Monday, January 29, 2007

The darker side of doggie daycare

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to actual daycare clients is purely coincidental...

Doggie Daycare Daily Report

Today your dog was
[ ] an angel
[ ] a brat
[ ] a weirdo
[ ] a spaz
[ ] a fiend

We especially noticed when your dog
[ ] sat for treats
[ ] destroyed a door
[ ] boinked his playmates

I can't tell you how many times your dog
[ ] played nicely
[ ] inappropriately deposited bodily fluids
[ ] made me want to quit this job.

We recommend that your dog
[ ] change daycare schedule
[ ] take a formal training class
[ ] undergo a lobotomy
[ ] acquire normal parents.

It is always
[ ] a pleasure
[ ] an irritant
[ ] a catastrophe
to have your dog in my class.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A cough before dying

I've been struggling with a deep chest cough or some kind of infection or I don't know what, for the last couple of weeks. Whatever it is, has been resistant to medication (well, resistant to wine and tequila therapy anyway). This has knocked the blog awry not because I haven't had time to write - missed some days of work last week with this - but because I don't seem to be able to string together any particularly compelling thoughts. I did, however, have an uneasy moment in front of the cough-and-cold display when the various animated renderings of television ads for these products began to twirl on the shelves in front of me.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Four-day weekend

Boss #1 gave me an incentive last week to finish year-end reports, with a carrot that I could add a day onto the 3-day weekend. Weekends are just a different kind of work day for me but I certainly leapt to the chance to get some things caught up in other areas of life. Still, I appear to be programmed where no matter the length of the weekend, "if I just had one more day" things would have been in much less disrepair. But a couple large and/or important projects got off the desk despite the amount of time they sucked out of the marrow of my life, and I'm not feeling exhausted today at least. (That comes soon enough, as Kari heads out of town tonight for college visits with Cassi, which means extra plugging of holes for five days.)

I took Sunday evening for myself, spending a quiet evening with Pat. She opened a lovely bottle of shiraz in Skye's vintage (2000) and we spent four hours letting the conversation amble through tears of recent grief to adding layers to the background story we know about each other. As I drove away in the late-night cold, I thought of all the things there are to get done and how I don't ordinarily make time to just stop and relax with people who are important to me. I said to myself, I want to be the kind of person who takes that time rather than so constantly driven by the clamor of others' needs. Took me a second to realize that in making the choice to stop for those sweet hours, I already am that kind of person.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

High finance

Through a series of strategic moves over the last several weeks, I am now in possession of enough Dagoba chocolate bars to create a stable base of currency for a small country, as long as that country is not in Central or South America where this stuff literally grows on trees. I've learned that there is one flavor I can live without (Lime) and one that is the cocaine equivalent of the chocolate world (Eclipse 87% extra dark). I am a woman of wealth.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Maddie at six months

Nancy asked me to take some photos of her today. Her head has caught up with her body so she looks proportional instead of like Puppy the Pinhead. At six months she is becoming a beautiful wild charging rhino dog.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

All the warmth went out of the world

This morning I got the car started early for my drive out to Palmer. We've had some more snow - I've lost track now of how much, something around 3 feet total I guess, and then the temps dropped hard yesterday so it just around zero this morning. Black ice all the way under a completely frigid sky. Standing ice fog obscured the mountains, and the sun too - you could just see generally where it was supposed to be behind that layer of descended cold. It felt like the world had shut down for Laura's funeral.

Inside the train depot at Palmer, I joined a line of people filing past the register - the main hall was already full. I was still several people away from a chance to sign my name when they asked us to just come in so things could start. We pushed our way into the crowd and I found a space along the wall - nearly as many people standing as there were occupied chairs. I only have a small sense of how many worlds intersected in that room today; those who spoke represented some of Laura's closest sphere but the outward ripples were represented in those of us who stood packed together for that hour and a half. It was meant to be a celebration of life, but in my heart I didn't feel anyone there who was prepared for that, not yet. But there was encouragement and support and honor, and a clear sense of a shared gift that was taken too soon.

I felt alone in that crowd of people. There were some folks in the room that I knew from my years at the University, but that world was an unhappy one for me and there was no comfort in those faces. Allen was remarkably functional but from across the room he might have been a million miles away. I stood and I listened and I mourned but I barely breathed - it felt like sadness was squeezing my lungs.

Afterward, the clog of people at the back of the room was huge as folks greeted family members before a shared meal. I waited a little while, then took a different exit. The cold air hit my lungs and I wasn't warm enough despite my sweater and heavy coat, I could feel the warmth seeping out of me as I put my head down and walked away, feeling about as barren and desolate as I have in years.

About 30 yards later, I didn't hear any steps in the snow behind me, just a hand on my shoulder. I turned and there was the friend who has known me every day of my life in Alaska, and Becky wrapped her arms around me hard and the sobs in me burst. I hadn't known she was there the whole time - she'd pushed her way to within a few feet of me but I hadn't looked around the room. She didn't know about the service until 45 minutes before it started, but rushed to add her shoulders to my burden. There are blessings that come to us undeserved in this life. Magical people like Laura are among those blessings. Vessels of grace like Becky are among those blessings too.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Auntie Edna said it

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind:
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

Monday, January 01, 2007

A shooting star

Laura died a few minutes after midnight. She was so vibrant and impossibly beautiful; despite my heartbreak I am glad to know she is released from the prison of a wrecked body. I find that four years of preparing for this doesn't prepare you at all. Michele, who always has something genuine and perfect to say in moments of deep grief, shared this poem with me today.

God's Lovely Likeness

I know that where you are, God is
Since he is everywhere
And being everywhere, he is where I am too
And since you and I are ever in God's presence
We can never be apart
Apart from Him or apart from all He is
To know this brings comfort where sadness otherwise would rule
So when sorrow would steal away my peace,
I give up what I cannot keep
To cherish and rejoice over what I cannot lose
With this, the stillness all about me comes to life
With sweet assurance that God's lovely likeness--whom I have known as you--
Is here and now,
Just as you have ever been.