Jan 5 2014

Wall Calendars and New Underwear

Me and my Mom the day after Christmas, 1959

For as long as I can remember, my mom would make donations to animal welfare groups and often they would thank her with a calendar. So every Christmas, I would receive no less than three calendars. More if she saw one in the store that she thought was particularly appropriate for me.

I had calendars everywhere: in the kitchen, in the bathroom, on my desk. I never had to look very far to see a calendar.

She also sent me new underwear for my birthday and for Christmas every year. People laugh at me when I tell them I haven’t bought my own underwear in years, probably decades.

My mom passed away on November 13, 2013. This Christmas, I received no calendars and no underwear. As ordinary and redundant as those gifts were EVERY year, they are sorely missed this year.

And so a new chapter in my life begins. Sadly, one without my mom. Officially, I am parentless for the first time in 57 years, for the first time ever in my life.

Dec 20 2012

My Thoughts for a New Year

I, for one, welcome December 21, 2012 and the opportunity to start again. This has been a rough year, perhaps the roughest in my 50-some years. The bringdowns were so many that I don’t think I can even name them all anymore.

I have made decisions with my heart because I believe in the goodness of things, but that has brought me a lot of heartache and incredible disappointment. Recently, when I was tasked with a difficult decision,  a friend told me to “not look back.” And those words have echoed back to me many times since. It’s true. You make a decision and move forward.

I am very fortunate that a friend whom I have known for 30+ years moved out to my corner of the world several months ago. We were very close friends many years ago, then drifted apart. There is nothing so encompassing as rediscovering an old friend. They immediately fit like a glove and know you as well as you know yourself. I am blessed.

I am sure my dad wishes by now that he had not passed away. Little did he know how much work I would be to watch over. But I am sure the guardian angels that have been taking care of me for all these years were glad to see he come so they could take a break.

In the wee hours of this morning, the wind gusted high felling trees that suffered and died from last year’s drought. One could have taken out the back porch or the well that’s about 25 feet away. Yet it fell perfectly in between the two, only damaging the ramp and part of a step when it landed just off the edge of the back stoop. A sixty foot pine in the back fell towards the house and damaged NOTHING! It landed exactly where another pine fell in the Spring.

Another area of fence took the hit from 3 trees, but beyond that breach is another fenced area, so that was a lucky hit I think. As was another tree that fell into my yard instead of across a neighbor’s fence. My car was spared a direct hit by inches.

Thank you, Padre! Nice work. This truly makes up for the tree you dropped that almost landed on your RV years ago; that instead took out the phone and power lines and reduced a five foot fence to five inches. Practice, eh?

I am truly a grateful person. My gratitude lies in the very smallest of things — the well-being of my kids, the beauty of a flower or a sunset, the journey of a song, the goodness of a simple recipe and the companionship of special friends. These are some of the things dearest to my heart.

Sadly, this year was marked with the passing of several of my pet companions starting in the first week of the new year and continuing through to just a couple days ago. It’s enough to test your belief in yourself as a guardian and enough to send you to the edge when even the smallest ailment appears.

To those who left me I say, Rus In Vrede. And I give them this nod though they know they were so much more than a nod in my life. They were my companions on my journey: Joon Bug, Bitty Bits, Taylor, GiGi, Malcolm, Mobley, Milo, Otis (aka OTY), Millie, Sister Girl…… and even a stray black cat whom I knew for less than a day.

In a spiritual healing book, I read that if a situation is deeply troubling to you, it’s because you are holding on too tight; that you must just let go. In the new year, I shall practice much more of this and have faith that what is meant to be will be.

To everyone, I wish you a special year of abundance, love and toleration. It’s time for us all to come together and work towards a common good.

Namaste. Ciao.

Apr 21 2012

Rainy Day

Yesterday was grey all day. The afternoon gave way to heavy rain and loud thunder. Here are some photos taken afterward.

Feb 9 2012

Hapstance Homage to Brie

This morning, I found a page from a note pad in the back of a kitchen cabinet. It had apparently been pushed out of the junk drawer above by, well, more junk. The page contains some thoughts about one of my dogs — a Spaniel/Terrier mix I got from CAPS on a day I went there to donate the food I had in the cabinet for my dog Mitsy who had recently passed. I ended up donating the food AND bringing home two puppies, siblings. I named them Brie and Isak.

Here’s the note —

21 July ’98
I’m having an incredible sadness attack. Bathing Brie over the weekend, I saw how age is taking over her body. Her front feet are turning in; her hind feet do not seem to lift as they should; one hip is less mobile; her body fat is soft in her chest. But her spirit remains as it always has been: steady and sure.

I can remember thinking on countless occasions how hypnotic her breathing is. I have fallen asleep many times to the rhythm of her breath.

I love, love, love this friend with all my heart. Yet it doesn’t save either of us. I find myself wondering why we have such love.

I would like to have a beautiful house with wonderful floors, bright windows, colorful walls. It would make [us] more comfortable. But it pales when I watch my friend age away from me. The counter rises to meet my hands, the floors lift me off the ground, and the walls and roof protect me from the elements.

How could I want for more?

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I can’t remember anymore when I lost Brie. I lost her first, then a few years later, I lost her brother Isak. I did not even realize how much Isak pined for his sister until he came out of it almost six months later. I still miss them so much.

In the photos on this page, Brie is the dog on the left. The top photo shows Brie and Isak in the little bed we bought for them after they were adopted. Brie is sniffing Dotsy’s head in the first photo below. In the bottom photo, Brie and Isak are waiting for me to throw something — ANYTHING! — so they can chase it. This was taken at Lake Travis, Austin.


Jan 8 2012

Bits and Bits and Bits…

…that’s what I called her sometimes because she seemed to be a bit of this and a bit of that. And compared to some of my dogs, she was a bitty dog at about 34 pounds.

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On Saturday evening, I wrote this message to a few friends:

Bitty Bits just passed away… 7:09 pm.

She is at peace.

“How are you coping today?” one friend wrote on Sunday afternoon.

Just numb. I stop every now and then, and I cannot believe the last couple weeks really happened. Things were going 90 miles an hour and now? Nothing. Ninety-to-nothing. It’s like it was all a dream… except for the empty spaces.

We think we care so much about people, but there is something extraordinary about what we share with beings who do not even speak the same language as us. Why can’t people find this same kind of understanding? Ego, I guess.

I am cleaning and re-arranging things so the place looks different. Washing lots of pet bedding. Got a bunch of meat for Bits at the store yesterday — beef cubes, ground beef, chicken livers, braunswieger. Need to do something with it. Shepherd’s Pie would be neat.

I buried Bitty Bits this morning.

Chocolates or a beer? I’m thinking chocolates… or both.

Thank you for asking.

Jan 7 2012

My precious Joon Bug

Joon Bug passed away yesterday morning in bed with me. Just before 8. I knew it was coming. I dozed and woke all night. When I woke at 7, she was just looking at me, so I gave her my best talk — told her how much I love her, how much she means to me, reminded her of her friends on the “other side,” cried on her little head until it was wet with my tears. She went right after after I told her it was okay to let go. It’s almost like she was waiting for me to wake up.

Joon Bug is the only living being that has been with me constantly for 19 years. She was found and given to me when she was just 2 days old. I really thought I was going to lose her over the first couple days because she would not eat. Geez, the things she has been through with me. She lived with me in the city, so she even pre-dates my life in the country. What a hole she leaves in me. I really feel lost/numb without her right now.

Add to that, I had yet another vet appointment with Bitty Bits yesterday afternoon. (Yes, yesterday was quite a day.) Essentially, the vet said, “I am stumped” and told me it was time to consider euthanizing her. In just the last day and a half, she has taken a turn for the worse. She is 2 years old maybe! WTF? Where the hell is God??? What could this baby have possibly done to have her life taken from her?

Of course, all I can think of right now are the moments I have chastised her for getting out of the yard, killing a chicken, barking too much… damn, did I ever do anything to make her happy?

She doesn’t want much to eat today. Is it the drugs she is on? Or is she giving up? Stop the drugs? Continue the drugs? Stop some of them? I am heading to the grocery to see if I can find something she might like. Cat food seems to be her favorite right now. Someone at the clinic yesterday said cat food has more meat in it than dog food.

The vet gave me a free ultrasound. If you see it, you will wonder what the hell costs $400 about it. While it showed no problems and you would think that is a good result, finding a problem would give us something to work on.

Right now I don’t know what to do or think or even feel about anything. I just want to withdraw from everything. More chocolates perhaps. But I best run to the grocery while I am not so puffy from crying.

Dec 31 2011

Passing through consciousness… briefly

I took Bitty Bits to the vet today. I could not get her anemia or diarrhea under control. She was barely responding to anything. They ran all kinds of tests and did an x-ray to rule out metal poisoning. No metal in her stomach, but some pellets elsewhere. So she has been shot at some point along her way to my house. Her white blood count should be 30 and it is 9. Blood transfusions are usually recommended at 12. She is VERY sick.

It’s a holiday weekend, so my option will be one of those pricey emergency clinics if I can’t stabilize her for the next couple days. The vet sent me home with her records from today should we need them.

After 2 1/2 hours at the vet, I went to the pharmacy inside the grocery to pick up drugs for her. The vet called it in for me, but I still had to wait 1/2 hour for them to fill the prescription. Checked my blood pressure and it was high. No shit! Still a scary thought.

One of the meds is a cancer/organ transplant drug that the vet suggests I wear gloves to handle. One is a steroid and the third is an antibiotic.

I offered her some food. She didn’t want any. I refilled her water bowl and gave her 2 out of 3 of her meds. Then proceeded to drink three beers. I decided to lay down in bed for a few minutes… and slept for 5 hours! When I awoke, I thought I should check on Bitty Bits. I considered NOT checking out of fear. I laid there a few more minutes, then got up.

As I walked around the corner where she is, she wagged her tail at me and looked more alert than she did earlier. What a great sight to see! I pray she continues to improve and strengthen.

I seem to have the uncanny knack for having the unusual things happen to my animals. Always have. It sucks, but I am certainly talking to my angels and her angels and her. Just need a small miracle or a lot of good luck here. And that is possible.

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Aside: This was written at 1 am December 31. The vet appointment was on December 30.

Dec 20 2011

Lost in the seasons

A couple weeks ago, there were green leaves on the trees. Despite the drought, the surviving trees seemed to hold on to their leaves longer this year. Usually, they start to fall in August. I noticed the leaves on the trees one cool day. They were blocking the sun from warming the ground and the dogs kept following the sun throughout the day to nap in.

Last week, we had a couple nights that went below freezing. This caused the leaves to really color: we had vibrant reds, oranges and yellows like we do not usually have. I heard this was somehow because of the drought, too.

Then we had rain and wind, and the leaves are now dropping like crazy. You can hear them as they fall… just soft “clicks” as they bounce off the limbs and the other leaves that are still attached to the trees on their way to the ground. Suddenly in the matter of a day, the ground is covered in leaves. Fall has arrived… a couple days before Winter begins.

Isn’t tomorrow the shortest day of the year? Too bad because I am loving these long evenings. They are conducive to going to bed early and I am finding that I really like to sleep!

I guess I have really gotten lost in the Fall season this year.

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Oh, and by the way, no cats were harmed in the shooting of the photo above. That is Malcolm, a very playful guy who crawled under my knee when I squatted down to pet him. He is a sweetheart… and so funny. He is a neighbor’s cat and, when he is there, he has another name that I just cannot remember. But he hangs out in my back backyard — the area beyond the fenced-in yard — and shows up for food and attention at least twice a day. Once here, he is “Malcolm.”

Dec 16 2011

Spirit trumps light.

An email from a friend last night starts: “I think that you might be one of the bravest people that I know.”

My response: Brave? I don’t know that that is the best word for it. There is no choice in the matter; you have to do the best you can and most of it is happening while you are at the end of your wits. Right now, I am laying on top of the bed exhausted having been up all night last night with Mobley.

His last seizure was at 2:50 pm. I thought that was it. I thought he could take no more and that I should probably make an appointment with the vet — as it seemed he was not going to go on his own. But for some reason, I did not make the appointment. At 3:45, I walked down the hall to wait for the next seizure. They were happening like clock-work at 50 minutes after the hour. But by 4:10, there was still no seizure and he was sleeping so I went back to the living room. It’s a straight shot down the hall from the bedroom to the living room. There were dogs sleeping in the bedroom with Mobley who barked whenever a seizure occurred.

For the next two hours, I kept peeking in on him. He was asleep. And that is pretty much how the evening has gone.

He is awake now. Been awake for a couple hours, so I fed him dinner and gave him some water. He hasn’t been able to stand yet, but that may be okay. The vet told me that a seizure is equivalent to running a marathon in the energy expended. In that case, he has run a LOT of marathons, so he is probably physically exhausted. I just gave him a valium to try to make him drowsy and go back to sleep. Part of the reason is selfish — I want to sleep. And part is because I want him to rest more.

I tried to give him the last of the rectal valium this morning. It goes to work much faster than oral valium. Ten minutes after administering it, he pooped. So much for the rectal valium.

So where do we go from here? I have no idea. I find that an animal will generally let me know when they have had enough. That point is usually later than what people would choose, but it’s their life. Mobley’s situation may be different if he experiences any kind of brain damage from the seizures. He is fairly alert, but you can see in his eyes that he is not all there. I have seen this before in him and seen it get better, but not necessarily as “better” as he was before. He loses a little something each time we have a prolonged episode of seizures.

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It’s now Friday afternoon. The email above was from last night. I ran to the pharmacy to get more meds for Mobley. I left him in my bedroom. It was pretty obvious when I got home that he staggered around bumping into things in my absence. Things were knocked over and scattered about. One dog was up on a small chest I have never seen her on before looking a bit rattled and a cat looked at me like, “what the hell???” Mobley himself was halfway on and halfway off a dog bed. He had a look on his face like he is drunk. Could be the drugs, the physical exhaustion or the seizure… or all of the above. Time will tell.

I know we are not out of the woods, but for today, Mobley is still alive and still with us. It’s odd to look at him and realize how close we were to not having that reality.

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Confused? Here is yesterday’s post.

Dec 15 2011

Watching the light go out.

I think Mobley is losing his battle with the demons in his head… though I do not think “battle” is an apt word. I don’t know that we ever had a chance from the moment his seizures began in the wee hours of September 19.

His seizures returned a couple days ago. For the past 22 hours, they have occurred at least once an hour; occasionally twice in the hour. He is no longer getting up after a seizure and pacing as he had begun to do. Instead, he is laying in the bedroom. At 45 minutes past the hour, I walk down the hall and sit on the bench at the end of the bed or lay beside him on the floor to wait for the next seizure so I can cradle his head.

I don’t think he is going to recover from them this time. He is not responding to his meds. I see the light fading from his eyes, though his spirit is still fighting.

I love you, Mobley Man.