Wednesday, January 11, 2017

No Kirby Prints in the Snow

Kirby January 20, 2016
We got a dusting of snow last week. As I looked out the back window into the yard, I felt saddened by the lack of dog prints. Kirby liked the snow as long as there wasn't so much that he got the ice balls between his toes, or he didn't have to walk where some homeowner had thrown down salt. That irritated his feet. Though he could certainly entertain himself when we came back inside by picking off the ice balls! The snow fall with no tracks was just another reminder of what we are missing.

coyote prints?
But the next morning when I opened the blinds, I was shocked to see paw prints on the deck - two different sets, actually. For just a moment I thought, "Kirby must have been chasing a rabbit." But then reality blew in like the north wind, and I realized that could not be the case. I shrugged the prints off as being the neighbor cat sniffing out a rabbit.  I posted the photo on Facebook stating that I didn't know if was harder to not find prints in the snow, or to actually see some prints and think for a moment that our boy was still alive. Several people commented on the post, stating that those were coyote prints. Yikes! That thought didn't cross my mind at all. Can coyotes jump fences? I guess I can be thankful Kirby wasn't out there after all.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Another Year Over and a New One Just Begun

Well, we survived our first Christmas without Kirby. It was our turn to drive to Iowa for the holiday, and it was incredibly strange not to have him with us as he was a welcome guest at my in-law's home. There is a certain gas station we always stopped at on the way up so that we could complete the trifecta - potty stops for the dog and us, fuel for the car and food for us. We could not even pull off there this trip. The memories are still too painful. In fact, we did something we have never done before by going to a sit down restaurant to have lunch. It helped a lot mentally to change things up. We also broke up the trip by stopping at a couple of Freedom Rocks. You can read more about the Freedom Rocks here.

Iowa artist Ray Sorensen first painted a rock to honor veterans in Adair County, Iowa in 1999. Beginning in 2013, he established the Freedom Rock Tour, setting a goal to paint a rock in each of Iowa's 99 counties. He has since completed 45 or so of them. There are two fairly close to the route we take up to Iowa - one in West Point and one in Cedar Falls. I was immediately impressed with two things: first, the size of the rock; and second, the incredible detail in the paintings. I'll have to look for more of these when we next drive up to Iowa. There is one fairly near my in-law's town, and we thought that would be a fun family outing one day during our visit. But the weather was a little dicey we decided to save that one for next time. There were several inches of snow on the ground when we arrived, and about four more inches fell while we were there.
West Point Iowa Freedom Rock
Cedar Falls Iowa Freedom Rock
winter squirrel
We had a wonderful time in Charles City. I had fun watching this little guy out the back window. Kirby's favorite spot was on the couch in the living room where he could keep a close eye on the squirrels and birds at the feeders. I kept watch for him this year. Both of Jim's sisters were in town, so for the first time in many years the whole family was together except for a few of the grandchildren. We ate too much, played games and put together a puzzle, laughed a lot and of course received some wonderful gifts.

Gardenland Express
We headed for home on the day after Christmas because Katie was flying into St. Louis on the 27th, and Andy and Megan were driving in on the 28th. We packed a lot of fun into their visits! We opened our gifts on the 28th while drinking our signature CranCherry Cosmos. Jim had to work on Thursday, so we met him at Imo's for lunch - on the must-do list for the kids. Later in the afternoon we went to Jim's office so the kids could get a tour of the latest construction before taking off for the Missouri Botanical Garden to see the Gardenland Express flower and train show. This, too, is a tradition for our family and we try not to miss it. From there we drove to Anheuser-Busch to see the Brewery Lights. We were a little early, so we had to wait in the wind and cold until they began to hand out the arm bands. This is a walking tour, and you receive five free drink tickets to try out different A-B products. Andy, Megan and I went to this last year, but Jim and Katie had never been. Since we were at the beginning of the line to get in, we were able to enter the stables to see the horses. Last year there was an incredibly long line to get in there, so we skipped it. I'm glad we were able to see it this year as the stables are beautiful. It was a fun evening, capped off by a visit to the downtown location of Sugarfire Smoke House. Jim and I had eaten there on Mother's Day, and the kids had heard a lot of good things about it so that was their selection.
Anheuser-Busch Brewery Lights

Friday we met my sister and her husband in Washington for lunch, and then we continued on to New Haven to visit Pinckney Bend Distillery where they offer whiskey and gin tastings. I don't like whiskey so I opted to just do the gin tasting while Jim chose the whiskey tasting. The kids all tried the everything selection. It was a fun change-up from going to wineries, that's for sure. We had dinner back at the house and then drove to Candy Cane Lane and Angel Avenue in south city to see all the decorated houses. Since we were that close to Ted Drewe's Frozen Custard, of course we made a stop there as well.

Donut Dispatch
A knock on the door a little after 8:00 Saturday morning heralded the arrival of a dozen donuts from Donut Dispatch. A new company in Webster Groves, they offer donut delivery on Saturday mornings only. The donuts were awesome! I was wondering aloud how this couple was able to make and sell donuts out of their house, as their label said it was a "Cottage Industry" and not inspected by the Health Department. Sure enough, on Tuesday I saw a notice on their Facebook page that they have been shut down by the city. It's too bad, but calling yourself a "Cottage Industry" does not exempt you from inspections or city licensing and taxes. Hopefully they will be able to find a commercial kitchen to continue their business.

Andy and Megan left following lunch on Saturday to begin their drive home. They stopped in Cambridge, Ohio for the night before continuing on to Virginia on Sunday. Katie flew home on Monday afternoon, so all is quiet in the house again. While we missed Kirby terribly this Christmas, I am grateful that we were able to see so many of our family members this holiday. Here's hoping for a wonderful 2017!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Our New Normal

last picture together December 4, 2016
It's been a little over a week since we had Kirby put to sleep. We are still trying to adjust to our new normal. I knew that Jim would have a hard time because Kirby was his little buddy - they had a mutual love affair going on. I loved Kirby as well, and I know he loved me, too. But I played second fiddle if Jim was around, despite me being the one who was in the house with Kirby all day. But I underestimated how much I would miss the little guy. Everything in the house reminds me of him, especially when I am cooking. I got the can opener out to open some tomatoes. He would have dashed to my side, hoping I was preparing some tuna or canned chicken. The cutting board? He was always right there in the hopes that I was cutting up ham or chicken. It will be a long time before I can buy ham at the deli, as that is what I wrapped all of his pills in so that he would eat them. And I don't think Jim or I will be able to eat a hard boiled egg for quite a while. Kirby loved those, and he and Jim shared one each morning.

Last Wednesday the trash bins did not get rolled back to the house because I always grabbed them after our afternoon walk. And the W-K Times didn't get picked up Friday morning because Jim and Kirby would get it after their morning walk. We both find ourselves leaving a last bite of meat on our plates because we would save Kirby a treat each meal.

Friday I came home to a message on the answering machine from the emergency clinic with "some information about Kirby". I almost didn't return the call, but I knew it would be hard for Jim to do it as well so I just got it over with. As I suspected, they wanted to let us know that Kirby's ashes were ready to be picked up. Jim had requested that he be cremated. I confirmed that they would hold the ashes until we were ready to come and get them. When is one ever ready for that? I am still traumatized over my dad making me go to the vet to pick up the collar and leash of our German Shepherd after he died on the operating table when I was in college.

But Jim was out yesterday afternoon, so he did stop and pick up the remains and settled our bill. He said it was terrible. He felt the eyes of the other pet owners on him as they sat in the waiting room with their pets on a leash while his was in a box. When he got home, he told me not to freak out, but that Kirby was in his favorite spot. I peered into the conservatory, and sure enough Jim had set the box on the couch where Kirby had spent most of his time. He loved sitting in the corner of that couch (or on top of the cushion) so that he could watch for Beloved (as I referred to Jim) come home from work. It was a jolt to see the box in his corner. One surprise is that the emergency clinic had made a cast of Kirby's foot to give to us. It was a nice gesture that I am sure we will appreciate at some point. For right now it is another reminder of what we are missing.
all that remains
We received sympathy cards from our new vet as well as the emergency clinic. A couple of friends have sent cards as well. My Facebook post about Kirby's death received over 100 comments in addition to all the emoticons people tagged on it. It is comforting to know that he touched so many people in his ten years with us. I know that we gave him a great life, and he in turn graced us with much love and happiness. But right now our new normal doesn't feel very normal at all.