Friday, April 18, 2014

One Day In April On The Coast Of Maine

I took a short road trip when I took Olivia to Rockland on Wednesday, as I had a few hours to spend alone with my new camera (a birthday gift from Alex). Just a short drive from Rockland is the stunning St. George peninsula, so I moseyed my way down the twisting roads into the villages of Tenants Harbor and Port Clyde. It was a good stress reliever to get out and see Maine's beauty on a clear April day and I felt like I had all of it to myself, too. I think I saw one person riding out to their lobster boat, and one storekeeper, and that was it, save the few cars that I passed in my to and from. It was so quiet and blue and fresh, and I breathed in and out and let myself feel transported. It's amazing how just taking a few turns down a road in Maine can leave you with the feeling that you've stumbled onto some otherworldly place, existing only for you, in that blip in time and you're not entirely certain it doesn't wink out the second you turn your back on it. It is magical.

Tenants Harbor

tethered

birds of Tenants Harbor

lobster pound and seagulls

beautiful afternoon

buoy

lobster boat

Port Clyde

boats

Saint George

lighthouse

Rockland

Monday, April 14, 2014

Annabelle

Trigger Warning for pet/animal illness, disability, death, grief, trauma, and loss.




Claudia, Beatrice, and Annabelle. #guineapig #cavy

fluffed Annabelle

Adam loves Annabelle

In my recent post about our guinea pigs, I mentioned that our sweet, satin-haired, guinea pig Annabelle had been ill since January. While it turned out that she did not have cancer, she never fully recovered from her injured leg, or so it seemed. Annabelle was, however, mostly immobile, and her back legs and back became more hunched and tense in these last few months. We did our best to keep Annabelle comfortable and happy, well-fed and entertained. She even got to meet Claudia last week. But with her increasing disability, she became clearly uncomfortable. She could not clean herself (which presents a whole set of other problems for guinea pigs), she was mostly unable to walk, and she could not live with another guinea pig.

Then last week, she started to decline even more. So we made the extremely hard decision on Thursday, after a morning of somber cuddling, and after a two hour drive to our wonderful vet, and after a long, difficult discussion about Annabelle's apparent muscular degeneration or dystrophy, (the x-rays showed that her leg had healed completely, but now her knees were completely inflamed), we decided to say goodbye to her. As incredibly painful that decision was to make, we felt it was the appropriate one given the level of pain she must have been in.

saying goodbye

poor love

I stayed with her the entire time and held her against my heart and I rocked her like I rocked my children, crying our love to her.

We all miss her wheeks and rumbles and piggy smile and sweet nature. She was a little animal, but she has left oh, such an enormous hole in our hearts.

Goodbye, Sweet Annabelle. You were so, so loved.

Annabelle really enjoys parsley #guineapig #cavy

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Celebrating Sensibilities At Forty-Three

After what turned out to be a rather anxious and frustrating week (hey folks, this sandwich generation stuff is totally not for the faint of heart!) there was a distinct possibility that I was going to feel my 43rd birthday in a major way. Turns out yes, I did feel it, but not in a morose way. Like, not at all moody. Not even a smidge. If anything, I feel the most content and happy with myself and my relationships with my husband and children and with my place in the world, than ever.

But you can't expect me to not burst into tears when you bestow precious, enormously, thoughtful, generous things upon me. It's just not going to happen. My husband, Alex, knows me. He gets all my quirks and my sensory needs. As do my children. So everything they gave me tapped into some sensual side of myself, my need for beautiful sights and sounds, my need to observe and chronicle, my need for adventure and escape. Every gift was deeply personal and so, well, tears. Sobbing, really. I think at one point I wailed, "why are you doing this to me?"

Alex and the teens made a delicious brunch and the sun was shining, which was extra nice. And then I tore through gorgeous paper and Washi tape and the tears came. I was loved. Am loved. I am being loved, adored and cherished. More than that, they see me. And that, by far, is the best gift anyone could have.

good eats

finally spring

prettiness

a weekend away with my love

Lobster Tail pastry from Holy Canoli!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Guinea Pig Update

Annabelle, you are so ridiculously adorable. #guineapig #cavy #cute

One of the difficult things about this past winter was that our darling guinea pig, Annabelle, was ill. One day in early January, we noticed that she was barely eating or moving and that she was in obvious distress, but we could not see anything wrong with her. Still, knowing how quickly guinea pigs can decline, we rushed her to our wonderful vet, nearly two hours away. After a lengthy and puzzling exam, we all began to notice swelling on her right haunch. Two x-rays later, we were told that Annabelle likely had osteosarcoma, a rare (especially for a guinea pig not even four years old) and aggressive bone cancer and that our time with her was limited. The cancer had broken her leg bone in two places. Our kind vet said she would consult the other vet in the coming days, but encouraged us to return home with Annabelle and say our goodbyes and come back a week later to have Annabelle euthanized, as there was not any reasonable treatment that would help her.

We were heartbroken, of course, and so we did just that - we took her home, administered her pain medications and water by dropper, and made her as comfortable as possible.

Our sweet, little Annabelle. We'll see what today brings. #fuckcancer

Probably due to her pain meds and much needed water, she began to perk up. And she began eating. Not just eating, but eating everything. She was alert and seemed her usual, content self. So I called the second vet, the one with the most guinea pig experience, and spoke to her. She said that she didn't think Annabelle had osteosarcoma (again, a very rare cancer for guinea pigs) and she certainly didn't need put down. Our vet said she thought that yes, her leg was broken, but the mass seen on the x-ray was most likely tissue forming around the break, and that Annabelle's body was trying to repair the injury. Why was her leg broken? We have no idea. Guinea pigs have tiny, toothpick-like bones and they are easily injured. Sometimes all it takes is tripping on a toy or catching the foot under a food bowl or house to cause injury. Another, larger guinea pig (her roommate Beatrice) might have stepped on her leg. All we know is that there must have been some accident. The vet mentioned Vitamin C deficiency, which is certainly a concern with guinea pigs, but as ours eat two fresh salads a day and have loads of veggie snacks in between, we're not convinced that was the issue. However it happened, it happened.

delicious, much wheeked-for morning salad #cavy #guineapigs

So for the rest of January, Annabelle was on pain meds and an antibiotic. We gave her her own habitat away from Beatrice, first dividing their pen, and then later we moved Annabelle to her own space. Both were sad, but less so when they couldn't see each other. If they could see each other, Beatrice would pine for Annabelle, and Annabelle just became agitated. Poor dears. We hated to separate them, but it was necessary.

Guinea pig update: Annabelle got a second opinion and the vet doesn't think she has osteosarcoma. Instead, Annabelle suffered a break in her right leg, either from some unknown injury or possibly too little vitamin C, and the cloudy mass on the x-ray was

Beatrice was sad for about a week, not realizing we think, that Annabelle was still here, but separated from her. Since she discovered that her friend is still here, but partitioned off so Annabelle can heal, Beatrice has taken to sleeping as close to Ann

Meanwhile, we heaped extra attention on both. While the teens changed the guinea pigs' bedding every morning and evening, Beatrice got to have a run around the den, which is one of her favorite things to do (and it's hilarious for her spectators, as she seems to run on her tip-toes.)

Beatrice sighting. #guineapig

Oh you know, just watching the Olympics.

Good morning, Beatrice.

Annabelle has recovered and does not have cancer, though she is still stiff and not anywhere as mobile as she once was, unfortunately. This also means she and Beatrice still have to live apart, as we do not want Beatrice to accidentally hurt Annabelle with her uh, enthusiasm.

Annabelle

And that's how things were until last week. We had two middle-aged guinea pigs living in separate habitats, who occasionally saw each other through a partition in the play pen.

Then last Wednesday, a friend let me know about a mutual friend who needed to rehome a guinea pig because the mutual friend's son seemed to be having a severe allergic reaction to it. They had only had her for a ten days or so and hated to do it, but were really hoping to find someone to take the guinea pig instead of returning her to the shelter. So because it was a friend, and because we knew she was in a tough situation, and because it had already been a completely random day involving high winds and a 911 call to the fire department to come look at our wood stove because smoke was filling the house (everything is fine, there was no chimney fire, it was the wind that had knocked the pipe loose from the wall and now the cats hate me for stuffing them into duffel bags to evacuate them from a potentially burning house), we found ourselves on country roads to meet a friend about a guinea pig.

So this is happening. Kids & pets are out & safe.

Meet Claudia Rose. She came with the pretty name "Rosa", but we wanted our own spin on her name, so now we have A, B, C. Annabelle, Beatrice and Claudia.

Since today was Random Day, why not adopt a third guinea pig from a friend in need? Welcome home, Claudia Rose, you are very sweet.

who's there?

she's unimpressed by me

pear shaped

jolly good day

sunshine

cuddles with Claudia #guineapig #cavy

She is very sweet, though shy, as she is still getting to know us. Annabelle is back living next to Beatrice is a divided habitat (which seems to be alright for now) and Claudia has her own cage until her quarantine is over. We were told that she is 8-months old. She has pretty, dark eyes, is soft and lets us pet her and pick her up. And look at that little guinea pig tush! Weirdly, she only eats hay, pellets and carrot. Nothing else. We always offer greens, but so far, she has not taken us up on our salads. I hope that someday when we have an actual spring, she will find dandelion and clover irresistible. Meanwhile, we are crossing fingers that it is her carrot diet that has made her plump and that she wasn't adopted from the shelter, pregnant. Yikes. (Not so much because extra guinea pigs, though obviously that's not desirable, but because pregnancy and birth for guinea pigs past six months is potentially dangerous if not impossible because their pelvic bones fuse together.) We will simply have to wait and see and hope that she begins to like greens.

When Claudia's quarantine ends in a couple of weeks, we'll introduce her to Annabelle and Beatrice. Our hope is that Beatrice and Claudia will be able to be roommates. Until then, we are doing our best to make Claudia feel at home, and we're thinking we need to build an addition just for guinea pigs. I kid (haha, not really! For such small pets, they require a significant amount of supplies and space.)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Easter Symbols, Indeed

We did it. We survived, maybe even thrived. Winter is done with, at least the vernal equinox says so. Yes, the landscape is still white, there's still inches and inches of ice on the pond and mud season is in full-swing. But winter itself is officially over.

Mud Season: The season that comes before Black Fly Season. #maine #farmlife

This winter was full of adjustments, growing pains, and truthfully, anxiety about how and if this transition to the farm is working out. But we kept planning, kept working, made lists, ordered seeds and trees, ordered chicks, and suddenly it is truly and actually spring. We feel as committed and passionate about our goals here, as ever, maybe more, after slugging through the highs and lows of the coldest season. Winter outside, here on the farm, is stunning. No complaints there, I'm still a fan of winter. Inside, with the house often in various stages of renovation, with two teens, an 80-year old, and two 40-somethings, one of which works from home full-time, well, it's no wonder we skidded across some black ice.

As we celebrated Easter, today, we had a heightened sense of rebirth and renewal. The colors seemed more saturated. The usually utilitarian kitchen felt pretty and even elegant. We ate deviled eggs and the cake the teens decided to make in the afternoon, and we listened to the March wind send slush crashing off the roof.

And we exhaled.

Blessed Easter! #secularpagan #vernalequinox #ostara

chicken figure

wee chicken

Easter

Olivia's egg

Adam's egg

corner of my kitchen

books for Easter

Eostar

Lilies, Rabbits, and Painted Eggs

egg basket

"Look at all these sweets we got for Easter! Let's make a cake!" - My Children #fromourkitchen #unschooling #teens #easter

We were comforted in the rituals of Spring, in the abundant cheerfulness of our collected things, and in our gifts of sweetness to each other. Winter is good and done and Spring holds immense promise.

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