Ponder this:

Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer daybreak

This is why I am hoping I will wake up and get up early tomorrow and Sunday and get out and move my legs back and forth. 
This is what my side yard looks like just as the sun is coming up over the trees in the east.
It's warm-cool and it's easy to move and easy to breathe and the animals who work the night shift are just becoming invisible for the daylight hours.
I love where I live.
I love summer.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

And yet another EVENT!

Thank you all for your kind sympathy on Max's departure. We're still breathing here, I've settled down and gotten over myself in regard to poor Husband's attempt to lighten the mood . . . and, while I would have the little pink boy back in a heartbeat if he could be well and happy, it's so easy having one cat and one dog. 

Angus has almost stopped looking over his shoulder when the supper dish goes down. For years, he's had to give up his dish for Max. He's moved to the foot of the bed to let Max have the next-to-Mom's-head spot. He's retained enough of his little wild man personality to shine through, and now I think he's enjoying being an only dog. He bounces around like a little rocking horse and playbows at MiMau, at Husband, at me: he clearly is not aware that he is just as old as his brother who is no longer among us.

The EVENT is that today is my birthday. I have reached an age seven years beyond the 54 that my sister's friend, playing psychic, said would be the end of me. I have lived two years beyond a cancer diagnosis and cure. I've lived long enough to have been a drunk and have seven years of sobriety under my belt. 
Life is good.
I'm a lucky woman.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Max 1996-2012

Max - October 2009

Saturday, June 16:
Max will get his wings next Saturday morning at 8:45.  That will give me time to love him up real good all week and have a couple of last days at home with him, and a couple of days to recover and adjust before I go back to work. Truly, I have known that The Decision is inevitable, but when Husband told me he could not make the decision and it was up to me, all of a sudden I wasn't so ready to say goodbye. But . . . it's far better to do it this way than to wait until he's in full failure. This way he'll just drift off for a nap and wake up with all his muscles back, strong and elastic, his eyes clear and bright, his ears catching every sound, his nose catching scent streams in the wind. 
And he'll still be here, we just won't be able to see him. 

While I was out at the store, Joe came to visit Husband. They were in the yard talking. Husband had left the front door open and, after a while, happened to look over and see Max way over on the other side of the field . . . same place I found him the first time he went walkabout. That time it was seven o'clock in the morning . . . last spring. The force of my fear pushed me, barefoot and nightgowned, across the cold dry stubbly hayfield. I scooped him up and clutched him against my chest, gasping with receding panic. 
I can't have him outdoors anymore without watching his every move. He has no idea where he is in relation to any known place or thing and is apt to wander in any direction apparently thinking that . . . who knows what he's thinking?
His legs are so weak that when he stands still outdoors, his body waves like dry grass in the breeze, and slowly, slowly, he sinks to the ground in awkward disarray. Indoors, his feet slowly slide out from under him, like Bambi on the icy pond.
All we do anymore is pick him up and move him from place to place, feed him and pill him and change his diaper.
It's just so sad to see my little athlete leave me. 
Poor little old man.

Friday evening, June 22:
Tomorrow morning . . . 8:45.
Husband doesn't think Max seems "that sick." 
Poor dog doesn't know where he is or which end is up. 
He eats well, yes.
And he can poop and he certainly has no trouble peeing.
But this little dog is no longer the little dog who would chase tennis balls until we would make him stop for fear his heart would give out. This is no longer the little dog who would rather run than walk, would rather run than anything. Except being held. He always loved being held, and he still does. I can feel his body relax all over when I hold him against my chest . . . he falls right to sleep. He's so tired out. I'm doing this not a moment too soon.
I think.

Saturday morning, June 23:
Max is having a feast of Liverwurst Kibble for breakfast. I gave him a little bit extra of his Robaxin, because . . . what's the difference?
Last night I held him for a long time and he slept on my chest. I did the Review Of Maxie's Life and Times and cried and cried. It is sad that he's going away but it's sadder that this little professional-level runner and fetcher is reduced to his current condition. I guess this is kidney failure: that's what his chart at the vet's office says. And if that's what it is, the "natural" end is truly horrible. 
I don't want to see him go through that. He's nothing but skin and bones with a little bit of apricot fuzz on top. When I put on his diapers I have to fasten them over his hip bones: they stick out like a cow's do.
We always said that Angus' head gave off lightning bolts and Maxie's head gave off little floaty puffy pink hearts. He's been a terror to his brother but he's always been that little floaty pink puffy heart boy to us.

Saturday morning:
This is much harder than I thought it would be. Husband got up a little while ago. I'm glad . . . I didn't know if I should wake him up or let him sleep past our departure. 
He's so sad, and he doesn't share it, and that's hard, too. 
Oh, it's just a hard morning. And poor Maxie totterin' around around around around around around
We'll leave in a few minutes. I had thought Husband would go with us this morning but he can't bear it.

The ride to the vet's office:
Max is tired, limp, leaning against my chest, where I hold him with my left hand, steering with my right. Nothing I do feels right. I could weep and weep, and do. I think of Enzo in The Art of Racing in the Rain and I beg Maxie, "Come back to me if you can. Come back to me if you can. Please."
Then I think I should be calm so as not upset him in these final moments. A deep breath, a deep breath, a deep breath.
I wonder if I am fit to drive in this state. 

Max - June 2012
Saturday morning 9:00am:
The receptionist and the tech were both so sympathetic that my heart absolutely broke all over again (how many times can a heart break?) while we were waiting for the doctor. When the doctor arrived, the first thing I said was, "Please. Don't be sympathetic."
She understood and she was gentle and clinical. 
Thanks be to God.  
Max went very smoothly. I was at his head and rubbed his ears and told him I loved him I loved him I loved him I loved him. 
The doctor cried a tear or two, said he'd been a good patient, said it was NOT too soon, said it was The Right Thing To Do. 
There was almost no difference between "Max alive" and "Max dead." 
In time, I'll get a little box full of Max.
When I got home, Husband was on the tractor mowing. He turned off the machine, asked how it had gone. I told him "very smoothly" and what the doctor had said about "not too soon." He was relieved to know the "not too soon" part and when I told him Max just looked the same way he did when he was asleep, that seemed to make it more okay for him.

Later, later...
I cannot sleep because there is no frail tiny dog for me to feel against my back. I can't relax into the pillows: I feel as if I might float up aimlessly into the sky, an untethered balloon. 
Husband makes evil, bitter jokes: he and Angus must be vigilant or they'll be next. 
I know he is sad, bereft, bereaved. 
It is not humor, not of any kind. 
It is cruelty.

This, too, shall pass.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Common milkweed

There seemed to be a number of you who didn't know about milkweed, so I went looking to see what I could find. 

I am telling you! 
Who knew milkweed could be made into rope, used as stuffing for life vests, eaten at several stages of its life, was used extensively by Native Americans for everything from poisoning arrows to contraception...?  Holly at Wild Blessings has photos of several dishes she makes with milkweed's various parts. Me, I'd be careful about chowing down on any part of something that can mess up my heart.

All I knew about was the wart removal and that the flowers smell divine from a distance and the scent can knock you out if you bury your nose in them.

Common milkweed, the kind I have here, is native to the US and Canada, but it apparently has relatives all over the world. When I marvel at being able to talk to people on the other side of the world, I should remember that plants were connected all over the globe before the internet existed! Think of it!

I should really leave these kinds of explanations to Woodswalker...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Warts and scabs and other miscellaneous items

A week ago last Saturday, during one of my first Walking for Improved Health walks, I tripped over a rock in the driveway, took a couple of those graceful giant steps that one does when one's balance is . . . but hope of its return is not . . . lost. I landed on the palms of my hands and my right forearm's underside, causing small areas of impressive road rash in those areas. Gravel-on-skin hurts: Tell all the motorcyclists you know. You know how it is when you fall. You lie still for a moment to take inventory to see what hurts and at what level. Skin? Yes. Muscle? No, not much. Bone? No. All right then. Roll to the grass (white shirt now very dirty), hands and knees, and up (rear first in bovine or toddler style) to the usual upright position. Continue on, feeling embarrassed and yet, somehow, heroic. My hands are almost back to normal now and the scabs are crusty and itch enough to make me aware of them and to invite scratching and picking. 
How ladylike. 

When I was twelve-ish, there was an old woman who rented an apartment from my grandmother. No love lost between the two of them! They did not speak, did not make eye contact. But Miss Brehm, a maiden lady, sat on her porch every afternoon in the summer, watching everything that went on, and I often sat with her for a little while.  She smelled good to me in that old lady way . . . Ivory soap and denture cleaner and Spic and Span detergent and whatever else it is that made old ladies smell the way they used to. She had a dog, a husky named Silver, whom she'd trained, she said, to look both ways before he crossed the narrow paved road to do the necessary. He always did look both ways, whether or not it was taught or just good dog reasoning. I humored her, smiled. "He's smart!" I'd say. When he died I gave her a sympathy card.

A year or two earlier I had grown a wart on my knee, just below my kneecap. Miss Brehm told me to break off milkweed leaves and dab the milk on the wart. "Keep doing that every day," she said, "And that wart will disappear."
I thought she was probably crazy but I hated that wart, and there were certainly enough milkweed plants from which to take leaves, so I tried it. And by the end of the summer the wart had shrunk and shrunk and disappeared.

This morning I was up at 5:00. By 6:00 I was out the door for a leisurely period of movement. I'm not sure what I do even qualifies as "a walk." I just go outside and move my legs back and forth until, eventually, I find myself back at the door. As I came down the driveway toward the house, I noticed the milkweed plants, all new and fresh and plump, and remembered Miss Brehm. I thought of my itchy hands. I broke off a leaf of milkweed and dabbed the milk on the scabs on my right hand, leaving the left as the control hand. Who knows? 

Can't hurt, can it, after all?
And not for nothin', but my right hand doesn't itch right now and the left does.
Just sayin'.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Waitress anxiety dream #10049

And again, a waitress dream... 
These nightmares visit me when I'm feeling unappreciated, frantically-worried-but-can't-show-it, etc. . . . all the emotions that were with me during every shift when I was waiting tables.  

These dreams are always like this: I'm new, nobody shows me the menu so I don't know what goes with what or what the presentation should look like, I don't know the tables that are in each station, I don't know where anything is. I walk in the door, whip out my order pad and head for a table whose menus are closed: they look ready to order.
This perfectly applicable photo from "Do You Do That at Home?"

This dream was a little different.
Most of the workers are nice to me, if a little condescending . . . until the end when one of them openly sneers at me and her companion laughs. 
The beef stew, or stroganoff, or whatever it was, is served in an aluminum wash kettle deal, about 9" long and about 5" deep. One of the assistant managers passing by smiles at me and puts a piece of bubblewrap on the charger plate that's waiting for the washtub. I whisk away the bubble wrap, replace it with a napkin, smile happily at him.

Place is a restaurant but with shelves and aisles like a supermarket.
Fat middle aged women sitting all over the place at desks, smoking cigarettes.
One woman worriedly asks me a question about a paycheck with the payee's name spelled incorrectly. I reassure her, cite the law that applies, and rush away to get a piece of flatware, thinking, "Wait until I tell Jane that there's one of those nervous, picky women in every office!"

I woke myself up as I spoke out loud, asking a table of four Australian sailors, who were complaining about something going on outside the front door of the place, if they'd like to speak to the manager after I took their order.

I woke up and sat on the edge of the bed, sweating, remembering (this is true, not part of the dream) Priscilla raging at me on a Saturday night about 8:30 in 1989 because I kept taking C5 and it wasn't in my station anymore since she and another waitress had rearranged the stations. 

Happy Monday.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The cat just took me for a walk

In my effort to become as much more mobile as I can without making myself sad about it, I determined to do what I call my "loop walk" whenever the mood strikes. It's out one driveway, up the road (respectable hill), down the other driveway. It's a beautiful walk and is short enough that I can do it on a whim, without allocating more than ten minutes for it. There are the rest of you hiking up mountain and down dale and pitching hay bales and hauling compost and here am I, striving to do a ten minute walk on anything like a regular basis. 
That's all right; one has to start somewhere, doesn't one?

Most people who have dogs have canine companionship on country road walks. I used to. Tonight, Max was sleeping and Angus stood in the door and said, "It's too close to fisher/dark time. I'm not goin'!" MiMau, on the other hand, was out in front of me, leading the way, her little hang-down belly swinging from side to side. We were a good pair, now that I picture us in memory...

I saw some lovely simple pink flowers that looked like this, but appeared to have grapeviney leaves. Who can tell, without investigation (and I was walking, not investigating) what leaves are attached to what flower on these country roadsides?
I don't care what they are, beyond Pretty


A brown thrasher followed MiMau and me for a little time, yelling at us in some Slavic language and in French: "Chak! Chak! Piriot! Piriot! Piriot!" Makes me wonder where that bird spends his winters.

There is a spot about a third of a mile along where some trees rub together in the breeze. I look to see which trees they are but they stop until I turn back around. They sound a little Halloweeny, sneakily creaking like that.  

By the time I got to the entrance to the top driveway tonight, I was swinging along pretty well, and it's all downhill from there, so it got very easy at the same time. 
That worked out well! 
As I approached the house, Angus stood inside the glass door and barked at me. Husband came and opened the door. Angus stayed in the doorway and barked. Husband remonstrated with him for trying to wake everybody (Max) up. Angus said, "It's too close to fisher/dark time. I'm not goin'!" and indeed, he did not come out the door, even onto the still very well-lit-by-sunshine lawn. That's all right. He's sixteen: he doesn't have another skinning recovery left in him.

As I came inside, and turned to close the door, I looked back and saw MiMau sprawled on the gravel of the driveway. I think she's going to wait for a passing chipmunk or a still-inept baby bird of some description to pass by. She's a good companion for a walk: doesn't require conversation, doesn't go too fast or too slow, doesn't care if we stay abreast . . . and doesn't critique my performance at the end, but goes on with her own agenda.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

All right. So . . . what's new, you ask?

I have become lazy with my blog, for which I do apologize, although I feel quite sure that no one is suffering in my absence. 

Perhaps a general update is in order.

Weather: Was rainy day after day after day for a week and a half. When it wasn't raining, it was gray and chilly. March was sweeter than May, and I know I am not the first out which that to point.
Work: Morning Job is answering the phone and little else. Of the little that I do, even less leaves the office sans correction: a fault of my tendency to read the fine print and miss the headlines. I have asked Jane if there is more I can do to help. She smiles, says, "Oh June, don't make me laugh." Damaging to my ego, but from another point of view, I'm being paid to do almost nothing for three hours every weekday. 
Jane and I are getting along famously these days, though. If I had known, two years ago, that she would be so nice to me now, I might have been able to accumulate a great stash of alprazolam.
Pets: Max is still wobbling around in his Huggies Lil Snuggler diapers applied as belly bands. He eats, sleeps, eliminates. Husband says the dog is happy; what do I know? 
Angus and MiMau continue in their happy, selfish, clownlike behaviors, bless their little furry hearts.

Now then, moving on to the cataclysmic: Husband had a heart attack.
He got sudden pain the length of his right arm a week ago last Wednesday, was with a friend whose daughter just graduated from medical school. Called the daughter who said, "If it was my dad, I'd tell him to go to the ER." Husband hung up the phone, said to the friend, "Mike, would you go to the ER?" Mike said, "Hell no! I wouldn't want to go to the hospital."
Husband's arm continued to ache. Just his arm. His right arm, not his left. Not his jaw, not his chest.
Last Sunday he was working with the tractor, brush hogging, felt dizzy and faint, got off the tractor and lay down on the ground for a minute until he felt better. He stopped working, put away the tractor, and rested. (I didn't know about the "feeling faint" part until Monday morning.)
So Monday morning, he got up and immediately took a hot bath because his arm hurt so much. Got out of the bath and headed for bed again. I got out of the shower and said: "This is the plan. I'm going upstairs to get you some clothes and we're going to the ER."
None of the medical personnel seemed too concerned about the pain in his arm until the blood test showed that enzyme that indicated he'd had a "cardiac event," and then everybody shifted into high gear. He went by ambulance from our little regional hospital to the Big Hospital and he had three stents put in: one artery, two veins. He "tolerated the procedure well" and his heart is not severely damaged.
He came home last Wednesday and he is fine. Can't drive for one to two weeks, has new medications to take, but all in all, it was about as not horrible as such an experience could be. He's been advised, until the doctor advises otherwise, not to walk too much, not to do anything too strenuous . . . mostly because of that newly punctured little doorway in his femoral artery.
The irony of the entire situation is that Husband comfortably wears tiny clothing, moves and walks all day long. I, on the other hand, wear large clothing and appear as the Merriam-Webster illustration for "sedentary." 
If he's having myocardial infarctions, perhaps I am in serious danger. Resultingly, I have found a new resolve to move, to walk, to . . . sweat from exertion. I suppose this is good news. Or maybe I'll be breaking loose dangerous substances that might cause me to become the Merriam-Webster illustration for overcooked broccoli. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Something, solved

It is difficult for me to identify birds in the dark, in the rain, by the light only of a flashlight.
But I think it was a grackle. Maybe a young grackle? ...or one that was impaired in some way? 
It was in the same place when I went back upstairs to go back to bed . . . perched on the slant of the roof . . . and the slant of this roof is an impressive one . . . but it's nothing to a bird I suppose.

In the light of the flashlight's beam, this is, more or less, what I saw . . . the glowing yellow eyes in particular:

He looked a lot bigger in the dark than he did once I got some light on him . . . but any black blob attached at midnight to one's roof outside one's bedroom window . . . I think it would always look big.

I was sure the bird would be dead on the ground when I woke up again this morning. What non-waterbird could sit all night in chilly rain and not suffer for it? But at 5:30 he was on the roof ridge, having left evidence of his overnight stay on the shingles below.  He didn't look a whole lot happier up there on the peak of the roof than he had sitting down below, but apparently he felt good enough to be mobile.
And now he's gone.

Another high adventure concluded.


I've been waiting for something exciting to happen to me so I could share it with you.
Such is my life that not much that's novel or thrilling crosses my daily path, so I'm back with nothing special about which to write. 
Proper grammar's a little awkward sometimes, isn't it?

About an hour ago I woke up with Max rooting around looking for the top edge of the blanket and sheet so he could creep underneath and get toasty on this cool and damp night. The moment I awoke, I knew a trip to The Small Room was imminently necessary. Out of bed, I passed the window that overlooks the roof of the screen porch and saw a black object on the roof. It looked like a hunkered-down crow; that was the size and, as far as I could tell, the shape. Too big to be a bat, no long tail-like appendages that a . . . rat . . . or opossum . . . would have. Thank the Lord. When I go back upstairs, I'll take the flashlight with me. That ought to guarantee that the thing will be gone.
It's probably a missing shingle or something. That wouldn't be surprising after last week's weather. 
Until I know, I am feeling a little Poe's Raven-ish.

photo source: The Raven & Black Cat
I'll let you know what I see.