Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Oakley Goes to Day Care

     7 a.m. 7 a.m. Behavioral assessment at 7 a.m. 
     My sinuses beat steadily to that chant this morning. I had to have him at the day care center at 7 a.m. 
     2:30. 3:18. 4:45. Up at 5:30. Oakley banged his treat ball with his nose as I slammed down my coffee. Out of here with an ample time cushion in case of bad traffic by the two high schools passed en route. 
     Pulled up in front of the building. The owner met us, took the paperwork, his snack as he wagged his tail and laid at my feet. "What do I do now?" I asked when I handed over his leash.
     "Go home," she said with a smile. Calmly, he lead her through the door to the trainer's office.
      Home I went. A good, productive, if entirely too quiet day. Some rest for this cold, yes. The high traffic areas have been tidied. Energy work session went well. 
     4 p.m. 4 p.m...he'll be home to fill the void at 4 p.m.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Night Thoughts

   Giving The Spouse his space to watch some shows that I don't care for.    
    Met my goal of applying for three writing jobs. Be interesting to see what shakes out. As I think about rewriting my resume, let's see...tractor pulls, dream interpretation, porn. Yet.
     Tired. Oakley has a nasty ear infection. Located deep in the canal, it's making him crabby. Even the gentle ointment makes him whip his head around. I understand my mother better.
     Tired. Long walk this morning. Long day today.
      Oakley has school tomorrow and his day care debut on Wednesday.
      See you tomorrow, Gentle Readers.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday, 9/6

   Yes. It's Tuesday.  The first Tuesday of the month, so the small city I live near tests its sirens. Even though it's expected, I still jump until I remember that the day is just another Tuesday.
    Today's tests may set off an additional wave of paranoia. We're just days out from the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The media and government have relentlessly pounded on it since 9/12/01.
     We are in two unwinnable wars.
     We have caused countless deaths.
      Can we make it stop, please?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

An Open Letter to the Forest Preserve People

Dear Forest Preserve People,

I really don't mind paying taxes to preserve nature. It created joy to see that my dollars had gone to upgrade the old scout camp into a lovely new campground with such great trails along the river.

However, yesterday, as I walked my dog at one of the older preserves--actually, the two conjoined by a network of trails--I noticed a sad lack of trail markers. Especially sad since the trails had to be rerouted due to erosion along the creek. I had walked our now deceased dog there numerous times several years ago to his joy, and wanted our new dog to have the same. What was planned as a two mile mom-and-pup hike turned into a five mile mommy--doggie death march in the 85-degree-plus heat coupled with the outrageous humidity.

As I said, I don't mind my taxes going to preserve nature. However, would it kill you to put up a few more directional signs? And maybe a few more trash cans at the ex-scout camp so that I can pitch dog poop in a timely manner?

Thank you,


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Getting My Hair Back

    Half blond, half medium-dark brown, liberal sprinkling of grey. Too long roots. They stared back at me as I stared at them in the glare of the salon's overhead lights.
     The stylist began painting the color around my hairline. The blond had been something that I wanted to do some years ago, just to see what I'd look like. Not bad. Gratifying to have heads turn, but a pain in terms of upkeep. Every six weeks or look really trashy.
     When all was said and done, I looked like myself again. Not like some bombshell wanna-be. But back to the color that I knew from school pictures, perhaps a few stubborn greys sprinkled throughout.
     Process for 30 minutes, shampoo, cut, blow dry. Good look in the mirror. Youthful, as in full of life and vitality, but not desperately clinging to the fantasy of what I wanted to look like 20 or so years ago. Maybe punch up the lipstick color a bit. Perhaps tone down the red tones with a light dusting of powder. But not bad. Not bad at all.

Monday, August 15, 2011

So Much for That

   So I'll try again with the wheatfree experiment. Last Monday brought the moist, rich carrot cake in a pool of caramel sauce. Thursday, fried shrimp at the Chinese buffet.
    I didn't really notice a difference on the wheatless days. Perhaps I shall try again.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different

     As Oakley walked me at the forest preserve this morning, one of the workers called to me. "Hey! How's your day going?"
     "Pretty good so far. And you?"
     "Fantastic! By the way, you look fantastic, too!"
       I thanked him.  Always nice to start the day with a compliment, and even better that the weight started moving. 
       What's different? I'm experimenting with backing off on wheat and grains. Most of what's been lost is water. I'm still having a little bread or rice every few days, but mostly getting carbs from sweet or red potatoes, and some really yummy (but pricy) teff tortillas. I'm experimenting with gluten free recipes that involve almond and flax (made some pretty good muffins the other day). 
     So we continue. I snuck in a little baguette with dinner on Sunday. But no other wheaty delights since then. No adverse reactions occurred.
      However the research I've done indicates that there's a tie between gluten issues and thyroid problems. Some people have dramatic symptoms, such as severe cramping and diarrhea. Others (likely me included) retain water and just feel "off."
      Is this the key to helping me feel "on?" Could be. My sister crashed and burned with the wheat thing a few years ago. I will give it another week and see what happens.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Summer of Our Discontent

   It's another day of predicted 90-degree highs and several rounds of rain. I have no desire to visit the tropics, so why are they visiting me? There's nothing better than standing in the yard with Oakley and feeling the mist blessing my face at dawn. There's nothing worse than the damp weight of the air crushing me in the late afternoon.
    The house has picked up so much solar gain that cooling it is a losing battle. Maybe the cloudy hours of this morning will act as a compress, like a cold cloth on a feverish forehead.
    I don't want to wish time away. Just this weather.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Debt Crisis

   Ever have one of those days when you want to grab someone by the lapels and scream, "GROW THE BLEEP UP!" in his or her face? Looks like today is the day to do that.
     Especially if the individual in question is a Congressional representative. Today is an exceptionally good day to do so via phone, or email, or to paint a picket sign or three. We are a week away from the US defaulting on loans, then taking out a good part of the global economy. And what are our representatives doing? Acting like a bunch of kindergarteners on crack.
     This is not what they are elected to do. They are elected to represent the people, not special interest groups, not corporations, but people. SIG's and corporations don't need Social Security or Medicare, or food stamps. Yet these are the programs getting nailed first.
       Unfortunately, we have a Tea Party Republican who made a ton of cash for himself in the bad mortgage fiasco a couple of years ago. An email will be sent. I don't think Rep. Hultgren cares, but he will hear from me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Knowing More Than an Expert

    Ok, you caught me. I'm watching Dr. Oz out of the corner of my eye as I tap away this afternoon. He just had on a representative from a company that purveys eating plans and support groups. They announced a major change: participants may now have unlimited fruit. Any kind of fruit. And not have to include it in the daily allotment of units.
   The problem: from what I've read, this program does not really differentiate between good and bad calories, or good or bad fats. Fruit is good to a point, but this could easily lead to participants substituting it for candy or ice cream.
    The Spouse followed the program, and he lost weight, and kept all but about 20 pounds off (he lost 80). However, we had many lively discussions concerning the health benefits of salad versus the prepackaged frozen meals that consist mostly of white rice or white pasta coupled with a few slivers of vegetables and a shard or two of chicken.
     As Michael Pollen said, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

You Make It Challenging For Me To Stay on My Heart Chakra If You...

...use a Flexileash on a dog weighing more than 10 pounds.
...use a Flexileash on a dog weighing less than 10 pound and the dog manages to get loose and runs barking and growling at Oakley (57 lbs and still growing). make it really hard if you do the above and laugh and say, "Oh, he won't hurt your dog!"while your dog runs while barking and growling with flattened ears at my dog. Oakley likely won't do anything except inform your dog that his average poop is bigger than him, but I can't vouch for other canines. automatically forward everything that gets forwarded to you to me without looking at it. I have no interest in divisive politics,  9/11 photos, or a lot of the schlocky inspirational bits floating around out there. I also don't like being part of a massive CC list.
...don't use your turn signals. dibsies on my parking space by pulling right up behind me not leaving me enough room to back out. gawdawful heartwrenching videos on Facebook of animals being abused or euthanized. Or worse yet, articles about techniques to do the latter. People, that's why I volunteer for a rescue group and insisted on adopting Oakley and Orion from shelters.
...bring really small children into restaurants that aren't prepared to handle them.
... think Michelle Bachmann would be a good president. Migraines are the least of the issues about why I don't think she should be in office.
Thank you. I feel better now.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

If At First You Don't Succeed....

     On one hand, the traditional end to this bit of wisdom is "try, try, again." On the other, there's W.C. Field's thought, "Don't be a dammed fool about it. Give up."
     I fell off the nutrition wagon with a bump a month ago. Today, however, I climb back on and tie myself to its side. The specters of my parent's health issues haunt me with a vengance. My mother's passage at 51 from a heart attack (I turn 49 this fall); my father surrendering to his heart disease and going on disability at 50. Arthritis racked his last years, which lead to him consuming massive amounts of acetomenephine on top of a prescription analgesic that contained the same. He did his blood sugar levels no favors by washing them down with Scotch. We still don't know how he lived to 69.
      While there are practical concerns, there is also the question of vanity. As I left a ladies' room earlier this week, I had a good look at my back side. While it's necessary to accept that menopause does lead to changes in one's body such as hip spread, it is still disconcerting to look in the mirror and feel as if an F-16 could use your butt as a landing strip.
       So with all due respect to Mr. Fields, we try again. I'm shooting for 50 grams of carbs and all the water I can hold today. Oh, and my nightly bite of 72% chocolate.
         On we go again.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Last Comments on Casey Anthony

      Well, Casey Anthony walked. Even though a few of the jurors indicated that they feel that she did it--you know, murdered her daughter--they just didn't have the last piece of evidence needed to feel right about a capitol murder conviction. A ton of circumstantial evidence could have lead to a manslaughter conviction, but no on the death penalty.
      Bottom line: yes, she more than likely did it, or played a part in Caylee's demise. However, the state failed to meet the burden of proof required to meet the criteria for a death penalty case.  Plain and simple.
       I hope some good comes out of it--better child protection laws, ways to make it easier to surrender a child for adoption without condemnation, an open dialog about what parenting can take out of a person. I'd rather see the energy go there instead of setting up yet another hateful page on Facebook.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Waiting for the Next One

     At this rate, Terre Haute is likely to get a wing dedicated to Illinois pols.
     On Monday, eleven women and one man found former governor Rod Blagojevich guilty on 17 of 20 charges. Let's see, 10 wire fraud, several conspiracies, two counts they were hung on, and one not guilty. Arrangements for sentencing are in progress. He's likely going to be a guest of the Feds for 8-10 years.
     Meanwhile,  ex-governor George Ryan, currently at Terre Haute, was released for a few hours to say goodbye to his wife of over 50 years, Lura Lynn. She had lived with cancer and fibrocystic lung disease, hanging on with teeth and fingernails to see the day when he left prison for good. Her body gave up long before her spirit did. She passed on Monday night. He'll be out in two years, I think.
     Illinois is looking at the dubious distinction of having two former governors behind bars at the same time. I can't think of another state to say that.


Saturday, June 25, 2011


   Been on a bit of a decluttering rampage the last few days.  Found several bottles of mouthwash that came with from our old house, the one we moved from 13 years ago Labor Day Weekend. Found several coffee canisters that we don't need.
    Decluttered on Facebook, too. Dropped out of several groups I'd been added to without my permission and for very obscure reasons. I don't unfriend unless there's a good reason to do so, such as someone who made personal attacks on several real life friends, or a spammer.
    Interesting theory: that on an energetic level, your house represents you, and clutter represents weight that you want to lose. So will this take a couple of pounds off my thighs? Worth a shot....

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hey, Vancouver, Was That Really Necessary?

    Watched a little of the Stanley Cup final last night. Congrats to both sides on a well-played game. Unfortunately, someone had to lose, and in this case, it was Vancouver. Boston won.
    The disappointing part: rioting. In Vancouver of all places. I woke to reports of smashed windows and overturned cars. Why? Because the Canucks lost. Not because of some lamebrained social policy or a tax increase, but losing a hockey game.
    It garnered attention. I flipped around at the top of the hour. The damage was serious enough that the story bumped Rep. Weiner's porn star friend a couple of notches down the pecking order. And this was over a hockey game.
    Yes, it's a bitter disappointment. But can you imagine what would happen if they'd put that energy towards protesting something more life changing?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Saffire, Karma, and Elizabeth Edwards

      Hee, hee, hee. Are you acquainted with Saffire? A/K/A The Uppity Blueswomen? You should be. They told a lot of truth for a lot of women in their 25 year run. My favorite song? (readers with delicate sensibilities, plug your ears) "Bitch With a Bad Attitude." ("I'm turning you into the IRS; I'm telling the cops where you keep your stash.") It gets played once a year on my NPR station's Mutha's Day blues special (the day before Mothers' Day).
      Hee, hee, hee. You know about Karma, right? As TV sage Earl Hickey put it, "Do bad things, and bad things happen. Do good things, and good things happen."
     Hee, hee, hee. And you know about Elizabeth Edwards, wife of ex-senator John Edwards? The one who passed in December? The one whose final days were an example of grace under fire between her life-altering illness and finding out that the former Senator Edwards had started a relationship with a staffer while she was undergoing treatment for cancer? And had a baby with the staffer? And lied through his teeth about it? And faces a trial for having misused campaign funds to hide his mistress and child?
    Well, one of Elizabeth's loose ends that she was able to tie up before her departure was this  video telling everything that she knew. Her friends have handed it over to prosecutors.
    Hee, hee, hee.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Congratulations, You're a Boy!

    Maude Almighty, here we go again.
    Go to your favorite search engine and enter Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) lewd pics.
    With all due respect, Rep. Weiner, you don't post pics like that in an online album. What made you think that you wouldn't get hacked as you claimed?  You don't send pics like that. You just don't.
     MS in psych aside, I will never understand what goes through the heads of people who feel compelled to take pics of themselves and send them out. It's the high tech version of flashing, nothing more or less. Get kicks from it? As long as both parties are of age and concent,  that's your problem. But sending pictures of your boy parts or girl parts to an unsuspecting recipient is just plain creepy.
     Unemployment, floods, and the fire about to take out the border regions between New Mexico and Arizona. Ok. Rep Weiner, put it away now so that we can focus on these, please.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday Thoughts

   Trying not to get sucked into the hype over the Casey Anthony trial. You know, the one in Florida with the mother who didn't call 911 for a month when her daughter disappeared? With the defense lawyer who's trying to blame Casey's father and saying that the kid drowned in the swimming pool? Puh-leeze.....
    Nondescript Memorial Day here. I want to remember my mother at the piano, my father in the kitchen, and my three grandparents drinking egg nog. I don't visit graves. They're all at a considerable distance. We went out to lunch, The Spouse played with his tractor, and Oakley and I played fetch. I'd rather have people remember me by staying in the moment and enjoying life. I also have directed a friend who's a retired lawyer to have John Prine's "Please Don't Bury Me" played at the after party thrown by the people who knew me best.
    So. What do I want for lunch today? I'm craving peanut butter. I have some lovely Kashi microwavable meals. Oakley will have kibble and a little yogurt. He's doubled in weight since he came home in February.
    Life goes on.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Random Rainy Sunday Thoughts

    If a cat always lands on her feet, and toast always lands buttered side down, what happens if you butter a cat?
    Just had a green sky t-storm pass through. Why we weren't on the t-storm warning I'll never know.
    Oakley's going to be nine months old tomorrow. Brittany and Beagle. And Lab and Great Pyr. Let's call him an Aquataine hound and have done with it. The cute, it makes me squee, likely adult weight of 70 pounds or not.
    Feeling the time warp. I go to Meijer's, a Michigan-based chain where we did most of our shopping when I was a kid. Timelessness. Am I in my teens, am I in college, am I somewhere in the jungle of mid-life? It all blends together as I look at t-shirts.
    Trying to convince The Spouse that Oakley wants a cat for his birthday. Pet ownership would teach him responsibility. The Spouse gives me The Look.
     Let's do this: Palin and Bachmann in '12. We'd have a few years of chaos, but it would get better from there. Our foremothers fought for them? Lady have mercy on us.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Life Happens

  So I'm poking in my notifications on Facebook this morning. Mrs. R. had laser surgery on her eye yesterday. She's doing well, joking about the beams coming out of her butt. LOL. Get to a comment from someone saying that they're praying for her.  In her response, she told him that was kind of him, but that her daughter in law, S. needs the prayers.
    Uh, oh.
    Mrs. R's son J and I have known each other since we were in kindergarten. She and my mom were the PTA at our elementary school. We'd recently reconnected through the mixed blessing of Facebook. That was the good news. I clicked over to his page. The bad news: his wife S. had been diagnosed with cancer about 18 months ago. She'd been doing a great job of living with it until the last week. Suddenly, she started sleeping 20 hours a day. Hospice has been called in. Maybe, maybe a month, but no one is holding their breath. 
    I just lost it. For S's impending departure and not getting to know her better; for J and his agony and the weight of single parenthood getting ready to land on his shoulders; for their three daughters at the ages where a girl needs her mom to explain the intricacies of womanhood. 
     S is the same age as my own mother was when she went on to the next world, somewhere around the 50 mark. A very different set of circumstances: my mom's heart could no longer bear the weight of her sorrows and just broke. J and family have known that S's crossing was a real possibility for a long time. No easier, though, when it actually happens.
     Longterm, all will be well. Mrs. R and a cadre of other friends' moms stepped up and did what they could to fill the bleeding gap. The girls have her for their grandma, and two standup aunts in J's sisters. J has a wide support net, one big enough to keep him from falling as he walks the valley of his grief for his soul mate. It will take time, but there comes the day when you realize that you're still here and still breathing and that life has been going on and the time to go along with it has arrived.
    So for now we wait. We lift prayers for the best, we light candles for a peaceful leavetaking. Cruelly ironic that this happens the weekend when so much blossoms into the full swing of life. 
    But all seasons change, and some more unexpectedly than others. It it what it is, life happening as it does on its own terms. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Nine Days and Counting, or Not

    Oakley and I found a new-to-us trail at a local forest preserve. It's the right length for an eight month old puppy to drag walk his guardian and be relatively calm afterwards. In between pulling sticks and dandelions from his jaws rested moments of unity with the natural world, moments of eye contact with does, the scent of pines warmed by the sun, the soft haze in the sky.
    Home again. Checked Facebook, and saw several links to stories about the new date of the end of the world, May 21, 2011. At least that's how the people at a small fundamentalist radio network see it.
     I hate to tell them this, but Jesus was supposed to return when I was in college. Living some 20 miles from a military base with nukes makes it a bit easier to believe, and when one of your roommates goes to a church into prophesies, well, at the least it makes you wonder.
     Wonder I did, indeed. We had Reagan baiting the then USSR, throwing Cold War rhetoric over the fence like so many Molitov cocktails. At the time, I first thought, "screw school; if I die, I'm dying by the lake." I still got through with a B average. And got mixed up with a manipulative, needy, emotionally abusive piece of work because I was so scared of dying without a man in my life. And went for a time to a church in the denomination of my childhood with a pastor who was kinky for end-of-time theology.
   The Spouse is of a very different religious background than me. The pastor acted as if I had become engaged to a child molester or worse when I asked if he'd be willing to perform the service. I knew that my leave taking from conventional religion had arrived.
    It's taken a lot of time to undo the damage and not have a cold thread of dread crawl through me when natural disasters or wars break out. One of my Facebook comrades observed that the people who believe in this prophecy must be pretty miserable if they want to just walk away from everything, or get swept up by a greater force.
     How much damage is being done by this escape hatch fantasy? Not just in terms of giving up on life on this side, but to relationships?
     I know that there are two people out there whom I hurt deeply by getting involved with the above-mentioned piece of work, and "I'm sorry" doesn't begin to cover it.
    Time and nature are the great healers, for me, anyway. After spring will come summer, et al. And then the ball will keep rolling along.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Random Wednesday Thoughts

   Wednesday. Hump Day. No real insight. Just random midweek thoughts.
    The White House declines release of pics from Osama bin Ladin's demise Sunday night. Too gruesome. Very well, then. What do you call images of Sadam Hussain getting hanged, or the abuse of Abu Ghrab POW's?
     Raise our property taxes if you must, but have it go towards the teachers or roads or to protect open land. People in Europe get along just fine without cheerleading and football, and maybe we should do the same. The Spouse is upstairs having a chat with someone at the superintendent's office.
     Nice, but chilly out there. At least we have the sun. Try to keep the noise to a minimum so that it won't get scared and run off.
     Have you tried Magnum bars? One of my friends who lives in the UK was nice enough to tell me about them. It won't change your life, but it will get you out of yourself for a few minutes.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Has Anything Really Changed?

     Osama bin Laden was taken out by US forces last night. They went into a compound, engaged in a firefight, and that was it. It's almost anticlimactic after 9.5  years of chasing him.
     The first we heard of it, or that I heard, came as Oakley and I went to the park for our morning constitutional. The drive time team played the clip of President Obama announcing the death over and over again between songs. I switched to NPR, unsure if I'd heard correctly. Yes, a team of Navy SEALS entered the compound and took bin Laden out after a fire fight. The story broke rather late last night when we'd called it a day and headed off to dream peacefully.
    So now what? Are we going to bring everyone home? Has the world suddenly become one of apple pie and picket fences? I doubt it.
    Bin Laden was not a nice person and needed to be held accountable for his actions, true. I hope that this brings some closure for people impacted by 9/11. But is it ever appropriate to celebrate the death of a person, no matter how evil his actions, by acting as if a football team scored a touchdown?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Taking My Place in the Mother Line

      Yesterday was Easter. Not a holiday that I really do much with anymore, but the memory pot gets a stir.
      My maternal grandmother and whoever else attended dinner would spend the afternoon looking at photos in her albums. While the menfolk dozed, we'd sit around the freshly cleared table and listen. Not just to stories of long departed relatives, but the tales of pets.
      This kitty had wandered into Grandma's back yard and decided to stay. My mother in her two-inch heels had marched into a muddy field to rescue Brownie, a small mixed breed who'd been left tied to a rocking chair during a severe thunderstorm. Rag Mop hung out with Grandpa so much that her ex-owners decided to give her to him when they moved. On goes the list.
     My niece has a poodle from a shelter.
     We have Oakley. Do you see a pattern here?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Clawing My Way Back Onto the Wagon

   Today's bucket of cold water over the head come courtesy of several family members. We have two elders looking at moves to assisted care facilities, and one in our generation fighting off a massive infection. They're going to try taking him off the ventilator this afternoon. This group includes two diabetics and one who has lost a lot of muscle tone since she refuses to exercise. That's all she needs to do. No chronic issues, no problems, just a refusal to get out of her bed. She's paid a price for it with several infections and complications.
    I can relate. Some experience oneness with the Divine. I experience too much oneness with the sofa. With Oakley, however, stillness is not an option. We walked really well this morning. I made two additional small changes, one a big bowl of oatmeal with berries and yogurt for breakfast, and being mindful of my water intake.
     Last summer's descent into the shadowed valley of grief after Orion's crossing took a toll on me. Comfort eating, paralysis from grief, stiffness from having slept on the floor or sofa with him the last weeks, all took their toll and pasted back 40 of the 60 pounds I'd lost some seven years ago.
     So we begin again. I do a lot better on low glycemic plans than on low cal/low fat plans, so I'm looking at those websites.
      This time, it might be easier. I've relinquished the illusions that for once in my life, I'd be the Hot Chick. I don't need to be that any more. I know that I have a lot more to give the world. And I know that I have to stick around to do it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Can't You Just Say "Oil" and Let Us Get Back to "DWTS" Already?

    Tonight, President Obama will address the nation on the role in Libya. The reason given so far: that Qadaffi, Gadafi, however you spell his name is attacking citizens who protest his regime.
     Uh-huh. So where are the planes for Darfur and other countries where human rights are vague abstractions? Why aren't we sanctioning China?
     It comes down to oil, Gentle Readers. Libya has oil. Most countries in Africa don't.
     Now, may we please get back to watching Kirstie and Maks?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Meltdown Week

    March 13-20, 2011....meltdowns on so many levels in so many ways.
    Oakley's been keeping me busy. Part of it: on top of Brittany and Great Pyr, he has some Lab in there for spits and giggles. That sweet little armload of fur and kisses turned into an adolescent the last couple of weeks and began growing, now almost out of Orion's old crate. Finally, with the help of a homeopathic remedy for ADHD (note: this is what worked for me--please consult your vet or trainer) and advice from an experienced Lab owner, he was able to get himself refocused and limit himself to normal pubescent pooch mischief, not juvenile delinquent antics. He's been leaning against me quietly, and listening better, and not mistaking us for chew toys so much.  It's been a tough road for him--taken from his biological mother too early prevented him from learning social skills, including mouthing inhibition. We're making progress.
     We have another military involvement in the guise of human rights going on. Libya has oil. We're supporting, allegedly, the civilians who want Gadaffi out. Uh-huh. Right.
    We have the fallout in Japan. The power plant damage in the earthquake came scary close to blowing up this week. For now, disaster has been averted. The fallout in human terms barely began to come into focus. There's a danger zone of some 20 miles around the plant. Food and fuel are in scarce supply. The people bear their burdens with grace and dignity while honoring the common good. In a couple of countries I could name, that level of damage would have triggered looting and riots.  
   It's mid-Sunday afternoon on the first day of spring under a full moon for the records. Hopefully, the residue of this last week of winter gets washed away by the bright light of this new season.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oakley: The Adventure Begins

    "My mama always said, 'Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get.'" Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last 20 years, you've heard that oft-quoted line from "Forrest Gump."
     It's not too different when you adopt a shelter dog. The director of the shelter where Oakley came from originally thought that he was a beagle mix, then their vet noticed the long legs, adding in the Brittany. All I knew was that he curled up on my lap and fell asleep on the way home.
    Then there were some other characteristics that didn't add up on the Britt or Beagle side of the ledger. For starters, the double dewclaws on the back paws fell into neither breed descriptions. Then there was the ridiculously long tail with the little crook at the end. And then there was the black nose, and the black-rimmed eyes, and the bark. Think of the shock value of Gary Coleman opening his mouth and James Earl Jones' voice coming out.
     Answers came at last week's pre-neuter once over. The vet looked at the tail, and the dew claws, and said, "Great Pyrenees have those."
     No, no Beagle. Great Pyrenees. Calm, independent, relatively quiet, big-assed dogs. As in some males go up to 160 pounds.
     "He could go up to, oh 70 pounds," the vet guessed. A bit more than the 35-40 pound range I'd guessed at originally.
     Only time will tell. Oakley is six months old, and some feel that he may be at half his adult size.
I knew less than spit about Brittanys when Orion adopted us. I hopped on line and read everything I could about Great Pyrs. Another French breed originating in the border regions with Spain, bred to guard livestock and property. Pretty healthy. Run on the aloof side, generally, with strangers, but loving to their humans. And calm.
    I don't know how this is all going to shake out, but I'll bet the results, like the box of chocolate, will be sweet.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Collecting My Thoughts

    Monday. Breathe. Breathe.
    We find a bit of breathing room from the upheaval of the last few weeks. Tunisia fell into its new groove; Egypt kicked Mubarek out. How bad does it have to be that people would prefer to have the Army in charge than a president? The wave continues, not pretty, but tsunamis never are. It's washing over other too-long oppressed nations in the region, and there's no telling where it will stop.
    It's even reached into Wisconsin. The standoff between the state service provider's union and the Tea Party governor continues. The unions will not be broken. Compromise is one thing; union busting quite another. Let's not do that, please.
   Closer to home, our own upheaval ensued. Oakley, a charming adolescent Brittany Beagle blend, joined us on February 12. He's a work in progress, but very worth it, as is change as a whole.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Things That Don't Happen Here

   Just when I thought it couldn't happen, it did.
   My sister left a tension edged voice mail. "Call me back when you get a chance. Something happened at Northern Michigan today that I think you need to know about."
   A little cold thread crept through my heart. No. Not in Marquette. Not at my campus, all green and tranquil and edged by Lake Superior. My knees went weak. Tried to screen out images of peace torn by a spray of bullets.
     I called.
    Well, the thing that I had feared the most, that NMU would be added to the list of shootings with  Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, hadn't come to fruition.  An early morning web surfer has stumbled across a threat to take out the NMU president and more students than at Virginia Tech. He alerted the Marquette Police Department. The threat was credible enough to start the ball of canceling classes and locking down campus as well as the hospital and public schools.
     A blessed, blessed false alarm. Routines returned to their usual rhythms by late afternoon, and classes were back on today.
     I spent a lot of yesterday bouncing between Upper Peninsula news sites and Facebook. I was able to get back in touch via the latter with a friend from undergrad, a gift in the grey hands of the whole deal.
     While no words can shape the profound gratitude in my heart, I'm finding myself struggling with a sense of violation as one might feel after one's house gets broken into. The home of my last shards of innocence has been violated. I don't know what the new normal will be. But it will never be quite the same again.

Monday, January 31, 2011

This, Too, is History

    I spent a lot of the weekend monitoring the events in Egypt. The demonstrations show no sign of stopping. Some parts of Cairo are returning as best they can to everyday rounds of errands and work, but there's a million person demonstration planned for tomorrow, I believe.
    Who's writing this down? Who will tell the stories of the movements for freedom? Will this proud ancient country birth itself into a new democracy, or will there be a stillbirth of broken dreams? What was it like to be in Alexandria this weekend, or Suez?
    The first person accounts of change and growth are vastly more interesting than the dry analysis offered in academic circles, or forcing the memorization of facts and statistics without the context of personal experience. In high school, the teacher gave a boring account of life with ration cards according to his manual. My grandma told me about punting to make do with what she had in the fridge. Two very different versions of the same story.
   My questions for the protesters: what was the final event that propelled you to get out and participate? What expectations did you have for the outcome? How did you feel once on the street? How did you manage your fear, if any, when the fighter jets started circling? How is life different now?
   Most importantly, do you feel that the outcome was worth any sacrifice that you made?
    I hope so.      

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday Thoughts

    Tonight is the State of the Union address. My personal response: Benny Hill did a skit where there was silence for the first few seconds as the camera panned a kitchen. The bottom half of a body hanging from the ceiling, someone crouched by the oven with their head stuck inside, another with a bottle of poison still clutched in his hand. The announcer said, "That was the state of the nation address live from Parliament."
    I hope we don't come away that bleakly. I'll probably watch a movie and read the reviews tomorrow.
    I'm glad for Oprah and her sister. They found each other. But why was it on network world news yesterday? Let's see, yesterday we had the suicide bombing at the airport in Moscow; locally, Rahm Emanuel was removed from the Chicago mayoral election ballot because of voting and residency issues; we have the whack job suspect in the Tuscon shootings getting arraigned. Oh, that's right. My priorities are getting out of order. Forgive me.
     Glenn Beck's followers have started posting death threats against Frances Fox Pivins, a college professor who believes that no real economic change will happen until a grassroots movement to reclaim or create jobs begins. He's targeted her as a threat to the economy. Please.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Her Name is Christina

    What would happen if we began to use figures of speech that don't involve violence? I've been wondering about that the last few days. 
      A nine year old girl is being laid to rest as I write this. A nine year old girl named Christina who was bright and beautiful and curious about the workings of government, now that she was on student council.
     What would have happened if she'd been raised in a world where political opponents still referred to each other as "my learned colleague," disagreeing but not threatening with terms culled from the world of guns?
     This last Saturday, a family friend who wanted to support her desire for knowledge took her to a meet and greet with the local congress rep, Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).
     This last Saturday, a young man with a history of strange behavior made his way to the grocery store parking lot where Rep. Giffords mingled with her district's residents. For reasons clear only to his mind, he shot the congresswoman from Arizona at point blank range, and twenty others. Six, including Christina, died.
     As with any other event with a vague link to anything political, the debate on how to prevent a recurrence quickly dissolved into a pointing contest. The right is blaming the left; the left is blaming the right.
      Can we please return to the civilized middle before this happens again?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Joan Crawford School of Parenting

   Dear God,
   Please make this woman stop. Please, before someone gets hurt. Thanks.
   Amy Chua is an Ivy League law professor and the author of the brand new parenting book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. She discusses perceived differences in parenting styles between Chinese and Western mothers and why the former have high achieving offspring. Some of her points are valid, such as making school come first and foremost, and believing in a child's strengths.
     Some aren't.
     Ms. Chua doesn't see anything wrong with calling children names and berating them to bend them to the parents' will.  Or forcing them to practice an instrument for three hours a day, even on vacation, whether they want to learn an instrument or not. Or threatening to donate a beloved toy to the Salvation Army because one of her daughters struggled to learn a complicated composition, or refusing to let her go to the bathroom until she got it.
      It doesn't work.
      Now, granted that my background was a little different.  My parents both had serious struggles: Mom had an aneurysm the size of a golf ball at the base of her skull. It had started to impact her behavior and judgement. My dad was posthumously diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. He drank to control his symptoms.
      A call from my kindergarten teacher prompted IQ testing, which indicated that Both of them took it upon themselves to push me to live up to the expressed potential through threats. Until her death just after I finished fourth grade, Mom informed me that my math and spelling mistakes meant that I didn't love her and she was going to go stand on a street corner until she found someone who did. Dad held having the dog put to sleep or dumping me off on relatives or beatings over my head. Or called my grandmothers to inform in a very loud voice them everything that was wrong with me: that I was a fat, spacey, lazy, waste of intelligence.
      All that made me do was lie about my grades in high school to protect myself. The pathetic thing was that Dad never called the school or followed up with other parents about the paperless grade reporting system I invented. And put me a half-step from a full blown panic attack at all times.
      After, let's see, four years of counseling in in college, more work with a therapist and a lot of energy work, as well as a medical workup that diagnosed me with adrenal and thyroid problems, which can look a lot like ADD or ADHD, I finally realized that I wasn't such a waste of skin after all. Maybe I hadn't won a Nobel for something, but there were people and dogs out there who'd benefitted from my presence.
     The knowledge both of my issues and my parents' has made it easier to forgive--not excuse, but to let things go, knowing that they couldn't do any better.
     I hope Ms. Chua's daughters can reach the same place of peace someday.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Respite and Refuge in Vintage TV

    US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and nineteen other people were shot at a meet and greet near Tuscon yesterday. A nine year old girl and a federal judge perished. Why? A disgruntled, disturbed person for reasons not yet discerned took a gun and started shooting. Rep. Giffords is in critical condition, but is expected to live.
    My mother in law is back in the hospital with another infection. This time, it's in her kidneys.
    As you read in an earlier post, adopting Sparkle fell through. One correction: it's not the EPI as feared, but they still don't know what's going on.
    A case of the flu I've tried to fight off for the better part of the week made a surprise attack this morning and cut me off at the knees.
     There's some consolation, however. Antenna TV launched over New Year's weekend. It's a substation owned by the Tribune company. Movies, sitcoms I couldn't watch in my adolescence, all there. So I've been drowning my sorrows in my role model, "Maude," and lifting my spirits on the politically incorrect wings of "Benny Hill" and "The Three Stooges."
     It's delicious, sort of like triple chocolate cake for the soul. Only it doesn't settle on the hips and thighs.

Friday, January 7, 2011

At Least the Sun is Out

    The day began beneath a grey-capped sky. Slowly, the small rents in the clouds raveled into one another, and out came the sky.
      An odd white wisp occasionally floats past. Small patches of snow cling to the brown grass in the shady areas. One could almost be deluded into thinking that winter on the edge of the prairie isn't that bad.
     So far, we've been spared the near-zero temps and huge snowfalls (knock on coffee table). Those peter out by February. Maybe we dodged a bullet. Maybe not.
     Today, at least, the sun is out.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Random Thursday Thoughts

     I'm tired today.
     I think I'm going to take a few days off from reading the news. I can't take any more for right now. Moving into I Can Has Cheezburger? until Monday sounds like a good idea.
      There's just been too much drama the last few days. Dogs with illnesses, weirdness...feeling disappointed that it all didn't get swept away at midnight on Friday last. As if last year tosses its tentacles into 2011 in its death throes.
     I am going to eat some chocolate, take a nap, and think about what I can do differently.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Eating the Live Toad

    Once upon a longer time ago than I want to admit, one of the secretaries in an office where I had a work-study posting had a sign above her desk: EAT A LIVE TOAD FIRST THING IN THE MORNING AND NOTHING WORSE WILL HAPPEN TO YOU ALL DAY.
     Ok, so maybe the rest of the year will be smoother. The live toad du jour came in a call from Sparkle's foster mom on New Year's Eve. It wasn't a shelter borne bug.
       It's EPI, a condition where the pancreas can't make its own enzymes. No enzymes; no digestion. No digestion; no nutrients to absorb. Or why she ended up being so tiny.
       Treatable? Yes, but questions remain about how long.  Sparkle is at higher risk for intestinal issues and infections. She's had good days when her meals have stayed put, giving her the energy to keep her 50-pound brothers in their place. But she's had more days when she's been lethargic and had to have food or fluids given by syringe or subcutaneously only to go flying through her system.
      After long talks and not a few tears, we made the decision to call off the adoption. Sparkle will be well cared for (foster mom is in healthcare).
      Things do work out as they need to, though. Sparkle's in the best, most loving possible hands.
       I'm feeling a little cold coming on. Maybe I should go over and see if I can move in for a couple of days.