Saying Goodbye

Twelve weeks ago today, I said goodbye to my best girl, my heart dog.  This is a post I’ve postponed week after week  because as soon as I’d start writing, the flood of memories was too sweet to share and the words escaped me. Since dogs aren’t verbal creatures, I suppose that not having the words to describe the 13 year journey I shared with Tasha is fair and to be expected.

There are times when the memories of her:  the smell of her head, the sound of her bark, the joy she brought to life, her intelligence and curiosity, her amazing drive and problem solving ability, her canine sense of humor, how I could see her soul whenever I gazed into her big brown eyes, all the things she taught me and all the things we learned together, come flooding back.

Tasha  was all heart and very independent, all the way until the end.  She wasn’t one to give up easily and she wasn’t ready to go which made it hard to help the dog-love of my life leave this world with as much dignity and grace as she deserved even though she disagreed with my decision. At 13 ½ it didn’t seem fair to amputate for osteosarcoma or to put her through chemo for 5-12 months more of life. I would have been doing it for me and not her.  It only took two weeks between diagnosis and the day  her leg suffered a pathological fracture.  During those two weeks, I kept her on pain meds and gave her whatever her little canine heart desired. The very next day, after her leg broke we had to say goodbye. I believe she would have ‘toughed it out’ but I couldn’t take the chance of prolonging any pain or suffering. It was the hardest goodbye I’ve ever had to say.

This is my tribute to a once-in-a-lifetime dog soul.  Words seem so inadequate when it comes to describing Tasha and so I remember her with this video.

I miss her. She is the melody I can’t get out of my head.

Wormy Corn: a Delicious Gift

Gusano del Maiz / Corn Worm

Corn Worm (Photo credit: NeoGaboX)

When was the last time you found a worm in your corn?  Recently, while shucking a few ears of local corn, I nearly jumped for joy to find a fat, happy, munching worm in an ear! There’s a story that my father is fond of telling about me, especially in the summer when Americans are smitten with eating  corn on the cob, smothered in butter, salt and pepper. When I was a small girl of some undetermined age but surely younger than 8, I asked my father, in all my childish innocence, “what do you do with the worms?” To which he replied, ” we put them in the gravy!”  That bit of information never deterred me from eating gravy because even at that age I was well aware of my father’s unique and undiminishing sense of humor.

That conversation is at least 42 years old if not more. These days, most people don’t want worms in their corn, soft spots in their fruit, or blemishes on their food. If it’s a little ‘off’ or not as perfect as we’ve been led to believe equals nutritious, then many people throw away perfectly edible food. Business Insider recently reported that Americans waste $165 BILLION in food a year. The Week reports that every American throws away 40% of our food each year. They go on to say that one reason is that we buy too much food and it ‘expires’ before it can be used.  I’ve eaten so much expired food in my life and am still here to tell you about it.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, expires ON the date of the stamped expiration date. Nothing. But I digress. The article also goes on to say that the food we waste the most is….drumroll…..vegetables.  “Not only do vegetables get thrown away when they expire at home, but they also get trashed before they even make it to your refrigerator. In richer nations, edible fruit and vegetables end up in landfills because they are not pretty enough [emphasis mine] to meet a retailer’s standards.”   Not depressed enough yet? Dana Gunders of the National Defenses Resource Council writes,

” Getting food from the farm to our fork eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. This not only means that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, but also that the uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills as the single largest component of U.S. municipal solid waste where it accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions. Reducing food losses by just 15 percent would be enough food to feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables.”

Give me the UGLY food! Really. Give me the food the insects have marred because I know the food hasn’t been sprayed. And it’s delicious.  Recently, at a local Farmers’ Market, several men who were enjoying a summer day golfing bought peaches, soft, ripe, fragrant peaches.  Within an hour they were back but all I had were dented, soft peaches that were attracting all sorts of curious, hungry insects. I apologized that all I had were these peaches  that were soft, and ugly (hoping I could take them home for myself).  They took most of them, stating, “that’s ok, we know they’ll be good.” I doubt they were disappointed.

Give me the ugly fruit and vegetables. I know they will be delicious. And no, I don’t want to eat food that has been genetically modified to withstand pesticides and herbicides as Monsanto has forced down our gullible gullets. I blame the government, I blame Monsanto and I blame Americans who need to have fast, convenient, sweet, fatty, and perfect foods.

This corn was bought from a family farmer on a street corner in a small rural town. It was the third picking of the day and it was only about noon. It was sweet, delicious and ugly. And I loved it. At a time when I shy away from nearly all corn and corn-products, thanks to GMO corn from Monsanto, I can say, worm and all, this was truly a delicious gift.

So what did I do with the worm? I lovingly carried it out to my chickens, of course! The circle of life.

Changes & Relationships

The urge to write has been nibbling at my subconscious for weeks now; an insistence that wakes me early in the morning and pulls me out from under warm blankets and the embrace of my husband’s arms. But when I get to my computer, huge mug of coffee in hand, I do a thousand other things that beckon to be completed for our start-up company (creating a logo, designing the website, planning events, etc.) I realize that I haven’t written here in five months. I’ve started, and stopped, rereading words the next day that didn’t seem to be really what I wanted to write about or how I felt and so I hit the delete button. And moved on to other, seemingly more urgent tasks. Today I am answering the call to spend the morning woolgathering about change and relationships.

In November, my lover and I married in a quiet ceremony at the local justice of the peace. We wrote our vows and exchanged rings and smiled the whole time at how lucky we are, lucky to have each other and to be loved unconditionally for the first time in our lives. Afterward, we returned home, smiling and laughing and grateful. Nothing about our commitment to each other changed that day; we were already committed to spending the next 30-40 years of our lives together (you do the math). And yet everything did change because my lover was now my husband, something I absolutely do not take for granted. Like many couples in love, we say “I love you” frequently. However, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank him for loving me; sincere gratitude for the gift of his love ever present in the forefront of my heart and soul. I breathe in his love for me and exhale the nagging self-doubt and negativity of the events of the last two years that as it turned out, brought me right to the very place I need to be. Life is full, simple, beautiful, busy as hell, outrageously funny and overflowing with love.

Over the last several years, we have discovered who our true friends are. I always find it exceptionally challenging to accept betrayal with humility and grace; and I rail against the unfairness of people who make claims to be counted among your friends but who turn out to be nothing but opportunists, taking from you your ideas, your property, your hard work, and sometimes your heart. But life isn’t fair and people are weak; they want easy and often that means betraying a friend because it is too hard to stand up to bullies. We try the best we can to reach people and amend the fractured friendship but at some point we move on, hoping they come to their senses, remember who they are but if the friendship never gets back on track, we move on, secure in the knowledge that a person who truly loves us will never let us go, no matter how hard the situation is.

This past year, at Christmastime, a dear old friend reached out to me; she was in Baltimore visiting her husband’s family before traveling to her home country of Puerto Rico to visit hers. I haven’t seen Maria in nearly eight years; I made a few feeble attempts to reach out to her over those years but she didn’t respond, busy with her career in California, her new marriage, and ultimately her two sons. She found me through this blog and we made a lunch date. I loved every minute of our reunion. I had missed her so terribly and we laughed about the crazy things we’d done, the trips we shared, my amazing story and vowed to keep in touch going forward. I vow to do my part to keep our friendship kindled because it is important to me that we recapture our friendship.

Recently, my youngest brother admonished me for not letting go of my hatred of my ex-husband whom decided in his sick and twisted, bi-polar reasoning, that it was in his best interest to end the marriage and take everything, both marital and my personal property as well as my business, and in my best interest to commit suicide. My brother is smart and had some zany ideas about how I could go about exorcising these demons and killing the ex… in effigy. He’s right, and he’s very smart about this topic. I have a thousand reasons for hating the ex but he doesn’t care that I hate him and as long as I hate him, he remains ‘alive’. And I have a dark cloud in my heart where only love should reside. When people walk away from you, let them go. “Your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you…it just means their part in your story is over.” 

I know of an old friend who chose to end her marriage nearly 20 years ago and she has held on to her anger, self-pity and regret for all that time; although she seems more bitter in recent months. Twenty years is a lifetime to remain as unhappy now as she was then. Instead of reaching out in love and friendship, she lashes out and blames others for her unhappiness. It is truly sad because her happiness rests solely in her own hands, in her own grasp. Twenty years is long time to be that miserable. I hope she reads this because I hope she stops looking at the closed door and finds the open window. People change, relationships change, life changes. Fortunately, humans are adaptable, if we allow ourselves to be.


Weddings are My Undoing

My lover and I went to a wedding last weekend. The day was sunny and warm but not dreadfully hot; the backdrop was the beach, with waves crashing in the background and guests kicking off sandals and flip-flops to walk more easily in the sand and soak feet in the afternoon September sun. The bride and groom, friends of ours, were embarking on the beginning of married life for the first time for each of them. They were joyful with anticipation as newlyweds are apt to be, and the groom, with tears in his eyes, beamed more radiant than the bride if you can believe that. She gave him a run for his money though.

I couldn’t hear their heart-felt vows, but the personally written and spoken vows were meant for each other, not for us. We visually witnessed their commitment, rather than heard it. Later, when the reception was well underway, tears streamed down my face the way they so often do these days at weddings. I’m glad I couldn’t hear their vows, or surely, I’d have been sobbing during the ceremony.  It seems that wedding are my undoing, all of my own, as well as everyone else’s.

The tumble of emotions that besets me at weddings is mystifying:  part nostalgia, part melancholy, part grief, and part angst.  I believe in romantic love, and I believe in romantic marriages.  Unfortunately I’ve never experienced a romantic marriage, or any marriage that lasts, but I’m fortunate to be in a romantic relationship with an incredibly romantic man, a rare specimen in my experience.

We’ve been friends for 28 years and, in and out of touch with each other the last 10, and finally reunited in a blaze of devotion over a year ago. I credit him with saving my life last year and I fully blame him for making me happier than I’ve been in a very long time.  Our banter, many times in the middle of the night, is uproariously funny. We entertain each other immensely, we read to each other, we finish each other’s sentences, and we cry together at the sheer beauty and love we experience.  He says we fit like fingers entwined and inseparable: mentally, spiritually and physically. And he’s right.

We have talked about marriage, how it doesn’t last (preaching to the choir here), how it’s just a piece of paper, why wedding rings are stupid if you work with your hands. Intellectually we agree and I see the folly of such an endeavor, but in my heart of hearts, my hopelessly and endlessly romantic self yearns to be his wife, to call him husband, to join our lives legally.  Despite endless failures I believe that marriages can last ‘forever’ if both people are committed to feeding and caring for their marriage. My own two brothers have been married to their wives for 13 and 15 years respectively and I’m more than a little envious of them, despite my overwhelming love for them and my two sisters-in-law.

For now, I’ll let my silly little heart take over at weddings, wistfully longing.   Fortunately, there aren’t any more weddings in the foreseeable future so all seem safe from my streaming tears.  I am the luckiest woman in the world to be the last love of this wonderful man.  His love fills my days with humor and my nights with passion.  It is enough, truly.

The End of Summer and Another Year: The Call of Sirens

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Image by Foxtongue via Flickr

“The fiftieth year of our life is like the last hours of dusk, when the sun has set and one turns naturally toward reflection.  In my case, however, dusk incites me to sin, and perhaps for that reason, in my fiftieth year I find myself reflecting on my relationship with food and eroticism; the weaknesses of the flesh that most tempt me are not, alas, those I have practiced most.”  Isabel AllendeAphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses.

Yesterday was the last birthday of my 40s and to say my life has not turned out the way I planned is a gross understatement. Thirty years of being forced to plan, make goals, work harder, make more money and acquire more stuff, re-evaluate goals and keep climbing the mysterious and ever-elusive ladder of ‘success’ left no time for things of a sensual nature, things that make us human, things I need. For 30 years, I’ve made ‘friends’ that ultimately got bored, loved men who betrayed me and gave all but my blood to corporate America and managers whose bottom dollars were so sacrosanct that when I was a manager I was forced to put people into performance buckets that did more damage to their psyche than the tiny percentage of a raise would have done to the CEO’s budget had they gone into the performance bucket they really deserved and had earned.

Over the past year and a half I’ve learned that goals aren’t all they are cracked up to be, that life is bigger than any of us can ever direct, that small things are ultimately huge and that love comes from the most unexpected places. Two of my favorite quotes come from Marilyn Monroe:

  1. “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
  2. “I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”

I forget these two tidbits of wisdom more frequently than I should. I am a flight risk, ready to run as fast and as far as I can so no one can hurt me again. And then I come to my senses. Because I am a woman who can NOT run from a man who loves me if I love him too. I love being in love. I love how my lover makes me laugh and how he laughs at my corny silliness. I love the feel of his hands on my body, the look in his eyes as when he gazes my way, the way he flirts with me and the way he supports my ever-expanding wings.

On this the dawn of my 50th year, I am learning how to appreciate the sensuous things that make my life worth living: early morning sun rises over the mountains, clear, crisp stars dotting the black night and the sight of my lover’s smile; sound of cows lowing in the fields, the cacophony of humming birds flapping their wings 25-50 times per second as they drink sugar-water from the feeder and the distinct absence of sound that is felt more than heard; the smell of tomato and cucumber plants, the unique aroma of farmlands and the irresistible pheromones of my lover; the sweetness of hydroponic tomatoes ripened on the vine, the crunch of hearty bread made with my own hands, and the striking texture and taste of bee pollen; the insistent nuzzle from my dogs, the warmth of my niece’s hug, and the heat from my lover’s caress.

On this the dawn of my 50th year, I am learning how to love slowly, sensually, wholly, holistically, spiritually and carnally. I am who I am, irrevocably.  As the long hot days of summer wind down, and crisp autumn air moves in, visions of nurturing soups and breads and tantalizingly long nights wrapped in my lover’s arms lure me to laziness. The best things are falling together and the temptations of the flesh call to me like wicked sirens. And I am compelled to answer.

Choices

I have two choices:

1)      To be afraid

2)      To take a chance

I have two choices:

1)      To fret about the future and rail against the
past

2)      To live in the moment

I have two choices:

1)      To push away the man who loves me because I am afraid and doubt my self worth

2)      To allow myself to be loved by him despite all the uncertainties

I have two choices:

1)      To be lonely

2)      To grasp the hand of the man who loves me and hold on tightly, knowing there will be
moments of profound loneliness but also of profound joy

I have two choices:

1)      One will cleave me in two

2)      One will make me whole

I have but one choice.