How I Feel About Endings (a Tribute to my buddy, Jack)

Today is November 30th.  It is the end of NaBloPoMo.

This means that when I wake up tomorrow morning, I will not have to think “I need to think about something to write about.”  It’s the end of the month.

I feel very similar to how I felt at the end of the summer, when I left Camp, went home, and didn’t HAVE to blog anymore.  The thing was, though, the habit had become so engrained after a little more than two months of blogging daily, that when I got home I felt like I was still looking for things to write about.

Today feels very much the same.  I know that when I get up tomorrow morning, I won’t have to think about what I’m going to write about later in the day….. but my reality is that I will likely write something anyway.  I just won’t be able to tag it “NaBloPoMo,” and I suspect greatly that my readership will take a bit of a nose-dive.  I do want to throw out a HUGE thank you, though, to everyone who read with me over this past month while I rambled my heart out onto these ‘pages.’

Endings are something that I’m not totally comfortable with right now.  Spoiler alert:  If you cry easily about dog stories, you may not want to read further.  My Mom has two dogs.  She has for ten years.  That means that I lived with both of them for a long time before I moved out of the house.

Jack and Keisha are brother and sister.  They were born to Jena in our kitchen in Wainfleet.  Jena was the first dog I ever really loved.  Prior to Jena, I’d been more of a cat person.  She broke down that wall in my heart that wouldn’t let slobbery dogs in, and she threw out all the pieces.

When I was in my first year of University, Jena got hit on the highway and was killed.  I sobbed for days.  Like… silent, gigantic tears running down my face the entire way through my first ever university exam, and I came home from it and collapsed in a heap on the floor and bawled… sure that I botched the exam because I couldn’t concentrate and even more sure that I would never get over missing Jena.

That wasn’t true, of course.  I did get over it, as great of a pooch as she was.  But we were left with her 2 month old baby girl — Keisha.  We’d found homes for every other puppy in the litter Jena had, and that left poor baby Keisha with no Mommy.  She’d go out in the yard and just cry, looking around… she did it for days.  When Jena’s life ended, there was sadness that I’d never experienced before.  I’ve never lost a close friend, a parent, or even a grandparent.  So far, my deepest-felt losses in life have been pets.  They really do become family.

A few months later, we got a phone call from one of the families we’d given a puppy to.  Their work situation had changed, and they couldn’t keep Shadow.  They wanted to know if in light of losing Jena, would we like to take Shadow back.  We did.  And we gave him his original name back — we welcomed Jack back into our lives.

It took Keisha a week or so to get over being a jerk to Jack, and they’ve been inseparable for the past 9.5 years.

But now… I have a heavy heart tonight, because Jack’s life is ending.  And this ending SUCKS.  I know he’s ten.  I know he’s ‘just a dog.’  I know he’s been sick for a very long time, and it’s the end that he needs because he’s in so much pain…. he’s being put down on Monday.

And it sucks.

And every time I think about it, I get a little weepy again.  It took a long time to make the decision.  Mom wanted to be sure she’d done everything she could before making the decision, but he’s in so much pain and he hurts all over.

So on Monday morning, I will have to say goodbye to my buddy, Jack.  And it will suck.  It will be so hard.  I don’t like this ending.  This is not a happy ending.  And it’s like Keisha knows.  You see, they’re at my house right now because my parents are down… and Keisha follows him around all over, and snuggles right up beside him for what little sleep he does get.

I am going to miss my buddy….

And that’s how I feel about that ending.

And with that, here’s a picture tribute to my buddy, Jack.

Jack as a baby - November 2003
Jack as a baby – November 2003
baby Jack - November 2003
baby Jack – November 2003
Jack at 6 months -- when we got him back.  2004
Jack at 6 months — when we got him back. 2004
Jack and Keisha... not yet best buds, but even then Jack was smiling.
Jack and Keisha… not yet best buds, but even then Jack was smiling.  I like how the flash made a perfect heart right over his head when I took the picture of a picture frame.
Jack with my baby Kloe sniffing at him.  August 2010.
Jack with my baby Kloe sniffing at him. August 2010.
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Jack always likes to be cool… just laying in the snow. This was today.
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Relaxing with Keisha by the Christmas tree (taken yesterday)
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Ohana means family…. and family means nobody gets left behind… or forgotten. In this case, Keisha will be left behind, but I doubt Jack will ever be forgotten, even by her. (taken today)
The three musketeers. (taken last night)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light!

Let there be light! Many of you already know that the photo in photography means light.  More often than not, though, we shy away from actually showing its source in our photos. In time for the shortest days of the year (at least in the northern hemisphere), let’s give our trusty light bulbs, flickering candles, and pedestrian street lamps their due respect.

We’re entering a truly light-filled season. Christmas trees, Hanukkah menorahs, and Kwanzaa kinaras are spreading their glow in homes the world over (or are just about to), while main streets and public buildings are being prepared for the winter holidays with an explosion of bright decorations.

Take a look around you. Choose one of the light sources you see, and make it the focus of your challenge entry. It can be a dramatic chandelier or a pair of dying candles; the moon, a row of glaring light bulbs in the parking lot, or a gaudy lava lamp stored in your attic: anything goes. The light doesn’t even have to be switched on: some lamps are just as fascinating for their shape as for the photons they emit.


The timing on this post could not be more perfect.

My Christmas tree went up this evening.  It’s a lot of work to get an 8′ tree put together… The biggest part of the work behind this tree… my BEAUTIFUL 8′ Martha Stewart Living, pre-lit, rotating tree…. that I got for 15 bucks at an auction ten years ago… is getting all the plugs hooked in together in the right order so that all three sections of the beast actually light up.  I’ve no joke nearly thrown the entire tree over both a 6th and 13th story balcony before… two separate apartments… never have I been more tempted to hulk something over the railings or out into traffic or something….

Anyway…. now that it’s all up and it was a peaceful set-up because my beautiful, dear Mother hooked it all up for me while I prepped the ornaments…. it’s sitting in the living room, it’s the only source of light (other than the television), and it’s letting off this super festive glow.  It’s stunning.  The picture does it no justice, but you can see the glow that the light gives off, which is the point, no?

I won’t say any more.

Check it.

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Daily Prompt: Fear Factor

Today’s idea to write about is fear — either rational or irrational.

Here are two of my completely irrational fears.  I know they’re irrational.  That doesn’t by any stretch of the imagination mean that I have found a way to conquer them.

I would go so far as to call them phobias, to be frank.

In fact, I JUST Googled “phobia of centipedes” to try to figure out what the name for ‘fear of centipedes’ is called, but the link I clicked on to give me the answer brought me to a page with pictures of centipedes and I squealed and covered the screen.  My Mom came and covered the screen with a scarf for me so I could close the tab.  She’s helpful and enabling like that (she also didn’t know what I was freaking out over, and made fun of me when she saw).  One time, I found a centipede in my sink.  I cried, because I didn’t know what to do with it.  I tried to flush it down the drain, I really did… I even have a spray nozzle on my tap… but its creepy hundred-legged body just folded in half and scrunched helplessly in the food catcher part of the drain, and it didn’t go down.  I was on the phone with my Mom at the time, crying, screeching, telling her that since she was merely 20 minutes from my place to come for a visit, she would need to save me from the centipede so I could do dishes.

She told me to suck it up and that she was doing this for my own good.

I ended up filling my mop bucket with super hot water in the bathtub, holding the bucket over my head, and pouring with great force while screaming and crying.

Very thankfully, when I opened my eyes, I saw that the force of the downpour of water had in fact forced the creepy disgusting creature’s body into the depths of the sewer system beneath my home.  I plugged the drain and left it that way for days when not in use following that incident.

With an ounce of bravery just now, I have discovered by finding a link with no images that it is called Chilopodophobia.  Yup.  I have that.  I don’t know why.  I guess technically, aside from being creepy, disgusting, gross, hideous, and awful…. they haven’t really done anything at all to me.

I’m not including pictures.

I also have a fear, though not quite as intense…. I wouldn’t call it a phobia…. but I’m scared of moths.  Again, irrational, I know.  I dunno what moths ever did to me… something about their wings disintegrating when you touch them I think.  They’re almost the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.  Almost.

Centipedes win every time.

The Last Thing I Hid

I’m so glad that BlogHer’s prompt today is one I can write easily.  NaBloPoMo is coming to a close in three days.  I will be happy to continue blogging daily very regularly, but the lack of pressure to HAVE to crank something out daily will be welcomed.

Anyway — BlogHer wants to know what the last thing I hid was.  That’s an easy one.

I was on the phone with my Mom yesterday afternoon when she reminded me that she and my Step Dad will be arriving late tonight to stay for a few days.  I wasn’t at home while we were on the phone.  In fact, I was sitting in the Shopper’s Drug Mart parking lot, waiting to go in looking for someone’s Christmas present.

When I got home, I looked around my kitchen and realized that because I’ve been pro-active with my Christmas shopping, I subsequently had both my Mom’s and Step-Dad’s Christmas presents just laying on the kitchen table.  (I’ve been trying to avoid getting trapped in malls and stores when they’re painfully busy — no Black Friday shopping for this girl!  I’d curl up into the fetal position and cry like a baby.)

So I hid them.

I will not reveal my hiding place, cuz my Mom and Step Dad both read this blog fairly regularly… not that I think they’d go snooping or anything… but that’s the last thing I hid.

Have you started Christmas Shopping yet?  Over at Olive To Run, there’s a debate waging about whether to decorate before or after Thanksgiving — being Canadian, Thanksgiving’s been over for a month and a half, but I’m happy to announce that I will be putting up my decorations tomorrow after school/work (they’re the same thing for us teachers, no?  Doesn’t feel less weird to say ‘after school’ to a bunch of adults, though).  It’s tradition to decorate with my Mom, and with her here, I am so stoked.

The 10 Greatest Things About Being a Kid

I have not been a kid in 20ish years, but I teach them every day.  I think, if I could give up my independence and go back to being a kid for a day, these would be the 10 reasons I’d do so.  Probably the only 10 reasons though… cuz most days I just don’t think I could deal with the drama that accompanies being a kid.  (Inspired by my two kindergarten classes and the prompt found at Mama Kat’s Losin It)

Anyway, here’s the list — Letterman style — last to greatest.

10.  You don’t have to do up your own coat or tie your own shoes (until you prove once that you’re capable, then you always have to do it).

9.  Your lunch is packed for you, and an adult will open the hard-to-open wrappers and containers for you.

8.  When someone’s reading you a story, it’s expected that you’ll call out in surprise at the idea of things like alligators living in the sewers.

7.  When you miss your Mom, it’s ok to cry.  People will even hug you for it.

6.  You get invited to everyone’s birthday party, and celebrate pretty much every holiday during school time with parades and wicked fun crafts.

5.  Everything you’re learning is new, so pretty much everything’s exciting and mind-blowing.

4.  Along with # 5, the adults in your life are very quick to praise you to no end for every simple discovery.

3.  Your laughter is intoxicating and makes others laugh with you.

2.  You can say and do really cheeky things and get away with it because you’re unbelievably precious.  (e.g. kids saying things like “point taken,” “my listening ears are broken,” and “my thinking cap fell off,” and when you win a game and do the biggest gun-show ever)

1.  It doesn’t matter how ridiculous you look in your class picture, the picture is still absolutely adorable.

Also, while I’m here, PLEASE read this post by Angelina at The Road to Roma called “An Open Letter To God (re:  online dating).  It pretty much sums up my feelings about online dating right now.  Angelina… it’s like I could have written it myself.

Dodged Bullets — My Relationship Kevlar

Truth be told, this prompt actually really hits home.

Tell us about a bullet you’re glad you dodged — when something awful almost happened, but didn’t.

I honestly consider every single failed attempt at a relationship to be a bullet dodged.

Do I want to get married?  Yes, of course I do, I’m a nearly 29 year old single woman who’s never really technically been in a relationship at all… of course I want that.

But do I want it at the expense of it actually being good?  Nah, I cherish my independence and freedom too much to give it up for one who’s not worth it.  I’m sure there will be one who is, but until then….

Until then, I’m thankful for every hurt God has spared me from by never allowing anything to take off in the first place.  I’m thankful that every time I’ve earnestly prayed, ‘Lord please help me guard my heart,’ He’s listened.

I’m thankful that I don’t have a string of failed relationships behind me, leaving me with awkward baggage I have to explain when I do find a good one.  I’d so much rather explain why I haven’t been in a relationship than why I’ve been in a series of bad ones.  Truly.

So have I dodged a bullet?  Yup, every time I’ve had the wisdom to walk away from a guy I knew I wouldn’t be good with, I’ve dodged a bullet.  At the same time, every guy who knew we wouldn’t be good together and so he didn’t pursue anything — he dodged a bullet for himself, and let me dodge them too.

It’s like I’ve been wearing Relationship Kevlar.

Does that mean I’ve never been hurt?  Absolutely not.  I’ve been disappointed and let down, my heart has hurt for sure.  But has it been saved in the process from a lot of unnecessary damage?  Yes, I do believe it has.

Daily Prompt: I have Confidence In Me

Today’s Prompt:  Are you good at what you do? What would you like to be better at?

Simple answer:  Yes, I’m good at what I do.

Long answer:  I haven’t always thought that I was good at what I do.  My first year teaching was loaded with tears.  I’d come home nightly sobbing because I felt so horribly inadequate at it.  Through the next couple years my skin toughened, and I stopped crying about work (most of the time), but would I say that I loved it and felt good at it at any point?  Looking back, I can’t say that I ever really felt that way.

When I stopped coming home crying, I also stopped caring a little bit.  I actually stopped caring a lot.  I hardened up and I checked right out.  I was teaching Grade 4-8 French, and it might be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.  I thought I was pretty good at it, but I had many kids who didn’t care regardless, and I couldn’t decide whether it was my teaching or the subject material.

This past spring I went to my principal and begged for an open primary prep (Kindergarten gym and library, grade 1 and 2 science and social studies and some music and dance) position.  Thankfully, he granted my plea, and I transitioned to a brand new world — little kids.  Trust me, having gone to school to teach Grade 7-12 French, Grade 1 Science has been this whole new world that I just did not see coming.

On the first day of school this September, to say I was terrified would be a complete understatement.  I had to spend ALL day with little little kids?  How would this go?

Well, by the end of the first day, when I left smiling and laughing at the ridiculous things they say and how they see life, I knew this could be good.  By the end of the first week when, despite it being September, I didn’t go home exhausted and wishing for June, I knew it could be really good.

And now, by the end of November, when I still laugh heartily at all the ridiculous and adorable things they say and do, and I’ve had Grade 1 kids correctly use words like reproduce when talking about characteristics of living things (they’re learning!!  and they love it!), I finally feel like I’m good at what I do.  This is year 6, and it turns out all it took was to get out of French.

Now, this is not to say that French can not be taught well.  I’ve seen many who do it well.  It turns out that, even though this is what I went to school for, it’s not where I belonged.  Those of you who stick with it your entire careers have more respect from me than you can ever imagine.  I’m not good at it, and I fooled myself for five years into thinking that it was going to get infinitely better.  You know what though, sometimes it doesn’t, and I think that’s when it’s time for a change.  I had friends who recommended that maybe teaching itself wasn’t for me.  I promised them and myself that if a switch of positions this year didn’t help, I would look for other options.

Thankfully, a switch was just what the doctor ordered, and I can’t imagine doing anything else right now.  I LOVE MY JOB!  I look forward to going to work.  I don’t cry on Sunday nights and at the end of breaks like long weekends, March Break, and especially summer.  The entire month of August used to be filled with dread.

Before I talk about what I’d like to be better at, can I strongly encourage that if you’re reading my account of what I was doing and how I was feeling, and you’re thinking ‘that’s how I feel about MY job!’ …. can you promise yourself that you’ll take steps to make it better, in any way you can?  And if that doesn’t help, can you promise yourself that you’ll evaluate whether it’s the right choice for you?  I hate seeing people miserable just because they hate their jobs.  I know that sometimes it’s the only available option, but barring that…. well, that’s all I’ve got to say on the matter.

What do I wish I were better at?

Cooking.  I’m not awful at it.  I can cook when I put my mind to it.  Things don’t burn, I cook them for the appropriate amount of time… all that jazz… you know…. people even rave about my pulled pork.

But I loathe it.  I hate cooking for myself when it’s just me, and I’d so much rather just get Subway, or Wendy’s, or pizza, or Pita Pit, or Chinese… or… anything, really.  I guess I don’t wish I was better at it as much as I wish I enjoyed doing it so that I would.

Any tips?  What do you do to keep cooking interesting and make sure you enjoy it?  Do you cook for one or many?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpected

I woke up this morning to something I didn’t expect……

There was snow on the ground.

Sure, it was in the forecast.  And as a self-professed weather nerd, I knew it was in the forecast.

Sure, I live in Canada.  Snow in late November isn’t unheard of….. unless you live in the banana belt.

I know… we don’t grow bananas here…. so it’s not ACTUALLY the banana belt… but the fact is, since I’ve lived where I live now, I don’t see snow all that often compared to most of the rest of Canada.

So to wake up on November 23rd to snow on the ground… well, it was unexpected.  I saw the forecast and went ‘yeah right!  We’ll never get snow in November.’

Side note:  I am a terrible Canadian.  I hate snow.  I saw it, I groaned, and I went back to bed…. though since I had to go outside to let the dog out (who, incidentally, does NOT hate snow….), I had to admit that freshly fallen snow does smell a bit magical…. but if you ever call me on that in person, I’ll deny I ever said it.

So this…. this is ‘unexpected.’


Yup, I opened the door in flip flops to let the dog out :p


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Playtime (Daily Post)

Do you play in your daily life? What says “playtime” to you?

Do I play?  Yes.  I do.  Play looks like a lot of things to me!  Writing’s one of those things that play also looks like… but I don’t have a picture for it.  Writing, I think, when done well, is a lot of just playing with words.  Thanks for this prompt, WordPress!

I play violin, every day, and I love it.  The fiddle is legit the language of my soul.

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I play with my dog.

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I play board games with my friends when we get together.  But when we can’t get together, I have substitutes on my phone… My Ticket to Ride App gets a lot of use.

photo 2(1)I love to colour… which I realize makes me sound like a little kid, but it’s so much fun!  It’s very relaxing.  I love intricate doodles… and I love to outline everything in permanent marker, then shade it in with crayon.  It looks lovely.  I especially love colouring things that are doodle-style, so just a bunch of loopy, patterned lines where I can colour in patterns.

I love to play volleyball whenever I get a chance.

At the end of the day… I think if you’re not playing some every day… what’s the point?  Just because children play doesn’t mean we need to grow out of it.  The things we play with just need to grow up with us.

My life as a super hero

You get to choose one superpower. Pick one of these, and explain your choice:

  • the ability to speak and understand any language
  • the ability to travel through time
  • the ability to make any two people agree with each other

Well, I like this prompt.

Personally, I’d love the power to be able to selectively read peoples’ thoughts… Note the very important use of the word selectively.  I do not want to know what everyone’s thinking all the time.  No thanks.

I’d also love a self-regeneration skill… as I sit in my rocking chair with a heated up grain bag wrapped around my neck because I pulled a muscle in it and it hurts like crazy!  I had a massage this afternoon, and, while I’m pretty sure my massage therapist has fingers made of gold, there’s only so much she can do in 75 minutes, and I’m pretty tender.

Anyway — it’s a tough decision, so I’ve decided to eliminate them in reverse order.

1.  I would not like the ability to make any two people agree with each other.  I think that conflict resolution skills are incredibly beneficial, because even if I had that power, I wouldn’t be around for everyone all the time, so there would be times when people would need to be able to resolve conflict on their own, and just ‘get along.’

2.  This is where it gets tricky.  When I was in my early 20s, mid-way through my university education, I set myself a goal to speak 10 languages by the time I was 30.  Well, I turn 29 in just over two weeks…. so………. If I can combine my skills in Spanish and Latin into the equivalent of one language, I have 7 languages to learn in about 380 days, and I feel like it isn’t going to happen.  I’d LOVE the ability to just know them without the work of learning and memorizing verb endings, accents, intonations, pronunciations, vocabulary, and idioms (yeah, I’m a language geek, you caught me).

3.  I think, given the list, I would choose the ability to travel through time at will.  Not like… the Time Traveler’s Wife kinda time travel, where I have no control or anything… but… where I can decide “hey, I would REALLY like to have a chat with Abe Lincoln, he seems like a stellar dude!” and bam!  there I am interviewing Honest Abe after his delivery of the Gettysburg Address.  I could be reading my Bible, and think “I have no idea what the author was getting at, here!” and then I’m talking to Paul, Joseph, Abraham, King David, Jesus, Peter… anyone… and I’m asking THEM what THEY meant… I think that would be the absolute greatest super power ever… full understanding of scripture.

What super power would you choose?  Why?

If you could time travel, who would you travel to see?