Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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The toilet paper odyssey

Last night my husband came home from checking on family and told me that the family of 5 needed toilet paper. Dad is working more than full time and mom is a nurse and busy at the hospital. Three children are home from school all day.

So this morning I decided to be at the grocery store when it opened at 7, after all I had a couple things I could use as well. And I figured my only hope on a weekend morning of finding any toilet paper would be to look early in the day.

As I drove down the dark road at 6:45 I saw cars pulling out of driveways ahead of me. We all ended up in the grocery store parking lot at 7:01. I knew there was a problem when, while walking up to the store, three people walked out. Each of them had one item and one item only.

You guessed it. They each had one package of toilet paper.

I followed a crowd of people inside, grabbed a small cart, wiped it clean, and worked my way through produce where a store worker handed me a bag of potatoes over the huge boxes of produce she was unpacking. Luckily I didn’t need meat, as there was virtually nothing available. I picked up a loaf of bread and headed to the paper products.

And there a young man was trying to defend a pallet of toilet paper that he was pulling down the aisle. When I got there he had stopped trying to move it to the other end of the aisle where the empty toilet paper shelves waited. He stood in the center of the aisle passing out one package to each person, apologizing that he couldn’t give us more.

I waited in line to get my package, smiled sympathetically at him and headed to the checkout. I’m sure when he took the job at Kroger stocking shelves, he had no idea he’d be in a position where he’d have to ration toilet paper to crazed customers.

I thought I’d try to find one additional package, figuring that 12 rolls wouldn’t last a family of five very long. I pulled into Walgreens, noting the empty parking lot but not thinking about it. It was about 7:30. Walking up to the door I noted a handwritten sign that said their new hours were 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Sigh.

Back in the car I headed across the street to a local grocery store. I was the second car in the parking lot. Smarter now, I looked their hours up on my phone before I ventured out into the cold. They opened at 8. Should I go somewhere else? Or stay there and wait the almost 30 minutes.

I waited. By 7:55 there were close to 30 cars in the lot, engines running, anxious people peering at the employees inside who were running around trying to get ready. At 7:58 we all exited our vehicles and lined up at the two doors.

Darn, they opened the other door first. When our door was opened we trotted in. I skipped the cart and went straight for paper products. There I found a crowd of people sorting through the few packages of toilet paper on the shelf. The guy ahead of me said he figured he’d take two, grabbed those and turned around to see me glaring at him. “I just need one” I said. He smiled and handed one of his over. I smiled back at him.

I think I was the first person back to the checkout lane, where an already weary cashier was waiting. “And so it starts,” I said. She smiled and rang me up. Triumphant, I walked back to the car, nodding to the people headed in. I know what they were thinking when they saw me leaving the store with one package.

At 8:03 I’m pretty sure there was no more toilet paper left on the shelf.

Score!

I hope all of you have enough of what you need. Stay home. Stay safe. It’s crazy out there.

Mama, I’m worried. Do you have enough dog food?


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The written word

A runner friend of mine has an elderly friend who lives in an assisted living facility. She used to meet him regularly, not so long ago, for breakfast and conversation.

I went to a park one morning this week to see the sunrise.

Now she can’t do that and she’s worried about him being lonely during this scary time when he can’t get out and visit. So she posted a request on Facebook that some of her friends send him a note. And of course she has received many offers.

His mailbox should be overflowing any day now.

A lot of clouds and not much color, but still stunning.

But that, and other pieces I’ve seen on the news and online, has me thinking.

Some years ago one of you, I can’t remember who — maybe Robin or Katybeth or Kathy or Beth Ann — proposed we write letters to friends every day for a number of days, maybe 30, one letter to one friend each day.

Looking west, the hills waited to glow.

It was a way to reconnect or stay connected to people in our lives who maybe had drifted away. Maybe we were the one that drifted, maybe they were. Maybe it was a mutual drift.

Back in the east the sun was creeping up.

I remember that I wrote, some long letters, some just quick notes, for several days. I don’t know that I made it for thirty days, but it was a good long time.

Interesting things hugged my feet while my eyes were fixated on the sky.

I remember that I worried I might not have 30 friends to write. I was wrong. And I remember getting a few letters in return.

It was so good to be wandering in the hills at sunrise.

Do you remember the days of letters? The excitement of going to the mailbox hoping to see a handwritten envelope hiding among the bills and junk mail?

I do.

As the sun rose the grasses turned red.

When I was in college my mom wrote to me every week, and I loved seeing her handwriting on a postcard or envelop. When I worked at a job far from home she continued the practice, right up until emails took over, and then we stayed in touch more frequently but somehow less connected. As if emails were easier and commanded less respect.

Not to say I wouldn’t love to get an email from her now you understand. But there’s something special about old fashioned snail mail, as she called the kind of connection that comes with a stamp.

A place to sit and breath.

So I’d like to propose that during these times of social distancing we stay connected and perhaps accept the challenge of dropping a note in the mail every day for a month. Imagine the surprise. The smiles.

Time to reflect on the new day.

Maybe start with a friend you might have who is isolated now, maybe elderly, maybe with a compromised immune system, maybe just overwhelmed with kids home from school.

My favorite row of trees.

And if you’re not into paper and pen and stamps….well…an email a day to someone you can’t hang out with in person right now will work just fine too.

Deep breath. We can do this.

Stay home if you can. Stay home even if it’s inconvenient. Stay home even if you’ve run out of your favorite coffee or bananas. Stay home and stay safe.

We are strong.


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A roller coaster week

Katie here. You might have noticed that mama hasn’t posted in a week. That’s like 7 weeks in dog math, and almost unprecedented! I’ve been noticing a distinct lack of smiles on mama’s face too, so I decided I needed to take action.

A little snow always makes the world look better.

And this morning, when it started to snow I knew just what I had to do.

I had to get mama off the sofa and out into the snow! Cause who doesn’t like snow? I mean, what’s not to like? It’s white and clean and fluffy. Mama says it’s also cold. And wet. And a precursor to mud.

Yep, a little bit of snow makes everything look better.

Mama tends to get a bit negative toward the end of winter.

Anyway, we went out and explored the backyard. It was simply beautiful, even mama had to agree. And it wasn’t all that wet and cold either. I thought maybe, just maybe, mama would smile.

While mama was busy with her camera, I was busy breaking up sticks. It’s a never ending job.

And she did lighten up a bit when she was focused on that silly camera of hers and all the pretty things in the yard.

Pretty in white.

Including me, of course.

Just the perfect amount of snow to play in.

But you know what really got her to smile? It was these little green nubby things she found in one of her gardens.

Huh…green made mama smile!

And the three red winged blackbirds that sang to us just as we headed back inside. She said that was really worth smiling over!

Though I have to say I should get more credit. Cause really, a sheltie in the snow? That has to make you all smile!

Admit it. I just made you smile.

PS: Mama says that she was feeling very sad because a friend’s sheltie crossed the rainbow bridge Monday and he was just about exactly my age and she feels really really sad for his mom and human brother. Mama almost didn’t let me post today because she was worried it might make the mom even more sad. But I said that we could send our love to her this way, and if she ever needs a sheltie hug I’m available. I hope she’s doing OK, though I know her eyes are probably leaking right now. I wish I could make it all better for her.

Thinking about our friend on this snowy morning.


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Music decompression smile

You know how astronauts, when they come back to earth, need a period of time to adjust to their normal lives again? Though I haven’t been orbiting the earth that’s how I feel now that I’m back in Michigan after twelve lovely days in the sun.

Not to say there’s never any sun here. But it seems to be rare. And it hasn’t stopped snowing since we arrived home. Today the windchill temperatures will be in the single digits, and the driveway needs to be cleared of last night’s snow. Perhaps we can just wait until it melts sometime in April.

I’m still battling the major cold I got while I was out there enjoying the sun. I’m not blaming Arizona for my cold, I figure I got it on the plane ride home from Washington DC the week before. I almost always get some sort of sniffle after I fly, but this one is a doozy.

I’ve been taking over the counter drugs every four hours for more than a week. The cough is low in my chest and the tickle in my throat is constant. I should buy stock in Kleenex and my nose is raw.

I’m pretty miserable.

We took the red-eye flight home from Phoenix on Sunday night. Our plane left at midnight and we arrived in Detroit at 5:00 a.m. By the time we got our luggage and got out to the car we were looking at driving home in rush hour traffic. Yep, that was fun.

I got a couple of hours of sleep at home, then went to pick up the Princess from camp. I hoped that she would be exhausted from all the fun she had and we could all settle down to a long winter nap.

I was wrong.

So anyway, by the time Tuesday night’s community band rehearsal came around I was really dragging. And I still couldn’t breath well, was still taking drugs to function. And I hadn’t practiced in almost two weeks. I really wanted to stay home.

But have I told you that we have a concert in one week?

So I went, not expecting to be able to stay the entire two hours. Uncertain if I could even play. And guess what?

The music filled me up with such peace. Even the hard parts. We didn’t sound too bad, and though there are definitely places we each need to work on before next Tuesday, some of the time we sounded quite beautiful. And my head cleared and my throat stopped hurting and I only coughed once.

That’s the power of music.

So this is a long post to relay a simple idea. If you’re feeling down, emotionally or physically, if you’re stressed and tired and worn out, if you need to get through another cold, dark, snowy day, well…play some music. Whether it’s on the radio, or your mobile device or an actual instrument or your very own voice, play some music.

It’ll make you smile. And that’s the first step to feeling better.

Guaranteed.


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Behind the fog

I’m up early this Saturday morning because, as usual, Katie is up early. But I can’t place the blame solely on her; before she demanded breakfast I was already awake.

A dreary day is brightened by a visitor.

Katie and I wander the dark yard after her morning meal, looking for the perfect spot. It feels warm, at 36F (2.22C), though of course it is not. Fog drifts above the melting snow, drips from the trees sounding loud in the silence that envelops an early Saturday morning.

My mind is in a fog too.

I heard from a high school friend last night that the latest treatment for her cancer hadn’t worked, tests results are in and she and her doctors are moving on to another type of chemo. I don’t know how many different treatments she’s tried in this past year, but this is by far not the first failure.

When I received her text I told my husband and he sat down heavily with a sigh. “So many…” he said then drifted off into silence. We have several friends in different stages of treatment for cancer.

I remember my Dad, years ago, saying that the Christmas letters they received had morphed from talking about their marriages, to their jobs, to their kids, their kids graduations, marriages, grandchildren, and by the end of his life Christmas letters were filled with health issues. But I thought my folks were lots older than I am now when all that health stuff started.

Puffed up against the cold he knew he looked magnificent.

But when I think about it…no…they were just about our age. When did our lives and schedules begin to revolve around doctor appointments? How did we slide so effortlessly into this place where our own mortality stands starkly in front of us?

Heavy thoughts for so early in the morning but maybe early morning is the best time to contemplate the wholeness of life.

Katie grabbed a toy when we got back inside, offering it to me, wanting a bit of play before she wandered off for her morning nap. She reminds me that there is still fun and goodness and hope in all our lives.

Coming in close to offer comfort.

She’s snoring now and I’m sorting through yesterday’s photos. Some people believe cardinals represent visits from our loved ones. I can’t prove that one way or the other, but this morning I find comfort and smiles and a bit of hope all rolled into these shots.

Today I will think about my friends and their struggles and hope that the sun comes out for a bit wherever they are, that the fog lifts and hope shines and a cardinal wings it’s way into their lives too.

A bit of a snack before heading out.


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2020 sounds so cool

I don’t know how it can possibly be 2020 already. Wasn’t it 1978 just yesterday? Or maybe the day before. At the most.

But we’re already more than half way through January of 2020 and if I’m going to put together a list of stupendous things to do this year I had better get going. Oh, I know, I know, I didn’t get everything on the 2019 list done.

I guess I should start with those things I didn’t get done but that I still want to do. That would include:

*Camping in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

*Improve my night photography skills.

*Spend a week in the Southwest.

*Ride my bike on some of the rails-to-trails around here.

*Spend several weeks in Alabama and invite friends to join me.

Wow! That’s a lot of stuff still to get done, but I’m sure there are more fun things I can do in a year with such a cool number.

How about:

*Walk in at least 3 5K races.

*Travel to Florida to meet the baby sheltie boys.

*Purchase a set of extension tubes for the Nikon and explore macro photography.

*Make more vegetarian or vegan meals, goal being at least one per week.

*Take a drawing class.

*Take Katie camping at least twice this summer.

Glad I got included, mama!

And here’s one that was accomplished from the 2019 list but needs to be on the 2020 list as well:

*Meet up with other sheltie moms for doggie adventures. Because everyone needs more adventures.

I feel like I’m missing some fun stuff…what else do you think I should add to this 2020 list of stupendous fun stuff to do?

Obviously any adventures should include me mama!


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That stupendous things to do list from 2019

A few of you will remember that in January 2019 I put together a list of interesting, stupendous and fun stuff to do. Sort of like a list of resolutions but much more relaxed.

I’ll admit I only studied the list on occasion, never put together a process of reviewing it once a month, and never added anything to it during the year like I thought I might. In fact it sat on my dresser for several months and then, as with most resolution type things, it got covered up in the debris of every day life.

But I didn’t forget it, and I thought it might be interesting to see how many of the fun things I actually got to do last year!

2019 Interesting, Stupendous and Fun Things

*Visit the Point Betsie lighthouse in the winter to see the ice formations.
Thanks to a friend who got excited at this idea, got us a hotel room and drove, I headed north right away. It was fun and very very cold! Point Betsie is beautiful no matter what season, and we saw other beautiful things the next day too!

*Camping in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (not in winter).
While I didn’t actually camp in the UP I did spend some time there this past September. We saw a whole lot of beautiful things before we headed up into Canada for our drive around Lake Superior. And last month I made two reservations for camp sites in the UP for this June. I can’t wait.

*Try acrylic painting.
I purchased a few colors and a few small canvases and I mooshed some paint around a couple times. That was fun. But it didn’t really seem like it was a good try. This year I think I need to make a space to work where I’m not afraid of making a mess. So this will stay on the 2020 list.

*Find someone willing to teach me what it’s like to make a sound on a cello.
This is the stupendous thing that is most difficult for me to explain to anyone. And it’s very dependent on being able to find someone to help me. The bad news is that I didn’t get this worked out in 2019. The wonderful news is that next week I have a date with a cello! One of my library school professors knows someone who is willing to let me hug her cello, and we’re all going to get together in Ann Arbor on Wednesday. It almost makes me tear up, and I can’t explain why. I hope I’ll have words to tell you all about it soon.

*Gain confidence on the new Nikon camera, and figure out what the optimum lens is.
This is another one that I’ve made some progress on, but couldn’t say that I’ve completed. I am definitely better with manual settings; I’ve been experimenting all year. Sometimes I think I’ve got it…and then often I have to figure it all out again. And more good news, I am taking a class from a professional photographer at the end of January that revolves around choosing lenses. I’m excited about that, and I’m sure you’ll hear more on this topic soon.

*Improve night photography skills.
Oh I have a blog post to write about this one. While we were in the UP in September the northern lights were predicted to appear. And we had the perfect location too. But you will note that you never heard about it…even though I have pictures to share. I think about posting them, and then I think….just another failure, and I’ve shown you so many night shots that weren’t what I was hoping for. Still…it makes a really good story and I suppose I should share. I’ll keep trying this year. In fact, those two UP campsites I booked were reserved specifically with the hope I have clear skies during the nights I’m there.

*Spend a week in the Southwest.
This didn’t happen. Mostly because I fell and injured both wrists a couple weeks before we thought we were going out there. And then we ended up traveling so much we couldn’t fit it in…and then I fell at the end of summer and broke my finger and was stuck here doing physical therapy. But it’s definitely on the 2020 list!

*Visit husband’s family in Norway.
This was our big trip of the year. You saw several posts from Norway – it’s a beautiful country and we only saw a tiny part. We’d like to go back and explore more.

*Walk the CRIM 10 mile race in August.
Well, I ran and walked it. I had fun right up till the last two blocks when I fell and broke my finger. I am debating whether to do it again this year.

*Spend a month or more in Alabama, invite friends to visit while I’m there.
It’s amazing, but I never made it to Alabama at all in 2019. The last time I was there was July of 2018. I just couldn’t seem to carve out enough time, between injuries and trips, to get there. But Alabama now a high priority for 2020!

*Look into the purchase of a 2nd kayak for the lake.
I’ve done a little looking but this is something I want to do when I’m down in Alabama, so I’ll just tag that onto the “get to Alabama soon!” bullet point.

*Read 50 books, and try at least one from a genre I don’t usually read.
According to Goodreads I read 66 books in 2019, though I don’t think I read any that were definitely different genres then my typical reading. I read a couple books written by women who had decided to give up coloring their hair and had let it go naturally grey. I’ve decided, after much thought, to do that too. So far I’m 3 months into it and it’s kind of making me nuts. I see my hair person next week for a trim, we’ll see if I’m still going grey after that.

*Ride my bike on some of the rail-to-trails around here, maybe a one day bike trip complete with lunch along the way, maybe with a local bike group.
I never did this. Never road my bike at all. This is very sad. I think I need to move it up in importance for 2020.

*Walk and photograph the Dequindre Cut here in Detroit.
Again, thanks to the same friend who went with me to Point Betsie, we explored the Dequindre Cut last spring. It was so much fun!

*Meetup with sheltie mom(s) for adventure.
In November Katie and I got to go for a walk with Abby, a sheltie-girl and her mom. They live a couple hours away and we met in the middle and had a lovely walk on one of the last nice days of fall. We hope to get together again, and I hope to meet with more shelties and their parents in 2020!

So…I got to do a lot of the fun stuff on my list…and missed getting a few others done by just a little. I’m debating if I should put together an official list stupendous things to do in 2020.

What are you planning on doing for fun in 2020? And do you think I need a list or should I just wing it?

I think you should have more stupendous things on your list that include me mama!


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Reilly, my love

Katie here.

When mama said she was going to write a tribute to Reilly Cowspot Dog, my fiance, I asked if I could please do it. Because Reilly was, and always will be, my boyfriend, my soulmate.

My guy.

Mama wasn’t sure it was a good idea to let me write it. She said maybe it would be too hard for me, that I’d get all sad and stuff, and of course she’s right. I am truly heartbroken that I won’t see Mr. Reilly on this earth again.

I love him so.

My guy, Mr. Reilly.

But it is precisely because I love him that I want to tell you about him. And even though it makes me sad, it also helps me to remember him and all the good times he had when he was here.

Mama is right when she says you can smile and cry at the same time.

Reilly and me at one of his amazing parks.

Reilly was born an old soul with the deepest, darkest, most beautiful eyes. I’m told he was a good boy right from the start. He never got in trouble even when he was a puppy.

He was a color-headed white sheltie, which means most of him was white, but he had this marking on one side that mama thought looked just like a Micky Mouse head, especially noticeable when he was a little guy.

Mama ‘borrowed’ this picture from Reilly’s blog. Can you see the marking on his side?

Mama says one of the first things she remembers about him was a video where he was walking on a treadmill, getting his walk in when the weather was bad outside. He was so adorable.

When he was in one of his contemplative moods.

He grew into a tall guy, so dark and handsome, with a big, booming voice. Sometimes people were startled when he barked, but they shouldn’t have worried because Reilly loved everyone. His mom said he even liked to go to the vet, and would bark upon arrival to let them all know he was there. Can you imagine being happy to visit the vet?

Lounging on his sofa. (picture taken by his mom.)

And what an adventurer he was! He loved to explore parks, proclaiming each of them ‘his’ once he had visited. Why he and his brother Denny even earned honorary Park Ranger status! Reilly felt it was very important to visit as many of his parks as frequently as possible just to make sure everything was up to his very high standards.

A couple years ago, when a hurricane was threatening his home, he and his family got to go all the way to Alabama to stay at my lake house! I wasn’t there, which makes me sad now, but I was sure happy to see the pictures of Reilly enjoying the cooler Alabama weather out on my deck.

Reilly, happy on my deck in Alabama. (picture by his mom.)

I hear he especially loved the air conditioning vents that I had put in the floors there. They are perfect to cool off warm sheltie tummies and I’m so glad he got to enjoy them.

He climbed my mountain there in Alabama too! Just one more adventure in a life full of adventures for my Reilly.

Reilly on my mountain.  (picture by his mom)

For the last few years Reilly was lucky to live near the ocean, and oh my goodness, how my Reilly loved walking on the beach in the early mornings or late evenings. So many lovely smells. So many birds to chase!

Reilly and his birds.

He loved the salt air blowing in his fur, and the sand between his toes, even the toes of his bad foot. He had the most adorable little boots that he wore to help him walk easier. I thought he looked so sophisticated in them.

Reilly and his little brother Denny on their beach. (picture by their mom.)

And guess what? A couple years ago I got to actually meet the love of my life! I’m sure you all remember that. He was so welcoming, letting me spend time in his home. He shared his beaches and parks and family with me, and even let me eat out of his bowl without arguing!

My first time on a beach, Reilly made me feel a lot safer just because he was there.

My Reilly, he was such a gentleman.

When he wasn’t adventuring or exploring he loved to spend time at home with his folks, lounging on the deck in the winter sunlight, or hanging out in the air conditioned sun-porch during the warmer months. He did that more and more these last few weeks as he became weaker in his illness.

Reilly and his little brother Denny, best friends forever. (Picture by his mom.)

This past Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, his poor body just gave out and he crossed the rainbow bridge, only two weeks after his little brother Denny. Mama took me on a walk the next day and told me the sad news. Of course I wasn’t surprised, as she had warned me that he was very ill. But still.

During my last visit with Reilly and his brother. Isn’t he handsome?

Mama’s eyes are leaking at random times now, and this morning I crawled into bed to wake her up with kisses which I haven’t done in many years. She hugged me tight. She says she is so heartbroken for Reilly’s folks who have lost both their boys this month.

She says there are no words to make this better.

And she says she knows lots of people all over the world were sad to hear the news. Did I tell you my Reilly was famous and had his own blog? He had friends everywhere.

Reilly’s last visit to his beach.(Picture by his mom.)

I feel very honored to be his girl and I know when I go across that bridge he’ll be waiting for me. Cause that’s the kind of gentle boy he is and always will be.

So Mr. Reilly. My love. I will miss you forever and ever. Thank you for being my guy and sharing your space with me and putting up with my princess-ness. Thank you for all the gifts you’ve sent me over the years. Thanks for sleeping next to me when I visited, and taking me to your special places. I loved all of it. And I loved you.

No, that last bit shouldn’t be in past tense. I love you Reilly, and always will. Till we meet again sweetie, run on those beaches up there, and sniff through the woods. Chase a bird and a squirrel for me while you’re waiting. And eat the good treats, just save a few for me.

Your feet, all four of them, are good now, and your legs are strong. Your bark is as loud and as deep as ever; I’m sure you announced yourself when you got over the bridge. Run and bark and keep a watch over Denny and I’ll see you again. One way or another.

Run pain free, my love!

Love forever,

Your girl Katie.

Reilly and Denny, together forever. (picture by their mom.)


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Tribute to Mr. Denny

Mr. Denny was a quirky little dog with a huge heart. He didn’t trust just anyone, and was always on guard against anything scary. Even if it was only in his imagination.

Denny (the redhead) and his brother Reilly.

I met Denny a few years ago, but I’d watched him grow up on his big brother Reilly’s Cowspot Dog blog since he was an adorable puppy.

Denny loved to hang out with his brother.

When I first stayed at his house he wasn’t sure about me, barking every morning when I left the guest room, as if it was the first time he’d ever seen me. But eventually he sauntered by and sniffed the hand I’d left dangling for him. And during my next visit months later he didn’t bark at me quite as much. By our third visit he was actually letting me tickle his tummy.

Keeping track of those scary birds.

When we all went out he was ever vigilant, making sure there was nothing dangerous, ready to warn us if need be. But, just to be safe, he liked to stick close to his brother, Reilly, and to his mom and dad.

Still, even though they could be scary, he loved a good walk.

Keeping en eye on me while walking the beach with his mom and brother.

The last time I saw him was this past April. We were good buddies by then, but you could tell he wasn’t feeling very well.

Spending time on his sofa with me.

He’s had health issues, allergies, and even surgery on his knee. But the latest problem were his kidneys. And two days ago they gave out; Denny crossed the rainbow bridge in the arms of his devastated mom.

He had to leave and make the journey on his own and I can’t help but wonder if he’s scared over there without his family. But then I remember that across the bridge all things are possible, so I know that now he’s healthy and happy and curious and brave.

One of my favorite images of Reilly, Denny and Katie

And I know, for sure, that his heart is just as big as it always was.

We always imagine a dog running free when it travels over the bridge, but for Denny I want to say “run brave” little one. Be happy, find all the best things, the best food, the best tummy rubs, the best places to nap, the best beaches to run on.

On his own.

Oh, and definitely find the ice cream, sweetie…there has to be ice cream over the bridge!

Ice cream makes everything better.

More ice cream please?

So, until we meet again Mr. Denny, thanks for the cuddles, I am honored that you trusted me. Your family and I will miss you forever. You were a very very special little boy.

Watch over your brother sweetheart.


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Stirring the oatmeal makes me smile

When I was a little kid, maybe 7 or 8, my dad made oatmeal for all of us. It wasn’t his normal gig – mom was in the hospital with pneumonia and he was trying to feed four of us breakfast. I remember that oatmeal as being cold and grey and lumpy and awful. I haven’t eaten oatmeal since, other than those envelopes of instant that are something totally unrelated to simmering oatmeal in a pot on the stove.

This year, trying to eat healthier and noting the amount of sugar and other refined things in cold cereal, I explored overnight oats. I didn’t think I’d like them, considering my aversion to cold lumpy oatmeal, but I was surprised. I found out I enjoyed them very much, especially with agave sweetener, and other than mornings after nights when I forgot to make it before heading to bed, I ate it every day for several months.

And then we spent the summer traveling and breakfast at hotels is pretty predictable. Fake eggs, greasy bacon or sausage, cold cereal, toast. Not a lot of choices that I wanted to eat. But there was always a big pot of steamy oatmeal. And I liked the cold overnight oatmeal, right? So maybe…

Yep, it turns out I like oatmeal!

So now I’m exploring at home. The old fashioned variety which takes about 5 minutes of contemplative stirring is my favorite at the moment. There’s something so satisfying about the warm milk steaming, stirring in the oatmeal and cinnamon, maybe a tablespoon of raisins to soften. Sliding the whole thing into a bowl, adding a touch of brown sugar, some apple, maybe dried cranberries.

It’s such a peaceful way to start the day and I highly recommend trying it yourself. But those steel cut oats? Well, they’ve been taking me 45 minutes of stirring and I don’t have that much contemplation in me in the morning.

What makes you smile? Tell us about it and link it to Trent’s blog, he’ll recap the smiles on Monday. And you know it’s Mondays when we usually need a smile or two.