Sunday, May 31, 2009

Living the Simple Life

I have been simplifying my life by disposing of lots of items I have been dragging from house to house to house for much of my adult life.

But "simplify" took on a new meaning last night, when one of the key electrical circuits in this old house gave up the ghost. Fortunately all the kitchen outlets are still intact, but everything else is kaput.

And so I am living the simple life until an electrician can get here - hopefully tomorrow. I have run a power cord to the rest of the house, but only to run one item at a time so I don't overload the kitchen circuit - and with temps in the very high twenties (celsius), that one item is usually a fan.

So, I'm limiting myself to a quick morning and evening check-in on the computer. Of course, my digital housephone is also down (the hazards of new technology - even the phone requires electricity) - so if anyone is trying to reach me, please call the cell.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Why the Dogs Didn't Get their Pasture Run this morning:

There is a sloth of bears in this area this year (yes, I checked, a group of bears is called a sloth or a sleuth!!!). In the last ten days the neighbours and I have seen a mama with triplets, a HUGE male bear (the largest I've ever seen - and I've seen a lot of bears!), and this one, who appears to be either another adult female or a young male.

Bears don't usually share territory, but the plethora of development projects in this area may well have forced some out of their customary habitat. Cubs generally stay with the mama for about two years, after which they are chased off to make their own way in the world. The one in the photo above might be the remaining one of triplets born two years ago.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Oh, Oliver!

Last spring, I took many photos of each of my dogs amidst bright yellow flowers in the pasture. They are among my favourite photos. Oliver, however, did not come to live with me until fall and so this morning's goal was to photograph Oliver in fields of yellow.

Ha! Never set a photographic goal where an animal is concerned. I once said it was not possible to get a "bad" photo of Oliver - he is so photogenic and so willing a subject. Famous Last Words.

This morning's collection of "Oliver in Flowers" consists of several out of focus, too close, too far away, too hidden, or just plain "where's oliver gone?" photos. Oliver, it seems, decided this was a morning for the zoomies, for sheer joyful abandonment, for bouncing and barking and twirling in circles. This was the morning for getting bowled over by big dogs, for throwing himself at the photographer, for being totally, completely uncooperative.

Blurry Oliver

I tried standing on the opposite side of a clump of flowers, expecting him to toddle right through them in a direct line to reach me, as he usually does. But no, he decided just to stand on the other side and gaze into the distance:

Or down at some interesting bug on the ground:

I took a cute little video of him bouncing at full speed down the path toward me, and then barking incessantly in my face ("C'mon, mom, put that camera away and CHASE me!!!!"). Unfortunately, I was holding the camera sideways, as I do for many of my stills, and have no idea how to rotate a video clip. So.....please turn your computer monitor on its side while you watch this (and if someone can tell me how to rotate the clip, please do!!!).

Tomorrow, weather permitting, I shall have another go at getting pics of Oliver amidst the flowers.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My ratty ol' chair

By Allie the Cat

I want all you blog reeders to know what my Mama did!!!! It is horrifying. It is cat-astrophic. It is unmeowable. She gotz rid of MY RATTY OL’ CHAIR!!!!!

It is my vewy own upholsterered rocking chair. It lived in my attik where I like to run and play. Sumtimes I THROW myself on it and make it go BANG BANG BANG on the attik floor, scaring all the mouses and lotz of peoples too.

I gotz that chair two years ago. Well acshully we has had it fer a long, long, long time since before I came to live with Mama. But then Mama reupholstered it an kepted it at the trailer in her secret camping place. When mama sold the trailer, she broughted it home and put it in the attik which is MY PLAYROOM! I can run and play and sleep and do whatevers I want up there without the doggies bovering me.

I liked to sleeps in that chair. I likes to make that chair go BANG! espeshully at five in the morning. But most of all I likes to scratch and shred that chair.

Mama sez we are not taking that ratty ol’ chair to the new house wiv us. She sez I have a purrfectly good kitty condo to sleep in and climb on and scratch.

My boring kitty condo

Itz NOT the same. I loves that chair. An’ yesterday she drugged it down from the attic and she……I can hardly say this…..she MASSACRED it. She chopped it all up with a skill saw. An’ then she stuffed it in her car and took it to the DUMP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First the arms.....

....and then THIS!

But itz payback time. The doggies tell me she has bought a NEW COUCH for the new house. I think that will be vewy vewy good fer sharpenin’ my claws on, don’t you? An’ if not, there is new carpet. An a new sofabed. An a new area rug. I’m shure I will find sumethin to knead and scratch and shred. Then she’ll be sowwy she got rid ov my ratty chair.

But I will still miss my lovely ratty ol' chair. Sob!

The hardest part of visiting the piggies.....

Hi Foster Mama! Didya bring us a present??????? tearing myself away to return home!

I took a truckload of stuff to Hearts on Noses yesterday - barn and piggy supplies I no longer need but knew would be useful there - and of course stopped for a visit with Scotch and Soda and the pigsters. My plan was just to stay a few minutes, as I still have a ton of work packing and sorting and cleaning in preparation for the move, not to mention all those changes of addresses, cancellations of services, etc. etc. etc.

But.....there is no such thing as a "quick visit" to my piggies. After all, what normal person could turn their back on this?:

I luvs my bruver!

or this?

or these?

Scotch gave me the cold shoulder at first, even when I sang him his song and tried to give him a belly rub. He backed over to the gate and stood there watching (maybe he was just waiting for me to take him "home"!), but as I sat chatting with Whisper and RobRoy and rubbing their bellies, he gradually came round and I suddenly felt the familiar little nudge of his snouty on my back. Moments later he was lying beside me receiving his belly rub and softly snoring in the sunshine.

The piggies demolished the bags of chopped veggies and fruit I brought them, and with the exception of my velcro pigs who settled down for a snooze on my feet, dispersed to have an after-brunch nap in the sun. I eventually tore myself away and spent the day cleaning up the old barn ready for the next tenant, hauling stuff to the dump (including one item which I suspect Allie the Cat will tell you all about in an upcoming post), getting moving boxes and tape and paper, and trying in vain to get hold of a real live person at the various utilities companies so I can let them know I'm moving. What the heck happened to the "SERVICE" in Customer Service?????

Today it's medical appointments, a cup of coffee with one friend, a glass of scotch with another, pick up the last of my boxes from the office and hand in the keys, and home in time to pass on two stall mats to dp. It will be a full day, and just part of a very full week.

But it's off to a great start with lots of piggy luvins' and snouty faces.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Caleb's Ashes

When my precious Caleb died of cancer, I had him cremated individually and the ashes returned to me – something I had never done before. The beautiful urn in which they came has been sitting on a shelf in my office, a constant reminder of a wonderful dog – not that I need ashes in an urn to remember my Caleb.

I have been thinking about what to do with these ashes. I am simply not the type to leave the urn sitting on the mantle until I die and whomever disposes of my worldly goods chucks it the garbage. I knew I would release those ashes, set them free somewhere, but where? On the dikes where he loved to swim? On the mountain trail where he loved to hike with his doggy daycare buddies and Kelly? In the pasture here, where he ran and played and then leaned against my legs as I sat on the bench at the top of the hill?

When I made the decision to move to Crofton, I found my answer. Caleb came from the Cowichan Valley SPCA, and one of the first outings I had with him was with the Wednesday Walking Group at Swallowfield. As a dog who had been abused, and then was in the shelter for many months, no doubt this taste of freedom was pure delight – especially given the river to swim in, sticks to be thrown, and other dogs to play with. And so I decided to release half his ashes at Swallowfield after I move, and the other half here in my little corner of heaven, where Caleb became part of my family and where I will be leaving a piece of my heart.

Today is exactly two years since I adopted Caleb. It seems a very fitting day to release the first half of his ashes here in the pasture, so bright with yellow flowers and sunlight. And next month, I shall release the other half at Swallowfield, where I sense his spirit each time the dogs and I walk in that beautiful place where Caleb first found his freedom.

Caleb, you are forever loved and missed.

Footnote: And as I released Caleb’s ashes at sunrise this morning, I also took a moment to honour Thomas and Lexi, two very special dogs I once knew and loved, both of whom passed away this month. I remember them with great affection, and respectfully offer my condolences to the humans who grieve their passing. We shall see them again some day, at the Rainbow Bridge.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Wednesday Walk

Yesterday, Charley and Sadie and I joined the Crofton gang for the usual Wednesday walk. Once again, we went to Swallowfield. Spring flowers are really starting to put on a show now, new grasses are shooting up quickly across the delta, and apple and hawthorne trees are in full bloom.

Unfortunately, the batteries for my camera died after my first shot and for once I was without spares. Fortunately, my new friend and neighbour, Mary, took lots of photos which she has kindly given me permission to use on the blog (Thanks, Mary!).

First, the flowers.

Narcissus - this was the only photo I took before my batteries died.

The amazingly beautiful blue wild onion

Broom was in bloom everywhere, and we all particularly liked this red-splashed variety.

And then the dogs:

Tarben, Mary's dog, always makes me laugh - and for a dog that isn't crazy about water, he was very determined to get a stick from the river:

Glug glug

Almost got it!


The three wolfhounds also make me smile. They are very, very big and graze on the grass like horses. I can't tell them apart, though Bonnie and Bob, their humans, have no difficulty knowing who's who:


Checking things out

Here's a good size comparison - Charley is nearly 60 pounds, and Sadie (sitting down) is about 70 pounds, but they look very small compared to the wolfhounds!

Some of the dogs love to play in the water,

Archie and Hugo make a big splash

but Charley was more cautious:'s wet

I can't seem to walk on water

And although Sadie paddled about, she spent more time mooching treats, barking, and lazing around:

All of the dogs had lots of fun:

Group circle

Trekking home

On the last stretch

Sadie and Charley were tired, and made no objection later that day when I took Oliver and Belle for sunset walks and left the big dogs at home.

Home....funny how quickly Crofton has become "home". Today we returned to the mainland, for a final three weeks of packing and sorting and organizing, and I'm chomping at the bit to get "home" to Crofton. The dogs were happy to see the pasture, and Allie was glad to see me (a friend from up north vacationed in the house, looking after her while we were in Crofton - thanks, Vadie), but for the first time I saw my place here without feeling the usual sense of relief at being "home". Home is now on Vancouver Island, and and I'm counting the days to the Big Move.

(Thanks again to Mary C. for providing the photos for today's blog)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In my own backyard

The hike to Crofton Lake

I have been walking the big dogs around our new town, getting to know its paths and beaches, streets and stairways. It is such a small town, that I thought I had pretty much seen all within walking distance of the house. However, I'm still not familiar with the places within a short drive, so when Else phoned to suggest a hike to Crofton Lake I jumped at the opportunity to check out yet another dog-friendly area.

To my surprise, the trail begins just at the end of my road - about five blocks away. An obscure trail off the end of the dead-end and through the bush opens onto a wider old roadway.

Dogs on the trail

Charley on the trail

A very gentle 20 minute climb, and we were there - a beautiful lake accessible only on foot, set amidst trees and a backdrop of mountains.

Crofton Lake

Crofton Lake

Ripples on the water

Lilies just starting to bloom

The dogs ran and ran and ran. Else's dogs, Tess and Archie, didn't hesitate to jump in the water; Charley and Sadie chose to stay on dry land though Sadie took great delight in slopping her way through the biggest and the best of the mud puddles.

Tess and Archie

At the end of the day, we had happy, happy dogs and I had discovered another great place right in my own back yard.