Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The View

Photo from the day I bought my house, October 2016.

I've been focusing a lot lately on getting house projects done and haven't made much time to get out and explore in nature. But with Charlie's increasing anxiety lately, it's actually been good timing to take a break for a bit.

I purchased my house back in October last year after having rented it for 6 years. During those years of renting, you can imagine my "wish list" for fixing and repairing certain items had gotten pretty long. It's an old house and needs some work. Now that it's mine, I can do whatever I want.

My first priority was to get the windows replaced. That was my one and only goal this summer - new windows. But the City of Wausau had other plans and issued me a code violation this spring for the siding on the garage. I knew it needed to be replaced, but I had only owned the house for 6 months when I got the notice!

So instead of dragging out the repairs over the next few years as funds were available, I refinanced the mortgage and scheduled everything to be done at the same time by the same company. I figured it was worth the expense to just have my house "done."

They started last week on the garage and yesterday the upstairs windows were installed, where my main living space is. Today will be the downstairs windows.

Even though I knew how bad the old windows were... ripped screens, rotting frames, cracks in the glass repaired with white caulk and so dirty on the outside that you couldn't see through them anymore... I'm still in awe of the new windows.

The view is crystal clear. They open so easily; I no longer need to use sticks to prop them open. Windows that were painted shut and unable to open are now operable. At the expense of my privacy, I refused to put the blinds down because I can't believe how well I can see everything.

~Last night I opened all the windows for the first time. ~

The neighborhood sounded so different hearing it from all four sides of the house. The songs of early-rising birds drifted through the rooms in stereo this morning. The breeze flowed freely throughout the house and wrapped itself around me as it went by.
It was lovely.

I didn't realize what a luxury new windows would be, but I honestly just walk from room to room and admire the view. I think Charlie is enjoying it too... now she has better access to see what's happening in the neighborhood from every room. And even though the sounds of traffic and kids playing is louder as well, these are the sounds that make up our life and define our place in the world, and somehow I feel a little more connected to all of that now.

The little things make the biggest difference sometimes.

Monday, June 19, 2017

It's Not Always Perfect

People get wrapped up in presenting a perfect life on social media... posting the best pictures of the happiest moments. Oftentimes, those looking in on that perfect life can become jealous thinking that their life should be that perfect too. But the truth is, life is not always perfect.

Yesterday was another bad day for Charlie. It was Father's Day, and I wanted to revisit one of the first hiking trails we had done, in essence recreating the Father's Day hike I had done four years ago in honor of my dad.

It was a rough weekend for me because I had an important job at a friend's wedding on Saturday and couldn't be with my family to help with the final auction to sell the last of my dad's equipment and tools at the homestead. It was a family reunion of sorts and I should probably have been there. But I had made plans already with my friend before the auction was scheduled and didn't feel right changing plans at the last minute. Plus, I felt a little sad seeing the last of my dad's things go and wasn't sure if I could handle being there. And even though I missed out on visiting with family, I know I did the right thing by helping with the wedding instead; it just felt like where I was supposed to be at that particular moment.

But Sunday was going to be a time for myself, to spend hiking with Charlie and remembering my dad.

Unfortunately Charlie had another panic attack. As soon as we arrived in the parking lot of the hiking trail, she began to tremble and shake so badly that there was no way I was going to force her to hike. I could tell she was scared. So, I figured we'd go to another hiking trail on the way home that we've been visiting frequently and that she enjoys. But again, once we arrived to the parking area she was so scared that she dove under my legs and hid down by the gas pedal of the car; she wouldn't leave the car.

I assured her that she was a good girl and we didn't have to hike today but I drove away with tears streaming down my face because I really did want to hike that day. But it wouldn't have felt right hiking without her. Somehow being in the woods by myself doesn't feel right and I miss her when she's not with me.


I've been walking by myself a lot lately and can't even take Charlie kayaking with me anymore. She's scared of every noise and just wants to hide in her safe place at home.

I'm not sure what's wrong with her or why she's getting worse with her noise-reactivity and fear, but I decided to seek out some professional help by either getting her some Reiki or acupuncture treatments, or possibly both.

It's hard to believe that I've only been hiking with Charlie a little over 4 years. It seems like we've been hiking together forever. And even though I love being in the woods, I need to have my dog with me to fully enjoy it.

You've probably noticed that I'm not posting up as many adventures as I used to... and that's because we're not having any. I'm sad and worried about this but hoping things will work out and Charlie will come around again.

Life is still good. We're healthy and have everything we need. But it's not perfect. You just have to enjoy the simple things and the magic moments because those are the things that get you through everything else.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Kayaking @ Hartman Creek S.P.

It was National Trails Day on Saturday, but we had a lot of severe weather that day so we opted to stay close to home instead. With the high heat and humidity, it was probably a good choice anyway!

To make up for not getting out on the trails yesterday, we took a road trip to Hartman Creek State Park today and spent the early afternoon paddling around Lake Allen.

I just got a new kayak on Friday for my birthday present to myself (along with the roof rack to haul it with) and couldn't wait to get out on the water!

First, I had to practice getting the kayak on and off my car... by myself. It's one thing to have a sales associate load the kayak onto your car and tie it down for you. It's a whole other thing to do it by yourself. Especially for someone small, like me. At 5'4" and 130 lbs., I wasn't sure if I was actually going to be able to do this myself.

But with a little practice and the help of a bath mat and towel to protect my car in case I dropped it, and a step stool to gain some height for lifting the kayak up onto the bars, I was successful!

Actually, I felt like freaking Wonder Woman. Seriously. I think I was even kind of strutting around all puffed up with attitude for a bit. It felt awesome! A few more weeks of putting the kayak on and off my car, and I'm going to have a lot of new muscles. And since I only live a few blocks from the Wisconsin River, I plan to do a lot of weeknight paddling.

Today, I had my mom and her dog, Peanut, along with us, which was great because I had someone to take photos from the shore of me and Charlie on the boat.

The only problem with this scenario is that Charlie is part Border Collie and it's her instinct to "herd" and keep her pack together. As soon as I got her loaded in the boat and started paddling away from shore (and away from half of her pack), she kind of freaked out. She insisted on keeping eye contact with their location even if that meant getting in the way of my paddle.

And when the boat got turned around she was practically looking over my shoulder to keep tabs on their whereabouts. But when Mom and Peanut disappeared... presumably to the dog picnic area, Charlie kind of panicked and jumped into the water, determined to paddle to shore (because apparently I was taking too long to get the pack reunited).

Typically when she "falls" out of the boat or jumps in after a stick or leaf, she quickly decides to get back in the boat. I hoist her in using the handle on her life jacket, she shakes off water and *cools* me off. But today, she was going to swim herself back to shore with no help from me.

All in all, it was a good first outing in our new boat and since it's been a couple years since we've been kayaking, I'm sure it'll take a little practice to get used to it again. Maybe next time we'll go by ourselves and she'll relax a little bit.

Even though it was National Trails Day this weekend, we opted to head out onto the open water instead to avoid the height of tick season right now. The really cool part was that our State Parks were open free to the public this weekend to encourage people to get out and enjoy these natural resources.

I hope you all got a chance to get outside and enjoy some nature yourself this weekend! And "Thanks Mom!" for taking some really great pictures of us!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Past & Present Converge on a Birthday

Today is my birthday. I took off work for the rest of this week to have a long weekend with Charlie, but had to go in for a couple hours this morning to run some month-end reports, so I decided to bring Charlie to work with me since this was "our" time to be together.

She had a blast! Usually when she comes to work with me, it's on the weekends when no one else is there. Today she had a bunch of people who were willing (and excited!) to throw her ball as many times as she wanted. The timing was kind of funny since we watched the episode of Downward Dog on t.v. last night where she takes her dog to work and he's totally shocked that she gets to go to this fun place and leave him at home every day. I had to smile wondering if Charlie thought the same thing.

My co-worker had some fun gifts on my desk along with a chocolate donut with a birthday candle that she insisted on lighting and having me blow out to make a wish. Wish made... hopefully granted!

Birthday donut with candle.

After that, we headed to one of our favorite trails for a leisurely weekday hike. The awesome thing about having my birthday on a Thursday and also having the day off, is that no one else is out on the trails on a weekday!

I was able to have Charlie off-leash for most of the hike, which allowed me to walk at a leisurely pace to absorb the details of the forest and river surrounding me.

I listened to the water flowing over rapids, watched frogs and crawfish along the shore, marveled at how green everything has gotten and took in the aroma of the interesting combination of decaying leaves still on the trail mixed with newly budding greenery.

Tiny frog on tip of rock

The contrast of old and new was intoxicating. And since I wasn't being tugged along at warp speed by Charlie, it gave me time to sit on a rock and contemplate the past and the future on a day that marks my birth. Thinking about the past and all that I have been through while also looking ahead to the future and all that lies before me.

It was a good day.

Charlie scouring the shoreline for sticks.