Saturday, February 27, 2010


I never blogged about the puzzle Liam is holding in the previous post. We got that at the local toy store, and I scrambled it up for him. He worked on it for two weeks before he figured it out and got it. I tried one night to get it back together and couldn't. But Liam's brain works like that. I'm in awe. Look out world.

Monday, February 22, 2010

heat wave

It has been 40 for most of the past week, which is crazy. It hasn't been freezing at night, and the snow is melting so fast. We've had several days of rain, too. In town, there is no snow at all and even up on the hill, a walk in the woods fills your nose with the scent of spring and life. But even with climate change factors in our midst, it just cannot be. March can be an amazingly wintery month up here, and I have no doubt that we will get back into the snow and cold zone before this season lets go it's grip.

That said, it has been a wonderful break - almost like going to another place. The sunshine is up in the sky far enough that on a 40-degree day, you can actually feel heat coming from it. I've taken almost daily skis and walks in the forest lately, and felt the promise of another season that is ever-closer. And running is blissfully pleasant, though it still surprises me how warm I get. What? No hat?

The kids have been thoroughly enjoying the weather, too, and wow, is it nice to send them out and not have to tend to them so much or have them come hollering back in after 10 minutes complaining of cold fingers. They can walk on top of the snow now and it's like a giant football field - they were running all over the place. Good stuff. I shoveled off a bunch of the deck and they got out the trikes and then Liam decided to extricate the deck chairs, too. Pretty funny. It's supposed to return to 30s by the end of the week, but we are so enjoying it while it lasts. I've got to tie a bell around Thea, though. She moves pretty fast these days. She was playing with a soccer ball and it rolled down to the edge of the clearing and the first I knew of it was when I heard her hollering because she had post-holed into a spot by a tree way across the property. Sheesh. But at least they have room to play and enjoy the outdoors. I could barely lure them inside with the promise of food - a nice reprieve from the typical 1/2 hour wail-fest prior to dinner.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

i'm fine - not

OK, so today I went about my normal stuff, no issues, chugging along, even being fairly productive, though a tad grumpy. And then - whack - about 2 p.m. out of no where, I'm bawling. I wasn't even thinking about her. It's just the raw emotion of the experience.

I've done a crappy job leading the kids through this one. It's too close still - too painful. Maybe this weekend I gather Liam for an hour or two and do a ceremony for her. Maybe it's OK to let a bit of time pass after the actual dying before the remembering. He's hungry for it - wants to ask tons of questions, and I'm still too raw to handle them. I try. But not really hitting it.

Death is so interesting to Liam - he has endless questions about it. Liam is a child who wears his heart on his sleeve. The night before, when Breton was first injured, I told him it was likely she was going to have to go tomorrow. He sat on the couch with me and we both had a cry for about a minute. Then, simultaneously, we collected ourselves and Liam said, "OK, let's read our book now." I LOVE that boy. So proud of his ability to fully feel things, let the storms pass through him and move on. I hope he can retain that forever.

It has been fascinating to watch the responses to my post about Breton on Facebook. People really love their dogs, and are eager to share with someone the validity of the feeling for their four-legged companion. Laugh all you want about Facebook - I think it's brilliant. It's the modern hug. Course, I've appreciated the real ones I've gotten as well.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

In memory of Breton

Seventeen years ago, I went to the Homer Animal Shelter at the age of 19 looking for a cat. I had always been a cat person, but when I got there, a small, pitch-covered yellow lab curled herself into my lap and I was sunk.

I had just moved to Homer and was still figuring out a lot of things at the age of 19. My partner at the time was a traveler and I had entertained the idea of going with him to India, but the arrival of Breton in our lives signaled my desire to go a different direction. But she was such an easy dog, so quickly trained, so mellow, that she worked her way into both our lives and settled us, in a way.

And while she was an exceptionally obedient and easy dog for most of her life, I have all day been flashing through distinct memories of her. The day she got stomped by a moose and we had to take her to the vet on a sunday and assist in the surgery (and Jerzy got so light-headed he had to leave the room ... who knew?) The time I was running with her in Anchorage on the coastal trail and she swam out into the Inlet after a duck and was so far out there that her head kept disappearing with each wave. Swimming with the Belugas off the airport beach in Anchorage. The time she took off on the 4th of July because she was afraid of the fireworks. Roller-jouring with her.

The thing is, my memories of her span my entire adult life thus far. All of it. She's lived with me in countless different homes in Homer, Anchorage, Oregon, Kenai and Homer again. She's endured two trips on the Alcan, one with 3 cats and 2 other dogs crammed in a Subaru Loyale. She weathered so many twists and turns in my life, three major relationships, outlived two dog companions and who knows how many cats. She's seen me through the transition to motherhood - graciously taking a backseat to my children and enduring their abuses. And most recently, she has allowed me to once again shed tears on her as we together endured yet another transition.

I am most grateful that she lived a good, long life - was happy right up until the end, and made her need to go clear to me so I didn't have to waiver and choose for her. She at worst endured one night of real pain in her entire life, and I am so sorry for that, but in every other way, I believe I served her well. Her pain is over. Mine and my family's begins.

I'm sure I will think of more things to say, but for now, that's my thoughts. The task of digging a grave in the frozen ground must now be accomplished - a fire is burning under the tree in the back yard. This afternoon, Liam and I will think of some way to memorialize her properly and begin processing this loss. Deep breaths.