Second Plein Air Painting


A little better today.  I spent more time on it and had a rag to wipe out mistakes and my brushes.  I’m learning.  The best think about painting is getting lost in the project.  I don’t think about anything else while I’m working.  I’m just trying to see what there is to see, and figure out a way to get it down in paint.   Even though I’m not good, I get a lot out of the process.  I feel authentically myself when I am painting, much more so than when I’m writing.  Maybe that is because I have no pretentions of being “good” at painting, while I do think highly of my writing skills.    

I think I indeed be quite happy living here.  The valley that you get to on Cactus Park Road here is incredibly beautiful.  I can’t imagine ever running out of things to paint there.

Could I live out here?


Could I?  Honestly, I don’t know.  I love it and it is part of my home territory.  My dad loved the West and drove us all around it for more than 20 years.  I’ve seen it change and I’ve seen it stay the same, exactly, as it was.  I love the subtle change of seasons in the dry brush.  It pays to pay attention.   I like arid, sunny, mountainous climates. I was born in the center of downtown Los Angeles.

Race is different out here.  First of all, depending on where you live, you hardly see it.  Inland and northern western states are very white.  White-Mexican relationships are particularly complicated.  There is not simply a binary division between “whites’ and ‘Mexicans,” since lots of Mexcians are “white” in the eyes of Anglos  But it’s not that simple.  This is a territory in which distinctions of color and blood have meant a lot for hundreds of years.  So, Southern California, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado have something in common with South Africa, in that these states share a culture  in which successive waves of very different white people came in, took over, and fucked a lot of stuff up.

I have seen one person of color since I’ve been here now for over a month and half, with a week break in the middle of the period.   It’s not normal.  Almost makes me ashamed to admit that a part of me thrives–no, comes back to life–out here in these sunny, arid mountains.   But lots of people, least of all white people, come back to life in this climate.   That’s why it seems so weird out here—where are all the other people?  The community feels unbalanced, too homogeneous out here. Not quite “America.”

Plus there is no movie theater. Nor is there a decent bar.  Nothing even close to the symphony, not to mention opera or ballet or theater.   I can live without shopping malls–I order everything online anyway.  There is a good used bookstore.  It had a great s/f collection, and that is how I judge a bookstore.  But not much in the way of inspiring artists.  In Pittsburgh I can not only know ABOUT an aspiring artist, I can also be get to know that person, and learn from her or him.

It’s a nice fantasy: myself out on the range, let’s say on an immense ranch of my own, with stunning views and clear streams, rustic exteriors and cozy interiors, great wine, fresh, organic, local produce, maybe even a few goats and chickens, and a steady supply of marijuana, of course, and books, and internet access.  Maybe I’d paint more.  Maybe I’d take up that rustic weaving project.  I’d revert to my hippie self.  Obviously I would grow herbs.  Maybe I would sell them.  I would practice Iyengar with Nancy and get very good.   I would converse with people through the internet, go to conferences, or not.

It’s such a common fantasy, it’s almost embarrassing to be having it.   What makes mine different is that I’d get to be near my brother, who is only a few years younger than I am.  I miss him.  And I’d be closer to my sister, and nearly all of my cousins and aunts and uncles.  My family.  But my son lives on the east coast, and so does my boyfriend.  So  I find myself in the same question: where does the heart yearn?  It years in opposite directions.  Irritatingly.

At least there is the prelude to Edvard Grieg’s From Holberg’s Time.”

In case you didn’t know, Ludvig Holberg was a Norwegian humanist, an Enlightenment thinker who is also called the founder of Norwegian and Danish literature.  Apparently he was pretty good at investing money.  I’ve never read anything he wrote.


My first plein air painting in years


I have been driving around this gorgeous mesa that slopes south-west here in south-west Colorado.  I’m sloping south-west too, these days.  Continuously cursing myself for not having brought a camera, I’ve gone round thinking–that! that!  I want to paint that! And I have these grand Georgia-O’Keefe/Frida Khalo fantasies.  (BTW: Did you see that recent film?? What Dreck!! So insultingly saccharine! It was on the other night and I could not sit through it.)  Right. So, me and my non-Hollywood fantasies.

Right after I got here I bought a small set of oils, some decent but inexpensive brushes, a canvas board and mineral spirits.  But I didn’t go out.  That’s right, I procrastinated until the very second to last day here.  But I did, indeed, go out, to what has a become my favorite stretch of Rimrock road.  I sat in the dirt, cleaned my brushes on cow-grass and rock, and tryed to express what I was seeing.

I think it’s pretty awful, but I’m posting it anyway.

 

Off Rimrock Road, Looking up into the Grand Mesa, Colorado

Kimberly Latta’s Very Good Skillet cornbread


Old-fashioned, hearty cornbread with a crispy crust and soft interior.

1 cup unbleached flour

1 cup stone-ground corn meal

1/4 cup “quick” oats

1 tsp baking powder

1-1 1/2 cups milk

1 stick butter, softened, plus 1 tbsp for pan

1/4 cup brown sugar (if you like sweet bread, add more)

1 tsp good quality vanilla extract

1 large egg.

Heat oven to 350 degrees and butter a med to large cast iron skillet with 1 tbsp. butter.    Smear the stick of butter into the sugar with a wooden spoon.  Break egg into butter mixture, then wash hands.  Whisk egg into itself first, then into the butter and sugar, which will begin to look curdled.  Whisk in vanilla and milk.

In a separate bowl, whisk baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter, which I do), and all three flours together.  Combine with wet mixture until quite thick, able to stand up on its own, but not too dry.  Add milk if it seems to dry, but don’t beat the batter too much.

Scrape out into middle of greased pan, allowing it to fall into place as it will.  It should be slightly higher in the center than at the edges.  Bake 20-35 minutes, depending on wetness of batter, altitude, and oven, until the edges are dark brown and a tester comes clean out of the middle. Let sit at least 5 minutes before cutting.

Shoulder Stand


I had no idea how hard one could work to do a proper shoulder stand.  O, and I’m doing nearly every other pose wrong, it turns out.  My muscles all want to work en masse, fused together, locked down, whereas to do a good triangle, for example, my muscles need to work separately, in different directions.  It’s an interesting mental game to focus on muscles I didn’t know I had and try to move them separately.  Kind of like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time,  only much harder.

Well, it clears the mind to have to tune in so intently on the body, and to realize that the body is not even close to being something under the control of the mind.  No, in fact, the body–with all its learned postures, its hunches, its clenched jaws, its legs pressed rigidly together, or crossed, or arms folded, or brow furrowed–influences the mind, makes it miserable, and then the mind sends distress signals that tighten down all the hatches, and the sphincter jams shut, which backs all the toxins into the body, and the mind complains, and the cycle continues.   This is the feedback loop that Tara Brach calls a “trance.”

So when you practice yoga with an expert Iyengar teacher such as Nancy Crum Stechart, whose class I took tonight, you are working so hard trying to get your brain to send the right signals to the muscles you’re trying to isolate and move, not to mention the focus you need to hold the pose while your entire body screams “ENOUGH!” that you don’t have time for the trance.  All this thinking about what getting your thigh to move forward while simultaneously moving your pelvis back and up, and then lengthening the spine while straightening the back leg and bending the front one just another half-inch, while keeping the pelvis tilted and the front thigh moving in the opposite direction–all this actually interrupts the feedback loop that usually takes over.  The sensations of pain or discomfort that you experience have clear and obvious relationships to the thoughts that you are having at that moment, and there simply isn’t time to think about anything else.  The mind clears for an hour or two.  It starts to clutter up again in Shivasana, corpse pose, when you are supposed to let everything go slack but also to do this consciously, remaining aware of the body and sending release to those muscles which are still holding on.

My mind is a mess of monkeys jumping from thought to thought.  It goes right into the jungle swinging, and it usually takes me a while to figure out where I’ve gotten to.  And then I go back to where I really am, on the floor, listening to the sounds coming from outside, and sensing soreness or tightness or fatigue in my body, and just staying there. But soon the monkey-mind is off again, and I just go along until I realize that it has carried me back to the feedback loop, and that my muscles are clenching again. I come back again and again, because I’m trying to recover from all the times throughout the day when I’m caught up in the loop.

I have had the great privilege to take some classes with Nancy Crum Stechert (so I’m repeating her name), who happens to be one of the premier Iyengar teachers in this country.  She started practicing yoga in San Francisco in 1976 and began studying with the Iyengars in India in 1983.  She has been studying regularly with them since then.  She founded the Colorado School of Yoga in Denver as well as the International School of Yoga in Tokyo.  She holds a Senior Intermediate level certificate in the Iyengarmethod.  But aside from all her accomplishments, Nancy is a lovely person to be around.  She’s calm, non-judgmental, funny, and intelligent.  She reads a lot.  She also disliked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for the same reason I did.  Neither of us enjoyed the sexual violence scenes. You can turn on the tv at any time of day and find a channel showing a film or show about a woman being menaced.  Why would anyone want to read more graphic descriptions of this masculinist torture?

I met a woman at a feminist function who raved about the trilogy.  I couldn’t understand why.  I like that they’re set in Scandinavia, because my mother was Norwegian.  And the little mystery about the photo frames was somewhat interesting.  But it took me a long time to get into the plot, which became a page-turner only because I had already invested so much time into the book.  But I really didn’t enjoy the blow-by-blow descriptions of violent rape.  I don’t mind graphic descriptions of sex.  In fact I like them. And I have no political beef with porn, in general, but simply do not personally get off on this particular type.  This seems to be the type that people who like to say they’re against porn really like.  The quasi-feminist heroine gives them an excuse to indulge in this stuff they otherwise wouldn’t let themselves read.  They’re against rape and sexual violence against women,  but perfectly happy to spend hours reading and imagining it.   Indeed, they’re enthralled.  Well, I don’t enjoy it and feel unhappy when I have to experience more of it than necessary, either on screen or in a book.  Rant over.

I’m home now, exhausted.  I’m having a glass of excellent unoaked Chardonnay from Leroux vineyards,  halfway between here and my excellent yoga class.  I just ate an entire spaghetti squash, baked and served with butter and salt. My soup from last night, by the way, turned out to be excellent.

I’m going to end on this excellent note.

Edgy


So for three days now I’ve been rewriting the introduction and it is not going well.  I have written I think one paragraph that I like.  And I honestly do not know what else should go into it.  Enough introduction.  I am so heartily sick of writing the introduction.

The sun starts to hit the table where I work, in my brother’s kitchen, at about 3 pm, glaring off the screen and making it pretty uncomfortable to work.  I took a long break and drove up into the Grand Mesa National Forest, which you can only access by miles of dirt road.   Pretty awesome.  The road starts out through a valley bordered by a rim of rock that runs along the hills, winding through ranches with airplane-sized watering tractors, and long bunches of cedar and scrubby brush, and then heads upward so steeply that even my brother’s enormous truck slipped on the gravel at times.  I hadn’t put it into 4-wheel drive yet, trying to save gas.   After about 10 miles the ranches dropped out and there was just open sagebrush sea and scrub, up ahead in the far hills a forest of gold.  And then I was in the aspen, all apricot shimmer and white trunks, and nearly hit a very black cow and its calf.   On I drove over a road that got markedly worse, so bad that I had to slow down and roll over the rocks and valleys.  I reached Bailey’s Reservoir at about 4.  It is really just a lake nestled into the skirt of a small and barren valley.  Beautiful, but dark.  The sky was overcast, threatening to rain.  There was one bright yellow aspen against the black-green firs.  The ground was rust brown, mottled with cow-pies.  Little breeze.   I was away from the road, away from the truck, and tucked back into the woods, just the way I like to be.  Not a sound except for one weird cry that could have been a coyote or a crazy human. I guess it spooked me, because I didn’t want to stay there.  Maybe it was too quiet, deafeningly silent, after that.  There was no breeze, and I was too far away from the cows to hear them.  I regretted I had not brought the dogs.  It was so quiet that my brain started to make up sounds–to hear the buzz of the highway, or cars, or other kinds of urban noise.  These fantoms passed away.  An airplane thundered pass and it took a long time for the sound to fade.  But then it did, and all was silent again

I drove further down into the valley, had a smoke, and headed back home.  Then I began to feel irritated with my cowardice, turned around, and headed back up to the lake.  But I couldn’t stay there.

I turned around again and drove downhill about a mile, across a rugged washboard road, got out, propped an easel against a rock, sat, smoked, and looked.  I could see way down across the Grand Mesa and out towards the West Elk Mountains and the flatland where Highway 92 runs from Hotchkiss to Delta.  I was way up on 3100 Road.

Even though I enjoyed the softness of the aspen trees that had already shed their leaves feathering up against the evergreens and the broad swathes of gold behind them, and the valley spilling out below me; even though I was happily straddling a granite boulder like a horse, I couldn’t simply sit and be.  Too edgy.  Needed to move, get back, reach home before dark, before the rain.  Plus in this spot I could hear the cattle lowing, and they annoyed me.

They annoyed me more on the way back down, because they all seemed to have decided to go somewhere on the road at the same time.  Dinner?  There must have been thirty or forty of them, all told, on the way back.  All different colors, browns and tans, creams, and russets and blacks, bulls and cows and calves.  They frequently stopped right in the middle of the road, turned their enormous bodies sideways and stared at the headlights.  When I finally got through them all, and drove a little further down the mountain, I saw one pure white young cow grazing among the aspen.

I also saw hawks, and chipmunks, and deer.  I think they were deer.  Could have been elk.  One froze by the roadside, so I stopped and looked into her eyes until she decided I was no threat and moved on.  She had enormous ears.

Once I had a dream that three animals came to me, and when I awakened I fancied that they were my spirit animals, or totems.  They were an owl, a jackal, and a doe.  I saw the face of the doe this afternoon.

I’m making soup with last night’s creamed corn (I made it from fresh cobs), tomatoes that come from my garden here, caramelized onions and carrots, and sweet potato.  The broth is water-based. Since I’ve sworn off all processed foods I couldn’t use a cube, so I took a chicken breast out of the freezer and popped it in.  I made this before I left for my drive.  When I got back the chicken was tender enough and cool enough to shred with my fingers.  I poured another cup or so of water and about half a cup of wine into the broth, and it has been simmering for the past 40 minutes or so. I will have to let you know how it turned out.

Republicans wage class warfare for the rich


Meteor Blades, a writer for Daily Kos, has composed such a cogent, brief summary of the current economic situation in the United States, that I want to reproduce it in full:

Recession definitely over for some

by Meteor Blades

Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 07:22:03 AM PDT

As noted in Banana republic last week, the Census Bureau reported that 49.4 percent of all income in 2009 went to Americans in the top 20 percent of the population – those making $100,000 or more a year. The top 5 percent of Americans got 22 percent of total income. On the other hand, people falling below the federal poverty line earned 3.4 percent. The poorest of the poor, those under half the poverty line, have hit record numbers. The rich-poor ratio clocked in for 2009 at 14.5 to 1, a big jump in the continuation of a skewing that makes the U.S. the most unequal in income among the developed democracies.

There are plenty of other grim statistics in the Census reporttoo, except for those folks on the top of the heap. At the Center for American Progress, Michael Linden and Heather Bousheydug into them and found one interesting tidbit. While every income category – rich to poor – took hits during the first year of the Great Recession, in 2009, the upper 5 percent managed to average an increase in their income of $1800, and the upper 20 percent boosted their average income by about half that.

The other quintiles saw their incomes continue to fall.

Median household income continued to slide from 2008 to 2009, falling by $335. In fact, the median household has lost almost $2,200 in annual income since the recession began. That is the largest two-year decline in at least 35 years and amounts to a drop of more than 4 percent.

For people in the bottom quintile, most of whom fall under the federal poverty line, the situation, already bad, worsened for the third year in a row, putting one out of five children into poverty and lowering the already low average income of their parents by another 3.3 percent.

What is the Republican response to this growing income inequality and steadily worsening impoverishment that has put the rich-poor ratio at its worst level in the past 110 years? Dumping the minimum wage for the poor. Cutting taxes for the rich to create jobs overseas. Trashing Medicaid. And putting a $2000 deductible on Medicare.

Sounds like a plan. But be sure not to call it class warfare.

  • ::
  • Being with


    I woke up a lot earlier than I had meant to this morning and was driven out of bed by remorse and anxiety.  I knew that I had not quite gotten out what I had meant to say in my previous post, and wanted to address it.  It took me all day to figure out how to do it.

    I simply deleted everything that I didn’t want to say, or, rather, that I didn’t want to be recorded as having written.

    This must be a disease peculiar to writers and politicians and members of the clergy: the compulsion to pontificate and the equally powerful anxiety about being held to one’s utterances.   This is a desire to be seen and heard that ceaselessly fights with the worry that they will see you and know your flaws.  And then they will stop listening to, or reading you, and you will no longer be able to pay the bills, and then they will think bad thoughts about you.   They might, for example, think that you are not a nice person.  Or they might think that you are rude, or unkind, or uncouth, or clumsy, or left-handed, or insane.  But the worst thing that they could possibly think about you is that you are not smart.  For two reasons:

    Either: because smart is what you are selling in this business.  Smart characterizes the commodity. And certain of your colleagues in this business will no longer associate with you because your lack of smartness might make them look less smart.  Smart defined,  of course, not as “really well turned out” or “put together,” but rather as “hyper-intelligent,” “brilliant.”

    Or: because you yourself are really invested in being perceived as smart due to some terrible insecurity.  I think it is called imposter syndrome.  It is the fear that they will see through the pose, the mask, the pretence of knowledge, scientia, truth,  revelation, salvation.  You don’t actually know what salvation or sapientia, sophia, wisdom, is, and you have a sneaking suspicion that you have been faking it all this time and they will find you out at last.  And then they will stop liking you.  And then you will be alone.

    And then? And then you will have to find different friends, and these friends could be human or animal or plant or mineral.

    I don’t know why I always end up careening in this direction of saccharine preachiness in the pedagogical mode.  I’m not really that comfortable with it.  I doubt myself all the time, and wish that I were more certain about things than I am.

    Like most people, I want to come to a quick conclusion, a moral of the story, because I  am attached to binary oppositions: dumb and smart, black and white, male and female, right and wrong, sane and crazy, rational and emotional, right and left, conservatives and radicals, acred and  profane, sight and blindness, sun and moon, light and darkness, up and down, west and east, north and south, climbing and falling, dry and wet, hot and cold, salty and sweet, outside and inside.  These are the coordinates with which we map our universe, our experience of reality.  I know in my heart that they are both against and for one another, that they are together, not really separate.  The truth is far more complicated, far muddier.

    I know this because I feel it but can’t quite articulate what It is.

    Well, some of us can, or pretend do.  I think the job, the duty that one takes on when one signs up to be a minister of the word in either a church or a university, is to pretend to know the truth.  Popular preachers and professors are good at explaining everything they know, and how it all hangs together, and passing this off as CORRECT.  For they know as well as I do that we need to make a profit in order to survive in this particular economic system, and that therefore it pays to be a charlatan who can deliver the package, THE TRUTH,  in easily digestible chunks.

    Sometimes I don’t know what the fuck I’m thinking or doing.  I don’t always take responsibility for my mistakes, and I should.  Look.  I’m trying.  Seriously.  But it is not clear to me than an apology is what is needed here, but rather something more like a tirade.  But I can’t really work myself up into the lather of it all, because I never quite believe what I’m saying. And, yes,  I find this smug posture of ambivalence and fascination with ambiguity and “greyness” and fuzziness incredibly annoying, too.

    So, fine! Grand denial, radical refusal to get carried away, big deal.  Haven’t we seen this all before in Hamlet?  And he’s an idiot.  And so is Romeo, and lots of the handsome, dashing types in Shakespeare.   The handsome, dashing type is usually such an asshole, so pleased with himself.  But you can find the exact same attitude of superior put-upon-ness in the working classes, or in among any oppressed group.  They can display the same dramatic self-indulgence and refusal to take responsibility for the mess that we have all, together, gotten into. All this posturing, by women, by men, by blacks, by whites….

    I’m starting to pontificate again, and so it’s best to stop.

    Being alone in Colorado


    2 October 2010

    My mother died on this day 30 years ago.

    Being alone in Colorado during the day.

    When I’m in Pittsburgh I’m immersed in noise.  City noise–boom boxes and explosive car radios, trash trucks, jack hammers, car alarms, planes, helicopters,  that incredibly irritating back-up sound that goes Beep, Beep, Beep, insanely, driving you insane; trucks driving or idling, for no apparent reason,  buses, motorcycles, leaf blowers, people walking down the street who converse by shouting at one another from either side of the road.  In the 19th century the steam engine was thought to be a kind of devil, roaring through the world and practically tearing people’s ears off.  But it seems to me that the devils of the 20th and early 21st centuries are machines powered by gasoline.

    When I “relax” I turn on the television, usually quite loud so that I can hear it over the noise in my neighborhood, and when I go “out” to “relax” and have a drink, I go into a bar where there is usually a television blaring or music drowning out the silence that city people have apparently no ability to deal with.  And speaking of bars.  It’s annoying enough that there is a television to deal with, but what I don’t understand is why the t.v. always has to be tuned to golf or baseball or football?  Why can’t it be Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Six Feet Under or Battlestar Galactica?  Let it be CNN or even that republican machine, Fox News.  Are city bars only populated by sports fans?

    But here, where I am now, I hear virtually nothing but the sound of my own breathing, the dogs, three of them, following me here and there, their panting, the cat meowing to be let in the door that he knows he doesn’t usually go through, the wind, if there is any, the very rare car passing by.  If I want to hear something, I can play something on my computer, through itunes.  There’s a t.v. here but nothing on.  Nothing means: nothing I care to watch or listen to. And the radio isn’t much better.  Colorado stations seem to feature NPR most hours of the week, but so much of that programming seems to have to do with authors excessively pleased with themselves, who really don’t have that much to say, in fact.  Or that idiotic program, Car Talk, with the brothers whose laughter is so obviously forced it grates.  They don’t laugh because they’re amused, but rather because they’re uncomfortable.  Or so it sounds.  Why would anyone want to listen to the sound of forced, uncomfortable laughter, when one could listen to silence in one’s car or house?

    But how rare is it to “hear” silence, to be able to think for one’s self, in quietude?  We live in cacophony and wonder why it is that we are continually getting sick from “stress.”

    I’m not lonely.  There are three dogs here–Bear, Blackjack, and Kea, in order of importance.  Bear is a good friend, even though he begs too much.  Blackjack snores in his sleep and I find the sound comforting.  Kea is always way more excited to see me that I think she will be.

    I love being able to do exactly what I feel like doing.  I can walk, dance, cook, and drink. I drink as much wine as I feel like drinking.  I’ve been cooking a lot and finding that I have lost my taste for meat.  It is good to be alone; to be with myself for an extended period of time, in the quiet, without a schedule, without quantification, just being.  I go to be around 8:30 and get up at 5 or 6.  I live as I want to.  It is wonderful.

    Being alone in Colorado at night.

    I had to go to Hotchkiss this afternoon and didn’t turn back until after dark.   Halfway home I stopped along the road, turned off the engine and the lights, and got out to look at the sky.  A dog at a nearby farm was barking but it fell silent.  So many stars.   It had been a long time since I had seen the Milky Way.

    It’s hard to comprehend how we could be “in there” when, from earth, it looks as though it is “up” or “out there.”   And when I remember that it is not a water-cloud, but a star-cloud, and that the opacity of “out there” is more or less how our “over here” looks to the beings on that side of the galaxy, it’s harder to grasp.

    Is it like the relationship between Self and Other?  We dismiss or underestimate or simply forget about or try to kill the Other because it is other, because we can’t stand the difference in the color of their skin, or the way they eat, or walk, or express affection, or believe, or vote, or fish.  What we’re missing out on when we allow these differences between to divide us is that we are not “here” and “there” but, rather, together, bound up in the same web, the same world.  There’s a German word for this, mitsein.  It means “being with”  So, it is possible to say, in German, not only “ich bin,” I am, which is a pretty powerful thing to say, actually.  But it is  also possible to say “ich bin mit,” I am with.

    As I got back on the road I thought about how insignificant I was, in my tiny little car, soft flesh clothed in an exoskeloton driving along on a capillary.  So often I think of myself as the center of the universe, a “me” an individual, isolated sun, and that what I am doing is of infinite importance, and must come before all other things.  The sky above seemed so vast, so much greater than this personal scenario, this whole world. But then I thought about the complexity beneath the tires on the road, and beneath and beside the road, all the birds and skunks and snakes and lizards and toads, and the insects that they eat, and the hives and burrows that the creatures build,  and the thread-like paths that ants leave, and the smaller ones, the mites, the tiny larvae, all busily going about and around And then I thought about smaller things that you can only see under microscopes, and all the organisms that make up dirt, in which the plants grow.  So I felt better.

    And when I got home the three dogs were so happy to see me they danced. Blackjack ran around the yard with his enormous teddy bear in his mouth, and Kea wagged her whole back body at me, and Bear was love-dumb as always.  I laughed at them and said, “Hello, Friends!”