Isn’t it funny the way a day can rush by, a week can be gone before you even know what happened to it? It never ceases to amaze me, the way some weeks feel like class V rapids in the river of a year, and others are a slow summer trickle, the burble and splash of a backyard creek. This week—a rapid week. Deadlines, puppy classes, sister date nights, the sting of hurt feelings, pinging calendar alarms, driving, driving, driving, the bright lights of the climbing gym, late nights and too early mornings, dentist appointments and one really good bottle of wine. Nothing bad, you know. But busy enough that now that I’m here, on this early Saturday morning, I find myself praying for calmer waters ahead. I’ve got a couple of back pocket stories I want to share—a trip to the ranch, a chukar hunt that’s long overdue, a little sojourn to the Clackamas river last weekend—that I’ll get to in the next few days (fingers crossed). For now, a few expansions on Musings, some of the lovely mundane I'm working so hard to treasure--and other odds and ends, little moments of grace I'm thankful for this week.

For Christmas one of the things Darren got me was a really exceptional, handmade tagine and I've been itching for the chance to use it. The problem, or really the beauty of tagines, is that they're family style--it's hard to make a dinner for two without spending the next two weeks eating leftover tagine. So naturally I invited my whole family over for her maiden voyage, and it was sublime. Every now and then I make something and think, my God, I actually am beginning to be a good cook. There are those meals that prove you're starting to know a thing in the kitchen, and this was one of them. The lamb fell apart with the slightest quiver from the tiniest tine of a fork, a buttery, melty mess over couscous that may be what I request as my last meal, should it ever come to that. I paired it with a cilantro parsley sauce that had a little kick, and it was perfection on a plate. Holy crow did I love it. I think everyone else did too. We followed it up, my noisy clan and I, with a trip to Cloud City, God's gift to ice cream lovers everywhere, and I felt so much like myself, amid these people who know me so well, and who love and appreciate the ways that I can grow.

I took Cedar to his first puppy kindergarten class on Tuesday night. It was something I thought he would love--playing with the other puppies, lots of treats--right up his alley. He fell asleep on the way over in the car, his little dark face blending in with his blanket, so when we got there and pushed through the door he was still blinking away tired. The other puppies and parents were arranged in a circle, so I walked him through the middle, his little stub tail tucked all the way under and his ears flapping by the side of his neck. When we got to our spot, he immediately climbed in my lap and hid his face in the crook of my arm, the way he does when something is very, very overwhelming. And that's about how the rest of class went--a crying, sensory overloaded and shy puppy made worse by an over-enthusiastic golden retriever, and me, bummed out that I brought my puppy to what basically amounted to a torture camp for him.

Oh well. Next week will be better, or so I keep telling myself. But I think it will be, because lately I've been taking Cedar for long walks around the Reed Canyon loop, and every time we go it gets a little easier to convince him joggers won't hurt him and there's no need to chuff at approaching strangers. We walk the loop that is so familiar to me, but all new to him--things to smell, squirrels to marvel at, birds to track as they move between the trees. The other night we were out past sunset, and while the day dimmed we watched the lake turn pink in homage to the sky. A moment of stillness, peace, in an otherwise frenetic day--and we were both quiet in our own reflections as we turned towards home.

On Wednesday, we climbed with my aunt and uncle. My aunt has come once before, but this is my uncle's first time. I can hardly contain my excitement--it's something I've wanted my family, those nearest and dearest to my heart, to understand. The impulse to move up, to explore, to cling to something with all your might, to push through mental and physical barriers, nothing does that for me quite like climbing does. And it goes really well! They both like bouldering better than wall climbing, which makes sense for two height intimidated people, but either way I think they get it. I am amazed at both their willingness to try new things--my Aunt makes it to the top of a route on her third push, something that took her our whole climbing session last time, my Uncle muscles his way up a route I would struggle on, and attempts a dyno move on a bouldering route that I could think of a thousand reasons not to do. It's another glimpse into the world of my dad and his brothers--this what the hell attitude that has earned them legendary status as madmen and geniuses.

And so the week goes--on and on, in ups and downs and turn-arounds. Now we're about to take the kennel of dogs we have currently battling in our living room on a hike--it will be wet, and rainy, and we're going to have a pack of muddy animals, but at least they'll be moderately calmer. Until then!

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