Currently // Three

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It’s been a long time since I posted an entry such as this one. But I suppose there’s no better time like the present to hop back onto that “currently” horse!

READING a lot of books that I really haven’t cared for. Which is a major bummer, considering how much I love to read. There haven’t been much in the way of books that I’ve read this year that have really grabbed a hold of me, which has in turn made me less excited to read. Every time I pick up a new book, I’m hoping that this is it, this is the one that will get me hooked and excited because YEAH! LITERATURE! But no dice. Right now, I’m reading “The House at the End of Hope Street” by Menna van Praag, and it’s good, but not what I want to be reading right now. Does anyone else ever encounter that? Having all these great books, but they’re not really want you feel like reading?

WATCHING season two of Graceland. I don’t watch a whole lot of television, though on weeknights when we’re in, Brad and I will often catch some re-runs of The Simpsons and Seinfeld while we do our respective dorking out on our laptops. We don’t get the channel that airs Graceland, so I usually end up watching it a day or two later after, um, “acquiring” it. I must say, thus far I am really enjoying the direction that this season is going in! Last season, by comparison, was very bright, and sunshiny. It still dealt with some dark themes, but I feel like this season has upped the conflict and the character development by many notches. The fact that we’re getting to know more about characters that aren’t Mike Warren and Paul Briggs is a breath of fresh air. Last season I was lukewarm on Paige Arkin, but this season I feel like she’s becoming a more fleshed out and well thought out character. It’s an enjoyable summer procedural drama, and I hope it’s back next year!

FEELING motivated. I’ve put on a couple of pounds since arriving in Victoria earlier this year – we’ll chalk it up to all the delicious foods this city has to offer, and the fact that I live with someone who enjoys cooking and preparing meals. We both decided it was time to take action and start taking better care of ourselves. We’ve been working out in the evenings (crunches and squats for me right now), and making a valiant effort to eat better, subbing in healthier alternatives for not so healthy meals and snacks. I haven’t seen a lot in the way of progress physically yet, but I’m feeling a lot better than I did even this time last month, and that’s a great start as far as I’m concerned!

LOOKING FORWARD TO autumn! It’s almost here, I can feel it! This will be my first autumn in Victoria, and considering how green and lush it is, I’m really looking forward to experience the season on an entirely different level. Halifax doesn’t really get a typical autumn; it stays warm well into October, and then suddenly everything is simply dead and cold. Hmm. Not optimal. And of course, autumn brings many special days and occasions! Halloween and Thanksgiving are the obvious, but also mine and Brad’s birthdays, and our one year anniversary. We were still in the beginning stages of coupledom when our birthdays rolled around after meeting one another, so we haven’t celebrated them together yet. Getting to enjoy those celebrations together will be truly awesome!

Momo’s Adventure.

For a few hours last night, Brad and I owned a cat. We’re both allergic, so this was less than optimal, but how could one ever say no to a face like this?

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We were returning home from the movies, when I saw this beauty perched on a stone wall right at the intersection. Like any animal lover, I decided to make friends while we waited for the lights to change. I scratched behind her ears, and she purred, before leaping down and wrapping himself around my legs, then wandering over to Brad and doing the same. After the light changed colour, we made our way across the street, and I was surprised that the kitty followed us, meowing.

Needing to cut through the parking lot of a school to get home, we decided to stay with the kitty a little while longer, petting her, playing with her, and watching as she rolled in the dirt. Once it seemed like she had her fill of us, we continued on our way to cross the next street, only to look back and see her trotting to catch up with us.

We were growing more concerned, as she had to cross yet another street. Why was she so keen to follow us? Was she super friendly or was she lost? I wrestled with the idea of taking her home. She had a colour, so I knew she had a place to call home, but hadn’t seen anything on it identifying where that home was. There was a dog up the street, and she froze, laying down on the sidewalk. I felt bad, clearly she was scared. After we watched her to make sure she was okay, I talked Brad into picking her up. We began weighing the pros and cons of what to do. She had the collar, so we knew that she belonged to someone. Was this normal behaviour for her? Was she a cat that was often let outside for periods of time, or was she lost, and finding some people who were kind to her, wanted our help? It’s moments like these where I wish that animals could talk!

After a bit of back and forth, we came to the agreement that what if it was our cat? What would we want someone to do in a similar situation? Well, we’d want them to take her home and then try and find us so that we could be reunited. We’d want them to take her to the vet to get checked out, we’d want them to call the SPCA, we’d want them to post pictures in the area where they’d found her. So, we made the decision to take her home for the night. I would put up posters in the morning, and Brad would make some phone calls.

Needing to cross a few more streets to get to our neighbourhood, Brad carried her, because I kept voicing my concerns that I wouldn’t want her to get hurt or lost at this point. How awful if we took her even further from home only to lose her! When we got onto our street, we set her down (as she was fussing more and more), only to encounter our next obstacle – a young male deer.

Our cat friend retreated into the shadows, but we could still see her. The deer got closer and closer, nibbling on some leaves on a tree fairly close to the cat. The deer was about three feet away from me – at this point I thought it was going to come and say hi, and that we would have another animal friend to worry about. But instead, the deer saw the cat and freaked out, running off across the street. Well, that sure was a thing!

Brad and I were having a bit of a moral crisis – what should we do? It was clear our cat friend was scared. Doing the right thing is hard, especially when the creature you want to do the right thing for, can’t tell you what they’re thinking. We decided that maybe bringing her home wasn’t a good idea. What if we took her back to her neighbourhood? Yeah, she’d be fine and find her way home! So Brad picked her up once more, and we headed back toward where we found her. We set her down in the parking lot of the school just across the street from where we’d first encountered her, and while she looked at us longingly a couple of times, she seemed fine! She even began chasing something in the field and trying to get into the garbage.

It wasn’t until we were almost back at the end of the parking lot that we could hear insistent meowing. She sounded distressed, upset. I turned around, and sure enough, she was sitting in the parking lot, looking at our retreating backs and meowing her little heart out. As soon as I looked at her she began bounding up to us – I’ve never seen a cat run toward people like that before. Looks like she’d made the decision for us – she was coming home with us. We would’ve left her there, if not for the distressed sounding meows. Even though we can’t speak the same language, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out when an animal needs help. I tried to get her to go into my purse, but she wasn’t having any of it. Brad picked her up yet again, and we set off for home.

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When we got to our apartment, she seemed quite content. Curious, of course. She explored our kitchen and living room, and followed me into the bedroom when I went to change, and then into the bathroom where I was taking off my makeup. Anything she could climb, she did – our couch, our stairs, and my leg. I gave her a dish of water, and we fashioned a litter box for her out of a cereal box and a plastic bag. She was making herself quite at home, scratching at our furniture and rolling around on the floor. For being somewhere so totally strange, she seemed to be in good spirits, and quite playful! She was very affectionate, clearly this was an animal who was loved and had a lot of love to give.

As I sat on the floor with her, playing and discussing with Brad what we were going to do in the morning, I felt something on her collar. I couldn’t quite see it under her mass of fur, so I unclipped it. Marked on a bit of masking tape, were the answers to so many questions! First and foremost, our lady cat friend was actually a gentleman cat friend, named Momo! Secondly, we now knew where he lived – a couple of houses up from where we first found him. Little bugger! Why did you follow us so far from home in the first place?

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It was late now, a little after eleven o’clock at night. Brad and I discussed what we should do. Should we keep Momo for the night, and bring him home in the morning, or should we take him home now? We felt bad, knowing where he now lived, and that we’d basically abducted him. I have no doubt in my mind that we had done the right thing, considering how distressed he’d sounded at various points in the night, but I was still feeling a twinge of guilt at having him so far from home, when he’d been so close to start.

We decided that since we knew where he lived, we would take him home. At this point, Momo had resigned himself to the fact that he was going to be picked up, and though he made little noises the entire walk back to his home, he didn’t fuss too much. It was kind of adorable. “Oh, you’re picking me up again? SIGH. Fine!”

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Finding his home, we set him down on the stairs to it, and he seemed to know where he was, casting a look at us once he was back on solid ground. A thank you? Or a “Why the hell did you take me so far!?” I like to think it was the former. Happy that our cat friend was home, we went back to ours, looking very much forward to falling asleep. I kept looking back to make sure that he wasn’t following us anymore, and he wasn’t, which was a relief – we just wanted him to be safe and sound at his home, where his people were.

Brad and I are both animal lovers, so we were happy to have the time with Momo (even if he made me sniffly, and caused Brad to break out in hives). There are few things that make me happier than being in the presence of animals. We hope that Momo enjoyed his little adventure with us, and that we might cross paths again someday!

Well … I hope that. Not sure if Brad does. ;)

Carmen.

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As most of you probably know, I’m a lover of animals, especially dogs. To the point where if I see a dog while I’m out walking and see a dog, I will say “Dog!” or “Puppy!” I’m like a small child in this regard. Not even sorry. Dogs are awesome. If the dog is close enough, sometimes I’ll go make friends. Few things give me greater joy than being in the presence of dogs.

There is no dog that I’ve loved more than our family dog, Carmen. A collie-husky mix who possessed the greatest personality that an animal – even a person – ever could.

Writing in the past tense is still difficult, new, and strange for me. Two weeks ago, my family made the difficult decision to ensure that Carmen didn’t suffer any more than she already had after a terminal cancer diagnosis, and had her put to sleep. In the weeks previous to her diagnosis, she began to have difficulty getting up the stairs, but my parents attributed this to age – she would’ve been thirteen in August. But the week before her appointment with the vet she wasn’t eating her food, and when she did, she would throw it up a little while later. My mum made an appointment for her to see the vet on Friday, and after some tests were done, the diagnosis was cancer in both her spleen and pancreas. The spleen could be removed, but not the pancreas. She had a couple of months at the most, and those months would begin to get very painful for her, with a very strong risk of the tumor rupturing. Though the most difficult decision, my parents made the right one, not wanting her to suffer, or being in any pain.

It was made all the more difficult for me, being on the opposite side of the country, with no way to truly say goodbye to her. I asked my parents to give her all kinds of hugs and kisses from me, to feed her some toast crusts (it was one of the few people foods I gave her), and let her know that I loved her.

Our goodbye was tearful enough when I left my parents’ house before going to the airport at the end of January. I nuzzled the top of her head, and she licked my face. I told her to be a good girl, and that I would see her in couple of months. There was no way of knowing then what we found out this week, but had I known, I would’ve taken a bit more time with her. Although, looking back on it now, there was a small part of me that almost knew that I would never see her again – she was getting old. But had I known, really truly known, I would’ve spent as much time with her as I could before leaving and boarding that plane.

I’ve done a lot of crying since that Friday when my folks called me. Carmen was my fluffy baby girl. I’ll be fine one moment, and just burst into tears. I find when I tell funny stories about her, or things she did that made me happy, I feel a lot better. So, I’m going to do that now.

We got her when she was just a three month old puppy from the local SPCA. She and her sister had been left in a cardboard box on the side of the road. Our family had been discussing getting a dog for a couple of months – we’d had to put our first dog, Blizzard, to sleep, early in the summer. We had a list of names that we were considering for a new puppy – Carmen and Sasha were on the top of the list. One day, upon arriving at the shelter, we caught sight of Carmen and her sister. The name on Carmen’s cage was the sign that she was going to be ours – “Carmen.” But really, we didn’t choose her, she chose us. She wriggled her way into our laps, and our hearts. There was no scenario in which she wasn’t coming home with us.

Carmen, as a puppy, was a rambunctious little shit who liked to get into things that she wasn’t supposed to, and had a tendency to run off when she realized she wasn’t on a leash. On her second day with us she almost got run over by a dump truck because she darted out into the street, and seemed to not at all realize the danger she was in, despite the truck backing up, and us screaming for her to come back. We realized then that she wasn’t the kind of dog you could just leave unattended in the yard, she needed to be tied up or left on the back deck, where we ended up installing a baby gate. She never really destroyed anything, but she liked to drag things that didn’t belong to her into the living room and mouth on them – particularly shoes and my little sister’s stuffed animals. She eventually grew out of those habits, thankfully! We tried putting her in the kitchen and putting a table across the doorway, but she jumped over it! Carmen was very crafty, and often figured out ways to get out of places where we were trying to keep her, or into things and places we were trying to keep her away from. Crating her when we went out didn’t work, because she either escaped or panicked and drooled all over the place. Poor thing!

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Even as she got older, she had a tendency to get up to no good. She frequently got into the garbage – but never really ate anything, merely tracked it all over the house. Even in her later years she seemed to continue to do this once in a while, more as an act of defiance, punishment for my parents for leaving her alone while they went out shopping or something. I thought it was funny, and smacked of “Fuck all ya’ll.” Mind you, I didn’t have to clean it up. She also once ate an entire loaf of banana bread, plastic wrap and all. And there was the Muffin Incident, when she climbed onto a table while we were out, and ate an abundance of oatmeal muffins. Problem was, she then couldn’t get down from the table. We came from wherever we were, to find her standing on the table, standing almost completely still. I’m sure she was afraid, but it was pretty funny from our perspective. I think there’s a video of it somewhere. We felt badly though because we didn’t know how long she’d been up on that table – since right after we left or shortly before we got home? It remains a mystery!

But Carmen was so much more than a dog who got into things that she shouldn’t. She was very affectionate, wanting to practically be in your pocket if she could. She would often cuddle with me on the couch (even if she wasn’t supposed to be on the furniture). Any time I stayed over at my parents’, she slept with me in my bed, and when I still lived at home, she often hung out with me in my room if that’s where I was. I was one of the few people who let her up on furniture, you see, and she seemed to really like it. What dog doesn’t? She would know when I was sick, and come and rest her head on my lap if nothing else. She knew that I liked being comforted. Funnily enough, she was the first member of my family I told that I was moving to Victoria. I went to my parents house to do laundry, to find them gone. Carmen was there, though. I burst into tears and began petting her. She sat down on the floor and I sat beside her. She leaned against me and rested her head on my chest, and just let me pet her and kiss her as I bawled my eyes out. Carmen was the absolute best at comforting me when I was feeling down.

She was so smart, and easy to train. She proved the saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks was wrong, picking up new tricks in the last few years of her life. Carmen also trained us in a lot ways, thinking up ways to get treats. She did this thing where she would spin around in circles and bark, and when she did that you needed to give her a treat. It started off as trying to teach her something, and she was quite good at it! But if you were standing, not really do anything, she would just start spinning and barking, basically saying “Look! I’m doing the thing! Give me a treat!” Most of the time, we would. And any time you’d start getting ready to take her for a walk, once you put her leash on, she would pick it up and walk herself around the house, tailing wagging non-stop.

When I moved out of my parents’ house, I would often come home on Sundays – save for if I was away, or some other sort of circumstance. Carmen used to wait for me, yet only on Sundays. She knew that was the day I came home. She would start “waiting” about an hour before I usually arrived, going to the window and looking out it, laying down on top of the stairs, looking at the door. And every single day she would bark and run down the stairs as I opened the door, wagging her tail so fast that it looked like it send her into orbit, and then start doing laps around the house, until I sat down on the floor with her and petted her to her satisfaction.

I miss her so deeply, it feels like a part of my heart is gone now that she is no longer here. I’ve missed her so much since I moved out to Victoria, and have had my father send my lots of pictures of her. The last one was from that Friday night, after my parents brought her home. She looks comfortable, relaxed, content, enjoying being spoiled by those that she loved, and who loved her. Exactly how I want to remember her. I don’t at all want to think about the actual process – but my father did tell me that it was peaceful, that she just closed her eyes and went to sleep. That’s the best I could’ve asked for – not in any pain, with those she loved and who loved her with her, telling her how good she was, how loved she was.

I could write a novel on Carmen and how wonderful, sweet, and intelligent she was. She enriched my life by being in it, for however short a time. I know that I’ll love other dogs, but there will never be another like Carmen. I wouldn’t want there to be. She was one in a million, and I’m so glad that she was mine, and that I was hers.

carmen3Carmen Sasha
August 4, 2001 – June 21, 2014