Out On The Blueberry Farm

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I’m not sure I even like blueberries.

I can’t recall ever popping one into my mouth, actually.

I’m not even sure I have baked with real blueberries either.

You might find it ironic that this past weekend I insisted, yes insisted that my husband and I take a little road trip an hour and a half away to go blueberry picking.

But, if you know me at all you probably aren’t all that surprised.

I mean, what could be more fun than getting up super early on a Saturday morning for this?

We woke up early and headed to Covington, Louisiana to  Blue Harvest Farms.

Upon our arrival, the parking lot was packed. Cars everywhere.

Groups of people wearing rubber boots. Even larger groups wearing floppy hats. Matching floppy hats.

Thoughts of a berry outage danced in my head.

I mean, these people look like they’ve done this type of thing of before. They have their children’s wagons for crying out loud! And those hats!

But we checked in, received our buckets and were assigned a “picking row”. The staff explained the difference between the berries and we were on our way.

Oh, hello abundant berry bush.

I’m sure there’s a science to berry picking that I’m unfamilar with, but my process went a little something like this.

Pick em’.

Put em’ in your bucket.

Repeat.

I must say, there is something quite relaxing about being in the middle of a field of blueberries.

It’s just you, your berries, and your bucket.

Wait a darn minute. Your husband is out there too!

Occasionally, I would wander over to his area of the picking row to check on how full his bucket was getting.

And then that’s when our fun-filled-berry-picking outing went downhill.

On my leisurely stroll back to “my” area of berries, I decide to snatch up a few more berries.

And that’s when I learned a very valuable lesson.

You know who else finds blueberry fields relaxing and fitting for a morning snack? BEES!

That’s right. Bees.

Apparently two of them were having a little date and unbeknown-st to me, I not only disturbed them, but went in for their brunch.

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………………..on me!

I’m not sure if I actually grabbed the bee and then his friend stung me for added annoyance, if maybe they both got me, or perhaps the one bee got me twice. Can they even sting twice? Or do they die once they’ve stung?

All I know, is it stung like crazy and I hung my head in shame as I sauntered back over to the husband to let him know, “we’re done here”.

And then I remembered this sign:

Hey! What about snacking bees?!?!?

By the time we returned home and I began packaging them up for Father’s Day gifts in super cute ceramic fruit baskets, I sort of forgot all about my numb and throbbing fingers.

PS: There’s a reason I made the basket liner yellow gingham. Blueberry lemonade, my lovelies, blueberry lemonade.

But you’ll have to wait for that post.

Got any blueberry recipes you’d like to share?

It’s a Cavalier party, ya’ll!

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Sometimes when you least expect it, God plants just the right person in your life. At just the right time.

If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I lost my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel- Lucy nearly two weeks ago.

The pain has been terrible. Really, really terrible.

But for all the terrible moments, it’s as if Lucy has been sending us signs.

Signs that she wanted us to move on with a happy life. Signs that she wanted us to love another Cavalier again.

The first sign occurred when Brian spotted an older man walking a Lucy clone on his way home from work.

He walked through the door and said “I saw a Lucy on the way home. It’s a sign”.

A few days later the only Cavalier breeder in town just so happened to be in the LSU ticket office paying for his season tickets. At the exact same time my husband was walking past the window. Brian knew him from working at LSU and because of our affiliation with Petropolitan- the doggie day spa where Lucy was the unofficial mascot, we knew he bred Cavaliers.  Brian shared with him our story about losing Lucy and some general questions about his choice of veternarians. He offered his kindness and his home  anytime we wanted to visit his Cavaliers.

Once again,  Brian came home and said “Aimee, it’s a sign. Lucy is sending us signs”.

I’m not sure Cleve (the breeder) expected me to email so soon. But I did. And I totally imposed myself onto him and his precious little family of Cavaliers.

Our play date was set for Sunday afternoon and I went bearing cupcakes from Frosted BR and an open heart.

I was warmly embraced by Mollie, Millie, Rhett, Ellis Hugh, Ace, Ivan, Rudy, Penny, and Gracie.

They were everywhere! I could’ve taken photos of them all day long, but I was trying so very hard to be polite to this person I had just met,  and not get mistaken for the dog paparazzi.

Ace was so very excited to have some new guests over to play.

(I’m not sure what my camera did to the pup’s right eye!)

Rudy wanted to just chill next to me, but not Ace. Ace was the puppy of the bunch and he liked to give kisses. REALLY give kisses.  And he was obsessed with licking my head! He must’ve liked my shampoo.

While this little sweeetie (Millie? Gracie? I’m not really sure)  just wanted to melt me with those puppy dog eyes.

Several years ago, Cleve’s wife was suffering from liver complications. As she began to get more ill, she researched pets and sought one that would provide her some comfort. A companion. A special friend that would rest when she needed to rest.

They purchased thier first Cavalier and named her Mollie. She fell in love with Mollie and wanted to breed the dogs and one day show them. Unfortunately, she passed away prior to receiving her liver transplant.

Cleve continues to breed the dogs in her honor and surrounds himself with his “family” of gorgeous Cavaliers.

I learned that my pain over losing Lucy pales in comparison to his loss.

I am incredibly blessed for his kindness and generosity and for allowing me to share the afternoon with him and his sweet, sweet little brood.

I’ll be “borrowing” a few furry friends when Brian begins traveling for football this Fall.

I’ll be missing my Lucy more than ever, and I’m so incredibly thankful to have someone so willing to share his Cavaliers with me!

Slowly, but surely you guys, I’ll be getting my happy back.

Getting Your Happy Back (Part One)

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Getting Your Happy Back.

It’s one of those things that has to happen.

{Disclaimer} By no means am I an expert. Or have I even successfully gotten my “happy” back, but by golly I am trying my darndest.

The first step, in my humble opinion, is to get out of bed.

This is coming from someone who refused to do this very thing for a couple of days.

A really great friend, and someone who I would’ve been lost without this week said “once you get through the round of “firsts” it will get better every time after that- 1st time here, 1st time there will be hard. The next time will be sad, but not as hard as the “first” time.”

I was spending my days trying to hide from those “firsts”.

Reality is you have to get through those firsts. And you have to get out of bed.

Step two:  allow yourself to be sad. And hurt. And angry.

Understand that it is totally acceptable to throw one gigantic pity party. For real.

Acknowledge that grief is a process. And that losing your beloved pet is no different than losing a human loved one. Yes, I said it. It’s the same and I’ll argue with anyone who states otherwise.

Surround yourself with people who understand and silence your phone when non-pet owning non-understanding people call.

You can return their calls when you’re feeling better. But not now.

If the words “you gotta get over it” come out of anyone’s mouth. Hang up. And call me instead.

I seriously thought about starting a blog for people without a support system. Luckily, I have a father who checked on me not once, not twice, but three times to make sure I was out of the bed. I have in-laws who not only bought pizza for my pity party, but they didn’t bat an eyelash when I cried all over it. I have friends that sent cards, flowers, sentimental gifts, and enough text messages to create an AT&T traffic jam.

But my heart aches for those people who don’t have that network.

I can only hope they stumble upon my blog, and find the courage to reach out.

Step three: Get out of the house that contains all the sad memories. At some point your home will feel like home, but right now it harbors all the memories. Realize that your husband/spouse/significant other is hurting too and do something they want to do.

Like go to a baseball game when every ounce of your being hates baseball.

Step four: Focus on someone else’s happiness rather than your own. At a time when all you want is to wallow in your sorrow, trust me on this one. If you find the courage to dress yourself, dust yourself off, and put someone else first- it’ll do you a world of good.

I taught a sewing class for beginner’s this past weekend at our local YMCA. Truth be known, I commited myself to it weeks ago and I thought of a zillion excuses to get out of it, but at the end of the day I needed to uphold my commitment.

Putting those girls first, and seeing the happiness on their faces sporting thier newly made messenger bags did my soul a world of good.

And it helped to hear, “Miss Aimee, you can make annnnnnnything!”.

Step five: Steal some puppy kisses.

Your heart needs to know that it is capable of loving another furry friend.

 I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will own another Cavalier King Charles Spaniel one day soon but right now my heart needs to heal.

 I had an opportunity to have a play date with a local breeder and it helped to experience the myriad of personalities. All 9 of them (yes, there were 9) while uniquely different shared one common trait: they are the sweetest dogs on the planet.

 And it was hard not to take every single one of them home with me.

I am incredibly thankful for my afternoon with Mollie, Millie, Rhett, Penny, Ace, Ellis Hugh (get it, sounds like LSU), Rudy, Ivan, and a Lucy carbon copy-  Gracie.

**I’ll be blogging the story behind how the breeder became a breeder. He’s an incredible man, with an incredible story and I’m blessed to call him a new friend. **

What I Didn’t Know…

Winnie the Pooh

Today marks one week since my precious Lucy suffered from sudden heart failure.

And this is going to be one of those posts that most of you probably shouldn’t read.

This week has been the hardest week I’ve endured in a really long time, if not, ever.

I have learned so much about so many things.

About myself, my strength, my heart, and unfortunately my weakness.

There have been moments where I questioned whether or not I was crazy?

Thank goodness I stumbled on a website explaining the pet loss grieving process to reassure that I was not, in fact, crazy.

I am also incredibly thankful for the friends, family & co-workers who have shown such gracious understanding.

I’ll spare you all the emotional details, but know that should you ever endure such a loss I won’t hesitate to understand the frozen state you find yourself in when something as trivial as dropping an ice cube occurs.

Frozen and crumbled into a ball of a million tears.

Frozen and crumbled when your yard man asks “How’s Miss Lucy, I didn’t see her in the window this morning?”.

Frozen and crumbled when you realize you’re still leaving your bathroom door open with just enough “Lucy space” for her to come & go freely.

Frozen and crumbled when you come home to an empty house.

It’s so much harder than I ever thought possible.

I’m blogging my last day with her not to invoke a pity party on my behalf, but for anyone who finds themselves in the  place I was one week ago and for all the things I didn’t know.

I can only describe the shock of Lucy’s passing as being hit by a freight train. Then, as the freight train doesn’t realize you’re already dead, rolls back over you to seal the deal. And even toots its horn too.

I couldn’t process the loss because I couldn’t process the shock.

For two solid days I trapped myself in the bed wanting to discount the entire world. I wouldn’t have ice cube incidents if I just stayed in the bed. No turning corners expecting her to be in certain rooms if I just hid under my covers.

Unfortunately, despite my pleas the world wouldn’t stop for my broken heart.

I noticed Lucy was acting “odd” early Friday morning. I don’t work on Fridays so we slept in. I always said she was meant to be my dog because neither of us are morning people.

 Normal routine, “Lucy let’s get up” as I  turned off  the sound machine. We like to make ourselves think it’s always raining at night.

We walked to the front of the house together, I fixed her food in the kitchen but noticed she was lying in the dining room rather than under my feet. Oddness number 1.

I say to her “Lucy, come eat!” but she was uninterested. Oddness number 2.

At the time, I thought it was unusual but discounted it. I mean, sometimes I’m not interested in breakfast.

I texted the following photo to Brian with the message “Lucy is acting funny, she’s not eating & she’s hanging out in the dining room. She must not feel well”.

I went to my office/craft room and began finishing up some apron orders.

Lucy moved from the dining room to her bed  in the living room where she stayed until lunch.

Brian came home to have lunch with us. He put his keys into the door, and she didn’t move. Oddness number 3.

Lucy was a typical dog. She raced to the door every time she heard keys and the opening of the door, and would get so excited the moment she saw Brian. “Pet me, pet me, pet me!” If you didn’t, she jumped onto the ottoman to get a little closer so you’d be sure to acknowledge her.

He walked over to her, pet her on her bed, and she wagged her tail but never moved.

Around 3:00pm she vomited a bright yellow liquid.

Looking back, I don’t think I took it seriously. She hadn’t eaten so I knew she didn’t have food to throw up.

I just thought she was feeling bad.

I was back in my craft room when she came in and rather than lying by feet she lay under the window across from me. Oddness number 4.

 I can’t explain what I thought was going on but I knew she didn’t sleep with her head raised and that something was off. She was lying down, head raised, eyes droopy but not fully closed. I got on the floor with her, and tried to get her to come to me. When she opened her eyes, but wouldn’t come I called the vet.  I now know she could’ve been passing out due to the lack of oxygen she was getting.

Our appointment was for Saturday morning, and I cannot tell you how many times I have replayed last Friday night over and over and over again in my head wishing I had brought her in sooner. My heart knew something was wrong, but I didn’t realize what was happening.

Overnight, she continued to get more lethargic. She was restless. On the bed, under the bed, in the bathroom, back on the bed.

Saturday morning is a day I may never forget.

I was getting ready to bring her to the vet when Brian said “you need to come see Lucy, something is really wrong”.

I saw my dog barely able to walk, wobbly when she would try. Her eyes were even more droopy, almost rolling back into her head. I sat on the floor and tried to hold her. She took a few steps toward me, then began walking deliriously backwards until hitting furniture and collapsing. I picked her up and held her so that she would save her energy. I told Brian to just hurry and we raced to the vet as we were.

I attempted to let her walk into the office to see if she was able. She collapsed on the pavement. She loved the vet’s office, so my heart dropped at the realization that something was seriously wrong.

Our vet examined her almost immediately. He tried to stand her on the exam table to determine the loss of mobility. Because she wasn’t hurt, he wanted to take her to be x-rayed and perform blood work to determine if something neurological was going on.

My sweet Lucy died during x-rays.

He took the first x-ray, attempted to reposition her for another when she began gasping for air. Her tongue turned purple and she took her last breath.

The one x-ray he was able to obtain showed evidence of an enlarged heart.

I sobbed. I yelled. I crumbled to the floor.

On Thursday she chased squirrels, happy and seemingly healthy. She ate dinner. She had treats. She snuggled and hogged my pillow.

On Saturday she was gone.

I have been tormented with my decision to not bring her in on Friday.

I just didn’t know.

I have learned that it’s expected to go through the anger, denial, guilt and mourning phases so I know that my guilt is okay.

 Just doesn’t make it any easier.

I am comforted by the following statement from one of our pastors.

 “Our pets are living little gifts that are on loan to us. Like our children, we are given time with them in order to release them back to Him.”

I will miss and love that little dog every single day that I live.