Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas was...fun!

I survived.  I made it.  I even…are you ready for this?  Had FUN!

I hung out with my folks and my sis.  I was totally bracing myself for the worst.  Christmas Eve was, actually quite difficult.  I hate sitting down to dinner and having it be so in my face that not everyone who is supposed to be there is there.  Luckily, it was short lived (and the food was delicious) because we were headed to church.

Actually, we were headed to a comedy club.  That’s where the sort-of church-ish group that I’ve been apart of for about a year was having their Christmas Eve service because they don’t have a church building.  I love this about them.  There’s nothing very traditional.

On Christmas morning I woke up and cried quite a bit.  Mornings are always hard.  No one to snuggle.  I miss him so much.  So I didn’t stay in bed.  It makes it worse.  I got up, and got to have a cup of coffee that I didn’t make (and my dad makes great coffee!).  Soon after, everyone else was up and we opened presents.  I was so blessed by gifts that I got.  And, I had gotten small gifts for others even though in my family we draw names and none of the people I was with had my name or I had theirs, so we were all “cheating.”

After our rough morning of drinking coffee and opening presents, we all thought naps were in order.

We got up in time to go to a movie in the evening.  There’s a new theater here in town that has a restaurant in it, and if you buy seats in the balcony then they wait on you before the movie starts.  These kinds of theaters have popped up around town.  The very first one we called “the Good Theater” and then it got shortened to “the Good” (What’s showing at the Good?  If it’s not there then I don’t wanna see it.”).  After eating at this one, we’ve decided that it’s “the Better.”  I had tempura battered chicken fingers, like the ones they used to have at the Red Robin in Billings.  It’s the only place that I’ve ever had them, and so I haven’t had the pleasure of eating this particular delight in 12 years.  They tasted so similar at “the Better” that I felt like I had gone back in time.  It was fantastic!  We saw “the King’s Speech.”  I highly recommend it.  It was amazing.  Such a great story, really a beautiful film.  Did I say that Ingrid met us at the movie?  When Grid's there, it's always a party.

What a relief to have braced myself for torture and instead have some pain, but mostly fun.   Plus, one more holiday under my belt.  Phew.

Silliness at the movie theater with Ellie and Ingrid

Friday, December 24, 2010

What Arthur did on vacation...

With the holiday approaching, I’m doing my best to keep my mind off it, trying to focus on what I’m thankful for and the blessings that I have in my life, and not think about how sad I am as much as possible.  FOCUS!  It’s almost over!

So I thought that for today I would tell you some funny stories about my fella, since that’s what’s been making me smile the most these days.

Arthur and I missed our first class after I got back from my London trip because I was so sick.  So I didn’t get the scoop from Michele, our trainer, about how things went while I was gone until last Saturday.  (While I was gone Arthur split his time between his second family, the Schneiders, where he was spoiled rotten, and at Michele’s, where he got some intensive training, and had to work his butt off). 

Apparently, he met the girl of his dreams.

Lover Boy is on the right.
Also, Michele took him to Chick-fil-A.  She said that he had been having a rough day, and she could tell that he just “wasn’t feeling it”, so she decided to leave him in the car.  She drives an SUV that has her dog training business logos on the widows.  So she and her kiddos go inside to get something to eat and Arthur starts his normal high pitched barking (“Hey, guys?!  Umm, Guys?!  You forgot me!  You forgot me!  I’m still in here!  How could you go in there without me?!  You’re probably getting great snacks!  I’m hungry!  Not fair!  Guys?!”).  At which point he moves to the drivers seat and discovers how to honk the horn.  He LAYS on that horn.  Everyone inside Chick-fil-A goes over to the window to see the tiny white dog in the big SUV honking the horn.  Michele is telling him he’s a bad dog, but he has it figured out that he’s getting lots of attention from doing this, so he just keeps honking.  So, she starts laughing and eventually they went out and got him because he wouldn’t stop.  Yes, I have a very obstinate little dog, much to the entertainment of all the Chick-fil-A customers.  I wish there was a video.

Also, remember how I told you that on the rare occasion that he doesn’t get to come with me he sticks his head out of the blinds to watch me leave?  Ellie had a photo of it and just sent it to me. 



What would I do without this bundle of comfort?  I’m so grateful.

Merry Christmas, Love Noel and Arthur

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Someone Special

My brother and sister in law have given me two of the greatest gifts ever, my niece and nephew, Jake and Addy.

Jake is 4 ½.  The last time he came to visit, we were all going to my house and he wanted to ride in my car with me.  I think that this decision was two-fold:  partially because Arthur was riding in my car, and partially because he thinks my car is cool (I drive a Beetle).  I have Auto Bingo in the back pockets of my car seats, for this very purpose, to keep nephews entertained when they ride in my car.  So he was playing with the game in the back seat (unfortunately it’s not that much fun when you’re playing by yourself).  He kept asking me questions about it, but I was on a stretch of road that had very few stoplights, and I didn’t want to turn around to look at what he was asking me about.  He was persistent, though.  “Noey, what are these red things?”  “I can’t see them, buddy.”  “These red things right here.”  “I’m sorry, Buddy, but I can’t look right now.  I need to keep my eyes on the road.”  Jake says, “Yeah, I had to keep my eyes on the road, too, when I was a big guy.”

So he is pretty much just a little wad of cuteness.

This week has been particularly hard, just more holiday crap, I think, and I got this sweet, encouraging message from my sister in law on Facebook.  I share it because it’s just so cute and sweet and if it blesses you even a smidgen of how much it blessed me, you’ll be lucky (here it is):

Jake and I were looking at pictures of you and Arthur. He was asking about Sawan, which is always so bittersweet for me. I love telling him how Sawan was such a wonderful man, he was an excellent uncle who loved Jake from the moment he met him, he loved you so much and you two will always be in love. Then having to remind him that Sawan lives in Heaven now with Jesus and we miss him so much. Today Jake said, "I know Noey is sad that she doesn't have her "someone special" (we've been talking about how you marry someone special) anymore, but I have an idea - I can be her someone special. I love her and Arthur so much!" Just thought I'd let you know that you have a nephew who loves you dearly and wants to ease your pain in his own innocent and precious way. Love you so much!


my favorite photo of Sawan and Jake.  January, 2007



Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas

Cutting our 1st Christmas tree, 2007
I used to love Christmas.  It was definitely one of my favorite holidays.  I love buying presents for people and thinking about how they will enjoy them.  I used to love to bake, as well, and a holiday that makes it ok to bake and eat cookies A LOT is a-ok in my book.

I was one of those people that put my tree up the day after Thanksgiving.  I love a tree, and I would get a real one, and I wanted to enjoy it for as long as possible.  I bought a new ornament every year, hopefully commemorating something that I did during the year, to help me remember it, and they were all blown glass, because that’s my favorite.

I’m really struggling this year with how to navigate this season.  In mid-November my family went to see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular.  I’ve wanted to see the Rockettes live since I saw Annie when I was 5.  But it sent me nose-diving into a spiral of grief and pain that I was not prepared for.  The holidays put it so much more in my face that this is not the life that I dreamed of.  And, I think that I’m noticing it more this year than last year because last year I was still so dazed, and not present, so in some ways this is really like my first Christmas alone.

Sledding with the Anderbergs and Ellie, Christmas 2007
The first Christmas that Sawan and I were married was my best Christmas ever.  It felt like playing house.  Like I was a grown-up for the first time.  We woke up and made coffee and opened our presents together.  About 2 weeks before Christmas, a little blue Tiffany box showed up under my tree.  I had never gotten a Tiffany box before.  I was beside myself.  When I opened it that morning, it held a beautiful butterfly necklace.  I don’t know if you all know about my obsession with butterflies, but they make up most of my jewelry choices, and overwhelm my home d├ęcor.  I wore the necklace nearly every day before he died, and seldom go without it since he died, as it reminds me of him and has become even that much more special.

Fall 2008, Arthur was a puppy and I'm wearing my butterfly
I have learned in the last few months that butterflies are a symbol of hope.  I love this.  I think that maybe that’s another reason why I can’t take it off, that his necklace symbolizes to me the hope that someday things will be brighter and better.  That someday there will be joy again.  That someday I’m going to figure this out and really learn to live without him.
Christmas Tree cutting, 2008.  This was our "card photo"

After the Rockettes debacle, (where instead of the five year-old inside me being enthralled, I spent the whole time crying and looking at my watch, wondering how much more torture I could withstand), I thought that I’d spend this whole season wanting to hide like I did last year.  No walking past the decorations aisle at Target, looking the other way when houses had lights up, quickly changing the channel on the radio when a Christmas song came on, having to leave Starbucks the day the red cups immerged.  But it’s actually been better than I anticipated.  Though I have no desire to even see any of my old decorations, my sister/roommate really wanted a tree.  Not wanting to ruin her Christmas, I said it was ok, and I’m actually really glad she did one (she very thoughtfully kept it small and didn't go overboard with other decor).  Maybe it’ll ease me in, so that next year I could actually see the sight of my stocking again without being nauseated.  I didn’t cry the first time they handed me my coffee in a red cup at Starbucks.  I even went down the Christmas aisle at Target to look for a gift for someone.  So things are looking up.  Maybe one day I’ll even enjoy Christmas again.  Here’s to great Christmas presents.  To butterflies and hope.

The decorated 2008 tree.  Arthur thought it was his own personal bed.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Arthur Goes to Preschool

My friend Hazuki invited Arthur and I to come and speak to her preschool class about service dogs.

While this should have had me super-excited, I actually said I would do it but the request was met with much fear and trepidation.

While I can stand in front of a group of adults and give a 90 minute lecture on how to cut men’s hair with little worry, a 10-15 minute talk to people under 3 feet tall would be what my personalized horror movie would be about.  With 3 year olds, you have to use different words.  You can’t talk in the abstract, but I don’t know how often I do that without realizing it.  You need to entertain them, but I don’t know any jokes that are funny to 3 year olds.

So, I was nervous.  I had the shakes.  I was sweating.  Luckily, I had worn fabulous underwear under my clothes.  This is always my go-to strategy in situations where I feel nervous.  If I have any kind of interview or have to give a speech, then fabulous underwear is the way to go.  If you feel great about how you look, even if people can’t see it, it makes a huge difference.

I called my mom on my way over to the school and she gave me a great pep talk.  She told me that it was all about Arthur, and they weren’t going to care about what I said.  I could just recite the Gettysburg Address if I wanted to.  All they were going to be paying attention to was Arthur.

So Arthur and I read his favorite book, Good Boy, Fergus, which was a hit.  Then we talked about him being a regular dog sometimes just like the dog in the book, but that Arthur has a special job because something sad happened to me and it made my heart sick.  Then we talked about how other dogs with jobs help their owners, then he showed off his tricks, then they got to pet him, and then we were done.  Totally painless and actually really, REALLY fun.  Ohmygoodness, they were so cute.  They loved Arthur.  I hope we get to do it again.  I won’t be so scared next time.
Hazuki, Arthur and I with her preschool class.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Science Fiction

On Friday night I needed to go to Target to get a prescription filled.  When I pulled onto their street, there were several cop cars with lights flashing, but, not wanting to be one of the rubbernecks, I only quickly glanced over and couldn’t see a major wreck.  When I turned into the parking lot, though, I noticed that something serious must have happened.  There were no lights on in the whole place, not even streetlights.  Upon further inspection, there were the secondary, back-up generator lights on in the store, and people coming and going, so I decided to try and get my prescriptions filled, I needed those antibiotics, dangit, and wasn’t going to let a little thing like electricity get in my way.

I walked in, spoke to the security guard at the door about the fact that they were, indeed, open, got my cart, and proceeded to walk back toward the pharmacy in the half light of the back-up generated electricity.  It was eerily quiet.  That was when I saw him.

Sawan was walking toward me.  He was wearing his usual outfit: blue North Face Denali vest, jeans and a white t-shirt.  He was talking on the phone, pushing a cart. 

In the space of half a second I felt about a million emotions.  I was startled.  I smiled.  I was excited to see him.  I didn’t know if I should waive, or run to hug him.  There was confusion.  Why wasn’t he running to me? 

And then the realization:  No, it couldn’t possibly be him, he’s dead.  Looked a lot like him, but not him.  Not as handsome.  Too heavy.

I had heard of this happening to others but honestly didn’t think it could happen to me.  In my arrogance I thought I was above it.  I thought that since no one knew their husbands as well as I knew mine, this would never happen to me.  I could never mistake someone else for him, I knew him too well.  I would always know the substitute right away.

This has stirred up so many things inside me. 

There’s the moral/ethical dilemma:  If I could choose to have my Sawan alive instead of that stranger, would I?  Thank God I it’s not up to me.

What if I dreamed it all?  What if I somehow made it up, and that really was Sawan, but I was a stranger to him.  Would he still fall in love with me if we met now?

And then there’s the whole reality:  It wasn’t Sawan.  He’s gone.  You’re alone.  This really is your life.  He really was here and now he’s not.  You had an amazing love.  You can’t possibly make sense of it, so stop trying to.

So I resisted the urge to stalk the stranger, went and got my prescriptions filled, and went home, trying to assure myself that reality is better or somehow safer than science fiction.

A photo of Sawan in his Denali vest.  Cutting our Christmas tree with Arthur, 2008.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Silly things that make me happy


I’ve been home from England for a few days, and I’ve been sleeping remarkably well given the fact that A) I’m an insomniac.  B) I’m a widow.  C) I have jet lag.  D) I have a REALLY bad cold.  I’m not sure if I picked up the cold from the recycled air in the airplane or from the eight-year-old nephew who wasn’t feeling great and liked to pick his nose and then hold hands with me while we were in the city the day before.  Either way, totally worth it.

The funny thing is, Arthur is wondering why I came home from England barking like a dog.  He’s wondering if I’m trying to speak his language and haven’t quite figured it out yet.  We’ve spent our free time laying in bed snuggling.  I missed him so much and he is pretty much glued to my side.  I think he missed me, too.

My parents came to pick me up from the airport and brought the dog in with them (one of the benefits of the vest for the service dog- he can go in to the airport!).  I have to admit that when I saw him it was hard for me to greet the humans first!

I am in general doing SO much better than I was before I left.  Here are a few silly things (besides my dog) that make me happy:

Psyche.  I have loved this show since the very beginning.  Sean, the main character, reminds me so much of my Bubba and his style of humor that it’s like I’ve hung out with him for an hour.  If you want to laugh out loud than I seriously recommend watching it.

I got a new kitchen faucet.  My landlord finally broke down and replaced it.  Who knew that actually being able to rinse the soap off your hands and rinse dishes without having to use the sprayer could make one want to sing hymns? 

Mucinex.  I have an incredible immune system.  I rarely get sick.  I can’t even remember the last time I had a cold like this.  I don’t think they had mucinex yet.  I’m enjoying picturing the little green men inside my lungs being uprooted when I cough.  I wish I knew how to “hawk a loogie,” though; this is one of those skills that I never learned, and think it might be too late, like whistling (I can’t do that, either.).

If only Mucinex cured boredom, too (I’m bored of laying in my bed), what I really need is a Psyche marathon on TV!  I should go down and do dishes in my new sink…

Friday, December 10, 2010

My England Adventure: Odds and Ends

Or “bits and bobs” as the Brits say.
Snow covered berries in Cori's garden.  With snow thorns.  Beautiful.

Bridger corrects me on my spelling and grammar (He likes to look over my shoulder when I’m posting, either on the blog or on Facebook.).  He doesn’t know that I have my laptop, Mrs. Jones, to do that for me (she’s a snotty English teacher that’s always correcting me on spelling and grammar, that’s why I named her Mrs. Jones.  Apparently I had misspelled “hilarious” for my WHOLE life.).  Plus, Bridger, you’re eight.  And you’re not the boss of me.  And where I come from, it’s called a period, not a “full stop.”  So there.

I think Cori has a mission in life.  We’ll call it “Operation:  Feed Widows.”  My friend Erin (also a widow) went to visit the Anderbergs this summer and Cori said that she would say “Wow, I’ve eaten every meal today.”  You see, widows don’t eat.  Or something.  At least, it’s an issue for me.  I eat weird stuff.  At weird times.  I haven’t lost 100 pounds because one of the things that I eat a lot of is chocolate.  But that’s about it.  On any given day my diet consists of raw almonds, popcorn or sliced turkey for dinner, and dark chocolate for snacks.  Sometimes I eat Wheat Thins, too, just to mix it up a little.  But Cori cooks every meal, including breakfast.  So it’s harder to skip stuff.  I bet I’ve gained 50 lbs. since I’ve been here.  Plus, I have real “double cream” for my coffee.  It’s delicious.  And Scott bought me Hobnobs when he went to the store, which are the best cookie in the world.  They are dark chocolate covered crispy oatmealish-graham-crackerish goodness.

Asher is only eight months old, so he hasn’t gotten much mention in my adventures.  He is sure a cutie-pie.  He hasn’t learned to crawl, yet, but is mobile, just the same.  He does a little caterpillar-like maneuver, to get around.  He is already starting to pull himself up on stuff, though, and may just skip the crawling thing in general.  Who needs it?

I sure did miss my dog on my trip.  We played the “animal game” with the boys (basically 20 questions but you have to pick an animal) and when it was my turn to think of an animal they got it in 3 questions.  Does it have fur?  Yes.  What size is it?  Medium.  Is it Arthur?  Yes.  Cori said “Well, you have Arthur on the brain.”  We also made ornaments one day to pass the time on a snow day, and I made Cori a very cute ornament.  Guess which one I made?

Somehow Scott didn't make it into a photo on here.  He looks the same.  Just kidding.  Here's one.

Thanks, Anderbergs, for the amazing time.  I miss you so much, already!  Love you tons!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My England Adventure: Part Five

I was feeling a bit nervous about getting to the airport on Sunday.  We didn’t have any idea how transportation was going outside of the few blocks we had walked for sledding.  Scott and I thought we should do a “dry run” by going into the city on Saturday and going to Burrough Market, like had been our original plans before the snowfall.  Cori took a little convincing.  I also had bought only half of the prizes for people at home that I needed to buy so I did a little begging, and we talked her into it.

We drove the car to the train stop, and drove around for about 20 minutes looking for a spot that we thought we could easily get out of.  But the roads on the way there were actually bare pavement, and aside from a few randomly parked and abandoned cars, they didn’t seem too treacherous.  (Side note:  Scott and Cori are experts at driving on the wrong side of the road.  It gives me a heart attack just to RIDE in the car that’s on the other side, I can’t imagine trying to drive over there.  YIKES!)

This was at the train station.  Notice the sign behind us.
Trains were running, we made it into the city, and decided to hit Portobello Road before Burrough Market to do a little shopping.  This is the street that’s in Notting Hill, the movie with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.  There’s all kinds of cute little shops and vendors set up along the street and it’s just such fun.  I got to get the prizes that I needed to get, and even bought a fabulous new bag for myself.  Yay!

When we finished there and were headed back to the tube (that’s British for subway) we stopped at a Starbucks to take a break and let Cori sit down to feed the baby.  I had a hilarious cross-cultural experience in there.  I ordered a Grande-non-fat-no-whip-vanilla-latte, because that’s how I would do it in the states, and the ladies that worked there just laughed!  They were like, “OMG, you’re such an American.”  They corrected me to order it the British way, which I can’t even remember, I was like “Yes, please, I’ll have one of those, if it’s the same thing,” and paid for my drink.  It was cute.

Next stop was Burrough Market.  This is one of Cori’s favorite places in London and so it was somewhere that I definitely wanted to go.  Plus, I had heard about their grilled cheese for months.  It’s a foodie market, where you can buy all kinds of artisan foods (gourmet sausages, fabulous wines, amazing cheeses, yummy looking olives, it was a feast for the eyes, as well!).  In addition to food for you to take home and cook with, they have an area of stands that have food for you to eat right there, and that’s where the grilled cheese was.

Cori and I at Burrough Market
Now, let me say this:  Sawan always laughed because he was an amazing cook, who had gone to culinary school and could cook just about anything to perfection, and the thing that I loved the most that he made for me was a grilled cheese.  He would always use multiple kinds of cheese, this yummy bread that had a little crunch to it, a slice of tomato, and his secret ingredient (which he told me but I’m not going to post on here…sorry).  So to say that Burrough Market’s grilled cheese was the best in the world would be inaccurate.  But it did run a close second.  It was delicious.  I watched them make it in a Panini type machine, it started out with about 2 inches of grated white cheese (I’m not sure what kind but I think it was a blend and there was some gruyere in there) that melts and oozes down into the bread and gets thin and crispy.  There were also some leaks and onions sprinkled in.  It. Was. Yummy.

We left there and I had one of the best cups of coffee ever, as well, at Monmouth, and once again had a cross cultural experience when I tried to buy a “pound” of beans to take home with me.  Stupid Noel.  A pound is money in England.  It literally hadn’t occurred to me.  So in the end I have no idea how many grams I ended up with, it took us four tries before I realized why she couldn’t get what I was asking for.

I was super relieved that we had such an easy time getting in and out of the city, and that the next day would be a-okay for getting to the airport. 

Stay tuned for one more England Adventure post, just to fill in some gaps and show a few more photos!


Monday, December 6, 2010

My England Adventure: Part Four

On Tuesday morning we got up and it had snowed.  It was just a sprinkling, the delightful kind that makes you want to sing Christmas carols and drink hot chocolate.  Cori and Scott walked the boys to school and I stayed home, then visited a little bit that morning and helped Cori with a project for Christmas for the boys, then I took a spectacular nap on the couch.  But by mid-afternoon it had dumped a significant amount and the village was at a standstill.  They don’t get much snow around those parts, so there are no snow ploughs, and the trains and buses had stopped running.

Caid reading
That night, we were able to still get fish and chips from the Chippy, even though the weather at this point was causing friends who work in London to have to WALK home (several miles.  In 10 inches of snow.) and Scott was having to re-think his travel plans to Berlin.  This was a good thing because fish and chips was another thing on my bucket list to do while in England.  If you haven't had village fish and chips, then you haven't lived.  These aren't the American "fish sticks" grossness.  This is a whole fish, caught VERY recently, battered and fried to perfection, with a mound of fat fries on top, then smothered with malt vinegar.  Spectacular.
Bridger reading (he even does the voices)

Next day, it kept snowing.  We played some major games of Skip-bo junior, Apples to apples, and Uno.  I got to have both boys read to me.

I truly felt that I couldn’t have planned it better.  I didn’t go to London to sight-see.  I went to get to hang with my fam, and so this way I got to see way more of the boys, which was really fun.  The things I really wanted to do I had already done at the beginning of the week, so this was just great!

By Thursday, though, cabin fever had set in.  I woke up to Bridger asking me, “Wanna play a game?  I thought, “Oh my goodness, I’m not sure how many games of Skip-bo junior I can play.” 

That afternoon, a sledding party was formed with “the gang,” as the Anderbergs have affectionately dubbed their group.

I feel a bit silly to admit this, but here it is:  I think I may be a wuss about the cold.

I'm so cold I can barely smile.
I was asked by three different people if I thought I’d be warm enough.  Here’s the deal.  If I didn’t think I’d be warm enough there’s not a lot I could have done.  I didn’t bring snow clothes to London with me (it SUPPOSEDLY) doesn’t snow there.  So I had on capilene under jeans, wellies, two different capilene weights on top, and a warm coat.  Plus gloves, scarf, and hat.  I thought I would be warm enough in Colorado.  That was what I said.  I’m used to cold weather.  It’s cold where I come from.

My butt was numb in about 10 minutes.  This is what’s so weird.  I usually can count on the fact that if I’m moving I stay warmer, but I started feeling like I was getting too cold while we were still walking to the sledding hill.  So admitting I was cold made me feel pretty silly.

Cori and Asher
Also, I grew up sledding in Montana and Colorado.  I know me some sledding.  I’ve done it since I was big enough to walk.  I love to sled.  It’s about the only reason I feel that snow is tolerable.  I have never felt like such an amateur.  Has it been too long since I’ve done it?  Were my limbs too frozen to work properly?  At any rate, I did try twice, once with Caid and once with Lou.  I made it about a quarter of the way down both times, with a push.  Lame.  Outta practice.

After sledding we had pumpkin cake and mulled wine.  I got the princess treatment, because I literally could not get warm.  I changed my clothes (which were all soaked, BTW, down to my underwear), then I sat on the couch with a hot water bottle behind me, and then after about 45 minutes of that I finally had some feeling in my hiney again.  Yikes!

Friday was looking like it would be more of the same, but I begged Cori to stay back from sledding so that we could just visit.  The one thing I was slightly bummed about, was that we were supposed to have every day with the boys at school and just some good quality “her and me” time, and that didn’t get to happen.

So we had some great quality time, the boys got to sled and everyone was happy! 

That’s pretty much it for the snow days.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My England Adventure: Part Three

On Monday, we went to the City!

It’s funny to me.  Being from the States, where everything’s new, the “suburbs” are the much newer parts of town that you live in that have sprung up around the city.  They don’t call it “suburbs” here, they call it “the Village,” because they were little villages that were around and then the city finally grew to absorb them.  Cori and Scott live in a village called Warlingham, whose church has been here since 1209.

All that to say it takes about 45 minutes by train to get into London (real train, not subway).

Cori and I in front of the Marble Arch.  Note the AWESOME HAIR! 
On Monday, there was a “Tube Strike.”  Meaning that the subway was not running.  So, I got a walking tour of the city.  I have no idea what they were striking for, but the idea of a strike like that is always so exciting to me (Tube workers to London: Suckers!  See how you get around without us!).  I estimate that we walked 6 miles.  With shopping bags.  And Scott had a baby on his back the whole time.

The really cool thing was, I got to see EVERYTHING.

We had plans to shop.  I wanted to hit up H&M, find one of those plaid vests for Arthur (and was told to look at Harrod’s.  An excuse to go to Harrod’s?  Um, Ok!), and see the prints (fabric) at Liberty.  We were also hoping to make it to Portobello Road.  That’s it.  It took ALL DAY.  We didn’t make it to Portobello Rd.  I didn’t find a plaid vest.  But I did some major damage at H&M

The fabulous window dressings!  
Meantime, I saw:  Hyde Park (which had a sort-of English-equivalent-to-Redneck looking Christmas Carnival going on), Piccadilly Circus, Houses of Parliament, Carnaby Street, the Marble Arch, Big Ben and the Eye of London, Buckingham Palace, and, fabulous Christmas decorations and window dressings.


It was a mad dash to make it to the train in time to get home, we were practically jogging.  I swear, it was like I had every trigger for an anxiety attack in a five-minute span.  When we finally collapsed on seats on the train (phew!  Made it in time for seats!) we were so stoked that we didn’t look up from visiting and almost missed our stop.  None of this is my fault.  I can’t be expected to be paying attention to what stops they are, I never ride the train.  I will say though, I did have the window seat, and I suppose I should have been paying SOME attention.

Stay tuned for more.  Next up:  SNOW!  (And that’s about it!  It’s been snowing for days!)


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My England Adventure: Part Two

I’ve just been told that it’s funny that I described “Chinese Water torture” as “setting the tone for the rest of my week.”  Scott said, “You know, you didn’t HAVE to come.”  That’s NOT what I meant.  But I think he knows that.

On Saturday we got up lazily and then started on getting ready for the party that would follow that evening.  Cori and Scott have made amazing friends here in England and they were having them all over for a Thanksgiving feast. 

I was surprised at how chill Cori was, I have a tendency to freak out before a big party, but Cori must do it a lot (or she’s not “type A” like I am) and was just in a great mood about everything all day.

We did haircuts for everyone in the afternoon, and a highlight for Cori.  I had brought *almost* everything that I needed, but in trying to conserve weight had not brought foil.  Doing a highlight with kitchen foil was not something I had tried before, but it worked.  I also had only one brush for color, so I had to use a tiny paintbrush for the other.  This is only going to be hilarious to other hairstylists, but suffice it to say; my skills at improv should be duly noted.  It made me feel like I could be the hairstylist on a survivor type show and no one would have to go with their roots grown out.

The Thanksgiving celebration was a lot of fun.  They have made amazing friends over here.  I really enjoyed all of them.  It’s hard to put into words what a relief it is to me that the Anderbergs are no longer alone here. 

The group clearly enjoys each other and likes to laugh.  A LOT.  I love people that love to laugh.  I find myself, in situations like these, though, where I meet people for the first time, feeling lonesome for my other half, and also regretting so much that they didn’t meet me before.  Being funny is such a high value to me, and I was so much funnier before.  I feel like I need to explain myself:  “You see, I’m kind of a drag now.  But I USED to be really fun.  Promise.”

Saturday night I went to bed and woke up for about 3 hours in the middle of the night.  I’m not sure why I didn’t start writing posts then, but I didn’t. 

When we got up on Sunday morning, we decided to go to the Hundred Acre Wood.  That’s right.  The very same one where Christopher Robin played.  It’s about a 45-minute drive from here.  There’s Pooh’s Bridge, where we played a very rousing round of Pooh Sticks, and I didn’t win once.  Piglet’s house was a very cute and tiny door on a hollowed out tree.   You have to hike in your “Pooh Sticks” because the whole path has been cleared of them for about ¼ mile before the bridge.

Cori, Caid and I playing Pooh Sticks.


Caid and Bridger in front of Piglet's house.

The ride through the countryside on the way there was truly beautiful, and included a great, not quite uncomfortable (and very "try-hard not to guffaw" when you're the aunt) conversation with the eight year old about where babies come from.


That night we got curry take-away (that’s British for carry-out), and opened Christmas presents.  Mine were all on a theme…for keeping me warm.  It included a really cool blanket, gloves, leg warmers, and my so far favorite thing, a hot water bottle.  This should be something that every widow has.  One of the hardest parts about going to bed in the winter months is having cold feet but no husband to put them on (He would always let me).  Having a warm water bottle is no substitute, but it at least solves the cold feet issue, and takes some of the pain away.  I highly recommend them to all widows!

So that’s the end of the weekend, next up…the CITY!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My England Adventure: Part One

So, I’m feeling much better.  I think a change of scenery is just what I needed.  If only Arthur was here, it would be almost perfect.

Here’s a run-down of what I’ve been doing so far.

I arrived on Friday and spent the day trying to stay awake.  This is what the first day of European travel always looks like for me.  I won’t let myself go to bed ‘till 8pm, so the last three hours can feel a little like Chinease water torture, but usually it helps set the tone for the rest of the trip and is totally worth it.

We went on a long “Wellie Walk” in the English Countryside, and I love this because I don’t particularly like to get dirty, so mud-puddles were never really my thing.  But with Wellies on, nothing gets dirty or wet, so the “squinch-squnch” of the mud beneath my feet is a new sensation and extremely enjoyable.  It’s actually very chilly here these days, and the English call it “fresh.”  Such a cheerful way to describe it, rather than the more crass American way, I would say it’s “Butt-Ass cold.”

I also got a great chance to visit with the boys on Friday.  We talked about their girlfriends, and I got very little information, not because they weren’t forthcoming, but because they didn’t have the answers.

Noey to Bridger:  “So I hear you have a girlfriend.”  
Bridger:  “Yes.”
N: “What’s her name?”
B: “Nethe.”
N: “That’s an interesting name.  Spell it.”
B:  N-I-E-V-E

Caid:  “I have a girlfriend, too.  Her name’s Charlotte.  C-H-R-L-O-T-E.”
N:  I bet it’s spelled “C-H-A-R-L-O-T-T-E.”
C:  Nope.  There’s no “A” in it.
N:  I bet there is.  You should ask her on Monday.

Later, to Cori, Caid asks, “Mom, is there an “A” in Charlotte?
Cori: “Yes.”
Caid: “No, there’s not.”
Noey: “If you knew the answer, then why did you ask the question?”

Also, they couldn’t tell me what color of eyes they had, or hair.  So, these are interesting girls.  Difficult to spell names, and weird colored eyes and hair.  Or at least un-memorable.  That’s about as far as we got.

I went to bed that night and slept like a champ.  The rest of the week I haven’t fared quite so well, but I woke up feeling refreshed.  I’ll keep you posted about the rest of the week's adventures…

Fresh Holly from our "Wellie Walk"



Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving




I’m on a crowded flight to London.  I left from Dallas.  It’s amazing how misbehaved children can be, and how this humiliates parents but gets no result.  It’s amazing how cranky I am when I haven’t had a cigarette in 10 hours.

I took the same flight last year, and it was delightful.  I had the two seats next to me open, so I had room to spread out, and I was actually able to sleep.  Still though, in spite of all that, I’m feeling thankful, on this day of Thanksgiving, that I can get there to see my sweet family in just a few short hours.  I can hear Sawan’s voice asking me, “And then did you fly?  Through the AIR?” There was no more complaining after the youtube video that we saw with Rick that day, and it’s made me a better flyer and honestly, a better person ever since.

Somehow, like an idiot. I managed to get on this flight with no Kleenex, and I’ve been a wreck the whole time.  It’s actually one of those really bumpy ones that jiggles and jiggles and makes your tummy hurt weather you have anxiety about flying or not.

I just chose to hop myself up on anti-anxiety meds and red wine.  Maybe I’ll actually be able to sleep after all that, who knows?

I’ve had to stay off of facebook all day. I can’t take the sweet cute things that people say about their family and their husbands.  That was my life, too, once.  I loved Thanksgiving.  It was my favorite.  I loved that it was a holiday just about being together.  It was a holiday about yummy things to eat.  It was a holiday somewhat untouched by the grossness of the consumerism that has permeated other holidays, and just focused on families and togetherness.  Sawan and I were only together about a month when we spent our first Thanksgiving together.  He came to my friend Ingrid’s house (we were doing kid Thanksgivings that year because my folks were in Jamaica celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary).  It became an important day to us.  He told me he loved me for the first time that day.  The next year he made plans to take me to look for wedding rings the following day. 

So this plan of mine to “skip it” is in play yet again.  It just didn’t work as well this year.  I fly all day on Thursday, then with the miracle of the time change don’t arrive till Friday morning, effectively “skipping” Thanksgiving.  But last year this helped me to not have to think about it much, where as this year I can’t seem to help it.  I’m just so sad.

I’m not quite sure why this year is so much harder, I think it’s maybe that last year I was still so in shock and this year I’m really feeling things.  I’m a total mess.  I’ve never felt this hopeless throughout this whole ordeal, like I’m just not quite sure how to survive it.  In a lot of ways I feel like I must have gone back to the beginning, because my unplanned mantra has become once again, “how did I get here?”

I just miss him.  I missed getting up with him this morning and drinking too much coffee while we watched the parade, then him starting the stuff that he was responsible for dinner and having me taste everything while I continued to be the princess on the couch, drinking coffee and watching the parade.  Then me coming in to the kitchen to do my one responsibility:  Green Been Casserole, and us making jokes about it. 

I miss us getting everything done and then going over to my folks to be with everybody, I didn’t know that the last one we were all together was the last one.

So, there it is.  I hate it when people tell me that they read my blogs and just cry, but I’ve also promised myself that I would let everyone in at some point to the darkness that I really feel.  This is a pretty dark place.

I will say this.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  I have an amazing family, and being able to come to England to visit some of them is such a privlege.  I was doing so bad before I left that I almost didn’t come, but I have to admit that part of my motivation for coming to Enlgand was to have something more interesting to say on my blog, so I’m super thankful, also, to you, my “readership of tens of you.”  Thank you for caring about what I have to say and helping me to be motivated toward moving on.  Love!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ellie

You’re not supposed to have favorites, but Ellie was Sawan’s favorite.  I always thought we had kept this a secret, but it came up when we were all around for the funeral.  Clearly it was obvious to everyone.

Ellie was my roommate when Sawan and I started dating, so she got to be around him the most and probably knew him the best of all of my family members.

In the first couple of weeks that we were together, Sawan and I were just hanging out at my house, and Ellie came in, having a meltdown.  She had had a really bad day, and to top it off, she had just dropped her keys down the elevator shaft.  We made a game of it.  Sawan had duct tape in his truck, and we made some sort of tool out of a broomstick and wire hanger and, ever the fisherman, he was able to “fish” out the keys from the bottom of the elevator shaft.  Later he told her, “I know we don’t know each other very well, but I give really good hugs,” and he held her while she cried and comforted her.   I think it was settled at that point.  He was the hero and she was his favorite.

Ellie moved to Baltimore when she finished nursing school.  She ended up having to ship boxes and move what little she could in her teensy Honda Civic.  Sawan and I were at my parent’s house the night before they left and he loaded the car for them, and got EVERYTHING in.  It was like tetris.  He was amazing at loading a car.

She moved back to Denver last winter, and she and I are roomies again.  I think she’s probably a big reason why I’m still sane.  I really feel sorry for all of my fam, for having to put up with me, but Ellie sees the worst of it.  You just never know what kind of day I’m having, never know what to expect, and Ellie rolls with the punches.  She’s ready to comfort if I need it, or make me laugh (This is what she’s best at.  We laugh A LOT.), and she has risen to the occasion when stuff happens like, oh I don’t know, the dog pukes on the bed in the middle of the night and I’m sobbing.  By the time I’m back upstairs from putting the sheets in the washer there were already clean sheets on my bed.  She’s amazing.

Ellie, thanks so much for being the roommate extraordinaire.  Thanks for putting up with me.  Thanks for making me laugh.  I love you.  Oh, and you’re my new best friend.  Call me every five minutes.
At Ellie's graduation, Spring, 2008.
 (Not quite sure what Sawan's doing in this photo...but it was the best one I could find...he must be saying "ta DA!")

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gabe

Gabe is my “little” brother.  He’s 3 ½ years younger than me.  He outgrew me when I was in high school, though, and he picks on me like he’s the big brother.  I tell him all the time that if I knew that he was going to be this mean to me now that he’s bigger, life would have been miserable for him when he was smaller than me.

Gabe and Sawan never lived in the same town together, so they didn’t get as much of a chance to get to know each other as Sawan and I would have liked.  The summer that Sawan died, we went on a 3-5 mile walk nearly every night.  We got so much talking done during those walks.  On one of the last ones, the week before he died, we were talking about Gabe and Mary, and how much he wished we just lived closer, and how much he just missed them.  The “Mini Hoggatts” as we call them, were coming for a visit a week after Sawan died.  So we were talking about how excited we were to get to be with them.

I love being around Gabe and Mary as a couple.  They are so in love with each other.  Gabe is so affectionate.  When Sawan and I would be around them, Sawan would initiate affection with me so much more readily.  He took his cues from Gabe.  I loved that.  We would be in the car, and the boys would be in the front and the girls in the back, and Sawan would reach from the front seat to hold my hand.  Sigh.

Couldn't resist putting in this photo.  Doesn't he look like a movie star?
Gabe is in the army.  He’s a tough guy.  We don’t talk about it, but I’m sure he’s seen a lot of really, really bad stuff.  This is why, when they started throwing around the term “PTSD” with me, I really balked.  I have a brother who is a soldier.  You don’t just say that.  But Gabe and I had a really great conversation about it, where he gently and sweetly made me feel that what I’ve been through is significant, and reminded me that we don’t have to keep score.

Thank you, Bubba, for your perfectly timed phone calls, and for making me feel cared for from afar.  Oh, and thanks for defending my freedom.  I love you.

Me and two of my favorite men in San Francisco, January, 2007

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Memory Quilt Update:

Denise, the friend who is making my memory quilt, sent me this photo of one of the squares and I had to pass it along.  In the center:  the beige is from a fishing shirt (they make special shirts for fly-fishing), the weirdo blue is from this short sleeved shirt that he must have loved but I hated so he quit wearing it but still had it.  The green and white plaid is from one of his very favorites that had pearl snaps on it.  The Blue and white striped is the one he wore for our engagement photos.  The aloha flowers were from one of his date-night staples.  The purple plaid was his favorite work shirt at Ocean, he wore it with a purple tie and called it his Rockies suit.  It looks much more beautiful than I was even imagining.  I’m so excited.


Things I'm thankful for about: Cori

She was there for me.
It’s amazing that all of my siblings were there to support me within 24 hours of everything happening.  Cori had to come the farthest.  She and her family live in London, England.

She’s really good at math.
For lots of reasons, it’s difficult to get as much time talking to Cori as I want.  The biggest thing in our way is the time difference.  Not only is it seven hours later there, so there are only a few hours of the day that we’re both up, but doing the math for that can be difficult.  Plus there’s boys yelling in the background and babies to change and dinner to be made.  She has a lot going on.  But she makes time for me and it’s great.

She’ll talk about sex.
This is something that I struggle with as a widow.  It seems that sex is an off-limits subject.  Like we’re supposed to skip that part of our grieving, or not tell people about it or something.  It’s weird, though, because one day I was having sex all the time, and now I’m not getting any.  Cori will let me talk about sex all I want.

She made me buy matching panties for my new bra.
This is probably way too much information.  I needed new bras.  I was buying some and she was with me.  Matching panties came up and I said, “No, no one sees me in them anyway.”  (This is another part of the grieving thing.)  And she said, “YOU see you in them.”

She called Sawan “her brother.”
When she tells stories about him, he is not referred to as “the brother in law,” but the “brother.”  This communicates to me how much she loved him, and the degree that she feels his loss, and it means a lot to me.

She is very sensitive about my feelings.
Babies are the hardest thing for me.  I wanted one so badly.  She was pregnant when Sawan died.  Asher is now almost seven months, and I think it must be difficult to have a newborn.  She rarely complains about it, at least not to me, because I have mentioned lots of times that it drives me crazy when people complain about nursing/being up in the middle of the night/date night changes when you have a newborn/I’m sick of changing diapers.  I wanna say, “Oh yeah, boohoo, you have the life I was dreaming of.”  So she mostly says stuff about how thankful she is for her little guy, and I think people must think that she’s Pollyanna, but I can hear in her words that she’s thinking about me. 

Sawan loved Cori, too.
She reminded him of his mom.  She was a midwife, Cori is a doula, and they’re similar.  Plus they both sortof had that hippy thing going on.  Cori and Sawan immediately bonded over cooking.  They both loved to cook and it was the two of them that shared meal planning when it came to holidays and family get-togethers.

I love you Cori.  Thank you for being the best big sister in the world.  Thank you for being there for me.  You’re pretty amazing.

Couldn't find a photo of Cori and Sawan, so I chose one of Cori, myself and Ellie in our matching Rockies hats, taken by Sawan, June 2009.





Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mom

Sawan and my mom had a special bond, as well.  He started calling her mom (and sheepishly asked if that was ok) long before we were married.  My mom is the “keeper” of the Hoggatt family lexicon.  We have special words for things (commode=remote control).  We have special names for each other (Poor Honey=anyone who has had a bad day or is sick).  We have special phrases that we say (Lazy ham.  Or hamster.  Cori thought that’s what “Lazy hound” was when she was little, and it stuck and then was expounded on).  I spend a lot of time with the family.  This could have intimidated Sawan, but on the contrary, he loved my family immediately, and also immediately picked up on the lexicon and joined in.  It was just so cute, and I think it totally endeared him to my mom right off the bat.

My mom is the one (well, the non-professional) that I process my grief with the most.  She’s never lost a husband, but six months before Sawan died she lost a brother and the day we lost Sawan she also lost her dad, so she understands loss in a way that a lot of people don’t, and she’s really engaged with her emotions in a very healthy way.  This makes her my favorite one to talk to about my pain.  I swear that sometimes she has to be thinking, at the end of our conversations, “Ok, that’ll be $125, please.”

There’s just something about that mom relationship.  When I’m sick, I still want my mom.  I want to call her to tell her my tummy hurts.  I’m almost 32 years old.  She’s still the best comforter.  It looks a little different now than it did when I was little, but, if I need it, she’s still there to take care of me.

She’s beautiful.  She’s soft.  She’s generous.  She doesn’t wear mom jeans, and she drives a mini cooper (how many grammies can say that?).  She lets my dog tear up her back yard, even though it’s her pride and joy.  She’s learned how to order my drink at Starbucks, and she doesn’t even like coffee.

It’s so hard to put in to words how thankful I am for my family.  I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by this project that I set up for myself, because once I start writing, I realize how large the thing I want to communicate, and how small and insufficient words can be.  I am, however, loving the spirit of thankfulness that this is causing me to live in, as I try to communicate to them.

Mom, thank you so much for being my sounding board, and my comforter.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Arthur gets a Haircut

Arthur got a haircut on Wednesday.  We went to see Bronwyn at Oona’s.  She’s awesome.  For some reason, I’m not exactly sure why, dog grooming usually takes about 3 hours.  I think that maybe they stagger the dogs or something.  Wash one, then wash the other, then trim one, then trim the other, but every other place I’ve ever taken him takes 3 hours.  My dog hates the groomer.  He hates the bath.  I’ve tried everything I can think of, but he just doesn’t like to be wet.

So Bronwyn gets his haircuts done in 45 minutes.  I’m not sure if this is out of thoughtfulness for my dog, or out of self-preservation.  When I go back in to pick him up all the girls are wearing earmuff looking headphones, the kind you see the airport guys wearing on the tarmac.  It’s because my dog is yelping his high-pitched, annoying bark.  He’s yelling, “Mom, come get me!  I know you can hear me!  Do you know what they’re DOING to me in here?  MOM!”

The funny thing is, I’ve heard that most dogs act all embarrassed when they get back from the groomers, and hide behind furniture for a few days.  Not my dog.  Once he realizes that he doesn’t have to stay at the groomers and be tortured, everything is right in the world.  He struts around like he’s God’s gift to female westies.  All you have to do is tell him that he looks “handsome.”  He’s like, “Um, yeah, I know.”



After: Sir Arthur
Before: Hairy McShaggerson

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Dad

I have recently reconnected with a childhood friend.  She said something that has me thinking.  She said how lucky I am to have my amazing family around me.  I couldn’t agree more.  I’ve decided to tell a few things about each one, why I’m thankful for them, especially in regards to this last few months.  I’m going to do this in order of age, not importance.

Dad

My dad and Sawan had a very special relationship.  He called my mom and dad “Mom and Dad.”

When Sawan and I had our first conversation on the phone, it turned, as it inevitably would, to fishing.  He was SO into fly-fishing.  I could somewhat talk about it because my dad likes to fly-fish.  So he and I chatted about that a little bit.  I told him that my dad loved to go, but hardly ever caught fish.  Sawan told me that he’d have to fix that.  And he did.  I think Sawan would have loved it if I would have liked fishing with him, but he settled for the fact that I at least knew something about it.  One time, he was preparing for a trip to the San Juan river, and was telling me about a special fly he needed to tie for it, and I said, “Oh yeah, the Yong Special.”  His jaw dropped about a foot and then he was just like, “Wow, I love you.”  I knew what it was because my dad had talked about it so much, and the funny name had stuck in my head.

The first Christmas that Sawan and I were together, he bought my dad a little fly box and put in a few flies that he had tied.  My dad showed it to me the other day, and told me that it was one of his most prized possessions.  That same day, they went out to cast my dad’s fly rod in the back yard.  I watched them from the window.  I have always loved to watch men cast fly rods.  My dad is a big man.  He was a line backer in college (yeah, I didn’t date much in high school.  Boys were afraid of him.).  There are few things that he does that can be described as graceful, but watching him cast is a thing of beauty.  It looks like a dance.  I have no idea what they talked about out there, but I remember watching them, thinking that it was just so beautiful, watching two of the men that I loved the most in the whole world, together, talking and casting a fly-rod.

So that was the beginning.  They went on lots of fishing trips together.  My dad caught lots of fish.  Sawan ruined him for fishing, I think.  Sawan told me after what ended up being their last fishing trip together that he was always sneaking a look at my dad’s fly boxes and filling them up for him.  Sawan tied his own flies so he always had more than he could ever use.

My dad took care of me so well that first night of my widowhood.  He handled so much.  He came in early the next morning (after my first night alone) to check on me, and for us to try to figure out our plan for the day.  I remember my first words being, “I made it.”  And he said “Atta Girl.”  And that being so important to me.  Just so encouraging.

He has been my hero so many times in this last year that I can’t even count, from stuff with the car, to offering to come over and plunge the toilet, to talking me off a ledge when the dogs had killed a squirrel in the back yard, and it was just so gross (“It’s ok, just put a bucket over it and I’ll take care of it when I get there.”).  When there’s things that I feel I just can’t do, I can count on him to either give me a pep talk so that I can manage it, or he’ll handle it for me.  I’m sure I’m going to think of a million more things that I’m thankful for about my dad after I post this, so I’ll just say that these are some.

Thanks, Dad, for taking such good care of me.  Thank you for loving my husband like a son, and being like a father to him.  I love you so much.

Fishing together, March, 2009

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Good Citizen

Arthur passed another big test today.  It was his, and I’m not making this up, Canine Good Citizen.  That’s what they call it.  It’s an AKC sanctioned program that is often the first step for service and therapy dogs.  They actually say that when a dog gets his certification it’s recognizing a dog for his “good manners.”  Bwahahahaha!  I’m not sure why this cracks me up so much.  I guess it’s because I think that he does things that are so human, but it’s weird to me when something like the AKC humanizes animals.  He almost didn’t pass because one of the requirements is “supervised separation.”  I put him in a “down, stay” and leave his sight for 3 minutes.  He’s supposed to stay down and not move, but he’s also not allowed to make any noise, and my dog wants to cry the whole time.  He’s afraid I’m not coming back.  The irony?  We’re just around the corner, so I’m all nervous the whole time, and I can hear him crying for me, and the song playing on the radio was Kansas' “Carry on my wayward son, Don’t cha cry no more.”  They had to check the rules for him, and apparently it’s OK if he makes noise as long as he’ll be quiet when commanded to by the test giver, which he did.  So, phew.

After a rough day of sleeping and going to class, he’s now passed out on my bed and barking in his sleep.  Must be a good dream, where Arthur the Squirrel Slayer rides again.

Since Sawan did most of the training with the Fella before he died, whenever these milestones are hit for us, I always want to tell Arthur, “Your dad would be so proud.”  But it makes me feel silly.

I’m hoping that this means that we can quit going to the group class on Saturday afternoons, because the working at 7:30 on Saturdays to get clients in in time to leave early for the class is kicking my butt for sure.

That’s the Arthur update.  He’s such a good citizen.

All tuckered out.  His fav place to sleep.  On top of furniture.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Corn Maze

A couple of weeks ago, Ellie and I were supposed to have a date to go see a movie.  But instead of the movie, it was such a beautiful day; I decided that I would try to talk her into going to the Corn Maze at Chatfield.

I had friends that had been doing this for years, but they always got their group together on a Saturday and I’ve worked nearly every Saturday of my adult life, so I never got to go.  It became a mental block for me.

I had always wanted to go to one, but finally came to the conclusion that that was something that you did on Saturdays with your family and another family, maybe.  I had literally had the thought, when Sawan and I were under contract to sell the shop, “Maybe this fall we can finally go to the corn maze.  We won’t have our own baby yet, but maybe I’ll be pregnant and that will count and I won’t be working on a Saturday.”  Well, it didn’t quite work out that way.

These are the things that I’m learning.  I can still do fun stuff like corn mazes even if it doesn’t fit into the category that I originally thought that it would.  I went with my sister.  No kids.  Not pregnant.  Just me and Ellie, and Arthur.

Luckily, he got to go, because he’s a service dog.  There was a sign that read “NO PETS” at the gate, but he’s not a pet, he’s a service dog.  So I wasn’t worried about it.  He had his vest on, and his license was in his pocket.  The man at the gate said “Um, no pets.”   (The “You, idiot, didn’t you see the sign?”  was implied.)  I said, “He’s not a pet.  He’s a service dog.”  He laughed.  Then, realizing I was serious and unwilling to back down, said, chuckling, “He’s awfully small to be a service dog.  What’s he servicing?”  I told him it was none of his business and walked right past.  This was my first experience with someone being downright rude about the service dog thing, so I was just authoritative back and it all worked out.
Me and the bloodhound

I’m actually not quite sure what all the fuss is about with corn mazes.  You intentionally have to get lost, and then find your way back to the same spot.  (It would make more sense to me if you ended up at a different place then where you started…)  There has to be a metaphor for life in there somewhere.

Arthur was quite well behaved, and I think having the blood hound with us made it so that we were only in there about an hour rather than the 4 hours we could have been given that it was my first time and Ellie has no sense of direction (Hi, Ellie!  It’s OK; you’re really good at other stuff!).  Ok, he was no help at all; he mostly wanted to eat the pieces of Kettle Corn that people had dropped. 

Overall, it was a grand adventure, and we had fun.
Ellie and I in the corn maze