Friday, February 16, 2018

Goodnight, Sweet Juliet

Almost a week has gone by since I had to say goodbye to my Sweet Juliet, and I'm still an emotional wreck.  She was twelve and nearing the upper end of the average lifespan for her breed, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  We knew that our time with her would come to an end eventually, but no matter how prepared I thought I was for that moment, it still hit like a ton of bricks.  I haven't felt such intense sorrow since my dad died in 1982.  Those who aren't dog lovers wonder what the fuss is.  It's just a dog, they say.  To that I say you couldn't be more wrong.  Jewel was so much more than "just a dog."  First and foremost,

Jewel was
A member of our family.  From the moment we brought her home, she belonged.  She loved our home and the homes of our families in Colorado, Nebraska, and Minnesota.  She loved when family came for visits, and she loved to visit them.  Jewel was there for every holiday, for celebrations, for get togethers, for evenings on the patio and snuggling in by the fire.  She unconditionally loved every member of the family--we were her whole world.

Jewel loved her Grandma so much.
Jewel and Grams

And her aunts
Jewel and her aunts

And uncles
Jewel with the guys

And cousins
Cousin love

And the Royal Babies
JuJu and The Royals

And Jess
JuJu and Jess--forever friends

And Jewel loved me
Jewel and me

Jewel was
A protector and comforter.  She watched over Grams and me at all times.  She walked by my side, never getting ahead of me--if she found herself a few steps in front, she stopped to wait for me.  She had a major fit whenever someone helped me up the stairs, so worried that I might get hurt.  She was a comforting presence to Mom and me--her spirit filled every room of our house.  She had her favorite spots to nap, and they all included a view of us.  The couch, the rug by the patio, the window seat, the rug in my room, and the hallway were her top choices, and it was always comforting to glance up and see her and hear her softly snoring (my favorite!)

Jewel was
A showstopper.  No matter where we took her, people would have to stop to pet her.  She loved it!  She loved everybody, whether it was her babysitter Leyna or the grocery carryout guy or the Sonic carhop or the customers at Pet Smart.
That face
Jewel was
A nature lover.  She loved to sit in the yard or on the patio and just watch nature unfold.  She gazed at the sky and the trees and the flowers.  And above all, she loved our walks around the neighborhood where she sniffed and rolled in the grass and owned the sidewalk.  We met so many people and dogs on our walks, and everyone came to know and love Jewel.
JuJu loving the world
Jewel was
a traveling girl, following her wanderlust.  Whether to Nebraska or a Colorado trip or a ride across town to Andy's in Wheat Ridge or a simple Sonic or car wash run, Jewel loved the car.  If we were in town, she rode on the console by my side or lay on her mat on the back seat for a snooze.  For out of town trips, in the kennel she went with no fuss whatsoever.  She even got to be in First Class on a trip to Minnesota!
packed up and ready to go
Jewel was
a prima donna.  She really was a girly girl--she loved to go to "the beauty shop" and all the groomers adored her.  She galloped  down my hallway, and when she was a puppy, she would stop every few feet and pirouette like a member of the Nutcracker.  She loved watching the Westminster Dog Show, cheering on her favorite each year.
Jewel the movie star

So you see, Jewel was never just a dog.  She was just . . .

my girl.
Julie girl

On February 2, Jewel began to decline in health.  On that day, she wasn't able to stand up for part of the day, and her breathing was off.  She came out of it that evening, and we hoped that it was an isolated episode.  That was not in her stars, however, and she steadily went downhill despite my many Hail Marys and fervent prayers for her to snap out of it.  It was clear by the following Friday that she would not, and we were going to need to make a deciison--her breathing was labored, she hadn't barked for a few days, she wasn't eating, and she had a few more instances of not being able to stand.  My prayers changed that night.  Dear God, I prayed.  If it's Jewel's time, please let her go naturally, or if that isn't your plan, please let me know when to let go.

As it was, He answered both prayers.

Saturday morning Jewel was worse.  She couldn't stand, and now she wasn't drinking.  She was on the couch but wanted to be on the rug by the patio door (she somehow actually jumped off the couch and walked there.)  I sat with her in the kitchen and just watched her.  Her breathing was so labored, and a river of tears streamed down my cheeks.  I knew then that it was time.  Something wouldn't let me leave her, though.  I needed to go get dressed and call the vet, but I couldn't take my eyes off her long enough to do either.

At some point, her breathing got extremely fast, and I sensed that something changed.  And then

She looked into my eyes with so much love. 
She reached her paw toward me. 
She closed her eyes and then opened them half way.  
She closed her eyes again and took her last breath.

The moment was so peaceful, so loving, so bittersweet, and so very Jewel.

Lady Juliet Capulet Montague Thompson
February 20, 2006 - February 10, 2018
Forever Juliet

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Ready to Remember the Song Birds in 2018

Each new year is a surprise to us.  We find that we had virtually forgotten the note of each bird, and when we hear it again, it is remembered like a dream . . .  Thoreau

There were so many times during 2017 that I really did forget the note of each bird.  All too often the resonance of the beauty of this world was muffled by National tragedies, instability in our government, scandals, sexual assault coming from those in positions of trust, and the loss of so much talent (again), especially one of my favorites, Gregg Allman. But it only took gentle reminders of all the goodness in this life to bring back the music.

I realized that when I sat down to write my Christmas letter.  I always try to highlight my year with words and phrases in the shape of a Christmas tree.  This year's looked like this--

The contents of this little tree drowned the cacophony coming from the outside world, starting with


Getting to see all eight of these pumpkins made my heart sing throughout 2017.  Ethan, Drake, Max, Madi, Lucy, Quinn, Archer, and Russell all have that Thompson blood running through them yet are unique and amazing in their own way.  They are the song birds of our family.

great nieces and nephews


Getting to see all nine of my nieces and nephews and their honeys brought more music to 2017.  Amy, Andy, Jill, Kyle, Micki, Adam, Jake, Nathan, and Gabe all have grown into beautiful and compassionate adults, and this aunt couldn't be prouder.

nieces and nephews


My brothers and sisters and their sweeties are the best siblings/friends a girl could have.  Seeing their gorgeous faces often during 2017 brought melodious harmony to my world,  always when I needed it most.

Brothers and sisters


We are so grateful to have our mom with us.  She brings strength and love to all of us, and constantly reminds us that in the midst of confusion, there is always a melody.  We can't wait to celebrate her 90 years of life in 2018.


Yes. it truly was!  For many reasons, like--

My niece Amy moved back to Colorado after living in San Francisco for the past twenty years, and having her and her sweet family just around the corner gives us all a sense of peace and harmony.  Welcome home, Ames!
Amy's home :)
And, my nephew Nathan and his bride celebrated their marriage with a weekend full of family, music, lots of dancing, and so much love!!
Christmas Lake Love
Lake time before the reception
We danced.  And danced.  And danced!
You can read more about the weekend here.


Crickets chirping at noon, darkness when it should be light, Venus bright and visible in the middle of the day, solar flares and coronas--all these things and more as I witnessed my first total solar eclipse.  Nothing else mattered that day.  Absolutely nothing.  You can read about this magical experience here.


With the support of my family, I made the decision to retire after 32 years as an English teacher.  Although the decision itself was easy, telling my students and colleagues was tough.  I waited until March to do it, and my announcement was met with gasps, questions, tears (tons from me!), memories, and finally hugs and good wishes.  I will write about all that in 2018, but for now, even though I miss teaching and all those incredible students, my dreamers,  I don't regret my decision one bit.  The time was right.  At times, I still feel like I am on an extended summer break and that I'll have to go back on a Monday morning, but the reality is that I don't!  I love Sunday nights without lesson planning and the dread of Monday mornings.  I love leisurely drinking my tea in the morning and reading the paper or emails before getting dressed for the day.  I love being available to go to dance recitals and school programs in the middle of the work week.  I love having much less stress in my life.  Yes, I love being retired!!
Announcements and parties

and more parties

There really was so much to be grateful for this year, and now I'm getting ready to bid adieu to 2017 and am eagerly looking forward to remembering, like a dream, the note of each bird in 2018.

Happy New Year, everyone!

and with my newly acquired low-stress status, my biggest decision to make as the clock approaches midnight is

Which book should I read next???

Perfect Christmas gifts 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Champagne Summer

I'm sitting on my patio going through summer pictures on my iPhone, trying to organize and weed out those that are redundant or not so fabulous.  It's taking me way longer than it should, and I'm not deleting very many.  Instead, I'm sipping champagne and  smiling as I remember all the enchantment and love of the last few months.  For most of this summer, the weather was delightfully sparkling and warm, family and friends were bubbly and sweet,  and my adventures were all fun filled and effervescent.  Kind of like


I'm about an hour into my picture organizing (and champagne drinking) and I realize that the folders I've created mirror the very reason that this Summer of 2017 will go down in my book as almost perfect.  Take a look inside my photo book.


Oh, celebrate we did, with dance recitals and birthdays and weddings and retirements.  And champagne!
Madi aka Moana.  Away Away!
Jess turns 21!  The twins are 4.  Mom is 89 <3
Another retirement celebration??  I know--how awesome is that??
Nate and Lindsey are married!

Throughout all the celebrating we cheered and ate cake and sang and danced.  (and drank champagne!)


My backyard beckoned me every night this summer.  I (and usually my mom and Jewel) spent so many warm, quiet evenings listening to the bubbly fountain and crickets, reading books and emails and letters, planning our days.  And drinking champagne.

Solar lights, sparkling water, books, Jewel
Fitzgerald, tea, and a real letter from Cousin Ginny

I'm hoping these patio nights linger way into autumn.

A TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE (of the heartland!)

I never imagined that seeing a solar eclipse could be so magical, but experiencing this celestial event with my mom and sister and nieces and nephews made it so.  Read about my experience here.  

Diamond rings, eclipse glasses, and family


Yes, August!  I've always dreaded the month of August.  For as long as I can remember, August signaled school starting and the end of summer.  I always had a sense of sadness as August loomed ahead, knowing that my days of leisure would soon be filled to the rim with school work, early nights, and way too much stress.  Not this year!  I think I was looking forward to August most of all--no school and no stress.  Instead, August brought glorious weather, brunches, more patio nights, long walks with Jewel, road trips, out-of-town visitors.  And champagne :)

Road trip essentials, fresh veggies, brunch
Brunch, summer flowers, reading
Peg's veggies turn into fresh salsa and pasta sauce



I'm almost finished with my picture organizing project.  I spent way too long looking and not enough time deleting.  But my folders are complete.  The last folder is the fullest, and I find myself lingering the longest as I feel the love all over again.  I got to see every single member of my fam this summer, whether in Colorado, Nebraska, or on the shores of Christmas Lake.

Nebraska, Colorado, and Minnesota family love
Everyone's a fish at Christmas Lake

Christmas Lake Love

  Nothing brings me more joy than love and hugs from Mom and sisters.

I'd melt for my sisters
 and brothers
and brothers
 and nieces and nephews
too hard to get nephews to pose--the girls are always game
and Royal Babies
all 8 of them!
and besties.
And a few more--this isn't even close to all the pictures in this last folder--it would be overflowing if it were a real folder!

And a grand finale lake compilation <3

And now, with my photos nicely organized in my new iPhone folders (Celebrations, The Patio,, Total Eclipse, August, and Family), I'm almost ready to say goodbye to this perfect summer.  But first, one more glass of  champagne.