Sunday, November 28, 2010

I Fell in Love Friday

Normally, when I get a chance to go to Starbucks, which is rare because of the distance from me ( 1 1/2 hours, any direction I choose), I get a Cinnamon Dolce Latte. But then, a few weeks back, I happened to check the number of calories in one of those, and holyschmoley, decided I wouldn't be getting those, however rare an occasion it might be..Granted, had I thought to order it with nonfat milk (or soy, which I prefer, though it has more calories) and remembered to tell them NOT to put whipped cream on it, I could have drastically reduced the calories, but the syrups are not sugar free, so I can't make it a no-calorie drink, there...)  And my new love, discovered Friday, was definitely not sugar free either, but, that's the best part - I can now make them , easily, at home, sugar free (almost) and I can indulge myself to my heart's content!

I don't know what possessed me to order, or even ask my daughter about, a Chai Tea Latte, especially since I don't even really LIKE tea, and,  I had no idea that Chai tea was spicy, which I love, but somehow, it just seemed like the right thing to order. And boy, am I glad I did. I LOVED it. I triple, superduper, ADORED it. Something about the flavors, the right kinds of spices, soy milk - hot. Yummmm.  It will never replace coffee, any kind of coffee, as my favorite beverage, but as a low-cal, sugar free hot drink for the winter nights ahead, I'm SO glad I "discovered" this drink. Oh, wait, I got ahead of myself. How can I possibly drink this at home, and how can I make it sugar free, when there is no Starbucks near me?  Because after my daughter realized how much I loved this drink, she told me about, and then bought me, this:

from Walmart!  Sugar free. All I have to do is pour half a mug full, add soy milk to the other half, nuke it for a minute 30 seconds, and ta dah!  Hot Chai Latte at home. And it's sooooo good. I'm in love.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Really Want this Dog...

...but I know I can't have him. Not only can I not add another dog to my family - I have 4 large dogs already - but they probably would not allow me to adopt him anyway, because like my other four, he would be hookd out to a run M-F from 8 am until 3 pm, and although my dogs have each other for companionship, ample runs which allow them to get plenty of exercise during the day, and sturdy, tight dog houses with small doors and fresh straw all winter long, I'm sure to someplace looking to adopt him out, that would not be deemed good enough.
Which is really too bad, because I know, deep in my heart, I could provide for this little guy pretty much everything he needs for his life. (Wait, I just looked it up, and it IS ok to be gone more than 4 hours IF you have another animal for companionship. How about 4 other dogs? Would that count? Maybe!)
The ad reads like this:

MUTLEY: A 14 month old Border Collie, possibly Aussie m...ix, Mutley is the sweetest guy, super friendly and easy going. He is a doll and everyone who meets him, agrees...he is one very special boy. Mutley loves taking walks and loves to play with other dogs, too. An all around wonderful dog, he is need of a special home where someone is not gone many hours. Mutley has under-sized kidneys that mean he has to go outside often and while he is totally housetrained, he can't hold his urine for long stretches. He would do great with a doggie-door or with someone around since he gives the perfect cue to go out. Mutley has lived in one home since a puppy but now, both guardians work too long outside the home so are hoping he can find a new life better suited to his situation. They will provide $250 toward his medical care as well as his current meds which help his kidneys work better. Mutley's vet would also be happy to provide the medications to any new family and would be happy to explain his situation further. He will not have a long life since his kidneys are congenitally deformed but he sure could have a happy life with someone who is up for all the fun he has to offer! Mutley is about 45 pounds and good with cats. He lives with a 6 yr old child now and is very tolerant of all the hugging!"
By:Glen Highland Farm  (Great site if you are a BC lover )

I have a Border Collie, Bramble, who is the love of my life. I waited more than 22 years to get a Border Collie, wanted one ever since I saw a shepherd and his border collie in a Dewar's ad in a Newsweek that many years ago.

(This ad is one from the same series that I saw back in about 1987 that had a shepherd in a tweed coat and cap, walking across a Scottish glen or field with sheep and a Border Collie. I have searched the past few years and can find this, and others from that ad series, but not the exact ad that I remember. It was that one specific ad that lit the match of desire in me to someday own my own BC)
 She is a high, high, high energy dog, and seriously deranged when it comes to "resting."  She doesn't "get" resting. It is a challenge, and admittedly a huge pain in the ass even, sometimes, to keep her busy. She gets a Kong toy filled, several times a day, just to keep her busy for a few minutes emptying it out. She gets a bone, or occasionally a rawhide chew, though I don't like them much, every day to keep her busy chewing for awhile. We play tug of war inside with dog rope things. We play tug of war outside with large chunks of branches, sometimes even a piece of firewood she tries to run around with. I throw a ball for her over and over and over. I chase her. She chases me. She chases and plays with the husky sometimes, but not as often as I would wish. The husky annoys her, because while Annie is chasing and tackling her, her main goal is to get away from Annie so that she can get back to ME, to continue playing with ME.  Annie would prefer to play with another dog - Bramble prefers to play with me. 24/7. 
     One of the things that has been difficult for me to deal with, with Bramble, though, is her incessant need to pee, constantly, it seems.   Housebreaking her was NOT an easy task, and I can't even say that she IS completely housebroken. She is fairly trustworthy IF I follow a strict and unvarying schedule. This includes making sure that she sleeps upstairs with us at night, and putting a baby gate across the top of the stairs. If she can't get downstairs when she has to go out, she will come to my side of the bed and give a muffled half of a "woof" to let me know she has to go out. Most nights it is twice, usually early-ish around 11:30, (I go to bed on the early side, and would go even earlier to read, and possibly to sleep really early some nights, if it weren't for trying to stay up later for the dogs' sake) and then again between 2 and 3:30 sometime. Then she will bark around 6:30 if we are not up, on weekends, because that is usually when ALL the dogs go out in the morning.My other three dogs could easily go out at 8 pm, and then be fine until 6:30 or 7 every morning, so it baffles me that Bramble needs to go so often, still.  And it's not just a "habit" as it has been said that I have "indulged" her in, because if she sleeps downstairs in her chair, which she actually prefers, she leaves several wet spots on the rug letting me know that she truly DOES have to go out at night. Letting her sleep downstairs gives me my beauty sleep, but ruins the carpet, so I'm just used to getting up to let her out every night. I also happened to hear from another BC owner today, randomly, who saw my post of Muttley's ad on my FB page, and she said her BC has the same kidney issue as Muttley. NOW I'm beginning to wonder if that might not be Bramble's problem, too. Maybe it is a breed tendency that I wasn't aware of. I need to talk to my vet about this at some point.
     Now, before you question why ANYONE would feel it necessary to write an entire post on the urination habits of a dog, let me just say, it's the WHOLE reason, or most of it, for feeling so deeply pulled by Muttley's plight.  I feel like "hey, I'm up anyway a couple times a night. I bet he doesn't have to pee anymore frequently than Bramble does, so if I'm up with her, why not get up with him, too?"  As opposed to someone else taking him in, and then getting annoyed to have their sleep interrupted in ways that they aren't used to, or weren't necessarily planning on. I don't want someone to get disgusted with him, and since I've been doing this for a year and a half now, I am used to it, and wouldn't mind adding one more to the mix. Bramble exhausts me, and I know I was not prepared for her energy level, and I know I often let her down. I feel like getting her was a bad thing for her, like she got a bad deal in me, because I don't have sheep for her to herd, and I'm not even very reliable about taking her for a long walk every day. Granted, she does have the back yard to race and tear around in after I get home for work, and I do TRY to make sure she has an outlet every day for some of her energy, both mental and physical, but I KNOW I fall short, and that makes me feel so very guilty. So why would I even dream of taking in another Border Collie? I. DON'T. KNOW.
     I wish I could explain it. I wasn't looking for another dog. I don't even skim rescue sites, or Petfinder, or Craig's List EVER, because I am at my limit with 4 large dogs. My children do not love the fact that we, I, have a house full of animals. They LOVE the animals, but do NOT love the hair, the noise, the chaos, the mess. Our house is a difficult one to bring friends home to for, say, movie watching, or hanging out - because the dogs just make this house always feel so ... full. They are just always there, in your way, at your feet, in the same room. I do feel a bit guilty for shortchanging the kids a bit, too, in this regard, although they do, as I say, love the individual dogs and cats.  Adding one more would not only be a bad idea but would make them pretty unhappy, I think. (Though I do only have 2 left at home for another 8 months, and then only 1 for a year and 8 months, and after that, none)  I have less time left at home for my kids than the life expectancy of this new dog, however limited.
     Which brings me to another thought I've had. If his life expectancy is shortened due to the kidney issues, then it wouldn't really be like taking on the lifetime responsibility for another dog with a normal lifespan. It wouldn't be like adding the responsibility of another 12-15 years of dog care to our life. It seems as though his life span might be more in line with that of my older three dogs, who, at the moment, are about 8 or 9,  7, and about 5.I think it is likely, if Bramble DOESN"T have this same kidney issue, but is just a peeing kind of girl, that her life span could reasonably and far exceed that of the other three, and Muttley, too. I just feel this deep, nearly inexplicable need to take in Muttley, love him, care for him, maybe have Bramble as a playmate, and take as good care of him as I can for the lifetime he does have.
     But I don't DARE bring it up around here. I just KNOW it wouldn't fly, and it makes me sad, because this isn't a dog I want for ME, but because I could be good for HIM. I could be Muttley's best chance. If someone else could give him an even better home, I would be ecstatic. I don't need the stress and hassle of another dog, just for the fun of it. But I would be more than willing to take him in and do the right thing for him because I know I could. And he's adorable. Who could not love that face?  A Border Collie's face is one of it's most endearing qualities. Those eyes.  Sigh. I love and adore BC's.
     The other thing that always worries me, though, too, is that I wonder when you reach that actual "animal hoarder" stage, where you think you're doing the right thing, and you truly love the animals  you take in, but your intentions are very misguided.  I don't know when you get there, and I'm pretty sure that you don't recognize it in yourself, but I think it's pretty clear to other people. I don't think 5 dogs (and 7 cats -indoor/outdoor, and  a dozen chickens - NOT house pets...) qualifies me just yet, but I do worry. I think you have to be unable or unwilling to provide proper medical care, proper food, etc. and live in kinda gross conditions, and that 's not me. Given enough warning, I'd still invite almost anyone to my house... but then, like I said, maybe you just think you're normal and the way you live is normal, still, and so maybe adding another dog, even out of the best of intentions, would put me more into that hoarder category? Or, maybe if you're worried about it, then it CAN"T be you (much like when I was having panic attacks, and was deathly afraid I was going crazy, but was reassured that if you are truly "going crazy" you're usually not worrying about it, and if you're really worried that you are losing your mind, you're not...)  SO does that mean that if I'm worried that I might be an animal hoarder, then I'm really not, and I COULD adopt Muttley?
     I really wish I didn't feel these compulsions, these convictions, to SAVE everything under the sun. I spend a lot of time wondering what my life will be like when I can get back down to ONE dog and ONE cat, you know, a NORMAL kind of life. But then, I sort of chuckle, because I really don't think that's probably ever likely to happen, for real. A girl can dream, can't she? Of both fewer animals in this house, and, perhaps, one more - a dog who really needs her.
Gosh, I want this dog.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What I Want to be when I Grow Up

 Lately, I have decided that I want to be a princess....
but find that I am still a frog. Sigh.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

VETERANS DAY - November 11, 2010

This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." -Elmer Davis

“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.   Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning    We will remember them.” - Laurence Binyon


“We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” George Orwell

 I can not even begin to put into words the deep and profound gratitude I feel for the men and women of our military who voluntarily leave their families, their friends, their beds, their wives, husbands, children, their home, towns, country, to serve our country. I never take their service for granted, never forget to pray for them, and could not be more proud of every single one of them than I am. There is something deep within my soul  so deeply grateful for the freedom they bring me, the freedom they protect for me.  For every one who has served this country, who has protected me, kept me safe, allowed me to be free, thank you. There is just no way for me to ever repay the debt, but I want you to know, every single veteran - those still living, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, that I appreciate it, appreciate what you do, what you have done, every single day of my life. Thank you.

" A Veteran is someone, who at one point in their life, wrote a blank check

payable to the United States of America for an amount up to, and
including, their life. That is beyond honor, and there are way too many
people in this country who no longer remember that fact.
If you are a Veteran, know a Veteran, love a Veteran - remember them today. And every day."

Thank you, Brett - USMC.  Thank you, David - US Army.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

THANKS, Matt!!! - You Rock!

So, I have friends. Yeah, really, I do. Honest. Real friends that I can go horseback riding with, and walking with, and can call up if I feel like it (which I don't, because I have a general phone phobia and really HATE talking on the phone, except sometimes to my sister, with whom I can pass an hour or more before I know it, but yeah, she's about the only one I ever call or answer on purpose. No one who REALLY knows me takes it personally - I'm just afraid I sound dumb, or won't be able to carry on any witty reparte, and if you WANT something, ok, call me, but if you just want to pass the time... yeah, I'm not so good with that) SO, anyhoo, I really do have friends. But I don't spend a lot of time with them, because in general, I PREFER solitude, and I'm not a terribly social person. I love to read, and write, and think and just "BE." It's hard to do those things in tandem with someone else. But I also have "blog friends," and sometimes I think those friends are actually better, closer, friends than the people here in my life. No, they are actually just EASIER friends - that's really it, I think. Not better. That's not fair. The expectations are less. That's easier. And we share similar characteristics, or at least with the few blogs I follow regularly, I feel like I have something in common with each person behind the blog. Some more than others, that's true enough, but enough of something important to me to keep me coming back.And, luckily, thankfully, I feel like I have some really good friends in cool places these days. ANYWAY (god, does it take ANYONE longer to get to the point than it does me???) - one of these good friends (thanks, Matt!!!) fed my coffee (cup) addiction, and sent me this awesome, awesome Denver coffee mug. It is now my mug of choice at my desk every morning before classes. I get to slink off into my Rocky Mountain reverie, and think of a good, good friend at the same time, AND stoke up on my favorite hot,caffieinated beverage in a sweet mountainy mug before facing my horde of monsters class of delightful students.

Again, thank you friend.
Along with my coffee, I finished the first book in the Suzanne Collins trilogy, Hunger Games, this morning. (And THAT would be why I have to spend this upcoming weekend correcting a month's worth of ELA papers and noteboks - I am the QUEEN of procrastination, always choosing a good book over correcting papers, until the weekend before report cards are due...)  But it really WAS a good book. Can't wait to dig into the second  and third volumes, except I've heard the third is just so-so.  But it will have to wait a couple of days...

"Christmas" came to me at school today, again via my wonderful librarian!  The first four books, out of another pile I asked her to  inter-library loan for me, arrived. This batch is the perfect mix.  The Hundred Dollar Holiday (my distaste for what Christmas is these days, and distaste is putting it mildly, could fill a hundred blog entries in and of itself...and probably will, the closer I get to the dreaded holiday) will hopefully give me some ideas of how to DE-emphasize the commercialism of Christmas in order to allow me to regain some joy in the holiday.  A Writer's Notebook I ordered to get some ideas for how better to have my students use and keep THEIR writing notebooks. Angels in the Wilderness, which I started last evening and will likely finish tonight, is a quick read about a woman hiking alone in the Siera Nevadas who fell and broke both legs, a hip, etc. in a remote, untraveled area, and her unlikely rescue. And last, Sew What! Fleece,  a sewing book with super easy patterns for things like mittens, hats, vests, etc. made out of fleece. It's not awesome, so I'm glad I didn't buy it, but does have a couple quick patterns I will copy and hang on to for future use.  It really does always feel like Christmas to me, the BEST part of Christmas, not the commercialism and grinchy parts, when the librarian dumps a new pile of books on my desk that I am allowed to read, and absorb, and use, but didn't have to purchase.
And tomorrow is a day off, so I can spend it with my hot coffee, new coffee mug, and new books. Ahhhhhhh. THANK you, Matt!  :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What Dreams May Come

     Everyone dreams.  I know I always have, but it is only this past year and a half that I am remembering  far more of my dreams than ever before, because my sleep has been interrupted once, twice, or used to be early on, even three times a night.  The Border Collie in my life either has a very weak bladder, or, more likely, just too much energy to sleep through the night, and when she barks, I get up and let her out. Interrupting my sleep in the middle of dreams means that I am remembering them more clearly. And I know telling someone about a vivid dream as soon as I wake up cements it in my conscious world for days.  I didn't really start paying attention to what my dreams are, or what they might mean, in earnest, until I realized, just recently, that I have been having a recurring dream. That kind of made me stop, and wonder about it., about dreams in general, and about my own, specifically.
     The one that STILL sticks with me, even though I dreamed it probably three weeks or more ago now, was SO strange. I even tried to sketch out a picture of it when I awoke.  Basically the dream involved my parents' back yard/garden.  It was a large square patch of dirt between our house and the neighbor's house, and in its last few years as a garden, before it was turned back into lawn, my parents let my neighbors plant whatever they wanted in it, too. It was too big for my parents (my dad was never the gardener - just plowed and tilled it for my mom, who loved the idea of gardening, more than she did the weeding and upkeep, I think). Well, in my dream, these neighbors hauled in this HUGE wooden structure that my parents had apparently told them they could put over top of their part of the garden, but it was SO big that it covered the garden diagonally, which covered much of our part of the garden.  It had some sort of green tank hooked to the underneath part of it, which was over my head, shaded the whole garden, and there was a room the full length of the top, which you had to get to by wide steps that were angled, like deck steps. It was like a large open-sided, roof covered second floor deck, over the garden.  This, in itself, is strange enough.  I have no idea what the structure itself was for, or why you would want something to completely shade your garden. But the strangest part of the dream was my reaction to it. Within my parent's house, where I was watching this structure be hauled up the bank and into our yard, I was filled with rage. Not anger, not irritation, just pure, absolute, burning RAGE, the likes of which I have NEVER seen in myself, and had no idea I was even capable of. I screamed and screamed at my parents to stop this, I yelled the "F" word over and over out the porch door at the neighbors, who are really good people ( reality, seldom use the "F" word - my daughter commented recently she has only ever heard me use it 3 x in her life, which I think is good. Obviously it would be better if she could claim to have NEVER heard it, but... then there IS reality...)  In my dream, I actually threw myself on the floor, and rolled around in rage and an all-out five year old temper tantrum. I have no idea how the dream ended - I'm guessing it probably ended abruptly when I was awaked by a "yip, yip, grumbleyip" in my ear.  But still, even at this point three or four weeks later, I am still STUNNED by the ferocity of my anger toward something totally weird and bizarre in that dream. I've never been angry at my neighbors in my life. Clearly, the dream was SOME sort of symbol, and I think I might KIND of get the idea of repressed anger.  I didn't give it a lot of heed til this week.
     THIS week is when I realized I am having a recurring dream. I have had it AT LEAST four times now that I can remember. It deals with an upper floor in a a building, some sort of barn, usually, although this last time it was like an attic floor.  The floor is unsafe, and has places where you can't step, can't walk, because it is soft, unsupported, dangerous. In the dream, I am terrified to step out, to walk, because I know I can easily fall through. The last time, in the attic, I was directing someone else those unsafe places, worried that they were walking around, unaware. I was scared to step out, scared to walk to the other rooms up there. 
     My biggest question this past week, before I afforded my dreams any more thought  (other than to toss it out at work as to what the scary floor might mean) was to wonder if dreams really DO mean anything, or if they should really be lumped into the same category as astrological readings, horoscopes and palm readings. I guess the difference is, those are things people tell you ABOUT you, but a dream is actually FROM you, so I had a suspicion that a dream might mean more than what being an Aquarius is all about. A friend, who knows far more about the psyche than I do, confirmed this. It's really pretty interesting. In a nutshell, I guess your brain has to sort of make sense of daytime events and emotions and responses while you're sleeping to make sure you are healthy and ready to face the next day.  That makes sense to me. Like, the example she gave me is, if you were to get in an accident, and were angry about it, it wouldn't really be an appropriate response to take out your tire iron and use it to dissipate your anger upon the person who caused the accident, but that anger emotion that flared up needs to "go" someplace to be used up,  so that it can be called up again when it is needed.  Therefore  you might dream about being in a fight or something else that uses it up, in your dream, and then it's there, again, in real life, when you might need it. That makes perfect sense to me.
     So, I have no real idea where the rage over a nonexistent gardening issue from my childhood comes from. I do have things in my life that I am angry about, deep down and long-lasting anger, and because I have learned, been taught, over my adult lifetime, that anger does not serve me well (i.e. don't bother arguing, because you won't "win") and therefore have come to run away from ANY sort of confrontation, I'm sure I DO have bottled up anger. And I am smart enough to realize that not every aspect of every dream is a metaphor for something in real life.  I simply could not pin what the large, snake-like wooden structure with a long, green water tank  underneath, covering up my parents garden plot could possibly be in real life. Nor do I think the rage in my dream, which was directed at my neighbors, was really and truly directed at my neighbors. No one could ask for nicer people, and I can't imagine I would ever be mad at them for anything, horticultually related or othewise. 
     The unsafe floor? Yeah, I now have a pretty good idea what that's about in my life. I'm A) pretty instrospective to begin with, so I'm relatively in-touch with what goes on in the underworld of my life and B) not "going there," as that would simply require confrontation and all, and yeah, well, that's just not going to happen. So, I guess I will be dreaming about shaky, unsafe floors the rest of my life. I wonder what the consequences are for refusing to deal with the issues in your dreams? ARE there consequenses? Does that mean I will fall through next time? Will I break a leg in my dream?  Maybe the garden structure will somehow come into play in the next installment?  Better than all of those suppositions, perhaps the Border Collie will somehow develop a bladder and a need to sleep 9 or 10 hours in a row, so I can go back to NOT remembering my dreams!