The dog days are over

My first summer in Vermont is winding down.

The days are still warm, but the mornings are crisp now.  At a barbeque this week, we all put on our sweaters and hoodies as the evening wore on.

I'm enjoying the subtle shift, the touch of a chill when I head outside to walk Jammer. 

These months have flown by, and with our constant travel and wedding planning, I've hardly had time to appreciate the gorgeous days here.  Even so, I'm looking forward to Fall.  To sweaters and the crunch of leaves on the ground under my feet, to apples and pumpkin chili. To not planning my wedding. Did I say that?

But for now, I'll soak up these last few days of t-shirts and flip-flops.


What are you doing these last days of summer?

Red Rocks Photo Walk

Our friend Sai was in town this weekend (yay!), and we were lucky to have gorgeous weather for all our outdoor activities - including lounging (and shopping) at the Burlington Farmers Market, hanging out with friends at a potluck, and visiting Red Rocks Park in South Burlington for a short hike and some Lake Champlain beach time. 

I haven't been snapping many nature shots these days because we've had such a busy social calendar, so I was delighted to step onto the trail with camera in hand. 

What did you do this weekend?



Jammer in Motion

It has come to my attention recently that all of the pictures I've shared of Jammer look like he's some sort of constantly mournful fellow who just sits around staring at us with his big sad eyes, which is most definitely not the truth! 

jammer 3
So when we were out playing in the snow the other day, I attempted to capture some shots of him in his outside, gleeful state. He adores the snow. There's something about it - maybe the cold against his paws - that gives him a little jolt. He's walking along, he'll glance back at me, and then bam! he's off, bounding through the snow like a maniac. 

jammer 1
I haven't been able to capture the moment with my camera because he usually surprises me, and I'm too busy laughing to get him in focus.

jammer 5 In these, I've let him go off exploring, and then I call him back to me. He comes running all excited for the treat he knows he's going to get. 

jammer 2
You might not be able to tell, but that's his gleeful face.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend filled with joy and surprising pleasures!


The Long Road Home


Whew.  That was a long time away from the interwebs.  There's only so much you can do with a smartphone.  While driving a 17 foot uhaul. Actually, there's nothing you can do with a smartphone while driving a uhaul. The uhaul requires both hands on the wheel, undivided attention. No smartphones. Or dumb phones, for that matter.  

My mom flew up to DC on Thursday night.  And thank goodness she did.  I never would have been able to do the drive without her.  She provided constant, very necessary, moral support.  

The movers came Friday morning, the cleaners came after that, the landlord came after that, and we were on the road at 2:15 in the afternoon heading for Philadelphia.  I drove.  Mom navigated, which was a more intense task than your average passenger navigation job.  Because my eyes had to be glued - glued - to the road, my mom was in charge of looking out for signs, alerting me to when I would need to merge, etc. Once we were on the interstate and not traversing narrow city streets, things were a bit better and my mom could ever so slightly loosen her death grip on the door handle.  And I was able to gently wiggle my fingers, which were in danger of molding into the shape of the steering wheel.  We both started to breathe again.

Driving on the interstate was a bit like riding on the pendulum of an emotional grandfather clock.  I swung from terror to rockstar status back to terror again in a matter of seconds.  Merging onto the interstate, I'd be petrified.  Cars were coming so fast.  It was hard to get my bearings about how much space I needed to merge, and then I DID IT!  I'm a rockstar!  Woo-hoo!!  Look at me!!  And then HOLY GOD, WHAT IS THAT CAR DOING?!  Does that driver not understand that I am COMPLETELY INCOMPETENT AND THEY ARE RISKING THEIR LIFE BY ZIPPING IN FRONT OF ME?!?!  But hey, I didn't hit them!  I'm a rockstar!  Hurrah!  And I just broke 57 mph.  Look at me!  AAAHHHH!  MY LANE IS ENDING!!!  I HAVE TO MERGE AT 57 MPH!!!  And so on...

The original plan had been to stop in Philly to pick up some things we were storing at Navah's parents' house and then spend the night.  But once we started seeing weather reports for the dreaded wintry mix during the night, we knew we'd be staying there on Saturday if we didn't push on.  So, we loaded up the rest of our stuff in the truck, ate a quick dinner, and got Back on the road.  Navah's dad helped us find an easier route to the interstate that would involve fewer narrow streets, and Navah's mom drove in front of us to lead us there.  By 8:20 or so, we were back on the highway, and I hung in there with the driving until 1:30 in the morning, when we got to a pet friendly apartment in Albany, NY. That's right - Jammer was with us, curled up in a ball between my mom and I for the whole trip.  Thank you, anti-motion sickness medication.
Jammer in the snow
We woke up Saturday morning to about 3 inches of snow on the ground and a gentle snowfall still coming down.  We couldn't see the interstate from our hotel, so it was difficult to know exactly what the conditions were.  Driving the truck on a clear road had taken all my faculties, so a snowy or icy road didn't sound exciting - especially for my mom, who didn't have the benefit of experiencing my own growing confidence in my ability to drive the truck  (it was actually growing).  We did some reconnaissance by asking every available hotel employee what their drive in had been like, and at noon - after giving the plows some time to do their thing and other drivers some time to warm up the roads for us - we set out.  Except for one slippery bit (when I maneuvered the truck like the rockstar I was), the roads turned out to be just fine.  In fact, the weather meant that not as many people were out driving, which was 100% fabulous for me.
Big Bertha
Since narrower roads were more stressful for me, we decided on a route that took us a bit north of Burlington to Plattsburgh, NY, where we could take a car ferry across Lake Champlain.  That turned out to be the second best decision of the trip.  (The first was deciding to push on to Albany - we definitely would've gotten stuck in Philly.)  We pulled into Plattsburgh, got some gas, grabbed some lunch, and headed to the ferry. We got our ticket, drove right on, and they were pulling away before I even had time to turn off the engine.  For the next 15 minutes, we ate lunch with the gorgeous view of Lake Champlain in the background and exclaimed over our good fortune.
Ferry 3
When we pulled off on the other side, we were in Vermont!  I might have gotten a little teary-eyed.  But no time for that - we still had about 30 minutes of driving until we got to my new home.  On the way, we drove on a causeway and passed people ice fishing. Ice fishing!  With the little huts and everything.

And then, we were here.  In Burlington, pulling onto my new street, looking at my new home and my Navah.

The rest is for another day.


See you soon!


2011, I bid you adieu

Jammer 2012
Jammer contemplating the new year with the help of my crochet project

It's been a long time since I made a New Year resolution.  I've mostly just allowed the years to slip by.  But this year, I felt more reflective, perhaps because beginning to write 2012 on all my documents coincides with leaving my job and moving to a different state, reuniting with Navah and figuring out what comes next for me.  With all the upheaval, I was drawn to a worksheet by Andrea Scher of Mondo Beyondo fame

I sat down with a cup of tea this weekend and wrote out some of my thoughts about the year.  It was a challenging one for me.  I was often overcome, simultaneously, by anger, guilt, disappointment, shame - mostly with myself.  I felt bereft of gratitude, which is perhaps the saddest state of all, and the one that left me feeling most ashamed.  I was stuck for much of the year - in my own muckiness, wearing the evil twin sister of rose-colored glasses. 

On the Mondo Beyondo worksheet, I had a difficult time answering the questions about courage and strength, about bravery, about the things I was proud of.  I read a lot these days about having compassion - for ourselves, for others.  Practicing that compassion meant that I searched hard for those places where I could be proud, where I could see strength. 

But it also meant that I looked in the eye as best I could those places where I am disappointed, where I have let myself down.  After all, if I can't admit my own failings this year, how will I find the courage to forgive myself for them? 

In the process I determined that, more than anything else, 2011 was a year of learning.  I learned a great deal about the person that I am and about the person that I'm not.  I discovered some things about myself that have been difficult to accept, and some things that I can't quite accept yet.  I'd like to believe that these experiences of coming face to face with our own limits, our own flaws and human-ness, are also the experiences that keep us moving towards more deeply inhabiting our most authentic selves. 

There was an image that used to plague me when I was in treatment for my eating disorder.  I remember telling my therapist that if I were a drawing, my whole life I would've been a tidy pen-and-ink portrait with crisp lines.  But once I developed my eating disorder - and really once I entered treatment and started diving in to figure out what was wrong in there, I felt like someone was dripping water on the drawing and the lines were blurring, and I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to be anymore.  It was terrifying. 

But the blurring was also what made it possible for me to begin drawing my own lines, and eventually to trust that I could sometimes exist in a space with no lines at all. 

This weekend I pulled out a manifestation board that I created last year around this time, right before I started my job, the one that I'm leaving now.  I had sensed the need to speak out to the universe my heart's desires.

Manifestation Board

So often this year, I felt that same old fear from twelve years ago that my lines were blurring, that I wasn't sure what my picture looked like, and that I needed to know.  Inside I flailed about for some grounding, for some affirmation that I was on the right path.  Looking at that board again this weekend, I thought about how difficult it can be to trust in our own process, to make peace with the blurriness, to believe that the place we are is the place we're supposed to be. 

2011 was moving me step by tiny step toward my manifestations.

The end of the Mondo Beyondo worksheet challenged me to set an intention for the new year, to name it.  For me, 2012 will be the Year of Trust.  Trust in the universe, in the people around me, in the messiness of life, and in myself. 

As challenging as 2011 was, I enter 2012 magnificently blessed.  I'm engaged to the woman I love, moving to a place that warms my heart (even if it freezes my toes!), with a dog that I adore. I'm significantly less in debt than when I started the year, and I've had the truly remarkable support of wonderful family and friends through all my whining.  I've taken a writing class, continued blogging, discovered a love of photography, made new friends, and watched my sister thrive in Rwanda. 

So, although I'm won't pretend that I'm sad to be saying goodbye to 2011, I'm not slamming the door on it. I'm thankful for the gifts and lessons of the year, and I'm practicing forgiveness for the rough parts.

I don't know what 2012 will bring, but I'm trying to lean into that not-knowing-ness.  I suspect I'll find that trusting a bit more will also open me up to being a bit more grateful, a bit more compassionate, a bit more giving, a bit more present.

In the midst of writing this post a few days ago, I told Navah that I was having a really hard time figuring out how to end it (hmmm....kind of like ending 2011?). She hadn't read it but knew the topic.  She suggested "Goooooooo 2012!!!!"

I poo-pooed the idea. "The post is more serious than that," I told her.  But as I come to the end here, I think she might have been right on the money.

Gooooooooo 2012!!!


Jam on the Hill

Several months ago, I discovered Yellow Brick Home, the gorgeous Chicago blog of husband and wife team Kim and Scott.  Their blog has become a regular read for me - I love Kim's friendly and approachable writing style and her gorgeous photos.  I like to think that we'd be friends if I lived in the Windy City.  Their blog posts range from awesome room redesigns to adorable photos of their pets.   And they have a shop where Kim creates tiny custom portraits of four-legged family members.  Which brings me to the purpose of this post, which is to share with you (a) some adorable photos of our dog and (b) the fabulously perfect portrait that Kim made of our little man, the Jams himself.

Navah made fun of me for wanting a portrait of the little man - I think she was invisioning a giant watercolor of Jammer romping through a field of daisies or posing in a little doggie tie.  Even after I showed her the website, she wasn't convinced.  But once the little portrait arrived and I set it up on the mantle, she was sold.  I mean, who wouldn't be?

Jammer on mantel
It kills me.  Just the cutest thing ever, and Kim captured his personality so perfectly!  I sent her several pictures and told her that I really wanted her to work from this one:

Jammer Hike
It's from a hiking trip in Maryland, but that particular over the shoulder look is one that we see all the time from Jammer.  He likes to run ahead to check things out, but then he'll stop and turn back to make sure we're with him.  Adorable.

Kim loved the over-the-shoulder shot, but in her infinite wisdom, she asked if she might use one of the smiley photos to paint his face.  I looked back at the pictures and agreed that it was an excellent idea.  I congratulate myself for knowing a good thought when I see it! Pat on the back for me.

Jammer portrait
She captures both his playfulness and his coyness with this picture.  The result could not be better. 

Unless of course, you're talking about the real thing:

Jammer 3 Jammer and Computer Jammer 2 Jammer napping
And just in case you're wondering, we don't normally dress Jammer - except in the winter when the wind is blistery, and then he has an adorable pea coat.  Or when it's raining, and then he has a very useful yellow rain slicker.  We have shag carpet, folks - keeping him dry is not optional.  I, much to my dismay, have a deep desire to clothe him every day in little doggie shirts with collars and sweaters with dinosaurs on them, but Navah keeps it all at bay.  Right now, he's having some allergy issues, and we put him in some of my smaller t-shirts to keep him from scratching and biting at the itchy spots.  Poor guy.  On the upside, he's channeling his inner 80's teenager. 
Jammer shirt knot
A final thanks to Kim for the awesome portrait.  It looks splendid on our frame wall!
Jammer on wall