October 14, 2017

Letters to Piri // 012

Dear Piri, 

Hi. How are you?

I'm doing ok. You know.. it's already been a year since we said good bye. I don't know how we managed to go on living a whole year without you, but .. we got through it.

After you left, the never ending "firsts without Piri" were hard. First Halloween and pumpkin carving without Piri, first birthday without Piri, first Christmas, first cherry blossom season, first time not renewing your dog license - I remember opening up the mail for your dog license and it broke me down.

The list of firsts was never ending. And I presume that there will continue to be firsts without you even after today.

While these firsts have become more bearable, there is still a feeling of emptiness that lingers on. I now try to take this as a sign that you are still very much an important part of our lives, and always will be.

In all honesty, I didn't know how to approach a day like today. I didn't know if I should be happy and celebrate the fact that I had you in my life, or be sad or maybe indifferent. I think it's a mix of everything.

I am so very happy that I had you in my life and I am so very sad that you are no longer in my life. I think feeling this way is ok.

For a long time, I thought maybe there was something wrong with me. People told me how I should be happy that you are no longer in pain. How I should be happy that you lived to be 17 years old - so many dogs die much sooner. How I should be happy that you were surrounded by love when you passed - there are so many who die a painful, sad and lonely death. So I should be happy. Just be happy damn it.... And I couldn't do that.

It made me feel worse that even though I had all these privileges that others did not have - having a dog grow old with me, having a dog pass in his favorite bed, having a dog surrounded by love up until his last breath, I was still sad. How much more greedy can I be? How much more could I have wanted? It's maybe feelings I still wrestle with today.

The weeks leading up to today, I kept telling Yangkyu how much I miss you. I kept calling out your name, more than usual. I like to think that I keep calling out your name because over across the rainbow bridge you're still calling out mine. 

Yangkyu and I continue to build stories where you and Bartles and the rest of the gang of misfits are so very much tied to our lives. Little signs we pick up while grocery shopping or at Yangkyu's school to little frustrating things that happen. We somehow come up with a storyline that involves you. Sometimes you guys are looking out for us, other times you guys are playing jokes on us. Either way, it always makes us smile. For an entire year we have been doing this. It's helped us keep going. 

A week ago when we were in the AT&T store there was a kids show playing on the TV (I later found out that it's called The Octonauts). I have never seen it before but it immediately made me think of you and the gang of misfits. There was a polar bear who was the leader and his crew of various sorts of animals, including a floppy eared dog (there was something urgent that happened and she turned around with a concerned look and had the cutest hair pin on her head. It was a girl dog but her cuteness reminded me of Bartles. I literally bursted out laughing by myself because I saw Bartles on TV).

Anyway, they went on adventures on a big ole ship in the shape of an octopus. Their team work and friendship put a smile on my face and I thought that you all would have the same sort of camaraderie and love for each other. And so I took the show playing when we were in the store as a sign that you all were on similar adventures and having the time of your lives.

About three or four months ago, when I was still had harrowing crying episodes from missing you, I was reminded of the time when I found you on your bed, already gone. That night, I buried my head in Yangkyu's chest and muffled out words that have haunted me since you died. I was afraid that you passed without being able to breathe. Even after 9 months since you passed, I felt guilty for not changing your sleeping position. For falling asleep. For falling asleep on the sofa and not right next to you. For just not being next to you when you might have possibly needed me the most. That was my last crying episode involving that moment. 

The last few times I cried these past weeks, I start by thinking of you but then my mind wonders to Bartles. I think of how you passed at home on your favorite bed and blanket, and how I left Bartles in that cold hospital thinking that he would make it till the morning. When I kissed him and told him I will come get him in the morning, I really thought that was what we were going to do. Instead, he passed without us next to him. Without his favorites things near by. And that eats away at me. It makes me cry and my heart breaks all over again. 

Last night I asked Yangkyu, if he could have anything in the world - even impossible things like bringing people back from the dead - what would it be? He thought about it and then said, "Piri. I would bring Piri back." I replied, "What about Bartles? He would be lonely." He agreed and said, "That's true. We can't have that."

We ended by saying that we would want all the members of the misfits come to life, even the imaginary ones. I said how wonderful it would be to wake up one morning to find you, Mr. Bartles, a goat and Russian Dog in our home like you all have been here all along. I think Lady would have a field day with that. 

I miss you Piri. I hope you and Mr. Bartles are taking good care of each other. And I hope you continue to drop us signs that you are still thinking of us.


Your human girl.

PS - We gave the gang of misfits a name. You guys are now The Rainbownauts. Yangkyu coined it. He always comes up with the best stories and names.

October 6, 2017

Mr. Bartles is in the 2018 OBG Cocker Rescue Calendar!

A couple of days ago, I got an email from OBG Cocker Rescue where I was delighted to find out that Bartles was among a handful of other OBG alums who had made it in the 2018 OBG Cocker Rescue Calendar. I submitted this picture of him, when he was still with us, and we crossed our hands and fingers and paws that this handsome fella would get to grace one of the months. While Bartles wasn't with us when we got the news, we were still happy. And we purchased our copy right away. 

If you would like to see Mr. Bartles and other OBG alums while helping out a great cocker spaniel rescue organization, you can purchase your copy today by following this link.

Mr. B says thank you in advance!

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

October 4, 2017


This was our crew for the past couple of days. Two of the dogs, Spootie and Clover, leave today and we have yet another friend joining our gang. Boo the Westie, who is almost blind and diabetic. He needs insulin shots after his meals which always makes me slightly nervous but we get through them just fine. 

We normally only take in two dogs at a time for overnight stays but all our wonderful repeat clients needed boarding and so we made room for everyone to have their own little vacation here while their humans are away. 

Mornings are a little bit more hectic with lots more doggy bowls to fill and clean and lots of paws scurrying around whenever I move around in hopes for a special surprise treat. The laundry gets folded just a little bit on the messier side and there is less room on the bed for us to stretch out our legs as there is always a dog on top of our legs, or heads resting on our tummies or snuggly sleeping right by our side, sharing a pillow, or two. But that's ok. I like this a lot. It's my kind of vibe. 

I have been determined to take more pictures - I recently upgraded my phone to the iPhone 8 (I apparently have been living under a rock because I had no idea there was a new iPhone out) and have been on friendlier terms with my Fuji X100T and also have been carrying my Canon 7D around the house all the time as well. I have also bought and downloaded patterns for a couple of knit hats and cowels and have been eyeing this recipe to make soon. We also have little Halloween decorations that still need to go up and I am still trying to convince Yangkyu (and myself frankly) that we need to buy the huge plastic pumpkin at Target to store all our Halloween candy this year. I mean, do we really need that? The irrational part of me says yes, the more practical part of me says no way.

I thought it would be crazy hectic with so many guest dogs and Yangkyu with his work and grad school classes, but I am liking this current vibe of ours. 

We'll be busy until October 28th when the last of our guest dogs leave. We don't get a single break inbetween but I think we'll be ok. 

Happy October everyone.

What's going on in your neck of the woods?

September 30, 2017


Today I took out Piri's old lead and used it on my walk with Lady. I haven't held it since Piri crossed the rainbow bridge. It fit like a glove. Like it was meant for my hands. Lady and I enjoyed a nice walk - 40 minutes. Our favorite route includes my occasional jogging route. Lady also has been wearing Bartles' old harness. It's like her brothers are always near her, watching out for her. And me. 

Tomorrow marks 3 months since Bartles crossed the rainbow bridge and 14 days until Piri's 1 year of his passing. I have been going through a wave of emotions. Sometimes I just want to be sad. Sometimes I want to be happy. Sometimes I'm anxious because I don't know how to feel. And sometimes just don't have any feelings at all. I just presume that this is normal behavior. 

I've just finished reading The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs. I finished the last 150 pages sitting at a Panera near our home while Yangkyu finished up his homework for one of his grad school courses. At the tail end of the book, I began to bawl. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. It's poignant, sad and beautifully written. 

When Piri was fighting cancer, for some reason I began to read about cancer and children. At the time, Humans of New York was holding a fundraiser for a hospital in New York treating children with cancer. Their pictures and stories broke my heart and I cried every night reading a new story. Then I came across this article, When Do you Give Up on Treating a Child with Cancer in the Times, and I bawled and was amazed at what had happened to this child. It wasn't the same, but I kept trying to imagine the heartache of these parents, families and children as they fought a terminal disease. I was a wreck with my old senior dog fighting cancer, I wondered how much more frightening, tiring, hopeful and at times hopeless it was for these young warriors and the adults who would do anything to protect them. Heal them. It was what I had wanted to do for Piri. I don't meant to sound insensitive comparing Piri's fight to theirs. It might be a tactless way to try and relate, but I couldn't help but try to make a connection. 

I have never done well with death for as long as I remember. Every time I try to figure it out, I talk it out with Yangkyu but we never seem to find an answer.

Tonight is very quiet. Just the sound of my keyboard typing. We'll soon all get ready to go to bed and starting tomorrow, it'll be busy with guest dogs coming and going for most of October. 

One night a couple of weeks ago, Lady got up in the middle of the night, looked in the direction of my closet and started to growl. I was scared but then wondered if maybe Bartles and Piri had come to visit. I coaxed her and told her it was ok. And in my head I thought, "It's just your brothers. It's ok. Go back to sleep." She hasn't growled since that night. I am hoping that it's not because they haven't visited, but because she now realizes that they are kindred spirits, coming to say hello.

September 18, 2017

Korea, according to my iPhone (pt. 2) + 5 years of blogging!

 // Travel Korea: Seoul
 // Trave Korea : Seoul

*Our blog turns 5 years old today. I looked back on the first ever post and it brought me right back to that moment. I'm happy now, but I think from this moment on from when Piri crossed the rainbow bridge last year were the happiest years of my life.

September 17, 2017

Travel Korea - Seoul


We're back with our Korea travels and we're almost at the end. This day is from one of our last days in Seoul before we headed back up north to Paju to stay with my parents for a night while preparing to fly back home. 

It's hard to believe that we were in Korea 5 months ago. It only feels like yesterday and yet so much time has passed and so much has happened since. 

After our adventures exploring palaces, secret gardens and traditional homes right in heart of Seoul, Yangkyu and I ventured to a place we were familiar with, the N Seoul Tower, or what we used to know as just Namsan Tower. 

I remember N Seoul Tower from kindergarten. I believe we went there on a field trip. Sadly, the only thing I remember from that trip was seeing a cardboard cut up of ET.

ET actually scared me a as a little kid and so I wasn't particularly fond of seeing him, but it was one of the most popular movies among kids back in the 80s and so I think he left a big imprint in my mind (to the point where he is the only thing I remember from my trip to the tallest point in Seoul). 

To be completely honest, both Yangkyu and I weren't expecting too much at N Seoul Tower but it was just one of those places we thought we needed to check off while in Korea (we flew all the way there! we have to go!). Mostly I really wanted to place a lock with our names on it. It was something I had always wanted to do (one of the reasons I wanted to go to Paris last year) and this was our chance.

And while N Seoul Tower wasn't a place I thought I would enjoy a whole lot, I ended up enjoying every minute of it. It was a complete surprise. 

We took the subway and walked, which was a little hard because there is a hilly part you have to get over. If you're used to walking and enjoy it and consider yourself on the fitter side, then it shouldn't be a problem. If you don't enjoy walking a whole lot and running for 5 minutes knocks out your lungs, perhaps finding another alternative to get to the main building to ride the cable cars up to the tower would be a better choice (I believe there are free shuttle buses at the nearest subway stop to N Seoul Tower). 

Going back home, we ended up walking down hill towards the shuttle bus area and ended up taking the bus to the subway stop. We thought we were almost going to die because the bus drivers tend to drive a bit on the scary side, but we held on to dear life, along with everyone else in the bus (we felt like we were inside an anchovy can - just like in the cable car) who let out woos and ahh and oh my goshes throughout the ride. I almost forgot I was inside a bus. It felt more like a roller coaster ride. Ok.. maybe I'm exaggerating just a little bit.

As soon as you get off of the cable cars, there are fences and fences of locks with people's names and messages, ones probably of their hopes and dreams of good health, fortune, happiness and love. 

We bought our lock and borrowed a marker from the seller and wrote what we had wrote when we were in Insadong when we hung our tag at the Wall of Love - "Jane, Yangkyu, Piri and Bartles - Always the four of us."

Afterwards we made our way towards the tower, grabbed a bite to eat at one of the eateries (we got burgers and fries), enjoyed the expansive view and then made our way inside to the elevator that takes you up the tower. 

While on top we found points of interest for us including directions toward our old home and current home (New York and Washington D.C.) and our dream home (Jeju Island). We did some shopping (souvenirs and presents for friends) and took our separate time trying to take in the tiny buildings and roads and cars. The view was breathtaking. I used the restroom before going back down and one side is made entirely of glass to take in the view ... while you go. Ha. It was a bit odd but neat in a way. 

Yangkyu and I were lucky enough to have the right timing to also get a nice treat while back outside. There were special performances of poongmul (traditional drumming - Yangkyu and I used to also play) and traditional sword play and we stayed the entire time to watch. It was nice to see so many foreign tourists enjoy and cheer along and just as nice to see the performers incorporate them into their routines. We gave loud cheers and applause - it was just so enjoyable to watch (I like these types of things and so perhaps that's why I had such a great time).  

I'm glad we were able to squeeze an outing to N Seoul Tower during our trip to Korea. The only regret we have is not going at night. This was a continued regret Yangkyu and I had -- not sightseeing at night. We always began our days so early that we were too tired to stay out late. There is alway a next time. 

We'll do a another iPhone look at our trip from Korea and then post about a neat little art village in Paju. I hope you'll come back for those.

September 8, 2017

Friday Favorites // Doggie Treats

Happy Friday. 

With the small changes in weather and my sleeping schedule currently our of sync, I find myself cruising through the day in a slight funk - sometimes busy and productive and sometimes moving around like a zombie and being lazy as hell despite knowing that I have a zillion things to do but not having the energy to do them. I am hoping that I'll come out of this one soon.

What do you have planned for the weekend? 

I'll be hanging out with a pair of adorable cockapoo siblings, Spootie and Clover, and of course with Lady as well, doing the things they love, including eating treats. 

Lady eats so well that I have to catch myself from not giving her too many treats. With Piri, I was more on the strict side and only gave him two treats during the day along with fruits and vegetables. With Bartles that changed a little but he was also sick and so I didn't want to give him too many that may overwork his kidneys and liver. Lady currently doesn't have any serious medical issues and is completely healthy and she loves food. Every time I look at her face she has this look like, "treat time?" And I almost fall for it at every single look. But even while she's healthy, we want to keep her that way and so we're going easy on the treats (but special treat times are ok - we had one last night at midnight when we all stayed past our bedtime!)

So in honor of Lady and our guest dogs' favorite time of the day - treat time! - we'll end the week with Lady's favorites.

Have a good one!

 // Primal Beef Nibs
 // Primal Venison Lung Snaps
 // The Honest Kitchen Wishful Filets
 // The Honest Kitchen Nice Mussels
 // Zuke's Z-Filets Grilled Chicken Recipe

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