Coffee Break Time

Last Saturday I was sorting through a drawer and found prescription stuff for our dog Eowyn, who was a puppy last year at this time. I looked at the date and thought, “oh we are doing well, Coffee is exactly the same age and she has not been to the vet for anything serious.” Eowyn had been quite a mischevious dog and had two head injuries as a young pup. Hence the reminders of medicine and treatments. We lost Eowyn on the first day of school this past year, when she was stepped on by a bull. It was then a hard decision to get another pup when we had the chance. We did and Coffee has been a real light in our life. It was therefore like a bit of a wee nightmare when Russell phoned me Saturday afternoon (only hours after I had decided we were off to a great start with Coffee) and said, “Coffee got stepped on, can you come pick her up and take her to the vet?” He shared his theory that she had a broken leg, due to the sound he heard. I dropped what I was doing and got out the door. These are the phone calls I hate for obvious reasons, but they also contribute to a databank of anecdotes that all scream at me, “Life is risky! Your heart is not secure! Your life is not controllable!” Those things are all true, but they are darn hard to reckon with very much.

Russell and Gina had been out working with a small group of cows, moving them from one pasture to another, just across a road was the goal. It should have been straightforward and easy but it wasn’t. The cows in this group are ones that we are not breeding again, mostly because they are so aggressive and we don’t want them around, they will do best in the world when they become part of the food chain. There are three that are just terrible, their motherly instinct is fierce and it doesn’t subside as things get established, they have proven themselves to be dangerous pretty much year round.
This picture that Liz Griffin took this calving season is a good illustration of how much the dogs are part of the action and that it can get intense.
This is another recent Liz Griffin picture, this is one of our permanently aggressive cows. Just like in this picture, on Saturday afternoon it was coming for Russell’s horse, so the horse moved fast to get out of the way and Coffee was in the wrong spot for that motion and got underfoot. The fact that Coffee got injured seems to be further proof we need to get rid of the mean cows.
Russ figured out a way that he could end the cattle move right then, sent Gina home with the horses and came to the vet with Coffee and I. I cannot lift more than 20 pounds so this turned out to be a blessing because Coffee needed to be carried. She was also overheated, it was one of our super hot days and she was stress breathing. In this picture she has ice packs on to cool her down and is having a break during the xray process.
Bingo came with us to the vet. She insisted and it made things simpler for Gina but right before we pulled away she found cool water/mud somewhere, which in our focus on Coffee we did not realize. Bingo spent time alone in the vehicle while I grabbed some quick groceries and Russ was with Coffee at the clinic. Bingo was able to get mud all over the passenger parts of my SUV. This is where I imagine someone saying, “Kathy, why don’t you set more limits? Why do you let all this chaos into your world?” To that I answer, there is constantly a triage process happening in my brain, sorting through what is important (which is no simple question), what is urgent, what can be dealt with later. In these moments I could not get worried about my seats which will wipe clean, Bingo needed us and honestly I think I needed Bingo. I spent time with her out in the yard at the clinic while Russ did 98% of the time inside with Dr. Dawn and Coffee. I liked it that way. I am finding I don’t do well in moments like that. I had paper recycling in the back and a water bottle and with these I got the seats that Russ, Coffee and I needed cleaned off and ready for the trip home. Bingo got to keep her muddy seat. (Both Bingo and the seat were dried here and much less threatening looking than they initially were!)
Back home with sedative to sleep off Coffee was an easy patient, Jill was near and happy to comfort her. Morgan was away all weekend helping friends with their cows. We elected to not tell him about Coffee’s mishap until he got home. That was a good decision.
This picture was taken back in early January, the night we picked up Coffee from her owners. What I didn’t realize in this moment was the kind of bond that Morgan was ready to establish with this dog. He and Jill have spent so much time with her and just loved her into her best self. Therefore the news of injury was very tough. As he got used to things Morgan began doing some problem solving, what would make this heal best? He texted Dr. Dawn with the question, “should I be giving a calcium supplement to Coffee?” She answered back, “nope, just lots of cuddles and kisses.” That is an easy presciption to make work.
We took Coffee to the vet for a check-up yesterday. Russell and Megan were able to restrain Coffee for the removal of her splint and for the assessment. I was needed for a bit to restrain while getting the new splint applied. We were able to avoid sedative this way. Dawn was great. She said that everything looked very good underneath and we are good to go for another week.
Those are arms of love but for Coffee I am sure they didn’t feel like it in the moment. Coffee is very resilient, she was acting like herself within a minute of being done.

Prior to marrying Russell I had only one experience with a pet, a cat we got when I was already a high school graduate. I didn’t grow up like my kids are growing up, surrounded by 4 legged creatures, some that sleep with them. The word that comes to mind this morning is “privilege.” It is a privilege to have these lives join ours and journey together. Isn’t it funny how the same thing that I call a privilege is also the thing that causes me to say “this is chaos!” Its so true. At 2am I was awakened by Coffee barking (but teen boy Morgan wasn’t woken!), I went downstairs and let her out of Morgan’s room, I let her have a drink and tucked her back in. Before I was back in bed she was barking again. I brought her up to the dog room tucked her in there and thankfully never heard from her again. In these middle of the night moments of wakefulness I am tempted to feel hard done by. Sometimes I totally do and I get a bit stormy. Last night, perhaps mindful of how blessed I feel that Coffee is on the mend, I was at peace and went back to bed and went to sleep. There is alot of deep stuff at play here……the power of relationship between creature and human, the possibility of and evidence of healing, so much gratitude for skilled caregivers like our veterinarians and gratitude to the Creator of all who has designed a world where healing, relationship and helping are forces like gravity, always having a say in what we need and how we act, for better or worse. Coffee is a joy, both the dog and for me the beverage. Thanks for taking a break a reading about our coffee.

Day 11 – Postcards from the Heart

October 8, 2020

I asked Liz for this particular shot – this background. I love it. Our homes are, in reality, the backdrop for our whole lives. Our tour on Sunday where we set our eyes on 2614 again, and we saw your grandparents house was special. There have been many addresses you have spoken lovingly about – 1025 Ave B., 6th St, 213 Vancouver, 2614 Wiggins, Phillips grove, Morgan Ave and now I have started to refer to your apt. as 505. The places where we have been loved and have shared love are holy. These few rooms where we have shared many full days together will always have a sacred and holy place in my mind and heart. ‘505’ will be for me a reminder of loving, even in the midst of struggle. Scripture reminds us of a future place, being prepared for us, I believe pure love shapes that.

This post is #11 in a 22 part series, all Liz Griffin Photography images from 2020. These “postcards” arose from circumstances detailed in the post called “Postcards from the Heart – Day 1.”

Day 5 – Postcards from the Heart

September 29, 2020


When I look at this picture it reminds me of the line in the 23rd Psalm, he “leadeth me beside the still waters.”

This situation does not seem to give us the luxury of enjoying water from outside of it. You are in the deep end, treading water to stay afloat, your loved ones take turns jumping in with you. The love + compassion of God, known in Jesus, are maybe like our life preservers, which will help us all go the distance. Food for thought.



By the time I wrote this photo card I was staying with my Mom, helping her recover from surgery which had revealed her cancer was much worse than initially thought. I wrote the card, put it in an addressed envelope and then when I went down to get her mail I slid it in with the other mail. Mom was playful in her soul, so she received this with a glint in her eye, noting that I was being tricky. As the days went by and more and more of these pictures were created she caught on that I was reusing the same envelope after swiping it from her recycling. Once she was onto my tactics she would hand me the emptied envelope with that glint in her eye and say, “I think you might want this.” It was a fun part of our days.

This photo was taken by Liz Griffin Photography on June 20, 2020 before Liz took the wife carrying pictures featured yesterday. It is a very beautiful picture which might not display on a small screen in a way that reveals this.

This postcard is the 5th part of a 22 blog series arising from circumstances detailed in the blog post called “Postcards from the Heart – Part 1”.

Postcards from the Heart – Day 1

I have a little problem on my hands. I am behind on one large chunk of paperwork, two regular May month end jobs await me too. In good conscience I just don’t have the time to blog. On Tuesday I had an hour of time driving by myself and I told myself, “no music, you are going to brainstorm how to make all this happen, create a strategy.” That resulted in a detailed daily schedule I have discussed with Russell and an option for the blog, which I also shared with Russ, I really needed his opinion. He said, “do it.”

Back in late summer as my Mom’s cancer diagnosis was settling in, living 550km from her and with Covid distancing a big deal, I struggled to know how to support my Mom. I got an idea. I had 150 of the pictures Liz Griffin had taken printed up. I had the goal of mailing one to Mom every day, so she would always have something personal in her mailbox. The pictures were a selection of my favourite images from the various times that Liz had been out at the ranch capturing work and celebration photographs for us. I wrote on the back of the photos, thoughts that came to mind as I explained or reflected on the action or person in the picture. Those thoughts started out very brief, but as the days unfolded the reflections got a bit lengthier. I realized reading them all over yesterday and sharing them with Russell, they contain alot of work. Not the prep to write and post, but the inner work that might get to happen walking the journey we were on. There are lots of thank yous. I was glad to read that when I looked over them again. So, the question is, would it be a good idea to day by day share them until this mountain of paperwork is done? Keep the blog going without much new thought? Its now Thursday and I have spent most of my brain wandering time in the last two days pondering that question. What I have come to is this……first, the pictures reflect beauty. Liz is a first rate photographer and she has a talent for drawing out the meaning in a moment, adding a layer of beauty to an image that is already about wonderful things. Secondly, our world is hurting. We have been going through a really hard thing and there is much division. I wonder if the contents of these “postcards” is a celebration of sorts, an upholding of what it is to be human, of what matters, there is no one who reads this who will say, “love doesn’t matter to me.” Love matters. Maybe that can be a source of unity. The story that unfolds behind the scenes, my Mom’s journey through her final days, remains her story, very little of it is disclosed here. The pictures allow continued exploration of life on a ranch and are a point of connection to human things. So, I have decided to share these and here is the first.

This first picture arrived out of the blue, Mom had no idea what my plan was, the back simply read: To the best Mama in the whole world. NOT exaggerating. Love, lots of it…..from, Kathy