand, and when i did, he was reluctant to walk.

we finally got him back to the house, and since i still thought that it was pain related to his legs and walking, i went to the store to get him some baby aspirin for the pain.  he was 12 years old, and while i kept him at a healthy and lean weight so he wouldn't have joint issues, i think there was still some arthritis because of his age.  in people years he would have been 78.

while i was gone, no more than 30 minutes, my husband said that he slumped down and five times he had stopped breathing and fallen over on his side.  he was able to call him back by rubbing his feet and talking to him.  trooper was gone within 15 minutes after i got home.  i think he was waiting for me.  considering how he died, and how quickly, i believe he had a stroke.
 
last Saturday night (30 April 2016) he curled up on the bed between us and put his head forehead into my chest.  for two hours until i fell asleep, i whispered into his ear and told him how much he was loved, how smart, brave, and handsome he was.  i told him that i didn't know what was going on with him, but that if it was something wrong, we would do whatever we could to get it fixed, and if it couldn't be fixed, we were going to focus on quality, not quantity.  i told him i never wanted to have to make the decision to put him down and would really prefer he went in his sleep, but that i would never let him suffer.  he knew he was loved.

so do we.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

mountains out of molehills ...

did you see the bruh-ha-ha about the gap kids ad this past week?  four cute girls (two of them more flexible than i will ever be!) advertising a new line of clothing.

four young girls that blew up the internet and probably don't even understand why.

a beautiful girl wearing a t-shirt that said "Love," and all it caused was a backlash of hate, anger, and resentment.

as if the position of a girl's arm dictates the status in society of another.

some people just have too much negativity on their minds, and make mountains out of molehills. 

if they spent as much time thinking of ways to end hunger, homelessness, or poverty as they think of ways to spread hate and negativity, this world would be a much better place. 

the majority people looked at that ad (myself included) and probably thought "cute kids in cute clothes" and nothing more. 

but there were a few who looked at it and thought it was racist ... 

why do we let the insecure, paranoid, and negative minority in this country dictate how we see the world?

i was born into a segregated world, but i never grew up thinking there was a difference between me and another.  i never grew up thinking i was better than someone else because of the color of my skin, nor did i think i was less than someone for that same reason.  

some of my best friends had a darker shade of skin than i did.  some of the world's greatest philosophers, artists, musicians, inventors, doctors, and religious leaders have had varying shades of skin.  did the color of their skin make their contribution to civilization any less? 

i think not.

just sayin'

Sunday, March 27, 2016

#bluebottlecoffee

** disclaimer:  i blogged [here] about my addiction to mail which is currently being fed (pun intended) by free samples.  
this is an honest, uncompensated (other than two free samples) post about [Blue Bottle Coffee] **

first let me clarify where i live so you will comprehend the need for a mail order coffee subscription.  well, my need for it.  i am in the upper peninsula of michigan.  sometimes considered no man's land.  or where hell froze over.  the closest starbucks is almost 100 miles away.  in another state.  there is a dairy queen, mcdonalds, and burger king within 8 miles of me.  but you can just take so much of mass commercialism before you long for something else.  before i lived where i am right now, this dairy queen was an hour away.

not that i was a huge starbucks fan either.  the rare time that i would cruise thru the drive thru (using a free-to-me gift card) i would order a tall blonde ~ which never failed to embarrass my husband and make me laugh hysterically.  but then i have been known to have a slightly warped sense of humor.  but i digress.

when i got my first sample from [Blue Bottle Coffee,] it did not end well.  but that was no fault of the company's.  i just don't do peach.  the color, maybe. (and to be clear, the kitchen walls of my rented home were this color when we moved in and the first thing i asked was if we could repaint.  they said no.)  but peach the flavor?  not.  you may feel differently about peach.  if so, then i suggest you try their Beta Blend coffee.

and actually, i can honestly say that you should try all their coffees.

the replacement sample that was sent by Mandi ~ their incredibly helpful, gracious, and generous customer service goddess who reached out to me before i even received the first sample ~ was their Guatemala Alta Verapaz Santa Isabel blend.  (which is a serious mouthful to say, let alone type, so it will be now known as GAVSI) 

the card included with my sample states this about the coffee:  "details:  Ever since he was a boy, farmer Luis "Wicho" Valdés has been growing coffee in a high-elevation rainforest.  His farm, Santa Isabel, was granted to the Valdés  family by the Guatemalan president in 1875.  Now, Wicho and his father oversee the estate together.  Located in lush Alta Verapaz, nine months of steady rain extend harvesting well into May.  The Valdés  family has perfected pruning techniques and drying methods to combat pervasive humidity, all while reforesting more than half of their estate's land.  digression:  If a cup of coffee can reflect the character of a farm, surely this one does.  With resilient rosemary, sassy cranberry, and ephemeral jasmine, you can almost see the Caturra trees thriving at such great heights in spite of the never-ending patter of rain."

so ... see that empty pot in the picture?  that was the first pot of coffee, of which my husband drank all but one mug.  i'm now drinking of my second pot (and yes, i know, it is late at night here, but i think the sun is up somewhere, and ever since that bat bit me i've been keeping odd hours.  just kidding.  about the bat.  and one day i will explain the cyclops on my coffee mug ~ it is kind of a funny story about air force squadron call signs.  but that is another blog post)  now, i must clarify something,   [Blue Bottle Coffee] ships beans, so if you don't have a grinder, go.now.  get.one.  now.  really.  and then sign up for their subscription program.  really.  it is that good.  i will be as soon as i can.

once upon a time, i was on a gevalia coffee subscription program, and it was all well and good except that it was difficult to get customer service to make changes to my subscriptions, and since i was single at the time, and could only drink so much coffee, pretty soon i had so many bags of beans i was giving it away.  which kind of got to be a pretty expensive gift.

[Blue Bottle Coffee] is something different.  better.   try it.  and be sure to tell Mandi i said hi.

Monday, March 21, 2016

monday ...

David and i spent most of the weekend sleeping and sick with migraines and allergies, making it fairly certain that even if snow is still on the ground here in the upper peninsula and in our forecast ... spring is here somewhere.  i slept about 20 hours on saturday, and David napped off and on for about 10 on sunday.
Doctors Ara Gorn and Troo Per

i did see some buds on the lilac tree yesterday when i tucked a wad of my hair in the branches for the birds to add to their nests.  i'm not losing my hair as much as pulling it out when i brush it, and so have changed from a brush to a comb.  but i still gather my hair for bird nests.  if Trooper or Aragorn were long haired (and i'm grateful they're not) i would be gathering their hair as well.

i've been doing a lot of reading lately ... previewing books, and thinking of signing up for Holley Gerth's "You Are Already Amazing" book club [here] ... i've also been working on a book proposal to submit to a publishing company, and looking into some writing opportunities that pay. 

i believe there are changes coming.  good ones.