Friday, September 14, 2018

ROBBLOG #738- Rough

So, how am I doing?

I am hanging in there.
So's the Mister.
It's been a rough week as the previous two blogs suggest.

Still thinking that it is so surreal that my Cousin Judy is not on this earthly plane anymore. Every now and then I think- I must call Judy.
My head spins and reality sets in.

The next minute I look at our Missy's empty basket, a toy, her leash or her sweater and the tears flow.
Is it getting better?
In small bits.

Neighbours and friends have been great. E-mails, cards, flowers, words of wisdom.
We've had company over the past week and that has both helped and hindered.
It helped Tom and I by taking our minds off our troubles. It also delayed our mourning somewhat as well as Missy's passing.
Life goes on.
A corny line at best...but it does and will for us. I think- once we have Missy's ashes back, we'll feel a little better.
I think...

My Cousin's Celebration of Live is in November and you know what? I may not go.
I am still working through that. For one thing, it's along way to go to be sad for a couple of hours. For another, I'm just not ready to head back to Orillia. It's taken me months to get over leaving "old home" and I don't want to start all over again.
Maybe you can understand that.
Maybe not.
Doesn't matter. It's my decision.
Life is falling into place here on our Island and for now I want to hold that steady as we head forward into the future.

You know how things seem to happen in three's?
My Sister had to go into hospital a few days ago. A major operation.
More worry and concern but she came through and I have had a chance to talk with her back in "old home".
She sounds good.
She sounds relieved.
I hope her future is bright and health problems vanish.

Enough now.

So what is ahead for me on this Island?
Autumn weather- of sorts. The Island Autumn (IA) is not like a Central Ontario Autumn. (COA)
The leaf colour here in an IA goes from green to brownish red or yellow. Mostly from lack of water.
We had a bit more rain this past week than is usual for September- which last year was hot and dry. Most of October was the same. This cooling trend is hanging about for another week.
Cripes, there was snow on the Coquahalla and in northern mainland areas- even good old Canmore, Alberta. Remember- "I'm Mike...from Canmore."

The nights are not crisp here as back in a COA and we probably won't feel that crispness until December when the temps dip down to the lower single digits overnight.

Oh...The Holidays are coming!!
There is no doubting that.
Walmart has Hallowe'en, Harvest/Thanksgiving and Christmas décor all piled on shelves in the seasonal department. Shop for three holidays all in one easy spot! What's so bad about that?
I haven't heard them play a Christmas Carol yet- Walmart is slipping...

I must confess, I am looking for a pre-lit, LED Christmas Tree. Back in Ontario, I had two pencil trees that fit- one on each side of our Parlour Fireplace. When all the boxes from our move were emptied, I found that I was missing one tree.
I have no idea where.
Maybe it was sold in an Orillia garage sale by mistake.
Maybe the movers shifted it to another home along the way.
The trees have matching décor, so I have decided to buy one larger tree and throw all the gold balls and ornaments on it, rather than try to match the remaining pencil tree with a new one.

You see, these are the type of earth-shattering problems I have to deal with now that I am retired and living the Island Life!
It's rough sometimes.
No, I mean it.
Why, just the other day I looked at a half dozen cinnamon-raisin bagels at the 49th Parallel Grocery Store.
They were priced at $5.19!
I just want to buy some bagels not the company! I left them on the grocery shelf to hopefully pass their best before date. That'll teach that grocery store to try to sell a Senior over-priced bagels.

Other than that the days go by one after another just like they always have only faster these days it seems.

Gee, I better put a tin foil turkey pan on my shopping list in case they all sell out over the next couple of weeks. I mean Thanksgiving is three weeks Monday.

See what I mean?

Sunday, September 9, 2018

ROBBLOG #737- Our Little Missy Has Passed

Just this side of the great whatever is a place called the Rainbow Bridge.

A place of peace and serenity where our beloved pets go to wait for us to pass. Then, we cross the Rainbow Bridge together, into the next plane of existence. It sounds so beautiful.

In my last blog, I told you my Cousin Jude died Friday.
Now, today, Sunday September 9th 2018, our wonderful little mini-schnauzer Missy has crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
We are so, so sad.

She would have been 14 years old this November.

She hadn't be well this past week. In December, we were told she has a slow growing cancer plus her liver levels were high.

A couple of months ago, the Vet told us she is in stage three Kidney Disease.
Tom and I figured we'd have just a couple of months with her. We've been down that road before with another Schnauzer. Even in December we felt she would leave us by Christmas. Dr. Sara called her a Miracle Puppy and that's why we tried a couple of meds to try to get her back on track over the past week. We knew they might not work- which they didn't.

We took Missy to a vet in Nanaimo- since our vet is closed Sunday. No vet- that I could find, is open in the Cowichan Valley on Sunday. The only choice is to drive to Victoria or Nanaimo. Now, that really ticks me off. With all the Vets here certainly one could provide an emergency service- but no.

So, we were shuffled via an answering service to an Emergency Vet Hospital in Nanaimo. I looked at the website- what there was of one, reading a few comments. Some were good but some were very bad. I don't always believe what people write online but because the website was supposed to be new and yet still unfinished, I didn't get a good vibe. I did a Google search myself and found the VCA Island Animal Hospital. Open till 5pm Sunday. On their website there were descriptions of what they do and photos of the vets. I liked what I read.

I called and a lovely young lady by the name of Tiffany, answered.
She was kind and patient with me. She answered my questions. She said she took all her pets to the clinic even before she worked there.
"The vets are all very nice"- she said.
I sobbed a bit.
She was supportive and told me to take my time.
She slotted us in for 230pm.
It was noonish when I called.

Tom and I had spent most of the morning with Missy wondering when we should make the decision.
Should we wait until Monday morning and see our vet clinic here in Duncan?
Problem was, our Vet wasn't full time there and she wasn't in again until Tuesday.
We had already booked a Tuesday appointment a week ago.
We had been trying to wait until then trying to  encourage Missy to eat and drink.
She did her best.
We did our best.
We knew it wasn't working.
Then, she was having trouble standing yesterday afternoon.
I remember our yellow lab Kiki having a massive stroke the day she passed and this was similar but all on Missy's left side. It wasn't nice and Missy was plainly confused as to what was happening to her little Schnauzer body.

Our Darling Missy. Forever in Our Hearts.
As I said, it was just about noon, when we decided that Missy couldn't wait any longer to cross the Rainbow Bridge. That's when I called the Animal Hospital.

Dr. Jamie was wonderful. She stroked Missy and I could see she was upset as well. She took Missy away from us for a few minutes to insert a tube in Missy's right leg into which she'd dispense the drug dose when Tom and I were ready. When she came back into the room, she said what we had heard many, many times over the years- "She's such a good girl and a sweetheart."
We know.
We had Missy wrapped up in her beige blanket. Jamie passed her to me. Tom was holding Koko. We whispered our goodbyes into those floppy little ears. Koko sniffed her nose and leg where the tube had been inserted.

We nodded to Dr. Jamie and she inserted the needle into the stent and the pale greenish-blue liquid poured into Missy's vein.

It was quick.
It always is...
Jamie removed the stethoscope from around her neck.
She listened intently to Missy's heart.
Then... she softly spoke to us- "She's gone..."

More tears. Puppy kisses and goodbyes. All three humans and Koko formed a circle. We hugged each other and stroked Missy's head and chest. I passed her to Tom's waiting arms.
Her head flopped onto his chest.
Believe me, this is the worst part of sending a family member on their way.
When the head "flops" to the side you understand that all life has left.

We kissed and hugged her a bit more and softly pulled the hair on her legs.
I looked into her puppy eyes.
The light was gone.
It always is....

We hoped that Missy was already with Kiki.
I hoped that Cousin Judy was there to catch her as she fell through to the next plane of existence just this side of the Rainbow Bridge.

It is just not possible to believe that she is gone. That she is all alone. She is so small. So loving, she had to be met by someone- Human or Canine, on the other side. It doesn't matter.

We have sent so many on their way: Samantha, Max, Lucky, Luma, Samantha 2 (Our first Schnauzer), Kiki and now Missy. We can't forget our Doyle who disappeared a year ago. We may never know his fate but he is loved and will never be forgotten.

It will be a quiet few days around Palm Villa here on our Island.

Like all our four-legged family members who have passed over the Rainbow Bridge,
we will miss our Missy forever.

"Your Dads will see you soon- Whiskers Miss Samantha Rose..."

Saturday, September 8, 2018

ROBBLOG #736- A Ford Falconer Forever

Another Chin-Wag with the Big Fellow Upstairs

Me: One ringy-dingy. Two ringy-dingy's…

Himself: Hello Rob, been waiting for your call. Had Gladys clear my schedule for the next hour.

Me: Oh. Gee how did you...Oh right. You're omnipresent...Gladys?

Himself: You're finally getting that- eh Rob? And Gladys is my right hand, omnipresent Angel.

Me: Well, that clears that up, I guess. So, God. Mr. Big Stuff, how are you doing it's been a  while.

Himself: More to the are you?

Me: Me?

Himself: Yes. I know you are going through a bunch of turmoil in that earthly plane and all.

Me: They call that life down here. Yes, our Puppy Missy is ill. Not much time left for her but we are hoping.

Himself: Hope is good. It's all you have to cling to sometimes. Some life on earth, eh? So, listen sorry about your Cousin Judy. She was quite the gal indeed.

Me: You know, I mean knew Judy?

Himself: Of course Rob. Like I say, I'm...

Me: Omipresent?

Himself: No, I was going to say "in the know". Anyway your cousin arrived over on this side Friday morning at 1020 local time. Now, let's see, that was oh seven twenty your Island time.

Me: Yes. Correct.

Himself: So how are YOU doing? Judy's just fine over here. She being looked after.

Me: Oh. That is good. You know God, I think part of the mourning here on earth when a special person passes is the not knowing. Wondering if they're alone. Been taken care of.

Himself: The concern and question of the centuries. What happens after the "earthly plane".

Me: Well, we do wonder...

Himself: Look and this burns my holy arse but if those "Godly" folks on earth would just take some time and listen to their hearts and minds, they'd have figured it out by now.

Me: Figured out?

Himself: Life and stuff my son. It's not such difficult knowledge to swallow.

Me: Maybe not from your perspective but some people here need to be told how to get through and deal with life and having a "superior" figure like yourself to look up to helps- I suppose.

Himself: Now Rob, you don't really believe that do you? I know you don't.

Me: No. I do not.

Himself: Fair enough. I don't exist to tell people how to live. I lend some support around here when they need it most, that being when they "pass over" not before and I'm not the only one here.

Me: Really?

Himself: Yes. Really. It takes a while to get used to things on the next level you know but she's- I mean Judy, is in fine hands with the Intake Angels?

Me: That's good. Ummm… "Intake Angels" like a Concierge at a hotel?

Himself: Now you've got it! So Rob, tell me about your Cousin Jude.

Me: She more of a sister than a first Cousin. Her Dad and my Dad were brothers. We did lots of things together when we were young.

Himself: Like what...

Me: Well, we went to movies at the Geneva Theatre. You know, I never saw the opening credits to a movie until I was 15 or 16 years old. Jude was always late getting ready or she hadn't scrubbed the stairs like her mother asked. That's when they lived at 52 Colborne. Ummmm, for reference, that's where the Mariposa Market parking lot is these days..

Himself: I know. Remember..

Me: You're omnipotent. I know. I guess there is a whole bunch of movies that I have never seen the first fifteen or twenty minutes of because of Judy's tardiness. She never got a handle on that!

Himself: What else?

Me: Oh, we used to tool around town in Uncle Ivan's Turquoise Pontiac Biscayne. Big as a bus that car was. We'd pool our coins to make a dollar and go over to Totten's Gas Station to get Mr. Totten to pump us a buck's worth of gas- right to the penny. We could cruise all evening up and down Mississaga Street and down through the park. Oh, ~laughing~ we'd sing at the top of our lungs- "Send me the pillow that you ~huuump~ on, so Darling I can ~huuump~ on it too..."

Himself: Huuump on?

Me: I have no idea. We made it up. Maybe it had a "dirty" connotation, I dunno. We sang and laughed until we had to pee. Then, we'd go to the Tasty-Freeze for a 10 cent soft ice cream cone. Damn, we had fun.

Himself: Sounds like it. What else?

Me: Judy was a life-saver. When I was in one of my worst depressions, she took me in. The Doctor said either I was hospitalized or I had to find someone I could live with for a while until I was stabilized. Judy stepped up. I will always love her for that. Gee, there's so much. So many memories.
The past few years we re-connected after not seeing one another regularly for a few decades.

Himself: Why so long?

Me: Life. Just life. I regret that time lost.

Himself: That's it? Life?? Rob, you learned a valuable lesson- no time like the present.

Me: Well, you should know "Mr. Omnipresent"?

Himself: Careful Robbie-Bobbie. Don't make me smite you!

Me: Oh...sorry.

Himself: Jesus- I'm only joshin' around.

Me: Whew! Good to know. Did you just curse?

Himself: Good Gracious No!! Rob, are you sad?

Me: I am. Like an anvil is tied to my heart and it's pulling me down but you know what?

Himself: I probably do...

Me: You know...I am not too bad. I feel lightas well. I mean, I didn't want her to leave- especially since she hasn't seen Tom and I here on the Island.

Himself: Not to worry. Soon, she'll be able to pop into your realm and see you whenever she wants.

Me: That is comforting.

Himself: There will be a sign when she's next to you.

Me: I know, I've felt that before with others.

Himself: It's a gift you have Rob. Not everyone can see and feel folks in another plane. You can.

Me: In fact God, I feel a warmth around my neck and shoulders right now. Do you think...

Himself: Early days but she was...I mean IS a strong soul. If she wanted to contact you bad enough and your channel is open- well, I have no power over that. No power at all. I'll tell you one thing.

Me: What's that?

Himself: I'll have her to lunch one day soon and we'll talk about all you've said and more.

Me: Gawd, we used to laugh. Laugh all the time. Once when her eyesight wasn't so good, Tom and I sat her within a foot of our big screen TV to watch Grease "live" and we described who was on the screen. She could sort of see colours. It was fun. I was so glad when she had eyesight return in one eye.

Himself: Rob, both are perfect now.

Me: ~pause. sniff.~ Nice. I will always miss her. A part of me is hollow.

Himself: That is to be expected. Life and Death. Two hard lessons for you folks- especially first timers down there. Now you. You've been around a few times.

Me: I feel that I have.

Himself: You have and you are smart about it.

Me: Is Judy smart?

Himself: The smartest. You see taking Latin in High School with Mr. Holloway was one of the
best things your Cousin Jude ever did. It helped her be smart. To learn. To know. To be a good and lovely person on earth. Oh, she had some ups and downs.

Me: Yup, she did make a few doozies when it came to "choices".

Himself: You all do. It's part of the process. One thing Rob...

Me: Yes?

Himself: Making mistakes and expanding knowledge is one of the biggies. Learn. Progress. Love and especially "Love Life". You all have such a short time down there. Short but the best time if you take the time to realize it. Separate all the bad stuff and negativity and look for the good. It's right there under your nose. Everywhere.

Me: I believe you.

Himself: That's all you need. Believe not in me. I am nobody. You are the big deal. Judy- your Cousin, is the "big deal". She knows it now, I'm sure. She really does and you know what Rob?

Me: What's that?

Himself: She misses you already.


Himself: Rob? Are you all right?

Me: Never been better. I better go. You're busy and I've got to think of all the great times Judy and I had- together. Tell her I miss her too.

Himself: Tell her yourself. She is standing right behind you. Bye Rob.

~bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Dial Tone~

My Cousin Judy. Nice glasses but maybe remove the tag!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

ROBBLOG #735- A Miracle of Universal Proportions

I wanted to tell friends and family- who knew what was going on, this little tale before I posted this ROBBLOG.
No, we are NOT moving back to Ontario. That would be un-thinkable even though as I have said before, I miss Toronto's Big Shows and Ontario Summers.
Here in our new home on Vancouver Island, we have had a terrible few days with Missy our senior mini-Schnauzer. She'll be 14 years old come November.
She started feeling unwell at the beginning of the Labour Day Holiday Weekend- of course.
Everything happens on a holiday weekend or in the wee hours of the morning when one needs medical assistance.
Our Missy stopped eating. She was throwing up bile. She was not drinking. We dealt with this all weekend through until I could call the Vet for an appointment early Tuesday morning to make an appointment.
I made the Vet appointment with the intention of sending Missy over the
Rainbow Bridge. If you are uncertain what the Rainbow Bridge is- Google it please.
All day Tuesday she was drinking a bit but eating very, very little. It was the same pattern over the past four days. Tom and I had both worked up the courage to say- "Missy, you can go."
It took a miserable, gut-wrenching few days to work ourselves up to that point. It is a very difficult moment to work up to telling a family member, in this case our little girl, our special Schnauzer- "It's all right. Your Dad's won't see you suffer. You can go. We'll let you cross the bridge"
Then, we go to the appointment at 330 pm.
Good Gawd, Tom and I had made that trip a few times before. I even made the trip a couple of times without Tom since he happened to be across the pond at the time when a couple of our pets passed
Believe me, there were tears and sadness all the way to Prevost Vet Clinic on Canada Avenue here in Duncan.
We didn't say a word to each other.
What can one say.
It could be the start of a new day-without a special someone.
This story has a happy ending- so far...
Missy (L) & Koko

Just a few hours later,we have Missy at home again.

We are surprized to say the least.

After a discussion between Tom and I and Doctor Sara- and a few tears too,
we made a decision to try something. As Doctor Sara said, Missy is already somewhat of a Miracle Dog. We didn't expect her to last past last Christmas. This is when the kidney/liver/cancer diagnosis first reared it's ugly head. Then, only a month ago, we had been told that her Kidney disease was at stage three.
Not good news.
We had started planning on saying goodbye sooner, rather than later.

Dr. Sara has her on anti-nausea drugs which Tom and I will administer. She also had an anti-nausea needle and had water inserted under her skin via intravenous- since she was a little dehydrated.
We don't know what her kidneys or liver will do.
It is a medical gamble.
I can't even think about the friggin' cancer right now.

We have no guarantees this will work but happily it gives her Dads a little more time.
When we came home, Koko went nuts. She was jumping up and barking. She wanted me to put Missy down on the grass. Even Koko didn't expect to see Missy home.
Before we left for the appointment I laid on the bed with Missy.
Almost immediately, Dickens- our orange cat, as well as Koko jumped up and laid beside us.
~insert many tears here~
..and they call them dumb animals.
Mum always said that.
We used to roll our eyes and smile when she did.
So, that's that. There's no more to write at this moment. Things may change in a few days.
I have asked the Universe to give us at least another spring with The Miss.
Oh yes, with all this drama here on the Island, back in Orillia my Cousin Judy is in hospital after a massive heart attack on Labour Day Monday. She is improving- slowly.
Life is short.
Life is precious.
We have to live it fully today. Don't wait for tomorrow.
Today is today.
Boy, the Universe has its work cut out for itself over the next week to ten days!

Now, it's up to you Universe...

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

ROBBLOG #735- Almanac Hooey

Reason number "three thousand, four hundred and sixty-seven" as to why you should live on Vancouver Island.

The Farmer's Almanac- Yee-Haw, has released its winter forecast for Canada. Now being a "learned" man, I have studied this forecast very carefully.
Alright, that's a bit of a stretch.

I know very little about weather- except for the years the Mountain Ash Berries were in abundance back in Ontario. I figured it meant we should look out for a cold, nasty winter. I came to that scientific conclusion by noting that years when this happens it's always extremely cold and snow-packed come January and February. The birds that stay for those winters appreciate the January berry treat.

Of course, when I look at January and February past- back in Ontario, they are all cold and nasty- with very few exceptions.
How's that for global warming?
What global warming say the Tories?
By golly, you know, one day I might find myself votin' for that Scheer fellah and maybe even kissin' the rotund, fatty asscheeks of that there Ford boy once he raises himself to be King of Canada with the help of his "Ford Nation".
Another thing, why do Conservatives say "golly" and drop the "G's" off many words?

Anyhoo, all in the life of a Tory.
My life?
In my dreams of course.
"Fuck the carbon tax too!"- I might even scream in one of those right-wing dreams and "let's take all those liberal rights away that we been given over the past decades."

I'm kidding of course but really, how can someone actually say they are Conservative. It's like stepping backwards in time. They must have their head shoved ear deep up a horse's patooty!
In fact, I hear the Conservatives are so far in the past they'd endeavour to ask Sir John A. MacDonald to write the sexual curriculum for schools right across this fine country of ours.

Now I must say to their credit they seem to understand this Carbon Tax thing- since they don't want any part of it. They are actively poo-pooin' the pants off it whereas me, on the other hand, haven't the foggiest what a carbon tax is or what it does.
Ignorance can be bliss and this is one of those occasions.

Okay, back on topic...
Now that the Farmer's Almanac has released its winter forecast determined through the stars, planets and holding a saliva-soaked finger to the wind here is what it says-

"...'cold' weather in the Maritimes and Quebec. 'Biting cold' in Ontario and 'teeth-chattering' cold across the Prairies. BC bucks the trends with 'typical winter temperatures' in the forecast."

Ya hear the sound of that?

Then, relief comes in two words- "Typical Temps" in BC.
Alright, that's four words but you get what I mean.

"Typical" meaning one can sit in January Island sunshine and not freeze your nuts off.
Typical means green lawns.
Typical means no 20 foot snow plies in the Wal*Mart parking lot.
Typical means no huge icicles hanging from your eaves or a monkey's brass nuts.
Typical is February grass-cutting, palm trees, rhododendrons and magnolias as green as a turkey's arse at fly time!

Salt Spring Island View on a weekend in August
Now, to be clear, we Islanders don't want a bunch of you Easterners- particularly you "Orillia-Types", coming out here and spoiling it all for the rest of us.
I know you sneak a peak at this Blog of mine from time to time. Of course, when it's cold and snowy there's little else to do and I get that.
I really do.
I was an Easterner once.
A died-in-the-wool Ontario lover just a little more than a year ago but I have changed my old ways.
I have.
I mean that.
Stop laughing...

Why, if I encouraged the lot of you to come west, you'd be clogging our check out lines at Stupid Store in no time! Merrily chatting with the cashier. Smiling smugly at January Forecasts in the check out line newspapers published from three time zones back.

You'd all be holding up the cashouts at the numerous liquor stores- Liquor World. Liquor Plus. Liquor Barn. More Liquor. BC Liquor. Liquor Mart and a dozen more.
It just wouldn't be right.
Why I'll bet if I said that North Cowichan has more liquor stores than it has Tim Hortons, you folks would be out here in a flaming flash!
That wouldn't be right.

So, when you read that Farmers Almanac Winter forecast and it says typical, mild temperatures for British Columbia and out here on the Island, just ask yourself- "What in Hell do a bunch of right-wing, Conservative-lovin', God-fearin', tractor-ridin' farmers know about forecastin' Canadian weather.
Absolutely zip.
Reason enough to stay right where you are at.

I thank you for your time and attention.

Note: The preceding has been presented by the association of former Easterners trying to keep Vancouver Island for the Islanders.

Monday, August 20, 2018

ROBBLOG #734- Time Flies When You're Moving

I'm a bit early writing this post.

I had planned to have this ROBBLOG posted on August 22nd, one year since we drove Priscilla
onto this Island. However, I wanted to mention a bunch of stuff and it was getting all clogged up in my mind.

So, going back 365 days- give or take, Priscilla, The SwissshMobile, Tom and I, the mini-schnauzers Missy and Koko and our orange boy Dickens (Doyle stayed behind in Winnipeg) crossed the water on board the Queen of Alberni. It was a beautiful day for a sail- blue skies, sunshine and the smell of the ocean underneath the BC Ferry.

We had been on the road for eight days all the way from Orillia, Ontario through two eight hour driving days- just to get out of Ontario, then Manitoba, across the Prairies with salt flats and tumbleweed, driving up and over the majesty that is the Rockies, down the Coquihalla and across the mainland to Tsawassen to board the Ferry to Vancouver Island.

We did it.
We survived the sale of our wonderful Pine Tree House.
We still miss her so much but she gave us our future and a new home here in the Cowichan. For that she will be forever in our hearts. We know the first buyers flipped her. They had no idea what she meant to us. We thought she was being sold to someone who cared about the house- our home, not just making a dollar.

We know for those back in our old neighbourhood it is tough looking at her sitting there with new owners, perhaps not as loved as she was for the 25 years she was in our care.
At least, that's what your e-mails and texts are saying.
We are truly sorry for that.
Pine Tree House deserves more than a casual caretaking.
She needs devotion and constant upkeep.
I have to move on now or the tears will flow..

Our c.1882 Pine Tree House when we lived there.
Gawd, there was the packing.
Garage Sales. A car sale.
The Goodbyes..
The many heartfelt goodbyes.
I can't.....

Then, the final driving away early in the morning when the neighbourhood was quiet, late August pretty and forgiving, realizing we would no longer be a part of its daily life.
The fabric of a neighbourhood we loved.
Believe me it hit home at that moment.
That was hard. Real hard.
The driving away down Matchedash Street North...

~pause for a moment for the tears...again~

A year in the life.
Here we are today settled in our new house- Palm Villa, in a new neighbourhood, in a new province on an Island that's not so new.
It's been an adventure.
Sometimes challenging. Tough. Unexpected.
Today we have many new friends.
We go out to dinner. To the Theatre. We socialize with friends and neighbours.
We tell stories of our time in Pine Tree House and the years before.

West Coast Island Living. This is Palm Villa
Some things in our day-to-day lives are new- like smoke!
As I write this, I am staying indoors. The smoke is relentless today. We can't see Mount Prevost from our Lanai. Blue smoke swirls between trees and houses.
It's in my eyes causing them to water and itch. It's in my throat.
I can taste it  The air is thick. It's hot feeling like 30c.
We have all the indoor exhaust fans on and the air cleaner working at full blast. The air quality is not good which is to be expected with more than 500 fires burning across the province.

We were going to spend a couple of days in Vancouver- just the two of us, then, the smoke worsened and we cancelled out hotel and ferry crossings.

Usually you see Mount Prevost there behind that Hill.
That is all smoke!
It isn't as easy to travel about here on our Island as it was in Ontario. There you just pick up and go. Head the van south and you're in Toronto in an hour. Go east and you're in the Kawarthas or west to Midland and Owen Sound.

On the Island, you have to fly from Nanaimo or Victoria International to leave this paradise. Since we are former airline employees we stand by for available seats on flights. That's not always easy. The only other way off the Island besides swimming for the mainland is to take a Ferry from Departure Bay, Duke Point or drive all the way down to Sidney- east of Victoria in the Saanich Peninsula, to Swartz Bay. One more option would be Harbour Air- located about ten minutes from us at Maple Bay, flying in a float plane right into downtown Vancouver.

Driving is a new experience here with the many roundabouts and dead end "no exit" streets. That's because either a mountain or the ocean stops the road from continuing. Here in Duncan, city streets don't always allow you to "get there from here". You would understand that if you visited or lived here.

It is beautiful.
The ocean.
The flora and fauna- palms, banana trees, dogwoods and rhododendrons.
Many plants remain green all year through.

We don't have much of that moisture that Easterners think we have year round. We haven't had rain in a couple of months and things are brown- unless you have drip lines in your gardens or built-in lawn sprinklers and still there are watering rules. Vancouver Island is green in the winter and dead-brown in the summer.
It takes some getting used to but we don't get cold.
No minus 30's.
No snow piled high for months on end.
A sweatshirt and a weatherproof jacket is all you need from November through February. I wore a leather jacket only a handful of times last year and just a scarf or two- just for fashion.
We sat outside having coffee on sunny mornings in December, January AND February.
We planted in our gardens in all of those months!

Anyhoo, there it is and here we are, an entire year later.
So many changes and such a future to look forward to.
People from back home who have visited us- and in two cases moved here, say Tom and I look younger, healthier, better.
Thank you!
We feel that way.
We walk almost every day.
We relax. We garden. We read. We talk to neighbours. Everybody talks to everybody here on the Island- even in the grocery store lineups. It's disconcerting at first and then you get used to it. It was easy for us because we talk to every George, Dick and Harry we meet anyway.

Maple Bay with Salt Spring Island- 10 minutes from us
So Dear Friends, Family and former Neighbours, we are doing well.
We have settled.
We are smiling.
We have started a new life here on Vancouver Island- just don't get us started on ICBC insurance or some other government stuff!

Finally, we sold the Swissshmobile last fall- our Montana Van.
That was difficult.
Priscilla- the RV that got us here safely? She has just been sold and listen no matter what the folks at Heidi's back therein Ontario tell you, you will not make money on your RV when  you sell it here.
Quite the opposite.

And lastly-as the last Blog told you, our Doyle (Dicken's Brother) is still not with us and we can only hope he is happy- and safe, wherever he is- because we are...

The Island Boys

Thursday, August 16, 2018

ROBBLOG #733- Nine Lives. Done.

No picture of me this time.

The photo is one of our boys- Dickens on the left and Doyle on the right- staring into the camera lens.
They were eight in June and they came to live with us eight years ago on September 15th.

The picture is not perfect these days.
If you followed the blogs of our journey from Orillia, Ontario to Vancouver Island last year at this time, you may recall that Doyle left us on the evening of August 17th at a KOA Campground in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

We were devastated.

I had been writing a blog that evening while sitting at the dining table in Priscilla- our RV. Doyle was laying on the back of the seat just behind my head. He had been there for an hour or more, gently purring in my ear.
It was normal. Things seemed normal.
It's funny how fast normal can turn into tragedy.
Dickens had gone to bed with Tom and our mini-schnauzers Missy and Koko.
I liked the quiet when writing.

At one point I felt the air a bit cool. It was about 10:30 pm August 17th. The door to Priscilla was wide open except for the screen door that was closed to keep out summer bugs. I got up to close the door. It was hooked snugly to the left on the outside of Priscilla. I took a few steps to the door and reached out to grab the outer door latch. As I did this Doyle ran outside in a flash!

I stepped down and called.
He'd come back in a few seconds.

It was pitch black.
I grabbed a flashlight.
I called to a young lady who was parked two doors down, asking if she had seen him.
She hadn't but she grabbed her flashlight and we shone the beams under her RV.
There he was!
Eyes shining wide in the light beams.
I was able to crouch down, grab him and hug him to my chest.
"I have him!"- I called to her.
"I'm glad"- she cried.
Then suddenly Doyle jabbed his back claws into the palm of my left hand.
I don't know why.
The claws jabbed so deep I yelled, releasing my grip a bit. He then jumped up, over and out of my arms. His tail disappearing into the black night was the last I ever saw of him.

I have gone over this scenario a thousand times in the past year and it doesn't make me feel any better.
I had him.
I lost him.
I had him tightly and safely in my arms and he jumped free.

Back in Orillia Priscilla sat in our drive. Just outside the door to the left was the backyard gate which was propped open when we were in Priscilla. We tried to get the "kids" used to being inside in her but Doyle knew the safety of Pine Tree House was just outside and around the corner...only-
this time it wasn't.
All that lay in the darkness was unfamiliar smells.
Unfamiliar territory.
A deep, dark, black nothing.

I called to Tom awakening him from a sound sleep.
I told him what had happened.
We called and called his name into the night. We walked the perimeter of the KOA.

We left food outside. His litter. A familiar jacket so he could sniff us.
We went to bed.
A fitful sleep.
Even Dickens was crying out. Then around 330 am a horrendous thunderstorm.
Lightening. Heavy, heavy rain. Loud crashes of thunder.
Doyle would be scared.
Our hopes dimmed.

We spent the following day and the next morning after that searching and calling and asking people if they had seen an orange tabby.
The next night the KOA Groundskeeper knocked on our open door saying he saw him with a bunch of feral cats along the shore of the Assiniboine River that cut through the KOA.
We took flashlights.
We called.
We could see cat's eyes in the river grasses but Doyle didn't come running out to meet us.

Leaving the KOA the following morning was tough.
We sobbed salty tears.
The Groundskeeper assured us he would call when Doyle returned.
We had some hope.
I don't know how Tom could see through his teardrops as we drove out of the park and onto the Trans Canada Highway leaving a part of us behind and alone.

We haven't stopped searching all this past year.
Almost daily I check the Facebook Lost Cat Pages for Winnipeg. We have been registered with the Winnipeg Humane Society. Doyle is chipped and if he were found and taken to any vet, the chip would lead him straight home to us- his Dads.

Now a year is up.
I told myself we'd hold our hopes high for a year.
We've seen so many photos of cats that look like Doyle I could fill this page and several more with their photos.
So far- nothing. The leads always fell through and that made us sad all over again.

Our Boy...We'll always Love You...
The best we can hope for is that someone is looking after him.
Good Food.
A warm place to curl up and snooze.
I don't even want to think about the freezing cold temperatures in Winnipeg last winter.
Back in Orillia he might have come out with us for a few minutes on the side verandah in the mild sunshine but on a cold, crisp day or night?
We still have a glimmer of hope but reality has pushed hope way down.
We have to be realistic.

We will miss him forever.
I'd love to hold him in my arms again. Have him snooze on my lap or curl up in front of the fire in a doggie bed he borrows from Missy and Koko.

Dickens had some rough times a couple of months ago. Even he realized his brother was not coming home again.

So, we have memories and we love each and every one.
We hate the not knowing where he is tonight.
Is he safe or what happened that night a long year ago and what about the past 365 nights.

But- enough now.
Goodbye sweet Doyle wherever you are...

It's done.
~heavy sigh~ ~tears~