Autumn Bestie: Delicata Squash Skillet Cornbread

I didn’t mean to take such a break from writing, but it came to find me, I suppose. Sometimes life is like that. Nanny Bert once told me, “If you wanna her God laugh, Sara, tell him your plans.” And so, that’s how it went. Gus died and I got quiet. Other things happened too:

Me and Ginger built a shed with our friend John.

I got good with a nail gun and looked like this most days.

The trees are putting on a big show where I run along the Green River.

AND, of course, I’ve been in the kitchen. Ginger’s garden was a hug success this season and I have plenty to work with. I am especially delighted by the hill of stowed delicata squash we have waiting for service. So when I saw this beautiful recipe for a pumpkin cornbread, I knew it was my shot to get in the game. I did a little dip and roll with the ingredients and between both our versions, I bet you can too. It’s so earthy and gorgeous for the season. I hope you enjoy. NOTE!!! Roast your squash before you make this. (pop the whole thing in the oven on 375 for 45 minutes.

Delicata Squash Skillet Cornbread
1c yellow cornmeal
1c oat flour
2t baking powder
1/4t alder smoked sea salt
1t Vietnamese cinnamon
1/4t nutmeg
1/2t pressed ginger juice
1/8 t ground cloves
1c plain whole milk yogurt
1 roasted delicata squash, seeded
1/3c pure maple syrup
1 egg
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
1T vanilla extract
1 ground vanilla bean
1T butter


First You wanna get that 10″ skillet hot. Put it in the oven at 400 degrees while you do your thing. Mix together all your dry ingredients in one bowl, and whisk the wet ones in another. Then combine both bowls into a little cloud of heaven. Pull your hot skillet out, drop your butter into it and swirl it around so the sides and bottom are covered. Plop the batter into the skillet and bake for about 25 minutes or until your oven slightly browns the top. Wait for 10-15 minutes (THIS IS THE HARDEST PART OF THE RECIPE), slice it and serve warm. Preferably with someone you love. This could be yourself.

Mujadara for a Movement, As I Rise.

In the place where Gus used to watch me work, I put an art desk. His blanket lays under my feet.

It’s been a little over three weeks since Gus died. And it’s time to have people over for dinner.

I’m not gonna lie: I spend some of my days off sobbing, this new specific loneliness a pointy rake across my ribs. I kneel at Gus’s grave and picture his pointy little perfect face. It’s unbelievable that I will never see it again. Not ever. But I am practicing, with his love, to learn about death. Because it is going to keep coming. On the branches of my family tree. Within my cherished client list and at my communal table of friends. I don’t want to have the relationship to death that my culture has. So I think about that. And I watch the news.

So I am also thinking about Cleveland. About the scores of black activists and the activated, a powerful gathering of black humanity coming together in strength and love and thought and rage. I am thinking about Mike Brown and Sandra Bland and India Clarke and Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice and Michelle Cusseaux and Eric Garner and Rekia Boyd and London Chanel and Cynthia Hurd and Rev. Clementa Pinckney and Sharonda Coleman-Singleton and Tywanza Sanders and Myra Thompson and Ethel Lee Lance and Susie Jackson and Daniel L. Simmons and Depayne Middleton and the countless other Black lives I have not named here, taken too soon, in violence, in a long perfectly straight line right up from the slavery we built this country on. This is another kind of death.

As my friend J. Bob Alotta says,

“this country makes monsters out of it’s power-keepers, corpses out of so many of it’s children, renders so many sedated in complicity or agony or both… but it will make warriors out of the rest of us.
my gd, it surely will.”

And for this work, we must stay strong. We need to care for ourselves and each other in this work. Because it will be hard work. It will be work that is constant and difficult and exhausting. Sometimes it will be devastating. This work of making sure we support the voices of the #blacklivesmatter movement will call on our reserves if we do this work justice. If we give it what it deserves. And we must.

I will do this work. (Photo from Getty Images)

To do this work we need nourishment. We need community, love, sleep, friendship, and for me, faith. Luckily, these things often feed each other. And lifting my head from a dog’s grave to the news of yet another Black Mother burying her child at the hands of police who tried to cover it up, I am ready.

Harvest Duds.

From the earth that houses both the dead and this life, I harvested a bunch of ingredients to make this food, build community, care for my body, and come to share with you. I first made a version of this dish after seeing a recipe in The New York Times by Melissa Clark. I’ve since made several versions from cookbooks and blogs each employing variations from this Middle –Eastern dish. This is a dish from lands of people that have been nourishing themselves through war and heartbreak for many, many, too many years. It’s a rich concoction of deep flavor and vegetable protein and fiber and warmth. The flavors come from a long history of each region with local, class, and religious traditions varying the ingredients and the presentation. It is delicious and affordable and grounded.

Here I present to you a mash-up of different recipes that all come out in this fragrant and addictive version. There are a lot of ingredients, so if you’re new to longer recipes, it’s good to get all the ingredients out and prepped first. Have your garlic crushed and your shallot sliced into rings and so on. This amount will feed about 6-8 people.

1 c green lentils                                                                1 ½ t ground cumin
¾ c brown basmati rice                                                     1 T coriander seeds
2 leeks, trimmed                                                               ½ t ground allspice
1 shallot, sliced                                                                 1 bay leaf
¼ c olive oil                                                                      1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves garlic, minced                                                      1 t sea salt
4 c vegetable broth                                                           ½ t ground black pepper
4 c trimmed and chopped leafy greens                                handful fresh mint
(kale, chard, mustard)                                                        ½ t turmeric

Soak your lentils in warm water while you prep all your goods. Leeks often have dirt and grit inside them. Hack off the dark green fanned edges and the slice up the center of the leek lengthwise. Rinse the dirt out then cut them all crosswise, pretty thin. Heat your oil in a large heavy soup pot and toss in your leeks and sliced shallot. Cook until golden brown. It’ll take about ten minutes. They should get crunchy.  Then set half the mixture aside in a bowl and dust with some salt. This is going to be a garnish at the end and everyone will wrestle for each last crumb. You’ll remember this later and use crunchy leeks and onion for all manner of things in the future. Like for topping your soups. Put your garlic in with the rest of everything and cook that for about a minute. Now add in your rice, cumin, allspice, turmeric, black pepper and coriander. Cook all of this for about 5 minutes. Now drain your lentils and add them to the pot. Cook it all for another minute. Add your vegetable broth, cinnamon stick and bay leaf and bring everything to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, cover, and cook everything for an hour.

Now lay your greens and mint over the whole pot and return the cover. Cook for another 5 minutes, then remover from heat and let sit covered for another 5-10 minutes. Serve with the crispy leeks and shallots.

OPTIONS: You can toss in a little cardamom for your spice mix. Toss in fresh squeezed lemon before you serve. Have it as a chilled side the next day. Make a yogurt sauce to go with it.

Some ingredients with Lilith Rockett’s beautiful porcelain and my novice, and cute, stoneware.

Steve and Tim came over from across the hill where they run Spirit Fire Retreat, home of my forthcoming October Lucky Devil Autumn Getaway. Stay tuned for details. In the mean time, enjoy this food with friends and activists and survivors. Enjoy it with a love of this life if at all possible. And if not, enjoy it any way you can.

Sara Elise.

Epilogue: Gussy’s Gone

This is Gus getting to know his new spot.

Gus Seinberg knew how to do a million things. He was even good at dying. I’ve never seen anyone die before. I am deeply grateful that this first time was a true thing of beauty. Gus didn’t die in violence or in a state of resistance or duress. He died while being truly loved, reassured, his soft face in my palms, and Ginger petting his fluffy orange head.

The day before, I took him to where he would rest. We sat there together in the sun, his head in my lap while I told him about death. How I was sorry I’d missed his entry to the world, but I would not miss this journey out of it for anything. I sunk my nails into the ground and gave him a handful of soil to smell so he knew his home. I propped him up to look at the view. I talked to him a lot in a windfall of faith that even without his hearing, the words would arrive.

Look at that view.

Every time I carried him, his body tensed up, his paws in a stalwart point like a gymnast. Aside from whatever discomfort comes to a big dog being carried, it messed with his sense of dignity. He hated it, the carrying. So once we reached a patch of open grass, I let him walk around until he fell over. I knew he couldn’t get hurt and he loved being the beast of protection. I wanted him to have as much agency as was safe this day. I’d meet him where he landed and pet him until his breathing evened out.

I broke the ground open at dawn. On my knees, I put my face right into the divot of earth where the shovel had been. The smell pummeled me. I dug until my lower back whinnied. I took breaks and I took photographs. I spent time alone and with the people in the house. I visited Gussy and I let him sleep. He spent his last day agitated, and living looked difficult. We ate steak on the floor together. He played with his last stick. My friend Shoshana came to see us and he liked that. They met the first day I got him in my apartment on 14th Street in San Francisco. Something about having her there for his first and last day with me let me see all that time between so clearly. We went from the west coast the the east and then back. And then back again. He loved the car. Ginger always says the happiest she ever saw Gus was when we drove home from Palm Springs after my 40th birthday with Lucy. I sat in the back and Lucy drove and Gus got to be in a snug space with me all to himself. Ginger would turn around and look at us over and over and say, “He’s so happy”, like every time she turned around, she found herself shocked to be in the presence of a real unicorn. He was that beautiful when he was happy. And maybe I was, too.


The first of Gus’s Earth

It will be a beautiful place.

I want to tell you that digging Gus’s grave was one of the finest things I’ve ever done with this life. He came and watched me for a bit. I brought this hippie rug out and laid him on it facing me. He watched as I worked, then got to his feet and wandered over to smell the bed of soil. I began to sing him a little song while I dug. Something I made up. Something about his upcoming travels. There comes a time to leave.

He slept while I worked.

I laid on the floor with him when the doctor came, like I had for the last three nights. Ginger sat behind me while I told Gussy all the important things.  And as I cried, his labored breathing stopped and he licked at my tears, my loyal guardian until his last. He got the first shot for calming and we had about 15 more minutes together. Or a lifetime. And in that eternal swoon of my belly, his final calm, I told him

This is an important journey. It is an incredible thing to be able to die. We will all take this walk, including me. I don’t know what happens next, but if I can, I will come find you and we will walk together again. Paws and feet, Paws and feet. You have done the best job being my friend and my family and my protector. I am ok now and I have so much love in my life. People will care for me and I will be ok. I will thrive and you can go now. You have done better than I deserved and shown me how love and devotion work. I’ll be right here with you. Go ahead Gussy. I love you now and I’ll love you every day in this life. My gratitude is truly boundless. And you are the best dog I could have ever been with. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Shoshana took our last family portrait, with Gussy’s last stick.

A buzz of shaving, a cup of hair, an injection, and the doctor put on his stethoscope, moved it around, and with great care said, “He’s gone.” And a pain rose up in me and howled through like a storm wind, ripped right across my ribs and I let it come.  These sounds became the room and the walls and timber of the floorboards and the next in a line of sacred things that must have happened in this home since 1734. This first in the texture of my life alone without Gussy.

And I lived.

I sat with him and brushed his beautiful hair, his warm, limp body such a great comfort. I never could have known such a thing, the sweetness that came to his absence of struggle. I buried my face in his fur and took longs gulps of his scent, then gathered him up, all the way into my arms. This holding, the final walk of our bodies together, a path of exquisite tenderness I’ve never known. The most ever. So soft, still warm. He gave it all up and lay right over me, his whole body ripe with departure.

Ginger with Gus at rest.

We wrapped him in white, a cotton shroud folded around his form. I put his paws together like the mid-stride of a sprint for a ball or a wave, his head bowed in singular focus, forever in flight. He nestled gently in the ground and we covered his body in lemon and bee balm stalks. The three of us said our thanks to him, took turns shoveling the soil, packing it down, then more. Then the rocks, quartz and mica, then earth, and like that, until his plaque on top and then my body across his grave, round, spent, and triumphant. We did a good job. All four of us, Gussy leading our pack. Everything excruciating and beautiful as the day faded.

It’s the stillness at dawn that digs me up most. I sleep mostly through the night, and then around 4:30 I wake up in my bed upstairs with Ginger. And for the tiniest sliver of time, I don’t know yet that anything is wrong, that we have crossed a bridge from being a family to being a couple. I didn’t know that while I was sure I was ready to let him go, I was not ready yet for him to be gone. I miss his body so bad. Tufts of his hair kick up in a summer farm house breeze and I’ll spot them out of the corner of my eye and in the alchemy of death, what was a nuisance just three days ago has become a treasure.

So many people helped me raise that dog. Scores of people stayed with him and walked him and swam with him and threw the ball. You pet him and you brought him treats and you steadied him in his final days when the right side of his body began to give out. You took photographs of him and made me a painting of him. You visited him after surgery and you researched CBD pot tincture to help his seizures. You mentioned him in cards and letters and you brought him dog friends to play with, too. He was a dog of The Village and and I thank you. You are my close friends, and you are strangers who have reached out in tremendous acts of kindness. You are acquaintances from around Providence or San Francisco or New York or Boston or Greenfield.

People often say to walk bravely into the long night or some such thing when creatures die, but I know Gus is walking into the sun. That Gus is a frolicking daylight beast. I imagine him, finally, with a flock to tend. Maybe some goats or a couple of llamas named Omar and Stringer Bell.

Long Live Honor.
Long Live Love.

Long Live Gus Seinberg,
Gay, Jewish Dog.

I will keep you with me always.

Crone Apprentice Realness: Early Onset Mental Pause

Hospital Parking Lot. I spent a lot of time here.

Look, I hate to BRAG, but The Change came for me a little ahead of schedule. Certainly, it is not because I am some kind of over achiever, and I even thought it may have been brought on by extreme circumstances. At first, because I was only 41, I was misdiagnosed with adrenal fatigue. It’s understandable. Life around me was full of stress: The east coast saw my father fighting his malignant melanoma, while at home in San Francisco, my same-sex lover was suffering a bizarre and debilitating liver failure*. Her possible list of diseases and outcomes ranged from primary liver cancer and death to all manner of fantastically horrific ailments stoking fears associated with livers which had a place at the table as well. I would go from unloading pallets at Rainbow Grocery before dawn to the hospital and back while I studied nutrition and coaching at night and began seeing my very first clients. Ginger’s face laid yellow on a pillow in a hospital bed, my dad had surgery across the entire nation, and I bridged the waking hours vacillating between a kind of blown open fear and grief and a dumbstruck automaton mode with no ability to modulate the tones in my voice. It’s fair to say I felt stressed out. When I could feel anything at all. And my period, I finally noticed, had become unreliable.

As all this was going on, ironically, I got my period in Rome and saw this on a street sign almost immediately.

Now, to be clear: I didn’t give a shit if it was menopause. I truly didn’t. Kids had already been ruled out, Ginger prefers me fat, and I’ve always thought my crone years would be my most powerful and sexiest. I’d been busy growing out the grey in my hair anyhow, collecting tunics, scarves, and muumuus, daydreaming about Mrs. Roper, and concocting my own Jewish, dyke, suburban ex-punk, version of her look since I’d turned 40 in August of 2010. The thing is, I did want to make sure I was ok. I had to check that all the odd things coming for me like storm clouds fell into the normal category of aging. Because WOMEN ARE NOT ALLOWED TO AGE UP IN THIS HIZZY, it’s hard to know what the fuck normal is. No one talks about the real (cis)lady details of things because our culture has made our parts unsavory, unmentionable, and as such, ultimately at risk. If we don’t talk about what things are like, we never know if something might be off. We don’t see the doctor, and we water the Garden of Shame with our silent discomfort and confusion.

So. There I am, trying to support stress management by giving yoga the 473rd try in life. I’m down the street at the gross gym in a class of like 230 people crammed into a soulless hall of mirrors when I am almost knocked over by a scent so strong, I forget I’m trying to touch my toes. Holy Mother of God. Is That …


Obviously in my life circumstances, my vag wasn’t getting the attention she usually did from me. Life gets like that sometimes. But I had spent my life with her and I knew the general scent profile. And this, my friends, THIS WAS NOT IT. I was like, Sweet Jesus, Everyone In This Room Can Smell My Dang Twat. I got up and left. I mean I bolted. Faster than a cat with a hot foot. Bitches were moving into that last Savasana pose (which basically means LYING DOWN) and I was hauling ass, and vagina, out of there. I sobbed openly, heaving and blubbering the whole walk home because my reserves of everything were in the hospital, at work, studying, and Goddess Knows, I had nothing left for this.

Turns out, it ain’t no thang. It’s just that no one says it. No one says, Look, Your Pussy Is Gonna Smell Different. You body odor changes when your hormones change. And your sense of smell can even get more sensitive. In fact, let me spit out a whole cornucopia of events that may, or may not, visit you as your hormones make their way to new resting points.

Dry gets such a BAD RAP. Come on. Deserts are dry and they are exquisite.

You got your hot flashes. Which as far as I can tell, are not what I would call “flashes”. These events can last longer than a flash. Long enough to drench an outfit and peel layers off on a chilly autumn stroll. I think these things are kind of weird and awesome. The first one was scary but after that, they struck me as kind of personal earthquakes. Like, if there’s no real damage done, the experience is incredibly odd and interesting. There are the night sweats, which are more annoying and less interesting. And then you’ll hear descriptions that make menopause sound like you’ll be having a blistering case of PMS for like 6 to 23 years. Irritability, loss of libido, depression, bloating, weight gain, feeling unfocused, forgetting things and then added in you’ll get a couple doozies: hair loss, migraines, incontinence, brand new allergies and even irregular heartbeats. And of course the dreaded dry vagina. Everyone talks about vaginal dryness like it’s the end of the fucking world. Comedy acts love to drag out the dried up old slit insults as often as the bold dare to insult women. But guess what? It most certainly is not the end of anyfuckingthing. Just get some lube, or some MORE lube, (without glycerin) and do your thing, people. Maybe be a tiny bit more careful with the friction, and maybe the girth of accommodations may constrict, but your vagina is perfectly fine for all of it’s regular activities. And if your vagina gets too sensitive for penetration, there are roughly 4,231,972 other sexual things you can try with yourself or a partner. AND, to get completely radical, it’s absolutely fine for you to boldly downgrade the importance of sex in your life and still have every right to be a fully powerful, functional, and incredible woman.

Now some of the things associated with menopause are just bullshit results of living in a place where women are held to different standards than men. Because are you HONESTLY trying to tell me that (cis) men don’t gain weight easier in their fifties, Mary?!?!? BECAUSE THEY DO. They forget shit and they have trouble focusing and they lose their hair. They lose libido and have a hard time getting, and keeping, the old plump in the snake. Is that menopause? No. No it is not.


It’s our job to get older. Actually, it’s a privilege to get older. I’ve seen the alternative a lot lately and it’s not my personal preference. You know what else happens? If we are lucky?

If we are lucky enough to be Crone Apprentices and eventually the blessed Crones:

We stop giving a shit what other people think of us. We feel good from the inside to the outside rather than waiting for the outside world to tell us our inside world is approved of. We don’t need approval. We fucking glow.

We develop a sense of gratitude each and every day. The Metrics of Mortality begin to do their work and as we age, we lose our beloveds. We lose our icons and our nemeses. We also lose our inhibitions, our hangups and our delusions. Colors feel brighter, the air smells sweeter and the days pass more swiftly than we remember. We have less time to kill. We really have no time to kill. We have time to spend like gold coins, each moment a singular thing. So don’t bring bullshit to my door. I spent most of that in my twenties.

We don’t have to spend money on tampons. CAN I GET AN AMEN, SYSTERS?!?! That particular breed of brutal resentment I’d get every month is blessedly over. I keep my approximately $82 a year and I will spend it on baguettes in Paris, Thank You Very Much. I will take my big, round, post-menopausal ass on a stroll through the streets in my cowboy boots with leggings and a caftan blowing in the breeze, pounds of my long gray hair twisted into a braid down my back with no care in the world of where in the month I am as I wear white whenever I feel like it.

We will read Susun S. Weed’s The New Menopausal Years: The Wise Woman Way and contemplate the whoa-ed out witchy shit we were much too cool for just a few short years ago, when we were first falling in love with Helen Mirren and Angela Basset and had no idea how much better that would get.

Richard Avedon’s Marian Anderson, 1955

We will look at old Richard Avedon portraits and let our faces wrinkle and sag because that is what faces do over time. And they look fabulous. We will honor the stories that time etches on us and tell them to our younger friends. We will talk about our bodies. We will let them change. We will try to hold as much excitement about our bodies changing as we did when we were teenagers sneaking cigarettes and waiting to learn how to use sex to our advantage. I mean, that’s what I did. And I want us to stay curious. I want us to do the punkest rock thing there is to do for women today: to age.

And we will, hopefully, honor whatever our fellow women decide to do with their bodies because the fact that we manage to make it through this culture in these things at all is a goddamned miracle. We will support women to make their choices. To nip, tuck, plump, alter, chisel, dye or even to end it on their own terms. We will age with our mystique.

These are my wishes for us as I continue to get to know this aging body. It will not get younger. But I can still keep it strong and valuable, functional, healthy and resilient. My hope for all of us is that we continue to talk to each other about our bodies, eradicating cultural secrecy and shame as we go.

Long live the vagina, in all its scents.

* Ginger is ok now, thanks for asking. The world of autoimmunity is a tricky little landscape.

MY FIRST GUEST POST!!! 8 Crystals That Can Boost Your Everyday Wellness by the Family Warlock, Steve Seinberg

I am excited to introduce you to my brother Steve Seinberg! Not only is he a Reiki Master, he’s an Intuitive Counselor who works with Astrology, Tarot, Runes, and Crystals. I am always collecting stones and stowing them away around the house with plants, found objects installations from long walks, and on the alter where I have my sporadic meditation practice along with some spotty (but pretty damn good) tarot readings. I thought it might be nice for Steve to share with us some specifics about everyday stone that can support our holistic wellness. Plus, I like pretty things so LET’S DO THIS… Here’s the Seinberg Clan Mystery Man…

This clear quartz lives happily in an ivy.

For the first 90% of my life, I didn’t have any special regard for crystals.  My brother, Mike, has been a jewelry-maker since his teens, so I did actually gain some surface familiarity with various stones during my childhood…but aside from thinking that the colorful specimens in Mike’s workshop were a bit more attractive than the rocks you’d find in our neighbor’s gravel driveway, I never really gave them any additional thought…

But fast-forward about 30 years, and follow me to Los Angeles, and you’ll see that I’ve enjoyed an exponential flare-up in my appreciation for all things crystalline.  When my other sibling – your resident Holistic Health Coach, Sara Seinberg – asked me if I’d be interested in penning a guest column for her blog that would focus on crystals, I was pecking away at this piece before she’d even finished tacking the question mark onto the end of her query.  Here, then, as requested, are eight crystals – all readily available and relatively affordable – that would make a sensational set of stones for use in boosting your everyday feelings of general wellness:

1)     Clear Quartz.  Probably the single most versatile crystal on the planet, this is an especially outstanding starter stone for newcomers who are looking to make their first forays into the world of crystals.  Clear Quartz can be used for a whole galaxy of purposes: healing, protection, meditation, energy work…  A terrific team player, Clear Quartz can be used to enhance the abilities of virtually any other stones when used in tandem with them.  It’s also exceptionally responsive for people who like to mentally “program” their crystals to perform specific tasks.

Amethyst is one of my favorites for tarot and also reminds me of all my Aquarian friends whenever I’m around it.

2)     Amethyst.  This popular purple stone is another one that can be used in a multitude of ways. Resonating with the Crown Chakra, Amethyst can facilitate the development of psychic perceptions and experiences, it boosts intuition, and it can amplify your connection with the more spiritual planes of existence.  Placing a piece under your pillow can help in the fight against insomnia, and my own personal experience has also shown repeatedly that this piece-under-the-pillow technique can turbo-charge your dream activity!  You can even cleanse other crystals by placing them overnight on an Amethyst cluster.

3)     Lepidolite.  Soothing, lilac-colored Lepidolite contains traces of lithium, and is often referred to as the “Peace Stone.”  Crystal enthusiasts have consistently found Lepidolite to be a very effective counter-measure against such damaging, serenity-defying conditions as stress, anxiety, phobia, depression, addiction, and obsession.  Keeping Lepidolite in your pocket or wearing some in jewelry form can greatly bolster your overall feelings of tranquility.

4)     Black Tourmaline.  This is the metaphysical world’s go-to stone when addressing issues revolving around a need for protection.  If you feel that you attract inordinate amounts of “bad luck,” or too much attention from energy-vampire types, or that you’re often the target of consistently negative emotions from others, or even outright psychic attacks, then this might be the next crystal that you should consider trying out.  Black Tourmaline is also a fine stone for grounding: if you have trouble keeping yourself in the here and now, then weighty Black Tourmaline may just be the anchor that you need.

Hello My Pretties: Lepidolite and Sodalite.

5)     Ruby.  Its deep, sultry red hues suggest the very things that the Ruby can stimulate within us: vitality, life-force, creativity, passion, leadership, and even sexual energy.  When your strength and zest for life have been depleted, Ruby is an especially great stone to look to for a recharge.  Carrying a piece with you can help during such phases, and keeping a Ruby against your skin should have even greater positive effect.  Rubies are also believed to attract both love and prosperity.

6)     Lapis Lazuli.  Rich, dazzling blue in color, Lapis Lazuli has been seducing humankind with its smoldering good looks since Neolithic times in early Mesopotamia.  A stone of personal power, Lapis Lazuli is an excellent crystal for use in today’s modern society, as it can greatly augment the communication function, enabling its users to express themselves more clearly, to process incoming data from others more accurately and efficiently, and maybe most importantly, to speak their truth without self-censoring it, questioning it, or candy-coating it.

7)     Sodalite.  Vaguely similar in appearance to Lapis Lazuli, the milder Sodalite is a terrific crystal to keep handy in the workplace.  Not only can it amp up your willpower, concentration, and problem-solving efforts, but Sodalite is prized for its ability to soak up the electromagnetic output generated by our computer and communications technologies.  The medical profession as a whole hasn’t exactly united in condemning the “EM smog” created by our beloved gadgets and gizmos as truly damaging, but if you’re one of those people who feels an undeniable sensitivity to such emissions, you might want to experiment with a piece or two of Sodalite placed at your workstation or carried around with you.

8)     Moss Agate.  Lush, dark green, with flecks and veins of white, Moss Agate retains an extremely close bond with the Earth.  This is a fantastic stone for encouraging fertility of all kinds.  Moss Agate is believed to aid with fortifying good health, and it’s also considered to be a magnet for abundance.   And possibly of greatest importance, Moss Agate is believed by many crystal aficionados to be capable of helping plants to grow.  If you enjoy an environment filled with greenery, you can try placing pieces of Moss Agate into the pots and beds of your favorite plants – you may well be met with a surge of new fruits and foliage!

There are obviously many more types of crystals out there for you to explore, and not all people will get the same results from a given variety of stone, either…but this list should represent a very solid selection of crystals that can really reinforce your feelings of everyday wellness…


You can visit Steve’s Website with killer blog and follow him on Facebook and at on Instagram.

I Designed a Diet For You. The Last One You’ll Ever Need.

Yesterday was International No Diet Day. Now, I don’t know who named it or if it’s a real thing or whatever or even what makes a Real Thing, but I don’t give a fuck. We’ve got Columbus on the National Holiday docket and if that conquering rapist gets a NATIONAL holiday, I’m all for celebrating a day of freedom from a diet practice and industry that preys on the misery of so many.

Bathing Suits for EVERYONE

Still. Let’s be honest, people want to feel free and gorgeous and sexy. And to hear our culture tell it, that obviously means being thin and young. Here’s some news: our lives are worth living in any body we’re in right this moment, because here we are. Not only are diets proven to fail, the false idol of thin prevents us from actually living our lives fully as we strive for a version of ourselves that is yet to exist, and frankly, may never exist.

So, because I care, I have designed a diet I totally believe in that can work for everyone. While in my coaching practice I work from a place of abundance, I know many of us have become believers in the Golden Handcuffs of Restriction, so first, here’s a list of things that are verboten on the Steady Diet of Seinberg. Give the mighty middle finger to the following items for the last diet you’ll ever need.

1. Friends/Lovers/Dates/Family Members who comment on your body in ways that imply value. Whether you have lost weight, gained weight, or been the same size for years, your size has nothing to do with who you are in life or why you are fucking awesome. If someone doesn’t want to date you because you weigh too much, thank the world for editing this asshole right the hell out for you. You are now free to date people who have values that last over what is sure to be a life full adventure and love. Don’t date people who don’t want to date you. Winning the Prize of the Ambivalent is like winning a Sweepstakes for Cholera. And if your friend is uncomfortable with your thin frame because your appearance makes them feel bad, refer them to a good therapist and spend your time with people who like you as you are and value your contributions to the relationships you sustain and the world we live in.

2. No more uncomfortable clothes. You know how you have an entire closet filled with clothes that are tight or don’t fit? And you keep not shopping for anything new because you’ll do it “when you lose that ten pounds”? Because you can’t bear to see what size you might have to buy today? Because somehow that number defines you?

Well, that ten, twenty, thirty pounds you have is part of your actual body. Today. Right now. And this is where you LIVE. Wearing clothes that are tight and painful remind us every time we move at all that our minds are in a place of forbidding us to be happy until we are somehow different than we are today. In addition, this physical reminder reinforces through the elemental experience of physical sensation that WE DO NOT DESERVE TO LIVE. We bind ourselves to a package of yesterday or tomorrow when the only place we live is today. So, for the love of all that is powerful and Amazonian, dress for today. Because this is your one shot at life. Right Now. And I swear, you deserve to be here no matter what. You don’t have to believe me yet, but someday you might. And I’m here rooting for that by asking you to start now.

3. Internal Self-Hating Diatribes Yup. You can cut this shit right the hell out, too. When you find your thoughts ambling through the treacherous neighborhoods of crucifying yourself, employ your inner herding dog to gently re-direct your internal conversation to a friendlier channel. Simply notice the mean voice, wish it well, and walk away. Don’t try to smother it or shame it or even silence it. Simply bid it hello, an old familiar companion, and be on your way with the dog to a mental street with better lighting and no annoying parking meters where a quarter only buys you six minutes. Some of our inner cruel bitches were born of survival mechanisms when we were tiny. They served us in some way, but that’s over now. We are no longer beholden to this avenue of dialogue and we can cultivate friendlier narrators for our lives. Cruelty breeds more cruelty. And on the Seinberg Diet, you’re done with this shit.

Move your body. All the bodies.

4. Talking Shit About Other People’s Bodies. You are banned from this unhealthy and ineffective method of “feeling better”. Engaging in cruel commentary about a fellow human being’s body is a reflection of the core of our own desperate desire to feel better about ourselves and there are much more direct and honest ways to tend to that need. The Seinberg Diet forbids any and all verbal machete jobs on the bodies of any humans (including our own). Even those of people we loathe. When we disrespect the sacred keeper of our lives, The Body, of anyone, we disrespect ourselves. And that, my friends, is over. Which leads me to…

5. Comparing Ourselves and our Bodies to Others When the hell has this ever worked? When was the last time you compared yourself to Gina or Jenna, for better or for worse, and come out the other side feeling just wonderful? “Well, Katie eats everything and look at her cute figure.” Now first of all, we have no idea what Katie’s private hell might be. Comparing how you feel on your inside (scared, lonely, angry) to how someone else looks on the outside doesn’t even make any sense. Katie might be going through  divorce or struggling with an eating disorder. But you know what: THAT’S HER BUSINESS. Focus on yourself and your own cute figure. Feed yourself nutrient dense foods and dance about it. Move your body, any size. Chew. Drink water. Let Katie do Katie.

6. And you know what else you are fucking done with on this diet? YOU ARE DONE WITH DIETS*. They are stupid and mean and they don’t work. They are the fist in your throat, the monster lodged in the base of your neck, the rage in your belly. Diets are the agent of doom. They convince us to stay in an adversarial relationship with our bodies and underwrite our lives with the promise of a tomorrow that never comes physically, emotionally, or spiritually. And they are also no fun.

Go out and have some fucking fun. Take your bikini body out and swim in the river you’ve always wondered about. Any body is a bikini body if you put a bikini on it. Go to the spa and get naked with everyone else. Go on dates and do zumba and take swing dancing and go to Europe. Do these things in your body because you can.

Don’t be afraid that people might be judging you because guess what: THEY ARE. Every second all the time, silent judgements are being hurled in your general direction and there is not a goddamned thing you can do about it. People think your hair is too big, your lipstick looks like shit and they can’t believe you are wearing those shoes. People think you’re a dirty hippie that  should shave your armpits and that your face would look prettier with some make-up. Still other people think you’re too fat to be in love or happy and they think you’re too Jewish to be broke. They think you are too gay and too mannish and too loud. They think your art sucks and your salary isn’t justified and they can’t understand how you’ve had so many lovers. They think you’re a slut and they think you’re frigid. They are judging you right now. People think all kinds of crazy mean stupid terrible shit and here’s some news. It’s none of your business what they think about you, and you don’t need to make it your problem. So. Don’t be afraid that people are judging you because they are and you’re still here. And you are just fine.

Unless you are not fine.

There’s a million people who would give anything to have the body you have right now.

Unless you are like my many beloveds who are ravaged by cancer treatments and dead from drug overdoses. Unless you are recovering from a car accident, in excruciating pain all the time. Or unless you have late stage Lyme and your body has become a parade of unexplained ailments turning your life into a circus of misery. And if you are living in a body that is not fine, that is fighting and enduring, I send you my deepest and most heartfelt wishes for healing and for peace. For moments of freedom from suffering.

But if you are, for all intents and purposes, in a body that is healthy. Think about the people living in the paragraph above this and go out and live. Take your thighs and your back fat and your butts and your chins out and get to living.

May the diet culture begin its decline by those of us here cutting off its windpipe and its funding through treating ourselves with respect, friendliness, and dignity.

Keep loving. Keep Fighting. And for fuck’s sake, keep eating.


* This excludes when a medical practitioner suggests a protocol of nutrition that supports your health.

My Good Friend, The Humble Lentil

Each season I take 21 days to eat an entirely plant based diet and remove common allergens and inflammatories from my food routine. Some foods I decide to take longer breaks from, and others I can’t wait to get back to, and these choices change every season. Why is this important for the context of this post? For a couple reasons.

So simple. So delicious.

The most important reason is that each time I do a Restoration, my test kitchen goes into overdrive to keep a constant sense of discovery within the practice and to bring a vital experience of creativity to my kitchen. Or just to wake me out of a rut I can tend to fall into. It’s been my experience that people assume since I am a health coach and I do this kind of work daily, that my relationships to food, cooking and creative practice are all locked down. Like I am a born-again kind of health nut after my years of questionable choices and that I arrive here beyond all the challenges that go with this body. The belief is that I kind of levitate through the kitchen, a blissful fountain of delicious ideas pouring forth out of a traditionally gorgeous figure, equipped with the kitchen skills of a chef. And I’m probably over here dispensing advice and silently judging those of you who don’t give a shit what a hemp heart is. Some assumptions sashay along the path that I’m sporting a healthy glow after an easy nine mile run through the countryside and I’m looking forward to my fresh pressed green juice as I sit and solve all the digestive problems of every client I meet and pluck magical solutions to each conundrum of every soul and hand them out benevolently each hour. I wrap each day on the foam roller applying a soothing self-massage to my shoulder, so sore from patting myself on the back for a wonderful day of saving people from themselves and their terrible habits.

The truth is, my struggles happen alongside everyone else’s. Seasonal restorations have become a deeply important practice for me to re-set not just my body, but my routine in the kitchen. To keep learning, and to stay fresh as a facilitator and a human being. I usually adopt a new cookbook, or a new-to-me cookbook to study each season (or several) and bring new flavor profiles and skills to the experience for myself and my fellow Restorers.

Green, red, and French lentils. The French tend to hold together the strongest, as do the unpictured black, or Beluga lentils. Green and Red are perfect for soups. Pottery by the talented Charlene Swift.

The other reason it’s important for me to tell you that I’m at the tail end of the Spring Restoration is that before I began this season, I had been on a serious coffee bender. I had to begin weaning myself off The Bean because I was not only having my morning cup, but indulging every mild yen along the way as well. I’ve noticed that as The Keurig rises to World Domination leaving a brand new trail of plastic for our oceans in its wake, local businesses have set them up all over the place as welcoming committees for all of us as we wait. There is one at the vet, the tax people’s office and the local farm supply place. There’s samples at the grocery store and a station at the farmer’s market. Even the 9th ring of hell at the state car inspection place has set up a friendly interlude with Maxwell House K cups and artificial creamer. The original impulse for me wasn’t even about the coffee, it’s that I am such a SUCKER for FRIENDLINESS in a world that may be heating up on the weather front, but is growing decidedly colder in the human interaction arena that I want to be a part of each and every act of public kindness I can find. Couple this with my love of coffee and WHOOP, there it is.

As you might be able to guess by the heroic and rambling length of the preamble to the lentil


It’s a little fucking slice of heaven, frankly. Half the reason I love quitting coffee four times a year is the total euphoria of the return of the first cup. I mean, I fucking LOVE IT. I’m sure after reading about my former enthusiasm for crystal meth, this comes as no surprise in the neighborhood of my proclivities, but OH, how the rock and roll lifestyle moves along. I could not be luckier or more deeply grateful that my big rush is now a stovetop espresso while wandering through the garden to see how much the parsley grew in one day of sun.  Ahem. Feel free to update your files about how health coaches only make perfect “healthy” choices. Or at least me. I will work on dismantling my suburban punk perfectionism one glorious cup of coffee at a time.

So. What about lentils?
Yes, the wonderful little lentil.

Many years ago, I think it was 1993 in Portland, OR at a vegan lesbian potluck, someone gave me a slice of lentil loaf. The offering arrived on my plate dense and brown and sad, dotted with specks of hopeful carrots and weighing about a full metric ton. SO depressing. Obviously, this not only put me off lentils for a solid decade, it filled me with an expansive dread that perhaps my love of butches might be doomed to arrive with a community hot girls but abysmal, flavorless, vegan food experiences. Now, I can’t stand by while both vegans and lesbians have to shoulder the atrocity of what transpired at so many similar potlucks from the 70s through the 90s. Not to mention the punishment the good name of the lentil has taken.


I got this recipe from my favorite cookbook of the season which I can’t shut the hell up about, Amy Chaplain’s At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen. The only thing I’ve changed is that she uses 3 cloves of garlic and I use 5 because when it comes to garlic, in our house, MORE IS BETTER.

Such satisfaction. And such a taste sensation.

Amy Chaplain’s Lemony Marinated French Lentils

1c French Lentils, sorted and washed
3c filtered water
3 bay leaves
5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 in piece kombu (cooked with legumes, this can help with gas later. You’re welcome.)
Zest of 1 lemon
2T lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
3T olive oil
1/2t salt, more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley to garnish

Soak your lentils. Amy says 12-24 hours but 4 will do. And if you forgot, just rinse and add 5 minutes to your cooking time. Drain the lentils and put them in your heavy pot with your kombu, bay leaves and garlic cloves. Bring everything to a boil, then turn your flame down to a simmer, cover and let cook for about 25 minutes (30 if you didn’t soak). You want your little lentils to be soft, but not coming apart into a mush.

While everything is cooking, combine the rest of your ingredients (except parsley) in a bowl and whisk together. Drain your lentils when they are ready and stir in your wet oil mixture.

Part of why I love this recipe so much has to do with what happens after. You can serve these on their own as a main if you like. They are bright tasting and zingy and filling and taste divine. You can also chill them and have them next day as a plant protein in a salad, or transform them into a salad of their own, adding diced tomatoes, red quinoa, radishes, cucumbers and carrots OR you can put them back on the stove with a cup of vegetable broth, bring to a boil and turn down to simmer once again and VOILA, you’ve got a killer lentil soup in 15 dang minutes.



The Fine Art of “Fuck It”

Go to the batting cages

I went to art school. And even though I studied photography, it was the kind of school, that after asking for all the money in the world, encouraged a gal to try her hand at everything. One of the best things I did was take a performance class. I brought in a stack of all the cheap dishes I could get at the Sal’s, handed out safety goggles to everyone present and placed a pair over my own eyes as well. We dimmed the lights, turned on Waiting Room by Fugazi as loud as possible, and one by one, I tossed each porcelain opportunity into the air gently with enough time to get the tossing hand back onto the shaft of the Louisville Slugger, and I swung the bat into plate after plate after plate. Once such a thing is discovered, it is difficult to not want to do it each and every day for the rest of time. The old bat was left studded with shards of white ceramic, a weapon and a relic of rage. I loved that thing.

I think about that a lot. I especially recall it when I feel overwhelmed with life, underwhelmed with life, tapped out, over tapped and furious. I think of it when ferocious electric sparks zip along my veins and I feel like even my teeth will burst into flame. I think about that kind of release. I picture one of my heroes, Muhammad Ali, and I picture Willy Mays and I think about that movie Road House with Patrick Swayze. Dang, I miss Patrick Swayze.

But often, I can’t seem to think of an outlet for this kind of thing and instead, I swallow. I will swallow anything from pride to rage to donuts and pizza. Of course, none of these options do much to really address the actual feelings. And in a world where people are never encouraged to express anger, most especially people who are not holding cultural power, swallowing anything that burns firmer than moonshine eventually blisters and scars.

There are two worlds of FUCK IT in this life. The first one, turns outward, and the other, blisters, burns, and scars. There is the EMPOWERED FUCK IT, in which the beholder is like:

“Fuck It. I am walking out of this shitty job that is killing my soul and I may not have a plan, but I can find a way.”

“Fuck It. I’ve always wanted to ask that guy out. The worst that can happen is that he’ll say no and we won’t date and we’re ALREADY not dating, and I’m living through that anyhow. But if I ask, then I’ll know.”

“Fuck it. I’m going to Paris.”

Then there is the FUCK IT, I’ll burn it all down brand of choice. That’s the one where we stumble over asking the guy at the coffee shop out and we decide FUCK IT, I’M NEVER GOING TO THAT COFFEE SHOP AGAIN. In fact, I am swearing off coffee and guys.

Or FUCK IT, I’m already in pain, I’m just going to stay where it’s awful because it might get more awful if I move at all.

Or FUCK IT, I already got a parking ticket, got in a fight with my daughter and missed the deadline for taxes, I’m going to the bar to drink bourbon and watch Days of Our Lives and wait until the day ends. Nothing matters.”

Now, instead of telling everyone all of my clever plans and tips for recovering from a bad moment or a bad day through turning around the Fine Art of Fuck It, I turned the Louisville Slugger studded with thrift shop shards over to readers for advice. I give you these fantastic artists of getting your groove back who answered the call here:

1. “Although it took me a long time to incorporate it into my life, I learned that I have to get my body moving to reverse a shitty day. If I have a bad enough day I generally lack the motivation to exercise even if I know it will make me feel better, so this year I paired exercise with something that is immediately rewarding: I bought a spin bike (used, great condition from Craigslist) so I can exercise at home while watching the X-Files. I’ve made a deal with myself that I can only watch the show while I’m biking, and I made it a goal to watch the entire series this year. I love a good challenge, so if the endorphins aren’t enough of a motivating factor, getting through all 202 episodes in 1 year certainly is for me.” -BC

2. “I try to get my body moving doing something constructive like pruning the trees gardening or shoveling snow, the more strenuous the task the better. Mowing the lawn is also a cure all.” -GR

Sunbath on Hammock.

3. “Walk in sun followed by sunbath on hammock, with music…preferably Stevie Wonder.” -EW

4. “Someone said to me once, “If you are feeling depressed, clean your oven. Later on you will feel better and your oven will be clean.” Also, I find that my recovery time is less if I’m not at war with myself… i.e. not resisting how I feel, or judging it, but accepting it and letting it move through me. Also EFT tapping, which makes room for shit to move through. Lastly, yelling something completely silly that makes me laugh.” -NF

5. “I personally screamed out loud at the top of lungs this week in my car by myself, then went and worked out and later let the tears fall. I have laryngitis now but I feel emotionally better. Also, I try to cross off the “hydration, food, sleep, give yourself a break” checklist, and move from a pattern of self criticism that I’m in the vortex to checking it out and realizing it’s ok to hang out in there for a while and be present in the shit. And then…remembering all the people that love me in my life energetically standing around me, allowing that support and love to gently sink in.” -SLP

6. “Sex, Masturbation, yoga, marijuana, ee cummings, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson., Edna St. Vincent Millay, a long walk in nature. No order intended by that list.” -JL

7.”DO anything productive… My rules to avoid sliding into the dark place I have been and know too well:

1. Get up. 
2. Make your bed. 
3. Eat porridge. 
4. Do yourself beautiful – be it a bath, a chore, a chat, a dress.
5. On the direst of days, avoid Facebook til first 4 are completed.” -SH
8. “Today I had the experience of checking in with how tired I was. I came home and took a nap. despite the pretty weather. had to allow myself rest. And not judge it.” -DB
9. “Having a mindfulness practice. Years of anchoring my ass to the cushion so that I have an understanding that suffering is shared and universal and inevitable, and impermanent. Learning about the salatha aka “second arrow” sutta has been transformational, just this year: Pain and suffering happen for everyone. Pain = the first arrow. Everyone gets shot with that at some point. The second arrow is the thought we have about the pain. I’ve learned mostly through meditation to recognize that most pain I experience (both emotional and physical) is second-arrow stuff. For me, letting go of the expectation of 24/7 happiness has left me more happy. Also, hula-hooping, boiling myself in an epsom salt bath, writing out my resentments and fears, finding someone — anyone — to help, and crying on my cat.” -JP
10. “Menu planning, reading in bed, invite the dog on the couch with you, or just take a melt down and wallow. Getting to sleep as soon as possible because it is always better in the morning.” -SS (not me)
11. “Kitten paws, yoga, mint tea, outside air, program call. Visit the hospital, you feel better immediately because you can leave under your own power” -DM

Make someone a Present


Me? I try these things: Be in service to others and get out of my own problems for a second. Make someone a present. Go out into the world and look around. Then Listen. The birds just knock me out with gratitude. Cook. Read a good book. Call a friend. Turn my phone off. Run. Walk. Stretch. Look at Gus’s face. Keep looking. Turn on YoYo Ma and lie in the dark with headphones and let that wash right over me. Take a super hot shower. Wasabi.

But I think soon I’m going to head to some batting cages.

Thank you to everyone who answered my call. There were tons of wonderful suggestions and you can read the whole post on my FB business page if you like. It’s from April 13th.

Not Just for Hugging Trees: Cauliflower Millet Mashup

Like Birkenstocks, millet isn’t just for hippies anymore. If I can be any force for the reintroduction into the mainstream of the wonders of millet, let it be so. As far as grains go, it has a good amount of vegetarian protein (6 grams), it’s gluten free for people practicing an auto-immune protocol, or those who are sensitive to the gluten, AND it tastes relish.

One of the problems with millet is it’s gotten some pretty bad PR. But look, if Helen Mirren can proclaim her love of Crocs and still be so hot, then you can give millet a try.

Let’s start with my current food darling, Amy Chaplain, and cook up a version of her mash. I have made this stuff EVERY week for 3 weeks since I got the book. I’ve served garlic greens on it, eggs, stirred in mushroom medleys and stuff roasted squash with it. It’s divine. Not only do you get a kind of corn-like flavor profile, you also get the added nutrient dense benefits of cauliflower along with it. PLUS, for kids who love grains and stray from vegetables THIS IS WHERE YOU CAN MESS WITH YOUR KIDS!!! It all looks beige to them and goddess knows, children love boring beige food. Look, I’m not trying to insult your kids, but AM I WRONG??!?!?! No. So try this. They won’t suspect a thing.

It’s fast, it’s versatile, it’s great for a whole family and it’s so affordable as quinoa skyrockets and cauliflower comes into season.


1 medium head cauliflower
1c millet, soaked overnight
1 1/2t sea salt
1/2t ground black pepper
2 1/2c water or vegetable stock

Rinse off your soaked grains and put them in the pot with the florets from your cauliflower, the broth/water and the S&P. Which is to say, PUT EVERYTHING IN THE POT. Bring the mix to a boil, then turn down to simmer and cover for 20 minutes. Check to see if all the liquid has been absorbed right about now. Then mash everything together.

You can add sautéed mushrooms, crispy onions or leeks, top with tamarin, flax oil, walnut oil or any other flavor you’re going for. Stirring in fresh spinach is delicious. Adding hippie dust is great too. The render greens are flash-cooked just by the heat of the mash and it’s DELICIOUS. Top with a toasted seed and nut mixture for crunch or have it on seed toast. Experiment! Let me know your favorite concoctions.



Watching an Elegy: My Love of Gus Seinberg, Gay, Jewish Dog

First day home. 1998.

Perhaps the cutest puppy in the history of all puppies ever, I scooped Gus Seinberg and his ears into my life in the summer of 1998. He and his brothers and sisters were found in a box in Albany, California and brought to Berkeley where they became eligible for adoption on July 3rd. I was 27 at the time, my heart smashed along the streets of San Francisco, as 27 year old lesbian hearts lend themselves to a kind of reckless romantic smashability, iconic in scope. I had a few things going for me in the healing department, though. Two musical Elliotts accompanied my rise and fall, Mr. Smith for the wallowing, and then Ms. Missy for the phoenix from the flames kind of jam. And also a kind and gorgeous Sagittarian butch who liked to fix things found me to work on. Marina would run baths for me late at night and pour me good bourbon while I soaked. She read out loud to me from Raymond Chandler novels, left flirty personal ads for me in the Missed Connections print ads in the 90s SF Weekly, and picked me up to bomb around town in her matte black Plymouth Belvedere, green hotrod flames stretched over the side like a tattooed lady’s curvy hip.

But still, the kind of ache I nursed was nothing I’d ever encountered, endless and self-obssessed, irritating to all around me and no fun at all. Marina was a damn saint, her patience as legendary as her flawless style. So when I woke up one day wanting a puppy, she took me to get Gus.

Turns out, Gus has been the love of my life, really. No one else since my parents has been with me day in and day out for almost 17 years. And we were both such pains in the ass. He spent his teenage years shredding down comforters I couldn’t afford, getting me evicted from a few apartments with his howling separation anxiety the neighbors could not abide, and snarling at every baby who came within a block from him. And I toted him around from city to city, a HERDING dog with no one to herd but me, no land, no place to run. Gus has always had high anxiety, he hates change and still, I just did my thing, introducing him constantly to one of each of the 11 different tiny places we’ve lived. He’s had a whole host of women parade through his spot on the bed next to me (not to brag) and never once complained about moving over. By the time I got him here into the country and a stable family life, where he can run for acres and acres, well, he can barely run at all.

When he was small, Marina taught him all the useful things in life, how to sit and stay. How to get in the back seat. A little bit of recall. How to take a treat gently without fingertips involved. The only thing I ever taught Gus was how to spoon. I started the day we got home. I mushed his back into my chest over and over, sometimes against his will, forming him into a tiny fur comma against me, his puppy head right under my nose. Does anything smell as good as the crown of a puppy’s head? No. No it does not. As he got older, I could lie down on my side and pat the bed next to me and Gus would wag wag wag, then leap onto the bed and nestle himself perfectly into the crook on my body, his handsome head sharing the pillow. If I was sad, he’d come unfurl the fist of my sobbing body with his snout, put all his needs aside and lie down facing me, surely on the verge of saying the perfect thing to say, but never needing to.

Gus at the office. Portrait by Shay Alderman, little pink tongue hanging out by God. 2015.

I can hear him right now, as I type this, dragging the nails of his back paws over the old farmhouse planks. I’d call him in here to find me, but he can’t really hear anything anymore besides sirens and gunshots, so I just wait until he lumbers in and pulls himself onto the geriattric space foam bed he has over there in the corner. He circles around and around, considering the lying down option, sometimes thinking better of it before he does the slow laps through the house, clicking and dragging on the floorboards as I click and drag on the keyboard. I think it hurts him, the lying down, and once he’s down, it’s an investment. He’s not going to go anywhere for hours. I look over from time to time to see if his body is rising and falling, or if Forever Slumber has come for him, and I’ve been slowly, and then suddenly, sentenced to a new life without him. And also rescued, mercifully, from having to give the order myself, his best friend hanging the finish line of his wonderful life with my own trembling fingers. I can’t imagine it, really, but then I do. I imagine it over and over and over. Holding his face in my hands while he dies.

Gus Seinberg has done every impossibly horrible thing a dog is not supposed to do. He ate a whole raw chicken off the counter. Twice. He’s gorged himself on two pounds of stolen grapes, and ate an entire one pound block of bittersweet chocolate out of my brand new messenger bag. And, being thorough, he also tore the bag apart. He blew his knee out like a point guard in a bad pivot and then got attacked in the dog park right at his beautiful regal neck. He’s ODed on pain meds flavored like treats and gotten his stomach pumped on New Year’s Eve like an idiot at a frat party. Plus embarrassing things like when he peed on these nice shoes a crush of mine wore over to the house (although he was right about her) or when he pooped in his dog sitter’s purse just last year.

Here he is.

After knee surgery, with his turtle. 2010.

I think Gussy is going to make it to his 17th birthday, and maybe he’ll make it to my 45th. But I don’t know. He is slowing down at a rate that I find both shocking and reasonable, heart shattering, and gorgeous. I think it makes sense for us to do this thing together. He has been by me every step of the way and through every nasty and beautiful transition life has tossed at me. It will be an honor to go through this transition with him.

He seems light as a feather now when I lift him up into the car to lug him around with me everywhere. I don’t leave him with anyone else anymore, so I only go where Gussy can go. I cook for him, chicken and white rice. It’s gift for both of us really, because when I am too busy or depressed, lit up with the grief attending some of the things life has been offering me lately, I can just add some spinach for myself and eat the damn dog food with him. Even as he declines, he finds ways to care for me. It’s incredible.

I’m saying all of this here because I’ve come to understand it’s important to say All Of It while the Beloved is still here. And Gussy, as much as I’ve imagined him talking, and often talk for him, he doesn’t really do it. But he listens to me endlessly. He doesn’t mind the horror that is my singing voice or the shortsightedness of my ego when it digs in. He likes all my outfits, thinks I’m  the most beautiful sight in the world besides steak and he is happy to see me no matter how much I snapped at him when he didn’t deserve it. Gus Seinberg taught me everything I know about loyalty. He shows me every day that most things I think are urgent, aren’t truly important, and the deeply imperative things in life are rarely urgent after all. He has been my greatest constant teacher and companion. I still sniff the crown of his head every day. It remains a perfect pleasure.

I don’t know how to say goodbye to him, but I imagine he will teach me that as well when it is time. He is the most perfect thing that has ever happened to me. Later I will take him out and we will walk a short way together,

Paws and feet,
Paws and feet.

When you are gone, I will never stop missing you.


*For Laura, who loved Gus and took care of him too.