Investing Time

LIFE HAS ITS UPS AND DOWNS … and my life is no different. I’ve done a pretty good job keeping positive through it all. Through plenty of health issues, surgeries. Some awesome highs, like the birth of my daughter … and definite lows, like the death of family members and friends.

Through it all, I’ve managed to stay positive. Or at least pull myself up by the bootstraps, so to speak, and continue on working my way back to a good spot.

I’ve lost pets before too. As a kid, I had turtles, dogs, chickens … and more—becoming quite close to each. My very first dog—such a sweet little girl—ended up with distemper and was put down, crushing my spirits. Then my friend’s dog, along with a pack of others, managed to tear into our chicken coop—decimating the few hens I had. Crushed again. But my craving for critters kept me going, pouring my love into each animal that came into my life. Pigeons, fish, rabbits, a goose … a pony—plenty of critters.

My previous dog’s final years were miserable with Cushing’s Disease. And now, I’ve finally said good-bye to Kaeli, after she dealt with health issues for the last couple of year.

So now, I am down to a cat and a rabbit. And am already craving a dog again. A critter I can give a bear-hug to without crushing … someone that can “protect” me and my home. (And the “call” to acquire some baby chicks is almost overwhelming …) Oh, my (insert small, mischievous grin) …

My cat and I have spent many quality hours together these last few weeks … I’ve noticed that Sebastian is less aggressive now. The frustration of his old playmate ignoring him appears to be gone. I didn’t realize how much Kaeli’s inactivity and grumpiness had effected him. He’s now more loving, back to giving gentle “love bites” rather than chomping down out of frustration. Also much more kittenish—I’m loving the entertaining he’s providing.

Maybe I need to rethink the idea of “replacing” Kaeli (she, of course, can never be replaced—she was one of a kind …). At least for now—just love on the two that are present in my life. Give my bunny more attention—poor girl has a huge pen—I call it the bunny condo (so she does have the room to zip around and burrow to her hearts content)—in the back yard, but nobody to come visit her except to feed and chat now and then … kinda wish she’d been able to be in the house, but I knew the cat and dog would have been reduced her chances of survival, if ya know what I mean. I once had parakeets (I inherited them from my dad when he passed away) that had to stay outside because of my cat. They flourished for years outside in a protected area (even had a heat lamp set up for really cold days) … until one harsh winter ended up being too much for them.

Invest quality time with my little critters—that’s what I must do! They are, after all, part of the family and should be treated as such. Not an afterthought or an inconvenience. Definitely not throw-away objects, as some parts of society would make you believe.

And, since I’m not traveling this year—oh, yeah … surgery is keeping me from traveling—I can spend even more time with my critters … and my garden. Now, those are two things I can get excited about: pets and plants. Well, those and … well, just about everything in nature.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset, and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day;

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.
~by Cecil Frances Alexander

Look around you. Enjoy what you see. Embrace each day anew. May this day and the week that follows be truly blessed.

Old Friend … Dear Friend

THIS HAS BEEN A VERY LONG and very hard two weeks for me. Especially the last week. Especially Friday, Saturday, Sunday … and Monday.
Yeah, Monday was the pits.
I had to say good-bye to my fur-friend. The decision was made Friday, but I needed to somehow manage to make it through to Monday so my daughter could say her good-byes on Saturday.

Sweet Kaeli

Waterlogue application of a photo I took of Kaeli, creating a water-colour image. I love this one.

I was struggling, trying to decide if it really was the “right time”. To do the right thing for her. Really, I’ve been struggling for months. I’ve really not been my cheerful self. Not really. And I apologise for being a grump—and a downer—now and then. The struggle was very real. Her symptoms would fluctuate, she’d rally … giving me hope—and I’d put off the inevitable. Then her symptoms would rear their collective ugly head again. I kept hoping she’d be better … but finally, I decided I needed to look at the whole thing through her eyes. I don’t think any time is right for this sort of thing … nope. Never. If only

My Spot!

Sebastian was forever pushing her off “her spot” on the couch. Unfortunately, he usually won … I think this was one of the few times they actually shared.

they could talk to us and express their feeling in tangible ways. In ways we’d understand without a doubt. Without having to guess and second guess …

We’ve gone on lots of little walks—long walks were too exhausting. I took her to many of her old haunts so she could take in all the wonderful smells. We drove all over the place, revisiting places so she could try to catch air (literally) as we drove down the road … snapping at the air, lapping up the air then lolling her tongue and letting the air flap her lips in the breeze … making me giggle as I listened to all the different sounds coming from the back. I’ve seen it all in the side mirror. I couldn’t figure out how to capture it on

Catching the Breeze ...

She loved to hang her head out the window (sorry it’s sideways …)

my camera without being fully distracted on the road … how I wish I could have.

For about fourteen years, I have loved my silly girl. She came to us somewhere before her second birthday. I loved her antics. Her energy. Her joy for life. I’ll cherish each and every one of them. Always underfoot … staking her claim on the couch, always shedding (she was part golden retriever and lab, after all), always giving. And getting into things she shouldn’t (actually, I think that’s part of what is ailing her

Sebastain and Kaeli

Sebastian and Kaeli … one of the few times near the end when she allowed him near without being a grump.

since it was a “new” behaviour she picked up about three years ago). The last couple years have been hard on her. The vet reminded me at the time that she was about 86 or so. She’s lived a full life.

My protector—from things real and imagined. The only thing she feared was thunder (and gunshots—yeah, we live in the country … and other loud, sudden noises) and those were the only times she needed me to soothe her. Yup … didn’t fear things she should either—like skunks (had to give her a tomato bath on two occasions …) Yup …

Beach Walks

She loved the beach—chasing the ebbing waves, the seagulls … investigating the piles of seaweed.

Otherwise, she was always giving “baths of love” … that’s what I call them—those slobbery never-ending kisses where you really need a towel ready when she finally decided she’s done; leaning on me for one more pet or brushing … exploring the yards for new smells, chewing on sticks or wanting one thrown for her to retrieve and … always guarding our home from things seen and unseen. Squirrel!

So, finally, I had to say farewell to Kaeli …

Good-bye my sweet little missy.
Jump for joy now that there’s no more pain.
Run long and hard … and savour every single moment joyfully.

Know that some day, I will join you. Some day.
Until then, go across the Rainbow Bridge, my sweet girl.

My Daddy and Sadie will be waiting for you.

Daddy will shower you with love until I can join you. Jim will be there too.
Cover all of them with slobbery “bath of love” kisses for me. Daddy will joyfully accept all you have to give … and then some. Jim will scritch that sweet spot behind your ear for as long as you like.

Prance in the flowers; chase butterflies. Take Jim, my Daddy and his sweet Sadie on long walks. Play fetch—and maybe you can return the ball or stick to them once in a while.

See if you can find Lucky—he will be your equal. His stamina, energy and love for life match yours beautifully.
He loves tug-of-war as much as you used to—perhaps more.

And Devon and Chelsea … my mischief makers.
They will be more than happy to play with you … oh, yes. They will tire you—yes, even you!

Lord JC Kristopher is there somewhere, too.
Look for a proud little tri-colour sheltie with a bounce in his step, one ear perky and the other floppy.
He’s a lover like you. Loves to shower his human with kisses. And play.
He loves to chase balls and frisbees too—probably even more than you.

And there is one more I’d like you to find.

I’m not sure what she is like now, but I’m sure she had more energy than we could see whilst she was sick.
She left us so soon. Way too soon. So look for a beautiful golden ball of fur—I don’t know how big or small (Daddy called her a Heinz 57)—but, surely full of life.
Her name is Cuddles. She’s probably embarrassed to have that name, but it’s all this then-eight year old could think of at the time.
She was so cuddly and I loved her dearly … as much as I love you, my sweet, sweet friend.


Be free of pain and live your new life with joy.

We will be back together one day.

To wander across fields of grasses and flowers together, climb hills, walk in the sand along the ebb and flow of the ocean, splash in streams together … and snuggle together—forever.

Until then, know I will always love you.
I’ll be back.

My Beautiful Girl ...

Those eyes … the soft puppy fuzz on her ears that she never lost … her desire to smother me in kisses …
I will never forget you, my Little Missy, my Kaeli.

Forever Grateful

AS I STRUGGLE THROUGH THIS CRAZY WEEK, I find myself thankful for being able to wake up each morning. To be present. Present for my critters, to see the wild creatures browsing in my yard or jumping from branch to branch. Present for my friends. Thankful that I am healthy enough (though, dealing with a sinus infection), for a wonderful daughter and son-in-law … all the basic stuff. We should be thankful for all this every single day. I think I do a pretty good (not perfect, but …) job of remembering to give thanks where thanks is due—and to whom it is due.

Over the last couple weeks (hmmm … maybe even longer), I’ve been frantically getting things ready for the multiple events that have just happened—and are still to happen over the next few weeks. I’ve had the constraints of keeping track of a dog 24/7 due to some health issues (Kaeli’s been with me at Open Ground Studios, in the house, doctor appointments, evening meetings, errands—weather permitting—etc). The vet has just given her a clean bill of health, but now I wonder if she’s doing well because she’s not “free-ranging” on anything she finds in the yard. TMI—anyway, I’ve decided I’m liking my new 24/7 companion, so I’m changing my lifestyle to fit her into things I do until I can get a large enclosure that deer cannot get into. I know she is liking the arrangement. She curls up at my feet in the house and prances out to the car, eager for the next adventure. I’m thankful for her love and companionship.

My cat has mixed feelings about this new “closeness”. Sebastian gets the house to himself. Good … and bad. He gets to roam every nook and cranny without me on his case about getting into places or things that should be left alone … but he’s a snuggle-bunny and my time away is time he cannot snuggle. Kaeli and I go for walks. He gets stuck inside. He’s all over me the moment I walk in the door—after he sniffs Kaeli to see where she’s been. I cannot sit down without him in my face. I love it, but just try to work on the computer or use my iPhone instead—ha! In my dreams. Well, I do manage in the end, but he shows his disdain … frequently. He purposely sits with his back to me, very erect. Then when he does curl up, he makes sure his back is to me. Sometimes he will, out of the blue, come over twitching his tail (I know to be alert for this) … then he bites my typing hand—or the hand holding the smart phone. No warning at all. If I get too busy with my writing, I’m completely unaware of my surroundings and am caught off-guard. Zap! But, even with his vacillating temperament, I love him dearly and am thankful for this purring ball of contradictions. All his kisses, cuddles, purrs … and for knowing,  when I have an ache or pain, where to curl up with his “furnace” on high to relieve it—whether my shoulder, arm, hand or neck … somehow he knows. Definitely a blessing.

I find myself polishing this piece on Friday (teehee—I am running later than usual—sorry, so I’m hoping you’ll forgive me) … the day after Thanksgiving Day.

It was a very different day for me. Though I had several invites to feast with friends and extended family, I chose to be more reclusive. My 24/7 companion, my lack of appetite (I see that as a blessing during these crazy holidays) and easily fatigued body due to the sinus infection—not to mention the disruptive cough—made it easy to justify keeping to myself. It was a delightful, laid-back, stress-free day with my fur-babies, which included a sensory-rich walk on the beach with Kaeli. Feeling sorry for Sebastian, stuck at home, I envisioned what he’d be doing: making all sorts of noises at the sight of the sand pipers, snowy plovers and seagulls—scheming how he could capture them whilst on-leash; investigating the monster piles of washed-ashore kelp and seaweed … and curious about the foamy stuff that kept rolling in just ahead of the wet stuff that made noises each time it receded. That made me smile. If only I could bring him. But, there were too many dogs. Most on-leash, but a few were leash-free and that would put Sebastian’s safety at risk.

So, now I’m recovering from my version of a busy—yet laid-back—Thanksgiving Day. It will not involve anything with the word “Black”. Nope. The only shopping I’ll be doing is restocking a few items needed for daily survival: yogurt, milk—and spending time with a friend (after she spends some quality? time shopping—foolish girl!) to dine at a favourite restaurant and then a play. With Kaeli in tow. I’m glad she’s good at waiting in the car. And that the weather is conducive to allowing her to stay in a car unattended. And just so you know, she will get a walk before and after each part of my evening activities.

I am so thankful for a blessed life, with all of its ups and downs. Hope yours is just as blessed.


Two final events for the year:

Friday 4 December 5:30-7:30pm  Open Ground Studios showcases its Co-Op Artists creative work, along with special guest Monterey Peninsula instructor and students. I will have my books available for signing and purchase.
1230 Fremont Boulevard, Seaside CA

Monday-Tuesday 7-8 December 9am-4pm daily Watsonville Community Hospital is hosting a Christmas Craft Fair, to include a book signing with Mystery author, Joyce Oroz and Fantasy author, dj jameson smith in their conference room.
65 Neilson Street, Watsonville, CA

My Furry Friend

THIS BEING “NURSEMAID” HAS DEFINITELY brought Kaeli and I closer. My sweet ‘little’ golden retriever/lab mix had surgery for foxtails (nasty pointy little seeds with barbs that keep pushing their way into fur and then skin…and beyond) and has not been able to roam freely on the property until she is healed. She’s been stuck on a leash, even to walk around on her property. She had to wear the Cone of Shame for almost a week to keep her from chewing on or otherwise irritate the wounds. The Cone of Shame is finally put away and her spirits lifted somewhat (she looked so forlorn with it on). I’m spending heaps of time with her and I’m getting more love and respect in return—I like both. Anytime we head out in the direction of the car, she prances up to it—since I’ve taken her literally everywhere I’ve gone, which limits me to places that will allow pets inside or where the weather (at this point only cool night air) allows me to leave her in the confines of the car.  Most of the time I have to say No (just out to ‘air’ her in the yard), but when it’s a Yes, she eagerly jumps into the back and when it’s time to come back out, she’s unusually polite…waits for me to grab the leash, then waits patiently for the command to exit.  Nice—a very nice change of pace.  Historically, though she knows all of the commands, she minds only when serves her purpose. Usually, she darts out the second the door is wide enough for her to escape. (Yes, I know I should be the one in charge, not the dog…but we have an understanding…) So, this minding is a very nice change, indeed.

I’m having fun bringing her with me. I love how she creates art on the window with her nose prints. And how she is so attentive to her surroundings. Always observant. Having her travel with me in my truck is something I thought of doing long ago (…but somehow never got around to it)—that way, even on hot days, she could still be with me. But, I would need to have some way for her to escape the sun…or rain and I am so afraid someone will steal her out of the truck bed because she is such a beautiful, loving girl. Hmm…maybe that’s why it never happened.

Right now she’s lying on top of my foot, keeping it nice and warm—it’s almost ten degrees cooler than yesterday…thank God. Soon, I’ll go run an errand, leaving her to pout in the house, since it’s to a store that won’t let non-working dogs venture into.

All too soon, she will be healed and allowed out to romp in the yard without me. I wonder if she’ll miss our walks together. I guess I don’t need to stop doing them—and I shouldn’t stop doing them. I need to make the time to go on walks around the property together (at the very least)—and take trips out and about in the car together. Trips that don’t have an end-destination like the vet or groomer. Fun trips. I think we just might start driving to then walking around the park on the south edge of town. I did a quick solo walk there recently (pre-Kaeli surgery) and enjoyed it—I know she will also. Lots of new smells and squirrels to hunt (on leash, of course).

Since I work on writing this blog over the course of the week (started it on Monday), that “soon” has come already. Today (Thursday) is the first day in two weeks that I have not had Kaeli by my side, driving around in the car running errands and at Open Ground Studios as I write or create art. It was a bit of an experiment—even if forced by her surgery, to see how well we would ‘work’ together outside of home life. Now, it feels very strange to not have her with me. Though I’m certain she is having fun romping around—having regained the freedoms she lost for two weeks, I think I miss her at my side. No, I know I miss her. And that is something I didn’t expect.

I think it’s time to make some changes. Now, if I can only figure out how to include my cat…

May your week be filled with thoughts of the lazy days of autumn, as the hours of the day grow shorter. And colder, with leaves crunching beneath your feet.

Blessings to you all.

It’s Not Been My Day…

IT’S NOT BEEN MY DAY—ALL. WEEK. long. No walks, no work accomplished, no shopping doen…I think the last straw was when I tried to save my blog and it vanished. I’ve taken a short break, and now I’m starting over. Things like this have been the norm…all week. Ninety to one hundred degree weather also seems to be the norm—this is not normal for our area…and it has me wilting.

I can’t focus when it gets this hot. My little sweeties aren’t exactly helping, either. Sebastian is great at instigating situations, then looking innocent. “Who, me?” I find myself laughing…usually.

Sebastian, the Instigator

Sebastian, the Instigator

Kaeli (11 year old Golden Retriever/Lab mix) and Sebastian were alone last Thursday night and when I came home, Kaeli was favoring her right front foot. I just figured she and Sebastian were chasing each other down the stairs and she took a wrong step. She’s done it before. Sometimes she can be a real klutz. The next day she wasn’t walking on it at all. I figured a visit to the vet was in order if it wasn’t better. Also, Kaeli has 3/4 acres to romp in, right? Poison oak, manzanita, oak trees…and lots of weeds. The poison oak I can deal with (just wipe Kaeli down when she comes in…and wash my hands after handling her), but I can’t keep up with the weeds. The grass weeds just happen to be the ‘foxtail’ variety. Needle-like seed carrier that works it’s way into fur, then into and through the skin. It was really meant to work it’s way into the ground…to burrow down to ‘plant’ itself. But it doesn’t know the difference between dirt or animal.

Kaeli is usually pretty good about plucking them out. Plus, I brush her, so I get the rest. Except, with our wacky weather (first hot, then almost winter-like, then hot again), her poor coat just doesn’t know what to do, so she has developed a massive undercoat that I can’t keep up with and the result is, those blasted foxtails make their way under her skin. I think they ganged up on her and attacked her or she decided to wallow in the weeds…or something, because she had three or four areas that were bad. Bad enough to need to visit the vet—the second reason to see the vet on Friday. The decision was the foot was another foxtail…not a strain. So, surgery was scheduled for Monday (the foot was the one place the vet did not find a foxtail).

She came home Monday with the Cone of Shame, four shaved bits of body, plus the incision on her foot…and my concentration took a nose-

Miss Kaeli with Cone of Shame

Miss Kaeli with Cone of Shame

dive. The looming deadlines are screaming at me: documents waiting to be signed and returned, my manuscript—freshly back from the editor, is hovering over my head waiting for review and correction from the first round of edits, copy from my publisher’s marketing department awaiting review and corrections—and this blog…but Kaeli requires almost constant ‘surveillance’. My smart little sweetie quickly managed to figure out how to get to the incision on her foot, even with the cone. Simply stand, place the paw out, lean the cone up against the leg and rest it on the top of the foot…and lick. Which means I have to keep her close at hand, lying down, or she will sneak in a lick.

Very frustrating. To say the least.

Not much accomplished in a week. Everything remains in limbo, waiting for my sweet puppy to heal up. I have managed to sign the documents and get them off, plus get this blog post done (thankfully). I was able to take her with me the two times I went to Open Ground Studios to do some work…and make a visit to my chiropractor—bless him…he let me bring her in to the room for the adjustment. Oh, and yesterday we went to the grocery store once it was dark and cool—I could leave her in the car to sneak in to buy two things before she figured out how to get in her licks.

Now to go run an errand without Kaeli and see if she’ll be a good girl in my absence (I finally gave up and put a bandage on her foot earlier today, covering the incision). I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the bandage will still be there when I get back. Maybe I’ll be able to go to church on Sunday. Maybe…

I love her so much. I want her well—for her sake as much as mine…she looks depressed…all mopey, not being able to roam freely around her property. I miss my freedom, too, of being able to go to the store…or walks (she can’t come with me because the incision on her foot hurts too much) without thinking about whether she’ll get into trouble in my absence…

Heal fast my little sweetie so we can both play…


Thankful for Memories and Life

WELL, IN AGES PAST, as a child, each of us owned one chicken (hens…no roosters, thank you), a pigeon and a goose.  I adored my little Henny Penny. I believe she was a bantam Buff Orpington,  but I’m just going from recollection.

My dad loved animals and I definitely shared that love then–and now. During our childhood, various critters came under our care. Hens, rabbits, pigeons, chukars & quail, ducks, geese, dogs–even a pony.  My brothers loved their geese & the quail–they even had to hand raise (with some help from all of us) one of the pigeon babies because he was abandoned by the parents.

That was quite a lesson.  They named him George, in honor of our family doctor–he was the one that provided the pablum and vitamins for our little orphan.  Somehow, he survived the feedings every two hours divided between all family members, our mixing up the pablum to feed him with a dropper, and even the emergency surgery (performed by dad) when somebody overfed him & burst his crop.  We all fell in love with him. He was part of the family. He even answered to his name and came when we called him.  We allowed him to fly free around our home — after all, he was a homing pigeon, so we knew he would always come home. Eventually.  But one day, he didn’t. We were completely devastated. To the point that, when we once went to the San Francisco zoo, we were sure we saw him and kept calling for him. We must have looked like a  bunch of wacko kids,  crying and screaming out for George.  Our poor parents could not calm us. A very traumatic, but strangely warm memory from our childhood.

There were other orphaned critters raised, marauding neighbor dogs decimating our beloved hens and pets that came and went. We learned to love each one, to care for them–or at least try. Each one carried a lesson for us.

Patience, love, perseverance.

In a way, these lessons helped me raise an adorable, precocious child into a beautiful, intelligent young  lady.

Today, in addition to this lovely lady that has since flown the coop, I have an adorable loving dog, a mischievous cat, a rabbit and twelve hens. I am crazy, really, to have all of these animals in my life right now,  but there are still lessons to be learned and I have plenty of love to share, so why not.

I am relearning patience, as I — maybe-not-so-patiently — wait for the last of my young pullets to begin laying. There are three that are either simply not going to, or are the proverbial late bloomers.  One of these days, I suppose, I’ll be surprised (and thrilled) with a second blue egg from my “I’m taking my time” Americauna and beautiful light to medium brown eggs from the other two late bloomers.

I am constantly reminded of my responsibilities to share my time and attention with my feathered and four-legged friends. Even when I don’t feel up to it.  Even when the weather has me wishing I could stay indoors.  When I’d much rather be reading, writing or tramping in the woods taking pictures.  There will always be time for those endeavors, too.

Giving, no matter what.

They also teach me to be thankful. Yes, thankful.

Thankful for the small things. For their entertaining qualities (every single one of them make me laugh), for the warm, furry, lap-warmer and  loving snuggler (my cat, of course) in my life, for the unquestioning love and faithfulness (obviously, not the cat). I am thankful for the mini-hand warmers my hens provide each day as I collect their eggs on these chilly mornings. And for the food they provide for my friends and for me.

As we approach our Thanksgiving Day holiday, I find my life filled to overflowing with so many things to be thankful for, whether memories of the past or things current in my life.   And thankful that I am able to prepare for and spend this special day with my daughter and her husband.  Good times.

I am not going to let the rush of this and the upcoming holidays get in the way of remembering what this whole season is truly about.  Please take the time, and remember to be thankful for what you have — no matter how great or small it may be or seem.

What memories or things in your life are you thankful for?

A warm and happy Thanksgiving Day to everyone.