Monday, December 29, 2008

A Blast From the Past

Wow. This image is courtesy of my dear friend Rob, who went to massage therapy school with me in Boulder. We were part of a tight circle of friends (that came to include this guy named Kevin), we went on many outdoor adventures together (Boulder Canyon, Nederland, name a few), Rob and Kevin began to paddle together the summer I left for Duluth, and Rob visited Duluth several times before moving up for about half a decade. He is now in Maine, but sent some old photos of Lucky. This one was taken in 1996, a few months after I found her. I had left my junky rental in town(that would not take dogs) for a junky rental up the North Shore (that would). It smelled of mold, and was probably falling apart, but it had a fenced in yard, was right across Old 61 from Lake Superior, and my roommate worked in the Cities (i.e. only home on weekends). It was heavan. I only stayed there a few months before my roomate gave up the lease, but it was perfect for the time. My last almost single home. Kevin moved to Duluth that January (yes, I advised him to pick a time with better weather). I believe his visit to this little abode, with these fuzzy creatures, for a gorgeous Fall weekend, sealed the deal that was struck in Boulder. Thank you Rob, for this cool little time travelling trip.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our Best Present

We just secured the best Christmas present we could have asked for. Alex is going to get to play with (and be assessed by) "The Autism Whisperer". She is a wonderful therapist out of the Cities who has been working with kids with all forms of autism since the 70's. She is called in by agencies all over Minnesota when they need a refined diagnosis and accurate read on tough cases. Alex may not be a tough case, but the more specific information we can get the better. Also, the information about autism out in the world is overwhelming and often conflicting. It is terrifying to be experimenting with your child's life, and even though we feel we have had some miraculous guidance so far we are far from confident that we are doing all that we can. Just once I am hoping we will have some definitive information. Our assessment is December 31 in the Cities, it is slated to be fully covered by insurance, and the next day our insurance will change to a provider this therapist cannot accept. Yikes. Methinks the angels are with us. Happy Holidays to you!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Winter Arrives

The Storm
It is winter in a big way now. Today it came to the door with champagne and flowers. We are in the midst of our first snow storm of the season. As we were driving away from church this morning, on our way to coffee and a close view of the lake, the boom lowered and we went from Christmas tunes to the sound track of the Titanic. Skies turned black, visibility dropped to about two feet, and four wheel drive did not mean four wheel stop. If you have never been to Duluth you may not realize that it is also known as "Little San Francisco" for its steep hills. This makes for tricky navigating, worse downhill than up. Well, we were going down, and a mere stop light holds no sway over gravity. I kind of like this kamikaze driving, but Kevin does not. Especially when other cars on the road have less grip and less sense. Since the whole family was out we decided to head it home, as we could not actually see the 14 foot waves out on Lake Superior. Too much driving snow and gale force wind. Other than sliding through a few intersections and some sideways slippage it was uneventful once we got out of the wind tunnel of downtown. By 3pm school had been canceled for tomorrow, and the buses were no longer running. The whole town looked like one of those bad head cold commercials, the ones where people shoulder into the white wind in their flapping winter coats. Alex and I spent the afternoon down at Sam and Fraya's house, having our annual Christmas party. Opening presents, baking cookies, and generaly being very silly. Only nine blocks away, we Subarued down, and made it home tonight just fine. The storm warnings go until tomorrow at noon, and it will be interesting to see exactly how deep the snow gets. I think the official report will be around a foot. For the first storm of the season it is not too bad.

Winter Magic
Before the storm we had a nice warm up for the season. It has been steadily getting colder since November, and dustings of snow have come now and again. It is a relief when the blanket of snow actually arrives because it brightens up the world immensely. Those without winter may not believe me but it is true. There is nothing darker than a snowless November, where all light is sucked in by miles of bare trees, acres of dead grasses and brush, and endless grey skies. Once snow arrives the lights are turned back on, and the earth sighs with relief that the rooted plants and little animals with be safe from the brutal cold. So, the lights being back on, that is magic trick number one. Number two is a most beautiful sound in the world. With snow and cold comes quiet. In deep cold comes deep quiet. You notice the squeak of snow under foot. Your breath becomes alive. And you can almost hear your nose hairs crackle as they freeze when you breathe sharply in. In this weather the rivers freeze completely over, but they are still alive. I love to hike on or near frozen rivers, especially the little wild ones around here. In the middle of town you can drop into a canyon and be alone in the world, you, the woods, and the river. That in itself is breath taking, but then to hear the gurgle of water under ice... pure magic. I could listen all day. I don't know what it is about it, but it is an amazing music I never tire of. The silence, your breath, the movement of almost frozen water under ice. Words do not do it justice. And this brings us to the third magic moment of winter for me so far. The feather bed. Not the feather quilt, that has been on since October. No, the super thick quilt that goes under you and under the bottom sheet and radiates warmth up in a way no other bedding can. Ahhhhhhh. For days are short, nights are long, and we should all really be hibernating in our feather caves. Good night!

Meet Jack

Here he is, our bouncing baby Border Collie. He is truly a sweet dog. Jack Flash Kinney (JFK for short) is the newest member of our family, and slotting in well. Loves winter. Adores running. Happily entertained by anything that bounces, is furry, or can be thrown. And our squirrels fit all three categories. Has not caught one yet, but got a mouth full of tail fur last week. A very good boy, he comes when he is called and is catching on to house rules. Alex has taken to leaning on him in the last few days, and pulling his fur, and even threw a soccer ball on his head. Jack has taken it all in stride and knows that he is not allowed to eat the child. Stop by when you can, he would love to play.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Okay okay, I'm blogging again! I have started to be harassed on this blog (see previous post comments) and also my Face book account, so it is time. My public is waiting (ha ha), my friends and family need more ways to fritter away their time. Just got back from a run with the new pup, and that always clears my head very well. Lord knows it is pretty cob-webby up there. I got to thinking about why I was not blogging. It has been over a month since my last tiny post, and before that my tributes to Lucky held sway. Part of me is just not ready to move on. Lucky was my first real Grown Up dog. She was there shortly after I moved to Duluth, already in love with Kevin, and unsure where our future would take us. I was still technically single, and she was there through engagement, marriage, and settling down. She was my, and our, adventure dog. Getting us out into the Northwoods, keeping us on the trails. She was our reluctant house dog too. And a darn good one. But now we have another dog and a new chapter is beginning. Before that really gets rolling I need to review some more.

2007 sucked. Plain and simple. It was the trifecta of Infertility, Autism, and Injury. It was so bad that I think I may have some PTSD from the whole deal. Of course we got through everything, found the light at the end of the tunnel, and even the joy along the way, but overall I would not wish such a year on anyone. 2008 was not so bad. Progress was made in all areas, even if it was sometimes only acceptance and redirection of thinking. I had a complete and total recovery of my shoulder and even won a few medals at an awesome kayak week in Wausau. Alex continues to amaze us and we love him more than words can say. Business is still tooting along, if we have made it this far we are likely to do fine. And as for the expanding family, well, we decided to get a puppy. I turned 40, and that threw me for a surprising loop. Still not so sure about that one but really, what can you do?? Have gotten into some nice healthy habits, and have not been dead last in a running race since '07. And we even bought ski passes for this year so am bound to get out on the slopes, something I have not done regularly since my ski bum days back in '92. But Lucky died and that has been terrible, and sad, and heart breaking. She was a one in a million dog, at least for us. She was so deep in our family we would have sent her to college if we could. And the loss of her magnified all other losses, recent and past. Plus it came at the darkening of the year. When the cold creeps into unaccustomed bones, before one concedes the battle and pulls out ALL the wool and fleece and long underwear, and even boots. One cannot stay warm just by putting on a coat, as in summer and fall. It takes extra measures, and before they are in place the pain of cold can be intense. Plus we had a new dog. A dog I was not ready for. He was supposed to perk Lucky up. She was supposed to teach him the ropes. Instead we were deep in grief, he arrived three days after we put her down. A pup who could not be her. And who had many needs. And who did not know not to pee on the carpet. Or to ask to go out. Or how to come when called. Or to stay in the yard. New dogs are much more work than old dogs, and the future is not certain. You do not know if they can learn all the important things. You do not know if they will bite your child in the face, or not. And they do not love you exactly like your old dog did. But through the darkness there was a spark of hope, a flame of desire, a fire for a good life to continue.

I do an excellent job of compartmentalizing my life. Around Jack I have been a good doggie mom. Around Alex I have done all the care taking and games and therapies, and fun stuff. At work I have been my usual focused self. Where I have fallen down Kevin has picked me up. A few dear souls have heard pieces of my whining. And in the quiet times I have been working on integrating it all. The holidays have me reminiscing, sifting out the bad, lifting up the good, laughing at the laughable. I have sent out the cards from 2007 that didn't make it and sat in their envelops all year...that was about half. I have yet to put together a 2008 card, it may need to wait into the new year. Business is actually rocking right now, so the tanking economy is not taking us down on this round. Work has been wild, but that is okay. Jack is turning out just fine. Maybe even more than fine.

So, perhaps the cob-webs are now out. I promise to get out more posts, take more pictures, and keep the connections going. Maybe next I will ramble about cutting down on coffee, chatter about the up sides of the down economy, or just natter on about the new pup and wonderful snow. We shall see...