Ponder this:

Friday, December 30, 2011

Counting blessings

My coworker's brother has MRSA. It's a horrible horrible illness, causes pain that's off the charts. The patient is receiving a cocktail of antibiotics, his sight might be coming back slowly . . . and so the family waits to see how the recovery will proceed. 
Or not.
Yesterday, Alan said to me, "It's a lesson: Don't sweat the small stuff. And it's all small stuff."

I woke up this morning thinking, "Only three hours of work today and then another long weekend. Then I thought about Alan's brother, and my viewpoint changed. The three hours of work became a little piece of my life instead of a whole hunk of my day that I just had to live/suffer through before I could resume what I want to do when I want to do it. 
I have a little pain . . . my back is stiff . . . but boy! Compared to the pain some people deal with, I'm kickin' up my heels.

There's no doubt that today I am aging, but I sure am more grateful than I was yesterday.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

'T'is The Day!

How much do you know about Christmas? A quiz.
I am unaccustomed to doing so poorly on quizzes that I choose to take for fun. 55%? Come on!

Yesterday the vet gave me a good gift. She pronounced Maxie "not ready to give up yet."
He has a little UTI and some antibiotics to take care of that, and he has some muscle relaxer medication to make his back feel better. He hasn't complained, but he's been walking around hunched up like an inchworm. Medicated, he seems to feel much more comfortable, and he's very nice and quiet: he's sleeping a lot. Maybe it's so very restful to have some relief from what has apparently been ongoing discomfort. Dogs are stoic. Even the ones (Max) who seem like crybabies . . . they're stoic. They bear things that they don't need to bear . . . if only they would tell me!
On Friday night I moved something and a lost tennis ball rolled out; Max was all over it. Not quite up to Fetch, but very happy to see Good Ol' Tennis Ball. And outdoors, he's still prancing like a Saratoga thoroughbred. So the vet's pronouncement was not unexpected, but still very welcome. I guess we'll have him for a while. 
Nice gift.

So here I am, up at 3:00 on Christmas morning, watching my fire in the woodstove, listening to Angus snore next to me. Max never got up out of bed to come downstairs with us . . . he is still a small lump under the blankets upstairs in the bed. MiMau is toasting nicely in her spot in front of the stove. 
Later Husband will fix the prime rib. I'll make whipped potatoes, or maybe twice-baked, and some salad, and we will feast and give the dogs bits of beef, and then we shall all nap at will. 

I have no desserty material, unless I make another chickpea/chocolate cake, which I could whip up in five minutes or so. Honestly, it is an absolutely delectable item, which must be eaten in small portions. Chickpeas are just chockful of fiber. Trust me: I know . . . now, after having eaten two-thirds of the cake in one sitting. I was so annoyed, last Monday night, that I was required to go back to work for a meeting that promised to be long and awful (and turned out to be, in fact, four long hours of tedium and tension) that I scarfed down, in one of my more memorable eating binges, what was left of the cake. I was . . . uncomfortable . . . for three succeeding days and nights. I cannot stress enough how important it is to control one's portion size of that particular delicacy. 
Wow. The memory alone is enough to give me chills.

I hope you all have the kinds of Christmases that you want, whether that's peaceful, exciting, child-wondrous, spiritually rich, or some variation/combination thereof. May you be blessed today in whatever way you wish to be blessed, and may you have the kind of joy that is so evident in this video from the Richmond, Virginia Animal League: Operation Silent Night.
Operation Silent Night
Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Ah. It is 4:30am, it is Saturday, Christmas Eve. I have no evergreen tree in my house. I have no Christmas lights, nothing to indicate that it is The Festive Season. Husband and I will exchange no gifts. And yet, you know...? It feels different here right now. I feel content and at peace.
Nothing has changed. Max is still old and feeble, I'm still fat. It's still gray and dark outdoors.
But still, I feel different.

Somebody asked me yesterday if I believed in God. First, I answered with the Correct AA answer: I believe in my Higher Power. Then I said, raising my arms to indicate the cosmos, "I believe in Something, some Plan." I don't need or care to delve into it any more deeply than that. I'm content for it to be Solstice or The Nativity or whatever.

It feels so good.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ah, Monday. Yet again.

Pay day. That's good, although the thrill is lessened by knowing that the funds were transferred on Friday. Pay day is no longer the Christmas morning that it used to be when I got cash in an envelope. I should just shut up about that and be happy I get a paycheck, shouldn't I?

Weather's supposed to be good today. Right now, it is 24 degrees, and feels like 15. Every time I think of the "feels like" temperature I think of L from Florida scoffing that "If it's _______ degrees, it's  _______  degrees. Never mind what it FEELS like." Easy to say when you live in Florida where the temperature is currently 52 and will top out today in the 70s. How well I remember her shuddering and shivering, wrapped in her coat and an afghan on a balmy October evening when we sat outdoors enjoying an unseasonably warm temperature for the northern hills. "Feels like" ought to get a little more respect from someone who's experienced such an evening. 
Every year the same discussion: She wouldn't be able to stand the northern winter and I wouldn't be able to stand the humidity of a Florida summer. We have finally agreed on that and no longer speak of it.

This evening I will have the pleasure of returning to the office to take notes at a meeting between some volunteer board members and a few representatives of the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants. The proposal is to raze and rebuild. This is the second meeting of the parties. The first was long and labored. Our civic volunteers' comments bordered on the rude: late in the evening the man in the suit who wanted to invest in the community thanked the chairman for a single smile.
I can hardly wait to experience a second parley.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday morning: relaxation cds, "Max's issue," and food

Some weeks ago I bought four or five relaxation cds to play next to my head for night-time going to sleep purposes. I don't need things like that in good weather when the windows are open and I can hear the crickets and the katydids and the owls and the wind sighs through the screens and slides its chiffon sleeves across my legs.
~image borrowed/stolen from One Man's Wonder

But now that the windows are closed and the only sounds I can hear are the snores and groans (and mutters and growls) of the poodles I'm finding these cds to be wonderfully soothing. I have quite a variety of sounds . . . windchimes, and one called "Sounds of Nature" that includes a disturbing sound of some insect that sounds like a buzz saw or an old-fashioned hand-cranked airplane propeller: click-click-click-click-wwwhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnne, over and over again. My favorite has been the thunderstorm that moves in from the distance; thunderstorms always soothe me straight to sleep. Last night I tried a new one called "Golden Pond." Wonderful. Sounds of oars sloshing in the water, crickets, frogs. It was so comforting that I wanted to stay awake and listen to it, but it put me to sleep anyway. Somewhere I have a hypnosis tape . . . it might have been a stop-smoking hypnosis tape . . . that had new-agey music on it and was very relaxing. 

My hair appointment yesterday was at 10:00am. At 8:30am I left a voicemail for my hairdresser asking her to call and comfirm the time. She called at 9:50am to tell me I was due there in ten minutes, not forty, and could I come at 11:30 instead of coming late for the 10:00? I agreed to that change, and mentally reaadjusted the hair/shopping sequence, muttering to myself about how I could have been there had she called me back earlier. It was my fault, though, for having lost the appointment card. The new one is stuck into my car's dashboard where I will see it every time I check my vehicle's velocity. By the time January 21st comes around the card will have become invisible to me. I need a secretary. Or a parent.

I fear that thes Max Issue is going to become a minefield between Husband and me. He seems to feel that Max's increasing issues are no more objectionable than Angus' cavalier attitude toward similar issues. Max knows what to do and can't do it; Angus knows what to do and chooses not to do it. I know the whole issue is disgusting and in deference to your sensibilities I won't go into more detail. Husband removes himself from the problem, leaves the whole thing to me and then recoils from my scent of parfum d'urine de chien. I have a feeling of No-Can-Win.
The man has his redeeming qualities, however. Last night he prepared a delectable repast of fried shrimp. He made cocktail sauce for his dipping, mine was sour cream and salsa verde
To die for.
That's another difference between Husband and me. A small supper at my hands is leftover baked potato sliced and broiled with cheddar cheese on top; his is breaded shrimp. He's far more willing than I to go out and buy the shrimp and get his fingers all gicky with flour and egg and crumbs, and he makes shrimp dishes while I make peasanty potato-and-cheese dishes. It might have something to do with the cleaner-upper duties and the person responsible for same.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A post . . . just to keep my hand in

It is 4:40am. The snow is flurrying with exactly the same everywhere-but-straight-down motion as in the "clever piece of technology" in the last post. Max is up with me, has been outdoors, is now considering eating his carefully prepared breakfast kibble. And now, he has tasted a few nuggets and declines the rest. His Enacard, hidden inside the dab of butter, got into him; I don't care if he eats more than that.

For a few weeks I have been considering that Max's time with us might be limited to the easily foreseeable future. His kidneys grow more dysfunctional and the symptoms grow more intrusive. If I had not had the mother I had, I might have disposed of Max long ago. I did have that mother, though, with whom I had no choice but to contend, and that bent the twig of my young self in the direction my mature self has grown. That is to say that many many times I fantasized about dealing death to my mother and being free of the tension and emotional pain she caused me, but I didn't do it, and I probably won't put Max down either until he's much sicker than he is. So far as he knows, life is good. He gets lifted up, lifted down, carried outdoors. Only once have I seen him staring into a corner for a few minutes, but he was calm and not frantic or lost. He found his way out. He's doing about as well as lots of old people who walk around taped into their Depends. 
My psychiatrist says, "But there's something wrong with Max."
My friend says, between the lines, "You are a craven wretch who cannot bear to be an adult and take adult decisions about your pets and your personal way of life, and it will take a crisis for you to do what any normal clean-living person would have done months ago."
And Husband says, "He's happy. Outdoors, he runs around interested in things, enjoying himself," and then, "It's too sad. I can't think about it."
When the day comes, it will be Mom who does the deed.
We have an appointment for an examination and blood tests on . . . Christmas eve at 9AM.

I'm pretty sure I have an appointment for a haircut this morning but I can't find my appointment card. My recollection is that I am to present myself at 10:30am, an awkward time in my Saturday routine. I should be at the supermarket at 10:30, but I don't like to hurry through my early Saturday lazy coffee-drinking time to get to the salon at 9:00am and I don't like to crowd my late morning with appointments. I don't know how much, on a given day, I'll enjoy strolling around the grocery store, examining packages, dreaming up recipes. So I always choose 10:00 or 10:30 for the hair. And I always have this discussion with myself. I think I might have left the card in the console in the car. That's handy, with me here in my nightgown and the car out there in the cold outdoors.

There are things that people say about me, to me, with which I cannot argue but that I do not like.
When someone says, "Poor little Max..." and I say, "What about poor little Mommy?" and the first speaker says, "First, Mommy isn't so little..." I can't honestly take issue with that since it is absolutely true. Compared to almost anyone I know I am . . . the larger of the two. But I think it's a little mean-spirited to say so.
Someone says, "You have a unique relationship with your pets," and I know she means I treat them as if they are humans and not as four-legged servants to my pleasure. It stopped my complaining, and Stopping Complaining is a worthwhile end.
Someone said about one of my last winter's posts that it was clear that I was not a "happy bunny" in the wintertime. No question about that. I determined, after that comment, that I would not post anything that wasn't upbeat, uplifting, smile-worthy. The determination lasted for perhaps two weeks; au fond I am not a Happy Bunny sort of person. The only time of year that I am reliably a happy bunny is early summer, and that only if I am free from the office for several days on end.

Christmas Day rushes hither. I have piles of Christmas gifts in a sack upstairs. Perhaps this weekend I will wrap and mail some. Perhaps I will do that next week or even next month. Husband and I shall have a quiet day with our faces sunk into prime rib (although he tells me it's almost impossible to get prime now and likely it will be choice rib), no revelry, no guests. 
A day of peace. What better?

It has taken about an hour to write this. I'm going back to bed with a bagel and my book. If there's one thing that brings me closer to happy bunnydom than waking up on a Saturday morning, it's having a bonus wakeup on a single Saturday morning!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

For sharing at will

Click on the link below. 
When it opens, drag your mouse across the picture.
It's from an Estonian company!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Snowflakes of the e-kind

Here's something that might use up several hours of otherwise productive time.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Poodle boyz photos

Max, pre-haircut

 Max, post-haircut, aka Popsicle stick creature
I knitted that sweater for the boyz' predecessor; he was a little bit bigger than they are.
The boyz have changed my life such that I have been unable to pursue a similar project 
to create a sweater that would fit either of them.

A very unflattering photo of Max in front, Angus in back
I was practically standing on my head so I wouldn't have to get down on the ground . . . 
I don't get back up so good.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Poodle boyz also aging gratefully

The poodle boyz went for haircuts yesterday. Kim had told me that, in the middle of Max's last two grooms, he had suddenly burst into full cry, and had quite dramatic bladder and bowel events . . . on the grooming table . . . while he spun in circles, apparently horrified at his own behavior. So when I made this appointment, Kim and I discussed at length how best to handle Max's "do" for his maximum comfort in the short and long terms. 
We decided that this time she would avoid the hairdryer since that seemed to be the factor that set him off. It could be his hearing . . . I know it's failing . . . maybe there's a tone in the hairdryer motor that hurts his ears or something. So Max got a very close shave all over, except for his puffy little ears, so that he could air dry. He will be wearing his turtleneck sweater for the next several months, poor thing. But he didn't pee and poop all over the grooming table, and he came home much calmer than he has from the last few appointments. 
We live in a winter environment suitable for Samoyeds, and here I have these two little poodles, one of whom looks now like a creature made out of popsicle sticks, with all his little old man age spots showing through his thin little fuzz.
Max's kidneys have been not good for years and they aren't getting any better. One of the things that happens, the vets says, with "bad kidneys" dogs is that they begin to use up their muscle tissue. I expect Max will grow increasingly thin unto near-transparency as time goes by. But in the meantime, he's eating and drinking (oh boy! is he drinking!) and enjoying his life, so onward we go.

When I went to pick up the dogs, Kim was indoors. I went into her shop, clipped her check to the grooming table so she'd find it easily, and got Max out of his crate. I set him on the floor. I reached for the latch on the crate that held Angus, and heard Kim come in. I turned around to say hi and heard a crash. Angus had jumped out of the crate, the floor of which is about at the level of my collarbone . . . and had landed on the floor. He broke a plastic bin as he passed it in his descent of five times his height to a tile-over-cement floor, but he was none the worse for wear. No limp, no bruising, no cuts. Kim and I both watched him closely for a few minutes but he was gamboling and strutting in his usual fashion. I can't believe it. I think he might be indedoggystructible. Knock wood. 

Husband thinks that the weaker Max grows, the more energy Angus sucks up.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Winter, holiday bigotry, country talk, and other things

I have given in and had the snow tires put on. Much as I would like to believe that the weather will continue as unseasonably warm as it has been, we're bound to get winter sooner or later. The roads are clear and dry now and I can feel my tires' metal studs wearing down as I drive. It almost makes me wish for snow. Almost, but not quite.

When I was very young and lived on the way out country dirt road, we would always speak of the paved road at the bottom of the hill as "the state road." I wouldn't have been able to think of the route number off the top of my head, but recognized it when somebody else identified it that way. The reminder was Club 29, a bar with a pretty-colored neon sign that I passed every day on the school bus. As I recall, it was almost next door to the Catholic church. In hamlets, that's the way things are: everything is cheek by jowl with everything else.

Now once again I live on a way out country dirt road and my travel is mostly on or near or across two-lane paved state routes. The roads have names, but the names change as you travel along from hamlet to hamlet, so in conversation, everybody uses the route numbers to identify locations. "Up (or down) 145...", "...over on 443," "Down 30...", "Y'go over 7, up 145 to 10, follow 10 to 162, turn on 165..." Maybe somebody should devise a game, something between Bingo and Uncle Wiggily, just for the local denizens . . . sales of it could be a fund raiser for flood relief.

Somebody sent me an email two days ago with a link to an evil little song discouraging Christmas shopping in non-Christian establishments. The issues I have with the song are many. I deplore the Us and/versus Them premise, but the thing that really pisses me off is that the lyrics indicate a certain willful ignorance. The last lines of the song, "Now let's see, if not for Christ's nativity . . . " there would be no Christmas tree, no dolls and trains that Santa brings, no mistletoe, no this, no that, etc. 
I am no religious scholar, but I'm pretty sure that Christianity made use of existing traditions  as it moved up into and around Europe. I love Christmas lights' colors as much as I loved that neon Club 29 sign . . . but I think pretty flashing Christmas lights out in the snow don't necessarily have a lot to do with the sacred birth of Messiah. So if I'm going out to buy multi-color lights to celebrate the Savior's birth I guess, if I wanted to, I could buy them from a Jew or a Muslim or whoever offers the best price, and not have my eternal salvation suffer from the transaction.
You know . . . what if your Christmas lights aren't actually "out in the snow"? The people who live where there isn't snow in December had better be a little watchful about their celebration habits, or the American Christian Life United folks might be knocking on their doors.

To tell the truth, the first thing that set me off, as I watched the youtube video, was the line that included, "...tryna sell..." 
Is that shorthand for "trying to"?
Whenever you want to raise the rabble, the first step seems to be to dumb it down reeeallll good, so that those who are ruled by emotion rather than any intellectual discipline can say, "They're jes' like us'ns!"

We will now return you to your regular winter holiday celebration programming, whatever it may be.