Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sagacious Sadie Says Goodbye

Born circa 1998/99,  adopted March 6, 2008
Gone to the Rainbow Bridge June 24, 2012

(Photo by Red Dog Photography, 2008)

This afternoon, at 1:15, my sweet Sadie chose to leave us, ending her battle with insulinoma.  She died the way she lived – quietly, without fuss, and on her own terms. She was approximately 13 years old, and has lived with me since March 2008.

I knew this day would come; and yet it caught me by surprise.  This morning she woke me just before five, as usual.  She had a meal, then a pee, then a snooze – all as usual.  At nine o’clock she ate again and we went for our little walk around the block – as usual. 

When we returned,  she asked to go out to the garden, and she didn't come right back in - not usual.  She was lying on the cool grass next to the recently planted Charley’s Tree, and she seemed content enough.  I checked on her every twenty minutes and just before noon she moved to the back door, and lost control of her bowels.  I cleaned her up, left a message with the vet’s answering service (It’s Sunday - all animal medical crises happen on a Sunday) and returned to my girl.   

There was no need for a vet. Minutes after I made the call, and long before the vet would call back, it was over.  As I sat on the deck with her head on my lap,  I could see she was leaving.  I whispered softly to her, and I told her to go find Charley.  And she did – her breathing slowed, and she quietly slipped away.  And she knew she was loved to the very last breath.

Sadie lost her first family when their house burned down and her human lost his job and they were living in a car in the middle of February in a cold northern Canadian town.  The owner tearfully turned the dog and a cat into the SPCA, who called Okanagan Collie Rescue about Sadie.  I offered to foster her, and adopted her two weeks later.

Sadie missed her first family terribly - she had obviously been well loved - and lay at my patio door watching the road for months, getting up only to eat or go to the bathroom or to run to the door if a car came down the driveway.  One day, she realized they weren't ever coming for her; she climbed up on the couch for the first time since I'd met her,  and never looked back.  

She has mothered lonely visiting dogs, helped with foster piglets and adult ones too, lay down beside an alpaca, tolerated a tortie cat with attitude, and welcomed a never ending parade of foster dogs and a gaggle of foster pups. During the last weeks of her buddy Charley’s life last winter, she rarely left her side.

She had personality plus – you didn’t have to know her well to know there were profound thoughts going on in that head.  Under the penname Sagacious Sadie, she once wrote a regular column for an online paper, Abbotsford Today, and occasionally she took over this blog.   She loved life on our farm in the Fraser Valley, yet she handled the move to the island with great aplomb.  She had confidence, a sense of humor, and a tender heart.

In recent months she acquired a new habit – she began climbing on my bed every night for a cuddle.  As soon as I turned out the light she clambered back down and went off to the living room to sleep - she has always preferred her couch to my bed, but since Charley’s passing, always shared a few quiet bedtime moments with me. I was blessed to have seen this side of her.

Sadie died the way she lived - quietly, contentedly, never wanting to be any trouble to anyone.  I shall miss my gentle girl so much.

Stepping out with Sadie

Sadie's beautiful eyes

Sadie on Osborne Bay Beach

Happy Sadie
(Photo by Red Dog Photography)

My girl has gone home

Run free, my lovely Sadie, at the Bridge with all your friends.  As I close my eyes tonight, I know I shall feel your soft fur brush my face once again.  Thank you for being a part of my life.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Vulture trumps eagle, Osprey trumps me, Nature trumps all..

With the exceptionally low tides during the solstice, shorebirds and scavengers are in abundance.  They stand at water's edge looking for the remains of fish, prawn and crab from the boats, they wade in the shallows picking out small fry and shellfish, and they swoop overhead and dive-bomb head first into the depths, popping back up with a tasty fish in their beaks.  And various species fight, retreat, or cooperate with others, providing entertainment more fascinating than anything you'll find on tv.

A few days ago, fellow shoreline enthusiasts informed me I had 'just missed' the show of a life time - ten or more bald eagles plus a couple of eaglets, all on the shore looking for treats.  It is not unusual to see one or two or even three eagles on my morning strolls with Eddie - in fact, they nest just to the north and just to the south of the sea walk.  But ten?  I was so disappointed to have missed it.

Still,  as I sat on a log watching the herons and gulls, I heard the familiar high-pitched call of the eagle, who proceeded to swoop north and south, back and forth, along the shoreline.  Then I saw why - a young eaglet, possibly on his first flight, was perched on a piling looking rather forlorn and unsure of himself.  He didn't fish, he didn't look about much, he just sat as if to say "NOW what do I do?".

Well, here I am.  All by my lonesome.
What is it mama said I should do?

As I edged a little closer to accommodate the small zoom of my little camera,  he shakily half hopped and half flew to a piece of driftwood and resumed his forlorn stance.

I'm being stalked!  Go away camera lady!

After a minute of this, the parent bird whose cry I had heard fluttered down beside him and gave him a pep talk then flew to the top of a nearby tree to watch the offspring.  Offspring looked around, spotted his parent far up in the tree, sucked in his breath, and took off in a shaky and less-than-straight flight back to the northern nest.  Parent bird watched him go, then slowly followed him home from a distance.

The next morning, there were four eagles scattered along the shoreline. One was amid the gulls on the berm in front of the RV park.  They were all feasting on the remains of a large fish.  Suddenly, three large shadows loomed overhead - turkey vultures!  This is the first time in three years I have seen them on the beach.  As they swooped in, the eagle flapped madly and tried to drag the fish away, but as first one, then two, then three vultures dropped down and like schoolyard bullies started to swagger toward him and shove him first from the side, then from the back, the eagle abandoned his fish and took off.  Vulture trumps eagle - though seems to live in harmony with the gulls.

Well, we told him!  

And yesterday, in a hurry to run some errands, I forgot my camera when I headed out with Eddie - and missed the shot of a lifetime.  As we walked the sea walk, an osprey  dove into the water just yards away - and then, as I watched in amazement, gave me a full ten minute show of hovering, stretching, diving, fishing, flapping, climbing, hovering some more.  He - or she - would suspend itself in the air, flapping the wings repeatedly to hold its place for what seemed like an eternity, much like a child treads water or a helicopter lines up a landing target, then dive down at breakneck speed into the depths.  Then it popped back up, and with feet barely touching the water, body upright,  and head shaking off the drops, stretched wings out full in front of me as if to take a bow.  The bird then ascended again and repeated the performance, not once but five times before catching a fish and flying away.

As I sighed deeply at both the beauty of the show and the missed photographic opportunity, Eddie and I continued our walk, only to see the osprey return once more.  I hurried home, dropped off Eddie, said to heck with the errands, grabbed the big camera, and ran back down.  Alas, he was gone. Osprey trumps Jean.

But all was not lost - for once again I heard the cry of the eagle, and looking up to the trees that tower above the sea walk, saw its source.  And then was treated to yet another show - this time of a crow harassing the eagle.  And that one, despite my somewhat limited skills with the new camera and no tripod at hand and the sun in my eyes, I caught with the lens:

Eagle clawing at bark

Eagle:  Huh?  What's that up there?

Crow:  Scat, eagle - this is MY tree!

Crow:  Go on! Scat! Get outta here!

Crow:  SCRAM!

Eagle:  Okay, okay, I'm leaving!

This time, crow trumped eagle, but I trumped them both.
And nature trumps all.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Playing around....

...with the camera and two visitors.  Georgi stayed with us for ten days, and last night her doggy sister Sadie B came for the night too.  They went home today (for which Allie was very thankful, even though they were Very Well Behaved Guests).  While they were here, I played around with the settings on my new-to-me camera, aiming for some good close-up portraits. These are two of my favourites.


Sadie B.

On another note, if you like my photography and want to help a rescue, I've donated some of my photocards to the Bully Buddies online auction fundraiser.  Bully Buddies has long been one of my favourite rescues, and their volunteers work hard to ensure the bully dogs they rescue become great breed ambassadors.

The  4x6 photos are mounted on top quality embossed cardstock, blank inside,  with matching envelope, each in its own sealed cellophane protective sleeve. In a world where many send greetings electronically, I bet you know someone who would love to receive a handwritten greeting from you - your grandma, your mom, your best friend from way back when. There are three sets of six cards each to bid on, and each photo is different.   There is also one matted and mounted 8x10 (matted to 11x14) print, ready for framing, of one of my favourite photos,  "Searching for Home".  

Searching for Home
You'll find the auction on their facebook page at - click on their photos icon, then click on the photo that shows a poster about the auction and pictures of all the items will appear.  You bid using the comment box next to the item you are interested in.  (Okay, I'm no facebook user, so I hope I got that right). Please help this great cause by bidding generously if you are able.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Musings, Part Two: A momentous decision

Flowers by the Sea Walk

I have, in mulling things over these past few weeks, decided not to take in any more foster critters except for very short term cases for my local shelter. It was a difficult and momentous decision. I have been fostering animals for the past seven years, and I know there is a huge need for good foster homes.

My sister’s unexpected and sudden death affected me greatly.  My father also died young and although my mother is still alive at 93, she can hardly be said to be enjoying life.  And so, I have been giving a lot of thought to what I want to do with whatever time I have left. 

I miss camping, I miss fishing - I used to do a lot of both.  I am enjoying getting back into hiking, and I have new interests I want to pursue like photography.  While my own animals will always be well taken care of, and I am committed to them for the rest of their lives, adding fosters to my household is going to take a back seat for a long while and possibly forever.  

A cyberfriend recently said to me “Remember in airplanes where it says to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others? Rescue is sort of like that, too.”   I am putting on my own oxygen mask, and it may take quite a while.

And so that brings me to another topic I’ve been thinking a lot about - the blog.   When I began this blog I had, I think, 18 animals in my care - four dogs, 12 foster pigs, an alpaca and a cat. There were always animal antics to write about.  That is no longer the case. I will still blog, because I do enjoy sharing my writing and photography, but I will write on a broader range of topics than critters and nature.  I haven't yet decided whether to change the name of this blog, or wind this one up and start a new one, or just continue under the same banner - after all, my life is still with critters.

No doubt I'll lose some readers;  perhaps I'll gain some too.  Life changes, friends change, we change.  I am moving on. I hope at least some of my readers will come along for the ride.

And now it is time to get out in the garden, where the flowers are blooming,

Dogwood blossom on the newly-planted "Charley's Tree"

Flowers on a cedar fence

and the tomatoes ripening,

Tumbling Tiny Tomatoes

and the strawberries are waiting to be picked. 

Just Add Cream

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Musings on ageing dogs and ageing parents

But mostly on ageing dogs and the quality of life.

On Thursday, I delivered Petey to the rescue where he is to be placed with another foster home and be more accessible to potential adopters if he is deemed adoptable, and to vet care if he is not.  Today, I ran over to the mainland to visit my 93 year old mom in her care facility.  Two hours each way on a ferry give one a lot of time for thinking about their similarities, and the issue of quality of life.

There are some who would say it is wrong to send a blind, deaf, ancient foster dog to yet another home instead of finding a way to continue to provide care here.  There are some who would say that they would never put their ageing parent in a facility; that it is the responsibility of adult children to look after ageing parents.  There are some who will keep critters and humans alive at all costs until they are immobile, incontinent of bowel and bladder, and devoid of all pleasures in life.

I am not that person. 

The very elderly, be they human or canine, need 24-7 care. The caregivers at my mom's facility are far more competent and well trained than I am to provide her with the care she requires, even though I know she wishes she was not there. 

Dogs, however, pose a different challenge.  As a deaf, blind, ancient little dog who has obviously had a traumatic and neglectful past, Petey becomes very distressed when left alone.  I live alone, in a small village with two very small convenience stores.  Period.  If I need to do some banking, go to a doctor’s appointment, do a major grocery shop, pick up something from a hardware or drugstore, I am going to be gone at least two hours. Taking Eddie for his much-needed walks means Petey is guaranteed to be left alone for at least an hour twice a day.    I don't have an army of volunteers or any paid staff to tend to the dogs. And one can only call on friends so often – a situation I try to reserve for emergencies or at least very important family –related concerns. 

Taking Petey with me is seldom an option – he can't be left alone in the car, even if the temperature isn't too hot, and virtually no stores here (with the exception of pet stores) allow dogs inside -  not even the post office where I pick up my mail. 

Petey  is a very content dog when lying in my arms , and does usually nap peacefully in one of his many beds as long as I’m in the same room.  He even putters around the yard with me quite happily for a half hour or so at a time.  But his need for 24 hour care cannot be met here, and I will not see a dog in frequent distress with no chance of it being relieved in the current environment.  

A challenge indeed. 

And that leads to a bigger question:  At what point does one decide that a dog's quality of life is so compromised that it may be time to euthanize?  Only when a medical crisis hits?  Or is there a point at which a dog whose little ticker beats just fine should be helped to cross the bridge?  Petey's situation aside, I will eventually face that dilemma with my Sadie, who has insulinoma, an incurable cancer with a poor prognosis.  I will not see a dog become totally immobilized in its own urine and feces, reliant on a human to even get them from basket to door.  I honestly do not think a dog who has been ‘clean’ since puppyhood likes that feeling – even if it is contained in doggy diapers.  As a short term or occasional issue – such as post surgery, or the occasional accident – that’s okay.  But as a permanent situation – No.  When Sadie reaches the point where she can no longer get up, or where her occasional accidents in the house become a routine from total loss of bladder and bowel control,  I will opt to euthanize her.  So far, I have been lucky that all my many dogs have decided for themselves before reaching that point.

When I took on Petey nearly six months ago, I anticipated he may be with me for two or three months – while he had and recovered from his dental surgery and his eye surgery – and then he would be promoted on the website and facebook and find a forever home.  I was prepared to give up that much time, that much of my life – temporary responsibility is part of the reason I foster rather than adopt more dogs. For reasons that are complicated, and for which no one is as fault, this did not happened.  The decision on his eye surgery is still pending as far as I know;  and no one foresaw the incredible need he has to be with a human full time, nor the extent to which being some distance from the preferred vets used by the rescue would be problematic.

I have been blessed to have Petey in my life for these six months, and I hope I have been some comfort to him.  But I also know that I do not want to, and cannot, provide 24/7 care for a dog over whom I do not have full decision making power.  

The dogs I adopt will always be with me to the end.  But I am the one who decides when the quality of life is no longer satisfactory.  Sadie will never be given away or euthanized simply because she needs frequent care due to her insulinoma. But nor will I keep her alive once she no longer has what I consider to be a reasonable quality of life – once she can no longer walk, can no longer control her bladder and bowels, once her collapses can no longer be controlled by medications without significant negative side effects.  I do not look forward to making that decision, but I also won’t rush it.  

With Petey no longer here, I can once again leave the house for 4-5 hours at a time.  There may come a time when Sadie’s needs mean those outings are shorter.  But I am convinced that when it means she needs 24 hour care, seven days a week, her quality of life will be one that neither she nor I would consider acceptable. 

Perhaps others have greater tolerance than I for being away from the house knowing full well that one of the critters is barking and crying hysterically.  Perhaps others are home more, or have other family members or volunteers who can stay with a dog so needy.  If so, then Petey is better being moved to such an environment than staying here.  And if not, then it will be up to the rescue to make a decision regarding his quality of life.

I know what I would do.

And not everyone would agree. 

(Postscript:  as of this afternoon, Petey is now listed on the rescue's Facebook  page as available for adoption. The rescue having made its decision, it is my sincere hope that he will find the type of home and 24/7 caregiver that he needs for his final months or years.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What we did this week

What we did this week, 

By Sagacious Sadie

I dunno why my mama's not bloggin’.  There is LOTS to blog about, an’ here she hazn’t wrotten writed written a thing for nearly a week again. Sigh.  I guess that means I gotta do it for her again.  Sure wish someone wud invent a computer with keys big enough for PAWS.  An' cameras too, cuz my mom has hardly taken any shots this week.  I hadza take some for this blog, but they is a bit blurry.  Sowwy. Oh well, here goes:

First of all, our friend Georgi is here for a visit while her mama has deserted her gone on a holiday.  She came a WEEK ago, an’ haz mama written a thing about it? Noooo.  If Georgi’s mom is checking the blog, she’s gonna think we’ve booted her out to roam the streets all by herself. 

But no, she’s here, she’s fine, an’ we enjoys her company.  We had a laff  luagh  funnies the other day.  Petey stole Georgi’s cushion.

Petey, the cushion thief

So Georgi stole my cushion.

Georgi, the cushion thief

An’ I had to sleep on de floor.  But mama sez I’m a very grashus nice host to let visitors borrow my bed.  Georgi will be here for a few more days still.

Petey, Georgi, Sadie catching some zzzzz's


Guess who this is:
Guess who?

No, silly reader, that’s not Eddie. This is Eddie:

Ha ha, fooled you!

That’s our friend Taleah!  She's about the same age as Eddie, and the same colours, but much smaller:

Taleah and Eddie

She came to visit with her good buddy Riley. 


They also let their mamas Deb and Sharon come too.  Taleah and Riley haz been here fore, but Eddie hasn’t met them cuz he is the new kid on the block.  They stayed at the RV place down by the beach, an they waz here for three days!  

Eddie an Taleah and Riley and the humans went down to Osborne Bay Park.  I can’t do that walk anymore, but that’s okay – I caught up on my sleep.  The humans also got kicked out of a nursery  (the tree kind, not the little baby kind) - but I’ll let mama tell you that story.  Mostly I think the humans drank beer and wine and ate. 

But they did plant a tree in memory of my ol’ buddy Charley.  A dogwood tree.  It waz a gift from Aunties Deb and Sharon and Ellen.  An’ Deb dug the hole and they put the tree it in and told it to grow.  My mama doesn't seem to haz a picture of it yet (Auntie Deb took some pictures though!), so you hasta use yer imaginations. 

My mama also got a package of hundreds of ladybugs and they set them loose all over the flowers, especially the roses because the aphids is eating them.  But this pickshure  pictoor photo is of them on some yellow daisy things.  We broughts some of the ladybugs into the house on our furs!  Heh heh heh.


And today – ya know what happened today?  My mama took me an’ Petey fer a long ride to Victoriaiaiaia.  And she drove to the POUND there.  And she LEFT PETEY THERE. 

(Sadie! You make it sound like I abandoned him!  One of the directors of Petey’s rescue, Broken Promises, works there and Petey is going to a new foster home down there so his quality of life and medical needs can be better assessed, and so I can get a bit of a life again.  The pound was just the meeting place.  Besides, you liked it there – you said hello to the chickens and bunnies and cows and goats roaming the fields.) 

Whatever.  He left wiv his sootcase  cardboard box of clothes and peepads and food and medicines and pages of stuff my mama wrote about his care.  An' he took one of his baskets and his favorite blankie.  An' he also took some other stuff fer Broken Promises – leashes and coats an stuff that friends had donated or that we don't need anymores.  I tell ya, that ol’ man didn’t leave empty handed pawed! 

Petey moves out

But now my mama sez it is very quiet around here.  She was able to get the lawn cut without any dogs crying or barking.  An' to have a quick look at some of the few photos she took this week.   If I can drag her to the keyboard, I’ll get her to post some more of them in the next few days – and Auntie Deb will send us some too! 

Anyway, that’s about it.  It’s a good thing ONE of us takes the time to blog and let people know we’re alive. I tell ya, one of us hasta be the responsible one.  I guess that's me.

Sagacious Sadie. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I Should Have Stuck with Teddy Bears

(I wrote this a month or so ago, but never got around to posting it.  However, today is an appropriate day - a day when I have one dog with the runs, another who is vomiting, one who won't stop scratching, and a fourth who won't stop barking.  I should have stuck with teddy bears.)

When I was a child, my favourite companions were teddy bears.  I collected them like most little girls of the early 1950s collected baby dolls and little boys Matchbox cars. In fact, throughout my childhood I had only one doll.  I asked for her the year I was seven because – well, that was what girls my age were supposed to want.  I pushed her around in a little toy pram for perhaps a month or two before she sat forgotten in the corner and I went back to playing with my bears. 

The real love of my life, in my seven year old world, was Teddy.  A straw-filled bear with arms and legs that moved and glass button eyes, Teddy has been in my life as long as I can remember.  One of my favourite photos, taken when I was four or five and living in England, is of Teddy and I.  
Me and my teddy bear, circa 1955

Teddy was one of only two toys that came with me when we moved to Canada in the mid-fifties (the other being, ironically, a toy dog!).  Around the time I was six, I renamed him Smokey, after Smokey the Bear, a wee cub rescued from a forest fire who later became the icon for a Forest Fire Prevention program, and popularized in books and song.  My favourite book, my favourite song, my favourite bear – one and the same in 1956.  And look!  Here's the song on Youtube - the very same record by Peter Pan Records, that my daddy bought me - I recognize the cover! (And now I expect everyone of you to be humming "Smokey the Bear" for the rest of the day). 

Two years later, Teddy (now Smokey) took back seat to another much larger, heavier, more modern bear who I creatively named Yogi. (I was obviously a child influenced by popular culture. My family didn’t have a TV, but I knew all about Yogi and his sidekick BooBoo.)

With my help, Yogi voiced opinions, created mischief, and took part in vacations and family celebrations.  My family not only humoured my antics with Yogi, but actively encouraged them.  My father and brother built a large cardboard and brown paper cave in the eaves of our old home, and stacked the shelf with jars painted white and labeled “HUNNY”.  Many times my father would threaten to put Yogi into permanent hibernation in this cave.

One day when my father was signing cheques, Yogi wanted to have a look and received a sample of my father’s signature across his large vinyl nose.  Unfortunately, the ink would not wash off, and for many years the bear carried this reminder of his ill-timed interruption.  I still have the postcard my father sent to Yogi while away on business a few weeks later.  On the face of the card is a picture of a bear behind bars at the zoo – and on the back, in my father’s neat script, is his message:  “This is the end of all bears that cannot keep their nose out of what doesn’t concern them!  Take warning!”

However, Yogi kept me out of trouble too.  As a pre-teen, I dreamed of running away and building myself a treehouse in the woods to live in.  I planned far in advance the exact date of my intended departure, and wrote a detailed list of all the items I would need to take.  At the top of the list was my dearest possession – Yogi. So attached was I to the bear that I knew if I left him we would both be miserable, and yet if I took this very large, heavy bear I could surely go only as far as the empty lot across the street.  Somehow the effort of all the planning seemed worthy of a longer journey, and since I could not keep my plans and take Yogi too, I remained safely at home.

Yogi helps my daughter open gifts - or vice versa - circa 1977.

 I took good care of my bears, making sure they had comfortable seats and beds, dressing them in warm clothes in winter and cooler ones in summer, serving them tea and cookies, brushing their fur, and, on those occasions when they were just a little too well loved, darning their holes and sewing their seams.

Teddy bears continued to play a large role in my life even through much of my adulthood.  A bear I purchased for a passing love, and left behind when that person moved out of my life, became part of my family.  Slowly, O’Bear (Oh Postrophe Bear – I was more creative now) developed a huge personality.  In a thrift store, he found his long-lost identical twin (Robear – adopted and then abandoned by a French Canadian, so family legend has it), and on visits to the Okanagan he formed a close friendship with my sister’s and sister-in-law’s bear Muffin. Together, the bears went on Alaska cruises, camping trips, rafting down canals, and had many, many adventures together. 

Muffin, Alfie the Elephant, Bandit the dog, Robear, and (hiding behind Muffin) the infamous
 O Postrophe Bear
at my sister's Celebration of Life, May 2012

As dogs and animal rescue became more and more a part of my life, the bears became less of it.  O’Bear eventually went to live with Muffin,  while Robear stayed here, up on a shelf with Yogi, Smokey, and a small cluster of other stuffies too precious to part with.  Transporting dogs, doing homechecks, helping out at sanctuaries and fundraisers, and most of all fostering and/or adopting senior and special needs dogs shifted time and attention away from the bears. 

This past week or two,  as I clean up poop from a collie with the runs, and hold a needy,  coughing  deaf and blind poodle on my lap,  and repeatedly shush  a barking de-barked overly-excited sheltie,  and trip over sheets and towels and little mats covering the floor,  and drag myself out of bed at four in the morning to feed a dog whose blood sugar has plummeted, and worry about canine livers and cancerous tumors and medications and  muddy paws, I find myself thinking:   I should have stuck with teddy bears.  They were never half this much trouble.  Not even when their stuffing leaked out. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012


A little while ago, someone in the blogosphere mentioned the term "email bankruptcy" - when you are so far behind on your emails that you declare bankruptcy, delete them all and start fresh.  I think I am going to declare "blogger bankruptcy".  It is a month since my sister's Celebration of Life and I still haven't posted much about that, nor any updates on my critters, nor about a baby robin, nor about Sasha's visit, nor Georgi and Sadie B's visit, nor about the garden, nor about two (not one, but TWO) glorious hikes on a trail I hadn't taken since 2009.  I have photos - thousands of them - and ideas by the bushel, but for some reason little motivation to write, blog, or even keep up with cyberfriends' blogs.  Must be something in the air - the few blogs I have read lately mention the same phenomena.

So, in the interest of moving on, I'm declaring - well, not exactly "blogger bankruptcy" but maybe  "blog liquidation".  I'm going to give you a quick rundown, with a few select photos, of my life with the critters (and other things), consider myself all caught up to date, and go from there.  Just snippets.

May 5th.  The celebration of my sister's life was moving, inspiring, funny, amazing, touching, bittersweet, loving, incredible.  Bev, my sister's partner, had made wonderful posterboards of each phase of my sister's life - her childhood, her school years, family, photography, careers, special occasions - photos and mementoes and awards and treasures, and integrated into the afternoon  many special moments that Carole would have loved. Many people shared their stories of Carole, giving us all a glimpse of the varied parts of her life - work colleagues heard about Carole as a child, family heard about Carole at work, stories told from all perspectives, many of them evoking much laughter and head nodding - 'that is SOOOO Carole!".  It felt good to be there, among family and friends. The following day, we scattered her ashes at her favourite lakeside park and released balloons into the sky.

Releasing balloons
(Thanks, John, for this photo)

May 10th   As a writer for the Chemainus Valley Courier, I attended a concert at Crofton Elementary School entitled "Voices of Nature".  If you click on this link, it should take you to the online June edition(it may take a few minutes as it is a pdf file) - scroll down to page 17 where you will read my article about it and see one of my photos.  And if you check page 16, you'll also find our regular Crofton Corner column, which I co-write with my friend Liz.  (Liz did most of this month's - I only wrote the stuff on the concert and environment).  It was, as I note in the column,  one of the best concerts this town has ever seen.

Voices of Nature
(Photo cleared for media publication by school principal)

May 17th  Two of my sister's school friends (from the 1950s and 60s) came to visit.  They had been unable to attend the Celebration of Life, and I invited them to join me in sending the last of Carole's ashes off into the sea as my sister-in-law had asked - Carole loved the island and loved all beaches.   We walked down the trail through the beautiful Osborne Bay Park, sat on a log on the secluded and beautiful beach, shared a bottle of wine and our memories, and then scattered the ashes on the waves.   A hike back up, hugs all round, and we all went home with smiles on our faces.

Gordon and Judy say goodbye to Carole at Osborne Bay

May 30th  Sasha, one of Crofton's sweetest dogs (and the canine companion of my friend and co-columnist Liz), came to spend the day with me while her humans headed to Victoria.  She is a delight and we all had a good day. She makes herself right at home, clambering up into my lap or onto the other armchair.

Checking the weather -
shall we go for a walk?

Oh well, a snooze in the armchair is good, too.

Sasha,  May 2012

June 2nd and 3rd  Sadie B, whom you have met on this blog before, came to stay, along  with her canine sister Georgi, while their mom worked the annual SPCA garage sale.  They were both great guests.

OMG, she's gone and left me in this insane asylum!

Allie: Ya better watch out, dog, or I'll close the door-
 and bolt it permanently shut!
I gotz power tools!
On the 3rd, my friend Margaret came over and we took Sadie B and Eddie for a hike up the west end of Escarpment Way, across the side of Richard's Mountain heading to Duncan.  I recently wrote about the hike from the east end, heading to Maple Bay.  The following week I did the west end trail with  Sadie B and Gail, and I knew Margaret would also enjoy it.  It offers gorgeous views of the Cowichan Valley and surrounding mountains.

What I found interesting was how many more flowers were out on this second hike than just ten days earlier  - from a few daisies to masses of them, as well as masses of other colours - yellow broom, blue camus, a purple ground cover, and more.

Camus lilies


Purple flowers

There were lots of other interesting flora and fauna to see:

Oyster mushroom

Red-headed Sapsucker?

Slug eating mushroom

It was truly a marvellous hike - both times!

Margaret walks Eddie while Sadie B waits for me

Hurry up, camera lady! Let's go!

This is so much fun!

I forget which day it was, but I got a call from a neighbour recently about a baby robin that was caught in her garden netting.  She was able to free it, but it hung around the back lane for hours and hours and hours.  The parents fed it from time to time, but it didn't seem able to fly more than a few feet. Yet it didn't see injured.  Just before dusk, I had a closer look - one wing, though not injured, was noticeably shorter than the other.  No feathers were broken or missing - baby birdie apparently had a birth deformity. It hopped away into some brambles and we decided the best course of action was to let nature take care of its own, especially as the parent birds had been nearby.  Either it will fly or it will become a meal for one of the many feral and semi-feral cats in the area.  Sometimes you can't save 'em all.

Baby Robin

And now it is June 7th.  Eddie is doing well, Sadie is doing fair.  And Petey is moving on.  Sometime in the next week, he is moving to another foster home, this time in Victoria.  He has been with me for almost six months, and although he is fine when I am right by his side, and negotiates my house and yard well, he cannot be left alone without nonstop barking which has now developed to hysterical crying, peeing himself, and trembling.  This not only upsets my Sadie, but on top of his other problems (deaf, blind, chronic bronchitis, hernia, and eyes that need daily care) makes his likelihood of adoption questionable.  And, as I rather bluntly put it to the rescue, it also brings into question the quality of his life.  By moving him to another foster home closer to the directors' location, the rescue's directors will be better able to assess his situation as well as being able to utilize their own vets.  It will be a difficult transition for him, but is a necessary one - for his sanity and for mine.

We'll soon be saying goodbye and good luck to little Petey

So..... now I'm caught up.  This morning Georgi arrives  for a ten day stay while her humans are away (Sadie B is being looked after by other friends, though I'm the back up plan);  and this Sunday.....oh....wait.....that's a surprise - wait till Eddie and Sadie see who is coming to visit!