August 29, 2017

On the table // #001

I don't need anything fancy. Just a bowl of rice and a couple of Korean side dishes will do. 

Lately our conversations around meal times have been mostly about the Game of Thrones. I mean can you blame us? 

Last night we were once again sharing all that we read about things that we may have missed while watching the season finale and theories galore. There are quite smart folks out there who pick up on a lot of subtle details.

What's been on your table recently and what kind of conversations have you had?

August 28, 2017

I miss you Bartles

I started this morning perfectly happy with a  promise that it was going to be a good day. Lady's happy tail that greeted me reaffirmed this.

Maybe that started to change when I felt the crisp morning air that felt like fall (I don't do emotionally  well during fall months). 

Maybe it was when I decided to rummage through Bartles' old medicine basket. 

But my heart started to ache and I wanted to cry but tears wouldn't come out. Only if they did because it felt like my heart would feel better if I just sobbed.

But it just kept at it.. a slow ache with no plans on easing up any time soon. 

I took this picture of Bartles just a couple of days before he crossed the rainbow bridge. I have been meaning to share it here on the blog and on Instagram for quite some time now but I just couldn't get myself to do it. It brought me back to that sorrowful day when he left us. 

At the time I didn't know I would be spending my last moments with him. Sometimes you know when you are about to part with your best friend. And so you prepare the best you can. All I was feeling this time was hope. Hope and determination. A stubborn determination perhaps, but I just had so much confidence that he was going to get better. 

Sometimes when I look back on my time with Bartles I wish that I was more experienced. I thought having come off of caring for Piri that I knew all I could about caring for sick senior dogs. 

Somewhere I think I lost focus.

I wish I didn't go on a crusade to get him better. To cure something that couldn't be cured. I feel like I blindly focused on trying to get him to walk better again, to get him to beat his Cushing's, his kidney disease and he was just going to do a 180 on all of us.

Somewhere perhaps I didn't think to put his comfort first. That everything I was feeding him and his acupuncture sessions were making it harder for him. That perhaps medicine, good food and a nice bed was all that he needed. 

I feel selfish. Misguided. Foolish. 

And I go down this endless self guilt trip wondering how I will come out it this time around.

I don't have a lot of pictures of Bartles with my good camera. I thought I had plenty of days ahead for picture time. In fact, I didn't do a lot of things when he was with me. I kept putting it off because I always thought we had more time. And after he left, I found myself making his name banner and looking at engraved rings to add to our family collection. And I felt terrible that I didn't do it while he was still here jingling his way around the house. These moments of regret is when I found myself alone and crying over a broken heart that was trying to mend itself.

I used to look at this picture of Bartles and see determination in his face. Now I wonder if I read it all wrong. I wonder if it wasn't determination at all. That perhaps everyone who asked me, "Why are you prolonging his suffering," had been right all along. I hate this thought and I hate that I think this way. 

Bartles came to me with scabs all over his body. He had beautiful fur but his skin felt like armor. And he was itchy. I remember spending days and weeks and months determined to get his skin under control. I bought a natural salve and rubbed it all over his body. It was messy but I was determined.

I first tested on his head and neck and when the scabs cleared (and didn't come back) and new fur grew I decided to work on his entire body.

I shaved him down, rubbed the sticky salve all over his body and let it sit for a couple of days. Then I brush him and picked out the scabs that were willing to fall off and then I bathe him. After a day, I would start the process all over again.

I repeated this for two months and his itchiness went away. He was 85% scab free with new fur growing (he had some scabs left on his belly and some on his back legs). Friends who saw him often remarked how much better he got. But then the vets would tell me what a disastrous state he was in. How his skin condition was horrible. I remember feeling so defeated but not being able to say anything.. afraid that if I told them of my "natural" routine, they would laugh at me or remain skeptical or say, "It's not working as effectively as you think.". But the truth was, they didn't see him before. And so their reference point was different from mine. But how do I explain all that without sounding defensive or long winded?

Or.. was I wrong all this time? Was he just in a disastrous state and I was too stubborn to realize it?

I regret sharing stories of my hardships in caring for Bartles on the blog and on Instagram. I look back and wonder if I told a narrative of how he just made our lives so hard. Once you start to share the negatives, that's all that people see and remember. Even if you share the positives and the happiness. No one will really remember those. 

I have people tell me how bright my life looks now with Lady. 

I feel bad for Bartles because perhaps I did tell a bleak narrative with him. 

I regret a lot of things with Bartles. And I feel bad when I got frustrated at him. 

I regret that perhaps I am still telling a bleak narrative. Even after he's gone...

August 16, 2017

Happy 8th

It's our 8th anniversary today.
Happy 8th, Yangkyu.

We always said our anniversary day was family day because it was the day we, Yangkyu, me and Piri, officially became family. And so on this day we miss him a little extra.

And we miss you too Mr. Bartles.

And we're so lucky to have you Lady.

August 15, 2017

A new bed

This was us for about a month. Sleeping on the floor on top of our flimsy full sized IKEA mattress.

I had been sleeping on our couch from December to July when Bartles was with us. He got up at night time to pee and go potty and I wanted to be there so that he wouldn't get into a pickle. I didn't want to disturb Yangkyu during weekdays when he needed to go to work and so it was Bartles and me downstairs. During weekends or days when Yangkyu worked from home, he joined me downstairs, but couch life was a bit tough for Yangkyu and so during the last couple of months before Bartles crossed the rainbow bridge, Yangkyu slept mostly upstairs on the bed. For me, even a couple of days after Bartles passed, I slept downstairs. 

A few days after I finally made my way up to sleep in our bedroom, on our bed for the first time in a long time, our bed frame broke. This bed we had since we got married in 2009, the bed that started in NY then made its way over to Silver Spring (MD), Fairfax (VA) and now Centreville, finally gave out. 

We contemplated on a new bed to buy and took a while to mull over it (because we wanted to buy something a bit better than IKEA). Also, our budget wasn't doing too well (had gone over a bit) and so we thought to go on a spending freeze until we could balance it out. But then I started to develop morning back aches and it was really time to just get us a new bed.

We ultimately went with Casper. We bought their Queen sized mattress, foundation and metal frame. And we love it. Miraculously, I woke up without morning backaches and have been getting sound sleep. It's a bit high, which we are not used to. We always had low furniture so that it would be easy for Piri to get on and off of them. The height also makes our room a bit smaller but we'll get used to all that, I'm sure. 

I'm looking to add a nicer comforter and a quilt too and we both thought to try the Casper pillow next . (they also have dog beds!)

August 14, 2017

Lately at Piri's Place + About Us #4

About Piri's Place #4
DogVacay has merged with Rover!
You can find our profile over here on the Rover website.

On August 12, we also celebrated 3 years of Piri's Place.
Happy paws everyone!

August 9, 2017


Today is day 300 since Piri crossed the rainbow bridge.

 // About Flowers for Piri
 // Flowers from across the rainbow bridge
 // An old blog hop -- Floral Fridays

August 8, 2017

DIY with Hairpin Legs

After Bartles crossed the rainbow bridge, I thought to make a simple table for both Piri and Bartles' ashes and some of their things. We had some unused boards that were once used as shelves that could be repurposed into a tabletop and all we needed to do was to invest in some hairpin legs to give it a nice touch. 

I found some on Amazon and ordered them (height 24 inches). This particular seller sells hairpin legs in single quantities so that you don't always have to buy a set of four (some people use three, etc.). Silly me, I thought I could make a table using only 2 (since our board was long and not wide - sort of could pass for a bench if you ask me). 

The order wasn't qualified for Prime but it arrived in a timely manner nonetheless and I was excited to get started working on the table. Only... Yangkyu was a bit stumped. He didn't think the table would stand only on two hairpin legs. And we ran into the trouble of the board being too thin. The nails to hold the hairpin legs to the board would go straight through to the other side. We had multiple spare boards and thought to maybe glue and then nail them together so it would be thick enough but I just wasn't prepared for a project to turn out messy and sloppy especially when we paid for a good pair of table legs. 

And so, I ordered two more hairpins and patiently waited for their arrival. Yangkyu bought a new thicker board at Home Depot (around $25), cut into several pieces (we of course only used one piece and perhaps we'll use the leftover boards for some other project). I sanded the board down (all the boards actually in one go so I wouldn't have to bother later) and my arms and hands felt numb for a good hour. And we were finally ready to put the whole thing together.

I was scared that maybe the table will end up being wobbly or that it wouldn't look as nice as I had imagined. I didn't stain the board or paint it in any color. I like the natural wood. And everything turned out nice. It's become a favorite quick project that we did together. And I am in love with the hairpin look that I want to make another for downstairs. I even said, let's make our own eating table. But perhaps too many hairpins and it'll start to look a little ridiculous. And perhaps an eating table is a bit too ambitious.

While this was supposed to be an economical project and we were only supposed to pay for two hairpin legs, we ended up paying for four and a board. So it is kind of a bust when it comes to amount spent, but I really do like how it turned out.

August 4, 2017

Friday Favorites - A Special Story

Photo credit: Clarence York, OBG Cocker Spaniel Rescue

A couple of weeks after Bartles passed, I was having a series of rough nights where I missed him terribly. As with Piri, these tough moments always happened at night, after a long day had winded down and I had more time to think. I would keep replaying images and decisions in my head over and over again wondering where I had gone wrong. I let my heart ache and break over and over again, night after night. 

After several nights of this, I was preparing for yet another evening of what ifs when I noticed an email in my inbox from a person I didn't know. I clicked on it and the simple message told me how much he had enjoyed reading stories of Bartles on my blog. How he was so happy when Bartles found his forever home. And how he was elated to see that he was loved so dearly. 

I remember crying over that email but it wasn't the same kind of crying I had been doing the nights before. I was crying because of the timing of this message and how I felt like I was meant to see it that particular night.. to spare me another evening of heartache. I think it was the only thing that could have mended my broken heart at the time.

I wrote back thanking him for the email and what it meant to me, and how I was happy to hear that Bartles made him happy. He made me happy too.

I also shared the story on my Facebook and Bartles former foster mom let me know that he was involved with OBG Cocker Spaniel Rescue. I had a hunch but I wasn't sure. 

Then just a couple of weeks later, I was going back into the cycle of having sad nights when he wrote me again. Out of the blue. As if he knew I needed to hear from him again. 

He let me know from the last OBG newsletter that he saw we were settling in with Lady, and among other things he said, "I'll always think of you as Bartles' mom." 

That made me cry so much. It still does when I read it.

Included this time was a picture of Mr. Bartles taken back in March 2016 in a Walmart parking lot in Richmond. I love this picture of Bartles so much. His long beautiful coat and his resting cocker face. That face expression I will remember for the rest of my days.

He said he gets close to all the dogs that he comes in contact with, but he always will remember Mr. Bartles as being special. That he was. That he really was.

Clarence York is the person's name who sent me the emails and picture. And just like all the other wonderful OBG volunteers I have come in contact with - Leanne, Mary Jane and Andrea - I will always remember his name and his caring heart.

바틀스가 떠난고 한 2주후에 전 밤을 넘기기 너무 힘들었어요. 하루가 마무리 되면서 생각하는 시간이 생겨서 전 바틀스와의 마지막 순간들.. 내가 결정했던 것들.. 어디서 내가 잘못했는지 계속 생각하고 또 생각했어요. 쉴틈도 없이 난 밤마다 내 마음한테 계속 상처를 줬어요.

몇일후 또 밤이 되서 그 슬픔을 반복할려다가 이메일 메세지 하나가 와있었어요. 모르는 분 이라서 더 궁굼했었습니다. 그 메세지는 저한테 이런말을 했어요 - 블로그 통해 바틀스 이야기를 계속 잘 읽어왔다며 바틀스가 영원한 가족을 찾았다는 소식에 엄청 기뻐했고 그리고 계속 사랑을 받아와서 행복했다고.

전 그 이메일을 읽고 엉엉 울었어요. 전날들 처럼 울었던거와 달리 아마 전 그 메세지의 타이밍 때문에 울었던거 같아요. 마치 내가 그날 저녁에 꼭 읽으라고 그분이 보낸것 처럼.... 내가 필요했으니까... 더 이상 마음 아파 하지 말라고.

고맙다는 답장을 썼어요. 그리고 이렇게 말했습니다 - "바틀스가 당신을 행복하게 해줬다는 생각에 너무 행복해요. 바틀스도 절 행복하게 해줬습니다."

답장을 쓰고 나서 페이스북에도 올렸습니다. 그리고 바틀스 전 임보하셨던 분이 얘기 해줬어요. 나한테 이메일 보낸 사람도 역시 바틀스를 구조 했던 단체에서 자원봉사 하시는 분이라고. 혹시나 했었는데 역시 그랬었어요.

그리고 2주전, 나한테 다시 밤에 슬픔이 찾아오기 시작했어요. 힘들어 하는데 또 그분한테 이메일 왔습니다. 갑자기... 내가 꼭 그분의 이메일을 필요했던것을 알았던것 처럼.

이번에는 이런말을 해주셨어요. 코카 구조 단체 뉴스레터통해 레이디와 잘살고 있다는 소식을 들었다고. 여러 좋은 말 중에 그분이, "난 항상 너를 바틀스 엄마로 생각할거다," 라고 했어요. 

읽고 울었어요. 지금도 읽으면 울어요.

이번에는 사진도 같이 보내줬어요. 바틀스 3월 2016년때 리치먼드에 있는 월마트 주차장에서 찍은 사진입니다. 아마 바로 구조 됐었을때인거 같아요. 전 이 사진 너무 좋아요. 저렇게 멋있는 긴 털과 저 표정. 저 표정을 평생 못잊을 겁니다.

사진 보내주신 분은 모든 구조된 강아지들 항상 마음속에 두는데 바틀스는 특별한 아이였다고 하셨어요. 특별했었어요... 우리 바틀스.

클레언스 요크씨입니다. 이메일 보내준 분. 그리고 OBG 코카 구조 단체에서 만난 자원봉사자들 - 리엔씨, 메리 제인씨 그리고 앤드리아씨 - 와 같이 그분에 이름과 아름다운 마음 평생 잊지 못할거에요.

August 3, 2017

I miss this life with you // 016

oh no, please. Can't we go back to page one and do it all over again?"
-- Winnie the Pooh

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