Photo-A-Day: Single for the Moment

Photo-A-DayMy partner/spouse is out of town for most of the summer finishing up her Master’s degree in English. I’m so proud of her, and I miss her a great deal.

One of the things I miss most is sharing a meal together. 5:30, 6 o’clock finds us both in the kitchen. I’m doing dishes and trying to clear things out of A’s way, and she’s getting started on supper. The dogs, of course, are always underfoot, waiting for a morsel of carrot to fall. It’s a dance the four of us do: dogs scuttling across the floor after fallen food, me and A stepping over them and turning and twisting past each other. Without fail, I try to put dishes away as she’s trying to get dishes out. But we do it this way every day.

As we’re bumping and bungling our way through the tight spaces of the kitchen, we’re talking. We’re talking about our days, our annoyances (always seem to be more of those), our triumphs.

To be fair, I completely miss A’s cooking. AND….I miss our time together in the kitchen. It’s hard to cook for one person and it’s just plain lonely. My meals are sad because I don’t feel like putting forth the effort for something elaborate. Why bother? It’s just me.

In a way, this summertime experience reminds me of being single–when I cooked for myself every night. Or just stretched out leftovers as long as possible. I was watching the onions saute tonight as I made another lackluster dinner for one, and I spied this lone little piece, off by itself. That’s me, I thought. Off by myself.

Fortunately, A comes home for a short visit this weekend, and she’s promised to make me several casseroles that I can freeze and defrost for the rest of her time in school. I’m grateful for that–and even more grateful that I’ll get to share some meals with her this weekend. I miss our routine.

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Photo-A-Day: Helpers

Photo-a-DayHello again after another hiatus! I’ve been some place much less interesting than Brazil and endured a travel delay on my way back. I’m home now and ready to get back in the swing of it.

Time for a photo of you-know-who: Scout and Prufrock, my two cattle dogs. Due to the highly uneventful nature of my life, I snap photos of the dogs and blog about them a lot. Good thing they’re cute.

And helpful, as you can see. Today, I spent an embarrassing amount of time dealing with the calf-high grass in the backyard. And by “embarrassing,” I mean about 3 hours. (Our yard is small.) First, I had to pick up all the poop, second, I had to weed the grass, third, weed-whack the grass and rake and repeat. Finally, it was time to mow! And mow and mow and mow.

My trusty companions pretty much did as pictured above. Pruf rested in the grass and stared at me while Scout darted between her under-the-porch hiding place and my face. She’d hide for a while then come bounding up to me, sticking her snout right in my face–nevermind what I was doing–and give me a big sniff followed by a stinky kiss. Then, it was back to her hiding place.

I enjoy their company so much that, honestly, it does feel like they are helping. They like to nibble on the grass, which actually is a huge help given how tall and unwieldy I’ve allowed the grass to get.

Yesterday was my turn to help someone. I helped a good friend pack up her house (she’s moving to NYC) and haul stuff off to Goodwill. I don’t usually think of myself as a particularly helpful person in a physical, manual sense (I’m much more helpful when it comes to being someone’s sounding board…or editor), so this was a welcomed change–to (actually) be helpful. I confess there was a reward in it for me: I got lots of fantastic free stuff. My friend’s truly grateful hug was perhaps reward enough. I’ll miss her!

Tomorrow’s challenge is to rectify the embarrassment known as the “front yard.” My helpers probably won’t be as present because the front yard invites a number of dangerous temptations–like chasing cars and cats, lunging at passing canines, and hunting down the mailman. They’ll probably just watch me from their perch on the couch.

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Photo-A-Day: Breaking Bread

Photo-A-DayAs you know I’ve been out of the country on a work trip–I was in Brazil. And this is what I have to show for my trip: a picture of a fondue restaurant. Chateau de Something-or-Another. I know, fondue in Brazil? Believe it.

(I did enjoy some more traditional Brazilian food like churrascaria. That’s a story from another time.)

After a long day of intense facilitating, my colleagues and I headed into town to check out this restaurant. It had come highly recommended by a local. Not only was the food amazing–there was a cheese course, a meat course, and a chocolate course–the camaraderie exceeded all expectations.

4 hours. That’s how long our dinner lasted. Granted, fondue requires a lot of focus and attention. One cannot mindlessly chat and eat when dealing with bubbling cheese and scalding oil or hot stones. While paying attention to our food, we paid attention to each other. How often do we do either in whirlwind, multi-tasking culture?

I value connecting with people, “breaking bread” as it were, and being mindful. Yet, even though I value these things I don’t always practice them very well. Sometimes I think that’s what being an adult is about–managing our inconsistencies, trying to match our values with our actions. Somehow, this seemed so much easier as a child. Now I know fondue can help me.

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Photo-A-Day: Away

Photo-A-DayLike my still life with passport, Freire, and Boal? Tomorrow I’m leaving the States for almost a week in Brazil and I don’t anticipate blogging much. It’s a work trip with some really fun colleagues and with a little time for sight-seeing. I don’t think I’ll be near the protests. But I will be near some waterfalls.

Today, like this whole week, like this whole month, has been a whirlwind and I am exhausted. So, I’m not going to say much. I arranged this silly little still life because these two thinkers–Freire and Boal–really interest me. (I’m fortunate that some of the work I do actually involves their methods.) With all the stress and headache of getting ready to leave the country whizzing around me, I wanted to take a moment–a very brief, half-conscious moment–to acknowledge some of the possible meanings around this trip.

Let me put it another way: I’m going to spend my time on the 9-hour flight writing, thinking, and reflecting on how to put of Freire and Boal’s ideas into practice in my life.

When I return, I promise lots of pictures. Stay tuned. And, thank you, as always.

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Photo-A-Day: Yesterday

Photo-A-DayThis photo is not from today; it’s not from yesterday. It’s from March 2011 in Chittenden, Vermont. This photo is meant to mark yesterday’s landmark Supreme Court ruling that struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act.

There’s a lot left to do in this world. Separation, injustice, and discrimination still happen in American society. The battle for marriage equality is not the only battle.

And it’s a very important battle for me.

We’re married in Vermont but live in Ohio. It’s still unclear–and probably will be for some time–what federal benefits we are now entitled to as a result of DOMA’s demise. In a way, it seems like the court’s ruling only exacerbated the patchwork of “marriages” strung throughout the country. Scalia acknowledged as much in his dissent, recognizing that it’s only a matter of time before the proverbial other shoe drops and all states must recognize same-sex marriages.

I’m grateful and in awe of how quickly public opinion has shifted on this issue. I wish there was a way to bottle this momentum so that every cause could experience such a sea change.

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Photo-A-Day: Stretched Thin

Photo-A-DayYep. Look at it this way: at least it’s not wine glasses or beer bottles. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that–just like there’s nothing wrong with all these stained and drained coffee mugs.

It’s been one of those weeks. I seem to be having a lot of them lately. So many moments and milestones to recount. Prufrock and I celebrated the 10th anniversary of his adoption last week, and some good friends got married. My partner left this morning for her last summer at grad school, and I’m about to leave for a work trip to Brazil. In between all of this, I’ve been juggling lots of random work projects from all the random jobs I work. Whew. I am stretched thin. And I’m grateful to be able to sit down and write this post tonight.Photo-A-Day

And I’m grateful for a moment like this one. I took this second photo on the summer solstice during the rehearsal dinner for our friends’ wedding. Andrea and I wandered away from the party and went strolling down this path. We caught a deer snacking on some grass and watched breathless as it hoped through the vegetation to hide from us. We watched the sun slip behind the trees and the wild raspberries and switch grass change color in the fading light. Yes, it’s been hectic lately, but we did have this moment. And it felt very full.

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Photo-a-Day: Tigress

Photo-A-DayHello, everyone! My apologies (again) for missing a couple of days. I feel like every minute of my time has been scheduled this week. Fortunately, the hectic-ness is winding down.

One of the things on my schedule was volunteering. In theory, I think volunteering is a great idea. In practice, my experience isn’t always that great. Sometimes I feel like I’m not really “doing” anything as a volunteer. In high school, I volunteered at a hospital and I filled up ice pitchers. That ice is important, I know, but I really didn’t have much contact with the patients and, honestly, didn’t feel like I was really making an impact. My volunteering history has been a bit sketchy since then.

Enter the SPCA. You know I love dogs. And by volunteering with the SPCA, I can have a direct impact. I work right with the dogs–playing with them–and in so doing, the dogs are getting exercised and socialized. Both of which make them more adoptable. The SPCA shelter in my neighborhood is so overbooked and understaffed that dogs get out of the cages about once a week. (A dedicated group of volunteers is trying to change that so that each dog gets out once a day.)

I’ve been assigned two cages, and it’s my job to make sure that the pups in those cages get outside. Tigress is one of my dogs. She is a sweetheart. Sadly, she’s been at the SPCA for almost a year. Imagine if you were in a cage all day, every day, surrounded by the sounds and smells of really stressed out animals. You go outside for about 20 minutes a week. It’s heartbreaking.

Tigress is good dog; there’s no reason not to adopt her. What tugs on my heartstrings even more is that she looks just like Scout, who is also from a shelter.

When I came home from volunteering today, Scout wouldn’t have anything to do with me. She sniffed me and backed away. Even though I’ve showered and changed clothes, she still won’t engage with me. The shelter smell of stressed out animals must be stuck to me, and it’s certainly stuck to her. She remembers what it was like.

Someone once said to me that dogs remember everything we humans do to them. Which is why a rescue will flinch when you go to pet them because they remember being hit. It’s also why a rescue will kiss you and cuddle with you because they remember that you are safe.

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