Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Gotcha Day, the adventure continues

Shhhhhh….mama’s sleeping and I wanted to get back online and tell you about the rest of my Gotcha Day, the 11th anniversary of me coming to live with mama and daddy. As you know this year I’m with mama down South, and she forgot all about my anniversary! But we spent the day out adventuring with my Aunt and Uncle, so that’s OK.

After we got finished with the crazy art compound Pasaquan we drove another hour and arrived at a Providence Canyon State Park. It’s Georgia’s very own Grand Canyon!

There were red cliffs and white cliffs and a beautiful blue sky.

Mama and Uncle and Aunt and I decided to walk down to the bottom. Mama was a little worried because it was a warm day and she was picturing herself carrying me back up if I overdid it. We asked a Ranger how far down it was and she said it was a little over a mile down and back up. Well! I can do a mile mama!

She still looked worried, it wasn’t the down that concerned her; she said OK, but she’d be watching me and if I got to lagging she was turning around. Plus she had water for me, and treats. So maybe it would be fun.

Are we going all the way down there mama?

So down and down we went. We saw lots of people coming up and most of them were panting just like me. It was pretty steep. But there were lots of trees for shade and it got cooler the further down we went. Once we got to the bottom I instantly saw a problem.

Water. Lots and lots of water. Not deep, but definitely wet and as you all know I do not get my feet wet. No I do not. I am a princess and it is unseemly to have damp feet. Plus I just went to the groomer a couple weeks ago and I am not up for having to do that all over again.

Ummm…that’s not water is it?

So I suggested we just observe it from the edges. But my peeps seemed to think we needed to walk upstream. I tried to find the dry edges to walk. I was very focused on not getting my feet wet.

Let’s stay over here where it’s dry!

But some of the stream didn’t have dry edges! Oh NO! What is a princess to do?

Oh no! Wet feet!

Eventually, when I had to, I just gave in and walked in the water. Don’t tell them, but it was pretty cool and my feet weren’t so warm when they were wet. But my beautiful white feet turned Georgia clay red!

I don’t like it but I guess I don’t have a choice.

I’m hoping mama doesn’t notice that and doesn’t make me go back to the groomer. I was a pretty wet mess by the time we turned around to head back to the car.

I give up!

On the walk back up the cliff we stopped a whole lot. And not just for me either – my people were huffing worse than me! Most of the time I was out front pulling them along. As you may recall my mama calls me a mountain goat.

Resting on the way up. Don’t look at my red feet.

I did really well, and drank all my water and ate a few treats along the way. We saw lots of dogs but it was mostly the children we ran across that wanted to meet me. I let everybody talk to me and pet me and tell me how beautiful I was (even though I knew I was far from beautiful dripping muddy water off my furs!) and I thought the whole thing was fun, though a bit muddy for the likes of a princess.

I told mama that was stretching it a bit much, so the next place we went that day was a marina where I got to sit under Spanish moss and on a porch with rocking chairs.

This is pretty. And a lot drier!

That was more like it.

Except for the warning about the alligators.

What does this sign say mama?

Geeze mama! What were you thinking! I’m alligator bait here! Let’s get back to the car and home so I can get my supper. Sometimes I don’t think you even have a brain woman!

Once we got home and I got my supper I was all stretched out on my comforter when my Aunt decided she’d comb out all the seed pods and sticks caught in my muddy red fur. I opened one eye, didn’t tell her off or anything, just got up and crawled under the bed.

Enough people! (Don’t look at my red feet.)

I’d had enough adventuring and I didn’t want to be bothered. Mama and my Aunt laughed and said that was OK. And they let me sleep till the next morning by which time I had pretty much cleaned myself up my own way. A princess knows how to prepare for the new day after all. She doesn’t always need help from her people.

The next day I went for a long boat ride and saw cool stuff, but that messed my fur up too. I swear, mama needs to come up with a more sedate adventure for me now. Cause I can’t keep putting myself back together every single day, you know?

I know you know.

Don’t tell the peeps, but this was sorta fun.


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She is everywhere

In memory of my mom. She would have loved this Alabama spring.

Wisteria, in bloom all over. It’s invasive, but oh so beautiful.

Dogwood, such a sign of spring.

Redbud, crazy fushia glowing all through the woods.

There’s a whole bank of crowfoot violets at the end of her street.

I see her everywhere, but nowhere as clear as in her beloved flowers and birds near her home on the lake.

Feeding her ducks.


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When a screwdriver turns into a walk in the park

I’m at the lake house, enjoying the view and the weather and what appears to be spring happening all around me. But evening comes early in this part of the country and during the long dark hours I wander the house, noticing stuff that needs to be done.

Like cleaning — especially those places that aren’t automatically done during a regular visit.

So I decide that the cold air return needs to be spiffed up. I doubt it’s been cleaned in the almost fourteen years since mom and dad left us the house. It’s not something a person would normally pay attention to, but after two weeks of living here, it’s moved to the top of my to-do list.

I look at it more closely and figure I’m going to need a phillips-head screwdriver to get it off the wall. We still have dad’s workshop set up in the basement so I traipse downstairs to search.

Hmmmm….where would I find the right screwdriver?

There’s a lot to choose from, and I quickly find what should be the perfect tool.

Back up the stairs I tromp, petting Katie-girl who is waiting anxiously at the top, unsure of where her mama went. I get down on the floor to begin loosening the screws. But darn! The screws need a flat screwdriver. I don’t know what I was looking at before.

There’s one of everything here.

Shaking my head I get myself up off the floor (which isn’t all that easy these days) and stomp back down the stairs to the workshop. I put the phillips-head back in it’s appointed spot and grab a flat screwdriver.

At the top of the steps Katie waits patiently, wondering what in the world mama is doing now.

Back on the floor again I get the first three screws out; both sides and the top of the grate came out pretty easily. But the screw on the bottom, right down at the floor, is smaller. And, as I peer at it my head flush with the floor, and through my trifocals, I see that it needs a phillips-head screwdriver.

“Hey Katie,” I say, “Want to go to the park?”

Parks are good mama!


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A missing mom kind of day turns extraordinary

I started feeling melancholy last night, laying in bed staring at the ceiling in a house she and dad built a long time ago, surrounded by some of her special things.

All day today, as I ran errands in town, I felt a certain heaviness as I drove past stores we shopped in together, past the university where she worked.

Not much going on in the sky. Yet.

Heading back to the house late in the afternoon I noticed the redbud in bloom, the delicate purple-pink flowers shining against the still bare branches of the rest of the forest. She’d have liked that.

I thought I’d take Katie to a park, sort of a reward for patiently waiting for me all day. But she wasn’t in the mood, and to be honest, neither was I. I thought I’d settle for a nap. But I was restless and sleep wouldn’t come.

A gentle circle in the grey water.

So Katie and I headed out to the dock to sit and wait for the sunset. I wasn’t expecting very much, there were only a few clouds in the sky and the last few nights haven’t been very interesting.

Still. It was nice to be sitting on the end of the dock with my feet hanging down over the water and my Katie-girl laying tight up next to me. I was still feeling sad, but it was a peaceful sort of sad.

Circles within circles.

The water was still, reflecting the sky and clouds. I smiled, and watched the water move as small minnows just touched the surface, creating gentle circles that quickly moved outward.

I couldn’t see the actual fish, just the circles appearing like magic and spreading across the water. Soon there were circles intersecting other circles.

Expanding lines intersect.

I focused on capturing those gentle patterns. Katie fell asleep beside me.

I was so intent on trying to get those circles, trying to get the light right, the focus crisp. I almost forget to check the sky. But the sun waits for no photographer; the sky was beginning to show a bit of color. And I was starting to feel a bit better.

A little bit of pink turns up for the show.

But those little fish were still making circles and I wasn’t sure I had captured the exact perfect one. So I turned the camera back to the water.

And then I realized the circles were now pink. The water was pink. Which meant the sky must be…..pink.

The circles begin to glow

I looked up. And had to hold my breath.

Katie stirred and agreed to pose with the sky. She didn’t even ask for a treat. The sky was enough.

I can’t believe how beautiful this is mama!

It’s impossible to overstate how the sky this evening picked me up. I was laughing and running up and down the beach trying to capture it all.

Katie stood on the dock and watched me with a patient look on her face. She knows her mama and she was happy that I was happy.

No words can adequately describe this.

Thanks mom, for sending me the sunset tonight. I know you were there watching me watch it. It looked like something you might have painted.

For all I know you did.

Spectacular


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A February boat ride

Leafless trees, evergreens, mountains and clouds. Breathtaking.


February and boats don’t generally mix up where I come from, unless you’re in an ice boat skimming over a frozen lake. I’m sure that’s fun, but when I’m in a boat I’d rather worry about sunscreen than frostbite.

Saturday morning, the sun bright in a blue sky filled with puffy white clouds, was perfect for a little boat exploration.

Let’s go mama!

The boat traveled under a few bridges and then up a creek, looking for the resident eagle. It was a beautiful day, and it turns out there was a fishing competition going on. We came across several father/son teams tucked in the backwaters of the lake. We slid by them as quietly as we could.

Spending time together.

The creek narrowed, and I moved to the front of the boat looking for the eagle. Katie kept a close eye on me from the other side of the wall.

Whatcha doing mama?

This was her second boat ride ever, but she wasn’t too concerned about the engine vibration or noise. She likes being outdoors, and she’s always up for an adventure.

The creek winds through beautiful country.

Eventually we were as far as we could go up the creek. We hadn’t found the eagle, but a bit further was a low waterfall making lovely splashing noises, and more fathers and sons were fishing from kayaks. We dropped anchor to listen to the water and enjoy a biscuit breakfast.

Water running over the rocks just up there made such nice background music.

Then we turned around and slid as quietly as we could back down the creek to the larger waters of the lake. The clouds were piling up in the blue sky.

Couldn’t have had a more perfect day!

Out in the open water Captain Carl throttled up and Katie and I enjoyed the wind in our hair.

Mama! We have the same stylist!

She’s a very brave little dog and enjoyed every bit of her boat ride adventure. I did too.

Can we do this again soon mama?


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Just call me Adventure Girl

Mama stopped at my park as we were leaving town so I could say goodbye.

Katie here!

Mama says this blog needs a little levity and I think I’m just the girl to provide it. Besides, you haven’t heard from me in a long time and I have been off adventuring! I knew you’d want to hear all about it.

So let’s begin at the beginning. With snow. Mama and I decided we needed to escape winter. This year we’ve had plenty of snow up in Michigan and the lake house in Alabama was calling our name. So Wednesday morning, bright and early, we hopped in the Katie-mobile and headed south.

It took us forever! We had to stay in a hotel for two nights! (Don’t tell mama but I sort of like that, all those new sounds and smells you know.)

Both times we were on the second floor so I got to do the elevator a bunch. I am very good at elevator, though I have to say I don’t really like it. I mean, who wants to get in a little windowless box and then stand there while the floor shakes and there are noises and then get back out of the box again? What’s the point people?

Our first hotel near Louisville KY

Sometimes we used the stairs. I have no trouble going down stairs now, if mama goes ahead of me to show me the way. But I refuse to go up them. I don’t see so well and I misjudge the distance and end up flopped on my tummy. That hurts (mostly hurts my ego) so now I don’t want to go up stairs at all. Mama carries me and says she’s glad I don’t weigh any more than 20 pounds.

On the drive I made mama stop a bunch. Just about every rest stop. I just love rest stops, all those dogs before me leave messages and I leave my messages for the dogs that will come after me. It’s a great communication system.

The rest stop in Tennessee had these big silent people in it!

The very last rest stop had the best dog walk ever! It wasn’t just some mowed pasture, it was a trail that went up and down a ravine. It was like being in the woods! There weren’t any big trucks nearby and no cars either.

This is the best rest stop mama!

Mama and I walked around in there for a long time. Some other dogs just walked along the top but my mama and I are adventurers and we went way down to the bottom and then up the other side even though it was really steep and mama is a wimp.

Our trip was a little longer than it needed to be because mama fell in love with a bunch of barns in Kentucky and she had to make a few side trips looking for more. She says it’s not fair that she sees all these great places when we’re on the freeway and there aren’t any exits. I let her have her way, but I’m not letting her post her barn pictures in my blog. No siree. She can post them later while I’m taking a nap.

We did stop and explore a little town when I decided I wanted to take a walk. We looked for a park and found one way down a big hill. We walked a bit along a flooded river, but it was pretty muddy and mama made me get back in the car.

Then we walked around the downtown area a bit. Mama saw this cool mural and wanted my picture with it. She tried to make me sit on that bench in front of the mural but that didn’t go so well so she settled for this picture of me with the mural in the background. Sometimes I win our little arguments.

Hurry up mama. This is embarrassing.

Well, as you know, we eventually got to the lake house. We immediately explored the back yard and I marked it as mine. Mama wanted me to sit on the dock so she could get me and the clouds that were reflected in the still water. But just as she set me up a boat came roaring down the shoreline. She tried to get the picture quick before the water was disturbed, but I wouldn’t look at her. So this is what we got. Mama gets aggravated sometimes, but never with me.

Mama! Here comes a boat!

So far mama and I have been mostly napping. One time I was taking a great nap on my deck when suddenly a boat showed up! I thought that was very interesting and I watched intently as these guys kept throwing something out into the water. I swear, people are crazy. They didn’t even have a dog with them to fetch all that stuff back!

Silly people out there on the water.

Our first day here was sunny but it rained last night and made my driveway all green. Mama thought it was pretty so I had to sit there and let her take more pictures. Sheesh. But I made her pay for that one by taking me to Keebler park in town.

Lots of green down here, especially after it rains!

It’s a pretty little park with a paved trail. I only walked half of it because, after all, I am a princess and a princess does what she wants to do. Even though I made my mama drive me all the way there I soon let her know that it was time to head back to the house for another nap.

Thanks for bringing me to this great park mama, now can we go home?

I’m sure we’ll go on more adventures down here, at least to visit my Uncle on his lake and my Aunt at her house. We might even get some visitors here, you never know. I’m just very happy to be here where things are blooming and it isn’t snowing!

In my own backyard!

Stay tuned, if I do anything exciting I’ll let you know!

Sunshine and no snow!


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Red bird

Aunt Vi’s funeral was Tuesday. She looked beautiful, and though I know she was no longer there, I have to think she’d have been pleased by how pretty she was.

Pink was her favorite color.

She was so ready to move on to her next chapter that I could only feel relief for her. Still, it was hard walking past her for the last time at the end of the service. “I’ll see you soon,” I thought, words I’d often used as I left after visiting.

It was hard, too, to leave her at the cemetery, amid the piles of snow scraped from the ground to make room for her pink casket.

It was so cold that day.

She hated to be cold, and at the last nursing home she took advantage of having her own thermostat to keep her room toasty warm. Tropical, I used to tell her. “Are you too warm dear?” she’d ask me. “No, I’m just fine,” I’d tell her as sweat ran down my back.

It felt wrong to leave her in the cold now.

I knew she wasn’t really there, that she was already celebrating with family and friends, someplace filled with light and music and love and completeness. I knew this, but still.

A beautiful resting place for a beautiful lady.

And then, during the luncheon, all of us sitting in the rec room of the apartment building she had lived in for over twenty-five years, someone across the table from me exclaimed “Look! A cardinal!”

Sitting in a tree just outside the large windows sat a lone cardinal, staring intently at the goings on inside.

“You know Vi really loved cardinals,” I remarked. “She called them red birds.” The red bird outside moved to a different tree, still watching the people inside.

Maybe…just maybe.

The next day Katie-girl and I headed to Alabama in an effort to get away from the snow and cold. Midway on the trip we stopped in a tiny little town in Kentucky at a riverside park to stretch our legs. I took a short video of us walking along the river and posted it on Facebook. A nephew noted that he heard a cardinal in all the bird chatter I captured. Hmmmm…

I stopped by the cemetery on my way out of town the day after the funeral. The flowers hadn’t frozen.

And today on our final day of driving, at the last rest stop of the trip, Katie and I were walking along the top of a ravine. The sun was shining and we were enjoying it’s warmth when a cardinal swooped down low to a branch very near us and began to sing.

“OK!” I said, under my breath. “OK! I believe you!” And then the bird flew off into the trees. Mission accomplished.

She said she’d try to send me a sign that she was alright. I’d say she got her message across.

Loud and clear.

Buddy and all her birds are with her now.

.


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Lonely

I’ve been wondering, lately, what it’s like to be bedridden, with failing eyesight, sitting for more than a year in a small room, dependent on other people to do everything for you.

I’ve been wondering what it’s like to never know what your next meal will be, but being certain you won’t want to eat any of it. Except the ice cream.

With Buddy

What is it like to know you’ll never have a piece of fresh fruit, or your favorite holiday meal again. To spend your days waiting. For visitors, for your medications, for someone to change your sheets, bring you another blanket, a fresh pillow.

What’s it like to know the only escape from this room will be death?

She and I had a nice visit on Monday afternoon. She was in a good mood; the sun was shining and she let me open the blinds so she could see the light. She told stories from the old days, stories about her husband and her son, long gone before her, stories about growing up in northern Minnesota and the winters there.

She was surprised and a little proud of the fact that she was a hundred and two and a half years old. She never imagined she’d outlive so much of her family, so many friends.

The last birthday party.

Tuesday she was less jovial. Her clothes weren’t hung up correctly, the light hurt her eyes, lunch had been terrible, the staff wasn’t helpful.

Mostly she was lonely.

And that’s my one regret. That there wasn’t some way to keep her entertained, to get more people to visit, even for a few minutes, to convince her to get out of bed and into her wheelchair to explore the facility.

A few years ago during happier times.

I wish I had taken her fresh grapes and half a banana last week. Or that personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut she talked about my last day with her. Oh I know I baked her favorite cookies on occasion, and I brought her flowers from our garden, and a pretty white tree with pink bows and birds on it that my sister made for her. I know most people would think I did enough.

But she was lonely.

And that’s why I’m not sad that she escaped her room Saturday morning. Today her eyes work just fine and she’s enjoying the company of her husband and her son and all her sisters and many of her brothers. Today she’s hugging her mom again, and spending time with her dad. Today she’s dancing again. And best of all, today she is no longer lonely.

Aunt V’s 100th birthday

A few months ago she and I talked about what might be waiting on the other side. She didn’t want to talk about that much, she insisted she didn’t want to leave us, that she’d miss us once she had to go. I asked her if she’d try, once she was there, to find a way to give me a sign that she was alright. She grinned and said she’d be sure to do that.

So today begins my wait. I’ll be waiting to see what she comes up with, how she’ll let me know she’s safe and warm and happy. I know in my heart that she is.

But for now I’m just a little lonely.

Last Monday, it was a good day.