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Thursday, December 26, 2013

coastal advent calendar wrap up~

click photos to see the full post~

























































i just want to mention how much fun we had with our activity calendar. december has been a very hard month for us, if not for this calendar forcing us to get out and do things, i think we would have been extremely depressed...



on dec 4th my 17 year old cat died, it was sudden and shocking to me, he went to bed fine, when he woke up i knew it was just hours until he was gone... it was heartbreaking. fortunately my heart heals quickly when i know they had a good long life, it was just the suddenness that took my breath away. i was on the mend, but still felt the heavy heart of loss...



a few days later we are at the beach enjoying day 7 on our advent calendar, a sea breeze cocktail when my husband tells me maggie has yellow eyes... time stopped for me. she has had ongoing liver issues in her short 5 years... a quick trip home to our vets the next day, only to receive the devastating news that she is in her final stages. to be more blunt, they didn't know how she was even alive now... we have been beyond sad, i can honestly say i had been whaling for days, make that weeks... we came to the beach for the month to make it an extra special fun holiday season for us, instead our hearts have been broken as we try to muddle through the days...



maggie has not been eating, enter the fat girl in me, i decided to take a pastry bag and force feed her the special food that helps her liver. suddenly i have hope again! since i lived this month by the advent calendar i can tell you the only day/activity we did not complete was the 17th, my birthday even, it was a full moon, we were to take a moonlight walk on the beach... reality was for the first time in my life i was alone on my birthday, scott took maggie home for more tests, i had to stay at the beach with all our other animals. the news was even worse... enter more endless sobbing... i didn't even know if she would make in to christmas, BUT the food was making her feel better and we still have hope for her.



having this silly advent calendar kept me going. if this is to be maggies last moments in life i want to remember her being with us, rather than slipping away at home. the more i squeeze life into her, the better i feel. the numbers say different, but for now i still have her, i want to enjoy this beautiful dog and have the best memories of her time while i can.



with all this going on the background i wanted to mention a few words as the days passed on the calendar. first, when i made my calendar i had nothing formed in my mind, i would just wing it as i go, of course we put up a tree and this year i decided to light the pavilion so i had a few days predesigned, the rest were just off the top of my head of things we like to do when at the beach. we did not necessarily do them on the date mentioned, especially with all the tears being spilled, but we did do all of them but one!



day 1, give the deer a treat. i love having so many right out my window, the other night i had 14, 4 huge bucks, and one kindly left me a pair of his antlers, if only the others would join in! i didn't know how to get a cute pic of them so was delighted when i noticed, rather heard, a young buck on my deck stretching his head to the very tippy top to just get a few morsels of seed... over and over, ALL DAY LONG! i loved seeing his long lines.

day 2, listen to the sea. we have been having huge swells of late, with broadcast news stories of beware of the coast and sneaker waves i am not talented enough to do video, but it is exciting to hear the sea pounding and sea the coast guard train in these life and death waves.

day 3, hang the wreath. i get a huge kick adding seashells from our very own beach walks~

day 4, sight a sea lion. not as easy at is sounds... i can hear them barking from miles away, finding them is not as simple. finding them on the surface, with your camera ready and in position, is darn near impossible for me! we went to 4 of their favorite haunts, i saw plenty, but did i capture any... hell no! i was just blindly clicking hoping one would pop up and i got lucky! sure had fun looking though~

day 5, have a christmas tree cocktail. ok this was set up to use my octopus props... i was going to say gift wrap, but i knew i would enjoy a cocktail with my cute glasses so much more! i also wanted to see if i could draw one...

day 6, put up the tree. of course its 100% coastal, this year i added the whale with a sea foam of bubbles below and put a shark on the backside facing the street. i also brought over kittens... omg the tide has been endlessly shifting. 1/3 of the ornaments have been shaken off the tree as they scale to the top. over and over... they removed almost all the starfish as personal toys. they have broken many dozens of ornaments bashing them about until the smack in the brick fireplace. the whale is moved every day and night. the sea foam shrinks daily. it is littered with "sea glass" now, the type that will no doubt cost me a vet bill when they slice open their paws. me too, i sliced my big toe on a broken ornament trying to push the whale back to port... its been quite an experience sharing a sea tree with wild kittens~

but also a good diversion from sorrow.

day 7, drink a sea breeze. i was so excited to take my flowing banner to the beach for sunset cocktails. i will never forget when my husband took maggie to the water line and walked back with the horrid news... the wind was so strong it blew her eyeballs back, enough to see her eyes were yellow...

day 8, this was a two for one, since i had made one for my neighbor, to eat fish and chips at the cafe for the sunday special, our treat, but i wanted to come home and light up our pavilion too~

day 9, light the lanterns under the tree. it would have been great, if i didn't have kittens. with all the destruction going on it was a short lived...

day 10, watch for whales. this was my favorite, the shaker was my bday gift, i knew i needed to find a cocktail to do it proud. in the midst of all the maggie pain, the day i started using the pastry bag to feed maggie, i was on my hands and knees force feeding her when i spotted a whale out my window. to me it was a good luck omen. i am still holding that thought! whales migrate from dec through april, heading from alaska to mexico and back. we went to the bodega headlands to whale watch on a gorgeous day with no luck, i was able to grab the last spout pic on our way back from day 14 hikes. again, another good omen for me and maggie!

day 11, home version, do feed the squirrels. i came up with the advent idea in November before we came to the beach. at first i didn't know what i wanted to do, but i loved this little squirrel pic... i have loads of squirrel props and the tree on my deck was almost ready to drop its golden leaves, i just had to act on it!

for the beach version i make sea star cookies, at home i always made blue and white snowflakes, of course i would carry the blue and white sea star tradition to the beach in its place. i was wild over this paint can spilling aqua paint, i thought it would be cute to have santas elves at the beach be a mermaid and octopus to help with all the decorating~

day 12, look for the green flash. i walk my dogs every night just as the sun sets and always have a perfect vantage point, i think just maybe i saw it once, but i was crying at the thought of losing maggie on our walk, she looked so beautiful, i had tears in my eyes when i saw a spot of color, most likely my tears muddling the colors, but i still look at every single sunset~

day 13, listen to the carol of the bells. i can hear them at sea tinkling, how on earth would i capture that... the buoys are out far, and face it, they are ugly... when we went whale watching i suddenly remembered the bell memorial... this memorial was placed for a little boy murdered in a car jacking in italy, his parents donated his organs, something rarely done in their country, much less under such horrific circumstances. from all over europe people, towns, communities began sending them bells as a thank you. this park was created in his memory...

day 14, take a hike up red hill. since maggie has not been well for a long time our hiking days had all but halted this year... i have been very torn about just taking cassie and leaving maggie, but this time i decided she needed to rest and we needed to get some fresh air after all the tears i have been spilling. rising 1052 above sea level we went with just cassie. she is very unsure of herself alone, darn right afraid... poor girl relies on the pack, she truly needs other dogs to feel good... she was also torn when scott and i separated. i am slow on hills, i hate them, this is pure hill... scott went off a very steep path looking for geocache, i kept plodding on so i wouldn't always be lagging behind. once he crested the ridge he yells down to me meet you at the top... my way was longer, his way was steeper, cassie was beside herself at us splitting... so was i, what if i fell with my darn vertigo, they just ditched me! it was such a glorious day for a hike, wide open spaces, expansive sea views and i could see beyond napa. my trail passed through the redwoods, scotts went up the red dirt. i am so glad we took the time to act out the advent calendar, it was a world of good for all of us~

day 15, santa claws, make crab cakes. this was in the thick of maggies tears, i was to share these with my neighbor and her matching calendar, but i tend to be invisible when unhappy and feel bad i never shared my crab cakes with her...

day 16, put a shell in your pocket. that's a given, everyday i am stuffing things in my sandy pockets. i love my muscle plate, perfect time to try and stuff it in my pocket!

day 17, full moon take a moonlight walk on the beach. oy i was sobbing so much, the second set of blood work came back even worse. no walk, no bday, no fun... we will still do this one day, just missed this month~

day 18, watch the fisherman and boats bob and twinkle in the sea. its impossible for me to capture the crab boats at night in the sea, even though they are like headlights shining in our house from miles away, i thought why not find the source in daylight~

day 19, have a picnic at the beach. i had wanted to tailgate in our truck to the beach, but our truck broke down with maggie in the car on the way to the vets. luckily scott was close to home and i called a neighbor to rescue them, but that meant we were hitting the sand. i love the turquoise and red combo, with poms from home, my holiday crate and other knickknacks i was good to go. we had a delightful lunch with just cassie, i felt maggie needed to rest, cassie was beside herself...

day 20, look to the heavens. believe it or not our beach has very few birds, so i made in ambiguous with the look to the heavens. the kite was like a thunderbolt idea! i knew i could go to the wharf and get bird shots, or we could dig out our kites and have some fun. we took both dogs, but they had to be leashed there... scott had a great time flying kites, its pretty remarkable when you can feel like a kid again when you are over 60 :-)

day 21, winter solstice, longest night of the year, star gaze. on the 21st we took cassie for a night walk, the first time without maggie. it was an incredible night, stars lighting the way and christmas trees glowing in the windows. it was also impossible for me to me photograph... but i can make my very own stars shine in the daylight~ tasty too!

day 22, visit the lights in the campgrounds. this year was a great learning experience, no one camps midweek! the local campground didn't have but one trailer, bodega just had a handful, i have seen holidays before where they are sold out and decorated to the 9s! love love love the quietness of this week~

day 23, make a yule log. i was thinking about driftwood and made it turn into a yule log, especially fitting when i saw it in the novel bakers nigella christmas cookbook. i have never made one before either, i enjoyed playing in the kitchen. good thing i took pics, right after i went out for cocktails in the pavilion and the kittens mutilated the log...

day 24, santa claus is coming. so many options on this one, but i opted out for my surfing santa ornament~

day 25, i am dreaming of a white christmas... of course sand was always in mind. being told how critically ill maggie is i know this would be her last... normally i don't take pics of animals at the end, its too painful to see them ill, but to me maggie still looks perfect. beautiful. i want to remember these moments. she had a great time at the beach, i am so careful with her now, but scott said take her ears off and just let her be a dog, i could see her smiling~

wishing you all a happy and healthy new year, and its never to early to plan you advent active calendar for next year~