Sunday, April 29, 2012

the tale of two coats

Somewhere around the fall of my junior year in college, I wanted a puffy winter coat. They seemed to be in, and I wanted to splurge. So I bought this one for $80 at Maurices and put it on my credit card.

Earlier this winer, I wanted a black and white fitting coat and found one on clearance at Walmart. I paid $13 cash for it.  

It's a tale of two lifestyles, exemplified in coats.

Like most, I have credit card debt. It's ugly, it's burdensome , it's not as bad as some, but it exists.

My feelings about money have changed a lot in the past two years, one year, and the last 6 months. It's MY currency, which is a liberating realization. I control where it goes and what it gets spent on.

I've never been a big spender or an implusive shopper. As a matter of fact, people have had to remind me that "you can't take it all with you," but the two coats resemble a shift in paradigm. From the "I'll get it now and put it on a credit card to pay later" to "I'll wait for the best possible price and then pay cash."

As a result, I've never driven flashy vehicles, nor have had I had the most expansive of wardrobes. If you were to come into my Cottage, you would be greeted by simplicity, homemade furniture and things exactly as I need them.

I've never been one for extravagance so when I needed a fridge, I bought a semi-mini one I found on Craigslist for $25. When I needed a bookshelf, I built one. A dining room table? Built that too. I wanted a headboard so I made one. I currently don't have need for a stove, so I cook everything in a Crockpot. My desk is currently a fold-out table and my loveseat was stored in my mom's garage. I go grocery shopping twice a month and rarely eat out.

For me, it's been about finding confidence in managing my money and then making the most out of what I have.

And I've been blessed in the process.

from my point of view

When Tuck isn't adding to his hoard {dishtowel, rock, heating pad cover, water bottle cap} or chasing a butterfly or dragging a newspaper around the yard, and when Skye isn't digging in the barn for unknown rodents, and when the three of us aren't walking in circles, they're just chillin' and I take photos...

Saturday, April 28, 2012


When it comes to training my dogs, I am not an expert, but I know a few things thanks to professional dog-trainer-friends and Caesar Milan. And the fact that regardless of the dog make up of my little household, I'm the leader of the pack.

In the first 24 hours of Tuck's arrival into my home, he made one thing clear: he is alpha-dog. This was reinforced by an apocolyptic fight between him and Skye on Day 1 that resulted in a large bite mark on my forearm because I decided to manually separate them. This never ends well for me.

After the fight, Tuck thought he was cock of the walk, and if you haven't heard that term, basically he thought he was shiznit. He exhibited his newfound arrogance by refusing to allow Skye in my bedroom.

This was the night he learned that he might be alpha-dog, but I am queen.

Now our arguments have moved onto other topics like shoe- and anything-hard-plastic-chewing. Oh, and that we may rise at 6:30 every other morning, but SATURDAYS ARE AN EXCEPTION. But since we were up, we walked and I wore his ass out, which is just satisfying to see his lumbering self tired. He's like a toddler you wear down for nap/bedtime. And then when they're sleeping, all is peaceful.

In subtle ways, his splash into our realm has changed Skye's and my life a little bit. The dogfood bowl is kept up since that's a fight. We walk a mile EVERY morning. My work days are a tad shorter and I work a little more from home. I say "Tuck! No!" what feels like 50 million times a day. I fill the water bowl more frequently. I bought two kiddie pools instead of one. I photograph two dogs instead of one. I make an extra potty break happen in the middle of the night. 

And then in other ways, we're completely the same. I tell Skye she has to "stay home" and that I love her and I'll see her soon before I leave for work. And I tell Tuck that too. In what is a huge relief, we still road trip together, and in peace. I spend most of my home time sitting outside, as I am now, except I have one shepherd laying next to me and another farther off chewing on a water bottle (guess who that is.)

Tuck's training is coming along splendidly, and I'm sure he'll end up teaching me as much as Skye has, in his own way. He's a willing, eager student, intent on watching my near every move and trying to anticipate what I want him to do next. My fault will be running out of things to teach him.

Tonight when we finished walking - the physical part of our exercise regiment - we moved easily into the mental aspect with what are currently simple commands, like sit.

Skye is never far and follows the orders at a distance, and then runs in during praise time.

Can you see why I feel doted upon?

And then after training (after he's fulfilled a request the first time he's asked, whether it take 10 minutes or 30) we sit and enjoy dinner, the Texas spring wind, and Tuck chews on anything he can find, while Skye lays down beside me.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I'm not a birder, but...

... when a fat cardinal plops himself on the feeder {that was here when you moved in and that you put food in} outside your kitchen window ...

... you take a picture.

Or at least I do.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I'm sitting outside the Cottage with a sock monkey and a shoe tucked under my arm, treasures from Tuck who doesn't understand that this stuff doesn't belong to him. He thinks it does and so he parades around with it until I, yelling, snag it from his mouth and tuck it under my armpit.

I'm thinking tonight, thinking about life and family, thinking about my heart and healing. A friend asked me today how I was. I replied honestly:

I'm mad this morning. I'm mad at my siblings. I'm mad at bitterness and anger that's corrupted their hearts. I'm mad at the things that it's stolen from me. I'm mad that I've (hopefully) temporarily lost my sisters and one of my brothers. I'm mad that I've been excommunicated and that I'm left to deal with the ramifications of their misinformed decisions. I'm just mad.

And I'm hurt.

I'm hurt that my life is moving on, and they're not involved to be a part of it. I'm hurt that I go to text them about all the random stuff I text them about, but I'm halted because I won't get a response. I'm hurt that my heart feels disposable. I'm hurt that I told them this would happen and nobody listened. I'm hurt that we will never be the same. But mostly, today, I'm just mad.

Tonight I wish everything were different.
I wish I hadn't been in a courtroom three weeks ago.
I wish my family had been more honest with each other.
I wish I had been more honest with them.
I wish that arrogance and pride weren't winning.
I wish this were a nightmare and that I'd wake up and my little brother would be beside me, and we'd all be just three days away from a weekend together.
I wish the reality weren't that it'll be a long time before we're all together again.
I wish there was a wake-up call.
I wish that my family's history wasn't being re-written by hate and bitterness.

In the meantime, I wish for grace and peace.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Meet Tuck

I was not joking, ya'll, when I said I wanted a kid, which meant I would end up with plants and another dog. And would you just LOOK at my new baby!
I found him online Thursday night and on Sunday I was driving 3.5 hours (one way) through gorgeous Texas country on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon to pick him up. I could not be more proud.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

it's been one of those days and weeks when...

... the basket of clean laundry that I set on my handmade dining room table still sits there.

... the book that I'll be writing a review for soon hasn't been read.

... my dinner was eaten in shifts. First through the Starbucks drive-thru, and then when a colleague brought me fried rice in a box.

... I spend 6 minutes in my front yard at 10 p.m. playing fetch with Skye. It's my way of saying "Sorry for working so long today, and please don't run laps in the Cottage."

... I execute my housekeeping in 10 minute spurts at the end of long work days because that's all I have energy for.

... conversations with my mom last for four minutes in hushed tones over my work computer.

... I miss my sisters.

... I could barely walk today after two days of working out. Could I be any more out of shape???

... plans and dreams and aspirations seem so close.

... this glass of wine and conversations with two friends in one night is enough to call this day good, and go to bed.

Saturday, April 14, 2012 family is dysfunctional

I heard a man pray for my family and I felt as if I could have listened to him for hours.

The pieces of my family need a lot of prayer right now. Hatred has fragmented us and we've splintered off to our respective corners, each of us feeling justified in the wounds we're licking.

I've lost track of time in the middle of the bitterness swirling around me.

Has it been a week since my mother was dry-heaving in sobs on the phone? Or was that 10 days? Or has it been 10 days since the last time I've spoken to one of my sisters and only a week since half of my family defriended me on Facebook?

There's a problem with bitterness and hatred, many problems. I've been told it's like taking poison and expecting the other person to die, yet you're the one withering in gross death from the inside out.

The beauty of bitterness is that there's an anecdote and hopefully soon we'll all be taking that medicine. Maybe not together, probably not synchronized, but perhaps free of hate, free of malice and able to live our lives uninhibited by our own weaknesses.

If you were to ask me how I'm doing, I would say I'm blessed by so many people, I love every member of my dysfunctional family, and I'm hopeful. I'm hopeful that one day, maybe sooner than later, we'll be put back together.

Without hope, what else is there?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

where have I been?

I've been watering my plants and hoping they're not dying.

I've been to a funeral, and I've been in a courtroom.

I've been sitting on a picnic table, thinking, and I've been working 13-hour days.

I've been stressed and I've been sad. I've been mad and I've been reflective.

I've been losing my desire to bite my nails and I've been eating veggie subs.

I've been streaking my hair and showering.

I've been watching House and brewing coffee.

I've been working 13 days in a row and I've been tired.

I've been in meetings, I've been producing newspapers, I've been hanging out with my dog.

I've been opening bottles of wine with hammers, and I've been calling my dog to lie next to me.

I've been planning and organizing, emailing and writing.

I've been grieving with those who have lost, and I've been laughing with others who are laughing at me.

I've been bad, I've been avoiding exercise and eating M&Ms. I've been worried, I've been in pain, I've been meditating.

I've been thinking in bed too much.

I've been having brain farts and I've been honest about them. I've been chopping scorpions in half (in my Cottage) and I've been throwing their bodies outside.

I've been bad at being here, and I've been blessed beyond measure with the friends in my life.

I've been good.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

went to the big 'D' and I do mean Dallas

Go big or go home.

We went big.

I spent the weekend in Dallas at the annual Associated Press awards banquet and it was amazing on many, many levels. The 4.5-star hotel; the food; the multiple open bars; the waiters carrying trays of wine; the esteemed journalists present; the room service at 3 a.m. after an open bar; the panelists; the conversations with journalists much smarter than I; making connections, friends...and...winning.

We won 13 awards over the course of the weekend, starting Saturday at a luncheon. Some of our reporters and photographers won individual awards and our entire staff won project awards. And then, the big one, announced Sunday at noon.

It was the announcement of the Newspaper of the Year awards in the four categories of newspapers (dependent on the size of Sunday circulation.)

I am pleased and so doggone proud to say that for the first time (after placing second place for the last two years), my newspaper is Newspaper of the Year.

We did it.

The sweat, the stress, the proverbial blood, the tears, the frustrations, the little victories along the way, the late nights, pushing deadlines, day-in and day-out toiling...when it was all weighed and measured, we were found to be the best.

I got a bit teary eyed over it when I was driving alone in my car late Sunday evening. It wasn't the winning, or really even the prestige. It was the nods of respect from people, and the quiet trace of a thought:

You have what it takes.

Maybe I do. Maybe I'll lose it one day. But for now, and for the last 365 days, we did it.