Friday, February 29, 2008

Peeve of the Day

The word is "REIN", people, not "reign" when you are talking about your spending or other excesses. I realize we're all a bit removed from the good ole days of using horses as a major form of transportation, but the phrase "reining in ____" comes from those horsey days. You rein in your horse when you want it to slow down or stop. Why do we say you "rein in" your horse? Because you pull on the reins. You know, those leather straps that run from the bridle to your hands? The reins.

Reign, on the other hand, goes with royalty, and not because we associate the British royal family as riding to the hunt on their horses using their reins to tell the horses where to go and when to slow down. No, we simply have a tradition of royalty reigning over the land they rule. (we might note that the Latin Regina would translate to Queen today) Queen Elizabeth is the reigning monarch. Prince Charles would like to reign over the British Empire before he's 100 years old, but that may not happen given family longevity. The reign of King George III was marred (from his POV) by the American War for Independence (aka Revolutionary War).

Had someone been able to rein in King George III's tendency to reign over the colonists by taxing them dearly, we might not celebrate July 4 as Independence Day.

Got it? Thank you for trying.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I'm coming to terms with the idea of Sleek leaving. Of course, when I knew she would probably leave before I did, and probably before Fluff did, too.

I spend some time thinking about what this experience of loving and losing Sleek brings to me. First I've been thinking about what knowing Sleek herself has brought to me. She has taught me a lot about self-possession. She is who she is, she knows who she is, and she's very comfortable with that. Fluff and I can learn a lot from Sleek on that front!

Her self-possession is a big part of Sleek's beauty, and she is a beautiful dog. OMG, when she was younger and hunting in an open field! Watching her move across that field brought shivers to my spine. She would glide across, much like a coyote or wolf would. Her back would barely move up and down she was so smooth. Sleek was so in to her hunting. It was a huge part of who she was. She still hunts some, but the body can no longer deliver that effortless movement.

Sleek has taught me a lot about graceful aging. She doesn't seem to miss the sustained hunting much. She'll poke around holes in the ground, maybe dig a little, and she will increase her pace if she sees a rabbit or squirrel, but I never see her doing anything that looks like she's cursing her body for no longer being able to catch rabbits or squirrels. The dog who once dislocated her sister's ribs simply because Fluff was standing between Sleek and where the ball was thrown, now barely trots after the ball. I think I miss Sleek's former physical prowess more than she does. I definitely miss the selective deafness as opposed to the current involuntary deafness. Before I had a chance that she would choose to hear me eventually, but that's not so much of an option for her anymore.

I've also learned about acceptance. Even as Sleek accepts aging and her impending transition, so I had to learn to accept that Sleek was a) not like Fluff when it came time to do some training; and b) not like a typical Malinois. Fluff loves training. She loves the bonding of it and the chance to see how quickly she can figure out what I want. Sleek is a lot more wary of training. I say that Fluff is a child of suburbia with a love for rules and predictability. Sleek is a child of the country. She'd rather run loose and make her own rules. Sleek hates, though, having people she loves upset with her. Unfortunately for training regimes, she thinks being asked to do things more than 2 or 3 times means she is doing them wrong; therefore, I must be getting upset or close to getting upset. Sleek shuts down into her default mode: "When in doubt, sit. No one yells at a sitting dog." Eventually I learned and accepted that Sleek was not going to be a competition dog with me.

Sleek and I came to some agreements on a few things that are important to me. She may have thought some or all of them were bad ideas at times, but she has acceded. First, she and Fluff must get along. I will not deal with bitch fights where the combatants must be kept separated at all times lest they, for real, try to kill one another. I told Sleek very soon after she joined us that should the two of them begin to fight that way, Sleek would be the one looking for a new home, no matter what. Second, she may not jump the fence and go cat hunting/killing. She did that once. I chased her (after I put clothes I could jump the fence in on), caught up with her, and read her the riot act the whole way home (around the block, not back over the fence). She was devastated for 3 days (would not look at me, tried to avoid being noticed) but never went over the fence after a cat again. Third, Sleek is supposed to stay off the furniture unless invited. We came to an agreement where she stays off when I'm home and gets on when I'm not.

Sleek's passing also brings up a lot of stuff for me, but I'll cover that another day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why I Haven't Been Posting

Letter sent to RL friends on February 19, 2008.

Thank you to all who asked how Sleek and Fluff and I are doing.

The last evaluations of Sleek’s cancer are still a bit indeterminate (“we can tell what it is if you cut it off and send it in….”), but the cells appear to epithelial neoplasia at the skin level, with a small chance that it could be mammary gland too/instead. Sleek’s vet thinks they are unlikely to metastasize. Chest X-rays taken at the same time the needle aspirations were done show no signs of metastases. Sleek still looks generally okay and continues to eat well and be interested in walks and sniffing every freakin’ blade of grass on the walks. She still asks for cuddling and lets me know at night when she is ready to go to bed. I go to bed then, too, because she’s very hard to move once she’s settled across the middle of the bed. A queen-sized bed is not big enough for two when Sleek takes my spot in the middle.

Spiritually, Sleek gives the impression of a soul ready to move on to the next adventure. Given that, her age, and her general condition, I have decided not to pursue anything radical in terms of “fighting” her cancer. I’ll adjust her diet as needed to support her and continue chiropractic. I’ll look into acupuncture for her, too, to help with any pain or energy blocks that may come up.

Fluff seems to not understand why Sleek is leaving and to prefer that Sleek stay so Fluff doesn’t have to worry (it is all about Fluff, thank you very much!). I’m calmer now (most of the time) and am focusing on looking at what Sleek has brought into my life, what her death will mean to me, and what my fears and concerns are about her transition period and eventual death. Because Fluff and I are (too) deeply connected, this work will help me figure out how to support all of us as Sleek travels on without Fluff and me. We may have another 2-3 months of physical togetherness.

We very much enjoyed the beautiful weekend weather. I took the girls down to Cottonwood Beach both Saturday and Sunday. Fluff got to retrieve sticks from the water, and Sleek got to sniff and hunt. Although there were no carrion-rolling incidents, Fluff did bring a good bit of “river essence” home in her skirts. Let’s just say “minty-fresh” and "Fluff" are not synonymous. Saturday we walked with several other people and dogs whom we met there, and Sunday was more of a family day.

Thank you again for your love and concern. I feel it, and it helps.

kabbage, Sleek, and Fluff

Friday, February 01, 2008

Healing and Faith

A few days ago the Peripatetic Polar Bear asked a question about whether faith healers truly believe they heal or if they're all a bunch of charlatans ( ). I kind of liked my reply, although I didn't read the blog entry that triggered her question until afterward. Had I read it first, the context and thus content of my answer probably would have been different.

I think the answer is, "It depends." Some faith healers probably believe they have a gift, and some may be in it for money or notoriety or some other reason. Some probably start one way and end up another. Who gave the title of "faith healer?" The priest himself, or people who had seen the work he'd done or _____? I think there are some people who can facilitate other people's healing, at various levels. In one sense, we do that when we "kiss a boo-boo and make it better." When it comes to more serious illnesses, like cancer, I still think some people can help some others heal or heal themselves, in part or in whole. No single "conventional" treatment works for all people, so I think it stands to reason that no single "unconventional" treatment, be it snake oil, prayer, or casting out demons, is going to work for all people.

I do a form of bodywork and training for animals that can be energy work or can be done without energy playing an obvious role. I don't *try* to transfer energy in either direction when I'm working with a client, but people (I sometimes work on people I know) tell me my hands feel very, very warm or hot to them. To me, they are comfortably warm. Can *I* heal? No. Can I, in some cases, help bring awareness to the client (human or animal) so that they are able to change something? Yes.

What I think we don't acknowledge is that we can be operating at multiple levels. There may a part of us that wants to heal right here and now. There may be another part, which we may not even be aware of, that says there is a reason for this illness or challenge and sustains the progression of the disease. Maybe our souls have something to learn or experience from this event, maybe we're there as a teaching moment to others around us. Sometimes our environment, be it physical or emotional/mental, does not permit us to heal. I think many of us have heard of kids who act out their parents' issues by getting sick frequently or having behavior issues. Heck, my *dogs* do that for me because we're so tightly linked. I may not be aware of how I'm feeling because I stuff things down, but they know and act stuff out in their bodies and behavior to clue me in. Sometimes there is something in the physical environment, not just the psychic one, that prevents healing. Maybe it's something that doesn't bother most people, but in a particular case, it does bother one enough to prevent healing.

This is when it's helpful to believe that we are energetic beings choosing to have a physical experience in this lifetime.