Olympia, Japan, Los Angeles, flora, & lots & lots of cakes…
updates coming soon.
Olympia, Japan, Los Angeles, flora, & lots & lots of cakes…
updates coming soon.
The last couple of months have been…challenging. Not a day goes by where I don’t miss my Ro. After she left us, I was sick for a month and then Olivier, my little perma-kitten, crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He was born with a congenital problem that made him stay small – around 3 lbs. But he was a sweet, fluffy three pound ball of love and we all miss him.
Now that October has arrived and the oppressive heat has finally abated, I feel energized and mentally ready to get back to writing. Festival season is in full swing, and the county fairs are quickly approaching. I spent yesterday afternoon judging the photography exhibit at one of them, and look forward to going back and taking my annual cliche ferris wheel photo while smothering myself in cotton candy. The evenings have been especially rewarding now that I’ve gotten the opportunity to throw at the wheel again. I am, admittedly, not the best potter, but I love it, and it’s fulfilling to learn new techniques.
By kismet, a Boston baby let me be her human, and I named her Iris Rose. Iris means ‘rainbow’ in Greek – a nod to Rosie being at the Rainbow Bridge, for the many rainbows I and her friends saw immediately after her death, and Rose – in honor and memory of my sweet girl. Iris is a sweet girl, though at 4 months old, she is teething and her mouth is full of tiny knives. She’s got a muppet smile, a lively personality, and is eager to please. She’s also a bit of a maniacal genius – a Boston through and through. It’s still hard without Rosie, though, and I hope that I can make Iris as happy as Robes made me.
I’m hoping to get back into baking this weekend, now that it’s not as brutal being in the kitchen. My friend, Megan, of Hello Bardeaux shared a recipe for an apfel marzipan kuchen on Instagram that I am dying to try. Marzipan is my favorite candy ever, so I’m sure this will be delicious! I’ve also got to move around many of the plant babies and make sure the garden is prepared for these cooler temperatures. One thing is for sure – there will be plenty of gourds lining the greens!
I’ve been composing this post in my head for over a week now, and it hasn’t gotten any easier.
We celebrated Rosie’s 10th birthday on July 25th, with a new shirt, a cookie, and a meatball from a local restaurant. She was still recovering from surgery – she had had mammary gland tumors and “old lady” warts taken off – and was getting adjusted to being on Lasix, as she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, common in pups her age. She awoke smiling, as always, and had a really nice day.
Throughout the next few weeks, her breathing was still a little ragged, and she went to get checked out at the vet. Her sutures were removed from surgery and her doctor said she looked perfect, and that we had to give the Lasix time to work. The high humidity wasn’t helping, either. Rosie remained her usual cheerful self, barking at me when I arrived home from work and snuggling in bed for cuddles. She was even gifted a stroller to help her get around easier!
Still, her breathing just wasn’t good. We are fortunate enough to be able to text and call her vet tech anytime, and my “sister” is one, as well. Everyone said to keep her cool, so we lowered the air and kept her near fans. It became difficult for her to eat, and I think that it’s like when you get a really bad cold -you can’t breathe out of your nose so closing your mouth to chew is difficult! We spoon fed her and used syringes to give her water when she wouldn’t eat or drink.
On Saturday, August 6th, my parents took her out for a Puppuccino from Starbucks, which she enjoyed. But she just wasn’t right, and I had hoped to take her back into the vet the following week. I came home Saturday night to stay with her and she had a really good evening. She ate everything I fed her, and settled down on the couch between my mom and me, resting and breathing fairly well. She awoke, coughing, as usual, the next morning, and went downstairs for breakfast. In the afternoon, I decided to take a quick nap and asked my mom if she’d bring Ro upstairs so we could snuggle. That was at 1:24 pm. At 1:35pm, my girl was gone.
As I texted a friend whose dog had also been diagnosed with CHF, I felt something wet beside me. Because Lasix is a diuretic, I figured Rosie had had an accident – which was to be expected. When I turned to her to tell her it was okay, it was clear something was happening. I jumped up and called her name, asking her please not to go, then screamed for my mom. While the life left her sweet little body, my parents came running up and my dad and I administered CPR, but there was nothing to be done. It is apparent that she threw a clot, and with CHF, dogs can die just walking down the street. While I knew that she wasn’t 100%, this was still fairly unexpected, shocking, and tragic. I’m still in shock.
I held her the rest of the afternoon, telling her I wasn’t mad at her and understood that this was what she had to do, and how much of a sweet and good girl she is. We napped for a few hours, and I kissed her soft cheeks, rubbed her little ears that had been chewed up in her former life in a puppy mill, felt the curl on her chest, took inventory of her cow belly, her snaggly teeth, her nubby tail. We stamped her paw print in ink, and wrapped her in one of the many blankets I smuggled for her off of airplanes.
She was cremated, and along with her ashes I received a paw print in clay and a lock of her fur. Her best friend’s mom, one of my best friends, found a vintage pendant on etsy for me in which I will be placing some of her ashes, and my friends at the jewelry store where I once worked engraved her name in pink on the back of said pendant, and attached it to a chain so I can wear her close to my heart.
It is very quiet without her. She wasn’t necessarily a loud dog, but her joyful energy could fill the room. I miss her kicking me in the back at night, then throwing herself into my arm for cuddles and smiles in the morning. She was truly happy each and every day. I miss seeing her burrowed under the blankets when I’d come back from my shower, and her scratching and yelling at me for attention when I returned home. I miss sharing potatoes and cherry pie (her favorite) with her, and watching her play with her Lambchop. Because she was rescued from a puppy mill as one of the breeder dogs, she came to me not knowing how to play with toys. It was the best day when she finally learned to do so, and from then on, kept all of her toys and treasures (socks, underwear, tissues, toilet paper rolls – even bags of toilet paper! -, etc) in her bed, pulling them out to play. I miss seeing her run into the room when she was ready for bed, and how excited she would be to try on her new clothes (she genuinely liked them), ready to pose for a photo. The only time she would pout was during her baths, or if I was out of town for too long. Her happiness spread to everyone. I had several friends who claimed to not be “dog people,” or “animal people,” yet they would ask to hold her or comment on her photographs. We tried to make sure her life was as full as possible, to make sure she was so loved and appreciated. Rosie loved her electric blanket, spicy snacks, her Lambchops and hedgies, snuggling, popcorn, being blow dried (even when not wet!), shredding toilet paper, naps, having her photo taken, her belly rubbed and chest scratched, going on car rides, and licking inanimate objects. She had me wrapped around her paw, and could have and do anything she wanted. Ro was the best girl, always well-behaved and eager to please. Mainly, she just wanted to love and be loved, and she excelled at both. I’ve never seen a little creature touch so many hearts. She came to live with me on June 1st, 2012, and I was so lucky to have that little girl let me be her mama.
I know she’s at the Rainbow Bridge, but I miss her everyday and my heart aches terribly. There will be (and are) other dogs, other animals, but there will never, ever be anyone like my Ro.
What a strange past couple of weeks it’s been. Upon return from the Pacific Northwest, we were thrown immediately back into the swing of things, and it’s been non-stop ever since. Then, once the events in Orlando took place, I couldn’t find the energy to do much of anything, let alone post here. I debated talking about it, but I just couldn’t (and still can’t) really find the words. I’m sad and I’m tired. It’s heartbreaking to receive texts from my friends saying that they are “scared to be in their own skin.” I can’t imagine their fear, their tremendous sadness, and the anger. I, myself, am beyond pissed. There are days that I troll Facebook, sharing article after article, getting into heated debates with narrow-minded, bigoted, fear-mongering, hate-harboring maniacs, and then there are the days that I just want to retreat. Which is better? I’m trying to find a balance between being active in discussions, in furthering awareness – not just about LGBT rights, but women’s rights, tighter gun laws, better accessibility to health care and mental illness resources, etc., and staying calm, centered, and content. It’s a double-edged sword, I think. You can’t be involved and not have strong reactions/feelings, but you also don’t want to live each day in frustration. But to not have your voice heard, to stay silent, creates a different season of discontent – I can’t imagine not being proactive. That orange monster was two hours away from our city recently and, filled with seething rage at the thought of him possibly campaigning in our town, and I vowed to ignite another protest if that happens. We turned away the KKK 6 years ago – I’m ready for this ding dong.
In the meantime, what to do to stay sane? Once the afternoon is done, and the incessant dinging from Facebook notifications has ceased, websites from various news outlets closed, I try to retire to the outdoor world for a bit, even if it’s for only thirty minutes to an hour. Our garden has become a refuge. Even on the days where there’s not too much to be done – deadheading completed, plant babies watered, waiting for the next harvest – just sitting quietly is rewarding. When the world has lost its damn mind, there are these little creatures that pop up from the ground, full of life, flowers bursting with joy, and trees birthing new fruit – reminders that not everything is terrible.
I couldn’t, with peace of mind, keep writing without recognizing what has been happening in the world. This is not a political blog, but it’s a human one. I’ll be resuming with more posts about our trip, Rosie, gardening, sweet treats, and reviews soon.
To all of my friends and family trying to make sense of everything right now:
“Go out and tell our story.
Let it echo far and wide.
And tell them, in our struggle,
We were not the only ones.
Make them hear you,
Make them hear you.”
* the title of this post is from the song, “Make Them Hear You,” from the Tony-Award winning musical, “Ragtime.” It was performed by my friend, Russell Joel Brown, who is currently on Broadway in the role of “Mufasa” in “The Lion King,” at our dear friend’s memorial service over a decade ago. Jaime was a champion of equality and acceptance for all, and someone who made a tremendous impact in all the lives he touched, including my own.
So many Boston Terriers! While visiting Nicole in Olympia, I got to meet her two Boston babies, Lucille Marie and Kumba, Rosie’s BFF and boyfriend, respectively. LM is kind of a celebrity, having been on the cover of magazines and the winner of many photo contests, so it was a pretty big deal! She’s a feisty little fireball, and bosses her much bigger son, Kumba, around all day!
Kums wears the most adorable bow ties-both pups are always in their Sunday best, and that day was no exception. Lucille even got a package of new dresses while I was there!
Nicole and I made sure to dress appropriately, as well: Boston-themed clothing so everyone would know we were crazy dog owners when we went exploring!Surprisingly, only one person asked about our clothes – she inquired as to whether or not something was going on with our dogs that day. We replied that there is ALWAYS something going with them! On our way into the city, we stopped at her neighbor’s house and found ourselves a Wee. Willie, aka “Wee,” is another Boston who lives down the street from her and who often spends time at her house. He is soooo cute – I’m going to go back and steal him!
During our trip to the Farmer’s Market, we stumbled upon a craftsman who forms displays out of metal. Not only was there a Boston, but a Basset Hound one, too! I would have gladly bought both, had I had enough room in my carry-on to take home.
When we got back to the house, we were pleasantly surprised by the appearance of yet ANOTHER Boston. Moose, another of Lucille’s children, had come to visit! Moose decided he was going to hide in the laundry room, as he was a little nervous. The only pup missing that day was Lulu, Lucille’s daughter, who was at home with her family. Four snuggly Bostons in one day, though! It was almost too much to handle!
Naturally, we had to exchange Boston presents. Nicole gifted Rosie a super cute dress and shirt, and some socks for me! Boston Terrier owners will buy ANYTHING with a BT print on it. ANYTHING. And we will stop at nothing to get it all!
When Nicole came down into Portland that following Monday, we got to stop in the best dog shop, Lexi Dog, and got our babies a few items. If you are looking for the perfect outfit for your pup, they really have the best collection. I picked up a little t-shirt that I felt adequately described Rosie’s sentiments toward me on leaving her for several days.
Now that the holiday season has arrived, we’re starting to collect little trinkets for our Boston friends. More importantly, we will be giving back to the shelter pups (and kitties!) who won’t get to enjoy the luxuries of presents, special treats, and warm houses. One cause that is near and dear to our hearts is that of our Instagram friend, Booger Dawg. They’ve fallen on hard times and desperately need our help while stuck in the frosty Colorado snow. Please donate or send any items you can! Their GoFundMe account can be found here. It’s imperative to remember that this could happen to any of us at any time, and we should always help when we have the resources to do so. Rosie and I hope you will join us!
Before continuing to write about my PDX trip, I want to share with you some of the goodies I’ve been making! As a slight chill has begun to whisper its way into the season, it has moved me to create some warm dishes, full of rich color & flavor. I’ve been particularly fond of using fresh rosemary in both savory and sweet fare this past month. Having a kitchen stocked full of fresh herbs makes daily cooking even more enticing!
Root vegetables have taken center stage for me this Autumn. After enjoying a summer full of beet and peach caprese, it’s now time to slice up the beets -golden & red- and roast them with garlic, sweet potatoes, and carrots. I’m a big enthusiast of “eating your colors,” and there’s no better way than a jewel-toned dish like this one! Toss with fresh sage, parsley, oregano, and rosemary, and you’ve got some beautiful and delicious side dishes.
An added bonus-they are completely vegan options! Another pantry item I can never have enough of is olive oil. From sauteeing a mirepoix for soups and sauces to drizzling as a final touch on top of tomato pies, olive oil is one of those perfect ingredients that brings a recipe together. Not only that, it’s one of the healthiest fats you can eat! Nourishing for your hair, heart, skin, cognitive abilities, etc, it’s just about an ideal food.
Root vegetables don’t have to be just roasted to be enjoyed – I’ve been using them for cozy soups, as well. I enjoyed a homemade parsnip soup in Michigan last Christmas, and decided to try my hand at my own version. This one included carrots, sweet potatoes, and apples, spiced with fresh ginger, tumeric, thyme, & roasted pepitas. Served with a steaming cup of mint tea (also fresh from the garden!), it’s an excellent meal to serve up on a grey, rainy day.
What’s a dinner without dessert? I always, always have room for something sweet, no matter how big the dinner! I’ve been really in the mood for brownies lately, and instead of brightening them up with mint or orange, I made some with rosemary and sea salt. The recipe I found for these makes a chewy, wonderfully dense (I am not fond of cake-y brownies) brownie that surprises you with it’s hint of chili powder. Drizzled with dark chocolate and sea salt, the flavors compliment each other amazingly well. I did worry that the rosemary would make them taste…weird…but it was actually a pleasant surprise! The rosemary and chili powder heighten each other’s flavor profiles, while the dark chocolate balances them with it’s rich sweetness. These were dairy-free but they did contain eggs. I haven’t tried making them with an egg substitute yet, so if you do, let me know what works best!
I really, really love the art of food – from the act of creating something delicious to sharing it with others. It doesn’t matter how tired I am after a full day of work, I still love to go home and immerse myself in the soothing process of making something from scratch. The change in the weather brings about a welcoming change in the process, too. It can be a little more complex as we begin to fill our refrigerators full of comfort food rather than the summer’s simple, freshly picked fruits and veggies, but the dishes created quietly warm your bones and your soul. Plus, who isn’t enticed by one’s kitchen becoming an indoor garden, those lush herbs begging to be eaten?
*props to anyone who gets the title reference!
Go to http://www.democratsofcolumbiacounty.com/ for the new site!
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