Friday, March 25, 2016

Nobody Said it Would Be Easy

Mardi and Magique striking a pose
The differences in their ages never seemed that large. Magique was a very smart puppy and Mariah was alive then. She had trained Mardi with my help and the two of them trained Magique. I trained both to be photographer dogs. The obeyed off leash and never chased the subject of a photo. We went everywhere together until age began to take a toll on Mardi Gras. She was fifteen when she decided she would not jump in the pickup.

Nor would she be assisted. I was ready with a whole host of solutions like ramps. In the end I had to take the Corolla if we wanted Mardi to go. Sad for a dog which had more Rubicon off road miles then some humans.

Mardi Gras
When she turned 15 and the joint outings became more difficult. She would get lost and disoriented. Magique virtually trained herself to find and retrieve her older buddy. I didn't realize how good Magique had gotten at that until on a neighborhood walk Mardi vanished and when I asked Magique to find her she ran u the hill and pointed straight down. Good dog training says you believe your dog. And she was right. Mardi had fallen down an abandoned septic system tank which had never been filled and was collapsing. It had collapsed under Mardi and threatened to collapse under me so we called the fire department.

It seemed safest to stay closer to home. Mardi goes on her own walks my neighbors joke. Magique and I walked where Mardi went. Still she enjoyed herself. Exercise is essential for aging dogs. She turned 16 this last Labor Day. Fortunately, for Magique, we had made a new friend with a labradoodle puppy and Magique and Valentine can run to their heart's content. But the daily outings in the pickup to the mountains around my house are fewer, the walks with Mardi are shorter and often involved repeating territory to round her up. This morning, I admit to being short on patience because of my case of the flu. Mardi didn't want to pay enough attention to get out of the backyard. She refuses to have a leash put on her. I realized how unfair this had become for Magique who generally waits patiently.  I gave up on Mardi this morning and took pity on Magique. She jumped in the pickup for pet rounds.

She gets excited when I bring the camera and so feel like it or not we did a couple short photo walks between stops. I think she just liked being with me in the truck again. Summer is around the corner and I won't have the flu forever. The last three winters I thought it would be Mardi's last. I toyed with picking up an adult rescue dog for Magique to train. But Mardi keeps on keeping on. It just is increasing clear she cannot keep up any longer. Maybe it will just be Magique and I and the pickup together. Isn't fair to make her stay at home.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Recovering Perfectionist?

"Oh would some power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us." 

Robert Burns.

At a period in my life I underwent counseling for one problem and came up with a host of others my counselor thought I should work on. Actually it came down to really only one problem which all my other problems seemed to hang on. It was just a shock it was the one I was most in denial about. Perfectionism.

My father was the perfectionist. Not me. My problem was I was not good enough. Never good enough. Not tall enough, not thin enough, not smart enough . . . the list could go on forever. In fact it did. I had to make a list. It is somewhere in one of my many journals I kept religiously before the days of blogs. I was pretty good at that. But perhaps not good enough because I never filled one up to the very last page. And I skipped whole blocks of time.

Making the list of my not good enough's was just one exercise. Another was to do something I was horrid at and rate it as to my skill vs. enjoyment. I don't enjoy doing things I am not good enough at. So I don't do them. My assignment was to be on the office bowling team. My highest score ever in bowling was 120. I roomed with the star of the team who routinely bowled 300. She was a perfectionist in my opinion because bowling is doing the same thing over and over again. I never saw the point.

But I bought the bowling shoes (ugly) the bowling bag and the bowling ball which was suppose to improve my score. And weekly I went bowling with my coworkers in what I have come to call my redneck period. I found that my enjoyment of the activity had nothing to do with how good I was. But there might have been some relationship with how much I drunk. We all drunk. Drinking always improved my pool game but never my bowling game. Cathy bowled 300's drunk or sober.

The lesson I learned somewhere in this whole process is that I was a perfectionist. And that perfectionism can be linked with depression, bulimia, alcohol and drug abuse, and other compulsive behaviors. Even my messy desk and house can be linked because if I am not good enough at something I don't do it. Perfectionism can work for me with somethings but against me with others. I am constantly on the watch for signs of OCD - Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. So far I have not laid out all my pencils by size or sorted by brushes by type. But sometimes I wonder if the hamster wheel thinking would stop if I did.

Been thinking about writing this blog for a week. Spent five minutes getting opening quote formatted in the right font. After dropping off tax info at the CPA I am going into my studio and make a huge mess.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Never Pays to Look Too Close

As a photographer I can be attracted to the light through a window bouncing off a glass on a silver plate and spend several frames recording it only to get home and discover the glass was dirty or there was a fly on the plate, etc. In digital photography there is always something you can do to remedy most flaws but life isn't like that.

A Canadian friend posted a photograph of what she could purchase for the $21 Canadian per week for groceries. The photo was still in my mind when I went grocery shopping yesterday.  Forget that where my friend and I live in the rural parts of our countries that going to get the $21 of groceries probably takes that much is gas or petrol. The closest store to my abode charges such high prices I would not even be able to get half of what was in her photo. So it is over the mountain, 50 miles round trip, to shop.

I used to go weekly but being able to buy dry and canned goods from Amazon Prime has cut that to about once a mouth for fresh goods when I go to pick up my prescription. No pharmacy on my side of the mountain any more. Speaking of the prescription, the health issue that necessitates it also demands I change my shopping habits. Are you aware of how much more it costs to eat healthy; to cut out just one common ingredient like sodium? Thankfully I am not gluten or lactose intolerant. But where I can I choose organic. But thankfully I have cut beef largely out of my diet. God, the prices per pound on just what used to be a cheap cut of meat like a chuck roast.

I like my mushrooms Portabello and my green beans those thin French ones and my peas snow like in Chinese restaurants. If I am going to be largely vegetarian it is going to be good stir fry. Deleting the $15 spend on good dark chocolate which was on sale my bill came to $92. Divided by four I am $2 over the weekly allowance my Canadian friend mentioned in her blog. However, the sodium free canned diced tomatoes I already bought from Amazon Prime. I did not need to buy coconut oil this trip or sea salt or several other condiments (also gotten from Amazon Prime). This was just the eggs, vegetables, sour cream, and pasta. So I failed.

And I noticed all the bugs and streaks and fingerprints on the image. I noticed how high prices had become in just the last year. And that markets are marking even the mushrooms gluten free. But the US did not give us retirees a bump in our Social Security because there was no inflation they said. Admitted gas is temporarily down but heating costs are up. I cannot wait for warm weather and my garden.

I think this summer I will deposit that $92 monthly into a jar to spend after gardening season is over. It obviously is not just a hobby any more. And I find myself looking at my passive solar studio to see where I can install planters to raise lettuce and Swiss Chard and snow peas and fresh herbs all winter.