My dog days of summer

On a morning of non-stop drizzle, when everyone’s gone into town to find Wi-Fi, the dogs and I are having a nap. We’re holding down the summer fort, so to speak. Hanging out because, well, that’s how we roll.

My sister’s golden retriever, Tekla, is blissed out under the red Ikea chair by the window. Our puppy, Simta, back from seven weeks at a board-and-train, is in her crate in the so-called pump room.

Simta un Tekla

Photo of Tekla and Simta by Liva Gulens.

The pump room is where we keep the water tanks, including the old-style metal one that we hauled up from my grandmother’s basement more than a decade ago. On the side, in Sharpie scrawl, is written: “No mammas, vecmāmiņas, vecvecmāmiņas, 2004.”1

Who knew that my grandmother’s days of vision were limited? Or, that less than two years later, I would bend over to whisper “es tevi mīlu”2 for both the first and final time?

My vecmāmiņa’s been with me a lot during my recovery.

She helped me understand, long before I found out for myself, how time flies.

Me to vecmāmiņa (when she was about 90): “Don’t your days go by super slowly?”

Vecmāmiņa: “Are you kidding? By the time I make my way to the kitchen and prepare tea, it’s afternoon. By the time I make my way back to my room and take a nap, it’s dinnertime. My days flash by.”

Have I mentioned I nap a lot?

During my one solo drive to the cottage this summer, I stopped to nap every 45 minutes. (My drive took five hours, not three, but that’s another story.)

My vecmāmiņa used to nap on the side of the road so that, even at 90, she could make it to London for her French lessons. An officer finally told her that sleeping on the side of the road is dangerous.

I took heed. My naps were in parking lots and conservation areas.

The rain falls. The wind blows. I’m on alert for the kerplunk of acorns.

I try to quiet my mind while taking in where I am. Cottage. Summer. Napping with the dogs.

This is my healing circle, I say. This sofa. This cottage. This magic lake.

I picture a map with concentric circles. Out past the lake there’s nothing but miles and miles of forest…

This is my healing circle.

This is me healing.

This is me.

This is.


There’s a bark from the pump room. Movement under the red chair.

Apparently nap time is over. But we’ll be back, because, well, that’s how we roll.


  1. From mom, grandma, great-grandma, 2004.
  2. I love you.


I just added this book to my related reading list: Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg. “The disappearance of one possible self can free us to imagine a new possible self.”

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