I have been absent from the blogosphere for a few weeks.
It wasn’t my intention. Its just that its Summer in western Montana and we try to pack as much as we can into our window of warmth.
Spring can be wet and Fall can be cold. And if you’ve followed my blog or you also live here then you know what Winter can be.
Montana huckleberries are famous for their vibrant hues and sweet juiciness. Most folks around here have their own secret stash they like to pick from. Our stash last year never fully ripened, at least not enough to spend the time to go out and pick.
The stash more than made up for it this year.
We never like to overdo it- the thought that I’m taking food from the local bears keeps us grounded in that regard. But we spent a couple of hours in the sun and got enough for our huckleberry pancakes Alistair enjoys so much.
We also made time to get the canoe out, which we didn’t do once last year.
There is a quiet little lake near our home. There isn’t really any beach to speak of and the campsite is very small, not to mention its a ways off the beaten path so there’s usually only a few folks out there which makes for a peaceful, enjoyable paddle.
We paddled and floated on Lake Upsata and enjoyed the beauty around us.
We listened to the light waves lap and bump up against our Kevlar sides.
We heard the loons call out in between their full-body dives as they searched for the fish that continue to elude us.
And we laughed and reminisced about our last time canoeing with our good friend, Paul on the local canoe trail, where we bottomed out a few times thanks to late season low water and 3 adults on board.
Alistair didn’t end up catching anything as the skies towards us were darkening and clouds formed into threatening shapes and colors. The kinds of shapes you shouldn’t be beneath on a body of water.
But Alistair is back to work in North Dakota and I’m back to my routine at home.
I have realized that my relationship with some of my non-human roommates has become something like the old TV show, the Golden Girls. Me, Loki, Cleo and Phillipa.
Loki is Bea Arthur’s character, Dorothy. While sometimes grumpy and bossy she is still a lovable, sweet, reliable friend with a gravelly voice and a sense of humor.
Cleopatra is Blanche, who was played by Rue McLanahan. They are both stunning mature women with charming southern accents and an uncanny way of flirting with and attracting men.
Phillipa is Sophia, Dorothy’s mother, who was played by Estelle Getty. The littlest member of the gang with a feisty attitude and a penchant for teasing others, she is one of our resident thieves with a passion for footwear.
Which leaves me as Betty White’s somewhat naïve, honest animal lover, Rose. I’m not from the Midwest but I sometimes ramble on about days gone by and quirky stories from my past.
I’ve been noticing changes. Subtle changes, in some cases, and more noticeable in others.
Phillipa and Loki are both losing weight.
Its more rapid in Phillipa’s case but then everything is more rapid when you’re a ferret. If you consider the fact that one month is akin to one year for a ferret in terms of how their bodies age and change then things are going to happen faster.
She’s also become quite picky about her chewy treats, only eating the raisin or peanut butter ones while younger Luigi gobbles up the chicken, banana and bacon ones. And she’s eating them slower. Antibiotics didn’t change anything but I am continuing with a daily anti-inflammatory. At the age of 7 I’m certain there is some arthritis in her teensy body.
Loki’s weight loss is happening despite a ravenous appetite. I love seeing her eat or watch her bash the empty food dish around the kitchen to get my attention.
Both girls seem to feel great, though, continuing to romp around in Phillipa’s case and enjoying long walk & talk sessions outside when it comes to Loki. They are both getting more grey and they’re both sleeping longer but they are eating, drinking, peeing, pooping and playing normally so I’m content with that.
And Cleo gave us a scare in April.
Our Southern Belle developed a head tilt, body leaning, stumbling, falling-over-when-she-sneezed condition that included a vertical nystagmus for 2 days. That’s where your eyes flicker non-stop left and right. Go figure she was wobbly.
The nystagmus ended but the leaning to the left remained, which was why I brought them all to Bismarck with me. It was right on the heels of losing Calypso and it came out of nowhere so I figured a brain tumor was the only answer.
So Cleo leaned against the walls in Bismarck and toppled over to the left if she tried to stand up and she fell getting off the bed and we got Jessi, Lynn, Cindy and Debbie crying when I told them and I didn’t tell everyone because I honestly wasn’t prepared for it and it was so sad seeing her fall over as she shook herself and I held her and she laid a lot more than normal with me and I told her all of the things I could think of that needed to be said.
That we loved her. That she was a wonderful big sister and companion. That UPS-Matt and Fireman Frank loved her. That it was a magical day when she came home from the clinic I worked at, having been brought in to be put to sleep for being aggressive back in 2005.
That I wouldn’t let her suffer and if she showed me any indication of that I would do what had to be done.
But I didn’t have to.
After twice daily anti-inflammatories (which she is still on) she recovered completely. Running, jumping, leaping, standing, walking on her back legs, playing, swimming, loving, cuddling- Cleo is back.
And each day is a gift.
So maybe my tears right now are for my feelings back in April and May and they’ve moved from Cleopatra onto Phillipa and Loki.
I wonder if this is what its like to be a resident in a senior’s home.
Where you make friendships and develop strong bonds to people who are all at a point in life where the number of days ahead are far fewer than those in the rear-view mirror.
Where anything can happen and, really, can it be much of a surprise?
I’m the only Golden Girl who hasn’t met or surpassed her expiration date. Loki is 16. Phillipa is 7. Cleo is at least 12.
The 4 of us have a bunch more grey hair (Cleo has the least) and we’re pretty set in our ways of routines and schedules.
Maybe Cleo has what we call Old Dog Vestibular Disease. There is no test for that but it can come and go. We’ll enjoy it while its gone.
And we’ll enjoy the seasons as they change and remark on the similarities to our own lives. To every thing, indeed.
We’ll just continue to love and live our routines and enjoy each day with one another. With Phillipa sneaking up on blind Loki to nibble at her feet. With Cleo and Loki and UB snuggling up together in bed at night. With Loki pin-balling her way through the house. With soft food, chicken mozzarella, accents and berets and with cute voices talking to us while we play golf and shoes and insoles that go missing on a nightly basis and with nail trims, Rimadyl and Metacam and Walk & Talks with Step Gammy, Fyfe Life will continue as always.
It is a good Summer.
As good as we can for as long as we can.
I’ll keep you posted. xo