Monday, February 29, 2016


full count, runners on 1st and 2nd...what's next??

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Night Light (Snow Moon)

Why is it so hard to sleep at times, when the moon is full and high?

I noticed a moth this evening, or perhaps a large beetle, and also three geese headed North. Two weeks ago I saw a small winged insect flying over the snow, while I skied near the river.

Spring is close. The moon casts shadows on its path, and lights the way.

These days are made for traveling.

We'll sleep when we get there. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Come. Sit. Stay.

Yes, of course, I know it's a terrible idea for any number of reasons, but something about today got me thinking again about getting a dog.

Just out of curiosity, I took one of those "pet finder" quiz thingies. I know a few breeds I like, and I have for a long time had a short list of those I'd consider, but I was curious to see which ones might be a good fit for me, according to the algorithms. As it turned out, my best match was a Border Collie, which has been at or very near the top of my list ever since making the acquaintance of the family dog of an old friend of mine a few years back. They're just so damn smart, not to mention loyal, trainable, attentive, unlazy. I wouldn't mind having someone to boss around, and play with, someone who's smarter than I am and better at keeping an eye on things...

So, I perused a couple adoption sites, looked at some pictures, wondered if I could love a dog with an ugly face and why people come up with such stupid names for their pets. I also read not a few warnings about bringing a Border Collie into your life: 
A workaholic who thrives on mental and physical stimulation, the Border Collie must have a positive way to direct his energy. Otherwise he'll invent his own games — and he can become a problem to live with.
Sounds familiar--I've been experiencing a little of that myself, lately. I could lay the blame on the month of February, because apparently it's a recurring pattern, that I go a little stir-crazy this time of year... and when I'm not pushing myself, I start to push others: down, away; buttons, limits. It's not a very admirable trait of mine, and it's something that I need to learn how to manage, all finger pointing aside.
The border collie needs lots of activity and mental stimulation to prevent behavioral problems. 
Not to mention one-on-one attention and a sense of purpose...
if he is underemployed at home, he is likely to develop compulsive behaviors such as chasing light and shadows, twirling in circles, and bouncing up and down.
 Yep, been there.
Without physical and mental stimulation, Border Collies become hyperactive and will drive you up the wall with obsessive and destructive behaviors as they seek creative outlets for their physical and mental energy 
So what makes me think I want one of these wound-up bundles of energy (and potential weapon of mass destruction) around? Why not a nice retriever or a Weimaraner or a Staffordshire terrier or a pit bull? Why am I attracted to a super high-maintenance dog that would force me to spend a bunch of time I already don't really have, handling slobbery toys, running around dog parks and picking up poop, much less feeling guilt-tripped all the time by those hopeful eyes and pouty faces?
Trying to train a Border Collie, in fact, can be frustrating, because they are constantly thinking, analyzing, and reacting to every tiny movement you make. They can be a bit high-strung and oversensitive to sound and touch.
Maybe it's because I don't want a dog that's going to lie around licking its balls all day. Maybe I like the idea of having a dog that pays attention to things, and to me. Maybe I want a dog that likes to work and do stuff and will make me work harder and do more. Maybe I just want a dog to take care of since I don't have any kids. Maybe having a dog could make me a better person and keep my heart from failing. Maybe it would do me good to be the apple of someone's eye, even if they are furry and sometimes annoying as all get-out.
Some are manipulative, i.e. using their intelligence to get YOU to do what they want you to do.
Some are willful and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things.
Many are so sensitive that if you correct them too harshly, they may freeze and "shut down."
Or maybe I just can't resist that adorable way they tilt their head to one side, and won't take no for an answer, until they have to.
You must stay one step ahead of this challenging breed, and most households are simply not up to the task.
Maybe my Border Collie's number one job could be to look out for me, until I move to the country and get myself some chickens and a few acres to keep an eye on, a place to do some trail running, skiing, maybe skijoring...
The kind of people that do well with Border Collies are incredibly active and if not smarter… at least as smart as the dog. 

Probably not the dog for me. And then there's the separation anxiety, nippiness, barking, constant need for attention, etc. Plus, I can only play fetch for so long before I get tired of that game. 

Anyway, I should really get my boots on and get myself outside for a walk, before I start chewing on the furniture.

Friday, February 19, 2016


The word is "ravel". It means almost exactly the same thing as "unravel", a synonym that exists apparently only because we English speakers had to add a negative prefix to a perfectly fine word, for no good reason, a la "irregardless". Etymology is arguable, but it seems that the act of raveling is both itself and its inverse, as it tangle or to disentangle, to weave together or to undo such texture. This may seem like a contradiction, but actually makes some sense when you realize that ravel is also a noun, so in some sense, the act of raveling is just something you do to a ravel, and what you do would depend on what you were trying to achieve. Separate the strands of a knot, or bring the separate threads together into a whole? They are two sides of the same coin, after all...

Ravel was the word that came to mind this morning. I'd awoken to the sound of harp strings, i.e., my phone ringing, with a call from an unknown number somewhere near a southwesterly suburb that's unfamiliar to me, and my first thought was: what if something's happened? I waited to hear the soft gong of my voice mail, more worried than I should have been. It's a wrong number, of course. The bell rang. The message was from a "metro mobility" service, calling for someone named Tanya, or Tonya, or Tahnya, or you get the idea. Not for me. I rubbed my eyes and thought for a minute.

Some time before that, either immediately or hours earlier when my alarm had gone off, I woke from a dream. It was one of those dreams where someone you care about betrays you rather deeply and then nonchalantly rubs it in your face. Everyone has those, right? I would assume so, but then again, I've never dreamed of losing all my teeth or in black-and-white. In any case, it wasn't a very nice feeling to wake up to, or remember. I got up. I walked to the bathroom.

The Universe is pulling on your sweater, I thought. No, not the Universe: Life. Life is tugging at my sleeve, while I just continue to walk away and let it ravel...raveling... Back in the day I suppose people would purposefully ravel things in order to make them into something else--but who does that anymore? Ravel, unravel, what difference does it make?

I called the clinic. Yesterday afternoon I was assaulted out of nowhere by a cold sore, and I was not about to let it get the better of me. Ever since being blessed with this repugnant contagion, I've been subject to sores cropping up around my mouth when I'm under stress, or under-slept. I find them absolutely insufferable and as such, I now rely on modern pharmaceutical medicine to relieve me of this hateful burden. Despite my usual bent toward toughing it out or natural alternatives, this is one drug I will not give up, ever. It works, and frankly I don't care what else it does to me. I suppose what I'm saying is that I would rather die than endure a cold sore, and yes that might be going a bit far, but just a bit...

The nurse who called me back turned out to be quite helpful and friendly, if a tad surly. I had to do a little bitching and complaining and honest-to-goodness sharing in order to win her over (somewhat grudgingly) to my side, but she filled my lapsed prescription, and then on top of that offered a few personal recommendations for a new doctor, gave some good advice, commiserated about our healthcare system and responded with genuine gratitude when I thanked her for all the help, told her I was feeling better already and wished her a good weekend. It was a very strange goodbye, like parting ways with a stranger at the airport after you just shared life stories for a whole flight...would we ever speak again? See you in a couple months, she finally said. I called the pharmacy and they told me they'd have it ready in fifteen minutes. I hadn't even showered yet.

I logged in to check my email and to let my boss know I'd be in a bit late.  No worries, as usual--for her at least, although it is a relief and actually a godsend that I have a job that allows me the flexibility to adjust my schedule, and to work from home. No worries is just fine by me. Then something in my email caught my eye, and gave me pause for a moment... The Word of the Day for today was: "Astrolabe - plus, a ravel of knitting words". 

Huh. How about that.

What are the chances, do you think? How many words in the dictionary, days of words, monkeys with typewriters? Where are the scientific studies on the statistics of synchronicity? I'm not saying it means anything, but how can it mean nothing?

The thing about a dream is that it's always raveling... 

I put some coffee on, noticed it had started to rain. The gentle plink of raindrops meeting the metal chimney of the vent above the stove offered some quiet comfort, like the voice of an old friend. There goes the snow. I'm not at all eager to see Winter be washed away, and with it the little snow that we may have left to enjoy this year, and yet...if the sound of raindrops can put a doubtful heart at ease, then maybe I am ready for this Winter to ravel into Spring...and to see what can be made of this old sweater I've been wearing.

Safe to say

No one wants to hear gunshots when they get home

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Best Thing You've Never Had

Friends, I want to share something with you, because I care about your well-being, and I want you to feel healthy, nourished, satisfied, and happy. I want you to live long and prosper. I want you to eat this salad, because it's magically delicious.

You're going to look at this and think: it's way too complicated. There's too much going on, too many ingredients in the mix, I don't even have half of this stuff, and there are too many steps involved.  Exactly how much of my life to you expect me to devote to one meal? Etc.

Let me assure you, this one is worth it. Also, it is not nearly as much trouble as you might think it will be--it comes together quickly, and the timing of each step allows the next to unfold in good time. That, and it is easily adaptable to what you might have on hand, or not. So, stop your nay-saying and let's make dinner already.

You will need:

30-45 minutes
2-4 hungry people

1 cup quinoa
1 tsp Better Than Bouillon vegetable base, or equivalent
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger, or 1/4 tsp ground ginger

2 smallish pork chops, pork sirloin steaks, or the like - chicken tenders or steak would work equally well
1/2 tsp sesame oil + 1/2 tsp vegetable oil or butter, or whatever kind of fat you like
salt & pepper
2 tbsp hoisin sauce (see below for substitutions)
1 tbsp oyster sauce (see below for substitutions)
2 tsp soy sauce
squirt of sriracha sauce
2 tbsp water

1 small head of romaine lettuce, chopped or torn, about 3 cups
3 cups of spring mix, or kale, spinach or more romaine
1 1/2 cups red cabbage, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 large carrot, grated, about 1/2 cup

1 cup frozen green peas, soaked in boiling water
1 cup sprouts, alfalfa or other
6 Cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
1/3 of a medium cucumber, sliced in half-rounds 1/8 inch thick

1/4 c sliced radishes, preferably beauty heart but any old radish will do
1/4 c red bell pepper, sliced 1/4 thick and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 sliced scallions - optional, or thinly sliced onion perhaps
2 tbsp sliced or slivered almonds

1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4-1/2 fresh squeezed lime
1 tsp brown mustard
2 tsp honey

Here's what you do:

Heat the oil in a pan and sear the meat on high heat for a few minutes on each side, seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper.  It's ok if the pan gets a bit brown. Once the meat is seared, let it sit in the pan to cool for a few minutes.

Mince the ginger and garlic. Rinse the quinoa, put it in a small saucepan with the ginger, garlic and bouillon, and bring to a simmer. You can do this while the meat is cooking. Cook until water is gone and quinoa is done. If it sticks at all, add a tablespoon of water to the pan and let stand, covered.

Put the peas in a bowl or Pyrex measuring cup. Boil some water and pour it over them. You can also do this while the meat is cooking, or cooling.

In a large bowl, toss the lettuce, greens, cabbage and carrots until thoroughly mixed. It will be pretty and make you feel happier, especially if your bowl is blue.

Slice the meat into thin strips and return to the pan. Add the hoisin, oyster, soy and sriracha sauces directly to the pan, along with the water, and mix until the meat is thoroughly coated. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook until the liquid is reduced.

(A note on substitutions, here: if you don't have hoisin and/or oyster sauce, you can use extra soy sauce and water and a tbsp or more of sugar instead. Oyster sauce adds a lot of flavor, though, and is a worthy addition to any pantry. Hoisin sauce is relatively new to me and mine is homemade, from this recipe (or something close to it...I tend to tinker). Great stuff.)

Slice your veggies and set them aside. All amounts are approximate and should be adjusted, to taste. Throw in some other stuff if you'd like.

Mix the dressing ingredients together in a microwaveable bowl or cup and nuke for a few seconds, to dissolve the honey.

(Another note on substitutions: any Asian-like vinaigrette will do, so do what you like or what you can.)

Arrange your greens in a bowl and make a hole in the center.  Add the quinoa, and top with the sprouts, mushrooms, cucumber, meat with any remaining sauce, radishes, pepper, scallions, almonds, and peas. Drizzle with dressing.

I wish I had taken a picture, so you would be able to appreciate how fantastic this salad looks. And it tastes even better. You'll start off poking around a bit and end up with a perfect mix of every flavor you've been craving for what seems like ages, but didn't know you were missing. After eating this you will remember why you decided to become a human being. You will remember your dreams, and who your friends are, and you will realize that anything is possible, and you're ready for the next big thing.

If you make this dish and don't like it, please leave me a comment and I will unconditionally refund your entire past, present and future. Don't say it's too hard, too complicated, too messy, too fussy, too fancy, too much of a pain in the ass. Just make it, and thank me for changing your life. 


Don't mind if I do

Do you know how great it would be to get a hug today?  So, so, so great. Impossibly wonderful, beyond unbelievable, more than a miracle...! So if you're lucky enough to have one coming your way or are in a position to give someone else one, count your blessings.

I know...hug schmug, who needs one?

Hot chocolate it is, then.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Things will be different

I would like to dedicate today's post to the memory of my dear departed friends, K and JB, whose presence and absence have been with me, of late; to my true friend J, who lost a close friend recently; and to the future, and all it holds. I don't aim to be a poet, I'm just trying to arrange words here, in some way that makes sense to me. I hope they make some to you.


Things will be different when Love comes home. 
A key in the lock at the back door, the soft rush of air
as the door opens, the gentle drop 
of a pair of shoes onto a worn rug.
Familiar footsteps cross the floor; step over the threshold.
Perhaps I'll wake up...Or, maybe I will sleep on 
through the music, and cast iron 
on the stove, the sizzle and crackle 
of sustenance, dreaming deeply...
Sweet, spicy warmth and the promise of
nourishment will bring to me to my senses.
I remember a smile, with open arms, and a laugh. 
We'll sit together again at the table,
and gaze out the window into the yard,
where there are so many angles, and fences,
so much growing, and so many possibilities.
Love asks, what do you want to do today?
and what can I do for you?
Share this cup with me, bring me a bowl 
to fill with what we've made.
I open my mouth, but there are no words.
Love, I say. Love listens.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Unhappy Friday

I guess that's all I've got to say.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

So As To Say, So It Goes

I have, apparently or allegedly, approximately 57 minutes until the wash cycle is done, although I tend not to believe what that timer tells me. I can be standing there, watching it the display switch from "2" to "1" right in front of me, while several years of washing machine time subsequently passes before we finally get to the ding ding ding beep boop boop bah dah dah dah ding etc. I don't believe it for a minute.

Anyway, the clock is ticking, or at least time is passing (and that being an assertion which I am not willing to dispute, at this hour) and I'm hoping to put a few thoughts to rest tonight, before I lay my weary head down.

I'll try to keep this relatively brief, because this post is really here to serve two primary purposes: one, to take notes on today, for future reference by yours truly; and two, to share a few things I read today, with anyone reading who may be in search of similar insights.  However, some exposition will be required, as is the custom here, so bear with me, if you please...

I injured myself a few weeks ago.  It wasn't a severe injury, but it was an acute one which left me significantly disabled for a few days.  Basically what happened was that on a cold day in early January (the 9th) I went for a cross-country ski run using poor wax on icy snow and in spite of the slippery conditions I pushed myself pretty hard for a couple hours, climbed a couple burly hills, and returned to my car feeling great, energized, refreshed. Two days later I found myself unable to lift my right leg normally. Or at all. I'd strained my hip flexor(s), or so I was told, and boy let me tell you. This is not something you want to do.

It was a surprisingly debilitating experience; I could not stand, sit, walk, move, sleep, breathe or think normally. Lifting my foot a half-inch off the ground, or bending at the waist by most fractions of any degree, was shockingly painful. It was excruciating at worst, and not in any way I could just power through--it felt as though my whole body was recoiling from the slightest use of the muscle, or group of muscles (or ligaments, tendons, fascia, what have you), and slapping a "DO NOT USE" sign in my face.  DO NOT DO THAT.  Or else!  I mean it!  Things will NOT be OK if you don't stop RIGHT NOW!  STOP!!!

Luckily, I have a great chiropractor and I managed to connect with a fantastically skilled massage therapist who worked wonders, but I really have to give my body the credit it's due. I was truly humbled and amazed by not only the intensity of the injury (which at one point had me wondering if was going to have to call for help) but also the beauty and power of the human body, in its ability both to protect, and to heal.

I had been told of this so-called "so-as" muscle by a woman I used to see for massage, years ago. She used to tell me mine were both tight, problem areas needing attention, and I heard this from her frequently enough that you'd think I would have at least taken it upon myself to learn that this extremely important muscle's name is actually the "psoas", not to mention where it is and what it does and how it works and why it matters. But I didn't learn that back then, and I didn't really make a lot of important connections about what she was telling at the time, and I do have my reasons for that. Some of them I know, and some of them I'm still finding out.

Anyway, so today was my first ski run since the injury.  I was told it would be bad for a few days to a week, and then "vulnerable" for another 6-8 weeks.  Fortunately, that vulnerability has, subtle, but it so happens that the psoas is one of the most important muscles in the human body, so I've been aware of this area of weakness, you might say... Nonetheless, I went for a pretty long, pretty steady ski run today, and I've been feeling it since I got back home. Strangely, one of most notable things I've been feeling besides a worrisome tightness in both of my hips is just downright heart-broken, which is actually a highly atypical way for me to feel after doing something I love more than just about anything there is to do in this world. It makes no sense, I don't get it. So after enduring a stupid evening of tender misery, I buoyed myself up enough to do a little research via search engine, on the first two words that came to mind: "psoas grief". Sometimes these things are connected, ya know? Someone must know something that might help.

What I found wasn't all that surprising, but it was illuminating, and something of a comfort. I'll be mulling it all over for a while, because it got me to thinking about the connections between psoas troubles that might be caused by sitting all day (say, at an office type job), and psoas troubles that might be related to some kind of trauma, and how tricky it can be to get to the heart of a problem that lies somewhere between your physical reality and your emotional existence.  The "shaking" release that's described in a couple of the articles is something I've experienced, during massage or in a safe state of rest...and while I'd always perceived it as release of  tension, it makes a lot more sense to me, now. 

A safe state of rest... is pretty hard to come by for most folks these days.  I don't expect to find one myself tonight, but I'd better at least head in that direction. The laundry's in the dryer, which unfortunately I forgot to actually turn on, and here's some further reading, in case you find yourself vaguely interested. Oh and by the way, the psoas is involved in all sorts of stuff besides just flexing your hips--it's a key player in lower back pain, posture, stride, even knees and ankles, etc.  It's kind of a big deal.

Take care...