Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stolen time

Yoga class canceled!. Here’s the locked door handle of the beautiful community center in Northport. I walked briskly up the street to the yoga class with my mat and tea (along with several other disappointed ladies.) The teacher had a note posted that she was away at a workshop. Uggh. It takes great effort to get out of the house, showered and dressed in dry clothes. I came home to an empty house and am trying to relax even though a bulldozer is re-grading the dirt road outside.

Time has slowed down; I am getting some reading done. Hooray.

I am reading Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson, which is going to have me eating and working out like a caveperson. It’s interesting and he is having a challenge starting Aug 3rd that Rob and I are going to do.

It makes me want to eat lots of chewy bread before I begin. (Neanderthals apparently didn’t eat bread)

I am also finally reading Harry Potter Half Blood Prince which I read for three hours last night. Fun! I’m hoping to finish and see the movie this week.

Ahhh, they’re done re-grading the road and it feels suddenly very silent and serene. I’m going to find them all now. It looks like the sun is poking through.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Trip to Maine started with a stop

in Andover, where my parents live, for an evening visit and sleepover. My mom works in a bookstore and has tons of books. I found The Writing Diet by Julia Cameron. It looks like an interesting combination of two things I do alot of, so I’ll bring it on the trip. We took a walk in the swamp behind my parent’s house that leads out to a field where I played as a kid.

8am Saturday morning we headed out. Stopping in Biddeford Pool to see some friends and experience me pacing about the beach nervously because the lifeguard told us there was a rip tide. Children couldn’t go above their knees or the might be pulled out and under the waves. Holy crap! Luckily there were tide pools and ice cream trucks.

Now were here and it’s cold and rainy. We’re making lots of hot chocolate and sitting by the propane stove that’s in the house where Rob’s brother, wife, his sister and the three cousins are staying.

Yesterday we had a rainy walk to the library, which looks like an enchanted place, but smells like a moldy basement, Rob walked in and then came flying out as if the place had spat him out, coughing and rubbing his red eyes.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Heading to Maine

For a week's vacation. Been going crazy the last few days trying to get doctors and car appointments done.
The baby wrens in the yard are just about to fledge. I saw their little faces looking at me through the little round hole this morning.
Their parents bring them bugs all day.
The father singing from dawn to dusk.
I hope they haven't all left when we get back; I'll really miss his chipper sweet song.

(I'll post about the trip when i get back. Have a good week!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Blueberry Picking

We went Blueberry picking with our friends Julie, Brian and Johnathan. Julie took us to River Valley Farm in Whatley. It turned out to be a beautiful hot afternoon. The blueberries were hanging off the bushes in clusters like blue grapes. Surprisingly Georgia was the most focused child picker. She liked the blue cup she got to hang around her neck.

Here's my friend Julie with the children fleeing in the background hot and tired of picking; they mutinied and headed for the cool car to watch a dvd. So much for child labor in the sweltering heat.

We ate handfuls of berries that day and then I threw the rest of them into the freezer and I'll make jam when we get back from vacation.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Missing Azalea

It's raining out, so we brought Azalea's garland in and hung it on the fireplace.

The house is empty and quiet without her.

The other night I came home from work for the first time since she died. I get home around 12:30am and the neighborhood is silent. For years, I've crept into the sleeping house and there she is. Since she's been deaf, she's usually asleep. I go pet her awake then feed her another meal and let her out for a chance to pee outside.

Not tonight.
There's no pointy ears and bright eyes looking at me from the corner near the fireplace.
"But what is that?" I thought, "brown and furry lying in her sleeping spot?" I tiptoed into the dark living room, closer and closer.

It was my fleece, my brown plush fleece that must have spilled out of the laundry basket.
I stood there in the dark room; it felt like a cruel joke. It was nothing but my stupid jacket.

I can't bear to get rid of her bowls.
My parents came the other day and filled the bowl with water for their dog and my back is too sore to bend over and dump it out.
The bowls are a bit confusing, but still soothing enough to leave there for the time being.

I want a visit from her.
A dream or
something that lets me know she's OK.

Sailing the ship

I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship. Louisa May Alcott

was the quote Kellie shared during quiet mediation at the end of yoga class yesterday.
Throughout the class she focused on the core, but not the abs, instead she referred to the inner spiritual and emotional core, How well you know yourself, your needs, and what brings you harmony. This awareness then allows you to be harmonious with others.


I realized I have spent so long ignoring my needs: sleep, exercise, quiet, work that feeds me, that it seems kind of sissy to really pay attention to my own tender self.

Also I guess I fear I'll really hate my job and my hours if I notice. (I know I am lucky to be there in so many ways, but I often feel depleted by the stressful environment of the hospital and the countless sad and sorry stories.)

But recently, maybe because my back has been sore, maybe because of reading how awed Elizabeth Lesser felt towards her own body after observing an open heart surgery. (The lungs and heart were so miraculous and so vulnerable, she was amazed.)

I thought, "How about being kind and supportive to myself and this physical body?"
"How about not telling myself to "hush up and move on" when I am feeling weak or sad?"
I pride myself on being resilient and adaptable, pushing though.
Life is so busy and things always feel like they're about to fall into a jumbled mess, but maybe it's time to accommodate myself a bit more.

And spend time and energy paying attention to better learning how to sail my own ship.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Tonight our friend was over and the girls stayed up late. Late enough, it was actually DARK. New moon, so no moonlight.

The sparklers were beautiful;
the photos even better!

Here's Lily doing a swirl.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Steeping on the Windowsill

I went looking for St. Johnswort the other day. I was driving to the dump with one eye scouting for it. It's blooming everywhere along the roadsides.
The girls were getting sick of driving around; they really don't like going to the dump.
I tried to get them excited about hunting for magical plants. As I talked I realized that what I was telling them was true; I had just never articulated it before
I told them if you go looking for a plant; the plant will start looking for you. In a quiet mysterious way if you open up and relax, you will suddenly find yourself face to face with the plant you were wandering around thinking about.
I wanted a big patch of the straggly plant so I could take enough without decimating a whole gathering of plants. Also it had to be far from a busy roadside to decrease nasty car stuff and I needed it faraway from one of the many farm fields doused in pesticides.
After driving around a while, it was time to go home. On the way home I swung by the nearby private school. I had a feeling, but there was nothing. Disappointed, especially after my attempt-at-inspiration lecture, I turned the car around, and there, coming up the road from the other direction, I could see the perfect patch that had been hiding behind a hill, just waiting for me in the sun.
I cut a big bouquet to steep in olive oil and make a massage oil that does wonders for nerve pain; which I am having alot of with a sciatica attack that has been hounding me for a few months.

The the plants are in the oil on the windowsill. Soon they will turn a deep red. Rosemary Gladstar, the herbalist, writes about traveling around Switzerland where everyone had a jar of the red oil steeping in their windows.
Usually you hide the oils in the dark while they steep to prevent breakdown and molding, but this herb is so potent it somehow, magically she says, doesn't mold. The sunshine makes the potion even stronger.

When I came home I picked a card from Kris Waldherr's deck and this is what I got.

This Goddess Inspiration Oracle card was randomly chosen for you to reflect your day. It presents 80 goddesses from around the globe with inspiring messages and empowering stories of the Divine Feminine

All contents © Kris Waldherr 2008. All rights reserved.

Kris Waldherr, the artist who makes these cards said I could put them on my blog as long as I included this link to her facebook page:;

Sitting on the toilet later (my only reading time!) I was reading last month's Oprah and was struck by an interview with Toni Morrison.

She says about the creative process, "It's that being open—not scratching for it, not digging for it, not constructing something but being open to the situation and trusting that what you don't know will be available to you. It is bigger than your overt consciousness or your intelligence or even your gifts; it is out there somewhere and you have to let it in."

Sounds like looking for herbs, but not looking.....

Hope and Faith

The other day at the park I was standing with my friend Kate R.
A man came up and asked me the time.
It was 11:11 am.
I said it outloud, feeling like, "You have got to be kidding me."
He walked away.
Kate said, "Make a wish!"
Then she looked at my face (she had read my blog post about numbers and 11:11) and said, "Oh yeah, you wrote about that number."
I stammered, exasperated , "I just don't know what to do with it!
And she said, with a big kind smile,

"Oh, I think it's just about hope."

Then we got distracted by children and went off to do other things, but I think her simple generous answer rings true.
It's about hope.

Another time she and I were talking about some parenting or financial conundrum and I asked her, "What are you going to do?" and she answered with a shrug, "The universe will provide. Worrying will do no good."
That was months ago, but it came back to me recently.
I have been stricken with financial anxiety lately and the fear I will always work more than I want to and spend less time with my family than I want to. The only way I can seem to make more money to lessen the money anxiety is to spend time away from nature and my family which leads to a different sadness and anxiety. Ugggh.

I've been stopping the sad angry spiral with:

"The universe will provide."

Azalea's passage was so peaceful and timely. I feel so blessed that things turned out like they did. I miss her. Tonight I really miss her.
But something in her sweet passage has deepened my faith, convinced me the chaos of our lives has a beautiful gracious meaning.

I'm going to step a bit more into that faith.

We'll see what happens.

Birds flutter for Azalea

Lily's fairy-friend Priscilla left her a little package last night with this garland of paper birds. We hung them in our magical peach tree where they flutter and remind me of Azalea's freed spirit.

Something happened in the whole process of letting Azalea go that has been quite transformative.
I realized in the last two days that much of why I was holding onto her was because I thought I should. I didn't want to be accused of giving up too early, of not trying hard enough to keep her alive, even if it was difficult for the family in terms of stress, back pain, sleep deprivation or expense.

These last two or three days I finally saw that her life had become so small. I wanted her here because I was accustomed to her calm sweet presence and that's understandable. But I had to look at what she wanted. Of course she wanted to walk and play and swim and stand up to eat her food. I don't fault myself for keeping her here too long, but I'm glad I was able to let her go.

I had some epiphany of "I am the mother. I make these decisions. They are not easy or painless, but that is what mothers do. They make choices that effect their families. Carry on." (Rob had been suggesting letting her go for some time and then had finally left it up to me.)
Lily and Georgia were angry when I first told them the plan yesterday, saying they would kick the vet and his wife out when they came to the door.
I said, "We're invited them to come help Azalea. We can't blame them."
Lily looked at me and said, "Then I'm angry at you!"
I was so grateful to be at a place where I could take that and say, "That's understandable. I'm sorry you're upset, but I think it's best for Azalea."

As Azalea was ailing I had thought over and over, "I'm not grown-up enough for this. I'm not ready for this. This is what my mother does; not me"
Through staying home and being quiet with the family (including calling in sick to work which always makes me anxious. My work has quite an absurd and strict sick policy) I somehow became the person who could do it.

The house is lonely today without her.
She has an altar with lovely flowers and photos my dear friend dropped off.
Close friends and family left sweet sad messages that I am just really listening to now.
I feel the emptiness of loss now but somehow also feel supported by the world.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Azalea Blue Harris-Hendry

The girls giving Azalea a goodbye hug today. She got alot of petting and grooming today.
It has always been such a soothing action for me to pull her shedding tufts of fur out; they release so pleasingly.
She was in pretty good spirits today. A few tumbles, but we walked in the yard some. She got tired of eating and didn't finish her food.
They came at 5p and did a beautiful job.
Then they carried her out on her bed, wrapped in white sheet.
Lily cried herself to sleep and needed lots of lullabies and a cool cloth for her head; Georgia was confused and cried on and off, sometimes for Azalea and sometimes puzzled and scared because we were all crying.
I came downstairs from checking on them again and Rob had "Old Blue" by Joan Baez playing on I-tunes for me.
He named her Azalea 14 and a half years ago. I got the middle name, and chose Blue because of this song. I haven't heard it in a while. It was fitting today.

Had a dog and his name was Blue,
Had a dog and his name was Blue,

Had a dog and his name was Blue,

Betcha 5 dollars he's a good one, too.

Here, Blue, you good dog you.

Shouldered my gun and I tooted my horn,

Gonna find a 'possum in the new-ground corn,

Old Blue barked and I went to see,

Cornered a 'possum up in a tree.

Come on Blue, you good dog, you.

Old Blue died and he died so hard,

Shook the ground in my back yard,

Dug his grave with a silver spade,

Lowered him down with links of chain.

Every link I did call his name,

Here Blue
, you good dog, you,
Here Blue, I'm a-comin' there too.

Good dog Azalea. Thank you for your love and company. We will miss you.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dear Dog

Azalea is lying by the bathroom door, napping where she fell. I was lying next to her and she peacefully, slowly closed her eyes and I thought, “Maybe she’s gone. Maybe I don’t have to make this decision. Maybe she can go on her own.” I looked to her furry back which still rose and fell, her breaths even and long. She’s just napping.

She had her third seizure two days ago and she has been doing worse. Her paws are slip-sliding all over the floor, her legs all go in different directions and she looks pained and stuck. Rob or I come running and lift her up with a long wide piece of rubber Rob uses for stretching. We slide it under her belly and pull her up. If we don’t see her fall then slides into an awkward position and then falls to her side, with a whimper.

Rob called me at work last night. I had to step out from a very intense swearing laboring woman and speak gently to him as he quietly told me.

“She can’t get up. She hasn’t eaten. She won’t eat the bones I put in front of her. She seems really sad, Kat.”

“Do you want me to come home?” I asked, fearful he’d say yes. There were more patients coming in and it would be difficult to get out.

He said, “Not yet, I just wanted you to know.”

She rallied when I got home. I pulled her up and took her outside where she peed on the driveway, then she ate dinner and went out again to poop. It is very intense and scary each time we do the stairs. I try and encourage her and get her to trust me, but I’m not sure if she should. I secure her as best as I can, but it hurts her, I think. She approaches the top of the stairs several times before she takes the stumbling plunge. My back is really sore from all the weird desperate lifting and pulling.

I slept downstairs on the futon, with her beside me on the floor.

I took the evening off work tonight, called in sick. I didn’t say it was my dog. I worried management would say dog doesn’t count as family illness. But I am heartsick and that should count.

I want to be a good and loving mother to her. I want to let her go when it is time for her; not when it is convenient for me. I have been asking people about it, mostly women from work who have had many dogs. They say, “You’ll know. She’ll look at you and you’ll know.”

I don’t know yet. She looks a bit sad and stuck, but it’s still her. It’s still those familiar eyes and that familiar look she’s given me for 14 and a half years. I say that over and over. She would be 101 in human years. That is a long life. She’s had a good life.

Today I got my haircut and talked about it with Kristie the woman who cuts my hair. I talked about Azalea’s life; I realized that she does little of what she used to do.

No long walks, her front paw just gives out and she tries to recover. We all pretend it didn’t happen, she looks so embarrassed.

No more going in the car, one of her very favorite things. She used to spend the day in the back of the CRV with the door open, holding court from her perch. It feels like it has been so long since she could jump in and out of there on her own. For a while I lifted her but now it’s too much for one person.

No more swimming. What a water dog she was. Her very favorite thing was to go to a river and fish for rocks. She would step into the water, roll the rocks around and find the perfect one, then she would pick it up gently, her muzzle draining water and move it to wherever she was making a pile. It was methodical and pleasing to her. If she couldn’t get one that she wanted she would moan and mutter, obsessed with the particular underwater rock. We used to say if she ever went missing, we would find her at the nearest stream with a rock in her mouth.

She could swim, too. Across lakes, in the ocean. She was a strong swimmer. Rob trained her, the same way he trained the girls on the monkey bars. From puppyhood there were lots of swamps and rivers, she could even launch off banks.

Slowly she’s become an old dog. We let her out a few times a day. She dozes quietly in her bed. She really likes to eat. Patrolling the floors for any dropped scraps in a way she never did when she was younger.

She always came when she was called which gave her a lot of freedom. She stayed close so we could leave her in the backyard where she could spend hours in her hovel under the cedar trees. Digging around in the moist dirt with flair, she’d send it flying and then, when satisfied, she would settle under the branches and peer out.

Now she can’t hear us when we call, but she doesn’t wander far. We make do, her and I, with eye contact and hand motions. We have a very strict schedule of feeding and going outside that she likes. If I forget; she paces. Her feet don’t pick up off the floor like they used to so the sound is loud and dragging and by now it communicates urgency to me. “I need to go out or I’ll poop in the living room” or “feed me damnit”

She doesn’t get up to greet us like she used to, I wave at her when I enter, before I set my things down and do what I have to do. I let her know when her food is ready, quick walks and meals by waving my hands and arms at her in certain ways. And I wave a goodnight as I finally head upstairs. Part of why her age has snuck up on me is because her eyes are so bright when she looks at me. She gets me. We get each other.

We weren’t sure about her and kids when she was younger. She merely tolerated them until they started hurling food off their high chair tray, then she became exceedingly tolerant. She still doesn’t like unknown toddlers walking toward her, she barks as they walk through the door. But she does love her own pack. Both the girls love her and look to her. The other day Lily and I were scrapping and she started to sob. She didn’t want me to comfort her, which was confusing for her. She turned to Azalea in her bed, stepped over her and curled up beside her holding her close, still crying. I remember that feeling with my dog, Moose, growing up, that no one understood me but the dog.

Surprisingly Azalea loves Georgia, too. The other day after her seizure she was still nervous and she walked over to Georgia and swiped across her, like dogs do, almost knocking Georgia down. Georgia grabbed her fur and spoke to her in a high pitched voice, “It’s OK Azalea. It’s OK.” Georgia sits beside her, hugs her, looks in her mouth, plays with her ears, all of which Azalea seems to appreciate, even now she opens to them when they come over.

I just made the appointment for 5pm tomorrow. Dr Sodorski and his wife will come and euthanize her in her corner on her dog bed and then take her to be cremated. I am so glad to have tonight with her. How strange to plan death. I am still unsure, but glad I have put it off until tomorrow. My friend put out the option of an animal psychic and an acupuncturist who might be able to help with her legs, but I guess I feel pretty grounded that I know what to do. That she is my dog and she will let me know.

I worked in a nursing home this year and was struck by how people would protectively remark about a sick elderly patient, “Leave him alone, he’s 97. Let him go!” I am used to the hospital and heroic measures; fighting death. It is unsettling to be in this position, weighing time, method, cost and comfort. I am thrilled, though, to do it here in her bed. Glad that the girls can be here if they choose and that she won’t be on a hard cool floor. Strange to be writing about it when she’s still here. This is how I prepare myself, by writing, but I’ll go sit with her now. Maybe now, that’s the hard part. Dear dog.

Be Happy

Here's Kellie Finn, the amazing woman who has been teaching me yoga for the last year. I have been lucky enough to drop off Georgia a bit early at school and then go to a class before work about once a week. Usually I am late and flustered as I settle myself on the floor, but I am always welcome. By the end of class I feel like my tiny little struggling stream has been reunited with the huge deep river of life. And it feels wonderful. Sure we do lots of difficult bendy things with our body, but the pervading feeling is one of intense peace. Really lovely.

Today, before yoga, I had worked myself into a tizzy. I had started a list in my head of everything that needs fixing up in the house and how much money we would need to fix it. I got carried away and sort of miserable. All I wanted to do was get away from the children on this beautiful day and write a mangy list. Thankfully I didn't. But I was still feeling tight and annoyed with the world when I showed up to yoga.

Kellie brought up big mind and small mind and how we need them both. Small mind helps us survive and deal with the day to day mundane while big mind is the......Oh I can't remember what she said. She is eloquent and insightful, and really profound in a way that is embedded in everyday life. But I can never recreate what she says. Today what struck me was: if you allow yourself to be in your heart (meditation and yoga are a way inside, as is simply following the breath) and you ask your heart what you need; you realize you already have it. You always have what you need.

My list of complaints poofed into dust. What a relief. Really who gives a crap about the ugly linoleum? Really?
I went from feeling hopeless to buoyant in that hour and a half.
It made me think of a poem I love:

Sometimes I go about pitying myself,
and all along
my soul is being blown by great winds across the sky.
—Ojibway saying

Then I drove by the new Tire Warehouse sign.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Azalea had another long seizure today. She was weak and panting after, but we let her outside where she walked and stumbled around the yard. We picked raspberries and kept an eye on her. After a seizure she does goofy things like sneak into the shed with the lawnmower where she gets stuck. Her back legs are so weak, getting her back inside the house involved me holding her back legs up with my fleece under her belly and Lily luring her with a bone, which she snapped at "like a croc" per Lily who has been watching a DVD of Crocodile Hunter this summer.

Here is a poem my mother gave my by Seamus Heaney the Irish poet, about his dog, Carlo.

I'm afraid the millennium
means nothing to Carlo.
My heart aches for him

with one eye gone blind
and his whole body slowed.
His bark is still loud

but not as aggressive,
not that rampant "Fuck off"
of a dog in his prime,

hurling and barrelling
round the back yard.
I undervalued

all that at the time
his just being there
like a bolt from the garden,

woofing and panting
or worrying plastic
bottles or bags,

our mad perforator
and show-off performer.
He once bit a writer

or better say nipped--
regrettably "nipped"
has to be the mot just.

He went wild at jet trails.
You'd be conscious of nothing
but sunbeat and lawn-heat

when he's work up a snarl
like a slow Cape Canaveral
burn-up and lift-off,

then launch himself into barking
into the blue.
Then quit and come running

like a form of forgiveness.
Now I'd like to relive
those years of aloofness,

am sorry I didn't
give and take more
notice and pleasure

each hour of each day.
I'd stroke him, of course,
at night and at times

when he didn't expect it,
my sudden meltdowns
of hapless affection,

but mostly the case
was live and let live.
Which is hardly enough.

The film in his eye,
his blindsided trot
reminds me of that.

Seamus Heaney

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Uh oh- time to be a grown-up

Here's my horoscope for this week.

Sagittarius Horoscope for week of July 9, 2009

Verticle Oracle card Sagittarius (November 22-December 21)
In the Middle Ages, people became adults when they turned seven years old. These days, the threshold is much later. I'm happy about that. In my view, the longer you can hold on to your playful irreverence and innocent lust for life, the better. Still, there is value in taking on the kinds of responsibilities that help you express yourself with grace and power. So I don't mean to rush you, but it might be time to take a step towards being on the verge of tiptoeing to the brink of preparing to accept more adulthood into your heart. You could make the process less harrowing by hanging out with those rare wise guys and wise girrrls who've survived the transition to greater maturity and a higher degree of professionalism with their youthful flair more or less intact.

Rob's wallet was stolen and it highlighted the frantic disorganized mess that is our finances. I am so sour about money and never having enough, that I never make it a priority and our bills are paid just-on-time. This horoscope actually got my mind thinking in a different way. Maybe to be organized and responsible about money could be about "express(ing) yourself with grace and power" That seems noble. I certainly want to be a strong example for my children in all arenas, even how we fund our lives.
Makes me want to buy a new notebook and pen and get down to business.

I also love the idea of a seven year old being an adult when I look at Lily who just turned seven. She could be a pretty functioing adult, but there would be some major glitches. She can make breakfast for Georgia and her. But her bed would be filled with half eaten food and vermin, which might have been common in the Middle Ages. My yoga teacher just said that logic doesn't come in until a person is 7 years old and before that we are ruled by "big mind" Hmm that explains three and a half Georgia and her frequent time-outs for saying "poop" and swatting Lily.

Green River

Spent the afternoon at Green River in Vermont visiting our friends who just relocated up there to a great spot by the river.

Rob loves to catch the crayfish. This one was big! The girls made a circle of stones and tried to contain them but they snuck out between or under the rocks into the soft sand. Georgia said over and over, "I don't want to hug it. I don't want to hug it." Although no one was suggesting she should. Lily and I did take a try at it.
Georgia adored the newt we found and held it on and off for about a half and hour before I noticed it was looking a little limp and tired so I put it back. She was upset.

Miss Georgia loves worms and newts and salamanders.

Then we had a thrilling find!
A dragonfly was perched on a rock, not flying away. It's wings were superbly iridescent and moist looking. I bent closer to see and there was the nymph casing it had just emerged from. Amazing. We watched it wait for it's wings to dry, but I got worried when the splashing girls came closer so I picked it up. It carefully stepped onto my finger and sat there tipping it's head, looking around at it's new world of air.
I passed it to Case, after a few moments, it flew up into the trees above us. Magic!

Then everybody got cold so Michele made a summer lemonade and grape party in the sun.

Even later, we went to the Marina and had a large expensive dinner we shouldn't have, but it was fun and while wandering around the Marina we looked up and saw a bald eagle fly overhead.

A great summer day.