When Vinnie Died on Wednesday

It was just before dinnertime and we were driving home from an afternoon at the pool: feeling festive, relaxed, joyous. And, in hindsight, feeling alive. And, three houses from home, I drove across the arroyo and saw the big, brown dog lying on the dirt of the road. I instantly recognized what I was eyeing and said “oh no” aloud. Even though I recognized it/him (that is death and Vinnie), my mind tried to concoct some alternate experience that I was not seeing a dead dog lying 40 feet in front of the windshield. 

– What is he doing? 

– Lying down. 

That is all the response and words that I could muster to the three year old mind in the car seat over my shoulder inquiring about the oddity before us. I paused and tried to figure out what was most appropriate of the multiple things to do, to be done, of how to attend to what was happening: go to the neighbors’; move the carcass; go tell Brin before she saw him; hide it from a toddler’s line of sight; go check his pulse and see if he is sleeping; that is not a natural nor comfortable position to sleep in. So, I proceeded slowly and moved the car delicately around the dog, passing on the driver’s side so I could look out the window as we drove past and saw the flies flying above the small pool of blood underneath his mouth drying in the sand. 

– Did you hit him? 

– No, I drove around.

And I sped to the front door. I left the car running and knocked the knocker once. No response and looked like nobody was home. So I dashed back to the car, and got back to Vinnie’s body still lying in the road. I drove past so the car faced away, and the toddler could not witness what I was doing, and jumped out and walked over to Vinnie. 

He was heavy. 90 pounds of hulking dog deadweighting. This is the fittingness of that single word: deadweight. Vinnie was less than one year old. We first met him December of last year, a puppy so small that he fit into two hands. A cute, cuddly pit bull mix with an brown and white coat. We have watched him grow for the last 10 months, and have only gotten to pet and know him in greater proximity in the last month as we tossed bits of jerky out the window on the way home. A few weeks ago, we had some pieces of cheese in the car, leftovers from another hot summer afternoon at the pool, and tossed those to Vinnie and his brothers, Rusty and Ozzie. That was the day that Vinnie walked all the way to the front door, lay on the mat and wait for 15 minutes to see if there might be more cheese that would come from within. Vinnie drooled such a long slobber that the toddler asked “what is that?” as she watched it fall from his lips to the ground. 

That was the day that everything with Vinnie changed. He was still cautious with us, and would sit 20 feet from the car when we came and parked. But, he wanted to know if we might have a bit of jerky, tortilla chips or that godsend of more cheddar to toss his way from the window or have him come over and eat from our hand. It was only the last 4 weeks, but in 10 months, 4 weeks is a sizable chunk of life. It is 10% of Vinnie’s life this time around. And more importantly, it was the proximiny and the time spent and the trust built and burgeoning internatction that all three of us had. More than we’d ever had with Ozzie, and it was supposed to be the bond that would grow with Vinnie as he became the primary dog next door once Rusty, the 15 year old, bear-fighting-and-surviving-to-have-my-papa-tell-you-about-it, dies. We had been anticipating Rusty’s death to come sometime soon (his papa said he didn’t think that he’d make it through the winter, but he’s also said that for the last two winters). It wasn’t supposed to be Vinnie. 

Vinnie with the long tail with the fat top that stretched out. Vinnie with the beautiful color and distinctive brand just above his hips. Vinnie with ginormous paws and the massive skull. Vinnie with the extra skin on his jowls that he’d just begun to trust us to hold and rub. 

Akal, old baby Vinnie. Akal. Akal. 

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Eliminating ADHD thru diet

10% of children between 4-17 are diagnosed
3-5% growth in diagnoses each year

From “Say Goodbye to ADHD” in The Intelligent Optimist about Dutch veterinarian now ADHD-slayer, Lidy Pelsser, who has found that changes in diet of 3-6 foods can change behavior. Eliminating foods such as eggplant and tomato. A few columns later, the article states:

The truth is, no one is sure what exactly ADHD is, including the patients themselves…. the spectrum of concentration problems and impulsivity is very broad and impossible to define.

Slowing Down

So, what is this, this slowing down?

I have considered myself an old soul for a few decades. Part of that old-ness has been a proclivity to chillax, and take things slowly. When I was a teenager, my older brother used to assert that i wasn’t running my fastest and hardest up and down the basketball court. When I look back upon it now, it is not surprising that my norm seemed slower-than-most to others.

The single simplest way that I embrace slowing down is by refraining from multi-tasking. After being conditioned to praise multi-tasking, I try to avoid it these days. When I brush my teeth, I no longer do calf lifts in order to build muscles in my legs as I tried to do at 17. I don’t brush my teeth while putting on socks and shoes as my 24 year-old self did. Instead, I brush my teeth, and allow my attention to feel the sensations of toothpaste, enamel and the stretch of my cheeks.

There is a geography to slowing down. The Southwest and Mountain West flows at its own rate. I sense the attraction and the fit now that I have returned after being gone for more than a decade. The hustle and bustle on the coasts is a different wavelength than what I flow on, with my flyover country ways. Thirteen years after leaving Barbados, a Bajan proverb of tekkin tyme ent lazyness resonates now more than it did when I lived there in 1998.

But it isn’t only due to the pace of the world outside. For the first time in my life, I am living without a television in my home. It has all sorts of consequences, only a few that I anticipated. Then, there are countless benefits of living free of cable, channel surfing and the echo chamber of the 24 hour news cycle. A few glimpses of what it means to not have a tv are: (1) I do not plop down on the sofa when I am exhausted — whether it is a weeknight, a Sunday morning or the middle of the night. (2) television has a powerful, addictive quality with my psyche, which used to keep me seated in front of it, long after I was actually choosing to watch. (3) As a result of the minutes and hours that I used to spend in front of a television, my days fill with hours and minutes that i sit, stand or lie elsewhere.

Other ways of slowing down range from reading, laying down and closing my eyes to baking or going for a walk. As a result, a slower lifestyle subjects me to fewer external stimuli, which keeps my internal systems (my circadian rhythym, I believe) lower. My mind, nor my days, are not as frantic nor as herky jerky as they once were.

I commit to fewer appointments, phone calls and obligations each day. This results in a slower morning, a relaxed afternoon and a soothing evening most days. A year ago, I was amazed to find that I had the time one evening to listen to how tired my body was when it was 8:06 p.m. As a result, 8:06 became a joke about my preferred bedtime.

Instead of having to scramble to honor commitments that had been made, I choose to be spontaneous instead. I can have a hunch of what I may get in to this afternoon or over the weekend, yet I refrain from fillinig it up like an itinerary. Fewer commitments allows for more spontaneity when living moment-by-moment.

More openness results in being able to cook and prepare meals more readily, and more easily. Whether it is the 5 minutes to toast bread for a peanut butter, honey and banana sandwich or 30-60 minutes for baking or a stew, food takes a precedence in my slower schedule. It is no surprise that I make more pancakes and french toast, bake more (cookies, brownies and breads), and eat more vegetables made in all sorts of ways. I choose to make time for meals, cooking and eating well.

I realize how much of lifestyle is about choice. The choice of whether to grab food out, or choose to eat a meal at home. The choice to get the groceries to be able to prepare a meal in as little as 2, 5 or 25 minutes makes home cooked meals much tastier.

I can choose to stop working at a designated hour, rather than allow my day job to encroach on my evenings. It is not the same hour every day, but I am content to leave my work alone when the time is right.

—–
A few years ago, a friend told me how he and all of his coworkers were revising their job descriptions. What was memorable, was that they were cutting away one-third or half of what was on their old job descriptions in order to focus on what was essential, and what was desirable to them in their work. This, is the kind of cutting back that we need.

This is the kind of cutting back that slowing down invites.

Dukan sees where food + politics/Econ/society mix

Article in the UK Guardian about the Dukan Diet. Addresses obesity as culture, obesity as economic model, obesity as product of economic growth (and capitalism’s mktg + advertising)

“the economic model of the west is based on obesity” — food companies, pharma.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2012/jan/07/saturday-interview-pierre-dukan-diet

Later he says, “[US and UK] are addicted to sweetness.” differing cultures — on food, meals, flavors.

Later, “obesity … corresponds with economic growth. You can see it in China now. A lot of processed food with sugar, salt and fat combined with advertising and marketing. People don’t move so much.”

Yes, the donut Top Ten

Mike had told me of the Chinese Food + Donut shop just above the BART station. It was such a distinct storefront that I figured that it would be an easy pick-up location. Sure enough, I was a few minutes early so I picked up two donuts. There are so many flavors and are so tasty that I always buy donuts in two or more.

1. the flavors are expansive — glazed, cake glazed, cinnamon, bavarian creme, maple/chocolate, chocolate/chocolate (aka Double Trouble).
2. portability — As a small and compact single item, you can walk or run with a donut whether it is in a brown paper bag, napkin or sheet of wax paper. It won’t break or crumble. It only gives way when you bite into it.
3. they were GrandpaDick-approved — One thing that my grandpa and I could agree on was how fabulous a donut was in the morning. He ate them until he passed at 90.
4. you know how well they go with coffee?
5. cake donut density
6. supporting small business — donuts are produced and distributed by small-scale producers. There are the corporate chains owned in the northeast, owned by Carlisly Group. But most donut shops are independently owned or franchisees like Daylight Donuts (in NM and CO) and Winchells.
7. foodie is getting hip to the donut — vegan.
8. even grocery store varieties are fabulous — King Soopers and Safeway offer a delicious chocolate glazed.
9. the hole in the middle — makes for unique design, and a memorable eating experience. And everybody likes Os for their symmetry and signifying completion.
10. sweet goodness — i finish my donuts relishing the sweet sugary flavors.
Finally, I’ve got my parameters. I do not do sprinkles (and it has nothing to do with their racist histoircal name of jimmies). Nor do i do Krispy Kreme. For the record, Krispy Kreme is not a donut. It is a sugar cube since it cdissolves on your tongue. A donut requires teeth and chewing, neither of which is required for the fast food fad and stock market bubble of the late ’90s. Good riddance.

resolutions for here/now

I stopped with the new years’ resolutions habit years ago. It was when I started to getting frustrated with the self-imposed expectations of the gym 7 times a week. Both my own proclamations of such, and those of others, were self-punishment. But, I’m back into resolutions. Thanks to Carlos Vega. Who’s remixed the resolution by having the same one each year: to see more movies.

Since imitation is the highest form of flattery, I’ma mimic the C.Vega resolution by trebling it:

My new years resolutions for 2011 (as of today, Nov 23rd) are:

  1. yes, to see more movies,
  2. to drink more coffee,
  3. to drink more beer,
  4. to cook more new meals — from both recipes and inspiration.

(h/t JVF)

Lame customs and norms

A lot of what we humans do is that we are creatures of habit. Coupled with the fact that we are socialized into not rocking the boat, there’s a lot of dumb shit that we are supposed to perpetuate.

Thus, i enjoy shaking up customs. It is similar to my enjoyment in being an enigma when people want to pigeonhole me by race or sexuality (yes, I’ve been speculated upon many a time).

Presently, a few of the ways that I intentionally rock — the boat, that is — consist of:
> being playful, making work topics fun. If we are gonna do it, might as well go all in rather than being dainty and scared of our own doubts about doing something wrong.
> bringing vegetables and CSA talk into the kitchen and work space. It amazes me how many people eat microwaveable food. And then I get asked questions when I peel a carrot over the sink.
> asking questions. Oftentimes obvious questions so as to invite further explanation, express my willingness to be supportive, or to give someone else the chance to say no.

I’m seeing how a lot goes unsaid. People are scared to understand. Or of being honest, or being understood.

A muddled sense of direction is a result of being implored to do little, or not think independently. I’m tired of that.