japan!

I just got back from Japan!  This trip was insanely last minute but I’m so excited I got to go!  Sharing an image right quick from Sensoji Temple, but I will post more later :)

 

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Vermont Camping and A Little Bit of Leaf Peeping

We went camping for the first time this past weekend without Charlie, which was so sad, because he’s a great camping dog.  But we had a great time!  Not that Bear is horrible to camp with….but Bear is more of a “glamping” dog.  Actually, that’s just a lie.  Bear would rather be at home on a Saturday night laying on the couch and watching Downton.  Mike and I drove up to Southern and Central Vermont in search of gorgeous leaves that are turning for the Fall.  Last year we completely missed “prime/peak” season for leaf peeping so this year we were so excited when we apparently came up at the height of the season.  Yay for randomly getting things right!

Some foliage views on the way up to Vermont…

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Along Route 100 in Vermont is probably the best “leaf peeping” place that we found.  Just absolutely gorgeous!  It threatened to rain all day, but fortunately held off for us until nightfall.

 

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A Girl and Her Dog

Sometimes I tell Mike the only reason I feel like fate had us move to California was to find our sweet dogs.  When we moved to Santa Barbara, way back in 2008, we had just gotten married and graduated from college.  Dogs had, for the most part, been in my life and I knew that I would want to get a dog with Mike.  We first found sweet Bear in a shelter and adopted him in September 2008.  Although I love Bear to the moon and back, I really wanted to get another dog…another companion for me and one for Bear.  Mike was actually away on a business trip when I found Charlie on craigslist…yes, craigslist.  His family had a whopping total of 8 dogs and were “getting rid” of the bigger dogs.  They posted a quick ad for 2 labrador retrievers and another big dog and said if the dogs weren’t taken away soon they would be dropped off at the pound.

I immediately called this family, not even thinking of asking Mike “um, hey, would you want to get another dog?”

One of the labs, a female, was already spoken for, but the male was still available.  I hustled up to where they lived, about an hour from where we were.  On the phone, I was told this dog was roughly 65 pounds.  Having experienced a lie before about a dogs weight, I was prepared for a 75-80 pound dog.

When I walked up to their door, I could just barely see inside a front window…and oh boy, the dog I could see bounding around, actually hear him running around was much much much bigger than a 65 pound dog.  They invited me in and right away I knew I had to adopt Charlie.  Not like there was any doubt in my mind, but oh, this dog loved.  And he loved hard and well.  Standing in the doorway, I guessed he was about 95 pounds but I really didn’t care.  I took him home and a few days later we had our first Thanksgiving with Charlie.  He and Bear had about 2 or 3 “run-ins” at feeding time while Bear established who was the boss, but after that, they got along.  Charlie was only 3 years old when we adopted him and we soon found out he weighed in at a crazy 105 pounds.  We didn’t care…even when he stretched out and took up most of the space on the bed or the couch or even when camping in a tent.  He was the best bed warmer, the best dog to go on a run with, the best dog to cuddle with, the best dog to get a kiss from, the best dog fetcher, the best squirrel chaser, the best dog to go to the beach with, the best dog to camp with…

On the last day of July, I took Charlie to our vet because he started limping the day before.  Knowing he must be in pain, I didn’t want to let it drag on so I took the first appointment I could get.  In hind sight, I realize now that the vet knew right away what was going on, and for the most part, I am a very observant person.  But that day, I was completely oblivious and certainly not thinking the worst.  So when she came back into the room, after running some tests with tears in her eyes, I was surprised.  Still, somehow, not understanding that something was wrong.  We found out Charlie had an osteosarcoma in his leg, which is bone cancer.  It’s a super aggressive cancer and dogs will usually mask all symptoms except for the occasional limping, as the pain is intermittent in the beginning.

Stupidly, I was still thinking Charlie could survive this, so when the vet told me there is no cure I was beyond upset realizing that this was it with Charlie.  Over the next 7 weeks, which ended up being much longer than we thought we would have with Charlie, we just spent time with him in his favorite ways…cuddling on the couch, sitting outside in the sun, laying on the deck.  When the weekend of September 15th rolled around, we knew it was time, so we scheduled his “Final Kindness” appointment for that Monday.  Dog owners will understand this, but it’s so weird how they know.  They know when it’s time and they are so graceful about it.

I sort of feel like I have a hole in my heart.  I’m so happy we have Bear at his ripe old age of 11 1/2, oh, but we miss Charlie so.  Even though we didn’t have him for quite 3 years, I still think he’s going to be standing at the door when I come home, or laying on my feet when I wake up because they’re so numb, or that when I drop something on the floor he’ll come running or when we’re cooking, but he’s not there with his drool hanging to the floor.

Dogs…they really are just the best.  There’s a reason why they’re called “Man’s Best Friend.”

In Mendocino with Bear and Charlie (before it was all said and done we figured out that Charlie had been to 27 states with us along with Vancouver and Montreal, Canada.  Bear is an old hat at the traveling game and has been to 44 states (plus Canada trips).  Bear and Charlie=best road trippin’ dogs a girl could ever ask for.

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I could always find Charlie lounging on something…a bed (human bed) whether it was our bed or a guest bed, the couch, or one of his many dog beds or even clean/dirty laundry.  He had been known a time or two to pull clean sheets and towels out of a laundry basket and cuddle into as tiny a ball as he possibly could on the laundry.  It was one of those things that I just never got mad about because it was so cute.  Charlie was also a big fan of pulling your pillows with his teeth wherever he needed it.  Often times I woke up in the morning and rolled over to say “Good Morning” to Mike when really it was Charlie laying next to me with his head on Mike’s pillow…oh that dog!

Laying on the guest bed.  Putting things on the bed to keep him off didn’t dissuade Charlie…he would just move things to get where he needed to go.

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The day I found out he had cancer….

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what the what?

Mike and I are celebrating our FIVE year anniversary this weekend.  So crazy!  We always try to get away and do something fun to celebrate, like our one year anniversary trip here.  So we went to Maine!  Because I love Maine!  Maine is awesome!  Can you tell how much I love Maine?!  Yes, I’m starting to get on my nerves too…

 

I spent about 65 25 hours perusing blogs and magazines searching for the best lobster shacks to visit, because no visit to Maine isn’t complete without a mouth watering lobster roll.  And so we went and we ate:

 

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Isn’t my husband so adorable?  This is after we ordered and were waiting very un-patiently for our food  :)  We only waited 1 hour 10 minutes for it!

But it was sooo worth it!  1.5 pounds of fresh lobster piled onto a lightly toasted bun and my own side of hot butter.  Heart attack city!  So exciting!

 

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We mostly spent time in Portland, which if you ever have a chance to go, is a very fun/hipster/artsy town.  Then we drove up the coast and enjoyed the views of Boothbay Harbor…I love that Maine has 3,166 islands off the coast.  That’s right, 3,166…beat that Hawaii!  I’m still trying to convince Mike that we should kayak out to one of these islands and camp for a long weekend…of course we would bring Bear but I think we would have to leave the pet bunnies at home.  What do you think?

 

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Future home purchase?  I’ll let you know how that turns out!

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We spent most of this particular afternoon sunning or more like burning on these giant, smooth boulders watching the waves roll in.

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Happy Anniversary Mike!  I love you PAST the moon and back :)

gratefulness

Mike and I were talking the other day about this newfound appreciation we have for the seasons.  Both of us grew up in the South and when you’re born and raised in the same area until your teenage years you don’t realize that not everyone else experiences the same hot and humid summers, gorgeous spring and fall seasons and a generally mild winter.  And you don’t really complain about it or think about it because it’s all you know.  What do you have to compare it to?  Of course you know the weather is different in different parts of the world, but you don’t really think about it.  Until you move.

We moved to the Santa Barbara area in July 2008…the central coast of California that year was having an unusually hot summer, which we didn’t know at the time.  It wasn’t humid at all, but it was that lovely “sun on your back” hot feeling that you experience west of the rockies without experiencing your makeup running off your face from humidity.  We enjoyed almost a month and a half of what we considered lovely weather, although it was not a good mix with fire season, before the fog set in.  Most of the coast in California experiences heavy fog, and again, if you’ve never seen it you really can’t imagine it.  Heavy, dense, cold, wet fog that is so low to the ground you can walk through it.  Southern California usually has “May Grey” where most of the month is covered in a gloomy fog.  Where we lived, it occurred in June, with the title of “June Gloom.”  Except in 2008 it happened late that year and most of August and even some of September was terribly gloomy.  We were, to say lightly, pissed at this weather pattern.  WTH we thought indignantly!  This is California.  Isn’t there supposed to be sun here, like, 360 days of the year?

The rest of our 4 years in Santa Barbara proved that most East Coasters really don’t know what the weather is like in CA and they just assume that it’s warm and lovely all the time.  But it’s a lie.  A grand lie we’ve all been told from Hollywood.  Jerks.  After awhile, we stopped complaining and accepted our sentence fate of weather.

One day, Mike mentions that he really missed the seasons.  Seasons?  I haven’t even thought about those.  One thing I failed to mention above is that the weather generally stays in a 10 degree radius at all times and rarely gets colder or hotter than that.  Most people love this about Santa Barbara.  That’s why there are so many retirees there (thanks for driving up the property taxes guys).  Mike did not love this about Santa Barbara.  He missed his spring, summer, fall and winter.  I always thought I could go without winter.

Fast forward to 4 months ago, living in Connecticut and experiencing our first winter.  Most have assured us that CT experiences a “mild” New England winter.  Whatever the hell that means.  Given that last winter was so mild, many locals assumed this year would be too.  But then we got a hurricane, and a Nor’easter and then another Nor’easter and then a freaking blizzard happened (and not just any blizzard, but the biggest blizzard since 1888.  No biggie).  And I can’t forget to mention the Alberta Clippers.  An Alberta Clipper will take even the most winter and snow loving person and beat them into submission by hiding in their basement drinking crown and coke until the thaw happens.  (Yes, a thaw.  What the what?!).

I have to say, throughout the entire winter, I have been quite proud of myself.  I forged on.  Pretended I was Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Trudged through the snow to get firewood or to scoop up frozen dog poop or to dig up a buried tennis ball that one of the dogs had to have right that minute.  I finally got tired and antsy of the weather in mid or late February.  I was ready to run or walk the dogs outside without having to worry about slipping on hidden ice and breaking my leg.  Sadly, this happens.  In March, it slowly but surely started to warm up.  I should have been happy about this, right?  I mean, I was glad it was getting warmer but mostly I was so tired of seeing the dead maple trees and droopy pine trees and lack of flowers and bright, green grass (which, by the way, was hidden for almost 4 weeks from the blizzard.  One day a patch of grass began to show in our backyard.  Excitement ensued.  And then it snowed 13 inches the next day).

Last week I went on a trip for 5 days…when Mike dropped me off at the airport it was a chilly 35 degrees and still, well, plain ugly outside.  5 days later, Mike picks me up at the airport and suddenly, the grass is brighter!  Daffodil bulbs have bloomed!  Maple leaves are budding!  Birds are out chirping!  The squirrels are leaving bread in my yard again!  And I was happy.

All this to say, Mike and I laughed over the long wait but it was so worth it.  This feeling of excitement about the seasons again.  Who knew?!  No longer is the smell of sweet firewood burning in chimneys in the air, but a fragrant, perfume-y smell.  I can’t put my finger on it but it’s the most wonderful smell the wind brings in.

It’s almost kind of magical to see how fast everything has bloomed…a quick snap from my phone of one of our backyard Maple trees:

 

 

Happy Thursday!