xoxo, me

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Colorado, United States

Monday, January 11, 2016

Unintentional Buddhists

Last summer on a trip to Iowa my husband stopped the car twice to save bugs. Yup, bugs. Yup, twice.

While driving down a peaceful street in the small town where I grew up I noticed a spider frantically hanging on to the passenger side mirror as his web was beginning to untangle in the breeze. I commented on the situation to my husband, he pulled the car over, scooped up the spider and set him in the grass alongside the road. Amazing, right?

Well on the same trip while driving along a similar quiet street we noticed a ladybug hanging on for dear life to one of the windshield wipers. My Mom was in the car with us and when The Mister slowed down to pull over she asked what he was doing. I said, "He's saving a life." She looked quite puzzled then smiled as she watched him carefully pick up the ladybug and lay it in the grass. 

Last summer while walking the dogs I noticed a tiny bunny quivering in the grass near a busy street. I quickly walked the dogs home and went back to check on the little ball of fur. By this time he was sitting in the middle of the road and I knew it was only a matter of time before ~ well, you know. So taking a chance that Mommy was not around to care for the babe, I scooped him up (barely filling the palm of my hand) and carried him away from the street. 

I decided to settle him in our backyard, fingers crossed that he would be safe. At least he was away from traffic.

Over the next days and weeks we kept an eye on him. The Mister even printed out "Please watch for a tiny baby bunny" in Spanish and gave it to our landscapers. They smiled and nodded and I'll be darned ~ they watched out for him. We named him Karson (because I found him on Carson Street - but all of our animals are "K's" so we spelled it Karson). He spent the summer safely under our deck, coming out in the morning and late afternoon to munch his grassy breakfast and dinner. 

We have a lot of bunnies in our yard and we think Karson is still out there. We want to believe he is.

Fast forward to this winter in the West ~ one of the coldest and snowiest we can remember. Having been Colorado residents for 40+ years we usually don't mind winters here. It snows, but the sun comes out in that brilliant blue sky and melts it all within a couple of days.

Not so this year. It has been snowing and frigid cold since early December and that snow is not going anywhere.

And that is no bueno.

So when we noticed a teeny, tiny little mouse in our garage a couple of weeks ago we knew killing him was not an option (remember the spider and the ladybug) and turning him out into the cold was not an option either. So we decided as long as he confined himself to the garage we would just keep an eye on him.

However when we discovered he had invited a friend inside to share his space, we knew we had to do something. Again, killing was not an option so as is our wont, we turned to Amazon and found [what we hoped would be] the solution. Meet the Mice Cube a humane way to handle an unwanted visitor.  This blogger explains it well.

The Mister followed the directions exactly and after a couple of days - lo and behold - I heard little stirrings in the tube this morning. Sure enough I saw a tiny little guy munching on some peanut butter inside the cube. The Mister checked the other cube - and bingo - another snacking away! I held the door as our dogs and especially the cat, curiously watched as he carried them outside and released them into the wild. We feel the little critters will survive the weather as it is warming up this week.

[One thing to note - should you have visitors like this and want to do the humane thing - check the cubes often because the little guys can suffocate if left in there too long.]

As I thought about our experiences with the living creatures with whom we share the planet ~ from spiders to mice to bunnies ~ I smiled. My passion is rescue pets (especially older ones) ~ no matter the price of their care ~

and it seems my love for them is spilling over into all creatures great and small. We all serve a purpose on this planet.

I'm not saying we're all that ~ we're nothing special. But I do believe we now find ourselves as unintentional Buddhists. And that's not such a bad way to live. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Circle Game

On this chilly winter morning with a purring cat balanced on my shoulder I perused articles on my Facebook page. I smiled knowingly as I read this article written by a young Mother of boys and my own memories came flooding back. I did a bit of writing when my boys were little and once wrote an essay on what it was like being the Mother of boys. (I wish I could find it...) Of course not having daughters I had no real way of comparing, but I knew little boys were special.

Unlike the woman in the article who has three sons, I only had two but they kept me on my toes. They grew up running with their dog - peanut butter sandwiches in hand - up and down mountain trials with [at least one of them] falling into streams. 

One summer we planted a garden from seed and they ate peas out of pods and green beans standing in the dirt. Winters we learned to ski with [at least one of them] riding the ski patrol sled to the bottom of the hill and visiting the on site doctor...

We swam in lakes and played bat and ball in the front yard. I taught them crafts and watched them draw dinosaurs. They built lofty Lego space stations and flew Millennium Falcons thru the stars. 

They thought I was a super hero when I squished a scorpion with a TV Guide as it was slinking dangerously close to their feet. We loved our cats (there were so many) and we loved our dogs and we loved our mountains.

And soon life will come full circle as my son welcomes his own little boy or little girl into the world. 

"And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game."
[Joni Mitchell]

Friday, January 1, 2016

Play Time

Yesterday I took two steps toward a more positive and happy life.

I'm a big fan of Facebook. First it is an extremely efficient way to reach all my friends and family in one fell swoop.  No way could I stay in touch with so many people if I tried to reach them all individually. Second - I garner some really interesting information thru articles and websites and can always count on someone responding if I'm gathering information on something. Third - it's just fun. Several times a day someone shares something that makes me laugh or touches my heart.

I always say that working alone as I do, my friends and family on Facebook are my "co-workers." Interacting with them on Facebook is how I can surround myself with people even though I am often just in my studio alone. Well, alone human-wise; I always have a dog or two and a cat with me but conversations with them are pretty one-sided.

I am a huge animal welfare enthusiast and have strong feelings about rescue dogs and cats and senior adoptions. So, of course, there is no lack of conversation on Facebook regarding those subjects and I soon found myself emotionally entrenched with all manner of rescue groups.

Recently I began to feel myself falling down the rabbit hole (so to speak) as day after day, post after post I saw an endless stream of animals in need. So many sad stories - some with happy endings, some not. It began to take a toll on me. 

So yesterday I began unfollowing one page and then another. I guess I'm just not strong enough to see all the hurt in the world. I will always feel strongly about animal welfare and while I deeply admire and respect the people who physically are there for these rescue animals every day - there are things I can do quietly, do locally and do in other ways. It is just too much to see so much every day, all day.

The other positive action I took yesterday? I colored a very detailed drawing of a cat (not this one - that's my real cat, Kia) for over 7 hours. Yup - over 7 hours - and I'm still not done. And apparently I'm not the only one doing this. 

However, let me explain why this is so out of character for me.

Growing up I was encouraged to be productive over playing. In fact I would be called inside from playing with friends to do needlework or some other productive task. 

Now that I'm all grown up I have mixed feelings about this. I understand why I was raised this way; it is the way my Mother was raised. While I'm grateful for the creative skills I learned and continue to use in my creations to this day, I am sad I never learned how to play. Relaxing does not come easily. I feel guilty if I'm not being productive.

I'm 61. It's time to play.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Three Things

Long time no blog.

Maybe it was just too hard to return and see A-choo's precious face in my last post.  Or maybe life got busy. Whatever the case I'll give it another go. 

I have good intentions with every new year. So on the eve of 2016 ~ here we go.

I woke early today feeling inspired. I long ago gave up making New Years Resolutions. I prefer to call them Goals. Same thing I guess, but goals seem more achievable. What I thought about this morning although seemed less like goals and more like a shift in attitude.

I now aspire to do three things each morning: Positive Thought(s), Positive Action(s) and Gratitude.  By this I mean I plan to start each day by jotting down a positive thought for the day, followed by positive action (my plan for the day) and three things I am grateful for. Easy peasy. But I do think it will set the day off on a good foot.

I dug out an empty journal (I collect them with good intentions...) and made my notes. 

Awake and inspired, with puppies sleeping at my feet I picked up a book from my bedside table. It is one I started a few months ago and never finished. I don't allow myself a lot of reading time so saving reading for nighttime is a mistake. I always fall asleep two pages in. 

The book I grabbed just happened to be another inspiration ~ "the life-changing magic of tidying up" by Marie Kondo. A timely read as January is typically when I think about things like tidying up. 

Only a few chapters in I found myself nodding in agreement with the thoughts on the pages. It comes down to three things (there's that three things thing again...): 

Discard (read that ~ get rid of a lot of stuff you don't even realize you have), Store (read that as things you really need like ~ oh I don't know ~ food and clothing) and keep only things that bring you joy (that one is self-explanatory).

That last thought resonated with me because ironically I had just heard it last night. In an episode of  "Transparent" Shelley (the Mom character brilliantly played by Judith Light) was in the process of a major purge and reorganization of her home. Her daughter, Ali, (the fabulous Gaby Hoffman) was upset that her Mother had tossed out some of her childhood art. Shelley's response? "It didn't bring me joy."

Boom. There it is. Surround yourself only with things that bring you joy. And as I looked around the room I saw a lot of "things" that are just that - things. They don't necessarily bring me joy; they just kind of take up space. And I am reminded of something I learned in photography ~ there is something to be said for negative space. 

On that note ~ I will leave you with someone who's space is positive (usually...) and definitely brings me joy.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

The End of an Era

A-choo's passing a week ago was the end of an era...  All the animals my husband and I have adopted together in the first 20 years of our marriage are gone.  Ames, the cat, died 7 years ago at the age of 15.  Simba the dog passed last September at the age of 16. And now A-choo has left us, 21.5 years later...

She went out as she lived - independent and on her own terms. She died in the middle of the night while we were sleeping.

I can't say we were surprised to wake and find her gone, but of course we mourned her.  Living to the ripe old age of 21.5 she was a big part of our life together. We adopted her from the Denver Dumb Friends League in 1992 when she was 10 months old. 

Suffice it to say, she was a charmer from the beginning. Why "A-choo" you may ask. When we first met her in one of the little visitation rooms at the shelter she was all over us - sweet and loving and cuddly as could be. But she sneezed. A lot. It was kind of cute. So we dubbed her A-choo. And she came home to join her big "brother" Ames. 

As I said - she was independent. So once secure that she was in her forever home (who knew it would be 21.5 years forever) the desire to cuddle lessened and she took on her role as aloof A-choo. We loved her all the more for her distinct personality and catittude! When we hugged her and she squirmed to get away we told her she need 2 minutes of "forced affection." She always let us do it.

She liked popcorn and would give you those eyes when she wanted some. (Only the puffy part so she wouldn't choke, though.)

She took catittude to new levels. 

She was silly

and she liked a good party.

And a good box.

She was beautiful. Not in an ordinary cat kind of way. She was really beautiful.

I will remember her as playful and silly and funny and mischievous. 
But mostly I will remember her as thoughtful, wise and special.
She was so special...

Rest in peace, 'Choosey. You will be in our hearts forever.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Roll the Dice

So I don't know if its this relentless winter (which brings on cabin fever and I know so many of you can relate...) or I feel I'm missing the passion I usually have for my projects... Or is it the [I think] really sweet thing Facebook did today. In celebrating 10 years of Facebook they did a little video - music and everything - of your personal timeline with your first updates, most liked posts and photos thru your years on Facebook.  

Or if it is an interview I read with Maria Shriver where she quoted a commencement speech she gave awhile back (and I'm paraphrasing):

"Take time to recognize the power of pause -- the importance of stopping and evaluating where you are in life."

She went on to say that sometimes people will say to her, "Remember that?" and she will think "I don't. I was too busy."  

She commented how important it is to slow your life down and find out if you are actually living the life you are meant to live. It's your job to know who you are, to know your value, your mission and what makes you happy so you know what you're supposed to be doing here.  

All of this compounded one upon the other today and it was like a huge wake-up call. Or at least a sit-down-and-really-think-about-this call.

As I stated in a prior post, this isn't exactly a new thought for me. Five years in business, 40 years in Colorado, 21 years married and turning 60 - 2014 is a thought-provoking year.

I shared with my Mister last night that I'm going to take time to think, reflect, evaluate and look to the future. We both have aging parents who need our help. Granted my Mom is 750 miles away but if she needs me I'll be there in a heartbeat. His parents are local and there is more I could be doing for them.

Aging - gez, we have our own aging cat who at almost 21 years old sure could use some more of my love and attention. Oh, A-choo...

And although Kizzie is a very good little girl, I sometimes forget that she isn't a puppy - she will be 6 years old in April. She won't be here forever and I want to enjoy every minute I can with her.

She came into our lives a mere 4 months ago. I regret that I didn't know her sooner so I could have loved her longer. I have said the same about my husband; I didn't meet him until I was 35...

And yes, as I stare down 60 I am aging, too. I find myself really questioning ~ what is my mission?

When I watched my little Facebook Timeline video I was struck by how, with the exception of one, my top-ranking "liked" posts were work-related; as were almost all of my photographs. That was an eye-opener. A friend joked that this was my Jacob Marley moment. I laughed, but thought ~ whoa, he may have something there...

I'm married to a guy who works hard, works a lot and enjoys what he does. So I work hard, I work a lot and - for the most part - enjoy what I do. But I see how work has taken over my life. And even though I created this "monster" there really is more I want to do.

I just have to figure out what that is exactly and channel it. And get this pervasive thought that I must always be productive out of my fricking head.

I get one roll of the dice. 

We all get one roll of the dice. We owe it to ourselves to make it a good one. It's all a crap shoot ~ but I think we can chant our lucky chants, kiss the die and guide them down the table a little...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Oh January...

Oh January. You're so... January.

The holidays and laughter and fun have passed, family has all gone home and all that lies ahead for [seemingly] ever is cold and gloom...

Living with a wee dog and no backyard requires one to walk several times a day. And it doesn't matter what the weather. My wee one loves to be outside.

In any weather.

But even she has her limits on days when the temps dip below Zero.

That's when I see a lot of this. 

On days like that I bundle us both up in our winter warmest and open the door to head outside she takes one look, promptly turns and makes a mad dash back inside. But, alas, she being a dog, she does eventually need to go outside - no matter the weather.

So we dodge ice and snow and dreary mornings.

And feel really sorry for ourselves.

But despite the snow and ice and cold, if we only take time to notice, nature shows us how amazing she is.

Ice crystals on the edge of the lake.

There are days when January redeems itself ~ if I just pay attention.  Days when the Colorado sky is so blindingly blue it hurts my eyes.

And mornings when it is so, so quiet I can hear the rhythmic whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the Canada geese as they glide gently above my head.

And of course there is the lighter side of our January mornings ~ those mornings when, while still a chill in the air, the sun in shining and the promise of a warmer day gives us a lift. Kizzie and I meet our fellow dog people and pups as we round corners. We chat with our Southern friend who has dubbed Kizzie not only as "Miss Kizzie" but has now added a middle name for her.  "Good Morning, Miss Kizzie Mae. How are you today?" he asks in his welcoming Southern drawl.

I don't know many people names, but Kizzie Mae and I know Daisy and Dolly and Chester and Murray and Max and Ricky and Barkley and Monroe and Annie (well, two Annies) and a few others we wave to (hands and tails respectively).

So in looking at the big picture of January ~ for the gloomy days there actually are a fair amount of beautiful days.

And then comes February...