Life is But One Long Canoe Ride

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Meet the man who has floated my boat for over 32 years. Today is his birthday and he is celebrating with a snowy day, the Super Bowl, a chili and chicken quesadilla dinner with a chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream chaser. Canoeing is in his blood and he is never happier than when he’s taking the Current River at full speed, though sometimes he’ll settle for a placid local lake as is pictured above.

Camping is also in his blood and so it was a pleasure to see him honored last night by the Boy Scouts in our region for his contributions to our son’s troop. My husband served that troop as camping coordinator throughout our son’s tenure, taking the troop spelunking and camping and canoeing every month of the year for upwards of 5 years. (Someday I will regale you with tales of the girls-weekends-out my daughter and I enjoyed during those halcyon scouting years.)

My husband stayed on with the troop long after our son achieved Eagle, mentoring the new young dads in the ways of orienteering and water safety and schooling them in the secrets of tasty camp cooking. So it is fitting that he be recognized for his efforts, though he and I would both assert that tremendous parental involvement and support made all the difference for all the kids all of that time.

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This honor is well deserved and meaningful, but what really makes his day is hearing the scouts themselves or their parents tell stories of the great fun they had and how much they now enjoy the memories of crawling through a dark, muddy cave on their backs, cooking cherry cobbler in a dutch oven over an open fire, or flipping a canoe full of gear and living to tell about it.

Someone once asked me—before we had kids—if my husband had gone very far in scouting. I said, “Well, he became a park ranger; how much further can you go?” But now I know just how much further you can go: you can pay that scouting experience forward and far into the future simply by sharing it with others.

Boy Loves Dog Loves Boy

Here is how this works. Our son helped us select, name, and train our fourth Brittany, Phoebe. One night not so long ago, she fell asleep on the couch waiting for him to come home, her head resting on the coffee table next to his photograph. Alas, the genius of dogs.

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Phoebe awaits the arrival of her buddy.

Puppy Love

Sure, you can take my pic.

Sure, you can take my pic.

Wonder what’s been keeping me away from blogging and up at night? Introducing…Phoebe, Brittany Spaniel extraordinaire. She is as cute as a bug’s ear and sharp as a tack. After our beloved Duncan passed away last year, I said that I had one more puppy in me but we needed to wait til the warm summer months. That was a genius move on my part given that we had 3 blizzards this winter, each delivering over a foot of snow.

Now, the warm summer months are currently unseasonably cool, for which I am eternally grateful since I spend A LOT of time outside. However, as it turns out, I didn’t have one more puppy in me.  Um, I grossly miscalculated my actual-energy -to-expended-effort ratio. Oops. I discovered that when we got Duncan as a pup 9 years ago I was apparently 20 years younger than I am now. You do the math. Fortunately, I have two amazing kids who have taken on the task of raising her. Whew!

I apologize in advance if this space turns into a dog blog. She’s pretty charismatic already at the tender age of 8 weeks. We are all completely and utterly under her spell.

Seriously, just try not to wither under the spell of my puppy-dog eyes.

Seriously, just try not to wither under the spell of my puppy-dog eyes.

Hole in My Heart

This dog was all about power naps.

Words fail at the sudden and quite unexpected loss of our beloved 8-year-old Brittany Spaniel yesterday due to a ruptured abdominal tumor. So I give you the eloquence of my teenage daughter instead:

Got into the trash almost everyday? Check. Constantly taking shoes? Check. Jumped the fence? Check. Barked at everyone who walked by? Check. Ate my favorite necklace? Check. The list could go on. Sound familiar? He was a Marley and Me kind of dog…but better. Because he was my dog. He was meant for my family. Love you, high maintenance dog. You will be missed.

Yeah, he was all that and much, much more. Here’s how I know he made it to dog heaven despite his earthly shenanigans: On the way to share the sad news with our college son in another town, I stopped by a Starbucks there to mitigate a crying-induced migraine with caffeine.

Head down, I went to pay and looked up through my tearful stupor only to see the barista’s white plastic nametag emblazoned with black capital letters in bolded block print.

Her name was a British name, that of a Shakespearean heroine, and the very one we had carefully chosen for our female dog who passed away shortly before we got this guy.

Of all the gin joints…