Up North

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! There was no blog last Thursday because I was on vacation and attempting to unplug as much as possible. I was pretty successful, and it was an absolutely wonderful time away.

We ended up going up to Duluth a day earlier than originally planned, which made the whole trip much more relaxing than I think it would have been had we tried to cram everything into a day and a half. Nova was a bit anxious the first night, but by day two she was fine – she had a lot of fun making friends with the other dogs on the boardwalk. Taking three days off from work was just what I needed, and I came back feeling much more settled and rested than I’d felt in a while.

I’m going to leave this as a short blog this week – I have an exciting thing in the works right now but I’m not quite ready to share it with the world at large yet. Hopefully in the next week or two I’ll be posting about that here!

Little Moments

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday. My brain keeps thinking it’s either Wednesday or Friday; not sure why I seem unable to land on Thursday this week. But here we are, the last day of September (how did that happen?), and I’m staring at the blank space on this screen wondering what to write about.

This week has been good, overall, though there have certainly been stressful pieces. Mostly, though, it’s been a week of noticing the little moments.

On Sunday, we went to a Twins game with my husband’s dad and brother, which was super fun. Their brother decided it would be funny to throw his hat at the end of the national anthem (and again during the 7th inning stretch), and even though the Twins lost, it was still a really fun time. I hadn’t been to a baseball game in quite a while (since well before pandemic times), and I was reminded how much I enjoy baseball, even though I don’t follow it closely. I played softball for many years as a kid, and because of that, baseball is the one sport where I feel like I actually mostly understand what’s happening.

While we were at the baseball game, my dad came and watched Nova for us, which I think they both enjoyed.

On Tuesday evening, Nova and I went for, I think, the longest walk I’ve taken her on so far. It was a really lovely evening, weather-wise, but there weren’t a lot of people out for the first half of it, which was odd but made for a very calm walk. We noticed the trees that are just starting to change color down by the river, which gives me hope that when we go up north next weekend we’ll get to see some pretty leaves.

I leave you with this snuggly picture of Nova that my husband took this morning. Take care of yourselves and each other. There might not be a blog next week, as I’ll be headed up north on Thursday, but we’ll see what happens.

Allergies for Everyone

Good morning, dear readers – we made it to another Thursday.

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, some of us have sneezed and sniffled our way here. Ragweed season is really bad in the Twin Cities right now, and I am struggling…and so is Nova. We’ve been giving her Benadryl all week to help with it, and it is helping, but it’s pretty heartbreaking when she gets really itchy and is clearly uncomfortable. I’ve just had a perpetual sinus headache and continue to want to sleep all the time. I’ve made it to my desk on time for work every day this week, though, so that has to count for something.

I’m not in the best mood today, mostly because of how sniffly and gross my head feels. To counter that, here are three things I’m grateful for this week:

  • My friends. I’ve had several reminders lately that I really do know the best people who really care about and take care of each other, and I’ve really been overwhelmed with gratitude that I have such incredible people in my life.
  • D&D (and other games). I got to play D&D on Tuesday night, and even though it kept me up well past my bedtime, it was so worth it. I’m also working on starting a game of Wanderhome with some other friends, and I’m so excited to try this system out. The importance of play and of story in my life is huge, and I’m reminded every time I get to dive into a fantasy world with some friends how much of a difference it’s made to have those things.
  • Fall weather. The heat seems to have finally abated, and now it’s been in the 60s the past few days. It’s supposed to get back up in to the 70s today, but I think the 80s are behind us, and that is just fine with me. I’m looking forward to wearing sweaters soon!

I will leave you with this ridiculous picture of Nova, who was definitely not at all interested in what my husband was eating when they took this photo:

Hello, I see you have pizza. I also would like to have pizza.

Reset

Hello, dear readers, and welcome once again to Thursday. I’m all out of sorts and confused about what day it is, but according to my phone, it is, in fact, Thursday.

I had a really lovely weekend, but I did not budget my energy well, and I was paying for it by Tuesday morning. Basically, on Saturday afternoon I decided on a whim to take myself to the Renaissance Festival, which was fun (it would have been more fun with a friend, but it was still delightful), but was more time around people than I’ve spent in a long time. And then Sunday evening we went over to my in-laws’ house to hang out with them and some extended family who were in town, which was also delightful, but was something I did not totally register was going to be happening when I decided to go to the Ren Fest (even though it was on the calendar and had been for a few weeks). Monday I was so. tired. And Tuesday morning was a major struggle, to the point that I finally reached out to my boss and asked if I could take that afternoon and all of Wednesday off to reset.

It sort of worked. Tuesday afternoon I napped for a couple hours. Yesterday I finished the second really good book in a really great series. We also took Nova to her first vet visit (which she was great at – the vet gave her an A++).

Nova was a very good girl at the vet!

I was able to make it to my desk on time this morning, which felt like an accomplishment. I’m still not feeling 100%, but a lot of that can probably be blamed on allergies. I’m glad I was able to take the time I needed to recover, and I’m trying not to beat myself up for not doing a better job of taking care of myself in the first place. I’m tired of being tired. I’m also realizing (thanks to a friend pointing it out on Facebook) that it might be a seasonal thing, and I should probably look into getting a sun lamp for my office.

Anyway, that’s it from me this week. I hope you’re all hanging in there. Take care of yourselves and each other.

So Sleepy

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. It’s a weird week.

I woke up yesterday and just could not get myself out of bed. I ended up calling in sick to work and slept until around 11. Thankfully my husband usually takes the morning dog walking shift, and they were kind enough to let me rest. I spent a lot of the day reading, which was lovely. Managed a shorter-than-usual walk with Nova after dinner, and then we had week 2 of obedience classes, which was fun, but also extremely overstimulating for everyone.

This morning I overslept. I’m working but still feeling pretty tired. Hoping coffee helps. I’m 99% sure this is all just another round of allergies – on top of being sleepy, I’ve also been sneezing a lot and my nose and ears itch. It’s just annoying.

Nova’s personality is continuing to come out – this is our third week with her, and we are learning she is quite the opinionated sassypants when she wants to do something (i.e. dig in the couch) and is told no. Thankfully she still doesn’t bark much (*knock on wood*), but she does talk back a little bit. We are learning that she loves attention and will demand it if she doesn’t feel she’s enough of the focus in the room. She’s also quite the hunter…last Friday, she caught a pigeon right at the end of our evening walk! Thankfully, I was able to get it out of her mouth and it fluttered away. (Also, thankfully, birds don’t carry rabies and after checking in with the vet, they let us know we probably didn’t have much to worry about. She’s been fine since, albeit a little hyper-focused on birds when we’re outside.)

I think that’s it from me for today – short and sweet is about all I have the energy for. I hope you’re all hanging in there!

Walking on Sunshine

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! The morning is already getting away from me, and it’s only just after 9am.

It’s been a good week, for the most part. Work has been a little bonkers, but not in an unmanageable way. We’re still totally in love with our dog. Last night we started obedience classes, and she did great – we definitely have a lot to work on at home, but I was impressed by how attentive she managed to be despite the room full of other dogs.

I don’t have a whole lot of really cogent thoughts this morning, so let’s make the end of this blog a gratitude list. Here are a few things that are making me happy these days:

  • The thing about having a dog is that I end up leaving the house a lot more now than I used to, and I’m walking, on average, even more than I did pre-pandemic in Chicago, when I was taking public transit everywhere. I am grateful that my body is making the adjustment to increased activity with a minimum of complaints. (My right leg definitely has some opinions and my sciatica flares up now and again, but it could be so much worse.)
  • Last weekend I had a conversation with some friends about community and what it means to us. I am so grateful that I have multiple places where I can show up as I am and be seen for who I am and have that celebrated. Thinking in particular of my “house church” and my D&D groups, but it’s definitely not exclusive to those two scenarios. I’m a very lucky human.
  • Nova continues to be the chillest dog (*knocks on wood*). I am so grateful that we were able to find this magical being who is already teaching me so much about patience and play and wonder. She really is the best and I’m so happy to have her with us.
Bonus photo of Nova being not-at-all interested in the pizza we were having for dinner.

She’s a Supernova

Hello, dear readers! Welcome to Thursday. So much has happened in the last week!

I got my first professional haircut and beard trim in 18 months.

Freshly shorn

It feels really good to feel like me again in a way I haven’t I’m a while. Even though I’ve been cutting my own hair every couple of months, I don’t do nearly this good of a job.

The most important news of the week, though, happened on Saturday morning.

Headed home!

We adopted a dog! Nova Sibirsk Hanson-Draeger is a Siberian Husky mix who was originally going to be adopted by her foster, but she didn’t get along with the resident cat. Lucky for us (though we did feel bad that the foster was heartbroken to see her go)!

We had an odd first few days (lots of people in and out, including a couple of friends staying with us Sunday afternoon through Tuesday morning), but she has been an absolute dreamboat of a dog so far. You’d never know by the way she’s already settled in that it’s been less than a week.

We love Nova to pieces already and we’re looking forward to spoiling her rotten for many years to come!

Anticipation

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. I had a bit of a restless night and ended up getting up a bit after 5am this morning. I took a shower, got dressed, and now I’m sprawled on the couch writing this a bit after 6. I’m hoping this doesn’t mean I’m going to crash super early tonight, but I guess we’ll find out.

It’s an exciting week! Tonight after work, I’m getting a real haircut and beard trim for the first time in 18 months. I’ve been doing it myself throughout the pandemic, and while it feels a little weird and extremely indulgent to pay someone else to do it now, I recognize that they will do a better job than I will, and also that it means less cleanup for me at home, which is great.

The other big exciting thing this week is that we’re officially meeting a dog to potentially adopt on Saturday! The last couple of days have involved many emails back and forth with a local rescue about various dogs who we hoped might be a good fit – the first one we emailed about didn’t sound like she was quite right for us, the next two we asked about were already spoken for…but we’re very excited to meet this particular doggo. I’m not going to post any pictures or other details until we know if she’s ours (but if you text or otherwise message me directly, I will share), but suffice it to say she’s very pretty and seems like a great pup. (Evidently her foster was planning to foster-to-adopt, but she’s not getting along with the resident cat.)

The D&D group I am DMing for is getting back into it on Sunday after a couple month hiatus while folks were moving and starting new jobs. I’m nervous but excited about that. I think I have a fun story planned and while I know there are a handful of details I’m still need to plot out, it will hopefully be a good time for everyone. I also might have found a local D&D group to join!

I hope you’re all hanging in there. It’s been a wild week for a lot of folks. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, please do that. If you can, get your booster shot. Wear masks indoors and in crowds. Take care of your communities and yourselves – it’s the only way we’re going to get through this.

I’m Back!

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! My apologies for the lack of post last week – I was on the road most of the day and by the time it occurred to me that I hadn’t blogged yet, it was late enough I decided to just skip it entirely.

Last week I was on PTO all week (it was the week of Song School, and even though we decided not to go this year, I’d requested the time off a while ago and decided I should keep it). It turned out to be a good thing – my in-laws moved to a new house, we had a houseguest for part of the week, and it was just generally busier than I expected it to be, and I don’t think I could have worked on top of all of that. It did make me realize that I need to get better at taking vacations that are actual vacations, though.

Last Thursday I drove down to northeast Iowa to kidnap one of my favorite cousins (with her consent, of course) and bring her up to stay with us for a few days. It was really lovely having her here and getting to just hang out and explore a few more places in the Twin Cities that we hadn’t been to yet. My favorite sorts of houseguests are the ones who are okay with just hanging out a lot of the time, and that was definitely the case here. It was great.

On Friday, I started looking up local pet rescues on Instagram, and stumbled across a very sweet looking dog who was up for adoption. We ended up spur-of-the-moment applying to adopt her. Unfortunately for us (but fortunately for her), the rescue determined over the weekend that she needed another dog in the home in order to really thrive, so she’s not the dog for us. We did put in an application for a different dog with another agency, though, and are both anxiously awaiting a response and anxiously hoping we can get the last few things unpacked here before they call.

Today is my husband’s birthday! Not really sure what we’re doing to celebrate, yet, but I’m happy for the extra excuse to celebrate them.

I think that’s about it from me this week. Hopefully next week we’ll have some updates on the canine companion front! I hope you’re all hanging in there and masking and vaxxing and staying as healthy as possible.

Grief at a Distance

Last Friday was a hard day for my family: we had to say goodbye to our dog, Libby.

Libby, 04.26.02 - 03.30.18

Libby joined our family on June 26, 2002, when she was exactly two months old; I was 14, had just finished up my last year at the Lutheran elementary school I’d been attending since kindergarten, and was set to enter the big public high school in the fall. The first night she was with us, Libby was so sick and miserable – I remember waking up to her crying in the middle of the night and going downstairs to where her crate was set up, where, as I remember it, I sat and sang to her softly until she quieted down.

Thankfully, that first night didn’t define the rest of our time with Libby – she was a playful, curious, and sweet dog who was (thankfully) pretty consistently healthy.  She was my confidante – I told her the secrets I couldn’t voice to anyone else, and if those secrets came with tears, she would hop into my lap and lick them away. She was my cuddle buddy – she slept in my room for most of the time I was in high school, and managed to take up absurd amounts of space in my bed (she actually pushed me out of bed onto the floor one morning…she only weighed 20 lbs!). She was my nurse when I didn’t feel well – if I was curled up on the couch, she’d come and lay in the triangle of space between my knees and the back of the couch, and rest her head on my hip. I taught Libby almost all of the tricks she ever learned (although we never mastered leash manners). She taught me so much more.

Libby taught me patience. She taught me the value of play, and that just about anything can be a game if you want it to be. She taught me responsibility. And more than anything, Libby taught more about unconditional love than I will ever be able to express – both about giving it and receiving it.

A few years ago, I cut off contact with my family for a while. When that happened, I thought I was never going to see Libby again, and that broke my heart. When my family and I started talking again, and I did have the chance to see Libby, I wasn’t sure if she’d recognize me – it had been so long, and I looked so different, and she was so old and couldn’t hear me anymore (and would that have just confused her further, because I sounded so different?). She was a little hesitant at first, and honestly, there were a couple of visits where I was pretty convinced she just thought she’d made a new friend. Which was fine, really – I was just glad to be able to spend some more time with her as she got older and started visibly slowing down.

This past Christmas, we all knew she didn’t have much time left. The strength in her back legs was rapidly deteriorating, and she had a growing number of skin lesions on her body that oozed and itched, and necessitated her wearing a toddler-sized t-shirt (which was adorable, if the reason behind it was sad). I was absolutely certain this would be the last time I saw my dog, and I had no idea going in if she’d know who I was – she’d been acting a little off in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

When we walked through the door, she was happy to see us, but I couldn’t really tell if she knew who I was or not. Later that day, though, the smoke alarm went off – it was apparently one of the few frequencies Libby could still hear, and she was terrified. She was trembling. But she came right to me. She knew I was a safe place for her, and she let me hold her and tried to hide with me. Whether that was recognition or not, it meant the world. Saying goodbye that night was so hard, because I knew it was the last time I’d be able to do it.

She seemed to rally for a while. But a couple of weeks ago, my parents got home to find that Libby could barely get out of her bed – one of her legs didn’t want to unfold, and they realized they were running the risk of someday coming home to find she’d gotten herself trapped somewhere and was in distress. I know it was incredibly hard for my parents to make the decision to put her down, but it was time.

Had Libby made it another four weeks, she would have hit her 16th birthday. She was around for more than half of my life. It doesn’t feel entirely real to me yet that she’s gone, because I’m so far away. I’m doing my best to figure out how to grieve long-distance. I’m so grateful that I was able to see her at Christmas and say goodbye, and, as hard as it was, I’m grateful that I knew at the time that it would be the last time. I think it made this past week easier.

There will be other dogs, and I know I will love them fiercely. But there will never be another Libby.