Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Small Wonders

My unemployment benefits claim expired yesterday. I filed today anyway; I guess I should have made sure to do it yesterday?

Now we begin cancelling things we don't really use or need. My Audible monthly credit, cable premium channels since we've switched out of watching most of those. Rather like going through boxes and getting rid of things so we don't have to move them, cutting down expenses to support our new life.

CK's company has started the process of relocation. It begins with an offer package being prepared for what she'd get in Canada. Once that's ready we'll have some meetings. It's most likely I'll then have my contact to manage this project.

Suddenly late autumn seems very close.

And Dora is not better. She's drank a little on her own today, but still won't eat. I steamed a yam up and we tried that. She thought it smelled better, but still won't eat.

It's misery to watch her like this. If I look for too long into Dora's eyes I just start crying. The dog who will always wag her tail if you ask her is listless and barely responsive. When we told our vet all this today she was disappointed that Dora hasn't rebounded more. In the morning I'll take her back to the vet for an ultrasound to try and understand what's going on.

We discussed if this is even the right thing; if we should instead be planning her death. Neither of us has experience with dogs in this regard and if a cat was behaving like this, it would be a sign they were done living, much like Obie did this past November.

Our vet is very direct with us and she thinks there is a chance it could be pancreatitis, very acute and bad. Fluids and appetite stimulants might her her back on her feet. We also could find out she has intestinal tumors or another cancer that would be treatable, like Obie was, for many weeks.

We're preparing ourselves nonetheless and honestly reflecting on how it will be easier moving with one less animal companion. We're going to be renting for at least a month; 2 companions will be easier to negotiate than 3. Bertie has Ursa to keep him company and once we have vaccines, perhaps I can take him to bulldog play dates again.

The unemployment, the COVID, the moving, the dog, the cats we lost; it's all just feeling like so much. I allowed myself to not do today's planned chore. I've just felt heavy and miserable much of today.

The positives; the beautiful, Spring sunshine shining on and through flowers outside the window while I teach. The tender email from a friend about making our "bubble" really official and what that means in terms of keeping CK safe.

When grief is loud, large,
Delight is almost hidden.
Small wonders break through.


When Nothing Feels Right

Dora has eaten a little today. A few tablespoons of boiled chicken breast and white rice mixed together. She went poop too, she's just been going out on our deck which is honestly easier on both of us than my carrying her up and down the stairs.

She's still really out of it, but the little bit of change is an improvement. She's sleeping in front of me at the moment I began this, in one of the dog beds in the living room. She stayed there much of the day, I'll lift her onto the bed when I go to bed soon.

I had a moment of grief overload this morning kicked off by a moment's reflection on the lousy way my first ex-husband behaved. It's something I'm really over, but just the reminder of it as Dora wasn't eating on top of the COVID fatigue and Igal's death anniversary soon upon us. It was all just too much for a moment.

I've also felt really down on myself today, like I can do nothing right. Earlier, after lunch, CK told me an idea for an easy dinner. I totally missed it and kept on trying to make something that took considerably longer and by the time it was done I then realized it wasn't sounding very good to her at all.

I'd made fried rice, but we've both been trying to get Dora to eat rice and chicken all day. Having had sticky rice on her hands all day, trying to have rice for dinner just wasn't working for her.

I'm feeling exhausted and dejected, but that wakes up a ferocious round of "the Whinnie" in me and I feel like I can do nothing right.

Trying to honor my desire to do my 30-Poems-in-30-Days by once again writing haiku. In the past I've tried to write them about nature, the seasons, the moon; more traditional topics. This year, inspired by a sympathy card a dear friend sent after the death of one of our cats, which contained a haiku from Massahide, I am trying to write them about the inner landscape.

Anger boils over,
Seething volcano fury,
Inside I am ash.


60,000 and Rising

Why have I been making ragey art tracking this number all month? It feels like I'm cleaning a wound. I feel the need to bear witness to this number.

I wrote 30 haiku those month too. Generative, even just silly things like Animal Crossing, have offset the rage art making. I'm getting some rhythm to this new, unchosen schedule.

‪There's been good in this month. It's precious to have meaningful connections when the news is so dreadful. Next month I might try to make art about survivals that weren't expected. Celebrations even if I'm still ragey.

‪Day 30 Haiku

‪Beginnings. Endings.‬
Neither coming nor going.‬
I am always whole.‬


Revealed Self

Today I told students that teaching online is more about supporting my mental health than recovering the income I‘ve lost teaching for the City. It came up because students were asking about ways to pay me and if I’d contacted the Silver & Fit organization about getting registered with them and paid forth my classes.

I told them I hadn’t had the bandwidth for it, and this week I’ve been dealing with pharmacy stuff and had therapy. My cortisol brain can only manage so much in a day.

I told them to just come. To email me pictures of flowers in their yard or paper notes, which I treasure. These are all perfectly good payment options since teaching online is helping my mental health.

It felt highly vulnerable and like I was doing something wrong. Which probably means it was the right choice. This is a crappy method of figuring out what to do, but here I am!

Daring to reveal.
Vulnerable to be seen.
No more hidden Self.


Restraint Keeps You Safe

Today, to contrast yesterday’s despair waiting in and out, I was anxious all day long. I felt like a failure, despite all we got done on the weekend. Tomorrow’sa therapy day, so it might well be more of the same.

I'm still thinking about language, this selection from Lao Tzu, translated by Ursula K. Le Guin, has been one I was reflecting on before the pandemic. Now it feels especially apt.

Fame and Fortune

Which is nearer,
name or self?
Which is dearer,
self or wealth?
Which gives more pain,
loss or gain?

All that you grasp will be thrown away.
All that you hoard will be utterly lost.

Contentment keeps disgrace away.
Restraint keeps you out of danger
so you can go on for a long, long time.

Now for today’s haiku! I didn’t set put to write a month of haiku, but at some point my heart just decided to go for it. Haiku is the first type of poetry I learned about, learned to write, so it feels fitting.

Distant for safety.
We find new ways to reach out.
Connection endures.


Despair and Roses

Rounds of yardwork, laundry, and bouts of despair; there it was, raw despair about pretty much everything. Set off by trying to sort out our dinner, but truly not related.

We've not eaten a meal out our take away in over six weeks. This may be the longest I've ever done since I was a child and Mom and I lived on food stamps in low income apartments. Not counting free meals at school.

My Mother liked eating out. Liked fast food, convenience foods. After marrying my stepdad this was all more accessible and became part of every week.

It is so hard when at times neither of us wants to eat and we need to. This is an area that's especially hard for CK, her medications exacerbate her sensitivity about certain foods/textures and that's all aside from gluten intolerance.

Usually it isn't too hard. Today though; despair for a few minutes.

And then there are these roses making our back yard smell glorious. I'm so grateful for this and the gardening I could do today, plus all they laundry done!

Sunlight on roses.
Warm, heady scent fills the air.
Linger this moment.


Fifty Thousand

I was trying to think about what to write when I did my nightly check of the CDC’s website. The site is a day behind, but it is where I started to check this month.

It’s a grim ritual. I feel the need to bear witness in this small way.

Shopping today, a pharmacy pickup, exhausted me. Fred Meyer is the least safe feeling space to shop; they aren’t making efforts to limit the number of people in the store at a time.

That we managed any yard work amazes me.

Grief, a heavy stone.
Each number another stone.
We are diminished.


Kites Must Open

I went shopping at the big Japanese market today. It was a relief to be somewhere where staff and shoppers were all taking masks and distancing seriously. Inside and out into the parking lot where we waited to be let in.

Tomorrow I need to get the one prescription that must stay at a walk-up pharmacy. We need gardening supplies too. Shopping is exhausting and I'm incredibly grateful to friends who are offering to pick up thighs when they are out. It meant we had cupcakes for dessert.

Watching the kites flying today while queuing to get into the Japanese market. Grateful to find everything for us to have a special dinner tonight.

Turn to catch the wind.
A kite must open to fly.
Soar across the sky.


Blue Each Spring

The irises I planted when we moved here, after tearing back some landscaping, have begun blooming. I’d totally missed that they were going.

I admired them and then let a friend take them for a natural pigment project she’s working on. Since she’d been shopping for us, it seemed a fitting tribute!

Whenever these ones bloom I always call to mind this haiku by Shushiki. It feels especially fitting this particular April of everything.

Dead my old fine hopes
And dry my dreaming but still…
Iris, blue each spring.

In response to Shushiki:

Did you plan with hope?
My careful plans are scattered.
Iris blooming still.


Weight of Memories

Today felt hard.

I spent much of the morning arguing with my Mother's bullshit that decided to play on my head. Connecting with students lightened my mood a little, but I spent the rest of the day feeling exhausted.

I felt shame. The nagging feeling that I should be doing more with my time off from commuting. That we have it relatively easy and safe, but I'm weighed down by memories and the dread of the coronavirus.

Every other day I've noted the USA death toll on this month's art journal signature. I take the number from the CDC website. Today it me know that across two days nearly 5,500 people have died.

‪Still, there was the rain falling and Camillia flowers that drop off so perfectly before they decay.‬ I spent some time under the eaves admiring them in the damp.

‪Spring rain hangs heavy.‬
‪Raindrops on fallen flowers.‬
Weight of memories.‬‪