Gratitude

What I've Been Up To (or, A Summer Gratitude List)

I've been summerin' and it's been good. I am grateful for a lot of things, grab a drink and settle in...

Our new-to-us pop-up camper (ADVENTURE, POSSIBILITY)

I am grateful for our little cottage on wheels, Daphnie. She offers comfort, simplicity and possibility. This is our first full summer with her and we love her. Sometimes we pop her up right in the driveway just to hang out.

  Daphnie at Fitzroy Provincial Park last September. This scene makes me all warm & fuzzy inside.

Daphnie at Fitzroy Provincial Park last September. This scene makes me all warm & fuzzy inside.

.:.

Thought-provoking prose (DISCOVERY, INTROSPECTION, INSPIRATION)

I am grateful for finding books that expose me to different viewpoints, that make me think and question. Books that explore how it feels to be a Black American through common lenses like home, nature and birding. Books that follow the author as she sits with the staunch Right - in some cases, folks who happen to be my Acadian "cousins" in Louisiana, in which I learn about their fears, their dreams, there grievances with life and the Left.  Books that make me open just a little bit deeper. These books push me to reach and stretch outside of my known and norm in a way that is gentle yet eye-opening. Yes, I am grateful for that.

  My current library stash, some read, some not yet.

My current library stash, some read, some not yet.

.:.

Beach reads (ESCAPE, REST)

Then there are seaside cottages and lakeside dream houses, independent women and seemingly stuck-up men who come out of their hard shell to fall in love, or maybe a story about an artist finding her wings in Paris during the roaring twenties. Mmm, yup. Easy and light, beach reads are a welcome counterbalance to the intensity of thought-provoking prose. I am grateful for that too.

.:.

A last-minute camping trip to Bonnechere Provincial Park (SPONTANEITY, REST, TRUST)

I am grateful for a wee last-minute adventure that packed a healing punch. We booked a campsite one Friday morning for that weekend at new-to-us Bonnechere Provincial Park with no advance planning whatsoever. After a half-day at the office we loaded up the truck, hitched the camper and went with the flow. Expectations were released. Best. Decision. Ever. We slept, we swam, we sat in the shade and did nothing. That weekend I felt more relaxed that I'd felt in months. There was an active bear in the campground. I DIDN'T EVEN CARE. We ran out of battery power in the camper after two hours when we thought we'd have some for two days. Didn't faze me ONE BIT. Chance of a thunderstorm? Whatevs, I had ear plugs. THAT's how relaxed I was. Spontaneity, rest and trust for the win!

  The beach at Bonnechere was pretty sweet that weekend, the water warm and welcoming.

The beach at Bonnechere was pretty sweet that weekend, the water warm and welcoming.

.:.

A whirlwind road trip to Southern Ontario and back via the Bruce Peninsula (ADVENTURE, DISCOVERY, ESCAPE)

I am grateful for road trips and new places: six days and 1660km (about 1030 miles) in this case. This included a visit with my aunt and uncle, a wedding on D.'s side, two new-to-us great lakes, two new-to-us small towns, three new-to-us provincial parks and one national park, two amazing hikes, a boat ride to an island, all the while enjoying superb, welcoming spaces as our home base. It was soul-filling. There may be a future dedicated post on this one, I can't do it justice in one paragraph.

   The Reeve Bed and Breakfast , Dunnville, Ontario. Luxury, warmth, comfort - and amazing breakfasts!

The Reeve Bed and Breakfast, Dunnville, Ontario. Luxury, warmth, comfort - and amazing breakfasts!

   Bruce Peninsula National Park , Tobermory, Ontario. The water, the views, the trails... GAH! Gorgeous.

Bruce Peninsula National Park, Tobermory, Ontario. The water, the views, the trails... GAH! Gorgeous.

.:.

The Waltons (ESCAPE, INSPIRATION)

I am grateful for my DVD box set of The Waltons. I'm in the middle of season 3,  John-Boy Walton is my hero. He writes, he ponders, he has a good head on his shoulders and owns up to things when he screws up. He values family, respect, and does the right thing. I want to be like John-Boy.

.:.

Camping trips to come (ADVENTURE, DISCOVERY, REST)

I am grateful for three more camping weekends in the works between now and October: three nights at Bonnechere Provincial Park (we loved it so much during our spontaneous weekend that we booked a second one on the spot), one weekend at new-to-us Lake St. Peter Provincial Park and one weekend at Fitzroy Provincial Park, which is the park we visited on our first two camping trips with Daphnie last September. By having these plans laid out I feel like I've extended the summer by two months. I like that.

.:.

Adventure, discovery or escape, anyone? Throw in some r&r, usually by the water or surrounded by trees, and well, so far the summer has been pretty gosh darn good.

What are YOU grateful for this summer? Tell me. I want to know.

Stephanie

Loving Cassie (or, Losing a Pet Hurts Like Hell)

This past weekend we had to make an excruciatingly difficult yet right decision. Today our beloved Golden Retriever, Cassie, no longer suffers.

We on the other hand, are hurting like hell.

 That is one happy dog, right there. One happy  muddy  dog.

That is one happy dog, right there. One happy muddy dog.

She was 13 years old, diagnosed with lymphoma and gradually losing control of her hind legs due to a compressed nerve in her back. On Sunday morning she could barely stand. We knew.

It sucks.

It f*@%in' sucks.

Cassie was my first real pet. She came into my life with my husband D. when she was one and a half. My parents teased me, saying that I fell in love with the dog before I fell for the boy. There might be a kernel of truth to that.

I adored her.

 When my Dad, who hadn't met D. yet, saw this photo on my bookshelf he asked "So is this the dog with the guy?"

When my Dad, who hadn't met D. yet, saw this photo on my bookshelf he asked "So is this the dog with the guy?"

The house feels empty.

It's amazing how much noise she made even when I thought all was quiet: nails tick-tick-ticking on the hardwood floors, doggie sighs, snoring, lapping of water from the water dish and the steady rhythm of her breath - the latter becoming more laboured towards the end due to medication.

All of these sounds, now absent.

And then there are the seemingly mundane routines: letting her out first thing in the morning, coaxing her back in, saying "Bye-bye!" or a hopefully reassuring "We'll be back!" before leaving the house and "Beddy-bye!" to coax her into the bedroom at night. Tail-wagging welcomes at the door, feeding time, walks, pets and snuggles, and during the past few months, more difficult routines like giving her her medication, spotting her as she slowly climbed up the stairs and during the last week, carrying her up.

All these seemingly minute routines that provide structure day in and day out, I never even gave them a second thought before. Now they are glaringly absent.

 She loved orange balls.

She loved orange balls.

Cassie LOVED to hike with us, she loved to play Chuckit with her orange ball and was always up for a dance party in the kitchen. She loved swimming and in the winter she rolled in the snow like a puppy, even at 13. She was smart and stubborn - sometimes frustratingly. She had a special fondness for Owl, a stuffed toy generously gifted to her by our dog-sitter this past Christmas. Cassie also enjoyed just hangin' out with her peeps: watching movies on the couch with D., keeping me company while I wrote in my journal, lying in the shade with us on hot summer day or flopping down smack dab in the middle of the kitchen floor while we made dinner. She loved liver treats and Dentabones. Her golden fur was like silk and she always smelled good - almost always. She was a happy uncomplicated dog who loved everyone and I would wager that anyone who met her loved her too.

She was the apple of D.'s eye and he was hers. Yes, she was always happy to see me, but goodness when Daddy came home...

She was the apple of my eye, too, even when she pushed my buttons. She grounded me when I was anxious and comforted me when I was sad. She brought me joy and I thanked the Universe for her every. day. Cassie and D., my two loves.

I miss her. I love her. I thank her.

May she rest in peace.

And when the pain of her absence subsides, may we live in joy with her memory.

 Princess Cassie and wee niece A.

Princess Cassie and wee niece A.

 Cassie and BFF Pusta. Pusta left us just a few weeks ago, she was 15.

Cassie and BFF Pusta. Pusta left us just a few weeks ago, she was 15.

 She certainly won over my Dad - and he's not a dog person! Photo by D.

She certainly won over my Dad - and he's not a dog person! Photo by D.

CassieAndUs_PalmerRapids
CassieAndUsFitzroy2017
 She loved the snow.

She loved the snow.

 "Hello Human!"

"Hello Human!"

 My two loves on our wedding day. ♥♥♥ Photo by Kirsten Crilly.

My two loves on our wedding day. ♥♥♥ Photo by Kirsten Crilly.

 Cassie, Dec. 15, 2004-April 8, 2018.

Cassie, Dec. 15, 2004-April 8, 2018.