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There’s no rhyme or reason to what turns into a blog post.

Craft-Fu

On a lark, and having recently bought some ridiculously bulky weight yarn that looked great but was limited in practical application (I thought I had all sized needles and hooks!), I watched a YouTube how-to on ‘arm knitting’.

Casting-on was a bit fiddly, but once I mastered that it was surprisingly easy, though I wouldn’t want to try stocking stitch, or a yarn over.

Also, no bathroom breaks. You’re effectively locked in yarn handcuffs for the duration. However, with a little imagination, it’s not unlike kung fu… just need to try it with some stances… maybe when I forget to use the loo before I start.

Once I got it, the whole thing took about half an hour. Less, if I’d paid attention and finished it before it became the boa constrictor it is. A surprisingly easy and therapeutic waste of time.

My only regret is that I made it at the end of winter and I’ve had almost no opportunity to wear it.

Infinity Scarf
Infinity Scarf

Spirit’s Passed

0945, Sunday the 6th of July, Spirit went to sleep in my arms for the last time.

Late the night before, she stumbled and couldn’t get up again, becoming incredibly distressed that her legs wouldn’t do what she wanted them to do. She belly-crawled around the floor, anxious to be near me, and almost certainly in as much physical pain as psychological pain.

My heart broke, and it feels like it’s breaking still – more than three weeks later.

Her own heart was still so strong, but her legs just couldn’t keep up with it anymore. Dementia was long-settled, and there were times she clearly didn’t remember where she was. She paced, and she paced, which was good for her heart, and her hind legs, but she couldn’t linger indefinitely.

In a way, it was a relief to have such a clear and obvious sign that it was time, but even after warnings from my vet, I was still not at all ready to say goodbye. Not even close. But I was often questioning whether I chose to delay for my sake or hers, until at last she made the decision for me.

A dog who can’t stand has gone as far as she can. And 14 is a good long life for a Malamute.

I miss her – all the time. Spirit was the dearest, gentlest soul, and I feel so lonely without her, even covered as I am in cats half the time. She left me too soon after Monster left me, and I feel like I really can’t lose any more right now.

I’ve been meaning to write this farewell entry for weeks, but I haven’t been able to sit still and write since it happened. I’ve turned my life upside down to avoid dealing with the loss, but I need to come back to the reality of what’s left behind.

We buried her, as I said we would, by the river on my parents’ beautiful property. Five silver birches were planted around her, and a seat will be settled in what we’ve already dubbed ‘Spirit’s Grove’. The saplings are naked and scrawny, and the grass needs to grow back from disturbance, but I will photograph the Grove in Spring or Summer, when the trees have had a chance to nourish themselves on what she’s returning to the earth.

The lovely vets at Montrose, who were so compassionate and understanding of Spirit’s pain and my abject and unabashed grief – really, I was a wailing woman made of tears and snot – sent along this lovely card soon afterwards:

 

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My animals and I are so lucky to have such good people taking care of us.

I’ve spent the last hour or so sifting through folders and folders of disorganised photographs, collecting together some of my favourite memories of my beautiful girl. I’d love to caption each of them, retell all the moments, but my heart really can’t take that kind of masochistic abuse today. Instead, I’m going to just share the lot of them, the only context necessary being that they were all taken with love.

 

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Smudge Loves Spirit [videos]

Smudge and Spirit Smooch
Smudge & Spirit

Spirit doesn’t like to come inside too often. My polished wood floor is slippery for her old joints, and there’s at least one playful cat who can’t leave her alone to sleep.

Personally, I would prefer it if she was an inside-all-the-time (except while walking and/or pooping) dog, but my landlords aren’t especially keen on animals. (Which is hard for me to understand when children are far more destructive!)

Knowing that I’ll lose her soon, and having permission from my landlords to let her in since the cold weather isn’t helping her poor old bones, I invite her in every time I go past the back door, or when I need to bring in some firewood. Most of the time she looks in, sees EnormousCat (who doesn’t like her at all) and politely declines. Sometimes I’ll shoo EC away and she’ll still politely decline, possibly discouraged the stairs. Still, I persist. I want her inside, by the fire, snoozing happily.

Today, since it was raining hard, she accepted my invitation without encouragement, but was still anxious of the floor and Smudge, who was, as ever, so excited to see her. Spirit was, afterall, the one to bring him into our lives.

She only stayed in for a little while the first time – for the last hour or so she’s been snoozing by the fire. When she left, Smudge sat at the back door, sulking and waiting for her to come back. He doesn’t seem to care how much bigger she is, or that she could snap him in half with a nip, or squash him with a misplaced foot (easily done since she has trouble placing them these days). Spirit, on the other hand, is perpetually anxious about squashing him and wanting him to stay clear, not at all sure how the pack dynamics change inside the house with a kitten in the mix. But she’s so gentle and indulgent, and Smudge is just besotted.

Video evidence of a kitten adoring a dog (with silly youtube music). :D

Seeking Asylum

Australia looks pretty reprehensible in the eyes of the international community these days, and we’re certainly not doing ourselves any favours the way we’re behaving toward our nearest neighbours. I think, sometimes, that we forget we’re a country in Asia, not a state of America or one of the British Isles.

GetUp Australia has instigated and/or spear-headed some amazing campaigns through the years, many of which I’ve watched with great interest. Their marriage equality video “It’s Time” deserved its viral status, and I still can’t watch it without a runny nose and a tear or two.

Right now they’re launching something more subtle, restrained, I suspect, but the current government’s stance on grassroots campaigning and boycotts – Letters to Asylum Seekers.

The problem with campaigning for asylum seekers these days is that the only people who are listening are the people already very concerned for refugees. The people who really need to hear the message aren’t listening, or have gone deaf.

The wonderful thing about this campaign is that the messages are being sent where they probably do more good anyway – straight to an asylum seeker, who’s probably lost all faith in humanity in the face of Australian government bullshit. I’m safe at home and I’m losing faith in humanity just thinking about what my government is doing to people who have every right to seek asylum.

It is not illegal to seek asylum! Refugees are fleeing persecution, torture, and certain death on the grounds of race, religion, sexuality or sexual orientation… They’re getting on leaky boats to face the possibility of death and the hope of a fresh start somewhere else. That opportunistic vultures prey on these people, rob them of all their assets to put them on these leaky boats, uncaring if they reach safety alive or not, is a whole other topic well worth a rant of its own.

GetUp Australia is looking for people to write letters to asylum seekers, to let them know we’re thinking of them, and that we haven’t forgotten. I just wrote mine, and I’m going to mail it tomorrow (or Monday if I can’t find a place selling stamps on Anzac Day).

I don’t know who you are, but I worry for you, and for any of your family and friends there with you. I hear such awful stories of where you are, and I think of what you went through to get there – and it’s not fair.

You haven’t been forgotten by us here in Australia, we know you’re there, and we know what our government is doing to you is wrong. Until we can make a change, please have hope, and don’t lose heart in the face of adversity. We know you’re there, and we will continue to do all we can to help you.

My name is Amelia, and I live in Tasmania – the little island state at the bottom of Australia. I study and teach at university, and my family is two cats and a dog. I don’t know who you are, but I would welcome you to my home as a friend. We haven’t forgotten you.

Please write back – let me know how you are, and who you are. We hear of ‘asylum seekers’ without seeing that you are people with names and faces and histories – but I know you have a name, and a face, and a story.

Your friend in Australia,
Amelia

The irony of this picture is perfect and poignant. For those who don’t know, it’s from the Australian National Anthem.

asylum
(CC BY-SA 2.0) John Englart (https://www.flickr.com/photos/takver/)

Spirit Photography

I had such a lovely day out yesterday, doing the walk to Platypus Tarn with my good friend Ben. I mean to parse the pictures I’ve taken into a little narrative of the adventure later today or tomorrow, but I needed to share these pictures right away!

Knowing that Spirit is in rapid decline, and painfully aware that I have so few pictures of the two of us, I asked Ben if he’d mind taking some photographs if we had time. Ben, being as lovely as he is, made the time, and these are some of the results.

© Ben Short
© Ben Short
© Ben Short
© Ben Short

We got home quite late, but with just enough daylight left to take Spirit down to Tynwald Park… our favourite haunt. The trees are turning in a kind of reflection of Spirit’s own ‘turning’ in the Autumn of her life, so it seemed so right to have a cuddle under an autumnal tree, and give Ben a few shots of us mid-snuggle.

Her energy has returned, albeit in short bursts, thanks to the powerful medication she’s on. It’s hard to believe she is as old as she is, and that without these drugs she’d be unable to walk, nevermind run and bounce. But she did run and bounce, and despite such an awesome day out walking and photographing, those highs were the highlights of my whole day.

Thank you, Ben. <3