Violet!

Meet Violet!  She’s from San Antonio.  Two years old and still has puppy energy.   Good manners, though.  Her caregivers had a divorce and had to give her up.  The wife writes to our local rescue group frequently to check on her.  She has only been here a week or so.   

She’s been with us for four hours.  She checked out the yard and house.  She’s played fetch.  She’s had a bite to eat.  I purchased the biggest kennel I’ve ever seen (it is ridiculous, I can crawl in it, and she expresses zero interest in entering it).  And now, the napping.   

I have never seen a dog adapt so quickly.   Frida didn’t eat a bite for a week, wouldn’t go in the kitchen, wouldn’t go upstairs, and exhibited various other anxiety related quirks.  Violet was shaking a bit when she first met us, but she seems to be over it.

I’m excited for the walking, but may wait a day to head out.  Get to know her a bit better.  She met the neighbors and was sweet to them.  A good start.  She needs to gain a few pounds but is otherwise in great shape.  

Biggest thanks to Eileen from the German Shepherd Rescue of NY!  Very thorough vetting and very open and honest matching process.  Sweet too!  A good match has been made and our hearts are starting to heal.  I wish Frida could have met Violet.   They would have gotten along well.  As it is, Frida will have to keep an eye on the three of us.   Keep us safe.

I could write more (my heart is about to explode) but I’ll spare you the words.   Thanks for reading this much.  It feels so good to share good news!  

Take care!

The Brink

When I sweep the floor, it is just dust and hair.  No dog fur.  That makes me sad as hell.  We didn’t bring home the absolutely lovely dog whose picture was in my last post.  We came awfully close.  We spent an hour with her at the rescue director’s home.  The first thing she, the dog, did was run up and give me a couple of quick kisses.  That was a big deal because she, the dog, carries a bunch of anxiety toward men.  I wasn’t surprised as I’ve long known I’m not a real he-man but the director was very happy to see her progress.

Lacey stayed very near the girl for the rest our visit.  We moved indoors and the two of them sat together on the floor.  Lacey petted her head as the girl was working on a Nylabone.  The director left us alone and Lacey and I decided to bring the girl home.  The director came back and we shared our tentative decision and our reservations.  In the end we decided to sleep on it.  Such a big decision.

Lacey and I went to lunch and spoke of nothing else.  We came home and spoke of nothing else.  We woke up on Sunday and spoke of nothing else.  We woke up on Monday and spoke of nothing else.  Back and forth.  It was excruciating.  We were both deeply in love with this girl, but in the end our minds won out over our hearts.  Probably a mistake, but it is our mistake to make.

Fast forward some.  Another girl is offered up.  I won’t share a picture.  Don’t want to jinx it.  Based on the pictures, again we are in love.  We go to meet her Saturday.  The waiting!  Brutal!  Deep breaths.

Work is busy enough but as is often the case, I’ve done my work and am waiting for others to catch up.  Yesterday I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and made the most beautiful spreadsheet I’ve ever made.  I shared it with the team by 4:30 a.m.  By noon, when the California crew starts working, the details had been tweaked.  I spent another couple of hours making an even better spreadsheet, spreadsheets are magic, and now I am hoping it has some staying power.  Time will tell.  img_5429

I passed some pleasurable hours this morning making Jamaican seitan patties.  I am not a huge fan of working with dough, but I knew that while the dough rested, the filling was prepared, the dough worked, the patties assembled and then baking in the oven, the clock would run and I’d be that much closer to meeting another dog.  Maybe a dog we can call our own.img_5431

For once the dough behaved.  I cut all the corners I always cut, but still it worked nicely.  The rounds had good integrity and baked up nice and flakey.  img_5432

I thawed some Chinese five-spice seitan that was a bit undercooked when I froze it.  Undercooked seitan isn’t the end of the world, but you gotta treat it right when you use it.  Maybe slice it and fry it up really good to finish the cooking.  Here I shredded it in the food processor and then it baked inside the pies for 30 minutes.  Perfect.

They are even more or less pretty.  Not bad for a first try, which is good because I don’t redo a recipe thirty times aiming for perfection.  I’ll make marginal notes in the cookbook so that when I come back to the recipe three years later I will know what I thought and whether there are pitfalls to avoid.  Here, I tried the pasta machine to roll out the dough.  Didn’t work so I made a note of it.  Otherwise I’d be hauling the thing out again three years later with the same bright idea.  The rolling pin worked best.  Noted.  Done.

Won two games of Scrabble last night.  In the winners match, I trailed the whole game but went out with a bingo (ignition) on the triple and my opponents held about 40 points on their racks.  Ha!  I don’t mind losing at all, and usually do, but a win now and then isn’t terrible either.

Enjoy your weekend.

Progression

A book is fine.  Just finished My Life by Golda Meir.  What a life!  I’m reading (probably rereading since it is on my shelf but it is all new to me) Plato’s Republic because of this, but then I’ll turn to Sapiens–A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harani.  Inspired by a friend’s tweet, but I can’t for the life of me remember what I am supposed to learn from it.  Still, I will read it.  That’s quite a list.  Outside of my comfort zone.  What I really want is to escape in a Haruki Murakami novel, but I’ve read them all.  Waiting for the next with the rest of his fans.  [sound of the fingers of a million people tapping on a million desks].

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A moment of sunshine is another thing entirely.  Enjoyable from inside and more so outside.  I seem to have recovered from my extended illnesses and have ventured outside again.  Two days ago I walked to the library to renew my card. Yesterday I walked to the store for a growler of beer.  I love walking!

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Books and sunshine are great, but DOG!  Not an abstract dog, rather a dog I know and with whom I’ve formed a loving bond.  That’s magic.  Gimme.

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We didn’t bring home the bonded pair of German Shepherds about which I last wrote.  They were lovely, so very lovely, but more than we can comfortably handle.  This weekend we are going to have a look at one German Shepherd who needs a forever home.  A big one.  That’s her above.  Almost certainly too big for Frida’s dog trailer.  Maybe too big to snuggle on my lap.  Would we need a bigger car?  Probably not, but the question occurs to me.  Keeping an open mind and prepared to fall in love.  speed

Bringing a dog into one’s life is a very big deal.  I didn’t know that when we got Speed, our first and, frankly, didn’t act like it for much of our time together.  We loved her like crazy and gave her very good care, but didn’t do much to alter our lives to make sure we gave her everything she may want.  frida

We had a better idea with Frida, and were better caretakers.  As Frida’s needs grew, we altered our lives to allow us to better attend to them.  We gave it our all.  And there the bar remains.  How can one go back?  I can’t, anyway.

What will our next dog need?  Unknowable, and that is scary.  I know I will do whatever is needed, so I wonder, as I sit without a dog, whether I am ready to volunteer.  I hope I say yes, and soon.  Wish us luck!

Lunch time.  Happy Friday.  Fired up and ready to go!

A Little Something

I noticed a young hawk with a striped tail sitting on the chain link fence just above Frida’s favorite spot.  It was fluffed up against the cold.  It’s feathers looked wet, like it was just born (but of course it wasn’t).  It stayed long enough for me to get the binoculars, but not long enough for me to get a picture.  Is Frida now a hawk?  angel

Today we are scheduled to visit a crew of adoptable dogs.  We had one we were falling in love with, but then we found she was part of a dependent pair.  Siblings.  Two are one too many for me (I say before I meet them).  They seem to be quite large, too large for me (I say before I meet them).  Gulp.  soup

Last night’s soup, also for breakfast.  It tastes good thanks to vegetable stock, tamari, miso, roasted garlic, Sriracha, black pepper, tomato paste, mushrooms, kale and orzo.

Enjoy your Saturday more by taking care of someone or something.

I Must Admit

In large part, 2016 vacillated between meh and make it stop.  I considered listing injuries, insults and assaults, but a video of a young goat traveling in a wheelchair keeps playing in my head.  Its hind legs and body rode in a nylon sling suspended in a frame rolling on four wheels.  Its front legs, wrapped to provide stability, were strong enough to pull it along.  It was going places.  It made me smile.  two-ravens

2016 offered a measurable amount of good, too.  I considered listing achievements, compliments and comforts, but a video of a young goat traveling in a wheelchair keeps playing in my head.  I suspect the goat will still be rolling in 2017.  Some injuries don’t heal.lp-and-bronze

Lacey and I have enjoyed six months together, nearly 24-7.  Unplanned and unscripted–we sorted it out on the fly and made it work.  Made it a delight!  She’s heading back to work in January.  Her work will be fulfilling and our time together will be even more precious, but I’m not looking forward to it.  I’ve never worked from home without Frida or Lacey to keep me company.

What do you think a young goat weighs?  I miss carrying Frida’s 45 pounds up and down our stairs, onto and off of our bed, and lifting her to lay her on my chest.  She’s visited me in just one dream.  I was chasing her down dark streets and never got within a block of her.  Here’s hoping for a better next dream.four-dog-boots

The thought of bringing a new dog into our life scares me.  The thought of not bringing a new dog into our life scares me.  Fear is my best friend, so says John Cale, but it isn’t helping me decide what to do.  I need more time.

Today Lacey and I walked to Stacks on Lark for warm beverages, the New York State Museum for history, Berben & Wolff’s for lunch and then home.  We have an inch or two of snow on the ground.  Low 30s.  Some wind.  At times the clouds parted and sunshine warmed our faces.  It was one hell of an adventure.pecan-brownie

Did you know there is a Bomber’s Burritos in the food court under the New York State Plaza?  I love Bomber’s Burritos, but I’ve spent most of my going out money at Albany’s only all-vegan joint and loved every bite.  Do you know how nice it is to go to a restaurant and be able to order anything off the menu?  Of course you do.  You’re most likely an omnivore and have that experience a couple of times a week.  Now, thanks to Berben & Wolff, I experience it about once a week, too.  Twenty five visits since they opened in May.  I know because I check in on Yelp and I’ve earned the title of Duke.  Silly that this makes me happy, but happy is good so I’ll forgive myself.  Berben & Wolff’s is my MVR for 2016 and will be for 2017, too.  But I am jonesing for Bomber’s quinoa bowl.  Topped with black beans, BBQ tofu, mango pico and guacamole, it is a real treat.

I should go.  Shout out to 2017–we’re counting on you.  You can, of course, count on us, too.  We know you are just a measure of time and that you can’t do anything to lift our spirits.  We need to lift our spirits.  I’ll give it my all.  I’ll wait to write until I have uplifting news.  Speak to you soon.

Yesterday

It seemed it might be the last warm and dry day for awhile, so we walked to Wolff’s Biergarten to celebrate my cousin’s birthday.  Eight point two miles round trip.  I can’t remember walking further.  It went well, but my legs were nearly shot by the end.  My legs!  It had been my feet on most of our recent long walks, but they must be toughening up.

The destination was worth the walk.  Judie was in fine spirits and it was nice to see everyone.  Although I couldn’t bring myself to order a beer at ten in the morning, veggie curry wurst, fries and sauerkraut were a treat.img_5152

We walked home quickly to have a chance to see my friend’s 1935 Austin Seven out and about.  He was going to be in the neighborhood and the car was to be stored for the winter the next day.  We made it.img_5157

Seeing it in the drive was terrific.  It is a bit shorter than a Golf, but it’s narrowness is the real surprise.  I didn’t measure it at the time, but it looked to be about half the width of a Golf.  Casual research just now suggests the Seven looks narrower than it is (dark colors are slimming and the pointed beak surely lends to the illusion).  The Seven is about two thirds of the width of a Golf (four feet versus six).

As a sometimes pedaler, I can’t help but wish all cars were as narrow.  Even in the narrowest lane (say nine feet), an Austin Seven could share the lane, side by side, with a pedaler traveling two feet from the curb and nearly three feet would remain.  Of course three full feet are required by law, and more space is better still, but if you read on you’ll learn why I would be willing to overlook a bit less than three feet when being passed by this car (hint–top speed is modest).

Four forward gears, but first is a bail out gear–to be used only if you find yourself on a particularly steep grade.  You generally start in second.  Off we were!  The owner worked through second and third, then into fourth, and we found ourselves traveling at twenty-two miles per hour.  That was known only because we were driving through a speed trap and the sign told us so–the car itself has no speedometer.  I don’t think it gets going much more quickly than that without the help of a hill and/or the wind, as four cylinders producing 13.5 horsepower were all that we had to pull the three of us along.  The engine isn’t much larger nor much louder (at idle) than a residential sewing machine.  I’d be surprised to learn that the exhaust pipe has a diameter greater than three-quarters of an inch.  All this together makes for a very polite motorized conveyance.  I will never forget it!

Today, proper fall weather is here.  Rain overnight turned to snow, then back to rain as the temperature rocketed to thirty-five degrees.  We’ve stayed in.

I rode the rollers in the morning.  Since I’ve started a few weeks ago, I’ve increased the effort three times.  Started in the easiest gear and left it there for a couple of sessions.  Dropped it a gear for the next few and repeated the pattern twice more.  I don’t think I’ve pedaled on the rollers in this high a gear before.  I won’t further increase the effort–there is no point in pulling my knees apart.  img_5166

I added to a half batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies a touch of cocoa powder and brewed coffee.  Espresso is better (or even just finely ground coffee), but I’ve put away the espresso maker to make room on the counter for the toaster oven, forgot about dry coffee until now and I had brewed coffee in the fridge.  I reduced the flour to accommodate the cocoa, but should have left it alone.  The batter was visibly loose as I plopped the cookie dough batter on the mat.  They spread a bit too much in the oven, but nevertheless taste very nice.

I finished Irving’s In One Person and am now well into Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here.  Recommended by a friend and first published in 1935, Lewis’ book is a satirical account of a fascist’s rise to the presidency of the United States.  Chilling.  Here’s hoping for fewer parallels between fiction and fact as I make my way through the book.

Rain is now snow again.  Not enough to build on the pavement, but it seems the Austin Seven was tucked away for the season none too soon.  My cookies and extra blankets will keep us warm.  I hope you have the means to do the same.

What Do You Do?

How many times have I shared this?  It feels right to share it again.

Imagine a meeting between Fred Rogers and ______________.  I’m trying but it isn’t going well.  I expect _____________ would, at a minute in, grow tired of Mr. Rogers’ measured verbal cadence and excuse himself.  Happily, Senator Pastore heard him out and resisted President Nixon’s request to cut PBS’s budget by more than half (in light of the financial needs occasioned by the Vietnam war).  $9M became $22M thanks in part to the sometimes gruff and impatient Senator.  I can’t imagine how many lives have been made better by having Fred Rogers on screens during their childhood.  My sincerest thanks to both Mr. Rogers and Senator Pastore.

I just made a single serving cake in a cup in the microwave.  It wasn’t the best cake I’ve made, and it was certainly the least attractive, but I felt joy in the making and eating of it.  Wonder, too, as I watched it rise in seconds through the back-lit window.  There wasn’t an Easy Bake Oven in my childhood, but if I’d had one I would have worn it out.

Yesterday we passed part of a rainy day watching on Netflix The Birth of Saké.  I recommend it.  I drank a glass of Momokawa saké while we watched the documentary.  I recommend that, too. Watching a small team work and live together for seven months in the brewery reminded me of my nephews’ love of summer camp.  It wasn’t a stretch.  They were on my mind, as was their camp, because yesterday the younger of the two posted their picture wearing camp t-shirts and counting down the days to their next visit.  They love camp as much as a 60-year old man who loves making saké loves his brewery.

Last night I baked pasta with red sauce made from garden tomatoes and basil.  Before it went in the oven, I laid atop saucy pasta a few strips of seitan chickpea cutlets and Daiya shredded mozzarella.  Twenty five minutes at 350 worked well.  I haven’t in a decade had parmesan like stuff with which to finish pasta dishes (the offerings at the store seem too expensive), but I suspected the dish would benefit from extra salt, fat and umami so I whizzed in a bladed coffee grinder cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic and salt.  Took about a minute and it is delicious.  Recipe in this cookbook.  A side of sautéed spinach with lemon and roasted garlic rounded out the meal.  It was, as they say, a hot ticket.

I’m a hundred pages shy of finishing John Irving’s In One Person.  As I turn the pages, I find myself looking in on the life of a bisexual man.  The 1960s and 1970s were no cakewalk for Billy, the protagonist, and then the 1980s and the AIDS crisis show up.  As Billy is leaving the home of a childhood friend who had just moments before died of complications from AIDS, he notes that President Reagan didn’t mention AIDS during the first seven of his eight years in office.  What a president fails to mention can be as important as what a president mentions.

Yesterday our Mayor tweeted a reminder of our new law requiring drivers to slow down and move over when passing first responders and road workers.  This was something I’ve always done for anyone on the side of the road.  I didn’t take drivers ed or or formal driving lessons, so I don’t know who to thank for the good advice.  I rarely see road users here do it, hence the need for the law.  But laws without education don’t save lives.  Just like our relatively new safe passing law protecting cyclists–laws are ineffective until advertised.  I thanked the Mayor for her reminder of the road workers’ protection law and asked her to also remind her followers of the cyclists’ safe passing law.  It wasn’t the first time I have asked, but I still haven’t seen a single tweet, poster or PSA.  It’s too cold for even crickets to sound.  Silence reigns.

Last week I was close passed by a speeding Albany police cruiser.  Later that week I pedaled my heart out to stay ahead of a CDTA bus–I wasn’t in the mood to take the lane or be close passed.  Luckily, the bus stopped to pick up a passenger who needed to load a bike.  This gave me time to get to CVS ahead of the bus.  The CDTA representative I was working with has stopped responding to my emails (I last wrote on September 22, 2016).  I haven’t made it to an Albany Bicycling Coalition meeting.

My toenail is still black, but other than the components I removed from the damaged frame there are no other visible reminders of the car hitting me.  The frame was taken away by a new frame builder who plans to use it to learn how to unbraze lugs.  I can sometimes roll ten or twenty feet before the accident reel replays in my head.  My rollers never felt so good.  Work to do upstairs.

A dear friend recently died.  He lived in Nebraska when we did but moved across the river to Iowa when they legalized same sex marriage.  He took his restaurant with him.  I haven’t been to the “new one,” the one in Iowa, but I know it is, like the Nebraska location was, as much a sanctuary as a place to get good grub.  Rob is probably rubbed raw from all the hugging, but I wish I were there to offer one more.  Who the heck is Lydia?

I miss my dog.  We’ve submitted applications for two local dog rescue groups.  We have some travel to enjoy before bringing a new friend into our life.  We have to stay strong for a couple of months.  Can I close my heart for that long?  I have to remember how I used to do it as I ate meat in front of vegetarian friends.  All I had to do was say “I’ll have what they are having,” but I didn’t.  I closed my heart once–I can do it again.  A skill I would do well to unlearn.

I should go.  Be the love that is lacking in the lives of others.  Okay?