Sunday, December 31, 2017

Here's to Slices of Joy in 2018

2017:  It was not the best of years, it was not the worst of years.

In 2017, I said goodbye to my adorable, funny, sweet Mitzi; I did irreparable damage to my shoulder in a fall and continued to have problems with the knee I injured in 2016;  and Allie was diagnosed with stage 3 kidney failure.  But on the other hand, my small kin group stayed healthy,  I learned a few new photograph skills, I hiked and walked and shared good times with friends.  Best of all, I welcomed Maggie to my home and heart.

We said goodbye to my sweet Mitzi

And said hello to my sweet Maggie
I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions - on the few occasions I have made them, I have either failed to keep them,  or they have not accomplished the results I'd hoped for.  Sometimes other factors beyond my control interfered with my ability to achieve the goals.  Let's face it,  life is unpredictable.

That doesn't mean we can't have hopes and dreams. We may not realize all of these dreams because the unexpected can necessitate adaptation.  But I do know that one can best cope with the challenges of the present by remaining optimistic about the future.  Finding "thin slices of joy" as author Chade-Meng Tan writes in his book Joy on Demand, helps us weather the storms and develop an inner peace and joyfulness.

I hope, in 2018, to continue to find many 'thin slices of joy' - like the joy I felt tonight when  I stepped outside to put the compost in the bin and saw this moon rising over the neighbour's garage:

Or the delight that filled my heart  last Friday, when an Anna's hummingbird waited in the rain for me to fill the feeder:

In 2018, I hope to again fill my soul with joy at sunrise as I sit on the beach with my dog, and to marvel at the beauty of the landscape as I drive to the store or hike in the woods or simply look out my window at fog rising from Maple Mountain.  I hope to experience  joy from unexpected moments of delight, a sudden burst of laughter, a humorous quip from a friend, a shared smile and short chat with another dog owner on the seawalk.  So many thin slices of joy to make my day, my week, my year complete.

I do hope for some other slices of joy too -

I hope to experience the joy of  finding a new place to call home, one in a strata where I won't have outside maintenance or a garden to maintain or manage.  Yes there will be some sadness especially if it means moving away from friends and seaside, but there will be new friends to meet, new places to explore, and new slices of joy to savor.

And I plan to experience the joy of disconnecting more frequently from a media that has become full of drama queens (and drama kings, and drama presidents),  of bad news, and  of never ending analysis of the same-old-same-old.  I have recently been rediscovering the joy of reading a good mystery from cover to cover  on a dreary rainy day  letting neither computer nor radio nor even the dog distract me from this endeavor.  And music!  I have been rotating through all my CDs this past week, discovering the joy of forgotten songs and compositions.  Such joy!

I know I'll feel joy from doing my very best for my animals, looking after their health, keeping them safe and content, making  decisions that put their well being to the forefront.  They bring me joy every single day.

Most of all, I look forward to both thin slices of joy and big fat chunks of it as I watch Maggie continue to blossom, gain confidence, respond to friends.  I hope to experience the joy of seeing her  show her funny, silly, exuberant sheltie nature to others as she does to me.

Ah could find a slice of joy from chasing the cat, mom! 

With hopes and dreams and thin slices of joy, one can find an inner strength to manage  a day-to-day world of turmoil, whether personal or global.  And so I wish you  many slices of joy in your life.  May 2018 see you achieve some of your hopes and dreams, whatever they may be, and may you meet your challenges with strength and positive energy.

Happy New Year.  Let's raise a glass to slices of joy in 2018.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

My Practically Perfect Christmas, by Maggie

I waz good this year!  I made Santa's "NICE" list!  I did, I did!  Mama said if I was a good dog, Santa wud sneak into our house Christmas Eve and leave gifts fer me, and HE DID!  Boy, that was excitin' !

Santa  came!

Anyway, Mama is busy putting the Christmas decorations away, so she asked me to be a guest blogger today.  So I will tell you all about my Wonderful Marvelous Practically Perfect Christmas Day.

It started to snow Christmas Eve.  Mama was a bit worried in case she couldn't drive to Auntie Pat's on Christmas Day like she'd planned.  Instead, we woke up to perfect conditions - just a couple of centimeters fresh snow to make the world look bootiful, but warm enough that the roads (which the plow cleared during the night) were wet and  free of snow or ice.

The tree on our patio (which Mama decorates at Christmas and calls "Oliver's Tree" after a sheltie that died the day she got the tree) looked very pretty with the snow.  The hummingbirds were cold, but mama filled the feeders for them, and also put out suet cakes for the other birdies.

But I'z getting ahead of myself.  The first thing we did after getting up was check out the presents!  There waz a stocking for Allie and a stocking for me and even a stocking fer my Mama (though I happen to know the pressies in that stocking were mailed by one of Santa's elves in California.  Mama says Santa's sleigh gets pretty heavy with all the gifts for good little dogs and cats, so the elves and the postal service help out with gifts for grown ups).


Anything more in there?

Want some help, Allie?

My mama made the "NICE" list, too! 

 Allie also got a new cat condo from Mama (but she got it early because it waz too big to wrap), and I got a new food toy.  I likes food toys. This one waz pretty easy, 'cause my treats are a lot smaller than the hole in the ball.  I just hasta spin that ball with my paw and - poof - treats appear!

Allie checkin' out her new kitty condo

Me an' my new toy.  It's made by Kong.
Ya gotta spin the blue ball inside the red ring to make the treats fall out! 

After we opened our stockings and had brekkie, Mama and me went for a loooong walk around town and all along the seawalk and down on the beach. (Oh, yeah, Mama bought me somethin' else fer Christmas - boots!  Fer her paws, not fer my paws.  They has special non-slip crystals embedded into the sole and they works GREAT so now she can still take me on my walks even when it is snowy and icy! She doesn't like  those things you slip over your boots - Yaktrax - cuz they is deadly when ya hit pavement, but these boots are just fine.)  Anyway, Mama put on the magic boots and off we went.  The sun waz shining, the snow waz glistening, and everythin' was real pretty!

Crofton Beach Park

Mah Mama's new boots work good, even on the seawalk! 

Some peoples decorated a tree on the beach,  It has lotsa pretty things on it,
like this toy soldier. 

Mama liked the way this ornament looked with the snow on it.

Mama says this is a plover, probably a semipalmated one though he still has his summer plumage.
She thinks he was too small, short, and fat to be a killdeer. 

Even I know this bird!  It's a seagull! 

The sunlight made fer nice reflections of the ferry and other boats.

I was tired when we got home, which was fine because Mama went over to Auntie Pat's for a midday Christmas dinner.  I didn't go because I am just beginning to learn to visit other peoples without freaking out, and besides Chrissy (Lexi and Cosmo's older sister) might not ap-preesh-iate the intrusion.  But I know that's where Mama went 'cause I snuck a look at the photos on her camera.

Mama said they had Seafood Oscar and some drunken mushrooms and
that Auntie Pat had to bake the potatoes twice! 

Lexi, checkin' out other guests arriving

You know my buddy Cosmo.  I hikes with him and Lexi. 

This is their older sister, Chrissy.
I think she's mom's favourite.
Probably because she's almost the same colour as me!

When Mama came home, she broughts me 'n Allie gifts from Auntie Pat, and she brought home sum leftovers too (but she didn't share the grasshopper pie with me, nor the rum cake.  Hmmmph!).  She took me fer another walk, an' then she feds Allie and me, and later we all went to sleep. 

It was a Practically Perfect Christmas, dontcha think?

Love, Maggie.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Farewell to Fall

With the arrival of the Winter Solstice, it is time to say farewell to fall.  And what a fall it has been!  The colours were vibrant and lasted longer than I can ever remember - from early September, through a beautiful October, surviving heavy rains and strong winds in November, until the last of the reds and yellows floated to the ground within the past ten days.

First colours of fall - Sept 4, 2017



Early December

There seemed to be many more varieties of birds, and more wildlife visible also, this fall.  I saw owls and pileated woodpeckers,  sapsuckers and spotted sandpipers and kingfishers, many varieties of waterfowl including little pied-billed grebes that I'd not seen before, nuthatches and varied thrush and cormorants and oh-so-many types of sparrows.....and that just covers a fraction of them.

Bufflehead duck

Common Goldeneye
Female Common Merganser

Male Common Merganser, I think
(though it seems to have too much white on its body)

Male and female Hooded Merganser



Pileated woodpecker

The Trumpeter Swans have returned for the winter - I saw the first flock in early November, and now spot large flocks in or near many slow moving waters.  These ones were a few of the ones we saw on the flooded swamp area in Hemer Park a couple of weeks ago:

Yes, really, was THIS big!

There he goes again.....he's such a braggart. 

We often see otters and seals along our shores, and this fall they were in greater evidence than ever.  Most mornings Maggie and I were entertained by at least two otters and sometimes a seal or two as we sat near the old wharf and watched the sunrise, but we also saw many on our various hikes.

Seal on the shore of Mudge Island, across from Dodd Narrows

Seal in Osborne Bay

And of course the deer were plentiful, wandering down the streets of town and across highways, often with little fawns in tow.

This fall I also saw a number of bear - fortunately from the safety of my car and not face-to-face on a trail!  The bears don't seem to hibernate here - I saw a mama and two very young cubs (standing up on their hind legs, for gosh sakes - how cute was that!) just two weeks ago, and in past years have seen them in late December and January.  This one I photographed in late October:

Most of the time, though, the 'wild' life I see are the four legged furries that live with me and my friends - a whole lot safer to be around than bears!

Maggie says the leaves match her colouring!

Pat's pom, Lexi, insists on carrying her own leash!

While November had some very rainy days, they were interspersed with sunny days too, and so all fall I have been able to hike on Mondays with Sally and Fridays with Pat.  So many beautiful places - some new, some familiar, each unique.

Cowichan River Trail

Dodd Narrows, Cable Bay Trail hike.

Fall grasses on Holden Lake at Hemer Park

Cowichan Bay

Rushes at Westwood Lake

An old car spotted while on a hike down the Trans Canada Trail

Pat and the poms at Osborne Bay Park

Sally on Trestle 70, Trans Canada Trail just east of Cowichan Lake

But my favourite experience of all, this fall, was the early morning walks with Maggie.  She loves our walks to the beach - along the seawalk, out the berm, sit on the rocks and watch the sun rise - often twice as it appears over Salt Spring Island, then disappears behind a part of the mountain before reappearing all over again.

Then we continue along the seawalk, watching the boats in the bay or in the marina, sometimes going past the ferry terminal to watch the boom boats shuffling the logs around, and the cargo ships being loaded with their goods, and the tugs pulling the barges in and out of the bay.  We are a deep sea port, and for a tiny town, we have a lot of waterfront comings and goings.

Sometimes we sit for an hour or more watching the otters play or the seagulls catch their breakfast of starfish or clams or the herons fishing from the dock.  It is never boring and ever changing.

One of two otters that were fishing near the wharf

The very large full moon this fall meant king tides - very high tides - which made for excellent reflections of the fall leaves along the seawalk.

And sometimes the day was so beautiful and the moon so bright that we returned to the seawalk for our evening walk too:

Sunset walk

It was an amazing fall, a stupendous fall, and I hate to see it end.  But the upside is that the days start getting longer again.  Sadly our walks for now are curtailed because Old Man Winter brought snow and ice this week, which makes for unstable footing.  But it also makes for pretty photos of dogs in snow:

Happy Solstice, everyone.  If winter is here, can spring be far behind?