Untethered Dog

You Never Know Where He Will Go

Gratitude Journal

November 2019

17 Sunday

  • The plants in my house. Even though I can’t name them.
  • The chance to read and write with my dog at my feet, content and asleep.
  • The urgency I feel now.
  • The chance to self-correct.
  • My job.
  • Good books.
  • Bad books.
  • Pizza delivered to my door.
  • Pam Houston’s “How to Talk to a Hunter.”
  • The large red spider I found in my basement the other day. May he be well on the other side of my walls.
  • My furnace.
  • Carver’s “Cathedral.” I have read it at least four times over the years. Still fabulous. Bub!

10 Sunday
– The National Wildlife Refuge.
– The life of the dead mole we saw at the National Wildlife Refuge.
– Chocolate milk.
– A cozy home.
– The challenges ahead.

9 Saturday
– Seeing a bald eagle float through the air not very far from your head.
– Watching the Gophers win.
– Laziness. Another avenue to learning.
– The way you come alive when you are around people who also want to dig into the common challenges of being human.

8 Friday
– Decorating a space.
– When you can write about the past and not get worn out.
– Cardinals.

6 Wednesday
– Organizing a space.
– When you can write about your everyday and find yourself come that much more alive.
– Bluebirds.

5 Tuesday
– Two-walk November Tuesdays.
– Chicken sandwiches.
– Power naps.
– Recovering the day after a wasted morning.
– The sight of someone special.

4 Monday
– Having a lot of energy for the day.
– Getting so much done.
– The power of 10 minutes of meditation.
– French Toast.

3 Sunday
– Speaking truth to strangers.
– Saying what you have to say to a friend.
– Accepting the fact that you can’t reach some people at least some of the time — not excepting those you have reached before.

2 Saturday
– Showing up to the party and having a really good time.
– Pretty women who don’t act like they know they are.
– Adding carpet to the basement. Then watching your little buddy run on same.
– Cleaned out gutters.
– Motion-sensor lights with fresh light bulbs.
– Being ready for winter. As ready as you can be anyway.

1 Friday
– Making it another year above ground.
– Bringing donuts to work.
– A Baker’s Wife: the best donuts in town.
– The chance to teach a colleague.
– Working out with good guys: what a great way to start the day.

October 2019

31 Thursday
– When the cheap carpet actually perfectly matches the room.
– Birthday gifts that that simultaneously thoughtful and funny.
– Halloween.

30 Wednesday
– Finding a good doctor.
– Feeling listened to.
– Yoga during the work day.
– Hours that go by in a flash.

29 Tuesday
– Vulnerability.
– The good that comes from speaking your mind.
– Squared cereal.

28 Monday
– Smiles.
– The Mississippi River.
– The red in leaves.
– Feeling like maybe, possibly you are growing a chest.
– One tree full of red leaves in front of an old house.
– When you correct your posture and hear that faint click of bodily alignment. So satisfying.
– Weather just warm enough to walk in — with a hat, that is.
– Cheese-and-chicken sandwiches.
– Cottage cheese.

27 Sunday
– Having the gym more or less to yourself.
– The way you feel the writing in your body.
– Big sale at the co-op on a apple cider vinegar.

26 Saturday
– My dog. Born on this day 12 years ago.
– Visiting the old stomping — and sniffing — grounds because … birthday.
– Cheap carpet.
– Meeting a guy named Steve Martin. No, not that one. Not the wild and crazy guy. The one who knows about cheap carpet.
– Gorgeous fall days.

25 Friday
Productive Friday nights.

23 Wednesday
Opening up your email in the morning to find a note from a history professor at your alma mater letting you knowing your book is part of his curriculum.

22 Tuesday
– Going to the meeting.
– Meeting a maybe new friend at the meeting.
– Free dinner. Indian. And pizza. And shepherd’s pie.
– Having the cake, too, because why not? Did you mention … it’s free.
– Picking up your little buddy from the vet.
– When you get a free visit to the vet.

20 Sunday
– When tears come during a writing session.
– Authentic conversations.
– Going to a new coffee shop and discovering you are 400 feet from the otherwise out-of-the way pet supply you wanted to get to this weekend.

19 Saturday
– The woman who sang while you ate dinner at Hell’s Kitchen.
– The gin cocktails at same.
– Anniversaries: one year at home.

16 Wednesday
– The RE Store.
– All stores that are dog-friendly.
– A hungry dog.
– Finding a hose hanger for $3.50 plus tax.
– Making an old colleague laugh.
– “The Swimmer” by John Cheevers.

15 Tuesday
– Writing all day.
– Working out at home.
– Soaking in warm water.
– The letter W.

14 Monday
– Fall early evening skies.
– Writing in the day’s small spaces.

13 Sunday
– The Highland Water Tower.
– Sun that comes out just in time for the evening walk.
– Heavy squats.
– Making time for writing throughout the day.
– Keeping the grocery bill down. But still getting some chips for guac because those avocados aren’t going to eat themselves.

12 Saturday
Being the only one in the office with time to get caught up.

11 Friday
– Not having any bills to pay. At least not today.
– Going to an art gallery in the middle of a weekday.
– Seeing an art history graduate student at the gallery, there by herself, studying — the voluntary kind.
– Small Yukon gold potatoes, sauteed and smothered with salt.

10 Thursday
– Doing what you are meant to do. If only for part of the day. So energy-infusing.
– Davani’s pizza.
– Guessing right when the correct answer is Zellweger.
– Clean teeth.
– Walking in the rain.

9 Wednesday
A chance to teach.

8 Tuesday
A chance to learn about money.

7 Monday
– The Mississippi River.
– The drive over the Mississippi River.
– The woman with blond curly hair who smiled at you and also laughed at your joke. Sometimes a moment means more than that. Even when shared with a stranger.

6 Sunday
– A new rug. One with the perfect colors. The kindness of strangers.
– A side order of pancakes.
– When bad customer service is made right by good customer service.
– Driving by an old haunt.

5 Saturday
– Sharing your idea with a group and getting more good ideas than you know what to do with.
– Support. A little bit goes a long way.
– A clean house.

4 Friday
Removing all the clutter. Getting ready to clean.

3 Thursday
– Functioning headlights.
– Extra spaghetti.
– Having more energy at the end of a long walk than at the beginning.

2 Wednesday
Blue suede shoes.

1 Tuesday
Extra writing time.

September 2019

29 Sunday
– Rainy Sundays.
– Writing time with a friend.
– When your essay takes a new turn.
– Coffee shop conversation.
– Buttermilk pancakes.
– Having so much to eat you give some of your meal away.

28 Saturday
– Having something to push against.
– Strong arms.
– Reading a printed newspaper at the end of the day.

27 Friday
The whistleblower.

24 Tuesday
– Doing a really good, detailed job that makes someone else’s day a little easier.
– Being so immersed during gym time you nearly go past your allotted time.
– The Highland Park neighborhood.
– Car rides with the little buddy. He still gets as excited as a kid riding on a roller coaster.

23 Monday
– A great workout.
– Fantastic weather.
– The perfect-sized pizza.

22 Sunday
Your abilities to talk to people. Always more comfortable communicating with words on paper, recent signs suggest you can speak pretty OK, too.

21 Saturday
– New seasons.
– Hip bridges.
– Signs you are stronger.
– Mediterranean egg bake.
– Paprika. Not sure which is better — eating paprika or saying paprika.
– How easy it is to write now.

20 Friday
– Muggy fall days.
– Being able to walk to the store.
– Kemps chocolate-chip ice cream.

19 Thursday
– New parks you go to on a whim.
– Gas stations at night.

18 Wednesday
– Being able to wear shorts and Ts on long walks this late in the year.
– Feeling pumped up in those shorts and Ts while on a long walk this late in the year.
– Getting to write all day.

 17 Tuesday
– Healthy eyes.
– New opportunities.
– Having a friend with whom to share the good news.

16 Monday
– The chance to cry.
– Feeling something so deeply you can’t not.

14 Saturday
– Talking to a group of sensitive and thoughtful people and just feeling so alive with possibilities and personal insight.
– Having a good conversation with your hair cutter.
– Green tea in the afternoon.
– Making progress on something important.

10 Tuesday
– Finding a good cardiologist.
– Medical professionals who are patient.
– Being able to see your little buddy’s heart beat.

9 Monday
– Extra gym time.
– The feel of the bar.
– Doing a whole bunch of dead-lifts.
– Early walks.
– Rainy afternoons.
– Making it on time.

8 Sunday
Having a good person as a good friend.

7 Saturday
– Chuck Taylors.
– Making a whole room laugh.

6 Friday
– Squatting heavy and feeling the weight get lighter with each set.
– Sea Salt at night.
– Having someone else observe how many people so positively respond to your dog.

5 Thursday
Learning of another chance to teach.

3 Tuesday
– Old radio interviews.
– T.D. Mischke
– Overhead pull-throughs.
– Steak for breakfast. Oatmeal for lunch. Coleslaw for dinner.

2 Monday
All the people who worked so hard so that I wouldn’t have to work as long each week.

1 Sunday
– Anniversaries of milepost life events.
– Shared purpose.
– What happens when you try to help someone else: usually you help yourself more.
– Sitting by a big window while it’s raining hard.
– The last hour the grocery store is open.
– Old haunts.

August 2019

31 Saturday
– School supplies. Especially crisp, clean notebooks. Mead notebooks. Twenty five cents!
– Going back to school. Even if you are not formally enrolled.
– The chance always to learn anew, to start from the ground up, the beginner’s mind.

21 Wednesday
Hitting the sweet spot in the gym, between working too little and too much. Such a great way to start the day. Better than coffee, even. But, then, why choose?

20 Tuesday
– Chekhov.
– Taking a deep dive into a single short story in the company of thoughtful readers.
– Dark and heavy rain storms in the middle of a summer day.

19 Monday

– Intellectual stimulation.
– Having problems that need solving.
– The calm mind that comes from deep reading. Thank you, James Wood. I don’t always understand what you are saying but I do get rewarded by your turns nonetheless.
– Finishing an assignment and knowing it is a little better than good enough.
– The good that happens in your mind when you space your bodily workout throughout the day.

18 Sunday
When the words just come out and you hardly have to try.

17 Saturday
– Absolutely amazing mornings, with the sun coming up, the air clean and cool, dew on the ground, squirrels prancing on fence lines, and seemingly everyone out walking their dogs.
– Writing fast.
– Writing funny.
– Honesty.

16 Friday
– When you depart on a four-day break from your job and leave behind only a tidy small stack of work.
– Tackling tasks on the weekend to-do before Saturday even arrives.

11 Sunday
– People who wrestle with what it means to live well.
– Epictetus.
– When my little buddy stretches all four of his legs out as far as they go while he is sleeping.

10 Saturday
– Seeing a once familiar face in a strange place.
– The benefits of reading throughout the day.
– Meaningful conversations.

9 Friday
– D-load week.
– Realizing you have greater understanding of your limitations.
– Being asked to help someone important.

8 Thursday
– Fast work weeks.
– Late starts.
– Short dreams during short naps that give you a bit of assurance.

7 Wednesday
– Being able to spend hours outside during the workday.
– Connecting with colleagues.
– Free guacamole.

5 Monday
A stranger’s sweetness.

4 Sunday
– Shared purpose.
– Coffee conversation.
– Getting just what’s on your grocery list. Plus a cookie.

3 Saturday
– The power that comes from sharing of yourself with a group.
– The power that comes from hearing another share. You mean you really face that challenge, too?
– Fixing the air conditioner without having to pay for a service call.
– Kind neighbors with cool toolboxes.
– Being around people who make you want to be kinder and slower. One way you see it is in how you drive in less of a hurry.

2 Friday
– Strange days.
– Pay day.

1 Thursday
– That the false alarm fire alarm went off ten minutes before you went to work rather than ten minutes after.
– Understanding supervisors.
– The chance to show someone something you know a lot about.

28 July 2019

There is an upside to financial challenges: the need to scrutinize one’s choices. If you have greater monetary resources than are necessary you might think less about your purchases. Purchases result in the acquisition of things that must be used/cared for and the accumulation of commitments one must budget time for. There is freedom in restriction.

22 July 2019

I am keen on the natural gifts today:

– The expanse of green grass before me as I type these words.

– The sun that warms my shoulders.

– The robin nesting in the lilac bush to my left.

– The dog who makes a bed in the mulch beside me.

– The sounds of leaves cheering near and far each time the wind returns.

21 July 2019

Art Fairs at community celebrations are the best. Today’s: Highland Fest. First-time goer. Like most, it was free, in the sunshine, and had tents full of variety. Plus, you get to talk to artists, some of the coolest people on the planet.

21 July 2019

I am grateful for people who teach me the value of less. This might be someone in the popular media — in newspapers, on YouTube, or via a radio show/podcast. This could be a conversation with a friend or a colleague at work. Certainly, the wisdom of writers shows me how to spend …

… less attention on activities that do not align with my aims.

… less money on things I do not need.

… less time focused on images and in environments that do little more than divert and distract — and often depress.

The culture encourages more.

The culture conditions us to believe we need to acquire certain things and must do certain other things. The culture is not always correct.

Yet you don’t always know to consider what does not serve — what goes against your default settings — if you haven’t been taught.

Why I am thinking of those who, directly and indirectly, do that job. Even if they don’t know that they are.

To save time, money, energy — to retain or gain any of these precious resources — what a gift.

20 July 2019

Thank you, Patti Smith, for writing Just Kids. I read the last touching sections this afternoon. To summarize is to obscure but forgive me: a story of rare friendship, written in a way that is instructive and revealing a devotion to art that is inspiring. What a love note.

20 July 2019

There are few better ways to start the day than with back-squats. There are few better weather events than the moments before a storm.

This morning I had the chance to back-squat outside right before a rainstorm.

The program I am on at present called for supersets of barbells on my back and dumbbells loaded in front. I did a dozen or more reps on both ends of the set.

I burned, I sweated, I caught my breath below. The clouds above gathered and the wind blew.


17 July 2019

Thank you, baby rabbit, for greeting me on my way home from the gym this morning. And especially for nibbling on the pavement salad sprouting through the cracks of my driveway. I did not mind getting out of my car to see you squat there — did not mind waiting to pull in until you finished your breakfast.

9 July 2019

Being able to go for walks in the evening wearing shorts and T-shirts. Just slip on some shoes and go. This far into the summer it’s easy to take that for granted. You are reminded not to because on this night your buddy takes his time sniffing and peeing and maybe he’s soaking it up, too. At point, in the middle of a community garden he frequently guides you through, he stops for a minute and looks around. He has us you wait a few minutes and while you do he draws the interest of a lovely lady with long hair who squats to greet him and ask about him and make his tail wag before she resumes a stroll with her girlfriend and before the two of you leave the garden to find new things to sniff and pee on while walking slowly under the sun and in the comfortable warmth of the evening.

8 July 2019

Making all the lights. Such a satisfying way to go to back and forth to work on the first day following a long holiday weekend.

7 July 2019

You were overdue to clean the fridge. You were up way early and the energy struck. Which, in the direction of fridge cleaning, seldom happens at any hour of any day. Really wouldn’t take that long. It’s Sunday; grocery day — we don’t got much in here anyway. So you cleaned the fridge, start to finish, before five a.m. What a light feeling the rest of the day: you open the door, realize again what you did, and sigh contentedly.