An Ode to Jake

Some of you may remember the big German Shepherd who occasionally graces these pages, especially his escapades of a few years ago. Jake was my ex-husband’s dog, never mine, but he loved me in a very special way. I was either his mistress or his best girl on the side, because every time I’d show up at my ex’s house, this giant-ass, 115-pound beast would jump up and try to put his paws on my shoulders (and often succeed). He almost broke my wrist once with his enthusiasm for seeing me, as I was holding his collar at the time (not sure why; never did that again), and it’s only recently been that he didn’t greet me with crazy behavior.

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For a while, Jake was climbing or digging under fences and escaping my ex’s yard after 6 years of not caring, and he would come over here. I’d get calls from my neighbor that Jake was back, or he’d be sitting on my front doorstep. So for a while, he stayed here during the day, but we quickly learned that the destination was not the game; it seemed to be the escape he was after. He would climb a 6-foot fence like a monkey and take off towards places unknown, and then someone would call and say they had him because he was running around on a busy street. He never got hit, but after that, he had to stay inside during the day. The kids would go let him out after school, but it wasn’t ideal for a big dog like that.

In the last month, Jake’s been sick. They thought it was a doggie cold. He went off his food. I got no enthusiastic greetings. I would walk in and he would lean his big body up against me and whine, and I would pet him, and that would be it. Some tests had been done, mostly inconclusive, and he was signed up for an expensive procedure today to hopefully help with diagnosis and treatment, because there was obviously something seriously wrong.

When my daughter got home to her dad’s house last night, Jake was dead. We don’t know why. His dad (ever Scottish at heart) jokes that he heard how much the ultrasound was going to cost and he died to save him the money, but whatever the cause, it was kind of a shock.

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He wasn’t very old, maybe 8 or 9, and physically OK until recently? And he was a good dog. It seems somehow different, easier, when they age in front of you and you spend time dealing with the elderly aspects of pet ownership, even though that’s a pain in the ass. It’s a relief when they die from old age. You know they had a good long life. On the other hand, I don’t think he suffered for long. He wasn’t sick for months on end like some of our pets have been.

Doesn’t really matter. Just know I will miss the big dummy. He was a freak in many ways, but a sweet freak.

So yeah.

Did I iron last night? I did. I wasn’t going to, but I guess I needed to clear my mind. I only worked for an hour or so…I did all the things hanging in the tree…

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Maybe 100 pieces down. I also laid out all the 500s, so the next step is the body in the middle…and then I’m done. I’m not sure I can do it all tonight, but I’m going to try. (OK. That was crazy talk, just so you know.) There’s about 260 pieces left, so maybe 3 hours, but I know I won’t start until late because I’m going to the gym and I’m in charge of dinner. And I really need to get my butt out of here this morning too for a parent meeting. It’s OK. My lunch is made. My tea is boiling. The progress report is printed. I can go.

Sigh. Miss the big dog.

Keep Driving…

First of all, welcome to the 300 spammers who are visiting my website. It’s nice to have you here. Please make yourselves at home, but stop sending all those stupid misspelled messages that make no sense. Wow. First I typed massages. I wish they were sending massages. That would be helpful. But no…they’re sending messages. Stupid ones. It’s OK. I know how to delete.

Secondly, hello crazy time of year. I’m done with you. Now move on. I’m ready to skip to the 26th. Actually, I can handle the 25th. Everything has to be done BY then, so the day itself isn’t so bad. It’s just the cooking, and girlchild doesn’t let me do much of that. I think I’m in charge of breakfast and deviled eggs…and even that’s questionable. And I’m OK with that. I am so secure in my femininity (cough cough) that I can skip the cooking portion of my life and just be in charge of something like trash detail and kitchen cleanup. I have no issues with letting my 16-year-old daughter rule the kitchen…like forever.

With that in mind, there is this video on holiday meal etiquette:

But I like Brussels sprouts…and you watch too much porn. Yes, you.

And this has made me cry every single fucking time I’ve seen it…

which may just be about me.

Today was the finals for the soccer tournament the girlchild’s team has been in for the last few days. It was tied 0-0 at the end, went to two 5-minute overtimes, still 0-0, then penalty kicks, where her team lost…it always sucks to get that far and then lose, but it is what it is. The coach made some really shitty decisions throughout the game, and I think the girls paid for that. My girl didn’t play much…

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which didn’t make sense, considering the laziness of those he did play. The day I understand this coach will probably be the day I die. We’ve dealt with a lot of coaches over the years, and his decisions confuzzle me every time. And I’m not just saying that because I think my kid is better than everyone…she has good games and bad games…but if your forwards aren’t scoring and aren’t even running, then kick their asses to the bench and toss some new blood in there and see what they can do. Or not. And lose. Unfortunately, unless you change high schools, you’re pretty much stuck with the coach you get. So the plus is that in the past, when he pulls this shit, she gets sad and cries a lot…today, she was angry, angry because his decisions hurt the team in the final, and that was just stupid. Anyway. We move on. I’m sure it’s a teachable moment for all of us.

Speaking of teachable moments, Jake doesn’t appear to be learning…

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He’s been bopped by every cat in the house now, and yet he still tries to eat them. He would also like to go out and run free for a while, but we’ve told him he has to stay in the backyard, where he barks a lot. Boychild took him over to their dad’s house on Saturday so he could run around there…although he CAN escape, strangely he doesn’t if someone is home.

We’ve played games with him, he gets fed and petted…he gets to sleep on the couch…

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When there’s room…he seems happy enough. He’d like it if we’d feed him more people food and take him on long walks, but there hasn’t been time for that…time has been eaten up by doctor’s appointments and soccer games and Christmas-related errands and all that stuff. It’s better than the kennel though, and that’s where he was supposed to be. He’s quite well-behaved with me in my own house…he’s only jumped up on me once, and that was when we were playing this goofy game where I lunge at him and he barrels around a bit and then throws himself on the ground again for me to lunge at him again. At his dad’s house, he uses the couches as his sanctuary in this game, but he doesn’t seem to be able to figure that out here, so it’s mostly just goofy running around. He’s a large beast…which reminds me…one of the errands for tomorrow is dog-present-shopping. I’m also going computer-accessory-shopping, since the boychild thinks he might have some solutions to everything but the graphics driver/card issue, which may be a bigger problem than I can deal with at the moment. He was floored by how many photos I have (49,000+) and how much music I have. Music rules. I take lots of photos. What can I say?

I’m holding emotions at bay at the moment, most of the time. It’s all there, lurking, let out when I see things on TV that make me sad or read things that remind me of why I’m sad or drive past something that makes me sad. OK, lots of the time I’m sad. Mostly I’m too busy to think about anything but wrapping 20 presents and paying bills and making lists and going to the store for the third time in three days. I read this book, though…The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison…


It’s about a 40-some-year-old guy working as a caregiver to a teenager who has muscular dystrophy. They both have issues to work out, and there is a road trip involved, and there is a sad sad story that is woven into the current tale, and there is some sarcasm and jokiness and some supreme horrible sadness, but it was a beautifully written book. If you read it, be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end…it will bring you to your knees and make the whole book mean something entirely different than you thought it meant. “This novel is about the imperative of getting in that van, because you have no choice but to push yourself and drive on, and keep driving in the face of life’s terrible surprises. It’s about the people and the things you gather along that rough road back to humanity.” It was a good thing to read as I’ve been trying to avoid the holiday platitudes on Facebook and on people’s blogs, making the season all the harder for those of us who feel like we’re missing something or that some things in life are just plain difficult for us and easier for others…knowing that nothing is fair and there is no fate and even karma doesn’t really play out, at least I haven’t seen that yet, though maybe I did such a heinous thing in a previous life that this is my payback. I don’t really believe in all that. So I just take deep breaths and keep driving and try to stop asking WHY…because there is no why that makes any sense…except maybe for girlchild’s explanation that the world is full of assholes.

Artmaking at this time of year is difficult until Christmas is behind me…but I managed lots of wool stitching at soccer today…these guys just need their cotton bits sewn on…

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And these guys just have two cotton pieces to go on and they’re done…

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minus all the embellishment of course. I have about 30 soccer games ahead of me where I can be doing that. Girlchild’s back is OK at the moment; her CT scan is scheduled for early January. Then we’ll decide about surgery. Scary stuff.

Meditation said yesterday that when feelings are uncomfortable, we have a tendency to run away from them. I’ve never (or at least as long as I can remember) been one to run from scary uncomfortable feelings. If anything, I hang out with them too much, let them have too much play with me. Meditation has given me some distance from them, but I still had issues yesterday at the gym, in the weightlifting portion of my workout, when there is no book to distract me. Audiobooks might help…I don’t know. I usually listen to music AND read…I need an audiobook with a soundtrack to occupy all parts of my brain. Or maybe not…maybe that’s me sitting with the uncomfortable, listening to it and watching it and responding to it. Maybe that’s why I’m better at the emotional bits than some, because I listen to them. I hear them talk and whine and fuss…I talk them out of some of their bitchiness. I live with some of it. I don’t know. I draw some of it. Need to do that. Draw. All these pictures in my head…they need to come out.

So I am still cutting things out…

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FOREVER. OK, not really. I’m almost 10 hours into the cutting and I’m in the 600s (going backwards). That’s a little scary. I think it’s going to take more than 12 hours to cut them out…which isn’t surprising, because a lot of the pieces are really fussy and complicated.

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Big pieces often take less time to cut out than small pieces. More tomorrow, hopefully. I have lots of errands and cleaning to do tomorrow. Doesn’t look like much, does it? It never does until they’re all ironed together.

Anyway. Hope your holiday preparations are going smoothly and that your family is gathering around and the weather is what you want it to be (I was barefoot in the sun at the soccer game today) and all the food is ready or will be ready and someone has wrapped all the presents and everyone is healthy and happy. Or at least as much of that as you can handle. I’ll personally be OK with my kids around me and the shopping done and wrapped and the floors clean. Anything else is gravy.

Wash Down the Drain…

Wow. Boom. Hear that? That’s any sense of ease I had in the last few days. Exploding. It wasn’t really ease…more like resignation? Not even that, because my brain is always trying to find ways around the giant rift valley in the prefrontal cortex. I’m not resigned to anything. I keep getting up and moving, trying to figure out how to get across. Knowing there is something over there that is better than over here, and if I just keep working at it, I will get over there. Hope it’s not a grass-is-greener thing. I’d hate to get across and have it all still suck.

It is what it is.

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We kamikazed to a soccer game in San Ysidro today after school, 5 miles from the Mexican border. The sky was beautiful for about 45 minutes before the game…

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In all sorts of ways. I feel this incredible sense of peace when looking at the sky lately. It has so many variations, some so bright and clear, others murky and gray, and even more highly colored and vivid these days. The cynic in me blames pollution somewhere…in fact, the red is caused by scattering of light, with more water droplets and dust in the air causing the red wavelengths to scatter more, making that amazing magenta/watermelon in the sky that I’ve seen so often in the last few weeks. Was it always there in December? Did I never notice it? Is it that there is so little good going on in my brain that the skies are making such an impression? There are no good answers. It’s best to just watch the sky and enjoy it when it’s enjoyable. Notice it when it’s noticeable. Wonder why I’m so fascinated by nature and landscapes.

So yeah, there was a soccer game. One down, four to go. These days are such logistical nightmares, they require advance planning and multiple texts for completion. It’s no wonder I’m exhausted when we get home and finally get dinner made and the dishes done. I did exercise and meditate, but I didn’t manage much more than that. I wanted to, but I was too damn tired.

I didn’t grade at soccer. My school-related frustrations were high, and I refuse to let them take over my life, so I have a rule that if I leave school irritated with my job, then I don’t work that night. Yes, this could get ugly, but mostly it’s working. Honestly, will the world end if something is not graded right away? Nope. It hasn’t yet. I always seem to figure it out. I take more help than I used to. I grade less than I used to. I try to be more efficient but also more kind to myself…honestly, the frustration and upset caused by grading when I am already not happy about work is just not worth it. So I don’t make it worse.

Those are usually art nights (OK, mostly every night is art night at the moment, but I think that’s a good thing)…but tonight. Sheesh. Not an option. I did stitch at the soccer game…

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I’m almost done stitching everything down on these…I think these are the August blocks, the ones that originally burned up on the stove. I was worried that all those tiny blue dots (and there are lots more of them coming) would be too difficult to stitch while sitting on bleachers, but I was wrong. They were a piece of cake. I almost lost one of the larger blue dots on the bleachers though…found it later.

I got these to this stage over Thanksgiving, I think…or some soccer game after that. Can’t remember now. Big blur…

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Of wool and stuff. I actually had two men ask about these…one wanted to know what I was knitting (bang head…); the other asked if I was doing the school logo (which strangely does look kinda like the orange bird body above). People so rarely ask what I’m doing…so that was interesting. I usually sit far away from people, which is how I started out, but then I got surrounded by the male contingent of soccer parents. I don’t understand sunflower-seed-eating people who just leave all their droppings on the bleachers. What do they think will happen to them? Bizarre thought process.

When we finally got home, Jake was here…

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Jake is my ex’s dog. He’s here for two weeks. He keeps going to the door, wondering where his dad is. Poor guy. And he’s really not sure about cats…

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Cats seem to confuzzle him. They are just a tad bit scary and sharp and loud and hissy. I wonder if he knows the cats kinda feel the same sort of uneasy about him?

Anyway. The sad is back. Was it ever gone? I guess not. I will need to fit art into tomorrow night…it’s much harder when the kids are here full time. I wonder how much art I would be doing now if I had been married all these years? It’s hard to say what life would have been like…it doesn’t really matter, I guess, because it didn’t work out that way. This is why you stop having expectations, I guess, because then the not-happening is so difficult. There is a fine line though between no expectations and no hope. That’s the line I’m walking at the moment.

Back to the art. Set goals. Aim for getting them done. The rest will come. Maybe some of the sad will wash down the drain while I’m doing that.