Sunday, January 12, 2014

King of the Wild Frontier

At this time a year ago, I was well into the dog search process. Lady needed a buddy.

I knew I wanted a smaller dog this time around. But also a grown dog, not a puppy. So I looked and looked... and I came across a pup on the OKC Animal Welfare site that caught my eye.

I went to check him out, but alas, he was gone to an adoption event that day. So I prowled around the shelter and came THISCLOSE to taking home a little black lab puppy. But I decided to head out to the adoption event, since I'd come so far to see this dog.

I walked in and immediately saw him. He caught my eye and stared me down. I walked through the rows of dogs, trying to play it cool (why???), when the woman next to me said, "I think that little guy likes you." I walked him around the store. He peed on everything (men). I took him by the big dogs to see how he'd react and he was curious and friendly.

So I signed the papers and took him home. And promptly told him his new name was Davy Crockett.

In three words- he is brave, cute, and naughty. This dog knows no fear... which I worry will be to his detriment one day. I admire his courage and his strength. He has been through some tough health problems this year that have broken my heart, but his spirit is strong! He is also the most wonderful cuddle bug. I use him as a heating pad as needed. But boy he is naughty. Once in a while he gets inspired to just RUN AWAY. Tsk tsk, dog. He lives up to his name, I suppose.

He and Lady have gotten close. I have noticed that they cuddle together a lot now, and really enjoy being together. 

I hope for many years of adventures to come.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

A new chapter

I don't like negativity, because I think it can so easily snowball. That's why I half hate the fact that I keep poo-pooing 2013. Bad things happened. But what a shame to brush off the good things that happened. My nephew went from an infant to the most delightful and slightly monstrous child. I found out a new nephew is on the way. I added a naughty but sweet pup to our little wolf pack. I started a new and challenging job. I moved to a farm. :)

But I think it does help us to compartmentalize and think of chapters of life in hyperbole. Mostly because it reminds us and gives us hope that the difficult times will end. That the road will turn and the tides will shift. And those symbols are important for our psyche and for us to move forward.

This afternoon I sage smudged the house. Do I believe that the smoke from the herb literally purified the house? No. But I needed a visual, tangible ritual to mark the occasion of this new year. I walked through my house and prayed over every room and the facets of my life that they signify. And it felt right.

Life today isn't that much different than life yesterday. But I'm thinking of it as a new chapter to the novel of my life. The story picks up from where it left off on the page before, but it feels new and marks a difference.

And you know what I realized as I reflected today? The events I have viewed as failures over the past 12 months have also marked times that I took a chance. As of today I will strive to look back not at failures but as times I tried.

Here's to 2014 and the chance to renew ourselves day to day.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A year of learning- no apologies

2013 has been a difficult year. I was tempted to say that by the end of January, but tried to give it a chance. Then I wanted to say it in July, but again I held out hope. But as December runs its course, it feels fair game.

Different circumstances, some bad and some good, have just made this an extremely stressful year. 

Hopefully over the next few weeks as I reflect and look forward, I want to write down some of what I've learned and experienced, and hope to use in the future.

One of the stressful parts of this year was my job. I went from a job that was "good" but boring me to death, to a job I really enjoy but is very challenging. 

I've had ridiculously good career luck over the past 6 years. I am grateful every day, no matter how stressful things become, because I know that others struggle in that arena. But as I am now officially a 30 something professional woman who has found success, there are a whole new world of lessons to be learned.

One that I stand by very strongly, especially in the events over the past year, is to not apologize. Of course I don't mean to not apologize when you are wrong or have wronged someone, but I think that at least in the part of the world I have grown up in, women are supposed to be retiring and somewhat shrinking violets, and always put others' feelings above their own.

Well, at some point I noticed myself apologizing for things that that I absolutely should not have. I won't apologize for my success. I won't apologize for good work I do. I won't apologize that my work was recognized over someone else's. I won't apologize for doing my best.

Of course this plays into personal decisions, as well. For example, I am always apologizing- whether in my head or in actuality- for feeling like a burden to others. This means I never ask for help, and if I do, I laden it with apologizes for even asking. I apologize for having feelings. I apologize for not being enough. I apologize for both my strengths and weaknesses. Do you see how twisted this can make a person?

Of course there are times to be truly sorry. Ironically, when I stopped apologizing for things I shouldn't be sorry for, it brought some things into clearer focus that I did need to apologize for and address in my life.

Growing is hard. 

Monday, June 03, 2013

Epilogue- Anatomy of a day in tornado alley

It seems only right to be transparent about the events that happened in the days following my last blog post, because those days are probably the most nervous I have been during storms in a long time.

Thursday, the day I posted that article, I left work 2 hours early because a large storm was heading towards my house. I was afraid that if I didn't get there before it hit, I didn't know when I'd be able to get there. And of course my dogs were in the house and that concerned me as well.

I flew home. One of the towns I drive through on my commute is Noble, and right as I got through Noble, the weather radio app on my phone went off- tornado warning in Noble! Eep! I hit the gas and kept watching the rear view mirror (PSA- I would never advocate running from a tornado in the car, but there was no other option at that moment).

This is how I felt driving home. Hyperbole.
I got home, found my landlord and we just watched the weather. I packed my hidey-hole bag, had the dogs ready to run, and we just watched. The sky was that sickly green and perfectly still, which everyone around here knows is the setting for disaster.We got stupid lucky, because conditions were perfect for dropping a tornado, but none ever came down. STRESSFUL.

Friday we knew the same conditions were set. I left work at 4:30 because everyone in the metro was told to get home and get off the roads. When I left work, no storms had started. By the time I got home a half hour later, major storms had erupted all across El Reno. It happened so quickly.

From where I live, I could look east and see clear skies, south west and see crazy clouds coming up from that direction, and north west, it was just blackness. That is the direction of OKC metro, El Reno, etc. It was sickening. It was also sickening to hear early reports of people trapped and dying on the roads in El Reno.

Looking south west
It was awful to watch miles of headlights of people trying to get out of town and stuck in rush hour traffic when these huge storms were coming this way. Horrifying to see the storm rip through the same area of Moore that was just hit a couple of weeks ago. Then to see it turn south and come through Norman with 90 mph winds and heading our way, just as the sun went down.

Thankfully we just had a very loud storm. Wind blew crap all across the property, but it could have been much worse.

I'm tired of this. This has been an oppressive few weeks. But there are many people I'm thankful for and want to give a shout out to on my blog, for whatever it's worth.


First responders- always heroes. Over the past few weeks first responders have also stepped forward in the form of teachers and every day citizens who took it upon themselves to save lives and rescue people.

Meteorologists- These folks take some (well deserved) ribbing for much of the year, but what they have been able to do in regards to storm preparedness and advanced warnings is pretty incredible. (Note- there are some acting completely irresponsibly who I hope are held accountable)

Storm Chasers- Ok, these people are crazy. You have to have some screws loose to chase storms. But because of their work, many people are safe and the science of meteorology has progressed. I'm glad I don't have their jobs.

Good people- So many people both locally and across the country have donated so much money, so many items, and so much time to helping folks and animals recover from this mess. It renews your faith in humanity.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Anatomy of a day in tornado alley

A lot of dumb stories have come out since the tornado outbreak asking why people would choose to live in an area like this. Well, it's a dumb question because people live places for a million reasons, and I'm not here to write a sentimental ode to Oklahoma. I do want to document what it's like (from my perspective) to be in an area prone to severe weather during a day of severe weather. Like today.

A little background. I grew up in a tornadoey place in Texas. If you remember a few weeks before the Moore tornado, there was a tornado one town over from my hometown, Granbury, TX.  Growing up, I was terrified of bad weather. I'd get sick to my stomach when a tornado watch started.

So here we are. Here is my line of thinking on this stormy day in May.

So far tornado season has been pretty quiet. Until of course a week and a half ago, when the sky started falling. So since I just moved, I had to come up with my plan. The motto that local meteorologists have ingrained in us is stay alert and have a plan! I have a work plan and a home plan. My new place has an underground storm shelter, so that is pretty fantastic.

So now what. Following my meteorologists on twitter (@themahler @garyeok @nwsnorman). Believing them when they say to take cover. Reading the radar.

Ok that deserves it's own paragraph. I don't know if it's normal for the public to know how to read a radar, but in Oklahoma, you'd better.
Current radar of storms in northern OK

You watch the storm patterns, know how fast it's moving, and just generally stay aware. Meteorology has advanced enough that our people are able to tell us days in advance what days storms will be most likely to form. I feel grateful for that.

Although I mentioned I was terrified of storms growing up, I'm not now. I have a healthy fear and respect when there is something coming towards me or on top of me, but bad weather doesn't make me anxious. I appreciate the rain after this ridiculous drought the past couple of years. I enjoy the light show. But you will never catch me chasing storms or standing on the porch when there is an actual tornado in view.

Which reminds me of another thing that most people outside this region don't seem to understand. The chance of actually seeing/experiencing a tornado is pretty small. I (thankfully) have taken cover dozens of times, but have never seen one. 

So there you go. Stay safe kids. :)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

We rescued each other

One year ago today I moved to Norman. And as soon as my necessities were in my apartment, I drove to Pets and People Humane Society, and brought home a dog that I had met 2 weeks before and had placed a hold on the week before.

Looking at these pics make my cry. This sweet girl had been at the shelter over a year. She had been adopted once and returned. Her name was Sunshine.

I almost didn't even notice her. She wasn't housed with the other big dogs. Instead she was in the office with the people and the little dogs. When I saw her, she was so subdued. I walked up to her crate and she looked forlorn, but licked my hand. I took her out for a walk and she animated.

I'd looked at dogs for a month, and she was my dog. That was it. At the time I didn't know about Black Dog Syndrome. I didn't know the challenges she'd present and the richness she'd bring to my life.

We've gone over 500 miles and we have thousands left to go. :)

Yes, I rescued Lady Bird. But believe me, she rescued me every bit as much.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What can I say that hasn't already been said?

When you realize you're helplessly watching a nightmare unfold, what can you do?

For those reading outside Oklahoma, I just moved from 5 miles from the storm path to about 20 miles south.

It's a fine line between the paradox of deep gratitude  and the heart wrenching loss your neighbors are suffering. I'm so grateful, but so many people are beginning their worst nightmare.

On Monday, the song "Tomorrow will be kinder"  kept going through my mind. More deeply, I kept thinking that tomorrow might not be brighter. In these situations, the fallout can be so much worse as reality sinks in.

People are resilient, but people are also fragile. Yes, Oklahoma will recover. But first we need to accept the grief.

Thanks to everyone who checked in on me and all the people around the nation who have donated to support the area. I'm trying to figure out how to help while not being in the way. Right now it's about donations and finding your niche where you can help. I'm going to see if I can get involved in trying to help lost pets find their owners. I could handle losing my stuff, but if I lost my pets on top of it, I'd lose it.

It's time to grieve and help.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Green acres is the place for me

So we're two weeks into country life. The moving officially ended this weekend, for which I am extremely grateful. I am getting too old for this nonsense. My body might never forgive me.

I downsized about 400 sq feet from my old apartment to this place. It is a challenge, but has also given me the chance to downsize a lot of stuff. If I didn't have any sewing stuff, I'd have the perfect amount of storage space. D'oh.

The farm is amazing. My landlords are incredibly generous. All the fresh veggies and eggs I can handle. Fresh chicken, fresh pork, fresh goat milk.

The dogs are in hog heaven. There's always something for them to watch or play with or what not.

There are challenges. Bugs. Distance. Dirt.

But really... forget Manhattan, just gimmie that countryside. Today at least. :)

Friday, May 03, 2013

Moving is the pits, but sort of exciting too, I guess.

Dogs at the new digs. Standing by my future garden.
I hate moving. This is an understatement.

To be fair, there is some sense of anticipation of a clean slate. Something new. Blah blah blah.

Last year I moved to Norman in unfortunate circumstances. It was last minute, not my decision, and beyond my control. I didn't feel comfortable with my knowledge of the options in Norman. I found a nice place, thankfully, and had a good experience there (shout out to Elite Properties if you're looking for Norman rentals!). But I never really unpacked. Never hung things up on the wall. Very much viewed the apartment as a part time pit stop. It was my apartment and not my home.

Similarly, for the past year, whenever I have got back into downtown or midtown OKC, it has broken my heart. I missed it so much and had such good memories there.

But last weekend when I was in OKC, I drove through my old neighborhood, by my old house, and just felt happy memories. I realized that now I'm looking forward to the future and accepting the past with thankfulness.


It is pretty crazy. After I calmed down a bit, I reminded myself that the most fun times in my life are when I just leaned into the crazy.

There are still things that get under my skin. I'm in my 30's and I'm still renting a house in a place I don't see myself in indefinitely. I get so jealous when I think of my friends who have settled down in a house or a city or a place where they see themselves for the long haul. I'm still not to that point yet. It's no secret that I hope to move back to Texas sometime in the next few years.

I guess many of us have a bit of homesickness in our hearts. Sometimes you're not even sure what it means that you want, but it is there. In the meantime, lean into the craziness. :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

I'm not good with the predictable

I'm not sure when it started, but after college I moved abroad. Twice.

Then I came back to Oklahoma of all things, so I lived in the heart of Midtown OKC at the beginning of the area's renewal.

Then I moved to Norman. Life has been so... normal. And I think I'd rather have things be interesting than predictable. Life is better with the unexpected.

So since my lease is up, I knew I wanted to move. Life with 2 dogs is not conducive to apartment life (although it is doable, but that's another rant for another day).

For years I've daydreamed about living in the country and joked about living off the grid. So imagine my shock when I stumbled upon a guest house for rent on a free-range chicken farm in the middle of the country.

I made an appointment to go out and see it, figuring that even if it was horrifying, it would be a good story (see above). But lo and behold, it is delightful. So out to the country I go. Fresh eggs and organic produce will abound.

The dogs will love it. And no, I don't think they'll chase the chickens. They have a few acres behind my landlord's house to wander about on, behind chicken wire.

Green acres is the place for me...

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Perfect Oatmeal

I do not oft claim to have super-human cooking powers, but there are some things that I am the bomb diggity at making. Oatmeal is one of those things. Let me share my secrets with you.

First of all, if you eat instant oatmeal... I'm just sorry. That is sad.

Second of all, if you make oatmeal in the microwave... please just stop.


  • Half cup rolled oats
  • One cup milk/almond milk
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  1. On medium heat on the stove top, bring milk to simmering or a slight boil. 
  2. Add in oats. If it begins a rolling boil, turn heat down. You don't want to scorch the bottom. Simmering would be just fine.
  3. Allow to simmer for 15 or so minutes, until fully cooked.
  4. Add toppings of choice.
Yes, it takes longer, but by golly, it's 1000x better. Some notes below.

I use almond milk because I'm trying to cut out a lot of dairy. It's great, but cow milk is better. It's even BETTER to throw a dash of heavy cream or half and half in. Just sayin. Milk makes all the difference to oatmeal.

I add blueberries and strawberries as I have them. Strawberries in this oatmeal are ridiculously good. Add them at the end.

I increase this recipe by 50% because I want it to fill me up til lunch. Adjust recipe as you wish.

Welcome to your awesome life. 

Monday, February 04, 2013

The day Lady saved me from a coyote

Yesterday was exciting. I go to a local state park with the dogs most every weekend, but yesterday was a first for us.

Lady likes to chase deer. And I let her. Davy likes to chase Lady and act like he's a big dog.

Yesterday as we approached the deer (in a spot we've gone to dozens and dozens of times), I noticed the deer were moving towards us, even though they saw us. I thought that was odd, but figured there were some walkers or hikers or something on the other side we couldn't see.

So Lady does her stalking and chasing.

She does her thing, comes back, and she and Davy find some deer bones and sniff around. Suddenly I look up and see something unusual. A gray dog with a huge puffy tail- aka a coyote. Looking at me. Coming towards me.


My first thought was, "Oh crap, I don't want Lady to chase that coyote. I don't want her to fight it. AAAAAAAAAAAH!" So she sees it, goes on point, then chases. I was flipping out. Of course Davy chases after her, and I was like, "Dang it, Davy! You're like a chicken nugget to a coyote!"

So I'm freaking out, because Lady and the coyote have gone into the woods and I can't see them. Lucky Davy doesn't run that far, and he's about 100 yards from me. Finally Lady runs back out and I was so relived. Lady and Davy pick up deer bones and run about a quarter mile the other direction, so I start walking behind them. A minutes or two later I look around and realize the coyote is back. Again, coming up behind me.

Suddenly it dawns on me. The bones, the patches of fur... we are walking in the middle of an area where a coyote has taken down a deer, and he wants to finish his meal.

So I start running back to the car!

And I called the dogs to follow me, which they do, but Davy, oh sweet Davy. Lady is fast and running ahead of me, but I keep looking back to make sure Davy is coming. And that stubborn dog will not relinquish the huge deer hip he has found.

So that is my adventure with a coyote. Luckily I only saw one- I am assuming it had a partner somewhere nearby. Beware when you tread atop a coyote's dinner!

Do I think the coyote would have been aggressive towards me? I don't know. They're typically shy, and the fact that it was clearly coming towards me and I was between it and its food gave me serious concern, though.

Lady got some special treatment the rest of the day. She really is the best. :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dearly departed

A week and a half ago my mother's father passed away. He lived a long, full life- 98 years. Even when death is a relief, it still hurts as a loss.

My grandad lived a vibrant life. He overcame a lot of odds to do so. He had polio as a child, then had corrective surgery that enabled him to walk, although that involved fusing his ankle bones. He grew up without his father, and my great-grandmother and her brother, both single parents, decided to raise their families together. My grandfather and grandmother married late in life for that time- 33 and 28, and had their only child 8 years later.

They traveled a lot of the southwest. He took a ton of photographs, which I treasure. He collected guns and listened to music. He was a good worker and an honest, kind man.

His wife, my grandmother, died 11 years ago. Although it goes against what I've theologically believed most of my life, it gives me a great deal of peace to think of them being reunited in some way and resting in peace next to each other.

My grandad's life gives me hope that rough starts don't define you. An adventurous spirit can take you beyond where anyone thought you could go. And love is true and faithful.

And it was poignant to sit next to my nephew during the service. Life does go on, and though it is sometimes sad, this is the way it should be. I was reminded of the Chris Rice lyric-

Like a swing set in a graveyard, like a bloom in the desert sands, love is gonna break through.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The truth about dogs

If you follow me on any social media outlet besides my blog, you know that being a dog owner has become a major part of my life over the past 8 months. I am aware that I dance the line of being a crazy dog lady, and now I just went and got another. But I figure it's time to talk about what having a dog has meant to me and how it has made me grow, maybe explaining some of the enthusiasm.

I got Lady on the day that I moved into my apartment in Norman. Even though I was only moving 30 minutes away, I had the foresight to know it'd feel a lot further. When you're single and an introvert, it is easy to become very inwardly focused. In the grand scheme of life's trade-offs, while my situation means freedom, it also can become a petri dish for selfishness and loneliness.

I've noticed in relationships over the years (romantic and platonic) that I have a hard time letting go of doing things my way and allowing for changes of plans, because that's all I've known for 8 years. So one of the reasons I wanted a dog is because I want to let go of some self-centeredness. A dog is a good place to start, because even though they can be demanding, they also only give you crazy love and no hostility (my dog, at least). If I can learn to adapt my own desires around an animal that loves me totally, that should be a good warm up for an imperfect person. :)

And I have to say, it's worked. Lady is demanding of attention, but it's been so good for me. We went almost 300 miles in 2012, many of which I would have been sitting on my lazy butt for if it hadn't been for her. She gives me something to move forward with besides myself. The first months in Norman when life felt upside down, there were many days I wanted to sit and pout over change I didn't think I could handle, but she kept me looking forward.

She's good company. And she needed company while I was gone 40 hours a week at work, so enter Davy Crockett. :) He's a 3 year old fox terrier. He was rescued from a case of animal cruelty, and recently recovered from some serious medical issues. But the kid has spirit. He is brave and sweet and feisty. He and Lady are having a grand time.

Maybe I'm well on my way to becoming a "crazy dog lady" (although there are NO plans for more dogs! I always knew I'd plan to get a 2nd eventually, and now that's done), but frankly, I'd prefer to be a crazy dog lady compared to the alternative of where'd I'd be without them. For me, dogs have been good for my soul.