Sunday, 27 March 2016

Glowing Lichen Rocks

More lichens, you say? Ahhh, yes. Roundular ones.

These lichen "rocks" are made from translucent paper. They are approximately 11cm across and 8 cm high. A LED "candle" inside makes them flicker and glow. 

Number 1:

Number 2:

Monday, 21 March 2016

Woman With A Black Dog

I have been a woman-with-a-black-dog for nearly 9 years. The black dog was Milly, a labradoodle. Admittedly, she got silver over the years, but so did I.

She was a very keen observer; she recognized patterns of behaviour and liked consistency. We heard once that dogs are anthropologists: this fit. She was very sensitive to any activities that looked remotely like packing. She was relieved somewhat when she saw her things being packed too: glad she was going along; worried about what new thing her people were doing (she looked around a Motel 6 in Fargo, Minnesota and gave us a withering and questioning look, "Is THIS our new home?"). She knew Sundays by the baking of scones; it was her right to clean off the pan. She knew lunch meant a sliver of cheese. She could hear a ziplock bag of pfeffernüsse being opened from 100 feet away. She knew that if I received a phone call or a text later in the afternoon, it was a sign that Roger was on his way home. She was not the best judge of time though, and would get excited too early. 

She was bright. This did not make teaching her things easier. She questioned most skills we tried to encourage in a "Why would I need to do that?" kind of way. Despite her brilliance (so I am biased) she was not that good with vocabulary. She had her own vocalizations that ranged from barking, to singing, to sounds that were nearly speech-like.

She liked to embarrass us when we were out walking. She had opinions about leaving the house, a) if someone was still at home, or b) if she thought you didn't know where you were going (as caregivers found out) and she would abruptly dig in her heels and sit down. We had to convince her to proceed. We were never sure what she would do when we passed other dogs: ignore or lunge. Could go either way.

She was uneasy in new locations. When we moved and started to explore our new neighbourhood, she was tense and super alert. She continuously looked back over her shoulder as we walked, like we weren't to be trusted and someone had to have a game plan to find home again. Once she programmed her GPS all was well.

She was more city than country, if our 2 weeks camping in a pasture in SK are any indication; more inclined to inside than out. That said, the image of her bouncing through the tall grass in the pasture will be with me forever.

She loved her people without reserve. The more the merrier. She recognized anyone she had sniffed before. Everyone received a warm welcome at the door, even the not-into-dogs people. OK, that wasn't a good thing. She preferred addition -- people coming in the door -- to subtraction -- people leaving, especially people who stayed for night. She preferred people to dogs. Her heaven is not a dog park.

Milly came to us on May 14, 2007. Born on January  27, she was 4 1/2 months old. She was healthy until she wasn't. Two years ago some routine pre-dental blood work revealed a liver in uproar. There was nothing about her presentation that would have given anyone a clue. We were able to maintain a semblance of health with meds. Then a few months ago her pancreas went into crisis. This one showed because Milly lost weight, but it did not affect her demeanour. Again, we could get things turned around with meds. The final blow, again completely masked by a dog who was energetic and behaviourally normal in the Milly way, was more advanced auto-immune problems that could not be overcome. Milly passed away on March 18. She was 9 years old.

I am no longer a woman-with-a-black-dog. I can't believe it.