Category Archives: Life

On training dogs and learning personal boundaries

I’ve said it a lot. Diving into the world of dog training in general, and in exploring my working relationship with Z in particular, has taught me a lot about personal boundaries.

What I haven’t really elaborated on is what I mean by that.

Training a puppy is a frustrating experience.
Training a SIGHTHOUND puppy is frustratingly exhausting.
Training a sighthound BITCH puppy is maddeningly, frustratingly exhausting.

Especially when you don’t have any prior experience or practice.

I remember so many times when Z’s will would lock horns against my own, and I would grow frustrated by the strength of her will, and, in shadow, how weak mine often felt in comparison. I began to learn to feel that feeling in my body instead of in my brain.

And as I did that, I began to learn the signs that preceded it.

And perhaps the most important thing I learned, was that, while it was important for me to acknowledge and feel my own frustration for what it was, it was destructive to the process to expend it on Z. To do so would be to lock us into an escalation match where no one could win.

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A Fermented and Abundant Life

Growing up, it was hard to get away from this concept that when you fell in love with someone, you chose to give them a piece of your heart and yourself. And that because of that, you ought to be exceedingly careful because your heart was limited and there was only so much you could give away and never get back before you were broken beyond repair.

The more I live, the more I find that to be a bogus and moreover, terribly limiting and sad way to view life, love and risk.

I started making bread again this week. There are two ways to make bread:

  1. Buy yeast from the store
  2. Start and maintain your own yeast culture/dough starter

The draw to the first method is that it’s easy, convenient and requires little patience. You can simply go to the store (or go online and never have to leave your living room) and buy a bunch of yeast packets and be ready to make bread whenever the mood strikes you. Which may be often or may be not at all. And, your bread is more likely to consistently taste the same because the yeast itself is more consistent.

But while the second method does require both diligence and patience, it also yields bread with a much more complex and satisfying flavor profile, and forces you to keep making choices and keep perfecting your skill as a baker in order to keep your yeast colony alive. The taste, texture and density of the bread you make will be different each time as a function of the taste and quality of your starter, your timing, your temperature and your kneading, shaping and proofing skills. Your bread becomes a reflection of your environment at that exact moment.

One method is based on a scarcity and commerce-dependency model, while the other is based on an abundance and self-sustaining model.

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Expectation, Silence, Surprise

I think about how those three elements play themselves out in the rest of my life.

To me the expectation piece is the regularities, the habits, the tradition, the job, the things that keep you grounded.

Silence is the ability to live between the beats, to be quiet, to be still.

And the surprise is trying new things, becoming uncomfortable when you break some patterns.

And the craft is in the mastery of all three. If one takes over, you’re in trouble.
Habits turn into addiction. Silence into solitude. And surprise into instability.

As always, I love this thing Ze said once. And I think it really covers it. And I like that it’s a more abstract, high-level way to look at and consider the year past and the year to come.

It helps to put things in perspective.

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