Unless you’re born between the 22nd of June and the 22nd of July, ‘cancer’ can be a pretty scary word! So many millions of people die of cancer, or cancer-related illnesses all the time, and we’re all well aware that it’s out there and people have it. I’d be surprised if anyone doesn’t at least know of someone who has or had cancer. My own grandfather died of cancer-related issues a little over a year ago. Even my cat, my most beloved little buddy Monster, died of cancer, so it’s not at all relegated to the humans in our lives.

Late last year I realised a curious little growth between the bridge of my nose and the corner of my eye had tiny little veins threading through it. I’d previously had this particular little growth checked, but it had appeared from nowhere and refused to go away. I recalled thinking it was a pimple and attacking it as pimples must be attacked, but none of my efforts could entirely erase it from my face. The little blood vessels, however, triggered a bout of research that concluded with Basal Cell Carcinoma, of a nodular variety.

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Smudge Loves Spirit [videos]

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


(I really need to get back to writing. Really, really. Not that this is any good, but it was so much fun to write!)

“Ballista!” The shout echoes above and below deck, a dozen voices barking back and forth with ever-increasing urgency to get it done. Bleary-eyed pirates are tipped from their cots and hammocks, running before their feet touch the floor, belts cinched as they go. “Wozzit?” A few voices ask, weather-beaten faces scrunched with concern.“Sail’s on us,” was the short reply passed through the ranks, and all the reply the ranks needed for motivation. There’d been threat of sail for days; a persistent smudge on the horizon that didn’t bode well for the weather-weary crew keen to make safe port. Heavy with cargo stolen from every nook and cranny of the coast between the far north and the distant south, they were bloated and running deep.

Easy pickings for some.

The smudge of sail on the horizon to stern the night before revealed itself with the first rays of morning, and the Squall’s crew was in a frenzy. It was a familiar profile, and one no life-loving pirate wanted to see in their wake with the wind against them.

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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

Spirit’s Grove

2013-09-15 13.59.40

Photo credit to Alison, with thanks.

Spirit isn’t much longer for this world, but this is how I mean to remember her: my cuddly teddy bear who needed only a lap big enough to cuddle in; the tongue with a dog attached; the gentlest giant with the sweetest soul.

I’m going to miss her. :(

It may seem a little ‘creepy’, or at least a little ‘odd’, but my mother has already selected a nice place to lay her to rest, and arranged for a hole to be dug. The family called in a favour or two to access some heavy-duty equipment to make sure she’ll have a proper burial, befitting a much-loved companion. We’re going to plant some birch trees around her and call it Spirit’s Grove.

The vet, Scott, was as lovely and wonderful as ever. He was the one to put my cat to sleep a few months ago, and is probably the kindest, most compassionate man I know. And, he’s quite fond of Spirit. :)

She is at the end of her race, the finish-line is in sight, but we’re taking our time to cross it. The painkillers she’s on have helped her so much, though they’re a short-term solution and in no way fixing the problem. She’s moving about, walking more easily, even jogging a little, though it’s more forward momentum from her strong front end than actual effort to run.

Much like the situation with Monster a few months ago, I’ve brought Spirit home for a ‘last few weeks’ together, which is all I could ask for right now. I went in this morning prepared to say goodbye, but hoping I could get just a week over Easter for some quality time, and Scott was happy to grant that wish. We have enough painkillers to get us through until the end of the month, and he advised me not to be too stingy with them if I feel she may be uncomfortable. If I need more, call. <3

So, Spirit and I are going to have a special few weeks together, though I don’t know what we’ll do. Nothing too strenuous, for sure. I’ve set up a little nest for her to snuggle into in my office, though she’s outside right now, basking in the sunshine and I’m reluctant to interrupt. I’m going to keep the house snugly-warm and make sure she gets treats with every meal. She’ll be tired of being brushed in a day or two, and I expect I’ll flood the web with pictures as keepsakes.

If possible, we’ll take a walk down in the mornings when her friends are usually playing in the park, so they’ll all get a chance to say goodbye. She does love her adoring people.