Sunday, March 17, 2013

The March of March Continues

Spring continues to string together pearl after blue pearl of beautiful days. I'm already watering; I hope we'll get at least one more good storm before summer kicks in. The ice cream truck made its first round of the year today, blaring its merry tune as the neighbor's pit bull howls. The Rio Oso is now blooming profusely, the Suncrest not so much, but I hope it will have a vigorous growth year.


The time change still feels a bit strange, but more so I think this year because M has made a concerted effort to change his schedule in order to be more productive. He's usually up at 6:30 a.m. every day, which means that some mornings he's up before me. Crazy! When he announced this plan I secretly worried that I'd miss my quiet weekend mornings, but it's been great. I think we both get more done. I've also changed my schedule a bit, moving a gym day from Friday to Saturday. It certainly feels better for my body to space the classes out a bit more and is a constructive start to the weekend. In another nice change of pace, M pulled the bikes down from the rafters today and made them rideable. Our nearby streets are another matter in the rideability department, but there's one close by that's been repainted to make a bike lane. Taking rides around the 'hood would be a fun way to change things up, get a new perspective.

Speaking of perspectives, there's a great little program on our local NPR station, Perspectives, and I've been thinking a lot about this Perspective on good habits that I heard recently. The ritual of learning something new, creating something, and saying "I love you" definitely makes for a satisfying, productive, and positive day. Kalyani came out for a visit last week. It was lovely to see her. I took a couple of days off and went up to the coast after work on Wednesday where she was staying with Mom and Don. On Thursday after a leisurely morning, we had a nice walk in the woods up on Don's hill property, lunch at the Wharf, then drove down the coast and up Westside Drive to Healdsburg where we met Mom and Felicia for another lovely dinner at Barndiva. The food was once again delicious, a splendid accompaniment the company.


After dropping Kalyani at SFO on Friday, I stopped in the City on the way home to see the Girl with the Pearl Earring exhibit of Dutch masters at the de Young museum. It's blasphemous, but the landscapes were so excruciatingly luminous that all I could think of was Thomas Kinkade. I really loved the still lifes--the watches with their keys on blue ribbons, glasses tipped over, the fruit and flesh and vessels in the process of being consumed, winding down, finished. One in particular I returned to several times to examine the reflection of the candle and spectacles in the glass of water. How do you paint transparency? asked someone behind me of his companion. An excellent question. Apparently still lifes with exotic flowers were so in demand that they were partly responsible for driving the tulip mania. I did enjoy "the girl" portrait as well as some others.

 It's been a nice quiet weekend. I finished knitting a neckwarmer for M that he actually requested! We went to the local Home and Garden show at the fairgrounds and are thinking of focusing on insulation rather than landscaping this year. We've been watching "House of Cards" on Netflix and enjoying it. We just saw a matinee of "Django Unchained" at our local second-run theater. I'm growing fonder of Tarantino's films that reimagine history so that the wronged can have some modicum of revenge while reminding the rest of us of our bigotry and hatred that I wish could fade faster. Nothing like blood-soaked shoot 'em ups to bring in the masses for a message!


And with that, it's time for a dog walk.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

More Ups and a Very Sad Down

Almost a whole month since my last post. I'm attributing it (note I do not say "blaming" it) on the carousel of life, which continues to dip and rise, more sharply in each direction than I'm used to. I guess it's just Life with a capital L, but sometimes I wonder how much getting older has to do with it.

But I'm grateful that I've also been traveling and overall enjoying the ride of life this past month: On Valentine's Day, I participated in my first flashmob, part of the One Billion Rising day. Unfortunately, I didn't adequately prepare, so didn't actually realize there would be dancing, so I hung in the back and faked it (being tall helped--I could see over most of the women in front of me to the lead dancer), but I still had fun. M was with me too, and I'm always humbled and grateful for his support for my activist-ish activities.


After the flashmob, we had dinner at Flavor, one of our favorite restaurants, then headed to Sebastopol for a very different women's activity: a burlesque show! Cabaret de Caliente was pretty classic showwomanship--titillating R-rated stuff, mostly amateurs, but plenty of entertainment and fun glittery costumes.


Where do you even buy pasties these days? There was even a fan dance! And a number with a trio of cute guys! The highlight was when I won the grand prize raffle gift bag! By the way, my winning ticket number ended in 666. No, I didn't think it was a sign, but I thought it was pretty funny. I suspect that very few people in the audience that night knew that bringing in a book or pair of PJs for a non-profit got you a raffle ticket, so odds were in my favor. I'm not sure I'll actually redeem the big prize, an in-home burlesque class with 10 friends, but the on-stage spanking for winning was a lot of fun.


Later that week, we got a big indication that Roxy's weight loss and lethargy (I thought she was sulking from lack of attention--I can be so dense sometimes) were symptoms of something serious. She had uncontrollable head tremors one evening, so M took her to the vet the next day. They ran tests which revealed that she was suffering from chronic kidney failure. They also estimated that she was older than we thought, more like 10 rather than 8. This news was completely unexpected. I'd never heard of that in dogs and while it made sense that she was older--certainly explained the quickly graying muzzle--it bowled me over in a way that I completely compartmentalized. Is there a way to expect, or train myself to expect, the unexpected?


Over the Presidents Day weekend, we headed to Reno for Sean's 40th birthday, entrusting Roxy and Rex to a very compassionate and thoughtful young gal. It had been quite a while since either of us had been to Reno and I think we made the most of it. We stayed at the Sands and were grateful for the adherence to the non-smoking policy. We wandered around the downtown/river area that first afternoon, wondering at the contrast of swanky casinos with shuttered establishments, ate at Campo, and enjoyed the Dueling Pianos show at the Silver Legacy the first night. The next morning, we visited the Nevada Museum of Art. While we were disappointed that the rooftop was closed, shutting us off from the great views of the city and surrounding mountains, we really enjoyed the Indian art exhibit , then joined the rest of the crew for a walk through the overwhelming Reno Auto Museum. We played bingo, using electronic devices--it has certainly evolved as a game!--poked around the storefronts, then met up for a great, casual dinner at Bowl, finishing the evening Vegas style at the gaming tables. Well, some of us (the ones with XY chromosomes) did, while others discussed grammar and other fading but still worthy subjects over cheap beer at the bar.


I was glad for the excuse to explore someplace new. I'm also grateful for being included in this celebration and hanging out with folks I don't get a chance to socialize with often. I've realized lately how important those things are to me.


While we were in Reno, Roxy continued to decline. I admit I was in denial about her trajectory, hoping she would be with us for weeks or months rather than days. We came home a little early to spend more time with her on Monday, Presidents Day. We made the awful decision to put her down the next evening. I still can't quite believe I let her go, but she was suffering so. I wasn't ready to be without her. She was so big I didn't think we could fit her into our lives when we first adopted her, but we did, and maybe it's partly the big hole she left that makes me miss her so much. I still haven't washed her muddy paw prints from the sliding glass door, evidence of the excitement she manifested at the thought of food, the prospect of a walk, or just coming back inside.


Other things I miss about Roxy: The way she'd glance over her shoulder at us while on a walk, a gleam in her eye that I interpreted as both playful and grateful. The way she'd get up with me every day--I'd hug and praise her, her tail painfully lashing my legs, then change her water and give her her morning biscuit. She relished a fresh bowl of water. How she expressed utter happiness by flopping onto her back and exposing her belly, all four legs kicking the air, loose jowls flapping back to reveal her big white teeth, making her equal parts fierce and vulnerable. Evenings while watching TV, I miss her warm furry flesh up against one thigh while Rex takes the other. While it often aggravated me, I admired her independence, her willingness to just focus on getting the gopher or on wandering the dunes alone, not necessarily staying close to the humans on walks. Yes, I even miss her soft snoring and sleepy doggy snorting sounds when we're all tucked in at night. Our little pack has shrunk significantly.

I'm sure Rex doesn't miss her teasing, bowing play, blocking him from jumping into the back of the truck for our daily walks. I don't think Rex misses anything about her, though I'd like to think they were starting to actually like each other at the end. It's strange having just one creature around. I worry about him a lot more now, wondering if his cough or wheeze is the sign of something more serious, wondering if his increasing deafness will get him run over soon. I also have a little guilt around some of the relief I feel at Roxy's passing. So much less mud and hair to worry about, and it will be easier to leave town on spontaneous adventures. I am grateful to her for defining the boundary of any future pet adoptions...


We celebrated Part Two of Sean's birthday last weekend. We gathered at his folks' house for falafel and ribald discussion, then headed over to our local arts center for a Hawaiian slack key guitar concert. The music was very different than what I normally listen to, and the hulu dancers that joined them on stage were abundant and inspiring. I loved how they took part in the songs.

At the concert, M and I got into our annual fight. He didn't want me to photograph the concert. As you can see, I continue to earn my reputation for stubbornness. While I dislike our disagreements, it's nice to know that we've gotten it over with and are now conflict free for months at least, if not years.


I had the first business trip of the year last week, traveling to exotic Santa Clara. The conference went well. I ran into a woman I met a few years ago, who is speaking at a couple of our events this year, due in part to my urging and it felt great to be a part of someone's career progress. I also overheard a young woman saying how all of her friends were having babies now, that was just where she was in her life, and it brought me back again so hard to thinking about cycles of experience we go through.

I came back from Santa Clara and Spring had visited in my absence. She'd been busy spreading the bright yellow mustard flowers thickly on the fields and in the rows in vineyards. The erect tresses of the fruit trees are clad in dense pink and white blossoms, waving at the clouds in the sky. Yellow heads of daffodils nod in clusters along the roadsides. The acacias are also clad in bright yellow, towering along the roads and walking paths. I love this time of year. Our poor suffering Suncrest peach has popped a few blossoms first, hoping to get out attention and care no doubt. I hope we'll get more rain, though.


Today was the first meeting of the Pointy Pals at the Applebox in 2013. No, I have not yet started my novel. Yet. And I'm OK with that. I need to contemplate those two clashing ideas more. I don't think I'll always be content with just writing blog posts and email messages, but I'm just trying to focus on being satisfied with where I am and what I have and what I've accomplished…so far. Not worrying about what I haven't done or bought or experienced. For now. It's strange, and somehow casting a spell of contentment over me. I wonder how long it will last? I guess that's a bit of insulation against the lows of life I've had lately.

After the Applebox, M and I motorcycled to a place I'd never heard of before, the Grove of the Old Trees. "Welcome to the enchanted forest," said someone we passed on the path. It was magical. It made me think about the times Dad took us camping lo these many years ago.