Monday, December 29, 2008

letting go

As the year draws to a close, I am normally cast into deep reflection. But this year is different. This year I am focused on the road ahead...I am looking forward rather than behind me. I can feel something shifting...a change in my consciousness and I am eager to pursue it. To see where it is going to lead me. I can feel myself letting go of ideas, of notions, of stuff that I no longer want cluttering up the way I live my life....I've been holding onto these things for years but now feel ready to just open my tightly clenched fist and let the wind carry them away.

I feel ready to walk down the road ahead. To walk on this new road with a genuine heart, with a sure foot and...always...with Sophie by my side.

Sophie and I are heading up north, to the cottage, for a few days. I am hoping to get some great winter shots with my new camera. I want to spend some time thinking about this new road and the stops I would like to make along the way this year. I want to finish letting go. I want to be quiet for a few days as the holidays come to an end. And most of all, I want to take long walks in the snow with my dog and sit with her on the deck, silently watching the sun come up over the lake.

I will write more about my thoughts on the road ahead, and about our days up north, when we get back on the weekend. I won't say Happy New Year....but I will say cherish your memories from 2008, let go of what you need to and I hope you celebrate new beginnings.....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

merry christmas

Sophie and I are signing off for a few days as we savour the Christmas season with family and friends.

To all my sweet friends in the bloggerland...we wish you many wonderful moments with your family (the people and the animal kind) over the next few days. Take the time to just be with one be thankful for each other and to remember those who may not be with us any longer, but who are always present in our hearts.

Have a lovely, authentic, very Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

sunday storm

some days...especially snowy, blowy sundays....are best spent indoors with steaming cups of coffee on the couch; with the charlie brown, rudolph and frosty the snowman of my youth on the television and, of course.....

with the company of loved ones....doing what they love to do on lazy, stormy sundays.

wcb - the comfort of elora

A cat by nature is less demanding, less time consuming and less needy than a dog and Elora is no exception. But she is no less loved. Elora is my touchstone. She is constant and grounded and when I come home after a crazy day and she sits contently in my arms, so am I. We fell into the rituals we share naturally and easy, without training or planning or even conscious thought.

Our bond is wrapped around simply being together and I take enormous comfort in that. I take comfort in her.

contribution for weekend cat blogging, hosted by m-cats club.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

saturday morning - dog park social

a border collie in there any other

Sophie and I spent some time this morning at one of the local dog parks. It's not my favorite place to take her, but it's good for her to spend time with other dogs...I know she prefers just the company of myself and the wind on the trails, but I think it's important and responsible to have a well socialized dog. So off we went to mix and mingle....

running with friends

I love to watch her tearing up the turf with her fellow canines...but the part that warms my heart the most is that my girl always comes back to me...

my little snow faced hound

Friday, December 19, 2008

snow day - best of both worlds

inside, cozy with elora and watching
the world go by....

...outside, playing with sophie and singing: "let it snow, let it
snow, let it snow!"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

between hello and good-bye

A few years ago, I lost Cosmo, a little cat that meant the world to me. She was my first real pet (other than fish and hamsters) and when the time came that I had to say good-bye, I swear I could feel my heart cracking with grief. I was only able to have one year with Cosmo, but her departure from my life still left me lost and teary for some time. A year needed to pass before I was able to open my heart and home again to another sweet cat, my Elora.

cosmo...a month before good-bye
(my only picture of her)

There are friends, who were there to pick up the pieces of me after losing Cosmo, who have asked me why I would set myself up to go through all of that again? First with Elora, and even more so with Sophie, they wondered why I would open myself up to so much hurt again...especially when you know it's inevitable...the second you say hello to a new pet you know that somewhere down the road you will have to say good-bye. But, as most dedicated pet owners know, the answer to their question is's all the moments together in between hello and good-bye. I wouldn't miss out on those moments for anything.

beautiful elora

Outside of the constant everyday joy and love that our pets bring into our world, each of my pets have taught me something, have made a profound difference, have changed something in me. Cosmo brought me back from a place of sadness during a difficult time in my life. Elora became my constant and my comfort amidst a great deal of change. Finn taught me about patience, about limits and about champions. And my Sophie....she is taking me on an unexpected journey that takes my breath away...a journey to finding peace, to finding happiness, to finding the real me.

sweet finn

And all of these wonderful pets have helped teach me one of the most important lessons of all: to love like you have never been hurt before. It is the best and the only way to love....both animals and people. It's that kind of love that opens you up to the possibilities of new hellos, that creates all the worthwhile moments in between and that helps you survive the good-byes.

joyful sophie

So thank you...Cosmo, Elora, Finn and Sophie...for everything in between.

Monday, December 15, 2008

the best ornament

my happy christmas tree

I spent Sunday afternoon decorating Christmas own and helping my mother with hers. My mom, sister and I always decorate her tree together....playing old Christmas albums (yes, I mean vinyl) , trying to remember which candle sits on which table and telling the ornament stories. That is my favorite part....the matter how many times I hear them. My parents have been collecting ornaments from all of their travels over the years...every ornament on that tree has a story. As my brother, sister and I grew up and had our own journeys, we started bringing back something for the tree as well. And the story dearest to my heart is the one of the star.

from a roadtrip to bayfield during
a camping trip when it rained the
whole time

When my parents were sharing their first Christmas as a married couple decades ago, my father cut out the shape of a star from a piece of cardboard, wrapped it in tinfoil, and placed it on the top of the tree. Over 35 years later, that same star is shining from the top of their Christmas tree. When we were young children, we would rotate years so that each of us would get a turn putting it up (with the help of Dad's height and steady hand). It was the last ornament that went on...the best ornament that went on.

from pumpkinfest in port elgin...

I am carrying on my mother's tradition. Bringing back ornaments from trips, building the stories for my tree. A few years back, the first Christmas after I moved out of my parents house, my Dad handed me a present to open. It was light as a feather. And when I opened the box, sitting there nestled in tissue paper was my own handmade tinfoil star. For my own Christmas tree. And it is....the best ornament that goes on.

my star...the heart of my tree

Sunday, December 14, 2008

the real magic

Sophie and I went on another great walk this morning and as she flew along the trails, I thought about my Saturday. I had to do a little bit of shopping yesterday afternoon and in the evening I went to a family...a large, 40+ people, extended Christmas was on my mind as well.

I'm having a hard time with the malls this year, more so than in years past. Everything in them feels so staged, so false. As I hurried through the mall, with all the other hurried people, I saw a long line of parents and children waiting for their turn with Santa. Some of the kids were bouncing with excitement while their parents smiled down at them fondly...probably remembering their own turn as a youngster on St. Nick's knee. But many other parents looked tired, weary and frustrated while their children cried and fussed with impatience and general discontent. I don't remember if I was a bouncing, excited kid or an impatient, fussy one. I don't have any recollection of my visits to Santa...but I can remember the joy of writing him a letter to leave out on Christmas Eve with milk and cookies. And I remember the thrill of discovering what he had written back on Christmas morning, cookies gone, empty milk glass on the table. To me, that was the real magic of Christmas.

Late afternoon, I headed to my family party. We have a very big extended family and often these gatherings can become a warm whirlwind of hugs, smiling faces and polite smalltalk due to sheer number of people in attendance. But last night was different. My mother and I were talking to another family member who had just lost her husband to a battle with cancer earlier this this would be her first Christmas without him. As we were exchanging well wishes good-bye, she suddenly began to talk about him. She told us a story of how she finally packed up some of his clothes and put them out on the curb to be taken away the next day, but then bolted awake in a panic at 3am and crept outside in her nightgown to quietly retrieve them from the side of the road. She would try again another day, she said...and she smiled.

I realized, that although she was missing him and that these holiday family gatherings likely amplified her awareness of his absence, that this was also the place and the time that she felt the most like remembering him. That we, her family, were the people she felt the most like talking about him with...and that was a great comfort to her. And to me....that is the real magic of Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

saturday morning - forks of the credit

sometimes there are moments that are too wonderful, too perfect to wrap up in a bunch of words: joy... peace... love.

Friday, December 12, 2008

wcb - loving finn

This is Finn.

She spent a brief amount of time with us during the final stages of her far-too-short life. I don't want to share her sad story...the real story of our pets is not in their passing, but in their living. Finn was a wonderful, curious, playful and loving little cat. She had the biggest heart...and she taught me that while there are limits on how much we can physically do for our animals, there are no limits on our capacity to love them...or on their capacity to love us back.

contribution for weekend cat blogging
hosted this week by the sour dough

Thursday, December 11, 2008

little slice of sunshine

I do not intend to use this blog to recommend books or products. However...during these tough economic times I think everyone can use a little help, a little advice or even just a shared moment of something good. This book is something good....and in a world where we are trying to keep our earth green and when we are cutting back on spending, it is something very good.

eco-dog, by Corbett Marshall and Jim Deskevich has all kinds of creative ideas for great, home-made, natural projects for dog owners. Everything from toys to cleaning solutions to baked treats. There are some wonderful ideas for a few crafty hours with the kids and family pet; for gifts for your favorite dog owner or even just for you and your own love hound...most are pretty simple to make; are easy on the wallet and just require a little time, a little patience and lot of heart.

I am not affiliated with book or the authors in any way.....I just think it's a little slice of sunshine in these darker times and wanted to pass on the rays. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

a favorite photo

One of my favorite's of Sophie...taken on the beach during a camping trip at Pinery this past summer. It may not be a great photo, but it is a perfect picture of Sophie....unkempt fur brushed with sand and water from Lake Huron; gazing peacefully, calmly towards the shoreline; taking deep breaths of fresh summer air with a sated, content border collie soul.

As I am learning more about photography, about composition and techniques, I am flipping through past pictures that I have taken, in order to critique myself and grow. However, in looking back at the photos, I am realizing that the ones that I saw first with my heart, and then with my this one of Sophie...are still more often than not my favorites.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

finding sirius

I have been thinking about this blog's only a month old at this point, so still new, still trying to find it's place in the world so to speak. I love putting together new has quickly become a favorite way to spend my time. I am also enjoying the blogging community...I could lose entire weekends visiting other blogs, relating to other writer's thoughts, learning something new.

I recently questioned the purpose of Finding Sirius. On my travels to other blogs, I realized that people have these great, wonderful stories to share....stories about sustainable living on rustic, country farms; stories about life in the big city that move along with the glamour and frenzy of a "Sex and the City" episode; stories about survival, about worldly adventures; stories about recipes, book reviews and technology. And then there is me.

I live a small life. I cherish it, love every minute of it, am grateful for it and it's important to me...but what could a visitor to my blog possibly take away from it that would be of any value to them? And if that's the case, then what is the purpose of Finding Sirius? I mulled it over for a few days and came up with this answer: It's for me.

I love to write. I am starting to fall in love with photography. Finding Sirius gives me the opportunity to work at both.

When I am walking with Sophie and I start to reflect on life and I feel a theme building, sometimes on the walk I only get as far with the muddy thought as realizing: "This is important...remember this feeling." It is often, not until I get home and start writing, that I am able to articulate, even mentally, what that reflection, that "a-ha!" moment really was...what true meaning it has. Finding Sirius helps me define and recognize those moments.

And one day...hopefully far, far in the future....I will not have my Sophie on walks with me anymore...but I will have this: all my writing; all my photos; all of her teachings; and all the stories of our keep her with me forever. Finding Sirius is for her.

I am thrilled at all of the family and friends who have come along with us for the ride....both in life and as visitors to Finding Sirius. And I am so pleased that some of the blogging community members stop by and enjoy and relate to some of my content....especially Pam and Tatersmama: your visits and comments are so heartwarming and appreciated! It is always such a rush to get a new comment on a realize that something I have written or a picture I have taken has made a connection with someone.

So while I created Finding Sirius for me, it continues to bring me great joy to share it with you.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

trail girls

Sophie and I attended our first holiday party of the season last night. It's a gathering that I have been going to for over a decade....and my friend who hosts it every year is a 100% dog person with her own gentle giant of a canine, so Sophie gets to come along too. I enjoy going and catching up with friends, toasting the holidays...but it is a different scene than we are used to these days. Although Sophie was jovial and on her best border collie behavior, I could tell she was out of her element.

There are some dogs out there that are the prettiest things....that love being dressed up in bows and costumes; that were born to socialize from one person to the next for hours; that shudder at the thought of their paws deep in snow; that are charming and delicate and the life of the party. And there are other dogs who are not.....who wistfully glance out the nearest window; who hear the wind calling them; who ache to be outside and on the trails. I don't know how you end up being one way or the much of it is born into your soul, how much of it you decide for yourself. But my Sophie is definitely a trail girl. And I realized now, when it comes right down to am I.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

saturday morning series - the beginning

Sophie and I often spend early Saturday mornings hiking in various locations around the province. I take lots of pictures, think lots of thoughts and although many of the walks seem similar...trails, lakes, natural beauty...each one speaks to me in a different voice and we create new memories every time.

So, each Saturday I am going to post one or two pictures from our hike that day that best represent the voice I heard that morning....and, just maybe, my photos and words will speak to you.

Friday, December 5, 2008

holiday magic

Tonight we walked Sophie down the main street of our little town. Every year they light up a huge, fresh Christmas tree in the main square, while carolers sing and hot apple cider is passed around. It has quickly become one of our favorite traditions during the holiday season. I looked around at the bright smiles, the flushed cheeks of my neighbors and I could feel the peace and the joy coming off them in soft, warm waves.

At that moment, it didn't matter that you spent an hour frustrated in traffic that morning, or that someone cut in front of you at the grocery store or that money may be tight, causing stress and worry at this gift giving time of year. That moment, for everyone, was about the ooh's and aah's of children as the hundreds of bright lights suddenly danced on the pine boughs of the tree; it was about genuine expressions of happiness that spread over people's faces as one mittened hand after another reached down to give Sophie a holiday pat; it was about old world values like belonging, the preservation of community, and good will towards all. We were strangers standing together...but holiday magic made us friends.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

wcb - my heart

she can be standoffish, cautious, bossy and mean...and with
one look she captured my heart forever.

contribution for weekend cat blogging


It has been said that our dogs are reflections of our selves. I like this notion. I watch Sophie living in this world - running through the forest with wild abandon, peacefully napping in the sunshine on the dock at the cottage, joyfully greeting everyone she meets with a wagging tail and genuine happiness - and I like to think that it has a little bit to do with me. That part of her exuberant spirit is a result of our time together, of our training, of my love for her.

However, if I really start to think about it, I would have to say that she brings out the best version of me. Since Sophie came into my life I am the closest I have ever been to being the kind person I want to be. So if I did help shape Sophie into the wonderful dog she is today and if she truly is a reflection of me, it's only because she showed me who I was...who I could the first place.

Monday, December 1, 2008

happy december 1

tiny snowman with a pink striped scarf

full of friendship

This is the first of two posts on friendship. I did not write this weekend, but instead spent my time with friends...the very people who have given me the courage to write in the first place. Our friendships date back to high school, so we know each well. Our gatherings are full of stories, memories and comfort. They are also full with the laughter of their children.

It is an amazing gift to see my friends in their children. To see the things that I love about them pop up unexpectedly in a little girl's twirling; in a little boy's familiar gait; in a baby's gentle smile. I love when I catch those moments. Moments a stranger might miss, but that aged and dear friendships call out and allow to you tuck away with all your other memories until your heart is full.

A weekend full of friendship.....does it get any better than that?