Sunday, October 25, 2015

Spring 2011

An unposted draft from 2011... the themes continue their relevance, so it is now freed from being unposted!

The only way we've been eating cauliflower this year.I have a beautiful new bench and used it for a good 3 hours on Saturday.

Thinking about the garden, excited for the sun.
Peter's been making alot of rye bread recently, I'm certainly not complaining.
Very much looking forward to my summer commute.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jackie Jackson Terrence - R.I.P.

One of our dogs left us last week. I picked up his ashes yesterday, accompanied by a pawprint that they made for us that says "Jackson" on it. It's almost a week later. I've been struggling with what I want to say about it, and who I might say it to. I really don't want to tell it to anyone... the thought of posting it on something like facebook is appalling to me. But... I want to somehow leave something somewhere that someone might find so that they could know about Jackson. I would like to memorialize him. I guess we could have a wake for him... and maybe we will, but for the moment... I kind of just want to be alone with my thoughts. I guess that's what blogs are for... being alone with your thoughts in a public forum.

When I carried Jack out to the Vet's car... he was the softest I'd ever felt... and the smallest. I asked for that last option to be with him. To carry him to their car. All 69 pounds of him. If I had tried that when he was alive, he'd be pissed off. Recently passed... I hope that he cherished it as much as I did. That's what has stuck with me the most... how small and how soft. How small and how soft. Sigh... I'm at work and my eyes are hurting from the tears that are trying to come out. This might be something I finish over time.

I met Tracie partly because of Jackson. Tracie lived in Bethel, and she was interesting because she lived far away from me, was an intriguing person, and she had a quirky picture of Jack. Something about how his ears were cocked. He looked like a good dog. Someone with a dog like that must be a good person.

As he fell asleep in our living room for the last time... his ear stayed up. Tracie touched it and commented on that.

Tracie and I met, and it wound up that she was moving into Anchorage in a few months. Eventually I got to meet Jackson in person. I think he looked a bit like Alf. Tracie would never agree, but most people agreed with me when they saw him... if they didn't even confirm it independently. He also had a real personality, not so sarcastic as Alf though... and I don't think that Jack ever ate a Cat.

Tracie and I dated, with our pets (Jackson, Mason the dog and Asia the cat) a part of our integrated lives. We married on December 29, 2007. The site for our wedding was Otis Lake, about half a block from our house. When we got the walkie talkie call that all was ready, we walked with Mason and Jackson from our house and down to the lake. Mason had Tracie's ring tied around his neck, and Jackson had my ring. (Asia wasn't invited.). The dogs were funny. Mason kind of flopped down on the ice, and Jackson sat there politely (mostly) facing the wrong way. They were our ringbearers... and I guess since no one was there to give Tracie away, Jackson did double-duty on that task.

He was almost thirteen years old. Tracie got him eleven years ago. If you look at it right, he did get an extra year. Last year he had a pretty bad cancerous growth on his back. The prognosis wasn't very good for it, but we had the vets take out a big chunk of him... and it didn't come back... at least there.

Jackson really liked to have his legs rubbed. I felt the lump on his left leg the week before he left us. Tracie took him into the vet at 3:00 on Wednesday. He had cancer in his bone that had reduced much of it to sponge. The vet was surprised that he hadn't broken his bone already. She warned us that it could happen in the next few days, or the next week or two. It would be excruciating when it did happen. I got home at 6:00... Tracie hadn't been home long. We talked. We cried. We hurt.

All dogs like their schedules I think. Jackson loved breakfast, with being let outside afterwards. He loved his dinner, ideally with a walk afterwards. Sometimes we're good, sometimes we're not. That night we took him for a walk with Mason, and his limping took on a new significance in our minds.

Jack had been getting older. Other than last year's cancer, he'd had some bladder problems where he hadn't been able to hold it in the house. He also had some instances where he pooped in the house. We couldn't help but laugh at those rare instances, recognizing that things happen when you get older... and because we'd seen the episode of "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" where Danny DeVito left poops for the heck of it. It's not as gross as it sounds. The bladder problems subsided, and the poops mostly. On our walks, he did still kind of poop in the middle of his walking. Wherever, just stop and poop. None of his previous signs of, "I think I'll poop here... sniff... sniff... yep, this is a good spot.". Just... here it comes.

But... age and what it brings can be easy to live with when it's not about pain and misery. He was a happy dog and brought much of the same to us. I can say I've never been around a dog with so much character. I know that we anthropomorphize... but... he had a personality. A dog's personality, but one nonetheless.

My mom and the vet were right. Jackson did quietly fall asleep. I was scratching his ears (one of his favourite things), and his eyes got droopy and his head slowly fell to the floor. We cleared a spot in the middle of our living room, and had him on his dog bed. I had his head, scratching his ears, and Tracie was to my left... also petting him. The vet and her tech were fantastic people. The tech shared that she had lost her dog in the past year, and she was crying. What a hard thing to do for someone. To come into another person's house to take away an important and cherished part of their lives. The vet did tear up as well. Sigh... I'll come back to this later.

(a few weeks later)

Four weeks ago today. It's much easier of course, but there's always a space in our house where Jack should be. Lying in a corner of the kitchen when we're working in there. We eventually gave up on ordering him "out of the kitchen". Lying on the floor in front of us when we were on the couch. Less frequently on his dog bed upstairs (choosing to be closer to us). This space where Jack should be always moves around... generally someplace close to us. If you think about it right, this space could be Jack. It's just not him physically. It doesn't matter, he's still there.

One of the things we notice is the lack of noise. Jack was a vocal dog... barks, a lot of groans... and burps. He burped and blew. He had stinky Jack breath. With his groans, you could tell when he lay down. He'd slowly get down, accompanied by deep groans. For some reason, he got to have two beds in our bedroom. One on each side of the bed. It seemed he would fall asleep on one side, and then sometime in the night move to the other. I'd sometimes hear him move over, and moan as he lay back down.

The container with his ashes is on our windowsill in our bedroom. We booked a ticket to go down to Tracie's home in Oregon, and we'll be taking him along. Her family has a beach house and Jackson used to chase the seagulls on the shore there. Tracie feels it's a nice spot. It's also a place where he'll get to be with family. Walking on the beach is always on the list of what to do at the house there.

I don't think I have much more to say... other than if I let myself think about it... I really miss him. I always called him "your dog" when I talked with Tracie... but, he was my dog too.

Oh... when Tracie adopted him, his name was Jackie Jackson Terrence... she kept it.

Today is two months... and we still find the holes in our lives that Jack occupied (and still occupies). It's still a bit weird in our house without him, but time does indeed take the edges off the sharpness of feeling... but, the feeling is there still. Just softer.
Four years later and we still find the Jackson-shaped hole in our lives. He still roams through the house and revisits us with memories like his groans, burping and blowing and how soft his fur was. We are better for knowing him, but it would be nice to be with him in person.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hoar Frost

Each winter we seem to get a period of weather that is perfect for the formation of hoar frost. This year conditions have been perfect!! There has been no wind, the temperature has been around 10F, and we've had higher humidity than normal... so it's been foggy... and amazing things have been happening to most objects outside! It's a winter wonderland...

A few days into it... a light coating on the birch branches.

Spruce needles.

Backyard trellis with frosty hops.

Pine looking like it's been spray painted!

Every view is photo-worthy.

Nice contrast in colour...

Front of our house... nice composition between spruce in front and birch behind.

The crabapples we didn't pick for making jelly...

...looking very cool as frosted bird treats...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Snozzberries, Poutine & SNOW in Toronto!

Serendipity... almost as good a word as dubious. Both appropriate! A few weeks back, Tracie asked me, "Isn't this a friend of yours?" Indeed! Tyler Clark Burke was being really interesting again, importing something I will refer to as the snozzberry, but she refers to as the mystery fruit. This tiny little berry, alters the way food tastes. So... then the globe and mail has an article about another berry tasting happening at the Drake Hotel in Toronto, and that's where I am!!! So I go! Not only was it fun to see old friends including Tyler, Cheryl and Michael (and meet new ones), I got to have probably one of the oddest and most fun food experiences to date. Warning: if you believe in dietary balance and the consumption of regularly associated foods, do not read on.

Here I am eyeballing the fruit... you might say I'm dubious... or wall-eyed.

Here the other guinea pigs are... various emotions, not sure if any dubiosity is involved here. Perhaps stunned? Worried? Distracted?
This photo makes it clear... there is NO (I repeat...NO) need for being skeptical. These berries work. The best things were probably lemons and limes, which tasted very much like sweet lemonade or limeade. Sour candies tasted like sweet candies. Little pickles tasted like sweet pickles (although, we couldn't tell... maybe they actually were sweet in the first place). Vinegar had a sweet beginning with a more vinegary finish. The most interesting was wasabi. Eating wasabi had a sweet/smooth beginning to it, with some heat... but heat depended on the person it seems. It's all kind of wacky, and left me thinking that different potato chips would have been an interesting experience as well (salt & vinegar, barbeque, wasabi even) although, I have vague memories of there being fruit flavoured chips in the 70's??? There might be a reason it didn't last...

This doesn't relate to the berry so much as it shows a bad camera angle can really affect a photo. And bad timing. While in reality it was the feeding of a spoonful of vinegar... it magically appears like someone making a goofy face while being knuckled in the kisser. There were a few foods that miraculously tasted like... themselves. I guess nothing can make brussel sprouts better?

Then... when flavours began to return and tobasco tasted like... tobasco... we went to the next stage of the "dream trip to Toronto"...

Tracie is going to kill me. She was upset enough I was getting to try snozzberries... without also getting poutine... and good poutine with veggie gravy at that!! When she had poutine, she wasn't impressed. This was pretty good. The veggie gravy was tasty, the potatoes were real, and the cheese curds were fresh (enough?)!

Biodegradeable bucket and forks too!
Here's me... and poutini!Ahhh... poutinis...

And now, for something completely different...
...and then to show that hell froze over and all of the stars were in alignment... in 30 degree Celsius weather, it snowed... and stayed on the ground... for the people filming on Queen Street. It kind of broke me though... you mean sometimes when I watch movies there are fake things in them?

Ahhh... friends make the world go round. A great evening...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fresh Bread

There's something slightly unfair about being awake earlier on the weekend than during the week. I took advantage of that this morning to bake bread for breakfast. Shortly after Tracie got up, the bread was waiting... with some raspberry jam from (many thanks to both of our moms for the plethora of preserves in our cupboard... one of our favourite things to have).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


What I started last weekend:
Stay tuned for more info on Tracie's first brewfest

What I hope to do again soon:
Harvest fresh mint
Combine with cream, sugar and some eggs


Monday, May 25, 2009

Kitchen Aid Mixers and Microwaves

Tracie asked me this morning if I would be baking rye bread so often if we didn't have our kitchen aid mixer. No. This is one labour saving device! Also, we bought a convection microwave oven. Having a microwave that has some power to it is kind of awesome. It cooks things quickly, and has the added feature of being a microwave oven. The scale in the photo is also pretty good. Weighing ingredients has a benefit for baking especially (so I've been told).

Tracie is working on a quilt for a friend who is leaving Alaska for Colorado. She's a good friend and a wonderful person - Kelly Kane, best of luck to you wherever you are. We'll see you in beautiful Colorado!