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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Battered by winter

Winter is battering our mountains, forests, and spirits. When daylight broke, the air had warmed to positive 3°F, but the winds buffeted the trees with soul-breaking force. Even a century-old ponderosa pine's trunk, probably 5' in circumference, swayed at its base, rolling with the aggressive punches of wind that attacked its towering canopy. The wind warped every nook and cranny of the forest. It even took down our internet connection for the entire day.
The stream of air from the west scoured some patches clean of snow and piled the snow into huge drifts a few feet away. I decided to cross-country ski with the pups, skirting the wind-scoured patches and following the drifts. Cross-country skiing hurts my back but I need my 'fix' of time in the forest with my dogs each day.
The pups' nerves seemed on edge as they sprinted furiously through the drifts, perhaps trying to outrun the plumes of wind-driven snow.
Although most people would say that today's conditions were unpleasant or even horrible, I enjoyed the eerily surreal atmosphere. Sun rays almost parallel to the ground accentuated the stream of snow whisking across the trails and sometimes organizing into spindrifts hovering over meadows.
After a tough few days, I badly needed to smile - and my pups kept me grinning. When the going gets tough, my dogs have an uncanny ability to lift my spirits. Last night, I simply hugged K, burying my nose in her sweet pine-smelling fur, and life looked a little more hopeful to me. During this morning's ski, the canine enthusiasm for life started to melt my frozen shell of emotions.
Here, my wildly exuberant duo almost bowled me over at the end of a recall!
By sunset, the wind had calmed, and the mountains felt serene.
The setting sun painted them pink.
I'm no closer to figuring out my plan for my spine today than yesterday. But, I do know that the recent moratorium on anti-inflammatory drugs for me (due to stomach damage from at least two decades of taking them) is exacting a painful toll. Prior to this hiatus, I had no idea how much they were helping my spine pain. The doc is having me take a true 'pain-killing' drug during the day now, and it addles my brain. That feeling is no fun if I want to fully experience life. The pain and my hatred of the new medicines might push me toward surgery more quickly.

Thank you all so very much for your supportive words. They've bolstered my spirit more than you can imagine.


  1. You are truly an inspiration to us -

    Thank again for allowing us to be part of your world -

    Both the good and the bad -

  2. Really beautiful pictures from today, KB, even though those temps are far too cold for me!

    I'm so glad the dogs are there to make your feel better when life gets tough.

  3. We get wild winds off the Dakota prairie, its a fairly frequent thing, and I have yet to have a dog (including Stella) who doesn't get rattled by it. That exquisite sense of smell they have, compounded by the winds, just throws them for a loop.

    Let me agree with Khyra and her Mom too, you are a inspiration to us all, and me, in particular. I have started doing things differently for myself and its working OK. You are a good girl!

    Cheers and hugs,
    Jo and Stella

  4. I admire your determination to "keep going"...I know your dogs help lift your spirits...
    Sending you and pups a warm Southern hug,

  5. It is so amazing how the simple joy of our favorite furry pals can lift our spirits! Sounds like a pelting wind day...not so much fun unless covered head to toe! We are watching the weather for this weekend...really hoping to make a dash to the mountains, but looking like possible heavy winds..arg! Sierra Rose has not had a chance to play in the snow yet!

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose's (mom)

  6. Dear KB
    We love sharing your world with you - even if it feels batterred. As you said, the tree is swaying at it's base, but it is still standing!
    You truly are an amazing person!!! Be gentle on yourself. You are much loved! Look at the confidence (in you) in your pups eyes and you will know your strength.
    Take care and lots and lots and lots of love and strength for each step of the way.

  7. Our worlds are much better places when they come complete with happy dog faces. I hope you continue to find some comfort in these difficult days and wish you luck in your tough decisions. Lots of hugs to you and your family.

  8. in one of the photos it looks like K is being blown sideways in mid stride!
    what would we do without our dogs.....
    i know you have a difficult decision to make, one that you wish you weren't faced wishes when faced with something so difficult, that suddenly things will become very clear....i think you will have that clarity...
    know that my thoughts are with you .....

  9. KB ...before I moved back to Mississippi, I lived on a 600 acer farm outside of Nashville in a 200 year old log house. I loved walking the farm in the snow and freezing cold! It was NEVER -3 though! :)

  10. I love the pictures, but I have to admit, you are a much heartier soul than me! It looks mighty brisk!

    Having dogs during times of trouble in my life has always been a big comfort. I'm glad your pair are taking care of you!

  11. Dogs are always good for whatever ails you! I'm sorry to hear about the pain med problem - it doesn't sound like much fun any way you slice it. Have you ever tried TENS therapy for pain management? I have a friend with severe back problems, (she broke her back in an accident many years ago, and has also had many surgeries) and she uses a TENS device when the pain gets too unmanageable. It really seems to help her.

    (Just looking at your pics makes me cold, though. It got down to 19 here last night, and that was plenty cold for me!)

  12. Beautiful photos of a beautiful place, KB. I've had a couple of surgeries (nothing like you are facing) and was given pain meds afterwards, which I rejected a couple of days later - made me feel mentally and physically numb - uch! I hate them hate them but just wish we could wave a magic wand for you or something.You are so courageous...
    Hugs xo,
    Sammie and mom

  13. Our temps have been a bit like yours. It was 9 below when I fed horses this morning but it's 7 above now.

    I'm glad you have your dogs to help put a smile on your face. I had a difficult evening this week where I was up to midnight, making cookies, preparing bread dough, and singing songs on my IPOD while jiving around the kitchen. Java started howling and jumping around on her hind legs. I took this as enthusiastically joining in rather than a sign of protest. And it did the trick of making me laugh.

  14. Kia ora KB,
    I feel so kindred to you in many ways. The situation with my hip over the past few years, learning to live with pain, and learning to interact with mountains I have to be in. When I have read over these past few posts about your journey with your spine and neck I feel humbled and inspired by your courage and love of nature and your wonderful canine friends. I hope you feel the positive thoughts, prayers, and energy all your lovely readers and commenters send to you, just as we recieve it from you and your wonderful place here. My thoughts are with you KB, I shall think of you in my mountains here. May you and yours have a peaceful and blessed Yuletide season. You rock. Kia kaha!

  15. As Khyra's Mom said, you really are an inspiration. We agree with you that the pups can be so comforting and do bring lots of smiles. And they do so without asking for anything in return. Mom's not made for the cold but she so enjoys taking the ride along with you and your beautiful photos.

    Happy Friday, the OP Pack

  16. Hi there, Warm winter wishes to you today. I hope it warms up for you this weekend-Denver is supposed to be in the high 40''ll feel like spring.
    Reading that you're not wanting to do the drugs and surgery looks eminent-have you tried Acupuncture?
    If I was facing surgery I'd give it a try.
    Hang in there and continue to find joy with your dogs and being out in nature.
    Hugs, Noreen


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