Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Holiday Tradition Continues

Christmas at our house this year was a quiet one.  Good friends had us over for Christmas Eve, but Christmas Day was spent at home.  Carl and I were the recipients of kind and thoughtful family members and friends who sent gifts for us to enjoy, and (of course) there were a few packages for the dogs too.
One gift we received was anonymous, and while I can't be totally positive, I'm quite sure that the giver was at a luncheon that I attended a couple of weeks ago. Over lunch that day, the conversation turned to favorite holiday traditions, memories and food.  I shared one about Christmas stollen.  (For those of you who may not know, a stollen is a traditional German Christmas yeast bread with nuts and dried fruits. The dough is wrapped around a log of marzipan before baking and the finished loaf is generously dusted with confectioner sugar.)
~Shadow and Sheba~
For many, many years, my Mother used to send me a Christmas stollen.  I have to admit, that I didn't always like them, but my Mom enjoyed them so much, and so eventually, I did too. Getting a stollen in my Christmas box from home each year and enjoying a slice with a cup of tea became something I looked forward too. Even when my Mom was unable to shop for herself, she still made sure that I received one (or two) at the holidays.  After my Mom passed away, I found myself that first Christmas missing having a stollen and so I bought one, and have gotten one each year to carry on that tradition.  But this year, as I told everyone over lunch, the Scrooge inside me was balking at the price of $20 for a small loaf, and so I had decided to forgo the tradition; I still had the memory after all and actually having a Christmas stollen wasn't really that important. However I have to admit, that after lunch that day, each time I saw them at the grocery store, I hesitated when I walked past, because deep inside, I really did want one.  But I was determined to stand strong in my boycott of such a high price for a small Christmas stollen -- I simply was not going to spend that much on one.    
Fast forward to early Christmas morning.  The day began with the dogs and I taking a walk as the sun started to rise. When we returned to the house, the sun was just above the horizon, and its brilliant rays were shining brightly and warming the air.  That was when I noticed something hanging on our gate, in a plain brown bag.  Inside there was no card, just a Christmas stollen.  There are no words to express my humble gratitude for a perfect gift on Christmas morning.  I could only make a toast with my cup of hot tea to my Mom, and to whoever left the stollen, allowing my tradition to continue.
~A slice of Christmas stollen~

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Christmas Break

~Sketch of Todd by the talented Ann at Sketching William the Lurcher~
Just a quick blog post this evening to tell you what you may already know, that I am going to be (trying to) take a bit of a break from blogging over the Christmas holiday.  I'll be honest, I doubt that it's going to be a complete break, because my goal is to catch up on your news, while still trying to spend less time online.

I want to thank-you all for your friendship this year, for reading my blog and taking a moment to leave your thoughts on my posts, it means more than you know.

I hope you enjoy time with family and friends, and you are able to break away from the daily grind for a bit to be refreshed and reminded of who and what you hold dearest.  I wish you all the Merriest Christmas!
See you soon! 

**The sketch of Todd was done by the very talented 
who does a sketch of her endearing Lurcher, William every day--
It's a great blog to visit, especially if you need cheering up! 
You can get there from here

Sunday, December 15, 2013

More Snow Than Time

A snowy start to our weekend that had more holiday errands than time to get them done. Todd was determined to spend as much time outside in the snow as possible.  I've noticed him shivering when outside in the cold, and so I put a coat on him that used to belong to Josh when he was a puppy.  It's a little big, but did the trick.  Todd didn't seem to mind it at all.
However he wasn't really happy about this though....
Our end of the day was dinner out at our favorite restaurant with our two of our most favorite friends. Our meal began with an artichoke and crab appetizer that was served warm with a baguette.  My dinner was pumpkin ravioli in a sherried onion sauce, with toasted walnuts, dried cranberries and sweet potato strings--Rich and delicious!!  It was a relaxing and enjoyable evening with our friends!  
Christmas is going to be here before I know it, and I'm just getting started on the Christmas cards.
Time is really getting away from me.  Am I the only one who thinks that Christmas never came this quickly as a kid?  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Another Snow Day!

The snow and ice from Sunday had almost melted, when snow came again today.  Carl was already on his way to work when the announcement came that the agency he works for was closed for the day. The call that my office was doing the same thing came by 6 o'clock this morning.
I've mentioned before how when I was growing up on an army post, school was never canceled because of snow, so I enjoy those “snow days” from work now. Carl on the other hand, grew up in Wisconsin and he got a few of those snow-days off from school.  Today for some reason he was reminded of how exciting it was for him to have those snow days and what great fun it was to “sled” and build snowmen.  Of course I did those same things.  However not all of us had sleds, so we made do with a friends, or pieces of cardboard and various items that we borrowed from summer like a zip sled (meant to be used in the water) and inner tubes.
The other thing that I always enjoy about snow-days is the food.  As a kid, when we would finally come in for lunch, it was always Campbell’s (canned) soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Today after the dogs and I had been outside for awhile it was a creamy tomato soup and crisp grilled cheese. To me it's the quintessential winter lunch and takes me right back to childhood.
It was another good day at home.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Our First Snow Day

Our day began with a much anticipated snow-fall and a rare glimpse of our resident Barred Owl sitting on our fence.
There's nothing like the snow to bring out the inner puppy!  All the dogs loved the snow, including Sunny! That is until, as you can see in the series of photos below, he realized I was taking pictures.  When he saw me, he quickly retreated and raced back inside.  Poor Sunny...

The dogs and I were outside in the snow several times today. Its been a long time since I enjoyed time outside playing with all of them.  After the past week, we needed that time to just have fun together.  The weekend has ended on a good note.
I hope yours has too.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Heaven Sent or Mere Coincidence?

~Wendy and 'the first' Tod~
I am once again finding myself humbled as I have read all of your comments on the loss of our girl Wendy.  You understand and share our loss, and that understanding is a true testament of the friendship, kindness and compassion of the blogging-community.
There is still an overwhelming sadness as we continue to mourn the loss of Wendy on Monday.  Dog owners understand those sad moments that are dealt with after the loss of a family companion.  For us it has been an empty dog bed, the extra dog dish, the pill container full of what would have been Wendy's medication for the coming week that I'd just filled...coming home from work for the first time and her not being there--That moment made easier yesterday by a thoughtful, cheery-gift from a treasured friend. (Thank-you again Eileen for your thoughtfulness and friendship that is a true blessing in my life.)    

Wendy's final resting place is here at Golden Pines.  She will be the only one whose remains will not be kept in the beautiful boxes returned to us by our vets office. Instead, it is a place that can be seen from the house, and near one of the cornerstones of our property, symbolic of what she was, our cornerstone...On Monday as we said our last good-byes to her, when we turned to go back into the house I looked up, and above us was a heart-balloon floating by.  We stood and watched it in silence until it disappeared high above the clouds.
Now there are those who will say that it was a mere coincidence that at a moment of great sadness, a heart balloon would pass by. But I have found that there are some things that are truly heaven sent.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Good-Bye (For Now) to Our Beloved Wendy

~June 2013~
Today was indeed, a really, really sad and difficult day for us. Not only were there gloomy clouds and cold temperatures outside, but it was the same in our hearts. Today, was one that we dreaded, we said good-bye to our precious, precious Wendy.

I remember so well the day we met her more than 14 years ago.  In many ways it seems like such a long time ago, but in other ways, like it just happened.  When we met her she was known as "Amber" and was a wild, young, crazy girl who was almost 2 years old.  I changed her name to "Wendy" after my favorite character in Peter Pan.  I didn't know at the time, but she would become much like her namesake.  When we started fostering for the rescue in 2000, many of the dogs that came to us at that time were from the animal shelters and were young males who had been strays.  Because of that, I began calling them 'the lost boys.'  We would have many 'lost boys' come into our lives, and she was a good mentor and companion to all of them--Just like the 'real' Wendy.  
~Wendy in July 1999~
As the years passed Wendy was there for so many changes in our lives.  She knew our very first cat named Lucy.  She knew Tod, our very first Golden, and was there the night we woke up to find that he had passed away.  I remember looking at her as she sat on the bed watching us, her eyes said that she had understood what had happened.  On that same sad note, Wendy was there the day I came home to my Mom's house after she'd passed away.  How could I ever thank her for the comfort she provided then and so many times through so many losses?
~August 2011~
Yes, through the additions and subtractions in our lives Wendy was there, always the one constant in our lives.  She always seemed the same, never changing, always with the spark in her eyes, and that canine free spirit and independence that in later years would tell me that the rules of the house didn't apply to her--She was right, they didn't. Wendy was our equal.  She was truly my canine sister.  Her life was so intertwined within the fabric of our lives that I barely have a memory of the last 14 years that doesn't somehow include her.  Because of Wendy more than 50 Golden Retrievers found forever families.  Because of Wendy we adopted 15 dogs from the rescue and have given that many senior Goldens a place to call home for the time they have left.  Because of Wendy there is a Golden Pines.
~January 2013~
Because of Wendy, my heart is broken and shattered--But there are no regrets, just a giant hole in our home and an emptiness that will never again be filled.  I will miss Wendy like no other, and she will forever be in my heart and soul until we meet again.

God speed, Wendy-Lady, my girly-girl.  Our candle is lit for you tonight as you journey to the Rainbow Bridge where there will be an amazing reunion and welcome from the many who have gone before you.  Please give them all my message and don't ever forget what you meant to Carl and I. You will be greatly missed but never, ever forgotten, and we look forward to the day when we will see you again, in a place like Never Never Land...  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Snippets of a Four-Day Weekend

Four days off from work have passed much, much too quickly.  It was a good weekend, and our inner-batteries are fully recharged. We end this holiday weekend with more worry about our girl Wendy.  I've not mentioned her in the past couple of weeks, and I will only say now that I know that our more than 14 years together will end very soon. I know it goes without saying that the loss of our precious, precious Wendy will be a very sad and difficult day for us.  We are taking each day as it comes, and savoring the moments and time we have left with her.  
~Wendy this evening~ 
On the flip-side, here are a few just random photos of some of other moments from this past weekend. The first is a handsome pheasant that we've seen a couple of times near our house.  It's unusual for us to see one, and I'm wondering if someone's Thanksgiving dinner got away?
A sleepy photo of Shadow recharging his inner batteries...
 No doubt so he can stay up late and watch "CC-TV!"
Josh, snoozing on the forbidden chair, which is why it's kept covered, because the dogs don't know that.  He's feeling much, much better and is able to move his neck with no problem.  
A quickly taken photo of a very camera shy Sunny, who after I took this picture quickly exited the room. He's also doing well, and neither us, or the dog-walker have had a moment of trouble with him.  There is a real calmness and confidence about Sunny now and he has truly found his place within the pack 
 I hope you've had a good weekend! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Ready or Not

Just as we planned, it was a quiet Thanksgiving for us. By late morning we had both spoken to all of our siblings and other family members. For breakfast we enjoyed a holiday tradition of my homemade cinnamon rolls that are baked in a well seasoned cast-iron-frying pan (or skillet) that once belonged to my grandparents.  (recipe can be found here)
The rest of the day was spent relaxing and getting some much needed rest.
Today in the mail came a pop-up holiday card from one of my dearest friends, that we just love!!  So, with Thanksgiving behind us, ready or not, let the Christmas season begin!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lovely words: Staying Home for Thanksgiving

I really do love Thanksgiving.  I didn't always. When we first came to Virginia, Thanksgiving used to mean traveling home to Kentucky.  This meant a 12 hour drive in ridiculous traffic on Wednesday and a high-speed return on Sunday to be back to work on Monday.  But that craziness came to an end when after consecutive years there was horrible weather when we crossed over the mountains of West Virginia.  So, we decided to start staying home.  When we did that there was none of the dread and worry I used to feel over the thought of dicey weather, slippery roads and terrible traffic.
When we eliminated 12 hours of driving, a world of possibilities opened up. We received invitations from friends to enjoy Thanksgiving with their families, or we could simply stay home.  Having that choice totally changed the holiday for us and became one I looked forward too.  This year is no different.  We had 5 thoughtful friends invite us to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at their homes, but we said no to all of them--This was only because its been a very busy and stressful few weeks, with the dogs, work, and everything else life has handed us and we are tired and worn out.  More than once the last couple of days, I found that being able to say those lovely words: "we're staying home for Thanksgiving," sounded as good as the dinner itself...Well, almost as good!  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

He's a Scottie After All

The coldest day since last winter with temperatures that didn't get above freezing all day.  The hummingbird feeder left out for any stragglers, was frozen almost solid.  

The Goldens on days like this, had moments of being invigorated by the cold, but preferred  the warmth of the inside.
~CarrieAnne sharing her crate with Shadow (right)~ 
Todd on the other hand, wanted to stay outside.  As he sat, unflinching, facing the cold north winds of November, I noticed that he had a stoic and aristocratic air about him.  But he's supposed to be that way, he's a Scottie after all.