Thursday, April 30, 2009

Back in the office...

This past week I've been dealing with a bout of Strep throat. I've had it before, and I didn't really think my sore throat as serious; since I recall my prior cases of the illness to be so horrid, that it was nearly impossible to swallow anything due to the pain. This time, the pain was there, and uncomfortable, but not so much so that I could not eat solid food. Sure, maybe the lemony or vinegary things caused the requisite hisses and grumbles of pain, but otherwise, I was generally okay.

I did feel quite horrid though. Just that general sense of blurriness and fatigue; mostly because the discomfort in my throat kept me up at night, and therefore I was mostly homocidal come morning. So I stayed home Monday, and attempted to go to work on Tuesday; however my coworkers booted me out two hours into the day on the idea that I was spreading contagion about the place like some plagued rat or something. Even today, as I am now back at work as my doctor said I could be; my co-workers are still wary of me; marching a clear radius around me and staying out of my office as if it is replete with Swine Flu. I'm surprised they're not wearing masks and rubber gloves.

Yes that office special I made today is ugly. I hate it. But since it's the first one in a week or so, I posted it anyway. I will remake it one day when I have time, and be more careful, using an image of a Steller's Jay as a model instead of just drawing by the seat of my pants. I do that too much; I'm amazed that what comes out is recognizable.

I confess I'm in a horsey state of mind lately. I guess all that craziness and such has made me lean towards the only things that give me peace of mind; and horses have always done that for me. I miss them so much. My whole life used to be about horses. We owned a manege when I was still young; which is a riding school; and I ate, slept and breathed horses. I'm die-hard English seat, and I'm so much in denial that I will likely never own horses again, I have both my all-purpose well-worn, way-too-old Stübben and Caprilli Dressage saddles sitting on a frame in my living/dining room awaiting the day they will like against some tall withers again.

I am deluding myself that if that day does come, I'll lose enough weight to feel okay about sitting on the back of some poor hapless horse. Just before we moved back, I'd acquired a used side-saddle and was just really getting into that style before I had to leave it behind with my favourite horses, and my little carriage pony Lady; which was one of the hardest moments of my life. I have a tack box with some of my few remaining items; a bridle or two (probably moldy, I haven't dared to look), some paddock boots, brushes, halters, ropes, saddle blankets, horse boots, snaffles and the like....

We stopped at the local feed store in Sandy the other day to look at fence gates, and I went inside where they have a limited stock of tack in English and Western styles. The saddles are the really inexpensive kind that have that thick cardboardy leather... but walking past the wall of bridles, and the bits; stirrups still shining new with fresh rubber on them... and smelling the leather and touching the soft polishing brushes and cans of saddle soap and jugs of neatsfoot... I suddenly teared up. I almost lost it.

We are all blessed with one or two things in life that can give you complete peace and happiness; even if it's in short spans. Something that makes your blood-pressure drop the moment you engage in it, and that makes all your troubles just wisp away... for me it's being around horses. Just the act of grooming, which sometimes takes longer than the riding itself, is an act of peace for me. A quiet mediation while tuned into the rise and fall of the horse's chest as it breathes, and the tickle of it's whiskers as you run your hand along their impossibly soft and tactile muzzle. God I miss them so much sometimes, just seeing them on TV is too much for me to bear. I miss being pestered for the carrots hidden in my jacket pocket, or feeling the weight of the horse's head on my shoulder when I reach up to scratch the ears; the grainy, hay-like smell of their bodies, the scent of the tack, the bob of the ears when you're just riding along at a brisk walk, and they're telescoping around to see the sights. The sound of hollow hoofs on tarmac... Leaning into a gallop and feeling their sheer power as they carry you up a steep hill as you hang close to their surging necks. I never saw them as large, powerful animals really; I see them even now as precious little things... so weird. I've had toes crushed, arm and foot broken, severe concussion, fractures, bruises and goodness knows what else. None of that has ever mattered. From my first pony; the shetland Penny, whose trot could jar your fillings out and who played all sorts of nasty, cunning tricks to get me off her back; all the way up to my dear heart, the benevolent and perfect Tequila; an ex-police horse with draft-sized hoofs, little grace but the soul of an angel. I could lunge her without a rope, I could leave her unattended and untied, train small children and developmentally disabled children on her, ride her for days on end in long endurance rides, sleep on her, ride her bareback backwards, ride side-saddle on her, push her into bodies of water without hesitation, ride her without a bridle even, and kiss her black muzzle to my heart's delight and she bore it all with the disposition of a saint. She was the BEST. I miss her so.

I want a horse again. Another Tequila. Another creature I can trust with so much, and who can offer me the peace of being around her being, grooming her coat, currying out her hoofs... leaning on her when there seems nothing else better to lean on in the world.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Whadya know? It's Friday again.

The dogs are attempting to fell my husband by pulling on the hem of his jeans.

Yes, can you believe it? I didn't post anything ALL week. How bizarre for me... to avoid an opporunity to blather on about this and that and to post my weird little drawings.

We had a good time at the beach. The dogs seemed to really enjoy it; and spent a good part of it dashing around on the sand, rolling on the pecked-clean carcasses of dungeoness crabs, and digging random holes here and there. They also had fun chasing and attempting to fell my husband like some hapless hoofed prey on the African Savannah.

We stayed at the Breakers at Long Beach, Washington. We stay there a lot because they allow dogs. It's always a gamble though, as to what level of quality you're going to get when it comes to rooms. Some rooms are outright horrid and the beds are like slabs of stone; the pillows can be like the ones you are given in airplanes, not much larger than a kotex (sorry to be crude... not).

This time we did okay; a niceish condo with a fireplace on the ground floor; which invariably caused lots of barking because anyone who sauntered by would equal horrific threat to our vigilant hounds. The condo had the requisite ocean-themed chochkes, and the kitchen had the chicken prints and such. It was decorated by Miss Generica of Genericville, but at least it was pleasant. It's within walking distance of the beach, and we spent a lot of time out there with the hounds. My husband found one of those tennis-ball lobbers and that tired Simon out completely, which is a rare, rare thing.

Of course, as expected of our friend Murphy, the best weather was on the day we left. Heh. We dropped mucho $$$ on restaurants. The prices were horrific. My favourite part of the trip was our little drive through Oysterville... something you cannot miss if you like charming old towns and a nice fresh oyster-shot before lunch. MMmmmm. I was also able to pinch off some sedums from the public gardens as I always do each time we go. We did not go to Astoria though. :( I love Astoria. I will live there someday in an old victorian on the hill.

Well, I'm off home for the weekend. I'll catch up soon.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Oh Happy Oceany Friday!

First I have to start my Happy Friday post by talking about one of our favourite places in our area. We went there on Wednesday night for dinner, and I really love the place. It's called the Skyway Bar and Grill, and it's a really great stop to take on your way up to Mt. Hood. It's between Zig Zag and Rhododendron; and it is a hidden treasure. The food is really some of the best on Mt. Hood, even though it's 'bar-food'... trust me. The best.

They make EVERYTHING from scratch, they even cure their own bacon and their mac-n-cheese (which my husband and I dub 'Crack-n-Cheese') is so $%&*! good, you will fantasize about it forevermore. They use local ingredients as much as they possibly can--which means when you get smoked salmon, it's freshly smoked salmon... the burgers... ::shiver:: Mmm.... Really, you MUST eat there when you go up to Hood. It's a really eclectic place too; brick-a-bracked together from salvaged items; lots of stained glass from churches and even large steel boiler doors from an old Portland building, which is used to frame their fireplace. They have live music a lot; and in wintertime, it's really great to come in and sit in the fireplace area, drink some locally brewed suds and mac out on the AMAZING food. Trust me.... if you have a chance, go to the Skyway. That's the end of my Skyway Rave.

Anyway... guess what...? It's FRIDAY! FREAKIN' SWEET! Husband and I have opted to skip out of work early today (we have the dogs waiting at Linwood Animal Clinic -- they are staying there in day-care until I get out of work). I will pick them up and go and get hubby, and from there, we're jumping over the Willamette, and heading coastwards. One of our favourite places to go (and we haven't gone to in over a year) is Astoria and Long Beach. We stay at this place called "the Breakers" which is a weird rental condoey sort of place. What we like about it is that 1) it's close to the water and 2) it allows canines. So all four of us are taking off for a weekend of windy, cool, off-season, sandy-pawed, seabird-chasing, sedum thieving, seafoody goodness. ::two thumbs up with a cheesy car-dealer grin::

I'm cheerful, decidedly. I am posting an office-special I did (I'm really into the reclining thing I guess... Much like my aloof rabbits of a prior post, Miss Melinda is reposing, sharing a wry smile, holding a rose; a gift perhaps? From a secret admirer? It's a mystery.

It started out super-rainy today, but has cleared up. The animals are out in force; crows collecting soft things for their nests, squirrels out and about (little Chippy McDorable has not returned :( since my post...) and the demanding Canard couple is back today, and have been ever day, showing great dismay if the buffet isn't set up for them when they arrive.

Here is another desktop pic, (new flatscreen monitor... Score..) what delights me most is the inexpensive mini-rose I got at Trader Joe's yesterday. So cute!

Here is some gratiuitous cuteness to carry you through the weekend. Teeny baby otters. SQUEEEEEE!!!!!

Happy Friday all. :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Just knowing.

I think a lot about relationships; especially these days. I think about my instincts, and about my senses; I think about my reactions and my capacity to look at someone and to give the benefit of the doubt. I’m sort of proud of that… even if it exposes me to the risk of heartbreak. The truth is, I have learned; by way of some very simple, but probably the most profound advice I’ve ever gotten; to go with what my heart tells me. My aunt told me this; to trust my instincts; to go with what feels right. Even the tiniest shade of a doubt should always be a respected as a sign. It has been true every time. When I’ve chosen to go against what my instincts are telling me, I’ve always found out the hard way that I should have listened to my instincts. Intuition is everything.

I know. I’ve always known that my husband is as close to perfect a match for me as he could possibly be. I know this, because we have something that is amazing; we have the ability to be who we are when we are together. No faking, no pretending, no tiptoeing—flaws, idiosyncrasies, quirks, failures, mistakes, blunders… all those things are okay. It doesn’t mean it’s a fairy tale, relationships never are. If you go into a relationship thinking that you’ll never once be disappointed by your partner; you are completely deluded. Don’t think your instincts can account for the anomalies and the crises that can make or break a relationship; they do not make you immune. You will resonate to one another one day, and grump at one another the next. You will still misunderstand and stumble with the best of them. The difference is; that your friendship remains strong… your ability to look into their face and to see the person you love behind the mistakes and the anger… that you can stop, set aside all the expectations and just see that person as they are, and realize that is what is most important.

Through it, you are yourselves. You are comfortable enough to be who you are. That’s the most important thing. With my husband, it’s been like that since day one. No kidding. I had the most humiliating thing happen to me on our first evening date (and pretty much the only real ‘date’ we ever had) together and his reaction to it was all I needed to know to realize he suited me. The little signs… the little sense of rightness… I will not share this hideously embarrassing event, but suffice it to say, it makes my ears and cheeks burn even thinking about it today. I thank my stars that it was with him because of how easygoing and accepting he is as a person; because anyone else would have probably bailed—and had I not felt comfortable enough with him from the start, and I was trying to hide my flaws, I probably would have been too embarrassed to stick around too. Instead we laughed it off, and felt like old friends immediately.

The truth is; the whole act of dating is kind of a sham. You spend each date hiding your flaws from the person you’re interested in; and then once you’re through that stage and are committed; then you end up spending all your time excusing them, or defending yourself against them, or justifying them; or being miserable for having to always hide them; being upset because this person is surprised by them. It’s a dance of disillusionment. I never ‘dated’ much in my life, to be truthful. I’ve always met guys, and sort of scoped them out then and there, and if I felt the vibe, it was smoocheroos, and if I didn’t, I simply didn’t. No dinner, no planned activities, no long romantic walks on the beach (or off short piers). Just people connecting… or not.

What I have realized is that being who you are is the biggest test of a relationship. Honesty; admissions, openness… If it doesn’t send your partner packing, then you’re off to a good start. If it does, then it wasn’t meant to be. Nobody is worth staying with if they cannot respect the essential things that make you who you really are.

Your past, your habits, your family, your less-than-proud moments, those are the tests. If you feel like you have to make yourself love what they love, or you have to squeeze yourself into the mold that they seem to desire in a partner, and you have to bite your tongue, or hide your past or your family, to pretend anything to earn their affection, then maybe you’re not on the right track. The truth is, love is an act of pure acceptance. It’s accepting a person despite their flaws and their mistakes, and being able to rise above the mistakes and acts of humanity. We all do stupid things; we all act out in different ways when we don’t think we’re being understood. We all handle our ire and our disappointment in different ways… it’s a matter of trying to change your perspective to see it… of stepping back and being a friend before being a lover, and to be there no matter what. Even if it fails, and being there doesn’t work, at least you can know you reached out when you needed to and you were the friend you promised you would be.

It’s hard to be who you are if you’re not sure. A lot of people allow their relationships to define their identity—they allow their relationship to become who they are. They let the “I” become “We”. You are allowed to have your own identity, your own choices, your own ideas, and your own dreams and still be in a relationship---you *should* have all those things that are just for you. It’s not a crime. To exist only for the ‘we’ is not a healthy way to live. You cannot truly be with someone unless you are whole yourself. So it’s important to figure out what you like, what you don’t like, what stirs your heart, what inspires your passions… and even if it deviates from your partner’s preferences—and to be secure in those things! You need to figure out who you are. You need to stick to that, and you need to refuse to sacrifice any shred of it for the sake of a relationship; because you are creating the inevitable; and you are insuring failure. How can someone love you for you; if you don’t know who ‘you’ is?

I know who ‘me’ is. I know that I am capable of great joy and of great sorrow. I also know I’m capable of forgiveness; and that whatever I’m risking, I’m comfortable with that, because if I have faith in anything, I have faith in my instincts, and more importantly in my friendship with my husband. Both tell me what I am doing is right. Maybe some people think I’m insane; but I don’t care. I have the courage to try. He has the courage to try—and there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of there.

Of course the three-dozen roses didn’t hurt either. ::smirk::

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Teeny tiny visitor

Yes, as you might have guessed, I'm slightly enamoured by the smaller forms of wildlife around me. Especially in the category of rodentia. I don't know why. If it's small, and furry and cute... Then I will probably adore it. I even like rats and mice. I think they're adorable. So imagine what happens when I glance out my office window and see this:

Please take note how teeny he is against the tire of the car. He'd probably fit in an Easter egg. Mind you, this is very unusual for this area... little chippers usually don't visit our little sanctuary here at the Environmental House. My co-worker is pretty adamant that I brought him down in my Jeep somehow, but I am still doubtful... I figure maybe he came from the creek area. I dunno. We think he's either a Yellow-Pine chimunk or a Least chipmunk. He's really small, WAY smaller than the Townsends Chipmunks that hulk around our house near the mountain. He's really bold, flicking his tail at birds even though he's just a tiny speck. He likes to climb around the undercarriage of my Jeep; which is why my co-worker thinks he came here by way of that very car

What I do know is that HE IS FREAKIN' ADORABLE OMG OMG I WANT ONE ALL MY OWN! My husband noted that he looked awfully cute sitting up like a groundhog. He spent most of Friday puttering around the squirrel feeder, ducking in to grab a sunflower seed here and there. I haven't seen him today (I took yesterday off). Anyway.... I simply had to share pictures of Mr. Chippy McDorable. I was so delighted to see him there. Simple things just float my boat.. especially tiny furry things with little people-hands. Call me silly, it's okay. ;) I just think these little guys are tiny miracles... little hearts beating, little lungs breathing, surviving against giant, stomping, chomping odds... There's something exceptional in every one of them (well, maybe not rats and mice, since they tend to have little trouble spreading and surviving anywhere). Anyway... that's my rave today.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The good things I will miss...

I've been dwelling too much on the negative things lately; harbouring my anger for all the injustices and the cruelties I've seen in the last few weeks. I've been forgetting the important things, the things that made things good... the things worth remembering... the things that I will miss most.

So I wrote them down to remind me... when I hear the cool cast of his voice, or I get an email that is particularly defensive and angry... I wrote them down so I can see him in a caring light, and keep him in my heart when everything seems so horrible.
  • The “Just Because” flowers.
  • The way he played with the dogs.
  • The occasional bagel and tea on the counter in the morning.
  • The smooch on the top of my head.
  • His smile.
  • The way he made me laugh like few other could.
  • His laughter.
  • His tenderness.
  • His playfulness.
  • His compassion.
  • His meatloaf and potato salad.
  • His soft-spot for animals.
  • His robot dance.
  • Long, lingering hugs.
  • His face.
  • His kiss.
  • His friendship.
  • The sound of his car coming up the driveway each night.
  • The comfort of his warmth beside me.
  • His gentleness.
  • His soul.
  • His goodness.
  • His generosity.
  • His sense of humour.
I realized that I am grieving him as if he has passed away. I feel as if he went away one day a few months ago, and he hasn’t returned; that some horrible trajedy occurred in the field, and that the person who came back is someone completely different; a stranger, who is cruel, and uncaring, and who looks at me with hard, cold eyes and speaks without warmth or compassion.

I feel like a widow.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The veil is parting...

It seems like the past few days have brought me a sense of peace and clarity. That weird, surreal veil that made me feel so detached and separated from reality is slowly blowing away, and leaving me something akin to normal. Luckily, I'm practiced at being alone; so the prospect of being so isn't quite so scary as it would normally be. I'm starting to creep back into my life, and to catch up on the etsy orders and the creativity that came to a screeching halt when things came to a head.

I've got my dogs to keep me going. And the job of course. And the discovery of frienships I really didn't realize I had. The wagons have circled, and even my dysfunction-junction of a family has been there for me. If there's any benefit to this craziness, it's finding out who your friends are.

Last weekend, I attended the Spring Debut Ball put together by my Number One, Thea Peck who is the fire behind the Eugene Chapter of the Oregon Regency Society. It's the first event where I actually had time to dance more than one or two dances. I overdid it actually. I went down after work on Friday and stayed at one of the loveliest B&Bs I've ever been to. The C'est La Vie Bed and Breakfast was really and truly amazing. Owned by a tiny Parisian lady named Anne Marie and her husband Jack, the house is BEAUTIFUL.

Fully restored, and done so with flawless care, this old victorian is hunkered in lovely neighborhood in Eugene, nested in a three-season garden that made me drool. Her eye for decor is incredible, and I was delighted to be around a francophone, so I spent the weekend tittering away in French; which was so nice after so little opportunity to use the language. I'm thinking because she was French, that she tends to attract French-speaking patrons because almost every guest that attended the B&B during the weekend spoke French at some level or other. Jack had the kindest eyes I've ever seen in a human being, and is the garden-master... He has a little railroad set up in one of the beds, and has spent hours and hours creating a tiny garden scaled for his miniatures. Anne Marie reminded me of some of the best aspects of my childhood. I didn't want to leave. It was like family.

I stayed in the "Gaugin" room; and enjoyed their wonderful breakfasts (an oatmeal soufflé that was to DIE for... Mmmmm...).

The ball was amazing; I am so proud of Thea. She did a lovely job and she keeps the vision of the ORS alive in everything she does. We all had such a lovely time.

Anyway... I drew something today. A trio of aloof rabbits. For some reason, I always draw rabbits as aloof and superior. Don't know why. I just see rabbits like that I suppose. I'm not a huge bunny-person. They're cute and all, but since I grew up in Europe, I sort of see them like chickens. As food. I know that's terrible, but it is what it is. It's hard to personify something you may want to eat.... in wine-sauce.


See? Even my irreverent and weird sense of humour is slowly returning; even though it is a bit dark right now.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Duck Season.

"I say, this water looks rather cloudy. They've certainly slipped in their standard of service around here."
It's Duck Drama time again.

We have our first duck visitors this Spring; right now they are in quiet couple-mode. The violent bouts of duck-rape have yet to begin; and then we will wait for the mothers to arrive with their little broods sooner or later. It's a tender and yet bittersweet cycle we see here at the Environmental Department every year.

We spotted a mallard yesterday, but they never approached. So I put out some food and the requisite blue-bucket, which I filled with clean water. The ducks passed it up yesterday, but this morning, I noticed that the water in the bucket was turbid. A sign that ducks, the dirty little buggers, had come by.

Now, only ten minutes ago, this young couple arrived. I can tell they're young and new because they're extremely shy. Our regular visitors usually march right up to the front of the building and quack at my co-worker to let her know they're here and they want food.

"Do they actually expect us to eat this stuff right off the ground?"

You can also tell by how... pure the colours are on the male. He looks like a decoy he's so perfect; down to the tidy little curl on his tail. He's stunning; his emerald neck is flawless. She's also 'tender' looking; her feathers are unfrayed and perfect. Our older, familiar pairs of prior years looked more worn around the edges. "Nike" hasn't been back this year--I hope he will. So familiar, like an old friend, with the white 'swoosh' on his head.
They really are stunning creatures. He looks like a walking watercolour.
This young couple is very wary. They see me in the window and they're watching my every move, stepping back when I reach my hands towards the glass to take the picture. I hope they will relax enough to be like Nike and his wife; to come up to the door and demand their breakfast.

"Perhaps tomorrow they'll see fit to clean this place up. We'll come back then."

Little things make life interesting. Little things like yearly visits by waterfowl; taking care of them, watching them care for their little swarm of lemon-shaped fuzzballs.

Nothing better.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I Am Rain.

This just came over me about twenty minutes ago while getting ready to head home.
So I scanned it and posted it here.


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