Sunday, April 30, 2017

Moving On

I've begun moving into the new place. My method is to fill a laundry basket with things to take over, and since I've only done one full basket once a day for the last two days, the move is going to be slow. So far, I've taken over a few towels, some books, my favorite quilt, and a picture of Lovely Beautiful Daughter when she was three or four. Oh, and I also took an old oak dining chair I'd found on the curb a couple of years ago and spray painted black. It has a leather seat and is just kind of fun.

I had decided I want sheer curtains for the windows in my bedroom. I've not had curtains at any windows for the last thirteen years. Shades, but no curtains. The desire to do something different spurred me to try and find some lovely panels to add a soft touch to the room. I went thrifting yesterday and found two pairs of lace panels. I couldn't believe my luck. When I'd been looking at panels online, I had resigned myself to paying upwards of $30 for a pair. For the two sets from the thrift store, I shelled out just over $10. After buying the rods and hardware for hanging the curtains, I spent less than $25. And I'm completely happy with the result.

When I stood back and looked at the window over the desk, I couldn't help but smile. While I didn't get my bouquet of lilacs for the desk (all the lilacs were on their way out when I went to pick some), I did find a bouquet of purple tulips. I can see myself spending a lot of time at that desk. Especially if I put a couple of bird feeders on the pine trees that are just beyond the windows.

My bed is en route. It is scheduled to arrive between tomorrow and Thursday. Once I receive it, I will begin staying at the house on a regular basis. Me and Ado. Funny Delightful son will begin moving in next week. Angel Baby will move over after graduation at the end of May. Lovely Beautiful Daughter is scheduled to join us just after mid-June. I find it interesting how when we arrived here eighteen years ago, it was the four of us. The kids were quite young and we lived in a two bedroom apartment. I remember our year in that apartment like it was yesterday. Now, the kids are adults, yet they are happy to return to it being just the four of us. I feel like I'm being given a priceless gift.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Desk

For many years now, I've not had a desk of my own at home. When I was using a laptop, I would simply sit on the couch or at the dining room table or in the hammock swing and work. Once I switched over to a desktop, I needed a space, especially with having two monitors (which I love, love, love!). Since December, I've been using the part of the desk my husband fashioned, taking what was the L-shape piece from his desk and moving it to create one long piece against the wall of the office.

The space works though it is very cramped. The space works though it means I have to be in the same room with my husband at times since his computer is at the other end of the desk. The space works. But . . ..

Sunday, I bought my own desk. A mammoth, bit beat up wood desk. Seven drawers. A pull-out shelf on each side.

Lots of space.

For my computer. For my drafts. For my books.

Lots of space.

To doodle. To sketch. To jot down ideas when they strike.

To create.

The desk is nestled under two large windows in my bedroom at the house I will begin living in next week. The windows face west, so late afternoon and evening sunshine will spill across the marred surface.

This afternoon, after work, I plan to take a bouquet of lilacs to place on the desk.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Beautiful Birdsong

As promised, here's a short clip of the birdsong by which I meditated. Can you hear the mourning dove in the background?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Meditation to Birdsong

Conference meditation.

Thursday, April 20, 2017:

My cell phone alarm went off at 5:30 am. I swiped it off, rolled over, and went back to sleep. An hour later, I awoke. This time I swung my legs over the edge of the bed. I didn’t want to waste an opportunity to take my mat and find a spot on the park grounds to get in a morning meditation. I quickly dressed in my comfy black sweatpants, light gray sweatshirt, then headed out. I decided to go to the Fu Dogs garden, a wide expanse of grassy area guarded on both sides by cobalt blue ceramic Fu Dogs, statues whose features are a blend of a Pekingese pug dog and the long-haired lion dog. I’ve always loved the whimsy of the Fu Dogs.

The ground was wet from a heavy dew, and the cold against my bare feet helped wake me up. The sun was still low behind the trees. I found a spot between two cedar trees just before reaching the Fu Dogs. It felt private, and if others were up and about, walking the Fu Dogs garden, they wouldn’t feel as if they might be disturbing me. Mat unrolled and laid out, I settled in, resting my left calf on top of my right calf. I set my cell phone timer for fifteen minutes then laid my hands gently on my knees, closing my eyes.

Clear, melodic birdsong along with the sweet scent of lilac carried me to the fifteen minutes. What a gift to be a part of the morning awakening.

Before I packed up, I captured several minutes of birdsong on my phone recorder. My hope is to import the music to my computer and create a loop of song to use for my morning meditations. And it will remind me of the time I was granted this April morning, surrounded by beauty and calm.

I returned to my room, readied for breakfast (during which I could hear the guy in the next room over peeing, which made me wonder if he could hear me peeing), then made my way to the dining hall. Every item set out for breakfast was carbs or sugar: French toast, oatmeal, raspberry yogurt, assorted fruits, and muffins. I opted for the yogurt, thinking it at least had some protein in it, but after just a few spoonfuls, the sugary overtones were more than I could take. I’m so used to plain yogurt that sweetened makes my jaw ache. Thankfully there was plenty of decaf coffee. No one but me seemed to be drinking it. Everyone else was going for regular coffee, so much so, that I watched several people return to the coffee decanter only to find it empty. Their shoulders visibly slumped with disappointment.

Three conference sessions and a lunch of chicken tacos later, I packed my things into the Jeep and headed for home. Still buoyed by the birdsong of my morning.

*Note: I am in the process of converting the recording to a format which can be uploaded here. If I can make this happen, I will share the beauty.

*Note 2: This same day, I received the email I've been waiting for. I have been awarded promotion: Distinguished Professor. Pending Board approval, of course. I've never heard of the Board denying anyone promotion, so I'm hoping this trend continues.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Breathing Life into Ideas

Though my sabbatical doesn't officially begin until August, I've already been jotting down notes when an idea occurs to me, and writing poems and short essays--very rough first drafts of both--to not lose the germ when it strikes. For the first time in my life, I'm taking the desire to be a writer seriously. I'm being protective of my writing time. I write.

This is the most recent poem. It came about after an intense, overpowering need to sketch what was swirling in my head. That sketch has been right in front of me on my desk for weeks, helping me get to this:

I dreamed of you during the night, again, the fourth night in a row, 
and you were walking, again, as if you’d never not walked.
I remember awakening in the darkness, smiling at the notion
of you showing me where you are now, your legs working fine,
no MS keeping you prisoner on the burgundy leather love seat,
where you sat through your days then through your nights,
as if roots had somehow sprouted, burrowing down into the cushions,
then past the floorboards beneath, anchoring firmly
into the moist, black soil of the crawl space under the house,
as if your useless legs had fused together to form a thick trunk,
from which the crown above swayed gently under the weight
of the fruits you cradled, fruits ripe with words you devoured,
savoring the sweet escape from that couch, if just in your mind,
if just for an hour, until fatigue forced your eyes to close
and you’d sleep, dreaming, walking as if you’d never not walked.

The title eludes me, but I've learned to be patient and wait. It will reveal itself when it's ready.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Call of My Yoga Mat

For over a month now I've been ignoring the call of my yoga mat. At least when I'm not attending the eight week long yoga 102 class I signed up for. I go to the classes, but at home, the mat has stayed rolled up nice and neat in its carrier. I heard it whispering to me to unroll it, to take some time to move away from that which seems determined to seep into my my soul and keep me from finding and practicing what is positive, loving, good. I just feel frozen. I've never felt unable to act, to trudge forward though my feet seemed encased in mud, like I have over the last month. I find myself standing in the kitchen, staring at the stove but not really seeing it. Or in the bedroom, staring at the bed but not moving to lie down. The other day I realized I had driven through an intersection with a four-way stop, but I couldn't recall if I had actually stopped then proceeded through. I remember passing a few houses just before the intersection, but several seconds from those houses on, up until a half block beyond the intersection, are a complete blank.

Yesterday, when I stepped off the stairs and into the dining area, I looked at my mat hanging on its hook by the window overlooking the fruit garden.

"Today," I heard it whisper.

I went to it, removed it from its carrier, and let it unroll over the area rug in the foyer.

Not fully ready to commit to a practice, I instead took Ado for a long walk during which a boy jumping on a trampoline smiled and waved as we passed, a lone goose waddled along the drainage ditch then decided it didn't like us walking so closely behind and flew further up, landing in the water, its safety zone. We met up with a long-haired white and gray cat that crouched deep into the ditch grasses, as if it thought we'd not be able to see it against the green.

We returned to the house, and as I hung Ado's collar and leash on the hook next to the yoga mat carrier, my unrolled mat again whispered, "Today."

I instead found a recipe online for chai coffee and proceeded to put water in a pot, added cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, whole cloves, and fresh ginger. After these simmered for twenty minutes, filling the kitchen and dining area with a spicy warmth, I added the coffee grounds. More simmering. Then I strained the spiced coffee into a fresh pot and added brown sugar, honey, and milk. More simmering. Then, with a cup of hot chai coffee in hand, I grabbed Mozart's Starling and went to my hammock swing on the deck. There I sipped the coffee while reading or watching the squirrel in our neighbor's tree, who looked down at me, chattering, insulted by my presence.

And so the day went. Me hearing my mat whispering, "Today," and me finding other things to do that I thought might soothe the discomfort deep in my being. Writing. Another walk. More swaying in the hammock swing. Fixing a dinner of salmon and roasted veggies for Angel Baby and myself. Listening to Angel Baby explain the trials and tribulations of waging intergalactic war. Doing my laundry for the week.

Then I found myself at my dresser, pulling out purple yoga pants and an orange top. I quickly changed, grabbed my laptop, and went back downstairs. I settled into Sukhasana on my mat, clicked on the yoga program I've been following, and began. An hour later, after constantly finding myself pulling my wandering thoughts back to my breath, my muscles, my body, I finished practice with Ardha Sirsasana, happy that my shoulder girdle muscles and core are still able to maintain the inversion for ten breaths.

I left my mat unrolled. I will seek it out this evening. I will continue moving forward.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Watching My Pet Grieve

For the past two years, I've laughingly and lovingly said we have a toddler in the house. A four-legged, furry, 100 pound toddler. His mischievous nature, the way he fairly ran to the stairs every morning as I descended from upstairs, his wrapping his lanky body around my legs as if saying, "Hey, notice me. Pet me" brought to mind a child utterly happy with the world. When the young woman we refer to as "Ado's Girlfriend" visits, he would jump on her as if he wants her to hold him like she did when he was just a ten-pound puppy. He would lavish her with sloppy dog kisses and be sure her clothes were covered with his hair.

Since last Monday, since returning home without Max, my toddler has been nowhere in sight. It was like overnight Ado shed his childish ways and became an adult.

No longer does he run to the stairs as I come down for breakfast. Instead, he and I meet in the middle of the dining room, him treading softly, slowly from the living room where he spent the night sleeping on the couch. And this morning, when his girlfriend came to visit briefly, he didn't run to her, jump on her, offer slobbery kisses. He calmly met her at the gate, walked ahead of her to the back deck, then settled in where he had been laying before her arrival.

I want my toddler back.

I want to see that same exuberance for life he used to show.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Delightful Distraction Period

And now I wait.

Yesterday I defended my promotion portfolio to a group of colleagues from different areas of the college: Environmental Science, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing. I've known the members of my reading team for many years, and honestly, it was a real pleasure talking teaching with them. At one point, when one of the readers said our gathering was a celebration of teaching, the thought crossed my mind that they were in favor of my promotion.

But I won't know for sure for nearly two more weeks.

So now I'll have to turn my attention to other things, things that will keep me busy, like loading Ado into the car and driving up to the lake for some long walks. Or working on a few of my own pieces that will be a part of my sabbatical project. Or getting the bike out and taking that first ride of the season now that the sun is warming our days. I'm sure I can find other things to focus on, to distract me from wondering if I will get that coveted letter saying, "Congratulations. You have been approved for Distinguished Professor."

To begin this distraction period, I began working on a piece I've been mulling over for several months now, ever since last November when I learned I have a heart murmur. I'm one of those odd people that finds starlings to be beautiful birds. In searching for information about the bird, I have learned they are hated and have no legal protections of any kind. While I understand why people don't like the bird for a variety of reasons, I am saddened that many people don't take the time to learn more about them. They are kind of remarkable, really.

As if by chance, I walked past a table of books at the book store this morning and saw Mozart's Starling. After reading the first line on the back jacket cover, I knew I needed to read the book. I bought it, drove to the coffee shop, found a seat by the front window to people watch if so desired, and began reading. On page 8 of the "Prelude," I was fighting back tears (I'm fighting back tears just thinking about this!). Someone, something (fate?), knew I needed this book right now.

Two pages of ideas sparked by reading just 25 pages into the book, I know I'm inching forward with the piece that sparked inside me several months ago. I think this distraction period could be productive and delightful all the way around.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Doing What Feels Right

The place the kids and I will call home for the next year, beginning in May, has been found. I am both excited and sad at the same time. Excited for the possibilities that I can see for us to build our lives in a positive direction. Sad over the life with a partner I thought I was building that didn't come to fruition.

My husband has been asking that I don't leave. Last evening, he came into the living room where I was sitting with Ado, to tell me he would take any job that came along, even if it meant only making $10 an hour. For the past year, I have been asking him to do just this, that I didn't care he might only make $10 an hour. Anything would be better than nothing. Going out every day, getting away from the house to do something with the goal of helping out the household, was what I thought would be good for his sense of wellbeing,  He chose to ignore my suggestion for a year. Now that I have made the decision to leave, he will do as I have been asking for a year.

But I've reached the point of too little too late.

He told me I don't get to think too little too late.

I believe I do, and what he said to me next has had me scratching my head, thinking, "Wow" ever since. After my response of I absolutely do get to think too little too late, my husband sort of laughed, saying, "You called my bluff."

This leads me to believe he thought he could do his "I'm searching for a job every day by going online and filling out applications" routine ad infinitum.

So yeah, I feel a tug-of-war happening deep in my being, but after filling out the application for the house, after talking to the landlord who is incredibly nice and made it very clear he is happy we are going to be living in his home, the decision to leave just feels right.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

So Many Wonderful Memories Still Can't Stop the Pain

Last week, Wednesday, I made the appointment I've been putting off.


His legs were giving out on him as he walked across the floor or down the steps. His chin quivered at times, indicating pain.

But he always looked at us as if he was the happiest dog on earth.

It was easy to rationalize he was okay, that he still had a few weeks, a few months, maybe a few years left.

The day he dragged his hind quarters across the floor as he went to get a drink of water made me see how unfair we were being with him.

Yesterday, we said goodbye. In a warm, cozy room. Our hands stroking his black coat. Our voices telling him how much he meant to us.

When we returned home, Ado circled us, sniffing, looking at us as if to ask, "Where's Max?" He went out into the yard. Searching. He came back inside, found the collar and leash, and nosed at it. Where I went, Ado went. As I worked at the computer, he lay at my feet. Then, he stood, went into the room where Max used to sleep. I heard him howl. Just once. Then he came back and nudged my arm.

Our hearts are hurting where a big hole formed yesterday with Max's last breath, and no matter how many wonderful memories of Max I think about, they still can't stop the pain.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Determined to Emerge

I have found myself fumbling about, grasping at trying to become motivated to do something. Anything. Just do. For several weeks now, I've not been able to convince myself to shed the dispiritedness that has taken hold. I do enough to get through my days, completing the tasks required of me at work, but even those are done less than half-heartedly. I desperately want to move past whatever this is making me feel like my whole body and mind are trudging through mud.

Yesterday, my husband tried, again, to convince me to stay. He'll get a job. He'll fix this financial issue he created. He'll take walks with me and Ado. He'll do all kinds of things if it means I will stay. I want him to become a better version of himself, but I doubt that me staying will make that happen. And I think this because as we talk, woven between what he'll do to make things better are comments about how the reason we are where we are is my fault.

Perhaps I am the reason we are at the point of no return. After all, I expect certain behavior from those around me. Like pulling one's weight by being gainfully employed. I don't necessarily care what one does to make money, as long as it's legal. Like helping with the mess that comes with living in a house. See a cup on the table? Put it in the dishwasher. See dog hair bunnies hatching in the corners of the room? Pull out the sweeper and give the room a going-over. Like wanting to join in for a bike ride, a walk, just reading in the same room. He accused me of doing whatever I want whenever I want. I do because I've asked him to do things with me and he has turned me down a lot.

So yes, I guess I am to blame for our relationship swirling down the drain. I'm not content to sit in front of a TV. I'm not content to sit in front of a computer and scroll through videos, memes, and other inane social media what-not. I prefer to be more involved in life, life that is happening all around me, even along the familiar path I walk each and every day.

I almost passed by these purple pretties while Ado and I strolled along the drainage ditch. Thankfully Ado paused to nose at something, and I happened to look down. The fragile beauties emerging from their winter rest made me smile.