i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)i am never without it(anywhere i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling) i fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true) and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
This is the first morning in over 13 years I’ve gotten up and haven’t then heard the sound of little paws coming out to find me.
Weston was my shadow. My boy. He wanted to be where I was, most all the time. Following me downstairs when I went to fold the clothes from the dryer, outside if I went to look at the blooms in the yard or just to hang out on our deck, into the kitchen or the dining room, following me into the living room with hopeful eyes that I would sit in our chair and he could join me, settling himself against one of my legs. That guy even followed me into the bathroom where I was supposed to pet him until I was done and would then say OK which was his signal to move along.
He loved love, more than anything. He loved pets. He was insistent about them. Pawing or nosing your hand to let you know it should be on him, and no where else.
Though don’t get me wrong. He was cantankerous. We’ve all been bitten by Weston. K and I more than once. He didn’t like certain things… to be picked up like a normal dog around the middle, to have things taken from him that he’d procured somehow, to have someone reach at him if he was in places he considered his den at the time, or just to try and help him when he didn’t want to be helped. He was independent, to a fault, but that was his way. And he would let you know it.
He was our little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The most loving dog you’d ever meet who wanted nothing more than loves from you and to give kisses right back and the snarky cantankerous boy who would have none of whatever he would have none of.
We loved him so.
Our little man was an amazing thief. He stole things all the time. We realized yesterday, as we picked up after ourselves, that we’d been thoroughly trained by him to not leave a paper towel or Kleenex anywhere he could get it. He would steal it immediately. He loved to rip up and eat those things. We’ve lost many pairs of glasses and Kleenex and post-it notes and paper towels to him over the years.
He even ate things he shouldn’t. Things that were dangerous for him. We were talking last night and laughing, amazed, at all the times he grabbed things and tried to eat them, or just swallowed them in a hurry so no one would try and take whatever it was from him. We called him the sword swallower because when we first brought him home, and he was so very tiny, we’d given him this bone we’d gotten for him. We were leaving him alone in the house for the first time, in his playpen, and we wanted him to have something good while we were gone. We weren’t gone long and when we got back we couldn’t find the bone in the playpen. We couldn’t find it anywhere. And what’s more, he had this weird look on his face. Sort of surprised and slightly distressed, though he wasn’t acting distressed. We took him out of the playpen and he ran off into the living room where he jumped up on his chair and ottoman. We walked out of the room, walked back in, and there was that bone, all 6-8 inches of it, harked back up, out of him onto the ottoman. Lordy. We knew we were in trouble with him from then on. And over the years we were proven right. He stole and tried to eat a rib bone, same result with the harking it up. When we were camping once he found a piece of sausage someone had wrapped around a stick and then put hooks on and used to fish. Don’t ask me what that was supposed to catch, but there it was, discarded on the side of the river, and who would find it? Weston. Of course he would. He got a hold of it and then carried it around. We kept him walking so he wouldn’t try to start eating it because we knew the hooks would be disastrous. We got back to the Jeep and took out our bite gloves (yes, we had heavy cowhide work gloves we carried that we called bite gloves for times just like this when we had to get something from him or do something to him we knew he wouldn’t like). K managed to snatch that thing from him. To this day I don’t even know how she did it. And there was that time, road tripping as we do, when we were walking the pups near this gas station (sometimes there just aren’t great spots to take them on the road) and he found a petrified hamburger. It was hard and because he thought we might try to take it from him he tried to swallow it. He started to choke. I thought, right then, Oh God, he’s going to choke to death. I was trying to figure out how to give him the Heimlich maneuver and low and behold he managed to get it down. One time we’d returned from Europe and we had a bag of these really good chocolates inside a zipped up backpack. In fact, they were in a bag inside the backpack, inside a closed closet. He managed to get into the closet (it was a slider), get the backpack out, open the zippered compartment, open the package of chocolate, and eat them all. We were horrified. We called the dog poison hotline and were told we had to get some hydrogen peroxide down him so he would throw up. So there we were in the bathroom, on the tile floor, me holding him and getting the crap scratched out of me for it, and K pouring peroxide down his throat. It worked, he threw most of it up. But man oh man, what an incident.
We had to be hyper vigilant with him. He did what he wanted and sometimes that was dangerous for him. He didn’t care. He was Weston, danger dog.
He was also a smoker. He loved to find cigarette butts on his walks. If he found one, he would eat it. So we had to be vigilant when we walked him, butts, unfortunately, are everywhere. Crazy dog. We would joke that it was time to take Weston our for his smoke break. Because as much as we tried to keep him away from them, we was sneaky and got them anyway.
He was a smart little guy. Too smart. Too cunning. A true mischief maker.
K used to take him to her office once in a while, long ago when she had one. There were like 100 proof machines and next to each one was a garbage can. He loved garbage cans. Or a better description, he loved to knock garbage cans over. He was always looking for whatever treasures he might find there. Her staff would laugh when they came back in and ask her if Weston had been there. They knew he had because every garbage can, every last one, would be tipped over. When we visited anyone, my Mom, K’s parents, we had to make sure we went in first, his advance team, to put all the garbage cans up out of his reach. We had to scan for candy, or wrappers that might be within reach, and move those things up high enough he couldn’t get to them.
Here at home he got into all sorts of mischief. You couldn’t leave your coffee cup sitting next to your chair for even a moment because the second you left the area he was there, drinking your coffee. He was a master thief, lying in wait, watching all the time, waiting for any opportunity. He pulled things off shelves in the kitchen. We had to organize with him in mind, and even when we did he still went for things. His reach, for being small in stature, was amazing. One time we came back into the living room and found he had managed to pull this old package of instant breakfast we had shoved to the back of the top shelf in the cart. He shouldn’t have been able to get that, but somehow, he did. We found him standing over the ripped up package with powder all over his muzzle. We re-arranged our shelves, again, for him after coming up from watching TV to find him in the living room with a bag of sugar he’d managed to somehow pull down off the shelf, drag to the living room, tear open, and have a snack. The most hilarious thing was the time we were downstairs watching TV in the evening, again, and he had disappeared, which was always a bad sign. Suddenly we heard a loud bang. We both ran up the stairs to find he’d gotten a box of cans of green beans off the bottom shelf, drug it into the living room, and had torn up most of an end of the box. I’m not sure how he thought he was getting into the cans, but you know, after everything he’d pulled off, I wouldn’t have put it past him. There is an endless list of things he stole and ate, or tried to eat. A classic was the time, when we still lived in Oregon, I’d set an egg salad sandwich on our pool table while I went into the kitchen for a moment, thinking that was a safe place out of reach for him. No. I came back and my sandwich was gone. He’d managed to jump up onto the sectional, get on the back of the sectional, and jump to the pool table to get to the sandwich. He liked to jump into chairs that were left out to get to tables. We felt like he could’ve been a circus performer in another life.
Every night he had the same routine. We would be getting ready for bed and after they went outside to do their business he would, as we brushed teeth and got some water and changed, go into K’s office and rummage through whatever pants she’d been wearing that day. He pulled them down off of wherever she’d put them and went through her pockets. If there was anything… Kleenex, cough drop, candy wrapper, he would get it.
A standard phrase yelled in our house for the last 13 years has been, “TREAT!”. It was our way of getting him inside if he was barking at a neighbor (he was friendly to them, but wanted them to pet him and if they didn’t, or until they did, he would bark at them) or a squirrel he’d run up a tree. Yelling “TREAT!” was also our way of getting something away from him he shouldn’t have. Again, we were trained, not him. We couldn’t just take anything from him because of his snarkiness so our option was to bribe him into letting whatever it was go. It worked, but really I think it was all just part of his plan. He would steal something he knew we didn’t want him to have, we would offer him a treat to give it up. Pretty smart. But then, he was a very very smart dog. It was a blessing and a curse, and also the reason for his name.
Weston. Our beautiful boy. He was named after his birthplace, Weston, Oregon. It’s in the Blue Mountains, and it’s lovely. As we were driving to pick him up we’d already picked out a name for him. We had a tag and everything. But when we picked him up and he looked at us with those deep brown eyes, eyes that looked into you, that felt like they were a thousand years old, we knew the name we’d picked wasn’t right. We felt like he looked studious, nerdy, deep thinking. K said, he sort of looks like he should be wearing little glasses and a blazer. Kind of like Harry Potter. We laughed, but it was true. So on the drive back the name change process began. I don’t know how it happened, or which one of us thought of it, but somehow in that conversation, as we were running over things, where was he born, intellectual people we could name him after, etc. we said the name of the town. We looked at each other and bam, that was it. Weston. Perfect somehow. Perfectly him.
You know, the funny thing about him, and about his snarkiness, is that we always warned groomers and the people at his vet office about his snarkiness. We always said, watch him, don’t try to pick him up around the middle, cradle him to pick him up, don’t try to take anything from him if he gets anything, etc. We did this every time. We didn’t want anyone to get nipped. But he never bit anyone at those places and in fact everyone always told us, when we picked him up, how wonderful he was. How loving. What a great dog he was.
And he was. He was a great dog. He was the best boy. Snarkiness, and stealing, and mischief, and all. Because with all of that came so much love from him. So much joy. He loved to go for walks and play ball and play with his toys and chew on his bully sticks and run on the beach. The beach was his favorite place. When we could let him off his lead he would run like the wind, chase balls, get sticks, dig holes. He ran and ran, he played, he chased birds, then he would trot over periodically to get a pet or two, giving you little gentle kisses to let you know he loved you as much as you loved him. Letting you know he was so grateful to be there with us, in whatever place we were.
He was our boy. Complicated and intense and a pain in the ass and so loving. So loving.
He had our hearts, and still does. He always will. Our beautiful boy. Our sword swallowing mischief maker. Our one of a kind, full of personality, wonderful, beautiful boy.
Today is our boy, Weston’s, 10th birthday. I can’t even begin to express what he means and has meant to our lives. He is cantankerous, mischievous, smart, fun, quirky, and very loving. He is our little Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. He can be very affectionate one minute and try to gnash at you the next if you look like you might want to take something from him. Never try and take something from him. He loves to play catch with a ball and can actually nose that ball back to you over and over so you are literally playing catch with him. It’s crazy and cool. We really should take a video of it. He loves going on walks, letting us know in the afternoon if he hasn’t had one yet that day by giving us the half bark. He loves bully sticks and cheese. He loves cuddle time in the morning, wanting to be spooned with his head on my pillow, and cuddle time at night when we watch TV, laying on me with his head on my chest. He barks to get veggies when we are cutting them up for dinner and whines to get just a little bit of oatmeal in the morning. It’s not his fault, we give him veggies and oatmeal. We spoil him. We should.
Our philosophy about our pups has always been that we chose them, and because we chose them we owe them. We owe them a good life, love, fun, walks, and our attention. They are pure creatures. Innocent. Dependent on us in so many ways. And because of this, we have an obligation to them. Every day. To take care of them the best way we can, to love them like they deserve to be loved, and to accept their little foibles and faults, because yes, they have them.
Weston is our little man. Our grumpy, moody, affectionate little dude. He is light and love and sometimes frustration, but he is ours, and we are his. I love him more than I can say and am grateful every day for his little furry presence in my life.
I just realized I never published this post. I’m going to, even after the fact. More a record for us than a post for the masses, but fun stuff either way.
Facts From Trip 2016
Movies watched in trailer: Suspect, Clear and Present Danger, Reservoir Dogs, Paycheck, Fifth Element, Red Planet
Woodchucks in Miller Riverview campground, Iowa
Severe weather first night with lightning, thunder, heavy rain that took a big tree down in our campground.
Pelicans, woodpeckers, chipmunk, golden eagle in MT, buffalo, cows, horses, bunnies, cranes in ND lakes, rubber boa that Riley stepped on at fisherman’s bend, Osprey carrying fish at Minto-brown park
Thunderstorms in ND
Stressful events: thunderstorm in Iowa, Weston nearly fainting from heat, realize running with propane on could cause fire when entering gas station: no longer running on propane, tam burns fingers on bbq lid in ND, tam drives trailer over curb in ND, biting flies in Makoshika State Park MT, Karen dropping 10 pound weight on foot and Tam trying to get ice pack from Walmart ending up buying another whole first aid kit, Tam hurt back helping disabled man getting bike out of his van and got terrible sciatica, Karen tripped over some lids and fell down in Mom’s dining room, bees and dust at Allen Springs though it was nothing eating inside the trailer couldn’t solve, Weston getting a hold of the stick at Fishermen’s bend we thought might have hooks and such on it though we finally got it away from him, using the bite gloves and pulling up on his head so he had to drop it to find the stick had a huge piece of sausage on it.
Playlist with 1194 songs means never having to hear the same song twice on the 8 day trek out, or for most of the entire trip.
Saw worlds largest Sandhill crane in Steele, ND
Saw Salem Sue, worlds largest Holstein, in New Salem, ND
Saw Golden Eagle fly right over our heads in Beavertail Hill State Park, Montana
4 Barn Owls at Mom’s place
Killdeer bird nest on ground at Mom’s
Visits with: Kyra, Syd, Susie, Joan, Coni, Kris, Stan and Connie, Stacia, Liz, Josh, Linda, Parker siblings, Kate & Terri, Vicki & Kathleen, Sandy, Heather, Kristen & Nechelle, Maggie, Steph & Phil, and of course Mom and Kev.
Rode MAX into Portland and went to Little Big Burger and Ruby Jewel and Saturday Market.
Went down the rapids at Fishermens Bend a couple of times and rafted with Karen, Kev tipped over, but made it down safely.
Explored some great hiking trails at Fishermen’s Bend with Mom and the dogs. What a great walking/hiking park that is.
Spent time building a rock wall in the Santiam River at Fishermen’s Bend with Phil and Steph, their kids, Mom and Karen. Just because. We were working on putting together a new swimming area. Fun was had by all even though we weren’t able to completely finish it. Maybe someone else will and by the time we go back next summer it will be a great spot to spend the day floating around and swimming.
Used our new hammock and loved it.
Floyd and Opal, camp hosts at Fishermen’s Bend, were awesome.
Went to see an outdoor documentary movie about Lewis and Clark at the Fishermen’s Bend Campground one night with the gang. It was totally enjoyable. Even when we were totally freaked out as some animal loudly knocked into a metal garbage can very near to us.
Tubed, rafted, with the POD at the Metolius. So so cold. Everyone frozen (except Karen and I who were in a raft) by the end. The Metolius, though fun, is our rafting/floating nemesis.
Camped with the POD at Allen Springs. No better group of people out there to spend time with. We love those ladies.
Fly fished on the Metolius for the first time in years. A total joy, even though I didn’t catch anything, other than maybe the bug to fly fish more often.
Put up directional signs made on paper plates, which none of them saw, along the road to Allen Springs Campground for the POD because we had no phone service at the campground.
The many laughs and hugs and smiles we got as we spent time with so many people we love.
A very fast 6 day trip back to Illinois, driving faster, all the way up to 65, than we ever had pulling the trailer so we could make it back for the Sweet Corn Festival with the kids.
We’re already starting to do tentative planning for next year’s adventure. Life is very very good.
Today is our buddy’s 9th birthday. I can’t believe the little man is 9 already. He came to us when he was just 6 weeks old. He was very young, very feisty, curious, strong willed, and very loving. Not much about him has changed since then. He’s brought so much joy to us, so much laughter and love. He’s the best dog thief you’ve ever seen, a total rascal, tenacious, and can be out and out stubborn. As we like to say he is the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde of dogs. So loving and affectionate one minute, guarding his bully, or a kleenex he stole, with ferocity the next.
I didn’t know I could love a dog this much. It slays me every day, the love I have for him. I think that love is only bested by the love he has for me.
Nine years. Wow. Happy birthday little man. Here’s to many more adventures together.
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”― Josh Billings
Dogs make things better, as do cats I suppose, if I had a cat in my life I’m sure I would think so. I don’t. I have dogs. There’s so much joy there, in their eyes and the wag of their tails. In the leaping and barking when they stand on the greeting couch after we’ve been gone for a minute or 10 hours. In their constant need for us, to be near us. I love them so, and that love is pure, like their love for us is pure. Having them is a responsibility, and a pain in the ass sometimes if I must admit, but mostly it is beautiful and their eyes speak only love. They are pure, and remind me every day about innocence and beauty and love for loves sake.
“Sometimes life is very mean: a person can spend days, weeks, months and years without feeling new. Then, when a door opens – a positive avalanche pours in. One moment, you have nothing, the next, you have more than you can cope with.” ― Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes
Positivity leads to more positivity. It also leads to hope and inspiration and joy. It’s an old saying, think positively, but it does work. That’s why it’s an old saying and why it’s stuck around so long. Looking to the bright side, the up side, looking with hope, lightens your soul, your mood, your day. Thinking that all good things are possible, and the next thing that’s going to happen can be better than the last thing, lifts spirits and hearts. Being positive, trying to keep it positive, holds us up, negativity drags us down. It’s as simple as that.
“Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?”
Knowing someone takes time, and effort. It’s worth it, totally, for good or bad, and it never happens overnight. Initially we put on faces for people, faces of the person we want them to know, the person we want them to believe we are, faces of the person we wish we were. Those are good faces, but false ones. To know someone we have to spend time. We have to see each other with our faults on display, or mistakes out in the open. We have to put in the time. If we do, it can be a transcendent thing. It can bring two souls close together. To know and be known for who we are, there’s nothing more valuable.
“But luxury has never appealed to me, I like simple things, books, being alone, or with somebody who understands.” ― Daphne du Maurier
Alone time, enjoying your own company, isn’t loneliness. Far from it. Being able to spend time with yourself, and enjoy it, is vital to knowing yourself, your limits, your heart. It’s in those times when we’re alone that we find out who we really are. How do we spend our time, what do we think of, do we enjoy our own company. Liking yourself is key. Being able to be alone without much discomfort says you like spending time with you. If you enjoy spending time with you, others will as well. It’s as simple as that.
“To hold our tongues when everyone is gossiping, to smile without hostility at people and institutions, to compensate for the shortage of love in the world with more love in small, private matters; to be more faithful in our work, to show greater patience, to forgo the cheap revenge obtainable from mockery and criticism: all these are things we can do. ” ― Hermann Hesse
Patience is a virtue. Yes, another Mom saying. You get older, you realize those things your parents told you, those fundamental things, are true. Patience with our family with our friends and with ourselves leads to less discord, a higher acceptance, better listening, deeper love. We are not perfect, no one is. People make mistakes, misspeak, get into moods. Life happens. It’s sometimes messy and fast and crazy. Patience helps us to slow all of it down, to take a breath, to get a moment to look more deeply into things. Having it reminds us the little things don’t matter as much, patience helps us to narrow our focus to what does matter. It’s the breath of life.
“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances. ”
Music articulates life in a way nothing else can. Emotion, feeling, grace, anger, desperation, agreement, honesty, truth, beauty, joy, hope, distress, and on and on and on. Feelings too numerous to list. There is music everywhere, a rhythm to the world, underneath the noise of everyday life. There’s even music in that noise, if you quiet your heart enough to hear it. We are a part of it, our souls singing their own songs. Artists articulate it for us, but we have our own as well. I can feel the essence of things in a beat or a phrase of music. Our hearts beat, our heads sometimes pound, our feet tap to the sounds of windshield wipers. Hearing that ever-present music connects us. Music lets us know we aren’t alone. It helps us to know we are connected to the whole of the world.
“Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering – because you can’t take it in all at once.” ― Audrey Hepburn
Soaking up moments, trying to absorb details as they happen, connects us with what’s happening now. Not just seeing, but feeling what’s going on right where we are, deepens our connection to the moments we have, and helps us to have a greater experience. Skimming over the details, failing to absorb what’s going on right where we are, lessens our connection, distances us from the moment.
“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.”
― Bruce Lee
A simple life, living with less, craving less, adds so much richness to our lives. Not being concerned with having stuff, things, collecting, lessens the burdens of life and frees us up to concentrate on the things that really matter… family, friends, being right where we are. Things weigh us down, more than we think they do. When we begin to let some of those things go, we feel lighter, unchained somehow. It opens space in our lives.
“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.” ― Virginia Woolf, The Waves
Coffee is essential to good living. For me anyway. I think everyone has that thing, small, but decadent. Mine is coffee. I look forward to it in the morning. I’ve spent many an hour over a cup of coffee hashing out the ups and downs of life. The smell of it brewing, the taste of a good cup. Nectar of the gods for me. We should all find simple pleasure is simple things. One of those things for me is enjoying a great cup of coffee.
“It’s so large” “It’s the world dear, did you think it’d be small?” “smaller”
We are small in a larger world. It helps to remember this when our problems seem insurmountable, our sadness overwhelming. Going out in nature, climbing up a hill and looking out over an endless vista, putting your feet in the sand and watching the crashing of wave after wave, gazing up to the clouds to see them moving. These things remind us how small we are. Even sitting in a traffic jam and noticing all the other people also sitting there, wondering where they’re going, what their day is like, where they all might be trying to get to. We are so many times overburdened by our own thoughts, our own perspective, our own small lives. The world is a vast place, enormous, and if we can keep some thought of that in mind, we can see how whatever is plaguing us at the moment is pliable, changeable, and in the grander scheme, small.
“The greatest wisdom is in simplicity. Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness. It’s not complex or elaborate. The real knowledge is free. It’s encoded in your DNA. All you need is within you. Great teachers have said that from the beginning. Find your heart, and you will find your way.”
― Carlos Barrios, Mayan elder and Ajq’ij of the Eagle Clan
I’m 50 now. The big 5-0. It doesn’t freak me out, worry me, or make me feel like I’m old and getting older (though I am). It has however made me reflect a bit on the life I’ve lived. There are things I thought were important when I was younger, when I was more self-conscious and filled with angst. Very dramatic. I wrote a lot then. Prose, poetry (some OK, mostly not), letters I never sent, some I did. Now, at 50, I’m much more certain of myself, much more comfortable in my skin, not as self-conscious. I’ve grown. Most of us do.
Through the course of this time I’ve spent reflecting lately I’ve made a mental list of the things I think are important in life. Obviously the people in our lives are the most important, but this list of things/ideals are what I believe make a life more fulfilled, the things that can actually make a life extraordinary. I strive to put them into practice every day. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not. But life is in the trying, and I try.
In honor of my turning the big 5-0 I’m going to throw the list out to the universe, as a gesture of good will and safe keeping.
I got a little carried away when I actually sat down to make the list (which is in no particular order by the way, just written as it came to me) so I’ve decided I will post it in parts.
Welcome to part 1….
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
― Mother Teresa
Compassion is paramount to living a fulling life, without it we are acting alone in the world, separate from our fellow humans. We cannot pretend to know another persons story, or how they came to feel and think as they do, but we can honor them as human beings and wish the best for them. We can be open to the fact that they have had different experiences than our own, not expecting them to then act and think as we do. Compassion fills our hearts with love instead of animosity, it elevates us.
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” ~ Dalai Lama
Kindness is the most important tenet, to me. Above all things. It’s so important to me that I have the above quote about kindness on every email I send out – you might have gotten one. Kindness is always possible. We have to be kind to others, and to ourselves. I’ve learned a little kindness takes us everywhere we want to go. It soothes souls, can make a persons day, and costs us nothing. A smile, a kind word, a thank you, a simple acknowledgement of someone all work toward the common good, and good in ourselves. It is beyond valuable, beyond priceless. Kindness is key.
Sadness happens to everyone in life, let yourself be sad when you are, but don’t live there, wallowing in it. It’s a tough balance, but necessary. You honor the feelings by letting yourself feel them. You don’t let it take control of your life by remembering that there is more to life than just the thing that’s created your feeling of sadness.
Inhabiting yourself – feel your body, know your mind, feel your presence. Things will happen to us in life. Things we cannot control. Things terrible and strange and lovely and warm and awful and on and on. We get through it. We get through it best when we know ourselves, when we feel our own presence and our own power. That knowing helps us to understand that life will happen, but we can bear it, we can step through it. We can move beyond whatever it is that’s happened and into something new, something that could be wonderful in its own way.
“Beauty doesn’t have to be about anything. What’s a vase about? What’s a sunset or a flower about? What, for that matter, is Mozart’s Twenty-third Piano Concerto about?”
― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt
Beauty is everywhere, if you look for it. Noticing the wind moving the trees, the sun glinting through a fence, the way the dogs have that little walk they have, a phrase, a painting, a blade of grass, my honey breaking into song, in light and love and kindness. Beauty is everywhere. We choose to see it, or not. Life is so much better if you look for it.
“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
― Herman Melville
Connectedness Connection is everything. We are not islands unto ourselves. Our actions effect those around us, just as the actions of others affects us. It’s so important to remember that our ideas and ideals are ours and to dwell in the knowledge that other people, other creatures, have their own ideas, wants, needs. What we do, every day; the words we use when speaking to others, the actions we take in kindness, to our fellows and to our planet, all ripple out. One kindness generates another, one word of anger generates more anger, one positive thought spills out to create more positivity in the world, a negative thought spreads negativity. Everything we do has a consequence for others in small, and sometimes not so small, ways. Everything is connected.
Anxiety. I have it. Everyone experiences it. It’s not always rational, but it’s a natural part of living, of caring about people, caring about the world, caring about yourself. There is no getting rid of it entirely. The question is, does the anxiety control you, or do you remember to breathe, look it in the face, and try to keep stepping forward. Sometimes I succeed in that. Sometimes I don’t. That’s OK too. We can all wish for a little less anxiety in life, but we have to be careful the wishing doesn’t just lead to more anxiety. Acceptance, stepping into and through it, instead of constantly denying and fighting against it, helps. We have to remember to breathe.
“No one needed to say it, but the room overflowed with that sort of blessing. The combination of loss and abundance. The abundance that has no guilt. The loss that has no fix. The simple tiredness that is not weary. The hope not built on blindness.”
― Aimee Bender, Willful Creatures
Temperament and trying to keep oneself on an even keel is important. The energy we give out to the world matters. Not that we should live for others, we shouldn’t, but it’s important to be aware of our impact on others. That we do have an impact. It’s not easy when you’re in a bad mood, but it’s so important to try to be your better self, to try to remember not to inflict that mood on everyone around you. Conversely it’s important to remember that if someone you meet in your day is in a bad space, they may have had a terrible day, or be battling demons you don’t know or understand.
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
― Frank Herbert, Dune
Fear, or the lack of it, is one of those constants in life. We are afraid of what is happening, or what could happen, or what did happen. Fear eats at us and taunts us and reminds us that we have a lot in life we don’t want to lose. Fear is. I love the line in the quote above about letting it pass through. That rings true to me. We have to face the things we’re afraid of, as best we can, and then let that fear pass through us. We have to let ourselves look at what we fear, look it in the eye. Only then do we begin to take the reins back from it. We can never live entirely without fear. We love, we dream, we hope, and so, we fear. It is a part of living. A part of caring. But we can try to keep it from taking control of us, we can try to be its master, instead of letting it be the master of us.
“The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.”
― Louis C.K.
Empathy is central to living a full life. Kindness, compassion, and love all come from a place of empathy. We don’t have to know or have lived someone else’s circumstances to ache for them or to hope for them. We tend to live in our own little worlds, sure of our ideas and opinions, secure in the thought that what we think, the way we think, is the right way. Sometimes we even believe what we think is the only way. We’re wrong. We have no idea what another person’s experience is, where they came from, what they’ve seen, what they’ve lived through. To have true empathy is to say that you might not understand someone, but you want to nourish their souls anyway. It is to admit that you don’t know everything, and that you shouldn’t judge what you don’t understand. To empathize is to step outside of your own set of rules and to say that you feel for another human, regardless of the presumptions you have about them.
Today is our little mister’s 8th birthday. Currently he’s curled up in the chair in the corner of our living room sleeping. He’s as cute as he’s ever been. I love him so.
Our boy has brought so much joy, love, happiness, and adventure into our lives. He is very affectionate, mischievous, hellaciously smart, loving, loyal, protective, playful, and insistent. I say insistent because he pretty much demands attention when he wants it. Pet me, play with me, feed me, pet me, give me love, I love you, I love you, I love you, love me, pet me now. He has his annoying habits, of course, like stealing things. We have to be pretty vigilant about kleenex and food and items on our metro shelf he thinks he might want to eat. He steals from the shred bin in K’s office, off of tables, from inside backpacks he’s managed to unzip (an incident that led to a call to doggie poison control and a force feeding of hydrogen peroxide, which worked by the way). He’s ingenious, and that ingenuity can be frustrating, but it’s also admirable. He doesn’t give up. I think he does it sometimes just to see if he can. He’s tenacious.
Our little man can also be testy and nippy and down right semi-ferocious if the right opportunity presents itself. Like when he steals something really good then hunkers down, dens, to protect it. It’s not a time to reach in and try to get whatever it is from him. We’ve all been gnashed at and nipped, we’ve all been trained to know he means business. He can’t help it, he’s been this way since we brought him home all those years ago. We think it’s because we got him so young, and that he didn’t have as much training from his mama as he should have, which may or may not be the reason. It doesn’t really matter, it’s his way, his personality, and we know it. We’ve always said he’s Doctor Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Most of the time he’s the most loving, affectionate, cuddly dog you’ve ever met. He’s happiest getting pets and giving kisses. He wants to be touched all the time. This can also be annoying, but how can you resist that face? We can’t. We love him. And I love that about him. When Mr. Hyde comes out, well… we know that guy too. The one you don’t want to challenge. When he has something he’s protecting, or he doesn’t want to be picked up in a certain way, it’s best to leave him be. He lets you know that. You always know where you stand with him, and what he wants. He’s a passionate guy.
He’s been with us all but the first six weeks of his eight years. During that time he’s traveled with us on many of our adventures: enjoying romps in the sand and sun; games of fetch in creeks and streams; walks in so many different places on so many different paths; travels in the car; sleeps in tents and trailers and hotel rooms; playing chuck-it in fields and parks; and playing ball inside of hotel rooms and the houses of family and friends. He’s an excellent travel companion, a great little traveler. We say this about he and Riley every time we hit the road.
What can I say, we love him. I love him. I can’t believe, and I say this all the time about him, about both of our pups actually, how much I do love him. Life is so much richer with him in our lives. So much more joyous. There’s so much more laughter, love, fun, and cuddling because of him. I am constantly amazed by how much I do love him. What’s great is that he loves me, he loves us, right back.
Happy birthday to our beautiful, wonderful, fascinating, little mister. Life with him is truly sweet.
Our boy turns seven today. Seven years of love and snuggles and play and joy and laughter and smiles and exasperation and sweetness and tail wagging and pawing and cuddle-time and barks and bullies and deep soulful looks. Happy birthday little man, we love you so.
I wake up, suddenly. I feel like someone is staring at me. I turn over slowly and there he is, a small furry little fella with big brown eyes sitting over me looking down. His eyes say everything he can’t speak. I’m half awake and tell him no. Gently at first… no buddy, lay down, lay down now. He doesn’t take no for an answer and leans down and gives me a kiss on the cheek. Again I say, no buddy, lay down. He’s relentless. I try to go a bit more firm with him, NO, Weston, lay down. He ignores me. We’re having a battle of wills.
I tell him I didn’t get to sleep until really late last night and in fact have only slept for about four or five hours. He doesn’t seem to care. I change tactics. I ask if he needs to go outside. Maybe that’s it. I get up, he follows, and I think, OK, this is it. I open the doggie door and he sticks his head out, then pulls it back in. He sticks it out one more time, looks around, and again pulls it back in. I don’t have time for these shenanigans. I open the door, telling him it’s OK and that a little rain/freezing rain won’t hurt him and that I’ll stand right there in the door, in t-shirt and shorts, waiting for him. It’s freezing cold outside and I’m cold waiting in the doorway. He ventures out tentatively, makes it to the bottom of the steps, and immediately turns around and comes back in. I shake my head and pad back toward the bedroom. I need more sleep.
Of course, he follows me. I get back in bed and look down. He’s sitting on the floor next to the bed looking up at me, those big eyes doing their magic trick on me again. Practically programmed I scoot back, making room for him. I open up the covers and he jumps up effortlessly, laying down up against me with his head on my arm. He demands to be petted for a while, continually nudging me with his nose until I get just the right spot on his tummy. It’s nearly 8:00 AM now. I still want to go back to sleep.
We stay in that place for what seems like a long while, me petting his tummy, him enjoying what we have come to call his morning cuddle time. This is not the first time this scenario has happened. He’s trained me well.
Finally, finally, I hear him snore. This little sign tells me I can stop petting him and try to go to sleep. I do.
We both wake up. Him still up against me, head on my arm. I just spent over an hour spooning our boy. I vow, as I get up, and he gets up reluctantly, that this won’t happen again. It’s a vow I’ve made many times. His soul filled eyes melt my heart, even when I’m irritated by him. I remind myself he’s just a dog, but I love him so.
He jumps up on the sofa next to me, stares at me with those eyes, and paws my hand.
Ah road trips, how I love them. The sights, the experience, the music played along the way. They are glorious things.
When I was a kid our family did road trips all the time. It was sort of our thing. We mostly stayed in Oregon for these, though we did venture out to Arizona once, exploring different parts of the state. We always stayed in Mom and Pop motels, which don’t exist as much today. I loved those. One time we stayed in a motel with a pool shaped like an airplane. Very cool. There were always things to see, places to stop along the way, new adventures to be had. I grew up taking road trips and they got into my blood.
Luckily I met someone who loves to road trip as much as I do. When K was young her family hit the road every year from California to Oklahoma. During our drive out this past week she called her parents to confirm that their main route was route 66. There wasn’t an interstate the majority of the time her family was doing these trips so route 66 was the main route between Los Angeles and Oklahoma. Awesome. As we drove out this last week we basically followed what was the old route 66 highway. Now not even commissioned as a highway, there are still signs along the way indicting where route 66 was and there are long stretches of road you can still drive. Those stretches take you past, as we saw, old gas stations and motels and diners that have fallen into disrepair long ago, though there are still some establishments up and running today. It’s a bygone era, but along that route the feel is still there in some places. It’s pretty cool.
I digress though and will get back to it by saying that we both love a good road trip. It’s why we’ve decided on this trip every year. It serves two purposes… we get to drive back out to Oregon and see everyone we love who lives there and who we miss, and we get to have the experience of traveling different routes out with the pups. It’s tiring, but oh so much fun.
We finally arrived, day seven, after starting in Burns and driving highway 20 through Bend and Sisters, then highway 22 to Salem and the farm. It was nice to get here. Another great thing about road trips is the getting to your destination and getting up the next morning not having to drive anywhere. It’s a good feeling.
We spent yesterday, our first non-driving day, doing some chores like taking our Toyota Tacoma in for servicing so we can put it up for sale, and helping Mom work on the garage at the farm. She’s wanted to clean it out, reorganize, and paint for some time so we cleared that puppy out yesterday and went in and got the paint for it. Today, we paint.
The pups adore Mom and my brother, Kevin. They were very happy to see them and they also love the farm. What dog wouldn’t. They’ve been here many times and they basically get to roam pretty free while they’re here. They were exhausted last night when we went to bed. It’s nice for them.
It’s so good to be here and we’re looking forward to seeing friends and family while we’re here. We love this place and the people in it, and we loved the getting here as well.
Pretty soon we’re going to have to start planning our trip back out to Illinois… wonder which route we’ll decide to take this time?
Today we moved from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Montrose, Colorado. It wasn’t a bad day of driving really, about 6 and a half hours on the road after we checked out and then drove to not one, not two, but three coffee spots in Santa Fe before getting a cup. Our first choice ended up being downtown, where a huge art festival had streets closed. We would’ve loved checking it out actually, from what we could see as we drove past a closed off street the art was pretty awesome, but we had places to be and two dogs who don’t love crowds. We might have braved the crowds with the pups, but time was not on our side. So, on to the stop two. We went for the next place on the list, which ended up not being in the downtown area, but was apparently so popular the entire parking lot was full. On to spot three, which ended up being great. If we lived in Santa Fe, and after visiting we kinda wish we did, we would go to the Santa Fe Baking Company often for both the coffee and the breakfasts. The coffee was great and the breakfasts looked amazing as we passed tables of people with spectacular looking plates. We did manage to get a couple of pastries to go along with the coffees. Both were wonderful.
We decided we love both New Mexico and Southern Colorado. We recommend Colorado highway 114 if you ever get the chance to drive it. It’s not big, and it doesn’t really connect any bigs towns, but it’s worth it for the scenery. It was amazing. The photos we took don’t even do it justice. Just some gorgeous landscape.
Another highlight was the second spot for coffee today, the Milagros Coffeehouse in Alamosa, Colorado. A spur of the moment second cup craving led us to this cool local spot. Yes, they had a Starbucks in town, but if you haven’t guessed by now, we prefer to go local and funky if we can. Milagros was both. Another place we would totally hang out if we spent any time at all in that town. The brew from there was the best of the day. Smooth, strong, and oh so tasty.
The pups are doing so well on this trip. What great little travelers they are. Weston gets his herbal car sick meds in the morning before we leave and they pretty much hang out in their area right behind us, what we like to call the pup lounge, while we’re on the road. They have been rockstars so far. Right now, after getting to play in the huge lawn at this motel (we brought the chuck it and played catch and chase with them for awhile), they are both crashed out in their little beds. They’ve had dinner and their leashes are hanging on leash hooks by the door.
Tomorrow is a long one, probably eight hours on the road. Eight hours with the dogs pushes it, and us, to the limit. It will be tiring, but it will also be beautiful. Colorado is a beautiful place.
Today was a long day on the road. By choice we went an extra bit today so we could have a short day tomorrow. More time in Santa Fe when we get there. Because today was so long we didn’t do much stopping. Gas, food, rest stops, and just two extra little stops. One at the World’s Largest Fork in Springfield, MO and the other to photograph the Coleman Theater in Miami, OK where Don Hale used to go as a young gent.
Impressions from the day:
Great coffee this morning from Mudhouse Coffee in Springfield, MO. I regret not buying a t-shirt. There was great art on the walls… many black and white photographs of people in white who had mud on them. Loved it. Also a great dinner tonight from Tyler’s Barbeque in Amarillo, TX. The barbecue was Texas sized. Sadly I think we threw away nearly as much as we ate. Our room still smells of barbecue. I think it was the best barbecue I’ve ever had. All in all a very successful food and beverage day.
Today was a scorcher … the thermostat in the rig topped out at 106. It was so hot that when we stopped for our second cup of coffee in Oklahoma City the little girlie started hyperventilating and had to be carried back to the car. She is a tad bit of a drama queen, but it was also hot hot hot. A dry heat.
We are now fugitives in Oklahoma. A tip for anyone driving on the Oklahoma Turnpike… there are not always attendants at the toll plazas meaning you have to have exact change. We made it all the way to our last booth and then only had a $20. There was a change machine, but it only took $1 and $5. We looked at each other, saw the cars behind us lining up, looked at the red light which told us we couldn’t go unless we threw in the change we didn’t have, and we went on through anyway. As we did the alarms went off at the booth. I’m sure, if they took our photo as this happened, the people reviewing it will be cracking up. Our facial expressions were a combo of amusement, consternation, shock, horror, and guilt. Very funny. I think we were both gesturing…. arms up in the air as if to say… what are we supposed to do in this situation?
In two days we’ve seen two enormous crosses. One in Effingham, Illinois, and the other in some un-named little Texas town we passed. They were pretty much equal in size.
It rained on us today for awhile. It was nice and decently cool while it was raining. Then it got hot (see above).
We waved at Mangum, OK and Pryor, OK as we passed the exits with those names and then chatted about K’s childhood a bit. She spent a lot of time in Oklahoma as a kid and it’s always fun talking about that. Someday we need to do more than just drive through. I’d love to see where she was born and some of the places she’s told me stories about.
We started this morning at 10:00… after getting coffee and photographing the fork, which I know sounds late, and got to Amarillo at 7:30. Nine and a half hours on the road. Tomorrow we have a short day, only four hours of driving. Who knows what adventure we’ll find. I love road trips.
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.
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…