Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Is it 2008 already?!

It is hard to believe it's been over nine months since I have posted. Me been a bad, bad blogger... This past year 2007 has been one of the hardest in terms of challenges and stress, but it is over now and 2008 is here with new hopes and new possibilities.

So, in that spirit, I would like to wish all my visitors a wonderful, happy New Year 2008. May you fulfill your dreams, follow your soul's path and find joy and love in every day.

To celebrate the first day of the new year, my son C. and I went on a 2 1/2 hr hike to Grindstone Creek at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington. It is amazing that C., being only 7 1/2, can easily keep up with a grown up when it comes to hiking and I am glad at least one of my children shares my love and fascination for nature.

RBG is one of our favourite places to roam. If you can ignore the constant drone of the nearby roadways you can almost pretend you are out in the wild. It is the closest one can come to feeling like being in Algonquin Park without leaving the city boundaries.

If you are relatively quiet and know where to look, you can spot a lot of wildlife. It is very much a bird and squirrel paradise. On our hike we saw a tiny vole, scurrying across the snow between clumps of old grass. He moved so fast if you blinked, you missed him. And most other visitors did. Seeing him prompted me to learn more about Voles as they are so similar to our darling hamsters and I found an interesting article from Purdue University. Here is the LINK. They are quite a surprising little creature.

Other residents are all sorts of sparrows, cardinals, mourning doves, blue jays, grey jays, red winged black birds in the summer, gold finches, kingfishers, great blue herons, swans and, something new this past summer, great white egrets. Quite a number of mallard ducks and Canada geese overwinter on the creek and nest there in the spring. A couple of years ago we spotted a mink beside the creek as well as painted turtles and bull frogs. In the summer the place crawls with chipmunks. But we cannot forget little chickadees. Used to humans trekking through their territory and feeding them black sunflower seeds, these guys are virtually fearless and will readily land on your outstretched hand to inspect the goods you may be carrying. What is fascinating is that a couple of times we had downy woodpeckers, who often travel with a flock of chickadees in the winter, sit on our hands and accept a seed as well.

This past weekend C. got another treat. A brave white breasted nuthatch decided to check him out and land on his small hand. C was beaming while the nuthatch took its time to pick the best seed and flew away. Unfortunately mommy wasn't fast enough with the camera to catch the magic moment.

There have also been losses and sad moments in the last few months. On April 25th we lost our pussy cat Yoda. He was my baby and my feline soul mate. His crossing hit me very hard and he left a huge hole in my heart. At almost 15, he was very sick with heart problems and chronic kidney disease, barely weighed 7 lbs and suffered a blocked leg artery in the weeks before his end. He fought bravely so we could have last few days to cuddle and just be together but at last he let me know he was ready. Here is a photo of Yoda in his last months, when he still felt relatively well:

A few weeks after his death, even though I missed him very much and still mourned, I found that I also missed having "cat energy" around me. As it often happens in life, when I was ready, an opportunity arrived. C's friend's mother told me about Animal Welfare Association where her mother adopted a lovely female cat recently. I decided to go and just "see". I should have known...

The first kitty cat they showed me was a tiny brown tabby female with a big name of Viola. She run straight for me with a little "mur mur", rubbed on my legs and hands and proceeded to play. Well, she had me. I looked at all the other cats they had but Viola and her sweet face, soft fur and gentle eyes really stuck with me. I went home to tell my kids and husband about her and they a
ll said, "well, go GET her before somebody else does!"

So we went to see her again the next morning and had all the papers signed an hour later. The kids loved her! She is about 1 1/2 yrs old and already had a batch of kittens who were all adopted out. Because she has some rust-coloured, brownish-red spots on her we also renamed her Rusty. Viola just didn't suit her.

Rusty is a lady in every aspect and a very gentle and loving cat. Even my husband, who is by no means a cat person, likes
her. She did not replace Yoda but she has certainly made losing him bearable and has created her own little special spot in my heart.

In the morning she wakes me up gently by standing on my chest and softly
touching her cold nose to mine. Then she backs down, lies down and waits for me to wake up. After breakfast her usual routine involves a good grooming session and then a morning nap on the window in the living room where we put up a special box lined with towels for her so she could watch the birds at the feeder. She certainly seems very happy and I do hope she has a long and blissful life with us.

We also lost a couple of hamsters in the summer and fall. Little Georgie and Squishy both passed away peacefully yet prematurely in their sleep. They just never woke up and we have no idea why. Misty, our Houdini hamster, is still going strong at 1 1/2 yrs old and my daughter D. now has a beautiful, sleek, black hamster named Mittens. C. also got another hamster (we couldn't just leave Squishy's cage unoccupied!) and his (hers?) name is Honey Toast. We're still not sure what gender this hammie is LOL. He is a teddy bear (read: very fluffy and soft with long fur) very light yellowish-beige in colour, hence the "Honey" in the name. Still a big baby, he is very shy but also very smart.
Here is little Georgie, RIP; Mittens, fast asleep in D's hands and good old Misty, getting silly all over her peanut:

Our doggie Obi is also doing well in spite her blindness and is getting better at picking my queues when we go on walks. I can now take her off the leash in a more open area and when she heads for a collision all I have to say is "Ah, ah" and she turns towards me thus avoiding it. Smart Dog! Now, if I could only keep D. from feeding her inappropriate snacks so we could keep her colitis under control. She is ok as long as she eats regular amounts of her regular food, but anything out of the ordinary and there is a big, smelly problem for me to clean up, not to mention a lot of pain and discomfort for Obi!

Animals, what would we ever do without them!

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