Panda's First Smile

Panda's First Smile
PandaPig's First Smile!

Monday, May 5, 2014


(Please press the PLAY button at bottom left if the red one in the middle doesn't work to hear this stunning song, tonight's Anthem…dedicated to all of you who have made these the best times of our lives! Thank you…listen…read…feel our gratitude)



Why feature this brilliant song by Green Day on our Guinea Pig blog? Because we wish this for you.  Things happen. Life changes. This morning the piggies had such a fun Runabout, almost like old times. 


It took me back to the hospital by ambulance, heart rate dangerously low, spiked a fever, weight plunged to 85 lbs. with literally no muscle mass, caught yet another infection, immune system compromised…the superfood my naturopath gave me is unfortunately also feeding multiple infections which no longer respond to treatment. The doctor at the hospital finally confessed that if we don't get a handle on it...


This is what PandaPigSanctuary Blog means to us, to me.

We don't know if I will get well or Life will grab us by the wrist, direct us where to go…it's unpredictable, which is why I so love this song, it's so true, so real, raw: And beautiful.

We have faith that whatever happens is right and meant to be. 

POI and Sami Cat moved in while I was in hospital to care for the piggies and they're staying on to care for me, too. After a crushingly difficult day at work - and we're many bus rides away now, living up here - the sacrifices POI (my special "Person of Interest" who won't let me use his name yelling out: "I don't want to leave a Cyber Footprint!") the sacrifices he makes day and night for us- God love him! No way anyone who scrolls back a few years will ever guess who this noble soul is, heh-heh! He will remain by our side. As you have.

He and two other caregivers plus the Transitions to Hospice Team are tiding me over, enabling us to stay in our new home. I am determined to remain here as one family and we'll learn as we go.

No, we will not be returning to Bellingham, so will take these photographs and still frames in our mind...from our years there together with you...and we will hang them forever in our hearts in good health and good time…and perhaps return to blog again.

"FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH, IT WAS WORTH ALL THE WHILE…" Please listen to the lyrics, to understand how we feel.

I am too weak to keep up the blog now...


We sure have!

Thank you for sharing yours with us, we love you, every single reader, you have helped the pigs and I have the time of our life. 
This song's for you!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

And So We Just Be Ourselves

Dear Friends, O, how i wish to post photos of the piggies for you and hope to get that figured out, but we all wished to say "HI!" and thank you for thinking about us and your loving prayers: HAPPY SPRING!

This month has been full of change and transitions. First, thank you again to Ms. A, whose blog is linked here for she has been sharing her hard-earned research with me: As many of you already know, her son had a heart transplant and she is the one who originally suggested my getting tested for what he had. Which nobody I've ever met ever heard of before and whose letters, MTHFR, form an acronym for a naughty word. Having tested positive for two genetic mutations, we have also discovered an immune system deficiency and guess what? YO! That's all I really want to say about it because that's not who we are! Sickness does not define us! Life does. Life is who we are, living is a Gift, we are in such a good place, all things considered: the guineas just received their giant carpet remnant so finally get to Runabout again: eagerly racing 
in-between cages (that get pulled apart when they're out to create a maze!) exciting uninhibited curiosity as they explore, rumblestrut, race, and rejoice upon discovering hidden tidbits of salad veggies while holding more meetings than Congress, rubbing noses while boasting competitively to see who had the Best Runabout! They GET THINGS DONE: Maybe we should nominate Guinea Pigs to represent us in Congress?  Won't even start...

Since my futon is beside them I get to fall asleep to the soothing, contented munching of hay each night, which makes me wonder: am I'm sleeping in a manger? They play and eat with enthusiasm, live in the moment, worry about nothing, and are grateful for whatever they receive: I envy the guinea pigs and wish I was more like them. 
(Those Little Buddhas: How wise they truly are.)

Just above and out my window, what I so desperately longed for all those months we were incarcerated in downtown Seattle: AT LONG LAST: Evergreen Tree-Tops; Puffy, White Clouds, and within & without that Never-ending Canopy of Sky fly that pair of bald eagles whose nest is, no doubt, near Puget Sound. Waking up and from bed beholding their broad-winged, aerial Sky-Dance, (sometimes choreographed by crows!) - and soaring circles which only broaden and relax as they warm outstretched wings beneath the sun we are finally receiving…i fly with them, letting go of bodily things and just living in Spirit, Freedom. Eagles.

There's a fine line between acceptance and giving up. Acceptance for what one cannot change, like in the Serenity Prayer. And that would define April. I fought like a pit bull to get well for a year now. The good part is finally being able to nest in our new apartment and the Seattle area's tremendous resources for "living-in-place" with a few amazing caregivers (Yes, It really does take a Village!) all of whom are uniquely wonderful. A year. Now to accept, have the courage to share that I feel terribly vulnerable not being able to care for myself, that I am - at times - unbearably homesick and that I do grieve, yes, not just for Bellingham but for having felt that everything was exactly as it should be: That wilderness still exists and to have enjoyed the strength to embrace it - and Life - so wholeheartedly with unbridled passion! Yes, i miss feeling that alive. I have been reprimanded for grieving by being reminded how much worse things could be, but you know what, as true as that is, it does not mean we are not entitled to our own pain…My God! I have tried not to expose myself to too much media about the recent tragic landslide yet still wake up having nightmares about it having heard the extraordinary stories of survivors! Grieving for ourselves can also open our hearts to the pain of those around us whom we do not know. Suppressing my own sadness would not allow me to feel theirs. Life is not a competition of suffering, it's an opportunity to unfold our capacity for the courage to feel and empathize with unimaginable pain being borne by those we've never met, never will, yet feel so agonizingly close to!

Life flows like a river, it cannot remain stagnant and neither could the happiness and joy we experienced before remain that way forever. It was counter-intuitive to expect we could come here, get well, pick up where we left off, and - what?   Get well, find LIFE where we left off, just on a different mountain, replacing Mt. Baker with Mt. Rainer?

We arrived a year ago, albeit reluctantly, with a Plan, dubbed ingeniously: "The Plan"! I was encouraged to use Creative Visualization for health and imagine life as I wanted it to Be OOPSY! I mistook snowshoeing the glaciers of Mt. Rainier for Reality…boy was that dumb! Hope and Positive Thinkingcan be a good thing. And are. They have the value of taking one out of a moment which feels unendurable and replacing it with a moment which does feel endurable. Only problem, if it doesn't come true, the original unendurable moment only feels more unendurable. Renowned Tibetan Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, has a lot to say about this kind of hope and since I don't want you to shoot the messenger (in this case, me) I won't admit to agreeing with her, just pretend you didn't read this. There's also something to be said for accepting "what is." Breathing in. Breathing out. Forgetting the past, not worrying about the future, breathing in and breathing out without fleeing what feels unendurable, breathing into endurance through Being Quiet and opening to gratitude for What Is. Simply That.

From this place, this very real bed which is not a glacier it is a bed and i am not snowshoeing i am lying in this very real bed because that is how - for now - Things Are in this very real moment, I can drop all pretenses of the Amazon Warrior i once was and concede: LOST. Though painful, breathing from a place that feels like Defeat is also liberating: sunshine streaming in through our adorable west-facing window and, at last, finally letting go those too-tightly-held imaginary reigns I never really held in the first place, just made it all up cuz it was so warm and fuzzy: ("YO! Yeah, You - from "Grey's Anatomy" in your starched, bleached-white lab coat, yeah, I'm talkin' to you! We left Paradise and moved here to see youso> MAKETH ME WELL AND MAKE HASTE while you're at it, you Slayers of Disease, you Healers of…?") Idiots? Cuz I be an idiot!  Astonishly, the earth did not stop turning just to accommodate my expection for wellness. Considering how many people with terminal illnesses face staggering odds with courage and grace, and gratitude: from them we have much to learn. I want to learn it. And live it. And share it. If I can't or don't get well, how then, to live above the fray of fear and in the Light of Faith, Courage, Love, Gratitude, and empathy for those also struggling, which, realistically, would be practically everyone for we do not know the inner pain a smiling face may mask…but we can become willing to. 

Today is beautiful. Discovered an elegance in Life's tiniest details, in the flower that - against all odds - somehow, some way pushed its tiny self through an even tinier crack in the concrete sidewalk because it was determined to Greet the Sun, Open and Blossom to Life higher then it ever imagined it could go. But it did imagine. And it endured and pushed and survived doubt, clawing its way faithfully until it DID BLOSSOM; not to be seen, noticed, or admired, but simply because it chose to bask in the Light of Life instead of beneath the darkness of a man-made sidewalk, concrete.  Who notices this Opus of Virtue, this quiet embodiment of courage and determination? Probably few, if any. In fact, people will probably step on this flower without even noticing that this tiny delicacy defied the odds of ever blooming to find its way without a map to the Sun, its only ambition to feel warmth, experience Light, and not be imprisoned forever underground.  
Maybe that's what illness gifts, discovering eloquence in smallness. Getting from bed to the kitchen sink a conquest no less significant than summiting Mt. Rainier. Caring for guinea pigs the only difference one can make in the world bringing meaning enough to the Transition from a life outside to a quiet Inwardness. Four guinea pigs: My life matters to them. So keep living! We don't come with a script, no one does. We all have our - as one MOD so wonderfully put it (yes, you know who you are) - our "left turns." I love that expression.

What I hope? That this left turn brings inner peace and deepens appreciation for those things once taken for granted. As we used to say at Passover with my immigrant grandparents when I was a little girl and the extended family all got together to celebrate our freedom, then our exile, then our Return to the Land of Milk and Honey: "Dayenu!" meaning - "It would have been enough." What we were given at each turn in our Exodus, whatever God bestowed upon us: Every single thing we needed wandering helplessly through that desert, "Dayenu!" we say at Passover. I am not observant. But I feel an Exile. And, inspired by the flowers that grow through cracks in sidewalks only to get stepped on, inspired by guinea pigs no one wanted yet who truly want me, Dayenu!

Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Welcome Spring!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Our Hearts Go Out to Mudslide Families Here in Washington State

Dear Friends,

We cannot include a photograph, nor any video in this post and know you understand why.

I am writing because we have been asked, since we just moved North of Seattle, whether or not we were involved in the catastrophic mudslide that took place here last weekend. Fortunately, we are safe and sound, though not so far away. It's been a struggle whether or not to post anything here about it, to include any footage of Buddy the dog being pulled alive from the rubble, but it is just too heartbreaking.

We know the area well from summers spent camping and hiking, and frozen winters spent snowshoeing beneath a full moon amidst the Silence of Trees. We have so many happy memories of a place that no longer exists.

Along with continuing human losses, there have been a few miracles, some family pets found still alive even though their own families perished. I don't know what to say. We just moved north, out of Seattle last month, to be closer to nature. Nearly every morning looking out my window a pair of bald eagles, wings outspread long and broad, ride thermals higher and higher in broadening loops above land and sea. It is quiet except for the sound of rain, wind, rustling of trees, and snow-covered peaks of the Olympic Mountain Range just smiling back at us from above evergreen tree-tops.

Although we were not there in the mudslide, we were all there and remain so because…how can anyone not feel affected by such catastrophic, tragic losses; even First Responders and volunteers now showing signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder…so friends, although we are O.K. please send love, prayers, and whatever feels comforting to those who have lost so much and still await news of the many missing. We have seen stories of three rescued dogs and the guinea pigs and I rejoice when a miracle family pet is discovered alive amidst the tragic rubble, yes they are being found, and there's always hope more will be...

A few weeks ago my heart stopped beating. I was fortunate to already be at the hospital, received CPR, and now we have some clues: two rare genetic mutations that attack the heart and many functions of the body and brain plus a possible auto-immune disease. Thank you, Ms. A, for recognizing in my symptoms this rare disease which neither I nor my physician had ever even heard of before! My weight now hovers at 100 lbs. even though with pain medication I am now able to eat, but physical therapists refuse to come anymore because there simply is not enough muscle mass to work with as weight and strength continue their downward spiral. I remain in the excellent Transitions-to-Hospice Program.

Good news is hoping we find an expert or expert team with extensive experience treating this rare defect…a dear friend has been caring for me and is training to become one of my two "official caregivers" and the guinea pigs love her kids! I am no longer snowshoeing beneath full moons, now nearly bed-bound or in a wheelchair, too weak much of the time to even stand up on my own. But, at least we are all together, the piggies and I, we finally have a real home, are loved and cared for by many, and POI cleans their homes on weekends. We are slowly adjusting, living simply, grateful for all we have, and grieving for those who have lost everything and nearly everyone: It's too close to home, but then, the entire world is our home so let's celebrate life: L'Chaim, and offer what comfort we can to those who grieve.

Thank you for asking if we are O.K.

chana and the PigZ

Monday, February 24, 2014

Emma the Wonderpig

Emma the Wonderpig is no ordinary "therapy animal" and neither are Peter-Peanut, Bhindi, Vinny-Guinea, and - of course - Squirrel!
We actually have a new home, a real home, to move into on Feb. 27th, our first in a year…and to ensure the Piggies stay in it if management ever changes their current "pets included" policy we are getting a note from our doctor describing them as "THERAPY PIGS" so it'll never be an issue. It came up back in Bellingham so we see it as a "pre-emptive strike" since the apartments aren't even finished, yet our favorite leasing agent is already moving on to another job.  Guinea Pig Magazine did a beautiful job in 2012 with their article on guinea pigs as Therapy Animals (as they are more appreciated in the U.K.) but increasingly, here in the U. S., they're proving themselves loveful, particularly with hospice patients too weak to handle even a small cat or dog. 

We hope to become well enough to get the computer repaired (or learn how to use it!) and provide photographs of the wee lads again  soon and are happy to report that Peter-Peanut has responded beautifully to the heart medications he'll be taking for the rest of his life.

For the moment, I am too weak to get out of bed (thank you friends who are paying for professional movers: we couldn't do it without you!) and the move is Feb. 27th, so - until I get my strength back - the herd and Sami the cat, who has treated them like her own kittens since "her" Chai passed away, will all live together with POI. Since so many memories of Chai remain at POI's, it will be especially comforting having the piggies along when they move back in to brighten things up, transforming the herd into "grief therapy animals" in that respect.

 I am not currently strong enough to give them all the care they deserve and medication treatments,  but their brand new "habitats" with all the bells and whistles arrive any day now, and soon our new apartment will belong to them again: As it should! We so look forward to that time…we've never been apart quite like this before but they've bonded so beautifully with POI that I'm the one feeling most left out! Despite surgery and post-op treatment, the infections have not yet cleared but soon I'll regain my strength - AND with it, THE PIGGIES - SO MUCH TO BE GRATEFUL FOR!

Hope you enjoyed this unusual news report because the extraordinary dispositions and personalities of guinea pigs is rarely appreciated in the U.S. but that perception is beginning to change, one pig at at time!

Thanks all of you for your prayers, love, cards, emails, and support. It's a New Beginning and we expect our reunion in our New Home in a wooded, quiet little hamlet just north of Seattle (but not IN SEATTLE) to be absolutely JOYOUS! So, here's to New Beginnings and HOPE! And gratitude for the unique healing power of guinea pigs: gentle, affectionate, kind, forever forgiving, and their very own unique brand of Wonderfulness!

God Bless ~

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Thrill of Victory - Team USA - Winter Olympics - Motivation

"I Can. I Will. I Must."

Hope you find some inspiration in the struggle our Olympic athletes endure for their minutes - or perhaps, seconds - to bring Glory not only to themselves, their country, NO, to The World, to Humanity! Because every athlete has a story. Every athlete has been told he or she was not good enough, not fast enough, not strong enough, not courageous enough: didn't have what it took…just like Life isn't it? Maybe a person doesn't say it, maybe Life just keeps knocking you down and the worst possible thing in the world happens: You start thinking - then saying - then believing - these things about yourself.

That happened to us this year. The pigs and me. 

I was a short-track speed skater training with a Special Olympics coach with aspirations of someday perhaps, perhaps…that first winter, someone I loved dearly passed away and the ice was where my tears fell, froze, I skated away from them, then back around the rink I skated over them  as new ones fell. It's how I got over that particular loss. Sports, wilderness, wildlife and animal rescue, friendship, art…there's no one "magic Bullet" it Takes A Village to endure what Life throws at us. But on the ice man, there's a rhythm, a flow…you catch it and have to be SO In The Moment nothing else exists. Or you fall. Same with cleaning out 6 guinea pig cages late at night when you know you don't have the energy so you listen to kd lang or Rufus Wainwright singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and instead of face planting in the middle of pig poo, everyone wheeks with joy and a clean cage full of fresh hay. YOU GET THROUGH IT. We always did. Then hit the ice, the slopes, the sea…smell the salty breeze of rain coming in from the West, or the icy wind of an Arctic Windstorm bringing in snowy owls, yeah, that was life less than two years ago. 

And it was Good. We lost pigs. You do in an animal rescue because they don't often enter with solid, healthy bodies but they come with open hearts every darn one of them.

And even the pain of grief, there would be snow to cry on if not ice…or rain…and another pig to rescue, another night to hear "Hallelujah" another hike on Mt. Baker with ravens to see God's pinkish alpenGLOW above 5,000 feet and know: It is Good!

We lost that. Somehow, slowly at first still in Bellingham and then moving to Seattle…at first I did know "I can. I will. I must." 

Yet, I didn't. The Piggies still do. They wrote a letter to our favorite magazine editor, Alison Byford, of Guinea Pig Magazine about life, they just wanted her to know how much the magazine means to guinea pigs and those of us who love them and those of us who will love them…and they didn't know it but there was a Letter Writing Contest and they won it! Their letter will be featured in the next issue of Guinea Pig Magazine, now published internationally online and in hard copy, and they'll ALSO receive a big bag of special pellets from across that big Pond!
Before we move.

Weighed in at 105 lbs. today, can barely stand, eat, sleep…don't know positively if all the paperwork will be ready in too short a time for us to move into our new apartment although miracles have been happening and we have no reason to believe they will stop now…

I haven't owned a T.V. in countless years. POI just walked into the last Olympics since they were right across the border from Bellingham, before we moved here. We aren't really paying much attention except to long-track speed skater Shani Davis hoping he wins his third Gold Medal, setting an Olympic record. He got told HE COULDN'T. So, he DID IT! Twice, maybe three times? GO, Shani, GO!

We actually skated with short-track Olympian J. R. Celski when he was still a little boy on the same ice Apolo Anton Ohno first trained on when HE was still a kid, and we've met them both - well, POI has not only met them but hung out with them, Ohno autographed POI's skates, and they had a good time.

POI has been noble. His caregiving has been Olympic Gold. We don't talk anymore about "feelings" because as I grow sicker in a place that feels like we got thrown in a garbage can last May there's nothing to say.

Breathe In. Breathe Out. Then do it again. Be in the moment. In. Then out. Just Breathe.

POI will care - as he has been - for the piggies until I get my strength back since Peter-Peanut has two heart conditions which are responding beautifully to the three medications he must take for the rest of his life. I dream of us having a place where we smell rain, feel incoming storms, with enough space for the piggies to dominate the floor like we hope Shani will on ice. 

What's changed from all this? Well, things seem impossible right now, I've been struggling with keeping my spirits. Because no matter how hard we try, Life has a Life of its own and I no longer see a Gold Medal snowshoeing Mt. Rainier's breathtaking glacial flanks…we don't even want to use the word "breathtaking" anymore…

"God can. God will. God must." I did my best. From this moment on, I will live this Thin Line the way we used to train, as an adventure! An adventure in Faith: It's the only Hallelujah left.

Thanks all of you who care so much for us. We are give us that little extra "Umph!" to keep fighting. Because we are really tired, man. And face-planting into a pile of pig poo might be the funniest, most healing thing that could possibly happen at this point: Hallelujah!

Monday, February 3, 2014

LIFE: On a Wing and a Prayer


{Out of respect for what you're about to read, this video is a subdued, "SINATRA-like" spin-off on our favorite video and place: "Bellingham State of Mind"... but with a special twist - it's actually IN NEW YORK & SEATTLE!} 

AND now to LIFE: Those of you who follow the "Sarcastic Granny" blog listed on the right side of our blog here - GREAT NEWS! A HEART ARRIVED FOR HER SON so today would all readers and loved ones,  friends, guinea pig slaves, one and all please send LOVE TO MICHAEL and his family, surgeons, and his new heart as the transplant is today…we'll let you know how it goes as soon as we find out - meanwhile: SEAHAWKS WON ON A WING, LET MICHAEL LIVE ON A PRAYER!


Friday, January 31, 2014

12th Pig: THE CITY CAN'T HOLD US! Seahawks, Macklemore, Superbowl Sunday: OH WHAT A FEELING!

CHECK THIS YOUTUBE OUT (full screen!) to understand what you are about to read:)

Heya from next to Seahawk Stadium two days before the Superbowl,

I just opened my eyes from meditation when a plane flew by waving a 12th Man flag through the Heavens and I felt something, we all feel something here we've never felt before. Why write about the Super Bowl…it's Spiritual, actually.

The guinea pigs and I live so close to "The Clink" (Seattle-speak for Century Link Field) that we can see all the way to where the stands meet the field! Yeah, that close. And, UNLESS YOU LIVE ON MARS, you know Seattle fans are so loud that on one run by Marshawn Lynch in FULL BEAST MODE the seismic lab at University of Washington was stunned to see the fans' cheering BLASTED a measurable earthquake!

YO, that's what we're talking about. (Now they got at least 3 seismic sensors in the stadium cuz 12th Man cheers so loud it not only registers on the richter scale but set the Guinness Book of World Records for "Loudest Fans EVAH at a Sporting Event") and the play-off game last Sunday only got louder…a local hospital gives out free earplugs so people don't go deaf, yeah, it  that loud.

You all know I been sick, the guineas been sick, and now we FINALLY moving out Feb. 27, but there's some hold-up so wunnerful POI gonna take the guineas when he moves back home to his apartment and WOW! - under POI's care, Peter-Peanut, 12th Pig, has gone from heart disease into his OWN "Beast Mode" runnin' with Squirrel for the first time in months without rapid heartbeat or collapsing after: the meds ARE WORKING! And I got surgery next Friday and have done everything I can to find us a home (and found 2) but because disabled housing got so much bureaucracy involved nothing guaranteed, like what I am trying to say is a moving van pulling' up here on Feb. 27th, but where it taking us? I don't know! Piggies going with POI for a little while; will help him and Sami adjust and grieve in an apartment without Chai, where POI has to deal with an array of Chai's toys, food bowls, stuff he marked, scratched up, pieces of his long, wonderful life still waiting.. it gonna be hard, but the guineas gonna help 'em cuz Sami now lives with them, standing where Chai used to, crying, then lying down…it's hard. We meditate, we try to be the best we can be, but at the end of some days we struggle, we do.

The city can't hold us! Nobody wanted these guinea pigs. Nobody wanted most of the players on the Seahwawks team, either; second, third draft choices - undesirable leftovers - including our coach who got fired from his last job, wondered "What did I do wrong?" then decided - when he got this job - to love his motley crew of "nobodies" like the father figure most of 'em never grew up with AND - READY? Yoga, Meditation, Positive Visualization, and INSPIRATION INSTEAD OF BERATING THEM. Seahawks coaches don't yell at the players like in the rest of the League, one coach confessed: "If I find myself yelling at a player who's wrong? It's me whose wrong because I have just undermined his confidence in himself. I am the one who needs to change!" ESPN magazine ran a front cover of quarterback Russell Wilson in his Seahawks uniform meditating in full lotus position - and what a STORM DID THAT CAUSE IN "MACHO-MAN" NFL?! Meditation? Mentorship? Loving the players like each one your own son? Finding their strengths and maximizing them, finding their weaknesses and minimizing them, encouraging and inspiring them until they get so good they inspire each other! Say WHAT?!

Ten days ago, preparing for the Playoffs against our nemesis, the San Fransisco 49'ers, Blackhawk helicopters circled, hovered, took surveillance with cameras attached to their noses and the lights at the Clink were on 24/7 for three days preparing for that Big game. I never went to one. Never. But we made a pilgrimage, POI and I did, and we listened on the radio trying to find a T.V. near the Clink while Lynch in BeastMode scored a touchdown and you know how in cartoons things happen like, the wind can blow somebody away Cuz it's a cartoon? Well, standing just in front of The CLINK that cheering nearly knock me OFF. MY. WALKER!  A SIDEWAYS EARTHQUAKE, WALL O'SOUND FOR REAL, yeah, the 12th Man and Seahawks…the City Can't Hold 'Em!

What's all this discursive rambling really all about? This: I get scared sometimes. Gonna get well? Gonna have a place to live when that moving van comes? How surgery gonna go in the midst of a growing list of "Things to Do"? How i gonna be ready? Things I got no control over. Deepen faith or enjoy a panic attack, it's a choice, I'm told. Russell Wilson's first play last week was a fumble!
FIRST PLAY OF THE GAME HERE AND HE FUMBLES AND THE 49'ers get the ball and are ahead of us at halftime. Macklemore (local awesome rappin' Grammy Winner) was the LIVE halftime show you didn't get to see cuz all those talking heads gotta blabber about who did what, but Macklemore got the 12th man SO PSYCHED that when we stormed back onto the field fans were so there for them and they came back with some  calls so courageous I call 'em "faith based" AND WE SCORED on those crazy calls, made spectacularly astonishing plays, and unless you live on the Moon we all know what happened with five seconds left…think even Martians on their red rock know who Richard Sherman is by now!
Is there a Point? She won't shut up. Stop writing or get to it, girl! FINE!
I FEEL LIKE RUSSELL WILSON when he just fumbled and the Seahawks lost possession on the first play of THE GAME!…who can know what went on inside his head but people "in the know" said the way they train with all their yoga and meditation, by the time they got back into the huddle he had already forgotten about it, focusing only on making a first down. Ten yards. One first down.
Then another: 60 minutes of first downs. What fumble? Fuggetaboutit! 

Our own unknown? Yours? We all have them: How we respond to them is what makes us who we are, whatever the outcome, can we BRING OUR BEST GAME TO EVERY PLAY? Uh-HUH!

The 12 Pigs are in the moment! They forgot being sick. They don't worry. Remember that Bobby McFerrin song "Don't Worry? Be Happy?" That's them 12th Pigs motto! They way ahead o' me!
 I don't have control over the housing, surgery, and when I tried being positive, excitedly commenting to the surgeon, "Wow, am I gonna feel BETTER AFTER THIS, huh?!" she looked at me with her same ole poker face remarking, "Not necessarily." But I gotta get better, we gotta have a new home, things gotta change for the better, it's a New Year and must remember: Only ten yards to go. Touchdowns are offspring of first downs. and forget the fumble, forget the fear, forget the past, get in the moment, Pigz shouting' "Ma, get into BEAST MODE ALREADY AND STOP WORRYING, JUST - MA, SEE THE GOALPOSTS? JUST KEEP ON RUNNIN THAT WAY, ONE YARD AT A TIME AND FOR EVERY TACKLE, FOR EVERY SINGLE SET-BACK PUSH IT OFF, MA, PUSH IT OFF AND FUGGETABOUTIT, KEEP ON RUNNING, ONE YARD AT A TIME, YOU PLAYED FOOTBALL AND WAS SO GOOD AT IT WHEN YOU WAS A LITTLE TOMBOY KEEP IT IN THE MOMENT, TACKLE DOWN THOSE THOUGHTS OF DOOM - JUST PUSH 'EM AWAY, RISE UP AND REMEMBER, one yard at a time. One first down. Then touchdown! Then do it all over again. That's just how life IS. Courage. Confidence. Faith. Keep the goalposts in view and never let 'em touch you, those thoughts, those doubts, just go BEAST MODE!

The City's on Fire! Nobody wanted those players: Russell Wilson's too short. One of 'em's deaf, They calling' Richard Sherman "a thug" instead of using "the N Word" (with a 3.9 GPA from Stanford University he smarter than maybe everybody else out there! Thug? Don't Think So!), Macklemore cancelled a concert in India so he could go with 'em to the Super Bowl; Yesterday Boeing unveiled and flew a new plane painted like a Seahawk, 12th Man flags waving EVERYWHERE from everyTHING…i gotta a lot to learn about perseverance, faith, and never giving up, never losing hope from this rag-tag team of nobodies who fumbled their first play yet dramatically went on to triumph. Next door.

We can hardly wait for the game. Now that I've done pretty much everything I can for health and home, nothing left but keep the faith. Seattle did. Pete Carroll did. Every single guy who was told he wasn't good for nothin' did (and other players, broadcasters, and sportswriters still talking smack about us? newsFLASH, y'all: Gonna be SURPRISED!) 

The 12th Pigs want me in full "Beast Mode" from now on with a smile and open palm overflowing with fresh salad, knowing everything gonna be all right. What have we learned living next to the CLINK instead of what we SO miss "back home" in Bellingham: that quiet, monastic, natural setting perfect for meditation, yoga, prayer, mountain bike riding, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing through fresh alpine powder in the alpenglow of the setting sun, fragrance of incoming storms, symphonies of birdsong?

A much needed LESSON IN FAITH,  actually: we got  EXACTLY WHAT WE NEEDED. 

Go every single one of YOU facing gut-wrenching adversity and uncertainty right now, and so many of you are…let's DO THIS THING! Thank you for being here for me. In sickness and in health. In courage and in fear.
You are here. Your prayers so near!

Friday, January 17, 2014


(So sorry, Vinny-Guinea, left your pic out - EEK!)


Dear Friends, Happy New Year to each and
every one of you! We know that some of you
are facing the toughest challenges of your lives
at this time and we are praying for you.

For some reason, BLOGGER does not work.
So here's an update on The Kidz since a few of
you have lovingly asked how we're doing, should
I tell the truth? I will.

While in hospital the Pigz became so ill we
thought we would lose them all, but today
they are happily running about the floor,
enjoying life, and only Peter-Peanut remains
ill with heart disease for which he is on much
medication but no longer has to be wrapped up
in a "Guinea Burrito" since his meds TASTE so darn
good POI just squirts 'em right into his mouth
through his habitat hoping for "rapid extraction" (trying to 
retract it) before The PeaNUT chomps down, 
actually snatching the thin, plastic syringe - wanting to eat it!
Today Peter-Peanut feels healthy again, and happy, 
what a fat, funny, fine boy-pig he is!
I took photos (that i can't figure out how to post, sorry)
 of The "Guinea Burritos" (maybe we don't want to remember
those dark days?) but wish we could show you 
Squirrel's Red Castle, wherein he hoards
so many toys and mini-hay bales and what-nots
we can't figure out how he sleeps in it, particularly
since he daily knocks it askew at the funniest
angle before lying down on "his treasures" for
naps…he and all the piggies individually 
redecorate their habitat areas so hysterically 
funny I really hoped to share pics but my 'puter
needs to get in the shop first, so just imagine 
 pigs every morning setting out to undo their
organized, clean homes into completely JOYOUS
CHAOS!!! They keep me laughing.

The truth? The post following this one is my 
favorite song, our anthem, Beyonce singing
 at a very special event hosted by the United Nations, 
"I Was Here,"
because I've gotten sicker and being  
"shut-in" - so not me - makes me wonder…do i matter?
Yes, I am struggling to find
hope and meaning in a life i no longer understand.

We hope to move into a "real apartment" in a 
nice, residential, quiet, safe, tree-filled
neighborhood in about 6 weeks and my friend
already there says it'll really boost our spirits!
 My immune system broke and the doctors aren't sure 
yet how to treat four refractory infections and a
minor surgery scheduled, I am down to 107 lbs.
and losing about a pound a day, in a lot of pain,
then start counting our blessings and none of
it matters! Many of YOU have a son, brother, wife,
friend you may lose and are yourselves dealing with hardships,
 so I can't complain just wanted to be honest:
As strength wanes, how can Life Be Meaningful?
How to make a difference?
I felt Beyonce's performance at the United Nations
answered this yearning for Purpose: It's the Little Things.
Do a Little Thing. It isn't Little to the creature,
friend, or stranger who receives it.
Leave footprints in the sand.
Please try to enjoy it full screen, it's simply remarkable.
(P.S. Rashmi in India, you knew this was our anthem
and we love you for it! But, how - of all the songs in
the Universe - you knew ours was THIS ONE?!
Chai's kitty gal-pal, Sami, now sleeps where he
used to with the piggies and cries 
every day for him, her grief continuing -
but the piggies cheer her up! Especially
watching Squirrel's hilarious daily obsessive-compulsive "EVERYTHING MUST BE EXACTLY PERFECT IN MY CAGE BUT NOT HOW MOM PUT IT, IT HAS TO BE ASKEW AND ODD, AND MY WAY, THE BEST WAY, SQUIRREL'S WAY!"AND BE NEAT (his version of it) every day as he rearranges everything entirely with his top-notchy-snout
and fluffy soft Squirrel-rump!

We are Here. Blogger Broke. So, it may be awhile before we can post again. Hope we're back better than ever real soon. Meanwhile, If a guinea pig smiles being skritchy-scratched in just the right spot, scampers about on a Happy Runabout, or eagerly snatches the soft round cardboard from an old roll of toilet paper before (How'd ya guess Squirrel?) pounding it up and down with all his might in a Guinea-Frenzy of JOY, then We Were Here. 
(And we need a new roll of toilet paper. See, don't get out much!)

 What I love about Beyonce's
song in the presentation you are about to
enjoy on the next post is that we can find ways
to matter, and we can make a difference, and
our lives will mean something, no matter how
large or small, if we Give, if we Hope,
if we Smile, if we can make someone laugh;
if a guinea pig who never knew love enjoys tons of
love now, and even comforts a grieving kitty 
who just lost her best friend,
We Were Here.

Don't know when we'll be back.


To each and every one of you who cares about
all of us and have given so much of yourselves,
 we will keep fighting the good fight!

Thanks, Marshawn Lynch, you
inspire us.
Go Seahawks!
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I Was Here (United Nations World Humanitarian Day Perform...

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Byrds - Turn! Turn! Turn! In Memory of Chai

To Chai…
Our Beloved Bengal: There was a Season…And a time to every purpose Under Heaven…"

"A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing…"

Today, we let you Go Home.

And the guinea pigs…coming home from the hospital three of four were terminally ill: Peter-Peanut had pneumonia, bronchitis, droopy, red eyes, and congestive heart failure. Poppity-Squirrel had pneumonia and his lymph nodes so swollen the vet thinks he has lymphoma. Bhindi had pneumonia and droopy eyes. Only Vinny was well…but pneumonia so contagious we feared losing them all. An extraordinary "exotics" vet (who was so sure we would lose Peter-Peanut she asked if we wanted to "put him down" - mortifying me!)…we have been treating them with lots of medication, diligently administering it by wrapping them up in a 
"Guinea Burrito" towel which I don't have a photo of. They get fresh wheat grass, take their meds, and are not out of the woods yet but they have become "Poppity" again and the vet was astonished how well Peter was doing - his coat all glossy - when she saw him Saturday!

"A time to be born and a time to die."

It feels like a slice of me just calved off like the glaciers are doing in the warmer waters of the Polar Ice caps, never to cleave to me again…all I knew was of no value. Only Love. Only the "uninhibited brain" willing to be vulnerable and reply to those who asked how we were: "We are suffering." We have been grieving.

"A time to tear down and a time to heal,"
This - this, then has been "A time to tear down" and we welcome it as Healing is sure to follow as the dawn is never far from Night's Darkness.

Today we let go of Chai. We do have faith that all the guinea pigs will heal. And so will we. But, that chunk from the Past that calved off in our grief has changed us, recreated the geography of our hearts, and we feel, as one of our favorite mystic poets, Jalaludden Rumi wrote: 
"The wound is the place the Light enters."

So, in the Heart of Darkness, in the agony of our broken hearted wound, we await Light.

Chai…you were amazing. Oh God, you were so amazing! 
"A time to be silent and a time to speak…" 
Now, Boyo, we shall fall silent and speak no more.

{Special thanks to "our family" at the Phinney Ridge Animal Hospital for holding us so tenderly while Chai slipped away.}

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A MOD REMEMBERS: We Will Remember You Barbaro - A Tribute (+playlist)

O.K. FAIR WARNING - This is a true story, a real heartbreaker... and an
inspiration. Keep tissues handy if you watch.

THE OTHER DAY I opened my mailbox and discovered a cream colored
envelope from The Dean and Faculty of the University of Pennsylvania
School of Veterinary Medicine. Baffled, I wheeled back up in Black Beauty,
set myself in the big, blue stuffed chair overlooking Elliott Bay and the
Olympic Mountains, and just stared at it. Who do I know there? Did someone
make a mistake sending this to me? So, I stared at it because the envelope was
so beautiful.

Then I opened it.

Inside was a card with deep blue edges, a prominent seal on top, and the following

"The Dean and Faculty
of the
University of Pennsylvania
School of Veterinary Medicine
wish to inform you that
a generous gift has been made to the
Bararo Fund
in your honor by
(a MOD we all know and love)

New Bolton Center
I just wept. (Yes, I have turned into a big crybaby.)
I couldn't believe my eyes.
I couldn't believe my eyes when Barbaro fell...
the horse with the Mightiest Heart!
We all wept then. We weep now; remembering
just as we do and did with each owlet
who passed away...
A MOD made a generous gift to the Barbaro Fund
in my honor.
Yes, I was one of those little girls but not the kind who wanted a pony,
I wanted a racehorse! I voraciously consumed every single horse
book written that I could find as as child;
took riding lessons & competed in a horse show or two...
BUT what I really, really wanted, as Yahoo Rose knows,
was to sit atop my very own racehorse and run proud, run free:
Barbaro Flew.
And then he didn't.
And a little bit of a nation died with him.
And no one will ever forget.
So, I wept. But not because of Barbaro, exactly,
I wept because of the Large-Heartedness of such a Gift!
And how many will benefit from it.

Because, having told no one, I fell, too.
So, this was  personal. As every one of
you feel personal.
And so exactly, perfectly touching my Heart,
the way Squirrel does from his portrait on the wall,
the way every eCard, email, phone message, get well card,
every prayer, and every star wrap me up and tell me
to keep on fighting, that I am not alone even though just feels that way a lot.
Because I am afraid to share.

Whether it's temporary and treatable
or degenerative remains to be seen, but I've begun
experiencing temporary partial to full paralysis events.
Not just falling.
It's new. There's not a top sheet on my bed because when
I woke up paralyzed at 1 a.m. just to get up and go to
the bathroom I wasn't wearing my riding gear so POI got
me into a gown and the First Responders, who could not
fit a gurney into the bedroom, simply ripped off the top
sheet, wrapped me up in it like a mummy, and off we hurled
back to the hospital. "Flaccid Paralysis" (possible electrical
nerve conduction thingy) and more new, fun stuff.
 "Secret Agent" POI & I have entered
an even more distant Galaxy we never noticed flickering
in the broad expanse of the Night Sky...
Barbaro fell with such courage.

You MOD who made this completely unexpected, generous gift -
and every single one of you MODS who have sent cards, prayers,
thoughts of love,
phone calls, emails, ecards, given so generously to the Guinea Pig Sanctuary
that they now enjoy warmth, coziness, fun, soft homes of their own here.
... all my near and dear ones
in India and stateside...and now Barbaro:
Fearlessly this horse galloped with full-hearted
determination to win...
until he couldn't run any more.
Thank you for making a generous donation
to the Barbaro Fund in my honor.
Now you have given meaning to this illness for it is
going to help other animals. But you've also raised
the bar for the kind of courage I require.
I can't give up now, for love of a racehorse.
Thank you for this donation. And thank you on behalf
of those who cannot but whinny, stamp their feet with glee,
ask for an apple or lump of sugar...
Thank you for taking time to think, to reflect, and truly
introspect about what kind of Gift would make me
happy. Every card, every prayer received has come
with so much attention to detail, so much love.
There is a saying: "God hears the cry of an ant before
the trumpet of an elephant."
 We endure amongst giants: guinea pigs who struggled
to live when - upon entering the Sanctuary dying, had been given up on.
They not only lived, they forgave, survived, thrived,
they loved. And love.
Thank you.
I always wanted to ride "Black Beauty." Didn't expect her
to be a wheelchair. Perhaps I will have to rename her:
Thank you.

Friday, September 20, 2013



Yesterday was one of those days.
We all have them.  The ones that
make you come home and wonder,
"God, did you NOT GET MY MEMO?"

Because we all have a plan.
And life is supposed to follow that plan.
But it never does, does it?

So, yesterday slayed me.

POI brought me home and we wearily
went to the mailbox and inside was a key,
a package had been sent.

An unexpected package arrived on one of
those days when what you really hope is
inside is a good friend into whose
embrace you can just sob until her
sleeve is soaked with your tears,
the kind of friend who would
never even notice. I needed THAT
KIND OF FRIEND to come out of
the surprise box...because it was
just one of those days.

I placed the package in a special place,
too upset to open it because on those days
when our capacity for joy is in short supply,
I prefer waiting so I can enjoy opening
surprise packages. We slept.

Not really.

The next morning all I wanted to do was
play with the guinea pigs. So we did lots
of treats and snacks, and Squirrel,
God Bless that PIG! He gets happy
over any small thing, just being
skritchy-scratched got him
popcorning ALL OVER HISSELF!
He's such a happy pig that in Bellingham,
I had a large color photograph of him
on the wall because you couldn't look
at it without bursting out laughing,
his attitude that Life is for Popcorning
and Being Happy and yet I gave the
photograph away to a dear neighbor,
one with five girl piggies of her own,
because she and her kids had been
so incredibly kind to us...if you remember
a few springs back the photographs of the
little boy with Down Syndrome sitting
in their habitats with watermelon and
pigs on his lap, a beautifully-ribboned
box of cupcakes nearby, piggies just
giving that boy a smile that went on forever,
remember that? So, my favorite and only
framed photograph of Squirrel was our
"Good-Bye" and thank you gift to them.

I opened the box.


INSIDE...before the wrapping paper,
before the ribbons, before the card,
I knew...
not exactly but enough to start
crying because I knew SOMETHING...

A DEAR FRIEND, the kind of friend
whose embrace you could fall into and
cry your heart out on and she would
never complain how wet you got her
sleeves or shoulder...
(and later missed terribly) TO OUR

My friend, a MOD, an iconic MOD,
one with whom I have never even spoken
to on the phone, actually contacted an
artist and commissioned a portrait of
Squirrel which you see above... hangs on the wall while
Squirrel and the boys gather
for their next round of snacks,
and I realized...

God did get my memo.

I cried.

Tears of...well, how it feels
to open a box and have your friend
come out and fall into her embrace

This is the portrait of Squirrel she commissioned.

The artist sent a note that she really enjoyed
doing this portrait and the blog...who would've
thought? Guinea pigs. Barn Owls.


Thank you...we are so happy,
we feel so loved,
we don't feel sad anymore,
and we will never feel alone.

Thank you...

(POI doesn't have a computer and often
asks, exasperated: "What are you doing
on that thing? You don't really
know those people...why do you
spend so much time with them?")
This morning when I opened the box,
I said to him: "This is from
one of those people!"

And you know what? I think he finally gets it!

Thank you.
Thank you,
it's so DID YOU KNOW?
love you...good tears. Happy tears.

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