Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Slice of Life: March 1st on the Hilltop

 Tuesday, March 1st
I am slowly becoming acquainted with the new house. 
Early one Saturday morning, I pour coffee and watch the sun climb over the mountains, drenching my world in pear colored light.

Since we have deep porches, I had not expected sunny rooms, and they are a gift.

I am also becoming acquainted with the yard. It's a joy to discover treasures as they poke through the ground. A few weeks ago, we were snowbound, and now daffodils are blooming, a hopeful sign for everyone who has endured a dark, bitter winter. 

 At 62, I am learning how to prune our apple trees. Two Master Gardener classes combined last weekend, and we were introduced to scion wood (center photo) and taught how to graft. Best of all, I met Ivy, a service dog.

Four apple trees-to-be are sitting in my refrigerator. 

 The first day in March begins with wind and rain, the kind of rain that blows sideways, beating against the house. After the storm clears, I go outside. It's that poignant time when one season nips the heels of another. The hilltop is filled with bare branches, dead leaves, and defiant splashes of green.

I've been waiting for a warm, dry day to clean out the lower screened porch. I've been thinking and thinking about this space, hoping it will tell me what it wants to be. I remember how my favorite homes in the Cotswolds aren't decorated. Rather, the rooms take on a warm, cozy personality, one that comes when people are living their lives, setting down objects where they need to be set down.   

Some objects cry out for order, a place of their own, maybe a rack or hooks. But there is no hurry.

I give myself permission to not rush, to let this space come into its own, in its own time.

Waiting seems like a motionless thing, but it isn't. Waiting gives you time to heal, to send up trembly green sprigs, to start over. 

My mother told one of her friends that I was still grieving for my Yorkies, and her friend waved a dismissive hand. "They were just dogs," she said. Me, I wonder about people like that. Did she outlive a beloved pet and could not risk losing another? To fall again and again into the abyss? Or was she the type who didn't like animals? 

I am the type who needs to share my world with others, especially if they have tails, fur, and four legs. I am finally starting to think about puppies. At first, I could not look at a picture of a dog without weeping, but I am getting stronger all the time. I can't live in a protected bubble. Who would want to? If you are protected from loss, you are also protected from joy.

Tears may never quite go away, but their quality can shift from sorrow into something life-affirming.  I believe with all my heart that a dog will find his way to us, a dog who needs us as much as we need him (or her). I look forward to that time.


  1. Your outdoor room has wonderful rock walls. It will whisper to you. They make me think of old English cottages. Oh yes...puppies, I have a poster on my blog about loving and losing them. And then accepting a new one. Sheila

  2. I'm so sorry about your beloved Yorkies. I have no patience for people who don't value pets as family members! I lost 2 golden retrievers, one after the other, both at age 5 of cancer. I swore I would never have another golden, I just couldn't go through the sadness again. So what do I have now? Two goldens, a mother and son from a rescue organization. They truly rescued me! I hope you find your special someone soon.

  3. I am glad you are thinking of furry tails again. Maybe I can follow your lead....

  4. Hi Michael Lee! Yes, you are thinking of little fuzzy faces as am I. People who say 'it was just a dog' have missed out on one of the most unconditional loves we'll ever have, except for how God loves us. We wanted to get another fuzzy face this spring but since I'm still on a walker it's probably gonna have to wait a little bit longer. We always have space in our hearts for another little sweet puppy! Your home is looking so pretty and I'm glad you're easing into it too. Your outside space will be gorgeous! I'm happy for you and take care of yourself, sweet friend.
    You are the sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  5. You really do have to bond with a house, don't you? You have to get to know how it feels certain times of day and in each season. We've lived in our house 3 1/2 years and I just now feel completely at home.

    I know you are grieving your pups. You'll get more when you are ready. We found our girl at the shelter and she's the greatest dog ever. :)

  6. I'm sorry for your loss, Michael Lee, and glad your house is comforting you.
    love and blessings~
    Lynda @ Gates of Crystal

  7. I'm sure a dog will someday follow you home and into your heart :-) our daffodils are almost done here, wahh!!

  8. "If you are protcted from loss then you are protected from joy".....I LOVE that! May I quote you? I also wish I could be like you and give myself permission to wait. I am so impatient and need to get things done....yesterday:):) The sun streaming into your rooms makes me happy too. After living in the woods for almost 30 years and LONGING for sun, I THRIVE now in this sunny house! I smile every single morning when I walk out to the kitchen area. As for the dogs: I am one of those that could not bring myself to get another one to lose. It was just so hard. Thanks for this beautiful post ML. XO

  9. So true -..."if you are protected from loss, you are also protected from joy"... I think part of the reason I hesitated before we got our dog was because I knew how attached I would become. And of course, I did and I love that silly dog more than I ever imagined! I know it takes time but since you are an animal lover, I think the time will come where you will be ready.
    Your home is looking beautiful and so full of gorgeous light! Those views! I don't think I would ever leave that place. Also, I think you made a typo when you mentioned your age...

  10. I miss my yorkie. We did get a puppy right away. We knew for years that ours was ill. What surprised us was how depressed our springer was. We really enjoy our new little Chorkie and so does our other dog.
    Your new house is really nice.
    You will know when it's time for another companion. They are so much more than just dogs.

  11. You have a lovely home and I hope you are learning to love it! You have great countryside views. I lost my cocker spaniel in 2009 and just had to let go of getting another dog. I hope you will find a loving pet in the future and it will feel right. It's so interesting how you are involved with the master gardener classes. Looks like you're gaining some great knowledge. Enjoy your spring weather- we had snow all day today. We have a ways to go yet before seeing spring blooms!

  12. What lovely photos! So many fun projects!
    I'm so sorry for your loss- I agree so much about sharing your heart and home with four legged friends- I've always felt sorry for people who say "just a dog- or cat" They have obviously missed out on so much. After we lost one of our beloved cats, I was too upset to think about another- then one (literally) showed up on our door step - and has been ruling the roost ever since.

  13. I would still be mourning my dog too. Don't associate with dismissive people like that, they will hurt your soul. It's taken me a lot of therapy to realize that we MUST feel our emotions. We cannot bury them, stuff them down, or avoid them. It only leads to a lot of problems down the road. It's ok to feel those big emotions when your dog (my dogs are my friends) passes away. You have to feel those emotions, not avoid them by never getting another dog.

    When our pug passed away years ago, we couldn't even think about puppies. But after a time, after some healing, I always remember that someone else is going to need a home. A good home that will cherish them forever :-)

  14. Sniffle, sniffle...your home and words are beautiful, stunning sunlit photos. You are smart to go slow, and do things without stress...

  15. Amazing windows! They fill rooms with the life, make space sunny, warm and peaceful. There are a lot of curious shades.

  16. What a beautiful post, of a beautiful home and a beautiful person loving wonderful people like your dear dog -- I have no understanding of humans who don't understand that. Best wishes.

  17. I was having eye surgery when I found out our youngest pup needed surgery and I couldn't stop crying. My "doctor" said it is only a dog. I bet money he never says that to anyone ever again. I love my pets and I always will. The only thing wrong with pets is that they don't live as long as we do but they don't have to I guess because they know so much more than we ever will. Don't let ANYONE tell you how to grieve for your little friend - that is unconditional LOVE!

  18. I'm so happy to hear that you're entertaining the idea of a new dog/s. I've so wanted to tell you that your heart and home needed to be shared again. I LOVE this quote from Dean Koontz: “Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.”

    I've always loved spring light as it's not harsh and hot. Your home is turning out beautifully and I think your furniture in the man cave looks wonderful. Just spread out the seating arrangements as far as you can while still maintaining ample traffic corridors which is the idea you were playing around with when you were moving things around. See, you did it instinctively! Now, I must (playfully) admonish you for saying that you hesitate to lounge on your own new sofas. Just leave that bowl of cheese puffs or Doritos in the kitchen! :)

    P.S. Maybe you can put the leather ottomans on casters and pivot them along the side of the chairs when you want them out of the way.

    1. Good idea. I wanted to tell you that I saw Robins today --the first time at this house and the first time in a decade (so much for country life--and hawks that chase away songbirds). A whole family of robins arrived. What joy. I had put away quite a few feeders because of our hawk incident, but my Master Gardener instructor is a birder, too, and he said to enjoy my birds, to feed them well and to relax.

  19. Bless your heart! In my backyard we have a small spot reserved for our lost pets. To date there is a Toy Poodle, a squirrel, a toad and a rabbit. It isn't easy to lose a pet. When you are ready I hope you find the perfect puppy! Rhonda

  20. I love seeing pictures of your new home - it is absolutely stunning. I covet that kitchen! What a heartless comment someone said about your dogs. While I don't believe the loss of pets compare to the loss of a human family member (I lost my oldest son 6-1/2 years ago...and I've lost pets, too), the loss of pets is still very hard and heartbreaking. Your heart and head will know when it's the right time to get another dog.

  21. Someone once told me that the reason a dog life is so short was because God wanted us to love many during our lifetimes. We just lost our Cavalier King Charles spaniel and I hear your grief. They do fill our lives with unconditional love...

  22. I would have a hard time liking someone who said, "It's only a dog." Hardly a day goes by that I don't think about Smudge or Scrappycat.

  23. I'm so surprised about your seeing robins just today (and not for a decade!), wow! In NE Ohio, they never went south. We saw them all winter long likely because of the unseasonably warm weather and ample fruit. They do love the crab apple trees! Yes, don't let the hawks stop you from the joy of bird feeding/watching, just try to provide barriers from the swooping predators. If you want the robins to stick around, provide watering sources. You'll love watching them bathe!

  24. The beauty of your yard is Springing forth, Michael Lee. I'm so happy that you're thinking about getting a puppy. You certainly need one to bring you JOY. xo

  25. It actually breaks my heart to know that people exist who would say "it was just a dog". I don't think I could be around someone who feels that way. I am sure another pup is in your future - you will find each other when the time is right.

  26. I've had many dogs in my life and all were special in their own way, but some more than others. Do you remember my beagle, Shiloh? When I lost him I was devastated, but I still had Fluffy (later on, her loss devastated my daughter more than anyone) and Mini to ease the pain.

    A year or so later, I wasn't even thinking about another dog, but we passed a sign that said "Only one Chihuahua puppy left" and I told my now ex that we needed to take a look. I sent him in first just in case, because I knew I wouldn't be able to say no, even if the puppy was not right for us. He walked out with the smallest baby I'd ever seen and my heart was stolen forever.

    My point is I understand what it's like to love a dog so much that you can't even think about the inevitable and you can't even think about loving another one as much, but in due time, another will come along and capture your heart and it will be meant to be.

    I think it's time my friend, but only YOU know for sure.

    love you,

  27. Oh and people that say "it's just a dog" have no soul.


  28. Of course I love everything in this post, with your description of taking your time and allowing spaces to speak to you...but mostly, I liked the last comments about your Yorkies and how you are dealing with your grief...as I'm currently facing once again with another kitty who is terminally ill. It's a hard thing to endure but we must hold onto our faith and relinquish efforts to comprehend what we are not meant to know...and to realize that we will move forward, forever changed by their presence in our lives...and richer for their love.