Monday, July 14, 2008

canning, decisions, and Lucy

Canning Update, anyone? (If you are from the UK, that's "bottling" to you! Glad we cleared that up, Mrs. J!) Since we last talked here, I've done the following:
15 cups of plum-apple chutney
6-7 cups of peach jam
8 cups of eggplant chutney
The professor and I talked, concluding that I like saving money, providing healthy good food for our household, and "stocking up" for winter...I am, as Deb mentioned in the comments, not just a planner but also a worrier. The professor's field season is in the summer, so we don't take big vacations. I find (and I know this sounds weird) canning to be a vacation in itself. I also like to cook (and eat). Canning is a discrete period of time when I need to concentrate wholly on this activity. My brain empties, my body tires, and when I'm done, I collapse on the couch to cool down and rest. It's a 2-3 hour vacation. And, as Diane mentioned, it just tastes better!

As Caroline said, my whole body calms down after a big decision. That means that my normal defenses (both emotional and physical) are down. I'm not feeling tiptop, and I've been a little sad...but not about the decision to move to Winnipeg. Just sad, and I think I know why.

In June of 2004, I lost my constant companion, my first dog, Lucy. Lucy was only seven when she got sick with a liver problem (cancer, we think) and eight when the vet convinced us it was time to put her down. During the year she was sick I did everything I could to keep her alive and happy. It's been four years since I said goodbye to Lucy, and while she was very ill, I still regret the decision to put her down--the day we did, she took a very slow walk around the block, barked at the door when the vet came, and looked at both the professor and me for one long moment while she died.

I got Lucy when she was about 3 months old, and I was 23. She was a lab mix, probably with shepherd or some kind of collie, and at her prime, she was about 75 lbs. She was a very bright amazing problem solver. If you dropped her leash by accident? She'd wait and carry the leash for you in her mouth until you could pick it up again. Once, she couldn't fit all the tennis balls in the yard in her mouth at once, so she picked up an empty plastic water bowl, carefully put 3 tennis balls in it, and carried the plastic container around. That's a smart girl.

Lucy was always by my side. She slept in my bed, rode shotgun in the car with me, and slept (and drooled) on me as I knitted. She loved snow. When we married the professor, well, that's how it was....WE married him. Lucy was his step-dog, and she took his commands (sit, stay, etc.) under advisement. If she didn't think he was saying the right thing? She ignored him. She was usually right!
I believe that all dogs are special, and after only a month of hysterical sadness, I adopted Harry from the shelter. He was a rambunctious and submissive puppy and kept me totally distracted and busy. However, there are people who say that while all dogs have personalities, some have very special ones and, let's face it, there are people and dogs with whom one has an intimate, tight bond. Lucy was just one of those special "people."

Lucy hated thunderstorms. She would shake the whole bed if she were in it during a bad one. Just after she died, in late June or early July 2004, there was a terrible storm. Although I'd never minded storms before Lucy, after she died, I just couldn't sleep through them. At 1 am, I sat at my Canadian Production wheel and I spun some very special fiber, some cashmere, as I cried for Lucy. (I wrote about this in an essay in the book KnitLit the Third. )

I've had that skein of cashmere ever since. Each time I picked it up, I was right back in the middle of that thunderstorm, missing my girl Lucy. Recently, the right project came along for that skein. The project is for my next book, book #2, and it's a sample I will get to keep. It's knitting up beautifully. This past weekend, we had a bad storm, and Harry's pet Sally, that other black dog who owns me now, cowered next to me on the couch as I tried to comfort her. I knit that cashmere. I missed Lucy something terrible.

The professor helped me find all these photos of Lucy (and me) to share with you. No photo shows anyone's soul, but maybe you can help me a bit in celebrating (and missing) Lucy's.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute to a loving friend. Thank you, Joanne. I look forward to seeing what the cashmere will be.

July 14, 2008 at 1:10 PM  
Blogger cyndy said...

Lucy sounds like she was gem. I can well imagine how much you miss your friend. My husband had a wonderful dog when I met him, and that dog spent 17 years with us. He is still missed.

And I can well imagine the energy and tears in that yarn, you must be making something very special.

Oh! and good job in the kitchen! The eggplant chutney sounds yummy!
I will be getting the pressure canner out soon (the string beans will be coming .....)

July 14, 2008 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger SueJ said...

What a star of a dog! Funnily enough we were looking out our family 'year book' from 1998 tonight, staring Brith & Glyn (Moss's predessesors). They have been gone 7 & nearly 8 years now but they are still badly missed & fondly spoken about almost daily.
Moss wouldn't dream of such problem solving -he would just bark until WE picked them up!
We are still a way from any glut that will lead to bottling/canning!

July 14, 2008 at 4:41 PM  
Blogger Nina in the Northwoods said...

Thank you for sharing Lucy with us. I have had cats in my life like her -- very special friends that I will never forget.

July 14, 2008 at 8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of our soul mates have four legs. One of mine came in canine form and was named Heather; one was feline and the name that stuck was Wow (he had a lot of names, and got hit by a car when he was 1.5 years old and spent the next 13.5 years with one whole leg and two partials; didn't slow him down).

Thanks for the Lucy stories. Part of her must have been herding dog, for the brains. I'm glad you have the cashmere, and if you *couldn't* keep the project, then you'd need to do something else for the book!

July 15, 2008 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger weebug said...

i so understand missing lucy with such an intensity. they are here for such a short time, yet make such a lasting impression don't they. thank you for sharing!

July 16, 2008 at 1:23 AM  
Blogger annmarie said...

thanks, Joanne, for the lovely post about your good friend and companion.

July 16, 2008 at 10:09 AM  

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