ten years   11 comments

Posted at 2:29 am in being alone,Don

Don and Maggie on Mississipi near Indian River – October 2004

It’s been two years since I posted anything new on this blog. There were some technical difficulties – a new website host – and I was without my computer while living at a friend’s farm for a few weeks after my mom’s death in August 2017. However, here I am – writing on the tenth anniversary of Don’s death on September 6, 2008.

I chose to use the same photo to head up this blog post as on the post two years ago it was always a favourite. Such a familiar scene, of Don sitting in the front of the canoe, turned to talk to our collie, Maggie. She loved the canoe and wouldn’t miss a trip — lying in the middle between us. I still remember the day of this photo even though it was about 15 years ago. We had put in our canoe on the Mississippi River at a spot just a stone’s throw from its confluence with the Indian River between Blakeney Rapids and Pakenham, Ontario. It was sometime in October. You can see that the leaves have turned and many have fallen. The water was getting cold and we were wearing warm jackets and hats. We would keep going out in the canoe each autumn until the rivers began to freeze. Then it would be time to put away the canoe and go hiking, and eventually snowshoeing.

Don and Sabrina at Scott’s Bay in September 2007

Each time I write one of these annual remembrances, I contemplate what to say about my life with Don, and how much to reveal of my thoughts with each passing year without him. When I read through my previous posts, I find that I’ve pretty much said it all before. So, what to write at the end of another year and a whole decade of aloneness? All I can think is that ten years is a pretty long time to go it alone. At times it feels like a lifetime, while at others, my memories of Don and of past events are still so clear and strong that they could have happened yesterday. That’s how it is with me — and perhaps for many people.

I still miss Don as much as ever. He hasn’t faded away as some abstract shadow of a person. To me, he’s still the same wonderful, handsome, capable person he always was. He looks the same as ever and I still remember his voice and laugh. He’s just not here with me. Of course, that’s somewhat problematic. Here I am, a decade older, still struggling along with life. At times, I get very weary of going on alone and just wish he would return. This past couple of years have been very difficult. It would have been good to have him here, helping me to deal with the stress. Even now, as I work on this old house, I often think of how much nicer it would be to be working on it together the way we used to when we built our barn and studio back in Ontario. Figuring out the best way to do things and then mixing concrete, cutting wood, shingling roofs, and all those other things we did together. At times, as I muddle onward alone, I wonder how and why I keep going. I’m pretty tired of this weird and unwanted merry-go-round ride that never seems to end. Just as the music slows and you think you’ll finally get to step off, it speeds up again and there you are, stuck on it for another year of relentless spinning.

Don on the trail down to the Illinois River

Well, that doesn’t sound too inspirational, does it? But oddly enough – especially lately – people have told me that I’m very inspiring. That always comes as a bit of a surprise as I don’t see that about my life. However, it seems that because I try new things, travel places, take risks, don’t give up – something about this seems inspiring. Go figure. I’ve mused over this a little and have come to the conclusion that it is probably easier to take risks when you’ve already lost most of what you ever had and don’t actually think too much about what happens next. There is less holding you back. My anchors are few and not very heavy. That’s largely why the wanderlust has been pretty strong for most of the past ten years. When there is nothing much waiting for you “back home”, it’s actually pretty easy to pack up your gear and hit the road.

Sage and Shelby next to the van in our garden – Sept 6, 2018

However, since returning to Nova Scotia, I haven’t traveled much. It’s not so easy now. Sage has an autoimmune disorder that requires a lot of prescription meds, supplements, and cooking special food. Stress isn’t good for her, so better to keep things pretty low key. Also, the political climate in the states is such that I have no inclination to travel there anymore. I’d love to travel across Canada again though – and maybe I will in a year or two. But for now, I’m okay with life here by the brook. This has been a busy year, working on several projects that should make life a little more comfortable this coming winter.

This evening, while cooking dinner on my gas barbecue, I snapped the above photo of Sage and Shelby. I haven’t really given this much thought before, but I greatly prefer cooking outdoors and sitting in the garden when my day is done. Tonight, I realized how much I like being by the van with the dogs — and that’s probably because it was our home for so much of the past decade. Of course, now it’s filled with lumber and sacks of cement for project work, but it still feels like home to me — and probably for Sage and Shelby too. Maybe we will do one more trip together next year if we’re all still kicking. It would be nice to go out west on a long, meandering trip the way we used to do. Probably just a pipe dream, but who knows.

So, well, what else to say after ten years? I guess… that life and death are still a mystery. Last night, I felt like looking at photos of an old friend — posted on FB — on other people’s walls. We were very close friends as teenagers — had many crazy adventures together. We lost track of each other at some point after we both got married. I was living in Ontario and she was in Quebec. Before FB, it wasn’t that easy to find and reconnect with friends. About three years ago, I looked for her on FB and made the very sad discovery that she had died from cancer just a few weeks before. That made me unspeakably sad. She had always been so full of life, and as I discovered from photos on other people’s walls, she must have been much the same right until her illness — keeping several Siberian Huskies and being very involved in skijoring. Last night, it was so nice, but also sad, to see a photo of her with her grown-up son — to see how four decades could have passed, and all of this interesting life — and now gone forever. How I would have loved to talk with her and hear about her life. But that is how it is. We’re all just here for awhile, and when our time is done, we depart. Life goes on for some of us but not for others. For those who remain, it is never quite the same, is it?

And so it is that I carry on. Ten years. The merry-go-round picks up speed once more.

~ * ~

For Don ~ As always, I miss you very much. Love you always.

Written by Administrator on September 7th, 2018

eight   2 comments

Posted at 8:56 pm in Don,loss,sabrina

I haven’t posted anything on this blog since a year ago today. Much of the reason had to do with difficulties with my web host. Too long a story to get into, but suffice to say that I became quite discouraged and gave up trying to post anything for many months. However, the problem is somewhat resolved now, so perhaps I’ll get back to blogging again. I keep saying that I’ll try to write more often, but this time, perhaps I will.

My last post was on the seventh anniversary of Don’s death. Today is the eighth anniversary. I’m writing this post from about the last place that I expected to be on this date. When Don died, I closed up the house and left to travel west and then south for the winter. When I returned in the spring, I sold our farm and departed the area for good — or so I had hoped. I bought the house in Round Hill in 2010 and fixed it up enough to live in most of the year round – and have been there from then until now. Unfortunately, as has happened so many times in my life that I’ve pretty much lost count, life has thrown another curve ball, so I’m back here in eastern Ontario for awhile. Truly, it is about the last place on earth that I want to be, especially on this particular anniversary, but so it goes.

In putting together this post, I decided to use some older photos scanned from prints. Most of the photos are of Don with some of our dogs – Tara, Sheena, Maggie, and Sabrina. The two collies in the above photo are Tara and Sheena. We loved them very much, but lost both of them within the space of 60 days to a very aggressive cancer — the veterinary oncologist here in Ottawa had never seen such a thing happen. Our hearts were very much broken.

The above photo is of a little bantam chicken that became Don’s special pal. Chikchik used to march up to the house and perch on Don’s arm any time he was sitting in his favourite shady spot.

After our first two dogs – a husky named Kaila, and a border collie named Tippy – all the rest of our dogs have been Rough Collies. The tricolour in the above photo was Maggie. She was a wonderful dog. She loved going out in the canoe with us. That’s her in the top photo of Don turning to look at her while we were out in our canoe one autumn.

We always liked to have a young dog to raise with our older dog because we found that the older dog passed on a lot of its wisdom. That’s Sabrina as a puppy, with Maggie the Elder Dog. Sabrina was the last of the collies to know Don. Sage and Shelby came later. Sabrina died in 2013.

So, well, what to say? I guess I’ll be around eastern Ontario for awhile this autumn and perhaps winter. I find it very painful to be here, but I’m going to try to make the best of things by getting out hiking around to places that I know as well (or perhaps better) than the back of my hand. Don and I hiked over so many trails time after time that there are trees and plants that were like old friends to us.

I didn’t really mean for this blog post to come off as melancholy, but I guess that’s probably how it sounds. Well, you know how it is with me. I’m not a big fan of doing the fake happy thing. Just chalk this particular blog post up to feeling stressed and kind of weirded out to be hanging out in a part of the world that I’ve been avoiding like Superman avoids kryptonite. Being stuck in suburbia adds an extra level of hell to the whole experience. However, I seem to be reasonably okay for now (but check back with me in two or three weeks). Of course, it could all be made wonderful if my old hiking and paddling partner showed up to walk some trails and ply the waters of a few lakes and rivers. Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. But, you know, I haven’t found a hiking partner or canoe buddy in Nova Scotia either, so what the hell. Lately, I’ve been thinking maybe it’s time to replace the canoe with a solo kayak.

~ * ~

As always, I miss you very much, Don. Love you always.

Written by Administrator on September 6th, 2016