Friday Feathers: The Birds of Spring

First, a solemn fellow or two. Or proof that life is fucking disappointing, because whenever in  a fantasy novel a crow or raven lands in front of you they have a message from some overlord or lady that sends you off on an interesting quest. All I got was being croaked at.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Jacks Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s a cold and gloomy day here with drizzly rain and lots of mud. Jack doesn’t seem to mind, but I’m finding it a bit grim. Everything looks so dirty. The sidewalks are coated with gritty sand, the grass is grey and the landscape is devoid of colour. I tried to keep a cheerful outlook thinking perhaps I could find a few snowdrops or an early hyacinth, but nope, I could not find any flowers today. I did find a pretty piece of turkey tail fungus, though, pretending to be a flower. It will have to do until the real thing comes along.

Jack’s Walk

Cedar Creek. Looks nice, but smells bad ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack is a water dog by nature. He’s happiest when his feet are wet and I usually don’t mind if he takes a dip when we’re out. Today, though, he dipped into the creek at our local park and came out smelling like a sewer. The smell was so bad that I was gagging while trying to dry him off. Shit. Literally. He smelled like shit and then he started rubbing up against me to dry himself off.

So now I have a situation on my hands. I can’t take him home like that, I don’t have more towels and now I smell like a sewer too. Also, we’d only been in the park for a few minutes and Jack was still full of energy and not ready to leave. It took 2 cookies to get him into the car and he was dramatically mopey about it, grumbling as he went to sit on his bed in the back. Now the smell is concentrated inside the car and it’s me who doesn’t want to get in, but I do even though no-one offered me a cookie. I need clean water and there’s no choice but to drive there. Thankfully, it’s a short drive because even with all the windows down and a stiff north wind blowing through the smell drifted past me in waves. I think I caught notes of decomposition and fish in the aroma. We finally arrive at park #2 where there is a small fowl and foul free pond and Jack was a good boy and jumped right in. We stayed for about half an hour and Jack spent most of that time in the water. He came out smelling like a normal wet dog and he was so tired he got into the car with no fuss. The dog bed will need a wash and I took my clothes right down to the laundry, but that’s not a bad deal for so much dog happiness.

Foul Free and having fun ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

Hens and Chicks ©voyager, all rights reserved

I found my first growing thing of spring today. It’s a brave little hens and chicks lured out of its nest by the bright spring sun. Too bad for the little hen, though, that it’s still bloody cold. The high today was +5º, but there’s a bitter north wind blowing making it feel more like minus 5 instead. It’s supposed to get up to +11º by the end of the week, but then dip back down to zero again for a few more days. Sigh. Is it just me, or is spring taking a bit too long to get here this year?

Jack’s Walk

Is that tree looking fuzzy or are my glasses dirty? ©voyager, all rights reserved

That tree is looking fuzzy with teeny, tiny baby buds ©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s a wonderful day in my corner of the world. There’s a bit of a north wind keeping things cold, but the sun finally decided to visit and it gifted us with a brilliant blue sky. I can hear birds twittering and the air is filled with that earthy smell of spring. It’s a day full of treats for the senses and I am loving the feel of sunshine on my face. Jack is also in excellent spirits and has a bit of extra bounce in his step. I might be a bit bouncy myself. We had a lovely walk all around the neighbourhood and we sang our silly songs and talked about rabbits and the trees.

A small Blogversary

The first published photo of Jack on his daily walk. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Woo-Hoo! A year ago today the first Jack’s Walk was published and I can hardly believe that Jack and I have made it through an entire year of blogging. When I proposed the idea to Caine I had 3 goals in mind. The first was to help a friend, the second was to create a place where you could take a deep breath and forget the troubled world for a minute and the third was to not embarrass myself and I’m pretty sure I hit all three marks. Well, there have been a few slip ups, but nothing that really makes me hang my head in shame.

You have no idea how absolutely amazing this is for me. I don’t talk much about it, but I have a condition called fibromyalgia that affects every area of my life. When I was first sick I was mostly confined to bed with generalized pain, stiffness and exhaustion. I was intolerant of light and sound and couldn’t watch TV or listen to the radio. I also couldn’t think straight or concentrate and I lost the ability to read. There were also a host of other symptoms that seemed to change day by day and sometimes hour by hour. Depression set in and I stopped caring. I stayed in that bed in a dark room for years, lost to myself and withdrawn from the world.

Now, briefly, let me tell you about myself before fibromyalgia. I was an RN working in community health as a Case Manager. The job was complex and involved co-ordinating multiple services for complex and continuing care at home. I loved it and I was good at it. Good at talking to people. Good at organizing, multi-tasking and finding creative solutions to difficult problems. I had taken a winding road to becoming a nurse and when it finally happened at the age of 30 I knew I’d finally found my path in life. When I finally found Case Management I knew I had found my home. The work was never the same 2 days in a row and I was given courses in Palliative Care, Geriatric Psychiatry and Wound care. I was curious, I loved learning and, on a more personal level, I was a bookworm. I read 2 or 3 books a week, every week.  If I was on vacation I could read a book a day. Sometimes I read more than one book at a time. Often a fiction and a non-fiction and I moved back and forth without thinking about it. Then, I got sick and it all fell apart.

A few years ago I found a new pain specialist, a young woman with an open mind and a great attitude. She changed my meds around, lowered my narcotics, increased other meds like Lyrica and wrote me a prescription for marijuana. She began injections of lidocaine into my spine and neck. She connected me with therapy in a pool heated to 94 degrees. At her suggestion I got a dog and began walking. That dog was Lucy and it was her love and care that finally got me out of that bed. Slowly and gradually my life began again. Different than before, but good. Very good after so long of very bad.

Those many years in bed I discovered blogs. The first blog I ever read was Pharyngula when it was still over at Science Blogs and I quickly became a fan. Then, when PZ moved over to Freethought Blogs I followed him and discovered a whole set of other great writers whose work I enjoyed. One of those other writers was Caine at Affinity and it quickly became my favourite place to hang out. I lurked for years before I finally had the confidence to comment, but once I did join in I was quickly made to feel welcome by Caine and her commentariat. It was like hanging out with the cool kids. I was never a cool kid, but suddenly there I was communicating with talented writers and artists and they were welcoming to me. I really don’t know what possessed me to offer my help when Caine set out the offer to contribute. I’m not a writer, not an artist, not a photographer and although I play at all those things I wouldn’t define myself by any them.

So when I started blogging I had no idea if I could do it, never mind do it every day. I was worried that I wouldn’t have the stamina or that my brain would sieze up or that I’d run out of ideas. Caine was around though. So was Charly. And so was the entire Affinity community who rooted for me. I had found another home and it was nice. Then Caine died and suddenly everything changed. By then Giliell had joined Charly and I on the blogroll and when we were offerred to carry-on Affinity on our own I had a moment of panic. Suddenly I wasn’t just a contributor, I was part of a 3 person team and things got real, real fast. I only ever considered taking it on because of Giliell and Charly. I knew they were good and I knew I could count on them. The rest of it was like stepping off a building with no safety net. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a struggle. Lots of days it is. My brain still doesn’t work right and I still struggle with overstimulation. I still get exhausted and I still have pain and I still have bad days and bad weeks. Lots of days I blog from bed. Lots of days I struggle to write a sentence, but I keep trying and I keep showing up. This place called Affinity is important to me. You are all important to me. You are all the coolest kids and your talents and willingness to share humble me.

It’s been a year of flying by the seat of my pants and I’m hoping the next year will be a bit easier now that I’ve learned the basics and a few organizational tricks. I have ideas and things I want to accomplish and maybe this next year I’ll find the energy to explore some of that, but even if I don’t Jack’s Walk will stick around. We both thank all of you for sticking around with us.

Jack’s Walk

Melt, dammit! ©voyager, all rights reserved

Sorry to be late posting our walk today, but I spent the afternoon at my dentist’s office waiting for him to squeeze me in. It seems I’ve developed an abscess in a lower tooth that’s going to require a root canal, but first I’ll need to take a course of antibiotics. Ugh. The day itself was a bit grim as well with gloomy, overcast skies and a bitterly cold north wind. It even started to snow a few times, but thankfully only a few brief flakes that didn’t last. I feel like it’s Groundhog Day and winter is stuck on repeat. Again, Ugh.

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Nature is full of art. This small bunch of desiccated leaves fascinated me today. I thought it looked a bit like a coat of arms, complete with a lion’s head and spear. Jack postulated that it was the Royal Seal of the Faerie Kingdom, but Jack has an active imagination so who knows. What do you see?

Jack’s Walk

The First Day of Spring ©voyager, all rights reserved

Happy First Day of Spring, everyone. Yesterday was a bit of a melting day around here and early this morning the pond at the park was almost completely open water. By the end of the day I expect any remaining ice will be gone. Best of All? It might be a bit hard to see, but the willow trees are starting to look fuzzy with early buds. The willows are the first trees at the park to get leaves and I could jump up and down with excitement that I can actually see some promise of green. It was quite overcast when Jack and I were out, but the sun is shining now and it’s warm enough to even feel like a fine spring day. I hope all of you are having a fine first of spring day, too.

A Spider Puzzle

Avalus has sent us a puzzle today. Somewhere in this photo there’s a spider. Since the spider is hard to find  I’m going to put the photo on the front page. If you’re arachnophobic please skip past this post, but if you’re not can you find the spider? The answer is below the fold. (click for full size)

Where is the Spider? ©Avalus, all rights reserved

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