Friday, May 25, 2012

it IS all it's cracked up to be.

This dog fostering thing can really suck sometimes. Sometimes they chew up a shoe or a window sill. Sometimes they dig a hole in the yard. Once or twice they've had accidents on the floor. Occasionally they bark or whine. And then every once in a while they make you fall in love with them so hard that it just nearly rips your heart out to let them go. Is it worth it? Yes. Do I still hate it? Yes. Would I recommend it? Absolutely.

We kept the first dog we ever fostered. Not a good sign of our ability to let go. But we kept at it. The first few were horribly hard to say goodbye to. The second one even went to our dear friends and I still stayed in bed for a day and cried. Then it started to get easier. Soon I was able to happily take them to their new homes and just leave with no ache at all. I don't think I was becoming hard hearted, I was just becoming more able to see the many positives: happy dog, happy family, and a new space in my home to save another dog in need. Win, win, win. But occasionally a dog would come along who, for some reason or another, got under my skin. We've fostered 200+ dogs over the last 12 years and aside from those first couple, that I think were actually the foster learning curve, there have been maybe three that were just really hard to part with (aside from the few that we, um, did not in fact part with). Let's see, there was a tiny, hairless pit bull who made me cry my eyes out in the middle of the shelter. Something you might think would happen a lot but had actually only happened once before when I accidentally witnessed the mountain of euthanized dogs being loaded onto a truck for cremation. Then there was the great dane who was so attached to me that he ripped down the blinds of his new home as I walked away from his home visit. And then there is Bernadette.
 I almost start off saying "I don't know what it is about her", but I know exactly what it is about her - she is that kind of dog that makes you feel special.  She makes you feel needed and wanted.  She looks at you with these soulful eyes that say "All I want in this world is you".  I dare you to try parting with that.  I'm not kidding you, it's making me feel sick.  Lots of my friends have said "just keep her", "whats one more?"  But man, have you ever tried buying food and heartworm pills and paying for vet bills for 12+ animals?  It ain't easy.  And then there is the whole attention thing - when you have this many animals are any of them really getting the attention they need and deserve?  So the right answer is to find her a wonderful home where she will get ALL the attention and ALL the love.  I can do that.  It's gonna suck, but I can do it.  And another dog will need to be rescued.  And I will have a space.
 But seriously, how freakin' cute is she!?!?!?!  Come on! 

Now that I have made this fostering thing sound just like a barrel of laughs I'm sure you'll be rushing out to find your nearest rescue group to volunteer with.  You should.  You will not regret it.  How can you regret saving a life?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

can we talk?

A few weeks ago I was reading one of the blogs I like and she had a post, top five things to be a good blogger, or something like that. One of the things was don't complain. Or was it don't whine? Anyway, I get it. People have their own issues, they read blogs as an escape. That's why I read the blogs I read. But I thought about it, and the blogs I love most are at their core, real. And sometimes they whine. And I'm okay with that. It makes them real, makes me feel like I know them, like we could be friends. Ok, before I start to sound like some weirdo who thinks she's "friends" with a bunch of people she's never met, in a nutshell, I relate. And isn't that also one of the things we love about blogs? Relating. Reading about people who are dealing with the same things we are, whose lives are as nutty as our own, makes you feel a little less alone, right?

So, with that exhausting intro said and done I can now get to my point. I am overwhelmed with a capital Oh my God am I overwhelmed. I see my life in four large chunks: Work, Blue Dog Rescue, Family, and Friends. And right this minute they are all in overdrive. I can handle it when one is high maintenance. Even when two are. Three and things start to get a little iffy. All four, well, I'm just gonna start to suck at everything then.

 I read this book a long time ago by Leo Buscaglia. It was called Love. There was a part in it that was about the broad based education in the school system, but I think it applies to a lot of different aspects of life. So he lays it out like this: there's this school in the forrest...Squirrels, birds, fish, turtles, rabbits, etc. The squirrels are great at tree climbing, birds excel at flying, fish at swimming, and so on. But then the broad based education is implemented. The fish has to learn to fly, the bird to tree climb, the squirrel to swim. All of the sudden the bird who used to get an A in flying is getting a C in flying because she broke her wing in tree climbing and she is still getting an F in swimming. My point: instead of doing one thing well I feel like I'm doing everything half ass. What to do? Honestly? I've got no ideas other than ride out the storm or drop one of the balls I'm juggling. 

At least I'm not bored, right?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Kid With The Best Mom

I am sure there are a lot of you out there that will say "I have the best mom ever".  I hope there are.  But I might fight you for the title - Kid With The Best Mom.

I was just three years old when my parents divorced.  I'm not gonna get into why they divorced and all that, let me just say that a lot of women might wallow, be bitter, and begin to settle for less than they deserve after something like that.  My mom decided to go to grad school.  We packed up and moved away from any family, just the three of us - me, my mom, and our dog.  I was just barely six years old, my mom was a whopping 27.  Looking back I am amazed at the bravery that must have taken.  I honestly don't think I could ever have done it.

We were poor.  Poor with a capital P!  But I never knew it.  Never even suspected it.  Not because she spoiled me or bought me things.  She just never ever let me see her worry.  Again, when I look back there were signs.  Like when you open the freezer and out spills 20+ balls of tin foil filled stuffed bell peppers because bell peppers were on sale 20 for a dollar that week and ground meat and onions are cheep stuffin'!  But at the time I just thought my mom really liked bell peppers!

My mom let me be a kid.  There are a lot worse things out there than being poor and having divorced parents - but if your parents handle it wrong those two things can be much harder than they have to be.  I didn't spend a lot of time with my dad... again, don't need to get into that too much here, but there were times when that was hard on me.  I didn't understand.  It would have been really easy for my mom to make digs at him, at the very least not defend him.  But she defended him every time.  Every single time.  Because she knew it was best for me.  How in the word did she know that at 20-something?  I had friends in high school whose parents talked all kinds of shit about their former spouse to their kid, in front of their kid, to their ex in front of their kid.  Its appalling!  I truly cannot emphasize enough how insanely important it is to never, ever, ever let your kid hear a single bad word from one parent about the other.  I'll get off my soap box now, that's not what this is about, but take it from a kid of divorce - it matters.

Now I'm 40 and my mom is a speech pathologist who hammers bangles and does post office runs for me on her days off.  We spend time together because we want to, not because we feel obligated.  I could tell a million stories that would qualify me for the above title but I don't need to.  As long as I know I have THE best mom and as long as I make sure she knows that I know - well, that's all the matters.

Happy Mother's Day Mom.  I love you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

baking = medicine for the blahs

 I've had a serious case of the mean reds lately.  If you haven't seen Breakfast at Tiffany's...well, first, Why?  Second, go get it.  Now.  Third, the mean reds are this:

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds. You mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you're getting fat, and maybe it's been raining too long. You're just sad, that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid, and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

For me it's this impending doom feeling mainly because it just seems like icky stuff keeps happening.  Not the worst of the worst, I haven't lost all perspective.  My uncle recently had a heart transplant AND stem cell replacement, so I know what real difficulty is.  Mine are just a series of things - getting an email from a couple who wants to return the dogs (dogS, plural!) they adopted from us eight years ago.  EIGHT years people!  WTF?  getting pneumonia, losing our sweet kitty.  Stuff that sucks on their own but when you string them together over two weeks time you get a case of the mean reds.
 Luckily I have a bit of a remedy.  I bake.  When I was younger I would wallow.  Now, I bake.  It just makes me feel better.  There is the obvious reason - eating.  Who doesn't like to eat when they are down?  But that's not even my main reason, albeit a lovely side affect.  For me it's the satisfaction of building something from scratch.  Baking is a precise process.  It's not like cooking where you can throw stuff together and taste, adjust, taste, adjust.  Not that cooking isn't it's own art - it certainly is!  Anyway, I like the step by step of it all.  It takes focus.  So when you've got a case of the mean reds, focusing on something else is always a good thing.

Then watching your efforts transform, smelling that yeasty aroma, seeing a small ball of dough rise up and over the top of its bowl, watching gooey batter become a spongey little cake...oh, it's just happiness for me.
 Look at those pretty soon-to-be cupcakes with all of their little specks of vanilla beans!  Is that not just joy in a paper wrapper?  Mmm mmm mmm!
 You can easily throw your happy quotient right over the top by adding in sprinkles.  Who can be sad or scared or angry or blue when you have piles of sprinkles in front of you?  Sure, it's not a long term fix.  But it does the trick for a little bit.  And one good way to drag out that good feeling is to give away the goodies you make.  As I type I have dough rising in the kitchen that will soon become: a few rolls for Tom, or as he likes to call them "vehicles for honey", cinnamon rolls, and a loaf of bread.  A good half of the cinnamon rolls are headed to a friend who is pregnant.  I don't know why, I just wanted to make her some cinnamon rolls.
 So seriously, you've never seen Breakfast at Tiffany's?  Man.  That movie was a huge for me.  And I will never forget the first time I saw it.  I had moved to Lubbock to go to school at Texas Tech.  I was down, missing my parents, all that first-time-leaving-home stuff.  The first night I was there one of my dear friends (who I have known since I was six and she was two) came to my dorm with a sleeping bag in one arm and Breakfast at Tiffany's in the other.  She set up her sleeping bag in between my bed and my roommates bed and we all plopped down and watched the movie.  It was awesome.  I can't really tell you why, except that it IS.  But it was just a feeling that everything was gonna be ok, that I wasn't alone.  I guess I wrap all those warm fuzzies up in my feelings about this movie.  Thanks for that Nat.

Just to wrap up.  When you are feeling blue or red maybe you need a friend or maybe you need to bake or maybe you need to bake for a friend.  But I can tell you this for sure - all of the above work way better than that angsty wallowing I used to opt for!