Category Archives: Food

Anorexia nervosa

Still January at Blyss Kennels; the day of the new President

 If there was a day to be glued to the television, this was that day.  For it was the historic transition of power from one administration to another, and in this case the two could not be more disparate. Instead, I could not sleep last night and was up too late to rise early enough to see it from the beginning.  I was indifferent at best and found it to be just another big news day for television, even if it was one with more pomp and circumstance than usual.  I can only pray for the best possible outcome by the newcomer to politics.  I am sure it is not as easy as his predecessor made it look.  And he did that part very well, indeed.

Here at Blyss Kennels, it is still winter although we have had some warmer days.  We have even had everything from a blizzard like snow storm that mandated me shoveling the driveway myself and cleaning snow off my car, with the assistance of Jelly watching on.   No sooner did it melt did, the temperatures rose to sixty just a few days later, and then I did not know what to wear.  That day dawned bright and clear.  It brought its own special brand of joy.   For, we were visited by a very gracious gentleman, N34, whom I have known about six moths.  He recently bought a borzoi bitch from my very own breeder and mentor herself, N5.  His borzoi’s name is Blondie.  The question of the day was how my Tresor would behave toward her, another dog in his home.  I am proud to say he was a perfect gentleman and Blondie was treated like the borzoi royalty she was.  A wonderful day was enjoyed by all.  There is no word to described how happy his visit made me.  I’ve harbored a serious crush on him for about six months.

I was careful to play it very cool, just being friendly.  Seeing him in my own house was very overwhelming, to say the least.  I went into “hostess” mode and just tried to relax.  I cannot imagine what he thought of me.  He seemed to smile a lot though, and Blondie seemed relaxed and happy, too.  We had a nice lunch that I prepared, and he seemed to appreciate all of my efforts on his behalf.  I could not get over that he was really here.  To make his trip a bit more worthwhile, I drove him to the Watchung Reservation’s main parking area known as The Loop, and we walked along the paved pedestrian walkways, in the area of the new Science Nature Museum, and the road that leads to the Scouting Field where the dogs all run off lead.  I told him there was much, much more to see but it would have to wait for another time.

My sister has taken steps to grow closer to me recently.  She has had reason to be very afraid for her health and I was helpful to her in getting through it.  I appreciate the improvement of our relationship enormously.  After the lonely place I have been since the separation from a friend with whom I had been close for three years this is appreciated.   A difficult recovery from my broken shoulder in May only underscored how isolated I was.  It was, however, a catalyst for change.  I never would have undertaken the separation from that man or met N34 if that event had not happened.  As  horrible as my accident was, it was a wake up call to make something better of the rest of my life, rather than wallowing in misery.   It’s nice to know there have been some good outcomes from it.

The borzoi, Lucy, the grand-daughter of our Blyss Mikhailya, continues to be shown in the south, after being shown at the AKC National dog show in Orlando in December, which she did not win.  She is still in the country though and in a discussion with a reliable source, I have learned she is entered in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show coming up on February 13 – 14, 2017.  She will also be entered in the Borzoi Club of America’s National Specialty Show in Hunt Valley MD on May 12 – 20, 2017.  I plan to see the borzoi judged at Westminter on Monday, February 13,  and will be in the stands on Tuesday night, Febryary 14, 2017 as well for Best in Show with my son and daughter-in-law.  It will be a wonderful experience to be there in person, since it is a show I have watched annually on television my entire life.    It is my prediction that she will continue to do well.

I think I will chose to believe that at this very early part of 2017, with a new President, new friendships, and a new and different kind of relationship with my sister, I will count my blessings and be optimistic for the future.  I wish everyone well and may everyone’s efforts, from the personal to the national level, result in a successful outcome.   As recently as late October, Jelly suffered severe injuries to her neck and legs but I am pleased to report they have all healed nicely.  Even Tresor is doing well being Tresor, even better than expected.  He was so gracious during Blondie’s visit to Blyss you would never believe he ever had a bad day.

Losing Blyss Opal Ten Years Ago and Beginning Blyss Blog.

Opal

This is the iconic portrait of Opal by Maxine Bochnia taken at six months old in 2005, famous on the internet and proudly displayed at trade shows wherever she works.

Note:  Although I am writing about a very sad subject in this entry of Blyss Blog Encore, it does not reflect the way I feel in the present.  Upon reminiscing about Opal on the tenth anniversary of Her death, my words in quotation are reproductions of documents that described my feelings at that time.  

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I must look back ten years now to remember the premature death of the borzoi puppy bitch I loved so much, Opal.   I wrote Opal’s obituary shortly after Her death and posted it on BorzoiNews-L.   Opal is not for public consumption therefore I am not posting this anniversary on Facebook or Twitter, but only mentioning the anniversary in my Blog.  For  the writing of that obituary and its publication on the BorzoiNews-List,  and the first entry in my Blog one year later describing my feelings about my grief, catapulted me into creating Blyss Blog and its continuation, Blyss  Blog Encore.  It was very clear that my grief was still raw one year later and would fester for many years.  There may be some readers who remember Opal’s obituary that I posted that day in the listserv.  It follows:

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“‘And a lady always knows when to leave.”

As many of our friends know, our youngest borzoi, “Opal” at Blyss, has been ill for some time. It has been heart wrenching to see her fail to thrive, waste away, and know something was wrong but not know what. To know was worse. She fought hard to live. Sadly, she lost.

Opal will always be remembered for her beauty, sweetness and grace, and that her time with us was much too brief. I believe she had a career as a show dog in her future, although perhaps not equaled to that of her great dam. That stopped being important to us, if only she could be well. Opal was happiest when she could be at home, making everyone feel special with her unique style of affection, tapping you with her paw to get your attention, or leaning into you to be scratched behind the ears, or licking your hands and face. Still, I would be a liar if I denied regretting the loss of so many “what could have beens” for her. Truly, she was robbed. With her passing, we lose much, too: Opal’s infectious joy, the heart of our home.

Opal’s untimely departure makes me recall a wonderful line from one of my favorite movies, Fried Green Tomatoes. Ruth, a much loved main character and a beautiful young woman, dies prematurely. Her friend, Sipsy, comforts their friends with the following words:

‘It’s all right, honey. Let her go. Let her go.  Miss Ruth was a lady.  And a lady always knows when to leave.’

Thank you, Roni and Jennifer Zucker, for sending Opal to Blyss. We shall always be so grateful.

“Opal,” Raynbo Opalesque at Blyss

October 21, 2004 – July 7, 2006

“May we meet again, Dearest Little One.”

Lorene Connolly & Robert Dwyer, Blyss Kennels, Mountainside NJ

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Lorene & Opal, 1 year old.

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One year later, no less consoled, I began the Blyss Blog with these words on July 6, 2007:

“One year has passed since I had to let Opal go. She was my best dog but She soon sickened and died…Today, I don’t understand why or how I am still here….I lost much by losing Opal. Opal meant the world to me… I tried to go to Her many times, many ways, but I failed. I still wish I could die… Nothing I feel makes any difference so there is no point in having  feelings. Wishes will not bring Her back, and my wishes stand for less. I have honored and memorialized Opal with my entire being and honors and memorials can’t bring Her back. I have cried myself sick and my tears don’t bring Her back. I have sickened myself into depression and depression can’t bring Her back. I have starved myself and starvation can’t bring Her back.  And I have grieved until I am out of grief and grief can’t bring Her back. She is gone.”

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Today, nine years after writing those opening words, although I no longer suffer the loss of Opal, I have not forgotten Her.  Instead, I am humbled by the memory that the pain of Her death caused me.  It transcended the emotional, and touched me in all aspects of my life to the point that I became physically and emotionally ill.  I never thought I could be so sick, sick to the point that my life was in danger.  There were other factors involved, true, but nothing has ever caused me so much pain before or since, as holding Her lifeless body in my arms.

It is still as sad today as it was then:  I lost ten years of blissful happiness with Opal when I needed Her so much.  By losing Her life, She lost Her chance to be my dog, when I was Her special human.  Moreover, by losing Her, I knew I would be lonely forever for that special kind of special love for me that only She had.  For that special love, the kind of love that Opal gave to me, was the kind of love that eluded me in all other areas of my life, not only in my three marriages  but going back to the earliest years of my childhood, a time of nightmares, devoid of safety and peace that only nurtured an endless, desperate quest for love as an adult.

When Opal died, Her light died with Her.  I was cast into a suffocating darkness from which I could not escape.  But life is cruel, and it goes on anyway…. Today, ten years later I am here trying to show Her the respect She is due all the while becoming a different person, a recovered person from an emotional blackout that consumed me for many years that followed.  I can recall Her memory now without the horrible pain in my chest that always brought on uncontrollable tears.  Perhaps today, I understand fully that She never really left me, that She was here all the while, always right here by my side.   Today I have the faith and the courage to look down and see Her as She looks up at me.

Paris with baby Opal
Paris with baby Opal

For Opal, I wrote prayers and I wrote poems.  In particular, there is “Opal’s Prayer” and “Hounds of the Steppes”.  They help me to remember she is always alive in my heart.

Blyss Blog Encore Officially Commences: Jelly has arrived!

After a long wait, a respectable passage of time, an appropriate period of grief, grief for the passing of all the Blyss borzoi, and much soul searching and wondering if I really could do it, I have taken possession, thanks to the generosity of a dear and long time friend, a borzoi breeder in upstate NY, of a beautiful borzoi bitch, almost five years old, to be my companion dog.   Her full name is:  Ch Kasharra Bibikov Moscova, “Jelly”.

When she was just a pup, nearly five years ago, her breeder called me and told me she had a puppy bitch that she believed would be just perfect for Blyss, and she wanted me to come and see her.   The puppy’s name was “Jelly”.    My husband said no, basing it on the amount of room we had and the number of borzoi currently living with us.  We could not take on another one and do it right, the way we both said we would want to do it.  We had avoided the temptation of impulse purchasing of borzois, crowding, not being able to afford premium dog food and top of the line veterinary care when necessary.  Having too many borzoi at once would impact that.  I had to respect his wish to say no, and it was a very sad day when I delivered that message.

I would often see Jelly at the shows.  She was truly lovely in every way.   I often wondered what it would have been like if we could have had her.  I only heard good news about her, how easily she had finished her Champion Dog title, and how much breeders and judges alike held her in such high esteem.   Recently, I spoke with two breeders who had handled her in the ring for her breeder.  She is well on her way to being a Grand Champion.  It all seemed surreal but the idea entered my mind one day to inquire regarding her to her breeder, so I gave her a call.   We spoke for a while, then I brought up the real subject of why I was calling, that being “Jelly”.  I knew she still had her, Jelly had never been sold, so I asked her if she would still want to place her with me.  I was overjoyed when she said yes.

With the health problems I had been burdened with over the last year, I wondered if I could have a dog.  I was in treatment for an eating disorder at the time this conversation took place, and I asked if I could put off taking her until after I was released.  I made being healthy enough to have a large dog a goal for my own wellness, and there were times when the idea of owning Jelly was the only reason I got out of bed in the morning, or went to a food store.  I have problems doing the most basic of things, whereas I can do difficult things with facile.  I forget to eat and sleep and get very sick as a result.  With owning Jelly as my goal I got my priorities in a healthier order.

It has been one week since I have had her.  My boyfriend, LT is back, and Jelly loves him, too.  He adores her, so we are a very happy family together.  Jelly seems to be very bonded to us, and I adore her.  She eats well and enjoys her walks.  I have even taken her to Watchung Reservation and let her run off-leash in the Scouting Field behind the old Trailside Museum.  There are two fields there, actually, with acres and acres of open land divided by a line of trees, and dogs love running in them, and they are rather safely located, away from roads.

When the warmer weather comes, I will see to it Jelly is properly introduced to all the neighbors.  Everyone in the neighborhood is expecting her.  I love her so much already.  It’s like I have gone back to the beginning.  Before there were the Blyss Borzoi, even before Opal.  It is a new start.  Jelly is a new day.  I have a new life now.  It is hard for me to believe I was ever the person I wrote about in the original Blyss Blog.

Ch Kasharra Bibikov Moskova “Jelly” at Blyss.

Ch Kasharra Bibikov Moskova "Jelly" at Blyss

Blyss Challenges: Passing Time, Theology, Becoming Healthier

During the past three days, I found myself among the members and friends of my primary clubs, two being borzoi breed clubs, and one a hound club .  It was all rather wonderful, even if I did have to drive a long way to attend them.

There was one breeder at these venues, N23, who bred the bitch I am hoping to bring home to Blyss soon whose name is Jelly.  I am so pleased and excited about this development.  My contractor is getting closer to completion of the dog-door – mud room project and that will make things move along nicely for my ability to get her.  This being a very long drive, he  has even said he will take  me there free of charge.  I have returned the favor in kind by being how shall I say,  charming.  I have made several home-made dinners  and I know him well enough to know it makes him happy.  Meanwhile, at the eating disorder program, my team has decided to let me come in only three half days, down from five full days.  I am grateful and thrilled, even thought it has meant eating more than I would like and putting on some pounds.

Comments were made by several of the ladies at the parties that I appeared to have gained weight.  However, they also commented that I looked better than I had on previous times they saw me and wished me well.  I thanked them for their gracious  comments of kindness.  I thought about this driving home and felt less happy about it.  Fortunately, my clothes still fit me, although they are tighter than I would like.  For now, I will accept the weight and try to be happy at meal time.  I am especially trying to eat the food on my plate instead of throwing it away in the garbage.   I try to remind myself that food is medicine.

At church this morning, the Minister reminded our Unitarian-Universalist congregation that all humans are inherently good and their inherent goodness influences the perfectibility of others and the world.  It is a theology of “win-win” that I wish more people would embrace.  It is a theology that embraces all humans, believing none are intrinsically bad, welcomes all of human kind, is loving and supportive to all in need of sustenance of any kind.   It is a fascinating concept to incorporate into both a personal road map as well as a theology given the approach of most Judeo-Christian theologies that are based on being forgiven for sins.  I believe it is a theology that is appropriate for me.  For today, for the first time, I am trying to live on the light side of what has been a very dark and bleak life-long depression for me that just now allows me to emerge into the light.  It is a good thing for me to know that my Unitarian-Universalism faith supports my wellness.

Against this backdrop, I talked to many people at the club parties.  It seemed that many people knew about my struggles with food and a recent termination with a significant other.   Both topics had to be discussed to some point with them and it was difficult to do so.  Things between my boyfriend and me became very complicated when my mother wanted to reconcile with my sister, N25, and me in August.  He made demands of me that I could not accept and so it ended.     Then, for some reason, I stopped eating in a normal way.  It was not purposeful or intentional, I just handled the stress in that way.  However, I cannot think badly of my boyfriend who did so much for me during the year we were together, especially when I was so sick.  And so I choose to see his goodness of which there is much in abundance.  He is difficult to be with and to understand.  I know I gave the best of me that I could and my conscience is clear.  I intend to remain his good friend to him and be true to my theology.

 

The fluttering to earth at Blyss of a gift as light as a downy feather

At home alone one evening this week, I witnessed a visual phenomena that was almost inexplicable and frightening.  However, I able to perceive exactly what it was and I laughed.  Laughter was not the appropriate response because I later learned what appeared to be a solitary micro-feather floating down from an air-conditioning vent in the ceiling was later captured by a worker in my house when he came upon it resting in a shadowy place, it was a brown recluse spider.  He had made his nearly invisible descent on a smaller than hair size strand of silk and took off as soon as he touched the floor.  I knew it was a spider but not being afraid of them thought nothing of it at the time.  When it was caught in a plastic baggie, I could see him more clearly and identified him as the creature I had seen, nearly invisible once his body blended into the floor, and wondered at how easily he could kill a human if he wanted to.  Life can be that fragile.

The approaching of death certainly takes many forms, most of them unrecognizable.  Perhaps for some it is a cigarette, others an alcoholic drink, for another, too much food, and for yet another, not enough food.  Then there are writers with their unique brand of symptoms: brilliant clarity of thought that may be incorrect, racing thoughts, hearing voices that are not present,  insomnia, and drug abuse, although these symptoms are not limited to writers.  More refined symptoms include the irresistible seduction of anorexia in its creative expressions.  They all seem so true and real but I have been told by doctors that they are not.  Writers never seem to be on the right side of the answers to the True or False Questions of life and often times fail the tests life administers to them.  I think it is ironic I get better at failing the older I become.

I rail against the demise of my Blyss borzois, all of them are gone now.  LTR walked me through it when he was here but then he misstepped and was gone.  People in my life were happy about these events of last summer.  This indicates how well my family knows me or cares, or understands.  It borders on the criminal in their degree of torture to me when they speak.  I give them the benefit of the doubt that they really just don’t understand me at all and still try to go on loving them.

At this dawn of 2015 I cannot hope for an encore life, but a continuation of what went before with some adjustments to the side of corrections made.  I will not have another five or six borzoi, just one.  My anorexia will be replaced by a healthy diet and a more realistic body image even if I hate myself that way.  I cannot believe my own inner voice when it speaks to me about myself.  I am somehow wrong about me, the most important thing.

Once my new borzoi bitch, Jelly, comes it will not matter because she will matter more.   Moreover, some kind of peace has fallen upon LTR and me for which I am grateful.  I do not have a name or label for it, so I will simply acknowledge it by saying that he is back.  After all, he captured the brown recluse spider before it could bite me.

Taken Away from Blyss Projects and the New Borzoi

I  have met with a new challenge, as if there could be such a new thing for me to encounter –  yes – even I am shocked.  I shall give it voice and veritas because I know I am not alone.   I have no reason for shame, only sadness and grief because the prognosis is often terminal.  I am the creator of an eating disorder, in my own form of it, and am in a program along with others, each one of us with our own version.    Together we are trying to get well by sharing, supporting one another and finding ways of putting this behind us and it is not easy.

What I learn and do not learn at Blyss.

I have never learned the ABCs of life, nor the XYZs it seems nor anything useful in between.  I may as well have the label challenged affixed to me.  Where others are able to get through their lives with facile, one marriage, one long lived dog, a few cats and a parakeet, I have had multiple husbands and even dogs.  I have tried not only  different breeds but varying groups and even many, many parakeets from the old, big Woolworths store I remember in downtown Westfield a long time ago.  I suppose if there is a lesson to be learned in the day I miss it.  I have to go back to the very beginning and try again.  But the outcome is always the same, and the day and those that follow seemingly so perfect descend in a negative trajectory and I must learn something new all over again.  Like the Miss Havisham before me, “I know nothing of days of the week, of weeks of the year…..” they all blend together into one congealed mass of time, and that comprises my life, a life lived within the confines of Satis House.

If it is not relevant to the borzoi I do not like to include it in my blog.  However this problem impacts my availability to  write for now in the Blyss Blog Encore, compile the Blogs in Blyss Blog into a book format, and delays the arrival of my new borzoi, “Jelly”.  Instead, I have entered the confines of a rigorous program for people who share an emotional problem I have had for some time, an eating disorder.  It seems that I was not doing food very well either.  Doctors have informed me that I don’t know how to eat,  something so basic but yes, it is true.

It is a tenacious problem.   I know for me it has been, ever lurking in the background, always seductive and irresistible, promising perfect, eternal beauty, youth, and even love.  But since the eating disorder behaviors are always about something else, one has to be willing to  rally the courage to face the darkest demons intent on destroying what your lethal past failed to accomplish.

Please don’t do as I do.  Plan a different, smarter course for your life.   However, to stumble and fall is human and if so call upon your strengths before you journey too far astray from the true path to your bliss.