Thursday, July 26, 2012

Life in the past month

The past month has been demanding, to say the least. Firstly, and most importantly, it's been more than a month now since I said goodbye to my Abby-Dear.

This has been occupying most of my brain for the last month. I've had a really hard time with it. I believe that for the first week or so after she died, I was in shock. I was trying so hard to keep up a "GameFace" for her, that I seem to have gotten stuck with that mask on. You see, Abby and I were very tightly connected, and she would always look to me in strange, or new situations, to guage how she was to react. I'd be damned if I was gonna let her down in her last days by being a blathering mess around her. So, I saved my blathering for the times when I was not by her side, and I kept a brave face for her, in hopes of her recovery. I remember her looking deeply into my eyes, in those last days - not really seeming to say anything, just to hold that connection. I looked just as deeply back into her gorgeous brown eyes.

I still have a hard time accepting that she's gone. It's such a hard loss to overcome.

I have to say, this all causes me some angst, and feelings of guilt, because I did not have such a hard time with Lucy's passing. That, in itself, was a horrible event, of which not many people know the final details. Lucy was my shadow for 18 years, and in the last year and a half of her life, she battled cancer, with a mammary tumour. I guess it makes some sense in my head that I had that year and a half to get used to the idea. Abby did not suffer long, gratefully, but I guess that her shorter period of suffering means shock and longer suffering for me? It's tricky, and I'm still sorting it through in my head.

On top of all that, we've had our house up for sale, which is tumultuous at best. Living in your own home like you don't live there is difficult. Even moreso when the people coming to snoop through your house say things like, "i didn't really want a pool," or "we want a house with four bedrooms..." People can be so inconsiderate.

I've been practicing yoga regularly, and participating in Yoga Journal's Meditation Revolution. This is a great program, if anyone has not joined yet, jump in! Right now! Doesn't matter if you've missed the last couple of weeks and a bit, I think it's a benefit to anyone open to trying it!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Yoga outside

Did myself a solid this morning and took my mat outside. Getting my stretch on in the morning light added some extra zing! I was reading that the early sunlight has a lot of the blue spectrum in it, and that it's good for boosting your energy level. Felt great!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Diary of a returning Yoga Junkie

Ahhh, there... that's better. This morning, I spent a luscious 20 minutes on my yoga mat... Bah, most of you will say, that's nothing! But, it is something to me. I've kept myself off my mat for far too long. The list of excuses was endless. I'm too busy, work sucks, my cat is dying, my dog is dying, I'm sore, I'm tired, my house is for sale, my house is under almost constant renovation, I'm out of shape, I can't focus, my house is a mess, I'm overwhelmed... What I need to remind myself is that my mat is a cure for all of the above, and more. The main reason I have not been on my mat is that I'm forgetful. I have obviously become too swept up in the riptide which is my life, to remember that my beacon home, back to myself, is always my mat. Sigh. So, yeah, it was 20 minutes, but I feel much better for it. I've become stiff and inflexible, so I'm not even doing all those well-loved poses I used to be able to move through with ease. Now, my work on the mat is sort of a prep for yoga, working towards being able to do those poses again. I'm moving and I'm breathing, and I'm in love all over again. I don't just want to keep at it, I NEED to keep at it. There is no other way (I've found) to keep my brain from careening out of control.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Honey Brown

I look back, and realize my last post was a happy one, about celebrating five years with Abby in our family. Yesterday, I had to let my dearheart Abby go. As all estimates go, she was a grand dame of about 11 or 12 years old, and we decided to let her go after a particularly debilitating kidney fail. My heart is broken, and I am doing my best to remember all the many happy Abby moments, but it's still early, and I still feel very sad, and I am very much missing her with my whole self. I find peace in knowing that she is no longer suffering, and that she didn't suffer for long. Even last tuesday, she was her happy, shiny self, just beaming as she ran between Don and I, while we were going over some of her basic commands. Over the weekend, despite no eating or drinking anything (except the pedialyte I administered every 45 minutes or so, about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup at a time) she decided she'd take a swim. This was sunday, and she had not been moving around much. She got a very clear look in her eye, and struggled to get up, and proceeded to go outside, slowly. After using the lawn a couple of times, she (slowly) made her way to the steps of the pool. I thought to myself, "she's going to drink!" Instead, she proceeded to move down into the water, step by step, testing the water with her the toes on her front left paw, as she always did. Then, she swam. Just bobbed along, swimming for not one, but TWO laps! She got back to the steps, and dragged herself up, step by step, pausing for a long time on the last step. We put a towel down for her right there, and she lay down, resting after what must have been a herculean effort on such little nourishment. Of the three labs, Abby always enjoyed swimming most. Sure, the other two will swim, but they have to be on a mission, to retrieve something, and there must be an audience, and it must be a competition, and there is always lots of running and wild splashing involved. Whereas Abby would delight in any chance to get into the water, and swim calmly around, usually drinking as she swam. On this last swim, she did not drink, just swam slowly, steadily, in two little loops. I remember the first time I saw her swim, it was up at Algonquin park, and we had to coax her into the water. That was early in her days with us, and I'm sure she hadn't really come to trust us yet, so the two of us trying to get her into the water must have been a puzzling thing to her. But we got her in the water, up at Rock Lake, and she started to swim. And she swam. And continued swimming, in a straight line out from the beach, headed to the middle of the lake! I was mortified, "we'll lose her, " I worried. We were calling to her, and preparing to jump in and swim after her, as her head was becoming a smaller and smaller brown shape all the time, when she simply turned and came back to us. As you can imagine, we were much relieved. Abby did grow to trust us, it seemed it happened in the days and weeks shortly after that trip, and since then, I am lucky enough to say that I've been the recipient of much of her adoration. We really seemed to click, Abby and I. I remember spending much time over the last five years simply gazing into those peaceful, loving brown eyes, and they stared deep into my own eyes. When Abby came to us, she was simply a shell of the dog she was to become. Poor skinny thing was frightened, unsure of herself, and altogether just not really healthy. I remember working with her to help build up her stamina, so she could join us on our long hikes that we'd always done with Ender. She thrived, and she became healthy and strong, and her coat grew in beautifully. Most of all, she once she learned that we were her forever home, she transformed from this anxious creature who held her ears low and always had a question on her face, into a gorgeous, loving and much loved dear friend. My friend Sandra refers to her as "The Grande Dame," which suits her perfectly. Abby loved our boat, which we only got last fall, so sadly she didn't have much time with it. I believe she must have known boats in her past, because any time she's been on a boat, she was perfectly comfortable, and quite elegant. She'd arch her neck, and raise her nose up into the air to catch the passing breeze, while lying calmly on the deck of the boat. As Abby was the calmest of the labs on the boat, and really just seemed to relax and enjoy herself (while the other two tend to be a bit rowdy and expect to be able to flail themselves overboard when the mood strikes them) we are planning on naming our boat, using one of the many "pet" names we had for Abby. The boat will be christened the "Aberdeen" at some point this summer. I am at a strange point in my life. On the one hand, I have a great adventure lying ahead of me, a move across the country. This is a bittersweet opportunity, as I will have to leave my family and friends here in Ontario in order to do it. I didn't much believe that my dear Lucy would live to make the trip, but I really was not ready to lose Abby before the trip. I had visited a lake there in April, and I really could not wait to introduce Abby to it. I had visions of Abby doing some slow and steady loops just off the stony beaches in Lake Okanagen. I will be writing more of my memories of Abby, and also of my Sweet Lucy, who passed away April 11 of this year. I admit after losing my two shadows, I am feeling quite lost in this world, and I need a little bit of time to process all this. But I owe it to them to record the happiness we shared. So check back later for more happy memories. In the meantime, give all of your animals a snuggle, and rejoice in the time you share with them, however brief. A lullabye for my Abby: This is the song I sang to her as she passed in my arms. I'm not sure why, it doesn't really have a special meaning, but Abby had a special appreciation for twangy ballads, as I do.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Abby day, 2012

Today marks the 5th year of having Abby in our family! She is now about 11 or 12, as believed by our previous vet, Dr Campbell (may he rest in peace.) From the first day in our household, she was very attached to me, and is still very much my girl. Everyone who meets our little pack instantly guesses correctly that Abby is the "sweetheart" of the family. She's been slowing down a bit in the last few months, her hind legs seem to be a bit stiff. Abby loves our new boat! She must have known boats before, with her previous owner. She is so calm, and just settles down in a comfy place, every now and then tipping her head back to catch a whiff of the lake air. She is quite a lady, our Abby! She is still the first one in the pool for a swim, and she even swims like a lady. Just a couple of calm, leisurely laps about the pool (drinking all the way) and then she's happy and gets out to be dried with a soft towel. I'm convinced the dry off snuggle is her favourite part of the whole swimming process. Some pictures of M'Lady:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A winter hike

Since we were lucky enough to have fresh snow on a saturday, we got the dogs out on a hike... We headed to a section of the Bruce Trail near the Forks of the Credit. It's in the area of the old ring kiln.
The dogs had a great time! Ender had a spring in his step, Shelby of course ran wide circles around us as we hiked, and Abby ran along as usual, with leaps and maniacal bursts of speed!

It was fairly rough terrain, rocky and steep, both ways. But everyone did well, and there were no injuries! The ruins of the old kiln are stunning. In one section, the trail darts between buildings, formidable walls of massive stone bricks running on either side. Here is a link with some info on the kilns:

Now the dogs (and Don) are napping... So here are some shots:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Using my powers for good.

...well, at least one of them.... that being the power of free time. Since I am unemployed at the moment, I have decided to use my time to get our house fully organized, so that when I do have to work again (alas) the house will be a more efficiently functioning organism.
There are some big jobs on my list - reclaiming my back room, and organizing the laundry room being the most daunting. There are about half a zillion small jobs on my list, and I've decided to start with a handful of those, to give me the oomph and gumption required for the more intimidating to-do's lurking around these parts.

On my last day at work, I was gifted two lovely bottles of wine in a plain wooden box. I enjoyed the wine thoroughly, and if you know me at all, you already know that the wheels in my head were turning the moment I saw that wooden box.
I've needed to do something pretty to organize my jewellery, and this box was to be the start.

I am very happy with the way it turned out! I will post my next project when finished, it will accompany this one.

Friday, January 27, 2012

January 2012

It's gorgeous, the sun is shining, the weather is mild... Too mild for January.
I'm keeping pace with one of the dogs on a walk; the peaceful sound of claws clicking on asphalt is slowly being muffled by the sounds of kids playing in the schoolyard.
Shrieks, laughter and shouting, "Emily! Come get me!" "Dylan, pass me the ball!" "Aaaiiiiiieeeeeeee, you can't catch me!!!!!"

This audible chaos is matched by the jarring visuals of every colour and combination of snowpants, jackets, scarves, mitts and hats imaginable.... It's a palette straight out of a crayon box....

Colours so vibrant, in motion, reeling... For a moment, it takes me a while to focus on the negative space between them... The flaxen dull green of dormant grass...

These little tykes are all dressed up, with no snow to play in.

It really only strikes me as sad when I see two of the brightly dressed children taking turns pulling each other over the dead grass on a bright red sled.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Out of work obstacle course.

Well, I have recently found myself unemployed, with the cushion of a little bit of time to relax and actually enjoy it. This is a fantastic position to be in, and one that I do not intend to waste!
Yesterday was day one. The first day of not going to work. I had an appointment first thing in the morning, at the unemployment office, and I caught myself wondering: "wouldn't it be embarassing if those old neural pathways just guided my way, and I end up at the office?"
Luckily it didn't happen, but just imagine!?

Monday was very smooth, I had a lot of errands to run, so it kept me busy, and I even found myself up against a mental challenge, even before leaving the house. Trying to be thrifty, I made myself a thermos of tea to take with me (avoiding the urge to buy said tea) Taking the tea bags out was a trick - the mouth of the thermos was too small to wedge them out with a spoon, and it was still early, so the synapses were firing, although weakly, and I thought, "This is your big, unemployed challenge of the day!"
Chopsticks made short work of the issue, and my thermos was set to go.

Later in the day, I was telling Don about my the big hurdle i'd overcome early in my day, and it made me laugh to imagine myself in an interview sometime, being asked by a potential employer to explain a recent challenge I'd had to overcome.
"Well," I'd say, "There was this one time, when I made tea in my thermos..."

Here's to overcoming obstacles, even the little ones!