I don’t talk about it often around these parts, but I have a chronic illness. It’s a pretty crummy chronic illness, as far as chronic illnesses go. The compromises are frequent and endless, and my patience and determination are taxed on a daily basis.
One of the huge compromises I face daily is reflected in my relationship with food. For the past two years, I’ve had to limit my diet to a handful of ingredients in order to help my body manage a massive and punishing flare. I’ve been able to stabilize somewhat but I haven’t had the freedom to expand on my diet very much – I’m still walking a very tight rope.
I had originally planned a very rose-coloured series where as I got healthier, I would illustrate the foods I was welcoming back into my life with open arms; but as the months went by I realized that this wasn’t happening freely or even regularly, as I had hoped. Putting that project on the back burner was yet another reminder that chronic illness can throw a wrench into the best laid of plans. So when my friend Anisa suggested that I just flip it around and illustrate the foods I COULDN’T eat (thanks Anisa!), I thought – why the tarnation not? And then my friend Belinda encouraged me to post about it (thanks Belinda!). p.s. Wow, I have a lot of friends with pretty names.
So anyway, here is my first entry in what I hope will become a fun and cathartic series. I’m starting small.
Two Saturdays ago was our last Finnegan‘s outing of the year. It was bittersweet – half the vendors were already gone, there was a chill in the air, the skies were dark. People were giving each other hugs and wishing each other a good winter – it felt a bit like the end of camp. I bought a bag of beautiful deep red Empire apples from the Verger Hudson stall and we made our way into the barn, where a box full of silvery goodies awaited us.
Christian had been eyeing a silverware set for about three years – yup, three years, that’s how we shop. I love pretty silverware and was willing to wait for just the right set; that is to say, affordable on top of all the other requirements I had in my head. Call me a weirdo, but there’s so much to be particular about when it comes to just about anything, and for me that includes silverware (although, being particular does not lend itself well to shopping on a budget – which is why it often takes us years to buy stuff). The proportions, the weight, the length of the fork tines, the spoons – oh my gosh, the SPOONS. Perfectly round soup spoons, please. I don’t know why this is so important to me, but it is. This set included the best dessert spoons I’ve ever seen – perfectly proportioned, with a matte gold bowl. So pretty.
Salvatore’s stall is a fixture in the barn: beautiful serving pieces, silverware and accessories, and always a sweet little dog (one of their several) taking a nap in the chair at the back. We negotiated a special end-of-the-season price and he was kind enough to polish and sharpen all the knives for us – although now we’re afraid to use them. Thank-you to Salvatore and his wife for making our last purchase of the season so memorable. Until next spring, Finny’s.
It’s a big deal when one of your clients celebrates their tenth anniversary; it becomes that much more significant when you realize that you’ve been with them right from the start. When my sister Sonja first told me about the Ten Oaks Project, Holly and Julia Wagg weren’t married yet and were hatching a dream – a dream that became reality thanks to the hard work, dedication and love of many caring folks.
Last Saturday, I hopped on a bus to Ottawa to join them in celebrating ten years of love, diversity and inclusiveness. It was a very touching event, filled with beautiful testimonials and heartfelt appreciation – not to mention glitter, crafts and cake. The Ten Oaks Project has transformed the lives of so many – if you haven’t heard of them, do take a look at all the good that they do. Over the past decade, as I shifted between agency and freelance work, I collaborated with them to create their Camp Ten Oaks logo, Bowl-a-Thon posters, their first website, their annual reports; Christian and I visited Camp Ten Oaks and photographed their very first summer. Whenever I could, I donated my services. I’ve watched them grow, thrive, and develop even further – notably, Project Acorn which my awesome sister Sonja dedicated so many years to.
Most recently, I had the pleasure of designing their tenth anniversary logo, badge and invitation. It was my first time designing a badge and I am so hooked – must design more badges. So much fun.
Dear Holly, Julia, Sonja, Mark, Lee, Hannah and the entire Ten Oaks team and family – congratulations on your ten years, and here’s to many more life-changing decades ahead of you. I’m so pleased and honoured to have been able to contribute in some small way, and I can’t wait to see what we come up with next. Happy, happy anniversary :) xo
(thank-you for the photo, Holly!! xo)
Last Saturday’s torrential downpour put a damper on our weekly Finnegan’s outing so we decided to tackle my art wall project. There’s a big blank wall in my office that I had destined to become a mini art gallery – three years after moving in, I’d finally collected a sufficient amount of pieces to at least fill a good part of it. I started by arranging everything on the floor in our living room. Christian measured the wall I wanted to cover and marked out the width and height with tape on the floor, and we noted where the light switch, dog food (not shown ;) and filing cabinet were positioned along that wall.
I’m pretty happy with how it turned out – it’s a fun collection of artwork, prints and photographs. There’s a lot more wall left to fill so I have years of satisfying flea market foraging ahead of me…
I’m so lucky to have original artwork and prints by both friends and family, and some antique pieces handed down to us from Christian’s lovely mom – they do a nice job of balancing the more random items that had caught my eye at Finnegan’s. Looking forward to filling in the gaps over the next few years. Thank-you to Christian for the photographs! <3
I’ve been slowly collecting pieces in order to assemble an art wall in my office – I’m pretty close to a full wall, and this lovely print definitely fit the bill. It’s called “Out of the Stubble” by Archibald Thorburn, and according to this print it’s a special supplement to the “Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News” August 28, 1897. Thirty bucks, perfectly beat up wood frame included.
Well, nothing horrible has happened to our pet family in a few weeks so I think it’s safe to go back to my regularly scheduled programming.
My Finnegan’s Flea Market finds have been multiplying nicely – time to hurry up and start sharing them with you. This week it’s all about the perfect pitcher. Whether it’s to accompany a fragrant cup of tea with a splash of milk or to fill with wildflowers, who doesn’t need a pitcher (or five). This charming little number has a woodland pheasant scene that I couldn’t resist. Seven bucks.
If you are squeamish or adverse to reading about bodily functions, you may want to skip reading this post – that being said, if you have a dog it could help save your fur monster’s life, so please read on if you can. I’m going to try and be as detailed as possible in the hopes that it might be helpful to somebody.
Our beloved Panda bear is fine today. Bouncy, smiling, eyes and coat shining. Ten days ago she almost died. We still don’t know why, and likely never will, but her symptoms were specific enough that I think it’s important to share them.
On a Monday, Panda started exhibiting signs of minor indigestion. You know, nothing serious, just softer poop than usual. Every dog owner has experienced this. Dogs eat everything. Panda proudly subscribes to a strict policy of “eat now, ask questions later”. So naturally I decided to let things run their course, but I kept a watchful eye on her. A few days went by, nothing changed – she didn’t get better but she didn’t get worse, either. Everything else was the same. Appetite, mood, energy levels were all normal. I Googled “how long should I wait if my dog has indigestion”… I didn’t get a good answer, but I did stumble on a bunch of articles about a condition called HGE: Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis. I had never heard of this condition before, and it sounded terrifying. I started watching Panda more carefully just in case, but she really seemed to be fine other than the mild tummy upset.
On Wednesday night, Panda woke me up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I let her out, puzzled – she’d never done this before. It was 3am and pouring rain; I followed her around with a flashlight, in my bathrobe and rain boots. She didn’t seem sicker than before, but the situation felt odd. We went back to bed and watched tv together before catching a few more hours of sleep. Thursday was business as usual: several walks, meals anticipated and enjoyed as always, chasing the ball in the backyard that evening.
On Thursday night, Panda woke me up three times. We must have slept two hours that night. She would try and go to the bathroom and very little would come out. She was acting a little hyper and I knew it was because she felt uncomfortable – I was really concerned at this point and decided to call the vet as soon as they opened the next day.
Friday morning, sleep-deprived and worried, I called the vet – thankfully they had a spot for me in about three hours’ time. I decided not to give Panda her breakfast just in case she had some kind of obstruction. She wasn’t happy about this but I somehow resisted her irresistible face. While we were waiting for her appointment to come around, Panda threw up. I got more anxious. She was getting worse. She went outside and lay down – this was the first time all week that she was showing signs of not feeling well. I sat near her and watched her. She stood up, began to go to the bathroom… and all that came out was a lot of water and blood. I felt my stomach drop down into my toes as total panic and fear took hold. No! I packed her up into the car and we arrived at the vet early – luckily they were able to see us almost immediately and within about 90 minutes from that terrifying moment in the backyard she was isolated and hooked up to an IV.
Since Panda is a rescue, it was particularly heartbreaking as I knew that she probably thought I was abandoning her at her weakest and sickest – I went back that afternoon with a big towel that smelled like home and the vet was kind enough to let me sit with her for an hour. She tried incessantly to crawl out from under my feet and begged me with her eyes to let her come home. Nobody was able to tell me that she would be ok so it was a terrifying day. By that night they felt more confident that she was stabilizing so I went home and tried to eat, but the heartbeat of our house was gone and I could barely stand to be there. Third sleepless night, coming right up.
The next morning, I called the vet as soon as they were open and received the best news: Panda was smiling and had eaten a tiny bit of food. So far she was holding it down. If she was able to hold down food, she’d be able to take her medication orally, and she’d be able to come home. A few hours later I got the ok: come and get her! Much to the hospital’s chagrin, as they had all fallen in love with her. Why am I not surprised.
Panda had to follow a pretty involved food and medication schedule for the next week, and she continued to lose a bit of blood for a few more days before things cleared up. But she continued to improve and is now back to her kibble, her carrots and her usual self. Needless to say, I have become a hovering nightmare. Panda has added “puzzled and annoyed” to her gallery of daily expressions.
Why am I posting this long story? Because: another sweet doggie in our neighbourhood got the same thing. Unlike Panda, she started bleeding in the middle of the night – and by the time she was seen by a vet the next morning, it was too late. She passed away hours later. I can barely imagine the kind of pain and sadness her family has experienced. She was a friend of Panda’s that we always made a point of saying hello to and cuddling with, and I was devastated to learn that she had died. The entire neighbourhood is in shock and worried for their own pets.
There are many theories circulating – it’s been a very rainy summer, things have been more damp than usual – maybe they ate a bad mushroom, or perhaps bacteria was growing on a toy or a bone and they ingested it accidentally. Perhaps they inhaled some pathogenic spores. Or, worse, perhaps they consumed poison that was left out by somebody – for rats or raccoons I guess, which is bad enough, but I can’t even bear to think that anybody was deliberately trying to poison anybody’s pets. I can confirm that Panda has had all of her shots and has been vaccinated against Parvovirus, which is a very serious and highly contagious disease that exhibits symptoms similar to HGE. I spoke with some officials at city hall, discussed the situation with a well-respected local vet just to get a second opinion, emailed all the neighbours I knew who had dogs, and went door-to-door for those whose names I didn’t know and whose emails I didn’t have. I’m writing this blog post because perhaps sharing what happened will help save your dog’s life.
All I can say is that I’m convinced Panda and our neighbour/dog friend were affected by HGE. This is a general condition that can be caused by many things, so it’s not very comforting to identify it as a cause because it doesn’t mean you can protect your dog any better. The only solution to HGE is to catch it as soon as possible, go straight to the vet, aggressively re-hydrate via an IV and pump their system full of antibiotics. Dogs often don’t show that they aren’t feeling well until they are in really bad shape – Panda was eating and otherwise behaving normally until Friday morning, but then she became dehydrated at lightning speed. In smaller dogs it can happen even more quickly.
If you ever see blood, or suspect dehydration, don’t wait – if it’s the middle of the night, go to an emergency animal hospital. But please, please – do not wait. Panda sends her best. xo
To a sweet and sour spitfire who was the boss of everything and everyone.
To a gray-haired dame who would yell to get her water bowl refilled, yell to get the dog’s water bowl refilled, then go outside and drink old rainwater from a dirty crack in the deck.
To a cuddly, creaky old lady who discovered the joys of the fireplace and our laps late in life.
To a furry scaredy-cat who discovered in her recent deafness that the bone-chilling vacuum was actually a fabulous massage opportunity.
To a sprightly senior who caught more moles in her twentieth year than the rest of her years combined.
Dear Blue, twenty years ago you fit into the palm of Christian’s hand. You’ve been with him, and then us, ever since. We are so sad. We love you, and we miss you.
This Saturday at Finnegan’s was a memorable one. Hot, sunny, full of people, and I got to spend it with my dear friend Lauren, her wonderful husband Kevin and their adorable baby boy Gideon. Lauren is a girl who knows her housewares so I was happy that they went home with a little treasure trove of loot – as for me, I had been looking for a gardening hat and I finally found one. Pinky striped awesomeness. Five bucks.
A special thank-you to my Christian for the picture! <3
New column! It’s summertime in Hudson, and that can only mean one thing: Finnegan’s Flea Market! We live ten minutes away so health permitting, we go pretty much every Saturday. Things started slowly in rainy May but this past Saturday it was going like gangbusters. Each visit Panda makes about a million new friends and we usually pick up a little something or three. Here’s my loot from last weekend: three hinged (which means they fit me, for once) cloisonné bracelets. Six smackeroos.