Friday, January 31, 2020

Before it's "All puppy, all the time"

This is the last post in which I can promise there will be no Poppy pictures. I don't plan to post tomorrow, and starting Sunday, all bets are off!

We enjoyed a rare dry day today; January has done its best to make up for the lack of rainfall in November and December. There was a bit of color in the sunrise, then some pretty clouds and SUNSHINE(!) . . . before it turned gray for the rest of the day. But I was able to get both horses exercised and nobody got wet. Well, not from rain, anyway. Stella ran and bucked and played and rolled for quite awhile, and then played hard-to-get and ran some more, so she get very sweaty.

What's blooming now? The snowdrops are starting to fade and the daphne odora are just beginning to open. The Tasmanian Tiger euphorbia in front of Brian's bedroom are tipping their budding heads. The sarcococca bushes along the north side of the house are in full bloom and saturating the area with their heady fragrance.

Small but powerfully perfumed!
Basketball games are giving me lots of time to spin; I've finished two samples of Jamieson & Smith dyed Shetland top and am starting to ply one of them. (Yes, I take photos of Brian playing, too, but I'm behind on editing them.)

On the one hand, January has been a very sad month. Jackson's soulful eyes gaze from the calendar I made for my office wall; I can only glance at that photo if I want to keep my composure. But anticipation over our new family member has been a happy distraction this final week; "Joy cometh in the morning." Joy – that would have made a good name for the pup!

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A sunrise and -sigh- more puppy prattling ;-)

Yesterday dawned dry and calm, so I scurried down to exercise a very pent-up filly before going to work. Dodging rain + horse time + glorious morning sky = happy camper!

Since then, it has been doing mostly this:

Ugh! The constant rain is supposed to take a break this afternoon, so hopefully I can get both horses exercised.

As I said, I scored some gear at the pet shelter thrift store after work. The dishes and rack are in the dishwasher; here are the collar, leash, and harnesses:

The breeders sent me a photo of our girl yesterday at six weeks old:

and here is a photo of her parents, Jasmine (30#) and Mufasa (40#):

Now -drumroll- the puppy has a moniker! Last night Rick agreed to a name – Poppy. It is a nod to her mother's flower name, and also to my first terrier mix, a little black hunting fool named Peppy.

That's it for today from . . .

Monday, January 27, 2020

Pregnant pause

In the microcosm of life that is a having a dog, I view this week as gestation. Anticipation, uninterrupted nights, unchewed anything, clean floors, time to sleep in (although that's not my bag) or sit and relax. There will always be a Jackson-shaped hole in my heart, but I've enjoyed the growing realization that I don't need to put the toilet seat down (although he was physically unable to drink from it – and drip on the seat – after the arthritis got to him), I don't need to shut doors to block access to trash cans, I can spend long hours away from home without concern or guilt. Last night I relished snuggling in my own bed again after three nights away while wondering how hard the pup's transition from canine pack to only dog will be. I also wonder if the transition to a very different breed will be difficult for me....

There will be a cute infant stage (puppy breath!!!), rapidly followed by some 'terrible toddler' times, I'm sure. Then, heaven help me, I will have a second teenager in the house(!) – for a short period. I'm thinking that by the time my son leaves for college, our new dog will be a happy distraction and indispensable companion.

It has been so long since we had a small(er) dog (except for that year of fostering Dicey); we no longer have appropriately sized collar, dishes, or jackets. So today after work I stopped by the local shelter's thrift store to look for supplies. I found a brand new leash and matching wee adjustable collar in a very girly color; a bigger adjustable soft harness, an even bigger no-pull harness, and a set of small, removable stainless steel dishes in an elevated holder; all for $15 that goes to a very good cause. I also got permission from my boss to take pup to work with me for at least the first couple of weeks so I can take her out to potty as needed and not leave her home alone. As soon as I pick up some of the puppy food she's on, we'll be as ready as we'll ever be. Good thing, because bright and early Sunday morning our friends getting her littermate are picking me up so we can bring our girls home.

Oh, and we need a name. I've come up with several I like, but....

That's it for now from puppy-on-the-brain . . .

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Whirlwind weekend, whirlwind emotions

Thank you to all who shared your care and condolences over the loss of Brian's parakeet Sprite. She was a real sweetie, very bonded to my son – which is just what he wanted, a pet that liked him best. She wasn't her normal perky self Tuesday night, and I knew with depressing certainty when I had to leave for work late Wednesday morning that she wouldn't be alive when I got home. That evening Brian took her death much harder than he did either of the dogs'; together we buried her in the yard. And the house was quieter still.

So it was probably a blessing that the next morning, as planned, we all left the too-quiet house for a high school basketball tournament in Walla Walla, WA. Brian drove himself to school very early so he could ride the bus; Rick and I picked up his mother (who went along to visit an old friend in Walla Walla) and headed east down the Columbia River Gorge a bit later. At the last minute, Rick agreed to stop on our way to look at a litter of Decker rat terriers. I have been looking into the breed with growing interest since meeting a pair of brothers last May, but it wasn't a breed Rick is familiar with or attracted to. Lately we've been talking about our next canine family member without any movement toward consensus, which was depressing, and to add salt to the wound, friends were sending a flurry of ads, mostly for Aussies which Rick didn't want. Then, two days before we left, the friends who had agreed to do our farm chores while we were gone told us they were getting a Decker puppy from the breeders I had been following! Since we hadn't talked about the breed together at all, I was flabbergasted – and more interested than ever. This was the backdrop to Rick's begrudging agreement to stop and see the puppies, which we did. I knew better than to hope – or push – too much....

This is the one our friends have reserved. 
This is the rear view of her very similar sister.
I didn't get good photos of two others.

Then it was on to Walla Walla and basketball . . . and melancholy. Posting those photos of Brian with his bird and with Jackson were a forceful reminder of how fast time speeds by, and there we were on the campus that Brian plans to attend next fall. The reality of my single chick flying the coop soon echoed in the void left by three beloved pets in just three months. Yeah; I was a sad sack.

On our way home today, Rick waited until we were entering the town in which the puppies were located to say (again begrudgingly) he guessed we could stop and put down a deposit on my preferred puppy. Say WHAT!?! I texted the breeder to make sure she was still available, but also learned we wouldn't get to see her again or take any special photos because one of the resident children had the flu. So you'll have to wait until next Sunday, when I'm hoping to travel with our friends to pick up our matching set of sisters. 😁 Here are a couple photos of our girl (from a litter of five girls) from the breeder's Facebook page:

This rainbow over the Columbia River felt appropriately celebratory as we continued our way home:

With all that driving and game-watching, I had time to finish one color of J&S Shetland top and start another (the second is much farther along since I took the photo):

Two of my friends are starting to come out on the other side of the most difficult period of puppyhood with their dogs, so I have no illusions about the challenges ahead. But I know I will be building a special relationship as well, and look forward to that.

Thanks for being along for the ride; your comments mean more to me than you'll ever know!

That's it for now from . . .

Friday, January 24, 2020

The weight of a straw

A stem of oat, a tube of plastic, a tiny bird.
None of these weigh much; nearly weightless, in fact.

But on camel's back already broken by loved lives lost?
A handful of lemon-lime feathers, silenced too soon
Is a burden too heavy to bear.

January 2015 - January 22, 2020

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Gifts given and taken

This is going to be two posts in one. I started Part Two before heading into last weekend, when it became clear that Jackson was becoming 'bedridden,' a fate no animal understands or deserves. The first half is acknowledgement of how much your collective sadness and empathy over my* loss means to me, that life does go on with meaning and joy (as well as other challenges**), and that peace is coming more quickly than I expected. Oh, if I chose to dwell on bittersweet memories or the current aching void, I could quickly tailspin into swamping sorrow, but I choose to redirect my thoughts instead, over and over again. And when you make the better choice, you can see what God sends to encourage you, like rainbows while working my horses on that most difficult of days,

a cat who craves cuddling,

the dynamic beauty of nature and weather (photos posted in chronological order from yesterday morning through this morning),

the unexpected blessing of a bridle to fit my new beauty for under $20 –
I introduced the bridle to Stella in parts; this isn't all of it.
and the SIX eggs the hens gave me yesterday – in January!

Part Two

Someone new to Boulderneigh left a comment on my January 7 post. (Welcome, M.K.!) She said, in part, "I love yarn and knitting and spinning, so hopefully I'll see some of your woolish activities here too!" Well, M.K., the reason(s) I do any "woolish activities" at all are my Shetland sheep.
Before getting them it had been ~35 years since I'd dabbled in knitting and crocheting, and spinning wasn't even on my radar. But after getting Shetlands to provide some 'farm income' for property tax purposes, the "Call of the Wool" drew me in. First I taught myself how to knit again, thanks to a Lion Brand tutorial, then I learned how to make yarn – first with a spinning wheel, then with spindles, followed by an e-spinner. Since then I'm rarely without a spindle and some fiber or a knitting project; having something enjoyable and productive to do with my hands has transformed the way I view "down time"! My current project, some mystery roving I'm spinning on my Lilac Jenkins Turkish "Aegean" spindle, has kept me busy while waiting for and during grand jury orientation, riding in the car, and watching Brian's school's boys' and girls' basketball games.

Yep, more than a month after their season started, Brian is back in the game after taking care of some grade issues. Let's hope he can finish out the season!

Back to "woolish activities." Most of you will remember the two hats I knit for my farrier and his wife from yarns they had millspun from their flock of Texels and Border Leicesters. When my farrier came again last week to do the horses' trims, he brought me a thank-you gift from his wife, who doesn't knit but who does felt:
I wore that beautiful scarf to church last weekend. 😊

Someone I have long admired for her art and humor (even more so during the current administration!) posted this oh-so-appropriate sketch on Instagram:
Because in the midst of Jackson's crisis, **we realized that our roof was leaking and a hose failed in my car's coolant system – all while Rick's workload petered out to nothing. I am trying not to think about the money I spent on a new horse and the money we spent on more hay, and am praying that the veterinary business picks back up SOON.

As for giving our hearts to another dog to tear (I love that poem, Jean!), who knows. Reaching a family consensus on what and what not to get will be difficult at best (even though Brian will be leaving for college this year, he still has Very Strong Opinions). I would get another herding dog in a heartbeat but Rick doesn't like them (*no, he wasn't even that fond of my dear Jackson). I've been intrigued by Decker rat terriers and have been following a breeder on Facebook for two litters now (yesterday out of the blue, a friend told me they have reserved one of the pups in the current litter!), but neither of my guys seem interested. Getting all of us together to go look at shelter dogs, much less agree on one, is also improbable. Sigh; at least I have other distractions, but the house is awfully empty and quiet....

That's it for now from . . .