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Rollercoaster of Love

My furry boy Jasper really dislikes going to the vet. He pants, he paces, he pushes up against me -- he clearly communicates that he wants out at the earliest convenient moment if not sooner.  And all the while behaves beautifully.  Greets each patron, pet, vet tech and vet with big wags.  Stoic.  And cute.

I was dreading today's appointment too.  Since last week I've been noticing that Jasper's left rear leg has not been quite right.  As I wrote earlier today, he can't quite land the back legs when jumping into the car and they slip tragically back to the ground, leaving him looking puzzled with just the front end on the bumper.  He seems to get up with difficulty from a prone position, and walks stiffly the first few steps.  Damn hardwood floors.

Because of the year we had last year -- the seemingly relentless cascade of cancer -- I had a sick belly from the moment I made the appointment.  For Pete's sake, not more cancer, please.  And then I'd breathe and stay present and reel my mind back from its catastrophic wanderings.

So the good news straight off the bat is that it's not cancer.  Phew.  Huge exhalation of relief.  Cancer can kiss my ass.

But what it is is yet undefined.  Upon physical examination, the good Dr. Casey said she thought perhaps it was neurological, that there are two inflamed spots on his spine.  When she moved and observed his hind legs, she saw that he was crossing his back feet as if he wasn't quite sure where to put them.  A cause for concern.  But it could also be arthritis, which would not be uncommon in a creature his age.  If neurological, then we'd have to see a neurologist who could recommend a course of action which could include surgery.  If arthritis, then canine anti-inflammatories should do the trick.

To begin to narrow it down, the good Dr. Casey took some x-rays while I waited.  And waited. 

And while I waited I was entertained by quite a parade of dogs and their people.  I was reminded of how lame and judgmental I am when I made up my mind instantly about a woman sitting across from me (didn't like her clothes, she had that dangerous frontal fat layer, she had an annoying chime on her iPhone announcing every incoming message).  But then they brought out the first of her two pets, an ancient, stout Jack Russell terrier.  At which point her face completely changed.  Words of love poured from her mouth as the tech placed her chubby old dog in her arms.  Then suddenly I loved her.  I felt I actually saw her, the real her, setting aside all of my bullshit focus on her exterior.  

And then I met Cooper, a 13 1/2 year old terrier who had actually lost the use of his hind legs almost completely and yet was the most adorable, coo-ing little creature, making his way across the slippery linoleum-tiled floor by whatever means he could.  He had a neurological disorder, a degenerative disc, and gave me a little window into perhaps what the future might hold for our brave boy should he prove to have the very same thing.  

There was a moment when the waiting room was full of dogs and their people, and there was this steady chatter of baby-talk, of endearments and pet names.  It was hopelessly lovely and brought me to tears in much the same way that the opening credits of "Love Actually" always do, those scenes of people joyfully embracing at the airport, such pure love and bliss.  A big fat constant embrace of words, and I was in it.

The room cleared.  I waited longer, until finally I heard the jangle of Jasper's tag against his collar and there he was.  Such a good boy who only wiggled a little during the x-ray.

Dr. Casey did see arthritis in the hips, more on the left, and some areas on his spine that she's concerned about.  Tomorrow the radiologist will read the films, and I'll get a call letting us know whether they're advising we see a neurologist or simply treat this as arthritis.  Meanwhile he's taking 1/2 tab of liver-flavored Rimadyl (anti-inflammatory) twice a day, with food.  If he responds well to this, then that could well be all that he needs to regain more solid footing.

It's been an emotional 24 hours since the beach but it's all worth it when I consider how much Love I get to have, to see, to give.  Thanks so much to all of my friends who've been with me all day through their own sweet baby-prattle at me on Facebook and through email.  Thanks so much to all of the sweet dog-people today who gave me such a super-blast of Love while we shared the waiting room.  Thanks so much to the compassionate, professional and kind staff of our vet clinic.  

Biggest thanks of all, of course, to Jasper who continues to inspire much bigness of spirit and love by his darling canine example. 



Solstice at the beach: may have been the last time

Inspired by some friends, we drove out to Muir Beach last night after dinner.  It seemed like a fitting way to observe the longest day of the year, but really mostly we went so we could take Jasper, our sweetheart beloved dog who will be 13 on the Fourth of July.  Jassie loves the beach.

Time with Jasper has felt super-precious lately.  Just under the surface is always this painful awareness that his span will necessarily be shorter than ours.  We have loved every change he has gone through, celebrated the turning gray under the chin and around the eyes, the slowing down from his frantic puppy pace.  And still, through all of that, he's been a remarkably fit and energetic dog, often mistaken for a puppy, playful, inquisitive, delightful.

Over the past week and a half we've been noticing something not right about his left rear leg, stiffness when he gets up, some very straight-legged walking about.  Clearly the hips are not what they were.  Poor Mr. Gray Beard.  At least he never stops getting cuter.  May we all be so lucky.

Last night at the beach there were definitely things that were hard for him, places where we worried about his welfare as we never have, knowing that he didn't have the full force of all four legs to get him out of a jam.  He definitely didn't play as long or as hard.  At a certain point we made the decision to leave, even though he probably had more play in him, in the interest of not wearing him out, setting him up for injury.

Back at the car, he missed the jump into the back and had to be lifted in.

Joe is undoubtedly right that this is more painful for us than it is for Jasper Bacon Trelaun.  I have to imagine that Jasper himself is surprised when he misses a jump or his legs slip a little under him, although I doubt he feels sad about it the way we do, as we fast-forward in our imaginations to what we fear comes next.  Nope, he just lays himself down on his big soggy pillow and enjoys the ride.

So much joy in every moment.  Don't fast-forward.  Love what's in front of you.

There is so much to be learned from loving an animal as fiercely as we love Jas.  We truly celebrate all that he has given us and still gives us.

And now, time for a walk.


Burnt at both ends, but can't stop!

It's been a busy week of yoga and social engagements, and this early-bird is feeling bleary but nonetheless awake and ready to do it again.

Since I'm committed to making a beautiful, full life -- perhaps this really is my only true sankalpa -- I seem to regularly put myself on this collision course with the ground, flying, flying, flying, then ultimately a little bit crashing.

I manage this only thanks to the yoga and to the self-perpetuating beauty of my life.  And of course thanks to coffee, without which all of this would be a lot less fun, doom-and-gloom articles on notwithstanding. And no thanks to naps which I appear to be constitutionally largely unable to cultivate as a practice (the perils of pitta, perhaps).

Taking stock of this week, I wouldn't have it any other way:
 - Monday night: awesome yoga with Peggy Orr (shhh, the website is not, we're told, ready for primetime, but so what...).
 - Tuesday night: awesome yoga with Laura Christensen.
 - Wednesday night: delicious dinner at Tartine Afterhours.
 - Last night: delicious dinner at Peggy and Jim's, many laughs and kisses, white wine and fish tacos.

And all of this on school-nights!  Which means not getting to bed at 9, rather after 11, but still, even when tortured with insomnia, eyes open at 5:30.

This morning I'm dragging a bit, but really wouldn't change a thing.  If all I got to do was my silly job all day, then come home and go to bed at the appropriate hour for early birds, how dull would that be?  I gladly trade my sleep for all this fun and time with friends.  The sleep is not my short-term destiny, but I'll catch up soon, in the meantime knowing that the sleeping is long-term destiny for us all.

So yes, a bit singed today, but man, did we laugh last night!  [Martine, if you're reading, you know that I cannot see "singed" and not turn it into "singed," nonsensical and delightful, the mind still turning its punny cartwheels even when rest-deprived.]  And what a special treat: left Peggy's with a stack of 6 books on loan and plans to send my mind down the same imaginary paths she's wandered,  so later we can swap reviews and favorite images and impressions.  Trade that for a good night's sleep?  Never.

I'll sleep sometime this weekend, maybe tonight catch up a bit since I've deliberately scheduled nothing in response to the busy of the weeknights.  But even though I'm tired and longing for my pillow, I feel so happy and full and grateful and inspired and ready for more.



Tartine Afterhours: Delicious!

Thanks to yoga, Joe and I had such a delicious experience last night: dining at the very special Tartine Afterhours put on by chef Samin Nosrat.  Samin and I met through Anusara, natch -- the source of so many tasty friendships!

Such a treat to attend this small, family-style dinner.  We were seated at a table of 8 -- how fun to slowly break the ice and converse with strangers over dinner and wine.  And really: utterly civilizing to have to make the effort at eye-contact and conversation, all while swooning over the food.

And swoon we did.


The bread in the First Course was seriously the best bread I've ever eaten in my life, sweet and smoky with the taste of the onion, the mie so light in contrast to the crunchy crust.  [Mie is French for the soft, inner part of the bread.  So sad that there is no comparable word in Englarsh.]

And the Shaved summer squash salad?  Ridiculous!  So tasty I swear I could it eat it every day.  I'm so glad to have taken home the menu so that we can remember, when we have the bumper crop of crookneck squash that's on its way, to try our hand at replicating it in our amateur fashion.

At about this point, one of our company pointed out that Michael Pollan was seated at a table across from ours.  Nice!

I am a huge fan of risotto, and the Sweet corn risotto was delighful. I served, conscious with every scoop to ensure that there was enough in our dish for all 8 of us, while Lindsay handled the shrimp and tomato ragu.  I think that was the point at which my conversational skills abandoned me, leaving me with two phrases, "oh my god" and "this is so good."  How grateful we all were when a second dish of each appeared at the table - our mouths were too full of delight to be able to utter big enough Thank You's.

We were eating summer.

Through careful planning, I did manage to leave enough room to comfortably tackle dessert, a delicious roasted peach stuffed with amaretti in a pool of zabaione (yum) with a lovely cherry leaned up against it just-so.  If I could have a little cup of zabaione every day, I think it might work wonders for my constitution and outlook.  Delicious.

Really, at this point, I was reduced to mostly sighing.

It did feel like a distinct privilege to be in that room with that small group of people who jumped at this opportunity, as we did, to eat what Samin cooked for us.  I love this model so much: rather than going to a restaurant and selecting from a wide menu of possibilities, attending a dinner and eating what the chef puts in front of us.  It creates a communal experience, all of us tasting the same squash at the same time, serving each other, passing the butter.

Every mouthful I was conscious that Samin made this food for us with reverence and delight.  It was truly such an honor.  I can't wait til the next one.  It feels like something I don't want to miss, ever.

With so much love and gratitude to Samin and to the good people of Tartine. XX


be EVERYTHING that you are

I'm a little nuts about Janelle Monae's album, The ArchAndroid, which I am listening to on repeat today. I know I'm probably so, so late to the party on this, but that Janelle is five-feet of Pure Awesome.  Check out live performance of Tightrope if you can't take my word for it.

Of course I heard about her first from my sister Martine, another five-foot force of nature, who always has whatever's hot in her tiny mitts.

What I'm so crazy about, honestly, is how the album defies genre-ification. I'm listening and thinking about Nina Hagen, Petula Clark, Prince, David Bowie, sometimes Beatles, Parliament, James Brown. There are gorgeous vocals, strings, noodly guitar solos, the funkiest horn section in Metropolis. There are rhythms that go straight inside me, into junior-high-party-me who can't stay off the dance floor, has to wiggle and jump. The record's huge. It’s ridiculous. It has so much that I love, in a combination that delights me.  It has EVERYTHING.

And of course, as with everything that I'm nuts about, it circles inevitably back to yoga. This may seem particularly ridiculous when discussing a gigantic pop album, I am aware, but that's exactly why it feels so spot-on for me.

Something I've been thinking about so much with yoga lately has been how it really facilitates a deep looking at who we really, truly are, at ALL that we are.  And what we are without exception is glorious, miraculous, amazing, inspiring, jump-around fabulous! 

In the weeklong immersion with John in February, I was so struck by one central message: that our task is to be fully ourselves, in every capacity, in all our glory 100%, no holding back, all the time. Unfold, expand, grow, shine out with everything you've got. Don't save your awesome for some other time. Give it up Right Now.

ArchAndroid works for me on the most basic pop music level, emphatically yes, but it also -- with its crazy bigness -- creates a soundtrack for what I really want my life to be and where I’m taking it this year: huge, ridiculous, dance-able, funny, awesome, EVERYTHING.  All of what I love, all the time.

So I’ve got Ms. Monae on repeat today, Snoopy-dancing through this silly work-day, til the moment I can go home and tend the bees with Joe, then rock on into the evening’s dinner at Tartine. Making every moment count, every moment big and delicious no matter where I am.