Thursday, December 30, 2010

Riley Recovering at the University of Minnesota

Well, it turns out Riley had a herniated disc in his neck .  The bulging disc was pressing on his spinal cord which caused partial paralysis in his limbs, especially his hind legs.  The fantastic surgeons at the University of Minnesota were able to remove the disc material that was causing all of his problems, and now he is recovering there and is doing very well.  It will take some time for the function to return to his hind legs, but he is able to move all four legs and has good sensation in them as well.  We're not sure when he can come home yet, but his vet, Heidi,  is wonderful and we completely adore her.  We feel comfortable he is in good, safe, caring hands with her.  He is charming everyone he comes into contact with.  He is such a doll.  Heidi herself stated, "He has pretty much stolen my heart", to which I responded, "I'm not surprised in the least!"  We are so lucky and relieved things have gone as well as they have.  Too many times we have been on the sad end of things as far as our beloved animals are concerned.  So it is a blessing that Riley's ok and getting steadily better.  Thank you god, and thank you everyone that prayed for Riley and for us.  Hug your pets tonight.  They open up the world to us.

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Sweet Sweet Boy

Riley has now been with us for nine-plus years.  He has been a constant friend and companion, a true love of my life.  But now he is sick and the docs don't know what is wrong with him.  He has been falling down and yesterday his back legs just stopped working.  I took him to the University of Minnesota to get the best possible care he can get.  I pray to God that they can help him.  He has so much life in him.  This morning he wanted to get up and play ball like he has always loved to do, but his body just wouldn't behave.  Riley is just the sweetest, most gentle big guy that I have ever had the privilege to know.  You'll be okay buddy.  You will.  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Our beloved Roan.  Two-years-old, smart as a whip, and always up for a game of fetch.  In fact, she would rather do this more than anything, as any labrador worth their salt would.  You can't see her big brother Riley in this picture because she has left him in the dust, or to be more factual, in the snow, perhaps even stuck in a snow drift.  Riley used to be the star player in this backyard, spinning in the air with actual "hang time" to catch a fly ball.  But he is nine now and has earned his time to play second fiddle.  Although if he had it his way, he would show Roan how it's properly done.  Despite their friendly competition, they are best buddies.  They sleep on each other, wrestle on the bed and just happily keep each other quiet company.  Roan has become a gift to us as Riley has been all these years.  

Riley is so tired from playing with Roan, he is fading into the bed.

Monday, December 13, 2010

We Can Survive a Blizzard but Not Our Clumsy Selves...

Despite the 17.2 inches of snow and the 30-degree-below windchill, it was not the weather that takes us down.  It is our own ridiculous spastic selves.  So I was cozy in bed last night, warm dogs strewn around me soundly asleep.  Trouble was, my blanket was trapped under these warm heavy dogs.  I had little more than a flimsy sheet to pull up around me.  So I took hold of the blanket and began tugging.  I was making no progress, half asleep and being defeated with the weight of a hefty black lab.  I grabbed that blanket and pulled as hard as I could.  A split second later, my right hand slipped it's grip and came careening back into my right eye, knuckle first.  When people say, "I saw stars", I know exactly what they mean.  I thought I'd wake up to a black eye.  It's not black, but swollen and bright red.  If you can imagine, I look really pretty.  

Fast forward to this morning.  I laid in bed resting until the sun fully lit up the bedroom.  No need to rush out of bed.  Most everything was still closed.  We were all still holing up in our respective igloos.  I heard JA in the bathroom, then softly padding down the stairs.  A second later I heard what sounded like someone threw a sack of potatoes down the stairs.  JA had tripped in the dark on one of Roan's many stuffed animal toys and had fallen down the stairs to the landing where I found her in a heap.  She's okay, twisted her foot and skinned her knee.  Poor thing.  I hated to find her like that.  

Now we can laugh about these things.  We are both okay.  Banged up, but okay.  It's funny how we can survive like pioneers in this sometimes godforsaken climate, and then get nearly taken down by our own stupid selves.  Maybe we'd have been better off stuck in a snow drift somewhere.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Red Night

We have had a crap load of snow here in Minneapolis.  According to the news, 17.2 inches.  It's really a lovely snow, the definition of powder.  Doesn't necessarily feel like powder after shoveling it for three hours.  The shoveling was complicated with the exponentially decreasing amount of places to put the snow.  Shoveling and hefting snow is one thing.  Shoveling and having to walk 6 feet or so and then having to heft the snow over an 8-foot-fence is another.  It's still early enough in the season that I'm almost happy to do some shoveling, "some" being the operative word.  I'm still relishing in that superior-than-though feeling I'm having towards the big neighborhood guys blowing their snow with man-tools.  Will I be feeling this way in March?  I doubt it.  I may not even be feeling this way come tomorrow afternoon.  But tonight I am satisfied with my Norse-heritage appreciation for braving through harsh conditions that would reduce the faint-hearted and the southerners to tears.  Yes, I am feeling superior to many. I am made of lutefisk, lefse, and goose down.  Tomorrow the wind chill is supposed to get down to -30.  Am I daunted?  Hardly.  We may just have a weiner roast to celebrate.  We are Minnesotans.  And we are mighty.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Recommendation

Heard about this book on Oprah, of course.  I haven't bought yet, but read some excerpt available on  From the little bit I read I was moved and could tell this would be valuable for all of us.  Do yourself a favor and and read the excerpts yourself and then go and buy this.  I'm going to.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I had gone to Dallas to look at a law school.  I had no hopes of actually getting admitted, but I was reinventing myself into something and was still deluded enough to think I could change my life dramatically.  My mentor in college had gone to Southern Methodist University and got her law degree there.  I was her star student in college.  But she didn't know my history, my litany of things tried and unfinished.  I became in my imagination the thing I presented to her -- focused, driven, oozing potential, the top of the class.  And I flew to Dallas as an imposter with a plan, an impressive school, prestigious degree, a fancy office, an elegant brick house full of china and children.  

And what happened was.......

I spent an afternoon shut in my aunt's Dallas bedroom.  She asked me for privacy while whe was on the phone.  Someone on the other end of the line was making arrangements for her to be admitted to another treatment center.  I sat on the bed.  Where else was there to sit?  I waited for her to come and get me.  I was afraid to open the door, afraid she would want to confide something to me, afraid the weight of it would collapse me.  And what is there to do in someone else's bed when you're not tired?  There was no t.v.  No books.  Just a bed and someone else's things.  I started opening drawers.  I found needles.  Syringes.  A mirror to see myself in.  

Utter quiet is no consolation to an imagined life that exists only in plastic masks of fake memories.

I've got rampant alcoholism and drug abuse in my family.  I'm forty-three and three-fourths now.  For a long time I was outrunning addiction.  I think it caught up with me.  When that happened, who can say?  I think I got drunk for the first time when I was 13.  I slept over at a friend's house and we got into her parents liquor cabinet.  We mixed an ugly sweet concoction of apricot brandy, bourbon, gin, vodka and various liqueurs.  I wet my pants that night and passed out on the lawn.  I woke up with weird clothes unknown to me soaked in throw-up, in a strange place with a strange permanent imprint on my brain.  Eventually I sobered up and made it home undiscovered.  There was drinking afterward.  But I had learned my lesson.  The lesson was:  don't mix your drinks.  The lesson wasn't:  don't drink.  I come from a drinking family.  We're not authentic.  We're not Irish.  We're not wine swigging Italians.  We're not gin-drinking aristrocrats.  We're drinkers.  I come from drinkers.  I come from bragging football watching beer drinkers from Minnesota.  I come from secret drinkers stuffing their bottles under couch coushins .  I come from people who pee in pots who are too drunk to make it down the stairs.  I come from embarassment and regret.  I come from ruined holidays and suicide attempts.  I come from death from neglect and squandered dreams.  I come from repressed emotions and stiff hugs.  I come from mistakes.  I think I was the only child actually planned and hoped for.  I have no children.  That is probably a blessing.  What godforsaken genes would I pass long to a child?  I have dogs instead.  I have dogs that I love like children.  I have not brought them into this world with corrupted, doomed genes.  I try to lift them up every day to fly.  I want them to fly like I never have.  And then I want to ride on their wings, their muscular flanks, their spit flying in the wind.  I want to live on that pure joy they have from the moment they wake.  I can't find that joy by myself, within my body without them.  I don't have the joy imprint.  But my dogs do.  

When I wake up in the morning I feel doomed.  But when I put my running shoes on, tether up the dog, unlatch the gate and start running, I feel protected and blessed.  I feel the sun, the drizzle, the breath of my dog's life, the absence of stagnation and addiction, the possibility of the future, the imaginable, the everything, and I feel something like joy.  And then hope glimmers in.  And that's the best part.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I am blog happy today, I guess because of the weather.  Who doesn't love to hole up when the weather is dastardly?  And who better to share the cozy day with than The Clash.  Most awesomeness!

Holga Stop-Motion

Friday, November 12, 2010

Creamsicle-y Fall Day

I have admired this vehicle for the couple of years I've seen it parked on the the street I walk by so frequently with the dogs.  It's beautiful and vintage and creamsicle-y good.  As the leaves began to change, everything seemed immersed in yellow-orange and the truck began to shine as if brand new.  The complimentary leaves formed a perfect podium to show off this truck I've coveted for so long.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Invitation

The Invitation

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it's not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "Yes!"

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments. 

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