Saturday, March 26, 2016


During the life of this blog, I have written quite a bit about my dog, Chili. I could write pages and pages about the life and adventures we have had together; the ups and downs, the hilarious and horrible, the calm and chaotic. 

Chili is dying. I don't mean that existential, "we are all dying" kind of dying. I mean he is actually dying. A couple of weeks ago he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. We have chosen to not put him through an operation and chemotherapy because of his age and because we believe in quality of life over quantity. Right now he is living the good life. He is eating expensive food. He gets all the treats he wants. He gets a pain pill before bed each night. He sits in the sun when he wants to be outside and sleeps on a pile of dog beds when he wants to be inside. He can still get up and around to eat and go out and wag. He still greets us at the door with a tennis ball in his mouth. But he is dying. The cancer is growing inside of him and shutting him down. We don't know how long it will be. We don't know if he will go fast or slow or if Jason and I will have to make the decision to let him go. But Chili is dying. 

This is a fact that has me worrying and hovering even more than usual, and that's saying something. 

This morning I had a dream. Jason and I were at a big party. This party looked like every college party scene from cheesy movies. There was a two story house with a balcony overlooking a swimming pool and people packed in everywhere around the pool, in the yard, in the house. I was on the balcony looking down. Chili was with us there and was going around to everyone at the party, getting petted and loved. He was even larger in the dream than he is in real life. More like actual Great Dane size. Anyway, I was watching him from the balcony as he moved through the crowd. I turned away for a minute and when I looked back down I saw he had jumped in and was swimming in the pool. He is a Labrador and has always been a great swimmer. I turned away again and when I looked a second time, I saw him under the water. I watched, waiting, but he did not come back up. I ran down to the pool and jumped in at the same time someone else jumped in to help. I was under the water and the two of us were trying to lift Chili off the bottom of the pool. I remember Chili's eyes being open and looking at me. I remember screaming at the other person to LIFT! I grabbed Chili with both of my arms, under his body and swam with him to the top. I walked out of the pool with him still in my arms. When I looked at him, he was perfectly fine. Alive. Panting, but not coughing up water at all. just sitting in my arms as if nothing had happened as I walked back though the crowd before waking up out of the dream...

When I woke up I could not shake the dream. I thought about how terrified I was seeing Chili under the water. My arms were sore from my body reacting to desperately trying to lift him in my mind. I was describing it all to Jason as he held me close, and then I started to cry. I realized, I can't save him in real life. I realized that he is not going to get better. I realized I can't pull him out of this. And I cried. 

It comes in waves. Most days I put on a happy face because Jason says that's the thing to do rather than being upset around Chili. Dogs pick up on emotions pretty easily. I watch him and worry about him, but I also work to make sure he is comfortable and happy. I have no fucking idea what I will do when my dog is gone. But for now, we are both just swimming. 

Because this is a blog of lists what follows is a list of some of Chili's favorite places to swim. 

  • Nantahala River
  • Tuckasegee River
  • Lake Junaluska
  • Fontana Lake
  • Oconaluftee River
  • Bear Lake
  • Santeelah Lake
  • Chautauqua Lake

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Healing Place

It has been a long time since I have been here to my little blog, a long time since I have written about myself and for myself and felt the need to share it with the known world. However right this minute, I need to do just that. 

I have been in and out of therapy with a variety of therapists for about 10 years. I have taken medicines and rubbed essential oils, lost and gained weight, changed careers many other things trying to regulate my moods and my energy and stabilize my general health and state of mind. A few years ago it was suggested that I might benefit from a stay at an inpatient facility. I thought about it, but put it at the very bottom of my list of priorities. After all, I had way too many other people to take care of and too many other responsibilities to walk out of my life for 30 days. 

Last November, that suggestion became a necessity. 

My amazing friends and family rallied around me. My workplace and co-workers made sure I had the time, and away I went, deep into the forest of Florida. 

I cannot possibly explain all the ways this experience changed my life for better...and for worse. But tonight, as another piece of exquisitely shiny mica is chipped off the granite of my foundation, I have to speak out about the truth that is my experience with inpatient mental health treatment. 

True to my mind's preferred way of teasing out the complicated thoughts and feelings that push and shove each other around in there, I have made a list. I have written two lists actually, which speak to my messy and confusing experience during my search for healing.  

Each person's experience with this kind of care is different. I understand that. So I share this information knowing it may not be understood or embraced. Nonetheless, like me, it is here. 


  • For the very first time, I felt like I was not alone or unique in my unhealthy thoughts and feelings. This was truly a revelation which immediately began to bring peace and hope to every circuit of my brain and every string of my heart. 
  • I gained a much deeper understanding of how I became who I am and how I can reclaim a truer, happier, healthier self. 
  • I began to let go of shame which has controlled my every decision and subsequent actions for most of my life, and live in a whole-hearted way. 
  • Creativity returned to my life as a powerful tool for self-expression, self-confidence,  and self-care. 
  • Under the shiny leaves of an ancient magnolia and from thumbnail moon to thumbnail moon I felt reconnected to the Universe, to the God of my understanding. I laid in the dark with my skin to the grass and dirt. I stretched my arms and face to the sky and stars. I bathed in the smoke of burning sage. I once again felt the power and love of knowing I am a child of the Universe, truly made of elements, of star stuff. 
  • I was able to save important relationships and come home to loved ones.


  • Wounds laid open, literally. Seeing young, smart, beautiful girls from all walks of life scarred with the marks of negative feelings so deeply rooted the only choice was to slice them out.
  • Unimaginable horror listening to all the ways human beings can hurt one another. Women and men being splintered into the tiniest pieces by other people resulting in bottomless self-hate and fear. 
  • Leaving support behind. Having created trust and hope among people who trust no one and never dare to hope, you promptly leave those people and are tossed back out into a world of unknowns. While many of those people are close in theory, keeping in touch by Facebook or email or phone, the day to day, face to face, immediacy of truly meaningful interaction is gone. It is hours and hours away in every possible direction. 
  • News that someone has relapsed. News that someone wants to die. News that someone tried to die. News that someone succeeded. 
  • Bills left unpaid because of time out of work. Medical debt which will take me many many years to get under control, and refusal by immoral health insurance providers to help in any way.

I am truly thankful for the once in a lifetime opportunity provided to me. I am truly proud of myself for the work I did while I was there and am continuing to do for myself and for others. 

Most days it is that healing that has my attention, but today, today my thoughts are of the wars being waged. Today I miss my people so badly I can hardly breathe. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Westward Adventure Flora Lists

(July 2013)
Wildflowers Identified
Monkey flower
Mountain pride (Newberry's Penstemon)
Cow parsnip
Snow plant
Yosemite aster
Indian Paintbrush

Cacti Identified
Cane cholla cactus 
Purple prickly pear


(originally written January 15, 2011)

I have been told by many people lately that...
  • I need look on the bright side
  • It isn't all bad
  • It  will all be ooookaaaayyyy
  • I should be thankful for what I have
  • Focus on the good
You get the gist...I guess I have been kind of whiney this month...ok...year. So to all those who encourage me to stay positive I present a list of awesome events from 2011 (in no particular order.)
  1. The litter of Labrador puppies across the street all came running across the yard towards me. My heart actually hurts thinking about it because they were so sweet.
  2. Saw my brother and there was no drama.
  3. Reconnecting with old friends and lost loves.
  4. Reading some amazing books, my favorite being The Tiger's Wife.
  5. Saw all the Oscar movies before the Oscars.
  6. Seeing Chris Cornell

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Just Plain Lucille

While going through my email today I came across the list of names my (insert adjective of choice) husband had sent to me when we were trying to pick a name for our new black female puppy. We decided on just plain Lucille. Which is really not plain at all and is the perfect name for her. Here are his suggested names

  • Michelle Obarka
  • Lt. Ohura
  • Karen Barkenter
  • Blackie Joyner-Kersey
  • Joan Harris

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Random List of Things I Was Reminded That I Love Yesterday

  1. Taylor Kitsch
  2. Christopher Nolan's Batman Movies
  3. $1 Sweet Tea from McDonalds
  4. Laughing about things my husband says and does
  5. Spring at the baseball park
  6. Full moons

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Stars on 45s

Photo by Brandywine Photography
I have been a longtime fan of pin-up style fashion and photography. My friend Leanna has recently started a business photographing pin-ups, and I was lucky enough to be one of her first models. Since I was so excited about it all, I have been trying to help out where I can. Most recently that included browsing my parents' house for "vintage" stuff that could be used as props in future shoots. I had seen the photo to the right on a pin-up photography site and loved it so much that I thought I could try to recreate it. I have an old record player, all I needed was the forty-fives. My mom spoke up and said, "We've got some old 45's you can have." YES! So we headed to the 5 or 6 milk crates that now contain my parents' much narrowed down record collection, to look for them. I was totally surprised when I saw that the majority of these 45s were mine! How had they survived all this time?! Mom and I laughed and sang as we looked through the stack. She kept a few John Lennon ones that she couldn't part with, and sent the rest home with me. What follows is a list of the 45's in that stack. Enjoy!

  • "Jungle Love" Morris Day and The Time
  • "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" Elton John
  • "I'm Satisfied" BeeGees
  • "Conga" Miami Sound Machine
  • "Africa" Toto
  • "Saving All My Love for You" Whitney Houston
  • "Ebony and Ivory" Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
  • "Harlem Shuffle" Rolling Stones
  • "Count Me Out" New Edition
  • "Sharing the Night Together" Dr. Hook
  • "Copacabana" Barry Manilow
  • "Walk Like an Egyptian" Bangles (2 copies)
  • "When Doves Cry" Prince
  • "King Tut" Steve Martin
  • "Beat It" Michael Jackson
  • "We Are Family" Sister Sledge
  • "Shame on the Moon" Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
  • "The Girl Is Mine" Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney
  • "Ghostbusters" Ray Parker Jr.
  • "Who's Zoomin' Who" Aretha Franklin
  • "Unchain My Heart" Joe Cocker
  • "Chicken Soup with Rice" Carole King
  • "Georgie and the Noisy Ghost" a Robert Bright story read by George Rose

Not mine (that I did not remember singing to in my room anyway):
  • "White Christmas" Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters
  • "Nobody Does it Better" Carly Simon
  • "Shout" Joey Dee and the Starlighters
  • "This Is It" Melba Moore
  • "Here You Come Again" Dolly Parton
  • "Stars on 45 Get Ready Volume III" Stars On 45 (Both sides are more than 7 min long each)
  • "The Gambler" Kenny Rogers
  • "She Believes in Me" Kenny Rogers