4 Years

Facebook reminded me that it’s four years tomorrow since my father died.

Amongst the memories of sunsets, flowers, dog and kid pictures is a photo of my Dad. The one we used in his obituary. I catch my breath every time I see it. I remember taking the picture. I remember it was Father’s Day. I remember we knew he was sick and that we needed to squeeze every last memory we could out of the days we had with him. I remember telling him that this was his Father’s Day gift, photos of him with all his grandkids. I remember knowing I was lying to him because the photos were for us. Cancer has a way of destroying the memory of how your loved one looks. It lays waste to the body and forever imprints in your mind how hard they are trying to fight, and yet, losing.

DAD 2015

He didn’t look like that yet. It was coming. But on this day, he still looked like Dad.

So as the fourth year rolls around, part of me feels guilty because I haven’t been feeling as heavy as I have other years. From the beginning of June I start to dread the 6th. It’s the first of a two-part whammy because his birthday is on the 9th. I’m more emotional and sentimental. Not this June. Life has been stupid, crazy, busy and I find myself facing the eve of this anniversary and it starts to sink in…I’m not heavy. I’m used to this pain at this time of year.

I feel guilty that I don’t feel that way. I wonder what it means.

Second Born Son got his full licence on Monday. As I think about it, I’m struck by the thought that the world I’m living in now is moving so much farther away from the one my father lived in. He kicked me out of his hospital room to apply for the job I now have. The one I’ve excelled in and worked so hard at. I was told I had the job two days after his funeral. So many times I’ve thought, “He’d love to hear this story” regarding something that happened at work. First Born Son is in the working world. He was in high school when Dad died. He didn’t even know if he wanted to go to college. FBS now has his dream truck, his life planned out and graduated college. SBS has one year left of high school and will be going to college. He’s as tall as his 6’4 brother and is going to be a heartbreaker. He was in Grade 8 when my father died. He didn’t get to see FBS or SBS graduate into high school because of his illness. We are making changes in our life that we never thought of when he was here. In some ways I think he’d be lost if he came back and saw where all of us were today.

We moved on. Without him. It feels wrong.

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I still cry. Usually it’s a song or a photo. Something that hits an emotion. Music and memories get me. I spent his last night on earth bunking with him in his hospital room. Neither of us slept much.

I still dream about him. One just a few weeks ago that was so real I didn’t even take much notice that he was in the dream. It was so natural to be talking about the dogs with him in this dream, just watching them bounce around. He was there, petting them, commenting on how big Cane was, how sucky Roman was. Dad never met Cane since he wasn’t born until a couple years later. Dad loved dogs. I woke up from that dream and was absolutely convinced the conversation had taken place. He was THERE.

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Maybe that’s how I’m supposed to look at theses years moving away from my father’s life. He’s not HERE but he’s here. He knows what’s going on. He would love the Jeep. He would be absolutely stoked about the renovation. He would be singing the praises of FBS working toward his dreams and would be congratulating SBS on his licence and upcoming prom. He would be thrilled to see what I do for work.

It doesn’t make June 6 any easier. It just means the wound isn’t throbbing any more. It’s a scar.

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The Circle Of Life

As with any spring around the Boweryville, the flowers are blooming,

the sun rises and sets,

and my dog is murdering wildlife.

This is Cane. He’s truly loveable, unless you are a rodent or other small mammal. Yes, that is a dead groundhog between his legs.

Every spring, it’s the same thing; the temperatures rise, the animals start moving, and before you know it, Cane has a carcass on the lawn. Think I’m kidding?

This was April 30 2016. This is a spinal column of a cow. He found this treasure in the field behind our house thanks to the local farm who spread it on the field. Yes, it’s caked in manure, and yes, he’s eating it. Because for him, this is a like a double stuff Oreo with a layer of chocolate fudge.

THIS is the jawbone of a cow. It goes with the spinal column above. We think. There was also a leg bone, but I think you are getting the point by now.

Cane really likes bring his hunts home. It’s like a form of bragging.

This is a raccoon. This lil’ darlin’ was dropped LITERALLY at our front door last year, the night before Mother’s Day. I’m going to assume it was his idea of a gift. The Batman logos on the patio add a certain je ne sais pas.

This is Cane and his brother Roman looking for the next victim. A little thing like a wood pile isn’t going to stand in his way.

He just starts pulling out pieces of wood.

Now, you might think this is no biggie. He’s a big dog with a keen hunting instinct, which is to be expected from a working breed like German Shepherd. However there is a small issue. Literally, tiny.

WHAT. A. FACE!

This is Eco. He’s Little Sister’s dog. He’s adorable, and while he’s a little bigger than this now, it’s certainly no groundhog. We did arrange for a cousin meet and greet a couple of weeks ago, with all humans on deck, ready to extract Eco from Cane’s grasp. It did go well, with no blood shed, but Cane made it very clear near the end of the playdate, that he’d had enough, and this little nipper needed to be packed up before he became a Timbit.

So now that it is spring, we’ve come to expect that the days to get longer, the temperature to rise, and the bodies to stack up.

 

 

Reality Show Revelation

Days after our spectacular Christmas tree fiasco, we found ourselves the day before Christmas Eve Day. That’s an awkward way of saying Dec. 23. Second Born Son was at work because it’s high season in the grocery business, First Born Son was in the kitchen cleaning up some dishes. (Yes, that was my Christmas Miracle!)

Me and The Big Guy? We were in the living room discussing decoration placement for the rest of the room, since the tree was the only thing that was completed. You could say we left things a little 11th hour this year.

FBS calls me to the kitchen repeatedly, quickly, and I can tell by the tone, that we have a problem. He points at the sliding glass doors off the kitchen where Cane is anxiously looking to come in. He has his left paw up in the air and there’s enough blood in the snow on the deck for transfusion.

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We let him in the kitchen to inspect the damage, and the hemorrhaging continued inside. The same towels that mopped up water the week before, were now used to mop up blood. Once we got his heart rate down, the bleeding did subside and we were able to determine the source of the injury. It was the outside pad of his left paw. A clean slice on an angle that ran so deep you could see parts of the pad I’m fairly certain were never meant to be exposed.

Thankfully, and due to our history with Cane and Roman, we have a fully stocked First Aid kit just for the dogs. We managed to clean things up and wrap it. This was now around 9 p.m. and TBG and I decided to call the vet clinic rather than throw him in the truck for 45 minute drive. After the phone consult it was scheduled to take him in the morning when we wouldn’t have to pay double the rate. After all, once Cane was wrapped, he told us he was ready for bed, thankyouverymuch!

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The morning visit confirmed what we feared; that you can’t stitch a pad, and this was going to be a long healing process for Cane.

This made for a “fun” Christmas season; trying to keep a large dog inside and inactive while entertaining family.

<PAUSE> Cane was a model patient at the vet clinic. For a large, large-breed dog, he’s remarkably gentle, especially when he knows you are trying to help him. No snarls, no snapping, just one little whimper when they cleaned out the cut. <PLAY>

Christmas came and went and with it some interesting family interaction. Now folks, I can’t get into too much of what I’m referencing here, because honestly, I don’t need a law suit right now, but believe me when I say statements were made by certain individuals that were cause for “shock and awe-ful reactions!” Gotta love the holidays! I’m setting money aside for counselling for the boys!

This was followed up by an opportunity to educate my father in law, whose understanding of burning garbage over the years at the family farm, needed some updating now that he lives in town. We are hoping our neighbours are still speaking to us after learning what he was trying to dispose of in our light paper burning barrel. I’m fairly certain the black smoke billowing from our property was visible from space.

It was that day, just after lunch, that FBS made his declaration.

“We need to have our own reality show!”

“We’re pretty boring, bud. I don’t think anyone would want to watch us,” I chuckled.

Then he made his case. He figured the Christmas tree would be one episode, the dog would be another, and there had been enough crap going on in our world in recent weeks that it would most definitely be enough fodder for a first season. He pointed out we had all the right personalities that would make for good viewing.

“After all, if that family can have their own show, and it’s all written for them…our stuff is real!” I thought he meant Duck Dynasty. He actually meant Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

I reflected on this comment later in the afternoon and chuckled to myself. I think I’ve grown used to the “crazy” to the point that it’s become our “normal”.

After all, we have had a much drama as anything on TV. My father goes in for high risk surgery on a Friday, which takes much longer than estimated, but he survives. The next morning TBG’s mother passes away. SBS breaks his arm TWICE. The same arm – a year apart. We buy a new house, TBG gets a great job offer a month later, which he takes, and the following week I’m laid off of my job.  My mother and my sister move THE SAME WEEKEND – then my father in law moves a month and a half later! We decide to go on our first family vacation in 8 years and our furnace is condemned a week before we leave. Oh, did mention this is in NOVEMBER?

Maybe the kid is on to something!

I can recall catching up with a friend a couple of years ago, and she was stunned with the collection of events.

“If I didn’t know you, I would think you were making this up!” she stated in awe. It wasn’t a compliment.

I’m going to keep his little suggestion in my back pocket, for the next mini crisis. I’ll grab my cell to record while I’m juggling the chaos!

Gone to the Dogs

Anyone who knows me, knows I like to cook and bake. I actually find it quite therapeutic. I’m not intimidated by new dishes, and to me, there are fewer things more rewarding than a table full of people enjoying something you’ve made.

Unless it’s your dogs.

Confused?

A friend at work, who helped us find Cane, has two shepherds and a lab. Soon after we brought Cane home, she asked if we were raw feeding our dogs. Completely baffled, we asked her to explain, and before long, I was online researching options on how to make home-made food.

Crazy? Not so much.

When you think about it, you try to eat healthy and take care of your body. Why treat your pet any differently? Some people can spend thousands of dollars a year on their pets, and never think about the food that is in their bowls. Sure, you buy the best kibble you can afford, but what’s really in it?

<PAUSE>
I could totally tell you what’s in dog kibble, in varying degrees, from your basic bulk styrofoam, to your overpriced designer puppy chow. But gross is gross, people.
<PLAY>

This got me thinking and before long, I was over the stove, with a copy of my friend’s recipe my hand. The concoction has two components; meat, or in this case ground turkey necks, and veggies, specifically oats, rice and a blend of veggies with some fruit thrown in for good measure.

Not much to look at…yet!

Not much to look at…yet!

Within minutes, the smell from the pot was drawing attention from the two-legged members of the household, who wanted to give it a taste test.

Down the hatch!

Down the hatch!

The verdict from First Born Son and The Big Guy – a little bland, but nothing that a bit of salt wouldn’t cure. Second Born Son took a pass.

Meat and veggies

Meat and veggies

So with two hungry pups, it was time to see if they would enjoy their new menu.

A chef and her first attempts.

A chef and her first attempts.

It was difficult to keep them away from their bowls. Once they got into it….

Not a veggie guy.

Not a veggie guy.

Roman was thrilled with the idea of REAL food. He was really off his kibble, even though we always bought better than average food. He delicately removed the offensive broccoli and strawberries, leading us to believe he was not a fruit and veggie kind of guy.

Cane eats everything that isn't nailed down.

Cane eats everything that isn’t nailed down.

Cane, on the other hand, dug into it like there was no tomorrow. Our poor pup, who is growing so fast, his bones were sticking out, has finally filled out. Roman, who was getting pudgy, in spite of the fact that he didn’t eat two squares a day, is now in the best shape of his adult life.

A couple of weeks later, I made another batch,

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This time, tomatoes!

So in the month we have switched to this new diet, we’ve noticed a number of things;

a) No food sitting in the bowls, ever.

b) Cane has gained weight, mainly because we can feed him more protein, while Roman has lost weight which was necessary, because he’s eating less filler.

c) No more dog breath. Scouts honour. Dog Breath is actually a compliment around here.

d) The cleanest teeth you’ll ever see on a dog. When these guys bare their teeth, they glow in the dark!

e) More organic waste. This will be a real plus for FBS and SBS who are CAOs of Poop Scooping. It reported breaks down faster and there is less of it, since the food is absorbed better.

f) The cost is on par with what we were spending on commercial dog food. Our time is all we invest.

And when we look at all these benefits, it’s well worth it.

 

Floor Flashback

Have you ever heard a story from your childhood and didn’t know if you remembered it because you lived it, or because you’ve been told it so many times?

One of those stories, to a lesser degree, was the story of Rene and the foster-brother who came to live with us for a couple of months.

Gingham was TOTALLY what all the cool kids were wearing - and Rene didn't mind my bowl bangs....

Gingham was TOTALLY what all the cool kids were wearing – and Rene didn’t mind my bowl bangs….

You can read more about my childhood pups here.

My memories collided recently, as I was playing with Roman and Cane after dinner in the kitchen. The dogs always hang out in the kitchen with us while we eat. While we don’t engage them while we are eating, on this evening, I decided to play with them after. I’m the Alpha Dog, so I don’t often “play” with the pups, but I had a random thought.

“Do you want to see me freak them out?” I asked The Big Guy and the boys. I laid down on the floor, looking to see what they would think of me doing something they had never seen me do.

Cane immediately came over and sniffed me from head to two, probably trying to ascertain that this was, indeed, “Mom”. I start to laugh and cover my face to save myself from a thorough bathing. Within seconds Roman is over my head, his paws on either side of my head by my shoulders and he starts growling and snapping at Cane. I know this because I can sense his presence RIGHT. ABOVE. ME.

Instantly, I’ve left my kitchen. I’m laying on the grass along the lane way at the farm I grew up on. My mind is playing tricks on me because I actually FEEL small, and I have a dog above me. It’s Rene and he’s snapping and snarling and I’m covering my face. I can hear my foster-brother crying out because he’s afraid, but Rene never touches him.

The two events are so parallel, it’s unnerving. I sit up, back in my kitchen in my 42-year-old body and realize what has happened. It’s one thing to hear a recollection, it’s quite another to remember it yourself. In an instant 35 years passed and I was able to remember exactly how I felt at that precise moment.

I calmed Roman and let him see that I was okay, which was the main concern for him. He has never seen me lay down in the house (and only on rare occasions outside), and this is the first time we’ve seen him be so protective of us. The Big Guy was never in danger, neither were the boys. Roman was simply covering me and ensuring Cane didn’t go too far.

It’s a very reassuring feeling to know that today, as when I was a child, I have someone who will protect me, even when I may not be able to protect myself.

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My very own super hero!

Photographic Evidence of NYE 2014

So. 2014 huh? New Year’s Eve. Once again, I had to work, so I didn’t get to do too much “celebrating”. Actually, it was downright boring for me.

For my guys, not so much.

It started with First Born Son. Just as we were about to sit down to an early movie night, a trio of his friends dropped by and dragged him out to his first New Year’s Eve get together. Nothing rowdy, busy or crazy. Just four friends hanging out and making memories. This left The Big Guy and Second Born Son, who had already made a pact to relive their Third Annual All-Nighter. I was planning on being in the nest by 9 p.m.

So after viewing Red 2 (SPOILER ALERT – NOT AS GOOD AS THE FIRST ONE) I called it a night. 4 a.m. comes rather early! I drifted off to the sounds of my hubby and son tearing into a brand new Lego set. While I did wake up around midnight, I had no idea what had transpired over the course of the evening, until I got to work the next morning and checked my phone…

Okay, a little blurry...

Okay, a little blurry…

Followed by…

Okay, THAT'S a little too cheeky!

Okay, THAT’S a little too cheeky!

Followed by…

Someone didn't get the memo that "Selfie" was SOOO last year!

Someone didn’t get the memo that “Selfie” was SOOO last year!

Followed by…

What. The. Hell?

What. The. Hell?

Now it’s obvious that there is a genetic link between these two, but in case you were doubtful…

Who is taking these photos?? Cane? Roman??

Who is taking these photos?? Cane? Roman??

There is a definite connection here. Genetically as well as a common maturity level.

Thankfully, adult supervision soon arrived.

Proof that he made it past midnight!

Proof that he made it past midnight!

Even if he wasn’t long out of the nest himself!

Bleepy. Very bleepy!

Bleepy. Very bleepy!

Honestly, these photos look like they have a soft focus filter on them. If I didn’t know better, I’d say alcohol was involved!!!!

Uh oh!!!

Uh oh!!!

So while I didn’t get a chance to experience a New Year’s Eve with my guys, they made sure I didn’t miss out on the fun.

Now to activate a password on my phone!!!!

Mysteries – Solved and Unsolved

This time of year I like to get caught up on cleaning and organizing. After all, it’s not like I want to be outside!

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I started with a couple of drawers that hadn’t been touched since we moved in almost two years and 11 months ago. After all was said and done, I was left with a couple of random items.

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I’m SO glad I found THIS! This is what I’m going to be looking for a year from now. It will be the key component to some electronic device that I cannot name at this time because it’s not obvious (at least to me) what it is used for.

Then I found these…

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Now, I’ve wanted to call people “knobs” before, but now I can actually hand one to them and say “Here knob!” Again, very sturdy and appear to be key in whatever their original function may be. If only I knew what that was.

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Finally – I was RELIEVED to have found this. Some of you know I’ve lost a couple, and I’m sure I’ll need to find a couple more, but for now, I have one more than I had the day before, so I’m grateful.

Then it was time to move on to cleaning. I’m a bit of a masochist in that I don’t mind that the dogs are in the house. This time of year, it’s brutal though since we literally had two inches of snow yesterday, and today I have two+ acres of mud for them to track inside. Sweeping daily is a necessity because, well, they are Shepherds and that’s how we roll, unless we want to be crushed by tumbleweeds of dog hair the size of compact cars.

I was really frustrated this past week because I was trying to solve an issue. How were paw prints getting on the cupboards, the fridge freezer and the sliding glass doors? It’s not like Roman and Cane are working on Ninja tactics.

Then, I noticed a pattern…

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CAN YOU SEE THE SMUDGES ON THE FREEZER DOOR? AAARRGGHH

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AND THEN THIS!!!!

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And the mystery was solved.