“Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear.” ~ Dave Barry

“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.” ~ Johnny Depp

I sat down to write a post but ended up playing Spider Solitaire. I just couldn’t find the words. So I thought I’d post these wonderful pictures. After all, it’s hard to compete with a smiling dog.

                   

Music by Nicolas Jaar, “Encore”

“Everything that I write is a kind of battle won—or lost—against silence and incoherence.” ~ Geoffrey Hill

Sailing on my mind . . .

                   

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” ~ Franz Kafka

Tuesday afternoon. Hazy, hot, and humid.

Sailing found on Pinterest

Long time no write, eh? Well we were in Ohio for Corey’s brother’s wedding. We left last Wednesday and got home in the wee hours of Monday morning. I’m happy to say that the road trip was incredibly uneventful, no car trouble, no flat tires, no engines blowing up on the side of a mountain. This time we did the smart thing and rented a car, thanks to Corey’s Aunt Judy who funded the trip. And it’s a good thing, too, that we didn’t take the Rodeo as it broke down last night in the Wal-Mart parking lot; the battery light had been coming on, so we had to buy a battery, and a hose burst. So glad that happened here and not on the road.

It was a Nissan Altima. Very nice, comfortable, and incredibly smooth ride, not to mention good on gas. We made it up and back in record time, too—about 11 hours, which is a nice change from our last trip which was 26 hours during a blizzard. The Tom Tom that Corey’s parents gave him for his birthday last year helped with the timing as it plotted the shortest route (time-wise). Technology can be a wonderful thing.

We took Tillie with us this time. We actually hadn’t planned to take her, but when we were loading the car, she jumped into the back seat and looked at us like “Well?” Very unusual for her as she is not a car dog. She was a bit restless on the way up, but slept soundly on the way home.

Anyway, the visit was very nice. Corey’s sister gave me a much needed hair cut, long layers everywhere, and about three inches off the length. We saw a lot of the family at the wedding, which was a casual outdoor affair, quite lovely really. I am so happy for Chad that he has found a very sweet woman and that their extended family gets along well. All of the nieces and nephews have grown so much. No one is little anymore. I know that Corey really enjoyed himself, so all in all, I would have to say successful road trip.

“I saw myself, heard myself, felt myself, not write—and yet even then knew perfectly both that I should be writing now and that I should now be sorrier than ever for my not writing then.” ~ Henry James, letter to Charles Eliot Norton, December 26, 1898

Head Sail Sun by russteaches (FCC)

I had thought about writing a few posts while I was in Ohio, but I just wasn’t up to it. I was saving my energy so that I wouldn’t be a blob at the wedding and when we went visiting. But that meant no writing, which made me a bit antsy. Maybe one day we’ll have a laptop again, and I’ll be able to write on the road.

My fluffy boy Shakes was happy to see me. He hasn’t left my side since we got home. Eamonn slept in our bed while we were gone, so the Jack Russells weren’t too lonely.

Corey’s boss had scheduled him for a first shift on Monday, which simply wasn’t possible, so he lost that one. But then his boss turned around and gave him two shifts today, first and third, which makes up for the lost shift, but such a full day for him as he also has class tonight. He’s signed up for two classes this fall, and I think that we’ve done all of his paper work, so he and Brett are good to go, that is until I have to buy books, which means lots of Internet searching for the best prices.

Eamonn is another story. He’ going to do two classes this fall, but he lost his financial aid for a semester because of his GPA. I’ve told him that we’ll pay for these two classes, but he must do well. He wants to get into the radiation technology program, and the application must be submitted by December. He really needs to get at least B’s, preferably A’s to get his GPA back up. It would really be a shame if he didn’t get into this program, especially since his dad knows the person in charge. I told Eamonn that this program would be his ticket to independence: There is always a need for radiation technicians in hospitals and doctors’ offices. If he’s serious about getting his own place and being independent, then he needs to be practical.

Here’s hoping . . .

“Maybe the fear is that
we are less than
we think we are,
when the
actuality of it
is that we are much much more.” ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn, Arriving at Your Own Door: 108 Lessons in Mindfulness

Sailing in Roatan, Honduras

So aside from our travels, life is much the same. The kiddies all survived just fine while we were gone, although there were a few hiccups over food. I told them that’s what it’s like to have a roommate. To be fair, Eamonn was unaware that Brett and Em had bought certain food, and we weren’t able to tell him before we left. Eamonn is Eamonn.

Nothing new on the Alexis front. Haven’t seen or talked to her since the day she took me to the doctor. Last night when the car broke down, Corey called Mike to see if he could help. Alexis answered the phone and told Corey that she was eating dinner. Hmm . . . the number of times we’ve been busy but have dropped everything to accommodate her? Can’t even count.

I never thought that nearly grown/grown children would be more difficult than toddler children or more trying than teenager children. I was wrong. I love all of my children, but sometimes I just don’t understand where their heads are . . .

I can sit here and wish with all of my heart that life for my children would unfold without complications, but we all know that such things don’t happen in reality. Motherhood is fraught with potholes and the potential for pain, and nothing can change that. But how I wish that life was still so simple that mere mommy kisses could make things better. How I wish that hugs could heal . . . but if wishes were fishes . . .

“There are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life, fully, entirely, completely—or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands.”  ~ Oscar Wilde

Sailing Yachts

I’m cancelling all upcoming doctors’ appointments for the time being because once again, my health insurance coverage is messed up. Apparently, the payment that we sent at the end of June was never credited, and we have no idea where it is. This is not the first time that the payment processing center has lost a payment. But as a result, none of my doctor’s visits in May have been paid for, and I’m getting nasty calls from billing offices.

This I don’t need. Obviously. I mean it’s one thing when I know that I haven’t paid a bill, or that I’ve paid a bill late, but when the bill has been paid on time, and the phone calls still come—it’s just too much.

I told Corey that I’d like to move to Vermont, the one state that provides healthcare coverage for its citizens. It’s not that I’m in love with Vermont, just the idea of having healthcare. Corey says that Vermont is too damned cold.

Of course, if my Social Security disability would be approved, then I’d be relieved of this huge insurance payment each month. Every time that I think about that stupid judge who said that I had no disabilities I get angry. Every time I have a headache that lasts for days I think of that judge, and I want to call him. Each time I have to spend the day in bed recuperating because my body is just worn out, I think of that judge in not too kindly terms.

I hate having my future in someone else’s hands. I hate that loss of control. I hate bureaucrats. Sometimes, I wish that I had gone to law school when I had the chance, but then I come to my senses. Oh, who knows . . . all of the what ifs, should haves, maybes, whys—it’s enough to drive a person crazy, but then, we all know already how crazy I am . . .

(I sure am using a lot of ellipses in this post. Maybe it’s because my thoughts keep trailing off, or maybe it’s because it’s more of a stream of consciousness post: here, there, everywhere.)

“I dream of lost vocabularies that might express some of what we no longer can.” ~ Jack Gilbert 

Sailing by Troy Li (Pixdaus)

I had a lovely surprise waiting for me when I got home: one of my regular readers wrote me a letter, a real letter on stationary. I gobbled up the words and enjoyed it thoroughly. Of course, now I must make the time to write her back, which will be good for me. Years ago, I used to keep a stock of stationary, lovely cream-colored linen. In this day of printers and computers, who has stationary any more?

I managed to read two and a half books while we were gone. I finally read The Book Thief, which I will admit was hard to get into, but once I did, I loved it. It’s set during Nazi Germany, but the story isn’t anything that you might think. I would highly recommend it. I also devoured a Lee Child book, 61 Hours, which is more fluff reading, but enjoyable nonetheless. And then last night I finished Life of Pi, which I had started while we were still in Ohio. I had heard about this book and read reviews, but had never gotten around to reading it. It’s an improbable story, bittersweet and touching. I loved the main character.

I have a stack of books in my to-read pile. I don’t like to read while I’m floating in the pool any more, not since I dropped Gargoyle into the pool and ruined it.

Speaking of the pool, the water is finally clear. Corey had a heck of a time getting the water to clear this season. Even though it’s just an above-ground pool, it still takes a lot of work to keep it in good shape. I deliberately did not go outside today as the pool would have been too tempting, and I really wanted to get a post up. Tomorrow though—floating and perhaps a new book.

That’s about all for now. I promised Brett that I would give him a haircut today, so he’s waiting.

More later. Peace.

Music by the Editors, “No Sound but the Wind” (just discovered this wonderful group)

                   

Too Many Names

Mondays are meshed with Tuesdays
and the week with the whole year.
Time cannot be cut
with your weary scissors,
and all the names of the day
are washed out by the waters of night.

No one can claim the name of Pedro,
nobody is Rosa or Maria,
all of us are dust or sand,
all of us are rain under rain.
They have spoken to me of Venezuelas,
of Chiles and of Paraguays;
I have no idea what they are saying.
I know only the skin of the earth
and I know it is without a name.

When I lived amongst the roots
they pleased me more than flowers did,
and when I spoke to a stone
it rang like a bell.

It is so long, the spring
which goes on all winter.
Time lost its shoes.
A year is four centuries.

When I sleep every night,
what am I called or not called?
And when I wake, who am I
if I was not while I slept?

This means to say that scarcely
have we landed into life
than we come as if new-born;
let us not fill our mouths
with so many faltering names,
with so many sad formalities,
with so many pompous letters,
with so much of yours and mine,
with so much of signing of papers.

I have a mind to confuse things,
unite them, bring them to birth,
mix them up, undress them,
until the light of the world
has the oneness of the ocean,
a generous, vast wholeness,
a crepitant fragrance.

~ Pablo Neruda

“This, they say, is what we live by—this unseizable force.” ~ Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room

One of My Dream Houses

                   

“The time which we have at our disposal every day is elastic; the passions that we feel expand it, those that we inspire contract it; and habit fills up what remains.” ~ Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Times

Saturday evening. Temperatures still in the 90’s.

Priors Wood by Alex37 (DeviantArt)

The dogs and I spent some time in the pool today. The other raft did not have a hole in it, thankfully, so I was able to float on my belly. It was really quite nice—the sun, the dogs, the birds, and no other noise.

Tillie the lab has this thing that she does when she’s tired of sharing the pool with Shakes: She goes after his ball and then drops it over the side of the pool, out of his reach. Then she grabs the free ball. I think that she thinks that she can make him disappear in the same way that she makes the second ball disappear. If I scold her, she just looks at me as if I’m telling her she’s beautiful and wags her tail.

Dogs and kids . . . go figure.

Anyway, not much else happening around the homestead today. Corey had third shift last night and then lost his shift today because the boat left at 6 a.m. That’s the way it goes. He worked a whopping 13 hours last week. We try not to dwell on it too much.

I’ve been listening to country music today, which is probably not the best idea as my country playlist is a cliché of country song themes: heartbreak, longing, loss, and regret. So after a few hours of this, I’m feeling like sobbing into my shirt. Of course, the fact that YouTube is acting up and stopping every few minutes to buffer does keep me from becoming completely engrossed in the lyrics.

I know that this computer (Eamonn’s old one) is on its last leg, and maybe after we get the truck fixed we can get the new hard drive installed on my computer. We’ll just have to way to see how all of that goes.

“I’ve forgotten the words with which to tell you. I knew them once, but I’ve forgotten them, and now I’m talking to you without them.” ~ Marguerite Duras, Emilie L.

Mature Oregon Camas by russell.tomlin

In sitting here, I realize that I don’t actually have much to say tonight. Or perhaps I have many things to say but cannot give them words. It is not one of those situations in which I thought of what to say and then immediately lost the words somewhere in the tangle of my thoughts; rather, it is that the words run too deeply tonight, which has caused my mind to freeze, to stop processing.

It seems that so much is going on: another politician resigning over yet another scandal, blogs supposedly written by women unveiled as being written by middle-aged white men (what, they had nothing better to do than to impersonate a Syrian woman) . . . This world that makes news of how large Kim Kardashian’s engagement ring is—that ring could fund a library for a year or two. The world is going crazy, and quite frankly, I don’t wish to go along for this ride.

I wonder about the most recent flock of college graduates, what the world has in store for them, if anything. Perhaps I am too cynical for my own good, but I would hate to be starting out in this economy, in this world in which so many have so little and so few have so much. I worry about my kids and what kind of world will be waiting for them when they finish college.

If I could, I think that I might spend the rest of this weekend watching all of the seasons of “Dr. Who,” but we don’t have Netflix, so I can’t do that. Or better still, I would take Corey to a dark country bar and slow dance with him to sad songs, just to feel his heart beat against mine. Sometimes it’s good just to feel another person’s heartbeat to be reminded of what it is to be alive.

“A person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn and not easily mended.” ~ Ian McEwan, Atonement

Fresh Lavender at Uzés Market, Provence by Baked Beans (FCC)

I remember that when I worked at the museum and I started to feel overwhelmed by things, I would go out into the galleries and just walk. I would gaze into the faces painted so lovingly by the old masters and I would absorb the glorious Impressionists. That was probably the best part of that job—having at my disposal access to such beauty in so many forms. It never failed to calm me, to center me, to make me feel a sense of belonging.

I think that perhaps I am feeling so out of sorts because tomorrow is Father’s Day, and while it is yet another one of those created holidays, it is a bit discomfiting for me. I found myself looking at cards from daughters to fathers. I can’t help it. I don’t want to do it, don’t want to add that little bit of salt, but I do it any way.

Daughters and their fathers . . .

Then too, I must admit that I still harbor a great sadness that Corey and I never had a child together. He is so wonderful with my kids that it makes me feel that I have stolen something from him in some way. We don’t talk about it any more, but I know that he would still love to have kids of his own.

Who knows why things turn out the way that they do . . . why and how fate intervenes, what the fates take away and what they give. Sometimes I feel as if I am just a pebble being tossed in a stream that is moving far too fast for me to keep up. The movement breaks off small pieces, and it polishes me at the same time.

“It seemed to travel with her, to sweep her aloft in the power of song, so that she was moving in glory among the stars, and for a moment she, too, felt that the words Darkness and Light had no meaning, and only this melody was real.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Muscari Tottori Hanakairo, Flower Park by kanegan (FCC)

These things I know:

  • The stack of bills in the basket will be the same height tomorrow as today, and no amount of worrying will make that change.
  • There is no wonder pill that will make me lose 20 pounds. Only exercise and a better diet will do that, so wishing for an alternate reality is not productive.
  • My youngest son got the longest eyelashes in the family, and isn’t that always how it is? That a male who does not covet beautiful lashes will have them just by birth?
  • I have come to realize that not everyone talks to their pets as if they are human. Why not?
  • If I suddenly came into money (not going to happen), I would pay a contractor to finish the work on this house just so that it could be done already.
  • If I suddenly came into money (again, not going to happen), the reality is that I wouldn’t have the vaguest idea as to what I should do first because the to-do list has grown so long.
  • I would still love to work for Peter Jackson in New Zealand, fetching coffee or whatever. Perhaps proximity to such brilliance rubs off.
  • My daughter will find her way one day, with or without me, and I can only wait.
  • Very soon, I am going to lose someone I love dearly, and knowing that should make me spend more time with my mother, but I have found that it has distanced me, and I wonder why that is so.
  • No matter how hard I try, I still have a hard time looking in the mirror without being critical of myself.
  • Hate is a very strong word, one for which no apology can compensate.
  • One day, I am going to see the curve of the earth, and in that moment, I will know.

More later. Peace.

Music by Susan Tedeschi “Angel from Montgomery”

                   

The Confession of an Apricot

I love incorrectly.

There is a solemnity in hands,
the way a palm will curve in
accordance to a contour of skin,
the way it will release a story.

This should be the pilgrimage.
The touching of a source.
This is what sanctifies.

This pleading. This mercy.
I want to be a pilgrim to everyone,
close to the inaccuracies, the astringent
dislikes, the wayward peace, the private
words. I want to be close to the telling.
I want to feel everyone whisper.

After the blossoming I hang.
The encyclical that has come
through the branches
instructs us to root, to become
the design encapsulated within.

Flesh helping stone turn tree.

I do not want to hold life
at my extremities, see it prepare
itself for my own perpetuation.
I want to touch and be touched
by things similar in this world.

I want to know a few secular days
of perfection. Late in this one great season
the diffused morning light
hides the horizon of sea. Everything
the color of slate, a soft tablet
to press a philosophy to.

~ Carl Adamshick

“There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life—happiness, freedom, and peace of mind—are always attained by giving them to someone else.” ~ Peyton Conway March

Paul Gauguin’s “Snow Rue Carcel” (1883, oil on canvas)

 

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill

Corey and I have spent the afternoon cleaning, trying to get the house somewhat straightened up so that we can put up the Christmas tree. I love my dogs, as you have heard me say many times, but the dog hair . . . I think that I could make another dog out of the hair that the three of them shed.

Paul Gauguin's "Snow at Vaugirard II" (1879, oil on canvas): This painting and the one above remind me of Monet's "Magpie")

Needless to say, I am wheezing, and Corey is sneezing. One of the wonderful effects of raising any kind of dust in this house.

Eamonn came by today, only to moan about how life is so terrible because his cell phone isn’t working, and the XBox stopped working. I have come to think of Eamonn as my personal source of comic relief. Would that the only things wrong in my life were a gaming system that has gone on the fritz and having no cell phone. I love eldest son dearly, but he really has no clue as to what life is about. I know. That is largely my fault.

I will be the first to admit that Corey and I have spoiled the kids. Up until the last two years, they all got pretty much anything that they wanted (within reason). By that I mean cell phones, games, gas money. So the last two years have been culture shock for them, not that it has harmed them in any way. I do have to say that I have always held steadfast to my basic principles in that I never pay full price for anything; clothes do not have to have a designer label, and big presents are reserved for Christmas and birthdays.

We have all learned how to do without, and it has probably helped to make us more appreciative of what we do have. I just wish that Eamonn were a bit more in tune with the fact that there really isn’t a money tree in the backyard.

Anyway . . .

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” ~ Mother Theresa

Corey’s parents have come through for us again. They have agreed to pay the electric bill with the understanding that we will pay them back as soon as possible. Have I mentioned lately how absolutely wonderful they have been in supporting us? I hate that we have to ask them as there is that issue of pride and the feeling (on our part) that we should be able to take care of things on our own, but as his mother reminds me, we are family, and they are happy to help when they can.

Once Corey finally starts to get a regular paycheck we will have to make a concerted effort to start to pay them back for some of the things that they have done. No one on either side of the family is rich or even well-to-do, so it’s not as if anyone has disposable income. That’s the part that has me feeling so guilty.

One thing that his mother did for us was to order a care package from Angel Food Ministries. I had meant to write about this wonderful organization before now, but just hadn’t gotten to it yet.

Angel Food Ministries was founded in 1994 by Joe and Linda Wingo of Georgia. The Wingos formed the organization to help provide food for friends and neighbors who were struggling financially. The program currently helps almost half a million families who are unemployed, living on a fixed income, or suffering financial hardships.  Actually, there are no prequalifiers to participate in the program, and there is no purchase limit. The service provided by this organization is invaluable.

A medium-sized box, which costs $30, has a retail value of approximately $60. Participants order from a monthly selection that includes fresh, frozen, and packaged food, including meat (beef, chicken, sausages), fresh fruit and vegetables, and other staples. The food is not seconds, such as past due bread, as all food is purchased via agreements with vendors and producers. The selection changes monthly, and specialty boxes are also available. These include meat packages, for example 10 pounds of chicken cuts for $20.

Each month participants submit their orders to their host site (orders can also be placed online). Hampton Roads has 15 host sites, with four in Norfolk alone. The orders are submitted to the main office in Monroe, Georgia by the deadline. About a week later, orders are delivered to host sites, or host sites go to the main Angel Food Ministries site to pick up orders.  On a designated date, individuals pick up their orders from their host site.

It’s a very efficient system that yields so much value for the money. The program even participates in the food stamp system so as to serve better families in need. Angel Food Ministries, which is non-profit and non-denominational, currently exists in 35 states. Corey and I have decided that once we are back on our feet, we are going to support this organization. We know all too well that we would not have survived these past two years without the generosity of those who care about us. It will be wonderful to be able to give some of that back.

If you know of a family in need, or a senior citizen who may have problems making regular trips to the grocery store, or if your own family is on a fixed income and is having problems with making the food budget stretch, please consider using this very worthwhile organization. Their toll free number is 1-877-366-3646, and their e-mail address is angelfood@angelfoodministries.com. Or, click on the link above to visit their site.

“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.” ~ Albert Einstein

I remember one time when we were driving back from Ohio when the boys were much younger: We rode through Washington, D.C. (I don’t remember the reason why). It was winter and bone-chillingly cold outside. We drove around the area of  The Smithsonian, and I remember being dismayed by the number of homeless individuals who were sleeping over the subway grates. We told the boys that these people had no homes, no warm place to lay their heads, nothing in the world but what they carried.

I remember how sad both boys were at coming face-to-face with the cruel reality of homelessness. Of course there are homeless people in Norfolk, just not in the suburbs where we live. It’s not so obvious. I wanted to boys to see that homelessness had a face, that it wasn’t some abstract concept. 

Homelessness is the veteran whose mind has been torn apart by what he or she has seen. Homelessness is the senior citizen without a family, left to live at the mercy of the elements. Homelessness is the family that is living in the car that once served as a source of transportation. Estimates are that 1 in 50 children in the U.S. are homeless. That’s the face of homelessness.

I never want my children to become so inured to the plight of others that they no longer see faces, no longer feel a pang when they encounter someone in need. I hope that I have raised them to be caring adults.

During this time, one of my biggest fears has been losing the house. It’s not grand, but it’s home. The reality is that if we lost the house, we would not be homeless, we would have some place to stay.  And in spite of my complaints, I never lose sight of the fact that someone’s child is going to go to sleep hungry and cold tonight. Man’s inhumanity to man is without a doubt the worst scourge on the face of this earth.

“If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.” ~ Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama

I’ll close with this poem that I found on Crashingly Beautiful:

The Thing Is

The thing is
to love life
to love it even when you have no
stomach for it, when everything you’ve held
dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands
and your throat is filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you so heavily
it’s like heat, tropical, moist
thickening the air so it’s heavy like water
more fit for gills than lungs.
When grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, and obesity of grief.
How long can a body withstand this? you think,
and yet you hold life like a face between your palms,
a plain face, with no charming smile
or twinkle in her eye,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

~ Ellen Bassboth

More later. Peace.

Ben Folds Five, “Magic” (Corey loves this song)

“Agreeable friends—they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” ~ George Eliot on Dogs

Lab nail polish

Wegman’s World Poster featuring Fey Rey, by William Wegman

 

“They (dogs) offer, if we are wise enough or simple enough to take it, a model for what it means to give your heart with little thought of return.”~ Marjorie Garber

“Both powerfully imaginary and comfortingly real, dogs act as mirrors for our own beliefs about what would constitute a truly humane society.” ~ Marjorie Garber

I had just begun writing my post for today; I was going to do a new Grace in Small Things. However, things change, and in this household, it’s usually within the blink of an eye.

Tillie had another seizure today. I heard Corey running from the living room and knew that something was wrong. Tillie’s last seizure was in May, and that one racked up a hefty vet bill that we are still trying to pay. This time, we knew that we did not have to take her to the vet. But still, it’s a hard thing to watch: the obvious fear in her eyes from not knowing what is happening with her body is probably the worst part. Thankfully, this one did not last long, and she seems to have suffered no long-term effects as she was ready to go outside and play ball with Corey within an hour of having the seizure.

I’ve been doing some reading about dog seizures, and of course, opinions vary from article to article. One common thread seems to be a deficiency in B6 and Magnesium.

One article in particular was very graphic in its disparagement of commercial dog foods, even relating how California pounds sell their euthanized dog and cat carcasses to dog food processing plants. I’m not sure how much stock I put into that, but if it’s true, it’s horrible.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that the term “meat by-products” is a euphemism for what’s leftover from the parts people can eat. I remember as a young girl being horrified when someone told me that old horses were used to make dog food. I would always get a lump in my throat whenever my mother would make me open the cans of K-Nel Ration (don’t even know if that brand exists any more) for the Yorkshire Terriers that we had. I was certain that I would smell horse when I opened the cans. I took me forever to get over that one.

We buy Purina  Beneful for our dogs. The Jack Russells have been on it since they were puppies, and Tillie has been eating it since she came home with us, first the puppy food and now the healthy weight maintenance formula. Apparently there is a mineral called phylate that leeches the vitamins from dog foods, causing a vitamin deficiency that can lead to seizures in some pure bred dogs, Labrador Retrievers being one of those breeds.

I checked the contents on the Beneful bag, but I didn’t see phylates listed. Who knows what to believe? I did look up phylates and confirmed that the mineral does cause depletion of vitamins. Whether or not it’s in the dog food is anyone’s guess. I just know that we are going to look for a vitamin supplement to give the dogs with their dinner in the evening. Two seizures within five months is two too many.

“One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you’re feeling blue is that he doesn’t try to find out why.” ~ Author Unknown 

Im ready for my close up
"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille"

Tillie may feel fine, but I’m wiped out, and my headache that was gone for most of yesterday is creeping around my skull at the moment.  Oddly enough, I was speaking to the woman from the Social Security administration this morning about my migraines. She had called for some follow-up information: how often? causes? symptoms? Did I mention stress?

Anyway, the episode is over. Corey is mowing the yard, and Tillie is sleeping on the couch. Brett is still upset because he thinks that he should have noticed sooner that something was wrong. I told him that no one is to blame, but we just need to keep a closer eye on Tillie. The fact is, she may have had more seizures when we were asleep, but I don’t think so.

I am very attuned to the dog’s movements during the night and early morning. The dogs usually get my attention by shaking their heads and making their collars jingle. I wake up as soon as I hear that sound. They have me trained well. My own Pavlovian bell. So I think that I would have noticed if Tillie were in distress. At least, I hope so, but there is no way to know for certain.

“I love a dog.  He does nothing for political reasons.” ~ Will Rogers

Do you need a wrench
"Do you need a wrench?"

So much for the Grace in Small Things entry. I wasn’t doing too well with it anyway. I only had one thing down and was struggling to find four more. The past few days have been like that. Yesterday, I began an entry that I just deleted. My heart wasn’t in it, and it showed. Hence, no post yesterday, which breaks my attempt to post everyday in October.

I could touch on the abysmal governor’s race in our state, or the latest dubious proclamations from Glenn Beck about the POTUS being like Chairman Mao (oh, pleez, you moron), or how the Obama White House is wasting time on getting into a pissing match with Fox News as reflected Communication’s Director Anita Dunn’s comment to CNN about Fox News being a “wing of the Republican Party.”

I mean, the phrase Fox News is an oxymoron. There is very little news involved in the news arm of Fox Media. How about when Martha MacCullum of Fox News used a clip of VP Joe Biden on the campaign trail? Biden was quoting John McCain in saying that the “economy is basically sound.” MacCullum used that edited clip to say that the VP was one of many who were proclaiming a rebound in the economy. Say what?

Fox news is biased, not well researched, strongly conservative, and filled with lunatics like O’Reilly and Beck, but the acknowledgement by the White House just seems to be giving them more fodder for their misspeak. I say, treat them like the misbehaving children that they are. Ignore them and send them to bed. Blowhards feed on attention—positive and negative. Just consider bully Rush Limbaugh if you want proof.

Perhaps tomorrow I will be more inspired. For now, though, just not that much going on in my brain, at least, nothing very noteworthy. Just the usual: bills, mortgage, money, bills, money, health insurance, bills . . .

More later. Peace.

“A doodle. I do doodle. You too. You do doodle, too.” ~ Willow, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy and Spike

Buffy and Spike (Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marsters)

 

“And then I was being chased by an improperly filled in answer bubble screaming ‘None of the above.'” ~ Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Today I took on another project: I cleaned my desk.

Buffy
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Now I know that many of you would not consider such a thing a project, per se, more of a task. Let me explain: I have always had a propensity for cluttered desks, and now that I am working on a desk that is about one third the size of my last desk, it is very easy for me to amass a mess in very little time.

But since I need to take care of some forms and make some telephone calls, the only way that I could do that efficiently was to find the forms that I needed. Unfortunately, by the time I tried to make some calls, it was already 4:50, and very few people want to talk to people at the end of the day. At least, I know that’s how I felt when the end of the day rolled around and the telephone rang. I would look at the caller ID and decide if it was a call I really had to answer or if I could let it go to voice mail.

So, one telephone call later, I went back to the actual physical desk which needed to be dusted. I mean reallydusted.  Finished that without giving myself an asthma attack, oh happy day for small things. The only thing left is to finish putting a pile of night-clothes back in the top of the closet; they were unceremoniously dumped out of the closet in order for me to gain access to the left side of the closet.

After that, if I’m still standing, I need to do some laundry. I’m exhausted just writing about it.

“I’ll see your numbness and I’ll raise you a lower back pain.” ~ Xander, Buffy the Vampire Slayer 

Xander
Xander (Nicholas Brendan)

Poor Corey is sick today. I think that he might have a stomach bug of some kind. He has spent the better part of the day in bed. Of course the dogs like it. I really didn’t realize that he felt as bad as he does until he came in and looked longingly at the bed, upon which was strewn my papers and notes from my desk. I finished quickly so that he could crawl back inside.

Corey doesn’t get sick very often, so when he does, it’s a really terrible, awful thing. I’m not mocking. He’s just beside himself when he doesn’t feel well, as if his body is directly offending him in some way. It’s cute, in a silly way.

The dogs have been enjoying his rest, of course. Shakes is cuddled up next to him, and Alfie is on his pillow above his head. Earlier, when I had the bed covered with papers, Alfie came in and gave me a dirty look. He then proceeded to jump on the bed and walk through the papers. My dogs are quite obnoxious at times. I have to remind them that the bed does not actually belong to them.

“Well, personally, I kind of want to slay the dragon. Let’s go to work.” ~ Angel from Angel

Angel
Angel (David Boreanaz)

Have my recently updated “Music to Work By” playlist running in the background. Just had to pause to identify a song. It was Joan Baez, “Diamonds and Rust.” Don’t know what possessed me to download that, but I remember when I was younger, it was one of the songs that I would sing full out when I was depressed, which was quite often. I’m sure that my neighbors were not amused, but they never complained. Thankfully.

I also downloaded a few Jackson Browne songs, and Janis Ian’s “Seventeen.” I suppose I was in a terribly nostalgic mood yesterday when I did all of the downloading and updating.

Yes, I know that I can be quite anal about somethings, and my music is one of those things. When I have my CDs on a shelf (not in storage), they are arranged alphabetically by genre: classical, jazz, etc. My music library on my computer is also very well organized: I have made sure that each song has been categorized, and that the name of the album is included (that is, whenever I can remember the name).

Anyway, I have four basic playlists: working music, sleeping music, country music (yes, I like country music, not the old style, though, more the crossover stuff), and a “This and That” category that has a little of everything in it.

“Haven’t you figured it all out yet, with your enormous squishy frontal lobes?”  ~ Spike,  Buffy the Vampire Slayer 

Alexis came by earlier on her way home. She delivered some homemade Lumpia, which is the name of small Filipino eggrolls. I love good Lumpia. Don’t really like regular eggrolls.

Lumpia can be strictly vegetarian, or it can contain meat, depending upon what the cook wants to do. Alexis and Mike make good Lumpia. She has begun to teach herself how to cook Filipino dishes, which really impresses me since I haven’t taught myself anything new in the kitchen in ages and ages. I am trying to convince Corey to learn how to cook Adobo, which is usually made with chicken or pork and has a delicious sauce.

He’s thinking about it, he says . . .

“That’s not Proactive Guy. That’s Sit-Around-And-Wait-For-The-Rest-of-His-Life-To-Turn-To-Crap Guy.” ~ Xander, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Another interesting thing has happened. Brett decided to join the Improv Club at school. To say that I am happy about this move is an understatement. It was completely his idea (even better), and it means that he is actually willing and able to do an extracurricular activity this year. Such a change from last year.

Monday is parent/teacher conference at his school. Corey and I will be going, of course, and I’m hoping that I will be hearing better things than last year.

Brett’s new schedule of having four classes every other day seems to really be making a difference as far as his stress level is concerned. He has the one day off to do assignments and to just chill. Of course, it’s only October, but I’m keeping a good thought that he’ll make it through his senior year without too many problems.

“Wait. Handbook? What handbook? How come I don’t have a handbook?” ~ Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Willow
Willow (Alyson Hannigan)

Tomorrow I must make the telephone calls that I didn’t get to today. I also have an appointment with my regular doctor to make up for the one that I couldn’t go to last Friday. She is probably going to chastise me because my thyroid levels were off when I had my blood work done. My levels were off because I have run out of thyroid medicine, and I am still at an impasse with my prescription coverage.

I am trying not to pin too many hopes on the government’s idea of healthcare reform, but I swear I just don’t understand what the big deal is. How many countries around the world have government-sponsored healthcare? And these aren’t all wealthy, developed nations. I mean, if Thailand could institute universal healthcare in 2001, why can’t the United States.

Universal healthcare is not going to take us on that road to communism. Please, give me a break. What it will do is make sure that our infant mortality rate goes down, that our seniors get the medicine that they often cannot afford and that people like me who are disabled are able to afford our health insurance premiums.

I’m not asking the government to pay for everything, and I don’t believe that the majority of Americans are asking for that either. We just want options. We want not to be denied automatically for pre-existing conditions over which we have not control. For example, people who have had asthma since childhood, and that asthma has nothing to do with cigarette smoking.

Or consider the individuals who have had suffered bad side effects from a medication that has led to other health problems. How is it fair to deny coverage in such a case, especially since if the pharmaceutical companies had better oversight, then we wouldn’t keep letting medications onto the market that cause problems later. For example, the latest one that I know of is the medication Reglan, which, apparently has caused numerous problems. Well guess what? At one time, I took Reglan. Not for long, and it was years ago. But Reglan is just the latest in a long line of medications that infiltrate the market only to be recalled a decade or less later.

But the individuals who have health problems as a result of taking these medications can be denied coverage because of that wonderful catch-all classification—a pre-existing condition.

“Been there, done that, and deja vu just isn’t what it used to be.” ~ Angelus, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spike
My favorite vampire: Spike (James Marsters)

Oops. Slipped onto the soapbox for a moment. But I’m sitting here at home without medication that I really need but cannot afford because it’s a matter of paying my health insurance premiums or pay for other things. Same old story. Really tired of singing this song. Nevertheless, don’t think for a second that I let it slide whenever I hear of another outlandish comment by a Senator or Representative regarding healthcare. I’m sending e-mails, signing petitions, letting it be known that I do want healthcare, and it is an issue for me.

For example, Republican House Leader John Boehner contends that he has never met a single person who supports the public option as part of health care reform. Last week, Boehner said that he was “still trying to find the first American who’s in favor of the public option.”

Hello? Hello? Is anybody in there? 

Here’s an updated version of “Diamonds and Rust.” Yep. It’s Judas Priest.

More later. Peace.

(Just a note: In a Buffy mood. No particular reason. There was some great philosophy on that show, in a silly vampire slayer kind of way.)

 

“When you feel dog tired at night, it may be because you’ve growled all day long.” ~ Unknown

adventure-dog1 

 Alfie’s Big Adventure

 “Every dog must have his day.” – Jonathan Swift

Alfie’s has his day and leads me around by my nose . . .

dog-in-glassesWhen I finally managed to fall asleep yesterday after my insomnia bout during the night, it was early evening. I spend most of the afternoon with an ice pack on my head because of the migraine that was brought on from fatigue.  Not until the pain subsided was I actually able to fall asleep. Apparently, while I was sound asleep, Corey and Alexis were out searching the neighborhood for Alfie, that little bugger.

Let me rewind the story a bit.

In the forbidden forest that is the side of the yard outside my bedroom, the overgrowth had become scary. I told Corey that I wouldn’t mind the wild look so much if only I could have my pond back (love the sound of the frogs). Then Brett got the idea that he’d like to make a little zen garden. That area of the backyard would be perfect because it actually has a narrow picket fence that divides it from the rest of the yard.

Corey decided to take the weed whacker to the area and cut back a lot of the growth. Now that part is the good part of the enterprise. The bad part of the enterprise involves the smallest dog, Alfie, and the fence.

There is a very small hole in the main fence that encloses that part of the yard from the front yard. We plugged that whole a few years ago, and don’t really have to worry about it because the dogs don’t go into the forbidden forest because of the picket fence: that is, unless Corey forgets to close the fence to the forbidden forest, in which case Alfie, who yearns for adventure, find his way through the fence and out. He then romps and yells “I’m free,” before splitting like a hare (get it, split hair? audible groan? okay, back to the story).

Well, Corey did not notice at first that Alfie had escaped because he was mowing the back yard (the other part that is not the forbidden forest). When he finished mowing, Corey realized what he had not done and began calling Alfie’s name. Then he came into the house and asked if anyone had seen Alfie lately. Big no’s all around. Hence the hunt ensued.

“The dog wags his tail, not for you, but for your bread.” ~ Portuguese Proverb

dog-peanut-butter-jarThey finally gave up around 8:30 after making several routes through the park, where people had seen “the cute, little white dog,” and after Alexis rode through the neighborhood calling out her window: “Alfie. I have chocolate!”).

To explain: Alfie is a chocolate fiend. We know that chocolate is bad for dogs, and we don’t give him chocolate: the little bugger steals it. If for some reason we have forgotten to move the chocolate out of his reach, he steals it and eats it, sometimes wrapper included. I’ll never forget the time that I had gotten some Lindor Truffles, a personal favorite. Well I left some on the nightstand, which is easily within Alfie’s reach, even with his short little legs. Found the Truffle wrappers under the buffet in the dining room and Alfie with a smug look on his face.

Back to the adventure: I called the Norfolk shelter to report him missing and to see if anyone had brought him in or if he had been swooped up by Animal Control, which occasionally patrols the neighborhood looking for strays. An absolutely delightful woman told me that I would have to call back in the morning because they did not release any information unless it was during normal business hours.

“The greater love is a mother’s; then comes a dog’s; then a sweetheart’s.” ~ Polish Proverb

This morning Corey left for school early because they were going out on the water today, and I waited until 9 a.m. to call. The first woman I spoke with asked me to come in and fill out a lost pet report. I explained that I did not have transportation, and asked if she could take the information over the phone. She did but was not terribly happy to do so. About a minute later the phone rang, and a different woman from the shelter told me that she knew that a dog matching Alfie’s description was there, that he had been brought in last night. The fee to pick him up would be $15 for the bordering and $5 for a city license, which we never remember to get at the beginning of the year because or dogs never leave the yard (almost).

dancing-dogsThat fee was contingent upon having a valid rabies shot. Well, Corey is pretty good about keeping the dogs shots up to date, so I assumed that there would be no problem there. I called the vet that we go to and asked the woman if she could fax a copy of Alfie’s rabies’ record to the shelter. She was actually delightful and said that she would be happy to. She looked up Alfie’s record only to find that his shot expired n February. I was very confused because I thought that rabies shots lasted for several years, but apparently, when Alfie and Shakes were vaccinated last year, they were given one-year shots because we could not find records of their previous shots (new vet).

End result: I have to add to the fee for Alfie to get a rabies shot at the clinic next door to the shelter. Great . . .

Amidst all of this telephone calling, I had asked my mother if she could give me a ride to Corey’s school so that I could pick up the truck. After a delightful conversation with her in which I had to reiterate that we didn’t quite have the exorbitant amount of money needed to fix Izzie the Trooper yet, she agreed to take me to get the truck.

So, my mother picks me up and delivers me to the truck, and then she does something really extraordinary and unpredictable: she gives me a check to cover the fees to pick up Alfie from the shelter. Corey had done some heavy lifting for her, and she said that she wanted to give him something. I told her that Corey neither wanted nor expected to be paid when he helped her, but she said that she wanted to do it.  Snotty comment about earlier conversation with mother retracted.

In between all of this (oh yes, more complications), Brett had called and left a message that he needed to be picked up at 3 instead of 2 because he had to stay after school to work on a project. I knew that Corey would probably need to be picked up between 3 and 4 because that’s when the classes have been ending, but there was no way of knowing for sure since they were on the water in the lifeboats today. The shelter closed at 4:30. Timing was going to be tricky.

I rode to the bank at a few minutes after 2 p.m. Went to the gas station down the street since the little monitor that tells you how far you can go before you run out of gas was reading 0 miles. Put in just enough gas to leave me with enough money to pay Alfie’s bail, then decided to make a run for the shelter before picking up Brett. I hightailed it to the shelter which was in a different direction from the school, all the while keeping a lookout for police cars since I didn’t have time to be pulled over for the expired inspection sticker on the truck (different story).

“Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear.” ~ Dave Barry

blonde-brunette-and-redheadMade it to the shelter by 2:32. Made a positive identification of the suspect, who was looking very pitiful (in the meantime, tried very hard not to look at any of the other cages, made of mistake of looking into two or three, and immediately wanted to rescue more dogs who were barking and whining to get my attention). Filled out paperwork while one woman took Alfie next door to the clinic to get his rabies shot.

I had assured the woman that Alfie was small, 10 years old, and would be nice to her as he loves strangers (Alfie never goes psycho on strangers, only the family that he loves). The woman came back five minutes later out of breath—It seems that once Alfie was released from the cage and had his collar put on, he managed to break free and run away from the woman as fast as he could. Luckily, there wasn’t too far to run, but this woman was not a sprinter.

She asked me if I was sure that Alfie was 10. I assured her that he was indeed not a puppy but apologized that he was also very fast, a fact that I hadn’t taken into consideration when I was describing the culprit to her.

Alfie comes around the corner and is beyond happy. I fold all of the papers that return him to my custody, pick up Alfie, and head to the truck, whereupon Alfie immediately becomes the Energizer Bunny and wants to simultaneously jump on me, look out the window, help me drive, claw at my arm, and whine. He is not a good bye bye dog, so he doesn’t get in the vehicles very often. Time is now 2:45, and I am on my way to school to pick up Brett, which is approximately 15 minutes away if a take the interstate.

While I’m driving the speed limit, by the way, Alfie manages to crawl behind my neck at one point, wrapping the leash that I have wrapped around my hand, around my neck. I free myself with one hand while maintaining my steering power with the other hand. Alfie is not at all interested in listening to the voice of reason. Somewhere in my subconscious I have a feeling that there is going to be a train at the railroad tracks that I have to cross to get to Brett’s school if I take the usual exit off the interstate. I decide to chance it and arrive at the school at exactly 3 p.m.

“A house without either a cat or a dog is the house of a scoundrel.” ~ Portuguese Proverb

happy-dogAlfie immediately becomes Brett’s best friend, and I am finally allowed to drive. We turn down Little Creek Road and as I approach the train tracks, we hear the train coming. I cross the tracks, and within two seconds, the arms come down blocking the tracks. Brett and I just look at each other, and I tell him that I knew that the train was coming.

We make it home; everyone (meaning Eamonn, Tillie, and Shakes) is happy to see Alfie, except probably Shakes. My phone rings, and it’s Corey asking me to pick him up. It’s 3:57. Once more into the fray . . .

By the way, Alfie is comfortably asleep on Corey’s pillow at the moment, but the first thing that he did when I let him out in the backyard was to run to the fence of the forbidden (although not so forboding anymore) forest. Obviously he was not at all humbled by his adventure.

More later. Peace.