I was beating myself up about not writing more consistently...fearful that people would give up on the blog and stop reading and then I realized very few are reading it anyway! ha! I also have to figure out a way to write for me and stop worrying about deadlines or audience. My writing life has always been about deadlines...writing political missives for the Governor’s Office in Colorado in the 90s, grad school in the 00s, the publishing process with Emily Wakild most recently (our book is OUT -- which is very exciting! Check it out here! - you can also buy it from Amazon.com). No matter what or where I was writing, it has been largely for someone else. With an audience and a deadline in mind. And I think the next step in my process in become an actual writer is to write everyday (or darn near) for me!
So I’ve decided that maybe my public writing (the blog) is a summer blog. It’s in the summer, after classes and coaching have ended, that my spirit and my mind have the creative capacity to see the world. So here is the first of what I hope will be several entries this summer.
The vet’s eyes have the glaze of age. He sits staring at my dog with sympathy and slight annoyance. “The nettles are especially bad this year. So my guess is she got into some of those.” I then suspect the annoyance is at the nettles not at my dog. I look hopefully at him as a drip of sweat trickles down my back. I have as few clothes on as is permissible even in this hippie, “you do you” town, and I’m still panting from the suffocating heat in the tiny room where my dog’s drool puddles around my feet. “So….” I say expectedly. “Are nettles fatal? I mean, she couldn’t have eaten many. I watched her the whole time.” He looks at me with pity and with wisdom. “It’s been my experience their life is rough for a day or 2 and then they come out of it. Oh and you can’t have watched her the whole time.” He then turns to Ed and tells him to lift my 80 pound lab/Weimruner mix up onto a 5 foot high examining table. The table, I think to myself, is almost as tall as my vet back home . Ed is the 300 pound vet tech who greeted me at the door with his outstretched hand attached to arm littered with skull tattoos. Neither he nor the vet introduced themselves. They didn’t ask my name - only Chinle’s. Which I guess is the only important name to know in the big scheme of things. Chinle and I are in Taos, New Mexico for our summer getaway. We come every year. This year it is 95 degrees out (highs are usually around 75 - when it’s 80 the locals are freaking out). The plants are all withered, some haven’t leafed out, except, apparently, the nettles. The creek (where the nettles were to be found) was lower than ever and wildfires nipped at the boundaries of this mountain valley threatening the lifeblood of the region (if there is anything ranchers, mule deer, and mountain bike shops owners agree on, it’s that wildfire is bad for business).
There is nothing worse than being away from your amazing Southeast Asian Hindu vet (who is Gaia personified) when your pup is in distress. Dr. Darwalla (at Bernarda Vet Hospital) is about 5 feet tall. Her office has no examining tables. Instead the animals get to lie on comfy pads with hygienic covers, and the humans have big comfy chairs. All of her staff is female and there is aromatherapy to calm nerves (human and non). Our favorite tech is Cristina, a thin Chicana who exudes a no nonsense compassion. Chinle loves them all. As I walk into the cramped waiting room with the tall, metal examining table and a folding metal chair, I thought to myself “we aren’t in Tucson anymore.” The room was likely 90 degrees (maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it was cramped, 95 outside and there is no AC anywhere in this mountain town). I’m pretty sure Chinle and I both suspected we were going to die...she didn’t say so and neither did I, but I think we both thought it. We waited for 30 minutes, but I couldn’t annoyed. They squeezed us in - so desperate and, relatively helpless we sat wishing Dr. D wasn’t a hard 10 hour drive away. The vet, who I hear Ed call “Dr. Ted,” says to me, “it’s the dry year. Only the gnarliest things survive weather like this.” I ask him if this is unusual. I’ve never experienced it but we usually come in July...so maybe I don’t know June. He looks at me with an unperturbed patience. “Nope. Not normal. Had a rancher call me on Monday with a cow who had heat exhaustion. That’s a first.” Ed, meanwhile, is grunting at Chinle who refuses to lay down on the table….he says “you can either do it on your own or I’m gonna do it for you.” One time Dr. D sent us home because she didn’t think the dog was in the right emotional state to be examined, and she didn’t want to hurt her. I winced and started to say something and then remembered that Ed was 300 lb and definitely in control, so instead I sat expectedly waiting for the “we need to take xrays, do blood work, and that will be $300” spiel. Instead, Dr. Ted left the room and came back with 2 syringes. “One of these will stop the drooling, one is benadryl. Feed her as much as she will eat. And if you have trouble in the night, call me.” In went the medicine and out went Dr. Ted. Not a goodbye, not a “nice meeting you,” just a small smile a slow shuffle. Ed looked at me and I said, “well, I think I’ll go drink a beer or 10 and watch my dog drool.” He smiled for the first time and said, “Chinle is a cool dog. Named for Chinle, Arizona?” No one EVER knows that. “Yeah, I said. “Sorta. Named for the Chinle formation on the Colorado Plateau.” Ed explained he had worked at a truck stop in Gallup for a time - might explain the skull tattoos I thought. “I’ll drink a beer or 10 for ya. She’s gonna be ok.” I checked out - credit card in hand ready for the $300 charge. $80, a smile, a shuffle, and a subtle reassurance from gruff men who were, despite all appearances to the contrary, as tender as the tiny Hindu back home. Definitely not in Tucson anymore. But turns out that that’s perfectly ok.