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The Book Thief

2014 Reading Challenge

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seven things on a sunday – summer time

1. I used to think Summer didn’t mean much unless you were able to spend your days in the country, near the water. Summer time in the city was never appealing to me and I always moped around waiting for autumn and winter. But the last few years, thanks to the help of Jinx’s Garden and the way my body and mind have changed due to exercise, I’m appreciating the summer months way more. The more muscle I build, the less over-heated I am when it’s warm out. In fact, some days I can wear a light sweater because I’m chilly. I haven’t experienced this since I was a teen. I feel grounded and calm when I walk through the garden barefoot. I am spending way more time outdoors this year than ever before. Reading, walking, running, whatever. I still long to be able to do all of this near water, but at least I am learning to enjoy the season no matter where I am.

2. I have just finished the first week of my two-week vacation from work. There’s an odd sort of guilt associated with vacation time that I can’t seem to shake. I have done almost nothing productive this past week. I have sat  outside, inside, and read. I read nine books in the last 7 days. I keep feeling like I should be doing SOMETHING with my time off other than sit around and read, but right now, that’s all I want to do. Why do we feel like we need to do stuff around the house, or be productive when we take time off? I realize that it’s often during this time that we can get stuff done, but it should also be ok to just relax when you’re off from work. Without feeling guilty. Right? I will be home alone next week as Shawn starts a new job, and that’s when I plan on puttering around the house (getting ready for a garage sale, cleaning stuff, etc). But this past week, I just needed to recharge. Since I don’t have a body of water to gaze out over, I got lost in books. I haven’t been reading like this for a long time, and it’s just nice to get back into it.

3. On Tuesday, it will be three weeks since we said goodbye to Jinx. It’s been a very difficult thing to get through our heads. Since it was so sudden, it almost feels like it never happened. We’re both constantly looking up and thinking Jinx is there, in the room with us. Jinx’s absence has made it hard for me to tend to the garden. I feel like the wind is knocked out of me each time I go down to check on the tomatoes and coocumbers. In fact, the cucumbers just aren’t growing much this year. It could just be a bad crop, but honestly, I think it’s because Jinx wasn’t down there walking through them and snuffling them. This is the first year they have not thrived. I also find it so empty when I am outside on the back deck reading. Jinx would also come out with me and just lie on the deck, enjoying being outdoors. He’d watch for squirrels and protect me from them. He’d wander down and snuffle his garden. I keep looking up from my book to talk to him and tell him he’s handsome, and a good boy. But he’s not there. Sophie does not like spending time outside at all. I’ve tried having her out there while I enjoy the air, but she just paces in front of the backdoor, waiting to be let in. It’s sad. I’m trying to find peace in the outdoors without Jinx at my side, but it’s a painful process. Still, the backyard, and Jinx’s Garden are healing me, slowly.

4. Summer time means sitting on the back deck, in the evening, with a cigar and a beer. Or wine. Or a rum and coke. Not often. Very occasionally. But it’s still something we like to do when the evenings are warm and the crickets are chirping away, and the sun is setting. It hasn’t been too humid this summer, in fact, I feel like this summer has had the most perfect weather (but that’s because it hasn’t been humid and 30C+). There have been very few mosquitos this year, which makes sitting outside in the evening a blissful experience. The spring was late and wet, so the bugs were bad then, but so far, July and August have been lovely. Shawn and I laugh and talk about everything and anything. We cry over missing Jinx. We listen to playlists on music streaming apps. We decide we need to groom Sophie. (Sophie isn’t as big of a fan of these ideas as we are.) It’s peaceful, and although we bring our phones outside with us (to capture these moments on instagram), we are disconnected from our computers for a while and we just enjoy being with each other.

5. I love the sounds of summer. Chirping birds, chirping crickets, wind in the trees. Lawnmowers in the distance. Kids playing (as long as they aren’t screaming and really loud). The distant sound of motorboats on the river. I like those sounds better when they are closer and I am near a beach, but still. The sounds of summer make me happy. The best part about this cooler-than-average summer is that we have been able to have our windows open more often and these sounds drip in throughout the day. The summer breeze brings in sweet smells of grass, water, flowers and boat fuel (I like it, ok?) and sounds of summer. Much better than the constant drone of the air conditioner (which is actually on today because it’s humid and hotter than it has been. Totally ruining the point of this post. =P)

6. I long to spend my summer in a cottage, near water. That hasn’t been a reality for years (since I moved out on my own), but I know that one day it will happen. Even if we just rent a cottage for two weeks somewhere. It’ll happen eventually. We’ve had too many summers of having our vacations not line up, or not having employment or money to do anything when we do have time together. I’d love to own a cottage, but aside from being a lot of money, it would be a lot of WORK and to really make it worth it, it would have to be close by so you could get the most out of it during the summer months. One day. We’ll have a cottage summer one day. It’s a goal.

7. For many, August marks the end of summer. And while the official season end isn’t until the middle of September, August is so different from June and July I can understand why people feel this way. August’s colours are more golden and darker greens. Shadows bathed in golden sunlight. Yellows and oranges. Not the same as fall colours, but August isn’t bright yellow, blue, and green days like June and July are. I have always loved August. It fills me with this inexplicable hope, even though I don’t seem to ever hope anymore. It fills me with an energy that makes me feel like I can accomplish anything. It’s a wonderful time to take vacation from work and just reset. I love August and its golden glow. It’s calming and perfect for lazy days of summer.

August is perfect for bath time! Even if Sophie doesn’t agree. ;)

wish you were here

Words are funny things. They can harm, they can heal. They can make you cry or make you laugh. Words might seem insignificant, but they are really quite powerful.

Some are more sensitive to words than others. I’m very sensitive to words. I have always been sensitive to words. I have this entire backstory that ultimately results in: I don’t trust others. Not easily, anyhow. Because of events in my past I have serious trust issues and although I might seem like a bouncy, social butterfly to many, I rarely let many people in to see the real me. And just because I’m laughing and joking with you, doesn’t mean I trust you. I probably don’t.

These trust issues have lightened slightly as I age. My 30s are a lot less full of suspicion and distrust, my late 30s (OMG. Does. Not. Compute.) are actually even more mellow than the earlier part of this decade. But I still trust very few people. Although I now know that I have a small core group of those I trust implicitly and for them I am extremely grateful.

But back to words.

There are words that I have always longed to hear throughout my life. Phrases that if said to me, meant that I mattered. Obviously, “I love you” was at the top of that list, and I am so, so, lucky to have those words said to me on a daily basis. But words like, “you matter”, “you’re important to me”, “this made me think of you”, are also on that list. I’m the type of person who believes that if I am not there, live and in person, next to you, that you won’t ever think of me, or remember me. So many things will make me think of others, a colour, a type of clothing, a book, a food, etc. But does anyone experience that about me, when I am not in the room with them? That’s something I used to obsess about over and over as I was growing up. I can assure you that when you deal with depression and anxiety on a daily basis, that’s one of the major themes to worry about. Those little voices in your head that tell you you don’t matter, and that no one will miss you if you’re gone.

I am happy to report that this isn’t something that plagues my every waking moment anymore, although those little voices do make their way through once in a blue moon.

A little while ago I woke up to a text message that almost made me cry. Mind you, I was also dealing with the grief of losing Jinx, so I was slightly extra emotional, but still. The text included four simple words:

“Wish you were here.”

All sorts of emotions roared through me when I read the message for both my friend and for myself. Why for myself?

Because no one has EVER said that to me before.

Can you believe it? I have never had someone say to me they wished I was somewhere they were. The message hit me hard, for so many reasons on both sides. But mostly, I felt so loved at that moment. I realize that wasn’t the point of the message, but to me, to have someone actually wish I was with them. I felt like I mattered and I was so thoroughly touched and moved that I almost cried.

And then I thought that I was being rather pathetic.

But that message has stayed with me a long time now and I keep thinking about it and I keep thinking about how lucky I am to have love and friendship in my life. Stuff I honestly never thought I would ever have. I never thought I’d be married to someone who makes me happy every single day, and who loves me fully and completely. I never thought I’d have friends I could count on when I needed them, who cared enough for me to help me get through the crappy times. I have friends that I made years ago, whom I used to worry about not wanting to be my friend, who are so dear to me. I have newer friends that I made in the last 15 years that help hold me up when I fall. All of these people help put my pieces back together when I am so broken I don’t know how I can go on.

And sometimes, these people even wish I was there. And that’s something I have longed to hear since I was just a wee little thing. Maybe I do matter. Maybe I am memorable.

Yesterday was Esther Day, a day to tell those who mean the world to you that you love them. Again, simple words. But words that MATTER. Words that heal, not harm.

Simple words, but important words. Significant words.

So, dear friends, I love you. Thank you for being part of my life.

the most difficult goodbye

Tonight we said goodbye to Jinx.

The loss of every pet is beyond difficult, but some hurt in different ways and some seem like they hurt more. We were devastated when we lost Annie back in 2011. She was just shy of her 13th birthday, and she was old. And although Annabelly was my soulmate dog, Jinx… well, Jinx is our heart.

This fluffy, perfect gentleman of a dog was the most polite, dignified, and happy dog I have ever known. Jinx was just so full of love. Love for everyone and everything (except for squirrels). He was the happiest of creatures, his tail always up and wagging.

Jinx was diagnosed with lymphoma this month, and it was apparently very aggressive. Over Father’s Day weekend we noticed that Jinx was peeing a LOT. So much that we made a vet appointment a week later and we all thought he just had a urinary infection, but we did a blood panel anyhow, just in case. Aside from the excessive urination and drinking, Jinx seemed fine. Just tired from all the peeing. He was eating well, we was still happy and bouncy. He started having trouble holding himself up on his back legs, but we thought maybe he was just in pain because of the urinary issue. He had antibiotics and that seemed to help after a week’s time. But then we got the blood test results (2 days later) and Jinx’s calcium levels were 2.5 times what they should be. It was severe and dangerous. So we did another blood test to see why there was the calcium issue. And after those tests, the vet did an extra exam to see if there were any swollen lymph nodes. And there were. A few, only they were hardly enlarged at all. She took samples for biopsies and on Friday last week we got the call that they came back positive.

Jinx had cancer.

More specifically, Jinx had lymphoma. We met with the vet Monday evening and discussed options. We were supposed to see an oncologist today, but Jinx hasn’t been eating since Friday (without us forcing food into him by syringe) and the oncologist had already told the vet that Jinx’s prognosis wouldn’t be great even with thousands of dollars of treatment. Without treatment, he gave Jinx less than a month left. We were going to meet with him anyhow, but this morning… we made the decision that we needed to for Jinx. He was obviously suffering. He just lies in one spot and his breathing is laboured. He’s not eating (although he apparently goes CRAZY for McDonald’s fries. So we fed him a bunch of those last night.) and he’s sad.

Jinx isn’t ever sad. He’s happy, offended by impropriety and squirrels, and gets a little down if someone is upset in the house, but he’s never sad. And it’s obvious he’s unhappy and in pain. So we cancelled the oncologist appointment (4 months isn’t something I’d wish on Jinx) and I called our vet.

This is one of the hardest decisions we have ever had to make. It was tough with Annie, but she let us know she was ready. And we knew it was coming. With Jinx… we’ve had about 4 weeks to watch him get worse, then better, then worse, and then… cancer.

Out of nowhere. He was FINE in April when we went for our annual checkup. Maybe we should have had a blood panel done then. Maybe we would have noticed the calcium thing then, but it would have been a treatable thing. But we weren’t going to do any blood work until he was 10 because 9 isn’t that old for a Finnish Lapphund. Especially not a perfectly healthy one.

Our little puppy, always a puppy in manner and action. Goofy, loveable, proper. Waggling tail. Always waiting to be invited onto the couch, bed, or to take food from you. Always making sure you don’t stand too close together when you hug (No, puppies!). Always telling you off when you have the audacity to walk backwards, or try to sneak up on someone. Nothing aggressive, just a warning BIG YAWN and if that doesn’t get the message through, he lets out a little RAOOOF to let you know he means business.

Jinx has had four homes in his lifetime. His first four months were spent in Tennessee until he drove all the way up here (yes, on his own) and joined us on our wedding day, then we had a lovely year in Verdun – until the house fire. Jinx spent his formative (read: CHEW ALL THE THINGS) year with us in the basement of my in-laws’ home for a year after the fire before we were able to move into our own home. Our first home owned completely my ourselves. While living with his Pawpaw and Mama in that basement, he managed to help them remodel a few wooden items, like their deck. He also loved to carry around rocks and logs of wood. One of his favourite toys that year was a chunk of  foundation cement that his Pawpaw had drilled out of the wall to install a vent.

Most of the chewing was out of Jinx’s system by the time we bought this house. There were a few incidents while here, but we realized after the loss of Annie, that she might have been framing him all this time. Jinx is a good dog and generally, if you tell him not to do something just once, he’ll listen. He doesn’t like to upset people and he doesn’t like to do the wrong thing. He’s a tender soul. Kind. Gentle as all get out. Playing with smaller dogs, or children, he’s so gentle and lightly paws at them, or rolls over on his side so they can jump all over him. We have always been surprised and impressed by Jinx’s gentle and thoughtful nature. He really had a human sort of nature when it came to understanding things. And honestly, he was better that a human because he just LOVED so hard and so unconditionally (unless you were a squirrel or a rat).

You could tell Jinx something once. Just once. He would get it. And you could have conversations with him, and he would GET it. He understood tone. He understood moods. (He was scared of bad, angry moods, and would hide in another room. But if you were sad or sick? He was right there next to you, with a paw on your arm.)

Jinx loved to play soccer. He would kick a ball around with his paws forever when he was younger. He would squeak the squeakers out of squeaky toys for hours. He would eat the ears off toys and destroy indestructible toys within 10 minutes of taking them out of the bag. He loved to sunbathe. He hated shade. Our arctic breed dog, loved the sun. I’d tell him to get in the shade and he’s slink back on to the deck and sort of lie in the shade. He knew the letter of the law and he knew how to manipulate it. He knew. We never explained to him what “sun” and “shade” was. But the first time we said, “Jinx, get out of the sun and into the shade, you dopey dog.” he walked right into the shade and laid down. He was smart. He was sweet. He was sneaky about getting sun when he could. We always watched him closely because we didn’t want him to get heatstroke. Never thought cancer would be in the cards.

The most surprising thing I learned about Jinx was that he loved to garden. We’d never had a garden before and a few years ago I planted some cucumbers and tomatoes to see if I could get anything to grow and Jinx took over that garden so fast. Not once did he destroy anything, there was no pottying, no chewing, just absolute GLEE in wandering through the plants and snuffling everything. He’s the one who would alert me to ripe cucumbers (which he LOVED) and tomatoes (which he HATES). His love of the garden quickly became our summer amusement and for the last three years, Jinx has been a proud gardener and the garden has thrived. This year, Jinx hasn’t really been down there since the plants only really started to grow after Father’s Day weekend, so they are all smaller and less fruitful than normal. It’s rather sad.

He loved that garden though and he was a surprisingly good gardener for a dog. He had a Green Paw and I don’t even have a Green Thumb!

We couldn’t let Jinx continue to suffer and although this entire day has been almost nothing but tears, Jinx has been bombarded with love and McDonalds fries and hugs. My sister and nephew came over to say goodbye. The new neighbours who have Ellie, the Golden Retriever that Jinx Looooooves, came over after work and they sat in the backyard with us, and said their goodbyes to Jinx. Ellie, as in her fashion, barked at Jinx almost the entire time. They were a sweet couple for the last 6 months. Aside from some private messages and texts, the only social media that this was announced on was instagram and the outpouring of love from friends over Jinx has been so heartfelt.

We took Sophie with us tonight when we went to the vet. We didn’t want her to see us leave the house with Jinx and then come back without him. And it would help us to have her to hug and kiss and cry into after we left without Jinx. So all four of us were together in the examination room when Jinx got his shot of morphine.

We all said goodbye as a family.

I could be there for that, but I couldn’t stay with him for the rest. Shawn stayed with Jinx through it all. He was there for him, like he was for Annie, so that they weren’t alone for their final moments. Jinx was all comfortable on a blanket, on the floor of the room. (I didn’t even tell the vet how much Jinx loved fuzzy blankets, but they had one for him just the same!)

We did something for Jinx that we didn’t do for Annie. We will be getting his ashes back in an urn. We both had the same thought – we needed something for Jinx’s Garden. We both had another idea at the same time earlier today when we’d made the very difficult decision to call the vet – we wanted a sign for his garden.

We went out to the art store and bought paint and a wooden sign. We (messily) made paw prints on the sign, and I’ll be adding to it (his name, and some coocumber drawings) and then varnishing it. It will hang over his garden. We will have a little Urn (that I can paint myself) to place in the Garden as well. It will say “Jinx – The Happy Gardener” on the plaque.

We said goodbye to the most polite and gentle dog tonight. The best wedding gift ever. The Happiness and Heart of our family. Now we are three, and Sophie is confused – that hurts just as much as losing Jinx. We have each other and Jinx was a wonderful part of our lives for 9 full years.

Sophie will miss you.

Your father will miss you. I will miss you.

Find Annie, Jinxy. She’s out there waiting for you. She’ll take one look at you, sigh, and promptly wash your face and ears like she used to every night after dinner. She will be quite miffed that you haven’t kept up the washing, or the dreadlocks behind your ears like she used to make for you. You listen to her well. She’s your Big Sister and loves you. We miss you so much already, Jinxy, but we know Annabelly will look after you now.

I love you Jinxy. Goodbye.

endurance

run

I am not fast
I often trail behind
I go at my own pace
And I take breaks

I no longer feel the need to keep up with others
Sometimes I fall back into the insecurity
Of thinking I’m too slow, or not as good as the person next to me
But then I remember that I can only do what I can
And my own personal victories are rewarding

It might not seem like I am accomplishing much
But I know I am
I know when to push
And when to pull back
I know my body
And listen to what it needs

I won’t get there in record breaking time
But I’m not trying to
I’m not the most coordinated
I’m not the fastest, strongest, or best

So what if I can’t lift as much as the person beside me
So what if I can’t run as fast as the person in ahead of me
So what if I progress slower than the rest
I’m still making progress

I am not perfect
But I get out there
And I give it all I can
I take the time to do things right
And not rush through to finish first, or fastest

As I build endurance
I build confidence
Confidence to go at my own pace
Confidence to accomplish my own goals
Confidence to stop when I need to stop
And go when I need to go

I might lag behind, but I will get there
And when I do, I’ll be happy about the journey
And even happier to have reached my destination
Because I did it all on my own

1990s me is soooo happy right now

ALL-CAPS HAPPY, EVEN!

Internet! The amount of happy I am about this is rather pathetic, but I don’t care!

Back at the beginning of May, I wrote about seeing this dress at Simon’s:

I lamented over how expensive it was, but how much I would LOVE to own this dress.

Then I forgot about it. For two months. Until my most recent Seven Things on a Sunday post where I was looking back through my blog for something and was reminded.

So I looked the dress up on the website and was happy to see that it was now on sale for $19.99. But alas! They only has XS and S in stock. I took a chance today and Mo and I went to the store over lunch.

Lo! There were four dresses left in stock and they had ONE large! So I tried it on. It fit! And it was $19.99 so… I HAD to get it right?

But wait! When I went to pay for the dress, turns out it had just been marked down even more! So it was only $9.99!!

Fate, I tell you!

There are many who think that 90s fashion should not resurface, but I loved some of it – and the denim overalls and floral skirts were part of that. There are certainly some things I think are better left in the past, but this one? This one makes me happy.

And it’s not a huge good news story, but it’s a little thing that makes me happy. With all the unhappy going on right now, I’ll take what I can get. And I got THIS for ten bucks. Woo and hoo!