Monday, March 31, 2014

When to give up the bottle and go grey

The truth is since I've been living from The Glampette the past few months it's made some things easier and some things more challenging. Being able to reach everything in my "home" while sitting in the center of it is a benefit if you don't like having to walk from room to room in a traditional home. Coloring my hair with a home kit would be one of the challenging things.

Here's the thing, when I do go grey I have no intention of cutting my hair short. But, I wondered what does long silver-grey hair that is bright sparkling white (like my mom's) look like? I don't see a lot of examples of it in my day to day life. My mom has the kind of beautiful white hair that strangers stop and compliment her they thing her hair is so pretty. So, I went on Pinterest and these are some of the pictures I found and pinned to a new board I titled "Natural Beauty."

WOW! When I saw these women two things crossed my mind:

1. I wish all of my hair would go white/silver overnight. Where my hair has gone grey it is the same bright white as my mom's and Yasmini Rossi's in the Pinterest photos above.

2. I wish I'd never started coloring my hair.

I've always told myself when white roots frame my face that's when I'll stop coloring my hair and go natural.

Well, just a month ago I noticed that it had happened. The greys had made it to the front line. There they were, three silvery white hairs along my left temple. There were a couple more just behind them but they'd been fairly unnoticeable until the frontrunners showed up. What to do? Keep the word I made to myself and stop coloring? Or continue coloring a while longer? My living situation has definitely motivated me to just stop coloring for now and see what happens.

At the very worst I might not like it and can go back to coloring. If I do like it I think it'll be one more liberating step to be more authentically me and be more comfortable in my own skin, like the way I felt when I gave up the lipstick last year.

After seeing a lot of photos online that show what it looks like to grow out dyed hair I realized this would be a good time, for me, to give up the bottle. My greys are sparse enough to not create the dreaded "skunk stripe" as the whites grow in and contrast with my dyed color. I'm not even sure of exactly how much grey hair I have.

I noticed my first grey hairs around the time I was 34 years old. At first I ignored them. When they became more noticeable I shifted my part-line from the right side of my head to the left to hide the conspicuous cluster that seemed to have sprung up overnight and out of nowhere. This solution worked for several years until they began creeping to the left side of the top of my head. The horror!

At that time I decided to start coloring my hair. At first I went to a salon, but soon I decided to simply color at home since I didn't want highlights or anything fancy. For years I spent $8 a month on a box of color ($6 when they were on sale) and happily spent 20 minutes a month dying my white roots to black. When they became more plentiful I switched to a dark brown to lessen the demarcation line as the greys grew out.

When I first told my stylist my decision he didn't sound as excited as I felt about it. . . Until he saw my Pinterest board. Then not only was he on board, he sounded even more excited than I was about wishing my hair could go all white as soon as possible.

I know most women dread getting and looking older but to be honest I feel like I've earned every grey hair and wrinkle that's come my way. I don't look at them as signs of aging but rather a testament to making it this far in life. And that is, in my opinion, something to celebrate as we all age.

ETA: 7 things mom didn't tell us about going gray

Thursday, March 20, 2014

#TBT Rock'in the go go boots

Here it is, my second Throwback Thursday contribution.

When I was in preschool we had a circus where all the kids dressed up and put on a show for our parents. I was a lion tamer. I still remember my mom sewing this costume and getting to wear the cute white go go boots. I felt like Pebbles from The Flintstones, only more Asian. Looking at the pictures now I marvel that she made my skirt sooooo short. What was she thinking? LOL

Clearly I was a natural at cracking the whip.

The funniest thing about these pictures, to me, is that I have always preferred wearing boots over dress shoes. Doesn't matter what kind of boots, they can be flat, high heeled, lace up, casual, dressy, cowboy, so long as they're boots. I think this circus is where it all began. So glad I wasn't one of the ballerinas. . .  Their shoes were pretty but not nearly as cool as white go go boots when you're in preschool.

I know a lot of you are worried about how I'm doing without Kitai. Just wanted to reassure everyone with a happy post that I'm keeping my chin up. Yes, there are many tears that fall each day but I'm doing my best to sleep, eat, and take good care of myself. I know the coming weeks won't be easy but I will get through them. I guess by posting on my blog it's a good way to let everyone know that I'm doing ok.

A once in a lifetime dog. . . RIP Kitai

I sent you away on a Tuesday, Kitai. It was two days before spring, the sky was blue, the breeze cool, and the sun shone brightly upon us as we spent our last day together.

My little sleepyhead napping the morning and afternoon away.

There are no words to articulate just how much I loved (and still love) Kitai. He was my touchstone, my best buddy, confidant, and travel companion. We were a perfect pair Kitai and I. It's wonderful how every now and then life brings you to exactly the place you need to be so that you meet exactly who you were meant to meet and wonderful things can happen.

The last two days of his life he also enjoyed the added luxury of lunch, a meal he never had until I realized there were three Niman Ranch hotdogs left and only two days of time left for my little fuzzball to eat them.

He loved lunch.

His face would light up when he realized he was getting an extra meal.

In the past five weeks he also enjoyed countless (daily) bully sticks. I can't even tell you how many he had but I'm pretty sure the people at the feed store must have thought I had multiple dogs at home because I was purchasing four or five at a time for weeks.

He enjoyed his last bully stick the night before he passed, gnawing away at it until there was nothing left but a little nub.

 You can tell even in this picture that he was tired. Though they were still bright, his eyes weren't quite as open as they used to be and if he wasn't eating all he wanted to do was sleep.

The day I adopted him from the shelter back in 2003 neither of us had any idea the adventures we would embark upon or that he would become TheCutestDogEver.com. The most notable moment in his life was probably our trip to NYC to be on the TODAY show Halloween morning 2007 when Kitai appeared as "The Dog Whisperer." He also had small cameos on HGTV, the Tonight Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Check out his press page to learn more.

Kitai was a goodwill ambassador for shelter dogs everywhere.

His Chia Pet costume continues to go viral on Pinterest. He was my muse, my model, unbelievably adorable, and a really good sport when it came to all of his costumes happily sitting through fittings for extra treats.

Our first night together we shared my twin bed. He fell off in the middle of the night. The next night I put him on the inside... And I fell off during the night. LOL. After that I bought a double bed so we could spend the night in comfort and safety.

The past few months we'd been sleeping in The Glampette together on a 31" wide mattress. Can't get much cozier than that. I loved it. I loved having him near even when he insisted on sleeping sideways taking up the entire width of the mattress. He would snore, kick me, and whenever he wanted a drink of water he'd have to wake me up and stare at the counter because I kept his water dish up there because there is no floor space.

In The Glampette

After he got sick he'd sometimes need to drink water 3-5 times a night and go out to go to the bathroom an equal number of times. Despite the interruptions I didn't mind. Everything I did for him I did out of love. There was nothing to be annoyed at or begrudge, he would just look at me with those warm brown eyes and I'd just melt. He also wanted to sit outside most nights enjoying the cool night air. The Prednisone made him hot and The Glampette being so well insulated it was just too warm for him sometimes even with the windows open and the vent fan running.

I made a mosquito net curtain so I could leave the trailer door open while keeping an eye on him. The nights he would sit outside and gaze at the sky I'd sit in the trailer and gaze at him wondering if he knew he was sick? Did he know he was dying? When was going to be the right time to let him go? And would I be ok once he was gone?

In the end I know I chose exactly the right time. Yesterday even though he eagerly ate breakfast and lunch he was more tired than he'd ever been before, his breathing was just barely audible in his throat at times even when he was resting. I knew that he was starting down the slippery slope where his health would fail and at some point he would truly begin to suffer. . . So I had to let him go.

Because he'd recently become so frightened of the veterinary staff I stopped by the office earlier in the afternoon and picked up an oral tranquilizer so that he's be slightly sedated when the time came. I took him for a walk at Villa Montalvo carrying him up the trail inclines and letting him walk down the descents. Then we went to the plaza in Downtown Saratoga and sat and people watched as I pet him and gave him belly rubs until it was time to give him the sedative (hidden in more hot dogs). The minutes flew by until 45 minutes later, it was time to head back to the Vet's office.

Before I moved to the passenger seat to hold him in my arms.

After a Vet Technician had inserted a catheter in his front leg I spent another twenty minutes with him in the car before I changed seats and held him on my lap as the vet gave him the final injection. His breathing stopped within seconds and I knew he was gone. His passing was quiet and peaceful. I felt I'd done all I could to ensure his death would come with the same care and concern I'd given his life.

Right now I feel utterly lost and alone. I can't believe he's really gone. It's like my little fuzzy sun has been taken away. All of the light and love he brought to my life, that he gave to me from the day I brought him home, it's all gone now replaced with tears, Kleenex, and yearning to hear the sound of his clinking collar tag, the click click click of his toenails on hard floors, his snoring in the trailer at night, and those beautiful brown eyes gazing back at me every time I looked at him.

A sad selfie the morning after.

Today the hardest parts have been the breaks from our routines. Not greeting and petting him in the morning, not feeding him breakfast, not walking around with him or seeing him hiding from the sun beneath The Glampette. I realized today how much I would chatter and talk to him as if he was a person. At times I caught myself almost saying out loud "Come on sweetie boy," but there was no little dog to follow me.

I'm sharing the sad selfie because I think a lot of us were raised to not show our sad emotions. But grieving is a natural process and letting people see or know about your grief is nothing to be ashamed of. It's part of the human condition and the sooner you allow yourself to experience your feelings the sooner healing can begin. It doesn't mean you move past it and forget about your loved one. Instead I think it means that you process it so that you ultimately find a way to accept the loss and adjust to life without them.

One thing I am certain of, and I don't have to live another day to know, is that I will never again be lucky enough to find another dog as special as Kitai. He was a once in a lifetime kind of dog. I am blessed to have had 11 years with him but will always wish we'd had more time. We needed time for one more cuddle, one more scritchy scratch under his chin, one more walk, one more chance for me to make him wag his tail, and one more chance to feel my heart fill and overflow with love just looking at him.

Rest in peace Kitai. You were the best dog ever and I will forever be grateful for having you in my life. Today I found so many things that belonged to you all over the place in the trailer, in my purse, and in the car. I will gather them all together and donate them to a local rescue so that other doggies can be helped by you. Someday in the future when I've moved and resettled I will adopt another dog from a kill shelter and his or her life will be your legacy because when you left you made room for me to save another. 

I hope you understand why I sent you away and that you arrived at your destination on angel's wings my sweet, fuzzy, little boy. I know someday we'll be together again because I'm certain our souls are connected forever and always. 

Updates on Kitai's Condition:

What was left of my heart is being put to the test - February 10, 2014

Kitai Update: Lymphoma and Prednisone - February 13, 2014

True Love: A girl and her dog - February 21, 2014

Kitai Update: Looking for signs - February 26, 2014

Kitai Update: Hanging in there - March 9, 2014

Kitai is almost out of time - March 17, 2014

A once in a lifetime dog. . . RIP Kitai - March 19, 2014

It's been four weeks since you left me - April 15, 2014

Dear Kitai, It's been a year since you left me - March 18, 2015

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kitai is almost out of time

Last night I discovered the lymph nodes on the left side of his throat that had receded have enlarged again. This means that the Prednisone is no longer keeping the cancer at bay and at some point, maybe in a week, maybe by tomorrow, his throat will most likely become constricted by the nodes pressing in on each side. When that happens he will have difficulty swallowing, then breathing.

I am going to miss this little face in the mornings.

All along I've said I don't want him to suffer, that I'd rather let him go a little too soon than wait too long. Well, saying it and doing it are two different things. This morning I've been telling myself he may still have 2 or 3 good days left. He's still eager to eat and bright eyed when something fun is afoot. Do I really want to take those possible good days away from him by having him euthanized sooner vs. later?

I've been going back and forth in my mind that this is another one of those between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place decisions I have to make for his benefit. The first was do I choose chemo or palliative care? Then came do I choose high doses of Prednisone that will hold back the cancer for a few weeks or low doses that won'd damage his internal organs but would allow the cancer to escalate more quickly? Now this. Do I let him go before he shows signs of distress or wait for him to be uncomfortable?

Last Friday I did take him in for a blood draw to assess his kidney function. It turns out both his liver and one kidney enzyme are elevated. The Vet said the kidney level could be due to a urinary tract infection, until I told her about the re-enlarged lymph nodes. Then she got really quiet while she searched for the words to tell me that we're about to run out of time and options to keep Kitai both alive and comfortable.

In my heart I know the most important thing is that he not suffer. I will watch him like a hawk today and if I notice he is in any distress at all I will take him in. If he makes it through tonight I will take him tomorrow and let him go. There's just something awful about scheduling his euthanasia. It feels like I'm his executioner. I know it's a completely different thing but it still feels like that sometimes when I think about it.

Once he's gone it will be the end to one of the best chapters of my life. Without him it's hard to imagine I'll ever be happy again. I know I will be but at the same time I know no matter how happy I am I'll always think to myself that things could have been even better if he was still with me. And the truth is, I'm sure they would have been.

Updates on Kitai's Condition:

What was left of my heart is being put to the test - February 10, 2014

Kitai Update: Lymphoma and Prednisone - February 13, 2014

True Love: A girl and her dog - February 21, 2014

Kitai Update: Looking for signs - February 26, 2014

Kitai Update: Hanging in there - March 9, 2014

Kitai is almost out of time - March 17, 2014

A once in a lifetime dog. . . RIP Kitai - March 19, 2014

It's been four weeks since you left me - April 15, 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A glorious, green, St. Patrick's Day, potluck dinner

It's not too late! Call or message your foodie friends and see if they want to get together for a green dinner tomorrow for St. Patrick's Day!

My foodie friend Carl Mindling has been hosting Green Dinners for years. This was the third I'd attended. In past years he prepared all or most of the food. But a few years ago we decided a potluck might be more fun because Carl has lots of friends who love to cook and bake. . . So here we were celebrating last evening. The appetizers were enough to be a dinner all on their own...

Carl kicked off the evening with a new recipe that I loved: Avocado Hummus with toasted coriander and avocado oil

There were also plenty or ready to serve green options, a time saver if you don't go potluck and prepare everything yourself. Fried green beans with sea salt, shelled pistachios, green olives, and crackers for the hummus and spreads weren't green but were served in a beautiful green bowl.

Carl also tried this new recipe: Avocado Lime Deviled Eggs. He used a piping bag so his were even prettier than the ones in the original recipe he found online.

More ready to serve options: Peperoncini, artichoke tapenade, pickled artichoke hearts, and cornichons with pearl onions.

Dinner guest Andy brought two dishes starting with what he called "Green Cheese." It was buratta cheese with a homemade pesto on top that blended together as you dipped crackers into the mix. It was fantastic!

Carl also made an Avocado Chimichurri Bruschetta. I'd like to share two things about this recipe:

1. Anytime you would make guacamole or use avocado's in Mexican food I'd try this recipe instead. It's lighter, different, and a nice change of pace.

2. This recipe comes from Vegetarian Times. A lot of people dismiss vegetarian recipe sources because they're meat eaters. But not every dish has to have meat in it to be outstanding so maybe take a peek at a vegetarian cookbook, magazine, or cooking website from time to time. You may be pleasantly surprised.

It was so gorgeous I had to give you a close up :)

Andy also made a Sorrel Soup. While not as bright and vivid as the Nettle Soup he made at a previous green dinner, it was delicious with a distinct citrus note that comes from the sorrel itself. I love how Andy is always stretching our taste buds to try things we've never tasted before.

This was my contribution. A Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad via Pizza Antica. It was a lot of work because you have to peel apart the Brussels Sprouts leaf by leaf. I quickly discovered the easiest way to do this was:

1. Cut the end of the stem off to release some of the lower leaves.
2. Place the sprout in a med/large bowl of cold water because the leaves come apart more easily. Peel off as many leaves as possible. They're not going to just fall apart, you have to gently ease them apart without tearing them.
3. Cut the stem again releasing the rest of the leaves and repeat step 2.

The salad also includes caramelized red onions. hard boiled egg, herb bread croutons (I made mine from a loaf of Acme Herb Slab), and a vinaigrette also made from scratch.

Carl reprised the Avocado Pesto Pasta dish I'd made at his 2012 Green Dinner. It's a non dairy creamy pasta sauce made with avocados and fresh basil that tastes bright, fresh, and can be a side dish or main course.

Our new friend Paige brought a Green Mole Chicken dish. It was very good. It complemented the salad and the pasta and kept the green theme intact through each course.

After dinner Carl stepped out of his cooking chef's hat and baked a Key Lime Pie... From scratch! It was a two person endeavor with his wife Kim making a to-die-for, gluten free, graham cracker crust from scratch, and Carl baking the pie not once but twice due to a pietastrophe during his first attempt. If you know him you should ask him about it sometime. LOL it's a good story.

Each slice of pie was topped off with freshly whipped coconut milk whipped cream. It was a perfect ending to another successful Green Dinner. We enjoyed our pie gathered around a campfire Carl had stoked earlier in the evening in his backyard.

So what are you waiting for? There's still time to plan your own green dinner for tomorrow night! If you throw one let me know and send some photos. I'll add them to this post.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A delicious surprise: Agave in Mountain View

On the northwest corner at the intersection of Castro and Villa Steets in downtown Mountain View my friend Judy and I found a gem of a Mexican restaurant. We chose Agave because they had outdoor seating, perfect because Kitai was with us. A look at the menu and we both commented that the prices seemed a little high. That observation quickly made sense once we saw and tasted the food. Agave is all about flavor, freshness, and quality with portions that were enough to fill us both up at our late lunch.

The red was not too spicy and the green was nice and tangy.

When the chips and salsas arrived I immediately knew we'd chosen a good restaurant. One bite and I could tell the sauces were made from scratch. There was both a freshness and depth of flavor I haven't ever experienced from a can or jar. The chips were also exceptional in both texture and flavor, something I noticed because I hate chips that have no flavor or taste like they were fried in old, stale oil. At that point I was very much looking forward to my meal. . .

I'd ordered the Veggie Enchiladas lunch special. They were superb. The vegetables (corn, onion, squash, and tomato) were impeccably fresh and the green sauce was delicious. I ate every bit of the rice and black beans too. In fact, I cleaned my plate and bowl.

Agave's Sangria

Agave is one of four sister restaurants that include Fiesta Del Mar and Fiesta Del Mar Too (also in Mountain View) and the Blue Agave Club (in Pleasanton).

Here's where you'll find them:

Agave - website
Phone: 650-969-6767
194 Castro Street
Mountain View CA 94041

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Kitai Update: Hanging in there

This picture kind of sums up how Kitai has been feeling lately since his Lymphoma diagnosis. Not as bright eyed as he used to be, sleeping more, and sometimes a little out of sorts. He stumbles every now and then and the Prednisone seems to be making him hot so he pants more and one day he decided to take a nap in a puddle. Not quite sure how he managed to get both of his legs through a single leg hole on his harness while lying in the puddle but he did.

He does feel good and happy a lot of the time. For instance any time food is involved he's eager to eat and is just like his old self.

And bully sticks bring out the best in him. They're high in calories but right now I don't care if he eats a million calories a day if it makes him happy. Normally a single bully stick would last him one to two weeks. Now? Now he eats one almost every day.

And the moment he realizes he gets to go for a walk his eyes get bright, his ears prick forward, and he can't wait to have me put his harness on.

Nights have been the hardest time of day for him. He gets hot, and I mean really hot, when we go to sleep at night. With the vent fan running all night he eventually cools down and falls asleep. When he first got sick he would wake me up 4-5 times a night to go outside to go to the bathroom or for a drink of water (there's not enough room in the trailer to set a bowl out so I keep it on the counter and hold it for him when he's thirsty). Lately, he's been sleeping through the night which is both a good thing (for me so I can get a full night of rest) and at the same time worrisome that it could be a not so good sign that his system is slowing down.

Sweet dreams while Henrietta Chicken watches over him.

Most of the lymph nodes receded at the end of last week but the large ones on his throat and shoulder are still there which means I'll keep up the high doses of Prednisone for his palliative care until it stops working or damages his internal organs. It's a hard thing living day to day knowing that our time left is so limited. But, we're living in the now and still enjoying far more good times than bad.

Updates on Kitai's Condition:

What was left of my heart is being put to the test - February 10, 2014

Kitai Update: Lymphoma and Prednisone - February 13, 2014

True Love: A girl and her dog - February 21, 2014

Kitai Update: Looking for signs - February 26, 2014

Kitai Update: Hanging in there - March 9, 2014

Kitai is almost out of time - March 17, 2014

A once in a lifetime dog. . . RIP Kitai - March 19, 2014

It's been four weeks since you left me - April 15, 2014

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Late to the Throwback Thursday party

If you're on Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook no doubt you've seen people posting childhood pictures with the hashtag #throwbackthursday. I thought to myself it was fun seeing pictures of my friends when they were younger but hadn't participated because I haven't had easy access to my childhood photos for several months now. They're currently residing in a storage unit. But, I realized just the other night that I did have one picture on my iPhone.

Technically speaking it's a picture of a picture. Not sure how old I was here. What I do recall is that I loved red sneakers and Sweet William flowers. I picked the flowers out of our backyard and decided to wear them in my hair. Thank goodness I had on that headband or I'd have only been able to wear two sets of flowers, one behind each ear. Instead I adorned myself with six hair clusters. LOL

If I can find my photo album in my storage unit I'll try to pull a few more images to post in upcoming weeks. I have a great picture of me in white go go boots in preschool. Maybe I'll be able to share it with you next Thursday :)