Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Reading in times of covid

I thought I had lost my love of reading somewhere in the middle of this past year of covid testing and isolation. But Goodreads says I entered the year not enjoying my very first book, Writing in Flow, Keys to Enhanced Creativity by Susan Perry.

“I just couldn’t get into it. I’ll try again.”

I didn’t try again.

And the last book I reviewed, Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout didn’t fare any better.

“I love her writing but I’m glad this one is done.”

There are other reviews for the thirty-four books I read in 2021, but I don’t have the patience to go read the reviews I wrote to find out how many I actually enjoyed. And when I puruse the list I can’t remember the plot to any of them.

In October when I finished the Strout book I had no idea that I wouldn’t read or review another one the rest of the year.

Not reading is troubling. I have always loved to read. I miss reading. You’d think in times of stress that reading would give me an escape, that I’ve be buried in books.

And, in fact, I have plenty of books to read. I’ve started several. There are books about my camera that I need to read, books I’ve seen on daytime television that I’ve purchased impulsively, a book my aunt lent me sits on the table next to my chair.

I have no “number of books read” goal for 2022. Rather, I think, my goal this year will be to find again the pleasure of reading. I should probably start soon. January is almost half over. Who has a recomendation for something light, happy, hopeful or heartwarming?

I could sure use a librarian about now.

My anti-reading dog.


42 Comments

When Katie smiles

We’re on a roller-coaster around here. Katie has mostly good days, but even during those I can sometimes detect, if I’m observant, her underlying kidney disease.

During an early morning neighborhood walk today.

When I took her to a park to celebrate her 15th birthday a couple weeks ago, I thought we were both having fun. She was walking through the woods with me, sniffing things like always. But our walk was much shorter than normal, and when I looked at the photos after, I didn’t see the usual joy in her eyes. She wasn’t smiling in any of the images.

It was a frosty sort of morning.

That made me stop and really think about the quality of her life, and whether or not she would let me know when she was done. It’s hard to consider end of life procedures when she’s still excited about her meals, still wants to go outside. Still wags her whole behind when you walk in the door.

Is still so beautiful.

You know it’s my supper time again. Right mama?

And then we had a day like today, sunshine and 30 degree temperatures. Perfect sheltie weather. We went on multiple walks around the neighborhood, none of which she wanted to end.

Today, checking her park.

We went to her park — I was thinking we’d just walk around the pond, sure that she wouldn’t have the stamina to walk all the way around the park.

What are you doing taking pictures, mama? We have a whole park to explore!

But once we were there I let her make the decisions and she never once sat down or asked me to pick her up. We took it slow, but we walked all the way around her park’s perimeter, just about a mile.

It sure is a pretty day mama. I get a treat for posing, right?

That, on top of all the walks in the neighborhood should have exhausted her, but she’s been asking for her (numerous) meals right on schedule. And we’ve been on another walk around the neighborhood this evening.

It was a good day, mama!

I’ve looked at the images I took during our park adventure today. I’m pretty sure she was smiling. I guess it’s not time yet. Not today anyway, probably not tomorrow or the day after that either.

Yep, I’m still the Princess Katie and this is my park!

My girl. She and I are lucky we have more time together.

Still so beautiful.


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Vacuum cleaner blues

Katie didn’t bark at the vaccum cleaner this morning. If she was a young dog I’d be thrilled, certain that I’d desensitized her, trained her not to go balistic whenever I pulled it out of the closet.

But she’s barked at that vaccum every single time I’ve used it for the past fifteen years.

This morning she just looked at me with sad eyes and wandered off to nap.

My eyes are leaky.


54 Comments

The Princess celebrates a birthday

Katie here! Guess what, guess what, guess what??!!

Today is my 15th birthday! I wanted to share it with all of you because I was sure there would be balloons and presents tied up in pretty ribbon and visitors singing to me, and of course, cake!

I got to go on a birthday walk over the weekend! Don’t tell anyone but it’s not really a wilderness.

I mean, 15 is a milestone age, right?

There were a few times this year my folks didn’t think I’d get to see this day. With the surgery back in April to save my life when my gall bladder filled up with sludge and then the harsh antibiotics I had to take because they found infection in me and then the kidney disease…well…things haven’t always look so good this year.

The late afternoon light was amazing.

Mama says it’s been a roller coaster. I don’t know what that means cause I never get to do anything fun, but I can tell mama and daddy have been stressed.

All the more reason to spend today celebrating me and eating cake! I’m sure you agree.

Years ago there were farm fields here, this is part of a rock fence line.

But mama says I need to be more realistic, and that cake isn’t good for me, and balloons would just scare me and that I can’t expect people to just show up and start singing to me. Besides I’m deaf, so singing might not be the best way to celebrate.

Plus she said I’d just bark at people and balloons anyway.

So you know what we’re doing instead? We’re going to the vet, that’s what we’re doing!

We didn’t walk real far, but I was so glad to be in the woods!

Yes, you read that right. Mama made a vet appointment for me on my birthday. I swear the woman has no sense of appropriatness at all.

I’m just a little girl in the big woods.

To be honest, she didn’t make the appointment until yesterday. And she only made it because I’ve been throwing up after I eat. Three times this past week. She and daddy are worried and the vet said to get me in there, so she scheduled it even though it was my birthday.

This was a giant fungus. Mama made me pose next to it a few years ago too.

And then she said seeing the vet and making sure we do everything we can to make me more comfortable is the best present they could give me.

I guess. But cake would have been good too. Just saying.

This was a nice spot to stop and rest. Or get a treat.

I did get a real present from my daddy this past weekend. It came in a box from the nice guy who drives the big noisy brown truck. I got to sniff it and everything. I was excited because everything that comes into this house should be for me.

What’s in there daddy?

I’m sure you agree.

Daddy ordered it for me after mama told him I was having trouble eating out of my bowl on the floor. My bad right foot kept slipping out to the side as I tried to get my head way down there.

Those of you that are older like me know how hard it is to get up off the floor the older you get. Well, I was having trouble getting my nose way down there into the bowl, but I love eating so I wasn’t complaining.

Hey daddy! This is perfect!

The day mama noticed my problem she ended up holding the bowl up higher for me, and letting me brace my sliding foot against her. Eating is much easier with a little help.

I just love the dinner and water dish thingy daddy got me! It’s the perfect height for a girl of my stature. And it has the perfect angle too, though it’s designed to have the bowls propped up at an angle or flat. I like them propped up.

You really get me, don’t you daddy!

So I can’t say I didn’t get anything for my birthday. I just didn’t get cake. Mama is such a strict dietitian. If any of you want to sneak me a treat I won’t tell.

And if you want to sing to me while you’re slipping me that biscuit, I’ll smile and pretend I can hear you.

A birthday walk AND a new dinner dish. Guess my birthday wasn’t a complete washup after all.

Talk later,

Your 15 year old Katie-girl.

Birthday nap. Daddy got me the pink princess rug too.


63 Comments

Life is short, no matter how long you’ve got

Katie and I spent Halloween day wandering together under beautiful blue skies. The leaves here are finally turning, and in the early morning light they were spectacular. Walking under them, with my girl, watching the light shift and glow was special.

On the way to our early morning adventure.

When Katie got sick last spring we hoped we could get her to fall, when the temperatures drop and she has, in the most recent years, transformed from a middle aged, lethargic dog of summer into a youngster who throughly enjoys her walks.

I love this rug, mama, it compliments my beauty!

Somehow, in the fall, she turns back time and prances during her walks in the woods and around the neighborhood. But this year, the year we needed those cooler temperatures to hurry up so she could enjoy them, October held on to summer with an iron grip.

I’ll sit here for you mama, but you better have treats!

I enjoyed those warm days with temperatures in the 70s, but worried that Katie and I wouldn’t get our cool walks in the woods. So on the last day of October, with early morning temperatures dropping and as the sun began to creep up into the sky, Katie and I headed out in search of adventure.

Don’t you just love this weather, mama?

We stopped first in Milford, a town that always dresses the storefronts for fall, complete with a giant pumpkin in front of a fancy restaurant. For the past few years I’ve taken Katie there for a photo shoot.

Hey mama! THIS is the giant pumpkin you talked about??

This year we were disappointed, as the entire town is dug up with some sort of construction project, and the giant pumpkin was less than giant. Still, we walked around town for a little bit. Like the princess she is, she insisted on doing some window shopping, checking out every single shop doorway. That made me smile.

Anything good in here, mama?

So I took a window shot of the two of us.

Me and my girl.

But we didnt stay in town long, we headed out to my favorite park, and to her favorite walk in that park. The color as the sun rose was spectacular.

I was giggling like a schoolgirl it was so pretty.

And walking there, on a service road through the trees with my girl, I contemplated the shortness of life. Though her numbers were better at the last vet visit, Katie is still near the end of her life.

Isn’t this amazing, mama?

She’s a happy girl, and good at hiding her discomfort. She still likes to go on adventures, she still loves her suppers. She still loves us. But sometime, maybe sooner then later, we’re going to have to make that hard decision.

Light and color ease the angst.

And it’s not just her. I’ve been dog sitting for a neighbor whose husband had a combination of cancer and heart disease. He’s been in the hospital for the last few weeks, and this week, when she thought he was coming home, he died.

I always feel better when I’m near water.

He was a very nice man, loved his garden, his wife, his dogs. I’d talk to him when I was out walking Katie. He’d always tell me what he was planning for next year’s garden, “if I’m still here,” he’d say. Now his flowers are still blooming in our long, extended fall, but he isn’t here.

A bit of fall trapped in last summer’s volleyball net.

I dog sat for his two pups while his wife and family attended his funeral. I would have gone myself, but my time was better spent taking care of the two little dogs who have lost their man.

Be like me, mama, live in the moment.

And another friend just had surgery, leaving her two cats at home for the duration. She had someone to come in and take care of them, but I stopped by to play with them too. They always came running for a tummy rub, or a romp through a tunnel. I enjoyed spending time with them, but they’re so much happier now that their person is back home.

I love it out here mama.

And there’s my own family member who has spent the last two weeks in the hospital and had major surgery too. She has a long road ahead of her, and though she has no pets for me to take care of, she’ll still need some visits and perhaps help with some household chores.

Nature’s art installation.

It has seemed like trouble and tragedy is everywhere. But it’s easier to bear while walking through a beautiful woods with my girl. And someday, hopefully far in the future, when I don’t have my girl walking next to me, well, I’ll have the memories, and the pictures. And that will have to do.

Mama? Do you feel better now?

I’m grateful that I have had so many years with her. I’m grateful I knew my neighbor and his gardens. I’m grateful to the friend with the cats, and the long life of my relative now recuperating at home.

Life is a road, mama.

But sometimes…sometimes it feels like time has flown, and life is short, and there’s just no way to slow it all down.

Don’t try to figure it out, mama. It’s all going to be OK.


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Nothing to say

I sit here with a few pictures from around the yard to share but nothing to say.

Daddy red-bellied woodpecker is back after raising his kids.

Everything seems bigger than my words. Sadder.

Daddy’s girl follows him to the deck for breakfast.

There’s Hurricane Ida leaving devastation from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast.

Early morning light.

There’s the covid resurgance in my state and most of the country.

Afternoon sun makes everything brighter.

There’s kids going back to school while parents and school boards shout at each other over masks.

Wasps are storming the hummingbird feeder. I took it down for a couple of days.

There’s Texas.

The hummers are unhappy with me.

I need to look seriously for the good that I always say is there amongst all the trouble.

Shadows everywhere.

A good long walk in the woods might help.

I don’t know what these are, they are tiny, hidden in the messy wildflower garden.

But there are those mosquitoes.

And I know just the place to take a walk, too.


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Just too much

This morning when Katie-girl woke me at 4 a.m. to go outside I turned on the news to get the latest on hurricane Ida. I have a few friends in the path of the storm.

I watched a few minutes of roofs being torn off buildings and downed trees, utility poles snapped in half, blinding rain. My heart broke. Then the anchor turned to Afghanistan and the thirteen soldiers whose families are beginning their new normal and my heart broke again. And after that were images of the fires in the west. And then Corona virus hospitalization numbers.

After our storm last night.

I turned the television off.

Katie and I went back to bed. She fell asleep instantly, not burdened by worry. I lay there for awhile trying not to get sucked into despair.

But this morning, as I was fixing Katie’s breakfast (boiled chicken, white rice, Royal Canin kibble, green beans and pumpkin) I noted that the air felt fresher, the temperatures cooler than we’ve had in a very long time.

As she ate I went out to fill the birdfeeders.

Early morning of a fresh new day.

A little chickadee flitted around my head, waiting for his favorite feeder to be rehung. A hummingbird checked us both out, reminding me I needed to put fresh sugar water out too.

There was cool morning dew on the roses.

Ripe tomatoes were ready to be picked in the garden.

The sun was coming up and a kingfisher clattered through a beam of light, headed for the pond.

Yes, there are terrible, terrible things going on here at home and across the world. Yes today is a sad day, yesterday was a sad day, all of last week was terrible for so many people. Tomorrow might not be better.

But I am so lucky that when I take the time to look there is usually something good to find, even in the midst of just too much.

Watcha doing, mama?

And that makes me smile.


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The Princess and the pea

Katie here! HEY! Whatcha doing, whatcha doing, whatcha doing?

HEY!

As you can see I am feeling a lot better. Whatcha doing? Oh…excuse me, sometimes I get distracted. I don’t suppose you happen to have a treat for me? No? Did you check your back pocket? Oh. Well anyway.

Ahem….

So mama and daddy are trying to get me to eat this KD food stuff. I’m back to eating regular dog food, kibble and wet food, and I’m pretty excited about it. Food used to be one of my mostest wonderful, bestest favorite stuff in the whole world.

And then I got sick and food wasn’t so good anymore and everybody got worried. But this past month I’ve eaten more and now, just in the past week I’m back to asking for more food, more treats, more everything!

On my way home from the vet.

But just to keep things interesting sometimes I don’t eat all my supper. I was never like that, I never left even one smidgen of food in my bowl in case someone else came along and stole it, you know.

Now when they give me wet food I might eat some of it, generally with not much gusto, but mama and daddy have figured something out. If they put a fresh pea, pressed into the food, I gobble it up!

Gormet

Seriously, a pea.

Sometimes they add several peas to my meal, sometimes it’s just one pea. Either way, it always works and I clean my bowl right up. And then I lick the bowl to make sure it’s super clean.

Nom nom nom…

If that’s not proof I’m a Princess I don’t know what is.

See you later, your Princess and her pea, Katie-girl.

Hurry up with that dinner, mama!


46 Comments

It’s been a tough few weeks

Katie here. I know some of you have been worried about me, and I blame mama for that. After all, who is she to call me an old dog!? Do I look like an old dog to you?

This was taken today while mama and I sat in the nice cool grass.

No I do not. The fact that I’m 14.5 years old is irrelevent, it’s just a number, you know?

But it has been a rough few weeks, ever since I got that pesky gallbladder out at the beginning of April. The vets put me on some strong antibiotics for six whole weeks, and they sure played havoc with everything! Especially my tummy.

So, since I wasn’t feeling too good I decided I didn’t want to eat the stinky food they were feeding me. And then I didn’t want my old food either. And sometimes I didn’t even want the food mama cooked especially for me.

The primroses in my garden are blooming right now!

Everybody got worried.

But as soon as I got off those awful medicines I started to feel a little better. I ate some, but every day I’d decide what I liked or didn’t like. And it was always different.

Lounging around, as is due any princess.

I like to keep mama and daddy on their toes. They’d think they had figured out what would work and in a few days I’d decide I didn’t want to eat that anymore. Mama and daddy say their house looks like a pet food store now, they have a little bit (and sometimes a lot) of everything I might possibly want to eat.

Yesterday I decided I might not like the new wet food that I’ve been gulping down the past three days. Then daddy got up and offered the same food to me and I licked the bowl clean. Mama is starting to sigh a lot.

These are my wildflowers. They still have some growing to do.

This afternoon I was napping on the floor and mama got down there with me. I asked her to tickle my tummy which she did, but she seemed sort of sad. She said it was because in the old days when she got on the floor to cuddle with me I’d always get up and move somewhere else. I am not a cuddle dog. But today I felt like cuddling and she wonders if maybe it’s because I didn’t feel well.

I even gave her a kiss, which never happens. I think her eyes got a little leaky then. Mine did too.

I guess cuddling isn’t so bad after all.

So anyway.

I want to reassure all my fans that I still have lots of pretty good days. I get to go on walks and mama carries me home. I got to go to my park last week, and if it ever stops raining I’m sure I’ll get to go again. Mama says we’ll go camping in the backyard if I want to, and mama and daddy are both trying to find me the best yummy food that I’ll love. Sometimes I even bark at mama for fun, just like in the olden days.

Happy in my front yard.

All in all, I’m doing OK. I will certainly keep you all posted if anything changes. Mama says everybody should hug their own pets or kids a whole bunch. She says the more you do that the less the chance your eyes will leak when you get surprise kisses.

I think that’s pretty good advice.

Yep, I’m a happy girl.

Talk later, your gal Katie.


64 Comments

The rollercoaster that is Katie

Katie has been sick. The kind of life-threatening sick that makes a sheltie parents’ hearts quicken as they contemplate what life will be like someday when a fiesty little girl isn’t around to make things interesting.

She had emergency surgery to remove her gallbladder in early April, at the age of fourteen, and came through just fine. She’s a strong one. Twenty-one staples held her little shaved tummy together, and she never once tried to mess with them.

But they found some bacteria in the samples they took for biopsy, so she was prescribed two anti-biotics, strong ones, to be taken for six weeks. And they wanted her to change her diet over to a kidney supporting food. And thus the struggle began.

Lucky girl, they told us to feed her a bland diet of boiled chicken and white rice for the first two days. She was fine with that. But she wasn’t going to eat that KD dog food. Nope. Not interested. So we suplemented with more chicken, different types of rice, homemade broth made from chicken bones, fresh green beans steamed just so, oven roasted sweet potatoes.

Every day we’d try different flavors of the KD dog food. Sometimes she’d accept the kibble, hand fed as a treat, quite eagerly. The next day she wouldn’t have anything to do with it. The wet food made her turn her face away in disgust.

We’d order more flavors, try to entice her to eat. As the days went on and we kept filling her with antibiotics we learned that a side effect was lack of appetite. She stopped wanting to eat chicken, rice was off the table. Sweet potato sometimes worked. Sometimes not.

We were having more and more trouble getting the pills into her, as she became suspicious of all hand held food, worried about what was in it. Pill pockets didn’t work anymore. Peanut butter was hit and miss. Cheese was a no go.

Every morning I’d start the day trying to get her pain pill administered. “What do you like today, Miss Katie?” I’d ask her. Her face would light up at the memory of getting a wonderful treat, but she’d drop her smile in disappointment when she was offered a pill covered in some previously delectible spread.

By the sixth week I was disparing of ever getting her to eat again, watching her as she slept, missing my fiesty, noisy, curious, happy little girl.

And then, twenty-four hours after her last pill she begged us for something to eat. And we offered her the KD dog food and she gulped it down. “Got any more, mama?” The kibble, offered as a treat? “No problem daddy, I love my kibble treats!”

These days, when she’s being her noisy, curious, happy self, I sit and watch her, storing the memories. Though she’s acting like her old self, the truth is she’s still almost fourteen and a half. We got more time, but time isn’t infinite.

This early morning she wanted to go out and sit on the deck. She won’t do that without me being there too, and I had a long list of things I wanted to get done. But I smiled and took my laptop and we went out. She’s out here now, on high alert, breaking up twigs while watching the road for anyone who might pass by without her specialized sheltie permit. They must be barked at.

I’m sitting here watching the birds and squirrels as they venture out for their morning meal. The nuthatch is peeking at us from the backside of the birch tree which is glowing in the morning light. He’s not sure it’s safe to flit over to the birdfeeder for a tasty treat. Eventually, after scolding us for some time, he decides we are not a threat and he picks out the best seed and hurries away. The female oriole is on the grape jelly feeder, not caring about us at all. There’s our wren warbling further out in the yard, guarding the nestbox where little ones are growing. A male bluebird sits very high in the tree above us, the sun catching the rusty glow of his chest. A chipmunk scurries along the deck, checking us out, and a black squirrel has just climbed the railing, but finding us there, scurries back down again.

Katie is oblivious to all of it.

The black squirrel approaches from a different direction, and she sees him. Much barking and prancing ensues. My happy, silly, curious, noisy girl is back. And oh good, the garbage truck is coming down the road. Another danger to protect mama from. Good thing for all of us that she’s still in charge.

Katie-girl. Our roller-coaster girl is back.

And we are grateful.