The Curious Case of Bebe Fyfe

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Fabulous Babulous…. sunbeaming again.

Most folks who visit the Fyfe Farm haven’t met Bebe, our mysterious feline companion. If she hears that doorbell ring or a voice in the house she disappears like magic and we won’t see her for at least 2 hours.

If the house guests are spending the night I won’t see her until its time for soft food when the guest room door is closed before bed. I don’t know where she re-appears from. Sometimes the garage, sometimes the boat, sometimes from behind the washing machine.

She’s been that way ever since Whitney and her friend brought her and her littermate, Cartman home in Bismarck. I had only told the kids about the litter of kittens down the road so they would slow down with their driving. Not because we needed 2 more cats.

 

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Bebe as a kitten

When Babs and Cartman joined us that brought our indoor collection of cats to 8, which is totally ridiculous and I think it might be partly why she is as shy as she is.

When you’re the youngest sibling in a household of older, well established sibs you probably don’t need to communicate much. Or interact, other than for basic necessities like eating & using the litter box.

Over the years she slowly packed on some weight and she just did her own thing.

She, like every other female Fyfe adored our big boy, Oscar, who was basically the king of the cats.

 

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Cooper, Boomer and Bebe snuggled in with Oscar

It wasn’t unusual to find any combination of the girls with him in one of the cat beds scattered throughout the house.

This went on for years.

Until we lost Oscar.

That was the beginning of the change in feline dynamics around here because Mulder was suddenly in charge. Until we lost him, too.

 

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You can imagine the dynamics when there are this many of you! And you can’t even see Sport and Cooper!

And everything changed as Attrition continued until, as of February, we had a house with 2 indoor cats and Babs is one of them.

Which is when we got to meet the real Bebe Fyfe.

Our quiet, not-so-little fan of sunbeams and soft food has become a Domesticated Indoor Cat.

 

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Shy, young Bebe many years ago

She meows at me to remind me that our morning routine has changed.

On top of letting the dogs out, feeding the dogs, cleaning the litter box, feeding Loki, getting Rimadyl for Loki, changing the water in the water dish, getting water to Luigi, and giving treats to Luigi as I clean his cage, I now have to give 3 Greenies treats to a somewhat demanding grey & white Domesticated Indoor Cat.

I mean, she’s cute about it but when did this all start? I didn’t even know she could meow!

Bebe now comes down to our bedroom on sleep-in mornings if we’re lazily watching Netflix while sipping our Kona coffee and joins us.

On. The. Bed.

 

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“What?”

And she purrs and cuddles and interacts as if she’s been a normal cat all of her life.

She’s also lost some weight, probably due to being more active around the house and outside as well. She’s much smaller than she was in the photo above, which was taken just after we lost Boomer in February.

Boomer and Bebe always cuddled in the cat beds but there must have been something about her that kept our strange little Bebe quiet all those years.

Bebe’s sole pastime for years (aside from sunbeaming) was staring at our freezers in the garage. When I had my clinic that’s where I would sadly bring home patients we’d lost who were going in for cremation. Bebe would make the strangest chirping sounds and tip her head from side to side while staring at the freezer. We just figured she was communicating with the spirits and we’ve been fine with that.

 

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“You don’t want me to exercise, do you?”

I don’t see her staring at the freezer much any more.

Maybe she was communicating with the spirits who were likely a bit confused about their situation. I know that every paw of every pet that I have held while they transitioned with their families by their side was ready to lay down and have a good, long nap. They may not have put that thought together but I have only ever said goodbye when it was necessary.

Never out of convenience.

I used to think that was an endearing quality that Bebe had and really, she did it with such regularity it was almost a bit freakish.

But it doesn’t happen now & that’s not because our freezer is empty. Mouse, Boomer, Calypso & Phillipa sadly are beneath Alistair’s treasured huckleberries right now. I think Bebe just knows that they understand where they are and their spirits are still right at home.

 

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Bebe & Sport waiting for Mummy to open the kitchen door a few days ago.

And her own spirit is blossoming as she grows into the Domesticated Indoor Cat that she is becoming.

And we like her chirping and meowing and visiting us throughout the house. I like seeing her and Loki sleeping closer and closer together on the bed. I love the feel of her clawless paws as she kneads my lap when she explores the land of lap-sitting. I like feeding her bits of bacon on sleep-in mornings although I suspect we won’t ever get to the Kiss Piece stage of domestication.

Its fun watching her explore our house- the living room with the warm wood stove and the snoring Boston Terrier snoozing in front of it; our bedroom with all of its windows and the big TV she likes to stare at; the computer room where I do all of my creating and Loki sleeps on my feet like she is now; and the outdoor world where she has even brought a couple of mice up that big old plank.

And I love sharing Fabulous Babulous with all of you!

 

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Just another day in a cat bed with Cooper & Oscar and Boomer wondering where she was going to fit.

 

Jacques and Bebe 2010

“Pleased to meet you, Jacques. I’m Bebe. Don’t chase me, okay?”

 

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The ultimate Sunbeamer.

 

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Just now, refusing to look at the camera. Oh, Bebe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bye, Bye Boomer

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One week ago little Boomer took her last nap next to me before I helped her across the good old Rainbow Bridge.

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Mummy & Boom, just a couple of years ago

She was the subject of one of my very first blogs two years ago when I was having difficulty managing her hyperthyroidism and kidney failure but we found the right mix of meds and she had a good run for most of that time.

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Little Boomer a couple of months ago.

She had lost some weight and was becoming dehydrated (typical with older feline kidneys) so we started adding ice cubes to the water dish to encourage drinking. Most veterinarians will suggest the ice cube thing for older kitties. Cats are curious to the core and if they play with the cubes in the water to watch them  move or to hear them tinkle they usually end up drinking more, if not at least licking off their wet paws. Looking back, we had just lost her brother, Oscar and perhaps depression played a role in her health as well.

The ice cubes became an addiction for Boomer. When we would first get to the kitchen in the mornings we were meowed at for the ice cubes.

When it was close to supper time-ish, more meows.

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Ice cube junkie

The meows got louder and more demanding the more time passed but it was just one of those quirks we put up with because she was Boomer. And she was old and possibly starting to lose her marbles the past couple of months but still, the ice cubes weren’t a big deal.

We made little accommodations for our aging buddy because she had been a great cat for many years and it was easy to do.

Lots of expensive canned food to crush the pills in. More beds to lay around the house in. Watching wherever Loki went in hopes we could prevent her bonking into Boomer and possibly getting her eyes scratched (again). Combing her hair matts out when she reduced her personal grooming (and being watchful of those claws!)

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More ice cubes for Boomer

We did these things and more and Boomer just kept ticking along, prancing into the hallway bathroom where the guinea pigs used to be and leaping up onto our bed for bacon in the mornings.

Until a few things changed…

She started to develop a weakness in her legs. If we would reach down for a good head rub it would almost knock her over. More vocalization, and louder. Incessant sometimes with an almost frustrated-sound to it. Even less grooming and even more sleeping and, a few weeks ago, dragging her back feet at night.

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Our old ladies, Boomer & Cooper last spring

We shared glances at each other when she would just about topple over and we fed her treats on demand and her pills twice a day and she lost a bit more weight and became a lot more scruffy-looking and less tolerant and I had a long, teary chat with Boom-Boom and sometimes I had to check if she was still breathing and we had inner discussions and eventually out-loud conversations.

Which was when we decided it was Time.

Making the decision to end a long, good life is heavy. We agreed to do it last Saturday but we both avoided the topic, instead giving her little bits of chicken I cooked that night and suddenly it was Sunday. And we are health care providers who truly knew it was Time even though she didn’t have a terminal disease. Its not as if she was dying.

But she wasn’t really living, either.

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Boomer never missed a chance to get into an open cupboard!

I wonder how heavy that decision is for bad people.

For people who make plans to end a person’s life. To separate the body from the soul for all of eternity, leaving a lifeless vessel behind. To stop the incredible machine that is the cardiovascular system from working its tremendous pump that keeps a body’s life force flowing.

I wonder if they struggle with the choice. Do they rationalize their way out of it for a week or two? Or do they plan to do it Saturday and then before long its already Sunday?

I appreciate that bad people who do horrible things like that have their wiring mixed up or they are under some sort of influence that they can’t control.

Or they are immune to the weight because of the volume of times they have made that choice.

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Cooper, Boomer & Oscar a couple of years ago.

In our case, for all the right reasons, we sedated our 20 year old room-mate together and she quickly snuggled in next to me, resting her head on my leg as her last conscious act. Through tears and remarkably leathery skin I found the forearm vein that Alistair helped me hold off and just like that I stopped her heart and she looked at peace.

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Oh, Boomer!

Saying goodbye to Boomer wasn’t necessarily easier than poor Mouse, who was young and healthy until he was suddenly gravely ill. It wasn’t easier than having to rush to Harry’s side by myself when his splenic tumor terminally ruptured. None of these has been easy. It will never be easy.

 

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Boom and Coopie last spring. Not even bothering to pretend like they shouldn’t have been on the kitchen table. At least Boom’s reading material is acceptable.

But I can accept Boomer’s death more readily because she’s been on The List for 2 years and also because Alistair was with me and we made this decision together. For Boom.

And just like that we have 2 indoor cats and 2 barn kitties.

And there will be more changes in the weeks ahead because Calypso was diagnosed with his own cancer in November and each day truly is a gift.

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Bonjour!

He continues to romp and play and eat like a fiend and steal Loki’s kibbles and Alistair’s boot insoles so his story is for another time.

I miss seeing Boomer in any of the beds scattered throughout the house and in a funny way I miss her caterwauling at me to add ice cubes to the water dish. I sometimes reach for her pills, forgetting there is nobody to give them to and I smile.

Her spirit is likely curled up somewhere with Cooper and Oscar and she isn’t dragging her little white feet and her eyes are bright and her haircoat is glorious once again. She’s grooming, prancing and enjoying a good sunbeam and although my heart is sad its kind of happy, too.

RIP, Boom-Boom. A good life deserved a good death.

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Oscar & Boom….together from the womb for 18 years now reunited.

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Just another day for Cooper, Boomer and Oscy

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Love the look on Boomer’s face…”Seriously, you guys?”

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A young Gareth and young Boomer… these 2 were pretty tight.

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The 1-year old kitties with Alistair when we lived in Creston, BC. They had just transitioned to “inside” cats.

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xoxo, Boomer & Oscar Fyfe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First Sunrise of 1993

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Happy New Year and welcome, 2016!

While 2015 was marvelous for so many reasons I am fine to shut the door behind it.

Not that the day of the week or the number on the calendar changes much.

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View of the front yard.

Its still winter.

We’ve still got over 2 feet of snow on the ground.

The snowmobilers are racing around the meadows and the yurt-ski people are filling up the parking area at the end of one of our nicely plowed driveways and Alistair is still going back & forth to Bismarck and Loki has had a few more seizures.

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Loki. Right now. Not seizing!

They aren’t very long- 10 seconds at the most.

I’m starting to notice a routine she has when they occur and maybe she seeks us out when she senses one coming on because I have been close by for the last 3.

She sits down or stands very still and then she starts bringing up a frothy bile-like foam (I’m not trying to gross you out. Its just what happens). Her medically-inclined Gampy and Step-Gammy think the pre-seizure phase is somehow making her nauseas.

Then the trembling starts.

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Loki napping under the covers. Not having a seizure.

Twice now we have held onto her, stabilizing her with our own bodies and she doesn’t fall over and hasn’t actually gone into the full-blown seizure. Other times she goes down (gently if we are around to assist… thankfully she’s only 15 lbs) and she seizes.

Then she piddles.

Then she wakes up.

And after a little while of being held, talked to and what looks like a bit of general fuzziness she is back to business- eating, drinking, barking at closed doors, barking at the other side of the closed door, and prancing through the house like a little pin ball, gently bonking against a door here or a wall there.

Or a chiddy pat.

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Boomer & Cooper back in May. When Boom was only 19.

Like Boomer.

Who, at 20 years old is pretty set in her ways.

I will say, she is still agile enough to make the effort to get out of Loki’s way now and she can still surprise the snot out of me with a rapid whack from her claws if I’m working on a hair matt.

BoomBoom gets twice a day methimazole for her over active thyroid. We’ve been at this for 2 years now. I didn’t think we’d last 2 months when we started.

But we did so we keep doing what we’re doing and another year has come and gone.

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Beautiful New Year in our back yard in Montana!

I spent New Year’s alone (well, void of human company) which isn’t all that bad. I made it to midnight and reached over to pet the dogs, wishing them a happy New Year!

I got a couple of tail thumps from UB but that was about it.

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Are you writing about me, Mummy?

Its not the first New Year’s I’ve ever spent alone.

The first one was saying goodbye to 1992 as 1993 came along.

I was living in Tokyo (Chiba, really), Japan and working as an English teacher for American Language Schools.

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Me with some of my students… and Rhonda. Who will have her own story someday.

I was overweight, pale, engaged to the wrong man back in Canada, living within 2 tiny rooms in a cement block that was partly inhabited by the Yakuza, drinking too much Kahlua and cream at night, without internet, writing lots of letters, living for my cassette tape player and I had no clear idea of what I wanted out of life.

Thankfully a cousin who lived there introduced me to one of her students, Mr.Katsumata, who took pity on this poor young Geigin who was alone for the holidays.

He began with what must have been an incredibly expensive supper on Christmas day- a day that isn’t celebrated in Japan like it is in more Christian-based countries.

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Mr. Katsumata outside of Omote-Sando Dori in Tokyo.

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I look like a white giant here but I assure you I have never been tall.

Mr.Katsumata also wanted to share a traditional Japanese New Year’s with me, which I have forever remembered and appreciated.

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Boarding the train at 2am. We had seats in the 2nd row!

We took the first train of 1993 to the coastal city of Endo-Shima to watch the first sunrise of the year.

Its a pretty big deal in the Land of the Rising Sun.

It is tradition (and good luck!) to visit many temples and snack amongst the crowds before, during and after sunrise.

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Visiting one of many temples sometime around 5am in Endo-Shima, Japan.

We made sure to get as close to the shore as we could and among hundreds of Japanese we watched the sun rise above the horizon on the first morning of 1993.

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There it is! The first sunrise!

It was beautiful to see and be a part of. Everyone cheered and hugged and I felt pretty special looking out over the waters that morning many mornings ago.

We kept going around to temples and Mr.Katsumata taught me about various statues and beliefs and we ate too much food and drank beer or tea and before long I was back in my little rectangle of a house as one very tired Geigin.

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Hundreds of people visiting all of the temples after the sunrise.

I learned a lot that special day and it still holds deep meaning for me. I wasn’t traveling to Japan as a tourist and I wasn’t there with a group of North American figure skaters sharing the experience.

I was living there, trying to figure my way around a non-touristy community, immersed in a culture very different from my own as an obvious wide-eyed, pale-skinned, chubby outsider and yet this one man invited me to share his customs and traditions in a spiritual setting with me.

It was important that he taught me these things and shared them with me and it was equally important for me to experience a mere fraction of what being Japanese was like.

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More temples on Jan.1st… excuse the crabby look on my face! I remember feeling really tired right about then but I got my game face back later on.

I’ve never seen the first sunrise on the first day of any new year ever since. I don’t think it would be quite the same.

There is much more to my adventures in Japan but I am smiling and feeling nostalgic and I need to work on our snow-shoe trail with UB and Cleopatra now.

I will leave you with the 3 ferrets and I with our latest Sing-Song saddle video we cooked up the other night.

Welcome, 2016. I still don’t know exactly what path I am on but I am enjoying the trail.

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Working on the snow shoe trail this afternoon!

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Come on, Mummy!

No Slowing Down

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The first real snow of the season

You would think that several inches of good snow would cause me to pause and reflect a little bit.

Particularly after the year we’ve had.

We are all getting used to a world without Mouse but it hasn’t been easy.

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Mouse… just a couple of weeks before he became ill

If there is a light out of the dark, however, it is that his barn-mates, Jockey and Georgia have begun to have an actual relationship.

Where she head-butts him (with her head tilt… another story for some other time…) and he leans in and licks her forehead while they both purr.

This is unprecedented behavior between enormous, part-Siamese Jockey and petite, squeaky-sounding Georgia. They each loved Mouse beyond belief and I’m pretty sure they were jealous of each other. Like a room-mate or bestie of some poor, unsuspecting guy whose girlfriend moves in.

But now all they have is each other.

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Little Georgia, before the head tilt

And they have their Mummy, of course! And Daddy part-time, too.

The day the snow came down I was busy.

Splitting and stacking wood is just part of life in western Montana unless you don’t use wood to heat your home.

Before you start picturing all 5’3″ of me heaving an axe behind my head like Paul Bunyun its not that bad. Alistair bought me an electric woodsplitter our first Christmas here.

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The woodpile a few years ago.

I always have a good, long laugh at myself when I remember a big load of wood that arrived when Alistair was in Bismarck a few years ago.

I was working full time but I had to stack it all that weekend because another load would be coming.

It was a hot weekend, too. I remember the dogs laying in the grass watching me move each piece. One by one. From the pile to the side of the house and back to the pile.

The logs weren’t stacking as easily as I would have liked, with some of them rolling around but with a touch of OCD and a need for an aesthetically pleasing wood pile I got most of the job done.

And I posted pictures on Facebook.

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Anyone see the problem?

And I felt pretty pleased with myself.

Until Alistair saw the picture the next morning and called me from work. There was something in his voice. Trepidation, perhaps?

“Hon…. you’ve got the wood facing the wrong way.”

I looked out the kitchen window. He was right.

My day of finishing off the rest of the stacking turned into unstacking and then re-stacking and the dogs just laid there on the even hotter day watching me take improperly-stacked wood off the pile over to the pile on the driveway just to take it all back and stack it properly.

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Finally I got it right!

My knuckles were dragging on the ground and my pride was bruised but it wasn’t the first time and it surely wasn’t the last time I had to eat some humble pie.

It wasn’t funny coming home to this the next night, though.

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The second load! Oh, boy!

You know what? It actually was pretty funny and I’m chuckling right now remembering all of that.

That’s just how life is on a farm at the end of a long road in the middle of nowhere.

You have to keep up on things when winter hits because there are so many other things you have to do.

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This is Bull-Chit, Step Gammy. I’m not enjoying this!

Like shovel walk- and piddle-paths for our 14-pound grand-dog, Loki, who is not a fan of winter.

I watched her almost high-center herself as she squatted which led to some giggling on my part but she didn’t hear me.

We’re pretty sure Loki and Cleo are both going deaf.

Granted, Cleo has always had selective Springer Spaniel hearing but its definitely worse this year.

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What?

On top of shoveling there is also plowing to be done. It takes two hours to do the two driveways. I like keeping both of them open in case wind blows snow across the one up to the mailboxes.

We’re the last house on the road so if I want a road out its up to me when Alistair isn’t here.

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the main driveway after plowing a couple of years ago (note Casey & Harry running to me)

We like it nice and wide so its 3 runs up and 3 runs down in Big Red.

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Big Red. Last winter.

Big Red is a 1996 model and he has fired up for me every single year. He’s probably one of the most significant relationships I have had in my life. I love that truck!

On top of moving snow from here to there I am also trying to promote my 2nd book, The Dragons of Missing Lake. I have had 2 book events that have gone very well and I’ve got one up in Condon tomorrow!

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First book event in Ovando, signing for my friend, Eloise!

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Marilyn getting her book signed at our second book event!

People are enjoying getting back in touch with my characters and seeing what Luke is getting into. I miss my characters and can’t wait to start the next book but I really need to promote right now.

And I’m still slinging bling because I’m just not busy enough.

Men… did you know that 30% of women practice saying, “Thank-you” in a mirror so that if they open a gift they don’t really like they will still look convincing?

Reason enough right there to head over to http://www.chloeandisabel.com/boutique/tanyafyfe

So the snow falls and I’m a happy little wood-splitting, snow-plowing, shovel-wielding, Mouse-missing, book promoting, Boom-grooming, gift-wrapping bling-slinger.

It keeps me busy.

It keeps me from thinking about things.

Like how this is the first part of the first winter without 5 dogs and Jockey and Georgia are starting to bond but neither of them sleeps in their beds together and Loki’s eye looks gross and I really want her to enjoy another springtime and Calypso lost a bit of weight thanks to dietary indiscretion but he’s still having a ball and I can always do more Boomer-grooming and, Jeez, she’s 20 years old which makes me miss Oscar this time of year, camped out by the woodstove and there’s no deer legs to complain about because there is no Casey.

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Casey a year ago

Well, wait…

I guess I did make the time to sit down and reflect, didn’t I?

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UB and Cleo goofing around in the snow a couple of days ago

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Our winter wonderland when it snowed this week

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Gary & Dona, my mushing experts at the 2nd book event at the Double Arrow Lodge!

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Mummy & Mouse a couple of winters ago. xo

One Week

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While my blog title may bring to mind the catchy tune by the Barenaked Ladies, this isn’t about them.

Even though I am Canadian by birth and therefore can lay some sort of claim to the band.

I even saw them once and have the T-shirt to prove it!

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Some of the gang in Bismarck- Shilo, his mom, Raven and Susie

No, this blog is about the week I have had and how everything can change in such a short amount of time.

One week ago I was back in Bismarck, North Dakota, home of the hubby and most of our horses and fields of hay that needed to be cut.

Its that time of year.

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fields of hay during baling

New Neighbor has been a nuisance this year, pestering Alistair about getting his field cut and baled even though the man knows nothing about farming.

(If you recall last summer’s blog about the baling event he also knows nothing about hard work and sweat and how to get a job done.)

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The neighborhood hay bine that cuts the fields of grass and alfalfa and lays it out in rows. Its also a nice, shady spot for Howard’s dogs, Chili and Ginger.

Putting up hay isn’t something you can teach in a 15-minute discussion.

Running our expensive tractor and using Howard’s hay bine and figuring out what to do when & if things go wrong while listening to weather reports and checking weather websites and watching the skies to know when to cut and how long to leave the grass on the ground before baling is something of an art form.

It takes years to learn and try to perfect the skills so you have working equipment and dry (but not hot) hay bales to load into your barn for winter.

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Good hay!

In the end, we didn’t cut our hay. The weather timing wasn’t right with Alistair’s work schedule and New Neighbor still had no clue how to do anything.

Howard also wouldn’t let NN use the hay bine.

But Howard, an exceptional neighbor, cut his field and we stayed in Bismarck an extra day and helped him and his wife and a friend haul bales in the hot summer sun.

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Howard, baling his field while we loaded them up.

Many hands make for light work.

Even little girl hands like my own are useful.

I got to be the stacker.

Meaning I got to ride on the flatbed trailer like a surfer on a giant surfboard along the bumps and corners and sudden brakes, stacking the bales in neat, tidy, tight rows while the men tossed them up at me.

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One of my masterpieces.

The men get to do the heaving of the bales and the negotiating of the nice trucks into and out of the barns.

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Totally NOT my job!

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And he makes it! Go, Alistair!

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This is just a bit too tight of a parking spot for me to negotiate…

Howard has a bale elevator which makes for a better day for your back. We all stacked the trailer loads of hay and then drank water or nibbled popsicles and wondered where New Neighbor was while we debated the merits of a Toyota pickup in terms of guts and glory and talked about their daughter and her baby in Texas and didn’t talk about the daughter they lost and we watched Howard get the baler going again & again after dropping a bale.

And then we would go get another load.

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Just dropped another bale but Howard got it all going again.

Its the kind of work that you sort of enjoy because you are really earning a glass or two of wine later and you know you’re helping out and your neighbors really appreciate it and you are using just about every muscle you have in the blazing hot sun.

Its the kind of sweat that you would get if you sat in a sauna fully clothed for a few hours.

Its the kind of tradition that you don’t celebrate or plan ahead for because you really don’t know what the weather will do or if you will be in Montana or North Dakota or how many people will show up to help and its just something that needs to be done.

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Little girl, after yet another load was stacked into the barn.

I’m so glad we were there to help.

Even if I could feel every muscle in my body for days afterwards.

Its not Pretty Girl work.

Its not sparkly.

Its not something you look forward to.

You just do it because its the right thing to do (which NN obviously didn’t get… he was tinkering around in his garden when we drove up our driveway after 3 hours of hauling bales.)

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Bale moving along on handy-dandy bale elevator with Alistair working the upper levels of stacking inside the barn.

But then we played in our garden, which has been fantastic this year given the amount of moisture Bismarck has had.

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Our ND garden

It has been trampled and crushed by torrential rains and incredible winds twice this year and has withstood frost at least once.

Not everything survived but Alistair replanted when he could and shrugged his shoulders when he couldn’t.

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basil-basil-basil!!!!!

We enjoyed some yummy meals and continue to do so with the produce we brought back to Montana.

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Lovelies for my spaghetti sauce last night!

With all of the animal changes going on at the Fyfe Farm we didn’t need someone to stay overnight because I brought all 3 dogs with me.

Even blind, little Loki.

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Loki snooooooooze in Bismarck. (Insert snoring sounds….)

She lived in and visited our home there throughout all of her life and it always amazes me how she remembers how to navigate inside and outside of the house.

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Loki, UB and Cleo enjoying a Bismarck cuddle with Daddy

They travelled well with me and even though Cleo is mostly deaf she would look up at me from the passenger seat if my singing became too… well… I don’t what it was but it was “too” something given the square-face look she gave me.

But what is a woman of the 80s & 90s supposed to do when Four Non Blondes are belting out What’s Going On?

(Poor Cleo…)

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Non-singing portion of the road trip at our favorite doggy rest stop between Lewistown and Jordan, MT.

And we’re back to Montana and more changes occurred.

Or, had to be made.

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Cooper xoxo

Cooper wasn’t having any fun anymore and it was time to say goodbye.

How did we know?

She didn’t vocalize or try to get into the office anymore. Her weight loss was profound.

She got out of the cat bed when Boomer joined her and laid off by herself in a corner of the kitchen.

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Last month, Cooper enjoying the morning sun on our back deck

She wasn’t going out on the deck with the others in the mornings and that was maybe what clinched it for me.

I laid our 20-something year old companion in her Daddy’s lap and sedated her as she softly purred.

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Cooper Fyfe, back in the day, with one of her many garter snakes

And we remembered all of the special things about our short-haired, all-black, clawless wonder who found us in 1997.

How she would wrap both arms around your neck when you picked her up.

How she smacked the bejeezus out of me when I joined Alistair in ND after the 2 of them had bonded for a month.

How she groomed a terrible open wound on his hand he earned from trying to hold a crazy mare back with a rope.

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Oscar and Cooper, lovers for many years (Bismarck, many years ago)

And how she truly, deeply loved Oscar and wailed for 3 months after we said goodbye to him.

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more Oscar & Cooper shenanigans in Bismarck

Her peaceful presence is missed and our numbers are dwindling.

Its not easy.

Its not sparkly.

Its not something we wanted to do.

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More Oscar & Cooper moments

But its our deal with the animals- donate your reproductive organs at the door and get along and we will give you the best life we know how, with ample food, special treatments, voices, accents, dances, cuddles and kisses.

As good as we can for as long as we can.

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Oh, Coopie!

And more things change around the farm on a daily basis and we know we have some more sadness to handle up ahead.

But not just yet.

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Boomer, Cooper and Oscar a couple of years ago

I have visited the Everything Changes theme before and I think more and more it is why we live our lives in Fyfe Style.

We make the most of every morning together and enjoy the heck out of our days, our animal companions, our golf game, our friendships, our garden and each other.

We work hard so that we can play hard.

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Little Chorney with big sister Cooper… together again.

Because you don’t always know what’s up ahead and we want to be able to look back and remember the wonderful times together- not the things we didn’t do, or the words that were never said.

We want to help our neighbors and love our homes and land and be good people who do good things.

Even if it isn’t pretty.

Or it isn’t sparkly.

Or maybe its challenging and difficult and sometimes it makes us cry.

RIP, Cooper. We’re glad you’re back with Oscar.

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Cleo & UB in Bismarck

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Fun indigo tomatoes in Bismarck!

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How I will remember Cooper-and-Mummy time… RIP, dear Coopie. We miss you.

Many Makeovers

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Snowy, icy footprints several mornings ago

I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks but only because my journey has taken me on some different paths lately.

Paths through snow, ice, mud, puddles, and grass- over fairways, greens, ski hills, highways and into dog kennels-  with pets, hubby, parents, friends, bling-buyers, and veggie-lovers…

It has been a busy time!

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Late winter morning on the ranch a couple of weeks ago

This time of year is filled with change as Mother Nature begins a complete makeover of herself.

The beautiful snow-covered fields criss-crossed with snowmobile tracks and dog paw prints are becoming wet and brown and, in places, a bit green.

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The last time the snowmobiles got used this season… for a photo shoot with Mouse, Jockey and Alistair

We saw our first robin the other day from our bubbling hot tub.

We’re starting to have warmer days with sunshine and less frost on the decks and trucks in the morning.

We have driven to Helena and Missoula a couple of times to play golf because our local course is still covered in its winter white blanket.

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Great times playing golf at the end of February in Helena!

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A couple of days ago in Helena

Golf one day, skiing the next.

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We got out skiing at least once this winter!

Adventures during the great outdoor makeover are happening on the heels of our animal companions adjusting to the family-dynamic makeover of where they all fit without Harry and Mulder.

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Good old Casey!

Casey continues to be Casey- a jumping, panting, food-gobbling, dog-with-unilateral-paralyzed-larynx kind of guy.

He’s happy. Very happy. Always happy.

And bouncy. Very bouncy.

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Cleopatra… working those Spaniel eyes of hers!

Cleo stays outside all of the time now to keep Casey company.

We intend to bring them both in but not until we’ve arranged a couple of baths.

Talk about needing a makeover!

Cleo is a digging fool in the springtime and she brings home many ‘discoveries’…

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Trying her best to look innocent…

When the forest is your backyard and you have dogs, you’re going to see some anatomy.

Loki is doing well despite her really bad left eye… Boomer has nailed her so many times it isn’t even funny.

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Loki and her ulcerated, trying-to-heal left eye…. navigating the great outdoors!

I have her on topical antibiotics all of the time as well as twice-daily anti-inflammatories.

Loki seems to be able to navigate better outside with the brighter days, just like she did last spring and the spring before that.

And my smile widens and the skin by my eyes crinkles as I watch all 15 pounds of her snort and bustle and trot down towards the geldings or over towards the barn with a confidence that defies her blindness.

And UB is her seeing eye dog and he’s doing great.

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UB, showing off his exceptionally tight buns!

Especially when he finds limbs or jaw bones or spines just like his big sister, Cleo!

The cats are hanging in there. No makeovers necessary.

I mean, I would love to shave most of Boomer and Cooper because neither of them are grooming much anymore at 19 and 19-plus years of age.

But Boomer still prances to see me, bitching loudly when there are no ice cubes in the water dish or when she deems that it is time for soft food (with her crushed-up methimazole in it).

We’ve discovered that Cooper is deaf.

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Cooper, ten or eleven years ago… her age is a mystery

It doesn’t bother her or anybody else as far as we can tell.

And the ferrets and the rest of the feline Fyfes are as good and bright and mischievous as ever.

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A trio of trouble!

The little shoe-thieves all had showers with me yesterday and the cage had its monthly makeover so they are all sparkly clean and cucumber-melon scented once again.

My folks are having a kitchen makeover done up in Canada right now so they came to visit for a few days.

They brought my 88-years-young Nan along and she loved playing with the animals again.

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Nan back on the farm

And we got a golf club back into Dad’s hands and he joined us for a morning of chipping practice and laughing in our front yard where Mother Nature was in the midst of her snow-melting, grass-awakening, tree-budding, dog-poop-uncovering, sky-warming, horse-shedding makeover.

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Fyfe’s Frontyard Pitch & Putt

And all of this is while I’m leaping into another adventure of my own.

This adventure began a couple of months ago when I innocently bought some pretty bracelets during an online ‘PopUp’ hosted by a friend in South Dakota.

They’re very sparkly and I love them.

And I had a great experience during the online event and I got researching things.

And I talked with Alistair and I laid awake at night and I hiked with the dogs and I researched some more and I wrote in my journal and I wondered and I dreamed and I smiled and Alistair smiled and I was interviewed and accepted and I made it happen.

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Chloe & Isabel bling! Bling-bling-bling-bling-bling! 🙂

And I am now a Merchandiser with Chloe & Isabel- a 4 year-old, progressive, women-centered, supportive, wonderful, direct-sales jewelry company!

I am thoroughly enjoying the learning, friendship and camaraderie (not to mention the fabulous bling!)

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My first PopUp at Jessi’s… our animal theme was perfect as she was my veterinary assistant when I had my clinic

I’ve had 3 PopUps (time-limited, on-site events showcasing the beautiful, well-made jewelry where Hosts can earn free bling and everyone has fun) and my Hosts have earned $100 and $200 in free goodies! (thanks, Jessi, Emily and Cindy!)

The company encourages online PopUps and sales and I’m loving planning my first online event. I have a boutique anyone can order from at any time (www.chloeandisabel.com/boutique/tanyafyfe) and I am fitting this new adventure into my farm-running, animal-cuddling, hubby-loving, golf-playing, book-marketing, sequel-writing, veterinary-journal-reading, hiking, blogging, treadmilling life.

I did worry, though.

I worried that some might frown upon the fact I spent 8 years to become a doctor and now I’m slinging bling.

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Dr.Fyfe… 8 or 9 years ago with one of the luckiest kitties in the world (cat vs. farm implements usually don’t turn out very well but this one did!)

But anyone can attest to my love of sparkly things and gorgeous jewelry. I used to design dresses for skating and real life when I was younger, doodling in every note book I had.

(I also designed houses but I’m going to hold off on an architecture path just now…)

I don’t consider this adventure a makeover of myself, though.

Its another addition, or facet of Me.

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Another part of me (1992!)

The dorky kid became the skater became the wife became the horse breeder became the veterinarian became the golfer became the business owner became the author became the entrepreneurial jewelry Merchandiser.

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Cleo and her veterinarian Mummy

I have been and continue to be all of these things.

Each facet helps the others and keeps me busy and smiling and sometimes these different worlds collide and that’s even more fun!

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Ah yes… convincing the bridal party that skates weren’t optional 🙂 Love these guys! (1996, Grand Forks, BC)

(Incidentally, my friend, Abby, whose online PopUp I bought the bracelets from is a former figure skating student of mine… colliding worlds, indeed!)

The makeovers that surround me continue as ever and I will continue to grow and change and try to always be a better Me.

A better wife, daughter, friend and pet-Mummy.

And bling-slinger.

Happy. Very happy. Always happy.

If you’re interested in hosting an online or in-person PopUp, even if we’ve never met, let me know. (Yeah, its shameless self promotion but what are you going to do?)

Happy Spring!

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Hubby, Dad and I enjoying some springtime front yard golf

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Yay, Spring!

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The road leads where it leads

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My newest adventure! Check it out!

Special Agent Fox Mulder Fyfe

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Mulder and Mummy

I think its pretty safe to say that I am not suffering from Compassion Fatigue.

No, my emotions are well and truly on display and I often have no control over them.

Like now… when I am choosing to share the fact that we had to help another special member of the Fyfe family over the Rainbow Bridge a few days ago when a rapid type of cancer took over Mulder’s unsuspecting body.

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Mulder, snoozing on the kitchen table last summer

The grief is raw and fresh and the tears are burning my eyes and I am totally okay with that.

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Alistair and Muldy back in ND a few years ago

Compassion fatigue is a term used for medical professionals who deal with emotional work routinely only their emotions don’t show.

It is often a veterinary team member who deals with terminal diagnoses, dropped-off or unwanted pets and euthanasias on a regular basis.

Many of these people bottle their emotions up inside with a “suck it up” attitude and they don’t have an outlet to let them back out.

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The “Muldy Pillow”

No family, friend or colleague to share them with.

No journal or blog to give life to words and feelings.

No sports or hobbies to allow the emotions to ride along on physical or creative release.

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Mulder loved nothing better than a classy box to hang out in

A resident during my 4th year Small Animal Medicine rotation was like that.

I had gone in to see a client and realized I was being asked to perform my first-ever euthanasia.

On a lovely, older, long-haired ginger cat.

The cat’s name was Tanya.

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Mulder Fyfe!

I remember going back to the interns and residents with tears in my eyes, thinking of my own long-haired ginger buddy in Bismarck, telling them the owner’s wishes for that morning.

This particular resident looked me in the eye and said, poker-faced, that I had to “get over it.”

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Muldy and I in Bismarck

I still remember how I felt that day before, during and after the appointment and how I didn’t bother holding the tears back as I injected the terminal solution into Tanya’s intra-venous catheter.

The resident didn’t grade me very well after that rotation and I didn’t care.

I have always wanted to be a good vet.

Maybe not the smartest, most intuitive, amazing, intellectual vet. Just a good one whose clients would know I cared about them and their pets.

I never minded sharing many tears over many goodbyes in my clinic.

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Not long after Mulder moved in with us 16 years ago

My feelings were right at the surface when I laid awake our final night in bed with Alistair, Mulder, UB and Loki.

I didn’t sleep a wink listening to Mulder’s sometimes-raspy breathing, knowing his cutaneous lymphoma had likely spread elsewhere.

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Mulder’s glorious winter hair coat in Bismarck a few years ago

 

I got up with him through the night when he got off the bed and helped him to the litter box where his kidneys spoke volumes.

Literally and figuratively.

I cried all night and in the morning when I told him all the things that needed to be said.

And I cried when I knew Alistair was off having his own time with our special friend.

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More “Muldy Pillow”

Mulder was unique for so many reasons and anyone who visited the Fyfe Farm remembered him.

Maybe for his raspy, incessant “MRAWWWWL” that he shouted frequently.

Maybe for the way he sat at (or laid on) the kitchen table even when we were having supper.

Or maybe for his ‘kiss pieces’ of bacon he would happily take from Alistair’s mouth regardless of who was watching.

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My breakfast-in-bed companions, Alistair, Mulder and Boomer (likely just after a kiss piece of bacon)…

He was a character from the moment he moved inside, a torn-up, scarred, sassy ragamuffin who I only fed because I didn’t want this beat-up stray dying with an empty stomach in our barn.

He followed his big brother, Oscar around, he smacked at my stepkids for no apparent reason, he head-butted us with an intensity that knocked us off balance, he tried opening door knobs with his front paws, he hunted voraciously, he tolerated our Siamese, Sport, who followed him everywhere, he groomed our arms as he purred if you rubbed his head and routinely drew blood with his intense, brittle tongue and he knew how to give as much love back as we could give him.

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Muldy-in-a-box

He hid in boxes and was first in line for soft food and he actually had a sense of humor.

When he first moved in with us he would lay at the top of our split level stairs and whack at our dressing gowns as we walked past him, almost sending us down the stairs.

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Purrrrrrrrrrrrr…

We would look down and he would be looking away, forepaws tucked neatly underneath his chest and then slowly look up at us as if to say, “What? You being clumsy again?”

Alistair didn’t believe a cat was capable of such coy plotting until the one time Mulder got his claw stuck in my robe and he was busted.

He never did it ever again and I’m smiling from the memory.

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Boomer, Loki and Mulder helping me study years ago in ND

As he got older we would often find him snuggled in bed next to Loki, our blind Boston Terrier grand-dog who lives with us.

They both claim innocence but we know the affection was real.

We know it because even Loki has been grieving the loss of Mulder the past few days.

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Even the Mulder & Loki golf club covers cuddle in bed!

And Mulder was one of my main muses as I wrote my books, keeping me company on the green couch behind me.

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Helping me write!

 

And the house is quiet and the order of who gets soft food first has changed and I don’t find clumps of orange hair around and nobody is swatting at my hand when I’m on the toilet and UB isn’t sure whose hairy ears to lick and we haven’t had bacon yet because we don’t want to face the no-kiss-piece situation and the freezer is becoming alarmingly full and it wasn’t his time and it isn’t fair and sometimes I just stop and remember and it hurts.

And I miss him.

And I’ve got this emptiness.

And I’m crying again. Because I don’t have compassion fatigue.

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I miss seeing these two cuddled up together.

And so, a few mornings ago, Special Agent Fox Mulder Fyfe laid in his dad’s lap and tears fell from my eyes as I sedated our magnificent little buddy.

His weight was down to just over 8 pounds, which was perhaps half of what Muldy in his prime had weighed.

His dignified, tough, amazing spirit deserved better and together, we gave it to him.

Like Harry. And Oscar. And Chorney before that.

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Mulder and his “sister”, Whitney a few years ago

And nothing is bottled up because that just isn’t healthy and I want to feel the pain because I know it means that I felt the love and joy that my relationships with these spirits gave me.

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Hanging around, Muldy style

Rest in peace, Mulder.

You were so loved. And you are so missed.

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Muldy and I a few months ago… xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Thankful For…

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Front door sunny day view

This post has absolutely nothing to do with the Thanksgiving holiday coming up.

And then, it has everything to do with it.

That wasn’t my intent this afternoon.

Its not really my style and we sometimes don’t even celebrate because Canadian Thanksgiving was last month and often we aren’t even together for the holiday.

Its because I’m thankful that Steve started.

There’s more to the story.

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HRH Sport Fyfe… “sorry about that!”

You see, I woke up at 5:38am to the sound of Sport, our Siamese cat, puking on our bedroom carpet.

I have always said I’d make a million bucks if I knew how to design an alarm clock that sounded like a cat barfing. Nothing gets me out of bed faster than that.

So it was a bit of an early, bleary start but the sun was out.

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Ahhhhh… its not Hawaii but it can be quite pretty here

My freshly tanned-in-Hawaii body got a shock last week when we suddenly got a frigid blast of winter. It was expected and all but, damn, it has been cold.

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Our creek is still open under the ice

Continuing on with my stellar morning, the big tractor’s battery was completely dead (surprise!) and I had to feed horses who are in separate pastures because 2 of them won’t cross the creek and its not like I can force them because they are kind of big so its obviously going to require me to bond with those damned square bales again.

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“I don’t want to get my hooves wet.”

If Steve starts.

Steve is our Ranger.

He is, at times, my savior.

If he starts.

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STEVE!

You see, the shit usually hits the fan when Alistair is on his 2 weeks of working in North Dakota.

Its at those times I need something like Steve to rely on.

That’s when I get tractors or trucks stuck or the hot water tank dies or horses founder or animals get sick or guinea pigs lose eyeballs or ferrets break their pelvises or Loki’s cornea gets ulcerated or there’s angry wasps getting caught in my hair stinging the bejeezus out of me.

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Me vs.. the wasps nest after the bastards got caught in my curly hair and stung me. A lot. Something had to be done and it had to be done with a big can of wasp spray.

Times like now when I know that disgusting deer leg is still on the driveway.

I’m not sure who dragged it home but every day its a battle to see which dog is going to get it.

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Cleo, today’s victor with the limb, getting away from the other dogs

Its gross but I’ve thrown it out twice now and both times garbage cans have been knocked over to retrieve it so I’m just letting them go with it.

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Casey usually wins the leg…

I’m especially allowing old Casey to have his fun.

He’s had a couple of weird episodes this past week where I’m not sure what was going on.

It seemed like none of his limbs would work.

He never lost consciousness but he did seem confused both times it happened and he either fell or slowly laid down for close to a minute.

Then he gets up and he’s good to go.

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Casey, 11 or 12 years ago

As a veterinarian, I’m thinking it could be little strokes or little seizure events, neither of which are good when they come on in a 13 year old Labrador.

As a Mummy, I’m totally freaking out.

But he has been fine the past few days so I’m trying to be fine.

And then Mulder’s sometimes-wheeze has really picked up the past week.

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Special Agent Fox Mulder Fyfe

To the point where it wakes me up and it sounds like he’s coughing up a wet lung.

The veterinarian in me thinks its a nasty return of his herpesvirus complicated by bacteria or it could really be something in his lungs because maybe he is sleeping a bit more lately.

The Mummy in me is panicking and feeling completely helpless that I can’t fix what is wrong.

But maybe the clindamycin I started is helping and maybe I can get to town where a friend can xray him for me.

And then Steve starts.

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clear crisp days to be thankful for

On a clear crisp morning when I simply must get hay to the horses in their various fields Steve fired right up.

Which I was so thankful for.

And then I came inside to put jeans on (square bales require leg contact for little girls and yoga pants just don’t cut it) and I got rummaging around in my old “farm jeans” pile and found a pair from about 10 years ago.

And they fit!

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Freaking happy about these old jeans!

The world can be falling apart around me but if an old pair of jeans fits and I didn’t have to lay on the bed to get them on and I can breathe comfortably wearing them, its a good day.

I’m not quite as vain as that but it did make me smile.

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Cleopatra “helping” with the hay bales this morning

And I got thinking of all the things I am truly thankful for while driving Steve and the hay bales out to the horses.

I’m so thankful we have all these merry misfit animal companions and that we have shared many wonderful years together.

Thankful that they seem to love us and want to be with us whenever they can, even if that means getting a king sized bed for everyone.

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Just a few years ago with Casey, Cleo and UB at the Dog Days of Summer (photo by Gary Kyrouac)

I’m thankful to even have sun-kissed skin from a wonderful recent vacation to the Hawaiian islands.

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Just over a week ago… how fortunate we are!

I’m thankful to have my education and brain to fall back on and keep me grounded when Casey, Mulder, Boomer and Loki might need it.

They need my sensibility more than I need to freak out so I have to be calm for them and try to figure out what they need.

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Doctor Mummy and Mulder

I’m very thankful that I had the patience and knowledge to work with little Loki’s seriously damaged cornea over the past few months.

Thankful for connections with talented veterinary friends who were able and willing to help when I wasn’t sure we would be keeping her eye.

Thankful that Loki lets me continue to put drops in and that finally, I do believe we are keeping the eye.

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Hope this doesn’t gross anyone out. This was a couple of weeks ago and it looks even better now. Not great, not pretty, but better.

I’m thankful for the support and encouragement from friends and family for my fun book that has been such a unique journey! Thankful for small bookstores who support first-time novelists and those of us who self publish.

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Dropping books off for consignment at Kona Stories on the Big Island of Hawai’i.

And I’m thankful for my amazing husband, Alistair, who somehow trusts me on this big farm with big machines and big responsibilities.

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Thankful for Alistair and Loki (a few years ago)

The fact he somehow believes the house will still be standing and we will hopefully all be alive when he returns every 2 weeks amazes me.

And fills me with love.

And happiness.

And gratitude.

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Just before our Blue Hawaiian experience on the Big Island, complete with extra frizzy hair thanks to the island air

So even if winter comes on suddenly or the tractor won’t start or the horses won’t cross the creek or that deer limb is still there or Sport barfs on the carpet or its so cold my face hurts or my boots leak or Alistair is in Bismarck, I’m still okay.

My jeans fit. I still have a bit of a tan.

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Aloha!

I’m alive and able to toss hay bales.

Amazon shows one more book sale over the weekend and I’ve started the sequel.

Alistair is only an email or a facetime away.

Casey, Loki, Mulder and the gang are all pain free and pretty happy.

And Steve.

Steve started.

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Its all good, right, Casey?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Every Thing

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As the glowing yellow orb of warmth and joy starts hanging around less and less each day and a crisp coolness creeps into the air, I am amazed yet again with the realization that summer is over.

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My neighborhood

There is frost on the ground one morning.

Then another.

And another.

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Pretty fall colors on the golf course

The leaves that were green become red, yellow, and orange and each year I am struck by how short the summer seemed and how I didn’t get to do all of things I wanted to do.

We didn’t get out on the boat once this summer.

We didn’t take the canoe out to lounge on a peaceful lake while one of us reads and the other “fishes”.

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Hard at work on the canoe

We haven’t hiked with the dogs because of Casey’s laryngeal paralysis and Alistair’s torn medial meniscus.

We haven’t explored the mountains surrounding us on horseback with Alistair’s knee and just the timing of things.

But, my goodness…

The things we did do.

There’s the book I completed and published and am now promoting.

I am in literary Heaven because people are enjoying the book.

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My first book signing at the beautiful Holland Lake Lodge (photo by Gary Kyrouac)

I hear so many different things in peoples’ voices when they share their thoughts on the book.

Surprise, from friends and colleagues who have only known me as a veterinarian.

Warm, happy relief from friends who have known I’ve wanted to write for years.

Shock, at times, that a self-published author can actually string words together with correct grammar and punctuation. Words that can create emotions as they are read. Words that can take you places.

I am so freaking happy its not even funny.

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Me. Freaking happy. (Photo by Gary Kyrouac)

I got to re-embrace the little community I live in this summer as so many people have thrown their support behind me even though I closed my veterinary clinic one full year ago. I removed a trustworthy place to have your concerns listened to, your animals cared for and your hands held and yet they continue to support me.

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The old clinic days with a good buddy, Moses

From the folks on the golf course, the gang at the Double Arrow Lodge who let me and Gary have a PR photo session, to my friend at Good Times who helped dress me, the community of Ovando gearing up for a book event, staff at the Grizzly Claw for organizing their upcoming event and to Christian at Holland Lake Lodge for agreeing to host my very first book signing ever… the friendship and encouragement is overwhelming.

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Holland Lake Lodge’s beautiful main seating area… perfect for my first book signing.

This summer I have been able to share laughter and smiles with people who have read my book.

Or are going to read my book.

Or want me to sign their book.

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Signing an as-yet-unread book for friends and former clients

I love hearing their thoughts about the future of the characters, their enjoyment of the relationships within and the particular moment they meet the character, Tabitha.

I won’t say any more about that, though. Its yours to explore.

Cindy, Lollie, Jessi, Lynn, Marty, Jackson, Merielle, Jill, Jill’s postman… what an adventure!

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Alistair on the 16th tee

We got out to golf a lot this summer.

A lot.

It was easier on Alistair’s knee than hiking or riding horses and its just been so enjoyable watching our games change and slowly improve.

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At Missoula’s Ranch Club golf course in the late summer sun

And I have bonded with our animal companions more than I could have imagined by having the time to be at home with them.

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Cleopatra… bonding with Mummy

Amazingly, Casey is still with us.

The goofy, jumpy, wiggly, ridiculous, clumsy black Labrador with the unilateral floppy laryngeal fold had a couple of scares on really hot days where he wouldn’t settle down and everything was getting swollen and I could hear the fold flopping as he panted and he started turning blue.

Yeah.

Blue.

Its not a color that makes veterinarians or Mummy’s very happy, I can assure you.

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Casey… our good old boy enjoying a peaceful moment in the sun

 

The cooler weather is a welcome relief for our old goofy boy.

Maybe not if he slams into you or me or blind Loki with her bad eye but it is amazing that Casey is still here to be such a pain in the ass.

And Loki right now, with her really bad corneal ulcer.

I’ve been able to spend the time to help her.

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Loki… SO not a fan of The Cone

I’m still not sure we’re going to save the eye but we’ve come this far and I’m going to keep trying.

Another special treat is that little Boomer is still with us.

Doing very well, in fact.

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Got grass?

She is tolerating her twice-daily methimazole and has even put some of her weight back on.

Not a lot, but enough to make Mummy, Daddy and Boom Boom happy.

This summer took me back to Bismarck to help with the hay and get my dental crowns taken care of.

While the latter isn’t something to focus on, the hay-making was great.

Even with New Neighbor nearly dying from the effort.

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Ahhh… those bales of summer

And now its time to talk about fall and the chilly mornings and the wood that needs to be cut and more book signings and starting a new book and keeping Loki’s eye and getting out to ride the horses and changing my golf attire just a tad.

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Adaptable and still fashionable, making par on the 14th hole at the Double Arrow golf course!

We’ve got a little propane heater rigged up in Norman and we’re toasty warm on a golf course that seems abandoned now that the summer people have left.

One more bonus to the end of summer.

The weather changes bring some outstanding scenery both in Montana and North Dakota. As I’ve said before, I am a lucky woman to know both places.

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North Dakota morning

So, goodbye Dear Summer and hello, Autumn.

An exciting month ahead where I will turn 42 and Alistair will turn a bit older than that and the golf course will be empty.

And some overdue Aloha.

Stay tuned for that one and think happy thoughts for Loki’s eyeball.

We think of her and Casey all of the time now with the addition of our golf buddies….

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Loki-Head and Casey-Head, keeping Mummy’s clubs protected and happy

Hey.

There’s always next summer.

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Canoe-view of Lake Upsata

Losing Boom

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“Hon, where’s Boomer?”

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For 18 and a half years, that has been a common phrase on the Fyfe Farm.

Even when she was a teensy, tiny, adorable kitten out on our farm in windy Watford City she would get lost.

In hay bales.

In the tack room.

Up in the rafters.

I would panic when we wouldn’t be able to find her. She was the runt of the litter and one of her siblings was particularly mean to the rest of them. I worried she would run little Boomer off the farm or not let her back in under cover.

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I didn’t have to worry for long, though.

Alistair went out one day when the gale-force winds were whipping horizontal snow and ice crystals around in a frigid, deadly blizzard.

The horses were fine.

4 of the kitties were fine. Boomer was right there next to her brother, Oscar. She wasn’t missing for once.

The hairy, big, mean kitten, however, was on the Ritchie water fountain, out in the blizzard.

Apparently she got her paws wet while drinking and ended up stuck, frozen to death, mid-leap off the fountain.

The other 4 kitties thrived after that.

Boomer and Oscar made the long move back to Canada and soon became Inside Cats.

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With Outdoor privileges of course.

And Boomer continued to get lost.

Inside closets.

Inside bedrooms.

Behind the wood pile.

She learned her name quickly, probably because I was always calling her. She also had the only “oooh” sound in her name back then which distinguished her from Oscar, Marshal, Shep, Chorney and Alistair.

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She actually has a little grey soul patch beneath her adorable puckered-up mouth.

It looks like she is saying “oooooh”.

Boomer and Oscar helped me get through my guilt and grief over the whole antifreeze-doesn’t-mix-well-with-cats thing.

I needed their comfort that year because so many things were happening that I couldn’t control.

Alistair moved back to ND soon after he started working as a Canadian physician so I was often by myself on a large farm with pregnant mares.

I had zero support and even faced some misplaced animosity as a figure skating coach in the little town I lived in.

It was the same town Alistair and his first wife lived in for many years and some of their old friends weren’t necessarily opening their arms to the new, young wife with her spandex and sequins and love of makeup.

Some friends, like Sue, Glenn, Patti, Shirley, Janie, Bill and Julie were wonderful, though.

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And the cats were wonderful, too.

Warm, loving, purring, fuzzy bodies to cuddle up with on never-ending lonely nights when my job wasn’t any fun anymore.

But I was able to join Alistair in the states again so we all moved to Hazen. Then to Bismarck. And now to Montana.

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Through all of these moves and all of these years, Boomer continued to get lost.

In the little closet the ferrets like to hide in.

In the basement.

In the garage.

As the feline Fyfes have aged they have recently begun to spend most of their days in the kitchen/sun room. Its one of my favorite rooms, too.

Even in the winter the sun shines brightly.

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There are 4 cat beds in there and I can generally find a cat, or a combination of cats, or UB or Loki in any of them at any given time.

Boom has been spending more and more time in those beds lately.

It began last fall when I realized she had lost some weight. She is a cat who has always been slim but in September she looked a bit gaunt.

Her thyroid was on overdrive so we started twice-daily pills.

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In the mornings I risk life and limb by scruffing her and tossing the tiny white pill down the hatch.

Usually it works. I still have all of my fingers.

At night its canned soft food for everyone, with a pill mashed up in Boomer’s dish.

She’s not our first cat with hyperthyroidism and she won’t be our last.

When we said our tearful goodbyes to Oscar back in January Boomer went into a bit of a slump.

A cat who used to lay in those beds with 1, 2, or 3 others now lays in them alone.

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Her companion since the time in their mama’s womb is forever gone and it made an impact on every single Fyfe in this house.

As much as this hurts to admit, I’m losing Boom.

It isn’t the amount of time she sleeps during the day- Hell, I’ll be doing much the same when I’m 90 or 100 years old.

Its the weight loss.

Her decreased grooming.

The way she almost shouts her meows at me when she wants her soft food.

Its seeing her petite, feminine, grey and white self just sitting at the water dish, staring at it.

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And the tenderness on her right side.

Where I thought I felt a lump, or maybe it was her liver, or maybe it was both.

Her thyroid is whacked, her kidneys are failing and maybe there’s a lump.

Like the one in my throat right now.

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But she eats and drinks without hesitation and keeps everything down.

She doesn’t limp, she isn’t jaundiced and she isn’t dehydrated.

Its tough right now because I’ve also noticed that Casey has a bad limp in the rear leg that still has hardware in it.

Loki seems to be losing her hearing, not realizing I’ve come home despite my boisterous “hey, Gangs” to them all sometimes.

And yet Loki seems quite content, if not a bit more clingy lately. I don’t mind the extra attention and snuggles. Maybe that’s one of the perks for her and I. And for her and UB, too.

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And Casey still leaps and jumps and runs and wiggles and plays and licks and bumps into me and knocks things over. All with his floppy larynx that remains one-sided.

And Boomer still enjoys being held, gently, while I dance with her like I have done for 18 years.

And she continues to enjoy her sleep-in-morning special brunch dates with Mulder, Loki, Mummy and Daddy where everyone gets bacon.

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I advise clients to think about what is important for them as individuals and families when the question, “When is it Time?” comes up.

Its different for everyone.

For me, I want to be able to recognize and share love with friends and family.

I would like to be free from pain.

I’d like to be able to put my makeup on. Its vain but true.

I’d also like to be able to lift a glass of red wine to my lips and enjoy its taste.

I want these same types of things for my animal companions, albeit without the mascara.

The time may come soon when Boomer won’t let me groom the matts from her delicate hair. Or she won’t prance into the room with the guinea pigs and chat with me. Or she won’t head butt me, or Facetime-Bomb every single person I chat with. Or she won’t want her soft food or some of my chicken.

It would be akin to Casey not wanting to goof around and jump and play.

And Loki not wanting to be with me.

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I will find strength from somewhere because I have to and because I love them and because I owe it to them.

They have all given me so much.

And I will give them beautiful, dignified deaths.

Not today. Not tomorrow.

Not next week.

But soon I will lose my Boom.

She won’t be lost, though. She will be in many different places like she has been all of her life.

In her photos.

In my memory.

In my heart.

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