Monday, August 11, 2014

Inspiration Mondays: Grateful

Rascal is home. The vet said he was good to come home at lunch time, after two nights in the animal hospital being treated for septicemia. His immune system is suppressed as a result of the chemotherapy he is getting on a tumour, so he was extra susceptible to infection. I was so glad to open the door and find him running toward me... and for him to run away when I tried to pick him up!

I'm grateful to have another chance to give him a cuddle. He is actually a lot happier than he's letting on in this photo. Man, I wish he'd be happier for the camera.

Living for the moment...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Quiet House

I brought Rascal to the vet this morning. I've been anxious about him since yesterday morning. He was fine first thing yesterday, and we went out for a short walk. He came home and settled onto his bed, but after an hour, he woke up coughing and swallowing, as if he had something caught in his throat. He eventually settled down, but by the evening, he wouldn't eat or drink, and was lethargic and glassy-eyed. I brought him outside to go pee before bed, and he walked unsteadily back to the house, wavering back and forth, until I picked him up and carried him in.

I heard him moving around a bit in the middle of the night, so I carried him downstairs to see if he would drink any water. He wasn't very responsive, even after I managed to syringe a little bit into his mouth and made sure he swallowed it. Afterward, I carried him back up to bed, then came back down to the couch and sat down. My stomach was in knots, and my throat was tight. I picked up my knitting and worked through a few rows with the laptop on my lap. I searched through patterns online in between rows, trying to distract myself from the fear and sadness.

He's at the vet now, getting IV fluids to rehydrate him and meds to reduce a high temperature, an x-ray for his laboured breathing, and a blood test to see what the rest of his organs are doing. Today is one of those rare days when I want to do the chores: iron my shirts, wash the floors, do the dusting... anything and everything to keep my mind distracted.

Today, my yarn is not necessarily a comfort. It is an act of motion to keep my mind distracted, to allay my fears just a little bit. I am knitting to slow my breathing, to focus my mind, and to ease the guilt of the thoughts of how much easier life would be without a dog... the places we'd be allowed to stay, the events we'd go to...

But it would be a life without my little teddy bear.

I know he's just a dog, and that life is supposed to end sometime, but I don't care about anyone's philosophies right now. I don't want anyone's platitudes about the rainbow bridge or the end of journeys or any of that. He's my Rascal, and I want him to feel better. That's all.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Inspiration Mondays on a Tuesday: If I Were a Tree

I stopped at a little farm market on the way home today to buy a pint of grape tomatoes to add to my daily vegetable snack (or bucket o' vegetables, as people have called it). It's my favourite place to buy tomatoes when they are in season. For me, a tomato that isn't in season is just a little bag of sour water. When they are in season, I eat them like their going out of style.

While I'm the market, I always cruise around to see what there is. Today, I saw these beautiful plums:

And yeah, sometimes I buy fruit because of their beauty first. Luckily, at a farm market, everything beautiful is also tasty!

When I got home, I got thinking about a video I watched a while back, about a tree that was grafted to bear forty different varieties of stone fruits. When I first read about it, my first inclination was to think, "Well, that's unnatural. Why would you do such a thing?"

But then I watched the video, and I realized that he wasn't doing it for fun, to experiment Franken-style on something he didn't understand. Instead, he was doing it to find a unique solution to saving trees that were becoming extinct. In a world where people just don't want to have space for stuff that doesn't grow "fast enough" or "long enough," he was finding a way to keep these things around, so we could better understand them, and to retain a diversity of plants that will likely save us from losing our fruit stocks if the intensive farms that only grow one kind of thing were to be destroyed.

Diversity is really the spice of life. If you only work on one kind of thing, grow one kind of plant, raise one kind of cattle, then if disease were to hit that one thing, you'd have no back ups. It has happened in the past, and will very likely happen again.

Earlier today, I talked to a man who has been suddenly struck by an illness that may prevent him from continuing his trade as a carpenter. And I wondered: will he find another way to grow? Another branch of himself that will help him to earn a living? I'm sad, but I'm hoping he will find a way.

And for myself, I feel truly that I am a jack of all trades and master of none. I used to get really depressed that I didn't have a passion, a THING that other people seem to chase their whole lives, but maybe that's not such a bad thing. If I were a tree, I'd bear at least a few different fruits. I never thought of it that way until now.

Food for thought.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Built for Comfort, Not for Speed

"What do you do, Adriene? Do you go home and lock yourself in your house each day?"

Someone asked me that last weekend. He'd asked me if we'd been to this place yet, that place, the other place, and I said no to most... no, not yet.

The question has echoed in my mind since then. When people ask me questions like that, I immediately start to feel insecure. I wonder: What do I do with my time anyway? I should be doing all of these things, going to all of these places, devouring as much life as I possibly can...

But maybe not.

I live a pretty quiet life. I don't party anymore... maybe on the rare occasion at a wedding or get-together, but being an early-riser means that I'm ready for bed at 9:00pm. My favourite weekends are the ones with no plans, no obligations. And while there are a lot of places on this Island I haven't visited yet, all of the unknown little nooks and crannies I have stumbled upon have delighted me enough to be deeply satisfied with that for now, like this place:

And this place, where if you look up, you see purple martins nesting above:

And this place, where there is a bench...

... and if you glance at the panel under the bench , you see this:

And this place, which I saw from the air yesterday as the hubby flew us over the water for a daytrip on the mainland:

All I want right now are quiet moments to sit with my knitting. I've been finding them in the few minutes before the gym opens in the morning, sitting in my car, watching the sunrise, working a few stitches before they unlock the doors and I lug myself in for an hour of sweating.

All I want right now are moments to have my mind to myself, to watch the breeze pass through the trees, or to sit on my yoga mat... that is, when it is unoccupied.

And while it's not an exciting life, it's the one I prefer. And others are entitled to do what they want with their time, but right now, right here, as I sit outside with my laundry, enjoying the warm weather, I am content. I may not be there for all of the bang and flash of the fireworks, but I think I'm made more for the snap of the firewood, and the warmth of the sunshine.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Inspiration Mondays on a Tuesday: Hitting the Target

I work at a place where most of our work occurs out of town at worksites in remote areas. A lot of our employees are daddies who have to go away from their families for three weeks at a time to earn their living. It's the trade-off for living in a beautiful place like Vancouver Island; few people are able to live AND work here.

Once a week, we have a teleconference with all of our sites. Each site usually has to share something safety-related that they learned that week. One of our employees started off by telling us about the importance of doing a walk-around of your vehicle before you get in and drive. He learned this the hard way, because someone had neglected to close the tailgate of the pick up he was driving. "When I got to the hotel," he said, "I realized all the kits were still in there... but my suitcase was gone."

And then he continued to say how he'd lost his clothing, his work supplies and gear... and then his voice broke when he got to the part about how he'd lost all the little mementos that his children had given him "for when daddy has to go to work."

And my heart broke.

Last weekend, on a long shot, I posted a message on Facebook with the situation, a description of the suitcase, and a map of the general area of where it might have been lost. I asked people to share it, in the hopes that it might get to the right person. It got shared and shared and shared, and I had a little tiny hope that something might come of it in a couple of weeks.

Yesterday, I got an email with a message that said, "We found the suitcase you are looking for." It had a phone number and a name.

I called. The lady who answered told me how she had seen the suitcase fall out of the pick up, and how she retrieved it and tried to find the owner. She told me how she'd opened it up in the hopes she'd find a name and some kind of contact details. She found the work gear, the clothes, and the little gifts from his children. She didn't know what to do with it, until she had seen this post that had eventually been shared to a community page she frequented on Facebook.

I have never made a more rewarding phone call as the one I made to the owner of the suitcase.

And you know what I'm so happy about? I'm happy that this thing we call the Internet was used for something really, really good. I must stress: I posted this message from here in Vancouver Island, about something that was lost 1,235km from here (about 740 miles). And it got to the right person.

In an age where people use the Internet to voice opinions that they don't necessarily have to stand behind...

Where people can anonymously post videos of people doing horrible things to others...

Where it is used to share hurtful, painful thoughts...

What if we tried to make sure we didn't give air time to the bad stuff out there, and we remembered to use this thing we have for the good stuff?

For words of encouragement, inspiring stories, beautiful photos of our families, things that make us smile and think and create...

What if we did? What a truly wonderful global community we might create.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Head Above the Waves

Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim.
- Tyler-Nnott Gregson 
Yet another week flashed past in a blink of an eye, and yet again, I find myself only getting to my projects on a Saturday. Gosh, I'm frustrated with that. I'm so hoping that life slows down a bit so I can make more time for it. I feel sad looking at all my neglected skeins of yarn, all waiting to become something beautiful.

I'm glad to finally have the other two ladybug dolls finished. I had one almost finished this time last week, and the other one lay around in pieces all week until I finally got to it today. It really didn't take me all that much time, but it's a job that requires a decent amount of concentration, and was therefore something I didn't want to undertake with a work-weary brain. Still, they're cute... and they're done!

I can finally go back to my selfish knitting... and back to this stole that I started working on at the beginning of the month. I took it with me on a trip to a rocky beach back then... 

And it has since grown...

The yarn is some superwash merino dyed by an indie dyer who isn't in business anymore (sadly). It's a cool colourway called "Drain Ewe" - sort of a nod to a vampire theme. I love how striking the red is next to the black. I'm looking forward to blocking it to show off the simple lace. I'm using a pattern from Knitty called Wisp, a simple pattern that is perfect for some mindless knitting...

Except it's not quite so mindless, because it's full of a bunch of knit-two-togethers of one regular stitch and one yarn over. This means that I'm constantly tugging at the stitches to get my needle through it evenly. If I was really smart, I would have changed it to ssk stitches, which I find much quicker, but hindsight is always 20/20, and there ain't no way I'm ripping this out now!

Meanwhile, life moves wearily on. The hubby and I are very, very tired dealing with our little Rascal. He has been diagnosed with an inoperable tumour which is pressing against his sciatic nerve. It is wrapped around a portion of his bowel, which causes it to inflame every so often, rendering him weak and unable to walk some days. It's a strange thing: sometimes, he is perfectly normal, wagging his tail and running around with a toy in his mouth. Other days, I find myself holding his limp body in the middle of the night, his eyes glassy, his face unresponsive to anything I do. Some nights, he sleeps almost throughout the night. Others, he is up and wandering, uncomfortable and unsettled, and one of us usually is awake as well, unsure of what to do, unsure of what he is thinking and feeling, only knowing that this is not normal. I reach Friday exhausted and sleep-deprived, but grateful that we've made it through another week with him.

He has started a course of chemotherapy, which for dogs is a course of pills that can only be handled with gloves, along with a course of oral steroids to help with the inflammation. For the last 3 or 4 days, his appetite has been normal... and I encourage this by mixing his kibble with warm rice and a tablespoon of the finest filet mignon available in a package:

His medications and his food appear to be working, because he's back to begging to go outside to sun himself on the deck, even if it is only for five minutes at a time:

It's a good thing he's cute. And I think that, now that he gets warm meals and is currently sleeping on the spare bed, this might be the normal way of life from now on. Geez. Ah well, he's worth it. I just want him to be free of pain, whatever it takes.

And while life seems very tiring these days, I still insist on keeping faith that I will eventually stop having to live my life just barely keeping up. It will all fall into place somehow, and it will be for the best in the end.

I mean, really... I have way too much yarn for it to turn out otherwise...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Inspiration Mondays: When Food is Love

As someone who spends a great deal of time working on controlling my emotional eating, writing a blogpost title like the one above is like walking into a nursery school and screeching out a string of profanity. Blasphemy, in text. Sensationalism in a phrase.

But yesterday, I came across the poem below from and it was the most inspiring story of humanity I've read in a while. It is a simple story of a day in an airport when someone did what she could to make another person's situation better.

I walked into a job this time last year where I had little to no experience to share. What I could do was share whatever I could, however insignificant I thought it was at the time. And it was through that that others could find out what I was capable of, and I found my niche.

And I think that, when you give what you can, even if you think it's not all that useful, it often turns out that what you give tends to be exactly what people need.

This poem is about someone who gave her time and patience to someone else, and about how that someone else shared a bag of home made cookies with others... and made a terrible day into a truly lovely one. Please enjoy.


Shared Words, Shared Worlds
--by Naomi Shihab Nye, May 03, 2013

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,

I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.