Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Amazing Grace

I recently discovered some most discouraging news.  My Lab Grace- has cancer.  Not yet three, not yet fully valued, not yet loved all the way through till the end of her days.  Not yet fully realized, this sweet girl.  I wish to tell her story for Grace was a dog of rare dignity.  This is what I learned from "the least of us" the "barely perceptible" among us, from a kind and gentle soul who heard music and voices and wind as only Gracie could.
Grace under pines.

In 2007, Lily and I were excitingly on our way to pick up our new puppy, Gideon.  A chocolate Lab from nearby farm neighbors.  In a litter of thirteen, Gideon was the fat, roly poly cream of the crop.  She had robust written all over her thick coat, eyes that sparkled a deep chestnut brown and a tail more expressive than any I'd seen, even at 8 weeks, this pup bubbled over with potential.   The only drawback was that she had a shadow, a puny lop eared, stunt-tailed side kick;  the runt of the litter who seemed to have no mind of her own, mirrored her giant sibling in every way except...every way.  The farmer's wife sadly picked up the pint size runt and declared her ineligible for adoption, no one wanted her.   The pup was slow and skinny,  she had a coat of pure muckly colors that did not, could not and would never shine.  This pup seemed to be cursed with the lack of every thing a cute puppy had going for it.  No exceptions.   Her eyes only focused on light and movement and even then, focus was not the word- startled, over stimulated movement was the only thing that seemed to reach her, with the exception of Gideon.  Apparently not-yet-adopted-and-named-Grace was born still.  No movement, no breathing, mama dog hadn't even bothered to clean the little mass of last born runt of the litter.  The  presumption was- the last of the litter did not survive.  The farmer's wife, being a big hearted softie- recalled to me that she picked up the pup with tears in her eyes... though still, she rubbed and peeled back the gooey stuff from the pup and rubbed some more.  A wiggle came.  And soon another wiggle and finally a writhing- the tiny slimy thing was alive.

"My husband says I can't keep even one from the litter and no one will want this's sad really, she just follows this big one around..."

Had I arrived alone at that farm, I would have left with the one pup- even though I had nothing but empathy for the farmer's wife and the runt- I had no need for two Labs, two sisters, twice the trouble and dog feed and vet expenses.  But that's just not how it worked out.  Lily was with me and pleaded with her eyes and hands all over the young mutt.  Lily is a really cool person.  She's not one to ask for much, and she knew the hardships we were facing income-wise, she realized I could not afford much of a dog, let alone two.  But she saw something in the pup that no body wanted- she saw a certain Grace about her, and from then on- that was how she became our Grace.  (Gracie Jane when she was in trouble.....)

And may I say at this moment, at this writing- I long for her.  I wish I could have saved her, showed her more of  my almost missed opportunity of how my life became better and more and so deeply inspired because of Grace.  She rapidly deteriorated from a bone cancer that viciously affects young dogs- she was to go in for X-rays yesterday, possibly come out with an amputation that could very well save her life but it was not to be.

"I've never seen such a happy dog with so much cancer all through her..." the Vet had whispered to me right before I held her sweet head and wished her love and thanksgiving, right before that final sigh of a breath.  And I carried her out of there and placed her on the rug, in the pick-up waiting for her gentle return home.  Instead, well....a sick spot in my heart and stomach, a space in my very soul that only that dog could fill.   I wanted to tell her story as Grace was so very aptly named. I wanted to tell about her way, her crazy eyes, her   squirrelly charm.  About...

The dog that acted like no other, looked like no other, behaved like a wild thing instead of a domestic dog meant to keep safe the farm.  The dog that took a full six months more to learn a simple command of sit than her sibling did...and always these things were learned on her own terms.  On a full moon night, after an exhausting day of working with Grace, trying to reach her...I awoke in the middle of the night, looked out upon the front yard cast full in the soft eerie glow of the moon through the maples- and there sat one of the oddest things I've ever seen.  Grace.  Sitting.   Finally.   Staring straight at the house.  In my half sleep way, I felt such a triumph, not that I was any great teacher- but somehow I had finally reached Grace.  I remember quickly retrieving a milk-bone and gently opening and closing the front porch screen, not wanting to disturb Gracie's trance like state, wanting oh so much to be able to walk out there and give her that well deserved treat.   She sat.  I walked, hardly believing this reality...she accepted the treat.  "Good girl" I said.   And that was that.  From then on, with probably more sifting through the brain connections than most had to do- Grace learned to sit.

She always buried the dog dish.   She could not bear it uncovered.  She loved to roll in the rain, in the wet grass and make awful noisy commotions, but still Grace noises- I can explain it no better.   She always stayed up all night on full moons...she barked at it.  Not howling, not singing- barking, yipping, high pitched yelps.  I will miss that very much.  She was born a Labrador but ran like a Greyhound chasing after the Killdeer that were so prevalent on our Illinois fields.   She never caught one, I don't believe that was her intention- she simply loved running.   Always on bike rides, Etta would be the first out of the gate- a quick little goober.  Gideon next, with her long strong strides, me following on my rickety rackety Schwinn and there'd be Miss Grace, bringing up the rear.  She always outlasted the rest of us, never broke a sweat, showed no emotion through eyes or tail, just simply burst through in her goofy galloping way and we could never catch her after the half mile mark.  None of us.  I would quietly sneak up on her, almost touching her tail and then hit hard my pedals, pumping my farmer gal legs trying to at least get past that nose, winning this race just once...but Grace would simply glance with her eyes, never tilt the head that was faced towards the setting sun.  She'd adjust accordingly that gait, the likes I'd never seen before in a dog- and win the race towards the end of day light at the stop sign-  every single time.   She was something.  Awkwardly elegant.  Gently dignified.   She was one ugly, lovely dog with eyes that never will leave my memory.

And I said last night, as I will every night I suspect-

Good night Gracie, where ever you are...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

he's no solstice sister

 The Big Fish 
instructing me where to put my camera....

Good solstice celebration last evening did not go at all as planned.  Candles were burning, a blaze was reaching bonfire height, favorite foods were created and my party of one just didn't do much for the gathering- I suppose a gathering is more than one participant.  The dogs were there, does that count?

 The Big Fish, whom I dearly love- is not of a feminine persuasion so he pretty much thinks it's all hooey, these celebrations.  He doesn't say so...but I can tell when something is tolerated or when one feels obligated, either way- not a good mix.  So- he watched television and I watched flames...  out of the corner of my eye I caught glimpses of gold in the sky followed by a neon like glitter piercing through the inky night, and presently I became present.  I jumped up and raced towards the twinkling gold, never could I catch one, but's tiny little glowing light was enough to make me remember why I love the solstice's all about light, letting it in- being thankful; even for the man upstairs who'd rather watch television than catch lightening bugs.  He generally is game for all and anything...or maybe the honeymoon is finally over.

  That'd be alright too...I found out quite by accident- the Big Fish cleans house when he's mad- he scrubs and sweeps and tears the stove apart scouring.   Imagine my delight last week when I wandered in and found the house sparkling!

 "It's beautiful, what ever possessed you dear man?!"

He actually scowled at me.  And growled too.  I searched my self and tried to reassert my self....I am woman hear me... tread lightly-

"What's that?  You're angry?  What for?!"  

No offense fellas, but when you guys get mad- what the heck language is that you're trying to speak???  Ken's came out in single-syllable-sword-like-words that closely resembled a Bull Dog trying to speak English for the first time.  I never truly found out exactly what was up his crawl, but...I can tell you the after affect of his mood swing was better than vodka lemonade...and I aim on making him mad more often.  He even cleaned the this the man for me or what?!!!  God -I love him more today than ever!!!....even if he's no solstice sister.

Take care-

Thursday, June 17, 2010

He calls me Tip

If ever I was asked-
Who was the greatest teacher
in your life?
 I would reply-

My father;
Hard and gentle
Rough and smooth-
He taught me the law of nature
And of the Beauty there too,
It captured my wonder
And brought me through
And forward
In all steps, in all ways…
He calls me Tip-
In some ways I think
He may not believe
 that I have lived up
to such a name;

Dear Dad, I tell you…
From the bottom up I came and reached
That elevation-
I live my life in such a way
That I am proud and humble,
Loving and fearless
And most
Thankful to acknowledge-
 I was raised by a man
Whose strength is mighty gentle…
Like a mountain.
Whose weakness only is like that
Of a river,
Ebbing and flowing
…as it was made to do.

Monday, June 14, 2010

through this frame

(I could look through this frame for hours!)
Well, what do you think?  Do you like this new look or should I stick to the basics?...I'm rather a basic person anyway.  I like it...only, I'd rather have my own photos as background but I'm just not savvy enough on the computer to figure it out.  Besides, I've got better things to do with my time than to try and wrangle with programs...matter of fact- I have too much to do this Monday.  Like housework. Weeding.  Yard Clean Up.  Homework.  Laundry.  Travel arrangements.  Building material pick ups.
  But you know what I'd rather do...right now, or maybe later?  I just want to aim and shoot.  My camera is calling, nagging's some pics from the start of this beautiful June in Maine.  Hope your day is less filled than mine with chores and more fulfilled with beauty.
Take care-
Schoodic Point~Acadia
(Who knew the Play-Pen had a pot of gold in it?!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

the ultimate F word

Egad!!!  It's taken me a bit to get back on here...satellite service non existent.  So much has happened in this last week, where do I begin?  Hmmm...I do believe I'll hit on a subject that this blog hasn't covered much.  Seems the lessons learned this week all centered around forgiveness.  Notice I declare it around, not many of the folks I have encountered have actually aimed for included.
(Warning-Rather long and cryptic, no real solutions either!)
Funny how we can see in each other the need for strengthening up certain areas, but when we start to getting a little irritable with weaknesses in our friends and neighbors, we too get a bit itchy in the parts we don't care to scratch...speaking for myself- there are a few people in my life I would like to forgive.  Not that they deserve it, mind you- but, me being a truewonder and all, well you know where I'm going with this.  How can I possibly expect tolerance when I am so very limited in that quality at times as well?  My own two hands have been involved in misadventures of the hurting kind.  God knows, I need forgiveness too for the many blunders I have taken part in, sometimes a greater part than anyone.  And I knew better.  That's where the itch begins, in the better part of me where weeds aren't supposed to grow and only lovely things flower...between you and I dear reader, I've got a few weeds to pull there in my own soul-garden.  Like the fact that I haven't spoken to a major "sore spot"  in months...sure I write letters, send gifts but I cannot bear to listen to the soreness.  I long for the words- I am sorry, I should have been there, I shouldn't have divided you...I love you,It's not your fault,I don't blame you...those words I know I'll never hear. Instead every statement there is oppositely reinforced in the negative, it's simply unbearable  The sore spot does not ask for forgiveness, does not want it...takes no responsibility for anything whatsoever.  So how do you forgive someone who wouldn't own it anyway?

 Here's the deal...I could forgive everything if only today we would begin again...or tomorrow...or the next day...or again and again and  again.  But nothing ever changes, so why should I?  I love from afar, less damage that way.  That's my excuse, my fortress that keeps me safe from the "monster" episodes I call them.  But also from afar, I can see someone who needs loving the most yet deserves it the least.  From afar, I am not so deeply inflicted by ammunition slung by a soul who can only love in the way of hurt.  Have somebody like that in your life?  Someone who feels so much pain and instead of dealing with it, they inflict it like poison arrows to your very soul?  How does one forgive that?

  These are matters of the deep heart, one that I have calculatingly protected from more damage.  Am I strong enough to believe in this grace within me to rise above?  I tell you I just don't know...but I've seen some numbers done on folks this week, they call it love- but it seems like more of a destroy tactic to me.  If I know one thing for sure, and this may be the only real thing I know- love always creates, it never destroys.  How does one create love with another that knows no other source BUT destruction?  How does one maneuver best around  the people among us who manipulate, calculate- are cold and hateful?  I tell you again, I just don't know- my wings are working fine now and I so do not want that flying part of me to become singed by the fiery flames of another.

.  I honor the creed, always be kinder than necessary.  I see beauty in ugly faces and places...but the one face I long to behold in beauty... is so frightening to me, and not only do I see the hurt and pain there, I feel it to my very core.   And there seems to lie their only joy- inflicting their pain.  I am  not such a willing pincushion these days.  Makes them mad as hell, which to my eyes-is at the very least more honesty than I've ever known in that face.  I have learned to tell the monster-NO, not allowed.  And the space between us grows ever larger, every "No!"  I command is met with worsening threats.  None thus far carried out...perhaps they won't fall, perhaps they'll fly across that great divide some day and plead, "tell me yes!"  And I'll say, "My, how far you've come... yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!"  And  the beginning that might begin again will begin....again.

The moral of the story that has no end in sight- happily ever after means sometimes, simply forgiving yourself for believing that love divides, and pain is deserved for something you've surely done to receive it.  After all that fearful belief system is broke down and aired out- love looks like this-

Sometimes there is a gap between us that only love can fill...but sometimes that gap has no bottom and all the grace leaks out.  If that's the case- find the grace within you and redirect it towards loving and forgiving yourself and everyone you are able to, without losing your own footing again.

There's the work and it's terribly hard, and sometimes oh-so-lonely.  I choose to love my self up close, and others who often wield love like a knife- I'll love them from a safe distance.  That may not be the best way to navigate forgiveness, but it's a whole lot easier on a heart that's been mended a million times's dangerous to have a heart like that and be around folks with scissors looking  for loose threads.  I have found that those folks who cut instead of mend...might scream , and act out and say they'll fall- most often times are the very ones who always land on their feet completely intact while you lay there in shreds.  That's been my experience anyway...

Forgiveness is the ultimate F word indeed.

( little grasshopper...I wrote this as current events are so parallel to past experiences and the remembered "soreness",  hoping that I might better help you navigate.  If not now, perhaps sometime in the future when you are centered and strong and very sure of your footing- maybe, just maybe the beginning again can begin.  If it helps, I trust you'll make the right decision for you and only you at this time.  Someone has had ample time to start across that great divide...If my child ever felt the way you describe, I'd become the best damn mountain climber that ever was and cross the divide, a thousand times over if I had to.  There is still hope here..., say and be beautiful to the best of your ability, be right within yourself and all will work out.)