This is not an uplifting missive, as is usually my way, about kindness and joy. Though those things are still trying to claw their way up out of me.
I feel worn down.
This has been a tough few months for everyone, I don’t deny it. The virus, the violence, the continued finger pointing one side to the other (whatever topic you pick there are two sides), days of isolation and separation and fear.
I devour the news, the numbers, the opinions about the numbers. I look for rays of hope, possibility.
Right now I’m looking for rain. It’s been hot here, muggy, for several days. We’ve had bits of rain, but nothing cooling. We need a little cooling off. Doesn’t everyone?
We lost K’s dad a month and a half ago now. It seems like longer, and yet, not. We just lost our boy dog as well. Just a week and a half ago. I’m still sad about both. I picked up our boy’s ashes yesterday, trying to picture taking them to his favorite spot, a particular beach in Oregon, releasing him there, letting him run forever. I cried in the Jeep after picking them up, feeling the absence of him.
I’m trying to get up. Be up. Look up. I’m trying.
Today is another hard day, I can tell already. I’m not fit for consumption. Meaning, I wouldn’t visit me if I were you. I’m not exactly a bundle of joy right now.
I feel worn down.
This is a temporary thing, these feelings, the way I feel right now. I know this. Logically, I do. I know I’m going to bounce back or up or some other direction. It’s inevitable. Plus, with my usually positive outlook, it’s in me, my natural state, I know I will. I will.
But… I feel worn down.
I need more coffee. I need to pet the girlie. I need to hug my wife. She is sad too.
The world moves on and you grieve. You keep grieving. Wheels turn, people live their lives, they don’t forget, but they get sidetracked by their own stuff. Of course they do. They fail to see that you are still grieving and hurting and sort of stuck where you are. You put on a good face. You laugh appropriately and ask about their days and you mean it. And yet, you feel a sort of black hole inside. An emptiness. No one notices it. You try and camouflage it. You do a pretty good job.
This is not my only experience with death. I’ve lost grandparents who I felt close to and a father and a step father and another step father. I’ve lost cousins and uncles and an aunt. We lost my Mom’s best friend when I was in college. This is not my first rodeo.
There is no point to this post other than to say I’m feeling worn down.
Loss makes you think of other losses you’ve had. I am not immune to the feelings of it.
You look at people living their lives and you envy them. They don’t know you are living in a bubble where time has slowed down. Stop motion is what’s happening over here right now. You?
I don’t know.
It’s freeing to say those words. I don’t know. Much more than saying, oh, I know. I know. I know. I don’t.
You know what it feels like right now? It’s like this…
The other day a spider was running across a wall in our house. I grabbed a glass to capture it so I could release it outside. Yeah, I don’t kill them, I try to save them. Anyway…
I just got a picture in my head of a giant glass coming down over me. People can see in, I can see out, I’m not in distress inside the glass, not really. In fact, I have a nice comfy couch and a tv and a laptop and great music and food. I have my girlie and my wife. But I’m in the glass and there is this separation. I feel the barrier. I know it’s there, even if I can’t physically see it. I can even say hello and wave to people on the outside of the glass. They can wave back. But the glass is there. It’s there.
I need more coffee.
Writing helps. Gets it out of me and onto the page, as if I’m getting that treatment, cupping it’s called, where they put the hot glasses on you and it’s supposed to draw out the toxins. My toxins are getting drawn out.
I’m trying. I’m trying. I’m trying. We went for a walk earlier. We sat outside this morning with our first cup of coffee before the heat started to kick in. Yesterday I watered the flowerbeds and the lawn for three hours, moving the sprinklers when necessary.
I’m still living life. Laughing and smiling at times. Meaning it, feeling it.
We’re in another excessive heat warning today. We’ve been warned. It’s going to be hot.
We could go for a drive. Go to the drive in. Do something. See something. Be somewhere else. Today is not a good day for any of that. I’m afraid I’d take this with me.
I hate wearing a mask. Just saying. It’s necessary. But I hate it.
K is going over to the rental to meet the sprinkler guy in a bit. Regular life stuff. The system needs to be serviced. I’m staying home with our girl, who just had minor surgery and has a big incision that has to heal, because we don’t want to leave her alone right now. We need to watch her. So I’m staying here. That’s OK. We’ll hang.
Poor her. She is deaf now. She is old too, will turn 12 at the end of this month. She can’t hear, is getting weaker in her hinds, and is sad herself, still grieving her brother. She’s never known life without him. She keeps looking for him. I love her so, our little spitfire.
We commiserate together. She and us. Our tiny family of three.
I feel worn down. Which doesn’t change the fact that I need more coffee right now.
I just now finished up posting all of my reviews for the movies we watched at Ebertfest this year. It was a splendid group of films, as per usual. Lots of things I hadn’t seen this time around, which is always fun. I was shocked I hadn’t ever seen Hair or Being There, but I hadn’t. I loved the documentaries as well, particularly Mind/Game about Chamique Holdsclaw’s struggle with mental illness. She was eloquent and brave and open. I also really enjoyed Elle, disturbing and confounding as it was, and The Handmaiden. The storytelling in The Handmaiden was smart and creative. It was, as I said, a fantastic experience once again… except…
For a brief terrible time, day four, midafternoon, our little Riley went missing. We were on a break from the festival, searching for a little chocolate to sate the sweet tooth, and in that vein had wandered into Cafe Kopi (our favorite coffee spot downtown). We’d chosen a couple of small bars and also a little snack pack of some meats and cheeses when K got a text from our lawn guy. He’d left the gate open, thinking the dogs couldn’t get out to the backyard, and Riley had run out. We threw our goods back into the case at Kopi, literally, and ran toward the Jeep. We didn’t even, right away anyway, tell Mom, who was inside the theater, or our friend Ann, also inside the theater, that we were leaving, we just left. I drove too fast and sort of like a maniac to get home. K’s daughter had been called by our lawn guy as well because he hadn’t been able to get ahold of K right way. She was on her way to our house at the same time we were, though slightly ahead of us. She hadn’t made it to our house yet when she spotted Riley running down a street fairly near our home. She stopped her car in the middle of the road, jumped out, and called to Riley, sitting down on the side of the road to try and be calm for Riley. Riley though, given her poor eyesight and the panic she was probably feeling at the time, ran the other direction. Mary, K’s daughter, called K, who I dropped off, and K started chasing. She also spotted Riley, on another street, way far way and up head. She called to Riley, but at just that moment our gardener drove past K and we think Riley saw him (who she was afraid of) and continued to run. K chased her on foot for a bit, not seeing her anymore, but circling around. K eventually came back to the house and got on her bike so she could be faster and cover more ground. Mary walked around as well, in other areas, and this whole time I drove around our neighborhood, all the places we walk (which are many). We talked to everyone we passed, asking if people had seen her. Some had and pointed us in one direction or another, others hadn’t. It was terrifying and heart-breaking. We cried a lot, though we were trying not to, trying to stay focused, trying to keep on track. My Mom, who we’d contacted, left the theater and took an Uber to our house. Once she got there she stood out front, with the garage door open, just in case Riley came back.
Four hours this went on. Four hours of looking and not finding her, of asking people, of circling and driving and riding and walking. At one point we took Weston out thinking if Riley heard or saw him she would come to him, but he eventually got too tired and we had to take him home. I walked and ran and yelled and asked and drove and asked and drove. K walked and rode her bike and eventually got in Mary’s car with her and they drove around and around. Mary walked and ran and drove. My Mom paced in front of our house, showing anyone who walked past Riley’s photo and asked about her. Weston fretted in the house knowing something was wrong, probably wondering where his little sister was.
We missed a film at the festival. We didn’t care.
Finally, four hours later, I was driving along a street I’d been up and down many times, when a man, who I’d stopped and asked about Riley earlier, waved me down. He said he’d just seen her running West. I knew that was toward our house. At the same time, I got a text, but I didn’t check it because I was then trying to get home to see if she was around there anywhere. I pulled up toward our house and my Mom looked at me and gave the biggest smile, pantomiming that Riley was there, that she’d shown back up.
Relief. Total relief.
K and Mary showed up shortly after and we were all reunited. Other than being really thirsty Riley acted totally normal. She lay down of course because, well, she had been running pretty much non-stop for four hours, but she was fine. Totally fine.
As I said, relief. Your mind tries not to go to all the scary dark places it could during these times… but they are there, inside of you, haunting you throughout. It’s a huge amount of stress.
We made sure Riley was fine, that the gate was locked, that she had sufficient cuddles, and we then took off, back to Ebertfest. We’d been willing to miss the rest of it if we’d had to if we didn’t find her, but since we did, we didn’t want to miss any more than we had. We had that luxury. Life was back to normal. We were lucky. Riley was lucky.
Life throws things at you like a missing dog, a missed film at Ebertfest because of it, the anxiety of it all followed by the elation. In a nutshell, it’s a rollercoaster.
I appreciate life so much, not just because of this incident, but I would include this incident as a factor. You never know what’s going to happen so hug your people, tell them you love them, hug your pets, tell them you love them, look at the sky and the trees and feel the wind in your face. There’s beauty and love and light everywhere.
Riley came home. And we’ll just get Pleasantville, the movie we missed at Ebertfest, from the library.
I turned 49 a few days ago. No, I’m not really 50 something and just using 49 as my sticky-post age. I’m 49.
I’m not fazed. Not being fazed is a good thing.
I have never been a person who was affected by my age. I turned 16, 21, 25, 30, 40, etc. with no real worry or fear about getting older. Time is what it is. It marches, so do we. I feel like I’m becoming a better version of myself, and getting better all the time, as I’ve aged. Wisdom, lessening insecurities, a strong and getting stronger I-don’t-give-a-shit-about-what-anyone-thinks attitude, and a more and more relaxed way of looking at the world.
I feel like I’m better at looking outside of myself, outside of my inner dialogue, to the world beyond. I realize I’m a small drop in a very large bucket. And what’s more, when I fall back to being too much in my head, too much about me, I can snap out of it pretty quickly by reminding myself there’s more to life, so much more, than me. It’s my personal version of a mental slap upside my head. It’s a wisdom thing. Something I’ve gained with age. A certain perspective. I’m grateful for it.
I try not to take myself to seriously, also a wisdom with age thing. It’s the last vestige of big things I’m trying to work on. I think I just wrote that with a serious face. Mental note to relax the face while writing.
So I’m better, like fine wine, aged cheese, a good bourbon. A better and bettering version of myself. Is bettering even a word? I have no idea.
I don’t know why I’m writing all of this. My intention was to make a list of 49 things, of various types and intention, in honor of my 49th. Instead I’ve seemed to wax on about how aged I am.
Let’s take a new tack.
I received a boat load of well wishes and birthday congrats and notes of love on Facebook. I have an amazing group of people in my life, which I’ve mentioned on this blog before, and I’m ever so grateful for their presence, support, love, generosity of spirit, and humor. It’s not so much that I have a quantity of people, I have quality people. There’s a huge distinction in that. They are quality people, and I’m beyond lucky to know them, to have them in my life. I know this. I’m blessed.
Which brings me back to the list. The multitude of wishes made me grateful for the people in my life and that made me think of others things I’m grateful for. I thought, at this juncture, it would be good to write some of those down, so the following is a list of things I’m grateful for. It’s like a master list, though I know it will change, has changed, and morph over the years. Some things though, remain constant. I think it’s so important in life to look at what’s good, what’s working, what’s beautiful in our lives. To actually take the time to acknowledge these things, stop in our crazy day, be still, and reflect on what’s good and important to us. The people in my life would be number one. So let’s start there.
1. Family. Born into a group of beautiful people, on both sides, was like winning the lottery. There are people you choose in life, who I will get to in a moment, but the clan you enter the world belonging to can be a matter of luck. My luck was good. They are, to the last of them, quality, wonderful, and staggeringly spectacular. I can’t even being to express the fortune I feel and how proud I am to belong to the lot of them.
2. Friends. Or a better description might be to say they are the family I’ve chosen. Throughout my life I seem to have chosen well. I also find this lucky as I was not always my better self, yet somehow my center chose wisely, most of the time. I’ve met and made friends with so many shining souls in my life I can’t even count them all. As I sit here I see face after face run through my mind and I’m smiling. Each and every one brought, and continues to bring, something singularly special to my life. Such a unique, varied, luminous group of people. I don’t know how I ended up with the pack of you, but I’m so so glad I did. You are more than friends, you are truly family to me.
3. Pups. I’ve always been a dog person. I love their pack mentality. The group is better than the one. I love their loyalty and sweetness and unconditional love. I love how cuddly they are. I realize not all dogs are like this, but in my experience, this is what I’ve found. Our dogs, Weston and Riley, are the most wonderful of creatures. Both quirky and slightly flawed and neurotic in their own little ways, they bring so much joy and love and happiness to our lives. I can’t believe how much I love them, and how much love they give to us. It’s miraculous, the love of our dogs for us. It’s important to honor that, to cherish it, and to take up the responsibility that having them in our lives brings.
4. Wind in the trees. This is a bit of a crazy one, or might seem crazy anyway, but its going to stay here none the less. I love the sound of the wind in the trees. It’s a reminder of the moving world. The wind blows here, it’s blowing somewhere across the world. It carries life and hazard and is alive in its own way. It reminds me how gentle or ferocious life can be and that I should try to be gentler, quieter, softer in my approach. It reminds me how small I am, how big the world is, and that there are people in other places lifting their faces to the wind, closing their eyes, and sighing, just like I do sometimes.
5. The grand boys. I know they are people too, and yes they are included in what I wrote above, but they are worth their own category. Every day it seems I learn something new from them, something new about them. They have such zest, such emotion, such joy for life. They are amazing little men and the fact that I get to be privy to their growth and exploration of the world is magical. Seeing how they respond to things, how they are effected by their world, how they learn, it all stuns me. I’m so grateful for the experience of knowing them and loving them and having them love me.
6. My honey. Yes, she also deserves her own category. I would’ve put her first, as she deserves to be first, and is, but no matter. It doesn’t matter what number gets put next to her on any list, she’s my number one. My center, my split apart, my soul mate. Two people were never more suited for each other. We are like a hand in a perfectly fit glove. We mesh. We work. We somehow found each other. It’s rare, to have this kind of relationship. I know it is. She knows it too. I can be moody and difficult, we have our issues, like everyone does, but the difference is that we are always moving together in the same direction. We find joy in each other, in our relationship. We look at things the same way, with a sense of adventure and excitement. She has more joy than anyone I’ve ever met. I am amazed by her.
7. The Scooter. It’s fun. It’s fast. It’s zippy. It’s freedom on two wheels. Riding it gives me great joy. What more is there to say?
8. A good book. I’m in a reading phase now. I seem to, over the course of my life, go in and out of reading phases. I’ve always loved it, but sometimes I go off reading. I have no idea why. The times when I’m in a reading phase definitely are better times. I am more relaxed, more at peace, more in touch with things outside myself. It’s a good advertisement, in my life anyway, for me trying to stay in a reading phase. New worlds are always waiting inside the pages of a good book.
9. My kindle, and other electronic devices. Is this cheating to bring up the Kindle right after the above number 8? Nah…. I’m a geek. I love all things techy. I love new technology, what it can do, the places it can take me. I have always loved these things. I have no idea why. I don’t really want to know how they work, I just want to figure out their functions and then use them. Whatever thing; phone, laptop, Kindle, iPod, GPS in the Jeep, new app, etc., I happen to be using at the time. Fabulous.
10. The dictionary. The vehicle of its delivery has changed, moving to an online or let’s make that plural as in multiple online dictionaries, but I love them all the same. Words, meanings of words, other words to use in place of words I think I’ve over used, and on and on. The dictionary and/or a good thesaurus, are wonders of the world. I adore them.
11. Chocolate. In all its forms, covered over the top of things or standing alone on its own, I love me some good chocolate.
12. The ocean. Doesn’t really matter which one, though I’m sort of partial to the Pacific as it’s the one I grew up with. The power, the endless depth, the mysteries living there. Again, it’s one of those things that makes me feel small in a big world. As you can probably tell by now I love that feeling. It helps to put things in perspective. I like most forms of natural water; rivers, oceans, big lakes, streams. Even rain. Rain is amazing. I think my Oregon is showing through.
13. Ceiling fans. Crazy as this may seem. I love our ceiling fan in our bedroom. I don’t know if I could sleep without it. It’s the simple pleasures in life. Besides which, in Scappoose we actually named our ceiling fan The Super-Sky-Diving-Fan-Blade-Lady. Yes, if you looked at it just right, like shapes in clouds, you could see her.
14. Filtered sunlight. I’m looking out into the backyard now. It’s now (a few days have gone by since I started this list) the first day of Autumn (which happens to be my favorite of the seasons) and it’s gorgeous outside. The light is coming down in streaks through the trees and it’s absolutely beautiful. Stunning. Gorgeous. Amazing.
15. Weston’s snoring sound. I know I already talked about the dogs, but seriously, his snore rocks. He’s a small dog, but can snore with the best of them. I love that sound.
16. Finding a new band/music and music in general. I’m an explorer by nature. This applies to music as well. I’m constantly looking for new music. Finding a new group/artist is an amazing thing. It lifts my soul. Just as listening to an old standard lifts my soul. Some people aren’t music people, they could care less. I don’t understand those people. I’m moved, shaped, enlightened, lifted, seared to the core, and effected greatly by the music in my life.
17. Birkenstocks. We are a Birkenstock household. There are so many different kinds of Birkenstocks in our house it’s sort of ridiculous, but they are here for a reason. They are comfortable. The most comfortable shoe ever. My feet sing while wearing them.
18. Walkabouts. I love a good stroll. Going places my feet can take me, anywhere I happen to be, is a great thing. My Mom and I just did a 13 plus mile stroll in Chicago recently. We hadn’t planned on walking that far, we just did. The weather was wonderful, the company stellar, and the sights beautiful. Walking is an experiment in living the slow life. It allows you to drink it what’s around you, be more effected by it, be IN it. I recommend it highly.
19. iPhone camera. I’m a fan. Being somewhat of a photographer (I’ve gotten paid to do it occasionally) I have a lot of equipment. Recently, however, I’ve been using my iPhone camera more and more. I’ve done this for a couple of reasons. One, I don’t have to carry around a ton of stuff, my phone is always in my pocket anyway, and two, not carrying around all that stuff and attending to it, and then using it, I feel like I’m more in the moment. I’m still taking loads of photos, but I seem to be more present in situations just using my phone as opposed to big cameras. And to top it off, the iPhone camera is pretty darn good for a phone camera. I like it. I like it a lot.
20. Eggs on toast. We just spent many days in our travel trailer. An egg on toast was a go to breakfast for us during that time. One egg, one piece of toast. Simple, and warm, and tasty. I enjoyed it. I just thought of it this morning, so guess what we had for breakfast today?
21. Autumn. I mentioned fall in an earlier item. It’s my favorite and deserves its own slot. I love the changing of the leaves, I love the new crispness in the air, I love how we clean up the yard and put stuff away and everything starts to get still, quiet. Strangely I love having to put on my long pants and sweatshirts for the first time in months. I love the holidays during fall and how here in Illinois the trees start to bare themselves as the leaves start to fall. It’s a time of change and quieting and relief from the heat.
22. Old fashioned chocolate sodas. To be honest I just discovered these this last week. I liked it so much I’m including it here. Yum.
23. Travel. As I said earlier, I’m an explorer by nature. New places, new things, new experiences are like mana of the gods to me. I drink them in. Travel, by its nature, feeds that need in me to explore. New sights, sounds, people met, and areas to explore feed my soul. I’m a bit of a nomad and travel, of any kind and distance, fills that part of me.
24. Our new travel trailer. Related, obviously, to the previous item, our travel trailer rocks. We just got it this summer and ended up spending, so far, nearly 50 nights traveling around and sleeping in it. I never got tired of it. It’s small, but feels big for its size. I think, honestly, I could actually live in it. That won’t happen, as having a home base is necessary for my honey, and probably for me as well, but I think I could. It’s perfect for the two of us and our two fur heads. It symbolizes adventure and fun and exploration. I’m ready to take it out again.
25. Tasty vittles. Along with new places to see, I love finding new foods I like. As well, truth be told, as eating standard favorites of mine. A good meal shared with good people and maybe a nice glass of Barbera d’Alba. Yum.
26. Quiet time. I’m a person who enjoys solitude and silence. In fact I don’t just enjoy it, I need it. Sitting alone in a space reading, watching tv, drinking coffee, looking around, or just sitting and thinking, is necessary for me. I call it my recharge time. It’s important for me. And consequently it’s important for those around me. I’m a better me when I get time to myself once in a while. If I don’t I begin to feel overloaded, overwhelmed, and a tad crazy pants. Plus, I just plain enjoy it.
27. The blogs. Creative outlets, period the end. I love writing, I love taking photos, and I love having a place to put that out into the world. Read or not read (though I prefer read) I so enjoy the constant platforms for creativity.
28. Speaking of photography. Photography. I see the world a certain way. I see it in detail. The whole is beautiful, but the real secret beauty lives in the details. A leaf, an arm, a man smoking a cigar, shadows and light. I have always seen this way, though I think using a camera so much has heightened this sense of mine. When I capture what I’ve just seen with my eyes in a photograph it’s an incredible feeling.
29. Words. Written by others, written by myself, lyrics, stanzas, dialogue, conversation, puns, silly phrases, novels, poems, short stories, witty commercials, plays, dictionaries, etc. No matter the vehicle, words mean a lot to me. I’m grateful for their breadth and depth and expanse. I’m grateful to be able to convey and to have things conveyed to me. I’m grateful for the expression of others and my ability to express. They are the bread and fruit of life.
30. A good hug. My brother, Kev, is a fantastic hugger. He’s known for it actually. I think his hugs will go down in song and story. He hugs with the all of himself. It engulfs and warms and conveys so much. There’s nothing like a good hug. We are a hugging family. We are people who hug. There’s a reason for that.
31. Experience. Vague, yes, but not really meant to be. I love new experiences with the people in my life. Fishing on Stan’s boat, disc golf with the Gal Up group, crab feast with the POD, fantasy football, going out for a bite to eat, bike rides, walks, dinners at the houses of great friends, train rides, laughing and laughing, seeing a film, reading a book, walking on a beach, kayaking, exploring cool buildings, seeing great art, and on and on and on. The experiences we have are everything. What we own, nothing. The time we spend with the people we love, doing things we love, that’s where the heart and soul of living is.
32. Bike rides. I have always loved the feeling of being on a bike. It’s always meant freedom and fun to me. When I was a kid a whole gang of us would ride around together, exploring the neighborhood. I bought my first bike, a sweet little green 10 speed, when I was in junior high. I’d had bikes before, but that was the first one I paid for by myself. I saved the money. It was so cool. I rode that bike for years actually. I think it’s even the one I took to college with me. It was, during school days, my main mode of transport. Somehow I let that bike go and didn’t have another one for a long time. In recent years I’ve gotten back into it, not as a major cyclist or anything, just as a day rider, and have loved every moment I’m in the seat. It’s liberating, invigorating, and free. Last year I got a new, slightly better bike, and it’s been heaven. Stepping out to the garage and just hoping on the bike and going out for a spin, so much fun. SO much fun. Makes me feel the same way I did when I was a kid.
33. Life. I’m grateful for it. Four years ago first my honey and then I had brushes with death. Both sicknesses, both life threatening, both terrifying. We each pulled through with flying colors, but at times, for each of us, it was touch and go. I’m grateful we are both here and loving, laughing, experiencing, exploring, and trying to drink in every bit of life. I’m so very grateful.
34. Not taking things for granted. I don’t. I feel an expanding sense of gratitude all the time. I know my life is good, and I don’t take that for granted. I’m glad I don’t. I’m lucky to know not to. I’ve always been this way, but as I get older, and as I’ve experienced more in life, I feel this even more. I wish I could gift it to everyone, this feeling of being so thankful for what I have, and so in tune with that feeling. It changes everything, or can anyway. I know people who struggle with life, always feeling they are owed, or due something, or that they have been robbed of something. I feel so sad for them. Honestly sad. Our lives are a matter of perspective. “Coffey looks and he sees hate and fear, you have to look with better eyes than that”. It’s my favorite line from the move The Abyss. It says everything there is to say. We all have to look with our best eyes. I’m not preaching here, OK, maybe I am just a little, I’m just trying to say that I’m grateful that I don’t take things for granted and I wish everyone could feel what that feels like.
35. Connection. I feel a deep sense of connection. Not just to my family and friends, but to the world at large. I feel a spiritual connection to all living things, and therefore a responsibility to them. I’m grateful for this feeling. It brings a depth to my life, helping me to center myself at times, to know my place. Again, I’m but a drop in the bucket and this larger living world is a huge place filled with wonders.
36. Silliness. I was going to write a good laugh here, but changed my mind and wrote silliness instead. There’s nothing like being silly, being a dork, being unafraid to be ridiculous and not care what anyone thinks. I’m a total dork. I admit it. I embrace it. I say and do things that get me strange looks at times. I’m OK with that. I’m grateful for the quirk in myself, for the quirk in my friends, for the dorkiness of my family, for the natural pratfalls and schtick, and playfulness in myself and the people I love. Everyone should be willing to dance in the rain and do silly stuff just to make the people you love laugh. At least, that’s what I think. Last night I was talking in the most ridiculous southern accent just to make my honey laugh. She did. It was awesome.
37. Film. I adore a good movie. I cry, learn, expand, dream, breathe, laugh, and find so much beauty in movies. I always have. It’s the stories, the hope, the despair, the human commonality, the connection with places and people who I feel I know. Near or far, made in the US or not, these stories grow a world view, empower change, enlighten, and sometimes offer an escape and relief from my daily life. I value them, their contribution, their art. I value their expression and message, even if I don’t always agree with it. Movies enrich my life in a myriad of ways.
38. The Library. I’ve always been a fan of libraries. When I was younger I used to hang out in them a bit to do homework, people watch, enjoy a quiet place. I never took full advantage of one and I’m not sure I even had a library card (other than in college) anywhere I’ve lived, until now. When we moved to C-U we, naturally because it’s why we moved here, started hanging out a lot with our first grandson. The library in our town has a great children’s area and a couple of times we found ourselves there with him exploring the kids area, playing with the train, running up and down the little stairs. I decided to look around a bit and discovered they had a lot to offer and set about getting a library card. I’m so glad I did. Books, movies, music, magazines, and so much are now at my fingertips. I created a hold list and add stuff to it all the time. It’s so much fun. In a time in our lives when we are trying to live smaller, use less, and have less, the library provides a great way for me to still enjoy all those things I love without having to pay out tons of money, or find tons of space in the house. Plus, again, it’s so much fun.
39. The Y. We also joined the Y when we moved here. We’d never been members of a gym together. Not really. Well, OK, we joined another gym the first year we were here, but it was small and in a mall. Neither of those things were necessarily bad, but it was limited. Then the new Y opened up and we went in to check it out. Great facility. Pools, weight rooms, indoor track, rock climbing wall, great locker room facilities, and a great play space for the grand boys. We were hooked and signed up. We go through spurts when using it, like most people with gym memberships, but the diverse class offerings (we’re going to try yoga next week), combined with the facilities themselves and the incredibly nice staff make it a total winner. We absolutely love it, and I’m particularly fond of it now as I’m back in a swimming mode and love being in the water.
40. Our meat man. I get a lot of joy out of this one. When we moved to Illinois from Oregon I did a lot of research on sustainable food sources, organic availability, grocery stores and what they offered, etc. Coming from the Portland area we were used to having locally sourced meat and other foods available to us all the time. What I found in my search here was that we could join a meat club. Yay. Seriously, it’s the coolest thing. We buy our meat directly from a farmer. We can visit the farm, though we haven’t, if we want to. We know his practices, like him and the other people who work the truck when we do our monthly pick up, and totally dig on the superior quality of the meat we are now eating. It tastes better than anything we’ve ever purchased, anywhere. It rocks, and we love that we get the majority of our meat this way. We get an email every month, we use and order form and email back what we want, we show up at the pick up spot and pick it up. It rocks.
41. Quirky art. My honey and I are fans of art. All kinds actually. We’ve purchased sculptures and paintings and photography and funky lamps and stain glass pieces. We’ve even made some of our own, of various kinds. It’s a great thing to go to some art fair and find something we both love. It’s a rule, we don’t buy anything unless we agree on it, which actually isn’t that tough since our tastes are similar. I love the pieces we’ve purchased and so does she. We haven’t regretted a single one and the whole of them makes our house uniquely ours. It’s funky, it’s fun, it’s joyous. And I’m grateful for the funky beautiful things we’ve managed to collect. They represent us well.
42. Coffee. I can’t believe this didn’t occur to me earlier in this list, but no matter. I love a great cup of joe. Love it. We buy our beans from a local roasting company and every morning we grind them fresh and make two french presses full of gorgeous, beautiful, sweet-smelling coffee. There’s nothing like that first cup of the day, except for maybe the third cup… or the second. We’re also fans of going out to a local spot (no Starbucks for us anymore), and enjoying a nice cup of drip coffee. A good cup of coffee can be heaven in a cup.
43. Our DVR. This one is a tad shallow, but who cares. These are the things I’m grateful for and the DVR, and services like Netflix, are on the list. I love not having to watch commercials. I love being able to watch what we want when we want to. I love the ease of it all. I love the technology of it all. We watch only what we want, when we want to, and barely know anything else is on. Lovely.
44. The Up Center. Moving to a new place is tough. Especially when you love where you already live, have a fantastic group of friends, and aren’t over the moon with where you are going. Our transition, those first couple of months, was tough. We cried, we had regrets, we asked ourselves what the hell were we thinking and why did we do it? Of course, we did it for the grand son (there was only the one at the time, not the two and the baby girl on the way we have now) and he was totally worth it. It’s just that we had a big big life in Oregon and at first our move here was difficult. But, we found a little place called the Up Center, went to a group or two, met some people, and started making friends. All the friends we have here we met through that organization. It’s because of that I’m so grateful for it. We have a stellar group of friends here. A truly amazing group. A group we probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.
45. Big Boy Shorts/Pants. I’m a huge fan of cargo shorts. My honey and I call these our big boy shorts. We also have big boy pants. Nothing says convenience more than shorts equipped with pockets. Keys, phone, wallet, etc. They all fit. No purse, no backpack, no anything else to carry. It’s perfect. They are perfect. I really dig them. Grateful for the ease of wearing them.
46. Our bird feeders. I’ve never really been into birds. I mean, they can be lovely and all, but I wasn’t ever a bird watcher or anything. Then we moved to Illinois and my honey wanted bird feeders. She is a bird lover. We tried a few configurations including sitting them up on things or putting them on hooks. We have a lot of trees which means we have a lot of squirrels. Finally it occurred to us that we needed something taller. A long story short, we actually sunk posts in with hooks on each side. We stained them, put copper tops on them, and used nice wrought iron hooks. They’re great. And we get loads of birds. So many types it’s amazing. I’m a bird person now.
47. Our down comforters. We have both a summer and a winter comforter, they’re both down. There’s something extra snuggly about getting into bed with either of these on. They make our life so much more comfortable. They’re awesome.
48. Grateful. I’m grateful for being grateful. I often feel a wave of gratefulness wash over me. Not sure where it comes from all the time, but it happens. I’m grateful for this feeling. For knowing there’s so much to be grateful for.
49. A positive attitude. It’s fitting that I should save this for last. It’s important to me, and a big part of who I am. Don’t get me wrong. I am afraid sometimes, really afraid. I worry. I get really angry sometimes. I’m moody. I’m not always the person who says let’s hold hands and all sing kumbaya. But for the most part, most of the time, I’m pretty upbeat. I tend to look on the bright side. I think it’s a mixture of hope and what I believe to be true all rolled together. I’m genuinely hopeful, most of the time. I also genuinely believe in the overwhelming good of most people. I know there are evil souls out there doing bad things, but I truly believe that for the most part people are good, are trying to do what they think is best, are sincere and giving and gracious and kind. I believe that. I’m glad I do. I believe that things can work out. They don’t always, but they can. I’ve always been this way. Maybe that’s why the teachers at my high school gave me a president’s award my senior year for having the best attitude. I believe we should smile at each other, with our eyes, and say thank you, and that we should be friendly, we should be nice. A positive attitude gives you a lot in return as well. In my opinion it just doesn’t project out toward the world, it gives you a better view of it.
So there it is. My list of 49 things I’m grateful for as I start this year of my life. 50 is just around the corner and I can’t wait to see what the rest of this year, leading up to that milestone, brings to my life. It’s exciting.
Last night, or more accurately, in the middle of the night, we woke up because one of the smoke detectors downstairs was first chirping, then talking. Anyone who has ever heard that sound knows how loud and annoying that chirping can be. Add in the voice saying, “battery low”, “battery low”, and at 2:30 in the morning it’s enough to make you lose your grip.
At first it’s disorienting. You wake up not really sure what’s happening. You notice the dogs are also sitting up, heads tilted to the side, looking at the door. What’s going on? Then you hear the first chirp. Damn. You know instantly what it is. You think to yourself, it’s loud, but not that loud. After all, it’s one of the detectors downstairs, so it’s not even on the same floor. Maybe, possibly, hopefully, we can all just go back to sleep and deal with it in the morning. You coax the dogs under the covers hoping the little extra bit of blanket buffer will help them to not hear it. They just get under, you just lay down again, and… chirp. Uhg! The dogs are back up, the little girlie is starting to shake as loud noises really bother her. Double damn. Then you think, OK, we’ll shut the door. That will help create an even greater sound barrier. Dogs calmed and back under, lay the heads back down on the pillows, close the eyes, start to drift off and… chirp… “battery low”. Oh for crying out loud! Time to get up.
We did. We got up, we went downstairs, we took the backup battery out, put a new battery in, headed back up to bed, and then… we couldn’t find the little girl. Relieved after putting in the battery we were back up stairs, Weston following, with the thought of how nice it would be to actually go back to sleep. Then, we realized Riley wasn’t with us. Weston was right there, but Riley was not. We started calling her and looking around. Something about her little personality is that when she gets frightened by noise she hides, and she shakes, and she never barks. For a dog that barks all the time in order to communicate with the people around her in all other situations, she doesn’t utter a sound when she’s scared. Not a peep. The couple of times we’ve accidentally locked her in a room she has never barked. Once, after shutting her in our room accidentally, we didn’t realize it for like three or four hours or something. We’d left the house and been gone, gotten home, and were going about our business when we realized she didn’t greet us when we got home. That was unusual because that’s when she’s normally at her loudest. We looked around and found her in the bedroom, sitting there on the floor behind the door just looking up, all tiny and cute. Not a peep out of her to let us know she was in there. So she’s very quiet when she’s scared. Meaning she’s hard to find. She’s also tiny. She can curl up in small spaces and she’s hard to see. And during a crisis, you know, a crisis to her, she usually goes downstairs to the media room or to our bedroom and curls up in a chair or on the bed next to a pillow, but she didn’t. The media room is downstairs so it was too close to the sound that was scaring her. The bedroom is where we’d been, so that was not for her either. We looked everywhere. Under couches, under beds, in closets she could get in, under tables, in corners… everywhere. She wasn’t in the house. We’d opened the doggie door since the dogs got up with us during this whole ordeal so the next logical step was to look outside. It was a bit stormy, though at that time it wasn’t raining, thank goodness, and we looked out. We couldn’t see her. Not anywhere out there. We stepped out on the deck and looked around, nothing. Then the little bits of panic and illogical thinking start in… Where is she? Did she somehow get out? If she did she doesn’t have her collar on because the pups “get naked” at night. If she did get out she’s hiding or running trying to get back to us, or… or…. or…. and on it goes in your head. We weren’t, either of us, mad at all. We started to get scared ourselves. We started to worry about her.
Finally I started to wander the yard on the periphery and found her, behind a huge tree near the back of the yard. She was hiding in the farthest point from the sound inside the house. She didn’t want to come in, even though the sound was gone. She was still shaking. And she was wet from the dripping leaves. I had to pick her up and carry her in. Luckily she calmed down pretty quickly when she realized the bad sound was gone and things were back to normal. Except by then it was nearly 3:00 in the morning and there’s nothing normal to the humans living in this house about being awake at 3:00 in the morning.
Adventures abound. Which is why coffee is such a good and lovely thing in the morning. Especially mornings after big nighttime adventures.
Weston is a guy of deep thoughts and feelings. He has soul.
I looked up a moment ago and there he was sitting on the chair in the corner looking out the window. He looked like a person, deep in thought, contemplating all of life’s ups and downs. He looked introspective and philosophical. He looked like Weston usually looks.
Six years ago we decided we wanted to get a dog and we decided on a Schnoodle because Karen’s daughter, Mary, had one and we loved him. So cute, great personality, small, and to top it off they don’t shed and they have hair akin to human hair so they don’t have dander and don’t smell like a dog. Ever. In fact they sort of have a smell all their own, each in their own way, like humans do. But I digress.
We went and looked at some dogs in East/Central Oregon and when one of the little guys came over and licked my toe it was all over. He was the one. Six weeks later, in April of 2007, we went and picked him up in Portland where we met with the woman who raised him. We’d had a name picked out for him already, but when we saw him, looked in his eyes, we knew instantly the name didn’t work. He looked too smart for the name. Too studious. Too deep. So on the drive back home, with the little guy sitting on Karen’s lap in the brand new bed we’d gotten for him, we threw names around. None fit until somehow one of us, I think it was Karen, mentioned the town of his birth, Weston. Yes, he was born in Weston, Oregon in the Blue Mountains. We looked at each other and that was it. Somehow, some way, Weston seemed right. It suited him. The him of major thought and intense looks.
Now, nearly six years later, he still has that same look. That deep look. He looks at you and into you at the same time. He is a guy of passionate feelings and sincere real love. He is incredibly smart, cunning, and curious. He is our little man.
Riley is girl of deep feelings, but of a different sort. She’s a little spitfire.
A year after we were lucky enough to get Weston we decided he needed a companion for those times we had to leave him at home. We didn’t want him to be alone. We wanted him to have a little pal, a buddy. He got a sister, not a natural born sister, but a sister none the less, and they have a love hate relationship. We had a name picked out for her too, and that one ended up sticking. Somehow Riley fits her. She’s full of energy, very vocal, and loves to put her head up against our heads and have a little pet. She gets so excited she can hardly contain herself, and is a tad quirky, but we adore her.
This morning when I looked over at Weston looking out the window a wave of love came over me, as it does so often with both of our little furry babes. Karen and/or I say, at least once a day I think, “I love them”. One of us always says it and the other one then always says, “I do too”. And we do. We love them. We love how they love us. How Weston always welcomes us home with a whole body wiggle and Riley always wants to lay in a lap. We love Weston’s kisses and the little girlie’s insistent pawing for a pet. We even love their more annoying habits, as you do with little beings you cherish. We love the schnoods. Like I loved how he was looking out the window this morning like a little person. Just as I love how, right now, he’s laying in my lap snuggling, looking back at me with those eyes with those deep deep feelings, and Riley is all curled up in Karen’s lap snuggling in close to her. We love them.
The drive on day six was awesome. We went to Caffe Mela in Wenatchee before we started, as usual going to a local coffee place we’d found, and fueled up before heading to Leavenworth. It’s a quick drive over to Leavenworth from Wenatchee and we were there in 30 minutes or so. Not bad. The four of us wandered the town, looking in windows, walking in the grass, taking a couple of photos with the phone. Nice. Then it was on the road for the drive to Salem, by way of Portland.
We were pretty happy as we entered Oregon near The Dalles. I tried to take a photo of the entering Oregon sign, but Riley was on my lap and bumped my arm. I got a fantastic shot of the side of the bridge. The drive along 84, done so many times by both of us both separately and together, was gorgeous. We passed Multnomah Falls, Karen driving, and I tried to lean over and take a photo as we whizzed by. I think I got a great photo of the dog bed and a tiny view of the falls. Hilarious. My photo taking abilities were definitely lacking yesterday.
We stopped in Portland to pick up a half a tray of lasagna from our favorite Italian place, Piazza Italia. Yum. We’d called and ordered in advance because my honey has been craving this lasagna for a year. We had it for dinner. It was yummy.
We arrived at Mom and Don’s last night about 6:00. 2584.1 miles, 8 states, 6 days and we finally were able to stop driving. Yay! Don’t get us wrong, we love road trips, but being able to stop and not have to drive the next day… lovely. The dogs are liking it too, though we’re sure they thought they lived in the car after spending so much time there over the last several days. They thought that was their life. Good thing they adjust pretty well as long as they’re with us. Kev was here to greet us, very nice. Nothing like a Kev hug on arrival.
Next on the agenda… enjoy this fantastic Oregon weather. It’s supposed to be low to mid 80’s very low humidity the next several days. Lovely lovely.
I love words and this is a great one. Pronunciamento. Meaning… pro·nun·ci·a·men·to [pruh-nuhn-see-uh-men-toh, -shee-uh-] noun, plural pro·nun·ci·a·men·tos. a proclamation; manifesto; edict.
I came across this one today as I was looking around the dictionary. Or more precisely, in this new age, dictionary.com. It’s a wonderful word found in a wonderful place. Dictionaries are exciting, to me anyway. I’ve been reading them since I knew what one was and found one in our house. Words. Wonderful.
I used to play word games with some of my work mates. Emails going around with sentences made up of words with the same letter. Peter picked pickled peppers. Like that. We’d start with A and work our way to Z and back again, or we’d rhyme, or be cute some other way with wonderful wacky words. Fun, to us anyway. We’d stretch our minds, our vocabularies, and we’d laugh and laugh. Words are good like that.
Today as I looked around I came across this great word. Had never heard of it. And now I love it. I am also, I think, going to use it here. Make a pronunciamento about things I’d like to do this summer… a proclamation of sorts. Here, publicly, live and “in person”. Maybe if I put some things down here I will do some of them… maybe I already have. Maybe I would anyway. No matter… it’s a fun exercise.
(Riley is playing with her Uncle Kevin right now… he’s rubbing her belly, she’s growling, barking, and jumping up to wiggle around and play bite at him. She’s like popcorn. It’s cute. They missed each other.)
A noise outside wakes me up. It wakes Weston as well. He moves slightly, growls toward the window, and then stands up. I know I’m in trouble. Outside the wind tosses the branches against each other. It’s a nice sound. I can’t go back to sleep, but want to. Thinking I’ll have a better chance I get up and head to the bathroom, Weston decides he needs to get up as well. Padding in toward the dog door I open it so he can go out. We both do our business and it’s time to head back to bed. He won’t get in unless I let him go first, so he jumps up and then I get in behind him. It’s time to spoon. Yes, yes, I know.
Weston loves to cuddle. He is one of the most affectionate dogs I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what it is, but he’s always been like this. Maybe it’s because he came into our lives when he was younger than he should have been. Maybe he has always been, since that first day, treated like our child. Maybe it’s just that he’s so emotional. Whatever the reason, he loves a good cuddle. His two favorite cuddling positions are one, laying on his back while I cradle him and pet his belly as we sit in a recliner. And two… morning snuggle time. He loves to spoon. This is hilarious, but true.
Weston is, after all, a little creature of habit, just like his sister. He’s also a smart one. A pain in the ass to be sure, but that’s a post for another time. I’m usually on my side with my arm out. He lays right up against me, over my arm, puts his head on the pillow, and then wants me to put my other hand on his back. He also likes it if he’s so close that my head sort of lays on him and the pillow at the same time. It’s so funny. And yes, I sometimes cuddle him. He gets a couple of minutes of this and sometimes longer if I actually fall asleep in this position. It cracks me up. He would like this to happen every day, which it doesn’t, but he’d very much like it if it did.
His little sister has her thing too…
We get ready for bed and all get in. Each dog in their little dog beds on our bed. We all sort of relax and just when it gets quiet and mellow, Riley decides she needs to get back up. She stands up, one of us says to her, OK… go get a drink. She jumps down, goes to the water bowl, drinks really loudly for a tiny 10 pound dog, jumps back up, and lays back down. Every night, same routine.
Bedtime. 9:30 rolls around and they both get surly and disgusted if we don’t go to bed. If we are in the media room Riley is in a dog bed on a chair and Weston is usually asleep on the couch or laying on me. One of us gets up to get a drink or something and they both sit up, on alert, waiting for us to say the magic words… time for bed. They will even jump down, start to head upstairs in the hope that it’s time. We have to say to them… not yet. Not quite yet. Being the little creatures of habit that they are it’s tough for them to alter their course.
Ah well… the wind is still blowing out there now. The sun is up and so are we. I’m sitting on the couch in the living room typing away around Riley, who is laying on my lap. Yes, it’s hard to type with a dog in ones lap. Weston is laying next to me, pressed up against my leg. It’s time for breakast though and they are starting to let me know. Riley has just jumped up and gotten in my face. Weston keeps nudging me. OK, OK… I get the message. Loud and clear. Don’t want to mess with the routine…
I walked out into the backyard this afternoon to throw the ball a little for the boy. He’s been restless today. Sometimes he gets like that. Usually chewing on a bully (which I gave him) or throwing the ball a couple of times in the house (which I did), or letting him sit on my lap and petting him (also did) work to assuage his anxiousness. Not today. He is sort of a high strung anxious little guy sometimes. So outside I went, in my lounge pants (AKA pajama bottoms) that I’m still wearing. Yes, the advantages of Karen and I working from home is the ability to stay dressed down for the day. Until we have to go out in public that is, but that’s a topic for another day. Back to Alfie… or more accurately, Weston. I was kind of desperate to have him quit bugging me. I love him, but having him come up to me and nudge my hand, or bark at me, or whatever over and over today was getting on my nerves. So out into the backyard, in my lounge pants, I went. I threw the ball for him a few times. Riley also got in on the action a little… in all ways actually. She chewed on the bully, tugged on her brown thing (formerly a stuffed monkey, now just the brown thing), chased Weston’s ball in the house, and got her own lap sitting complete with a pet or two. She was also in on the outside ball throwing action. We also just took them for a short walk around a couple of blocks… not in our lounge pants (Karen had to get out of the house and off the phone for 30 minutes… it’s a bad one today for her)… but again, I digress. So while we were outside, the dogs and I that is, in the backyard (me in my lounge pants), I noticed Alfie. He was laying near the back steps. Poor guy. I picked him up and found, for the third or fourth time since he’s been a part of the family, that he was soaking wet. Weston, who has taken a particular shine to Alfie, carries him around sometimes. Sometimes that means he carries Alfie outside. And sometimes he gets distracted by a squirrel, drops Alfie, and forgets to bring him back in the house. If we notice Alfie out there at night, which we have in the past when we take the pups out for their last constitution before bed, we tell Weston to get Alfie and bring him in, which he does. Pretty cute actually. I say… “Weston, go get Alfie. Get him. Good boy!” and he does. He will go get him. But today, Alfie’s fate was not of the warm and dry kind. He was soaking. Forgotten yesterday by Weston outside and left to weather the storm on his own. Poor Alfie.
After I saw Alfie I brought him in, of course, and propped him up on the kitchen counter to dry. It’s his normal drying spot. Seems to work. Weston will miss him until Alfie re-joins the fold, but it has to be done.
And speaking of Weston missing him… this is interesting. Weston has never really taken any particular interest in any one toy. He loves chasing and catching the ball the most and will occasionally carry around the Mailman or the Hedgehog. Both of which have stayed in tact, a sure sign he likes them as he hasn’t chewed the stuffing out of them. But that’s about it… he will carry one around for awhile and then put it down, forgotten for quite a long time until the next time he picks one up and carries it around. Alfie is different. We picked up Alfie, and his co-hort Squiggy, when we stopped at Praireland Feeds (where we buy the pup’s food) on my birthday weekend as we headed out of town. I noticed this little bin of stuffed things and thought the pups needed a little treat for the trip so I picked up a red and green one. The naming of them happened after we got home from the weekend. Weston took a particular liking to red, later named Alfie. He started carrying him around everywhere. He brought him to bed with him, something he’s never done with anything other than a bully stick before (which we don’t let him have in bed by the way), carried him outside when he went out to do his business, brought him downstairs to the media room when we went down to watch TV at night, and had him with him when he took his naps. He has never done this and it’s kind of cute. He and Alfie have become fast fast friends. Squiggy gets a tad bit of attention, but he’s usually a meager substitute for Alfie when Alfie is out of commission, like he is today.
Weston will be happy when Alfie dries off and is dropped back on the floor. I’m sure he and his little buddy will be stuck like glue again, until the next time he’s left outside and gets showered on.
We had such a fantastic weekend. So great that I’m tired today. OK, maybe to be more accurate I should say that I’m partially tired from having to get up in the middle of the night to the let the dogs out. For some reason, and this is a rare event, they both had to go out. There’s the little girlie getting up for water and then not jumping back in the bed. Bad sign. I got up to find her and she was waiting in the hallway for me. She ran over to the doggie door and then I heard Weston coming along as well. I opened the door, they go out, and there I am peeking through the curtains over the sliders trying to see them out in the backyard at four in the morning. Too funny. So I could be tired from that. But, the weekend was so busy, so much fun, and tiring in a totally good way as well.
It started Friday night with a Gal Up (a group we’ve found and joined) event at a local bar, the Esquire Lounge in downtown Champaign. Drink, food, talk, pool playing, and good times had by all. A great night with cool women. Saturday we got up early to go watch Sebastian’s first swimming lesson here in the U.S. He’s somewhat of a swimming lesson expert as he’s been in them since he was like three months old or something in the U.K. But it’s been a little while since he’s been in the pool, so he was a tad cautious. He had a big hold on Mary most of the time. He didn’t cry, but he was unsure. By the end though he was a champ, showing that now famous smile all over the place. He’s going to be great and it was such a blast watching him, and watching Mary be such a fantastic Mom with him when he was unsure and scared and such. Makes a person tear up watching the kid be so good with her kid. Impressive. After the swim lesson we took a jaunt over to Einstein Bagels with the kids to have a little bagel breakfast and then went over to their house for a bit to visit with Ashley, one of Mary’s friends and bridesmaids, who was visiting for the weekend from Indianapolis, where she’s living now. It was really nice to see her. Ashley recently got married, the wedding the kids went to over the weekend we did our overnight babysitting for the first time. After we left the kid’s place we came home, picked up the pups, and headed out to Mahomet and a lovely new to us walking trail out there. A great spot to walk them. There are numerous trails to hit so it will be fun to go back out there and see what’s what with those. On Saturday we only walked for about a mile, one way, because it was really sunny, with no shade, and Weston doesn’t much like the heat. He was panting and kept trying to lay down in close to the tall grass. We couldn’t keep going so we turned around, but they got a nice walk in anyway. Afterward we came home and just enjoyed being here. Watched some of the World Series, ate dinner followed by caramel corn, relaxed. Nice.
Yesterday we had a nice mellow morning at home. Brewed and drank some coffee, we each looked at our fantasy football teams and adjusted (we played each other this week), drank more coffee, pet on the pups a lot, and lounged in our living room. Later we’d finally had enough of that lounging stuff and took the pups for a long walk. We discovered a great area on campus only about a 15 minute walk from our house. Fantastic. It’s near the Arboretum, which includes the Idea Garden, and Japan House. So great. There’s an actual hill over there. You can see out a ways. We plan on going back to the garden with a camera to get some ideas. It is the idea garden after all. We also plan on taking the pups back over there again. It’s so close to our house. It’s so cool that we keep finding all these great places to take the dogs for walks. We’re loving that. After the walk we met up with Ann, one of our new friends here in Illinois, and drove out to Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch where we met other peeps and then all did the corn maze. We ended up splitting into two groups and raced each other. Texting the other group with things like… Number 5! There were eight punch stations to get in the maze and we were racing to see which group could get them all first. We were ahead most of the time, until the end, when they managed to squeak by us for the win. Damn Dracula! Where were you?!?! We also looked at the reindeer, the pumpkins, and watched the pumpkin cannon shoot a pumpkin out into a field. The cannon was pretty impressive. A fun time with great ladies. After the Reindeer Ranch we headed home again, hung with the pups for a little bit, and then went over to the kid’s place for dinner. We played with the grandson, ate some food, and watched the beginning of World Series game four with the kids before heading home where we loved on the pups and finished watching the game.
A lot of stuff…. a busy weekend. Fun. Illinois is growing on us. We love the adventure of discovering things in a new place. We are loving… and let me say… L-O-V-I-N-G… the fall weather here. Beautiful blue skies, gorgeous fall colors, and warmish (enough to be in t-shirts yesterday). We are loving being close to the kids and getting to see Sebastian all the time, go to his little classes, hang out and play. And we are finding some friends, getting to know some people, starting to make a life here. We still miss everyone in Oregon tremendously, but we are starting to really settle in, and excited about all the new things we’ve yet to discover and do. Everything is an adventure when you live in a new place. It’s kinda cool….
We went for little walk today. We needed to get the pups out and about, moving their little feet, so we took them over to Mahomet. It’s a little burg 10 minutesWest of here with a couple of great places to walk. One, the Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens and the Lake of the Woods, and the other, still part of the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, but called Buffalo Trace Prairie. We’d been to the Lake of the Woods and the Botanical Gardens so we tried the Buffalo Trace Prairie walk. Lovely. We had a fantastic walk, other than the fact that Weston seemed to not like the heat. It was 30 degrees warmer today than it was two days ago. Beautiful sunshine and we were back to wearing t-shirts. Gotta love the rapidly changing weather of Central Illinois.
Tomorrow we head to Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch in nearby Rantoul with some new friends. Time to try our luck with the corn maze and maybe, if they have it (?), drink some cider. I’m sure there will be photos galore, but for now these are some I took today during the walk. Cheers.
Karen, the pups, and I took a walk a couple of days ago at our favorite local park, Meadowbrook. As we walked the path, looked at the natural prairie that’s been restored, and enjoyed the many sculptures and natural beauty along the way we had an epiphany…. this is big stuff people, so listen up.
We feel that as we age we should patina instead of wrinkle. How cool would this be? Instead of drying out and wrinkling up we would all slowly turn a lovely shade of green. Women would get upset because men would probably turn green more quickly. And since green would be the new “wrinkle free” this would be fodder for many a joke on the late night talk show circuit. There would be creams developed to give that certain special shine to your patina. But since we would patina and not wrinkle, we’d all look like we did when we were 21. Granted, sadly this would do nothing for the whole sagging thing, but hey… we can only solve one serious world issue per walk.
That’s it… our big ah ha moment. These are the conversations we have…
Enjoy some photos taken with our little Canon SD750 during the walk. Notice the woman… this is the sculpture that inspired the whole revelation.
We have had a full week here in Illinois. Loads of barbecuing at both our house and over at Mary and Martin’s, we went to a cheese festival in Arthur Illinois, which also happens to be in Amish Country so we saw loads of Amish (a first for both of us). We even bought some Amish goods here at our Saturday Market at the Square this last Saturday when we finally made it over there (yummy cinnamon bread… so good). We went to the Children’s museum in Decatur and made big bubbles and watched the little boy climb up and down the little slide and pull and pull the fake wooden garden vegetables out of the fake wooden garden. I had another blow draw (numbers normal… yay!) and a shot this week. Karen put together the spring thunder horse so Sebastian could ride on it the way Mary did when she was a wee sprout. Karen saved it all this time just for this moment… when her daughter would have a child and he/she could ride it. It brought tears to both of our eyes. We took the dogs in for their first vet appointment to get them checked for heart worm (clear!) and get another round of heart worm meds for them. We went on a few walks with the pups at Meadowbrook Park (our favorite in town), once with a couple of people we met through the UP Center (LGBT center in town). And we celebrated Sebastian’s first birthday two days ago. Who can believe he’s one… wow! We will be celebrating again tomorrow when some friends of Martin and Mary arrive and Mary makes some delicious spiced cupcakes in the shape of trucks. Presents have already been opened, but there’s always time to have another celebration… especially when cake is involved! We had our handyman over and he took the first step in eliminating the spindles between our kitchen and dining room. Spindles out… now the finish work is all that’s left to do. He’s coming back on Monday to take care of that. We have him working on an estimate to put in a garage door opener and then we will have him give us an estimate for putting crown molding throughout the upper floor of the house.
We are adjusting to life in Illinois. The weather has turned nice. Cooler… much much less humidity, and cool nights! We are loving it. It’s been in the mid to upper 70’s during the day, and in the upper 40’s to lower 50’s at night. We are actually wearing sweatshirts (with our shorts and flip flops of course… and my honey’s boot… so fashionable) once in awhile now. I actually had a blanket on my lap last night as we sat down in our media room watching the first NFL game of the season. My honey scored a load of points on her men in the game… her fantasy football year is off to a great start!
Now… we are going to take the pups and walk downtown to the Common Ground Food Co-op. Time to get some organics, some deodorant, and maybe a snack for the walk back. We have to wear sweatshirts… and, it may just rain on us. We are not complaining!
What follows are some shots, mostly taken by Karen, during our road trip east. It was a tiring four days, but we got er done… as they say. We were so lucky to have Mom and Sandy along to help out. They were amazing and true champs! People say this all the time, but in our case we totally mean it… we couldn’t have done it without them! Thank you guys, you were wonderful traveling companions, and true champs of the road! We love you!
Seven states, 2300 miles, three nights in hotels with four adults and two dogs, road food, great conversation, some beautiful scenery, more gas money into a big ol’ truck and a car than two girls ever want to pay for again, and no real issues… it was a tiring, but good trip east.
The schnoodles are laying next to and on me, sleeping and not sleeping. They try to sleep, want attention for awhile, demand attention for a little longer, then go back to sleep again. They both want to be touching me. It’s cute… lovely…. warm… and sometimes, admittedly, sort of annoying. But, then I look at them, in their little eyes, and the fleeting millisecond of annoyance turns right back to adoration and love.
Weston just got up and wandered off… maybe he “heard” me talking about him. Or maybe just maybe he is getting restless before his Uncle Kevin comes home. He LOVES his Uncle Kevin and always gets restless when it’s about that time… time for Kev to come on in. Weston wanders, looks out the window, barks and runs out when he thinks it might be Uncle Kevin. It’s cute.
Combine that with the fact that his Mamma is gone right now getting our house in Illinois, and he’s even more of a mess. I’m sure he’s looking for her too. Riley does that as well. So do I for that matter. We are all missing her. Until she comes home it will be like this… the pups stuck to me, a bit restless, looking out the window, barking when they hear a noise that might be, is it, maybe…. Wanting pets, wanting love, wanting to make sure that if they are sleeping they are touching me somehow. Riley is asleep next to me right now and has all four of her little paws up against my leg. Adorable.
I am surrounded… by boxes, by stuff to pack, and by dogs…. beautiful little lovable dogs.
I’m sitting here at the computer not doing what I’m supposed to be doing, but then… exactly what am I supposed to be doing? Packing. Yes, I should be packing. Books into tubs to take, kitchen glasses, plates, etc. Those are my tasks. I need to get to them. Yet, I blog, I surf, I go into the ol’ flickr account and organize photos. I’m avoiding the packing. Five weeks to go. Five weeks on Thursday. Not many weekends left until the big Uhaul leaves the town of Scappoose and heads east toward our new home in Urbana, IL.
I’m excited for the future… for the change, the adventure, the new life moments created with our grandson and the kids, the pups, and each other. I’m very excited about all of that. I’m excited about living in and decorating a new house, about planting new flowers, about riding our bikes and walking around a new town. I’m excited for the friends we will make and the times we will have.
It’s just that I don’t want to pack… not right now. Not right now I don’t. It’s raining outside and dreary on this not so sunny Oregon summer day. The dogs are asleep on their beds here in the office. My honey is working away… hard and with purpose. In command of her job and what she does so well. I’m listening to her type and talk on the phone and be in charge. It’s impressive. Weston snores occasionally and the little girlie changes positions every now and then. They look up at us hopefully every so often thinking maybe if I look at you and then at my ball and then at you again I will get you to play with me. Will you? I say to them… later babies. I promise. And we will.
I was sitting here this morning doing my usual routine… drink some tea, have a bagel, check my email, Facebook, Google Reader… and I heard it. The tell tale sound of Weston opening the closet door and rummaging through the shred box. By the time I responded, which was actually pretty quickly, with my usual…. Weston, NO, get out of there, he had a piece of paper and was making for the hills. Or in his case, more accurately, I should say his chair. He looked up at me and then, miraculously, dropped the paper. Riley, our little girlie, just stayed in her bed the whole time looking at both of us like we were lame idiots. She doesn’t play those games.
It made me think about them… our little lovelies. They are so different, in almost every way save one, they sort of look alike. And even that likeness has diminished as Riley aged and became more silver than dark gray. They are beauties. But then… we love them. And love might not even be a strong enough word for it…. but it’s all I’ve got.
Weston… He is the oldest, so he gets first billing. He’s our poet. Our feeling gent. He is ruled by emotion, no matter what kind, and acts on it purposefully and sometimes impulsively… or compulsively. He loves people and wants attention and love constantly. Always looking at you with those deep feeling eyes full of soul and pawing or nosing for a quick pet. He’s a bit of a two personality guy… taken away from his mother at too young an age (not our choice but the breeder’s, who was wanting to get out of the puppy business and did it too soon) he suffers from not enough discipline when he was young. We tried, but we weren’t his mamma and though he is ultra smart (sometimes the bane of our existence) he is equally as stubborn. He will look at you, know he’s being told no, and still do whatever it is he’s doing. Which mostly consists of being a thief of the highest caliber. We’ve tried every form of discipline we’ve researched and though he responds best to being ignored for a time (he loves us you see and doesn’t like to be left out), he still won’t give in. Stubborn. A stubborn, very very smart thief. He’s magic at it. He can get things off countertops… standing on his little hind legs, using his paw to reach up over where he can’t really see that well, pull something over to the edge, then grab it with his teeth. He opens closets doors, drawers, tips over trash cans, and jumps up in any chair that’s left out. It’s hilarious… and sometimes aggravating. We don’t really care. In the moment you get mad at him, but then you think about all the cunning and planning and skill and you have to laugh. His best, yet worst, thieving experience was when he opened a pocked in a backpack that was fully zipped closed, got out a bag of chocolate, and ate it all. This is always what we worry about the most… that he will thieve something bad for him. He tends to eat what he steals so you can’t get it from him. He’s swallowed ear plugs, numerous kleenex, napkins, food of all kinds, q-tips… the list goes on. The chocolate was the worst. We called the vet and had to pour (to his great displeasure) some hydrogen peroxide down him to get him to throw it all up. We did… and he did… all over the bathroom floor. Yuck… but we were happy because he was safe. He’s incorrigible. And his feelings run deep. He looks at you, as he’s flipping over onto his back and opening up his legs to get a good pet, with eyes that speak volumes. Not all dogs are like this… but he is. He’s the most feeling dog I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing, the soul that pours from his eyes to yours. Very expressive. Very sweet. Very deep and full of love. He’s our boy. Our little mister. Our Woodsy (as Karen calls him).
Riley… our little girl. She is a spitfire. Confident in every way save one. She’s afraid of the oven. It’s true. The minute the oven goes on, she makes haste to the family room and the back of the sectional that’s furthest from the door up to the kitchen. She hates the oven. We know it’s because it used to (before we unplugged this particular one) set off the smoke alarm. We have another nearby that isn’t as sensitive and has stayed plugged in…. have to be safe and all. When the oven door used to be opened, no matter what we were cooking in there, it set off this particular smoke detector… and the girlie hated it. That isn’t a strong enough word. Her ears are very sensitive…. we think it’s because her vision isn’t good. So even now, with the detector not going off every time, when the oven gets turned on she makes for the other room. She’s smart too… knows what that oven going on could mean. And she doesn’t like it. It’s cute and sad at the same time as she lays out there, a tiny ball, quivering. It’s the only time she seems afraid. Otherwise she’s a little ball of confidence, all ten pounds of her. She knows who she is and owns her space. Her little strut, and I will call it a strut, is so cute. Head held high, barking occasionally at anyone or anything she feels like, jumping up to put her front paws over her brother’s back to show she’s in charge. Confident. She’s sometimes loud, barking crazy-like whenever we get home, or someone comes over, or she thinks she hears someone outside. But it’s her… loud, confident, and so very cute. She’s chalk full of personality… playing like a cat likes to play, spinning around, hardly able to contain all the energy inside her little body. Yes, she sometimes tries to jump up (and she’s a fantastic jumper… so high for the size of her little self) up onto the couch or a chair and misses… her eyes again, not working as well as they should for depth… but she doesn’t let it stop her. Bouncing off the furniture only to immediately jump up again. She has moxy. She’s full of it. If only the rest of us could have half the confidence she possesses in her little self… fantastic.
And that’s them… our little cuties. So many nicknames… the boy, the girlie, riles, ri-ri, girlie cutie, wooser, woodsie, westenheimer, riley-roosey… it goes on and on. Whatever we happen to call them they are a big part of the joy in our lives. We love our little schnoodles. We also spoil the crap out of them… they eat great for them food, which we mix up, they have special beds all over the place, we buy them bones and bullies and toys, we take them for walks when it’s sunny (they hate the rain), we built up a really nice dog run/area at the back of our house including their own little door for going in and out with a gate we lock when we leave so that no one can accidentally let them out, we play ball (for Weston) and tug (for Riley) in the house when we can’t take them out for walks, and we love on them… all the time. It’s all so worth it because they are precious… they love us and bring us immense delight.
On our way home from a family dinner at Mom and Don’s place. Stopped at the pet store on the way home for bully sticks for the pups. They love them.
Dinner was so good. Got to see family I haven’t seen in a long long time. Nice! Nothing like being in a room with a bunch of people I love and who love me. It’s what life is about.
Had my appointment with Dr. Bigler yesterday. I start maintenance this coming Wednesday. My numbers are holding steady. Not all quite in the normal range yet, but good enough. I do have to have another bone marrow biopsy… It’s looking like maybe November 3 for that. Then it’s just two years of the maintenance cycle and I will be done with the meds. Maintenance involves a weekly shot, a daily pill (or maybe two… We don’t know yet how much as they have to do a formula for it) and 15 days of ATRA every three months). I should be able to get into a pretty normal routine and back to a pretty normal life. Next Wednesday….. Here we go…..
Now, home to the pups with bullies. They will be so happy.
Sunday and a trip to the beach. My honey decided that getting out of the house would be good for this girl, rightly so, and we headed to Astoria this morning. She packed a picnic lunch, loaded up the pups, and off we all went down Hwy 30. It was a great day for a drive. It felt so good to be out of the house. I’m just now starting to feel a bit better (not as tired and such) after my five day second consolidation in the hospital stay. Was that a real sentence? LOL
We got home late afternoon, early evening, and rented a free paper view movie (we got a couple free from DISH so we took advantage). Now it’s just hanging at home on a Sunday night. Dinner of leftover chicken with BBQ sauce, fake mashed potatoes with cottage cheese (I can’t have the real thing when I’m neutropenic… and we are starting to act as if I am), and some canned green beans. I think Karen is skipping the cottage cheese (she doesn’t understand this particular delicacy that my mom has passed down to me… cottage cheese on potatoes… so tasty) and is going for some red beans with her chicken. She always makes my dinner first if we are having a sort of left over night. That way we both get what we want.
It’s been a nice weekend. Too fast. Much too fast… but a nice weekend. I love hanging out with my honey.
It’s another scorcher out there today, so we are in. Had breakfast, then lunch, took showers, and now we are both surfing the net on our laptops while watching King Arthur. It’s slow. We may have to put in the Netflix movie we still haven’t watched. I got on the treadmill this morning. Karen just got done on it. I walk. She runs. Since I can’t go out of the house right now, the treadmill has been great. At least I get up and walk a bit. 20 minutes in the morning, 20 more in the evening. It’s great for Karen as well these last couple of days since the shop is way too hot to go out and work out on the equipment in there.
The dogs are spending most of these hot days sleeping where the fan can blow on them. Weston is a bit restless, but then finds another spot to lay down and he takes another little nap. Riley is asleep on top of one of the cushions of the sectional right by Karen.
Laundry is in and later we have ribs, left over from last night’s dinner, that Karen made. So good. The highlights of my days are finding a good movie on TV and what we have for dinner. LOL
Last night I discovered something amazing… I dance better bald. It’s true. Granted I was sitting and dancing, but that just makes the head movement all that more important. I’m sure it’s true though, so it can only mean one thing… hair creates resistance. My head moves more freely naked. A positive since we dance a lot around here.
Today has been a pretty good day. Karen went into the Portland center to finally clean out her office there (she hasn’t used it, really, since she started working from home but still had stuff there. This was the last of it for her and I’m sure makes her feel good about finally getting it done.
While Karen was gone Mom came over to hang with me. It was great getting to see and spend time with her. Mom is great company. She also watered some plants outside and repotted a plant someone had brought as a gift for me. Nice Mom… you rock!
Now there’s a lasagna baking in the oven and Karen and Kev (and Riley) are out in the shop working out. I’m here in the house blogging, watching TV, petting Weston, and waiting to eat the food my honey has made.
Went in for the blood draw today. After that we sat in the waiting room of the oncology department for an hour waiting for an advice nurse. She finally came out to tell me that the sore spot on my hand, the one with the lump in it that is where I had an IV during my last hospital stay, has phlebitis. Apparently either the push was too fast for that vein or something. Either way the vein got inflamed, which is why it’s sore. The advice nurse told me if we got to it earlier it would’ve been easier to treat. I asked her if it would go away and she said possibly/probably after a long time. Yeah?!! I’m hoping it does. I’m going to try the treatment she said it needed initially and see if, a week later, it still helps. Basically we’re talking ice and heat and tylenol. I’ve already done the tylenol. LOL We’ll see what the ice and heat do for it.
As for the blood numbers… They are down… the white blood cells and neutrophils down quite a bit. I’m not neutropenic yet (and maybe won’t be), but we won’t really be able to tell which way my numbers are going until I get the draw on Thursday. For now we are going to act as if I am neutropenic just in case they are going down. They are close enough that precautions won’t hurt. We know what to do. No fresh fruits or veggies, no people with colds or people who have been around people with colds, no dirt, and no people who have cleaned the cat box (strange I know, and we don’t really know why, but this is a biggie). Apparently being around the dogs is OK. At least that’s what they told us before. We are going with that. And really… I’m not neutropenic yet, and again, may not even get there.
It was a long Monday. Karen was/is exhausted. My honey had to get up at 5:45 this morning for a meeting and then worked non-stop, meeting after meeting, until we left for the clinic at 2:15. That all on top of not really sleeping that good. She then drove me to the clinic, waited with me for over an hour in the waiting room like the trooper she is, drove home (with a stop at the store), made dinner, and then cleaned out the fridge of fresh fruit (she is sitting in front of a bowl of watermelon trying to eat it, with Kev’s help, so we can get the fruit out of here) and then cleaned the fridge where the fruit was. I know I keep saying this… but, I love her.
The dogs just got a rare treat… a taste of watermelon. They don’t normally get people food…. other than an occasional veggie mixed in with their food, but they are always happy when they get a little treat. Like now….
Sunday, day 9. It’s been a similar day to yesterday… decent morning, slightly rocky afternoon… but not bad. My honey went to the store today, cleaned the house, and has been outside washing cars and cleaning and weeding and playing in the shop. She is a busy girl, and amazing. The little girlie is out with her, the boy is laying next to me on the couch chewing on an old bully stick Karen found in the car under the seat. He is a happy little man.
It’s beautiful out there again today…. a little hot (I was just outside for a couple of minutes) and a tad humid, though that could just be me and my bald head in the sun. I wasn’t out for that long. Now I’m here again, on the sectional in the family room, watching the third in the Librarian series on TNT. These movies are so corny and not that good, but that sort of makes them good. I can’t seem to stop watching them.
Tomorrow Karen is busy busy in the morning… she is still getting emails today about that work situation yesterday… and then, in the afternoon, we are going in for my first blood draw of this series. We will see what my numbers are. I think they are down, but I don’t feel that tired, so maybe not really. It will be interesting to see what happens between tomorrow and Thursday, when I go in again. Back to the bi-weekly blood draws.
Nothing much else going on here. Kev is still camping, but coming back some time today. I think I have another week of ATRA. Will be nice to get a couple of weeks off from taking it when I get that chance. I have a nice fan blowing on me right now. Seems my thought has become somewhat freeform, which probably means it’s time to wrap up this entry.
So here we are, day 8 from the first day of this last chemo round. All in all I’m not feeling too bad. Woke up well, but have felt a tad queasy since lunch. Took the temp and it’s all good, no temperature, and that’s the biggie.
Karen ended up having to work today for awhile. Got a call from her boss asking her if she and some of her team could rectify a huge issue in another department. Not even Karen’s department, but they fixed the problem. Once again, she steps in and gets it done. That’s my girl. Pretty amazing.
Right now she and pups are on their way to the vet to get some more heart worm med for the dogs. They went along to get a little adventure. She’s going to score a chai while she’s gone. She deserves one. As for me, I’m sitting here drinking green tea and watching HGTV. It’s not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon. 🙂 Later, a much needed bath…. LOL I’m finally done sweating out the poison. Not longer the toxic avenger this time around. Sheets washed, Weston can once again sleep with his mamma, and Karen can once again, sleep in the same room as me with the dogs. Back on her air mattress. Yes, she’s been sleeping on an air mattress on the floor next to the bed since I came home on July 1. Safer for her when I’m sweating it all out, better rest right now for both of us. It’s not ideal, at all, but it works. She is so amazing. That girl knows how to love and take care of me.
Had to post this little number. Karen and I took a walk, with the pups, around the Belmont neighborhood last weekend. It was gorgeous out and gorgeous weather always calls for a walk. The dogs, of course, love it when we go on a walkabout. They were a bit thirsty, as you would expect, by the time we got back to the car. Riley is in the red collar, and Weston is behind her.