Empty Spaces

IMG_3539Zoe’s death left recurring, sometimes unexpected, often random, but always heart-sad, voids in our life. Her absence permeates our daily routines. Her weight on our feet at night in bed, the expectant face as we stirred in the morning, strings of drool as she politely, patiently waited for her breakfast, the intent eyes and head tilt at the slightest sign of an impending morning walk, her serene pose in the shady grass under the apple tree as she surveyed her domain, her joyous enthusiasm for countless daily pleasures (fetch! ride in the car! snow! popcorn! you’re home!), helicopter tail wags of utter pleasure, twitching tiny-bark dreams, and–to the very end–the thump, thump of her tail when we entered the room–all that love–it’s just gone. All those empty Zoe spaces. IMG_2107.jpg
So, what to do. We have never been of the school of thought that it is disrespectful to soon replace a dog with another dog. In fact, in my experience, the only way to really heal from the loss of a dog is to get another one. But, it’s not so easy. We really want another Lab. Although we have had several rescue dogs over the years, it’s hard to find a rescue Lab in Maine. Labs are in high demand here, being the quintessential Maine dog, posing beside fireplaces and Old Town Canoes in countless L.L.Bean catalogs. The few available rescues are imported from southern states and have only a passing resemblance to actual Labrador-hood. And we are serious about taking in a dog–it’s for life, no matter what. We want a good fit. For us and for the dog.


I don’t want to keep posting  endless Zoe pictures, so am putting in some random shots.

But litters from reputable breeders are reserved for months in advance. We were desolate at the thought of six months or so without a dog. Noooooo!!!! So we have been hoping that people will drop off litter reservation lists. Zoe came to us that way. She had been promised to the Fire Chief of a coastal Alaskan town, but he was about to be divorced and decided not to take her. His misfortune was our gain. Zoe would have loved being a fire station dog (and living on the ocean) so I always felt that we had a high standard to live up to.


Pinkish Queen Anne’s Lace

All this leads to the fact that we have spent a great deal of time researching potential dogs. It’s time to fill the house with dogs. We believe that we have found a male pup that we can bring home in September. We are going to look at the litter tomorrow. I’m so excited I likely won’t sleep many winks tonight. IMG_3245In the meantime, we are busy. We have visitors throughout the whole month of August, including our children and grandchildren (and a family reunion in Connecticut). We are so full up with visitors, work on the gardens, and dog research, that I have not had the time to even look at other blogs, let alone leave comments. I doubt that I will have any real blog time until September. Forgive me, blog friends.


Raised beds, corn, tomatoes, and our growing brush pile.


The gardens are doing fairly well, despite a prolonged drought.


We dug this swale this spring and now are filling it with rocks. It diverts the water that had been soggying up our orchard area.

It’s been a month of lilies.  A few survived the lily beetles and others grow by the roadside. IMG_3390.jpgIMG_3306.jpgIMG_3296.jpgIMG_3672.jpgIMG_3294We have more vegetables than we can eat and are about to be hit with an avalanche of tomatoes.


Baby watermelon


Tonight’s tomato sauce ingredients


I found two enormous tomato hornworms and quickly drowned them in a soap bath.


Voracious and bloated-looking.

My herb garden is flourishing, loving the dry weather.


Herb garden in mid-July.


Three weeks later (and looking from the opposite direction).


I’ve been continually harvesting and drying herbs.


The bluebirds that had been casually hanging around the bluebird house turned out to have had a second brood. The babes never thrust their hungry beaks out the box opening as did the swallows, but, for about a week, we heard them clamoring for food every time their parents approached the box. The fledglings emerged last week and sat upon the box top before taking small experimental flights.


One of the fledglings.

It was quite different from the swallow babes, who took off like acrobats at first flight, swooping and confident.

Even though it’s been very dry, we continue to have some nectar flow for the bees and the hummingbirds.


I guess it’s the pistil of the blue globe thistle that curls as it matures.


No curling on the younger flower.


Corn doesn’t need bees for pollination, wind is sufficient, but there were some bees on the corn.


We had a lovely day at Fort Knox, up the coast, with our son’s in-laws, and enjoyed the dizzying views from the Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory.  IMG_3504


I love the shapes, lines, and textures at the fort and the bridge.



The observatory is at the top.


Happy August. See you in September.IMG_3541.jpgIMG_3649IMG_3724.jpg

45 thoughts on “Empty Spaces

  1. So sorry for the absence left by Zoe. But glad to read that her gifts are still in your hearts. Good luck with the new pup, and may it bring joyful canine energy back into your home!

    And I hope those hornworms never come in contact with nuclear waste and mutate into gigantic human-eating destroyers. Just saying.

    • I am sure you are hitting up against various and painful empty spaces of your own after your breakup. I hope you are managing to muddle on through.

      Our own muddling on will be greatly assisted by the arrival of the new pup in September. He should provide much needed and ample joyful canine energy.

      I hope that visions of mutated hornworms don’t invade your jet-lagged dreams. Their sides are patterned with creepy fake eyes to watch us all. Just saying.

  2. Dogs fill up so much space in our homes and our hearts. Having lost two dogs in the last five years, I can fully sympathise with your anguish. I also agree completely with your desire to get a new dog. No reason to let a dog remain homeless or an owner to remain dogless because our hearts are mending. Hey, dogs are such good patcher-uppers!

    • It’s amazing how dogs wiggle their ways so deep into our lives and our hearts. Fortunately, we found a new boy to come home with us in September. Bring on the patching up.

    • Thanks Derrick. We found a new pup, which allows us to fully enjoy all of our visitors knowing that we are set for a new dog in September, after all the visitors are gone. The timing worked out perfectly.

  3. Your gardens look lovely despite this drought, I love that beautiful bridge, and here’s to a month of family and friends. Enjoy every moment and that will get you closer to that special pup who doesn’t know what a good life he’s about to embark on. 🙂

    • Ha. You’re right on that pup. A friend used to say that she wanted to be reincarnated as one of our dogs. We got a brief rain today but need so much more. I hope you aren’t too parched down there.

  4. Sorry to hear about your loss of Zoe, such a big hole she left I imagine. Every which way you turn are painful reminders. I lasted 2 months before we adopted Wren (originally I pledged a year). When you have love and a good home to give, why wait?
    Your gardens look great and abundant. I loved the photo of your herbs drying. I’ve only done catnip and lemon balm. I need to do more, one seems always to be behind in the garden.
    Have a good month, Brenda. If you are near western MA, give me a shout. 😉

    • Thanks Eliza. We have vowed never to be dogless again. Originally we thought we would travel between dogs. Nope. Not interested right now. We want to stay right here working on all our projects and make homes for several dogs.
      I have been very pleased with how well the gardens have done in the drought. But, I too am behind in harvesting herbs and veggies. I had hoped to freeze lots of ice cube trays of pesto and herb mixtures. I’m not sure it will happen. But when herbs just go to flower, the bees are happy!
      A good month to you, Eliza. I do get to western MA sometimes and would love to meet up. Nothing planned right now, but you never know. Let me know the next time you are up in Maine.

  5. Ahhhh, I can imagine how you must miss your beautiful girl, they certainly do leave a yawning gulf behind. I’m glad a new pup is coming into your lives, I can’t wait to hear all about it. Gosh, everything is looking marvelous!xxx

    • Well, this month, with it’s steady stream of visitors is not … exactly … relaxing. But it’s wonderful to spend time with them and to show them why we love it here so much. We are managing to get some brief swipes in at the gardens and hope they don’t go too wild until we can catch up in September.

  6. Magnificent photos…reminder to dry more herbs! I agree that getting a new pup is a wise choice and it sounds like you have plenty of distraction between now and it’s arrival. I really enjoyed seeing your garden and the beautiful shots of nature and the surrounding areas. Maine is so special…hoping to get home in November.

    • Thanks Melissa. We NEED a new pup, we feel so incomplete without a dog. But, you are right, we have a full, rich month in August that will bring us right up until the time we can bring our new pup home. It feels good.
      As far as Maine goes, as I’m sure you’ve heard, we are parched, parched, parched. We even have a skunk foraging under our bird feeder, things are so dry. But, it’s still lovely. If you have any extra time in November and get round this way, let me know, I’d love to meet up.

  7. I agree, it’s difficult to cope with the lost of a pet, a real family member. The only way to ease the pain is to have another cat or dog, an animal full of life that will slowly fill in the empty space. I don’t think it’s disrespectful. It does not mean you will forget about Zoe, it means that the sadness will slowly go away to only keep the memories and not the grief. I hope you will be able to have new dog soon, 6 months seems very long indeed.

  8. I’m so sorry I missed your post about Zoe, she seemed such a wonderful dog and I always enjoyed seeing pictures and hearing about her. We lost our previous dog almost two years ago and our homes do feel so empty without a dog. I too didn’t want to have another dog straight away but when came avaliable it was hard to say no. How did you get on seeing the puppies? Your garden looks very productive despite the heat and you have been so busy drying herbs. Take care I am thinking of you andl those happy memories of times shared with Zoe will never be forgotten. Sarah x

    • Thanks Sarah! We had a wonderful time with the new puppy litter. We don’t know which one we will get yet, but I will be thrilled with any dog in the litter.
      Each has a distinctly different face, but they all have lovely temperaments and lots of smarts.
      I haven’t been able to keep up with the herbs, but at least got some dried. They are so much better than commercial herbs and I like to make my own herb tea mixes. We are full up with visitors now, sneaking in gardening when we can, and looking forward to a September pup.

  9. No need to apologize to take time off from blogging for living! Thanks for leaving us with so many gorgeous images to enjoy until your return.

    • Sometimes living does get in the way of blogging. Ha. We are in a short break between visitors and harvesting like mad. This dry weather is something isn’t it? I’m surprised that more of our plants aren’t dying of thirst, but most are hanging on quite well.

  10. Your loss of Zoe is heartbreaking. I truly believe that animals will find you and you will find them if you can trust…our last cats were not the right ones for us, and we knew it almost from the beginning, but had “adopted” them sight unseen from a rescue place and had committed to taking them. They were our only disasters ever. Sometimes, animals that find you are the best ever, in our experience. We are currently living without animals, for one of the few times ever in our lives together…but it gives us the ability to pick up and travel easily too. I also believe you can never find an animal/friend to “replace” the one you had, particularly if they are as special as Zoe was. Sending you wishes that you will find another wonderful friend.

    • Thank you Arlene, We will be bringing home our little boy pup in three weeks, but we don’t know which one from the litter we will be getting yet. They’re all lovely and we’re just delighted that we’ll be having a dog in our lives again.

  11. You will be missed, but enjoy your break. Yes, I can understand how empty your home feels without Zoe. However, I am very anxious to see pictures of the newest addition to your family.

      • Can’t wait to see those pictures!!! Oh, so very hot. I’m ready for fall. And, as is often noted in “Game of Thrones,” winter is coming.

      • I just said to George yesterday that I am so looking forward to fall. And … I’m looking forward to winter, too. Fortunately our winter isn’t as dreaded, dire, and long as in Game of Thrones. Actually, we only watched about half of Game of Thrones when we were travelling in the RV, so are going to start from the beginning and watch it all through this winter. A winter pleasure to savor.

      • Right you are! Have fun finishing the series. Clif and I were positively hooked, and I must admit we, ahem, binged from time to time.

  12. That is lovely news about the new pup. I know gorgeous Zoe will always be missed but I also know about that void a much-loved pet leaves.
    It’s great to see all the veggies coming along. I love the hummingbirds, too; I wish we had them here!
    Have a good break!

    • Thanks Wendy. We just got back from visiting the pups again. We bring one home in two weeks. A pup definitely will be the best medicine for our Zoe void. In the meantime, our daughter and grandchildren arrive tonight for a visit through the end of the month. And to greet them, the veggies are in full force. It makes me feel rich. Glad to hear that you have a new computer!

  13. Your garden is looking luscious – both the edible and ornamental. Your posts make me feel that I really need to visit Maine. I am fond of old forts. We’ve been to Nova Scotia and the Gaspe in the not too distant past but I haven’t been in Maine since I was about 10 years old.

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