My Life With Dogs – January 2022

January… the time of never-ending winter.

I am not going to lie, January has been tough this year with the unrelenting cold and an above-average blanket of snow.

I find myself craving to cocoon but the dogs need to move, so that is what we do.

Even on the most bitter of January days, we are out at least for a short while. Some days it seems that the time getting dressed is longer than the time spent outdoors, but regardless, it always feels good to get some fresh air and then hurry back to the warmth inside.

Windy – White – Wintery – Wishful – January

Odin, the brave
Lacie, my heart
Lacie has the best and happiest recall!
comfy and cozy… dreaming of spring

“Come, ye cold winds, at January’s call, On whistling wings, and with white flakes bestrew The earth.” ~ John Ruskin

Life With Dogs – November 2021

Grey is the colour of my November.

For, this is the month when the inevitable happens… winter comes. This year it arrived with a bang, a three-day rain/snow event that left us with wet, heavy snowdrifts along with a new reality.

The dogs didn’t seem to mind although Odin did initially seem a little puzzled.

What’s happening!
But surprise soon turned to winter fun

November is also the month that marks the anniversary of Roland’s passing. It’s been two years now and, for the most part, I feel I am doing better.

But… November has me falling backwards.

The November days, and even more so the nights, are a struggle. I find myself back in that place where Grey lives inside me. I am learning to accept this but am humbled and a little shaken by the loneliness and sadness that still live here.

Roland loved his dogs. I miss him and the life we shared every day.

“Little by little, we let go of loss, but never of love.”

November is not without its splash of colour… and I have my grandkids to thank for this. From October 22 to November 30, five of them have birthdays.

These kids help me remember the good.

And then there are the W.A.S. dogs! They own my heart.

These are but some of the November adoptables. So many great dogs needing good homes…

That leaves my two, Odin and Lacie… where would I be without them! They get me up and out and, more often than not, have me smile.

So yes, November is a tough month and I suspect, for me, that’s just the way it is and will be.

But writing this, and seeing the photos pop up on screen does help.

I guess I have to hold my gratitudes a little closer…

and try to remember to just breathe.

my brain and
heart divorced

two years ago

over who was
to blame about
how big of a mess
I have become

eventually,
they couldn't be
in the same room
with each other

now my head and heart
share custody of me

I stay with my brain
during the week

and my heart
gets me on weekends

they never speak to one another
- instead, they give me
- the same note to pass
- to each other every week
and their notes they
send to one another always
says the same thing:

"This is all your fault"

on Sundays
my heart complains
about how my
head has let me down
in the past

and on Wednesday
my head lists all
of the times my
heart has screwed
things up for me
in the future

they blame each
other for the
state of my life

there's been a lot
of yelling - and crying

so,

lately, I've been
spending a lot of
time with my gut
who serves as my
unofficial therapist

most nights, I sneak out of the
window in my ribcage

and slide down my spine
and collapse on my
gut's plush leather chair
that's always open for me

~ and I just sit sit sit sit
until the sun comes up

last evening,
my gut asked me
if I was having a hard
time being caught
between my heart
and my head

I nodded

I said I didn't know
if I could live with
either of them anymore

"my heart is always sad about
something that happened yesterday
while my head is always worried
about something that may happen tomorrow,"
I lamented

my gut squeezed my hand

"I just can't live with
my mistakes of the past
or my anxiety about the future,"
I sighed

my gut smiled and said:

"in that case,
you should
go stay with your
lungs for a while,"

I was confused
- the look on my face gave it away
"if you are exhausted about
your heart's obsession with
the fixed past and your mind's focus
on the uncertain future

your lungs are the perfect place for you

there is no yesterday in your lungs
there is no tomorrow there either

there is only now
there is only inhale
there is only exhale
there is only this moment

there is only breath

and in that breath
you can rest while your
heart and head work
their relationship out."

this morning,
while my brain
was busy reading
tea leaves

and while my
heart was staring
at old photographs

I packed a little
bag and walked
to the door of
my lungs

before I could even knock
she opened the door
with a smile and as
a gust of air embraced me
she said

"what took you so long?"

~ John Roedel (johnroedel.com) 

**** This post is part of the 2021 Life With Dogs photography project. ****

Life With Dogs – October 2021

Here on the prairies one never knows what October will bring… will it be cold, will we get snow.

We were fortunate this year, enjoying many mild, sunny days. The cold north winds held off til the end of the month allowing for lots of time to prep the homes and the yards for the winter that lies ahead.

October also marks the beginning of birthday season in my family, not only for the grandkids, but also for Odin.

My big boy turned 3 on Oct 3. Happy Birthday Odin!

It seems like only yesterday that Roland and I first brought you home, one timid, scared pup who allowed only Lacie to get close.

My, how you have grown… and much happier now.

For me, October is a difficult month, so many memories come flooding back. It was on October 2nd, two years ago, that Roland was first symptomatic and diagnosed with brain cancer. Seven weeks later he died and my life changed forever.

He used to plant a small corn crop in a garden plot on the field side of our fence. The summer after he died, I made it into a butterfly garden, secretly wishing and hoping that a butterfly would find his spirit and let him know how very much I love him. Silly maybe, but the thought brings me comfort.

This was the butterfly gardens second summer and it did amazing. Plants and flowers sprung up out of no-where. The mild fall days had the flowers still blooming into late October.

I think this photo of Lacie sitting in the butterfly garden would have made Roland smile. He loved his dogs.

This is simply Odin being silly. He had just completed a zoomie round and was feeling quite full of himself.

I can not let the month pass without mentioning the many great adoptable dogs I have met while volunteering at Winnipeg Animal Services. Here are but some of their faces. More can be viewed on the Winnipeg Animal Services Petfinder page.

So many great dogs needing good homes…

October brings shorter days reflected in the changing light of our early morning field walks. Thankfully scarves and mitts are not yet needed… so we enjoy what is.

Two good dogs…

“The end of summer is not the end of the world. Here’s to October…” ~ A. A. Milne

**** This post is part of the 2021 Life With Dogs photography project. ****

Life With Dogs – September 2021

Here in Manitoba, September often comes with still warm days and an abundance of blue sky. The difference lies in a shift in the winds and a notable coolness to the breeze, often a welcome reprieve from the summer heat.

The abundance of summer green gives way to subtle changes of yellow and red while gardeners reap their rewards and shake their heads at the speed of summer’s passing .

One of the joys of gardening is the surprises that nature gifts us every year. This sweet little sunflower came about from letting one of the sunflower seeds below the birdfeeder sprout and grow. Next year I hope to have many more.

September is also a time of letting go and starting fresh. A time to embrace the good times that summer afforded us while preparing to tackle new beginnings that bring with them a renewed sense of purpose and excitement.

One of my happiest days was the very first day of the month when, after an 18 month hiatus related to Covid-19 restrictions, I returned as a volunteer to Winnipeg Animal Services. I am so very happy to be back photographing the adoptable dogs. Here are but some of the wonderful faces that I have met so far… great dogs needing good home.

The third weekend of September, I closed down our seasonal site at Debonair Campground. The weekend was warm and the sun still hot making the endearvour bittersweet. But, it was time.

Taking a moment
A sprinkling of leaves on the forest floor, a sure sign of things to come.
We came across this little wishing well where the paths diverge. With no pennies in my pocket, we left wishes instead.
Some call it camping, some call it glamping.
The bush is Odin’s favourite resting place, especially during the heat of the day.
Lacie, patiently waiting her turn at play
Better watch out… here I come!

The greatest joy was having my sister visit after 2 years of her not being able to because of the covid restrictions. The weather remained unseasonably warm allowing for plenty of out door time. It was wonderful to have her here and to be able to walk, talk and shop. The dogs enjoyed her company just as much as I did.

Its not easy getting a morning yoga practice in with these two.

“But now in September the garden has cooled, and with it my possessiveness. The sun warms my back instead of beating on my head… The harvest has dwindled, and I have grown apart from the intense midsummer relationship that brought it on.” ~ Robert Finch, Poet

**** This post is part of the 2021 Life With Dogs photography project. ****

Life With Dogs – August 2021

In past years, August has seemed that time of never-ending summer. This year that perception feels lost… August flew by so quickly and varied so much from the norm, that I missed that sensation of being immersed in sunshine and butterflies.

The first few weeks were hot, very hot. The heat, combined with the smoke from distant forest fires and no rain, had me very thankful for my air-conditioned home.

Mid-month brought a summer storm that broke the drought and set new records for the amount of rain to fall in a day. Cooler days followed the rain, having it feel more like fall than summer.

Because of the weather extremes my time at our seasonal site was less than what I had hoped for. I was able to make up for some of the lost time at Debonair during the last week of August but am still kinda shaking my head at how quickly the summer days have passed.

The dogs and I enjoy our walks. Debonair has some woody, scenic paths that we enjoy, especially in the morning. Surprisingly there were little in the way of insects this year which made the early morn and late evening strolls all the better.

The extreme heat in the beginning of the month necessitated the need for more shade. This canopy offered some very appreciated cover and comfort for both me and the dogs. I love how it seems so tiny under the tall birch trees.

The rain mid-month and the cooler days that followed allowed for more outdoor and walking time both in St. Malo and back home in Winnipeg.

“This morning, the sun endures past dawn. I realize that it is August: the summer’s last stand.”
― Sara Baume, A Line Made by Walking

**** This post is part of the 2021 Life With Dogs photography project. ****

Life With Dogs – July 2021

July is the month I dream about in December but this year July has been a time of extremes.

A record breaking heat dome has brought endless days of above +30C temps with little if any rain. Heavy smoke from distant forest fires blankets our field with a thick haze that is turning the normally blue sky into a winter-like grey.

The conditions are such that our outdoor time has been limited to early mornings and late evenings and even then, one has to be mindful of the air advisory that is in place.

But there are always reasons to smile…

Six years ago, on July 3rd, Roland and I brought home our sweet Lacie to join the family. It was thought at that time that she was approximately 4 years old… that would make her about 10 today.

Happy Gotcha Day Lacie! Love you!

Occasionally a strong wind blows through and clears our skies giving us a short reprieve from the smell and the smoke.

But on many mornings the first sun of the day presents as a red ball glowing through a smokey haze casting a fiery radiance to the morning light.

When we are at our seasonal site, Odin and I usually head out early in the day to beat the heat and the crowds.

Debonair campground has a lovely aerated pond that is quiet in the early morn but transforms mid-day into a fun oasis for kids of all ages.

Our morning jaunts often include a walk to the main beach at St. Malo Provincial Park.

On this morning, I wondered what had captured Odin’s rapt attention.

It wasn’t long before I found out…

A squirrel, scampering about in the park adjacent to the beach, had caught his eye.

Odin is always on squirrel-watch.

Heading back to camp…

Just chillin’ on a hot summer’s day…

“The summer looks out from her brazen tower, through the flashing bars of July.” ~ Francis Thompson

**** This post is part of the 2021 Life With Dogs photography project. ****