My Best Friend: Adventures In The Beginning

September 13, 2007; shortly after paying a small fee to claim her as my family, we headed back up into the mountains to Nederland, where I was excited to have her meet my dog friend Gullivan.

Being the attentive dog that he was, he heard my car riding up the steep road and ran down to meet me in the driveway for his customary treat and lovin’.  Little did he know I had a passenger that wouldn’t be going anywhere in the near future.

Claddagh was sitting in the back seat when I parked the car and opened the door.  Gullivan happily jumped up on the ledge of the door opening, looking with happy anticipation.  I said “Gullivan, I have a friend I want you to meet, I think you will love her!”  Gullivan looked at me, and then he looked at Claddagh poking her head out from the back of my seat.  He did a triple take, back and forth, and then started barking like “everything is wrong about this.”

I considered Gullivan my surrogate dog, and he knew it.  He was not impressed with my passenger and made it known for about a week with bullying tactics.  Then something shifted.

Gullivan was known to roam.  He would disappear for hours and then return home muddy and disheveled.  This specific day of shift, I had plans and when it was time to leave from my visit Gullivan and Claddagh were nowhere to be found.  Tammi and I called for them, but they were long gone.  I was starting to taste the first bits of fear that a pet owner gets when their animal disappears for the first time.  I didn’t want to panic, I wanted to trust her… but I was pretty shaken on the inside.

I think I had to go to work, so I got ready to leave, and I just trusted she would come back.  In my head, I told her that I was upset. I needed to be somewhere and I didn’t like the feeling of panic.  Low and behold, she and Gullivan walked up the driveway as I approached my car.  I didn’t know if I should be mad or happy.  My priority was to make sure I wasn’t late.

The dogs were filthy.  Claddagh looked happy, and Gullivan was walking side by side with her with no bullying behavior.   Tammi later admitted that Gullivan would put other dogs through the gauntlet to see if they could keep up.    He was actively trying to lose her in the forest.    Claddagh kept pace; made it home unscathed and earned the respect of what would turn out to be her longest dog friend.

When she came back I mused how awesome it would be if we had camera’s on our dogs to see what the heck they get up to.  This was a bit before GoPro cams were a popular thing.  I still wonder where they went and how many roads they crossed to get there.  What animal did they catch?  I am sure that was part of the initiation.

Gullivan became Claddagh’s die hard fan.  When Tammi would leave town, she would ask me to watch him.  Even after years of being states apart from each other, Claddagh and I would come back in town and things were like the good old days.   They would run and chase and try to escape the fence.   At night, we would all cuddle together in bed, even as new additions came into Gullivan’s family.

Gullivan really helped Claddagh know how to be a “family dog with an independent personality.”  He played with her and nurtured her curiosity as a wisdom keeper.  Claddagh would take the adventurous spirit that he had fostered in her into an occasional break for freedom.  Claddagh wasn’t an escape artist.  She didn’t run away often, but when she did, it seemed like she had a reason.

In 2008, Claddagh and I drove down to Denver so that I could try and find a team for the 48 hour Film Festival.  I didn’t know anyone, and I wasn’t certain anyone would want me on their team.  It was just something I felt like I needed to do and was taking one of my signature risks in so doing.  I sat at a table with a beer and it was like speed dating.  People spend about five minutes talking to you, asking questions and getting contact info.. and if they like you, you get a call or an email.

Two teams were interested in me, but I chose to work with the one closest to me in Boulder.  Often I would go to Boulder for shopping at thrift stores, and Claddagh was always in tow, so we would hit up the dog park for an hour or so during the trip.

A week or so before 48HFF, Claddagh and I were at the dog park and this guy without a dog started talking to us.  It ended up that he lived in the apartments across the street.   I told this guy about 48HFF, and he offered to watch my dog while we were filming.  I thought it was a nice gesture, and thought it would be pretty cool to have her about two miles away, versus leaving her up the mountain.  I got his contact info and we met up one more time.  He seemed nice enough. Normal enough.

The day arrived for writing,filming and producing and I dropped my dog off with this guy. We spent the greater part of the day writing.  We started filming that night and ended early morning only to get up and do it again.  Our day ended sometime after 2pm and I was ready to get my dog back.  I was invited to get her and to stay over night at the host families home, as all that was left was to edit and score the film.

I called the guy to let him know I would be on my way over to pick up Claddagh.  He asked me to stay at his place.  I told him “No. I just want my dog.”  He told me I couldn’t have my dog unless I stayed over, and I couldn’t get her right now because he wasn’t home.

I wasn’t about to let some strange dude hold my dog captive in trade for a sleep over.  I told my host family what was up, and that he wasn’t home right now, so I was going to go break my dog out of his apartment.  They asked if I wanted someone to accompany me.  I said “no.”  I didn’t want to make anyone accomplice to what I may have to do.

Barefoot, I drove the few miles to this guys apartment and as I walked along the top floor I called for Claddagh.  She immediately met me at a window to the guys bed room.  It was summer and the window was open so there was only a screen keeping us apart.  I pried the screen off the frame, walked into the room, opened the bedroom door and unlocked and walked out the front door.  I put the screen back into the frame and hoped to God that no one was calling the police on a breaking and entering.  We ran across the hot asphalt and hopped into the car.  As I drove my legs were shaking uncontrollably.

I realized these were the lengths I would go to for Claddagh.  I would break into a strangers home to save her.  I would risk going to jail (again) for my partner.  I kicked myself for trusting some random stranger at a dog park, who did not have a dog.

My host family loved Claddagh.  We drank wine that night as I recalled the affair.  It was wonderful to have a nice safe home to return to.  Even they were kind enough to let her sleep with me in the guest bed.

My Best Friend: Loneliness Within and Without

It’s kind of strange to write this one sided history of a relationship with an animal who can’t speak for themselves… but I have to do it.  The loneliness is amplified right now. No one can do anything for me… I have to just sit with this broken heart and try and make something beautiful out of it.   Honestly, I don’t know how to handle this any other way.  I’d love to go to the mountains right now, and to write on pen and paper there… but the timing isn’t quite right on that move.

Claddagh and I explored Colorado; Oregon, California, Utah, Nevada and Wyoming.   We drove thousands of miles, paw in hand down highways and sideways.  We hiked, climbed, snow shoed, snow boarded, boated and played in water together.  She saw beaches, mountains, forests and cities.  We were quite nomadic in the first half of our relationship.

Claddagh was lucky enough to know what mountain living, farm living and comfort were all about.

I know it’s cliche to think you have the perfect dog… but I really did.  And if a dog can get even more perfect, she did.  Even when I thought there was no way that I was good enough for her, she stuck by with love.

When I got her, I quickly realized she had separation anxiety.  I couldn’t leave her at my friends house because she took to eating shoes.  So I brought her to work with me everyday through the winter, I padded the back seat with blankets and her toy and on my breaks I would take her out for a walk and a pee. Generally my shifts were 6am to noon, and Claddagh was fine in the car.  The car became her sanctuary.  The safe space when I wasn’t around.

When the weather was warmer Claddagh would stay corralled in the cafe patio area with shade, water and friendly patrons who slipped her bacon.  I would come out for a smoke and take her for a jaunt and go back to work. She was always around.

Right now I feel lost, and honestly I felt lost before Claddagh came into my life, but she gave my life some extra purpose in care and attention.  The feeling was mutual.  I feel extra lost today.  And if I am honest with myself, this feels like a small rock falling that is about to initiate an avalanche.

Claddagh and I always had a strong psychic bond.  I could know what she was thinking and vise versa.  I’ve paid attention to the script in life, and whenever you lose a pet, it signifies the end of a chapter, which means anything can happen on the next page.  Claddagh came to me on just little past a New Moon, and she left on a Full Moon, twelve years and one month to the day of my brother’s passing.  These things are personally significant and probably tell more about the specific script I was born into.  In my opinion, nothing is happenstance, that isn’t how I live.

My friend brought me a burger.  It almost makes me sick to eat it, because I know I can’t share it with my buddy.  This observation increases the feeling of pressure on my own chest.   I look to see her, and she isn’t there.

There is a hole in my room where her bed use to be, there is a hole in my heart amplified by time and focus.  I’m writing words to try and fill the void, while avoiding the question. ” What next?”

“Have Faith!”

I do.  Everything does work out.  I didn’t have to watch her suffer.  I didn’t have to drown in debt for hopeful solutions to a problem that only (maybe) could be prolonged a little while.  Granted, none of this was ideal… but the way I see it, the way it went down is kind of a gift.

When Claddagh and I first met, I laid down some guidelines.

1.) Don’t run away or try to cross streets by yourself.  Dogs are notorious for not looking both ways, and it’s your own damn fault if you get hit by a car.  So stay with me.

2.) I am your home.  I am going to work at keeping you safe… so like I said, don’t run away and try to cross streets.

3.) Don’t eat my food unless I give it to you and stay out of garbage… being sick sucks for both of us.

4.) I love you, and I hear you, please listen to me, I want to keep you safe, we are a team.

Honestly, like any animal large or small, she tested those guidelines, and she became a better dog for it.  She found herself in some unexpected circumstances, and I had to have faith she would end up back home.   And she did end up home, every single time.  Never seriously injured, maybe a little traumatized.  By last month, she was acting like an old timer going on a joy ride when she ended up at the Shelter for a whopping twenty four minutes.  I am guessing whoever kept her for the night made her stay, worthwhile.

Claddagh was an empathic dog.  Probably all dogs are empathic, but for Claddagh it was a lifestyle.   I tend to be the same way, and so we were support systems of both ends.  I didn’t get jealous when she would share her love, and she never got mad at me for sloppily trying to work my own personal shit out.  It was a “I know who I go home with every night” kind of situation.   I’d put a human friend in the back seat of my car, if Claddagh wanted to ride shot gun.  It was kind of “ride or die for love” mentality.  I don’t regret it one bit… even the shitty parts.

Life together required adaptation, and Claddagh took all of it in stride, and in so doing, she was able to have some interesting experiences by my side.  She even went on a few adventures of her own… but that is for another chapter.

My Best Friend: Introductions Part 1- The Folks

I’ve made some unconventional decisions in my adulthood.

Getting a dog when I didn’t know where I was going to live next, is probably pretty high on that list.

It’s kind of strange to talk about living by Faith, but I do, and I have.  The decision was more of a calling that I had to have faith in.  It was diving headfirst into something that I really had no first-hand knowledge on.  I was fiscally pretty poor.  I was bad at making regular appointments for various check-ups on myself unless urgent.  I had no savings.

Even though I was twenty-seven I was pretty sure my parents,  were well aware of this. 

And though they’ve said nothing about it, I am sure they have questioned why I do things the way I do.

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Shortly after Claddagh came into my life, I decided to drive up to my home town in Wyoming for a visit. 

I was excited to show my new love off, so I called home and told them that I would be up for the weekend and that wanted to let them know that I had met someone that I had fallen in love with and I wanted them to meet her.  I told them I was sure they were going to “love her” and to make sure the bed was set for two.  (My folks have never been cool with co-sleeping unmarried partners in my experience- so I knew I was testing waters.)

I’m pretty sure my parents thought I was a lesbian and that I was coming home to “come out.”  They were in for a surprise.

I left Claddagh in the car, and I approached my parent’s front door and rang the bell.  My stepmom opened the door, looked out and asked: “Where is your friend?”

I said, “in the car.”

My stepmom couldn’t see her, so I ran down the steps and opened the car door and Claddagh bounded out and rushed up to meet Karen.  I chuckled at how shocked my folks looked.  “You got a dog?”  They inquire.  “Yeah, I got a dog, I am 27 I think I am old enough to have a dog.”

I am certain my parents did not get what they were expecting on that visit.  And Claddagh, unlike other dogs that have lived in that house, slept in bed with me.

My folks always had “outside” dogs, with the exception of Buffy.

Buffy was a mini schnauzer and couldn’t handle the wild Wyoming winters without a coat.  Dogs over the years would be invited inside for a little bit of human love, but mostly they stayed outdoors.

If I were to guess, it would be because of the hair issue.

My stepmom was mentored by Martha Stewart and her house is proof of her tutelage.  She thinks a “dirty house” is when you leave yesterdays mail on an otherwise spotless countertop.   She is the reason I learned what a lint roller is.

My folks embraced Claddagh. 

I think they saw just how much she meant to me and they wanted to support that.  Claddagh had a hard time getting along with their less socialized dogs and spent every moment with me when I was in the house.

On Claddagh’s first Christmas, my parents gave her, her own presents.  Dog treats, and a toy.  This was her first real toy.  It was a stuffed squeaky moose.  She had it up until about two years ago.  She would decimate every other toy, but she prolonged the decimation of her first gift.

At first, she chewed off the tuft of hair on the head of the moose.  Over the years she nibbled down its antlers.  She put a few holes in its legs.  She matted down it’s stuffing by gnawing on it, but she DID NOT harm the squeaker.

This moose was battered and bruised, but in exceptional condition for being nine years old.  I finally threw it away after it was left in the yard all winter through the snow.

I truly believe my parents loved Claddagh, even though they didn’t spend a lot of time with her.

If you love dogs at all, Claddagh was sure to make you feel like she was all about you.

She was so playful and gentle.

She had been hurt in her earlier life and had no desire to hurt or be hurt, herself.   She was passively protective.

Mostly, I think my parents saw her as the closest I would ever get to having a kid or getting married (which probably isn’t far off, but I guess anything is possible).  Every year, without fail, Claddagh would continue to get her own Christmas presents.  And every year she loved them, just never as much as that first silly moose. She took it over at least four states until it reached its ends.

 

 

 

My Best Friend: How we met

Messes, Money, Grief, God.

What does this mean for me? 

What do I need to get rid of?

 

Every time I look at Claddagh’s water bowl, the tears reemerge.  I threw her bed away.  I tossed all her toys in the trash.  I put her leashes in a free box.  Her is hair everywhere.

I use to be so anal about having hair on my clothes.  A real lint roller bandit.  The day Claddagh and I found each other, I let that go.  I knew that there was no escaping her shed.   I didn’t even think twice about it.   It’s like a part of myself died, or that my hyper-vigilance had at least taken a new direction.

 

Who cares about hair on your clothes when you are madly in love?

I’ve known so many wonderful dogs over the course of my life.  We had dogs in our family from my earliest memories.  Pepper; Muffin, Maggie, Buffy, Sprocket, Lucky, and Elsie were all Family dogs belonging to the direct family that I spent most of my childhood around. Each was so unique, but none of them were really “my dog.”

I dreamed of the day I would finally find my own companion.  The desire started about the time I was twenty-five.  I had been in a three-year relationship with a man who had a beautiful golden retriever named Kelty Krumb.  Kelty reminded me of Falcore from The Never Ending Story.  I fell in love with that dog, but I still lint rolled all the time.   One of the hardest parts of the breakup was losing the dog in my life.

So I got serious about “Mandie-festing” the perfect dog.  I lived in dog towns, and my friends often had dogs.  Sometimes I would spend more time hanging out with the dogs of my friends than I did with my friends.  This all kicked into high gear around 2006 when I was living in Nederland, CO.  A small town up the canyon from Boulder.

“A dog in every Subaru.”

I could buy a bulk brown sack full of dog treats from the grocery store for very cheap, so I was constantly packed with treats for the dogs I would see in town.  I got to know dogs by name better than some of their owners.   I paid attention to the attributes I loved about each animal.  I knew that I would know when and where and who when the time was right.

There were two predominant dogs in my life during this time.  Gullivan and Mountain Girl.  Gullivan was my friend Tammi’s companion.  Gullivan and I created a fast bond and he would always greet me at my car for a treat and some love.  We could play rough and he was just amazing.

Mountain Girl belonged to my friend Michigan Mike.  I was casually sleeping with his roommate for a few months and was able to spend time getting to know Mike and Mountain Girl.  She was the epitome of dedicated and independent.  She was a large St. Bernard, and she roamed about the town without being leashed up.

She would walk down to the pub, where Mike was often found, and she would lay outside waiting for him to come to take a smoke break.  And if she ever got tired of waiting outside the pub, she would saunter back home for a while to eat and drink.

  I really feel like Mountain Girl was Mike’s guardian angel. 

It was an emotional hit to the entire community when Mountain Girl passed away.  She was this gentle giant ambassador of the community at one time.

I wanted a dog like that.

The ultimate, to be able to sit and stay, unleashed for a period of time and to always know where home is.  I can say that Claddagh went above and beyond my expectations in the time that we had together but she had not yet reached that pinnacle.

2007 happens. 

I had lost my brother on July 25, 2006.  I terminated a pregnancy in early 2007 after a one night stand during a blizzard and the condom broke. If I am honest with myself, I was lonely as fuck.  I couldn’t find human companionship that was equitable on both sides, meaning “we both want to be together.”

I was always like “Don’t call me your girlfriend.”  But then I’d meet someone I would be interested in pursuing and they would just want to fuck.  I had had enough, and I wanted someone of my own. Loyalty and trust I could believe in.

I had been house/cat sitting for a friend for three months while she was out of the country, and about two weeks before she came home I knew that it was time to go to the Humane Society.  I didn’t know what I was going to do  after this gig or where I was going to live, but I knew that by my 27th birthday,  I would have a furry friend. It would take two weeks and three trips down the canyon before I’d find her.

I had heard that Boulder had a no-kill shelter with a 100% adoption rate.  This seemed worthwhile to me. 

A place that I want to check out.  On my first attempt, I turned North instead of South and ended up in Longmont. I turned around again and went back up the mountain.  I tried again a few days later and made the same mistake.  Again I was in Longmont.  I am usually great at directions but I kept getting twisted around.

The second time I figure, “why not check it out?”

I find a little mutt puppy who is kind of sickly.  We walk around outside and he poops green.  I am enamored by his tininess.  I say that I am interested in him.  I’m full of ideals of raising a little puppy.  Longmont requires a 24 hour hold, and a call of confirmation to a landlord that having a pet is allowed.

My friend doesn’t care if I get a dog, as an animal lover herself, and says to pose as her using the landline.   They call, I get approved and I can pick up the puppy the next day.

Remember I am house/ cat sitting? 

My friend had five cats in a one room cabin.  The bed was in a loft, and the cats would hang out there during the day and night, when they weren’t knocking potted plants off the window sills.  These cats were missing their Momma and letting me know it.

The morning I woke up to go get the puppy, there was cat shit on my pillow, six inches from my head.  I knew immediately that even though my friend would be home soon, there was no way I could have that sickly puppy around all these passive aggressive cats.   So, I called and canceled my adoption.

The feeling that I was supposed to have a dog didn’t pass.  I needed to be realistic and I needed to try again to get to the Boulder Humane Society.   A few days later I tried again, this time I turned the right way and found the place I had been looking for.

I was ushered into the kennel area with an older couple and a younger couple.

The set up was to take the laminated sheet of the dog you were interested in, up to the counter and they would set up a meeting.   The people are looking at the sheets on one side of the cage, and I am at the other side of the cages without the paper.  Just checking them each out, looking for a familiar face.

The elder couple is standing at the front of “Pasha’s” kennel.   They look over the paper, and write down her name.   “Pasha” is paying attention to me, so I ask her to sit. And she sits.  I ask her to lay down, and she lays down.  I ask her if she wants to come to play with me and she talks.  She doesn’t bark, she talks.  I already know in this moment she is mine.

 I grab her paperwork and go stand in the cue for a meeting.

The elderly couple is in front of me.  The volunteer asks to see the paperwork they are holding, they give it to her and they tell her that they would also like to see Pasha.  The volunteer asks them if they have Pasha’s paperwork.  They say “no”, and I sheepishly say, “I have Pasha’s paperwork.”

The volunteer tells the couple that she will set them up with the dog they chose first, and “If Pasha doesn’t go home with this kind lady today, we can set you up with a meeting with her.”  My heart is fluttering.

I already felt like I was so close to losing her and I didn’t even know her yet.

I chose to meet her in an outdoor kennel.  There were some toys and a baby pool.

Pasha and I were left alone to check each other out.

She didn’t want toys.

She could care less about the water.

She just wanted to be near me.

She listened as I talked to her, she leaned against my legs and talked back.

The elderly couple sat in the kennel next to me, their “first” dog of interest was frantic, jumping and barking. 

They looked over longingly at Pasha’s excited but mellow demeanor.  She did not jump on me, she did not lick or drool.  She just told me ” We found each other.”  And so I paid fifty bucks for the greatest love I would ever know up until this point.

I didn’t know what I was going to call her. 

Pasha didn’t fit, so for about a week, I called her IMA.

I.M.A.= Incredibly Magical Animal.

We slept together with all the cats in the top loft.  I would heft her up the crazy ladder that slipped out from underneath me more than once and our life together began.

I finally settled on the name Claddagh Moondancer Wonderdog.

Claddagh because of the Irish wedding band, the hands holding a heart with a crown, signifying “Love, Loyalty, and Friendship.”  She was my partner, and I would honor her as such through her name.

Moondancer came along when the snow fell, and Claddagh would lie about needing to go outside to go potty.  She would just want to slide upside down like a penguin on snow drifts.  She would prance through the thick blanket of white, like a deer.  Under a full moon, it looked like she was dancing on the moon itself.

Wonderdog is pretty self-explanatory.

My friend came home to her cabin full of cats and Claddagh and I camped out until the snow fell and we moved in with friends who needed some child care and help to start a small business.

Claddagh came with me to work every single day,

whether I was working at the New Moon cafe in Nederland, or working for my friends in Gilpin.  Every single day, my dog accompanied me, and I swore I would never work another job that would keep me from her for long periods of time.  I was blessed to have it work out so perfectly over the years.

I understand people get pets that they only see a little bit throughout the day or night… but I seriously got a companion.  She was more than “emotional support animal.” 

I didn’t have a doctors note or anything.

I just lived in an incredibly dog-friendly town, and Claddagh was the most loveable dog you could meet.  She treated everyone like they were there to specifically see her.

She would give her full attention and love.  She would talk to anyone who came into her sphere.

Only once, during our time together, did she sense that a person was “off”, and backed away as if disgusted.  It was like she hit an energy bubble, and she backed away as if to say “this isn’t a sphere I want to be in.”  The woman was homeless and talking to herself, she looked rather disturbed.

All the regulars at New Moon knew Claddagh. 

They loved her.

On my days off, I would grab a coffee and paint on the patio with Claddagh right beside me.  Once a week we would go on a date and get a burger and french fries and share it on the patio of First Street, and later Squirrels in Corvallis, Oregon.  Any place that served beer, burgers, and fries and had a dog-friendly patio, was my kind of spot. I met a lot of people because of Claddagh.

There is so much more to her story. 

I am going to cut this chapter off here.

There is so much to process.  My eyes are wet and dry at the same time.   I want to honor her.  If you are reading this, thank you for taking the time to get to know my best friend.  I look forward to sharing more about her as I am able to sit and write it all down.

My Best Friend: The Good-bye, Goodgirl.

Today started like every other day. The cats woke me up and I poured food in their bowls, and Claddagh and I got up and I let her outside. I got myself a glass of water, not really feeling coffee, and did as I usually do; sift through emails, check the updates on social media.

My uncle came out with the trash, as he usually does, and perched himself down by the bins to give Claddagh her morning treat.  That fake bacon stuff she loves.

My uncle made note that she wasn’t acting herself, and looked like she had thrown up.  I figured it was just some stomach upset that she was looking to relieve by eating grass and then throwing it up.   Concerned, I checked her out and over all she seemed normal.

As the day went on I noticed she wasn’t acting as normal.  Our friend Devon stopped by, and usually Claddagh is up and very talkative when he shows up.  She is always excited to tell him something.  Today, she stayed very calm, and didn’t say a word.   I didn’t pay much notice to that but shortly after he left, Brody dog came out and as usual ran at the fence to bark at the neighboring dog.

Usually Claddagh is the ring leader in the barking nonsense.  She waits anxiously for Brody to follow her out and raise a little mayhem.   She didn’t move.  She stayed glued to the ground, watching Brody raise a ruckus.   This was odd enough to give her further inspection.  Her stomach seemed bloated but she wasn’t whining or crying.  She didn’t wince in pain, regardless I found the swelling to be disconcerting.

This of course led me to Google to ask about swelling belly in a dog, which lead me to bloat, which they say is an emergency situation.  Of course it has to be on a Saturday, right?  Claddagh is still getting up and moving around, but she seems so lethargic.  I sit with her in the yard and she pukes up the treats my uncle gave her, and a bunch of bile.

I call the vet, and wait for the emergency on-call to call me back.  He does, and I give him a run down of her symptoms.   He doesn’t think it is bloat but tells me that I can call back.  I tell him I will keep an eye on her.  I do and by the hour her stomach is getting bigger and bigger.  She is finding it harder and harder to walk very far without needing to lay down.  I call the vet two more times.  He still doesn’t sense bloat.   Finally around 9:40pm I decide she has to go in.

I want to hope for the best but I feel sick.

Claddagh uses all her effort to get into the car.  We arrive ahead of the Vet, and sit out side.  Claddagh doesn’t want to sit down because she knows she is going to have to get back up and it’s getting increasingly difficult for her.

I run down the list with the Vet and he takes her for x-rays and blood work.  He says he will call in about an hour.  I drive the two blocks home to wait for the call.

At 10:53 he calls with bad news.  Claddagh has a large heart based tumor.  He gives me three options;  I can go to Ft. Collins tonight for an ultra-sound, he can give me medicine to get her through the night (maybe) and take her for an ultra-sound in the morning, or I could put her down.

The condition she had, and the way the swelling was affecting her; her heart was so big that it was cutting off circulation to the other organs in her chest.

That is so like her, you know?  To have a big heart, so big even that it would work against her longevity.   As much as I wanted her to come home with me, I knew that potentially waking up to her, gone, would be too much for me.   And even though she wasn’t really having a painful condition, her breathing was so labored and her deterioration was happening so quickly, letting her go seemed like the most humane thing to do.

I told her how much I loved her.  How special she was to me in my life.  I gave her all the kisses and told her how hiking would never be the same.

The medicine worked quickly.  Her eyes became quite dilated and then she was gone.

I had to make so many decisions in just hours today, and no matter what, there was not going to be any saving her.

I had walked back to the vet, to put her down.  It was a harsh reality to walk out of there with a leash and a collar and a bill for five hundred dollars.  I wish I was walking home with my best friend, or at least empty handed.

This morning there was no inkling in my mind that today would end up this way.

I have to re-learn how to be “Mandie without Claddagh.”  She was the longest relationship I have ever had in my life.  We spent almost every day together starting on September 13, 2007.  She was my birthday gift to myself, and she did not disappoint.

My heart is broken right now.   I am in a bit of a shock and I can’t imagine what tomorrow looks like without my Dita.  For those of you who knew her, she loved you.  She loved everyone, and always thought you were here to see her.

I couldn’t have asked for a greater love in my life, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

 

Decipher the Cipher of Life aka Stranger than Fiction

Yet again I am trying to downsize and further compartmentalize my life. Shed some of that heavy weight that no longer serves me. It’s hard to do because it requires me to dig into my past and this time it went to an even weirder zone.

Did you ever see that movie “Stranger Than Fiction” with Will Ferrell?  If not, you should and then maybe you will get the same sensation about your own life, especially if you are the artistic or wordy type.

Basically, today I got the sincere feeling I have been writing my life out, before I actually live it… or something to that degree.  I can look at a piece of writing and know when and why I was writing it at the time, but the way I write things is subconsciously coded language.  I don’t know how or why this happens specifically, but I have some assumptions.

The thing about all of this is, I haven’t had a bad life, over all.  I’ve had a rudimentary amount of pain in comparison to other people.  My family is full of good people who tried their best to offer what they could within their means, and probably unbeknownst to me, went above and beyond when needed.

So all I can do is ask myself  “What the actual fuck?”

I am going to admit that most of my journals are a massive spiritual battle. It has been that way as far back as I have recorded my life.  The journaling started around age 12, but I can go back to certain creations done in Elementary School and see a depth that is or was seen as somewhat abnormal for a kid that age.

“She is five- going on thirty five.” My grandma would say when I was little.  I wanted to sit at the adult table.  I wanted to converse.  I had questions and quips beyond my years.  Spirit has been speaking to me forever.

Now perhaps this is just the byproduct of losing a parent at a young age and the feeling that I had to grow up quickly to compensate. Maybe I was just born this way.   Who knows?   I do know that I drove my mother crazy when I was just a small child.  Enough so, for her to strip me down to basically nothing and leave me on the front stoop with the old adage “If you don’t want to be here, you are going to leave the way you came in.”  Naked and shivering.

It’s okay.  My aunt lived a couple of blocks away, and my mom would call her and tell her to come pick me up.  She would come over, packed with some over-sized clothing that belonged to my cousin.  She would wrap me up and take me back to her place until the whole thing calmed down.

Once my dad said, “If your mom was still alive, you would probably be at each others throat.”  Sometimes I feel like I am getting that experience with my grandma.  It isn’t a “hate” or loathing issue… it’s just this weird temperament that arises out of our idiosyncrasies and difference in ideologies.  It’s the byproduct of being stubborn and bull headed while still having the best intentions in love.

A stranger once told me “It’s easier to paint yourself into a corner than it is to write yourself out of a box.”  That has stuck with me for over a decade.  I wasn’t quite sure what it meant, but today, I think I got it.

It goes back to Abracadabra. A spell or incantation using the ABC’s.  This is why writing and words are magical.  This is how words hold a vibration that can influence the reality we live in… it’s the way you can send prayers or well wishes or destroy a life in a single breath.

My family can be traced back to the Druids on my Mother’s Father’s side.  There is some witchery in the blood, and that blood still courses through my veins.  I don’t purposely perform rituals or magik; I have a feeling there are a lot of us who don’t.  We settle on titles like “artist” or “writer” or “musician.”   We feel and feed on an indescribable power that fuels our creative spirit.   Words will almost magically manifest on the page without too much work.  We feel born knowing the Muses.  At least, this is how it has always been for me.

I haven’t had to try too hard in creative ways.  “It just comes to me.”

I don’t profess this as any sort of braggart, in fact, in this moment I am questioning all of it.  My family is a mixed up match of “tight lipped” and deceased, I don’t know where I can go to discuss this openly, so I leave it here for you, my few but beautiful readers.   I am realizing that I need to figure out a way to console myself.  Feel free to send suggestions.

“The calm before the storm” is over. I know it and I feel it with a force that is hard to describe. As I read through these papers and place them in a new container, I am god smacked..  I’ve predicted future patterns in my life with no intention of doing so; in alignment with that, the writing has predicted patterns of humanity and what would be worth our attention.  This leads me back a post I made about a week ago in regard to purpose and being a dreamer.  In this moment, I want nothing more than someone I could share the depth of this with, but I don’t have that someone, which is a reoccurring theme in my  personal writing that I rarely share.

I see in this moment that this specific loneliness is a representation of that spiritual battle.  We are all looking for connection in various ways.  I believe in Creation, I believe that Creation will not be out done.  I know I can’t out-create Creation.  That knowing can be overwhelming, like “why even try?” not to mention the clutter!  I make and make and make a mess and an abundance of stuff that may end up at a thrift store or a landfill.   I’ve carried paper around, weighing many many pounds over thousands of miles for what?

This moment.

This is the moment it all shifts.  I might not see the evidence of it immediately so I will leave room for it to shift as quickly as it wants to.

While going through things I stumbled on a good-bye note from a woman named Cecily Monk.  I didn’t know her well, or for very long but I really liked her personality.  She felt like a person that I would have had a long friendship with if we would have had more time together.

Anyway, when she left Keystone, Colorado I was at work and she left a note.

 

The last line is quite potent; “…and remember the journey of self discovery comes not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”  So obviously she was a fan of Proust, or one of her teachers had the actual quote “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” on a motivational poster or something.

I like that she added the word “self” and “journey” because the timing is perfect for today.  Journey vs Voyage is appropriate because I perceive a Journey to be far more relaxed than a Voyage.  Voyage makes me think of a specific conquest, for which I have had none up until this point.  The actual Proust quote takes on a deeper meaning when I rehash my words and see that in fact, I have been on a Voyage but I didn’t know it.  And I have had conquest but I didn’t acknowledge it.

It all comes down to love and forgiveness. And this is going to be so hard because there is a lot of bad shit happening in the world right now.  But just like I am finding illumination in my own writing, we are going to find illumination in just how fucked up humanity has been by bringing it to light.

Today I wanted to get rid of EVERYTHING.  I was feeling oppressed at how much garbage we consume and throw away.  I was overwhelmed by the massive pressure of pain that is the human condition.  I wished I wasn’t part of it because there is no easy solution and by the looks of it, it’s only going to get worse.  I thought about all the mundane stuff we do on any given day just to maintain a “standard” of living.  I thought about all the people who loath the work they do just for a paycheck.

I kept thinking, and thinking about all the stuff I can not stand.  How disappointing all of our entertainment is because it’s coded and getting increasingly ominous in content. I thought about how my creative spirit has been lost because I can’t imagine things getting better and I am sick of rehashing this old script that we are being fed on the daily.  Believe it or not, I believe this rumination to be a good sign.  My art and dreams and writing tell me so.  We really are dancing on the tip of a needle right now.

As I dug through this box the skies turned dark outside.  A while letter the rain came pounding down in sheets.  I laughed out loud and asked if this was a baptism and as I went to shut the screen door the water was falling so fierce that it was splashing out of the rain gutters.  In the few seconds it took me to move the block in front of the door (which is actually a heavy concrete lawn statue of a sleeping man wearing a sombrero) I was soaked and a bit elated.

This isn’t over, though.   I had just begun this excavation and there were more treasures to dig up, so this is only a taste of what that was.  To a certain degree I’ve been pulled into my own mystery.  I am sure it is appropriate timing as next month I will turn thirty-eight.  My life has been amazing, it’s hard not to think it’s a shame that I have felt so heavy through all of it.  Even in times of levity, the gravity of reality has kept me solid and grounded.  Luckily people like that about me, but if they didn’t it wouldn’t really matter because it feels unchangeable.

Last night I re-watched Eternal Sunshine of the the Spotless Mind for the second time, since the first time years ago when it came out on video.  I saw it with new eyes, but I knew the story and when I watched it the story came flooding back.  Looking through my life in writing produces the same feeling.  (Another topic I could probably go to length writing about, but not right now.)

I sense that things are starting to sync up for me again and I am not sure what that means.  I will probably be able to glean some knowledge from further exploration but I don’t know if I will wake up with the energy to keep on tomorrow… or if I will sit in stasis again for a while.  I’ve been practicing forgiveness for myself, and part of that is finding patience when my desires are so vast.  Giving myself time to figure things out without a strict timeline.   It isn’t easy.  It’s hard not to compare myself to other people and their obvious accomplishments.  I think “I’m just sitting on a stack of paper.”  But that “stack of paper” is the analog archive of my life experience in a very raw form.

I like to journal like I like to go bowling.  I can have a couple of drinks and do something to the best of my ability in full enjoyment even if I suck at it.  I feel fulfilled by slapdashedly swinging my dominate hand around without expectation of high results.  It’s something to do that is totally dependent on my personal attitude at the time. I don’t fear judgement because most times I keep it to myself.  If you want to bowl alone, go at 1:30 pm on a Tuesday.  The only people in there are over 60 and there aren’t many of them.  Most are there just for the bar.  Every once and a while a bold elderly man may stop by and offer tips on your game.

It’s like this blog page.  I have like eighty people who follow me.  I get very little engagement and I am fine with that.  Sometimes I just have to express myself out in the world.  When I was younger I was under the impression that I didn’t actually have a voice in the world, or that no one cared what I had to say; now I think that just the right people stumble in at just the right time, not only for me, but for themselves.  My delusions of grandeur have been over for quite some time now.

This digging and sorting is going to continue.  It has to.  Something about “getting your house in order” feels appropriate right now.  May you find patience and forgiveness in yourself, and the strength to get your own house in order.

PS.  The heading image was something my mom wrote on a piece of paper.  I don’t have much of her writing, on the other side is a poem that many people find haunting.  I am not sure if the cipher works for the poem, but if I feel like it, I might see if it does.  If it does, that would be so cool.  On my mom’s typed page it is titled “Love Poem” and instead of “he” it is “she.”  Who knows?  Everyone loves a mystery and the author is unknown.

lovep

 

My Cat May Be A Spy

So I had a question, and went to Google (like ya do), to ask the question “Why does my cat stare at me while I sleep.?”  

I clicked the first link which led me to Quora, and I felt the page should be shared because the answers are funny and frightening.

Let’s face it, cats are funny and frightening.  This recent foray in to having feline companions in close proximity, is definitely causing me to see them in a new light.  I guess I never noticed how strange they really are.  Between them chasing shit I can’t see, the stare downs and strange reactions to my direct questions about surveillance and intelligence… I just don’t know.

Yes, my cat Quantum was being super talkative one night and every time I asked her a question she had a response, until I started asking her if she was in the CIA.  I know that sounds super crazy, but she wouldn’t talk if I brought up intelligence agencies.  Take from that what you will.

Quantum is also incredibly psychic, I can call her in my head and she will show up shortly after.  Given her random appearance in my life, I give her the benefit of the doubt.  I’d like to think she is an ally in some wicked spiritual battle and that she protects me to a certain degree, specifically when I sleep.  That also sounds crazy, but I have a pretty vivid imagination and my days don’t provide as much entertainment as I could imagine myself.

Quantum may be a double agent, though.  I haven’t figured that out yet.

Hagia Sophia!

I just posted some illuminating thoughts on FB about the Pineal Gland.  I realize I haven’t really talked about the pineal gland since my youtube was shut down seven years ago and since it is a topical item included in my current painting in process, I thought maybe I should revisit the topic.

If you don’t know about the pineal gland… GOOGLE THAT SHIT, PRONTO!

TLDR:  The Pineal Gland is “the inner eye.”  It has cones and rods just like your outer eyes.  It is sensitive to things that cross the blood-brain barrier. (B cubed.)  It is sensitive to electromagnetic pulse that is directly connected to the heart.  Symbolically it is represented by a pine cone (which may seem innocuous but profound.) Sophia. Wisdom. Sacred Heart. Empathy. Intuition. Reason. Motivation.

Let’s get down to brass tacks; There are reasons you may have never heard of or thought of the Pineal before. Perhaps your are Catholic and visited the Vatican and thought ” Why is there a giant pine cone in the middle of their courtyard?” It’s called the Pigna, Rione of Rome.  Seriously check out the images linked and the wiki link, you will glean some insights.  Here is a Catholic sight with Catholic perspective.  I am not Catholic, or any religion.  This piece of writing is unbiased and only my perception of the topic, links are to be discerned by your own connection to spirit.   Feel free to share your insights in a message or comment.

Recently I have been researching Sophia.  In Roman Catholic doctrine she represents Wisdom; The Holy Spirit, which may challenge your ideas on the Trinity as the Trinity is generally seen void of the feminine.   Sophia has an interesting story when it comes to Creation and the archetype that she has been made to represent in culture.

I don’t usually  explain my paintings, left to the observer to decipher or interpret; however this piece is pretty intentional in focus because of it’s lack of randomness.  I usually just paint as I feel fit, this painting started random and has taken on new life because the idea and spirit of Sophia keeps rising to the top of the topic list and I need to explore her and her energy.  Undoubtedly there is a reason that Hansen Robotics named their most notable and recognizable AI, Sophia.  (Let’s face it, all creators follow some sort of script and Sophia has been obscured for quite a while.)  In my opinion Sophia has been hidden for a reason and once you look into her, you may come to some of the same ideas.

Hagia Sophia! Wisdom!

As I attempt to write this piece I have to undo deletes that I didn’t authorize.

Here are the visual images and post I made to FB.

The pine cone aka the Pineal Gland is the Sacred Heart.

Most depictions of the Pine Cone are upside down. Tiny at top, and broad on the bottom, essentially a detached and dead pine cone.

The Sacred heart is represented as vibrant and thorny yet detached as well but right side up… Coniferous Pine trees are thought to be the most ancient plant genera on the planet, having existed nearly three times longer than all flowering plant species. In this idea the Pine Tree would be the Tree of Life. It bares an inedible fruit that keeps giving while the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil bares a fruit which would be succulent and consumable (perhaps to the point of sickness.)

This leads me to the life sucking reality of the Pine Beetles being a greater allegory for our current reality. Why one type of beetle? Why one type of tree? What is the tree here to teach? What is the purpose of the beetle? What is the cure? How do you perceive the process of extinction? Does it matter? How does it relate to the pineal gland?

Mind, Body, Spirit. Heart, Mind and Soul.

Protect it, it is your direct connection to Source. The pineal can vibrate with the heart syncing it’s electromagnetic pulse. “For those with eyes to see, and ears to hear.” The pineal has cones and rods just like an eye. “If it offends the eye, pluck it out.” If you disconnect or pluck out the inner eye, you lose a connection to your heart that fuels intuition, empathy and moral consciousness.

 

Are you starting to see it? Sophia is the fulcrum between mind, matter and creation with positive and protective intent.   Sophia is every mother figure killed in every Disney movie, leaving the protagonist to grapple between worlds disconnected from Source; meanwhile we are literally beat over the head to whole heartily trust in and follow men.

“Behind every good man is a woman, that is unless you erase that idea.”

Sophia’s story puts her at the helm of the beginnings of Creation.  Her input matters.  She becomes so involved in the creation that she joins it.  Immerses herself in it and in that way changes the outcome beyond unbiased observation/experimentation.  She becomes one with the experiment, she influences observation.

Whoa!  Right?

She is “The Holy Mother of All”.   When you strip away the religion, and look at Creation as experimental pioneers the whole story takes a new shape.

Recently I have been asking out for Divine inspiration,  the climate of the world has had me down and I have needed/wanted a new insight for inspiration.  I have been calling out for intervention and motivation… This is when Sophia came to call.   I was surprised at her subtlety… perhaps that is how she was buried for so long.

Obviously she is a master of patience.  I encourage you to seek her out and ask her more about herself.  Obviously we are not void of her inspiration, we just never caught her name.

 

Rumination on Creation

I have so many paints and paint brushes.  I am really good at up-cycling and experimenting. I look at, at least one of my WIP’s a day. (Works in progress.)  I think to myself “I could make that idea happen with some flicks of a brush, if I could just focus.”

Eventually I build myself up to do it, fail and improvise.  Such is life, right?

Sometimes I stumble into perfection.  That is usually when I go with the flow and suspend judgement.   Other times I strive for a vision I am incapable of creating to par.  Art may be the one thing besides bowling and frisbee golf that I give myself leniency on. It isn’t the score or adoration… it’s the enjoyment and pay off of participation. Little fucks given and beer or wine can be invited.  Simple, adaptable and easily transparent.

Currently I am working on a piece that is well over two years old that has seen at least six treatments.  Tonight I decided to hone in on that mess.  It’s better but no where near where I want it to be.  It’s okay,  I have no desire to insert manic OCD into my works… but it does mean I will work for a while and then take another hiatus to process my next steps.

Some people train hard for art… some people just let it stew and purge when needed.  I am the latter type of artist.  The only thing gained is my pleasure and occasionally some coins in my purse.

Recently a woman contacted me because she bought one of my pieces at a car wash over a decade ago.  I simply thought that it was cool that she reached out and went on with life.

My one consistent with art is I enjoy making it.  I step into another place when I do, and as much as it is about me keeping myself calm; it is about those who love a piece and find it speaks to them.

I write the same way.   I am not trying to tie an underlying thread, it just happens that way.

Perhaps that is Sophia? Perhaps that is the Holy Spirit?

 

Dream Job

I’ve sat here for years now, slowly attempting to kill myself for no discernible reason.  The deeper I dig the less I know.  Over these past years my passions have been purged, and I am left wondering what the point of all of this is, for me, specifically.  Once upon a time I was a person who felt a strong purpose for living.  I was certain I was something special, though there was nothing outward about me that would elucidate such a theory.

I came to think of myself as one of the dreamers.  My hands were never meant to stir the pots, but my dreams were ingredients to a larger stew.  I knew I wasn’t the only Dreamer, but at times it felt like I might be.  Something like the simulation theory, there was one player, playing many parts in the same game, but the avatars seemed clueless to this fact. I was one of the few who wondered why the others couldn’t see how obvious it all was.

Some people are born into the world a sleepy eyed blank slate.  They believe everything they are taught, and they are not taught to question and so they don’t until they are forced to. Once they start to question life starts to fall apart level by level.  Red pilled.  Life will never be the same.   Some refuse the red pill, they can’t face their fear of what is on the other side of the veil.

There are those like me born with one foot on the other side of the veil, and one foot grounded in the simulation.  A delicate dance of walking a wire between worlds.  It’s hard to explain the spiritual nature of existence to those who deny the spirit even exists.  Everyone is born knowing the spirit world exists however the purity in that knowing is often sullied within the first few years of life for a variety of reasons.

It can be a long, hard road getting back to that place of knowing and experiencing the spirit, once one shuts it down or turns it off.

I could never avoid the spiritual realm.  It would come to my dreams and in my waking life.  At times I felt as if there was a bubble of protection around me, which helped substantiate my theory of some purpose.  I figured that purpose would reveal itself as something tangible at some point, however I still feel like I am in a waiting room.

I start to wonder if part of the Dream Job, is to lose all desire for this world.  “To be in the World, but not OF the World.”  These days that is exactly where I exist.  In but not of this World.  I anticipate it’s collapse as I write this.  The signs are here that something big is on the horizon.  The Dreamers have sewn the Dream, and now the Integrator’s are weaving the Dream into the Fabric of Reality.  Restitching the pattern as we’ve known it.  All we need is enough people to man the Loom.  The rest will take care of itself because Spirit is on the side of change.  The expiration date grows ever closer.

We must become sick and disgusted before anything will change and that is why it is prophesied that there will be great upheaval.  Some will riot against Creation and Spirit.  Others will riot against Death and Destruction.   The spirit that drives these entities will have no recourse but to clash in a battle to the end.  It’s already told as to what side will prevail but that knowing doesn’t stop the course of events as they were written in the Time Template so long ago. There is nothing we can do about the outcome other than pick our sides wisely, there is a point coming where there will no longer be any grey area.  No middle ground, fence riding.  Simply, Hot or Cold.  Life or Death.skullface