Thursday, February 26, 2009


For this or any other dog
I believe in heaven, yes, I believe in heaven
Which I shall not enter, but where he will be waiting for me
Wagging his tail like a fan
To greet me with affection when I come.

Pablo Neruda, "The Separate Rose"

Good dog Daisy

First of all, fair warning...this post is about the last hours of my beloved dog Daisy.  If that kind of subject matter upsets you, stop reading now.  

The events that initially inspired starting this blog last August(Daisy's first trip to the pet hospital) resolved last evening when Daisy's life came to an end.  Little Daisy, velvet of ear, fleet of foot, scourge of squirrels, bouncy and bright and sweet-natured is gone into whatever it is that awaits us all.  She spent the intervening five months since her first big health challenge in relatively good shape, running after the ball, chasing squirrels, greeting her many admirers passing by the front gate.  She had occasional tummy issues  kept under control by strict enforcement of the "no treats, no people food" policy and careful watching of her diet. She ate better than we did with only the tastiest low fat concoctions to tempt her fragile appetite and home-prepared dried chicken breast for treats.

Then a little over a week ago, she started to go seriously downhill, refusing to eat, vomiting, accidents on the carpet at night, getting thinner every day.  Two days ago she went for an overnight stay at Kindred Spirits, our local veterinarians, to have intravenous fluids administered for dehydration.  That seemed to turn her around very quickly, her appetite returning in spades and her mood back to normal. But the real problem, it seems, was her lungs. During the second night she developed a pneumothorax which collapsed one of her lungs.  The vets were able to reduce it yesterday morning but by late afternoon when I expected to be picking her up and taking her home, it had re-formed.  It was decision time...the thing I had been dreading for months.  I was put into a room with Daisy and I held her on my lap while I waited for Harry to arrive from work.  Her breathing was very rough and she held her nose up high trying for a better position to draw in more air.  Her body felt odd, sort of loose, like a bag of bones. If you don't know the fox terrier breed, "loose" is the antithesis of the "solid and muscular" norm. For me, that was the telling moment - she wasn't going to come out of it this time.  

Once Harry arrived, we agreed that it was time to make the decision to have her put down.  I struggled with this as my perfect scenario would have had her dying quietly, lying on the lawn in the sun or failing that, in her own bed at home, not in this cold tiled impersonal room.  When I suggested taking her home to die naturally, the vet told me kindly that it would be horrible for Daisy and horrible for us, given her respiratory distress and the anxiety that goes with it. That scotched any romantic notions I had about the perfect death.  Once we decided on euthanasia, we sat cuddling and stroking her and talking about all the funny things she had done during her life: the time when she was small when she walked right through the bars on the deck railing, fell into a bush, slid to the ground, got up and trotted away unfazed, or the way she cocked her head to one side when someone said the magic words "squirrel" or "treat" or "whacka whacka" (our term for a nightly ball chasing session using a racket and tennis ball), the daily ritual of biting the mail as it came through the mail slot, her ecstatic greetings at the door after our briefest absences, her enthusiasm for life, and her courage and buoyancy in trying or painful circumstances.  Many are the lessons in right living that we have learned from our intrepid little dog. 

Eventually, the vet came in to check if we were ready, went away and returned with a full syringe. She told us what exactly to expect and as the drugs went in, Daisy seemed to know somehow. She turned her head toward each of us to look deep into our eyes as we stroked her and said "Good dog, good dog".  Finally, her head drooped then went down and it was as if she went to sleep - no more laboured breathing and moments later the vet confirmed that her heart had stopped.  It was very quick, very peaceful and somehow right.

The wonderful staff at Kindred Spirits wrapped her body up in a blanket and carefully placed it in a box for us to take home.  I can't say enough good things about the docs and staff at Kindred Spirits.  Not only competent but respectful, empathetic, understanding and diplomatic...they couldn't have been better.  I'm sure they've done this hundreds of times before but you'd never know it from their concern and sensitivity.

It was dark by the time we got home so we rewrapped Daisy in her own blanket and this morning we buried her without ceremony in the garden in her favourite sunny spot, taking turns to cover her over.  Nothing left now but to grieve and remember all the good things about her.  I like to picture her greeting our old cat Aphra in some kind of afterlife, the two of them restored to youth and grace and ambushing each other from behind the Elysian shrubbery as they used to do in our back garden.  It doesn't seem to matter a bit that I don't really believe in an afterlife - it still comforts me. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lost in the (Oak) Woods

And here it is, the green monster aka  Cobblestone Pullover completed just after my last post. It required very little finishing...just a few ends to darn in and the underarm stitches to graft. And seemingly, I'm not destined for the dreaded "boyfriend sweater" experience - he's worn it nearly every evening since it was finished and says he loves it.  It fits beautifully and the fabric is supple, drapes nicely and I hear it is comfortable to wear.  Yay!

Yep, once again, it's been awhile since posting.  No excuse really although I had a week long trip to the Okanagan visiting family and since returning, I continue to pursue my New Year's resolution of cleaning and sorting one drawer/cupboard/trunk/bin/shelf  a week all year. Can't recall if I mentioned this in my last post but because I felt so defeated and overwhelmed by the nasty build-up(s) that lurk behind closed doors and the lack of space to stash new acquisitions, I decided to try doing it in teeny chunks.  I made up an Excel spreadsheet and it appears that based on somewhat reasonable/realistic divisions, I'll still be doing this well into 2010.  The bonuses are already apparent six weeks in...forgotten and misplaced treasures have emerged from the nether regions of every cupboard so far and I'm not even out of the kitchen yet. Imagine the gems that await in my full-to-the-rafters workroom, not to mention  the joy of having access to the surface of my work table once again.

Spring appears to be on its way out here on the Pacific coast.  The snowdrops have been in bloom for a couple of weeks, the rhodos are showing some pink and the robins have arrived in force. Yesterday I gardened (second session of the year) and hung the clothes out on the line where they actually got dry...okay, almost dry. Sadly, today is windy and cold and I'm happy to stay in and work on my alpaca lace shawl and pity my fellow North Americans to the east who are still blanketed in snow.  I'm using the laceweight two-ply spun from the dark brown alpaca fibre I acquired from Blue Stone Alpacas on my fibre safari last fall.  It took forever to spin and I had to pay a lot of attention to consistency but it seems to be paying off. The deep brown suggested a leafy/woodsy motif so I chose the Gnarled Oakwoods wrap by Anne Hanson from the last Twist Collective newsletter.  It's really lovely although now that I'm into the third iteration of the 40-row repeat, I wish I had added one more section across (the pattern calls for three) to get more width.  No, I'm not about to tear out 90 plus rows of lace and start again. My hope is that it will magically expand with blocking but I suspect it may not end up wide enough for my liking.  I had envisioned this as a lightweight travel piece that would cover me from neck to ankles and just the width of my body - I'm a smallish person - on long plane and train journeys. I hate those icky blankets the airlines provide (do you really believe they wash them between usings?...not likely!)  The shawl (scarf?) is knitting up so light and airy that an extra panel would not have added much bulk.  Too late now...the thought of doing a second one is too overwhelming to consider just now. 

This is my first major commitment to lace and I'm finding it quite a challenge.  I keep forgetting to do the yarnovers at the end of the repeats and since the wrong side is a purl row, by the time I notice, I have to tink back two whole rows and part of another.  Also, I think perhaps the yarn is a bit underplied in some parts as it separates easily and I end up with surprise extras.  

Part of my Okanagan visit involved a couple of days with my latter-day hippie daughter and her partner in beautiful wintry Cherryville.  They are avid chain maille makers and they have taken to incorporating coloured rubber rings to add stretch and of course, colour to their work.  It seemed to me that these rings would make great stitch markers so I cadged a dozen each in white and yellow.  They work brilliantly for the lace as the colour shows up well against the dark brown yarn and they are flexible and soft and a little clingy so they don't slip too easily through the stitches.  I know these can be ordered in the bazillions online but I'm not sure what I would do with all the extras.  Unfortunately, they only seem to come in black at the hardware store - fine for pale yarns but pretty much invisible otherwise.  If anyone out there knows of a source that supplies a range of sizes in a range of colours in stitch-marker quantities, please share.