Daisy

One of my oldest, dearest friends is staying home this Thanksgiving with her dog, Daisy. I feel for her because Daisy is close to dying. Barbara, one of the most tender people I know, if you can get inside her layers of bravado, will not leave her side. She will sit with Daisy and eat turkey together and will not leave her house for one minute, she knows this is Daisy’s last Thanksgiving.

Ba and I have grown up together and I don’t say this lightly. We have been friends for over 30 years. We may not see each other for 5 or 10 years at a time but our connection is unbreakable.

Barbara has cooked a turkey for Daisy because Daisy still has her appetite and I know that my dear friend will be eating with her. The dog can’t walk easily so Ba helps her on to the bed, where she sleeps, on and off. Barbara hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks and from how she sounded I can see the dark circles under her eyes. The ones I used to see when she allowed herself to be sad in front of me, crying, when she was vulnerable and unafraid to be who she was.

Part of me wishes I could be there, for her, part of me is grateful that I have my own family to be with, I was never good at endings. I can barely say good-bye. All of my old feelings of our first dog, Callie dying unexpectedly are coming up.  I can’t write this without being misty-eyed and I am controlling myself. A lot.

I am sending my love to Daisy and to my friend Barbara because I know how hard this is, most animal lovers can certainly relate. I know that Daisy does not have much time left in this world, and in fact, when I found out that Daisy died, about a week later, I knew it in my heart, I felt it deeply. I even told my husband the very same day that Daisy had passed.Dog lovers, animal lovers, there is a bond like no other. Daisy was Barbara’s fur baby.

You cannot know love until it is taken away from you. That is when the grief process begins. The house, Barbara lives in now, is just way too silent.

In memory of Daisy, dedicated to Barbara with love.

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Sweet Pleasures

Three rubber ducks in foam bath

Three rubber ducks in foam bath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow, I will take a long, hot vanilla-sugar bubble bath and soak until my fingers look like large raisins. Afterwards, I will put body lotion on so my skin feels silky soft, maybe I’ll clip my toenails and paint them pink without rushing. I will do everything today at my pace.

I will drive to the diner in the next town to order the best tuna sandwich on multi-grain bread to-go. I have exceedingly high standards for tuna fish sandwiches and this is the only place that I will eat it in.

I will clean the clutter in my room just enough that I feel I have accomplished something, I am no neat freak but mountains of clean laundry (3 baskets) makes me feel uneasy. I will sort them and put them away. I hope. The worst case scenario is that I hide them, once again, which is a guilty compromise.

Maybe I will take myself to a movie, in the early afternoon. There just so happens to be a bakery on the same street that sells only cupcakes, yes, just cupcakes. I will stop in to buy a vanilla, pumpkin spice or banana cupcake with vanilla icing. The key is the vanilla icing.

I can’t decide which book to read next, there are two hardback books grinning in front of me. “Pick me” says one, “pick me” says the other and yet I have opened up both books, read a few pages of each and have stopped. Tomorrow, I will read the first fifty pages of both books and then decide. The rule, when I was growing up was to read twenty pages, but now, that I am older, I have changed the rules to fifty pages. How can you judge a book by a mere twenty pages?

When I am cold, in the afternoon, I will make myself a cup of hot chocolate and not the instant mix packages that are hidden in the pantry. Real hot chocolate made lovingly with milk that I stir slowly, and add melted chocolate or chocolate syrup, I am not that fussy. I will put many marshmallows on top. I will drink it out of my big, bright, yellow mug that my best friend gave me for my birthday, she knows that yellow is my favorite color.

Maybe I will take a nap, or meet my mother for lunch and if I can’t sleep I will cuddle with my dog on my bed, her body closely aligned to mine so we both feel safe and warm. Tomorrow will me “my” day and I will go to my local shops and browse. If I see something I love and can afford I will buy it as a gift for myself. Who says gifts have to come from other people? Who knows me best? Yes, I do.

More importantly I have a secret plan to do a good deed or as many as I possibly can, I will do some anonymous acts of kindness knowing in my heart that is the biggest gift of all.

I’m So Sorry, Puppy

Dear LexiI am sorry Lexi

I admit, you were a very bad puppy when you were young but I’m sorry I called you Lucifer and the “Puppy From Hell.” You really acted like the devil incarnate but I should have kept those feelings to myself.  I thought you would never change from that biting, horrific puppy you were, EVER. My friends told me you would grow up but I honestly didn’t believe them; you were nasty and mean and had that defiant puppy look in your eyes, that “dare me” look.  I remember screaming out loud in agony when your dagger like teeth would bite and hold on to my flesh. I had red, swollen welts and scratches all over my arms and legs. We all did.

My mother would be on the phone and I would shriek in pain and would have to hang up and call her back because I had to physically detach your teeth from my wrist. I swear you were out to kill me. My mother, protective as always, was completely direct and told me to “give you back.”  “Return her, right now” she said, “before you get more attached.”

I couldn’t do it. I just did not have the heart to return you to the shelter, it’s not who I am. But honestly, you were a living hell. We had trainers come, one after the other, some of the best in the United States, all of them shook their heads and said “she’s a willful thing, isn’t she?” We already knew that. You had dragged me into a dirty pond when you were six months old, I hadn’t realized your strength. I didn’t give up the leash because I had no idea where you would go, so you pulled me in after you. I have a photo of you and me, me and my white, muddy pants coming home with you, puppy, looking quite pleased.

You went into our garbage cans, and ate used tissues and ballpoint pens, leaving ink stains everywhere. You were always wild, once you got yourself stuck in a fence and I thought for sure your head would be decapitated but your “sister” figured out a way to dig you out. Thank her, I was useless. You always ran away, we could never find you, though you always loved food and would return for a nice, big, juicy treat. “Breaking Bad” was the name of a popular television show, “Being Bad” was your personal motto.

Then, from one day to another, I couldn’t even pin point the time, you changed. All of a sudden, you calmed down and were always near me. If I was sick, you would jump on the bed and lie with me, part of you always touching me. With a chronic pain illness, Fibromyalgia, I’m in bed a lot and you are at my side, always. In the living room you would always climb on the couch and settle down right next to the person sitting there. After that you settled down and gave sweet kisses and charmed everyone. You love people. You even offered your paw, like Lassie.

But when a stranger passes or someone knocks on the door, BEWARE!  You growl, bark, show your teeth, protect us. A car door can slam and you are on the job. But, now, you are one big love, one sweet endearing, mush and I appreciate you every minute. I guess we both needed to learn to be more patient.

Now, you are in my lap and I’m giving you pieces of chicken, it’s just you and me. I love you, Lexi but you know that and I know you love me too.Lexi 2

Do over (Friday Wrap Up)

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do over. Can I call do over? Because this entire past week, has been downright miserable. Medical tests, doctors appointments, dizziness, nausea, balance tests from hell and condescending (male) doctors. I thought it was all over and  I was safe last night but then my dog projectile vomited yellow stuff all over the white wall. I prided myself on having two kids that had never done that, now, my dog?  After having children, you know when something is up or about to be up chucked. Ugh.

I write about food and my love for food and strange combinations. How did I rescue a puppy from the shelter with the same feelings about food? Heads up to the “nurture” theory, I swear she gets so excited at mealtime that she throws up in anticipation. Leave it to us to have a dog with food issues and who is an actually dog “foodie.”

Tonight, I thought ahead, I gave her a third of a cup of dog food before dinner just to calm her down and will give her the rest of her meal later. I also soak her meal in warm water so her delicate stomach can absorb the food. If it happens again, I’ll call the vet and see if there is an anti-acid that I can give her to stop this anticipatory reaction. Oh dear, the dog is just like me “nature” I too have anticipatory anxiety at times. Win-Win!

Unfortunately, I can no longer take the dog out for walks unless I am with my husband. Lexi is so strong, all muscle that she will literally pull me down in two seconds flat. She doesn’t mean to do anything wrong but she is incredibly muscular. I, however, have no balance and it’s gotten worse. Using a pink cane is not exactly an asset while walking an elephant strength, red-haired, adorable, short-haired mutt around the block. Please, no more advice, we have every collar, leash, zapper that is known in the animal kingdom, she defies all odds. Four well-respected dog trainers have admitted that. We are focusing on love, her better quality. She’s a sly, slick dog, that is so stubborn she makes me seem like a pussy willow.

Now, she does look like an angel lying down on my bed next to me. Not only does she keep me company if she knows I am feeling weak or tired, her head or her side, some part of her is always leaning in to me, always touching but with strength. With the kids in college it’s nice to have my dog home with me, she protects me and loves me. She barks like an attack dog if someone even passes in the street outside.

The last day of the week is warm and beautiful. The late afternoon sun is shining on the yellow-orange leaves, it is quiet. I’m hoping tonight will be the end of this past horrific week. Next week already has its own scheduled appointments and tests so we start anew. A dear friend of mine called me “awesome” but there really is nothing awesome about me. We all do what we have to do, we don’t have a choice, here, on my blog, is where I can think out loud, complain, where people understand me. There is nothing more I can do, except looking at alternative health care, meditating and continuing on, step by step, day after day. To me, there is no other choice.

There’s A Wonderful Advantage To Getting Older That, I Bet, You Don’t Know

English: An anxious person

English: An anxious person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

March 2013

I thought I was having a psychotic episode, the mere word itself terrifies me. Random words kept popping into my head like kernels of corn and it made me more nervous than I already was (if that was at all possible.). I took a low dose of  Xanax, a prescribed anti-anxiety medicine and waited, it didn’t help. It had always worked before, why not now?  That freaked me out too. I thought for sure, I was going out of my mind and it terrified me.

My husband was away on a business trip and I was home alone with our dog, Jax, during one of the worst blizzards; they were forecasting winds up to 60 miles per hour, major power outages and two feet of snow. I have been alone plenty of times before and have enjoyed it tremendously, but this time felt like one continuous nightmare, that lasted five days and nights. Jax stayed close to me and if the heat went out I could always cuddle with him, luckily when you have a dog you really don’t feel as alone.

Since I couldn’t calm myself down, I was sure I was having a psychotic episode and my huge fear of being restrained in a mental hospital/jail loomed in front of me. I’m not sure if I could have made myself any more anxious if I tried. I stayed up late, reading and listening to calming music, trying to take deep breaths until I was so tired that I fell asleep.

I had a planned appointment with my therapist a few days later and I couldn’t wait to get there. I told her my anxiety medicine didn’t work. She calmly said; “You should have taken two.” Her answer to my question about it being a psychotic state was ” “you are too old to start having a psychotic episode now.” For once, being older had a huge advantage. The one thing I could be thrilled about getting older. We had an advantage, who knew? That DID make me happy. Rejoice, older men and women!

She said it was just anxiety and “why wouldn’t you be anxious, alone, with a huge storm coming with howling winds that frightened many people?  The power could have gone out and instead of struggling with the ten page detailed instruction manual that I was obsessing about I should have just shoveled on more blankets and waited until the morning. Then, I could beg a neighbor to help me or as my shrink suggested “go to a hotel.”

I owe this woman a great deal of thanks, she is an incredibly smart and wonderful person. I like her and I trust her and if there is something serious we stop our talking and kidding around immediately and she has solid advice. Some people, even now, in the year 2013, still have a stigma about seeing a psychiatrist to  work out a problem. I just don’t get that, if you had trouble with your car, would you hesitate taking it to the mechanic? You just need to make sure, in both cases, that you go to the RIGHT person, the right match. I’ve met many frogs who called themselves therapists, this woman is a gem. A natural gem.

PS How many people are getting anxious just watching this dude?

happy first birthday, lexi

nothing feels better and happier than my dog lying straight across my feet, her favorite position while i am in bed and its cold outside. i’ve been in my bright yellow with cherries pajamas for the whole day and i would be happy to be in them for another day or two if only i could.  it’s my dog, lexi’s first birthday, it’s truly a miracle how the time has gone by so quickly, ok, well it feels like it now. oh, don’t think I have forgotten the early days, no, no, no, believe me i haven’t. i remember the tearful puppy days when i cried out for help.  “she’s just a puppy”  my dear online friends would say soothingly and that was true but an active, stubborn and willful puppy with the strength of an ox. my family of friends would coo, “chew toys are good” but nothing was safe in our house from this fierce princess, our little warrior. furniture legs were eaten, chairs, tissues, my husband’s computer toys, sixty dollars, pants, shirts and sentimental items from the past. our arms and legs were riddled with red welts as lexi would grab on to our hands or legs, bite them with her sharp teeth and would not let go. there was always someone screaming from pain in our house.

Little Lexi

Little Lexi

Lexi

now, lexi, has a new habit she howls in the back. is it joy, is it for attention, does she spot an animal. we think it’s for sport. she looks like a young deer, red and long, she howls like a wolf. we just don’t know why she does this but i can practically see her grinning like a young teenager getting a real kick out of annoying her parents. i’ve seen that look before, many times.

i remember the first time i saw her it was love at first sight. she was curled up at the shelter, probably drugged, fast asleep having been shipped from north carolina or south. i thought she was mellow, she sure had me fooled. my best friend sarah drove and i had gone just to look, i had been at several shelters before but i knew i needed another dog in my life after my first dog, callie, died of pancreatic cancer. i was missing a part of myself, i think this made me a dog person officially. when i adopted lexi i told her that lexi has two mommys since sarah was there with me. i called my husband from the shelter to prepare him, he was not as enthused as me. he could easily have waited several years before we adopted another dog. i said “congratulations, it’s a girl” he answered with with a wry laugh. after 24 years of marriage he’s used to me by now.

i had a healthy, active puppy. the way a puppy should be. our last dog was very scared and timid and probably had been abused, all she wanted was to be comforted in my lap. i didn’t know what a real, healthy, energetic puppy was like. i learned quickly to substitute toys and the miracle of ice cubes but this girl was too fast for anyone. it has been quite the year with our girl. once in a while she still jumps on people with delight and we are working on that. this puppy is ridiculously strong, even second mommy and daddy agree so there have been times, like when we go to the vet, (she loves it there) she will drag me and all the people at the vet just shake their heads and laugh at me. we’re working on that too, suggestions are welcome. i believe she understands the command “come”” but it has to be followed with the word “cookie” that’s just so me. right? when there is someone outside our door lexi is our great protector, she barks and growls angrily and furiously, she becomes mean and proprietary.

at the end of the day, when the lights are off, having lexi in the house is comforting and sweet. not only did we find each other, we saved each other.

happy first birthday, lex. i love you bunches.

love, original mom

“Lucy, What Did You Do??!!”

Publicity photo of the I Love Lucy cast: Willi...

Publicity photo of the I Love Lucy cast: William Frawley (Fred Mertz), Desi Arnaz (Ricky Ricardo), Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz), Lucille Ball (Lucy Ricardo). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

FitBit

FitBit (Photo credit: mrcd@sbcglobal.net)

I mean,  Lexi, what did YOU do? Lexi, my dog, may have two mommies who brought her home from the animal shelter but she does have a daddy who she lives with too and he got all Ricky Ricardo on her yesterday. For those of you who don’t know *I Love Lucy” maybe you can google this fabulous comedy set way back in the old days (the fifties)  when your parents were young. Lucy was always getting in trouble with her best friend Ethel and Desi, her husband would always catch her.

Desi/ Daddy was not too happy with Lexi yesterday, his face looked grim and he called Lexi “my daughter.” Usually we talk that way about our HUMAN children but this was different, quite different. Daddy came stomping up the stairs (never a good sign) his face, beet red, his vein bulging on his forehead, holding in his hand, what looked to be something small with threads. I had no idea what it was. It had been  thoroughly chewed so it was rather impossible to decipher.  Apparently, Lexi had jumped on the bed, reached over to the side table and quickly and deftly decided to have a snack. An expensive snack. She chewed right through Daddy’s: *”FitBit” that he wears around his wrist to keep track of calories, motion, and sleep. I know how much my husband loves this little techno gadget.

Apparently, I spoke too soon because, just the day, I had lunch with other mommy (best friend, Sarah) and I told her how proud I was that Lexi had matured. Oops, she decided to become impish once again. Oh, that Lexi has tricks straight up her paws. Of course, other mommy is practical and said to me: “Well at least she wasn’t biting through your skin” which she used to do, often. I think other mommy has a very good point but daddy was not too thrilled to hear THAT piece of reasoning. I did offer to put it the little gadget on his birthday list for May but he just grumbled waving the tattered material out for basically no one to see. At least she didn’t swallow it as she has with so many other things.

A puppy is a puppy until HOW OLD exactly? Because Lexi’s first birthday is coming up fast, it’s just right around the corner. I’ve always thought they were a puppy until one but given Lexi’s, umm, buoyant personality, I’m thinking, maybe it’s two? Does anybody know or is my dog just developmentally delayed? I’m not judging or criticizing here, just observing. You know how much I love naughty little Lex!

She’s really making our human children look like angels right about now. I’m sure they will LOVE to hear that. Lexi, do me a favor, stay out of Daddy’s technical little gadgets. Don’t eat them, play with them or touch them. I KNOW he left it out in the open but try to control yourself. One meal at a time, Lex, just take it one meal at a time. Oh, and please keep it to dog food, if you are good you know I will give you the occasional treat, okay?

*Property of the I Love Lucy show

*Property of FitBit corporation

*Weight Watchers For Dogs?

LexiI brought Lexi, my dog, to the vet a few months ago to get her nails trimmed, something I know I can’t do. She is a very willful and strong dog, I can barely give her a bath. After they were finished, the vet technician came over to me, sat down beside me and said grimly “Lexi needs to lose 2 pounds AGAIN.” My first thought was to laugh heartily and say “Who doesn’t?” but the look on her face prohibited even me, which as my kids can tell you, is very, very hard.

After suppressing my laughter and pretending to look chagrined, she informed me that Lexi needed to start adult food mixed in with her puppy food and go down from 3 meals a day to two. My first thought? Good luck to us! That dog, lives, breathes and does anything for food. She, absolutely, takes after her human parents. I think I will give her less food for lunch time and wean her off it that way. Come on, a girl dog does have to eat and I took her on an extra walk today. It’s so beautiful out that I will take her to the dog park later and she can run and play with the other dogs just like she did yesterday.

Were vets always like this? I don’t think so and I know it makes sense to keep them healthy but we’re not talking obesity, we’re talking two pounds. It’s the winter, harder to take her for long walks when it is so cold. Not a good enough excuse? Fine, I will also decrease her food, poor thing.

At least this time it was only two pounds and I didn’t get yelled at like I did last time. When she was a pup, we took Lexi to a (horrible yes, you, Peter)) puppy training class where she learned nothing except how to sit (which she already knew.) The instructor bribed the pups with a huge amount of treats and Lexi gained ten pounds in a month. I am not kidding. When I went to the vet after that, I didn’t say a word but the technician started yelling across the room, standing up and shaking her finger at me saying: “No, no,  no- way, she’s FAT.” I was a little offended on Lexi’s behalf. She may have gained a few pounds but saying it across a crowded room was embarrassing. At least for me. I totally blame that stupid trainer, I knew I should have gotten my money back. Damn.

Now, Lexi looks fine, she looks sleek. I want her weighed this time. We’ll show old Weight Watchers For Dogs what we have done. And we didn’t even count points or calories either. So there. I’m bringing her in tomorrow, I’ll let you know how WE do.

*this has nothing to do with the Weight Watchers Corporation, it’s a parody for dogs.

Honoring Someone Else’s Pain

Postavaru Mountain - ROMANIA

Postavaru Mountain – ROMANIA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes the hardest thing we can do, when a friend is suffering, is nothing. It goes against our natural instinct to nurture and comfort and try to make people feel better. However, we need to think of what they want and not do what we feel comfortable doing.We need to honor their wishes, respect their needs. I identify so very well with this particular pain, I lost my best friend, Callie, my dog, less than a year ago. My friend, everyone’s friend, Judy Judith lost her dog Max the other day. He was not only her dog-friend but ours, he was an icon and part of all our lives. We all knew him, and apparently, he knew us too. He wrote us letters.

His name was Max. The dog owner of the wonderful blog “Creativity to the Max” helped by his “human,” Judith Westerfield, one of the loveliest and intelligent people I know. Those who know her adore her, those who interact with her form her wide fan club and fall in love with her. She is direct and honest and she will tell you what she thinks, good or bad, directly, no matter what, and when she says something you wrote is good, you better believe her because if not, she will theoretically smack you on the head over cyberspace in a loving way, of course. She is also extremely funny and she makes us laugh.

To know that she is in pain is killing me. When my dog, Callie, died a few months short of a year ago, Judith was there for me, telling me it will hurt but it would get better, Selena told me about the Rainbow Bridge that I had never heard of before. Maureen and Rosemary and Lorraine and Tammy and other friends supported me and helped me through it. I relied on these friends that I have never met in person. These friends on-line had become family, our own family, they knew the right things to say, there was no drama between us (okay, maybe just a little), no childhood memories or lapses in judgment. They were here to listen and to support and encourage; I am here for them as well.

Friendship is both about being there for someone when she needs you but, even harder, stepping back, when she asks you to. We are all stepping back in honor of your request, in honor of Max. We will miss you, Max, and we will hurt because we know our dear friend Judy Judith is hurting. Don’t worry, Max, you can count on us to take care of her for you. In memory of you, Llliiiiickingly yours, Lexi-Pro and her human friends.

*Where MY Wild Things Are

mischievious max

mischievious max (Photo credit: massdistraction)

Just call me Max, because tonight I live in my own storybook. I’m in a cranky, bad mood and while no one sent me to my room, I almost wished they had. It started off with not knowing where my husband was, he was missing. He didn’t leave a note but he could have left one word on a napkin and that would have been fine. He also left our whining dog, prowling around the house while I was trying to rest and get a little sleep because I felt extra crummy. It wasn’t fair.

It was a bad day for Fibromyalgia and chronic pain, my jaw hurt so much, I had ear pain and TMJ and a headache and no one cared. I wasn’t able to sleep because my dog was annoying me. She wouldn’t even settle down on the bed, up and down, up and down she jumped and I was too tired and achy to get out of bed to put her in the crate. Friends tell me I’m in a Fibro Flare but all I know is that I feel worse, much worse. The weather gets damp and now it’s pouring buckets like my expectations and mood, dumping down on the roof, bypassing the dirty, leaf-filled gutters and ending up in big, thick, muddy puddles. I don’t have rain boots and I can’t play anyway anymore.

I ended up eating a tuna sandwich standing up, alone, in the kitchen, with one foot crossed over the other and I ate it so fast that I didn’t enjoy it one bit. I even gave the dog, “the whining one” some of it. Just as I am shoveling down the sandwich, Mr. Last Minute Ambulance Aider comes strolling in with his fake, perky voice and I feel even angrier. I march up the stairs with the rest of my crappy dinner and the dog follows me for food, not for compassion. My only hope at feeling better is getting to eat the two last bites of the brownies that we saved and I am NOT going to share.

The last two weeks haven’t been good at all, okay, they sucked.  I had the hospital procedure and the horrific mammogram both done this week and I know it’s over but maybe not over one hundred percent because now I’m fuming inside like a chimney with an angry orange fire.  A new friend that I met over the summer,” sisters in spirit,” never sent me a birthday card when I thought for sure she would and I miss not having a dad. I believe in the good in people and then they disappoint me. At the same time a new friend thinks I should self-publish my blogs into a book with photographs. What? It came out of left field for me too. I guess we need to learn about balance sometimes.

My daughter is away at college and is sick again and I hate that. I offer to come up there or asks if she wants to come home but she says “No” and I worry, no matter how old they are and then I say out loud ” I wish you weren’t in college so far away.” I probably should have kept my mouth shut too but I couldn’t.

I am going to sneak down to the kitchen and at the end, I do announce taking the two brownie bites because after all, my husband wasn’t exactly doing a bad thing. They didn’t even taste good. I know that this stupid, horrible, unjust day will look much brighter in the morning when the sun shines, when my jaw stops hurting, after a good night’s sleep. All I’ve been doing is whining, I guess my dog and I have a lot in common.

*Based on the enchanting book:Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak