Here it is, another last-minute roundup of things that I was doing this year or that were happening when I wasn’t publishing here, which was essentially the entire year minus two days, including this one.
Teddy Bear passed away at the end of June.
In April, he began seizing on our walks in front of a neighbor’s house, always in front of that specific house. I leapt to the frighteningly dysregulated conclusion that these neighbors were doing something to trigger his seizures (which were otherwise well-managed with medication)–that they had some kind of anti-dog sonic device or were spraying a chemical on or near the sidewalk or something that was hurting my boy, and I was ready to fight them immediately. It was significantly easier to get angry and feel like it was a situation I could control than acknowledge that his time with us was coming to an end. Yes, our walks were more often ending with us needing to carry him the rest of the way home because he was tuckered out, but I reasoned it was a matter of overexertion, what with all the joyful barking at the world for the first couple blocks and the frenzied challenging of any dog he saw or heard on the way. He simply didn’t save enough energy for walking! We’re just getting closer to the day where we might need to take him out in a stroller, is all. IS ALL, because we definitely aren’t going to lose him any time soon! Sure, he was losing his vision and his hearing and had already lost most of his teeth and his internal clock was getting wonky, but he was still well-muscled and brimming with enthusiasm for life.
And then my little boy started collapsing when going to the bathroom (situational syncope) and some bodily mechanism in these collapses immediately triggered seizures afterward. Seizures always left him so tired (his previous owner said the vet explained it to her that the effect on his body was as if he’d run a marathon) and now that they were occurring so frequently and unavoidably (you try holding your bladder forever!), he didn’t have time to really recover before the next one. He lost interest in eating on his last day–I fed him the first ripe raspberry off the bush we’d been calling Teddy Bear’s bush, but he didn’t want anything else. We were still waiting on the results of some blood tests when he died, which was another thing to feel anger over, as if the results had been snappier, then the outcome would have changed, and my fluffy stationmaster would still be here announcing the arrival of dinnertime. It’s easier to be mad at the vet for overpromising and underdelivering than to grieve. But when I spoke with the vet in the aftermath, there was nothing in the test results to indicate we could have made any intervention that would have made a difference, and that if he’d lived through the weekend, his life going forward would’ve been a repeating pattern of collapse/seizure/exhaustion, which is no quality of life whatsoever.
He made it to roughly 16 (his exact DOB was unknown) which is a full lifespan for a Pomeranian, and in that way it feels selfish and disconnected from reality to want more. We were lucky to have the time we did with him, considering he was initially supposed to be our houseguest for only a few weeks! But the heart’s wants aren’t boundaried by the limits of what’s possible or rational, and still today I yearn to kiss his soft cheek or the little divot on his forehead, to hold him on my shoulder and tell him I love him. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting it.
I have tried to honor his memory in the best ways I know. I displayed a tombstone in the yard for Halloween next to a life size diorama of his fondest dream, a dog chasing a person up the tree and then barking into eternity. I also butchered some paintings in photoshop to commemorate his attitude whenever he sat astride the recliner arm and faced out the window, titled: “TO WAR! They are as yet upon our sidewalk.”
I had a hand in planning my boarding barn’s annual summer solstice party this year: making the signs/flyers, rounding up entertainment, setup, etc. The weather was perfect, the cotton candy machine was a hit as always, and I even set up a little booth for my business with a “dog refreshment zone”. It was a blast hanging out with my barn family and the only disappointment was that it conflicted with, like, the one other social event I wanted to attend this summer. I even walked away with an embarrassment of prizes including a one night stay at The Trippy Treehouse (which absolutely deserves its own post) and a PEMF treatment for Navi, which I have yet to redeem. It seems like Navi is also a music lover because she would come up to the gate and listen whenever a band was playing and walk away when they were done, which shows more courtesy than most bar audiences ever manage.
Horses, of courses
I had another horse-filled year this year! I’m still working at the horse farm and still enjoying it, especially now that my body has acclimated to the level of physical fitness required. (I look forward to achieving the level of fitness where I have the energy to do something before AND after work, and maybe 2024 is that year.) It’s such a pleasure and a privilege to have the opportunity to handle and observe so many different and interesting horses. I get paid to closely observe horses, is this real life?
In July, I went to horse camp hosted by Kathy Sierra on one of the San Juans. Her training philosophy, backed up by science principles, is centered in the horse finding its intrinsic motivation for movement, the spirit that makes them want to show off and put forth effort, in order to create horses who are “anti-fragile”. Meanwhile, my fragile ass could only handle one night in my suffocatingly tiny tent before calling it quits and taking the ferry back the next evening to sleep at my friend’s place in Anacortes. But I don’t want to boil this entire experience down to “tent woes, couldn’t sleep, wah” because this experience was so cool! I learned a lot and I met so many wonderful people from all around the world. I’d love to come back next year, but with a camper trailer so I can bring Navi. This also absolutely deserves its own post and maybe that’ll happen in 2024, but I did put together a short video.
In addition to my Xena cosplay, I had a couple more fun dress-up days with Navi this year.
Navi got involved in (instigated?) a fight with another mare in August and ended up with cuts on three out of four legs, one deep enough on her shoulder to require stitches, and some pretty gnarly bruises. I made some (de)motivational posters for her to ponder while she was stuck on paddock rest with no turn out.
In November, I bought Navi a programmable pellet feeder. This was important to me because food has always been important to her, and it’s my belief that at least some of the urgency with which she eats is tied to those stretches of time between hay feedings when she’s got nothing. I’ve got it set to dispense a small amount of feed every couple of hours with the hopes that this will support her digestive system and thus her nervous system. It’s been just over a month and already I’m seeing signs in her expressions, body language, and behavior that indicate to me the feeder is helping her. And I think it’s also inadvertently teaching her time–whenever I’d bring her back from an outing, she would initially beeline into her shed to check the tub for pellets. Now sometimes I bring her back and she doesn’t bother, and if I go check, it’s empty. She knows the schedule and time of day better than I do.
My brother and sister-in-law had a baby this year so I’m officially auntie Melissa. I wanted to attend the baby shower but covid boned that up so I didn’t. No photos or name incoming, because this baby is too small and precious to be tied forever on the internet to this blog and all the garbage I’ve spewed out over the past nearly twenty years.
My dad came out to visit at the end of September for a long weekend. We went on a lot of nice walks, he got to meet Navi, and I introduced him to a lot of my favorite food places and to his new favorite sandwich, the banh mi.
–went to the corgi picnic
-“graduated” from therapy (would you believe they don’t give you a certificate, I have to, like, PROVE it with my behavior or some shit???)
–continued to be really into dance workouts
–set up Halloween inside the garage
The End: of Patreon
George RR Martin said, “I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house…they have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed, and water it. …But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows.”
George is a gardener and unfortunately, so am I. I don’t pretend anyone has ever panted for my writing the way they were thirsting for new Song of Ice & Fire books in 2014, but also George isn’t charging anyone on a monthly basis to deliver nothing. Can you even imagine the feverous outcry if he tried? The fans’ rage spittle would be flecked with blood as they shouted insults at him in the street! I haven’t stopped writing, but my process is slow, particularly so because the topics on which I feel drawn to write are complex; I want to feel confident that what I have to say is well-researched and worthwhile, does not strip out nuance, and flows between connection points naturally. Which means that I will often write several thousand words and then get stuck until inspiration strikes about a way to restructure. But month after month of delivering nothing new has left me feeling increasingly guilty, especially since it seems like everyone’s in the subscription game, everyone’s budget is tightening, and there’s no way I can offer the value that people can get for their money elsewhere. So when the patreon plugin for wordpress announced they were increasing their prices to align with those of other “premium plugins” and that annual fee would slurp up 100% of what I was currently taking in on Patreon, it was the final nail in the coffin. I’m using the funds I’ve collected to keep the website up; if there are any patrons who feel disappointed about what you’ve received for your money, please reach out because I’d much rather refund you than leave you feeling cheated.