Monday, December 30, 2013

Really Cold Water

Our daughter flew down from Wisconsin to spend Christmas with us.  While our weather was a bit cooler than normal, most days were sunny.  And with the unusually cold weather in WI, our days seemed almost balmy.  Our daughter remarked that it was wonderful to go outside with a jacket rather than a heavy coat and scarf.

We drove through the mountains and stopped at one of her favorite places, Looking Glass Falls.  The mountains kept the waterfall in shade and the areas surrounding were covered with ice from the mist.

This view is from the road.  We decided not to walk down to the damp cold.

The trees were beginning to get some sun to melt the ice on their branches.

Further downstream we saw several fishermen wading and casting in the cold, cold water.  Brave souls they are.

This morning our daughter arrived in Milwaukee to a welcoming temperature of minus 4.  She already misses sunny North Carolina.

Here's hoping your last few days of 2013 are bringing you good weather, happiness and great joy.

Friday, December 27, 2013

We Love Lucy

We had a lovely Christmas.  After we opened the gifts, we gave Lucy hers.  A plush toy puzzle.  It is a hollow tree stump with three little squirrels hiding inside.  They all have squeakers.  It's a great toy.

Lucy has no idea what she is supposed to do

She tentatively chews an edge of wrapping

She moves near my husband and looks at me

My husband helped her take off some paper.
Even with one of the squirrels visible, Lucy is not really interested.

We finally placed the toy on her bed.  She clearly has no idea what to do with it.
We tried putting our hands inside the stump, putting one squirrel inside and squeaking it, tossing the squirrels like tennis balls but Lucy was having none of it.

She still has not touched the toy and in fact moves to avoid it.  The gift was not a success at all but we will leave it around just in case.

Today's quote is from author Edna Ferber:

Christmas isn't a season.  It's a feeling.

So let's try to keep this feeling longer.


Monday, December 23, 2013

In the Eyes of the Beholder

Not many people in our community put out Christmas displays.  A few tasteful red bows or candy canes, or some flags announcing the season.  But not much else.

There is, however, one house that goes all out for Christmas.  I love to drive past it both in daylight and dark.  None of those inflatables for them.

How often do you see a gecko bearing gifts?

And ever laughing Elmo

Reindeer pig, anyone?

They shine brightly at night.

I must admit that I have a dislike for the inflatables, but I love to see outdoor decorations.  Some are elaborate and some are simple.  As far as I'm concerned, none are tacky.  (Although one nativity display with Rudolph sticking his head in the manger came mighty close.)  It's all in the eyes of the beholder.

Friday, December 20, 2013

We Love Lucy

Lucy has never had a plush toy.  Ellie had already learned to disembowel them before Lucy arrived on the scene.  This year we got Lucy a plush toy for Christmas.  We're not sure what she will do with it.

Lucy deep in thought

Each year at Christmas, we give the Golden Girls presents.  And each year Lucy looks on while Ellie opens them.  She doesn't seem to know what to do, so she follows Ellie's lead.
Ellie tears right in

When the presents are opened, Lucy watches Ellie to see what to do with them.
Ellie watches to make sure Lucy is gets it

We're not sure whether or not Lucy will figure out how to open her gift.  And we are not at all sure what she will do with a stuffie.  I'll let you know.

Today's quote is from author Abigail Thomas:

I watch my dogs.  They throw themselves into everything they do; even their sleeping is whole-hearted.  They aren't waiting for a better tomorrow or looking back at their glory days.  Following their example I'm trying to stick to the present.

Wise words indeed.  As someone once said, this is not a dress rehearsal.  Live your life today.


Monday, December 16, 2013

We Love Christmas

We've been married over four decades now, and our Chistmas traditions have changed over the years.  When we were both working, all decorating was completed in a single weekend.  The real tree and all the trimmings.  Our children loved deciding which ornaments were "front" worthy and which ones went to the back of the tree.

Now we have an artificial tree and put it up and decorate at our leisure with no timelines.  While I did enjoy the hustle and bustle of doing everything at once, I also like the slower onset of bringing out our Christmas treasures.

One thing the slower pace allows, is more memories of Christmas past.  One dreadful one we will never forget.  On Sunday, after we brought the tree inside and put on the lights, my husband began running a high fever with chills and aching.  Despite having received a flu shot, he had a bad case of flu.  Two days later I also got sick.  We took turns languishing on the sofa and during brief periods hung a few ornaments on the tree.  Then we got a call from the nursing home where his mother was residing.  She was sick.  Pneumonia.  So with a temperature of 102 I went over to the emergency department to admit her to the hospital.  I wore a mask of course and you cannot imagine how miserable it is to have a fever and wear a mask.  When I got home, we both cursed ourselves for not calling our doctors and getting an anti-viral.  Nope.  Neither nurse nor doctor thought of it.  We learned later that our batch of flu vaccine had been recalled as ineffective.

But even that Christmas was still a good Christmas.  We have abandoned a lot of the traditions but we still retain the memories of all those years.  The gifts we gave and received.  The excited faces of our children.  Having coffee cake while emptying our stockings.  Then opening the gifts and trying to guess what gift one aunt had sent.  She always sent the most tacky gifts.  One year it was three small coffee samples that clearly had come from a cheese package she had received.

One of my favorite gifts is a Santa my husband gave me many years ago.  He has a lovely face and is cradling a number of dolls in his arms.  Each year I love bringing him out of his box and putting him out once more.

Santa with dolls.

If you celebrate Christmas I hope you have as much fun surrounded by your favorite decorations as we do.  The house seems so cheerful when Christmastime is near.  And the wonderful memories come flooding back.

Friday, December 13, 2013

We Love Lucy

Lucy is still grieving.  There is little doubt about that. She is no longer the mischievous dog who won't grow up.  Her sense of humor has left for a while.  She rarely plays with toys.  She stays by our side all the time.  She does wag her tail but her smile is rare.  It's clear...she misses Ellie.

On the other hand, she gets very excited when we take her for a ride or to the park.  She found that the drive-through at the pharmacy provides a cookie along with the prescriptions.  And she welcomes friends and neighbors just like always.  She is eating and drinking and we're sure she will finally get other Ellie's death.  Just as we will.

She checks frequently that we are still there and never runs far ahead.

And here is why we still grieve.
We all miss her so.

At times like these it is well to listen to the words of Kahlil Gibran:

"When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart.  And you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."

And so, it is true.  We are so happy that we had ten wonderful years with Ellie.  And nothing can take that from us.  We are smiling because it happened.  For those who asked, yes we will be getting another Golden Retriever in the future.  We want to get an adult and while no dog will ever replace our Ellie, one more Golden will be a good thing.

Hold on tight to those you love.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Even Here in the NC Mountains

Many of you know that there is an almost unprecedented irruption of Snowy Owls this year.  All along the Great Lakes area and New England the Snowy Owls are everywhere.  They are most often seen in areas that look similar to the tundra, including sandy coasts and airports.  This year the Snowy Owls have traveled much further south than usual.

In fact, there have been several sightings right here in Transylvania county.  Birders from across the south-east have come here for a chance to see one of these birds, a lifer for many.

 This one first seen on December 7
Photo by M Simpson

And this one on December 8
Photo by D. Womack

And this one also on December 8
Photo by J Griggs

And this one on December 9
Photo by W. Thomas

So Hedwig and his brothers have been sighted multiple times but so far no one has seen Harry.

Last week New York officials shot and killed three Snowy Owls at JFK Airport.  After a massive protest by the birding world, they wisely decided to trap and relocate them instead.

To see a map of the Snowy Owl irruption click here.  You will note that a Snowy Owl has been spotted even in Burmuda.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thank You So Much!

I can't begin to tell you how much comfort I have received from your warm comments about our losing Ellie so suddenly.  The pain is still sharp although I know it will lessen as time goes on.  Because we are retired, we spent much more time with the Golden Girls than we did with our other dogs.  And we miss Ellie all that much more.

Ellie's death has taken a toll on Lucy as well as on us.  As regular readers know, the two dogs were rarely apart from one another.  And it was always Lucy who sought out Ellie.  And then used her for a pillow.

Lucy has never known a life without Ellie so it is not surprising that she misses her.  At first she was very quiet and reserved.  Then, after about four days we both noticed that she had wagged her tail for the first time.  She is still a bit "clingy" and doesn't seem to want to be in a room by herself so she follows my husband around much like she followed Ellie.  And she often uses his shoe as a pillow.  But she is eating and drinking and seems to be doing well, almost enjoying the extra attention she gets.
I don't know when I will return to blogging.  My muse still hasn't reappeared.  But I will return.  Meanwhile I will enjoy reading your blogs.
Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your wishes and kind words.
Take care...