Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

This is a letter that I just submitted to my local newspaper.  

I would like to introduce you to my two dogs.  Copper is a Boxer-Pit Bull cross who’s favorite thing is a soft couch, and who likes vegetables more than most people I know.  Moose is a Mastiff, Sharpai, Pit Bull puppy whose tail is a deadly weapon, but only because she’s always so happy to see you it’s wagging a mile a minute.  Both dogs were raised in a house full of children, and can be trampled on, pulled and pushed around, and sat on without batting an eye.  One of their main motivators in life, besides dinner-time, is going on walks.  
    Unfortunately, in this self proclaimed “dog-friendly” town, my two dogs,  who have never shown one ounce of aggression, either to other dogs or to people,  are met with animosity and aggression by the majority of people we pass on trails and sidewalks, simply because they look like pit bulls.   When two pit bulls have been shot and killed by local police this summer, I understand that there is a lot of fear and negativity surrounding these dogs, but I am sending out this missive: please give both my dogs and other bully breeds a chance.  Aggressive pit bulls are, as all aggressive dogs are, victims of their environments.  The majority of pit bulls you will see in this town, especially out on walks, are rescued dogs who have been given a second chance and are loved and cherished, and therefore probably pretty well trained.  
    As a proud, conscientious owner of these misunderstood dogs, I realize that I am also an ambassador for the breed, which is why my dogs are fully and thoroughly trained and leashed when in town or on busy trails, and why, when I am told that my puppy is going to get maced in the face, or when a mother cowers and shields her child from my harmless mutts, I am going to continue to respond with love and patience, instead of returning the hate and aggression that I meet on an almost daily basis.  
    My role in this community is just as important to me as my role as a dog owner, and when I feel unwelcome on whatever trail or sidewalk I am on just because my dogs have short hair and square heads, it makes me feel like an unwelcome part of this community that I am so proud to call my own.  ImageImage


Friday Reflections

Being a fan of lists, reflections (in mirrors and otherwise), and routine, I will be posting a similar post to this every Friday.  Please enjoy this quick peep into my week.

Things I like
-Moroccan red clay facial masques with turmeric, buttermilk, Vitamin E, and Primrose.
-Turning our new bedroom into a sheik’s paradise.  I’ve always wanted to utilize draperies to their fullest potential, and I finally have had the opportunity.  Now I just want to lie amongst the pillows and have Aaron read Arabian Nights out loud to me, which isn’t really his style.
-Flourless chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, creme de cassis glazed raspberries, and espresso whipped cream.  Thank you, Barefoot Contessa, you have forever changed my life, and my waistline.  Both for the better, of course.
Death by Chocolate
-Autumn creeping in.  I’ve realized there is no great cliche or old adage for the fact that the seasons are transitioning from summer to fall.  I can say “spring has sprung”, but I can’t say “Fall has fallen”, so I’ve settled for “Autumn is all up on us”.
-Barbecues and pickling parties.
-hair makeovers
-that I actually  have a bathtub for the first time in 6 months.  I’ve been taking so many baths there’s already a ring of doom around the tub, I’m persistently pruney, and the tub is so slick from bath oil that it’s a health hazard everytime Aaron tries to shower.

One thing I don’t like

The concept of saying “my friday”, or “my monday”.  Really,  it’s pretty egocentric to declare it “your” Friday, since it’s my Wednesday (and everyone else’s who ascribes to the idea that we should just go ahead and stick with the Latin derived days of the week that people have been using since the Roman empire).  Although you never know,  perhaps good old Nero realized that he was beheadings and city burnings free for the next two days, and thus declared that his “Dies Veneris”, had officially begun.  Lets take it back even farther..pretty sure Venus, the Roman goddess of beauty, love, and sex, and the inspiration for Friday, the Day of Venus, didn’t decide to block two days off every week from being sexy and lovable and tell all her love-lorn worshippers that it was her friday and she was out of the office till Dias Lunae.
At base, I shy away from setting my internal clock by the capitalistic monster that is the American work week, separating 5 days of hell with a day of yard work and then a day of church-going.  I work when I have to, reflect and meditate on the esoteric when I have the opportunity (4:30 am bike rides to work are great for this), and fill the rest of my time with meaningful experiences that make the time I do spend at work worth it, including but not limited to; good books, great snacks, long walks, and lots of tea.  I will never live to work, and as long as I’m not forced into a situation where I have to work to live, I feel like I’ve got a pretty sweet system worked out.   When it really comes down to it, they’re all hump day to me, but seeing as how it actually is after 5 on a Friday. I hope all you folks lucky enough to have the Coveted Work Week look down upon us unfortunate ones with favor, and rain many tips down upon us as I feed you and yours copious amounts of food in exchange for at best meager tips this weekend at the restaurant.

Goals for September

Having seen some serious life-changing accomplishments in August come to fruition, including finally convincing Craig to let me drive his 1965 (1964 & 1/2, if you ask him), Mustang named Sally, going to live theatre in Bozeman to see Mark Twain’s recently discovered opus Is He Dead Yet, buying my first pair of truly grown-up, fancy, shoes, and getting accepted to graduate school (in no particular order of importance), the dawn of September; ie, The Birthday Month, has me tingling with anticipation.  I have set a few goals for myself to keep me grounded and focused as I start out my career as a graduate student.  I expect to have this list checked off by the time the 31st rolls around. 

eat lobster.  It’s true, a woman born in Maine, the Land of the Crustacean, has never consumed one of those bad boys.  The main reason I am so insistent on checking this off my list of to-be-dones is due to the vast amount of butter I will be imbibing in with its succulent flesh.
turn 29. It may seem like a gimme, since whether I want to or not, on September 10th at exactly 4:09 in the afternoon, I will be turning over a new page in the calendar of my life.  However, there were times in my life when I was never quite sure I would make it to Almost 30, so I plan on checking this one off in style. 
get a pedicure. I’ve never been one to give into peer pressure, but somehow, for better or worse, I will be getting the second pedicure of my life next Tuesday, accompanied by drinks at Plonk, and my dear might-as-well-be-sister-in-law.  I am a bit hesitant to accept the challenge of this goal, since my last pedicure was right before I hiked the Grand Canyon, and my newly de-calloused, nubile, pink-toed feet were ill-prepared and are still upset about the massive amounts of blisters and pain that followed. 
start Grad School – it does not bode well for my future that I was extremely relieved to not be starting this last Monday when all the underlings (undergraduates) did.  However, I have taken this last week of freedom to reflect and set up my printer, and I feel like I am now both physically and emotionally ready to rumble.  I already have my first day of school outfit selected, and my path to my first class passes an apple tree, so I will come bearing fruit for my teacher.
Have a wine and cheese party. Tis the season for mulled wine! With my new pedicure, and a hearty supply of clove and orange, I am sure to throw a successful Autumn soiree. Details soon, you’ll probably be invited!
Fall housecleaning – it’s important to have clean floors and bedding, since I’ve got this new pedicure to maintain. 
Enjoy Autumn – last but not least, I plan to thoroughly revel in the changing of the seasons.  I’ve started out strong, with a drive through Gallatin Canyon with my darling and some apple cider.  This morning, I took a walk through a morning so crisp you could practically hear the bacon frying and found so many beautiful maple leaves, which will soon be trampled into my new carpet, but for now are displayed autumnly on my window sill.
forgive my vagabond puppy for eating 2 pairs of shoes and my $150 splint – Aaron says that Moose eats all my sweet stuff, including an entire vintage leather suitcase and any amount of nutritional yeast that I buy, because she loves me, but its small consolation.  This one will be a challenge, I’ll let you know how it goes.  

Thanks for reading, I expect you all to hold me accountable in completing this list. 

p.s. On a more existential note, aspen trees are my favorite tree, not only because of the amazing color change, but because they are so much more than a beautiful tree.  A grove of Aspen is actually one single living organism, having the same root system.  I have heard a grove of aspen compared to a community;  each tree appears to be a separate entity, but they all live as one and nurture each other.  I always mull that over   when thinking about my role in my community.  It’s sometimes easier to feel like I am an island; unaffected by and likewise unaffecting what is going on in my community around me.  But it’s so not true! It’s said that it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to raise a village.  We all need to work together, to nurture each other and support each other, because damn it, if one aspen tree dies we are all affected because there is less oxygen for us all.  Or something like that.  Hey, just be nice to each other and help each other out, ok? Which brings me to my last goal.

Find somewhere amazing to volunteer.  We all have to do our part to make the world a happier, more beautiful place, and I don’t need to get paid to do it.  If there was a non-profit that took kids out to stomp around in the leaves, that would be ideal, but I’ll take anything working with kids. 


Today I am. . .


a cat. I slept all day in the sunshine on my bed with no pants on, I have hairy legs, I like to balance on walls when out for a walk, I dislike being contained on a leash, and I often knock over glasses of liquid. 

a statistic.  I am one of those quintessential English majors people murmer about when they pass on the street who leapt out of college ready to change the world with my words and make a living doing it. Over 30 job applications later, and a paper trail of submitted articles and stories that stretches from here to Chicago, I have made exactly $750.00 with my trusty pen and ink, and am now waiting tables and going to grad school.  And, in a seemingly unrelated event, I just got a pair of birkenstocks and have lost most interest in brushing my hair, both very English-grad-student things to do.  Bring on the wrap skirts and cropped hair, I’m not showering till I graduate in 2015!

An educator (and I haven’t even gotten my teachering creds yet).  At the trusty Broken Dreams Café (names changed to protect the innocent), I asked an omelette-craving woman if she wanted swiss or cheddar cheese in that traditional French breakfast  item.  The following happened:
Me: glistening in the dew of the invasion of the Labor Day tourists:  Swiss or Cheddar?
Egg Maven – hmmm..whats the difference?
Me: puzzled pause shrouded in politeness: One is yellow, one is white.
Biscuits and Gravy Husband: I’ve told you before, sweetie, you like cheddar.

Sidenote: This family had 5 children, whom, while being well acquainted with syrup and it’s many applications, ordered scrambled eggs as “the yellow parts of eggs with no hard white part” (hence my fallback on color schemas when explaining the various kinds of dairy to their doting mother), and managed to kill the bamboo garden that is a talking point of the Broken Dreams Café.  Two thoughts: I thought it was impossible to kill bamboo, and I bet that those kids knew what Velveeta was.  

A writer.  Besides the obvious fact that I am penning this blog, I have two articles coming out in local magazines this month! Check out Distinctly Montana and Outside Bozeman for the newest words from yours truly.   Outside Bozeman sent me an ominous email yesterday telling me to expect a “very small check” at the end of the month.  Nothing like keeping a girls dreams reigned in, eh?

A baker:
Recipe for Food Bank Cake When Your Kitchen Isn’t Actually Unpacked Yet
1 white cake mix from local food bank (thanks for the donation, neighbors!)
2 whole lemons, zested and juiced
1 more egg than the box recipe calls for denser, poundier, cake.
Add all ingredients to large mixing bowl, or small pot if you can’t find mixing bowls, and mix well. Use tiny, tiny, fork if you can’t find whisks.  Add zest and lemon juice.  Bake until done at 350, or bake at close to 350 if you can’t read the chipped off stickers on circa 1980 mini easy bake oven. 
Healthy portion of powered sugar
1/2 cup of milk
More lemon juice
Mix together in small bowl, or coffee cup if that’s what closer.  Glaze should be the consistency of the milk that was left in the refrigerator from the last tenants, a little thick, but surprisingly smooth.  When cake is done, immediately turn out onto plate, or cutting board, or anything flat that is unpacked.  Poke holes all over cake with anything long and pointy since if you couldn’t find your mixing bowls there’s no way you’re going to be able to find the toothpicks; screwdriver, bits of the bamboo garden you rescued earlier,or in my case, kabob skewers, and pour glaze over cake.  Decorate with fresh flowers picked on the way to the barbeque.  Enjoy.  

A piece of canvas
Almost 3 years ago, the seeds of an idea to have Indian Paintbrush, the o most holy of flowers, tattooed on my person took root in my mind.  Now, Its been two days since Sara Martin of Sara Martin Tattoos caused this idea to blossom.  The experience was surreal, beautiful, painful, and perfect. As I lay sweating (I seem to be sweaty in all my posts lately, sorry about that) on Sara’s table eating sage flowers, she turned the ridges of my ribs into rows and furrows of a skin garden. So stoked, so proud! Picturas to come soon.

And so, since I dream of the sweet potatoes with fresh thyme, pork fat, and garden onions that are roasting in the oven as I wrap this up, I can only say that I yam what I yam.

p.s. I am aware I used the word “teachering”. I’m trying to get it to catch on before I actually become one of those and do that.

That woman in the mirror

     I dream of swimming with the goldfish in mango sweetened waters, citrus blasting in marmalade cascades out of a pumpkiny spout. My present bathroom is arctic white; an igloo sized five foot by six foot room, with polar bears lurking under the sink and penguins nesting in the shower.   I’ve tried to warm it up; a curtain blooming with peonies sprouts from the shower rod, and a carefully placed piece of stained glass cuts the light shining into the bathtub into a summertime fruit salad, but the pristine porcelain still avalanches out into the hall.  Currently, my bathroom bleats like an Easter lamb.  I want it to roar like a tiger. I want to paint it tangerine orange. Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.  All these emotions fit neatly into my bathroom, folded next to the clean linens, crumpled up with the dirty socks after a long day waiting tables, floating peacefully around me during my sacred Sunday night baths. 
    My first bathroom was a long narrow room with the toilet at the far end, a little green curtain on the frosted glass window, and a lock on the door; a haven of privacy.  I was the first of 8 girls, shared a bedroom with 2 sisters, and my hairbrush with no one.  My multitude of siblings and I were used to having community possessions; all my clothes were handed down to my younger sisters, we shared books, friends, classes, bikes, and even boys we liked.  But we did not have to share toiletries.   There was a staircase of drawers in that bathroom, one for each sister, cascading with headbands, hair ties, nail polish, Teen Spirit, combs, brushes, acne cream. I had the top drawer; a privilege granted to me being the eldest, and I was the first to tuck a little box of tampons and a razor in the back, afraid of being caught in the act of growing up.  It took me a month to work up the courage to shave those first curly armpit hairs.  It was in this bathroom that my mom gave a tutorial on how to change a sanitary pad to three blushing girls, but she kept the industrial sized box in her bathroom, a large double-sinked wonder with a huge tub.  I remember well the walk of shame down the long hallway toward that box of hygienic paper product; the fact that there was only one time of the month a Harris girl used that bathroom became a running joke in the family.  And I continued to seek solitude in my bathroom, learning how to cut my bangs much too short, plucking those stubborn hairs between my eyebrows that just wouldn’t stay away, obsessively brushing and flossing my brace-laden teeth.  The lock on that door got a lot of use in the 5 years that I was a teenager, and those soft blue walls comforted me during the butchering my legs with that cheap razor that I lifted from my mom’s bathroom.   
    Off I went to college where shared a dormitory bathroom with 20 girls who were not my sisters.  The floor was concrete, the shower curtains offered no privacy and a little mildew, and the sinks were often full of rainbows of hair.  In this dungeon I learned to sleep curled around a toilet, writhing with too much boxed wine, and I realized that lots of women had small breasts and knobby knees. I grew comfortable walking around with only my hair wrapped in a towel.  I never got better at shaving my legs, and grew to love the way the now soft, long hairs blew in the air of the old radiators that lined the walls, strung with damp bras and drying t-shirts.   Those brick walls and beige bathroom stalls were hung with posters that taught me about chlamydia, and student government, and vegetarians.
     I found myself in Chicago, living in a studio with Lauren, and we barbequed out of the bathtub one evening, for lack of a backyard, and the once white walls were stained with smoke.  Lauren was still writing Bible verses on little slips of paper and tucking them into that vanity mirror for me to read while applying lipstick in the morning.  John 3:16, Evening Plum, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Hot Tahiti, resist the Devil, and he will flee from thee, RazzleDazzler, Psalms 27:1.   A year later, when I was moving out with my first real boyfriend, we painted over those swirls of soot and talked about everything I had got away and Lauren had put up with in that apartment; the cat, boys coming and leaving, dance parties, and the indoor smoking.  
     And then the basement bathroom happened.  I tried to make it pretty, but the sheetrock walls and the dented washer and dryer were as hard to overlook as the holes that the man I was in love with had punched out during our frequent fights. Every month brought a pregnancy test, I was sure that this man I was terrified of had gotten me pregnant. Finally, I patched the walls, and packed my bags. 
     Now I am living with this bathroom that should be orange but is white.   Orange is the color of joy, sunshine, and warmth.  It is the color of a cool bath and Eva Cassidy on a hot summer day, it is the color of my boyfriend’s hair, it is the color of my coppery dog, it is the color of happiness with who I am and where I am. 
     And so I stand in front of my toothpaste speckled mirror, surrounded by a halo of bleached fluorescence.  I tuck a paint sample under the cracked corner of that glass that has seen squeezed zits, experimental electric blue eyeshadow, the first smile lines, awful hairstyle choices, various men brushing their teeth, that perfect shade of matte lipstick. Orange Burst.  Tahitan Sunset. Dreamsicle. 

trailer treasure

Continuing the chain of changes in my vida dulce, our little camper, Rosinante (inspired by the oh so wonderful John Steinbeck and the oh so brave Don Quixote) has been sold for $200 to the highest bidder, a feisty republican named John, possibly a relation of the man the camper was inspired by, as he also had a large poodle and a way with words.   That camper may have been tiny, but I figured out the reason it weighed so much; not because it was old as shit and made out of plywood, but because it was weighted down with all the memories of the 6 months my darling, myself, and two dogs lived as nomads/squatters in the wilds of the southwest. 

So much nostalgia is coursing through my veins as I type this Ode to a Camper.  It was love from the moment we moved in; on that fateful day I met my destiny with a broken pyrex dish and had to be driven down to Phoenix with a severed artery, sliced nerves, no tendon in my left hand intact, and all our worldly possessions rattling around behind us in our new home.  The memory of living in that little icebox through a high desert winter with 6 blankets on the bed, a transformer cast and oven mitt on my crippled hand and the propane heater pumping out so much carbon dioxide and hardly any heat will always warm the cockles of my soul.  We’ve been through so much together, so many washboard roads, so many hot springs, so many states, so many illicit transports under false floors of guns whose legality may or may not be in question in certain states, and that camper stayed almost in one piece almost the entire time.

That’ll do pig, that’ll do. 











to bang or not to bang…

that is the question.
Whether tis nobler for the forehead to suffer
The glare of the sun on its mirrored sheen
or to be confined beneath a sea of troubles
and suffer the torture of early morning brushings.
To snip, to grow-
o, that lunatic fringe.

Every time I quote that famous bard, my sophomore year of college, back in ought 8, comes to mind.  It was a bright sunny day when I came up with the cunning plan to get both of my required Shakespeare courses out of the way in one semester, under the (oh, so false) pretense that at least some of the plays studied in the two courses might overlap.  3 torrid months later, I had read 8 Shakespearean epics and everything was so convoluted by the time finals rolled around I ended up thinking Hamlet was a small pig, and his soliloquy was referring to his curly tail.    

All that Shakespearean prowess is going to come in real handy once I start my next endeavor/adventure.   I am going to be returning to school in the fall to quest after my Masters in Education with licensure to teach secondary English.  Nervous, excited, already know what I’m going wear on my first day of school!  Its been a whirlwind of activity, getting all of the mountains and valleys of paperwork turned in.  Now that I’ve been accepted, there’s a whole new mountain range of forms for me to tackle, hopefully I’ll descend from the Alps by next weekend.

In my further endeavors to be a grown-up, Aaron and I have found an abode to rent.  No more slumming it in the woods, or in campers in friends yards, for these two wanderers, at least for the next two years.  Tomorrow, we sign the lease on a sweet little studio loft with views of the Bridgers and Tobacco Roots, access to the creek, endless gardening possibilities, and within biking distance of everything important in town (the Co-op and the Haufbrau).  I’m surprisingly alright with being settled for this next chapter, but I’m going to have to pick up smoking, since the front porch is perfect for it.   More nervousness and excitement, since we haven’t had to pay rent in 6 months, but I am so stoked to have a little space to decorate, and not have my clothes stored in a box under our kitchen table, which is a bed half the time.

In other news, the Biggest Puppy in the World has consumed two 16 oz. containers of nutritional yeast and a bottle of wine in the past few weeks.   That girl knows how to party.

I leave you with this amazingly glutenous picture.  The simplest things are always the most beautiful.