Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

I tend to get melancholy at New Years. I think about the past and about things I had planned to do, but never got to, or started and never finished. This year I was thinking about the different ways I've celebrated the holiday.

The best New Years celebration I've had was the one seeing out 1984 and welcoming 1985. I was in Moscow, USSR.

We were a small group of Americans at the hotel. The Russians treated us wonderfully, giving us gifts as we entered the dining room. There was a chilled bottle of champagne at each place. There was never a lack of alcoholic beverage while we were visiting Russia. Since we couldn't drink the water for health reasons, and coffee resembled thick mud, we all indulged.

We had a magnificent eight course meal starting with one of my absolute favorites, a hot mushroom dip. After I married Rob, I started a quest to find the recipe for that dip. Poor Rob was forced to eat dozens of mushroom dishes, until I found the right one. It's called 'Gribnoy Zhulien' from the book Please To The Table, by Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman.

It's a finicky dish that takes a long time to prepare, but it's so good. We eat it with bread sticks but it's also wonderful spread on steak.

We had many courses, with the main one, Chicken Kiev, coming just before midnight. It was delicious, melt in the mouth good. The Russian ice cream with shaved chocolate topping came at 3AM. Many of the party goers were asleep in their rooms by then, as we had to be up at 6 to tour Lenin's tomb.

Some of us, however, decided to just stay up drinking and dancing, and got to eat lots of ice cream.

There was a live band and we all danced for hours. They played 'Rock Around The Clock' about every third number for the Americans.

We celebrated each hour with the tourists from other countries as the new year arrived in their homelands. There were many international toasts.

Most of my New Years Eves have been much calmer. For ten years I worked for a bank in the accounting and auditing departments. We had to work on New Years Eve to close out the books. Often we worked past midnight, but occasionally got home in time to see the ball drop. I remember that in those years I always made the same resolution. I resolved that in the new year I would find a new job, a new home and a new man, not necessarily in that order. Yet, when the next new year came around there I was living in the same place, at the same job, dating the same guy.

Finally I did it. I moved a few times, some nicer, some not. I got new jobs, some better, some worse, and I dated different men, most nice, a couple of losers. Then on January 15, 1986 I met Rob. All at once I had a new man, a new home and a new job and here I am now.

We've had some interesting New Years celebrations together, such as landing in Trinidad at 11PM and listening to steel bands playing in the new year.

We spent New Years day walking on the beach and enjoying the warmth of the island.

Most years we stay home and watch the crowds in Times Square.

I don't make resolutions any more, haven't in years, but this year I have. Here are some things I want to do in the coming year:

Learn to operate my embroidery sewing machine and produce some pretty things.

Learn to use the scroll saw Rob got me for Christmas.

Make a doll or teddy bear.

Work with Fudge to get his third leg of Rally and earn his title.

Get one or more pups into obedience and ready for competition.

Organize the books in the library.

Start sketching again.

Organize my photos.

Start cooking again and eat at home more.

Paint the kitchen.

Finish most of my UFOs.

Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.

Happy New Year !!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

---And A Happy New Year

I'm back. We're both feeling better and opened our gifts today. Santa was good to us. The doggies haven't had their Christmas yet. We'll probably let them have their new things tomorrow when we're up to the confusion. When there are lots of new toys involved, Rob and I have to sometimes act as referees. No matter how many toys are available, there's always someone who thinks the other guy got something better. It's our job to make sure that things remain peaceful.

There are several blogs I read daily. I get a lot of enjoyment from them for various reasons. I thought it would be fun to give some year-end awards to those bloggers. I've listed them in alphabetical order. Please feel free to pass them on to your favorite blogs.

Amy - For her great sense of humor that shows in her work. She has an appreciation of nature that stands behind each piece.

Chan - For being one of the best correspondents ever. Do you live at your computer? Whenever I leave a comment, Chan gets back to me immediately and we have had some great e-mail conversations. She's also helped me through some tough times.

Dianne - For her work with Brittany rescue and especially for her turtle patrol.

Gaylen - For sharing her sewing successes while living with four gorgeous hounds. And for her challenge to us all to remember the less fortunate dogs and cats that need our help.

Georgi - My source for contests and giveaways. She does all the work hunting them out so I can just sit back and enter. Now she needs to tell me how to win.

Joss - For sharing her original artwork with us. She has a great feel for color and I am proud to have a couple of her pieces hanging on my wall.

Kathy - For the lovely little creatures that she designs. She gives each a very special personality through her attention to detail. I can't forget her gardening prowess which makes me green with envy. I wish we could share a cup of tea in person.

Kristi - For sharing her adventures raising her twins in such a warm and humorous way that we all feel we know Scrappy and Gangles personally. I don't know how you manage to knit and sew with all that activity around you.

Many Muddy Paws - For sharing your beautiful pups with us. Pixel has the most amazing eyes I've ever seen on a dog and I was in love with Boone the minute I first saw his picture.

Mary - For sharing her unique handmade projects and the adventures of her much loved four legged family members.

Nichole - For the good work she does for homeless dogs. It takes a very special person to foster animals, then let them go to their forever homes. I've done it twice and it's not easy to say good-bye. We need more people like her.

Nicki - For getting me started on blogging. I resisted at first, but it's brought me much pleasure. And for getting us involved in Rally. It can be frustrating, but it's so much more rewarding than conformation. Fudge and I are actually working as a team. At least sometimes.

Paula - For her wonderful choices in poetry. She always manages to find the right poem to fit the situation. I look forward to her selections each week.

Stacey - For the good work she does for homeless pets, both by giving her time at the shelter and by creating her amazing sock dogs. She can actually make a sock doll resemble a real dog so much that I'm in awe of her talent.

This group says "Happy New Year".

Friday, December 26, 2008

We Wish You A Merry Christmas---

Merry Christmas to everyone.

We haven't celebrated the holiday yet. Last weekend Rob came down with the flu and was sick until Tuesday. I was glad he was feeling better in time for Christmas, then on Christmas morning I woke up with the flu. I spent the entire day in bed. Rob called the other people we were planning on visiting and canceled.

We've decided to wait until I'm feeling better to celebrate. The only gift we've exchanged so far is this virus. Thanks, Dear.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twas The Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

From our house to yours: "Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night".

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

He Knows If You've Been Bad Or Good

I want to thank all who left comments or sent e-mails about Monty. It helps to hear such warm words about my sweet boy. My heart is breaking today. Tears just keep happening as I go about my day.

Yesterday morning we received the results of the final blood test and they confirmed the diagnosis of cancer. Saturday he had a very difficult day, struggling for breath and not wanting to eat. On Sunday he did a little better. His breathing was a little easier and he ate a bit. He even stole some toilet paper, which gave me some hope. Yesterday he was stretching his neck out to try and get more air into his lungs and then he had a nosebleed. We knew it was time. I wasn't going to let him just continue to decline.

Here is a poem in his memory:

We Have A Secret
By Unknown Author

We have a secret, you and I
that no one else shall know,
for who but I can see you lie
each night in fire glow?

And who but I can reach my hand
before we go to bed
and feel the living warmth of you
and touch your silken head?

And only I walk woodland paths
and see ahead of me,
your small form racing with the wind
so young again and free.

And only I can see you swim
in every brook I pass
and when I call, no one but I
can see the bending grass.

When we came home without Monty, the rest of the pack was unusually quiet. Today the campaign began for his leadership role. Morgan is the next in age, but she's not interested in being leader. Tsar is largest, but also isn't interested.

The spot seems to be between Samba and Fudge. My money's on Samba. Several times today she put him in his place with a lot of snarling and snapping. I think it will be decided in a couple days.

I want to thank Chan and Gaylen who sent such a very thoughtful gift, a little kit to make a plaster cast of Monty's foot. I'm sorry it came a day too late, but we are going to make one of Morgan's little paw soon. I also made the suggestion to our vet today that it would be a nice thing to offer people who lose their pets.

Yesterday we also received our DOT ornament swap package and boy, did we get lucky. Nichole spoiled us and then some.

Inside her adorable card was a magnetic calendar that I can keep here on the filing cabinet next to my desk. I won't have to hunt for it every time I need to check a date.

She sent pictures of her dogs and a special magnet of big Zeus, who reminds me so much of Monty.

There was a luggage tag that says it all and a list pad and a candle all in my favorite colors of pink and purple.

My gang says, "Now on to the good stuff". TREATS !!

Don't you love the green lobster? I love the idea of Water Dogs having nautical toys. When the pups were born I gave them stuffed fish and boats and life rings and all kinds of 'sea stuff'. I think this guy is too cute.

Sky has already put his bid in on the snowman. He has to wait till Christmas, but he eyes it every time he walks by the table.

These are just too much. What beautiful collars and leash. Now all ten of my kids can have new collars for Christmas.

This is going to be my motto for the new year.

This book is full of thoughts and poetry and even has a section on saying good-bye. It was a very timely gift and Rob and I have both been reading through it today.

Finally, this gorgeous ornament which is and will always be Monty's special ornament. It will always have a special spot on our tree and will remind us of him. It seems so fitting that it came into our lives the day he left us.

Thank you Nichole. This was an exceptional gift package, one I will never forget.

Today we went back to see our vet. Samba was exhibiting pain in her foot and Morgan was limping. These two do everything together.

Samba had a split nail and with the distraction of lots of yummy treats, Dr B was able to cut it way back and stop the bleeding without Samba giving a whimper. She is doing fine now.

Morgan has a torn tendon in her right leg, near the ankle, probably from jumping off the bed and landing wrong. She's not allowed to jump off anything or go down stairs. She's also confined to leash walks, no running. She's taking anti-inflammatory meds. This apparently will be a lengthy recovery, possibly six weeks. What fun!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sleep In Heavenly Peace

This afternoon we said "Good-bye" to Monty.

Legacy's The Full Monty
March 5, 1999 - December 22, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Our Finest Gifts We Bring

We're famous!!!

Noah and his four footed housemates are the featured dogs this week on Dogs on Thursday. Be sure to look for them and while you're there check out some of the other adorable dogs and their families.

It's been a strange week with lots of highs and lows. We've spent a lot of time at the Vet's office and too much time at the car service center. We've given and received Christmas gifts and, sent and received cards.

Monty is having a hard time. He's been given medicine to help ease his breathing, but still has to stretch his neck out to get enough air. He finds it difficult to get into a comfortable position to sleep and has lost his appetite. I've been fixing all his favorites to tempt him, but have only had slight success. We're working closely with his doctors to make him as comfortable as possible. We'll have the test results back next week and know more about what we're dealing with. That's when we'll have to make the tough decisions.

Thank you to everyone who has sent good wishes his way. We appreciate the concern you've all shown for our boy.

Despite the sadness we're feeling about Monty's health, it's Christmas and we've been trying to keep going on with the holiday activities.

Yesterday I received a package from Chan.

Inside were goodies for people and goodies for doggies. Of course, we had to immediately try the doggy goodies. Everyone had a piece, Monty even tried a tiny bit and they all proclaimed them first rate. My dogs can really get into the holiday spirit when treats are involved.

There was a Christmas present for me, a carved dog puzzle box. Isn't he cute?

Included in the package was my prize from the giveaway she held recently. It was these holiday pet tissues. They'll be perfect for carrying in my bag when we pay visits over the next couple weeks.There was also the beautiful Willow Tree box with a girl and her dog. I've actually picked this box up in a couple stores and looked at it, but because I was shopping for other people I set it down again, showing unusual restraint.

What Chan didn't know was that I love little boxes and have a small collection. I have a few I bought in Russia, a couple from Mexico and Rob has given me a few over the years. They're scattered around the house, but soon I'll round them all up for a photo. I think they'll make a nice display in the library. Thank you Chan. Your gift couldn't have come at a better time.

We also got to be Santa yesterday. We delivered some little packages to our Vet Techs. They are wonderful ladies who help us so much during the year. They always show so much warmth and care to our pets and help us in so many ways. Thank you, guys, we really appreciate everything you do for us.

This year I was able to find little dog and cat pins for each of them that resemble their own pets. These are sweet little handmade pins made by Barbara Hansford in New Mexico. Visit her at Desert Impressions where she has just about every breed represented, plus other animals, too.

I especially liked the little dachshund. Isn't he a doll?

I couldn't resist this one for Chan who has a basset and also knits socks. I think Sissy has even been known to steal a sock once in a while.

I also had a gift for Nicki. She has been a good friend this year pushing me into blogging, helping me train Fudge and encouraging us to try competition, and now she's treating Monty. I cross stitched this Border Collie and made it into a pillow for her.

For Dr. B who has helped us improve the quality of life for all our pets and gone out of his way to do research and try new approaches to their individual circumstances, we gave a gift certificate. He's a tough guy to shop for so I resorted to my favorite gift, a trip to the book store.

I'm feeling tired and discouraged and the fun has gone out of the holiday, but we'll keep on going and get through this hurdle somehow. I'll try to be cheerier next post.