Monthly Archives: February 2016

Leaping in…

When I saw the Leap Day 2016 was available to blog on I, well, leaped at the chance. I’m not sure why, but it sounded like fun.

Today, blogs all over the ‘net will be spouting facts and superstitions about Leap Day and Leap Year, I’m sure. And rather than buck the system, I think I’ll join it.

Leap Day was added every fourth year to keep our calendar aligned with Earth’s revolutions around the sun. From what I read, it takes the Earth about 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds to circle once around the Sun. That time differential has to be made up somewhere so they added the day to the shortest month of the year.

  • Lord Byron (poet) was born on Leap Day.
  • There are about 4 million people with Leap Day birthdays and the chances of being born on Leap Day are about 1 in 1,461.
  • People born on Leap Day are said by astrologers to have special or unusual talents.
  • It’s also, since most of us write romance, the day that for centuries, women have been encouraged to propose to men. I read where this started back in the 5th century, when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait for men to propose. So he set aside February 29th, allowing women to pop the question on that day.

This continued in Scotland, when Queen Margaret declared in 1288 that women could propose to men on February 29th. Even the more modern American Sadie Hawkins Day tradition has become synonymous with Leap Day.

And finally, the poem that helps keep us all straight. I found there are several renditions of this poem, so I’ll post the one I grew up with:

Thirty days has September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except February, which has twenty-eight.
And in leap year twenty-nine.

Happy Leap Day, everyone!

Living with Her Ladyship

Years ago, I h20150708_141657eard Cesar Millan say that when you adopted a dog, you didn’t necessarily get the dog you wanted, but you certainly got the dog you needed. Well, when we adopted Vivvy we certainly wanted her, but in the eight months she’s been with us she has given us some lessons we didn’t even know we needed to learn. She has taught us to slow down, to savour the days and not just rush through them in a hive of activity. We’ve both learned to stop and smell those proverbial roses. A huge part of the day is spent walking her, playing with her, and just watching and enjoying her antics.

20160226_165027We’d boarded her as a guide dog puppy so knew her character, her little ways, and her basic needs. She was a nervous little thing, but extremely loving and sweet. She can also be a little madam, very adept at getting her own way, especially when her daddy is around. She answers to a variety of names, which should give you some idea of her status in the Jones’ household, among them are Her Ladyship, Princess Vivvy, The Duchess, Her Majesty and Lady Vivien of Somerset.Favourite Spot

We don’t have children so have never really had the responsibility of looking after anyone but ourselves on a day to day basis. If we wanted to go out for the day we just went, if we fancied a few days away somewhere we just packed our bags. On the days one of us was out with friends, and the other one wanted to do something too, we didn’t have to think twice. All that has changed. It took a little adjusting at first. There was now a third party to consider and neither of us had ever had to do that. But we’ve gotten into a great routine and are lucky to have some lovely friends who regularly look after Vivvy for us if we have to be away. She loves going to stay and is thoroughly spoiled, it’s like a home from home for her.

Bronze Assessment Nov 15I take her clicker training oncea week (daddy doesn’t come with us because he thinks she’s already perfect 🙂 ). She recently attained her Kennel Club Good Citizen Bronze Award with a score of 97 out of 100 (giving her daddy further fuel for his argument that she is the perfect dog, LOL).

We love her with a passion, sometimes frighteningly so. She has made such a difference to our lifestyle, but we truly wouldn’t be without her. Vivvy makes us laugh, worry, relax, plan and procrastinate, especially when it comes to my writing routine. Often, as I’m trying to focus on a plot point, a toy gets dumped in my lap or two paws land on the keyboard. One look at those eager eyes and it’s hard not to indulge her. She has widened our hearts, stretched our brains, depleted our bank account, gotten us fitter, and given us much joy. Having her was one of the best decisions we have ever made.

 

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Fun Song Writing Day

Thanks to you all for your interesting comments on good reads and your writing processes. I am pleased the blog stimulated such interest. This month I thought I’d share my experience of a songwriting day with my choir held on … Continue reading

Book Review – Memories Of A Geisha

930This book was another selection from the book club I belong too. Would I have read it on my own? Probably not and I didn’t see the movie. It was released in paperback in 1999 so it isn’t a recent release.

The book is author Arthur Golden’s debut novel, but you’d never know it’s a first as it’s exceptionally well written. There were quite a few comments in the front of the book. One, from Houston Chronicle reads, “Memoirs of a Geisha is nothing short of astonishing…. Elegant and spare, but wonderfully evocative.” Boston Magazine calls the story a classic.

The story took me into an unknown culture as foreign as the land it’s set in, where young girls are sold and made to feel it’s an accomplishment to be a Geisha. It takes in the training they undergo and delves deep into their personalities and what shapes them to be manipulative, and even cruel.

The story is told in first person by Nitta Sayuri who is sold along with her older sister at the age of nine. It tells her story as she enters the world of Geisha. It’s a hard life so it’s no wonder the characters are strong, selfish, unkind is to gentle a word for them. Survival really is a matter of who’s fittest. I didn’t always like Sayuri, at least not toward the end. But then she had been taught by masters.

I had a hard time making myself believe that the story is fiction. It has 3268 reviews and  a 4 ½ star rating. It’s a thought provoking read, one that is going to stay with me for a while and one I’m happy to recommend.

 

Funeral For A Friend by Valerie J. Patterson

Saying goodbye is never an easy thing, even when you know the other person is going away.  Moving across the country.  Taking a new path in life.  Getting married.  Going into the military.  In those cases there’s the possibility of a reunion.  But saying goodbye after the person has gone is even more difficult.  There’s no hug goodbye.  No opportunity to reaffirm your love for them.  No parting words.

November 13th, my Aunt Sis–my dad’s only sibling–passed from this life completely on her own terms.  As you might recall, 4 years ago I took over her care due to the increasing complications of Alzheimer’s disease.  I moved her from her home in Pittsburgh to an assisted living residence a few blocks from my home.  Over the course of the ensuing 4 years I watched this horrible disease rob her of her mobility, her vocabulary, her ability to feed herself, her memories, and her vitality.  I watched her lose her taste buds, which left her unwilling to eat.  I watched her drop weight rapidly and–ultimately–I watched her lose her ability to remember me.

Alzheimer’s may have robbed her of everything we hold dear in life, but her death was on her own terms.  November 13th was a Friday.  I was at the office.  By all accounts, she was having a great day.  She’d eaten a good breakfast.  She spent the morning joking with the staff and giving them a “hard time”.  She ate a good lunch and was in her recliner in the living room.  The aide that was with her after lunch walked away to help another resident.  When she came back, she said Kay looked a little odd.  She knelt down to listen to her heart and actually heard my aunt draw her last breath a few minutes before two o’clock that afternoon.

The director of the residence called me at the office and very gently broke the news to me.  I remember staring out the window beside my desk and the tears springing to my eyes.  I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye.  No opportunity to once more affirm how much I loved her.  No chance to tell her how much I would miss her.  As I left the office and drove to the residence I thought about her final day.  Instead of it being filled with pain, it was filled with laughter.  Instead of being unable to get out of bed, she was sitting in her recliner having eaten both a good breakfast and a good lunch.  Instead of being alone when she died, she was with people who genuinely cared about her and treated her as a member of their own families.

Instead of having an illness that claimed her life, she died while having a great day.  She simply closed her eyes, sighed one last time, and left this life.

I have never planned a funeral, but suddenly, I found myself planning hers.  She was not one to discuss death–especially her own.  She told me the funeral home where she wanted her viewing to be held, and she told me she wanted a Mass of Christian Burial at the Catholic church she attended.  I shopped for everything from her final outfit to the casket.  Every decision I made, I made with her in mind, answering questions like: What would she want to wear?  What kind of flowers would she want.  What scripture reading would she want?  What hymns would she like?  What kind of casket would she pick out?  With every decision, I wanted to honor her and the life she lived.

My aunt was an amazingly creative individual.  She was incredibly talented and she had a workshop most men would be envious of.  She used power tools, multiple types of power saws, and tools that had odd names that only carpenters knew what they were for.  She could make anything out of wood, and she did.  If you showed her a picture in a magazine and said you thought you would like that, she recreated it and gifted it to you.  Did I mention she was amazing?

When the funeral director, Sandy, took my husband and I into the casket room, my knees grew weak and my throat tightened up, and I bit the inside of my cheek to prevent the tears from flowing again.  I admit to tuning out Sandy as she explained about the vaults and the caskets, which lined the walls of the room.  I looked at all the options and I wondered silently which one Aunt Sis would prefer.  I made several trips past the three walls of steel caskets, looking all of them over, and over again.  I could hear my husband asking Sandy questions as I made my fourth trip around the room.  Sandy asked me if I’d decided.  Finally, I found myself at the wall of hand-carved wooden caskets.  In front of me was a hand-carved casket of solid cherry.  I felt Steve beside me.  He hugged me and said, “It’s her.  She would appreciate the craftsmanship,  the carved corners, and the intricate and ornate scroll work.  It’s the perfect tribute to what she loved to do.”

As for me, it was almost as if she’d led me to that wall of caskets and nudged me toward that one of solid cherry.  In fact, through the entire process it was as if she was right there leading me.  Like my Mom and Dad, she was a huge influence in my life.  When we were together, we always laughed like we shared a special secret.  Planning her funeral was one of the hardest things to do because it wasn’t just for my Aunt Sis, it was a funeral for a friend.

I have realized that there was no need to affirm that I loved her, she knew it just I know she loved me just as dearly.  Even though there was no opportunity to verbally tell her goodbye, I’m so thankful that her final day was a good day and that her passing was as peaceful as could be.  And on her own terms.  In spite of all that Alzheimer’s robbed from her, she was victorious in not allowing it to claim her life.

Until next time, I hope your days are filled with love…and that they’re great!

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IS IT SPRING??

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Good morning from the Knox Farm.  I always seem to be a little late the last few months.  Maybe it’s the weather??  We, here in the Pacific Northwest, are ready for spring.  We have certainly had our share of rain … Continue reading

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Helping Jillian Out

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Hobbes here. My Jillian has been down with a migraine all weekend and so I am being the kind critter that I normally am and taking over for her. I don’t like it when she’s sick, not only because she … Continue reading

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Happy Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is this weekend and I hope everyone enjoys it. A couple of fun facts about Valentine’s Day: In Victorian times it was considered bad luck to sign a Valentine’s Day card. Based on retail statistics, about 3 per … Continue reading

Jamaica 2016

imageWe all loved Jamaica, the people are happy and have an absolutely great accent. The weather was warm, between 79 and 85 but with breezes. It did tend to rain in the afternoon or night but it didn’t slow us down at all.

The picture is taken from one of the five balconies in our room. I know five? That morning there was two ships in port.

The pen to the right of the ship held dolphins and we could watch people swimming with them. Also hear them talking. I loved the mornings with a cup of coffee, warm breezes blowing over the sunny balcony patio. Especially since we left a very rainy cold Pacific NW.

Traveling the past few years has been laid back with plenty of time to laze around. We of course went in to town for shopping and took a few tours, but we try not to spend much time in vans and buses. We did go up to Bob Marley’s family home. The island people revere his memory.

Our suite wasn’t as luxurious as last years but still imagexnice. Umm maybe we’re getting a little spoiled? Next year we’re going to try to get a three bedroom will know next week as we’re booking next year already. Did I say we LOVE Jamaica?

So home for a month and a half and then off for a road trip. Ahhh retirement. Lovin life.

 

 

Settling In

Life has offered us another opportunity…a metamorphosis or iteration of what normal is for us. Wow. That’s sounds pretty philosophical, doesn’t it? At any rate, the change in our lives is that my mother has come to live with us.

The reason for that isn’t great…it’s her health. But she stabilized and settled in and just this past week, we brought out her own bedroom furniture and made it a permanent thing. It’s definitely a change, for us and for her. And yes, there’s downsides. But the positives far outweigh the extra work involved.

I am getting to know my mother, whom I’ve held in such high regard for so many years, better than I’ve ever had an opportunity to before. I’m finding out she’s not perfect. She gets cranky, especially when she’s tired or patronized. But she’s also gracious and generous with her thanks and compliments.

She has a sweet tooth and is a definite desert person. Friends and family keep bringing her chocolates, which she proudly tries to share with us. I hate to say no, because I get the sense it’s something she’s able to offer us in this day and age when we are the ones getting her everything she needs.

She’s very particular about what goes where, and a bit of a clean freak. Must be from all those years of having us five messy kids around, huh?

She’s always been kind when speaking of others, but I never realized it was a mindset, not something she remembers to do. Mom genuinely sees the good in people.

And she’s as grateful for us as we are for her. We are truly blessed. I also love that I have 4 siblings. This isn’t just something my husband and I took on. My brothers have been moving furniture out here as needed and bringing dinner out to save me a night of cooking and to visit. My sister comes to stay so we can get regular breaks from the duties of having someone to care for. And my other sister, who lives on the other side of the states, is in constant touch, providing moral support to Mom and to us.

So it works. It really does. I don’t know if we have a month, a year, or more with Mom. And I know there will be tough times, both with the day-to-day stuff and when her health declines again. But for now, life is good. 🙂

Now if we can just get these darn cats to get along. Getting two solitary older cats (Mom’s and ours) to cohabitate isn’t exactly easy. I walk around the house with a spray bottle in my hand, ready for the next spitting and hissing fight.

So I hope your 2016 is going as well as ours so far, or even better. Because life is very worth embracing for every moment we can squeeze out of it.

With Mom last year on Mt. Rainier.

With Mom last year on Mt. Rainier.