Thursday, July 28, 2011

And while we're on the subject ...

I'm gonna die someday.  I don't plan on it any time soon, though some days my head hurts so bad I think it would be a blessing.  Still, I think I'll stick around awhile, God willing.  But, eventually the day will come when it's my turn to go.  I'm not afraid of death.  I'm curious, and I believe there is more to us than just this life here and now.  But there are some things I want to put in writing, so there is a record somewhere of my wishes for my mortal remains after I'm gone.  I hope I go before Bud.  He knows my wishes and has promised to abide by them.  But just in case he goes first and my sisters or someone (good grief, I can't imagine who would get stuck with the task if Bud and my sisters were gone) have to do the job, please believe me when I say this is what I want.


I really, really, really do NOT want to be buried.  It has nothing to do with my fear of the dark or any uneasiness about small, dark, enclosed places.  It has to do with my belief that it is totally a waste of space.  There's already not enough room on this planet for all the people who live here.  I refuse to take up a huge space just so someone can chunk my remains in the ground and say that's where I am.  THAT IS NOT WHERE I WILL BE!  Then there's the highway department.  In every place I have lived, the highway department has dug up people and moved them so they could build another road.  I'll bet none of those people thought they'd be traveling years after they had been placed in their "final resting place".  I want to be cremated.


I do not want a funeral, or memorial service, or any kind of gathering together of people to mourn my passing.  If you miss me, mourn me privately in your own way.  I want my ashes taken to a beach (the more tropical the better) and I want those in attendance to celebrate my life and whatever joy I might have brought into their lives.  I plan to have gone on to bigger and better places, so you should all be happy.


It's okay for whoever is taking care of my final arrangements to put an obituary in the paper.  I just hope whoever that person is has enough sense to put in the cause of death.  I hate reading an obituary that doesn't tell me why the person died, especially if it's a younger person.  Of course, at 63 (very soon), a lot of the dead are younger and a whole lot more are my age.  That is a little disheartening sometimes.


I've left all my worldly possessions to Bud, but seriously we're not talking about much.  My biggest concern is what will happen to my dogs.  If Bud is still around, the dogs will be fine.  But if he's already gone on, I need to know someone will take care of my babies.  My friends Tim and Ann have said they would, of course, take care of them.  Unfortunately, they are pretty much the same age I am, so who's to say if they'll still be around.  I know once I'm dead, what happens to my dogs will probably not matter to me, but I still hate to think their lives will be left to chance.  I haven't figured out yet exactly how to fix this little problem.  I'm hoping I have time to solve it before it becomes an issue.


That's about it.  I don't think it's much to ask.  It shouldn't be too awfully expensive, so I'm hoping whoever needs this information, will do as I have requested.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Death

I've been thinking a lot about death lately.  Not my own, just death in general.  What really brought it to the forefront of my mind is that we had a death in the family, and neither Bud nor I care.  Somehow that feels wrong.  It's not wrong when you examine it, but it just feels wrong.  How sad that someone we know has passed and it is of so little significance to us.


It all goes back to Bud's ridiculous home life when he was a child.  He is the oldest of five children.  His mother had those five children over the course of six years.   There is Bud, then his sister Cheryl, then his sister Debbie, then his brother Kevin (who has left us already) and then his brother Michael.  Without going deeply into the dynamics of this incredibly dysfunctional family, it should be said that the girls are not now and never have been a part of our lives.  Kevin died when he was in his early 20's, so he managed to miss out on some of the worst of the mess, but he got his share before his death, unfortunately.  Bud and Mike have a very close relationship.  Mike spent some number of years trying to have a relationship with his sisters, but it just isn't possible to keep your self-respect and maintain any kind of affiliation with those two girls.  Their mother was the root of all the evil in this family, and she showed so much favoritism toward the girls that the boys were blatantly aware they were unloved and unwanted.  The girls took pleasure in this lopsided arrangement and never missed an opportunity to rub it in.  Bud removed himself from the situation at his first opportunity, and so most our life together has been untouched by the machinations of the Masek women.


The person who died was the husband of Bud's sister, Debbie.  By my estimation, he had to have been quite young; certainly no older than 50, if even that old.  We have not been told what caused his death and it is not likely we will receive any further information.  We knew Robert Fitzgerald.  We actually attended their wedding, though I no longer remember why.  I'm sure it had something to do with irritating their mother, but I honestly don't remember because it was of so little importance.  We did not associate with Robert and Debbie.  We did not attend family functions with Robert and Debbie.  For the most part we were ignored by Robert and Debbie except when their daughters graduated from high school and we were sent announcements, I suppose in the hope we would feel obligated to send a card with money or a gift.  Fat chance!  I don't blame their daughters, but considering who the parents were, it is hard for me to feel any remorse for ignoring them.  Once several years ago Robert wrote a long letter in which he ripped Mike and Andee and Bud and me up one side and down the other because of the way we treated Bud's parents and his sisters.  I responded to him, and it was definitely not a friendly reply.  I'd have to say that scathing letter was undoubtedly the most communication I had with Robert over his lifetime.


So, I don't feel anything about his passing.  But, I keep thinking I should.  I am sorry for his daughters who have lost their father.  I know that is painful.  I really don't feel sorry for Debbie.  It would just about kill me to lose Bud, but somehow I can't see Debbie being too deeply hurt by the passing of her spouse.  I just keep thinking how sad it is that I don't feel sad.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To my 13 faithful followers

I am taking a break from this blog.  I cannot seem to get interested enough in anything at the moment to actually function successfully.  I'm not sure if this is some new side of depression, or exactly what is going on.  By this time every year I am usually well beyond the SAD and my depression is mostly controlled by medication.  For some reason this year I just can't shake the blahs and I quite honestly do not care very much about anything.  I've never felt this way before.  I don't know what's causing it or how to beat it.


I am not abandoning the blog; I'm just on hiatus.  If you want to check back once a week or so to see if I've posted, that should be adequate.  Once I get beyond whatever is screwing with my head and can get back on track, I'll send a note to each of you to let you know I'm back in the saddle.  Thanx for your support.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm alive, but not so great

The last three days have nearly done me in.  The weather has been horrendous.  We have had thunderstorms all three days, and my SCDS does not play well with fast moving low pressure systems that include frantic displays of lightning and incredible thunderous booms.  Last night and this morning were particularly bad, but not nearly as bad as those poor folks in Alabama.  Yesterday included 164 reported tornadoes, high winds and hail -- all over the southeast.  The TVA nuclear reactor had to be shut down.  Nearly 200 people already reported dead, and many places are still digging out.  We dodged a bullet.  We had many small branches from the pin oaks all over our deck and there were tornado warnings all around us, but this time we squeaked through when so many others weren't as lucky.  I fear tornadoes like nothing else on this planet.  Now with SCDS, if a tornado actually comes near, it will probably explode my brain right out of the top of my head.  The center of a tornado is extremely low atmospheric pressure.  Just a thunderstorm makes me cry from the pain.  I cannot even imagine what it would be like if it were worse.


Yesterday was awful, but today is still playing out.  The mess is still out there.  I'm praying it won't be as violent today, but there's just no way to predict it.  They are calling for clearing this afternoon and I so hope they are right.  I haven't had a decent night's sleep since Monday.  And if my issues weren't enough, I need to get some doggie downers for these dogs since two of them go completely bonkers every time there is thunder or lightning.  That always adds a little extra fun into the headache.


Sorry to be such a whiner, but I don't think I'm gonna be able to live through too many more of these springs. I can't believe we are stuck here until Bud retires -- in oh, ten to twelve years from now.


WARNING:  The videos on this site April Tornadoes Across the Southeast US will nearly scare you to death.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Some days it's shells

I can't seem to find my muse.  I can't seem to get motivated.  Things around here have returned to as normal as they ever get around here, but I'm just not with it.  I'm not really depressed.  Well, that's a relative statement.  I always have the possibility of being depressed.  That's why I take medication to help alleviate it.  But typically my most depressed times are during the late fall and winter.  It is spring.  And it is so beautifully, gloriously, obviously spring.  Everything is in bloom.  All the trees are in leaf, and many in flower.  It's time to cut the grass.  I love the smell of fresh cut grass, but my allergies don't.  I allergic to almost everything from early spring until late autumn, but again, that's why I take medication to help alleviate it.  Better living through chemistry.


So what's my problem?  I wish I knew.  Today I'm headachy because storms are moving in.  But yesterday was clear and pleasant.  Tomorrow should be clear and pleasant.  My dogs are healthy and happy, though I'm still upset about Abby and I'll probably be upset for many more months to come.  Bud is well on his way to recovering from the symptoms that brought about his hospital stay, and we are dealing with the chronic long-term effects of his illness.  I should be thrilled.  I should be happy.  I should be exuberant.  I should not be sitting here like a gigantic lump, with no motivation and no desire to find any motivation.  Yet, here I am.


Psychology Today says, "Don't wallow in a foul mood. Run, for the gym, and take your headphones."  I don't think so!  I can just see me now, breaking something when I fall off the stationary bicycle or falling flat on my face during Jazzercise.  Time says, "In this Age of the Blahs, many thousands of Americans are finding a new way to assuage money worries, insomnia, angst, neuroticism and neglect of liver and lungs. Their new-found route to tranquillity is yoga."  Again, NO!  I used to go to yoga classes.  I loved it.  It didn't love me.  I was clumsy and uncoordinated before I got SCDS.  I can just image how comical it would be now; not to say how much the instructor would so want to remove me from the class.


But apparently, I'm not alone in this smoky gray fog for I found this link: How to blog when you have the "blahs".  Must be universal.  So, I'll quit worrying about it; quit obsessing and quit Googleing blahs.  I'll just wait it out.  Sooner or later I'll get back to whatever is normal for me and you won't be able to shut me up.  See ya there.

Monday, April 18, 2011

When the caretaker becomes the patient

As we all know, I need a keeper.  Not just because I'm normally outrageous, but because I am now unable to take care of even the simplest of tasks.  Bud has willingly jumped in and taken over the job.  He manages to take care of me and pamper me and see that all my needs are met without smothering me.  I couldn't ask for a better caretaker.


Except, now, for the second time in a year, he has been admitted to the hospital under emergency circumstances.  We have now had to open our eyes to the fact that his health is far from splendid and unless we make some serious adjustments he just might not be around to keep me safe.  The big problem in that is I am so limited in the things I can do to help him.


The first scare, last summer, wasn't as bad as it might have been, because we have some truly dear and wonderful friends.  During his hospital stay, our friends made certain I had transportation to and from the hospital and groceries and other necessities to tide me over until he was home again.  When he came home requiring additional nursing and wound care, I was not able to properly care for the wound so our friend Ann dove right in and volunteered to clean, pack and treat his wound daily.  After six weeks or so, the wound was healed and our lives returned to normal.  I shudder to think what would have happened if she had not been such a loyal friend.


But Bud's latest hospital visit is far more serious.  As a result of long term exposure to methylene chloride and recent overuse of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), his liver is seriously damaged and scarred and barely functioning.  This condition is known as cirrhosis, and is common among abusers of alcohol, but Bud's condition has nothing to do with alcohol.  He was a social drinker, which meant he drank some red wine whenever we were out for dinner.  Rarely, he'd drink some scotch or bourbon when he was with "the guys".  But for the most part, alcohol was rarely consumed.  Now, it will never be consumed.  Not because he abuses it, but because it will seriously harm him.  He can no longer take simple medications like Tylenol, Aleve, Advil, Motrin, aspirin.  They could kill him.


And so we learn new rules to live by, but the key word here is live.  He is not so far gone as to be put on the list awaiting a donor liver for transplant, and I plan to do everything I can to make sure he never gets that far.  We already had some dietary restrictions because of his Type 2 Diabetes.  We don't add salt to anything (well, I sneak some into my grits).  We seldom have sweets of any type in the house.  He tries to limit carbs (me, not so much, though I really should).  Now, he also has an ulcer, which is probably another side effect of all those over-the-counter pain meds.  So, we'll be selecting foods that aren't gonna cause the ulcer to flare.  I guess it's karma or something because he always said "I don't get ulcers, I give them."  Well, that certainly came back to bite him in the butt.  Still, I think he'll continue giving ulcers to those with whom he fails to see eye-to-eye.


Bud's new best friends are the people in the Gastroenterology department at our family heath group.  They will monitor him regularly and try to keep him on the straight and narrow as far as living with cirrhosis is concerned.  It is necessary for those of us closest to him to monitor him regularly looking for noticeable weight gain (could be water retention), confusion and/or delusion (could be toxic build up of ammonia in his blood), changes in sleep patterns (could be other toxins building up) and various other little signs that should signal us when he is headed for trouble.  I'm not much of a nurse.  I do a whole lot better with logic, mathematics and technology.  My sister, Cathy, is the medical person. And believe me she has a boatload of medical knowledge.  She couldn't figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up, so she went to nursing school and became a Registered Nurse. Nope, that wasn't what she wanted.  So she went back to school and became a Registered Pharmacist. Nope, that wasn't it either.  Finally, she went back to school and became a Medical Doctor. Bingo!  And she's a damn good doctor.  However, I'm here and she's not, so I guess I get to be the poor example of nursing for my ever tolerant husband.


It's a bit like the patient running the asylum, but we'll get by.  How can we lose?  We've got love and we've got each other.  Nothing can beat that!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sidetracked

As most of you probably already know, Bud is in the hospital and I am in depression/panic/caretaker/lunatic mode.  Not much time for blogging and it would be nonsensical anyway.  I spoke with him this morning and he was miserable.  He had not had much sleep during the night and so far no one had done anything to alleviate any of his problems.  His breakfast was runny egg substitutes and wall paste oatmeal.  I have recently attempted to call him twice to relay my plans for getting there, but no one answers the phone.  This does not make me a happy puppy.


I'll try to keep y'all posted and try to keep myself from going off the deep end.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Batter up!

Oriole Park at Camden Yard
Section 42, Row 27; Seats 1, 2, 3, and 4

It's that time of year again!  The picture above is the view of the ballfield from our seats.  We are most definitely in foul ball territory.  It doesn't get much better than this.  Some of you may remember my post last October.  If not, you can read it here Beisbol been berry berry good to me.  Tomorrow we are off to Baltimore for our first game this season on Sunday.  We will be attending this game with Mike and Andee.

The O's are off to a great start this season.  They played their opening season game on April 1st, but this weekend is the their first weekend home.  Currently, their record is 5 wins and 1 loss.  I hope they can sustain this momentum.  It would be wonderful if they could become a winning team again.  I'm no fair weather fan.  I'm an O's fan through and through, win or lose.  But, I have to admit I'm happiest when they are winning.

Y'all have a great weekend; I plan to.  After all the heartbreak and injury I've been through lately, this is looking like just exactly what I need right now.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Abby

I have got to get this story finished so I can move on.  The people from Duke Energy have still not come to cut down the tree that is precariously balanced across our driveway and held in place only by the questionable strength of the power line to my house.  They estimate the power will be restored to everyone in Guilford County by 11:00 PM tomorrow night, so one would hope they will then have time to rescue me.  At least I have power.  Bud stopped by the Food Lion on the way home last evening, but the store was closed because they had no power.  I wonder what happens to all that refrigerated and frozen stuff in a grocery store when it goes for hours without power?


Anyway, back to the heartbreaking part of my doggie tale.  We went for a reasonably long time with just Bailey and Logan.  When we finally decided to get another dog, we decided we didn't want a small puppy.  We wanted a young, female dog because I wasn't anxious to go through all the training and maintenance involved in raising a puppy.  So in January, 2009 we went to the Guilford Country Animal Shelter in search of a dog to add to our family.  Of course, I wanted to give a home to every one of the poor babies there, but being realistic and looking only at dogs that fit our criteria, I was disappointed to not find a dog we could adopt.  I was trying really hard not to cry on the way home, and that wonderful man I'm married to said "Why don't we stop by PetSmart?  Sometimes they have dogs from the shelter there and maybe we'll find our dog if we go by there."  So we stopped, and sure enough there she was.  The perfect little girl for our home.


Abby
We named her Abigail.  Abby was a 13 month old little black dog, probably mostly lab, but on the small side.  She had black spots on her tongue, but I later learned that does not mean she was part Chow.  She was enthusiastic and playful and we fell in love immediately and took her home with us.  The introduction to Bailey and Logan went well, and soon we were one happy family again.  I'm sorry I don't have a better picture of her.  I know I took some, but mysteriously they have disappeared.  I don't even want to think about what that means.  Abby had some odd little personality quirks.  Whenever I would put all the dogs outside after breakfast so they could do their morning thing, when I would let her back in she would jump up on me and scratch my arms and legs with her sharp little claws.  At other times she would jump on me normally, but every morning she found some new place to leave a long scratch.  No amount of discipline or rewards would make her change this behavior.  She also had a thing about men.  It took her several days to warm up to Bud.  Whenever any of our male friends would stop by the house, Abby would go bonkers barking incessantly at whoever it was.  She did not behave like this toward females, so we assumed she had been abused by a guy and tried to work with her to fix this problem.  Eventually, she settled down and quit barking at the guys who are regular visitors to our home, but she never got over barking continuously at any other male who approached our home.  Abby was a very hyper girl and she and I would play chase games while I tried to wear her out.  Unfortunately, once I became a dizzy broad, chase games were extremely difficult.


We also put our name on the list of people interested in getting a dog from the Chesapeake Bay Retriever Rescue Group.  There were lots of dogs available for rescue, but most of them were so far from North Carolina, transportation was a major issue.  Also, we specifically wanted a female dog between one and five years old who got along well with other dogs.  It was during this period that I got in the shower one morning and leaned back to rinse my hair after lathering with shampoo and my whole world went to Hell.  I got so dizzy, I almost fell down.  I have continued to be dizzy, all day every day since.  That shower took place on August 27, 2009.  I started seeing doctors and specialists and more doctors and more specialists and yet more doctors and more specialists until finally in March of 2010 someone discovered SCDS was causing my dizziness.


Georgia
In November of 2010, we found the perfect Chessie for us and went about arranging Georgia's adoption.  Georgia is a purebred Chessie who was apparently picked up as a stray in southern Alabama.  She had heartworms and had not been neutered, so the rescue organization was taking care of these problems before putting her into the system.  In early December, Ann, Rita and I made a trip to Atlanta (see Three rubes take a road trip) to pick up Georgia and bring her back to her new home.  Georgia is such a sweet little girl and she blended into our family almost seamlessly.  Once again we had our four dogs - two purebred and two mutts, and three girls and a boy.  All was right with the world again.


In February of this year things started changing in the dynamic of our pack.  I noticed Bailey was growling at Abby much more often and Abby was often being downright mean right back.  It usually was just a growling match, but I still didn't like it, and we started taking measures to put an end to the problem.  Some rivalry is natural.  Bailey is getting old.  She is probably pretty much past her heyday, and Abby was just reaching the age where she was starting to feel her oats.  Because of Abby's aggressiveness, I noticed Georgia becoming a bit more forceful with both Bailey and Logan.  Now you don't want to mess with Logan.  He's not gonna play silly little games with you.  He will let you act ridiculous up to a point and then he will put your little arse down on the ground, no more questions asked.  He is not vicious, and once you have been put in your place, he will walk away, but he will only stand for so much before he lets you know he isn't too old to whip your ass.  Bailey on the other hand, has never been aggressive and until recently had rarely growled.  This went on for awhile and though it was disturbing, it wasn't a big problem.


Until things went to Hell in the middle of the night in late March.   The dogs had all been sleeping in the house and about 3:00 AM decided they wanted to go out.   This is not unusual, and I'm just stupid enough to get up and let them out whenever they ask to go out in the middle of the night.  It really doesn't bother me.  I let them out and fall back in the bed and I'm back asleep within seconds.  Except for this night.  For whatever reason, the minute they all got out the back door, Abby went for Bailey with a vengeance and started trying to tear Bailey's ear off.  I ran back in the house and woke Bud up.  By the time we got back outside, Georgia had joined in and had hold of Bailey's other ear.  Logan had taken one look at the fighting women and wandered off into the yard.  We separated the girls, took Bailey back in the house, and made everyone else stay outside.  At 4:45 AM when I got up to start my day, I got everyone's food ready, just as I normally do, and set the bowls out in the proper places on the kitchen floor.  Bailey was still in the house, so she had begun to eat her breakfast.  I opened the back door to let the other dogs in for breakfast and Abby went straight for Bailey and started trying to tear her up again.  That's when I made the mistake of sticking my hand into the fray in order to separate them, and Abby tore into my hand just like she was tearing into Bailey.  And, Georgia once again decided to jump in against Bailey.  Of course, by now I was screaming for Bud and he came racing down the hall.  He jumped into the middle of it all, while I backed Georgia up into a corner.  Bud threw Abby out the back door and checked Bailey to see how bad it was.  She had torn both of Bailey's ears, but it wasn't serious enough to rush her to the Vet.  Unfortunately, the same could not be said for me and my hand.  After we got the bleeding to stop, Bud bandaged my hand as best he could to hold until I could get to see my doctor later in the morning.  After the three dogs in the house finished their breakfast, we brought Abby in the house and put the other three outside.  Bud dropped Abby off at the Vet's office on his way to work.  We wanted the Vet to examine her to see if there was some reason she had suddenly turned violent.  And this obviously blew gigantic holes in our theory that female dogs don't have violent dominance issues.


The Vet kept Abby from Tuesday until Saturday, when we came in with the other three dogs, all of whom were scheduled for their annual physicals.  Our Vet could not find anything wrong with Abby.  We put Abby and Bailey in pens out back of his office.  They were separated by a fence, but there was no growling or posturing and they seemed to get along okay.  We took Bailey, Logan and Georgia back home and then Bud went back and got Abby.  Her took her to PetSmart where he bought a muzzle and a crate for her.  He brought her home and we put the muzzle on her and let the other dogs in.  She immediately started growling and trying to snap at Bailey, but, of course, she couldn't because of the muzzle.  But she kept pawing and digging at the muzzle and finally managed to get it off her nose.  We knew then the muzzle would never offer the protection Bailey would need if they were all outside at night.  So we started playing musical dogs.  We would put Abby in the crate whenever Bailey was in the house.  Then we would lock Bailey in the bedroom so we could let Abby out of the crate so she could go outside.  Then we'd let Bailey have the run of the house until it was time to swap again.  At first, Abby was okay when she was with Logan and Georgia.  But on Wednesday last week she grabbed Georgia around the throat and started snapping and growling.  I was able to get her off Georgia and back into the crate without any bloodshed (doggie or human), but I spent the next half hour shaking all over from the experience.  I was no longer willing to allow Abby to be with any of the other dogs.  I doubted she would do any damage to Logan, but I was terrified he would kill her if she attacked him.  So for the rest of the week, we shuffled dogs in and out of crates and closed off bedrooms and closed off bathrooms and I got virtually no sleep.  By the end of the week, my last nerve had been shattered and I was crying constantly.  That's when we made the awful decision to do the one thing I swore I would never in my entire life ever do.  We decided to take Abby back to the animal shelter.  Bud took her back and surrendered her to the shelter on Sunday.


It broke both of our hearts and I'm not sure if either of us is ever gonna get over this.  My friend Ann tries to tell me it was best for all of us, and I suppose that's true but I can't help remembering that precious little girl and how great she was until she went nuts.  I miss her terribly and I feel as if I've let her down -- deserted her.  I should have been able to find a solution.  I pray some kind family with no other dogs will adopt her and take her home.  I worry about her all the time.


Our household is calm now.  Dogs come and go as they please.  Georgia does not show any aggression toward Bailey.  We believe her behavior was just part of the pack mentality when Abby was being so aggressive.  We have peace and quiet and happy doggies.  I'm no longer a nervous wreck and I am able to sleep at night.  I just can't look at myself in the mirror.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Storms

Today's post is a brief interruption due to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes early this morning.  At about 12:30 AM, the NOAA weather radio starting blaring about every ten minutes with a new severe thunderstorm or tornado warning.  It finally shut up at 3:00 AM, but only because that's when the power went out.  Bud sleeps with a CPAP because he has severe sleep apnea.  Without the CPAP, he will either wake up every 15 seconds trying to breathe, or he will die.  Since he had to go to work today, he took his CPAP and our adapter that turns the cigarette lighter into a 3-prong plug, and went out to the van to sleep.  He had electricity, he was dry, he was warm because there's a Snuggie in the van and he turned the engine on so he wouldn't run the battery down with the CPAP so he had the heat on as well.  There is also a pillow in the van since I sleep most of the time when we are on trips to or from Baltimore.  It keeps me from getting car sick.  But, it still must have been hard to sleep with all that wind and rain battering the van all night.  I was tempted to go out and tell him to move the van out of our driveway so he wouldn't be near any trees, but it was raining and blowing so hard I didn't go back out; I just prayed.  I didn't get back to sleep because I had three very antsy dogs to handle.  Finally at 6:00 AM, I woke him up so he could get dressed to go to work.  He left the house with no coffee, more than a little rumpled, more than a little grumpy, and a brand new toothbrush and travel tube of toothpaste in his hand.  As he was getting back in the van to leave, we looked down the driveway and discovered the power of prayer and just how lucky he was.  The tree did not fall close to the van at all.


 










I went back to bed until the power came back on at 8:00 AM.  Then I called Duke Energy to report our little tree problem.  It is now almost 3:00 PM and I have not heard hide nor hair from Duke.  It may have something to do with the hundreds of thousands of other people in North Carolina without power.  Since it will only affect my house if this power line breaks, I suspect we are pretty far down on the priority list.  Still, I don't think I'll be walking down my driveway to the mailbox until that tree is gone.  I'll take the scenic route through the farmer's field next door and down to the road.  I sure hope they get here before that line breaks.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The tale wags on

Trixie was another one of those medical disasters.  She was plagued with ear infections throughout her entire life, and she had some sort of distended bladder or something that caused infections and leaking problems regularly.  But we were still relatively young, and both of us were working at steady, good paying jobs, so we could deal with the medicals bills and the upheaval.  All of our babies have been worth whatever expense in order to keep them healthy, but Trixie was such a screwball she kept me healthy too.


Hannah
After Trixie, we decided to get a female Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy.  We picked her out at the breeders when she was only two weeks old and brought her home when she was six weeks old.  We named her Hannah.  Until Hannah, all of our dogs had been pretty independent.  We have always allowed our dogs access to the inside of our home whenever they wanted to come in.  They eat all of their meals inside and sleep inside at night.  However, up until Hannah, they all preferred to play outside during the day, often in spite of snow or rain or sleet or hail.  The huskies, in particular, love colder weather and snowy days.  But Hannah was a clinger.  She attached herself to me and she was most unhappy if she couldn't be with me 24 hours a day.  She was never a problem dog, but she sure did want to be permanently attached to me.  And we were back to four dogs, two boys and two girls and two purebred and two mutts.  All the world was right again.


Well, I just went back through all our old snapshots and, apparently, I don't remember things in quite the order in which they actually happened.  That doesn't really surprise me except for the fact that the lives of my dogs have always been such an important part of my life.  Anyway, based on the photographic evidence we got Trixie and Hannah before we got Niki.  It may be I got confused because we didn't have Nik as long as we should have.


As I mentioned before, Niki was the best dog anyone could have ever wanted.  He grew to be much larger than most huskies and he had such an even, good natured temperament it astounded everyone who met him.  He walked on a leash without pulling.  It was just like you were out for a Sunday stroll.  We took him to a gathering of husky breeders where some of them were teaching their dogs to pull sleds (on rollers; we don't get enough snow for real sleds).  There were at least a hundred dogs there and Nik just walked around with us and never even barked (well huskies don't exactly bark) at any of them.  He got along with every dog and every person he ever met.  I do not cut my dogs toenails.  I'm a chicken, and I'm afraid I will hurt them, so I just let them wear their nails down while they play outside.  While we were at the husky gathering, one of the breeders volunteered to trim Nik's nails.  I told her he had never had it done and he might be a little jumpy, but he just laid down and let her do her thing.  You'd have thought he got a pedicure every day the way he acted.  Nik was just too good to be true.  Maybe that's why he died so young (5 years old).  He developed some sort of autoimmune disorder and all of his internal organs began to deteriorate.  Of course, we didn't know what was wrong when we took him to the Vet.  I told the Vet I was scared we were gonna lose Niki, and he told me Nik was young and we should be able to find out what was wrong and fix it.  A week later Niki was gone.  We sent his body to the School of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University where they did a necropsy.  The report came back explaining about his internal organs and they said they had never run across anything like it before in any dogs.  I'm glad we provided them with an education, but it didn't bring our wonderful dog back.


The entire time we had Zeke he was truly a pleasure to have around.  He didn't fight with anyone.  He didn't cause any problems.  He loved everyone he met.  He had virtually no health problems.  You couldn't have asked for a sweeter, more gentle dog.  Then one evening when Zeke was 12 he started listing to one side.  At first we thought maybe he had pulled a muscle or something.  Later that night it started raining really hard so we went to get all the dogs in the house.  We couldn't find Zeke.  We finally found him wedged between the house and our tool shed.  It took me squeezing into a very tiny space in the sloshing mud to pull him out and it was clear he was not feeling well.  We kept him (and the others) in the house for the rest of night and I took Zeke to the Vet first thing the next morning.  He could not walk in a straight line; he continually walked in circles.  The Vet tried to assure me there were any number of things that could cause that, but I was afraid it was serious, as I was right.  Zeke had a brain tumor.  He had shown no symptoms right up until the time it got so bad there was nothing we could do about it.  Of course, we chose that he should not suffer any more than he already had.  And, once again we lost another piece of our hearts.


We live on what we jokingly refer to as the Great Eastern Stray Dogway.  Unfortunately, it's not a joke.  It seems every dumbass in the area who is too irresponsible to take care of the dog or cat they thought they wanted, drops them off out in the country (by our house) to let them fend for themselves.  It is not unusual for us to go outside because our dogs are barking up a storm, just to discover a stray outside the fence.  They usually run off when they see humans, or they decide four against one is not such great odds, but in most cases the strays don't hang around our house for long.


Bailey
So, when we came home from work one day to see a young furry black dog with polka dot feet outside the fence, we assumed the dog would go away just like all the others.  Except she was still there the next morning.  She was hiding under Bud's pickup truck, which we weren't using at the time.  I gave her some water, but no food, hoping she would go off in search of something to eat.  I also called Animal Control and told them there was a stray at my home and asked them to go pick the dog up.  When we got home she was still there.  I didn't want the poor baby to starve so I gave her fresh water and a bowl of dogfood, and called Animal Control again.  We went out of town for the weekend, but I left a note for the friend who was coming to watch our dogs and told him about the dog under the truck and that Animal Control was supposed to be picking her up.  When we got back on Sunday night, she was still there.  I gave her fresh water and more food.  By this time she was great friends with our dogs inside the fence.  On Monday I called Animal Control again.  They told me they had been out to my house twice and they couldn't find any stray dog, but they would try again.  By the time we were headed home after work, I had decided I didn't want them to find her anyway, because I wanted to keep her.  I figured it would be just my luck this time they would have found her, but there she was wagging her entire backside and jumping all around in the driveway when we got home.  And that's how 11 years ago Bailey came to live at our house.  She was about a year old when she moved in.  I really felt as if Zeke had sent her to us.  She's been pretty healthy if you don't count ear infections, and she is a joy to have around.


It took us awhile to get over losing Nik, actually I don't think we are over it yet.  But eventually we got another male Siberian Husky puppy.  We named him Logan.  When we first contacted the breeder she was reluctant to consider selling us a puppy just to have as a pet.  All of her dogs were breeders and show dogs.  But, Logan had one undescended testicle, and would never have qualified as a show dog, so she relented and sold him to us.  Since we were going to have him neutered anyway, his testicles were not high on our list of items requiring perfection.  I wish I could say he's as good as Niki was as far as temperament goes, but like I said, Nik was unusual.  Logan is a normal, high strung, overactive, stubborn, bossy husky and we love him.  He's been a pretty healthy dog but he's ten now and showing some signs of arthritis.  Still he hasn't slowed down much yet.


Somewhere along the way, Bud and I decided that it would be more peaceful for everyone if we had only one male dog in our pack.  Remembering the fight with Shadow and Max, we weren't looking to have to go through anything like that ever again, so we started making our little family to be one male and three females.  We had not ever had a dominance problem with any females.


When Trixie was 12 years old, she gave out.  She had never been the healthiest dog and she was tired and ready to go.  We made arrangements with our Vet to have her put down on a Monday night.  He came to our home to take care of it instead of making us bring her into his office.  We try to have all of our dogs euthanized at our home because they are more comfortable in their own surroundings.  We also allow the other dogs to see the body after the death, so they can have whatever closure dogs get.  It's not always possible to do this at home, but whenever we can, it works best for all of us.  The morning after Trixie was put down, Hannah had some kind of seizure in the kitchen and just fell on the floor, unable to get up.  I screamed for Bud, but by the time he got there she had recovered.  Up to this point, Hannah had been perfectly healthy and had not had any problems.  We decided to keep an eye on her and nothing further happened that day or the next.  But on the third day, she had another seizure.  We took her to the Vet, but he couldn't immediately find anything wrong with her.  I was terrified.  I had not had any time to grieve for Trixie, and now it seemed I was battling for Hannah's life.  Friday night Hannah started wheezing and crying.  It went on the whole night long and nothing we did could comfort her.  On Saturday morning, Bud took Hannah to the Vet, and when he came home he brought her body with him.  I thought losing three dogs in 12 months was the most horrible thing that could happen.  I was wrong.  Losing two in one week can almost kill you.


Tomorrow the end of the doggie tale.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A dogs' tale

I don't know if I can write this post.  I am dying from a broken heart and crying so hard I can't see the monitor.  We are about to do something I swore I would never do in my entire life.


T.C.
Anyone who knows us knows our dogs are not just pets.  They truly are our children, they just happen to be wearing little furry dogsuits.  We have had a number of dog-children since we moved into this house 30 years ago.  We started with a female purebred Siberian Husky named T.C, who was about seven months old when we got her.  The teenager who owned her named her T.C. for Too Cool.  But he became more interested in girls than he was in his dog, and after several warnings, his mother sold her to us for $50.  We soon learned that T.C. actually stood for Trouble Coming.


Shadow
Next came a male stray who was mostly German Shepherd and we named him Shadow because he followed our every step.  Shadow was about nine months old when he wandered up to our house, filthy and hungry and with a load of buckshot in his butt.  Immediate Vet bills.  








Porkchop
Then came a stray who had been partially tamed by some friends of ours, but now they were moving and couldn't take her with them, so we took her.  She was just over a year old and already named Porkchop.  Porky was a 30 pound, furry something who looked as much like a fox as she did a dog and she was a medical disaster from the word go.  Our friends had her spayed, but it was such a botched up job she got a serious infection from it and almost died.  She also had heartworms when she came to live with us.  So we had her treated for the heartworms. Then came the emergency stomach surgery, and while she was recovering she broke one of her legs playing outside with the other dogs.  While we were keeping her in the house trying to get her leg mended, T.C. dumped an entire bucket of yellow paint on Porkchop, which, of course, involved a trip to the Vet to get the paint removed.  Porkchop also developed skin problems which we treated for years.  She was one gigantic Vet bill right after another, but we loved her, so we paid.


Maximilian Dexter Bear
Then we decided to get a male purebred Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy, who we named Maximilion Dexter Bear, but, of course, we just called him Max.  That was an appropriate name it turned out, since Max finally topped out over 100 pounds.  His favorite playtoys were the logs we used in our fireplace.  He would steal them from the rack and carry them around all over the backyard.  He could fit three regulation size tennis balls in his mouth and you would never know they were there.  We finally had our full complement of children, two boys and two girls as well as two purebreds and two mutts.  Things were pretty good until Max starting growing up.  Then he and Shadow starting having some rather heated discussions about who was top dog.  Bud and I had to break up a serious dogfight only one time, but once was enough.


Dogs are pack animals.  If you have one dog, you and your dog are a pack to your dog.  If you have two dogs, particularly one of each gender, you and they are a pack but the male dog will usually be dominant over the female.  If the dogs are the same gender, there will be one who is more dominant, but that may not necessarily result in a power struggle.  Every time you add another dog to the pack, you change the pack dynamic and the results are often unpredictable.  By the time you are up to four dogs, it can get to be a bit of a sticky wicket.  When Max and Shadow started vying for top dog position, we originally solved it by having Max neutered.  We had already had Shadow neutered because he wasn't purebred and there was no possibility we wanted him to breed.  For a short while Bud thought he might like to breed Max, but once the fighting started, he quickly changed his mind.  Since then, there has never been any question.  All of our animal companions are neutered as soon as it is physically possible.  It keeps a pretty good lid on the behavioral issues and it makes certain no more unwanted animals are added to the already outrageous population.  I believe Max would have eventually won out over Shadow in the top dog department (Max was a whole lot bigger) but Shadow enjoyed climbing over our fence and running loose, no matter how many ways we tried to stop that behavior.  Shadow climbing the fence resulted in his early death at the age of five.  


Zeke
After Shadow died we got another little male mixed breed puppy and named him Ezekiel, but called him Zeke.  Zeke looked to be mostly miniature Doberman.  We never had any dominance problems with Zekie, he just never wanted to be top dog in any pack, so he never fought with any of the other dogs about anything.  He was one of the most problem free dogs I have ever had the pleasure to know.






Niki
T.C. lasted until she was 13.  By then she was completely deaf and almost blind.  We kept her until it became obvious she no longer wanted to go on.   We got another purebred Siberian Husky, but this time we got a male and named him Niki.  The breeder told us male Huskies are not nearly as wacko as the females, so we figured we give it a try.  I don't think Nik was a good example though, because he was the most perfect dog a person ever could have asked for.


Six months after we had T.C. put down, we had to also euthanize Porkchop.   She found a hole in our fence and got out.  Apparently she got hit by a car, because the friend who was watching the dogs while we were in Maryland for the weekend, said he found her at the end of our driveway, and she was unable to use her back legs.  He took her to the 24 hour/weekend emergency clinic and they x-rayed her.  Because she had been on Prednisone for so long, her bones were very brittle and  her entire hips and back legs had shattered from whatever hit her.  She was also 13, and it just didn't seem to make any sense to try to repair that much damage at her advanced age with all of her health problems too.  Then, six months later it was Max.  He was only ten, but had been suffering from serious hip dysplasia for half his life.  We gave him prescription medication and glucosamine chondroitin for years, but when he was finally unable to get up and down the steps from the deck to the yard, we knew it was time.


Trixie
Next came a female mixed breed puppy someone found stranded in the turn lane of a busy six lane thoroughfare in Greensboro.  She took the puppy to our Vet's office on the same day I told the Vet we were interested in adopting a female puppy if he knew of one.  So the Vet immediately called us and that's how we got Trixie.  She was about nine weeks old, and appeared to be a mix of husky and shepherd.  She was a goofball.  I have never laughed so hard at the antics of any dog, and I have to say Trixie saved my sanity.  After losing three babies over the course of a year, I needed someone to bring some joy back into my life and Trixie sure took care of that.


To be continued ...  

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The unveiling

I have removed that damn bandage.  It was driving me insane.  I can, at last, use all my fingers to type again, but it is still pretty painful, especially the bending and stretching part to reach all the keys.  So here's, what my hand looks like, keeping in mind it has healed significantly in the last ten days.


 


There's a fairly deep puncture wound on the ring finger, between the ring finger and the pinkie and there are several smaller punctures and tears on the side of the pinkie that don't show in the pictures.  Of course, the most serious bites were right in all the bendy places, making it so much more fun.


The lesson to be learned, and I hope I have learned it well, is don't put your hand in a dog's mouth.  First Tim and Ann's dog, Buddy, got me.  Then my own baby got me.  Please don't let me make that awful third strike!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Well, it was a good idea, but....

Seems individual bandages are not gonna work on this stupid left hand.  The placement of the punctures and tears are such that covering one with an individual bandage requires covering another with the adhesive part.  That will never work because I'd have to kill someone before I would let them rip that adhesive off one of these wounds.  Apparently, I am stuck with one bandage wrapped completely around my hand and making it extremely painful and problematic to type.  With any luck, by next week I should be able to go bandage free and be back typing like the madwoman I am.




Thank God, the first thing I did after I stuck my hand in frigid cold water was remove my wedding rings.  The worst bites are on my ring finger and the knuckle at the base of my ring finger.  If I hadn't removed them immediately, they would have had to have been cut off.  I think that would have upset me more than being bitten.


Still taking pain meds.  Who'da thunk it would take over a week for the pain to let up?  But, still no infection, so healing is progressing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vajazzle???

My hand is much better, but still too wrapped to make typing easy.  It is many beautiful colors from purple and red to yellow and green.  Lots of bruising along with the slashes and gashes.  But it is healing, and there is no infection, so I am happy with the progress.  I can get it wet now.  For the first week I had to keep it dry.  Have you ever tried to wash your hair with only one hand?  It's not easy, and I have A LOT OF HAIR.  Thankfully, I can use both hands now as long as I'm careful.  The major league oral antibiotic (AMOX TR-K CLV 875-125 MG TAB) has presented me with the normal side effects -- a queasy stomach.  So what else is new?  Well, how about that wonderful vaginal yeast infection. So I've added yogurt and Diflucan to my health regimen.  And so once again my world is made better through chemistry.


Actually, the only reason I'm trying to post today is that I have discovered a new and disturbing trend -- Vajazzle.  Apparently, this is something Jennifer Love Hewitt started and it's spreading like wildfire; at least among those with lots of disposable income and little to no modesty.  Well, I guess a flat stomach should also be considered a requirement, but somehow I doubt that obesity will stop some people from jumping on this particular bandwagon.  What is Vajazzle, you ask?  Jewelry for your vagina.  No, this is not a joke.  Yes, people are actually spending money to dress up their hootchie.  Here's a "how to" video to get you started:  






Here are a few more design choices for those of you having difficulty deciding how daring you should go Rate My Vajazzle


Now remember, you MUST use Swarovski Crystals -- none of those cheap, imitation stones for your playground.  Thank God I'm too old for this stuff.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Some things take a loooooooong time

I still do not have much use of my left hand.  It is healing nicely, and so far no infections.  However, since it wasn't stitched it requires more care to keep it from breaking open again and bleeding all over creation, so I can't use it much yet.  I see the doctor again this afternoon and I'm hoping to have smaller and individual bandages rather than one great big thingy that envelopes my entire hand.


The situation with the dogs is, at least for the time being, under control.  As soon as I have the ability to type with both hands again, I will attempt to explain what has been going on.  One good side effect, I have taken so much pain medication for the bites, I have hardly noticed the headaches caused by the bad weather.  Both days of the weekend were dreary and gray, but I was pretty much oblivious to all pain thanx to the pain meds.  Today, it SNOWED.  All the trees are in bloom.  The azaleas are very close to opening. And it snows.  Stupid weather.  Well, it's been too warm for it to stick, and it was just big ol' wet flakes, but still after 80º F weather last week, we sure didn't need snow this week.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dog fights, dog bites

It's a long and painful and sad story, and I don't know yet how it will turn out.  We have a dog crisis at our home. and, of course, I'm the one whose hand got mangled.  I have to get to a doctor first thing today, and Lord only knows when it'll all sort itself out, but I'll get back to you as soon as I can.  I am not in danger of losing any vital parts, so please don't worry.  I'll fill in details when I can.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How do you tell when you've caught something else?

I haven't posted lately because I've been sick.  I seem to have come down with one of those 24 hour stomach virus thingies that last two or three or more days.  That's what I get for going out in public I guess.  I spend most of my days sequestered at home, so I'm not exposed to any of the normal germs and viruses the rest of you meet on a daily basis.  That means, when I actually get introduced to one, it becomes my worst enemy for a bit.  At first, I thought I was just being more nauseated than normal, since I consider nausea to be a normal state of affairs.  But when I couldn't keep down a banana, I started to think I might have a more serious problem.  Then came the fun part -- and we all know why it's called the runs.  I don't run so well.  It's been an interesting few days.  So far today I have managed to consume one banana and a dozen peanut butter Saltine crackers.  And so far today, I've been able to keep that little bit of food.  I feel as if I've been run over by the world's largest steamroller.



I hope to be back in business by Monday.  It takes me a lot longer to recover these days, and we're supposed to be going out again tomorrow night.  I hope I don't run into any more stray germs floating around.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Saturday date

Yesterday started out unlike a typical Saturday.  As far as I knew we didn't have any plans to go anywhere.  This is unusual because Bud is a party looking for a place to happen and so he keeps our social calendar pretty well booked up months in advance.  Though I'd been stuck in the house all week, there really wasn't anything unusual about that, and all in all it had been a pretty good week.  I got up Saturday with a full complement of spoons, it was sunny and going to be pleasantly warm (60º to 70º F).  It is definitely spring here in North Carolina; the daffodils and forsythia are in bloom and many of the flowering trees have started to show off their glorious colors.  The azaleas aren't far off and the lilacs right outside my front door are starting to create flower clusters.


We sat around for a bit in the morning, drinking our coffees with Irish cream and fooling around on our respective computers.  Then I took a shower and when I got out, started to dress in the same old junkie clothes I typically wear around the house when I'm not going anywhere.  Bud was getting dressed too.  He was going to run to the vets to get heartworm pills for the dogs and make an appointment for their annual physicals.  Yes, we take all four dogs to the vet at the same time.  It is a ginormous pain, but it also gets the whole thing out of the way all at once so Bud doesn't have a scheduling nightmare with multiple trips to the vet.  The only other necessity is to get Bailey shaved before the hot weather sets in and Bud can drop her off at 7:00 am and pick her up after work.  But, Bud told me when he got back from the vet's, he planned to take me out, just to give me an opportunity to get out of the house for awhile.  How can you not love this man?  I immediately revised my attire to accommodate the outside world and waited for his return.


A half hour later he was back and we were ready to go.  Now I know most of you don't get excited about a simple little drive into town for lunch and some shopping, but believe me it is truly a treat for me.  First stop was Olive Garden.  Our niece, Kalyn Masek, has worked at Olive Garden in Westminster, Maryland for a few years.  She's in nursing school now so I'm not sure if she is still working there, but she gave us a gift card for Olive Garden at Christmas.  We had a great lunch.  They make some really scrumptious meals, and we always enjoy sharing.  Bud got Shrimp and Crab Tortelli Romana -- Shrimp, crab and smoked mozzarella-filled ravioli, topped with sautéed shrimp in a three cheese and sun-dried tomato sauce.  Absolute heaven.  My three favorite foods in the whole world are seafood, cheese and pasta.  When the waiter came with the cheese grater and asked if we wanted grated cheese over the salads and the meals, the answer was, of course, YES!!  I told him he could put cheese on dirt and I would eat it.  He looked at me as if I might be a little odd, so he quickly grated the cheese and walked away.  I had Pear and Gorgonzola Ravioli with Shrimp -- Pear, mascarpone and gorgonzola cheese-filled ravioli with shrimp, tossed in a creamy parmesan sauce drizzled in a balsamic glaze.  Are you seeing the pattern here? More seafood, cheese and pasta.  We had planned to have dessert because they had a delicious Warm Apple Crostata -- Sliced apples, rich vanilla cream and caramelized almond biscotti crumble baked atop a shortbread cookie crust, served warm with vanilla ice cream.  But, alas, we had no room for dessert.


After our delightful lunch, Bud took me shopping at the Big and Tall Men's Store.  This is the perfect place to take me shopping, because I don't have to do anything.  I hate shopping.  But, if all I have to do is stand/sit around while someone else shops I don't mind it so much.  He was in desperate need of new pants for work.  Our charming dog Abby, went through a period where she decided to eat pants.  If she found a pair of pants that was within reach of her little alligator-like mouth, that was the end of those pants.  Of course, she didn't attempt this while you were wearing them, but you had to be very careful where you put your pants if you didn't have them on.  She only got one pair of my shorts, but she tore up more than a few pair of Bud's work pants.  He was down to only four pairs of pants and two pair of jeans.  Since he can only wear jeans on casual Friday, that meant he had only enough pants to make it through the week.  That was assuming I had enough spoons sometime during the week to run a load of laundry that included his work pants.  Since I have no guarantee from one day to the next how many spoons I'm gonna have, counting on me getting the laundry done is risky business.  So now he has enough pants to last two weeks, if necessary, as long as we can keep Abby away from them.  Surely I will be able to find enough spoons over a two-week span to be able to run at least one load of laundry.


After the Big and Tall store we went to a local nursery so Bud could buy peat pots.  I don't know why we go through this every year, but he is really pig-headed about some things.   He plans to start some plants.  As near as I can tell, that's all he'll do is start them.  Sometimes they die in the starter pots, and he starts over again.  Sometimes they actually make it to being planted in the ground.  But invariable, year after year, that's as far as they go and we never see a harvest.  However, I can indulge his little fantasy as the peat pots really don't cost much.


On the way home we stopped by the ABC store to pick up another bottle of Irish cream.  We go through about one bottle a week since we both have at least two cups of coffee with Irish cream on Saturday and Sunday.  It's just one of the little pleasures I allow myself now that I don't have a lot of opportunities to indulge myself.  By the time we got home, though I hadn't actually done much more than walk, ride and eat, I was running low on spoons.  And, as almost always, a little nap helped give me back a spoon or two to get through the rest of the day.


I had a great Saturday.  I'm really glad Bud takes care of me the way he does.  But speaking of spoons, he must have run out of them too by the time he went to bed last night.  I know we had an hour less overnight last night, but it was quarter to eleven before Bud got up this morning.  That is so unusual, I actually checked on him three times to make sure he was still breathing.   I guess he needed to catch up on some rest too.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Which are you -- Cheech or Chong?

This post is going to tell two funny (well, I thought they were funny when they happened) stories from a part of my misspent youth.  Actually I wasn't so young.  I was in my late 20's or early 30's, but I was a latecomer to the world of recreational substances.  I began smoking cigarettes (really, really dumb idea) at the age of 13, and started drinking beer around the age of 17.  But, alcohol remained my only mind altering substance until I was almost 30 years old.  Before I begin, I must state unequivocally that I do not advocate the use of illegal substances.  I certainly am not a proponent of drug use among teenagers.  As adults, I would hope you have enough sense to know what you can and can't and should and shouldn't do.  As adults, I believe you should make your own choice.  As a teenager I believe the answer should be NO!  Many of my friends began using pot, and in some cases other substances, when they were teens (hey, it was the 1960's).  They don't seem to be any worse for the wear, but I still think it is far better to wave adieu to adolescence before you start thinking about screwing your head up even more. So here's how these stories go, oh and all names have been changed to protect the innocent, the guilty and all parties in between ....


I lived in a small town just north of Baltimore named Bel Air.  My friend, Mike, also lived in Bel Air.  Mike was originally from somewhere in the south.  He had lived in Bel Air for almost a year, but had never bothered to get a Maryland drivers' license or get Maryland plates for his car.  One night about 11:30 pm, Mike and I and a few friends decided we desperately needed some Irish Coffee and baklava from a little restaurant/pub in downtown (I use that term very loosely) Bel Air.  We had all been at Mike's house for a few hours, and there had been a few joints passed around prior to this earth-shattering case of the munchies.  So we all piled into Mike's car for the drive to the Red Fox.  We had made this trek numerous times in the past, and Mike having lived in Bel Air for most of the last year was well acquainted with the roads necessary to get us there and back.  While we were on the way to the Red Fox, we, of course, lit up two or three more joints (there were five or six of us in the car).  It was winter.  The windows were all closed.  The inside of the car soon took on the appearance of a London fog and reeked of marijuana.  Mike, in one of his less intelligent moves, decided to take a short cut to the Red Fox and turned the wrong way down a one-way street.  Yes, he knew it was one-way.  Yes, he knew he was going the wrong way.  But he reasoned that since it was a short street, and obviously no one was coming from the other direction, he'd just slide down the street really quickly and cut oh, about an eighth of a mile off the trip.  However, no sooner than Mike turned onto the street going the wrong direction when a local constable turned on the flashing lights and siren to pull our car over.  This was definitely gonna be trouble.  If we opened a window or door, it surely would seem as if the inside of the car was on fire from all the smoke that would have poured out.  If a policeman got anywhere near that car, we were all going to jail.  Fortunately, this was in the mid-1970's, when policemen didn't have to worry that every car stopped contained someone who might shoot them.  So, Mike opened the driver's door and jumped out of the car very quickly.  There must have been a gigantic plume of smoke that exited the car when he did, but apparently the officer was looking elsewhere because it seems he didn't notice.  Mike, ran back to the squad car and approached the officer behind the wheel.  The office rolled down his window (something we certainly were not going to do while he was sitting back there) and Mike asked him what the problem was.  The officer explained that Mike was going the wrong way down a one-way street.  In an academy award winning performance, Mike (exaggerating his normal southern accent only slightly) explained that he had just moved to the area and was unaware the street was one-way.  He showed the officer his out-of-state license, the officer clearly saw the out-of-state tags, and this man certainly did not talk like a native of Baltimore.  The officer gave him a verbal warning and told Mike to return to his vehicle.  Then the officer proceeded to escort us the rest of the way down the one-way street, the wrong way.  Not one of us breathed until we reached the end of the street and the officer drove off into the night.  At that point, we all burst out laughing, thanked our lucky stars, and opened every window in the car to let it air out.


Fast forward several years.  It's now the early 1980's and everyone is living in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Rod Stewart is going on tour and he is doing his opening show in Greensboro.  Now, back in the early 1980's, smoking was still permitted almost anywhere and everywhere -- in restaurants, coliseums, offices, schools, etc.  So it was nothing to see cigarette lighters all spark the minute the lights went down at a rock concert.  It was legal to smoke, but most of those cigarettes were a little funny, so I'm not so sure about the legality of it.  And, there we all were at Rod's concert.  What a concert it was.  How can you not love a man in pink polka dot tights?  I was standing next to our friend Patty, who was between me and Mike (by the way, Mike is not the name I'm using to disguise Bud.  Bud was present on both of these occasions, but he is not the perpetrator).  Patty had magnificent long, thick blonde hair.  She was turned toward me and we were yelling at each other in order to be heard above the din.  Mike, paying absolutely no attention to anything (which is not unusual for him) passed the joint to Patty, while her back was turned to him, and set her hair on fire.  If you think pot stinks, you should smell it mixed with burning hair.  Yecch.   Anyway, we put Patty's hair out without too much damage, and enjoyed the rest of the concert.  Several weeks later, Rockin' Roddy was closing out his tour in California.  His final concert was going to be simulcast on TV and the radio in Greensboro.  It would have been stupendous if 60" flat screen TV and Dolby surround sound had been invented by the early 1980's, but alas that was not the case.  Still, Mike had spent several thousand dollars on his stereo component system, so we had the best available to us at the time.  Prior to the night of the simulcast, Mike visited every apartment in his building and explained he was having a party to view and hear the concert.  Each occupant was invited to attend the party, but if they weren't interested they were at least advised there was gonna be a whole lotta shakin goin on.  The night of the concert arrived and we all gathered at Mike's apartment.  There was a tremendous amount of alcohol consumed and it wasn't long before we needed fog lights to find the bathroom.  About half-way through the concert there was a knock on the door.  Mike peered out through the little peephole, and turned to the rest of us and said "Cops".  Instantly the noise level dropped, at least from the humans in the room.  Rockin Roddy was still going strong on the stereo.  In another of his svelte-like moves, Mike opened the door and slipped quickly out, closing the door behind him.  It would not have been possible for that policeman to have missed the smoke or the aroma.  However, all he said to Mike was there had been a complaint about the noise and we were gonna have to turn it down.  Mike explained that he had invited the entire building to the party and most of them were actually inside his apartment, so he wondered who had complained.  The officer told him it had come from residents two buildings down.  Then the officer offered that he too was listening to the concert in his patrol car, but if we couldn't tune our noise level down, he was gonna have to do some further investigating and he'd really rather just enjoy the concert.  We turned it down and once again breathed a sigh of relief.


So, what's my stance on marijuana today.   I think there are too many far more important issues in our world today.  I think it should be legalized, but controlled in much the way cigarette and liquor sales are controlled.  I think medicinal marijuana is absolutely necessary.  I am constantly nauseated.  Marijuana can alleviate the nausea.  It's not gonna grow hair on my palms, it's not gonna lead me to heroin or crack or meth amphetamines.  And sometimes it provides a great deal of humor in life.