Trigger Warning: Death

It’s been about 7 months since my last post. A lot has happened…

During December, our cat Artimus (pictured above) was diagnosed with feline leukemia. He had been given a vaccine against the disease when he was younger, but the veterinarian said he most likely was born with it. His body fought off the disease for as long as it could, and after about 3 years, it could take no more. I wish there was something we could have done to save him. During his last few days of life, we spoiled him with treats and tried to make him comfortable. Watching him slowly fade away… yet he still wanted to be near us… it was heartbreaking. The thought that my partner and I had to *decide* to put him down, was horrible. If we didn’t get him euthanized he would have died slowly and painfully. He was so strong for so long and we had no idea.

The week after Artimus passed away, our male rabbit Benjamin had a near-death experience thanks to GastroIntestinal Stasis.

The week after THAT, our cat Tobias began drooling excessively (I have never seen anything like it! It was as though his mouth had become a faucet), but thankfully it cleared up.

My Grandma’s health took a nose-dive around this time as well. There was about a week or so that it looked like she might get better… but then she stopped responding. Alzheimer’s disease had finally shut down her brain. I arrived at her room, just seconds after she had taken her last breath. It was the first time I had seen a non-alive human body. She was… so still. I kept hoping she would take another breath. That she would, somehow wake up, and be the Grandma that I had known and loved. But she was gone. We couldn’t save her from the disease.

Over and over again, I think about how horrible of a person I used to be. I hadn’t had anyone close to me die for a very long time. I didn’t understand why people got so upset about loved ones dying. My rationality was “I’m not upset, so why are you upset?”. I took the quote ‘Do unto others as you would have them do to you’ literally, without questioning how they would like to have been treated. I was completely ignorant.

A few months after my Grandma had passed away, a relative of one of my closest friends passed away. I was so engrossed by my own losses, that I didn’t have the coping skills to handle their loss as well. My grief was at an all time high, and I began really searching for meaning within my life.

I am going to die. You are going to die. Every pet, and every person I’ve ever loved, will die. Some will die fast. Some will suffer. Death is the only thing that is guaranteed.

When I was younger, I wanted to die. I prayed to God that he would take me away from this horrible place. Every day, I woke up, still alive. I stopped praying. I tried to commit suicide. My attempts failed, and I lived on for many many years, wishing I could hurry up and be dead. But it wasn’t death I craved. It was happiness. And a better world.

Since my Grandma’s passing, I think I’ve found my reason to want to live. My Grandma was a good person. She was always trying to help other people and she was such a positive influence. I want to be a good person too. I want to take the things I’ve learned, and help others.

I spent over 20 years absolutely HATING myself and thinking I was completely worthless.

But no more.

I choose to live.


Winter

Although I was raised in the North and am a Northerner by blood, winter time here in BC, Canada is when my depression effects me the most. I struggle to see the beauty in the world when every day the sky is grey, the air is cold, and the ground is covered in mushy slush. I don’t feel like leaving the house or taking any photos. My “to-do” is steadily growing and I’m falling behind on my chores. I feel lethargic. Stuck in a rut. Helpless.
The flower in the photo is a Milk Thistle (silybum marianum) and the image was captured during the summer.

Winter

Although I was raised in the North and am a Northerner by blood, winter time here in BC, Canada is when my depression effects me the most. I struggle to see the beauty in the world when every day the sky is grey, the air is cold, and the ground is covered in mushy slush. I don’t feel like leaving the house or taking any photos. My “to-do” is steadily growing and I’m falling behind on my chores. I feel lethargic. Stuck in a rut. Helpless.

The flower in the photo is a Milk Thistle (silybum marianum) and the image was captured during the summer.

Gastropila Fumosa

Puffball mushrooms come in variety of species, but the ones growing in my yard I’ve identified as gastropila fumosa. Earlier in the fall I took pictures of the puffballs because I wasn’t sure what they were. They start out as small, solid fungi but their insides turn to powder as they age. The grey powder is spores, which “poof” out of the mushroom like a cloud… See the image below! (Not my pic)

After the puffballs have gone through their underwater-like spore spreading stage, they open completely and rot back into the earth.

Rabbit Update

Clover and Benjamin have bonded and are just adorable together! They groom each other and lay side by side while in their respective cages. Clover will be about 9 months old at the end of the month, so I plan to breed the pair around the first week of January (Benjamin is 4 years old).

Both rabbits seem healthy and happy. Benjamin likes being a house bunny, so we let him come upstairs and hang out with us in the evenings. I think he looks forward to herding the three cats around haha. Clover is quite “feminine” and prefers to stay near her little home. She is so dainty and cute! Clover reminds me of the (American) 1950’s housewife stereotype; she’s a happy homemaker and always looks dang elegant while doing it!

Before I breed them, I need to improve their cages. Eventually I’d like the cages to be placed above a vermicompost (while indoors for the winter), but baby-proofing is my #1 priority right now. I think Clover and Benjamin will have the cutest babies! Maybe I’ll attempt to schedule Clover’s pregnancy to occur on Valentine’s Day lol #babybunnyfever

Snow Has Officially Arrived

Yesterday was the first day of snow. It`s been about -5° during the day, colder at night, but no where near the freezing temperatures in other parts of Canada! I have friends and family who are currently battling -30° in Alberta, -22° in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. I ought to thank my parents (and grandparents) for settling in the south west of BC!

Crabbing

Catching crabs is a lot like being your own secret santa; when you drop the crab trap into the ocean, you hope you’ve picked a good spot and that you’ll get a good catch but at the end of the day, you have no control over what you get. Sometimes when you retrieve the trap it’s empty. Sometimes it’s full of edible crabs. And sometimes you find some pretty fucked up shit in there!

These dungeness crabs we caught off the west coast of Vancouver Island, right outside of Ucluelet. Dungeness crabs are delicious when boiled in sea water - they don’t need any extra spices or flavoring. Once the crabs have been boiled, you simply crack open their legs and feast on the meat! From catching the crabs to cooking them, it’s a rather easy and primal process which I enjoy thoroughly!

Tobias

I got Tobias when he was about 6 months old. I think he’s part manx, due to the excessive hair at the tips of his ears, and his naturally stumpy tail. He was an outdoor/stray when a friend of mine told me about him. (Our town has a lot of stray cats and non-neutered outdoor pet cats)

At around 1 year old, I moved to a small 2 bedroom house with a long backyard, but on a busy main street. Kyle and I decided to let the cats outside (we have 3!) since we had a yard… but the inevitable happened. Tobias got hit by a car.

After a neighbor told me that another neighbor of ours had seen him get hit, I thought for sure that he was dead. I stopped wandering the neighborhood, calling his name. I mourned him and tried to move on. And then the neighbor told me that someone had seen him run underneath our house!

My worst fear became a reality that day. I found Tobias alive under the house (he had been missing for maybe a week and a half) - completely skin and bones, severely dehydrated, starving, covered in fleas and flea bites, he had a blood-filled eyeball, a leg that didn’t work, and a big bruise on his side where he had been hit. He was alive, but just barely. If he hadn’t been overweight (from being kept indoors for the 6+ months prior) before getting hit by car… I’m sure he wouldn’t be here today.

The nerves of one of his back feet was damaged, rendering it useless, but amazingly he gained feeling in it again! He now walks like any other cat. The blood in his eyeball cleared up, and although the pupil in his left eye doesn’t quite match the right eye anymore, he still seems to be able to see out of it just fine! The spot on his torso where I’m sure he must have been initially struck, healed. The fleas went away (although he is now sensitive/allergic to flea bites), and his fur grew back. Tobias went from death’s door to a full recovery within one year.

Tobias is a survivor. Animals are amazing.

Black Hawthorn Berries

A native to the Pacific Northwest, black hawthorn shrubs (crataegus douglasii) are common in wooded areas on Vancouver Island. My parent’s rural property has so many hawthorn shrubs that my Grandma canned at least 5 quart sized jars of haws (the fruits) in one season. (They can also be dried for storage)

Some of the ancestors of British Columbia’s First Nations used the hawthorn’s thorns to pierce their ears, probing skin blisters and boils, or as fish hooks. The bark treated diarrhea and stomach pain, while the exceptionally hard hawthorn wood was made into tool handles and digging sticks. The haws can be made into jelly, pie, etc, but the reason my Grandma was enamored with hawthorns was due to their circulatory benefits. People with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and congestive heart failure have improved their conditions with the use of hawthorn berries. (More info here)

Russula Turci

Found growing under the pine and spruce trees in Gyro Park, these russula turci fungi were so charming! I picked a bunch with the idea that I would sauté them when I got home, but I was so overloaded with weeping bolete mushrooms at the time, that I didn’t get the chance to cook them before they started to go bad. Oh well, maybe next autumn!

Mint Identification

I love having mint grow in my yard, but I’m not too sure about what types I have. In the last photo I added, I’m pretty sure the mint to the far left is mentha suaveolens because the plant is covered with a distinctive woolly fuzz. The other clippings came from various spots in my garden (plus one clipping from the mint I found in the alley), and they seem to be different species… although some are quite similar so I’m not sure.

I’ve read contradicting information online on how to identify spearmint vs peppermint, but I know for sure that I must have at least one of each. The lighter green mint cuttings definitely have a different (but similar) sent than the dark green mint leaves. I’ve also noticed that the darker leaves have a dark purple color on the stems, while the lighter green leaves have more of a reddish shade on their stems. The darker leaves are rounded and the lighter leaves are more oblong.

If anyone can help me identify what types of mint plants I have growing, send me a message s’il vous plaît! It would be much appreciated :)