Stephanie Burgis
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Lovely long weekend
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It's been a good weekend. We're down in Bristol (and will be until Tuesday), and I'm typing this entry while sitting in my favorite coffeeshop in the whole UK, the bizarrely-named Boston Tea Party. I just finished a lovely "Boston Latte" and there's a deliciously rich chocolate brownie sitting on my plate. (Guilty pleasures, eh, Jenn? :) ) I've been playing the recorder every day. We've sat out in the garden with Nika, watching her nose & ears twitch at every bird or insect movement. I've eaten a bowl of freshly-picked raspberries with milk every afternoon so far. I haven't done much writing - I started a short story, but haven't gotten terribly far with it yet - but it's just been a good time. A time off, which is exactly what we've needed.

I also read a fantastic novel yesterday, which completely bucked my expectations - The Saving Graces, by Patricia Gaffney. I've been so turned off by the spate of really cliched, uninteresting novels about women's groups lately (especially in England) that I almost didn't pick this one up. But I ended up being blown away by how smart, funny and completely true this book turned out to be. ("True" in the sense of oh my God, that really is how that feels - I recognize that - a wonderful feeling, especially about some particular things I haven't seen in any other books.) The characters felt completely real, the humor was snarky and hilarious, and the sad bits...oh, yeah, they worked. This is one of those books (like Good Grief, by Lolly Winston) that I want to press on everybody I know, especially my female friends.

We have no idea how to tell how Nika's really doing right now. Some things look better. Others look worse. The balance? I just don't know. But this morning, after we finished her new morning treatment routine (after she's had her Vitamin E, omega oils and steroid pills, first we sponge off her stomach, legs and chest, and then Patrick rubs steroid cream into them while I feed her bits of chicken to distract her), she and I had one of the sweetest moments I've had with her in a long time. The chicken was all gone, I'd brushed off my hands and she'd licked the plate it came from. I was sitting on the floor in front of her, and I started cooing at her about how good and patient she'd been. Instead of backing away to go try to find a place to lick her wounds, like she normally does at that point, she leaned into me, her eyes going all soft. It was like the cooing sound of my voice was giving out tangible waves of love and she wanted to soak it up, more and more. I leaned right back into her, barely half an inch away, cooing even more about how good she's been, how patient and brave, and I reached out to softly pet her ruff, one of the places it's still pretty safe to pet her (without having to worry about whether my touch might hurt her). She leaned even deeper into me, heaved a sigh, and then licked my face for the first time in...oh, I don't even know how long. She hasn't licked anybody for a long time. She gave just one lick, so light it was like a butterfly touch.

It was such a tender, perfect moment.

I wish this weekend could last forever.

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