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Recently I have been particularly drawn to a few songs that are popular on the "pop" radio stations.

I am just a few weeks shy of 7 months of married life.  I love being married, and I am in awe of my partner more every day.  I think of marriage now in a way that I never used to, and I am not sure I can eloquently communicate or illustrate my thoughts quite yet.  I think, though, that it is safe to say that I am now more acutely aware of other couples' marriages and the decisions and choices that they make.  Whenever I hear of breakups or divorces, it creates an emotional quaking in me as I bring my own relationship into sharp focus.  It makes me realize, more intensely and strongly, that if I want to maintain and improve upon my relationship, I need to be willing to listen, to respond, and to learn.  Individuals who do not do this inevitably create tremors and tears in the fabric of their relationships.

The songs that I am, for whatever reason, really drawn to are:

Goyte, "Somebody That I Used to Know"

Fun, "We Are Young"

I think what originally drew me to these had more to do with the pacing, the voices, and the crescendos.  But what has kept me listening is the utter pain, real or imagined, you can hear when they are singing about relationships.  The first, dealing with the after effects of a breakup and the pain caused by moving on, and the second, the realization that their relationship is merely a reflection of past history, and only now maintaining a facade with the secrets and the ambiguities inherent in a troubled relationship.  They are both equally sad, though in different respects.  I think why I am so enamored with listening to them is because it reminds me that there is a world outside of my own relationship that I have not experienced, and would never want to.  Listening to the death of a relationship brings into sharp contrast the vibrancy of my feelings in my own, and how happy I feel being committed to someone as fantastic as my partner.  It makes me want to be an even better version of myself.

Hello, internet.  Didn't think you were coming here for sappy prose, now were you?

How is it that I have not updated this site in more than year?  I am not sure what happened.

I am considering reclaiming this space again, because it is important to me to be able to look back and see where I have been.

The BIG updates since we last spoke...

-I got engaged Jan/2011
-I started my career June/2011
-I (we) bought a house Aug/2011
-I (we) got married Oct/2011

I am also not sure if I wrote about the (re)addition of Ringo to our family.  It's a very long story, and I will have to go back and check to see if I already wrote about it, but long story short -- we have a 3rd doggie in the house!  He's a German Shep/Whippet mix and he is 16 or 17 years old.

My job has prevented me from spending much time doing anything else but working and then recuperating from work, but I will try to dedicate myself back a bit to this site.  I have enjoyed skipping around and reading my old entries.

Perhaps it's my cold triggered by some rapid weather changes and being around mounds of sick peoples at cluttered amusement parks, perhaps it's the whirlwind of weeks past that has my head spinning, perhaps it is the confusing foray into a confusing world of part-time employment and part-time contracts, perhaps it is a feeling of being happy with our rental house but me feeling completely unsettled and disorganized, perhaps it was the totality of the year 2010 - in all of the glorified messiness and rapture, the photographs and the learning, the complete craziness of schedules and flip to boredom and open expanses of time.  Whatever it was, it was messy.  It was beautiful, but it was messy.

I am in need of clarity.  Clarity in my thoughts, my actions, my words.  Clarity in my perception.  I'm not a huge fan of resolutions, as I don't ever feel like I hit my stride again until mid-January and by then I've forgotten about the resolution itself.  But a word of intention:  that's something I can deal with.

So, my word of intention for 2011:  clarity.

Clarity of goals, clarity of thought, clarity of expression.

I'll be back in this space soon, with some updates. 

For now, I have to let some clarity in, despite having a massive headcold propelled by fairly ineffective cold remedies.  I think it is time I return back to my old-fashioned yogic traditions.  Once upon a time, that's what worked and to say I've traveled away from that lifestyle would be an understatement. 

Back soon.
Saturday afternoon, we went for a quick trip to the grocery store to grab a few supplies before the arrival of a friend for a visit.  We split up in the store, with Joel grabbing ingredients and LG and I picking up some toilet paper.  LG and I were walking hand-in-hand, our winter jackets creating more rustle around us than necessary, walking at a comfortable pace for a six-year-old.  LG was happily telling me all about this claw toy he had in his hand, and I was obliging his story by holding the claw and pretending it was his hand.  Just then I heard quick footsteps behind us come to a rapid halt, and there was also a grocery supply cart in front of us that an employee was wheeling through the aisles.  I pulled LG aside to let the cart past us, and the owner of the rapid footsteps behind us sighed loudly and made a dramatic display of stepping around us and continuing on with her hurried pace.  While I was waiting for the cart to pass, I took a quick glance at the person that was in a hurry.  She was in her thirties, glossy brunette, dressed in a black sweater and a short skirt with black leggings and black ankle boots.  She had a silver necklace that was bouncing around wildly as she sprinted past us.  I kept following her trajectory because after we grabbed our item, we returned to the main aisle and waited on Joel, where she was bouncing back and forth grabbing last minute supplies.   I simultaneously felt annoyed, wistful, and happy.

Annoyed because it was 2:00pm on a Saturday afternoon, and couldn’t she see how silly she looked?  Brushing past people without a second thought, too consumed with her own plans and in a hurry?  Wistful because I could totally identify with that.  I used to do that.  I used to make a big display, all dressed up with somewhere to go, ensuring that other people knew how busy and important I was by hurrying past them in my high heels and a suit.  Now I was walking at a slow pace, in the company of a sweet six-year-old, oblivious to the world around him other than his current adventure he was on.  I was dressed down with an unfashionably big coat on, far from chic.  Happy, because I felt that even though I might return to that life sometime in the future (big and important and with places to go), I recognized that I could also feel the same way but be kind in the way I was displaying it.  It does nothing to brush past an elderly person in a hurry other than to probably hurt that person’s feelings.  It does nothing to sigh loudly and presumptuously at the person in front holding a child’s hand, other than to make that parent feel demeaned.  A person can be big and important with places to go and people to see, and be nice and courteous in their actions.  After all, under the guise of acting big and important, you may fail to see the bigger moments and the more important people that are around you.

Just some thoughts as I am feeling myself transition into different roles and ideas. 

I am very excited at my recent discovery!  I have discovered a free, open to everyone, enclosed dog park/agility course that is 12 minutes away from the house! 

We had seen it while driving past when we first moved here, but I always assumed it was restricted to current customers (it's attached to a vet's office).  Then, when I was researching dog parks in the area, I ran across that information!

Today was our first visit, and I'm sure it will be the first visit of many.  My only regret is that it doesn't have a pond to do water retrieves in, but beggars cannot be choosers!  Trooper made up for this fact by putting his front two paws in a giant water bucket they had for the dogs to drink out of.  Oh well.  Supposedly in the summer they also have a little doggie pool, but it's nothing like a good stretch of water. 

ANYWAY, I'm still excited!  This is a place that has 10-foot high fences around a big expanse of grass.  Within the park, there are a number of agility obstacles that anyone is free to use!  I will most likely get the terminology wrong, so forgive me, but they had the following:

A-frame ramp
Long bridge
Weave poles
Many, many adjustable single and double jumps
O-ring jump
Two open tunnels
One closed tunnel (the fabric drapes down and the dog has to "open" the tunnel)

I first let the dogs just do some open exploring and sniffing around when we arrived.  No dogs were there at the time.  Then we played tennis ball to let them run off some energy.  Before I go much further, I should preface this by saying Cosette is totally and completely uninterested in agility obstacles.  She retrieves.  Enough said.  Trooper, however, needs more mental and physical stimulation to be satiated. 

The first obstacle we tried was the long bridge.  He first tried jumping all the way up (about 4 feet off the ground, past the ramp part).  I then managed to show him he needed to walk up the ramp while making sure his paws were touching the banded parts (sometimes they are white, these were yellow).  If we ever got into agility, that's a good habit to instill.  He was so excited, though, he kept losing his footing and falling off.  What a goof.  I ran some more energy off of him with tennis balls, and then he seemed to be able to focus a bit better and walked up and over with no problem.

Then we tried the platform with a good "sit," wait, "jump up," "sit" and "down" and "okay!"  So, I made him wait to jump up on the platform, and then gave the ok, then once he was up I made him sit and then lie down.  That obstacle he was a super pro at (but I'm not even sure that's what he was supposed to be doing).

Then we tried the A-frame.  This one he had a bit more a problem with.  He would climb up to the top and then turn around and jump off and weird angles.  He finally just went running at it on his own once, and managed to get up and over.  He had his little lightbulb moment, and then I worked further on it with him.  I backed him up about 5 feet away from it, and then walked over to the apex of the frame and held his tennis ball up on the top.  I then told him "okay" and he ran up the frame and down the other side, following my hand with the tennis ball in it.  Every time he did it successfully, I threw the tennis ball for him.  He then explored the tunnel without me prompting.  I'm not sure how to teach how to go through the open tunnel other than to throw a tennis ball in, so I'm going to wait and read up on it.  But at least he's not afraid of it!

We also did a few jumps, but nothing major or high.  I was mainly wanting them to just run off energy and get used to everything. 

There were some small dogs that came to the park (a Yorkie, and then two little mini poodles).  Cosette and Trooper's response to them was HILARIOUS.  They barely perked up their ears at them, and then completely ignored the little dogs (it seems they share my big-dog bias). 

Then some big dogs arrived (a fat yellow Lab mix, a fat golden retriever mix, and a pitbull mix).  The owner kept the pit mix on a leash, but kept walking over to where I was at with the dogs and would tell her dog, "No, they're playing" and would drag her back away.  After the fifth or sixth time she did that, I asked, "Can she not be off-leash?"  She said that she was worried about how my dogs would react to her, and I looked back at C&T and said, "Ohhh, no, they'll be fine.  They're used to being around other dogs."  She was really apprehensive and made sure it was ok with me to let hers off leash.  She bent down and unclicked the leash, and the little pit mix ran over to C&T.  Cosette ignored her, and Trooper chased her (good-naturedly) a little, but then lost interest.  My dogs were more interested in the tennis ball and could care less what the other dogs were doing.  Oh well. 

All in all, we were out there for an hour and a half!  Wow.  I completely wore them out!!  I'm sure I'll be updating more with our agility course adventures.  Maybe I can try snapping a few photos, with the help of Joel.  ;)
Oh yes, that's me, dressed up as the infamous Great Dane.  ;)    I was a total ham for the kids (and adult fans). 
And of course that's Little Guy next to me, utilizing his Star Wars Clone Trooper costume for the second year in a row.  He's just a little obsessed.
He grew tired of hearing "Scooby Doo!  Scooby Doo!" being yelled at me after a while since he wasn't getting as much attention.  We explained that while his costume was cool, we did try and do a family costume but he would have none of it.  So we would have brought more attention upon ourselves had he played Scrappy or Fred or something, but he didn't want to.  I wasn't trying to steal his thunder (and I wasn't trick-or-treating, just walking along with him and Joel) but nonetheless it happened.
And yes, it is hard to navigate in a gigantic costume like that.  ;)
The path.
The light! O, how I love the light, my heart be still!
As if in a dream!
Fall, the bringer of both death and beauty.
Green, Yellow Red!
Hello, wonderful, lovely falll! You come too late and leave far too quickly!
The last of summer's blooms, hanging on.
Yesterday yielded a good block of time to take the dogs out for some serious water retrieving.  We went to a slow-moving waterway - although with the wind yesterday, the dogs may argue that it was fast-moving - and retrieved all by our lonesome.  I sat down at the edge of the bank and fingered the grass and dying blooms of the fall.  The dogs seemed to love coming up right beside me, dropping the ball, and then shaking the cold water off on me!  Normally I avoid this by backing up as I say, "Release!" but since I was being a lazy bum, I guess I had it coming!

Trooper completely dominated the water retrieves yesterday.  I could NOT wear that dog out.  Usually it takes about 20 throws and he starts to swim more slowly and becomes more lethargic when coming out of the water.  Not yesterday, though.  I threw the ball about 50 times and not once did he slow down!  Cosette wasn't her usual rockstar self, but she managed to get a few balls in.  She's taken to waiting until Trooper is fully in the water before she dives in, which gives him a head start which she just can't compete with.  I have no idea why she is waiting, and she only does it some of the time. 

I then brought them up on dry ground and had then retrieve in an empty field.  That seemed to finally tire them out.  Once they were marginally dry, we headed back to my car.  They were tired enough that they just walked peacefully beside me, sans leashes. 

I love my water-lovin' dogs.  =)
I took Trooper to the park/lake today to do some work out in an open field.  We worked primarily on heeling and long stays.  It was blustery and windy, so there was no one accompanying us at the park - save for a drunk group of people that showed up, posed for pictures, and then got back in their vehicles (weird).

Trooper did well, but I wasn't really in the mood to give him my full attention, so after about thirty minutes I unleashed him and spent some time water retrieving.  He had been acting squirrely yesterday after being cooped up all weekend long, so I thought he needed a bit of a release.  I worked him hard and he came home and willingly climbed in his crate to rest. 

I didn't take Cosette, primarily because I wanted to work on training with Trooper and that's near impossible to do if I'm trying to keep my eye on another dog.  Cosette is becoming more content to lie around without having to work too hard - Trooper, however, is still in that big puppy phase where he needs some hard-core exercise often.  They both retrieve every day and I spend time working with each of them, but I devote more time to Trooper right now.  Cosette for the most part knows how to behave herself.

Feeling EXACTLY like this right now!  So extraordinarily motivated!
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and your discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”