Tuesday, November 26, 2013


This time of year, the coast beats the inland mountains for warmth. In summer, it is 60-70 degrees here, while inland, by the rivers and mountains, it will be 90-100. This time of year, it is 55-65 degrees here, while inland, by the rivers and mountains, it will be less than 60 degrees.

The rivers and mountains, they are changeable and extreme. Here, we are steady in temperature, though unpredictable in fog and sun. If you don't like the weather here, it is said, wait ten minutes.

The last several days have been generous in sun and warmth, allowing runs in shorts and a t-shirt, necessitating sunglasses, and almost (but not quite) too warm for comfort. Yesterday I ran along the coast north of here, and swooned with the scent of eucalyptus, freshly trimmed along the road side, and tried to avoid falling off a cliff while under the hypnotic spell of Mother Nature and her spectacular ocean views.

It makes me thankful. Because life is hard.

I have many things for which to be thankful. Like, last week's mammogram was normal, and given my family history, that rocks. No pun intended. Also, I learned to purl, so now I can both knit and purl, and as a meditative practice, this activity is unparalleled. Buster is still alive. And seems content. I am off for a long stretch from work, and next week I head to Orlando to see my beloved Godmother. ORLANDO, people! Godmother and I shall see Harry Potter World, where I will buy her a butter beer and shop in Hogsmeade village.

I will run in Orlando too, which leads me to my gratitude for my ability to run, and the chance to explore cities on foot for miles and miles.

My children? They are the core of my contentment, my biggest worry, the loves of my life (along with their father). Thankful for watching my eldest daughter head to state in cross country next week. Thankful for my son's bright mind and tender heart. Thankful for my baby girl's strength and determination. Teenagers, all of them. Who came up with the idea of adolescence? They have some 'splainin' to do.

I am thankful for my Dad's siblings. No really, they are amazing. They have just been on my mind, and thus I mention them.

Family. Extended family. Biological and adopted families. Friends. Neighbors. All crucial.

The buck that greeted me at the base of my driveway on the way to work the other day: his antlers looked fake. Probably they were real though. I like that he was there, fakey antlers and all.

Thursday is Thanksgiving. A weird holiday but one of my favorites, not least because on Thanksgiving it becomes socially acceptable to play Christmas music. Also, I get to make my Mom's stuffing recipe which is nutritionally scandalous but gastronomically fabulous. I will run the Turkey Trot, though I loathe 5K's with a fiery passion. I will bake pie, and bury myself in the sweetness of it to make up for the pain and humiliation of running 3.1 miles.

So much sweetness to make up for the pain of life. For this I am thankful.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Neurotic Poodles


Before I discuss poodles, I must pay tribute to Buster.

Buster is almost 16 years old. He is a Border Collie, though a large one, so maybe there is something else in there too. Once I met a Scottish woman at the beach and she said she has seen working dogs his size in her homeland. It doesn't matter. He has the stance. The smarts. The obsession.

His obsession is/was rolling boulders (backwards, with his front paws, for as long and as far as he could, with a happy yelping bark of delight the entire time) and running. Also very large sticks, sometimes actually they were small trees that had fallen, and as he seemed to believe I have the strength of Atlas, he would drag said tree to me, expecting me to throw it for him to fetch. And he could outrun every dog on the beach to get balls, much to the chagrin of their owners who thought, like parents do these days (at least in Northern California), that all dogs should have an equal chance to shine.

Buster could tell when I was upstairs putting on my running clothes. Somehow he discerned putting on of running clothes from all other outfits. Did he smell the woods and beach on my shoes as I lifted them from the closet? Could he sense my own excitement at preparing for the run?

Buster is now in hospice. This is how I think of it, because he cannot hear. He can barely see. He can hobble to the door and maybe make it outside to do his business. A walk around the house leaves him exhausted. And he gets a special diet that leaves the other dogs quite jealous: rice, ground beef, chicken broth...really, whatever tickles his doggy fancy.

Buster is the only truly cool dog in our house.

Which brings me to the poodles.


Now technically, one is a standard poodle and the other a Goldendoodle. Disclaimer: I take full responsibility for the choice to bring a designer dog into my home ('doodle). Designer dogs are especially designed to be neurotic. In terms of the standard poodle, I can blame those I love that own/owned poodles. They know whom they are.

Today, I ran a workout I have named "easy run with neurotic poodles".

Miles was first. He is terrified of surprises. In his world, that encompasses the following:
-a puddle
-a sneeze
-an unexpected breeze
-the wind blowing a leaf in our path
-a neighbor walking by
-and don't even get me started on the unexpected charge of the chihuahuas

Zoe came next. Normally, the only thing that motivates her to go outside and exercise is the off chance of getting to eat some horse shit. To her credit, she is not easily surprised. But she loves horse shit so much that she will do what one friend has dubbed "the breastroke" to get to it. I have learned that having a supply of hotdogs or cheese in my pocket will decrease her desire for the golden horse deposits. She is the spazziest being I have ever met.

Both of them look at me like I am insane for running. Yes, they will do it, but Miles soon starts lagging behind and acting like he might mess up his curls if we go any faster, clearly a very distresing prospect for someone with his fine looks. Zoe will run if there is some good horse shit ahead, but otherwise she really does not see the point.

Ah, Buster. If only. Despite his age, his senility, his weakened limbs and impinged spinal cord, he still perks his ears when I get ready to run. He looks at me with those eyes, as if to say "There is something I remember about you and me and it is good."

Then he leans up against me. And my heart melts.

In my defense:
Those poodles are dang cute.
Also, they make me laugh every day. Not in a Hallmark sort of way. A true belly laugh. They are hilarious, raunchy and weird. I love them.

Just wish we could have a run once in awhile with Buster-style athleticism, grace and bliss. 

And without the neuroses.