Simple Gifts

I believe I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world; the Snoqualmie Valley. I get to see amazing things everyday. It's time to celebrate that. (You can view pictures in larger format by clicking on them)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Schmoozer's first hike

I haven't been hiking since Coal died. I just haven't been able to face the idea of going without him. I've been starting to miss the woods. I will always find a sense of peace and renewel out in nature. So, I decided to take Scmoozer for a hike. OK, it wasn't really a hike. He's just a little guy. I have to be careful where I take him because he's not fully vaccinated yet (16 weeks, and then the adventures really begin). He's also very young and certainly not up for a big outing. I decided Olallie would be the perfect place. The old growth trail and picnic area is very small and I have rarely seen people there.

Schmoozer has been uncertain on our walks to the river by my house. Sometimes he is excited and happy and sometimes scared. Of course there are cars and neighborhood dogs (not lose, but still very big and intimidating) to deal with. I really wasn't sure how he'd react. I think everyone should spend time outside with a baby (human, puppy, kitty, etc). They experience the world in a different way. Schmoozer was thrilled from the moment we started. He was a bit disappointed I didn't let him eat the elk poop and he probably could have spent much longer chasing leaves but soon enough we headed down the trail.

The beauty of the forest

It was good to get out in be immersed in green. The light show through the trees and the moss seemed to soak up sound. I've needed that. Schmoo learned that sometimes I stop and take forever taking photos. He was pretty patient but pulled excitedly ahead until we got to the mud. Then he stopped dead. Apparently mud was something new and perplexing. We stopped and he sat and thought for a moment and then he came up with the perfect solution to the mud problem. When in mud - DIG!

This is how most of my pictures of Schmoozer come out.
He moves around quite a bit! And he really got into the digging.

I don't think he was actually eating the mud... I hope not

I finally dragged him away from the mud and we continued on. I think by then he had discovered the joy of exploring. He was running at the end of his leash (even though I was mostly walking.) It was quite fun watching him try to charge ahead. When we got to the end of the falls he was disappointed. He wanted to continue on and he tried to jump up and peer over the railing at Weeks Falls. I picked him up and let him see. The we were off again. He was confused when we didn't follow the exact same path back, but delighted to end up by the river. What can I say, he's going to be a water dog. He explored the river, slipping and sliding over rocks and splashing excitedly. But like young critters everywhere, it was the simple pleasures. He found a place that felt secure and then spent a happy period playing with a stick. I could tell he was starting to get tired and the weather was looking threatening so headed back. Schmoo still delights in grass and we had a romp before it was time to load him in the car. I kept tellng him he was tired, and he kept saying "play". It would have been more convincing if he didn't keep falling over and flopping down in the grass.
River Dog!

Sticks are fun!

He's got his stick, but he's too worn out to do much

After a brief romp in the grass,
Shmooze was ready to be carried to the car.
I think he was asleep before I go the engine started

The view as we loaded up to go home

I am so lucky to have Schmoozer in my life. I was delighted and honored when I got a reply and email from the Lil Waif Puppy Rescue folks after my last entry. It makes me so happy to think of how well cared for Schmoozer was. What a blessing that there are people out there like them. His life and mine would be so different without there generosity and care. Whenver I forget how to laugh, I just need to sit down and spend time with him. We have a good start and will be able to share our joy in this big and beautiful world together on many hikes and outings in the future.

My beautiful boy, 11.5 weeks old

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Schmoozer the Wonder Puppy

I miss Coal. I didn't think I'd be able to bring another dog into my house any time soon. Coal can never be replaced. The house felt empty but beyond missing Coal and the emptiness of the house I miss dogs. Dogs are a pleasure. They bring out the best in me. They help me connect with the world.

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive. ~Gilda Radner
So, I began to look for a new companion to bring home. I admire people who bring adult dogs home. However, I decided to get a puppy for 2 reasons. With the death of both Grumbles and Coal this year and Fancy getting older I wanted someone young and healthy (hopefully). I also have a great opportunity to bring my dog to work. A puppy can learn and adjust to the work environment and will be accepted more easily. I discovered a website which lists puppies and dogs from rescues and shelters. I found a great place - Lil Waif Puppy Rescue. I went out to look at some puppies and that's where I found Schmoozer. Actually I should say he found me, because he charged up to me as soon as I entered.

Schmoozer's first day home.

He discovered Coal's old toy box almost immediately!

I thought his name was going to be Simcha, which roughly means "a joyous occasion". Indeed, bringing him home was a joyous occasion but his name quickly became Schmoozer. He likes to talk and socialize. He's amazingly smart and I'm delighted to have him in my life. He is now 10 weeks old and he's lived with me for a week. He has already learned sit and is pretty good at laying down. He hasn't had a potty accident in 3 days! He fetches. He walks on leash. I've had this week off work and I am giving him many opportunities to safely explore the world. Today he spent time with two very friendly (and slightly overwhelmed cats) and an old dog.

I have to admit, as my friends and family meet the Schmooze and say how wonderful he is, I want to say "don't forget about Coal". But I am finding one of the best ways I know of keeping Coal's memory alive. I am taking all I learned from him, including a deep and undeniable love, and passing it on to my little Schmoozer.

Schmoozer at home

He has all these toys to play with but he decides the pet food bowls are great fun... including the one full of water. He can carry it around and toss it in the air. We now have the water in a larger no tip bowl.

Schmoozer discovers grass

He did a lot of rolling in the grass

Schmoozer discovers the river

He was determined to drag this large branch out of the water I'm sure it weighed more then he does. He also discovered he river gets deep for a little guy!

I'm not sure which was more fun - sticking his nose in the water or digging in the sand

He's thinking "will you quit taking pictures and play with me!"

As always you can click on a picture to view it in a larger format.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Greatest Dog in the World

It's funny, I can normally find words to write with, but I have found myself at a loss. My gentle, goofy, loving companion passed away a few weeks ago. If you you read through Simple Gift you'll find him mentioned frequently. Coal shared my adventures. He shared my sorrows and my joys. We were together for somewhat over 14 years. I've lost something and no matter how hard I try to write, words won't capture what I had. We hiked together his last day. He had a great out and was quite happy. He died suddenly that night.

Coal and Fancy cat. They slept together nearly every night. This picture was taken 3 weeks before he died. Taken 8/11/07

When I was young I read stories about dogs and dreamed of having my own dog. I imagined some brave, intelligent dog protecting me from danger and doing amazing tricks. Having a dog was one of my Big Dreams. Coal certainly wasn't brave and he wasn't as obedient as I expected. He wasn't my sidekick. He was so much more. He was his own being with his own personality. Having Coal was different then my childhood dream but it was every bit as wonderful as I thought it would be.

Taken back when I lived in Steilacoom, sometime around 1999 maybe. Coal refused to come inside, he was so happy for the snow

Coal had such a gentle nature. Except when it came to bees, then he went nuts. My sweet gentle dog would trample anything to get a bee. He caught a rabbit once. It was a very young, stupid rabbit and it literally ran under Coal's feet. His instinct took over and he pounced. There was the rabbit under his big paws. Coal looked back at me, with this horrified look on his face and then very gently he lifted his paws up. The rabbit scurried off and when it was deeply under the brush, impossible to catch, Coal gave chase. Another time, there was a young boy who was clearly scared of Coal. Coal never looked at him but slowly moved sideways getting closer. I couldn't believe he was doing it. But then the boy started asking questions and I realized what Coal had already figured out. Even though the boy was scared he wanted to make friends. So bit by bit Coal moved closer, taking this careful sideways steps until he was leaning against the boy's leg. Then the boy was petting Coal and Coal was licking the boy.

I have so many more memories I could write; how he was afraid of bubbles, him crossing the river to join my friends, their dogs and I (the river was very shallow but Coal thought he'd crossed a major obstacle and was so proud of himself), how he loved the snow and the beach. If you shared time with Coal, you know what a wonderful dog he was. If you didn't know Coal, then no matter how many memories I share, it won't feel like enough to me.

I looked through Simple Gifts and some other photos. I posted some below.

Whenever I put down a blanket to lay in the sun, Coal was delighted. I think he thought the blanket was for him and he was happy for the opportunity to lay down beside me 5/31/07

Coal tuckered after a hike on a very hot day 6/13/2005

Coal at my favorite place, Franklin Falls 9/20/06

Coal looking off Rattlesnake Ledge 9/10/05. He loved surveying the world from the summit

Coal in the water the water. Coal wouldn't swim but he loved to wade and lay in the water- taken June 2005

Coal along the Pacific Crest Trail 11/5/05. He loved the snow.

This is how I think of Coal now, up ahead waiting for me.

Summer and the Journey

I really intended to make several more entries about my trip to the Redwoods here. Summer arrived and I kept finding other things to do. I had a really nice hike, to Mirror Lake, that I wanted to write about. However, I wanted to finish the Redwood entries first, I sat down and went through some more of the photos, thought about what I would write and then I started working in my yard... and so the summer progressed and Simple Gifts has sat fallow.

I've been out experiencing, touching, exploring, listening and simply being immersed in the world I love. Perhaps at some point I'll come back and spend more time here at the keyboard, I really don't know. I didn't hike as much as I wanted to either, but I've had many good experiences. I am learning that there are may paths to follow. Robert Frost talks about the choice between two paths. Indeed, taking the path less traveled by is important, but it is only part of a journey that is twisting and uncertain. Sometimes we are confided by a place where there seem to by a myriad of paths to choose from. The amazing thing is, we get to chose over and over which path we will take and how we will travel. For now I muddling through, finding my way and looking forward more then back

But I carry the memories of my journeys with me and ere are some photo highlights from the summer...

Redwoods Camping Trip

A really big cricket
With all the big trees and animals and beautiful scenery, we could still get excited about a bug.

I love how light moves through the forest. This was so striking in the Redwoods.

We spent a lot of time at the river. We saw a deer swim across, sometimes the secret to seeing things is to stop searching and stay still.

The river was a great place for toad catching. Tasha was an expert. I felt a bit sorry for the toads.

One of the toads, hiding from Tasha Toad Hunter

More from Redwoods Camping Trip- Crescent City Beach

Watching the ocean is beautiful, but there was so much other beauty to be found.

This jellyfish was huge!

A close up of the jellyfish

Tasha, Nae and Abby the dog headed down this rock jetty. Coal wasn't up for the walk across the rocks so we stayed behind and watched.

Coal didn't mind waiting. The rocks were rough on his legs but he found plenty to explore.

Mirror Lake

It's called mirror lake for swimming. It was very deep and clear.

Snoqualmie Valley

My favorite time of day is dusk. It whispers to me of secrets and magic.