Tuesday, June 19, 2018

This is for Marie!

Today I had a lovely visit from my friend Marie. If you read the comments on my blog, you'll know she is one of a small handful of people who actually leaves a comment fairly regularly. And if you've followed my blog for a long time, you may remember her dog Sparkle, who I wrote about back in 2013. Okay, your memory probably isn't much better than mine, so in case you want to check it out, here's the post called "A Little Sparkle on the Island" (just click on that title).

But I digress. Marie came to visit today - her brother lives just a couple of blocks away, and when I bumped into him the other evening and he mentioned she was in town, I jumped at the chance to see her. Sparkle didn't come this time - Sparkle is happily herding horses and chasing chickens on her favourite dog-sitter's farm back home. But Marie and I had a lovely visit, and Maggie decided she was an okay person (I think the treats had something to do with that - bribery, sheer bribery! 😄).  In the course of our conversation, Marie mentioned how much she missed my blog when I go for long stretches of time without a word or a photo. 

Marie is one of about three followers of this blog who have not yet been dragged into Facebook.  And therefore she, and the other two followers, don't get to see the photos I post there. So I promised her I would post something either tonight or tomorrow night. 

All you facebook people can move along now - you've seen these photos already.  This is for Marie.

About three weeks ago, on May 25th, my friend Pat and I took Maggie and the Poms to the beach at Parksville,  Given how much they loved our recent trip to Saratoga Beach, we figured that was a good outing for a beach addicted sheltie, a water-addicted pom, and a pom who hates to hike. It also happened to be Maggie's Gotcha Day (one year since the day I adopted Maggie home from the shelter), and when I asked Maggie what she wanted to do for her 1st Gotcha Day, she said 'BEACH'.

Or maybe she said 'TREAT'.   Or 'SLEEP'.  Who knows?  I'm not fluent in dog. But I'm guessing it was one of her three favourite things.

We had a wonderful day, but I never really processed the photos for the blog, because while I was thinking about it that evening, I received a message from Pat with sad news - her third and oldest pom, Chrissy, had passed away.  Chrissy was sixteen and was Pat's husband's constant companion.  I seldom saw him without Chrissy in the crook of his arm.

She was also my very favourite pom ever, as Pat well knows. She was feisty and funny, a girl with attitude and a Phyllis Diller hairdo.  I just couldn't post about a fun day at the beach after hearing that sad news.

Bye, Chrissy.  Have fun at the Rainbow Bridge!

And that news was followed three days later by the news of my nephew's sudden death......so Maggie's Gotcha Day blog got sidelined by more somber things in my life.

Last week, we took the dogs back to Parksville Beach for another fabulous day, and this time I did get around to editing the photos.  They aren't as spectacular as the Saratoga ones, but they capture the joy two poms and a sheltie have on a sandy beach with oodles of sand and very few people.

Maggie goes from sedate to exuberant the minute her feet touch the sand! 

Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy!
(or:  barkbarkbarkbarkbark)

Pat and the Poms - she really did have two with her - one is out of the frame!
(I chose this image because I liked the reflection).
An assortment of sea treasures: going clockwise from top left - fine fish skeleton left by the eagles; jellyfish; sand dollar; seastar; sand collar (egg ring of Lewis's Moon Snail); red coloured crab moving sideways with sea grasses under water - probably a red rock crab; sole in sand; clam shell. Centre photo is a kelp crab.
I took this photo because I liked the couple's
 brightly coloured jackets against the blue sea and sky.

At the far end of the long expanse of sand, the shore becomes rockier.  There, many eagles were scouting for food among the rocks and shallows.  I counted six, but when I downloaded the photos to the computer, I realized there were at least a dozen, including several babies I'd not noticed through the lens.


Eagle and two young, who are learning to hunt and fly

Young eagle - possibly his/her first hunting lesson, judging by the fuzzy head
Trio of eagles

By the time we ate our lunch, the tide was so far out we could hardly see the ocean. It was one of the lowest tides of the year, a combination of a new moon, and the moon being in its northernmost orbit and at its closest position to the earth. There will be two similar low, low tides this summer - one on July 13 and one on August 11.

And there you have it - the missing entries (or some of them) that Facebook friends got to see and you missed out on.  I'll try to do better.  Really. 

And I'm already working on my annual July 1 Canada Day blog post. 

Have a safe trip back home, Marie.  And give Sparkle a gentle hug from me.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Remembering Peter

Today would have been his birthday.  Fifty-four years ago, I became an auntie for the first time when my nephew Peter was born.  And last month, on May 28th, Peter suddenly passed away.

I saw quite a bit of Peter when he was a little boy, and took great delight in the antics of he and his brother - playing with them, learning to skate with them, reading them stories.

Playing with my nephews many years ago

I seldom saw him during his teen and young adult years, due partly to geographic distance, but my sister filled me in on his activities and whereabouts, and every now and then we touched base at family events.

A teenage Peter with his dog

Peter and I dancing at a family event, 2005

In recent years, however, and especially since the death of my sister in 2011, we both made far greater effort to keep in touch and to strengthen the ties that bind our dwindling family.  It was Peter and his family who took me boating in the Salish Sea near my home summer before last, who shared meals with me on their boat and a day exploring my home turf last summer.

Peter on his boat, visiting his favourite (okay, his only) aunt on Vancouver Island.

I last saw Peter just over a month ago at another family event, where we had a lovely conversation about his daughter's accomplishments, and his and his wife's hopes and plans for the future.  He was a content and dedicated family man, married to his amazing wife for almost 24 years, and a most exceptional dad to a fifteen year old daughter, my great niece Kaia.

Peter was Kaia's primary caregiver, a 'stay-at-home dad' for lack of a better term.  He was the one whose job it was to supervise her, to chauffeur her, to listen to her, to mentor her, to plan and cook her meals (and what a great cook he was!), to do her laundry, to be her guide and to support and celebrate her passions.

Peter dancing with his daughter, 2005

Kaia is accomplished in the performing arts, and spends many hours a day in dance and vocal training at the Caulfield School Of Dance, while doing most of her academic schooling online.  This weekend is the School's year end performances "Connected" at the Terry Fox Theatre in Port Coquitlam BC.  And the final performance, this evening, is being dedicated by the dance school to Peter,  with a special performance by past and current members in his honor, and a solo by Kaia dedicated to the dad she will miss so very much.

And so, yesterday morning when I captured this photo of a heron taking flight,  I could think of no more fitting image for this tribute to Peter, for the heron seemed to be dancing, feet pointed downward, wingtips fluttering gracefully, like his beautiful daughter and her dance company as they send him soaring to the heavens tonight. As you look at it once again, please think of  the fifteen year old young woman giving what may well be the most difficult performance of her life, and the dad for whom she grieves.

We'll miss you, Peter.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Saratoga Beach: More than just dogs!

While I never tire of photographing Maggie, and certainly took dozens of shots of her during our recent mini-vacation at Saratoga Beach, Vancouver Island, she was not the only target for my lens. It is a beautiful place, full of beautiful scenes of beach and ocean, of flowers and birds and driftwood and boats and shellfish and  mountains and white puffy clouds in a blue sky.  And dogs.  Of course, dogs - Maggie, and the poms (Lexi and Cosmo) and local dogs and tourists' dogs.  But the beach was big enough that one could avoid interaction with dogs or tourists or locals if one wished.  Nature, however, was not to be avoided and brought such a sense of tranquility and joy - like the slice of joy I felt watching the flock of gulls in the photo above, lifting off from their resting place along the shore.

Or observing the herons, who love to fish in the shallows at sunrise or sunset and sometimes midday too:

And the crow, who hopped up on the bow of this colourful rowboat/planter just in front of our deck:

See the beach and ocean there?  Yes, our cottage was That Close to the beach.  When we stepped into our cottage and looked out the wide patio doors, beyond the huge partially covered deck, this was the view we saw:

My friend Pat and I, along with her poms and my sheltie,  were staying at The Breakers Beachfront Resort - it's an older,  no-frills resort but the cabins are clean and well-equipped,  the beds comfy, the prices reasonable, and the views stupendous.  It was my second visit there, and it won't be my last.

We spent much of our time walking the beach with the dogs (you didn't really think there'd be no dog photos in this post, did you?),  The poms love the water, and even Maggie braved the waves once or twice:

Is there fishes in there?

You put your right paw in,
You put your right paw out,
You do the hokey pokey and you shake it all about!  

Mama!  Help! There's a wave chasin' me! 

The sandy beach is a dream to walk on, and walk on it we did. 

Walking on the beach.....or not.
Cosmo takes a minute to just enjoy the sun on his face.

Here, Mama!  I'll illustrate this point for you!
Walkin' on the sandy beach! 

But to the north is the estuary of the Oyster River, and this provided different scenery, a more pebbly beach, flowers, mergansers,  and large old tree stumps.

There's an RV Park near the mouth of the river, with a channel where campers can take their boats out to sea.   It was there we saw a mink catching small crabs and hauling them back to his home in the rocks.

By the time we returned to the cottage, the poms were all pooped out, and ready for a towel drying and a snooze on Pat's lap:

If there was food to be had, Maggie was willing to take a break from the beach - even resting her chin by Auntie Pat's knee in hopes of cajoling her into sharing her sandwich:

A girl works up an appetite with all that runnin' on the beach, y'know! 

There was so much more to see:  beautiful sunrises to wake up to, snow-covered mountains turning pink in the setting sun, cruise ships gliding silently through the sea, and other people's dogs fetching sticks along the shoreline -

And, of course, there was always my beautiful, beautiful girl who had the time of her life and made me smile at her joyfulness, her confidence, her poise.

A vacation full of favourites - good friends, a sandy beach, and my dog by my side.  It's the stuff great memories are made of.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The best gift a dog mom could receive....

The best gift that a mom could receive is the knowledge that their youngun' - be it human or furry - is happy and confident and feels safe.  My human child, an adult for some years now, has grown into an amazing woman and while I won't say I never worry about her, I no longer feel responsible for her wellbeing, her happiness, or her safety.  The critters, however, are another matter.

As a 'mom' to a seventeen year old cat in kidney failure, and a rather anxious and fearful dog around 8-10 years old with severe allergies,  I worry about them constantly.  But I also marvel at their resiliency, their intelligence, their ability to communicate their needs, and their sensitivity to my moods.  And each time I find myself smiling at something they have done, or sighing with exasperation when they become demanding little tyrants, or drifting off to sleep with one or the other snuggled up against me, I am grateful for the bond that we have.

This past week my anxious, fearful, barky Maggie gave me an incredible early Mother's Day gift.  We spent the week at Saratoga Beach, up island, sharing a cabin right on the beach with my friend Pat and the poms. I had been worried it would be too much for Mags - sharing space, living with other dogs, being somewhere new.  Instead, Maggie was in heaven - relaxed, happy, quick to learn, moving from on leash to long line to off leash with the delight of a four year old working her way through a candy store.

I have hundreds of photos from the week, of course, but those will take a while to prepare.  And so I shall share just a few - some images of my happy, happy girl who gave me the best Mother's Day gift ever: a brief glimpse at the dog she will become over time - happy, confident and feeling safe. We're back home now and she is her somewhat edgy self again, but now I know there is a happy inner pup who only needs the right environment and the right approach to let that puppy out to play.

Happy Mother's Day to all you dog moms- may your critters share their joy with you.

C'mom. mom - Let's go!

Mom, I've been dragging this long line for awhile now, and it's getting
kinda heavy with the sand and water!

See, I can stay really well without you holding the leash!
Okay Mags, we'll try you off leash - 'Away' ...'Stay'.......
Can I 'come' now?
Here I come!

I'm runnin' so fast, I left two of mah legs behind!

Hi. Mama!  I'm here! 

I loves this beach!
Can we lives here forever?