No explanation. Just a moment captured.
Six years ago, David and I met. It is amazing how short this time has felt. I am so lucky to have found my best friend and soul-mate out there in the wild. Waiting to catch a bus one random morning never turned out so good!
Our first picture together ever. Look at those baby faces! It’s a date. (For those of you who remember this was in my grad dorm room!) We said yes! Snuggles and kisses
The best guy in town!
Today was my first day back in the classroom with students. It always feels good to start using my teacher muscles again. At 7:15AM I felt nervous about my first class. It was as though I had forgotten how to walk and talk at the same time. Feeling stiff and out of place, I began to think about what it must be like to be a new freshman. At least I had some experience at this school and knew familiar faces. Quickly I sought to snap out of myself and begin doing what I love: engaging students, getting to know them, and getting them started on their work. As soon as they were in their seats the “teacher dust” brushed off and I could feel my old self again and it felt great. Watching them collaborate – even briefly – on the first task was invigorating.
Despite the energy of the day, I left school feeling wiped out. Where had all of my stored up energy from the summer gone? Upon reflection, this wave of fatigue was most likely caused by dehydration. Somehow I had gone the whole day without drinking water! Crazy how once you are in the zone something as simple as drinking water is forgotten. When I picked up David at the T, I was so thankful that he took over the wheel and immediately turned on his “partner role.” I was completely swept up in his love and care. We arrived home and I settled on the couch equipped with a giant ice water and David cooked up a storm. He prepped and cooked us Thai noodles, which are my favorite! I ate a giant bowl in my pjs. Afterwards, he cleaned up. It was perfect. David could read me when he first got in the car and knew exactly how to take care of me after my first day. Finally after being rehydrated and fed, I was able to share stories from the first day of my fifth year of teaching. While I am still tired (I expect to get a good night of sleep) I look forward so much to tomorrow!
I have seen this book on the shelves for quite some time. Yet, I never reached for it. Not even to read through its little synopsis on the back. I have this thing against reading a book whenever everyone else is reading it and raving about it. There is no real justification for this behavior, it is just a part of my reading practice. But I am so glad I finally made my way to it. It was the best way to end my summer of non-school related reading. And, it truly warmed my heart.
As a puppy mom, I admit to believing that my dogs, Buster and Bella, are special and unique. I admit that I have at times felt like they were humans reincarnated. That their eyes reflected a wise soul within and that they not only understood everything I was saying to them but that they also had the capacity to respond. Obviously not vocally, although sometimes they do bark, but through their gestures, touch, and cuddles. If I was not married to David, I would absolutely be a dog lady and I would take pride in it. Buster and Bella are members of my family not just family pets. For this reason, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein truly resonated.
From the very first paragraph I was completely hooked. I devoured the novel and its story of Enzo and his family. It beautifully wove the life cycle of the dog, Enzo, into the fabric of the family. Told from Enzo’s perspective, it created hilarious moments as Enzo explained what a dog does each day when owners leave, how dogs see their place in the family, and how this particular dog soaked up each life experience as a part of his education for the future when he would one day be reborn a human (as he saw on a TV documentary about ancient dogs in Mongolia). Dogs are observant, clever, and loyal. These beautiful qualities were reflected in Enzo. He was often present when no other human was for his owners. He watched Denny, his owner, go through life from a bachelor, to a married man, to a family man, to a man seeking solace and redemption after a series of heartbreaking events. But, Enzo is always there providing touching commentary, reflection, presence, and tons of comic relief.
One of my favorite moments from the novel is when Enzo is going to stay over night at a friend’s house as Denny will be away. Denny tells Mike, the friend, to bring Enzo to the house to collect his things, in particular to get Enzo’s toy stuffed dog by asking Enzo, “Where is your dog?” You see Enzo loves this stuffed dog, it is his best friend and he hides it during the day so that the little girl in the house, Zoe, doesn’t acclimate it into her own stuffed animal collection. It is a reflection that you could only hear from Enzo. From the human’s perspective, Enzo hiding the dog is a quirk but to Enzo it is a strategic tactic! Enzo’s narrative throughout the novel demonstrates love, fear, danger, redemption, courage, and, for me, he explained exactly what Buster and Bella must be thinking each and every day!
The end of the novel is inevitable. I read the last pages out loud while lying in bed with David. Our puppies slept quietly on the sheets between us as Enzo’s story concluded. Despite the tears I shed, I truly enjoyed the novel. It made me laugh and cry and it was a fantastic ride which in the end is exactly what racing in the rain is all about…
“He died that day because his body had served its purpose. His soul had done what it came to do, learned what it came to learn, and then was free to leave.”
On Wednesday, I went to visit my parents in Ohio. From the minute the plane touched down until Saturday evening when I flew back, we had such an excellent visit together. It is so sad to have my parents far away. But, I am just so appreciative of them, our visit, and all they continue to do in my life. From long walks along the lake to shopping to laughing as their new puppy, Daisy, ran around the house after their dog, Blaise, we soaked up each minute we had together. And, the latest addition to the family, a miniature beagle named Daisy, is just the sweetest littlest pup. She and I bonded a good deal. I would wake up early to play with her and Blaise outside before the house stirred and we would cuddle at night as she fell asleep. If I could, I would have snuck her home to Boston in my purse (because she would have fit!). Oh well, I will just have to get in my puppy cuddles with those two on my next visit for sure!
It has been over a month since my last great wall update. You are probably thinking that the silence must indicate intense progress and therefore there is no “material” for me to cover on the blog. Alas, if only this were so. Unfortunately, when looking back over Summer 2013, it has become quite apparent that there were many excellent moments like our family vacation in June to Florida where we were able to spend much needed time together (not knowing then that it would be the last time I would see my Nanny). But there have also been quite a number of lows. And these lows have been low. The passing of my Nanny has been and continues to be a grave pain and sorrow. I still struggle to wrap my head around it and often find myself about to call her on the phone only to remember I can no longer do that. While the wall is in no way the same type of low as the loss of my beloved nanny, it remains a thorn in the summer that continues to bring David and I down.
Two weeks ago, our neighbors invited us to a cookout. Perched high on their deck, we had the vantage point of looking down into our backyard. And, what did we see? A mess. Stones tossed haphazardly across the backyard in random heaps, a bobcat backhoe parked on the side of the house, a dirt pile stacked so high you cannot see the house next door, a partial retaining wall built, tools strewn about, a broken tent tossed to one side, another tent set near what should be a “work station,” trees and shrubs uprooted and dying on the dirt, and cement and sand where once grass grew. My personal favorite item in the backyard is a canister of the mason’s urine that he has left in the sun which we dare not go near for fear of a toxic death. A project that was projected to last 3 weeks is edging ever so closely to 3 months with no true end in sight. To say communication with the mason is difficult would be an understatement. David and I have tried to take a relaxed approach this past month and half. We have not called or texted him (as he prefers texting over answering his phone), unless he has not appeared at our house for more than 7 business days. Typically, when he does text back, he makes grandiose promises to work the next days including the weekend! Of course, this never happens and David and I are left feeling foolish, powerless, and frustrated. The excuses continue to pile up including my two favorites thus far: getting wisdom teeth taken out and being attacked by a dog (though there were no scratches or bite marks!?!). Of course, if these things did happen along with the many other tragedies he has shared with us this summer then, like us, the mason is having the WORST summer ever! But I cannot help feeling like he is a little bit of the boy who cried wolf.
Whenever we look out the windows or enter and exit the house we are reminded of our life savings that has seemingly gone down the drain and the disaster that has exploded in our yard. Lately, after finishing up a walk with the pups, we stop in front of the house and say, “Geez look at this house. It is like the owners must not care about it at all. What a mess.” Then we hang our heads and walk inside. In my fantasy world, I wake up and the wall is completed this week, the fence goes up, and our “dog pen” (as the mason so eloquently calls it) is finished. But, this is not so. David and I have a knack for finding the lemons of life. Our pups (who we love unconditionally) have tons of health problems including explosive diarrhea should they eat anything other than their dog food, our house has numerous small but annoying glitches, and now our mason has taken the cake and become the lemon of the summer. Anyone have a recipe for lemonade? As ridiculous as this is and as outlandish as his excuses have been, we just want him to finish this project so that he saves face and we save some money.
Upon doing a walk around the “lack of job site”, Laura declared, “You got a shitty (expletive) deal! It is unconscionable!” I agree bestie, I completely agree.
Laura examining the mason’s urine canister. She could not believe he would leave such a thing behind for weeks.
*What is complete looks great and we are happy with the (unfinished) product but man, oh man, the process is a nightmare.*