Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tribute to an "E" Dog

I never wanted a dog. Really! I had been deathly afraid of them since I was a toddler when I was licked by a huge Boxer who was taller than I was! Dogs terrified me. I would cross the street anytime I saw one in my path. This went on for years. I would have been incredulous if anyone ever even hinted that this might change. My fears did diminish somewhat over time to the point where I was no longer terrified. But just barely.

Then came the fateful day. Ratchlet was about 5 years old, she and the Big Guy dragged me (literally) to "come see the puppy". Well, he was adorable, and friendly, and fluffy, and small! There I was -- surrounded by wagging tail, sweet face, and pleading looks from Mikey, Ratchlet and the puppy! "Please, Mommy, can't we please take him home! Please! Please!! He loves me already! See? I'll feed him and take care of him and take him to the park! Please?, Please??" ....Well, what would you have done?? We took him home.

Since that time, I've totally gotten over any fear I had. In fact, the pendulum has swung completely in the other direction. I fell in love with dogs. Ultimately, over the years we had five canine members of our family. I'm not quite sure how it started, but years ago, we began to name our dogs in alphabetical order...silly I know, but it seemed reasonble at the time. Whether it was due to good nutrition, good health care, or pure dumb luck is unclear, but we've had 15, 16, and 18 year old dogs at various times. That's a very long time for a dog and a family.

Our "E" dog was the best of them and that is saying a lot. She was loving, quiet, sweet, funny, and quite precious to us all. Unbelievably, the way we found her was eerily similar to our first dog. (I have got to stay out of pet stores!) .

She, of course, was unaware that she was a dog. Well, why not? She sat and slept on our furniture, managed to mooch people food (she had quite a thing for bread!), went with us on vacation, and hid behind us when there was a thunder storm, and cuddled with us when we were sad. When we took her to the dog park, she totally ignored all the other dogs and wanted only to play catch with the Big Guy!

Unfortunately, because of the demands of our daily lives, she was frequently alone at home. That was okay with her, she caught up on her sleep and cooled off on the tile floor in the bathroom. Her worst habit was emptying the bathroom trashcan all over the floor. She loved Kleenex! I guess she liked the smell and she definitely like the taste! We finally realized that if we elevated the trash can on top of a stool, she couldn't reach it, but it took a long time for that brilliant plan to occur to us!

The last few years she had begun to show her age. She was affected (as so many dogs are) by very weak hips and she began to struggle more and more in getting up off the cool tile floor she loved. Once she was up and moving, all was fine. She ran around the yard like a pup, but she could no longer manage to jump up on the furniture. Then her hearing began to go. Slowly at first, it actually took us a while to really notice. There were certain sounds that she had no difficulty with: the bread wrapper being opened (she heard that and came running), the sound of her food being poured (also came running), and the Big Guy's car in the driveway. Eventually though even those treasured sounds disappeared from her awareness.

Nevertheless, her eyes were bright, she ate well, loved having company (people, not dogs), wagged her tail madly whenever anyone petted her, and generally seemed in good health, just a little all of us.

Still as you can imagine this decline was the harbinger of things to come and we knew we wouldn't have her much longer. Sadly, in just the last month, she began having more and more problems and she wouldn't eat. The Big Guy took her to the vet several times and there was some improvement, but not nearly enough. After all, she was 14 1/2 years old...pretty old for a dog her size. Then last week, she just collapsed and died with the Big Guy by her side. We knew it was coming, but that didn't make it any easier.

We lost a short, fuzzy, loving, and well-loved member of our family. We miss her and will for a long time. Our E-dog was a joy, a blessing, and a comfort. There was none better, she was absolutely the best! Adieu, Emma. You were loved.

Monday, July 13, 2009

15 (not-all-that) Interesting Things about me….

1. I have only fainted once in my life (at age 12). I still have a scar on my forehead.
2. I have never been off American soil.
3. As a child, I was afraid of dogs (and most everything else).
4. I’m always surprised when someone thinks I’m short.
5. I was a sickly little girl and there was some question whether I would survive.
6. I think my hands are my best feature.
7. When I was 15, I sang “Moon River” every day after school for about a year. (Don’t ask me why!)
8. It’s only an estimate, but I’ve probably read more than 7,000 books in my lifetime.
9. I didn’t get a driver’s license until I was an adult.
10. I really don’t like cats, geckos, rodents, or snakes (not necessarily in that order.)
11. I taught my daughter how to swim and how to dive, but I can’t swim very well or dive at all.
12. I don’t mind solitude at all.
13. My IQ was found to be 134.
14. I once won a blue ribbon at a county fair (for a banana cake).
15. I went to 12 different schools before I graduated from high school. We moved a lot.

"It's Too Darn Hot"

That seems to be true for millions and millions of people, and most of them are in my own family. Moaning and groaning any time the outside temperature goes above 70 F. They lay about looking for all the world as if they were in the last stages of a long lingering illness. Sweat pouring from their pores, even though the most strenuous thing they have done all day was to turn down the thermostat to make the house or office settle into the atmosphere of an igloo!

I try to be sympathetic, really I do, but when you've heard lamentations about how hot is is from April though October every year for the last 40+ years, its hard to maintain that sympathy. Its especially difficult when I'm shivering in my long pants, socks, long-sleeved shirt, and a sweater inside my own home in the middle of July! I have often said that people with vastly different internal thermostats should not be allowed to marry each other. It will prevent a lot of marital strife. Truly!

Not to be mean, but have you ever noticed that its usually the truly overweight people who complain most often of being hot? Well, that is fixable. Lose weight and cool off! Seems like a great incentive to me. My fellow sufferers and I are more often than not THIN! Or at leaster, thinner. Sorry, but I just don't gain weight. My metabolism isn't geared that way. Not my fault, blame it on my genes.

I understand that I am the anomaly. I like it warm! I cannot stand being cold, ever! Global warming sounds like a great idea to me! Ice and snow are my enemies! I was born and lived in Chicago for many years (shiver, shiver), but I mostly grew up in Florida, lived in California, and now I live in Austin, TX, a town that frequently surpasses the 100 F. mark for several months in the summer. I love it, truly I do. Now its not that I don't understand that it is hot -- but for me, hot is great. When my house feels like the aforementioned igloo, I have to go outside or stand in my (uncooled) garage just to thaw out. As soon as I am alone in my house for more than 15 minutes, the thermostat is pumped up to a temperature which allows my blood to unfreeze so that I can function rather than huddle under a blanket in misery.

Now the sad thing is that as I "mature" (ahem), I find my comfort zone getting narrower. I get cold easier (who knew that was even possible??) and those over 100 F. days are not quite as survivable as they once were. Still, the midpoint remains higher than 99% of the population.

My Little Sis lives in Phoenix. She is part of the cool-seeking majority, just like the rest of my family. The temperature in Phoenix one day last week was 114 F. Yikes! When I visited there a few years ago, the temperature climbed to 121 F. I couldn't breathe. Good God! Had I arrived in Hell? That's not hot, that's a blast furnace! I don't know how she stands it. What it proves to me though, is that heat is, indeed, survivable and all those folks who complain endlessly that it's too darn hot, need to just suck it up and get over it! Before long winter will be back, temperatures will plummet and it will be my turn to complain!

Saturday, July 4, 2009


It's not where you start...

As the song says, "It's not where you start, it's where you finish." On the other hand, starting has to go first! I figure the 4th of July is as good a time as I can think of to start my very own blog. Just to clarify, this is not exactly something that I've waited all my life to do. After all, its hard to imagine caring all that much about something with such an unappealing name. Blog. It sounds like a caveman character in a comic strip. What does it mean? Where did it come from? Couldn't the elusive "they" have come up with a better moniker than "blog"? Nevertheless, despite the name, here I am to give it a go. As for the reason why I am willing to jump into this particular pool is that I recently discovered two friends have their own blog. Pretty good ones actually. They are interesting, well-written, funny, and have topics I can relate to. They are two pretty great people but they aren't professional writers, or teachers, or philosophers, or the like; they're both just nice women that are part of my life. Not much different from me. I've been told on numerous occasions that folks love my Christmas letters, soooo I am banking on whatever skill I might have for the letters to expand into this endeavor.

Ever since I was about 10 years old (a million years ago), I have sporadically written in a diary, or as I got older, a journal. The key word in that sentence is sporadically. It never seems to last terribly long, mostly because I'm fairly lazy. Perhaps the interactive element of this will keep me on track. Rather indulging myself in mundane descriptions my boring daily life, or worse, endless repetitions of "my life would be lots better if onlys", I'll see if I can manage to be less introspective and more global than that! We'll see.

So, this is Day One. This is the start. Only time will tell where I finish!

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