knee deep in weeds

notes on a simple life

happy birthday, Baker

‘It's just the most amazing thing to love a dog, isn't it? It makes our relationships with people seem as boring as a bowl of oatmeal.’
John Grogan

Today is Baker’s first birthday. This makes him roughly 15 in human years. He is a true teenager, one who is on the verge of dating and driving, testing his boundaries, and figuring out just where he fits in the pack. He runs amok, barks at anything that moves, is obstinate when he doesn’t get his own way, pouts at times, loves junk food and falls into bed each night and sleeps like a log.

In this first year he has:
chewed and pawed his way though our basement door
eaten several parts of stuffed animals
gone through a dozen tennis balls
snatched food off the table and the cupboard
broken out of his kennel twice
chewed numerous socks and shoes
oh, and phone cords
helped himself to my morning latte
and hogged the bed

During this first year we have learned:
to pick our stuff up, all of it
scoot our chairs in, after leaving the table
to share the bed
that he is tall, tall enough to reach the cupboard
to throw a tennis ball, I use one of those throw things, dad free-hands it
that long walks do us all good and are a cure-all for almost anything
and that metal kennels are more durable than the soft ones

We have all experienced unconditional love, and we have learned how to share: snacks like bowls of popcorn, the occasional Gold Fish cracker and French fries, are top on his list. And while I am sure he would share his treats, we pass and settle for the laughter and love he brings into our days.

We have also come to understand that petting a dog does wonders for the soul during a hard day.

He has worked his way deep into our hearts and our home; made our little family whole agiain, and blessed us beyond measure. Today we will celebrate with extra treats and a trip to the dog park. There will be snuggles all around. Face licks from him, and ear kisses from us.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Basil who we lost a year ago, almost to the day. I thank him for turning me into a true dog person. He opened my heart to the privilege of what it feels like to love a dog and have them return that love tenfold. He and Baker would have been great friends.

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‘Dogs invite us not only to share their joy but also to live in the moment, where we are neither proceeding from nor moving toward, where the enchantment of the past and future cannot distract us, where a freedom from practical desire and a cessation of our usual ceaseless action allows us to recognize the truth of our existence, the reality of our world and purpose--if we dare.’
Dean Koontz




acknowledging life

“So, who was I now? I was old enough to wear wrinkles and scars, but young enough to feel stronger and smarter because of them”
― Elise Hooper, Learning to See

it is not enough to just breath
but rather to acknowledge my full range of emotions:
anger, love, joy, fear, doubt, sorrow, trust
none of them are wrong
only proof i am alive


wisps of the past

The smell of moist earth and lilacs hung in the air like wisps of the past and hints of the future.
- Margaret Millar


she stood behind the bush, allowing their sent
to fill her with memories, too much of a rule follower to
break off a stem to take home with her . . .


hi dad

“A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.” 
― Diane Arbus

sometimes the world speaks and i am awake enough to listen . . .


i pull over to capture these two photos;
one a few weeks ago, one just last week.
i think of my dad; who was a railroad man,
and a fisherman. he often told use where the tracks led
and more often than not, had an aluminum boat
tied down on the top of his truck.

hi dad . . .


writing things down

“Your whole house smells of dog, says someone who comes to visit. I say I'll take care of it. Which I do by never inviting that person to visit again.”
― Sigrid Nunez, The Friend

it is an ordinary week until it isn’t. there is garden work,
new treats for the dog, walks, and rowing.
life seems to have taken on an easy going
rhythm, full of unencumbered love and sweetness,
”oh, there you are,” i tell myself . . .

we celebrate his 36th birthday for two full days.
we celebrate with too much food,
too much hard cider, and his favorite cookies.
i bask in their laughter, falling into bed each night
tired and happy.

i laugh as they take selfies and do my best
to take it all in.
my love for all of them so easy now,
if that makes sense.

the boys ignore their mother when i tell them
to look at me. i can’t hear what they are talking about, but allow them to
ramble, to sink into brotherly behavior and a sense of humor only they share.
the girls follow my cue, and i can’t help but feel
that they are the finishing pillars on a frame that completes
a meaningful picture; standing strong with these men they love.

“You write a thing down because you’re hoping to get a hold on it. You write about experiences partly to understand what they mean, partly not to lose them to time. To oblivion.”
― Sigrid Nunez, The Friend


have a lovely rest of your week . . .

happy

“When spring came, even the faults spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.”
- Ernest Hemmingway

I stand by the flowering quince almost daily with my camera.

I also crawl on the ground among the forget-me-nots.

While he does his very best to not smash the flowers.


purpose

“Here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. If you’re alive, it isn’t.”
― Lauren Bacall

i come to understand that the buzz and the turbulence of the online world does nothing for my creativity.
lately the double tap has rendered me indifferent, and aloof, feeling like i am
untrue to both myself and to others. i back away, only to suffer from
enough curiosity that i can’t help myself, and so i return off and on throughout the day.
yet, the connection i feel is illusive and i am encumbered by the sheer number of it all.it

years ago, when i started blogging, a close friend asked
me why? why did i think others were interested in my daily life;
interested in what i was eating, or reading, or what the dog and i were up too?
i really could not answer her with a logical purpose, as i had
no commercial intentions, nor was i seeking an avenue to promote
myself in any manner.

i do it for me, i finally told her; explaining that writing about a simple moment,
or my day, fed my soul. and my camera was like meditation for me, lifting me out
of dark places, shining light into my heart. but why make it public? she asked.
i couldn’t really come up with an answer that satisfied either of us.

today i would have a clear answer for her:
i come here most days to explore this space in some way; it is an extension of my home.
i read past post, look at the photos of Baker as a pup, or Basil, who is gone now.
I bask in summer flowers, as it rains buckets outside, or sit on the dock at the lake
remembering sunsets of summers past. i come here to rest, to meditate, to feed my senses
with memories, and to give gratitude.

i find i rearrange this space to fit my mood and to meet my purpose, as my focus
morphs and redirects, just as my life does.
after all these years it seems i have only one thing figured out: my job is not to control, but to be aware. . .
and i do that best with my camera and a few words, scribbled here.
it gives me purpose.

today i would tell her . . .

i am here to heal, to grow, and for proof of a life that doesn’t always seem to fit.
i am here to document that life with curiosity, great love and gratitude.
I am here to take chances, learn trust, have faith, and feel.
i am here for myself .

Be faithful in small things because it is from them that your strength lies.
- Mother Teresa


spring normalcy

“Because dogs live in the present. Because dogs don’t hold grudges. Because dogs let go of all of their anger daily, hourly, and never let it fester. They absolve and forgive with each passing minute. Every turn of a corner is the opportunity for a clean slate. Every bounce of a ball brings joy and the promise of a fresh chase.”
― Steven Rowley, Lily and the Octopus

the week is full of spring normalcy
we clean out the vegetable beds, finding a few potatoes
and those beets i grew tired of last fall . . .

now they sit in that bucket waiting for inspiration . . .

we divide daisies, phlox, and astilbe in the perineal beds
and lay fresh compost down. i fight with the dog, who
won’t leave my tools alone and scold him when he runs off with them

i come in and treat myself to the first gin and tonic of the season . . .

one day we pack a lunch and head off for a small hike
we walk around a close by lake, and stop for real
coffee milkshakes on the way home

we should have walked further, i tell him as i slurp mine down . . ,

i do my best to learn from the dog,
to live in the moment, open my heart with a clean slate,
pay attention with all my senses, and

give spontaneous affection . . .

“Be present in the moment. Give spontaneous affection.”
― Steven Rowley, Lily and the Octopus


yesterday afternoon

“These are our few live seasons. Let us live them as purely as we can, in the present.”
― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

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“This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you.”
― Annie Dillard, The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New

spring awakens

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

the week is full of dirt, weeds, and spring.
i am surprised at how warm the soil is,
even thought there are two small patches of snow left in the yard.
it seems spring was not fooled and was doing her job
beneath that white, icy blanket.

i come in each day tired, in a good way; feeling content and blessed.

i make a “take in the good” list . . .

  • waking at sunrise

  • dirty fingernails

  • the red crowns of rhubarb in the garden

  • the dog curled up beside me, using my red weeding bucket for shade

  • Katie’s IG feed and their trip to Germany

  • listening to the birds and trying to identify their calls

  • beautiful evening light

  • a hot shower after being in the garden all day

  • a glass of red wine

  • the song of spring peepers coming through the open window at night

nothing mind blowing
but all of it so good, and worthy of my attention.

“Just watch this moment, without trying to change it at all. What is happening? What do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear?”
― Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

sunday morning

“Fulfillment derives not from lofty achievements, but from ordinary feats. It arrives not once in a lifetime,
but every moment of the livelong day.”
― Karen Maezen Miller, Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life

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Sunday morning dawns as the dog and I leave our bed. My husband rolls towards the middle, finally having the bed to himself, and sleeps on as we slip out the door.

I let Baker outside and watch as he mills around the yard smelling here and there, checking for any night visitors we might have had. He takes care of business and makes his way up the deck stairs to the back door. I open the door and watch as he darts towards the couch, surveying the front yard out our front window, looking for any intruders in the watershed across the street.

I join him with my latte and we settle in, him watching, me reading. Soon I am pulled towards the sounds of geese honking and I watch out the window as two Canadian geese make their way to the pond behind our home. The book lies in my lap as I listen, and my mind settles, I am surprised when I feel my body relax too, as I didn’t know I was holding stress.

Soon he is back at the door wanting out. I let him go and watch again. Nose to the ground, he leaps towards the back of our property, running pell mell until he suddenly stops and looks up; his bay deep and soulful. I slip on my clogs, grab a treat and head out.

High on the branch the raccoon is watching him with intent. I marvel at his sweet face, but also know he is scared and looking for food. This winter has been hard on all of us.

I break the treat into thirds and coax Baker across the yard, telling him what a good boy he is as he follows, knowing how hard it is for him to leave. Once he is safe inside, I step out onto the deck with binoculars and watch as the raccoon makes his way down out of the tree, heads over the fence, and leaves our yard.

“Every bit of life comes with instructions, when we are attentive enough to notice.” 
― Karen Maezen Miller

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I hear the geese before I see them. Above me, the two Canadian geese fly gracefully as they leave the pond behind our home. I stand and watch them and once again I feel an ease flood over me.

I head back inside, feed the dog and make some toast; understanding what I am feeling is “at home”.

a new project

that week i start a new project to help with my chattering mind . . .

"Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns...We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small."
— Tara Brach (Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha)

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"Sweetheart, you are in pain. Relax, take a breath, let's pay attention to what is happening, then we'll figure out what to do.” - Sylvia Boorstein

I have started a new project, which you can find under the navigation tab.
No rules or expectations . . .


Thank you so much for your comments, emails and kind words.
Thank you for taking the time to come here every few days for a peek into my world.
It means so much to me.

exhale

that week when everything was ordinary and beautiful . . .

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“Life is amazing. And then it's awful. And then it's amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful, it's ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That's just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it's breathtakingly beautiful.” 
― L.R. Knost

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