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Sandwich Bread

I’ve succeeded three times in learning what doesn’t work for this sourdough recipe at this altitude, and today I’m grateful that I finally succeeded in learning what does work. It’s a simple recipe though it takes all day. Tonight I chose warm bread ends with butter and havarti over actual dessert.

I’m also grateful that Wren didn’t freak out during the Pioneer Days fireworks 🎆 tonight. I gave her a tiny chip of Trazodone for anxiety since she dashed for the door earlier when there was a preliminary bang while we were on the deck. Then I kept her distracted with Star Trek Voyager and a treat-stuffed Kong toy during the excitement. She was alert and responsive to the explosions, but settled quickly as I just kept watching TV and eating bread. Whew.

Hargila

“Hargila,” the greater adjutant stork, feeding in a garbage dump. Image attributed to netzfrauen.org.

This half-hour film is mind-blowing in many ways. Shot by a Cornell Lab of Ornithology photographer in Dardala, India, where half the world’s population of endangered greater adjutant stork supports its growing population by scavenging the dump alongside humans, the film celebrates the conservation efforts of one woman who changed a culture’s relationship with this prehistoric bird. The film came to me courtesy of KarmaTube.org in a weekly newsletter that I recommend for inspiring stories, along with kindspring.org which features accounts of kindness.

Kindness has always mattered to me, as much as honesty, compassion, and gratitude. I was never that great at any of them, but have always appreciated and valued them above all. Traits to aspire to. I’m mulling over what the next blog project will focus on; kindness is an option, or letting go. I’m grateful for the opportunity to explore these ideals and practice them to the best of my limited abilities. I’m grateful for the inspiring efforts of people all over the world who are doing what they love and making the world a better place as they do, and I’m grateful I took the time tonight to learn about the Hargila.

Perspective

A section of the California Nebula, as photographed by George Dunham at Singing Mountain Observatory, Crawford.

Today, I’m grateful for many things, including friendship, food, a solid little washing machine, and fresh water. I’m also grateful for the dark skies above at night, and for the amazing astro-photography of my neighbor George Dunham a few miles down the road. I’m grateful to have been invited to attend his Zoom presentation to the Coal Creek Canyon Sky Watchers this evening, which included nature photos by his wife Kim, and a brief state-of-space report from the Watchers, catching us up on some of the latest developments in space exploration. It was a great way to spend a couple of hours when I was feeling the unfamiliar space in the house profoundly. I’m always grateful for a fresh perspective on my own insignificance.

Oops

I was awakened at 3:30 this morning by the particular rustle I’ve come to know as Stellar turning circles in his bed. My body snaps to attention, wide awake and ready to bolt downstairs if the next sound is footsteps. But he stayed in bed and settled down, so I was left with my startled mind. Which pretty quickly pointed out that I had forgotten to post my gratitude before stumbling numbly, exhausted and distracted, upstairs to the sweet relief of sleep. I’m grateful I could persuade my mind that I’ll catch up today, so I could go back to sleep without beating myself up.

Stellar’s Last Days: Letting Go

In some moments, he seems just fine. He ambles through the woods as he always has, led by his nose. I’m grateful that his nose still knows what’s where: I can rely on his nose to indicate something of interest, something that might necessitate my attention. I can no longer rely upon his ears, for his hearing is routinely 180º off: I call him from one side, and his ears perk and he turns the exact opposite direction of where I am, looking. It’s okay. It just means I have to keep him close to me on walks that I can chase him down, and not lose sight of him. I can no longer rely on his eyesight: unless I’m moving, he can lift his nose from the ground and scan for me and not see me, even when I’m directly in front of him. It’s okay. It just means I need to remain always in his sight, and adapt to his new normal.

We all three enjoyed a nice walk this morning, rambling through the south woods and sagebrush; and we took another walk this evening. While Stellar ambled in the woods, Topaz rolled in the dirt closer to me, then threw her ears back, before zipping off ahead of us both. And then, Stellar was no longer fine.

He was sniffing, and turning, and his feet got tangled up, as they do more and more often. Down he went. Usually, he can get himself back up, but not this time. He waited patiently for me to make my way to him. I’ve taken to walking always with a scarf on, so I can sling him up with it if necessary, but this evening, I had just showered, and changed into a loose dress, and it was so mild I forgot to put anything else on. Often, if I can reposition his feet, he can get up on his own, which fortunately was the case this time, though it took a couple of tries and a little extra lift from me.

I love you so much, without attachment.

I have to say it like this, because I see him slipping away more and more clearly. I realize that recently I’ve been resisting something that may not happen. I’ve been fretting about when it might be time to put him down. I’ve been experiencing sorrow, with resistance rather than with acceptance. I keep thinking I’m accepting it, and then there’s another layer. Each time we reach a new level of his infirmity, I resist for awhile before surrendering, and adapting my mind to his increased needs. When I finally do that, I’m still sad, but I suffer less and can enjoy him more. I may never have to make that painful decision for him. He may live comfortably until he just up and dies in his sleep, or in my arms like his sister did. Like my mother did, for that matter.

I’m grateful for a buddhist friend’s words of wisdom this afternoon. She shared advice from a visiting tulku, who essentially gave permission for contemporary buddhists to euthanize a pet when one could be clear that it was the animal who was suffering the most, and not oneself. And she said, “Your whole life right now is about his dying.” It’s true. I’m grateful for that understanding. And I can’t get impatient about it. This is my life right now, and it’s a worthy, meaningful process. One day he’ll be gone, and my life will be about something else. For now, I’m grateful for a daily practice of moment-to-moment letting go.

Self-compassion

I’ve been working all week on some presentations I get to do at the graduation retreat for the Mindful Learning Year I complete this weekend. One of them includes this image under the heading ‘The Right Tools for the Job.’ One of those is self-compassion, something I knew little about previously. I’m done, and exhausted. I’m grateful for this new skill, self-compassion. Good night!

No Internet

Having no internet has highlighted my habits. I’m grateful for the lesson in equanimity. [I tried to post this last night from my phone, and accidentally created it as a new page rather than a new post. I’m grateful that the internet is back on today, and that even with technical challenges on the website, their tech support offered me tools for a workaround.]

Grateful for bumblebees and onions.

Grateful for a lovely walk in the woods with Stellar, and for ancient junipers.

The trees have ears.

Grateful for red cactus flowers.