Thirty Little Kaylee & Jayne Things

Friday, September 30th, 2016

2009-10-24 - Kaylee - 0013

Dear Kaylee –

Remember how last year I said that writing these annual posts had finally begun to feel more sweet than bitter? Well, this year was a bit of a struggle. Maybe because it’s just so soon after Jayne’s passing, but the prospect of penning this letter to you was daunting; a tangible thing that made my shoulders slump and my stomach sink.

You see, I worry that you’re slipping away from me. That every passing day takes with it a piece of you: a memory, an image, a smell, a fragment of thought. And no matter how small, it’s still you; all I have left of you, in point o’ facts. It hurts so much, this feeling that you’re like sand seeping through my fingers, no matter how tight and steady I squeeze them shut.

Some days I feel like Mags is overwriting you. Like I’ve so completely adopted her as your doppelgänger (but never your substitute! never that.) that her picture’s begun to ghost over yours.

Days like these, I wish I was an android with playback memory. Okay, I always wish I was an android; androids are awesome. But still. You know what I mean.

Anyway, I was feeling down – in general, because things have been the worst lately; and about this birthday letter, specifically – and then I read something rather lovely. Something that made me reevaluate all the Kaylee-based angst I’ve been grappling with.

“Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can’t even remember what she looks like. You know? Not really. I miss her, Subhi.” […]

I give Jimmie’s hand a squeeze. “It doesn’t matter what you see. I think it just matters what you feel.”

(from The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon)

You made me feel warm. Happy. Loved. Overcome. Content. Heroic. Awed. Grateful. Mothered.

You were home and light and joy. You were the best girl I ever had; my daemon; my soul mate. My wonder doggie. My avatar.

You’re still all of those things, of course, just more internalized than before. Those little lawn dances you used to do? Now they rock my heart.

I love you so much, sweet babygirl. And as long as I hold tight to that, a part of you will live on.

I am forever yours.

– Mom

 

2011-12-05 - Kaylee & Jayne - 0007

Sweet Jayne –

I’m so sorry. Sorry that we weren’t able to save you. Sorry that we put you through surgery and chemo, all for nothing. Sorry that you aren’t here with us to celebrate your twelfth birthday in person. Sorry that I didn’t make you my special project ten years sooner.

All those years, I thought I was doing the right thing: giving you your space, letting you come to us in your own time and way. And maybe I was. Doing the right thing, that is. Or maybe I could have pushed just a little harder.

I always worried, what the end would be like for you, our little outsider. If we’d be able to offer comfort and support, the way we did with Ozzy and Ralphie and Kaylee and Peedee. I think we did, though. I think you opened up to us, just a wee bit, in those last few months. You dug the drive-in, and sitting close to us while you napped, and even laying out in the sun with me. You even liked being pushed around in the stroller, though I’m beyond sad that we only got to use it twice.

It’s been two months and I still can’t bring myself to write about your death. I’m going through some hard-core avoidance. We got two new fosters the week after you died, and they’ve been keeping us busy. I thought they’d be a nice distraction, and they are both nice and a distraction…but I think maybe it was a bit too soon. Like maybe I should have given myself (and the other dogs) more time to process and grieve first. Because now I feel crazy stuck. The past six months just feels like one bad dream.

Anyway, I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this. Even though I haven’t been handling your passing terribly well, I want you to know that I love you and think about you all the time. It’s true, I never bonded with you the same way I did my other babies, and for that I’m sorry. But I do miss you, so, so much.

When I look at your little cave-bed in the corner of the office, I still half-expect to see you snoozing there. I catch myself leaving a book lying around, and then remember: with you gone, there’s no other dog who will steal it as a chew toy. Dad kept getting your bottle of Proin out of the cabinet for peanut butter time, until I removed it to your memory box (minus all but one of the pills, which we’ll donate to RBC). And every mealtime, I found myself setting a fourth bowl for you. Now, with Daisy and Brutus, we’re back to five bowls, which is hella weird.

It’s funny; when you were alive, it sometimes felt like you weren’t there: you existed on the periphery. But now that you’re gone, it’s like we feel your absence even more than we did your presence. Is that awful? I don’t know; I suspect it just is. Neither good nor bad, just how – who – you were. And I love you no matter what, with no preconditions. You’ll always be one of my girls.

That picture of Kaylee in the leopard getup may be my avatar, but the one of you wearing a Jayne hat? That’s my background. I glance at your sad Eeyore face roughly two hundred and eleven times a day.

Love always,

– Mom

(More below the fold…)

Stacking the Shelves: August 2016

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

2016-08-16 - New Comic Books - 0002 [flickr]

2016-08-16 - New Comic Books - 0008 [flickr]

It’s been a rather shitty month (literally and figuratively, hardee har har!; no but really, the new fosters introduced a worm into the pack, and everyone’s had varying degrees of diarrhea, yay!), so I decided to treat myself to a few comic books from my wishlist. Also: A Helena Pop, because 1) it was on sale and 2) Helena is easily the best character in one of the best shows on television, so.

2016-08-19 - Kaylee Pop - 0001 [flickr]

2016-08-19 - Jayne Pop - 0002 [flickr]

…aaaand of course, once you buy one Funko Pop, you can’t stop. My next two purchases were Kaylee and Jayne, in honor of my little ladies, may they rest in peace. Kaylee looks scrappy as heck – wtf is up with that hairline!? – but there’s no way I can return her. Besides, my Kaylee was pretty funny-looking too, so I guess it evens out.

2016-08-19 - Kaylee & Jayne Pops - 0010 [flickr]

Pictured here with our 2011 FSMas card, which featured some pretty hardcore cosplay. (We leave a laminated version on the fridge year-round, because how could we not?)

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Senior Dogs Across America: Portraits of Man’s Best Old Friend, Nancy LeVine (2016)

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Old Dogs Rock (and so do Nancy LeVine’s Portraits!)

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: Schiffer Publishing provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

An old dog’s eyes, milky white, are not so much going blind as they are being clouded by memory: every stick, every ball, the squirrel that got away – they’re all there. Nothing is forgotten. The day she swam across the lake, or chewed your mouthguard into a million pieces. Remember when she was lost for two days, and came home soaking wet, muddy, and with a bird’s feather – blue and white – somehow lodged beneath her collar? She remembers. They all do. Every word, every walk, every time you RUBBED their neck. The memories spill into their eyes, and eventually all they can see is the past.

– Daniel Wallace

Anyone who’s ever opened their home and their heart to a dog is sure to love Senior Dogs Across America: Portraits of Man’s Best Old Friend. Award-winning photographer Nancy LeVine traveled across America, photographing senior dogs in their natural habitats: in forever homes and animal sanctuaries; lounging on couches, riding along with their humans in tractors, and playing with their siblings, human and non; aging with dignity and wisdom and grace.

The eighty-six portraits included here promise to tug at the heartstrings – and make you hug your canine companion just a little bit tighter tonight. The dogs featured run the gamut: there are big dogs and little dogs; pit bulls, dachshunds, greyhounds, Chihuahuas, and mutts; and several tripods, a few one-eyed dogs, and one very big German Shepherd on wheels (hey, Abby!). There are even two Otises, both chocolate Labs by the look of ’em, living just a state apart in Washington and California. LeVine lovingly captures the spirit and personality of each of her subjects; while the book is rather short on words, each picture sings and shines and speaks volumes, dancing off the printed page and right into the reader’s heart.

(More below the fold…)

Some anniversaries just suck ass.

Friday, May 6th, 2016

It was three years ago today that we had to start saying our goodbyes to Ralphie. He was in renal failure and, after several days in the hospital, wasn’t showing any signs of improvement … we were able to give him a few awesome last days, at least, filled with treats and tummy rubs and afternoons sunbathing at the park. He was tired but happy, and basked in the attention we lavished on him. He died at home, three days later, on my 35th birthday.

Two days later we found out that Kaylee was sick too; also from renal failure, in a crazy-making coincidence. She passed away a few weeks later, on May 21st. It was a surprise – she had a stroke and lapsed into a coma – but also not, because though we were treating her, or trying to anyway, it was a struggle. I wish Kaylee’s last days had been as wonderful as Ralphie’s; she deserved that much, and more (so much more!). I try not to think of them too much.

It was two years later, to the very day, that we learned of Peedee’s relapse; that the cancer had stopped responding to the chemo and the best we could hope for was two good months, three if we were super-lucky. He lived six months and two days, almost all of them healthy (relatively speaking) and happy and spoiled rotten. God, how I miss his goofy smile and stupid pink tongue and soft, pink fur. His bark and excitability and spirit. His intellect and empathy. I could use his shoulder for a good cry right now, I tell you what.

I’ve been missing Kaylee and Ralphie and Peedee so, so much this week and month. I wish I could strike May from the calendar and never think of it again. But I can’t so instead I’m gonna watch this Heinz commercial on repeat because it makes me grin like a weirdo every time it plays on the tv. Also, standing in the receiving line of a wiener dog stampede is how I’d like to go out. (Though none of these guys is nearly as cute as my Ralphie Bear.) Someone make this happen please.

2011-02-21 - Dogs! - 0057

Oh, bother.

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

2015-12-16 - Mags Eeyore - 0057 [flickr]

Since losing Peedee exactly one month ago today, the mood has been pretty morose around here. “Not in the holiday spirit” is kind of an understatement: I didn’t even realize that it was Thanksgiving until ~6PM the night of; I did the bare minimum in terms of Christmas decorating (the requisite tree + a few childhood items and every dog-themed decoration I own; I may have been several weeks late, but I got it done in record time – three hours instead of the usual three days!); and the only gifts I managed to buy were for the dogs. For a hot second, I actually considered skipping the annual holiday cards entirely: TOO. MUCH. WORK.

But my kiddos aren’t getting any younger, and I’m afraid that we don’t have that many more Christmases together. For all I know, this could even be someone’s last. (Knock on wood; I can’t handle any more bad news for at least another year or two. Preferably twenty.) And how shitty would I feel in retrospect if I decided to hell with Christmas this year? (Worst human mother in the world type shitty, more or less.)

So I decided to power through with an impromptu Winnie the Pooh theme, and who cares if I’m a little late? (Dear friends and relatives: Your cards will be late this year. Don’t think it’s because you got bumped from my list, or that I only sent you a card after receiving yours. I am just moving like molasses on account of my depression and apathy.)

The theme was inspired by the dread I felt as the holiday season approached: “Oh, bother.” And then I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be adorable to dress Jayne – mopey, doe-eyed, sad sack Jayne – up as Eeeyore, Eeeyore being what would really should have named her in the first place? (Jayne Cobb the girl ain’t.) And simply title it “Oh, bother.” The sentiment is apropos, but also still hella cute.

To wit:

X-Mas 2015 - Oh Bother (Main)

(Click on the image to embiggen. They look better in the larger sizes, I swear!)

But of course I couldn’t begin and end with Jayne; for the supporting cast, I bought an Eeyore hat online (stuffing the top with newspaper, so the adult size would kinda sorta fit on their tinny lil’ goggie heads) and took some pictures that I’d planned on making into “outtake” cards. But I’ll be damned if the outtake didn’t turn out better than the original!

X-Mas 2015 - Smallest Things (Main)

(All the quotes, by the by, are Pooh-based. I like saying that – “Pooh” – because it reminds me of Peedee. Pooh, Pooh, Poo!)

So everyone will, in point o’ facts, be getting two cards this year, to make up for their tardiness. Win/win.

I also made a series of “in memoriam” pseudo-cards just for me. Normally I’d say “just for funsies,” except I was bawling my eyes out the whole time I worked on them. Damn you, A. A. Milne, and your lovely, life-affirming, friendship-celebrating one-liners.

(More below the fold…)

This Week in Pictures #20

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

— SUNDAY —

2015-09-27 - Going to the Drive-In - 0008 [flickr]

Movie night! We saw The Perfect Guy and The Visit (Shane narrowly escaped the Grease/Dirty Dancing retro combo), and even got a perfect view of the blood moon out of our passenger side window!

2015-09-27 - Going to the Drive-In - 0019 [flickr]

2015-09-27 - Going to the Drive-In - 0027 [flickr]

2015-09-27 - Going to the Drive-In - 0024 [flickr]

2015-09-27 - Going to the Drive-In - 0037 [flickr]

(More below the fold…)

Twenty-Eight Little Kaylee & Jayne Things

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

2011-12-06 - Kaylee & Jayne - 0165

Kaylee!

I thought that continuing these birthday posts after you and Ralphie had passed would be difficult. And it was, for a while.

But this year I found myself…smiling. Laughing, even. For the first time, the joy at having loved you outweighed the sadness of losing you. As I scrolled through years of pictures and memories, I felt an unexpected lightness in my heart. And also a paradoxical fullness. It’s a weird feeling. Nice, but strange and unfamiliar.

2007-12-22 - Kelly & the Babies - 0009

I think about you every day, my sweet girl.

I see you, freshly sprung from jail and with a grin that’s as crazy as it is infectious, every time I gaze at Jayne.

I see you in Mags’s face, especially her “get bent” expression, and in her fierce love for me.

I see you in Rennie, sunbathing alone (or sometimes with Finnick) on the picnic table, or graciously accepting a good face scrubbing from Mags. (I know where you stand on THE MAGS ISSUE, but I think you’d be grateful on Rennie’s behalf, if only you could see how Mags cares for her in your absence.)

I see you in bags of Dandies and pictures of baby seals and every Wonder Woman cartoon, ever.

2013-12-25 - Opening Presents - 0222 [flickr]

Some days, I feel you in my heart, dancing an excited lawn dance just for me. Those days are the best days of them all.

You are my daemon, forever and always.

 

2010-09-30 - Walking Kaylee & Jayne - 0018

Jayne!

There’s nothing I can say that will top Kaylee’s address, so I won’t even try. I do love you, even though I’m not always quick to show it. Although, to be fair, that’s usually on account of you’d rather I not. And that’s okay! I love you just the way you are, social awkwardness and all.

Whenever you’re ready for that belly rub, I’ll be right here waiting.

2009-12-05 - Afternoon Sun - 0007

(More below the fold…)

Willie Nelson, a fourteen-year-old best friend, and an old dog’s bucket list?

Monday, June 29th, 2015

A sneak preview for all our Facebook friends. Enjoy the story of a Subaru Impreza owner taking his loyal, old dog on one more amazing trip. Also, show us how you #MakeADogsDay.

Posted by Subaru of America, Inc. on Sunday, June 28, 2015

Subaru, you have effective destroyed me for the rest of the day.

(The “old girlfriend” one hits me especially hard, since fourteen years on I still feel like a complete shit for taking Ralphie away from Shadow.)

The Rat Terrier Review: Paul Blart Edition!

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

2015-05-27 - Five for Paul Blart! - 0012 [flickr]

Last night we ticked another item off Peedee’s to-do list: the drive-in! I’m happy to report that, while it was not an unqualified success – I spent much of the night in a state of hyper-awareness vis-a-vis his big damn mouth – the trip went much better than expected.

Way back when it was just three dogs, we tried taking Ralphie, Peedee, and O-Ren in various combinations – it’s hard now to remember the exact configurations – but all three were such big barkers that we quickly gave up. (I have vague memories of slinging blankets over their crates to keep them quiet, like birds.)

And then I fell in love with Kaylee, and she became a regular. She was happy just to be near me; the popcorn was a bonus. Needless to say, Kaylee was not a big barker; she saved her voice strictly for communicating her demands. Kaylee and Rennie grew so close that we eventually decided to give her a second chance and – surprise! – Rennie was much improved. After Kaylee passed, we handed her spot over to Mags, who was equally well-behaved.

So. Last night I’m loading the van up: blankets, pillows, crate, water, food. Mags and Rennie, both well-versed in the routine, work themselves into the usual excited frenzy: WE’RE GOING OUT! MOVIES AND TREATS AND A WHOLE NIGHT ALONE WITH MOM AND DAD! WALKS AND STRANGE SMELLS AND DISCARDED GREASY FOOD EVERYWHERE!

I can’t bring myself to look Mags in the eye, because it’s her spot Peedee’s taking.

Like, I seriously cannot describe how bad I felt: here she is, just two days off crate rest, and Mom and Dad and her BFF O-Ren are ditching her for the evening. Possibly other evenings to come. And she looked so happy, you guys! OVER-FUCKING-JOYED.

But we didn’t know if we’d be able to handle three dogs, especially when one of them was wild card Peedee.

Shane offhandedly joked that we should just bring her. And so it was decided.

2015-05-27 - Five for Paul Blart! - 0009 [flickr]

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy, Sam Maggs (2015)

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

One of Us!

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

A fangirl has no shame: she loves what she loves and she doesn’t apologize for it, she doesn’t restrain herself, she’s not meek. Girls are often told to be quiet little ladies. A fangirl doesn’t care about being quiet. She does exactly what she wants, courageously, to celebrate the things she loves. – Beth Revis

You are a real geek if you feel it in your feels.

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is a love letter to all the geek girls out there: the cosplayers, the book nerds, the binge-watchers, the slash fic aficionados. Whether you’re a Hunter or a Browncoat, a Ravenclaw or a Victor, Sam Maggs wants you to know that you’re awesome, and you matter.

So. The The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy isn’t quite what I was expecting, but in the best way possible. Whereas I thought it would be encyclopedic in nature, it’s really more of a cunning pocket guide to the wide world of fandoms. Divided into four chapters (plus an intro and list of resources), Maggs offers tips and tricks for fangirling out in the real world; online; at conventions; and in yer feminism (best).

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood (The New 52), Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang (2013)

Friday, March 20th, 2015

A Nice Starting Point for New Fans

four out of five stars

Up until The New 52, my experience with Wonder Woman had been limited to the live-action television show starring the incomparable Lynda Carter. While the reruns made a fan out of me (I still have my Wonder Woman underoos! Both sets! The tank makes a pretty rad dog costume, fyi.), I was never that much into comic books as a kid. As an adult, I’ve been trying to expand my tastes, but so far I’ve mostly been drawn to original series (Pretty Deadly, Sex Criminals, Saga) – or titles based on stories I’m already familiar with from other mediums (the Whedonverse; Stephen King; Django Unchained). I’ve steered clear of old-school superhero stories not for lack of interest, but because the sheer volume of content is so intimidating – it’s hard to know where to dive in. That is, until Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman reboot.

Praised as the Wonder Woman series for people with no more than a general knowledge about WW’s origins, history, or various story arcs (“It’s an intriguing concept and easy to grasp. The reader doesn’t need to know that much about Wonder Woman because she is, well, Wonder Woman.”), Blood is an excellent starting point for new and would-be fans.

(More below the fold…)

A Very Canine Christmas, Redux

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

2014-12-25 - Opening Presents - 0288 [flickr]

I had a blast spoiling the dogs last x-mas, so I decided to carry the tradition over to another year, even though they’re not exactly hurting for toys. Ditto: crates, bedding, games, clothing, costumes, or treats. (Even if they’d rather do without some of these items.) As my mom would happily point out, my dogs have more toys than she did as a kid. But seeing as I tend to send all our fosters home with a toy or two or three, we have enough turnover to justify at least a small pile of goodies under the tree.

Our current foster, Tiny Terror, threw a wrench into the plans on Christmas Day, just as I knew she would. (See: her nickname.) She tends to rush, bark, and sometimes nip at the other dogs whenever they do anything that so much as hints at signs of life: bark, whine, chase toys, run from one room to another, jump down from the couch, and/or attempt to enter or leave the house. Or make noise of any sort, whether intentionally or not. This behavior represents a huge improvement over her first days with us, when she’d try to pick fights constantly, and at random. (I use the term “fight” liberally; they resemble Peedee and Finnick’s slap and tickle fights more than anything else.)

2014-12-25 - Opening Presents - 0104 [flickr]

As per usual, Mags is not amused.
——————————

Anyway, the gift giving went just as I predicted: Tiny Terror was completely disinterested in the shiny presents, preferring instead to bum rush the dogs who were excited about it (so basically Rennie and Peedee; Jayne and Mags are only interested in eating the paper, and Finnick just wants to be with his dad). Eventually it got so bad that I put her in the bedroom for a little time out. But by this point everyone was so exhausted that we only got to half the presents. So I guess we get to do it again…tonight? (Yay?) In any case, it won’t be the first time we’ve carried a few presents over to a second holiday.

(More below the fold…)

Merry X-Mas 2014: The Lung Cancer Awareness ed.

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

That was the theme, anyway, to celebrate Peedee being cancer-free for seven months and counting. (He still has to get an x-ray every three months to be sure, but the six-month mark was the milestone. As far as the vets are concerned, the boy is DTF. Down to frolic! Or something.)

But in the end I was pressed for time, what with the dreary, cloudy weather; the constant comings and going of the roofers, whipping the dogs into frenzy upon frenzy; and the arrival of our newest foster, Tiny Terror; and anyway the white ribbons Shane got at Michael’s were floppy and flimsy and I couldn’t twist a decent awareness ribbon, let alone find a way to attach them to the dogs’ persons, so I just threw holiday ribbons and headbands on everyone and called it a day.

Luckily both the dogs and the weather cooperated for a grand total of two hours one Monday afternoon, and I was able to knock this bad girl out in all of eight hours, start to finish.

2014 X-Mas Card (front)

Click through to embiggen.
——————————

For the back, I used an old picture of Kaylee and Ralphie for the background – although this may be the last year they’re included in this way, seeing as I only have a few photos of just the two of them together.

2014 X-Mas Card (back)

I didn’t do any outtakes this year, but after the jump are a few of my favorite shots (including one of Peedee sporting his Lung Cancer Awareness Ribbon on his satellite dish of an ear; this represents my very best effort at making the theme work, I swear to you), along with some of this year’s decorations.

(More below the fold…)

Carbs & Rec: Champion’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal Birthday Biscuits

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

null

If you were to ask me to name my all-time favorite Parks & Rec character, no matter how minor or short-lived, I would hem and haw and slowly but surely work my way through the merits of Ron (meat!) vs. Leslie (feminist ambition!) vs. Ben (calzones and nerd pride!) vs. Andy (fun and goofy) vs. April (the misanthrope with a heart of gold) vs. Donna (chill as fuck) vs. Dave Sanderson (adorable!) vs. Jean-Ralphio (not! HE IS THE WORST!) before settling on the obvious choice, the character who stole my heart without uttering a single line: Champion, April and Andy’s rescue dog.

Ben: That is a three legged dog.
Andy: Yeah, his name is Champion. Because he is the world dog champion.
Ben: I’m sorry. I have to ask this, but how many legs did that dog have when you found him?
Andy: Three! That’s what makes him the best. He can do more with three legs than most dogs can do with four.
April: Except for digging. He’s really bad at digging.
——————————

I’m with April: cats and dogs are infinitely preferable to people.

(More below the fold…)

Twenty-Six Little Kaylee & Jayne Things

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

2006-09-30 - PM-Kaylee&JayneMake5-0056 [1024x768]

2006-09-30 - PM-Kaylee&JayneMake5-0044 [1024x768]

Going home! I love Kaylee’s hysterical smile in the top photo,
and her funny little body, all stretched out across the cage, in the bottom one.
Oh, if only there was a way to bottle up feelings!
I’d let this one age like the finest of wines.
——————————

Eight years! It’s been eight years since I met the love of my life (sorry, Shane)…and 497 days and 2 hours since I lost her.

I’m doing okay, mostly. The foster pups help to distract me, and also give me the sense that I’m doing something real, something concrete, something useful that means so much more because I do it in Kaylee’s memory. Sure, it hurts to let some of them go – I can’t deny that I’ve let myself become attached – but it helps to know that there’s always another dog or two around the corner. And each one brings me a little closer to my girl.

I’ve been sitting at the keyboard, staring, trying to think of something meaningful to write; how best to convey just how much this little fifteen-pound marshmallow meant to me. Nothing really tops last year, when the loss was still fresh and acutely painful. I still feel her absence, all these days and months later, but it’s mellowed into a sweeter sense of reminiscence. I’m still not sure which I prefer.

2007-02-04 - Opening X-Mas Presents - 0051 [1024x768]

Christmas 2007. Giving Kaylee a gift from grandma Wendy – made out to Kaylee in her rescue name! (Gracie! It was Gracie! And Jayne was Penelope.
Also, forgive my dopey expression.)
——————————

So here’s what I wrote back in 2013:

Seven years ago today – this very minute, in fact; I double-checked the time stamps on the photos just to be sure! – Shane and I were headed home from Lexington, Missouri, with dogs number four and five in tow. I can still recall (vaguely, but the feeling is there) the sense of excitement the day we brought our girls home – excitement which was only heightened by the one month gap between the day we first met Kaylee and Jayne, and the day we were able to liberate them from the no-kill shelter in which they’d been staying for the previous six months. I took 54 pictures of them – bouncing around their crate in nervous anticipation – just on the ride back. Hundreds of photos those first few days and weeks.

That morning, I snapped a few quick pics of Ralphie, Peedee, and O-Ren playing in the yard. I called the series “three lonely dogs” – a reference, I think, both to the fact that we’d just gotten back from visiting my parents in New York, where the dogs had enjoyed spending time with their new friends Shadow and Copper; but also that their lives would never again be the same after that morning, when our family expanded from one of six to eight. Looking back, I wonder if I knew then how radically my life would change with Kaylee in it? If I knew what great friends we’d become? Probably not. I was just silly happy to have two more dogs to love. I don’t think I had an inkling how hard I’d fall for Kaylee, though.

We weren’t the first ones to take an interest in Kaylee and Jayne. Apparently another woman had met and adopted them – only she couldn’t take them home right away, on account of she was going away on a cruise. She promised Gina, their foster mom, that she’d return for them after her vacation. She never did. So I can only imagine Gina’s skepticism when we told her the same. But that woman’s loss was perhaps the greatest gain of my life. Because of her, Kaylee found her way to me. (And Jayne. Can’t forget Jayne!) For that, I’ll forever be thankful.

2011-09-30 - Smithville Lake - 0008

Walking around Smithville Lake on Kaylee’s thirteenth birthday.
——————————

Sadly – tragically – Kaylee’s not here to celebrate her 15th birthday. She passed away in May, just twelve days after her older brother Ralphie. I haven’t quite recovered. I suspect I never will, not fully. Kaylee meant so, so much to me – more than words can ever convey. It’s difficult to define our relationship – friends, sisters, confidants – but I think the word that comes closest is “daemon.” Kaylee was my daemon – an external manifestation of part of my self. Not a moment goes by that I don’t think of her; she’s with me, always, and her presence is a source of comfort as much as it sometimes hurts. I welcome the pain. I often imagine that the ache in my chest is her: rooting around for tasty, tasty slugs; doing the Kaylee quick step; lawn dancing on my heart. As long as I hurt, she’s there. It’s the not-hurting that I fear.

2011-09-08 - Afternoon Sunshine - 0057

Getting to know Mags and Finnick.
——————————

It’s a little too soon this year, but in the future I think I’ll observe September 30th as a holiday: Kaylee Day, or perhaps The Feast of Kaylee Garbato, Patron Saint of Exploited Motherhood, in the style of the God’s Gardeners. We’ll lay a blanket out in the sun and nap all day; graze on all our favorite foods, licking the plates clean; and at night we’ll go the the drive-in and gorge ourselves on popcorn. I draw the line at bug-eating, though. Peedee and Jayne can eat enough insects for all of us. (Oh, Peedee. Will this year never end?)

And then there’s Jayne. Dear, goofy Jayne who, even after seven years with us, is wary of human attention and affection, even as she craves it. Jayne, who is my link – one of many! – to Kaylee. Jayne, who deserves her own day of celebration too. Jayne, who turns nine years old today. Man, how time flies.

Looking back through old photos, it struck me how much Jayne – well, all of us – has aged, and with me hardly noticing it, too! Whereas I’ve come to see the white circles around her eyes as “normal” – how things have always been and always will be – they’re a newish development: when we first met Jayne, most of her face was hard-to-photograph black.

2006-10-30 - Dogs-n-Cows-0119

2013-08-19 - Jayne - 0003

I’d totally forgotten. Damn.

Last year I started the “little things” tradition with Kaylee and Jayne. Rather than start from scratch, I’ll add to the lists. Both of them because, while Kaylee may be gone, she will never be forgotten.

Happy birthday to my ladies. I love you both so much.

###

Forever and always. Ramen.

(More below the fold…)

Dear Kaylee,

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

2014-05-21 - Kaylee Mosaic 01

I can’t believe you’ve been gone a year now. 365 days. 8760 hours. 525600 minutes. 31536000 seconds. So many fleeting moments. I try to make the most of them; I do. In your memory. And Ralphie’s. Yet somehow it rarely seems to be enough.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you. For a while – a long while – that’s all I did: think of you, the moments we shared together, your life before and after us. Your silly wiggle butt and how quickly you slipped away from me. Those first few months, it seemed I couldn’t do anything but think of you. Grieve. As time has passed and the pain lessened, your absence dominates my mind less and less. I’m scared that, one day – a time far from now in a galaxy far, far away – the day will come that I don’t think of you. Twenty four hours will pass without you flitting through my thoughts, warming my heart, making your presence known in my soul. Somehow, I don’t think that will happen; there are so many reminders of you scattered throughout our home and my life. Photos and toys and doppleganger dogs and long-lost friends and shiny shindig dresses. But I’m terrified that it will.

If you live on in my heart and in my memories, every little thing forgotten – not matter how tiny or incidental – is a little death of sorts. And I can’t stand to lose any more of you.

We’re all doing okay, considering. Rennie took your death the hardest, but she’s lucky to have found a friend in Mags. Mags is no Kaylee – as I’m fond of teasing her – but she’s pretty great anyway. And her resemblance to you makes me feel a little bit better. You saved her, you know. And Finnick. They owe their lives to you.

Peedee had not one but two cancer scares – can you believe it? That boy, always giving me trouble. He had a tumor and 20% of one lung removed last month and, within a week, he was up and trying to bark at the UPS guy and clear the yard of poo. He’s taken over your dish-licking duties, but he does a pretty poor job compared to you. I think he lacks the determination borne of having once been abandoned and starving. Soft and pampered. Freaking Peedee.

We started fostering in January. So far we’ve only had one dog stay with us – we had to cut it short due to Peedee’s illness – but I’m so, so glad we finally made the leap. Foster Pony was a big guy, a boxer-put bull mix, and all the little dogs were afraid of him. I was not expecting that! I thought that Mags and Rennie at least would be cool. I think you would have been. I know Ralphie would’ve been down. Ralphie wasn’t afraid of anyone.

Every time I looked at Foster Pony, I thought of you. It’s true. You inspired me to foster (and I suspect that invoking your memory made it impossible for Shane to object!), to help other dogs in need the way that Gina rescued you and Jayne. I hope your puppies and grand-puppies each found their own Gina, too.

I wish I had more pictures of you and I together. I should have taken more; I knew this even as I felt the time slip away. Half of what I do have was taken much, much too late – in the hospital, during your illness. Now I’m a little camera-crazy. I hope you’re not offended when the number of photos of Mags and I surpass those of you and I. Just know that I regret it, and probably will until the day I die. It’s not much consolation for you – or Ralphie or Shadow or Ozzy, or to all the dogs childhood me loved and lost before – but I’ll do better from here on out.

Mother’s Day was hard. So was my birthday. But I think today will prove the most difficult. I miss you so much, sweet girl. Rennie and Mags and Peedee and Jayne and Finnick (yes, even Jayne and Finnick!) help fill the Kaylee-sized hole in my heart, but none of them can replace you. You were – are – one of a kind.

I was so, so lucky to have found you. I’d do it all over again, even knowing how much the end would hurt.

With love and peanut butter, your best friend forever.

To Kaylee (today will always belong to you)

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

2008-10-28 - Kaylee as Wonder Woman - 0014

I think I miss Kaylee more today than I have in the past four months combined. Mother’s Day was always her day; a time to honor her and reflect back upon what might have been done to her and her babies. Today doesn’t hurt so much because I have two fewer kids this year, but because one of them was a mom who’s no longer here to celebrate with us.

Wait, that’s not entirely true; Kaylee is in my heart, where I’ll carry her, forever and always. No wonder it feels a little heavier today than usual.

I hope that – somehow, somewhere – one or more of Kaylee’s great-great-grandkids are having a wonderful Mother’s Day: soaking in the sun, enjoying lots of belly rubs, maybe even doing a lawn dance or two. I like to think that they look like her, all lumpy and marshmallow-like, with crazy snaggle teefies (but no dental problems like grandma!) and stubby nubs for tails (but all natural – docking isn’t cool!). I wish I could meet them, someday. Maybe I will. Maybe I already have. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Go find someone you love and give them a hug from me.

2010-05-26 - Terriers Outside - 0015

(More below the fold…)

Spoile(d dog) alert!

Friday, March 7th, 2014

2014-02-17 - Peedee - 0001 [flickr]

In Kaylee’s absence, Peedee has taken up the task of licking the dirty dishes. (Seniority, yo!)

2014-02-17 - Peedee - 0003 [flickr]

Only, Peedee doesn’t command the same respect and deference that the other dogs showed Kaylee, so we have to lock him in the bathroom with his chores/treats so that no one challenges his authority. Not the most appetizing venue, but hey – the boy does eat poo. I think it bothers us more than it does him.

2014-02-17 - Peedee - 0008 [flickr]

If you look closely, you can plainly see all the food debris gathered along the baseboards (not to mention, Peedee’s chin). Many a pasta dishes have been licked on these floors.

And yeah, we clean ’em every week. Super gross. Lost cause. Story of my life.

The Great CriFSMas Food (and More) Roundup, 2013 edition!

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

It felt like I did a ridiculous amount of baking this Christmas – so, when I went and looked back at last year’s roundup, I nearly fainted in disbelief. (Full disclosure: there may have also been a food coma involved, due to the copious amounts of sugar I’ve been ingesting.) Did I seriously make a dozen plus batches of cookies last year? Little old me?

Fun story: after feeling super-smug and self-satisfied over my achievement of baking FIVE WHOLE BATCHES of cookies in one day, I headed on over to tumblr – where some lady posted about the 40 donuts and multiple trays of cookies she baked in one afternoon. Whoops! There goes my self-confidence!

So anyway, here’s the Great CriFSMas Food Roundup, 2013 edition! But with bonus x-mas presents and vegan pop culture observations.

First up: the noms. As per usual, let’s start with dessert, shall we? All the cookies are from Kelly Peloza’s The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, a review of which I’ll probably have for y’all soon. Unless. Maybe I need to try out a few more recipes? You know, for the love of science and books and all that is holy and sugar-dusted.

2013-12-22 - VCC Glazed Rum Raisin Cookies - 0001

Glazed Rum Raisin Cookies – With their copious amounts of liquor and strong rummy taste, these cookies aren’t for kids. Very tasty and easy to bake, though I opted to make my glaze into more of an icing, so as not to risk the cookies sticking to one another during storage. If you go this route, start out with less rum. I ended up with way more icing than I could use. Or drink! (Yes, I actually tried that.)

2013-12-22 - VCC Caramel Pecan Cookies - 0003

Chewy Caramel Pecan Cookies – SO GOOD! Caramel and pecans, what’s not to love? Well, the cookies’ inherent stickiness, for starters: I had to refrigerate the sheet of cookies for about ten minutes before I was able to peel them from the parchment paper without tearing the cookies to shreds. I wonder if my batter was too wet; the caramel pecan mix didn’t get especially thick, which resulted in a very sticky cookie dough. Further experimentation may be required.

Also, pro tip: these cookies have mad spread, so space them far, far apart. As in four cookies to a medium-sized tray. No kidding!

(More below the fold…)

So this is Christmas…

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

I almost didn’t bother decorating this year – I was just feeling too damn depressed. But then I figured that I’d be even more bummed without all the shiny happy tinsels and ribbons and be-pirated stuffed animals brightening up the bleak winter landscape. (There’s a reason I leave the decorations up through February, people!) Plus I knew I’d regret skipping the holiday cards further down the line; some of my favorite pictures of the dogs are from our x-mas photo sessions (see, e.g., Kaylee in her shindig dress and Ralphie the pizza poo). So X-Mas came to the Garbato-Brady household after all!

fsmas card 2013 - tis the season

For this year’s cards, I decided to keep it simple: instead of complicated outfits, I opted for ribbons taped to dog collars. My original idea was to photograph everyone in pairs and, long story short, I have no freaking clue how I was able to get Ralphie, Peedee, and Rennie to sit still (AT THE SAME TIME!!!) for our very first card. No one was having it, and I think the treats meant as bribery actually made things worse – everyone seemed to be competing with their partners for the noms. The good news is that everyone made it on the card – even Lemmy, who spent most of his photo time chewing on the ribbon strings.

Ralphie and Kaylee were even represented on the back of the card…though only those who know us will pick up the meaning.

2013 message label

I still couldn’t help but make a second card with the paired pictures, though. At first it was just for my own benefit, but I decided to print them up and mail them out as well. Actually I think everyone looks okay save for Jayne and Lemmy. Those two did NOT want to have anything to do with each other.

fsmas card 2013 - silent night

And then of course we have the individual “outtake” cards. I didn’t have a theme to speak of, so I just went with Supernatural quotes. Totally irrelevant, but totally hilarious.

(More below the fold…)