Puzzle’s haircut

Here are some pics of Puzzle after I trimmed her face. I also trimmed around her body, but not too much. I left the curls on her shoulders. I tried to trim behind her legs. That fur always ended up with bits and pieces of nature stuck into it when we went for walks.

IMG_20150426_165653_585

You can see I am wearing my very old pair of Adidas.

All the fur. It wasn’t much. I barely filled a dustpan.IMG_20150426_165705_998

 

Funny face:
IMG_20150426_165712_346

 

Standing guard. That square black pillow is the inside of a dog bed I purchased for her at the feria many months ago:IMG_20150426_170157_481

She loves hanging out in the doorway. She’s there right now.
IMG_20150426_170309_364

 

This one might seem a little dark, depending on how you have your screen brightness set:IMG_20150427_090716_582

This one taken with the flash:

IMG_20150427_090734_580

I love Puzzle.

New idea: Running a race to benefit charity

I have enjoyed running so much lately that I was thinking of running a 10k. I have been checking out where there are some in my area. I believe there will be a few next year in Montevideo, mostly after the weather cools. We are headed into summer now.

I was planning all this out during my run yesterday morning. I ran about 5-1/2 miles.  This was one of the many variations on the circle I often do.  A 10k isn’t much over 6 miles. I don’t run on consecutive days, that is, if I run Monday, I wait till Wednesday or Thursday to run again. I think I could run daily if I were to shorten my distances. However, I kinda like the long runs, so I am fine with going every two or three days.

I feel happier than I have felt in a long time. I am finally able to have fun again. After the abuse at MGH I never had fun at all. I’d try, but it always fell flat. Even walking Puzzle didn’t do it for me, though I took her out rain or shine anyway. As far as I can tell, Puzzle is thrilled with our new life here. I don’t plan to run with her, though. I take her to the beach sometimes for kicks.

So this is my plan: Run for charity. I don’t think the run I have my eye on is a charity run but one set up by a local athletic club. So I can run and have a fundraiser of my own. I’m sure there are entry fees but usually these are to pay the personnel involved. I know organizing races can be complicated. From publicity to making sure the road is safe there are many employees. I suppose among paid and volunteer employees would be the athletic folks themselves such as judges and those doing the timing and setting up audio systems, serving food afterward, passing out kits (bibs, timing sensor devices we tie on our shoe, etc) or cleaning up trash. I’m sure there are “sponsors” such as shoe companies and those companies that make sports drinks. Many races supply beer afterward too. The police (or whoever does traffic) have to see to it that cars are diverted. I’m sure just about every race has first aid people standing by.  That’s all paid for by entry fees and other funding. I’ve noticed some races are done by charities and they are not only asking an entry fee but to gather pledges for the charity. So it works much like a benefit walk.

So how about I do my own campaign? I thought of a few ideas:

1) Run to benefit an established organization I believe in, such as MindFreedom International.
2) Run to benefit an up and coming institution that has truly helped me directly. I’m thinking of Lauren Tenney’s “Talk with Tenney” radio show because the show serves the purpose of giving those affected by MH care a voice. It has been so beneficial for me to have my voice heard. It’s been an incredibly positive step for me.
3) Invent my own charity.

Do you want to know what this charity will be?  It would be a fund set up that people could apply to in various categories, all based on rebuilding lives for victims/survivors of MH care. I thought of the following:

1) A specific amount of money designated for education or vocational training. This means GED, college, and the like. This would contribute to tuition or books.

2) Necessary assistive technology to help people rebuild their lives. For instance, if a person is suffering trauma from psych abuse and believes he/she is a good candidate for a service animal to enable him/her to work, the fund would provide an amount to go toward the care of the animal or travel expenses involved in obtaining the animal, or something related. Or if the person has severe vision problems that resulted from psych meds, the fund would help pay for Dragon Naturally Speaking or whatever the person needs.  Dragon is one of the best software packages that enables a person to hear text on a page.

3) Relocating. Funding that would contribute to moving expenses or settling the new home.

4) Legal. Help to pay for a lawyer if you need one to get your kids back or if you are unjustly accused of a crime because of your psych background and are seeking defense, and other reasons.

The fund wouldn’t pay for medical expenses. The fund would absolutely not pay for further shrinkage, addiction treatment, or a support group. This is for advancing our lives past MH care, not for returning to it, which is a step backwards.

The focus would be rebuilding lives shattered by MH care. Rebuilding. That is, ourselves.

I see so many people in devastation and ruin. They feel they cannot and will never rebuild. It’s so sad to see. I want to give a hand to those folks so they can have a second chance just like I have had.

I will be 57 in less than a month. I’m kinda surprised to be alive, but truly delighted. I ask myself sometimes why I never gave up. Here’s one reason why:

Puzzle 8_15_14 sunshine

See ya!

 

How to make a birthday cake for your dog, photos included!

I made liver cake for my little dog, Puzzle. I invented the recipe myself. Here’s how I made it.

First, I purchased the ingredients, including some beef liver:

IMG_20141126_174556_606

I unwrapped the liver and rinsed it in a colander:

IMG_20141126_174831_401…and rinsed it.

Then, I put some olive oil into a pan and the liver also into the pan. I use a hotplate.

IMG_20141126_174932_716

Looks, er, yummy, eh? Puzzle thought so. I put a lid on the pan and kept it at low heat. Depending on the thickness of the liver and your heating element, you may put it at higher heat.

IMG_20141126_174950_669

That’s metric, not Fahrenheit. I flipped it over and then cooked it on its other side:

IMG_20141126_180134_832

I cut up some raw potato into small chunks:IMG_20141126_184113_828

Then, I boiled the potato chunks in water.IMG_20141126_184311_620Here they are in my cooker.

 

I cut the liver into small pieces, about 1cm.  Here’s the entire liver cut up:

IMG_20141126_185732_540

 

 

 

Hey, Puzzle, doesn’t that smell yummy?IMG_20141126_190057_113IMG_20141126_190118_648Is this a “yes”?

IMG_20141126_190240_144Is this a “mystery pic” I snapped? No, actually, I’m showing you that if you can poke the potatoes with a fork, they’re done! I added the cooked and diced liver to the mixer.

 

I turned on the mixer:

IMG_20141126_190508_375

 

I emptied the extra gravy into the mixer, too!

IMG_20141126_190839_860

 

Guess what happens when you blend these? You get liver fluff:

 

 

IMG_20141126_191142_264

This is rice flour. You can find it in supermarkets, coops, health food stores, and gluten-free stores.
IMG_20141126_191916_174

This is ground up flax seeds, flax seed powder:

IMG_20141126_192212_949

I put roughly 1 cup of rice flour into a bowl and added about 1/4 cup of flax seed flour. I mixed the flours together. I emptied the fluff into a large bowl.  I blended the flours in by hand, also adding two eggs and a spoonful of olive oil:

IMG_20141126_192746_367IMG_20141126_193034_741

 

 

 

Here is the mixture, now in a glass baking dish. Please oil the baking dish before putting the mixture inside.IMG_20141126_193751_440Now, since I don’t have an oven, I did the following. I put the cake into a large pot with less than an inch of water inside. I covered the pan with an empinada screen at first, then realized I’d better use a regular lid.

Then, I reminded myself that it’s Puzzle’s birthday. Just this once, I will gladly let her lick the spoon and bowl.IMG_20141126_194841_058 IMG_20141126_194851_775 IMG_20141126_194922_968 IMG_20141126_194933_212 IMG_20141126_194955_168:

Oh, what a sucker I am!

Now, while it’s cooking, I got a carrot. Guess what this is for?

IMG_20141126_195653_483

Cut off a short bit of the carrot and then cut it into flat pieces:

IMG_20141126_195744_518

Cut each flat piece into strips. Now, I have nine candles!

IMG_20141126_195922_444Now, you need a green pepper. Like so:

IMG_20141126_200039_832

Cut the pepper to make letters for the cake! Can you guess what this says?

IMG_20141126_200839_508It’s supposed to say, Feliz. Betcha couldn’t guess. I have sloppy pepper writing.

 

Look! The cake is done! It’s kinda firm, but still, spongy.

IMG_20141126_202247_648

 

 

Puzzle is so hungry!

IMG_20141126_202538_958

 

What to do next? You want the cake to cool somewhat. Run a knife around the edges. Then, put a plate or cookie sheet over the pan, and flip it!

IMG_20141126_202550_012As you can see, the cake separated fine from the pan.

IMG_20141126_202633_170What’s that you say? “It was a piece of cake.”

IMG_20141126_203127_438

Uh oh. Now what?IMG_20141126_203144_824IMG_20141126_203317_932IMG_20141126_204043_223
IMG_20141126_203713_616 IMG_20141126_203704_687

 

IMG_20141126_204036_068

That’s all, folks! Happy birthday, Puzzle. I’d say, “Till next year,” but we got leftovers! Till tomorrow!

 

 

 

PUZZLE’S BIRTHDAY IS TODAY!

We are happy! I’m gonna go get the liver soon and the other ingredients! What a feast she’s gonna have!

Here’s a photo, taken just now:

Puzzle on her birthday

Isn’t she cute?

It’s a nice pretty day, too. Good day for a dog walk! This morning, first thing, Puzzle’s boyfriend, Rojito, came to tell Puzzle “¡Feliz cumpleaños!” I call him Rojito because he’s red, but I don’t know his real name. I try to photograph him but he always dodges the camera! The funny thing was seeing Rojito here first thing in the morning, waiting at my front door for Puzzle. Now how’d he get past the front gate?

 

Puzzle will have doggie birthday cake on Wednesday!

Here’s my plan: I am going to make Puzzle a cake out of liver and rice flour! I will need some kind of icing as well. I plan to make letters for the cake and edible candles as well. Probably, to simplify the lettering, I’ll just write FELIZ on the cake.

I am likely to spend hours figuring out how to do this. I’ll have to make sure I have all the necessary ingredients. Then, I bet it’ll take a long time to make the cake and get it just right. I promise I will take a photo!

After all that fuss and bother, Puzzle will take two seconds to gobble it up.

Weather forecast for Puzzle’s birthday

Wednesday’s weather: Starting out at 59, then rising to 71 degrees Fahrenheit, sunny.  Ten percent chance of rain. Puzzle and I are going to go out and have a good time!  Of course, we do this every day, but I like to give Puzzle a longer-than-usual walk on her birthday.  It’s our yearly tradition.

She’s all spiffed up, too. She had a haircut last week. I need to take a photo. I guess now’s as good a time as any.

Puzzle after haircut

I tried with and without the flash. The one without the flash usually comes out better because Puzzle looks too white under the flash. Or the dreaded “red eye” shows up that won’t come out using “red eye” settings because it’s not red. I don’t know why animal eyes show up differently than people eyes.  I learned the reason for this in the photography class I took a long time ago, but I can’t recall now.

If you look off to the left (as you face her) you can see where she was bitten. The injury is now all healed, but still, there’s a bit of difference where she had to have her fur shaved, even with her present summer crew cut. I’m not sure about the area right around the bite. I suspect the scar will remain. It’s a coin-sized circle of skin that seems to be lacking pigment.

What coin, you ask? Oh, I’d say a five-peso coin.  You can buy a few zanhorias with a five-peso coin. Two of them will pay for a pepino, or a few small tomates, or one big one, and three will pay for a baggie of adobo. Six will pay for a half docen huevos, although when I’ve tried to buy only one, I sometimes get charged nine pesos. Many people purchase their huevos at the feria because they are cheaper, but most of the vendors won’t sell half a docen, only a docen, 15, or more.  I’ve heard people refer to one-peso coins as “pennies,” but of course, they’re worth more than US$.01. Fractions of a peso get rounded up or down. It took me forever to learn this. Someday, I will photograph our currency to show you what it looks like (and add my silly commentary).

Have a  nice day.

I would love an end to crappy weather.

Wouldn’t you? Let’s face it, this has been the Winter from Hell. Ugly snow, ice, slush, surely nothing pretty about it. Even the snowmen have scowls on their faces.  The stuff gets dirty the minute it hits the streets.  Tracked right back into my apartment.  My vacuum breaks every time I try to use it. My dog can’t find a potty anywhere. Can yours?  Yellow snow….I guess it’s right smack in the middle of the sidewalk these days.  You can’t get the sand and salt out of your shoes until spring hits.  When the hell will that be?  August? Then winter will come along again.

However, I’ve got the cuddliest little dog in town. She’s the most awesome ever. Last night she curled up right by my tummy.  She snuggled up to me and the only thing between us was my t-shirt I guess.  I could feel her heart beat, our two bodies together.  Her dreams and mine, except she was asleep within a minute of curling up, and me, it takes a few minutes longer.  Then, winter and its ugliness no longer mattered anymore.  Not that anything ever does, or did anymore.

Reactions to trauma aren’t “disorders.” They are normal.

Have you been given the label “PTSD”?  Take the “D” off of it right now.  There’s nothing “wrong” with you.  So saith me.  Instead, the world needs your voice.  Instead, what you need is to be loved and reassured.  If you have experienced something rotten, I’m truly sorry that it happened and I wish it didn’t.  No one can undo it.  However, it’s my wish, and I assume your wish as well that what happened to you never happens to anyone else.  What we all need to do to see to it that people stop being mean and that we all have a safer place to live.

I can give you a super good example of why I say “PTSD” is not a “D” at all.  My little dog, Puzzle, isn’t mentally ill.  She can’t speak in words, so no one can say she’s ever said anything irrational.  She’s never taken psych meds so no one can give her a diagnosis based on what meds have been “effective” for her in the past.  Has she ever tried to kill herself?  Has she ever overdosed?  Oh yeah, she overdosed on chicken bones a number of years ago because someone had thrown them on the ground instead of in the garbage and I didn’t see them there in time.  The bones went down the hatch quickly cuz that’s what dogs do.  It was my own fault that I was not able to teach her to give up what was in her mouth.  Was this a suicide attempt on Puzzle’s part and is she mentally ill?  Um, I think chicken bones are yummy for dogs and she’s rather typical.  So were the vet bills.

Do you see what I’m saying? Back to PTS____.  We as a society speak often of abused animals and how they tend to cower and act scared.  Do we call them mentally ill?  I don’t think so.  They are traumatized and their behavior is a normal conditioned response.  They have learned from their bad experience to be fearful.  What do we do?  We are animal rights activists.  We beg for the rights of these abused animals and beg for them not to be killed and beg for homes for them, donating our time and money.  We bring them into our homes.  We love them and cherish them.  Why don’t we do this for our abused humans?  Instead, society gives them the message that something’s “wrong” with them, makes them feel even more like crap, segregates them into ghettos, “programs,” hospitals, jails, medicates them, therapizes them, supervises them, or manages them, but certainly doesn’t love them.

Puzzle was traumatized when we first moved to this apartment.  I’ve spoken of it here before.  A lady shoved a shopping cart at her.  I couldn’t undo what was done and it shouldn’t have happened.  The lady still lives here.  She’s one of the many residents I feel sorry for her cuz (between ourselves) she herself is a victim of ongoing abuse, but that’s a whole other story.  This is low income housing and an incredible number of people here are lonely and deeply unhappy.  You’d think it’s a quaint home-like place where little old ladies live, but the truth is, it’s a very violent and harsh environment.  There’s a lot of shouting at all hours and you don’t feel safe here.

The Housing Authority doesn’t want people wandering the halls with shopping carts that come from the supermarkets and these shopping carts are supermarket property anyway.  I’m sure the presence of shopping carts in our narrow hallways are a hazard for fire and rescue efforts.  But this lady walks the halls using a shopping cart instead of a walker.  She owns a walker but prefers the shopping cart, so I’ve since learned.  (Her claim that she couldn’t afford one and didn’t own one wasn’t true.) Whether the walker isn’t comfortable to walk with or isn’t properly fitted and the shopping cart fits better…I don’t know much about walkers, actually and am no judge.

I was walking with Puzzle, just coming in from a walk, having just moved in, not thinking of any of this and not knowing that the residents had already made up their minds.  They felt hostile toward this new girl they’d never met before and had not even spoken to.  They never bothered introducing themselves.  They simply decided they didn’t like this girl and her dog.  She was an ugly girl.  From the other building.  A Jew.  I guess someone heard the girl crying.  What a slut.

So the lady said she was scared of Puzzle while I was walking down the hall and that’s why she reacted the way she did.  “Get away from me!” and she shoved that cart right at Puzzle.

I didn’t know it then, but looking back, I can tell you that Puzzle’s personality changed after that.  A few of the changes have never gone away, but most have faded gradually.  She became extremely fearful.  I’d say for a year after that, she’d assume you couldn’t be trusted until you proved yourself trustworthy.  This was new.  Observers would ask me if she was a “shelter mutt.”  Over time, this distrust has faded and she’s back to being the loving dog she once was that assumes everyone is good.  That’s because I gave her lots and lots of love and exposed her to as many other people as I could that loved her as well.

There are behaviors I see in Puzzle, though, that originated with this shopping cart event that have never disappeared.  She gets upset when the doorbell rings or when someone knocks.  A guest is not necessarily someone she feels she can trust.  I don’t have people inside my home ever.  I did have CBFS but most of the CBFS personnel I dealt with didn’t even like dogs and wouldn’t pet her or show interest in her.  They’d even look repulsed when they saw her or they’d visibly flinch or move away or rudely bury themselves in their cell phones.  The maintenance people are rude and I tend to dread their coming in here.  I always hope that they send one of the ones with manners that likes Puzzle.

Puzzle enjoys traveling on the bus and subway.  She takes up a tiny amount of room on my lap.  It’s transit policy that I can’t take up more than one seat even with a dog, so I either leave my knapsack on my back or I take it off and snuggle Puzzle between my body and the knapsack.  She loves being snuggled.  I try to sit next to someone that smiles and me and invites me to sit rather than sit next to someone who looks grossed out at the idea of sitting next to a dog.  My instincts are pretty good.  I almost always choose someone wonderful.  I pray for someone who is lonely.  I want Puzzle and I to make someone’s day.

I want to end this article with a little story about love.

Where is God?  What is God?  God is love.  God is the voice of those lonely, often nameless strangers that speak to me on the bus.  God is the homeless girl I met on the CT1 or CT2 bus, I can’t recall which, who had shared with me that she cared about her relative (was it an uncle?  I can’t recall) more than anything.  She was on her way to yet another shelter and didn’t have enough change to pay for the bus.  The bus driver told her, very rudely and in a lecturing tone, “Grow up.”  She asked me in earnest for some tips on how to quit smoking and said she was trying very hard.  I thought surely, she’d seen a lot of life if she’d lived in shelters.  It was all I could do to listen to her story and of course, I told her how I’d quit smoking many years ago.  She’d bummed her last cigarette off of someone.  She was doing everything she could just to survive this world. All she wanted was for her sick relative to be well.

Puzzle and I have met so many.  There have been men with whom I have spoken as well, men on their way to the shelter in Waltham, men hoping to find employment.  I see them on the 70 bus, headed for the shelter.

Many people tell me their story, and thus doing, without knowing it, I have renewed hope and the will to go on with my life when otherwise I would have ended it.  A simple conversation.

I don’t give a shit if that lonely person may have been drunk or “out of it” or if some doctor has stated that the person is “mentally incompetent” or how many drugs the person was or wasn’t taking.  Or if the person was a working person that society assumed was okay, but inside, was deeply unhappy.  Do you understand that this fleeting conversation on whatever bus saved my own life?  That smile, those tears of relief and that person saying, “You and your dog Puzzle made my day.”

You ask me where is God.  I am telling you, this is God.

We should all be so loved again.  Throw out the “D” and let’s all embrace.