Wednesday, June 26, 2013

This Day

One year ago today I wept because my life was changed forever by simply putting one foot in front of the other and seeing where my journey led me.

This morning when the Supreme Court struck down the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act, I wept again because the lives of millions of LGBT people in this country have been changed for the better.

Who knows where I'll be a year from now, but that's the wonder of life. You never know what magic it will throw at you and how transformed you'll be by simply vowing to keep moving forward.

Always move forward.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Second Day of Summer

I love waking early, especially on weekends, when there's no need to leave my pillow, my blanket of cats, or the soft snorings of Ken and Duncan. Because it was cool last night, the windows remained open and a cacophony of perfumes have crowded into my little space, a collection that wakes me better than even the smell of the tea that simmers in my mug: the fading Russian Olive, the long grass––wet and bent––that rises along the edge of the golf course, the green depth of the pines and junipers, the first powdery, sweet traces of the Lindens. On mornings like this you will find me standing alone in the living room, my eyes closed, my head tilted back, just breathing, long and slow, with perhaps a faint smile curling the corners of my mouth.

Duncan and I walk quietly in the mornings, moving from one shady spot to the next, where the light is scarce and the grass underfoot is still dark, the drops of dew catching my ankles and gathering up Dunc's skinny legs like silver, iridescent ticks, fat and undulous with each step he takes. I wish I knew the names of all the birds that sing around us for I would construct a collection of their dawn songs and the way they muffle and echo across the wide fields: the robin, the chickadee––which I like to mimic––, the meadowlark, the sad lowing of the mourning dove. On cool mornings the air-conditioners are blessedly silent and each line and note of the bird chorus is clear and crisp, a garden of sound as rich as any planted in the earth.

After playing in the park, tossing the ball in the shade of the cottonwoods, greeting each of the workers who know Duncan by name and wave at me as they drive past in their little carts on their way to adjust the sprinklers or repaint the baseball diamonds, after rolling in the wet grass, we headed home, the sun higher than when we'd arrived. On the edge of the street, the curb before us, I paused to watch a single sparrow chase a hawk away from its nest. The hawk hardly noticed, content to spin slowly on the thermals rising up from the golf course, its wings fanned out wide, barely flapping as it rose higher and higher and coasted in the blue. The sparrow was frantic, though, flapping and calling furiously, diving and bouncing off the larger bark brown body of the indifferent hawk. On and on it went and I stood a long time until their silhouettes were lost in the glare of the sun and the traffic on Bowles began to pick up, drowning out the birds and the chikka-chikka-chik of the sprinklers behind us. There was some sort of metaphor there, I'm sure, but I didn't care to ponder it and thought only of getting home where I could enjoy the last of the Russian Olives and the tease of Linden outside my window, where a single hummingbird graces me with its presence at the feeder on my patio, where Roo could eat his breakfast and then rest his chin against my foot.

Friday, June 21, 2013

One Year Ago

A year ago tonight I was sitting in East Aurora, New York, surrounded by new family and friends, marveling at the distance I had traveled the night before, writing on my new iPad, wondering what Duncan was doing in my absence. It was the first night in years I had been without him near me, and only the sixth in our shared time together.

It was a long road getting there and one I have not taken for granted in the three-hundred, sixty-five days since. It started in Atlanta, when my anxiety first manifested on a business trip and continues to this day. But the real turning point was the morning Duncan presented me with his magic feather, when I kissed Ken farewell at the airport, and climbed aboard that red-eye flight to Buffalo. That was the night I finally understood how much control I had over my fear, that anything is truly possible if we work hard enough for it and believe in ourselves, and if we have the company of a good dog at our side to share in the journey.

And of course there were all the magic feathers sent to me by people across the country and from around the world who believed in me even when I doubted myself. I do not know whether I could have made that journey without their support and encouragement and faith. And I just want you to know that I remember, that I am still thankful for the gift you gave me, that there is not a day I haven't drawn strength from your generosity and kindness.

Thank you all. You got me there and back and have walked in my heart every time Duncan and I have ventured out since.

Friday, June 7, 2013

On This Day

I am officially on vacation but despite the feeling of laziness that crept into my bones late last night there are things that needed tending to at work and at home: from my annual evaluation to the laundry and chores, the packing to the prepping for the traditional road trip video. I've been very busy and even thought it's 11PM now I just realized I forgot to eat dinner. Duncan has been sprawled out on the patio diligently gnawing at his dinosaur bone, trying hard to distract himself from what he recognizes as the familiar signs of a very long day in the car tomorrow. I have been running back and forth, tripping over the cats, who decided that tonight was the perfect night to become even more affectionate than they already are. It's been a hectic day, but not so hectic that I failed to notice that this happened:

The Russian Olive behind the apartment came into bloom. While the flowers are still small, their fragrance is anything but. I've had the windows open and even while tending to the myriad chores that need tending to before we depart for Idaho in the morning, I have stopped often, caught up in the sweet fragrance, and stood still in the living room, just breathing and letting memories wash over me.

It has been glorious. And it happened today, the first official day of vacation.

Life couldn't be better.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


I have been trying to prepare Duncan for today for the past week, ever since I made the appointment with the groomer to get him all handsome for our trip to Idaho and his visit with Grandma. He doesn't like the groomer––the driers frighten him––so I knew it was going to be a difficult afternoon. Before we left I even gave him a shot of Valerian root to calm him down but he's smart and the instant we arrived he wasn't happy with the situation. So I sat with him a moment, reassured him that Papa would never leave him, that I would always come back for him, gave him a treat, a kiss on the nose, and stood to leave. His whole body was shaking and he started screaming––screaming!––when I turned away. His groomer is a perfectly nice woman and her business has very high marks on Yelp! so I wasn't afraid for him or concerned about his safety. I just know how much he hates the roar of the driers and being away from me.

And I'll be honest, it was just as difficult for me. I had tears in my eyes by the time I got to the car and talked to myself all the way home. "He's going to be okay. He's safe and it'll be over before we know it." Suffering from anxiety as I do, I understand the feeling, that all-over body fear, and I hated that I was doing it to him, just so he could look good.

But a few hours later I went back to pick him up and all was well with the world. They'd loved him, said that once I was out the door he calmed down and was a perfect gentleman. They're good people and I appreciate the job they do, but I appreciated having him back even more.

I'd promised him a trip to Hero's for a treat if he was good, so that was the first place we stopped on our way home. I told him to pick out anything he wanted, so of course he headed straight to the bones. The big ones. He grabbed an enormous Boo Lannie, a bone named after Chelsea's dogs, Boo and Lannie. Patty, the woman who makes them, is someone I actually introduced to Hero's several years ago when she was in nursing school and I was still at the college bookstore. She eventually stopped being a nurse and dedicated herself to producing high quality pet treats from local Colorado suppliers. You can read about her on her website, Patty's Patties

Duncan couldn't wait to get home to devour his treat but consented to a quick stop at The Glen to roll in the grass and pose for a picture or two to show off his fancy new look. But once we were done with that he was ready to get to work on his new bone.

He loves his bone but he loves being home even more. And in a few days, when my mother is slipping him treats and suckers, and playing with him in the yard among her flowers, he'll love it even more.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Carving a Trail Through Spring

After all our waiting, after the exquisite tease of a lingering winter and the slow delight of a reluctant Spring, I must finally concede that the blossoms are not coming, not this year. Diligently, on each of our walks––whether early in the morning when the grass is still wet and cradles diamonds of dew on the curve of their thick blades, or afternoon when the clouds roll in and rumble but rarely release any moisture, or our after-dinner runs through the park, dodging the myriad buzzing, hovering things that force me to squint and purse my lips––we have watched the trees, especially the crab apples, which are so fragrant, for the tiniest sign of their delicate pink and white flowers, and at the end of each walk we're forced to admit defeat. There are no flowers and there is no evening perfume to bask in while sipping cold beverages and watching the moon drift across the sky.

"It was the snow in May," Ken told me this morning while we sat on the patio, Duncan curled up between us, his nose hanging through the railing so he could watch the other dogs and their human companions passing by down below. Ken was sipping his coffee while I danced a tea bag in a cup of hot water, both of us looking out on the trees, resplendent in their new coat of green but without the flowery finery that usually graces them this time of year.

"And it's been cold at night," he added and squeezed patted my knee reassuringly.

But then, this afternoon, walking the perimeter of the property with Duncan, watching the cotton drift down from the cottonwoods––the good ones, not the terrible and inconvenient ones that plague this corner of the world––I spotted a single bunch of pink petals hanging onto a low branch of a young and gangly tree. I hurried to it, buried my nose in it but sadly did not smell a single thing. But that was fine because just to see it was worthwhile and made our cold and windy May bearable.

The Russian Olives and Lindens are slowly filling in, and if the Universe is willing they will redeem our dreadful, colorless and bland Spring, and bring the kind of smile to my face that lasts for weeks. Until then, though, the grass is high and Duncan and I have done our best to carve a trail through it. While he loses himself among the high blades I hold my open palms above them and caress each tip as we pass, humming a made-up song to myself, delighting in the give of the earth beneath my feet, the sound of a breeze running alongside us. Flowers would be nice, but carving a trail through the grass is a wondrous thing. Tame it early and it will carry you the rest of the year.

Spring has returned.  The Earth is like a child that knows poems. (Rainer Maria Rilke)