Saturday, September 17, 2005

~ : I N N O C E N C E : ~
Aren't children wonderful? This little note was in our mailbox a few days ago. I am so tempted to call this guy. He's got guts, is resourceful. And honest. Can't beat that. The note on your right is one l wrote to my mother for punishing me. NO, not recently. A long time ago. I'll never forget how mad I was at her! And I STILL write nasty notes when I'm super angry. Ooo they feel so good!

Friday, September 16, 2005

~ : D O G S : ~

Many of you know that I am crazy sick over my dog, Bjorn. One thing you may not yet know about was his time in the service. A devoted soldier, civil servant and natural Bjorn leader, his portrait was done here in honor of the fine example he's set for dogs all across our great nation. This portrait is nothing less than awe inspiring.

Shown here to the right is a portrait of Bjorn's great, great, great, great, great, great, great Uncle Sven when he was a soldier. It's amazing how much Bjorn takes after Uncle Sven. The resemblance is uncanny. You could say that this noble dog trait runs in the family. I mean, just LOOK at him! Our breeder has done a fine job of documenting his royal lineage.

Bjorn's cousin Ruthie, my Mother's rat terrier, also deserves much praise. She is shown here in a portrait that was fashioned to look a great deal like the famous portrait of Catherine Parr, one of King Henry's many wives. Just LOOK at how STILL she is! You don't WANT to know how many treats it took to accomplish this stunningly graceful painting. At first glance, it looks like Ruthie's just folded her hands together. What you can't see, however, are the doggie treats she's storing in her right hand. We gave her handfuls after handfuls. After this portrait, Ruthie went to Curves (for dogs, of course) where her favorite machine is the treadmill (when there's a tiny pile of crunchy miniature pretzels waiting at the end of the machine).

I digress.....

But I believe Ruthie's finest portrait is here. Now you may think that you've seen this painting before as Queen Elizabeth's ermine portrait. You have. But that painting was created AFTER this one you see here of Ruthie's great, great, great, greatest of great Aunt Charlotte, who was the Queen's hairdresser at the time. Their bond was so strong, they'd sit together for many portraits, often switching places just to keep everyone guessing. This illustrates yet another uncanny resemblance, don't you think? At the time, Elizabeth and Charlotte were inseparable. It's unfortunate that we know so very little about their relationship. One might even call it scandalous that a Queen and a Royal dog would have such tight bonds. As Ruthie today often says, "Never come between a queen and her dog."

Lastly we come to my father's dog Alice Fae.Dalmations were bred by royals, working their spots off for their owners. Today, there are more dalmations kept as companion dogs alone. My father is completely in love with his Alice Fae. Did you know that he bought his last car (a red something) knowing how good she'd look inside of it? He did the same thing with a chocolate lab named Arthur, who looked great in a black nissan truck. Anyway - here's a fine picture of Alice in red, her best color.

It seems we have so much to learn from our dogs. Being a devoted "cat person", I never understood the bond between man and his dog until we got one for ourselves. Now that we do, I'm stunned and well, a little embarrassed, by my infatuation with Bjorn. There is still a strong and loving connection between me and my cats, Gunther and Olaf (which is an entirely different blog) and I am devoted to them. But the love I feel for Bjorn can only be described this way: "My dog is SOOO cute, just looking at him makes the back of my throat tickle, like when you've had too much cake icing."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

~ : P A I N : ~

Does anyone but me have the urge to look back at very painful moments in your past - to dwell there for a while? I do. All the time. But it's not depressing. I find it thoughtful. FULL of thought.

I've always been a serious, quiet kind of person, unless I'm in the classroom where I can't keep my mouth shut. But generally, I'd rather listen to a Chopin nocturne than listen to dance music. Not that I dislike the latter. It's just that I find such beauty in all kinds of pain - whether I'm trying to emote the feeling, or to understand someone's pain. I find it fascinating. Somehow it makes me feel more real. More alive. Less alone.

I think Pain has a job. I had a friend tell me once that he thought Pain marked a path. I've heard someone else say, "One can only feel as much joy, as sadness has carved a space for." Okay. That hurt. I won't do that again. Or I'll do it differently. Use a different tool. We spend our lives making all kinds of decisions based on previous experiences (mistakes!?!).

It seems we spend so much of our time avoiding pain. When you're in it - because it's unpleasant, you're thinking FUCK this hurts and was the WRONG thing to do. But it's got a purpose, doesn't it? It motivates and moves you.

I had another conversation with a computer programmer who talked about how computers learn. Looks like they learn from mistakes, just like we do. Figures. We MADE them and use our own lives as a technological blueprint. It's all so linear. So basically, LIFE and CODE work the same way. We know when a computer works. When it doesn't work, well then you've got to dig to figure out what the problem is. That digging is frustrating, yes. It's called growth.

You don't learn anything from succeeding. You only learn when you fail. Failing is a necessary component of growth. So maybe I should be less hard on myself? Especially on other people. Wasn't Lincoln a loser before he became president?

I think I want to make friends with Pain. I wish that when I'm feeling the worst of pain, that I can be peaceful and accept it. Work with it. See it as another tool for progress. Reach out to others because of it, rather than removing myself and pushing it and other people with it away. Maybe pain isn't so bad.

I am wanting to live in a world that doesn't shrink from pain. I can't tell you how excited I was when I discovered HBO's Six Feet Under. FINALLY, there's artful substance out there that's not afraid to talk about the very painful reality of death. Loss. Grief. I mean - it's a HUGE thing that links all of us together! So it can't be all that bad, can it?

Have you ever tried to find the bereavement section in a bookstore? You have to look really hard. And it's pretty small, compared to all the happy stuff. Makes me furious. I remember trying to find a book about miscarriage. After finally finding the Death and Dying section, I found TWO books on miscarriage. Infuriating. I mean come ON. In the whole bookstore there were TWO!! Why don't people want to talk about that stuff? About pain? Are we that spineless? I think book stores should better reflect real proportions of the common human experience. We ALL die. Living in spite of pain can make you stronger. Provides depth of experience. Makes life more precious. Meaningful. REAL. If I EVER own a bookstore.......

Ahhhchhh. Nevermind.

I will sign off with two poems by Mark Strand. I think the first poem, "The Dress" illustrates how pain works and works FOR us. The second poem, "The Guardian", illustrates my desire to trust it.


The Dress
- M. Strand

Lie down on the bright hill
with the moon's hand on your cheek,
your flesh deep in the white folds of your dress,
and you will not hear the passionate mole
extending the length of his darkness,
or the owl arranging all of the night,
which is his wisdom, or the poem
filling your pillow with its blue feathers.
But if you step out of your dress and move into the shade,
the mole will find you, so will the owl, and so will the poem,
and you will fall into another darkness, one you will find
yourself making and remaking until it is perfect.


The Guardian
- M. Strand

The sun setting. The lawns of fire.
The lost day, the lost light.
Why do I love what fades?

You who left, who were leaving,
what dark rooms do you inhabit?
Guarding of my death,

preserve my absence. I am alive.

Monday, September 05, 2005

~ : H O M E : ~

Where is your favorite place in the world? Mine's at home. In this very spot, actually. I get up at 5:00 AM every morning JUST so I can sit in this chair. Getting up early gives me a false, ( I know, I STILL like it) sense of control over my day. I brew some coffee, nourish the dog and cats, microwave some oatmeal, add milk and sugar to my coffee ( which was dark enough for my brother to tell me it would peel the varnish off my car), grab either my knitting, dream interpretation dictionary, or the mac, and set myself down. Deeeeeep, deep down in that cozy chair.

I think this is the most spiritual part of my day. The second most spiritual part of my day is in the car. (But that's an entirely different post.) It's like charging my batteries for the day so I can move around and be mobile. It's not really day dreaming - rather morning dreaming.

Back to spirituality, I spend the red chair time gathering my thoughts about the day- it's a mental diary. Kind of. I look around my kitchen at all the things I've placed there. I melt looking at beautiful colors and what light does to them. What colors do to each other. I look at spaces and depth. I think about where the sun is and the arch it will draw with shadows over my house. And I sit in this chair to be grateful. To soak in TIME. Peace. I think about what I'll be teaching that day. What I'll be learning. I think about how lucky I am to get paid for doing what I love.

Hold on... time for a sip of coffee.So! Back to the red chair. See the window just behind my coffee mug? There's a little bunny den down there around the back of the house. Doug (my husband) found him there. I think it's Peter Rabbit. I'm sure of it.

And speaking of Doug - in he walks to the kitchen from upstairs with sheetmarks still on his cheeks. He kisses me good morning. Then he's off and ready for a run. Sometimes he get up first and makes the coffee, feeds the animals. Then Bjorn, our 5.5 lb Papillon dances around the house zooming in front of the cats, circling the floor until he turns into a blur. He stops, jumps up into my lap for a cuddle. Gunther, my oldest cat, snuggles in. Pretty soon we have ourselves a threesome.

And that, my dear friends, is how I prepare myself for the delightful task of soaking YOU in.