Friday, November 30, 2012

chai don't know how to say this...

This week we had our final appointment with my neurosurgeon.

It was our last one because I'm all clear from his point of view - that means everything from the day he cut me open is a-okay! (I still have to wean from my old concussion meds but that's another story)

Nothing about it was bitter-sweet... it was all sweet-sweet.

While we sat in the waiting room that early morning, sipping coffee, Neil and I played the "remember when..." game.

"Remember when we first came here thinking it was just a follow up for a research study, and I told you, 'there's nothing this doctor or this study can say to change my circumstances.'"


"Remember our appointment just three months ago, and how scared we where."


"Remember when we could never find a place to sit because of all the TVs and background noise."

Then we went into the exam room and I got to see Dr Okonkwo again. He gave me the final clearance and he gave me the chance to say thank you.... except how does one say thank you for something like this?

I knew I would be at a loss for words so I baked the office my new favorite Chai Sugar Cookies (props to Annan for the recipe).

Even then - "Here's some cookies. Thanks." hardly expresses the implied... "Dr. O, You took the time to see something that every doctor missed. You believed in a pain that no one else could see. You gave me a future I had long given up as lost. And after four years, when I couldn't even remember what it felt like not to hurt, you eased my pain. So here; I mixed up some butter and flour, because there really is no standard 'you brought my life back from darkness' gift. I hope you like sugar."

Whether he got the fullness of the message or not, we left the office and we left that part of our lives behind. I'm not fully better but I'm moving forward so fast in so many areas. I can see this clearly in many small ways. We stepped into the morning sun and crossed the street to the parking garage. I took a bold risk and opted to ride with Neil on the way out instead of waiting for him at the bottom. We circled around and around to the exit, and for the first time, I didn't feel sick.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November Date Night

Continuing with the monthly date night gifts I gave Neil (here is September and October) - November date was: Take A Cooking Class.

Too bad we did NOT have our act together. First we got a dog, then I got a cold, then it was the holidays. Then our dog got a tick and its vet bill adjusted our budgeted "monthly fun" dollars. We just dropped the ball. 

Not to let it all go to waste, we decided (1) we will still take an actual cooking class in the near future. and (2) we will still have a cooking-centric date night in which we make the things that intimidate us.

Item #1 was homemade bread. Right out the gate we went wrong. We did not leave enough time between looking up the recipe and eating dinner for the bread to rise (Note: always read the entire recipe before you begin) So we had to improvise. That's when we discovered Beer Bread - no yeast required (probably because its in the beer? I'm guessing? actually, i have no idea). this stuff is so quick and easy. We used this recipe, we halved it so it only needed about 25-30 min to cook. We also used less sugar and a dark porter beer. It was kind of dense and sweet, so if you're into to that sort of thing than make it happen! like, tonight! We didn't add extras this time but two days later I made it again with 1/4 cup shaved dubliner cheddar and a teaspoon rosemary and it was even better. verdict: modified success

Item #2 was a pumpkin. It seems funny, I've carved into them for jack-o-lanterns my whole life but for cooking I've always gone to the canned version. I don't know why this would be a hurdle. We've made spaghetti squash and other winter squashes a million times, isn't a pumpkin pretty much the same? 
Turns out the answer is yes. yes it is. Just cut into chunks, bake at 350 in a pan with a bit of water for about 45 min, scoop away from the rind, and your done. Its so easy. We pulsed the cooked pumpkin with an immersion blender and added it to this soup recipe. verdict: success

Item #3 was scallops. I've watched enough Top Chef, Chopped, and Hells Kitchen to know that if you cook one of these wrong, you go home. They intimidate me. Neil took charge here. First try through we burned the butter in our pan. Second round we may have been too gun shy on the temp. They're supposed to take 3-4 min on one side and 1 min on the other side (hot enough for a buttery sear on both sides). Ours took a bit longer. However they were not dried out and still very delicious so I can't complain. verdict: success-ish

We topped it all off by uncorking the bottled of champagne that we had saved from before the surgery. The whole dinner was a celebration of making it through to the 3 month mark (and beyond). We realized that during the cooking we had background music playing (!) and I didn't need to sit and take breaks (!!) We toasted to all the great things we have in life, including all the time in the world to adequately plan an actual cooking class that does not involve youTube instructions!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

firsts, again

This week I took my first yoga class since the surgery. I went slowly and took a lot of breaks. I felt the collective of the class move and breath along with me. Myself along with them. It felt fantastic to return to the mat.

I also got to go for my first run. Yesterday morning I had an appointment with my neurosurgeon. He met the running question (and every question) with a perfect answer of "yes. go. have your life back." Yesterday my puppy, my husband, and I went out for a perfect afternoon jog.

Today I'll lace up and head out for seconds. I will delight in actually feeling the slight ache in my legs and how I get out of breath a bit... and how I notice all these things because I don't feel spikes in my head! Don't worry, I will take it slow, I have no choice with Dixon since he stops to smell too many telephone poles. I'm just happy to be back on the road, for the first time, again.

Monday, November 26, 2012

leftovers: dead duck

I hope you are all feeling full and happy this monday morning!
Dixon spent his Thanksgiving abstaining from turkey and indulging in another bird.

 I want to thank my sister for the awesome doggie toy, however the leftovers of duck didn't last very long...


How was your holiday? What was your favorite leftover? Mine was easily my In-law's stuffing. I don't like gravy and they make a grand slam version that doesn't need any - especially when its cold the next day!

Any fun traditions? Aside from our new one of - "find the duck innards" we also have some that I've grown to hold dear. In order to see all our many parts of family, we've had to get creative... we eat a huge chinese food dinner the wednesday before with our mom's sides, and we meet my dad's side for a movie Thanksgiving night. I also adore sipping that after dinner coffee, and the mid-morning cooking while music plays.

I just read an article about the benefits of taking the time to savor your food (thinking about flavor, slowly chewing, etc). How if you truly stop to taste what you eat, you eat much less and you reportedly appreciate life more. I guess talking about Thanksgiving traditions on November 26th is my way of chewing on things a little longer. I also want to give you time away from cyber monday madness!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

well and warm together

This is not how I usually say "Happy Thanksgiving"

However the year has been uniquely difficult,

so I can't help but to lift up Hemingway's words as my sigh of gratitude.

Orbin, (and all my dear reader friends) 
here's to another year of the good things in life.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

every last drop

I used to dislike when people would comment on the weather because, 1. everyone does it and 2. I never cared about weather - I was stuck inside no matter what was happening beyond the windows. (in fact, rain and snow was preferable because it made everyone else recluse along with me... welcome to Grump Land friends! bring on the foul weather!)

Now I get out every day and I feel so much better every day. Now I'm one of those people saying "Did you see the sun today?!" and "I hope you had the chance to step outside for a bit this afternoon, it was delightful!" ugh. sometimes I'm dripping with a sugary sweet happiness that even I can't stand...yet I can't help myself.

I want to be outside, taking in every last drop of this weather before it turns to whipping winds and chattering teeth. I want soak up the leisurely strolls before they turn into quick trips to that one tree while I beg "Dixon, just pee already!"

I want to drag out the walks through the park with my sister and my nephew - with giggles and cheerios, and layers shed with each lap we take.

And I want to steal every possible afternoon of sitting outdoors, feeling the cool breeze and the warm sun. Thinking it's precious because it really might be the last one.

I want to maybe (fingers crossed) possibly get the green light to start jogging again, before these perfect days around reservoir slip away.

At least this year, I feel I'm drinking up every last bit of fall. Its been a gift to experience it, to join the collective of "people that talk about the weather" again. And when I start to grump and whine in the cold days of winter, I can take solace in that as well - as I'm truly working my way back to being a normal person!

Friday, November 16, 2012

my husband, the weenie

Wednesday of this week I felt not so great. I was fatigued and my head hurt and I just wanted to stay in bed.

*note: I did NOT make it to the store so we were bare bones in the dinner department

I love my husband because he made due and he created an excellent dinner out of the remains of our CSA. (an invented recipe of roasted beets and potatoes and corn and other root vegetables)

I love my husband because with out saying a word, he also left one questionable looking food item on the counter for me to discover Thursday morning...

Thanks honey!

Peace Piece

I know my narrative has been predominately about my headache pain, however, the accident had caused many other (albeit lesser) symptoms that I've had to deal with. I want to avoid harsh swearing on this blog, so I'll call these symptoms "highly inconvenient," but if I can step outside myself, they are also fascinating glimpses into how the brain works.

People would marvel at how I could pick up conversations several tables away from me while we were out at a restaurant. This is because I had no filter for background noise. All the foreground and background were at the same level. Clinking silverware, cooks saying orders, that girl with the high pitched laugh... all competing with what's right in front of me. I couldn't block anything out, like in that scene from "What Women Want", and it was all. the. time. 

It was fascinating when I could drop information about another person's conversation with ease. It was terrible because I couldn't follow what the people at my table were telling me. It was interesting that my brain was doing this. It was strange when our date night would end early because a snobby woman two tables over complained the whole meal about wanting a more upscale suite for her honeymoon in Cabo.  Oh poor Neil, just trying to give me a nice meal - he could never foresee when I would interrupt him with alligator tears saying "she just doesn't have any idea how good she has it in life! We could NEVER go to Cabo! Let's get the check." - having no idea whom "she" is because he can block out entitled background socialites like a normal person.

So when people ask me "Are your headaches gone?" that's only part of the story. The answer is "YES! sometimes. maybe forever? I don't know. but sort of YES! which is the most wonderful!"

But there are so many more elements that are coming back into my world that are so very life giving and uplifting. Like when we go for a walk on a Monday and stop into Silkys for an appetizer - just to see how I do with the noise. Then Neil will turn to me part way through and say "how are you doing with this" and I'll say "Oh." like it hadn't occurred to me to be struggling. BECAUSE I"M DOING OKAY! and that is also so very huge. And then once again I have alligator tears in public (poor Neil) and I smile and say "maybe we try staying through dinner." (and we do and I don't ask for the check early)

Piece by piece we are getting our life back. The ways seem so small but to us they are gigantic. When I go to the grocery store (my personal concussion hell), I no longer need to lay down for several hours afterwards. Do you know what that does for my sense of joy and sanity and love of the day?!? Do you have any idea how many colorful words I can remove from my descriptor of the "market district"? Its delightful. Its mundane but its huge.

Years ago I used to love jazz music. After the accident, my brain did a funny thing - it decided to hate Jazz. I could listen to the albums I already knew by heart, but anything new was off limits. This is because of the sporadic nature of jazz - the notes dip and dive, they don't go where you expect. When you listen, your brain has to switch from auto-drive to active mode just to follow along. A healthy brain does this without problems. My brain set off alarms. After even one song, the vice at my temple would tighten and my head would pulse. For years I was rudely alerted anytime I had to think (not just with Jazz, with anything).

Last week my friend Ryan sent me a wonderful email and at the end was a link to a song he thought I'd like called "Peace Piece" by Bill Evans. With hesitation I re-entered the jazz world. 

I used to love Jazz so much because it (generally) has no lyrics, it has no predicted path, and within the breadth of a song it can hold any emotion one wants. I was so sad after the accident when the only thing I could receive from jazz was pain. Now, once again, I can get peace and joy and the dichotomy of having felt heaviness when I am so light.

For years I've talked mostly about my headaches, which oversimplified the fact that my entire life had changed. Now when I tell people that sometimes my headaches are gone, even that miracle is too small an answer - there is a greater abundance. My world has a fullness beyond what I can describe. Maybe like jazz, you can't put it in words.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Poached of Energy

After long weekends, I settle into easy restful weekdays. They include catching up on my favorite podcasts, attempting to give my brain some mid-day shut eye, and listening to calming music.

I usually don't have the energy to cook a full meal for myself and so I find I'll merely reheat leftovers. As this has been my pattern for quite some time, eventually, I found I like some small ways to spice up the food we made over the weekend. Lately, that little kick has been the poached egg. 

Do you poach eggs? I used to be afraid to, but I promise its so very easy! Plus its a healthy. 
- here is a great tutorial, and here is another (but I go more with the method is the first link)
- and here is a ridiculously specific video - I'll never use a thermometer for my eggs, nevertheless this short visual is very helpful. 

I also used to limit the poached egg to a breakfast treat on top of toast. Now I'll put one over chili, rice, pizza, salad, black beans, really anything! 

Here I had a spicy tomato couscous.
It had dried out a bit and plus, I wanted a little boost of protein...

solution: the poached egg.

Is there anything you are intimidated to cook? (I'm still a bit nervous to bake my own bread) 
Is there anything you like to add to leftovers to elevate them a bit? 
Are your weeks getting darker and colder to the point that an egg can be exciting? yes? me too!

Friday, November 9, 2012


I know that November is already in full swing. I have been wearing my hand knit scarf (thank you Sarah!) and my wooly gloves for days now. Still, I would love to share about some of the many things I am looking forward to this month...

Walks with Dixon
Not to worry, you won't get a dog picture in every post.
But this one warms my soul because it captures autumn, and our neighborhood, and our family.

"Brunette Dancing Rave"
On blogger you can see the phases people search to find your site. 
I have to apologize to the multiple (yes multiple) people looking for "Brunette Dancing Rave" that found this post-concussive, surgery recovering, soup eating, nap taking lady insead.
However, I look forward to doing more this month. Maybe something more mild like "Brunette Shuffle Step" and we'll save that other ambitious search result for march or april.

An Ale in My Honor
There was never any doubt that my husband loves me, but he's proving it yet again.
This month we'll bottle a beer he made precisely to my tastes.
Its a pumpkin ale but its not too sweet. It has ginger and cinnamon and all spice. It has only a hit of hops. PLUS a secret ingredient. 
I feel so proud to have a beer that's my beer. He even named it after me - 
The Zipperhead!

Two New Crochet Stitches
Some ask, "what do you do all day?" Lately the answer is "I've take up the ol' crochet hooks."
I've found its engaging enough without causing brain stimulus overload.
I recently learned not one, but TWO new stitches! Dear readers you are either 
(a) thrilled for me or (b) mocking me. 
Those in camp 'a' can call me up and I'll mail you a hat
 (the 'b' people, eh, you get a hat too, I have a bunch of time)

Mountain Biking
Not for me, oh no, wellgeez no!
My dear husband has a light in his eyes when he gets near a bike, talk about bikes, think of bikes. (the kind of light that's part kid at christmas and part Nicholson from Cuckoo's Nest)
This month the last of the warm-enough days will be here and I look forward to him riding about as much a he possibly can.
also, this video of Danny Macaskill is insane!

movie: The Interrupters
We got this documentary in from Netflix and we can't wait to watch it. The Interrupters is about a group of former gang members that travel through inner city Chicago, trying to enact a cease fire among active gangs. It has received great reviews, and maybe I'll even see my old neighborhood.

books: So Many, Too Many! (in a good way) 
After just finishing a great book - "Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern, I'm excited to dive into my next few for November. I was thinking "Hiroshima" by John Hersey and "Someone Knows My Name" by Lawrence Hill, then "Passage to India" by E.M. Forster
And then I'll be about 1/3 of the way through the books that have been lent to me!
I love to read and have LOVED the ones I've gotten so far, but please bring me no more!!

Leek Bread Pudding
I love stuffing so much. Its my favorite side dish of the Thanksgiving meal. So when I tasted this recipe last year for a savory bread pudding, I was quickly won over. I don't know why its taken me so long to make it myself, but I'm finally doing it! 
(maybe I've just been appropriately afraid that once I see how easy it is to have warm bread bake, I won't be able to turn back.)

College Basketball!
I'm sorry for those of you in hockey mourning.
I'm pleased for those of you at the peak of foot ball season happiness.
But I can't hear any of you over sounds of my cries of joy. 

This year the holiday is extra special because the date will be exactly 3 months post surgery.
My "I love you"s to family will be extra sappy.
My stamina as I travel between all 5 or so different family houses will be extra strong.
My cup will be spilled over!
This year for my birthday, I used a gift card to buy a bottle of champagne, and at the time I felt too sick to drink it. We've saved this bottle and I can't think of a better time to uncork than November 22nd.
My cup will be extra extra spilled over!

God Parents
The best for last: Neil and I are beyond honored and overwhelmingly blessed because we've been asked to become God Parents. 
Our darling niece, Mia, has become the tiny life we pledge to pour into, to pray for, to influence, and guide. Although we just met her, we couldn't love her more. 
We can't wait to fulfill this role. 
(It means also we spoil her like crazy, right? Because if that's not in the job description than I'm adding an amendment)

And just for fun: this video cracked me up!
If Mia doesn't pick us as her favorite, we might need to borrow some of these tactics.

 Have a great Weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Exactly one week ago my friend gave birth to just the cutest, most want-to-squeezable little guy! Once again I'm so excited to see once of my friends, whom I've always loved and admired, become a mother.  Once again I'm so excited to watch this woman I've always adored, grow a kid I know I'll also adore. Its such an emotional and profound time - having your buddies become moms. (and really great moms, at that!)

I'm about to go and cook something for her as she rests and grows this little human. I've chosen a version of these chewy granola bars (I figured they are nutrient packed and can be frozen individually and they might be a nice change up from all the dinners she's been getting)

While I head off to the kitchen, here's some food for thought. In all the joy over the new birth, I still don't know what to call myself... is there a name for this? I'm not just friend to this little Mr Boy, cause you better believe when he grows up I'll say to him "hey! snap out of it. treat your mom right. she's much cooler than you'll ever comprehend!" Yet I'm not quite an Aunt. I could blend the word - Faunt, or Fauntie... but it just sounds, eh. And if that is unappealing imagine: Neil is the Funcle.

Growing up my mom was blessed to have wonderful, amazing friends that love me abundantly. They have been fun, formative, and incredible role models. For some I say aunt (Aunt Stacy), for some its just their first name (Jackie, Marta), and for others its whole new nick name entirely (Ludgie Two Shoes).

So the question is, what do you do for your friends kids? Do you have them call you something special? Is there a term I'm unaware of? Should we just go ahead and make one up now - because maybe it deserves a title. Its a big position to hold, we are the ones that always have gum!

oh and what is your go-to recipe for bringing food to new families? cause I have a lot of them coming and I want to make 'em happy!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

the stuff of which life is made

I know I must be getting better and better because the urge to run has turned into an alarm that I just can't turn off. Deep down, I know its a true joy and luxury to complain about a lack of running and to ache to move faster. For the record, I am happy to be at this new stage. (now let's continue, what was I saying about discontentment?...)

When I get my "Running Time's" magazine in the mail, I have to immediately hide its mocking cover away until I can read it "some day in the future."
When I see runners relishing in the cool fall weather as they stride past me, it takes all I can muster not to say "quit bragging!"
When Neil innocently tells me about knocking out 7 miles on the treadmill - I swallow the mean response of "how fun for half  the people in this house" and force a smile to simply say "how fun"
(admittedly, this is not my best self)

Stupidly, I've chosen right now to finish the borrowed book "Running the Spiritual Path" by Roger Joslin, so i can return it to my friend Caitlin. Its a great book, and its not helping matters. On this perfect autumn running day, I will share a (rather long but beautiful) excerpt from the book. It expresses the love/hate/love relationship I have with running and it gives insight into why I miss it so much.

Joslin wrote this excerpt after completing a 22 mile run through the deserts of the Rio Grande...
[emphasis and spacing mine]

"When I returned from the trip to Big Bend and was asked about the run, I was uncertain how to reply. To those who wouldn't understand, I was likely to offer a flippant answer. I would say that the run was "great" or "hard" or "beautiful." These replies were, at least on a superficial level, perfectly true.

The twenty-two mile run down the Old Ore Road in Big Bend was like life itself. The same can be said for almost every run I take. Every run contains elements of the "stuff of which life is made." All the worries, fears, distractions, hopes, regrets, pain, and joy that fill life are often played out over the course an hour-long run.

Running in Big Bend, a place where God's spirit abounds, the examples of God's handiwork are evident as both challenging obstacles and lofty displays of inspiration. I felt as if years of experience in dwelling in the Divine Presence were compressed into only a few hours.

At times it was easy, exhilarating, joyous, and awe inspiring. Then I would emerge from a dry creek bed to find that the trail had become dangerous, worrisome, difficult, painful, and exhausting...

I tend to saddle each run with the complexities of my personal experience. And over the course of the run, these complexities are reduced to the simple matter of moving and breathing in God's presence."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Democracy Pants

While so many people I talk to seem to be dreading this election and longing for it to be over - I'm not going to lie - I've been pretty excited for today.

I try to remain non-partisan on this blog but I don't mind sharing with you that this morning I joyfully put on my "Barack and Roll all Night. Party Every Day" underwear. Then I made my way to the polls!

Building on something my buddy Tom said... I keep thinking that tonight no one has bigger stakes in this than Mitt and Barack. Yet one man will graciously win and the other will graciously give a consolation speech. Both will act with tact and kindness. Neither will threaten to move to Canada.

I hope that we can take a note from the guys leading the way. Whom ever wins - we will be okay. No one is actively malicious, worships satan, or is trying to destroy america. (I believe that about the candidates and I believe that about people that vote differently than me.)

The things that really might make me feel despair on wednesday is how we chose to speak to each other, and how quickly we abandon our role in government.

How ever the vote goes, you don't need to limit your involvement to one day every four years. Just contacting local officials, signing onto bills, or lobbying congressmen can make your voice heard in a truly powerful way.

So whatever underwear you put on this morning, I hope can step in to your democracy pants, because this civilized voting thing is pretty great.

p.s. since I got way more preachy and divisive than usual, I'll end with something both sides of the isle will like: a picture of a dog that recently got out of a shelter so he just loves to rest on his elbows and stare at birds with his new buddy.

Monday, November 5, 2012

a series of escalating dares

For years now Neil and I have wanted a dog. We have longed for a dog. We knew we couldn't get a dog because our lease said so and I wasn't feeling well enough... but that didn't stop our unhealthy dog wanting behaviors. We would dog sit and pretend it was our everyday life. We would stare longingly at dog walking couples. We even picked out future names.

In the last few weeks, I've started feeling better and better - leaving our status as "renters" as the only barrier between us and the thing we've wanted oh so much. This has put us into a fever pitch where instead of talking each other down to reality, we just enabled increasingly crazy thoughts.

With a nod to the "arrested development" joke, here are a few of the series of escalating dares that we've encountered these last few weeks...

-Unhealthy Dog Wanting Behavior #1: The Lost Dogs

My friend Carrie lent me this fantastic book telling the story of the dogs from the Michael Vick fighting rings. This book is excellent (both heart breaking and extremely inspiring), it shows the rehabilitation of a very misunderstood breed of dogs. Some of these Vick Pit Bulls were even able to serve as therapy dogs in hospitals within a year of rescue! After this my desire to rescue was at a code yellow level.

- Unhealthy Dog Wanting Behavior #2: Pit Bulls and Parolees 

Shortly after finishing the book, I found this show on Animal Planet. Its about a kennel that rescues Pit Bulls and staffs with people on Parole... giving everyone a second chance. For the record I have yet to make it through an episode without crying.

-Unhealthy Dog Wanting Behavior #3: Re-Watching Videos Like This
again and again and again
(video of Soldier returning from war)

- Unhealthy Dog Wanting Behavior #4: "Lover's Not Fighters Gala"
I approached Neil with the desire to attend this February fundraiser by saying "If we can't have a dog right now, at least we can support these organizations, right?" That's not an unhealthy idea, but I was foolish to think surrounding myself with dog-friendly people would scratch the itch. nuh uh. still want a pup. big time.

- Unhealthy Dog Wanting Behavior #5:
Oh I'll just look at the weepy, curious, kind eyes of about one hundred dogs that need homes and I'll be able to walk away, no problem. I know, I know how dangerous this is, trust me I didn't seek out this behavior. I accidentally hopped into the website after I was looking into that fundraiser gala. Then I was diving down the rabbit hole and there was no way out... except maybe Neil's voice of reason. Only instead of saying "No. Bad. Close that link!" he said "I have an idea: Spend tomorrow searching through them all and then pick your top 3 favorite to show me when I get home from work." (is this the definition of enabler?)

- Unhealthy Dog Wanting Behavior #6: Just An Innocent Shelter Visit
After all this, we were at red alert levels in our dog longing. We talked at length at how wonderful it would be to have a dog with me on my walks, to have company with me during my days, to be at a place where we were moving forward - at last! Then we stupidly said "Why don't we just walk to the local shelter and look. Just look." hahahahaha. I think you all know what happens after that...

**fast forward through me crying 3 times before we walk down the first isle of the cages. fast forward through our time peering through bars with fingers licked and tail wagging, fast forward through us whispering "yeah, I agree, I don't want to see any others but that one.", fast forward through us nervously calling our (amazing) land lord... fast forward fast forward... and...


meet Dixon

he is our 10 month old, 55 lb, new family member. 

he's part terrier, part pit bull, part lab, part retriever, part Orbin

so far I know he loves sleeping curled around Neil's shoe and he hates squirrels

 and so far I've never had a better morning coffee routine!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Happy Weekend! hope its safe and dry!

I've been thinking so much about people on the eastern seaboard and hoping the best for their rebuilding and return to normalcy. 

I can't imagine all that's on the long road ahead for my cousin who's home flooded in Long Beach, NY. They will need to replace everything from drywall to book collections to spices to kids toys. Right now they can't get back to the home and there's still no electricity but thankfully everyone is okay. I hope everyone you know is safe and dry and on the mend.

Isn't it strange how things like a hurricane will seem so intangible to you, because your life continues unaffected, then you see or hear something small that will make it sink in. You think "wow, this really is huge for so many people." (I know that's such an obvious thought but that's how it happens for me). 

My surreal moment was when I saw this picture of the pancake house where I vacation in Stone Harbor, NJ.    
The tables are set in such a heartbreakingly familiar way, yet I know it will be ages before water is drained, equipment is replaced, and health codes are passed. 
I know it will take so much work get back to the ease of an overly tanned waitress topping off coffee while one leisurely finishes off banana pancakes over the din of happy vacationers. 

(so as I re-read, it sounds elitist to say this sinks in when I see my vacation spot flooded. I'm also feeling deeply for those who are now homeless, injured, and worse. But I'm not going to delete above comments because its true that this picture made things real and I just wanted to share about the one tangible I knew, I hope that makes sense.)

I'd like to move along with some other, happier, thoughts. I figure, even if you're still in waders and rain slickers, laughter is important, so here's a few moments of comic relief I've discovered this week...

Jimmy Kimmel seems to have a knack for messing with kids. My new favorite is the Lie Detective:

Sometimes I think about how certain animal groups could overtake humans if they just organized properly. After seeing these pictures, I'm pretty sure it won't be the dogs that do it.

Oh Ellen and Gladys! Always hilarious, but the best banter you two have ever had was the first time.

What's funnier, crying in public or a competition to see who cries first? I'm sure the answer should be neither but both videos had me cracking up.

I'm so happy that Happy Endings has started up again. I think the fake fight that Brad and Jane have in season 2 might be one of my favorite scenes...

Once you know all these facts, you'll be aware of more things.

Louis CK is on SNL this week.. "Sandy, I really wish you hadn't"

And to bring things full circle, the blog My Drunk Kitchen has an amusing video on exactly what (not?) to do during a hurricane for sustenance. Happy Weekend Friends

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Live the Question

Even though I've spent so many years dreaming about the days "when I get better..." I'm still at a loss at how to finish that sentence.

I could make this a long drawn out post about how I'm weighing options of alternative health care jobs or going back to school for other degrees. Or I could talk a lot about how I'm thinking of ways to start small, like volunteer, before I choose a direction. Or I could share how Neil and I have actually made an NCAA-like tournament bracket of possible job options.

But what I really want to say today is much more simple. Its a pep-talk for me as much as I hope it might resonate for you in some way. Its a quote by Rainer Maria Rilke and it is on constant repeat for me these days because the blank slate in front of us starts to bring up so many questions: What will I do next? How much can my brain handle? Where will we live? etc, etc

I just go back to this quote and remember that this time doesn't need to be overwhelming and scary (a territory so easily ventured into, isn't it?) - this time can be exciting and full of wonder.

All those things I can't answer right now, its okay. Its okay to live in the question.
…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903

in Letters to a Young Poet