Saturday, May 28, 2011

After rain

A few "pretties" from my walk this morning . . . 

Poor Ginnie, I'm not allowed to walk him just yet . . . a few more weeks, Buddy.

Friday, May 27, 2011

'Viva sweet love'

by e.e. cummings

"sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovertime
and viva sweet love"

(all the merry little birds are
flying in the floating in the
very spirits singing in
are winging in the blossoming)

lovers go and lovers come
awandering awondering
but any two are perfectly
alone there's nobody else alive

(such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes)

not a tree can count his leaves
each herself by opening
but shining who by thousands mean
only one amazing thing

(secretly adoringly shyly
tiny winging darting floating
merry in the blossoming
always joyful selves are singing)

"sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovertime
and viva sweet love"

Wishing you "time for springtime is lovertime" . . .

Saturday, May 21, 2011

'Shed happens'

Check out my friend Amanda's Cafe Press site for wry and gorgeous items with her designs (like this)

Any one who pals around with a dog is probably going through the same thing right now. If we collected all the dog hair and undercoat tumbleweeds or results of using our furminators, I dare say we could present Rudee with an inventive new fiber to spin.

I started a new assignment this week (which I LOVE) and in the giddiness of utter joy to be in the company of an incredibly talented team with supercool work to do, I happened to mention during our first staff meeting together that they needn't worry if they see dog hair on my clothes. It's simply the natural process of my devolution into a canid. And I promised to have good boundaries around talking about dogs. (Wish me luck?)

But more than dog hair is shedding at the 44th Street Accidental Microkennel. This morning I woke up and my jammies were so loose I had to hitch them up so I wouldn't trip on my way to the water closet. I'm mystified as to why. Having written countless wellness articles and edited many many manuscripts by physicians, I, of course considered the possibility that I may have one of the symptoms of the dreaded disease that begins with "D" and requires people who have it to poke their fingers each day and check their blood.

At the end of my risk assessment quiz, I got the following result: "You can't do anything about age, but you can eat right and lead an active life." Check, check, and check. So, at least for now, I've crossed one worry off my list. Still, my normal obsessive rigorous workout routine has been interrupted by having shoulder surgery, so I can't attribute the shrinkage to any intentional effort to burn more calories (unless sleeping A LOT and letting my body heal uses more calories than I thought). But the mystery remains.

So here are the possibilities:

I'm not eating like a honey badger*
as I did during the month of March.
That's when I was turbowriting the final report for a research project. Snacking like that is a bad habit that started during my cub newspaper reporting days. Can't seem to work well under pressure without something to nosh on--constantly. I thought was eating healthy things -- nuts, dried unsweetened mango strips, fruit, whole-grain crackers, hummus -- but maybe it's just possible I consumed an insane amount of far more calories that I should have. And now that life has returned to normal, my metabolism has caught up with me.

Spring cleaning works on bodies, too.
We're launching into an intense clearoutthebasementintwoweeksorelse project, because EarthDoctorSon and Sarah Jane are, drum roll please, moving in with us!!! Their goal: save money for things like buying land and paying off school loans. We're planning to convert our nasty basement into a hip, eco-friendly 20-something pad. Sarah Jane is a design phenom so I just know her creativity will inspire all of us. And EarthDoctorSon will ensure that we purchase only locally grown food, have happy bees, harvest fruit from the mushroom garden he built here 2 summers ago, and decorate our little urban patch of garden with a cool-looking hippie guy who seems to know every soccer player in the Twin Cities. But I digress. The point is that when you get into the groove of shedding stuff, maybe you're body joins in the party and sheds pounds. Who knows! Stranger things have happened--like people devolving into dogs.

Whilst being in a state of joy,
one's body eliminates what it doesn't need.
I know that sounds pretty woo-woo, but think about it. Have your ever run into someone you hadn't seen in a long time and they looked way thinner than you imagined possible amazing and you asked how they're doing and they tell you they're following their bliss and life is good? I have. Several times. Now, maybe when one is joyful, one is more inclined to tiptoe though the tulips and gaze at their food rather than wolfing it down and those two activities work in cahoots to shed calories. But I can't help thinking there's something more, hmmm, let's say "mystical" at play. Though I'm not wild that it's going to take 3 months to get the use of my right arm back, my shoulder surgeon said my left wing is probably just fine. YESSS! Maybe I'm done with repairing warn-out parts for a while. At least it feels like that, and the prospect of not being in chronic pain because I choose to be active is intoxicating. Couple that with our grand intergenerational living experiment and my awesome new work assignment, and we've got one very joyful me.

Off now to don my hazmat suit, goggles, N-95 respirator, and latex gloves to decontaminate the basement (You. think I'm kidding, don't you?)
. . .

*Do you know about Randall and the honey badger?

If you are offended by swear words, PLEASE don't view this video -- it's full of them. Also, if nature documentaries that feature predators eating their prey make you faint, PLEASE don't view this video. But if bad language, sarcasm, dark humor don't bother you, you may laugh your --s off.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Well, I do declare!

I, Kathleen Kimball-Baker, being of sound mind
(well, at least I think so)
and heart (according to my recent pre-op EKG),
do solemnly swear that after the age of 65
(maybe, 67, or 70, depending),
will no longer surgically repair worn-out parts
(be they joints or a ticker or somesuch)
unless I can afford to pay for said operations from my own funds.

I am deeply concerned
(and guilty about what it has cost to enable me to mush)
about the growing national deficit, rising healthcare costs,
and the burden that unchecked spending on Medicare
will create for my children and grandchildren
(not that I have any yet, but who knows!)

It vexes me greatly that in our affluent nation
we spend so much money
on extreme tertiary care (research and delivery) 
or the benefit of a few people
while billions in the rest of the world do not even have
the most basic public health resource: clean water.

Because I agree with the statement,
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world,"
and because I'm unconvinced that there is any political will
(or chutzpah)
to make the tough decisions that need to be made
(like not having an open checkbook approach to healthcare spending),
I choose to do my small part to reduce Medicare costs.

As a gainfully employed (at least for now)
American citizen,
I consider it my civic duty
to publicly declare my intention and willingness
to forgo outrageously expensive medical procedures
during the last quarter (or so) of my life.

In the meantime, I will make careful decisions
about extending the warranty on certain moving parts
(left and right knees, in particular)
so that I can continue
to live a joyful, physically active lifestyle
I will also vote,
eat small portions,
drink lots of water,
refrain from consuming anything with refined sugar,
only use the emergency room for emergencies,
wear a bike helmet,
wear my seat belt,
not develop substance abuse problems,
not text while driving (I swear!),
use cloth bags when purchasing groceries,
turn off lights in conference rooms after meetings,
try composting again,
help old ladies across the street,
show up for my political party's caucus
(even though the silly resolutions make me want to bite someone's hand),
attend my block party every August,
and generally be a good egg.

Perhaps you'll consider a similar declaration. I hope so.

(I realize that I also declared 6 years ago that I would never pay another dime for gasoline and that I stood by that declaration for only 5 years, at which time I fell head over heels madly in love with mushing and couldn't figure out how to load a sled and two decidedly not "service" dogs on a bus and thus I broke down and rescued a lovely little 2000 Subaru Forester -- which has seat warmers! --  from a salvage yard and paid for it with cash rather than adding to the national debt. But that's another story.
Besides, it's all about progress, not perfection, right?)

The fine print: I reserve the right to change my mind. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Permission to do nothing? Take it for granted!

"Rest at harvest" by William Adolph Bourguereau
Discovering nothingness

When PreciousGrrlChild was a senior in high school and we were visiting colleges, I made an extraordinary discovery one day. Oh, yes, the universities were fascinating and being on each campus stirred in me the desire for a graduate degree, but that's not the discovery to which I refer here.

This is something far more elemental.

My daughter and I agreed on a date to make the 3-hour trek to a university that very much wanted her to attend. About a week in advance, I arranged to take the day off and looked forward to our road trip together, to the break from a hectic schedule and multitude of conundrums I needed to solve.

The morning of our trip arrived, and I asked PreciousGrrlChild what time she wanted to leave. She looked at me, confused, and said, "For what?" I reminded her of our arrangement and she apologized profusely for having forgotten to get permission from her teachers, explaining that she really had to go to school that day.

I was floored. I drove her to school, then sat in the car for a moment and tried to decide what I should do. Go back to work? Tackle myriad cleaning projects at home? Pay bills? And then I remembered how many times I'd craved a whole day to do nothing but bead, to play with vibrant arrangements of color and try out new techniques for off-loom needle weaving. I felt a little guilty considering such self-indulgence -- for about a minute. Then I decided to simply go for it.

I cannot recall a single piece of jewelry I created that day or what new skills I tried to learn. But I know I spread out on the dining room table a glorious concoction of beads of all sizes and that by the end of the day, my neck was sore and time had passed without me having looked at a clock once.

I slept wonderfully that night. And when I woke up, my mind was practically exploding with ideas. I had to grab a pen and notebook fast to capture them. Solution after solution poured onto the paper before me. I could not believe the novelty of the ideas that had come to me. They all related to issues at work that I had tried for weeks to "think" my way into solving.

Something about the spending the previous day creating beauty, pleasing myself, letting go awareness of time had loosened up or perhaps rested the part of my brain that apparently was spent from trying so hard. That part of my brain needed a full day of "nothingness" to function again.

To this day, I have not experienced so profound a contrast between trying to force a solution and having completely ignored a problem in favor of self-indulgence, which I now understand was, in truth, self care.

. . .
Sometimes the answer is a walk
Image by joiseyshowaa

Whenever I've needed to hire someone for a job that involves juggling too many responsibilities, meeting dueling deadlines, and dealing with some pretty tough characters, I pose a few impossible scenarios during the interview process. My goal is not to see how astounding the candidate's problem-solving skills are.

Rather, I am looking for one answer. After bombarding a candidate with a scenario that could easily cause her or him to hyperventilate, especially during an interview setting, the response I hope to hear: "I'd take a walk."

That simple answer reveals so much: that the candidate has experienced such quandaries and knows that the answer lies in staying calm, in clearing one's head, in attending to self-care first, and that muscling through a problem is not always the best approach. The question has yet to fail me.
. . .
What my shoulder reminded me
Image from

On Monday, a surgeon removed the bursa and a bone spur in my right shoulder. He also shaved down a bone that was causing me trouble whenever I made certain movements and which made me a good candidate for a rotator cuff tear. Full recovery from this procedure takes about 3 months, but the first week can be pretty painful, I'm told. Fortunately, I'm a big believer using pain medications as directed, and so I've been mostly in "lala" land for the past 5 days.

My days have been something like this: wake up, take pain meds, reapply ice pack, eat a little something, read, conk out, wake up in time to take the next dose of pain meds, reapply ice pack, eat a little something, conk out . . . you get the picture.

And what has most astonished me this week is how when I wake up, I always expect it to be about 2 hours later than it actually is. When I look at the clock, to my surprise, I still have plenty of time to do nothing. Blissful nothingness. I can't say I've had any startling discoveries during this period of nothingness other than to remember how good it feels to do nothing, to be self indulgent, to take care of myself. I start a new assignment at work on Monday, and I can't think of a better way to prepare than by having spent the past week napping, healing, and, for all intents and purposes, doing nothing.
. . .
Permission granted
"Rest" by Vilhelm Hammershoi, 1905

If you've never felt that it was OK to do nothing, I hereby grant you permission.
Go on now.
Do nothing.
But do let me know how you feel when you're done.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wind in the willows

 The breeze stirs . . . 
can  you hear the willows whisperng?
 you may need to get closer to hear
 or stand underneath the limbs, flowing with flowers

come a little closer
you should be able to hear now
W e   a l l   a r e   c o n n e c t e d
t h r o u g h  b e a u t y,  t h r o u g h  l o v e,  t  h r o u g h   b r e a t h  . . .  
m a y  w e   n o t   f o r g e t  . . .

Sunday, May 8, 2011

See this Glamorgrrrrl?

Once upon a time, there was a woman who was beautiful inside and out.
She had a little baby who would grow up to be an Adventuregrrrl
who loved dogs and hanging on monkey bars and running faster than the boys.
The beautiful woman, who was a girly girl, loved that little girl to pieces,
even though the little girl wasn't a girly girl.
She tried once to give Adventuregrrl a pretty little doll that talked when she pulled a string.
But all Adventuregrrl wanted were toys like pretend bazookas and helmets and swords.
It didn't matter. The beautiful woman loved her and let her grow up to be anything she wanted.
She even let her have a dog and borrow her boots with furry tops so she could go camping.

One day Adventuregrrrl discovered dolls--real ones. Babies.
The beautiful woman laughed and said, "These are the first dolls you've ever played with."
Adventuregrrrl loved her babies and took them to her favorite places.
Like Galveston, where they played in the sand and twirled and laughed.

Of all the fun times Adventuregrrrl has had, the times with her babies have been the grandest.
Someday, she hopes, her babies will discover this for themselves!

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The birds and the bees

The birds will come later. We'll be joining several neighbors to create a chicken coop co-op.

But the bees have arrived!

Bees will build their honeycombs on these frames

EarthDoctorSon hustles the bees from his truck to our backyard

And gives them a once-over

The beekeeper checks his tools

The bees will feed off the orange stuff on the left. The queen was placed inside a marshmallow for safekeeping and the worker bees ate up the pillowed confection to get to the queen then encircled her and began to buzz to keep her warm.

Oh, Mr. B does love his little creatures!

Mr. B sprays them to slow and clump them

He's not taking any chances!

No chances whatsoever!

Ready, set, GO! EarthDoctorSon gets ready to flip the box over . . .

. . . and cast them into their new home

After which, he replaces some frames

places their good on top of the frame*

covers the frames and places more food on top

adds the penthouse suite

and their shiny new roof (I think the queen is in there, too).

And then he returns his attention to the bees that didn't get into the hive

and worries about them (hmmm...I wonder how I'd look in one of those hats?)

And Mr B joins the worryfest

while spectators PreciousGrrrlChid shivers and FriendofFamily thanks us for adding bees to the neighborhood.

oops . . . forgot to paint one little section

"Let's worry some more."

Uh-oh. Mr. B learns the hard way that a beekeeper must wear the veil more tightly

All in a day's work!
Happy to report that the hive is humming, and the bees are coming and going without incident.
They really are amazing little creatures.
Next year: honey!
. . .

* So a word about that pair of gloves. 
 realized just the other day that those gloves have had had multiple adventures in their lifetime. They were a gift to me from an amazing woman who, after surviving breast cancer, rode her bicycle not once but twice across the US. She gave them to me when I discovered how much I love riding my bike. But I found they also came in quite handy for mushing. I'm able to use them as glove liners because they give me enough dexterity to hook up my pups and stay dry.
 As a result, they've had multiple mushing adventures.
And now these gloves have participated in setting up a bee hive. 
Do you have an article of clothing with a story?
I'd love to hear!


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