Meet Seiglinde.

I’m a little late on this post, since we got her in June and she’s pretty much a full grown dog by now, but better late than never I suppose.

puppy play

So this is Seiglinde. Pronounced Zig-Lin-Deh.

I call her Linde (Lindy) for short. My mom and I spent the entire hour and a half ride up and back from the breeder’s arguing about her name. Ultimately Mom won, since she’s her dog not mine.

Tongue out

Seiglinde is Brunhilde’s half sister. They share a poodle father. They are both also characters in a Wagner opera – one of the Ring cycle shows. I don’t know which one. I never cared for Wager. I was always more of a Puccini girl, myself.

But anyway, the characters are half sisters too, so there you go.

So, this is Linde.

Playful Linde

And Linde? Linde is an asshole.

Rough housing

While Hilde had a rough introduction into our lives, what made it rough was entirely outside of her control. No puppy is going to be perfectly perfect when trapped in a cast for two weeks. She was strong willed and resilient, indeed – but once the cast came off, the stubborn streak went away. And even with it on, she was sweet and learned super quickly and willingly.

Hilde had (and still has) a need to please. She likes making us happy. She likes being given tasks. In fact, she trained so easily and so quickly we thought that there might be something wrong with her at first. No puppy is this obliging. It must be too good to be true.

It wasn’t. Hilde is just awesome. She lives to serve. Probably would have made a great service dog if we weren’t too busy spoiling the living bejeezus out of her.

Cowlick

Lindy, on the other hand?

Yea, she’s just as strong willed and resilient as her sister… but in very different ways.

Hilde needs to please. Linde, on the other hand… need to BE pleased.

Post op puppy

She is stubborn, and strong willed, and when she decides she wants something, by golly she’s going to have it. She barks incessantly, she picks fights with her sister, she plays way too rough, and she has taken FOREVER to train by our standards. Simply put, she is a demanding dog.

But she is also hilarious, sweet, and a barrel of fun.

That Smile

And most importantly, we love her. And I’m pretty sure she loves us too.

Seat Stealer

As long as we surrender our seats to her, anyway.

“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.” —Robert Louis Stevenson

wait

So I mentioned in my “easing back onto the blog” post that this spring has been just kind of hit after hit – it in many ways exemplified the saying, “When it rains, it pours.” But there was one hit that was significantly harder than the others…

We had to say goodbye to our older family dog Rusalka a few weeks ago.

tired plooper

It’s hit us all very hard. I’m still sort of at a loss for words, because she was… something really special. From the very day we brought her home.

Rusalka Puppy Picture

And that description is so incredibly insufficient.

genghis cuddling with rusalka

You know, when Genghis died two springs ago, I was full of words. Full of eloquent eulogies and willing remembrances. The post I wrote back then was originally three times the final length. I just had so much to say – I gushed sorrowful words and tearful memories for weeks.

Chakka and Plooper

When Chakka died last spring, it was a quieter affair. I didn’t get a chance to post about it on here, as it was in the middle of a lull in my posting, but while her loss was felt keenly, somehow the blow was softer. She had been so far gone at the end that it just seemed the natural order of things. It had certainly not been a shock, and it was a relatively smooth transition for us from sorrow to being able to remember her with a smile and a fond chuckle. But again, talking about her came easily.

christmas rusalka

With Rusalka…

snow frisbee

It’s different somehow. It’s difficult for me to put anything into words that don’t feel cheap and deficient. She was just so… good.

posing with tennis ball

I even waited a few weeks to allow it to sink in, hoping that maybe some distance would give me some time to sort out my writing. No luck.

sisters

There’s just this labrador shaped hole that I don’t know how to describe. And every time I try, it all just feels so completely… inadequate. No attempt to verbalize how amazing she was really seems to even come close to giving the full picture.

hashtag cool

So I guess the best I can do is leave you with some photos. A visual memorial of sorts. One I’m sure the internet doesn’t actually care too much about – ya’ll never met her anyway – but one that I feel like I need to post for myself.

my big baby

Rest well, Rusalka. You are missed more than you know.

Happy (Very Belated) Thanksgiving!

I hope you all had a lovely holiday! Ours was busy, but joy (and dog*) filled – and even though I’m still working through my 30 days of Gratitude and Reflection Challenge (I will finish it eventually – I will just probably start sprinkling in regular posts in between now that November is over and we’re on the lead-up to Christmas and New Years…) I really felt like the active effort I’ve been making to be present and grateful made a significant difference in my outlook.

Plooper

I was able to meet the demands of my “hell weeks” – the weeks before and after Thanksgiving when all my papers and assignments start coming in to be graded – with an energy I haven’t had since probably my first or second year doing this. Usually “hell week” is the week where I find myself sinking into a little bit of a depression over the state of my life and career – you know, the whole 28, working 3 jobs, and only bringing in barely enough to live thing. What happens is that usually, as I’m buried under the mountains of work, my exhaustion begins to interfere with me remembering why I do this in the first place. Why I really, truly love my job.

Heidi

I didn’t forget that this year. While I may have let blogging slide, I didn’t find myself sinking into that emotional trap. I didn’t lose sight of the joy and the gratitude. And that made all the difference in the world.

This year has been rough in terms of finding balance – and I must admit I’m still struggling to do so. But I’m really feeling better, and I’m hoping that by next year I can get back on the consistent blogging horse in earnest.

So thanks for hanging in there with me.

Hildeface

*Quite literally the only photos I have from the day of Thanksgiving are of Rusalka, Hilde, and my Aunt’s dog, Heidi. I guess I was in a dog > food mindset that day. Oh well, there are worse things.

Instagram Update

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#currentlyreading #goodbook

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#archery #newhobbie #posttocome

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#plooper #chickennugget #wait #gooddog

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#hilde #puppyface #nerdcuddles #shesgettingsobig

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#autumn #NEPAlove

(I know it’s continued to be quiet here. I’m finally starting to get a little bit ahead of things though, so as I polish up the next few posts, I figure let’s do a bit of a visual update featuring pictures from my personal Instagram that won’t make it to the blog account – now that I’ve finally remembered the password for it. I hope everyone has been well and I’m looking forward to getting back in the swing of things!)

FINALLY Finished.

reading outside

Today I have some photos from our annual end-of-the-year retreat with the students at the lake property our university owns, and some good news!

I FINALLY finished First into Nagasaki.

lakeside boats

This has become the breaking point for me, and I’ve finally just accepted that I cannot read for pleasure during the semester. It’s simply not possible. This book should have taken me a week max, and instead it took me a whole semester. I think I just have to accept it.

Lakeside

That said, the book was a great read. Some amazing insights into Japan post-surrender, and some amazing stories from the POW camps.

Trees

It can occasionally be a little plodding, because these are essentially reporter dispatches, prepared for publication in newspapers (after assuredly editors had chopped things out). So the writing is very, well, reportery: concise, to the point, not flowery at all. I sometimes struggle with this kind of more technical writing when it comes to speed even when it’s not during a semester, having been mainly educated as a lit person until I hit my MA and switched officially to history.

Greenery

But struggle aside, the stories and information contained within was well worth it. The main surprise for me was that very little of the book actually concerned itself with Weller’s experiences in Nagasaki, which is originally what drew me to the title. It was actually more about the POW experience than anything else.

Book

End verdict? Highly recommended.

And now onto the next thing.

[photos taken with my point and shoot]

Quick NYC Trip

The Met full with fountain

Last week we made a quick day trip up to NYC for a very special occasion: My brother’s senior recital! After 4 long years of toil at the Julliard School, he’s gearing up to graduate, and I couldn’t be more proud of him. The final hurdle (besides finishing spring semester) for a music student is always the senior recital: you put on an entire hour-long concert yourself, and graduation hangs on it going well. Like a giant, public jury. It’s a pretty harrowing experience, even if you’re used to performing.

The Met Opera

Well, true to form, he did brilliantly. I couldn’t have been prouder of him. He is the most talented person I know, and seeing that talent displayed the way it was is enough to make a sister burst with pride. His playing was amazing (as always) and even more astounding were the pieces he wrote specifically for the recital. They were just wonderful.

Family in front of Fountain

Overall, it wasn’t a very eventful day, we basically drove up, showed our two grandmothers the school (with both at 80+ and one with a bad knee, they’re a little slow on their feet anymore, so this took us a while. But it was really sweet watching them see his school for the first time), grabbed some dinner, and then hit the highlight: the recital.

Julliard

But, my Aunt and I, annoying as ever with our cameras, did grab some photos at Lincoln Center, and a few in the school itself before we left, which is what I have to share here. The recital itself was kind of a whirlwind, and I was so busy listening that the camera sat in my purse… and stayed there basically until we were rushing to meet our hired van afterwards. Luckily my Aunt was on duty with her point-and-shoot for us to get a few family photos afterwards, so I will have those for my scrapbooks, but none for here!

Recital Hall