Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter blessings

"The miraculous is not extraordinary
but the common mode of existence.
It is our daily bread.
Whoever considered lilies of the field
or birds of the air
and pondered the improbability
of their existence in this warm world 
with the cold and empty stellar distances
will hardly balk at the
turning of water into wine--
which was, after all,
a very small miracle.
We forget the greater
and still continuing miracle by
which water (with soil and sunlight)
is turned to grapes

~ Wendell Berry

Image 1 by puliaf
Image 2 by lugarzen

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gin'ess the Menace: ACTION!

Little Miss Chinook
First, meet glamorgrrl Chinook (above). You'll see her in action in a sec.

Below is a "trailer" from a video I'm editing about the blast I had mushing this season.

Ginsberg is on the right and Chinook (who I want with all my heart but can't have just yet) is on the left. Chinook is a dream dog. She's 3/4ths Alaskan Husky and 1/4th Pointer, with very fine manners. My friend, Maggie Heilmann, a fast mid-distance racer from just over the River in Wisconsin, let me borrow Chinook for a week.

Miss Chinook, 6, just retired from Maggie's race team. She's run Minnesota's John Beargrease sled dog race and is a wisp of a thing -- all muscle, heart, and big brown eyes, weighing in around 45 pounds. She did an excellent job training Ginsberg and yours truly. She's very patient, and knows how to pace herself. Unlike, Gin'ess the Menace, who was so smitten with Chinook, he boisterously ran full tilt and couldn't contain his affection for this fast girl. (Check out the love nips action).

Without further ado . . .

Ginsberg couldn't keep his paws off Chinook, so I crated her to give the poor girl a break!
Chinook consents to a kiss
"Hmmm...he's a little young, but I do like his baby blues."

"Wow, she's my brown-eyed cougar, I mean, girl."

Stay tuned . . .

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Big-hairy fear be gone!

Ring those bells!
The universe smiled a big white toothy grin on me yesterday.

After way way way way too many years of letting my fear of going to the dentist get the better of me, I finally bucked up and went yesterday.

I don't think I've white-knuckled it in a chair like that in a long, long time.  Throughout the day, through clenched teeth and a racing heart, I kept telling myself to just turn it over to the benevolence of the Great Unknowable.

I was sure I had done massive damage through neglect, would be facing weeks and weeks of root canals, fillings, oral surgery, shame, embarrassment, guilt, you name it.

Instead . . .

"You don't have any cavities and you don't need any oral surgery."

I don't?

"No, just put your address on the postcard, which will be your reminder to come back for a cleaning in one year."

One year? Really?

"Really. You're not falling apart."

I spontaneously hopped out of the chair and hugged Elaine, the red-haired dental hygienist who had just spent the better part of an hour cleaning my teeth in a no-nonsense, non-painful, no-shame-no-blame, Minnesota nice kind of way.

And then I waited for the dentist to come in, for the other shoe to drop, for her to deliver the real news, the "bad-cop" part.

In she came, and after poking around for a couple minutes, she said:

"Looks good. Any questions?"

Um, wait. Really? How about those two wisdom teeth?

"I don't think they're a problem. I'll look at them next time, and if everything is still healthy, you may never need to remove them."


"Really. Any other questions."

Breath? Whitening?

"So, if you're worried about breath, scrape your tongue in morning with a spoon."


"Well, if your gag reflex is too strong, wait till later. And just buy the whitening strips. No need to pay more for the other things when this will do the same."

Um, OK. I think I'm going to cry.


Exit dentist.

Elaine filled an ordinary ziplock bag with a new toothbrush, floss, and some little mini brush thingies.

"See, I told you you weren't falling apart."

Thank you, Elaine.  I love you. 
Which way is the door?

And I slept like a baby (which is what I've been for way too long!)
. . .

This morning, I feel like someone who just won the lottery, only better.

I don't know who the guardian angel of people who have had a painful dental experience as a child is, but I owe said angel a big one.

Because, poof, just like that, my fear has was removed. No more big hairy deal.

This, my friends, is what I call a miracle.

(Hmmm. . . . I wonder if the Tooth Fairy works in reverse?)

A special thank you to Natalie, who had just the right words for me yesterday.
She often has the perfect words. I hope you'll hear more about her soon!

Photo by Jose Guola

Saturday, April 16, 2011

'Before whatever happens'

By Mary Oliver

It’s not my track,
I say, seeing
the ball of the foot and the wide heel
and the naily, untrimmed
toes. And I say again,
for emphasis,

to no one but myself, since no one is
with me. This is
not my track, and this is an extremely
large foot, I wonder
how large a body must be to make
such a track, I am beginning to make

bad jokes. I have read probably
A hundred narratives where someone saw
just what I am seeing. Various things
happened next. A fairly long list, I won’t

go into it. But not one of them told
what happened next—I mean, before whatever happens—

how the distances light up, how the clouds
are the most lovely shapes you have ever seen, how

the wild flowers at your feet begin distilling a fragrance
different, and sweeter than any you ever stood upon—how

every leaf on the whole mountain is aflutter.

Image by Stuck in Customs

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Safe. And found.

She was shelling peas,
apron-covered knees
spread wide to catch
each pea/each pod

I, shaky, needy
wandered near

Her ancient swollen hands
pushed back the hair
that hid my face

She set down the pan,
and, patting her knee,

oh, child
come on up here
and let me have a look at you

Her voice was safe and so was I
sitting in the lap of God.

The Lap of God 
by Mary Popson

. . .

A couple weeks ago I was invited to speak to a group of people
about some things I learned during
The Year of the Sledgehammer.
My dear, sweet friend Sherry sent me this poem today
with the following message:
"You recently reminded me of this poem when you spoke. . . so here it is."

. . .

One of the greatest gifts I received in 2005
was something my head could not grasp,
but my heart would come to understand,
that beyond my ken
is the most wondrous existence
of benevolence,
which I choose to call
The Great Unknowable
and, sometimes,

Thank you, Sherry, for your inextinguishable light.
You have so often illuminated my path.

image by Sukanto Debnath

Monday, April 11, 2011

'I shall have some peace there'

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
William Butler Yeats, 1890

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made
Nine bean rows will I have, a hive for the honeybee
And live alone in the bee-loud glad.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace
comes dropping slow.
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the Linnet's wings.

I will rise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Image: Joe Schlabotnik
Image: Alistair Knock

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mi Corazon

"Within your heart, keep one still, secret place where dreams may go."
~ Louise Driscoll

In the darkest before the dawn,
my eyes not yet open,
my thoughts driftless from
a night of little sleep

awareness slowly awakens.

My fingers are buried in a dense
darkness of quiet and calm.
I don't know when this happened,
but my mystery dog has settled
her silky self alongside me.

This is rare.

I remember when I taught her to play.
I had never done such a thing.
I thought all dogs knew how to play.
But not my Corazon.
I cannot imagine what force or person or circumstance
removed her joy

She stops traffic sometimes,
with her looks, not her antics.
People ask:

"What kind of dog is she?"
I don't know, really.
"How old is she?"
I don't know, really.

These things don't matter. Really

She came to me during grief,
and she had her own,
and in our becoming acquainted
we taught each other


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