Albus

»  mark    29 Aug 2019 @ 09:56    

Time flies, and not just when you’re having fun. 9 years ago, tired, needing a break from writing, I stopped posting to this site. I’ve considered resuming our adventure tales many times since then, but momentum is a tricky thing. It is good when it is working for you, but it can work against you just as well. And once an object (or a habit) is at rest, it takes a lot of energy to start it moving again.

So much time has past, I will not attempt to fill in the gaps, at least, not right now. But today, I wanted to stop and reflect, I needed to stop and reflect.

One of the blessings of moving to New England, was finding a place to rent that was both big enough for and accommodating of larger pets. True, we did have the beta fish Sirius Purple, that successfully crossed the country with us in a 32 oz. cup. But the kids (read: Maya) had been “hounding” us for years for a dog. Settled in our vintage 1790 New Hampshire Farmhouse, we knew the time had come. After scouring adoption placement ads for a few weeks, we decided that “Abel” was the dog for us.

I admit more than a little apprehension as we brought him home in early January 2014 from Rochester, Maine (just across the New Hampshire border) after he had traveled the previous day from Georgia. This was going to change our family, and I wasn’t altogether sure how. Looking back now, he has been a blessing in so many ways.

“Abel” just didn’t fit, and not because I have anything against Bible names. After some consideration, the family agreed to name him Albus, after the wise old headmaster of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School. Albus has always seemed a wise dog, even when we adopted him at the age of 5 or 6 (who knows?). He was friendly, active, and caring. From the first night, he climbed the super steep stairs to jump up on Maya’s bed. He would do that for many years. Through some very cold winters, in a bedroom that often had ice on the inside of the windows and got down to the 30’s, he provided as much warmth as he received.

Albus had many amazing qualities: he almost never barked (until he met Ronan), he was gentle and patient with small children, he loved meeting other dogs, and enjoyed romping with the kids both inside and out as they would hide and seek, kick a soccer ball around, or wrestle playfully. He never stole food from the table or countertops. We used to be amazed that we could leave a frozen piece of meet by the heater vents on the floor to thaw and he never took them.

He could get into mischief when left attended outside, and we did not have a fenced yard, so we had to depend on clipping him to a tie-out or keeping him on a leash. The times he escaped, he loved to explore strange things in the nearby swamp, or visit other homes in the neighborhood where he knew dogs lived. Most times, this was innocent enough, and other than requiring a bath on a few occasions (which he hated), all was well. One evening, he slipped out of a not-entirely-closed door and wandered over by the highway that ran adjacent to our home. In the dusky light, he was struck by an oncoming car. The driver stayed with him while our neighbor came to get us. We hurried to his aid and rushed him to a vet who fortunately hadn’t closed for the day. They ran some x-rays, but found nothing seriously broken. A few fractures would heal on their own and they cleaned up his paws that had suffered numerous scratches from the collision.

Within a day, Albus was feeling a bit better, but he did no want bandages on his feet, so he continually yanked on them so he could lick his wounds. This would be a struggle for the next few weeks as we had to try and keep the wounds covered so they would dry and heal, and he did whatever he could to pull off the socks and other protective coverings we put on them. Eventually he returned to health and we were able to remove the bandages.

When we moved to Maine the next summer, Albus was glad for the new scenery and enjoyed exploring the woods and paths in our neighborhood. He continued to climb the stairs to the second floor to sleep on Maya’s bed and also enjoyed resting by the warm fireplace in the winters. We knew he wouldn’t stay young forever, and in time, making the climb upstairs became too difficult and he preferred to just sleep downstairs.

After some time, we were blessed to find another dog to adopt, a much younger and lively pup. Ronan would test Albus with his jumpy in-your-face demeanor at times, but Albus let him know his place. Only once did they appear ready to rumble when we brought home a large bag of chicken bones. But they soon acclimated to each other, and although I don’t know if they were ever close friends, they learned to live in peace. In recent weeks, we have observed Ronan “grooming” Albus more than he ever had, licking his head, ears, and feet. At the time, I attributed that to just Ronan getting in Albus’s face again, but now I’m not certain. Albus was getting old and was having increasingly difficult time standing up and moving around. He stopped going on walks and slept most of the day. Near the end his legs were so wobbly, it was difficult for him to support his weight.

We knew the end might be near, but whether that was in weeks or months, who could tell? Yesterday, the day had come, and after spending much of the day writing letters, drawing pictures, and trying to surround Albus with as much love and beauty as we could gather, we said goodbye. I know that some people are attached to their pets, and I think I was unfairly judgmental of some who I perceived to regard their pets as children. Albus would never replace my own children, certainly, but I would be remiss to not consider him an important part of our family.

He was the family dog of my children’s early years, a faithful companion, and a joy to our home. I marveled on multiple occasions as he grew older that he never complained, never whined though I knew he was uncomfortable or even in pain. Albus showed me what it meant to age with dignity and grace, an example I hope to emulate as I grow older. We have traveled together, shared walks, adventures, and difficult times, too. I think the bond between people and their animals grows strong as they reflect the same love and care that a child needs. We care for them when they are hurt and sick, look after their needs for food, activity, and shelter. We lean on them when we are sad or in need of support. And somehow, they seem to understand.

Today, we will lay his body to rest in the backyard, a task I expect to be nearly as difficult as the events of the past 24 hours. But I wouldn’t trade this task for an easier way out. Just as Harry Potter gloried in the manual labor of creating a resting spot for Dobby, I too feel that this is one last chance to show my love for this exceptional animal that has meant so much to our family.

We will all miss Albus dearly, but I wouldn’t trade that decision we made 5.5 years ago to invite him into our home for the loss we feel now. I truly believe that we will see him again in another life, and perhaps unencumbered by the pain and stiffness of old legs, we will have another chance to romp and explore once more.

Leaving the blah behind

»  mark    8 Feb 2010 @ 21:59    

Mid-winter is always a tough time for our family. Besides the weekly bout of whatever sickness is hanging around at Church, the weather is often drab, Olya and the kids have a hard time getting outside, and the air in Utah is downright unhealthy.

This year was no different, but we took a page from a few years back when we visited some of Olya’s friends in St. George and decided that we would head somewhere nice to escape the blah.

Now that our good friends the Mirandas are back in Southern California, we knew we had a good reason to go. So early in January, Olya hunted around for airline tickets and found that San Diego was really quite affordable. And the rental car rates from there were surprisingly low as well, so we went for it.

The five days we had to kick back, visit with friends, and just enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery were just what we needed. We really couldn’t get enough of the 65 degree weather, steady breezes, and lovely sea air.

We decided to take Anya along since she still isn’t a great sleeper at night and figured the other two kids would have a better time with Grandma if they had a little more undivided attention. Anya was perfectly happy to have the extra time with Mama and Papa, but she reminded us why air travel with a < 2 year old is always a gamble. This is the first flight I've been on where I've had a beverage dumped on me in both directions! To top it off, the man sitting in front of Olya spilled his beverage which then dripped through the seat on her bag. :) Notwithstanding the volatility of the refreshments, we couldn't have asked for a more enjoyable time. The weather held steady as a rock with sunshine and clear skies. Timing was perfect. Had we come only a week before, we would have witnessed one of the biggest storms to hit that area in years. The local newspapers had photos of flooding in some areas, complete with cars stranded, trees knocked over, and other damage. At the tail end of the trip, we stopped by to visit Tatyana, one of Olya's friends from Moldova. It was fun to see how things were going for them and she gave us a crash course on Balboa Park, a very large refuge downtown San Diego that we could have wandered for days. We had to settle for exploring the botanical gardens because we had a plane to catch. Maya and Elijah were none the worse for their mini-vacation at Grandma's. They took advantage of the 3 foot deep snow to get in a lot of sledding, snowman building, and other exploring. We knew they'd be fine when we told them that we'd be leaving them with Grandma for a few days and Elijah responded with glee, "We get to go to Grandma's for 6 days without you?" Olya enjoyed her first trip to California. We both enjoyed the scenery and the weather, but the cost of living will probably keep us from resettling there any time soon. But don't count us out for another visit next year when blah season comes around.

Tubing in the backyard

»  mark    24 Dec 2009 @ 09:21    

We had a fun afternoon tubing with my family in the backyard yesterday. Well, it was my parents’ backyard, and a good thing too, since they live on a farm in the mountains at 5200 ft. elevation. It was rather nice taking 10 steps out their backyard to get to the slope.

The kids got cold, but not before beating up the trail pretty good. Olya told me later that this was her first time on a tube, ever.

Candy day

»  mark    1 Nov 2009 @ 21:29    

Although we hardly talk about some holidays (mostly the ones that only seem to be around to boost the American candy-makers), Maya and Elijah have been gleaning bits of information from their friends about Halloween. And Maya is convinced that it should be renamed Candy Day.

Can’t argue that. There really isn’t much more to it… or is there? Well, Olya and I decided this year to make more out of it. We thought it would be fun to make it more of an Autumn Festival with old fashioned games and a party with friends. Since my folks moved to the canyon and don’t have a neighbor within 2 miles, we asked them if they’d be interested in playing along.

So we went to visit Grandma and Grandpa with the kids all dressed up in their costumes and the promise of games and fun. We weren’t disappointed. Not only did we avoid the inevitable fight over the pounds of sweets they would have amassed at Trunk or Treat, but the kids got to show off their costumes in a warm, hospitable environment void of weirdos and creepy things that we really don’t want them thinking about.

Olya and I think this ought to be a new family tradition. The kids had a ball, and the adults seemed to enjoy the party too. Kudos to the party planners!

Train ride

»  mark    26 Sep 2009 @ 22:20    

This weekend we decided to do something I’ve been thinking about for quite some time. We bought a family ticket on the commuter rail FrontRunner that connects Ogden and Salt Lake and took the kids on a train ride.

I was pleasantly surprised at the speed and comfort of the train, since I take TRAX now almost daily, the rapid rail (tramway) that goes south toward my new office location. The commuter rail, by comparison is quiet, smooth, and gives you the feeling it is hardly moving, a deception that is proven by the fact that at its top speeds you can look out the windows and watch the cars you are passing on I-15 (and I know they don’t follow the speed limit).

We took the train to the end of the line, Ogden’s historic Union Station, and spent an hour looking around the railroad station, old car museum, and railroad museum. The kids enjoyed watching the model trains move around the museum and taking pictures on decommissioned rail cars and locomotives. Enjoy the pictures!

Summer vacation, part 1

»  olya    20 Jul 2009 @ 17:06    

We’re back from our vacation, exhausted, but full of memories and impressions. I’m working on the photos and there’s seems to be no end to them, so I’ll stick to just posting photos and leave it up to Mark to add his commentaries and stories :)

This is from day 1,2 and 3. First 2 days we just drove all the way to Edmonds, WA, only stopping to rest and to let kids run around for a while.

From the Vault

»  mark    26 Jun 2009 @ 00:23    

Ah, the joys of moving.

All you Nelsons know what I mean, it’s in our blood. Call it what you like, nomadic, fidgeting, or even restless legs syndrome, but we don’t tend to stick in one place too long. Speaking of which, the place where I have lived for nearly 3 years now, is the longest I’ve been in one home since…1996 when we lived at 175 S Main in Providence. And I’ve had no other residence longer than 3 years in my whole life except for that one. I count this as my 29th residence in a mere 32 years of life. But I digress.

I’m not announcing that we are moving from this home, but what got me on that tangent was the move from one web hosting company to another. The joys of moving, of course, are two-fold. 1) Throwing out stuff that you don’t want to carry any longer and 2) Finding old treasures that, what the heck, you’ll carry a little longer. Take your pick which camp you think the following photo belongs in. This was taken October 10, 2003 at the Annual Providence Sauerkraut Dinner. Phil really missed out on this one.

Fortunately for him and many others, I have preserved this for posterity. Perhaps now would be a good time to really move before the lynching party arrives.

Site relocation

»  mark    25 Jun 2009 @ 23:50    

Just a quick note to inform everyone that the site is back up. Hopefully you haven’t given up on us. I have not been very diligent in writing lately, and this past few weeks we’ve decided to switch web hosts, which hasn’t helped our “uptime”.

The move to a new host has gone rather well. For those that care, we are now working with a company by the name of Arvixe. Unlimited bandwidth and storage, unlimited subdomains, and we can have as many as 6 domains on a single account. Huzzah! If anybody would like to register a domain and park some pages, I’m more than happy to help. If you find any bugs, broken links, etc. please let me know so I can fix them!

In the meantime, I hope to pick up the pace on contributing to this blog and have a few other pet projects up my sleeve — when Anya gives me time to work on them (the disclaimer of our family’s life for the past 15 months).

More on the way!
/mark

Memorial Day

»  olya    26 May 2009 @ 15:37    

Just Elijah

»  olya    5 Apr 2009 @ 22:29    

Before Anya steals the show on Wednesday, here are some photos of our birthday boy. Mark did a great job describing Elijah, yes he all that and a cherry on top. Half of the photos in the gallery are dedicated to his study of coconut oil.

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