i'll never

How many times have I uttered the phrase “I’ll never {fill in the blank}” and then gone on to do exactly that very thing? There are any number of examples and after each, I declare “I’ll never say never again!”. But then, as you’ve already guessed, I do just that and say it again. Oy.

Well, here’s another example to add to the already hefty pile. We’ve gone and gotten ourselves a puppy. And yes, I said never. Another dog maybe, but never a puppy. The energy, the learning curve, the inconvenience and sleepless nights. And while we are living in the US renting a house?…nope, never. Never, never, never. Oooph.

But here we are. H and I and our sweet little Bo Blu. And I am smitten.

I think now what I’m really meaning when I say I’ll never is “I can’t imagine I will ever {fill in the blank}”. And I really can’t, in that moment. Sometimes it is a pure lack of imagination, sometimes it is a complete unknowing of circumstances yet to come, and sometimes it is a straight up declaration based on what I wholeheartedly believe to be true. These latter statements are based on values; hence, I feel quite confident when I say I will never, and I have held true to many if not all of those nevers. The former two, however, are the ones that I continually eat crow over. Because life changes, we change. We grow and learn and adapt. A few years ago, I could never have imagined we’d be living in the US. I could have predicted, and did, the quiet of a completely empty nest, but I couldn’t really feel it in my bones as I do now. H’s long hours, and my inability to work down here leave me with plenty of time…which I have no problem filling, but which I’d like to enjoy with some company.

Colleen said recently that this family had a dog-sized hole in it that needed filling asap. Well, now it is filled. And while the whole family has yet to meet him, those of us who have are loving him up. We named this sweet nubbin Bowen Blu…for a variety of solid reasons…but he’ll likely be called Bo most of the time. After the name was chosen I used the google machine to see if it had any other meanings than the personal ones we’d assigned to it. Turns out Bo is Scandinavian for ‘living’. And that just cemented the choice.

Because, and this falls into that third category of I’ll never’s, I’ll never not want to be living, so long as I am.

p.s. what follows is likely waaay too many pictures…but wait, is there any such thing as too many puppy pics?…and yes, there are photos that have humans in them, but we all know that this particular post is alllll about a pup.

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to the ones i love

What’s not to love about a day designated for lovin’ on the ones I love? The ones who support me unconditionally, who call me on my b.s. gently, who school me with their own wisdom kindly—not to mention make me laugh uproarously, and feel at home completely.

Yes, this is dedicated to the ones I love.

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oy.

oy.

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i have decided

I have decided to find myself a home in the mountains, somewhere high up where one learns to live peacefully in the cold and the silence. It’s said that in such a place certain revelations may be discovered. That what the spirit reaches for may be eventually felt, if not exactly understood. Slowly, no doubt. I’m not talking about a vacation.

Of course at the same time I mean to stay exactly where I am.

Are you following me?

~ Mary Oliver

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the root of the root

i carry your heart with me (i carry it

in my heart) i am never without it (anywhere

i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing, my darling)

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

~e.e.cummings

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wild world

These photos were taken in August, when wildfires burned from California through Oregon to Alberta and BC. (It’s becoming an annual summertime occurrence.) This November morning we woke up to the news that there are devastating wildfires once again burning south of us…which is {pretty scary} crazy. (Fingers crossed it’s not becoming an all year long annual occurrence.)

Oh baby baby it’s a wild world | It’s hard to get by just upon a smile. (Cat Stevens)

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closer to fine

And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains | I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains | There's more than one answer to these questions | Pointing me in a crooked line | And the less I seek my source for some definitive | The closer I am to fine | The closer I am to fine. (Indigo Girls)

our arrival to waterton lake national park, and our tour guide extraordinaire.

our arrival to waterton lake national park, and our tour guide extraordinaire.

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happy campers and local hazards.

happy campers and local hazards.

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day 2, the clouds rolled in.

day 2, the clouds rolled in.

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what matters

We've had a whole heap of real life happen these past couple of months; the kind of real that reminds you that what really matters is remembering what really matters. And that sometimes, major change is only a heartbeat away.

No doubt someday soon enough I'll find my way back to picking up a camera in order to play with focus and perspective, to find the light, and to see the people and world around me through a different lens...ahhh, the metaphors. ;)

But in the meantime, here's a bit of pretty to bookmark this interlude.

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finnegan

It's always {always, always} hard. But sometimes, it's just harder. This time we said goodbye to the best old boy, and in doing so it became apparent it wasn't only him we were letting go of. We were also saying goodbye to the last piece of what remained of an era. Finn came to us as a puppy of 10-12 weeks old, when the kids were 7, 9, and 11. (They are now 23, 25, and 27.) They...we...all grew up together. He'd been with us in Calgary, through our Bowen Island years, on to the emptying nest in North Vancouver, and finally seen us through the transition to a somewhat foreign-feeling home south of the border. Having Finn here in Bend helped stave off the reality of an entirely empty nest.

We have been living the nearly empty nest for a few years now, with the kids coming and going and only sometimes staying longer than it takes to do a few loads of laundry and have a meal. While ol' Findley was in remarkable health for a dog of 13, 14, and then 15 years old, his aging was apparent and in the last few months, rapid. When he turned the corner into 16, we knew his days were numbered. But, when the time came, it was still a gut-wrenching decision to make. It always {always, always, always} is. Knowing something is right and will be hard to do, doesn't mean it won't feel wrong and practically impossible to do.

We've not been without a dog in the house for 25+ years, but we're going to be without one for awhile now. There's a move or two yet to make, a level of uncertainty in our lives, and plans to travel...it makes the most sense. (Though, never say never.) As I post this, we are adjusting to the hole Finn has left. He's as dearly missed as the entire stage of life he'd come to represent. But we'll shift our routines, learn to live with the quiet, and move on...I suspect we already are...and there will be many more good things to come in this next phase. I know that to be true.

All that said, there will never be another Finnegan.

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for proof, not pretty

Turns out there is something more challenging than a swim in the lake on January 1, and that is a swim in the lake the day after the ice drifts off. I figure it deserves a post for posterity.

Sean arrived at the lake first, on Thursday of the long Easter weekend, and it was covered entirely in ice. We arrived next on Friday afternoon, after a healthy spring wind and rain overnight had swept the ice northwards on the water, but didn't much impact the foot or so of snow still on the ground in places around the cabin. Jamie and Noah arrived Friday night, and so you know what had to happen on Saturday morning.

Not much more than 24 hours after the lake had been completely covered in ice, the gents proceeded to the shore for the morning ritual. Noah opted to swim to the buoy and back, nearly wrecking himself for the day...or at least it left him feeling suitably unwell enough to abstain from Sunday's swim. As we watched the others, I asked him if a January 1 swim is called a polar bear swim what an Easter Sunday swim might be called, and his to-the-point reply? "A bad idea." However, he recovered sufficiently enough by Monday morning to rejoin the group, knowing enough not to attempt the buoy and back.

Here follows the 'for proof not pretty' pictures.

(those ripples? not ripples so much as slushy ice.)

(those ripples? not ripples so much as slushy ice.)

(he wins the award for first in, for multiple dips each session, and for having ridiculously good humour about the whole endeavour.)

(he wins the award for first in, for multiple dips each session, and for having ridiculously good humour about the whole endeavour.)

(being the son of jamie,  of course  he's going for the buoy.)

(being the son of jamie, of course he's going for the buoy.)

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(no heart attacks happened. and yes, i worried one might. think this might also have been the point at which noah felt the early signs of hypothermia settling in.)

(no heart attacks happened. and yes, i worried one might. think this might also have been the point at which noah felt the early signs of hypothermia settling in.)

(the 'i did it and i can't feel my face' face.)

(the 'i did it and i can't feel my face' face.)

(because, it was easter after all.)

(because, it was easter after all.)

westward to the ocean

We recently resumed road tripping season (which, let's face it, in our family runs all seasons) with a weekend's excursion to the Oregon Coast. H had meetings on a Friday in the Portland area, after which we headed west to Newport, a town neither of us had been to before. Despite some lingering under-the-weather'ness, and the often demanding needs of our geriatric lab (think the nocturnal habits of a not-quite newborn infant), we enjoyed the few days of coastal air, roaring surf, local characters, and some pretty fine seafood dining. The said geriatric found his inner pup again, and we found the soothing perspective that only the unbroken horizon of the Pacific Ocean can bring.

'Let's go back to the coast, baby westward to the ocean.' (Said The Whale)

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nothing is impossible

Before we bump the clocks ahead an hour and the campaign for spring is in full swing, I thought I'd check in here with the winter that's been.

Aside from a sweet two week Christmas interlude and an enjoyable weekend's explore on the Oregon coast, there's been nothing much ado around here for the last several months. We were both laid low with a particularly nasty flu bug in January and, my immune system being what it is, I'm still crawling my way back to whatever counts as normal. It'll take the time that it takes I suppose. In the meantime, there have been endlessly quiet days...as able, I knit a few stitches, read a few lines or bake a batch of something, and on a really good day I take Finn for a walk along the river. But otherwise, Netflix, mugs of hot tea, and a comfy couch laden with plush blankets and pillows have been my nearly constant companions.

'People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.' (Winnie the Pooh)

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all those things that don't change

H and I headed north to Alberta last month. (Apparently, we have a thing for road tripping.) Ostensibly, this trip was a much needed holiday for him, but we also thought it would be a good time to catch up with some family and friends. We were looking forward to laying eyes on 2 of our 3 kiddos, to see them settled into their new digs and routines, as well as to visit with extended family in the area. All of that happened, and more. We spent time in the city, time on the prairie, and some unexpected-but-sublime time in the mountains. And at the end of ten or so days, we rolled away feeling incredibly grateful for all of it. 

One particular day stands out, and it's one I am challenged to put words to. En route to visiting our favourite cowboy, we took the long way via a place {literally} called Faraway. It had been ten plus years since any of us had visited, though it was a place we frequented often in the many years leading up to that mark. It's a place that holds too many memories to count and (not unexpectedly), a ghost or two greeted us. We walked, and talked, and shared a few tears along with all the memories that made us laugh. One of us even rode. (It was short but ohhh so sweet.) And we wished for those who had been a part of that doesn't-feel-so-long-ago time to be with us here and now. And indeed, in all the ways that really matter, they were...she was. I could hear their voices...her voice...carried on the wind and at every single turn. It was gut-wrenching and heart-filling all at once.

As we piled into the vehicle at the end of the visit, we unanimously agreed that taking the long way through and to Faraway was worth it...always had been, always would be.

'Four strong winds that blow lonely, | Seven seas that run high, | All those things that don't change, | Come what may.' (Ian Tyson)

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old red...

old red...

and the faraway boys.

and the faraway boys.

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(dr. doolittle?)

(dr. doolittle?)

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i have an idea...

i have an idea...

what say ye?

what say ye?

(yussssss!)

(yussssss!)

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as you were.

as you were.

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(photo bomber)

(photo bomber)

(album cover sessions)

(album cover sessions)

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...if the good times are all gone | then i'm bound for movin' on | i'll look for you if i'm ever back this way.

let's go on an adventure

"Let's go on an adventure.

I'll make some sandwiches

and a flask of tea,

we'll get our walking boots on

and get lost somewhere."

And so we did, or have done, every Saturday for the last few weeks. I highly recommend the practice.

First weekend wander: Crater Lake.

First weekend wander: Crater Lake.

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On the second Saturday, the Painted Hills.

On the second Saturday, the Painted Hills.

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For our third trek, the Cascades Lake highway to Lapine State Park.

For our third trek, the Cascades Lake highway to Lapine State Park.

Devil's Lake.

Devil's Lake.

Elk Lake.

Elk Lake.

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The largest and oldest ponderosa pine in the USA....they call it 'the big tree'.

The largest and oldest ponderosa pine in the USA....they call it 'the big tree'.

(pretty gnarly)

(pretty gnarly)

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smoke on the water

Couldn't say goodbye to the summer of '17 without a nod to this...when it seemed the entire western half of the continent was on fire.

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a blonde, a brunette, and a red head

I spent most of this past summer away from home...though home does not yet feel like home...and I was mostly in a place that feels like home, but is not.

Ram Dass said 'we're all just walking each other home'. It might not be exactly what he meant, but no matter where I am, or what particular rendition of home I find myself living in or pondering, I think of those words and know for sure that when this blonde, brunette, and red head are in the mix, they walk me back home...and figuratively, literally, wherever we may be, I am home.

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(a not so subtle signal that they're done already.)

(a not so subtle signal that they're done already.)

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(yuck...a love story.)

(yuck...a love story.)

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that thing that happens

You know that thing that happens when you venture out on an 8 hour road trip only to realize once you've arrived that you've forgotten your {I'm blind without them} prescription glasses at home?...and your three kids are all together for perhaps the only time the entire summer, and it's time for that annual portrait of them....and you can't really think clearly without seeing (hence you've paid no attention to sun exposure, shadows, etc), let alone read the dials and do-dads on your camera...but you decide to shoot the darn session anyways?....yeah, that. Well, it's blurry and frustrating and grainy beyond all heck. But it is what it is. And so you say, what the hey...here they are, such as they are. (And I kinda love them anyway.)

may long

Long may traditions continue.

where else would I be?

One brother says 'I'm going to Tofino'. The other brother says 'I think I'll go too'. One kiddo says 'Hmmm, sounds like an idea to me'. Another kiddo says 'Absolutely, I'm in'. Well now. Where else would I be?

The arrival.

The arrival.

First thing in the morning rituals, courtesy of Uncle Jamie.

First thing in the morning rituals, courtesy of Uncle Jamie.

C'mon old Finn...

C'mon old Finn...

...still a pup at heart.

...still a pup at heart.

Dusk surf session.

Dusk surf session.

Dawn surf session.

Dawn surf session.

The part where Sean explains to Ryan about a huuuge sea lion bluff-charging and barking at him, just right over there...

The part where Sean explains to Ryan about a huuuge sea lion bluff-charging and barking at him, just right over there...

Oh brother, my brother.

Oh brother, my brother.

Two new {in a relative sense} men and an old sea.

Two new {in a relative sense} men and an old sea.

"Goodbye number 56, you're the best cabin!" said Oscar.

"Goodbye number 56, you're the best cabin!" said Oscar.

{n}ice, {n}ice, very n{ice}...

So, I'm not fooling anyone. I'm writing this rather wintery post months after the fact on a hot, summery day. Looking at these photos might be the cool tonic I'm needing as the mercury rises, but the truth of it is I haven't had the means to be here in this space...and you know how it goes....the longer you put off doing something, the harder it becomes to do it. Inevitably, I am reminded that the only way to start is to. just. simply. start.

This past winter and spring were hard...on many levels...in all the places I've come to call home. There were record breaking temperatures and snow fall levels; a new job, new country, new political climate to adjust to; new health diagnoses and realities for more than a few we hold near and dear to us. It was all a bit shocking, and sent me a bit reeling. But the only way to do hard is to do it...one breath, one moment, one day at a time. You do what you know how to do, until you learn how to do the bits you don't know how to do.

I can't talk about hard without acknowledging the silver linings that come with...because they're almost always there....and because my mum installed it in my DNA to look for them.  This last go around, they came in the form of friends and family who offered a bed to lie on and a roof to call my own when away from home; who didn't ask, or who did ask, the pointed questions; who allowed and encouraged me to just do what I needed to do without apology; who listened graciously and generously; who were plain and simply there for me, without judgement.

Other silver linings came in the form of places to go to lick our wounds...like a toddler's time-out, or the re-fresh button on the keyboard, a change of scenery can sometimes help to re-set things. (As Anne Lamott says, almost everything will work again if you just unplug it for awhile.)  A change of venue gives you a chance to unplug from whatever whirlwind or routine you find yourself in...to take those necessarily required deep breaths, to think with a more focused intention and clarity, to recharge mind, body and spirit, and to perhaps emerge with a new perspective with which to tackle all the hard once again. For one such unplugging, my (hardly a) boy (anymore) and I headed to 'the lake', where we found layers of ice and snow, an enveloping, comforting stillness, and a near ghostly quiet. The lake air and scenery wrapped themselves around us like a heavy duvet, and became a literal silver lining in what was an otherwise very harsh winter. In the lyrical words of Dan Mangan, it was nice, nice, very nice.