Monthly Archives: June, 2011

Abdication of Power

When do my choices become an abdication of my power?  My therapist says that as a rule, women’s work is power and men’s work is relationships.  This is, of course, a generality and as with all generalities, subject to major exceptions, but I have found that overall it does seem to ring true.  And my work is certainly to keep from becoming invisible and retreating in the face of threats, imagined or real.  I do live with a lot of fears, fears that I’ll do the wrong thing or fears that someone will challenge me or yell at me, etc., and I know where these fears come from and while many are no longer true, some still are legitimate.

Nevertheless, I am an adult now, and so reacting as I did when I was a small child isn’t always terribly helpful.  Of course that small wounded child still is a part of me, but I need to be reassuring, being the adult for her that she never had when she was growing up.  These thoughts popped up today as I was doing my online shopping for pet needs.  I have recently found a brand of canned cat food that the cats and I have agreed on.  Wellness cat food comes in small cans, has no meat byproducts, fillers, etc., and it is a pate which does not look like any “body parts” so I, as a vegan, find it less horrific to feed.  (And personally I’m thrilled that because of Chauncey’s allergies, the dogs are on a vegan diet, but I do know dogs differ from cats in this as well as many other ways).

And I was thrilled when I thought that I could obtain this cat food from my local organic market through their buyers club, so that I would be supporting an on-island business and one that I wasn’t afraid to go to.  However, today, when I tried to get my first order ready, I found out that they don’t carry the small cans.  Ok, big disappointment.  Went to (my fall back for a lot since I don’t leave the island), and they had it but only if I ordered from one of the big pet chain stores and I’m anti-them also.

The apparently simple solution is to buy it from our local and lovely on-island pet store, Pandora’s Box.  So what’s the problem?  One of their clerks had treated me very badly on two separate occasions and I’m just afraid to run into her again.  The adult me knows that in this instance the power of the consumer is all-encompassing, but the child in me doesn’t want to be berated, criticized, etc.  This clerk doesn’t listen and she’d brow-beat me into what she said was the “best” cat food without listening at all to my needs and I was horrified to find that I could see parts of fish in the cans when I opened it.  I gave the food to a friend who has cats but is not vegan, but the experience was not pleasant.

Since then I have been back–got my courage up one day when I absolutely had to have cat food, and I then was treated extremely well by two clerks there that day who did listen, and who gave me a variety of options and explained them all very carefully and even took into account smell factors as well as looks.  And I did very gently mention my previous two encounters and they took that seriously as well.

So there should be no problem going back there to buy my cat food (and cat litter when that is needed because shipping that is absurd), and I will give it a go, especially since I will be headed that way on Thursdays now for summer tutoring at the library, but it will be with fear, and I suspect it will become easier each time I do it and I think that this is not only good for an island business but good for me, not to abandon myself and my principles because of one person, but it will stretch me.

I don’t know if I will always have this issue going new places or going where I’ve not been well-treated.  It is one reason why I prefer to stay home, in my space, out of the line of sight of much of the world.  Some days even crossing the street for my mail is a challenge, and I always think several times over before I walk very far into my backyard because I had a neighbor yell at me several winters ago for a landslide which in fact was her yard’s issue, not mine.  For the most part, that works fine, but I suspect that I am giving up lots of my power to those who shouldn’t have power over me.  And on my better days, I forge ahead, at least with small challenges.  Today is a nice cool sunny day and all my windows are open and I’m feeling reasonably well, so the idea of buying my cat food at Pandora’s Box on Thursday seems most do-able.  I am hoping it will seem just as do-able when Thursday rolls around!  Have a wonderful day wherever you are!

This and That!


It has been quite a week!  First, Happy Pride Weekend to all who celebrate!  My rainbow flag has been rehung with a new bracket and it is flying proudly in my driveway.  Anyway, the last couple weeks have been unusually eventful for me.  My sinus surgery went well, according to my surgeon whom I saw yesterday for my first post-op visit, although I’m still stuffy, wishing I could blow my nose, tired and exhausted, etc.  But he found a bone growth which he removed and it proved to be benign and the sinuses have been cleaned out, etc., so hopefully this will all make a big difference to my health.  I still have the splints, but those come out next Friday.  So that’s the update there.

Oliver, Daphne, and Poosa

Meanwhile, Oliver is settling into our family beautifully.  He is still very skittish, but he definitely is learning the routine and I’ve noticed that he is willing to explore more in his new yard and that seems a very positive sign.  His new dog bed arrived yesterday and he absolutely loves it.  A friend on Twitter had told me about For Your Dogs Only and I had previously gotten two nice beds for Chauncey and Poosa which they like a lot, so I had no trouble ordering up one for Oliver.  It is a bagel style bed, and he hops over the edge of it and then burrows down and obviously he finds it safe and comfy.  I suspect that Oliver will turn out to be more curious than the other two once his fears are calmed.  This morning he actually came into the outdoor shower with Chauncey and me while I was bathing Chauncey.  He just wanted to check out what we were up to.  Poosa doesn’t come within 50 ft. of the shower when it is running, and Chauncey would also have bolted if his leash hadn’t been fastened to a hook.  Without a doubt, Oliver is happiest when he is close to me.  As I type this he is at my feet sleeping happily and wherever I go, there he goes also.  Poosa does the same so I’m always accompanied everywhere.  Chauncey waits a bit to see if I am going to return soon as he is definitely getting slower and he has to have reasonable motivation before he stands up and shifts location.  

Poosa, Oliver, and Chauncey at Breakfast

On other fronts, Eric ran another 100 mile race last weekend and it was fun for me that he was running it near where one of my blogging friends lives so she could update me on weather, etc.  I think he did really well, coming in 60th/115 finishers in 29 hrs., 51 min. 46 sec.  And then he posted a photo of his new gorgeous green Brooks running shoes which he’d worn the weekend before when he visited me.  The shoes were totally unrecognizable after the 100 mile trail run!  Today Kelly, his wife, is running in the Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon and I hope she will also do very well.  Personally, I get tired just thinking about that much activity, but they love it.  And Pamela has texted me several times and I’m learning about the life of a conductor.  It is wonderful to hear from her and I am now trying to be much less cell phone challenged, sometimes with more success than others!

Oliver and Daphne

This has made me think how our communication has changed over my lifetime and especially how it has changed in the last few years!  I do, as I’ve mentioned before, like the internet and they forms of communication and interaction that are available there.  They suit me for a variety of reasons.  I love how with both Twitter and Texting you can be right in the moment, sharing feelings, capturing instantly what is happening.  It is quite lovely!  And I’m definitely connecting with people, making new friends, etc.  It is lovely, and I now have friends all around the globe which is a first for me.  But of course, the best part by far for me is hearing from Eric and Pamela and learning what their lives are like and what they are doing etc.

Oliver in His New Bed

Oliver Loves His New Bed!

Ok, back to the last week or two.  We had another power outage last night, the second in a week and I have no idea why as there were not storms, winds, etc.  I was in bed reading when the power went out last night, and Oliver was definitely not pleased!  The generator is right outside my bedroom window so when the power goes out, 18 sec. later the generator kicks in and then the panel in the laundry area makes a loud cracking noise, as most of the power kicks over.  I had to get up and close my bedroom window and eventually Oliver decided nothing horrible was going to happen so he returned to his new bed.  But I’m with Oliver–the generator is loud and sleeping was difficult.  Three hours later the power returned and that is a much quieter process.  The panel box does no loud cracking and the generator merely turns off.    And there was no loss of power for 18 seconds.  I haven’t found out why we lost power last night.  Last weekend we had a similar outage (when my vet was here to check on Oliver) and that time I called the utilities to find out it was a downed tree.  Again, no storm and no wind! But last night I did not have enough curiosity to get out of bed, find the phone book, and work my way through the cumbersome menu to find out the reason for the outage.  Anyway, I can’t wait for my power backup for my computer to arrive as I don’t like the way the power outage takes the computer down!  My electrician has had me order a protector box with limited battery power so that the computer will never realize that 18 sec. went by before the generator kicked in.  In any case, we normally don’t have power outages at this time of the year, but it has certainly tested my new system and it is working perfectly so that is comforting even if Oliver doesn’t like the noise!

Butterfly Feeding

I’ve been enjoying all the activity in my yard.  I cannot believe how many hummingbirds, crows, juncos, black-capped chickadees, and butterflies I have!  I have planted more flowers, but even so, I suspect they were always here, but I just wasn’t in a place to notice them.  My haiku writing has trained me well to stay in the moment and observe what is going on around me.  This morning in my shower I had fun watching a couple slugs.  At first I thought there was just one and it was really a swift mover, but then I realized that there were actually two.  It was lovely to watch them waving antennae and exploring their world.  Then I was amused by three crows around my backyard pond who obviously were enjoying the day.  Soon a fourth swooped in to join them, as a butterfly drank from the flowers surrounding the pond.  It was really very lovely.  The dogs and I then went out to pick strawberries.  I love this time of year because I can get a handful or more of fresh strawberries each morning from my strawberry patch.  Last year they produced all the way through until nearly November!  Anyway, it was lovely picking the strawberries while watching the dogs capering around the  front yard.  These are precious moments and I’m glad I’ve gotten to the point where I can notice and enjoy them.

So that’s the update from Vashon!  Our island is perking along well overall and we also are doing fine.  I hope everything is lovely for you wherever you are.

Oliver, Entitlement, Family!

Eric, Kelly, and Josie

What a week or two it has been!  Last Sunday I had a wonderful visit from Eric, Kelly, and Josie and I was so very grateful that they were able to fit that into their busy schedule since this week was big for both Eric and me.  I had sinus surgery on Wednesday, which I am still trying to recover from, and Eric ran the Bighorn 100 mile trail endurance run Friday and Saturday, finishing 60th out of 115 finishers, with a time of 29 hours 51 minutes 46 seconds, and I would imagine he is going to be recovering from that over the next few days/weeks!  Congratulations Eric!

Eric, Poosa, Kelly, and Josie

And then I heard from my daughter, Pamela, first time in 14 years, and we are now texting!  I’m having to learn how to text and also how to keep my phone charged and how to discover when I have text messages other than tweets, but I am learning and there couldn’t be a better incentive!  Reconnecting with Pamela has definitely brought me a joy beyond all belief!

Oliver and Poosa

And if that weren’t enough for the week, I got a chance to adopt another dog, a beautiful 5 yr. old black and white cocker named Oliver!  Our main vet, Dr. Nell, had told me about him when she was here a little over a week ago taking blood from Sasha, and I fell in love with him just from his photo and his life story.  He is the same coloring as Poosa and they are about the same age as well.  I got a call from the foster lady on Wednesday as I was at the Polyclinic filling out my admitting forms for my surgery!  I explained my situation, but said yes, I wanted Oliver for sure, and by Friday afternoon I felt up to meeting him.  He is wonderful and he is now a full-fledged member of our family!  I’ve ordered up his dog bed, tag, collar, and leash so he will have the same as Poosa and Chauncey, but in purple (Chauncey is blue and Poosa, pink).  Yesterday, when I noticed his eyes were rather goopy I had Dr. Alan come out for a “farm visit” to check Oliver over, and Oliver is now also on eye drops (he was on lip meds since he has only 12 teeth and so does drool and his lips then need daily attention), and he got the last of his injections (rabies and lepto, although the lepto will need a booster in 3-4 weeks), so Oliver is definitely ours!  I even rearranged the living room so I now have one of the couches right next to my chair so Oliver can be petted (and so of course can Poosa and Chauncey) when I’m sitting there.  Otherwise, he likes to be at my feet when I’m at my desk or else right next to my bed on my yoga cushion which we are using as a dog bed till his arrives.


I’m not sure what trauma Oliver went through before he came to me.  His teeth were so bad that Dr. Nell had to remove most of them (he now has only 12 teeth, out of the 42 most dogs have).  There was mention from the foster mom about Oliver living with toddlers who were allowed to terrorize him, but I think there must have been much more to his early life, as he is not only very shy, another scared little rabbit in our family, but he doesn’t feel entitled to anything!

Poosa and Oliver

Oliver’s arrival got me thinking about issues of entitlement and worthiness, issues which I also have.  All of my companions are rescued animals and each has his/her own story.  Sasha was rescued by Eric from the Seattle Humane Society 13 years ago when she was 2, and she was so sick we didn’t know if she would survive.  But she has, beautifully, and she is even working hard at beating aggressive oral cancer.  She has learned, especially through this last illness, to get what she needs to survive and I’m very proud of her.  Thackeray lost his mother at birth, but was bottle fed until I adopted him at the tender age of 8 weeks.  He is now 12 years old and trust me, Thackeray has absolutely no issues of entitlement!  He has ruled his world from the get-go even with the early loss of his mother.  Laoise (a Celtic name Eric gave her, which is pronounced Leesha) is a very shy cat and usually stays hidden when anyone else comes into the house, but there is absolutely no question about her feeling entitled where the other cats and even dogs are concerned!  She is always first to the food bowl, and she loves to be petted and fussed over.  Those are my cats.

Then for the dogs, we have Chauncey who was a rescued dog found at the side of the road when he was about 1 year old, but he lived on a farm in Eastern Washington for another four years and then his family went through a divorce, and I was fortunate enough to be able to adopt him.  He fit in right away and has ruled the doggie world in my home now for 8 years.  He also knows he is entitled to care and he definitely sees to it that his needs are met.  Poosa lived her first 5 years at a breeders and then I adopted her last year.  From the beginning it was clear that while she was a timid soul, jumping at loud noises (she still runs every time my steamer turns off!), and while she’d never known a dog bed or a dog toy, she certainly had not been mistreated as she also is excellent at feeling entitled and getting her needs met–just ask anyone who comes over as Poosa makes sure she gets lots of extra loving.  


And that brings me now to Oliver.  He is shy and easily startled by any noise, even soft ones.  But beyond that, he disappears or hides as a way to stay invisible.  I certainly understand that behavior–I too have followed that path.  If no one sees us, then we can’t be hurt, etc.  But we also cannot get our basic needs met.  I am learning, as I heal, to develop feelings of worthiness and entitlement which I never had growning up.  It is difficult and undoing the past programming is very hard, especially when something triggers a reaction from the past.  But I am showing up more, staying present, learning not to abandon myself under any perceived threats (well sometimes anyway–this is still very hard for me).  And I think it is the same for Oliver!  But already we’ve seen a change.  He has, for instance, just come out of my bedroom and sat himself down at my feet under my desk so he is with us.  I had to keep the 1/2 bath door shut for the first couple days until Oliver found his new safe spot next to my bed as he wanted to hide in the corner behind the toilet, but now the door is open and Oliver is staying out with us.  Yesterday he slept most of the afternoon and evening on the couch right next to me and I gave him lots of love.  The last two mornings he has followed Poosa around the yard while I was showering and the two are so cute together.

I know that we are a good fit, Oliver and I, and that we can help each other to heal.  And I know that the other two dogs as well as the cats will help us as well.  Our family has grown and another injured soul has been rescued!  We now consist of one human, three dogs, and three cats, 4 female, 3 male (hey, we females have to keep the upper hand!).  This is a perfect time for Oliver to settle in as my calendar was already cleared off because of my surgery and my schedule is much quieter in the summer anyway, so Oliver will get settled in nicely now and never again will he be hurt or mistreated.  He can learn that he is definitely worthy of having his needs met, he is entitled to all the love and care we can show him and he will give that love back doubled in spades!  Welcome, Oliver, to our family! 

Communication, Connections, Friendship, Kindred Spirits

What is friendship?  How do we get to know each other?  How do we “show up” as my therapist says, in the world and make connections?  I know I’ve written about this in some ways previously, but an e-mail today from a friend got me thinking about it again.  She made some really important points that writing on a blog is in many ways impersonal and distancing and that she doesn’t feel special when I write for the internet and that the real me doesn’t show through.
I’m really not sure about that.  I certainly write with every intention of being fully present in what I write.  And for me, an introvert with health problems, the internet has been a real blessing, allowing me to interact with people in genuine ways, people whom I never would have met otherwise.
However I do see her point.  Certainly there are folks out there who put up false personas for whatever reason, or if not false, at least partial, and that is fine.  Time will allow these relationships to develop or not as they are meant to be.  But I know have friends all over the world in a richness I’ve never experienced before.  
I live alone as far as other humans are concerned.  I am not alone as I have five wonderful companions, two dogs and three cats, who love me and shower me with affection.  But their conversation is limited and I do get lonely with no family close in meaningful ways and with a best friend dealing with her own health issues who also is working 7 days a week running her own business on our island in a less than robust financial climate.  
I am now reaching out in a variety of ways for the connections which we all need, one way or another.  I don’t think I’m deluding myself when I think that I’m richer for these contacts.  Sure, not every post generates comments, but that doesn’t mean that the post hasn’t reached others or even touched others in genuine ways.  I too read a lot more blogs than I ever comment on, so I know that is true.
And then there is the whole world of Twitter, which has rather taken over my life at the moment and I do need to find a way to tame that, but at the moment I feel I know a lot of very fine poets who are encouraging me and I am not only learning a lot, but enjoying it as well.  I am inspired and amused by many of their posts and I retweet them as a way of sharing with others.  
I started with Twitter as a way to follow my son and his running activities as well as occasional posts about his family, especially my granddaughter.  I don’t see him except for twice/year brief visits even though he lives in Seattle.  There are a variety of reasons for this which I shan’t go into here, but when I read one of his tweets I feel a connection.  Is that real?  Was he thinking of me when he tweeted?  I don’t know, but I choose to think so, especially when the tweets are family related.  Am I deluding myself?  I honestly don’t know, but I’d rather think positively that there is a real connection there.
And the same is true for my other internet friends.  I was touched to receive a comment on my Tanka Diary (link at the top of the page) when I had a rough day at Study Zone.  It meant a lot to me to have that contact.  I love it when my poems are “liked” on Facebook or re-tweeted on Twitter.  That encourages me in my new creativity as a poet.  Does this have any meaning?  Well, I can only go by my own actions.  I only like or re-tweet poems or posts that touch me or move me or amuse me, so I have to assume others do the same.  What ulterior motive could they have, after all.
However, I’m straying from the point of this post (hey, there was one when I started anyway).  Am I making real connections?  Am I showing up in authentic ways?  I have to believe that the answer to both is yes.  I can see how my internet friendships have changed and enriched my life, and so I am very grateful to each and everyone of you, my readers!  Would love to hear from you about your thoughts on this!  How do you make connections and find kindred spirits?