Guest Blog Post: Ignorance by Chuy


Photo of Chuy dog

It took me a long time to learn this. Paz’ dog Chuy taught it to him…

Chow Dog Zen

Road to The Wonder Woods

Just because you 

Don’t Know

You are 

Beautiful,

Perfect,

And Precious to this

Great Cosmos

Doesn’t mean

It isn’t So.

  • Chuy

View original post

Now We Are 3 (only) by da-AL


Pierre, da-AL, Lola, K-D
Pierre a few months ago, at about 14 years old.

This morning I stayed in bed till late. I was awake, but I didn’t want to get up to a house without Pierre in it.

Yesterday I had to put my dog down. Such a gentle euphemism for murder. To put one to sleep. My dear, dear dog-man trusted me, yet I tricked him. First by lulling him into thinking it was a normal day by asking my husband to roast a chicken at home that delighted his nose and soothed his belly. But afterward a vet arrived. She knotted a tourniquet at his rear thigh, shaved an area below it, and injected a sedative. His fitful gasping evened, his pain-blinded stare softened. Amid caresses and loving murmurs, the vet administered a second shot to finish him off.

My dear Pierre at 9 months old.

But Pierre lingered within his peaceful half-sleep. So another shave. Then a third shot to a different leg. That one finally killed him.

Nicer ways exist to frame this, but my heart won’t listen to the many fine arguments for how, whether, and when.

No, I don’t know of a better way to have done it. When his kidneys began to fail, and arthritis increasingly ravaged his days and nights, I promised us two things; he’d never take another trembling ride to a vet, and he’d never be wet again (he was a Labrador mix one-of-a-kind who hated water).

Fortunately, we could afford to have a vet to visit our home for those final injections. Fortunately, I could be with Pierre, my sweetest, most uncomplicated of friendships and loves. Fortunately, he’d lived a good long life, as dog lives go.

Pierre at 8 weeks old.

All the same, this was the awfullest decision I hope ever to make.

Life is beautiful, merciless, humbling.

Pierre (right) with his twin sister.

As much as our recent time together — these months of arranging throw rugs, moving furniture, closing doors so he wouldn’t get tangled among legs or be locked into rooms or slip and not be able to get back up, all which upset him to no end — these months of his hobbled struggle to follow me everywhere and to share walks with his sisters even though he’d fall within a few steps from home — this stoic period when, despite his waning appetite, he’d eat all that my family hand fed him while I experimented with healing remedies and weight gaining foods — this era when we set ramps and nudged him up and I learned the trick to gathering his 55 pounds into my arms to navigate down — these weeks of carrying him outside to pee in the middle of the night because the shame of soiling his diapers showed naked in his eyes (debilitated kidneys need volumes more water to compensate)…

Pierre (right) in better times.

and even though yesterday was the worst, today not a whole lot better…

I am thankful for every moment we shared. Hopefully, he knew he was loved…

Snuggle Dogs by da-AL


Our best friends are those who cheer us through our ups and cheer us up through our downs.

Mr. Gentleman Dog is aging. Growing older is a gift, but it extracts a price. For some of us, the cost is higher than for others.

In Mr. Gentleman Dog’s case, arthritis is wearing away his hips. And his kidneys don’t work as well. Rather than soil stuff, several times a night he rouses himself to ask to go out into the cold and pee.

But every day, he still has plenty of moments that he enjoys. He still loves treats, short walks, and cuddles.

And he loves the warmth of friendship…

Guest Blog Post: “Connected,” in Viola Bleu’s exact words


photo of milky tea and sandwich cookies
Viola Bleu invites us to tea!

Getting us to laugh is fellow blogger Viola Bleu’s mission. Photo of the back of Viola Blue's head, her mullticolored braidToday she invites us to share Earl Gray tea and custard cream sandwich cookies (simply called ‘custard creams’ in Viola’s London, where biscuits are what gringos call cookies) while she ruminates on publishing, friendship, and helping each other …

IdeasBecomeWords

A quickie today because I have a to-do list as long as my leg (usually they say arm but I prefer to think outside the box and it’s a bloody long list).

I have a children’s book to type up for a friend, about which I am starting to think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew because she’d like her words interwoven between her Enid Blyton-style illustrations 😬 (and there was me thinking I was merely typing up a rough draft. This amazing 83 year old lady and friend of 24 years has written it out on random pieces of paper. In pencil.)

She feels is it her final chance to get something in print before she is “too old” (her words not mine) and I am delighted to pause in my own humble writing efforts in order to assist in any way I can. All being well…

View original post 355 more words

How Do You Say Goodbye? by da-AL


The good vet kept my little friend warm, wrapped in a special heating pad…

This week I’ve been looking after a friend’s two elderly cats. While one shows her age only by her lack of teeth, the one in this photo was thin and slow.

A couple of nights ago, this little guy was listless. My husband and I massaged him, got him to drink some broth, turned up the room’s thermostat, and made sure he was comfy on his pillow throughout the night.

The next morning he was back to looking awful.

A couple of months earlier he’d appeared to be on the brink of death, yet pulled through. Now, given how he’d perked up somewhat the night before, I took him to the vet optimistic that some intravenous fluids might perk him up.

Unfortunately, the vet affirmed that there was remote hope that the kitty had any more good days allotted to him, probably not a single day left without constant pain and nausea.

Of the few pets I’ve had, I’ve never had to decide whether to euthanize them.

In the case of this sweet boy, my friend decided. I did, however, decide whether to be with the kitty when the final injection was administered. The vet’s caveat was that the cat wouldn’t care either way. Given that, he suggested that if I stayed, I might always remember the cat at his worst.

After considerable deliberation, I opted not to be there.

Have you had to make such a decision? If so, how and what did you choose?

Do’s and don’ts for if your friend has lost a pet.

Here and here are professional links about pet euthanasia.

Guest Blog Post: “Open Me First,” in Sharon Lynne Bonin-Pratt’s exact words


Drawing of a wrapped present6 tips for heartfelt giving by writer and fellow blogger Sharon Lynne Bonin-Pratt

Sharon Bonin-Pratt's Ink Flare

The holiday dilemma: what do you get for the person who has everything?

Perhaps something goofy like slippers that sing Rock Around the Clock, or something extravagant like a set of diamond encrusted napkins rings, the kind of thing that becomes an expensive party joke. Maybe a bauble like a garden statue of lighted snowmen or a set of holiday themed coffee mugs, useless most of the year because, well, they’re holiday themed and who wants to drink coffee in July with Rudolph’s red nose stenciled on it? We can get truly original: a dozen bottles of wine with personalized labels, Humphrey Malarkey Family Reserve Chardonnay, so it looks like Uncle Humph became a boutique vintner on Christmas Eve.  Another possibility is the very exclusive Himalayan Cilantro Sea Salt Spa Scrub with Acai Crystals – imagine how much fun Great Aunt Agnes will have trying to figure out…

View original post 886 more words

Guest Blog Post: “A Wish List for a Better Life,” in Julie Morris’ exact words


Is New Year’s when you resolve to improve your life? A life and career coach, as well as a blogger, Julie Morris recommends we start this very minute…

Photo looking down neck of a guitar
Image via Pixabay

We all want to be happier, smarter, healthier… better, right? Well, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a little self-improvement.  But there’s no rule out there that says you can’t have fun while doing it. This holiday season, why not make your wish list a little brighter with some ideas for gifts that facilitate a better life? Your list may even inspire your friends and loved ones to do a little self-improvement themselves.

If you want to face your fears…

Ask for a gift that confronts them! For instance, if you are afraid of heights, membership to a rock climbing gym is a great idea. Rock climbing allows you to become comfortable with heights while being safely strapped in with gear. You get to go at your own pace and work towards the highest points. Best of all, it’s a pretty great workout that builds strength in your arms, legs, and core. Facing your fears AND fitness… it doesn’t get much more self-improved than that.

If you want to pick up a new skill…

If you are looking to pick up a new skill, why not add more music to your life and learn to play a stringed instrument? Playing the guitar can boost your brain power, reduce stress, alleviate pain, promote heart health, establish bonds and relationships… not to mention it’s just plain fun!

For those who have trouble playing the guitar because of smaller hands, the ukulele is just as good an option! It’s fun, simple, and quirky. Plus, even the best ukulele on the market is an affordable option.

If you want to increase your self-esteem…

If you could use a little boost of self-esteem, try picking up meditation to improve your mindfulness in your day-to-day life. While technically you don’t need anything to meditate– only a quiet spot and a few minutes– meditation classes can really help deepen the practice both for novices and the experienced transcendentalist.

You can find meditation classes at a local yoga studio if you think you may benefit from a group setting. However, there are several awesome meditation apps that can help you expand your practice from your own home. A membership to one of these is only about $10 a month, so it’s an affordable gift option for your family.

If you want more discipline…

If you find yourself constantly playing catch-up or goofing off, you may find some self-improvement in discipline. A fun day planner can help you stay on track and get what you need done. In your planner, you can craft your to-do lists, block out task time, and get a more realistic view of your weeks so you can handle them better.

If you want to be more charitable…

Ask for a charitable donation.  It’s the easiest gift to ask for from friends and family… they don’t even have to wrap anything! Pick a cause that is near and dear to your heart and let your family and friends know in lieu of a gift, you’d like them to make a charitable contribution. It’s a gift that’s better than socks, but will still make you feel warm and fuzzy. Check out these top-rated charities that could use a donation from you!

***

If you want to improve your life, there’s no better time to start than the present (get it?). Making your wish list with self-improvement in mind doesn’t have to be dry. All it takes is a creative approach and a little personalization. For instance, if you want to face your fears, ask for an activity that facilitates such a thing like rock climbing as a way to combat a fear of heights. If you want to pick up a new skill like playing guitar, lessons are a fun and easy gift to ask for. Meditation is a great way to boost your self-esteem and your friends and family can easily buy you at-home lessons through popular apps. If you’re looking to add more discipline in the new year, a day planner can help you achieve just that. Finally, if you want to be a more giving person, asking for charitable donations in lieu of a gift is a classic idea that never goes out of style.

Ms. Morris is a life and career coach who strives to help others live the best lives that they can. She believes she can relate to clients who feel run over by life because of her own experiences. She spent years in an unfulfilling career in finance before deciding to help people in other ways. Find out more about her at juliemorris.org. Here and here are some of her other posts for Happiness Between Tails.

Dear Cousin Diana’s Tiramisu by da-AL


Crunchy + Soft + Airy + Bitter + Creamy + Sweet = Diana’s Tiramisu Bliss

If angels exist in everyday life, my cousin Diana was one. Her life was far too short, but such is the case with angels.

Cousin Diana
I’m fortunate to have known her.

These photos are generously provided by Stefano Ruberti, my first cousin and Diana’s son. She was born in Argentina. Recipes are a wonderful way to remember good times with loved ones.

Recipes are wonderful memories.

From Diana’s teens on, she resided in Italy with her family. Then with her husband and their three children.

When my husband and I visited some years ago, she made a fantastic multi-course meal that ended with the amazing tiramisu here. As soon as my husband tasted the dessert, he asked Diana to teach me how to replicate it.

Making tiramisu is as much art as it is technique. It took several phone calls to work out the variances of ingredients across the seas and much trial and error to get it just right.

Tiramisu Recipe

  • Makes 9-12 servings
  • 8” x 8” x 2” pan
  • 3 eggs: Find the freshest ones, keep them cold, and use them quickly.
  • 2 cups strong coffee: regular or decaf, lukewarm or cold. Instant works great.
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules to stir into pudding
  • 24 regular-sized ladyfingers: Experiment with finding the perfect ones, neither too stiff nor too soggy. I tried making my own but had no luck. A box of Trader Joes’ works magic for me. The local grocery chain (which is as known for its quality and great prices as it is for its fair treatment of employees) carries them only during the winter holidays, so I stock up for the year.
  • 8 ounce mascarpone
  • 3.5 ounce bittersweet chocolate bits: Anywhere from 72% to 99%. Graters and food processors work fine. I prefer the uneven chunkiness from chopping it with a knife or putting the squares into a bag and whacking them with a wooden mallet until they’re a mouth-pleasing combination of small chunks and powder.

Optional Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
  • 1 teaspoons grated orange rind
  • unsweetened cocoa powder to dust over the final layer

Before You Begin

  • It takes roughly an hour to assemble, especially when you’re just learning.
  • Add another six to twelve hours for tiramisu to set before serving. I prepare the night before, then serve it the following afternoon. Pairs nicely with milk, coffee, or wine.
  • Review everything entire recipe and visualize the most efficient way to organize everything for yourself. The recipe calls for raw eggs and chocolate melts when it’s manipulated too much, so I like to keep things cold and work relatively fast.
  1. Lay out all ingredients and tools, including bowls, pan, whisk or mixer, whatever you’ll use to grate chocolate, etc. Unwrap ladyfingers and put them into a separate bowl.
  2. Prepare chocolate as described in the ingredients list above.
  3. Crack eggs: egg whites into one bowl, egg yolks into another.
  4. Whip egg whites until stiff.
  5. In a bowl with only yolks: beat in 1/2 teaspoon instant granulated coffee, mascarpone, and sugar. If preferred, now add anything listed under ‘optional ingredients.’
  6. Into the bowl with fluffy egg whites, fold in yolk mixture.
  7. Layering tiramisu into a pan – two layers:
  • 1st Layer: One by one, dip ladyfingers and line bottom of the pan. Careful: dip them too quickly and cookies won’t soften up enough — dip too slow and they’ll make the desert too liquid.
  • Spread half of the egg and mascarpone mixture over the cookie layer.
  • Sprinkle half the grated chocolate over the cookies and pudding.
  • 2nd Layer: dunk and layer another twelve cookies, all in the same direction as the first layer.
  • Fold any loose sugar from the cookies into the egg and mascarpone mixture, then spread mixture over the second cookie layer.
  • Sprinkle what’s left of the chocolate evenly over the top. If desired, add a final dusting of unsweetened chocolate powder to even out any gaps.

Cover and refrigerate at least four hours (longer is better).

Serving

a) The remaining liquid is super yummy. Spoon it over sliced pieces.

b) Raw eggs must be handled carefully. Keep the tiramisu cold and either eat the whole thing within three days or freeze it. It freezes wonderfully and tastes heavenly frozen or thawed too!

* Scroll over photos or tap them. *

Voila!

Diana was a loving mother, wife, and cousin.

Do you have special recipes that remind you of loved ones?

Let’s All Drop Labels by da-AL


Video Still from Drop Labels dot org websiteFirst impressions. It’s hard to restrain myself from making snap judgments about people when I first meet them.

Worse is when I settle for my shallow analysis and end up labeling folks.

We’re all complex, all of us alike yet different from each other, so I doubt anyone appreciates my boxing them into a label. Moreover, embracing knee-jerk categorizing limits me from enjoying all the marvelous aspects of the people I meet as well as learning the really good stuff from them.

Alas, training myself to stop being an automaton seems impossible.

Not so! There’s hope, thanks to this consciousness-raising site founded by a wise new friend. Drop Labels features videos of people discussing how being labeled has hurt them. The site goes above and beyond threadbare definitions of types of labels. For instance, this man has found that he hates being labeled as ‘the man with cancer’ …

Do you label? Have you been labeled?

Love is everything by da-AL with Video by Mengwen Cao


Mengwen Cao
Mengwen Cao

Listening … Loving … Accepting … Understanding … Courage …

Love demands ongoing practice and desire. Not always easy, but always rewarding.

Watch how Mengwen Cao comes out to her parents and how they respond. She’s a photographer, videographer, and multimedia producer. Born in Hangzhou, China, she came to the United States in 2012.