Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Watching Paint Dry

My plan had been to drive home today, but with Walt's brother back at home again and Alice Nan not able to leave work, Walt was left with the whole weight of his mother alone and I just couldn't leave him here to deal with that, so I made arrangements for the dogs for another day (thank you, Jessica and Ashley!) and I decided to stay here.

It was probably a good thing. I think Walt appreciated the support, but most of the day felt like we were watching paint dry. She did sit in the wheelchair for about 15-20 minutes, but seemed to be in a lot pain at that point. Walt tried to keep her calm.
It's amazing how yesterday's "emergency" totally dissolved today. The woman who was so insistent at getting Walt's mother out of the hospital Right. This. Very. Minute. was nowhere in sight today.
Part of it may have been that Blue Cross denied her coverage at Lompoc, the place about 50 miles away, which seemed to be our only option. Their dismissal was because she is trying to get approved for therapy and they didn't feel, based on the clinical notes, that she did not have the strength to do physical therapy. The chart notes showed that she couldn't brush her teeth, couldn't brush her hair, and wouldn't get into the wheelchair.

Well. Not exactly. I watched the staff at the hospital and today was a down day for her. Perhaps too much stimulation yesterday with her trip outside and with three people to talk to. She pretty much slept all day today, except for a brief 20 minute sit in the wheelchair and eating dinner (she hadn't eaten lunch). But attendants would come in and say "Alice? would you like to sit up?" and she'd say "No" and they would leave her alone. I didn't hear anybody try to encourage her to sit up, or tell her she had to sit up for a bit. Then they would write in the reports that she "wouldn't" get up. So Blue Cross thinks she can't do therapy.
What do you do with a 96 year old woman (who is too old for Medicare, since she never paid into the system) whose insurance doesn't cover recovery, but only physical therapy--when the hospital determines that you no longer need hospital care and wants to sign you out?

This was the lengthy discussion among all of us tonight, including a phone conference with Norm.
As it turns out, tomorrow is probably the day I could really be of help here, but I have to get home to finish my newspaper article and I just can't. Had I known, I would have brought it with me, but who knew all this was going to blow up?

There are several options, none particularly good. In what may be a "cover your ass" move, Buena Vista has now graciously accepted her as a patient, if the family will promise not to interfere with the nursing staff. BUT now it may be Blue Cross who will deny her, figuring that she won't be able to actually do any therapy (I'm not sure if learning how to pivot on your good leg to get yourself into a chair qualifies as "therapy").
So that's one possibility...see if Blue Cross will cover a short stay at Buena Vista.

Second would be to check into the possibility of moving her back to her apartment at Maravilla, and that will involve renting a hospital bed, removing the bed she has now, getting some sort of either restraint or a table to block her from getting out of her recliner if she forgets she has a broken hip.

It will also involve hiring nursing help, possibly around the clock, though Walt will probably come down here again next week. When she was recovering from pneumonia, he lived in her apartment for three weeks and, as he puts it, never left except to go buy screw-top wine, because there was no corkscrew in the house.
There is no way that can all be set up in a day, obviously, so she may have to go somewhere for a few days and if Blue Cross won't cover her to go anywhere, we will have to pay out of pocket for that time (at something like $600 a day).

I'm beginning to understand how people lose their homes over medical conditions!

Through all of this, Alice sleeps, totally unaware of how absolutely amazing her children are being, how much they love her, and how hard they are working to help her get through this crisis with as little discomfort to her as possible. Her job is to get well. We'll handle the details, even if it sometimes feels like watching paint dry.

Update, 11:30 P.M. Alice Nan just got off the phone with Maravilla and they had wonderful suggestions for her, telling her how to get the hospital bed, whom to call for nursing care, etc., etc. Alice Nan told the gal "I didn't realize you did all that" and she said "Alice, that's why you pay so much here!

Things are looking brighter than they did an hour ago.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tilting at Windmills

Well, today certainly had its twists and turns! Kind of like sliding down a corkscrew and wondering who was going to be screwed in the end!
It started out innocently enough. Norm packed up all his stuff and raced out of here by 7:30 so he could get to the hospital in time to talk with their mother's doctor before he got on the road to head home.
Walt and I followed around 10 a.m. When we got to the hospital, we could see that Norm's car was still there. I told Walt I would wait in the lobby and post my journal entry, since I knew the hospital had wi fi and since 3 in that tiny room was very crowded. So I did.
I sat there for about half an hour, posting the journal entry and doing some catch-up on the internet, since I've been without access for two days, and waiting for Norm to come out so I could tell him goodbye before going back to their mother's room.
Pretty soon, it was WALT who came out, not Norm. There was a problem, it seems.
The discharge person said the hospital wanted to discharge Alice, but they didn't know where they were going to send her. Welcome to the wonderful world of insurance! Buena Vista Care Center is a nursing home which is about 2 blocks away from the hospital. Alice has been there several times, but you see she had this terrible daughter. Alice Nan has the misfortune of being a conscientious family member who loves her mother enough to check and make sure she is getting the proper care.
She stops in at the hospital or care center every day, she notices when things aren't right and she tries to make sure they are right. She had the audacity to complain when her mother's clothes were taken away to the laundry before they had been marked when Alice Nan always washes the clothes for her and without a marking, nobody would know whose clothes they were. She made herself a problem by repeatedly asking if they had found the clothes yet (for three days) and then went to the laundry herself and found them right away in the "whose clothes are these?" stack. She complained when her mother sat for 6 days without any rehab, when Blue Cross will only pay for 14 days and will only tack on an additional 7 days if they can show she has made progress. She complained when her mother's oxygen level, which should be at 1/2 was turned up to 2--not once, but twice, which makes her lethargic and unwilling to participate in rehab activities. She complained when her mother's catheter bag overflowed because someone forgot to empty it. She complained when they neglected to have her remove her dentures before going to sleep, only to have them fall out onto the floor during the night, roll under the bed, and chip off a piece of a front tooth.
In short, she's made a real pest of herself. She has the audacity to care. She has the audacity to question. She has the audacity to demand the care that her mother is there to receive.
How dare she?
SO, Buena Vista Care Center has decided to refuse to treat Alice any more. It would be a simple matter to move her from the hospital to Buena Vista, which is next door to her orthopedist's office, and thus very easy for her doctor to follow up on her surgery. But no, she can't go there because Alice Nan cares about her mother too much. The discharge coordinator actually said she thought Buena Vista might consider taking her if the family promised never to visit during her ~6 week stay!
There are several care facilities in Santa Barbara, but Buena Vista is the only one which Blue Cross will cover. Blue Cross's policy is that as long as there is another facility within seventy miles, they will not cover her at a different facility and there are three other centers, each 40-60 miles away from here. This means that her surgeon will not be able to follow up because she has to be transferred by ambulance and the surgeon will not drive 60 miles for a follow up exam. She will also have to have her care transferred from the physician who has been her primary care physician for all the years she has lived in Santa Barbara.
We discussed other options. Paying out of pocket for something in town for the ~6 weeks (or more) that she will need care, even if split three ways would be astronomical.
They discussed sending her back to her own apartment in Assisted Living and hiring a nurse, but there were all sorts of reasons why that wouldn't work, even if we could afford it. The big problem is that Alice has her times when she is lucid and with it, but she has lapses when she's kind of out of it, and if she decides in one of her lapses that she can walk to the bathroom herself (which is how she broke her hip in the first place), it would be worse than it was before.
The whole day was taken up with phone calls and text messages and conferences and all the while the discharge person tapping her pencil on her clipboard asking where she could send Alice because she needed to be discharged today.
Walt and I went to lunch at the hospital cafeteria about 1:30 and I got out my computer to look at the medical options locally. None of them looked good.
In the afternoon, while waiting for calls to be returned (Norm had gone to Buena Vista to talk to the head honcho and they promised to have a "meeting" about the situation and get back to him, but he never did and when we called back late in the afternoon, they said he had left for the day).
While Norm was gone, one of the hospital aids got Alice in a wheelchair and when he returned, we took her outside for a bit.
She seemed to enjoy what little she could see of the outdoors and even comandeered Norm's cap when he finally had to leave.

(see the broken tooth in her denture?)
It was finally apparent that there would be no moving today. Ultimately it seems they have decided to send her north to Lompoc, since the other two centers are full. But Alice Nan will now not be able to stop by during the day, or go to the hospital at bedtime and say prayers with her, which always seems to settle her down.
I decided to stay down here an extra day while we get her moved, but I can't stay longer than that because I have a feature article which is due in a couple of days and I have to finish researching parts of it--and everything I need is at home. Walt may stay down here for a couple of days more. We have no way of knowing if this move will be good or bad. For all we know it will be worse than Buena Vista, but no family member can be there frequently to find out. All we can do is hope. Maybe it will be a lot better.
Walt actually turned to me today and said "I miss Polly." I've just finished reading a book about therapy dogs (and met one in the hospital lobby) and I think that having a warm little body in your lap who only wants to love you would have been great therapy for him.
We finally left the hospital at 5:30 to meet Laurel and Bri at the new house (photos for Jeri)
We went to see the school Bri is going to go to in 3 years...and it's great. Looks like a wonderful school. Bri raced through the playground, climbing things, sliding down big slides, hanging on bars and having a great time. She's fearless. Jeri had dared me to spend time with Bri without my camera, so I left the camera bag in the car. Laurel had not brought one either and both of us were in withdrawal. But it was fun to just play with Brianna, who was a delight.
We ended the day with dinner at Chili's with Laurel and Bri (Tom had flown out to Detroit on business at 5:30 a.m.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Big Party

Ms. Bri has been fetted in grand style.  That little kid kept going the entire day with no nap and no tears.  She had a great time.
Walt and I went over to Tom and Laurel's new house at about 9 a.m.  They aren't moved in yet but they had the couch in the living room and a table in the kitchen.  Tom was in the garage putting together the playhouse that was Bri's big present.  There were "only" 96 pieces.
Walt and Norm got busy helping and I have to admit watching the three of them scratching their heads trying to figure out which piece of wood went in which direction was very cute.
When it was all finished, it was perfect, down to the weathervane on the roof and the basketball hoop over the puppet stage.
The theme of the party was Tinker Bell, and while the guys were working on the playhouse, I was busy assembling pirate chests to fill with treasure and give to the little boys at the party.  It had a basic design flaw--Tabs C and D went easily into Slots C and D, but I assembled six of those damn chests and Tabs A and B gave me problems every single time.
Laurel had made a gorgeous Tinker Bell themed cake.
The birthday girl was dressed in a lovely blue and white polkadot dress and was very happy to be in the yard of her new house.
She was definitely the center of attention from the mamarazzi.
We had brought her a little plastic slide and one of the first things she did was try it out.
Tom and Laurel had rented a bouncy house and it was a HUGE hit.
Especially later in the day when the adults could get all those pesky kids out of it and play themselves!
Bri was quick to let Grandpa know that you can't nap in a bouncy house!
The play house was a big hit too!  When they carried it around the corner of the back yard, Bri left what she was doing and raced over to it.  She spent a lot of time in it for the rest of the afternoon.  Grandpa came to visit.
Someone also brought her a bubble machine and that was a great favorite with all the kids...
...except for this one.
There was a funny "sign of the times" moment, when the propane lighter turned out to be out of fuel and Laurel couldn't light the birthday candle because (a) they only had an electric stove, and (b) nobody smoked, so nobody had matches or a lighter in their pocket.
At the end of the day, after most people had gone home, Bri hosted a tea party with her new tea set.
When the party was all over, Walt and I went to the hospital to visit his mother and were very pleased to see her sitting up and alert.  Walt had been there for about an hour earlier in the day and she was asleep the whole time.
I think everybody had a great day today, and Miss Bri most of all.  My biggest present was at the end of the day, when she came over to me, put out her arms for a hug and kissed me.  Made my day!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wildflower Alert

It seemed like such a disjointed day. We were going to leave for Santa Barbara at 10, but Walt, worried about his mother, hadn't slept much and had a lot he wanted to do before we left, so by the time we actually got on the road it was noon. I wasn't in "travel mode" and when we stopped for gas on the way out of town I realized I had forgotten to bring my camera. I never go anywhere without my camera. We had to go back to get it.

I drove the first leg of the trip, so Walt could sleep, and chose to go the I-5 route, which proved to a be a very good decision.

We stopped around 3 for lunch at Quiznos and at about the halfway point in the trip, I turned the car over to Walt. We cut across from I-5, headed to Paso Robles along the 50-something mile stretch of highway 41. This area is generally very dry and barren looking, but we've had a very wet winter and I was really enjoying the deep green on the hills.

And then as we started approaching those hills, the green suddenly became alive with color.

Mile after mile after mile of glorious carpets of color, of wildflowers growing along the side of the hills that made mountain "fingers" coming down to meet the highway. Carpets of yellow mustard and purple lupin.

And then off in the distance I saw the patchwork add a new color--a mountain covered with poppies. I told Walt we HAD to stop

.It was breathtaking and the photos don't do it justice. I imagined Dorothy and her companions coming over the ridge there on their way to Oz and encountering the field of poppies!

After we got here, I found an article in the newspaper giving a "wildflower alert," and guiding readers to where they can find even more spectacular displays (on the road to the Neverland ranch)

I'm going to try to follow the instructions on the way home, I think. The opportunity to see such a wild display of wildflowers comes along so rarely!

We didn't see Walt's mom when we got here...they reported she was "out of it," having been given morphine for pain. Instead we settled into the house, went to dinner and then had a visit with Walt's brother Norm when he came back from the hospital. Reports are sounding positive. I guess we'll find out more today.

During the evening I had lots of text exchanges with Ashley and with Jessica, who is house-sitting for us. Polly had bit her and wouldn't eat, but hid behind the curtains, trembling. Ashley decided to take her out of our house and bring her to her house, so Jessica and her toddler son wouldn't risk injury from frightened Polly. I think it will be a good experience for Polly to be in a new environment for a few days. She is so bonded with me that if she doesn't learn to tolerate other people she's never going to find a "forever home."

I had no internet connection last night, but somehow have a weak one this morning so I'm going to try to post this now--then let the birthday revels begin! The big party is this afternoon.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

More on Health Care

I've had some response to yesterday's comments about the new Health Care bill, especially after I mentioned on Facebook that my optometrist said that in any country where socialized medicine had been tried it was a terrible failure. The Brits are up in arms.

HTML clipboardMy friend diane, in England, is indignant at my optometrist's suggestion that socialized medicine doesn't work.

What piffle he's talking! all you need to do is talk to my parents' generation - who remember life BEFORE the NHS when children died because parents couldn't afford to call out the doctor - or, who, like my uncle, were born with preventable disabilities such as cerebral palsy because of problems during a birth. I remember being horrified as a child when I was told that my grandparents could not afford to send for the doctor when my grandfather got ill (and subsequently died of pneumonia) because you had to *pay* for one!

The NHS is the safety net for all of us when it comes to life threatening and long term conditions - there is nothing stopping anyone having private health insurance on top of that, and some companies provide it too, but on a few occasions when we needed to see specialists we were told by the GP that the NHS route was just as fast - for a few other non life threatening things (back pain, hip replacements etc) people often go private.

From my friend Sian, in Scotland:
With my various chronic health conditions (since childhood) there is no way my quality of life would be as good in the US as it is in the UK. I would be unlikely to get proper cover for the long term conditions or the insurance would be so high I wouldn't be able to pay it. I have complete peace of mind that I can walk into my Doctor's surgery and get diagnostic tests, treatment and repeat medication FREE (currently in Scotland prescription charges are being phased out). Most people in the UK cannot begin to understand the situation in the US!
In the UK there are regular screening programmes free to everyone (breast screening for example). A friend is diabetic and as well as all her medication she gets free dietitian advice, free regular chiropody, free eye checks all on a regular basis as well as regular visits to the nurse. What else - oh yes another friend had her young daughter (under 5) in hospital for five weeks and the mother had accommodation provided within the hospital for the whole time - free. I know two people who have been medically evacuated by helicopter, one chap then had major heart surgery, physiotherapy and regular checks.... all free. And then there's free nursing care for te elderly in Scotland...... shall I go on? OK we "pay" for it through our taxes but as we've discussed before there is almost parity with our taxes, but the US spend more on defence....... "
From a fellow in Canada:
My Canadian Healthcare may not be perfect, but I really enjoy the peace of mind knowing that whenever any of us gets sick or injured, there is health care available at no extra charge. Go to the hospital, go to a clinic... oh sure, you might have to pay parking or prescriptions, but that cast on your broken leg - NO CHARGE, having professionals help deliver your baby-NO CHARGE, major operations - NO CHARGE, vasectomies - NO CHARGE. Peace of mind....
A Canadian woman chimes in:
That the nonsense I hear people spouting about Canadian healthcare is just that -- nonsense. It's not perfect, but it's a heck of a lot more perfect than the U.S. system. Your opthalmologist couldn't be more wrong!
Another Canadian woman made this tongue in cheek comment after being chided for spelling "neighbour" with a "u"
I spell neighbour correctly, just like I spell colour, cheque and grey correctly. You're just jealous that with all of the health care savings we Canadians have due to universal healthcare we can afford extra letters for our words.
And one more Canadian speaks up:
While far from perfect I would NEVER trade for your system even if I had all the money to buy the best coverage. Not when that coverage could be revoked at their whim!
As for waits, well depending on your area that can be bad but urgent cases do get seen quickly. Usually. You hear the odd horror story but compared to your horror stories, again I wouldn't trade.
For routine screenings you just know you need to book months (or years) in advance. But there is no "can I afford" a mammogram or colonoscopy. I've had many of the former and two of the latter and you have enough on your mind when being tested without worrying about money and coverage.
As for "letting the government" decide what health care you get, I'd far rather that than letting some guy in a cubicle decide. The government is responsible ultimately to the voters (us!). The cubicle guy is responsible up the chain which ends at the SHAREHOLDERS. Which system will yield better results?
Of course this isn't going to be true socialized medicine, but it's gotta be better than what we have, especially for those uninsured and those with pre-existing conditions. So for all the nay-sayers, I say let's give this a chance. Who knows? We just might find out that we LIKE it!

We are headed off to Santa Barbara in the morning for Brianna's 2nd birthday -- We didn't realize this would also be a "visit grandma in the hospital" visit. (We are so fortunate to have friends who are able to move into our house and take care of all the dogs while we are away. Last time we were away, Ashley moved in with her dogs and foster dogs and at one point there were ten dogs here!)
We will be staying at Walt's sister's house in Santa Barbara, but she isn't there. The house flooded a month ago and she and her husband moved to a hotel while repairs are being made. Because of that, I don't know what kind of wifi access I'm going to have and so don't know when journal entries will be posted. I may have to post all journals from nearby Borders, which isn't such a bad thing!

Friday, March 26, 2010


Dan Ciruli, who used to be a percussionist for Lawsuit, posted this status update on his Facebook page tonight:

45,000 Americans die annually because they lack health insurance, and over 700,000 go bankrupt. How dare someone change that?

Yesterday he had written:

I'm sure those of you living abroad are a little confused. But let me reassure you: we still have all of the freedoms we did last week, and we still want to work. We do have 30,000,000 fewer uninsured people, though.

Like probably all of you, I'm finding all the stuff going on around passage of the Health Care bill very depressing. It seems that some Americans -- some of them in Congress -- are firm believers in "democracy," but only if the democratically decided issues are the ones they like.

If they are decisions they don't like then it seems appropriate to throw bricks through windows, cut gas lines to homes, use words that may not be serious, but which suggest violence to people who used their democratically given right to express an opinion because the vote cast didn't agree with your desires.

The man who held up a vote which might have brought health care to millions of children because he's pro life and didn't like the wording about abortion is now branded a "baby killer."

It took Rachel Madow thirty minutes to enumerate and talk about all the threats that had been made to Democratic congress persons. Today it seems that those on the other side are fighting back and making their own threats.

Maybe it's that we live in a time when crime drama may be the most popular form of entertainment and so we have become enured to the language of violence and think nothing about calling for harm to befall a congressman or a threat against his children. Lord knows I have certainly contributed to the encouragement of more and better crime dramas and look forward to "Law & Order" or "Criminal Minds" marathons.

But this new cloud of violence that hangs over our country is very depressing because we are losing our civility. We are turning to our wild west roots, when all disagreements were settled in a gunfight (if movies are to be believed), or the days past the Emancipation Proclamation, when the way to deal with someone you didn't like was to form a lynch mob and string him/her from the nearest tree.

I, for one, am proud to have lived to see this country actually doing something to give the uninsured an opportunity to have health care. I'm not such a pollyanna that I think the bill is perfect, but as I told the eye doctor, I'm cautiously optimistic. I'd at least like to give it a chance and see what kind of difference it will make in the coming year.

And speaking of health, I don't remember how much information about Walt's mother's health I've written about over the past couple of months.

It started, this time, when we had a call that she had been taken to the hospital with a temperature of 106 and pneumonia. They got her fever down, but couldn't get her blood pressure up above something like 75. Whenever she has a spell like this, there is always the fear that this is "the one."

Walt flew to Santa Barbara the next morning and his brother drove down and they were all there for her in the hospital.

She turned the corner. They got her blood pressure up and within a couple of days she was able to be moved to the convalescent hospital. Since her own apartment is in assisted living and the complex itself only has 2-tier care, and not 3-tier care (which would include full time assistance), she couldn't be released from the convalescent hospital until she could get up into her walker and walk a little bit--at least as far as the bathroom. I don't remember if Walt went down once or twice while she was in the convalescent hospital (the trips are starting to blend together).

But we were thrilled when she was released, I think it's 4 days ago now. Reports were that she was feeling chipper and was even able to go down to the dining room in her wheel chair for her meals. Everybody was feeling great about it.

Then two nights ago Walt had another call. His mother had been feeing so good she decided to try going to the bathroom by herself rather than wait for an attendant. She fell and was rushed off to the hospital again.

Around about midnight last night, Walt heard from his sister that their mother had broken her hip, and possibly her femur as well.

She went to surgery at 9:30 this morning and apparently came through well. They were going to put her on a ventilator for about 12 hours because they are always concerned about her lungs, but she was only on it for an hour or so and the doctor decided she could go without it.

"She's a tough lady," the doctor told the nurses.

We know this is going to be a very long recuperation process. But she's a fighter and she hasn't given up fighting yet.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Difficult Assignment

I've been writing for The Davis Enterprise for ten years now. I have written theater reviews and feature pieces. I enjoy doing the feature pieces because I've met some wonderful people I never would have spoken to before, like Yvonne Brewster, once given a "Living Legend" award (I told her I'd never met a living legend before...which was not exactly true, since I'd met Judy Garland); Jade McCutcheon the delightful playwright/director from Australia about whom I have written two pieces; and John Iacovelli, my first interview, whose name you will find on most sets for TV and stage. Fascinating guy who intimidated me with his fierce look. There have been a host of other subjects along the way.

Some time ago, I suggested a story possibility to my editor, who loved it. But I didn't follow through on it. Now he has given me 9 days to produce a story, which is definitely not out of the question (even given the fact that I will be gone five of those 9 days!)

The subject is "The Show Must Go On" and the idea was prompted by the death of the father of a family which had been involved with a local theater company the week of the show's opening. The family had been involved backstage and I'm not sure what on stage (I haven't spoken with them yet--and may not at all, since I'm not hearing back from the company with whom the family participated).

But for some reason, I have been avoiding starting this project at all and I know why--it would mean I would have to re-visit David's death and that awful first Lawsuit concert after he died, when the whole band was in tears between sets and cried backstage, but gave it their all on stage. It was the concert where Paul left the stage during an instrumental break in "Funny" (the song for which this blog is named) to hug me and both cry, and then back up on the stage to finish the song as if nothing was the matter.

I neatly shelved the whole idea of the article after Derrick and I first discussed it and my stomach dropped when he gave me a deadline. I was really going to have to write this article.

But like with everything else that puts me in this state, it turned out to be much better than I expected. In fact, so many people were eager to contribute "show must go on" stories that the article is practically writing itself.

There was the woman whose husband died a week before her show opened, but she kept the news to herself and didn't let anybody know until after the run of the show, three weeks later.

There was the guy who was hospitalized with possible H1N1 (turned out to be regular flu) and wasn't released until late afternoon of opening night. I reviewed that performance and if I hadn't been reading his posts to Facebook, I would never have known that he had been sick.

There was the girl who blew her ACL at ski camp the week before a show and how she postponed surgery for a week so she could get through the performance.

There was the guy whose director called, frantic, saying that one of his actors had started a movie and couldn't do the role and could this guy please step in and perform for opening, two nights from then. The guy started memorizing lines frantically, only to get a call from the director later to say that he had been wasn't the actor he had told him it was originally, but instead his twin brother who was playing a different role. The actor says he got very little sleep that night.

There was the actress who got a bad gallbladder attack on stage, finished the show and was rushed to the ER for surgery.

There was the director who got laryngitis but strapped on a portable P.A. system so he could get to the theatre and continue to direct the show.

The director of the teen age theatre had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital for surgery the week before his show opened. His son and another girl took over the directing of the show and on opening night, the whole cast came to his house to give him a report on how the show had gone.

I also told the story of Go-go the Blue Gorilla, a production of the Sunshine Children's Theatre. Paul had the role of Rapper the Parrot, kind of the interlocutor of the show, the character who kept the story moving forward. (This show was memorable for Ned's great musical number, arriving on stage in a faux helicopter)

Paul came down with the stomach flu, but decided he thought he could do the show. We had people waiting backstage in case he needed to make a quick exit. In one scene, he was going to be leaning out a door some 10-15 off the stage (it was supposed to be a tree). The director got one of the dads, who was a doctor, to go up the ladder behind Paul and stand there watching him, ready to grab him if he seemed unsteady.

Paul made it almost to the end of the show, when he finally had to rush off stage (he vomited on the director's foot, as I recall). Jeri, playing a giraffe, ended up delivering Paul's last line ("As Rapper the Parrot would say if he were here.....")

Yes, the show does go on despite all sorts of terrible problems. The audience doesn't care about what's going on in an actor's life. they have paid to be entertained.

W.S. Gilbert knew all about that when he penned the lyrics to "A private buffoon," >100 years ago:

Though your wife ran away with a soldier that day
and took with her your trifle of money;
Bless your heart, they don't mind, they're exceedingly kind,
they don't blame you as long as you're funny!

Thursday Thirteen

Things I loved about Western Australia

1. The aqua color of the Indian Ocean
2. Wild kangaroos
3. Blankets of wildflowers
4. Hundreds of miles with no traffic
5. Koalas
6. Clear, clear, clear sky
7. Sudden rainstorms
8. Gallahs
9. The red color of the earth
10. Monkey Mia
11. Lagoon Lake
12. Tim Tams
13. Limestone pillars of The Pinnacles

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Seeing Clearly

If you want to get your heart started with a bang, realize that you have a doctor's appointment in 30 minutes, at an office 25 miles away.

I had forgotten to put my follow-up eye appointment on the calendar and was totally involved in all the ceremonials and talking heads about signing the health care bill. While listening to Chris Matthews talking to somebody or other, I was also reading somebody's meme on line and one of the questions was "Have you ever had a headache so bad it affected your vision?"


Eyes! Brain clicks on.

Clock! 10 a.m. and my appointment is at 10:30!

Office is in Sacramento!


I grabbed my purse, yelled at Walt to give a treat to the dogs and got into the car. I thought I'd left my cell phone behind, but didn't have time to go back for it. I raced (yes raced) down the driveway and headed to the freeway. (Later I realized that I did have my cell phone after all.)

I didn't speed, but did go the speed limit and, miraculously got to Kaiser only 7 minutes late. I thought. After they had checked me in (thank you, God!) I looked at the receipt and found out that my appointment was actually 10:50 so I was actually early.

I had forgotten to bring my iTouch, so had nothing to read, but I did have earphones with me, and I could continue listening to the book I was listaning to on my iPod in the car (James Patterson's "Alex Cross's Trial"--a very good book)

Dr. Lieu is a good optometrist. Much more thorough than the guy I've been seeing for about 20 years, the one who mis-diagnosed my cataracts a year ago and sent me into panic for about a month. I'm usually the silent patient who sits there and does what I'm told to do, but I was still emotional from watching Obama sign the Health Care bill, so I asked him what he thought of it.

He was very cautious but we discussed several points and I think we ended up with his admitting to being cautiously pessimistic and me admitting to being cautiously optimistic. When he told me to come back in a year, we decided that we'd see then what had happened in the intervening year with the Health Care bill.

As for my eyes, everything is looking good. The surgery seems to have been a success, the remaining cataract not as bad as I thought. It was a very positive appointment. Doctors' appointments should always be so positive!

He dilated my pupils and my pupils never fully dilate, so I am not really incapacitated, but things WERE very bright outside. I decided to use that as an excuse to stay in Sacramento and treat myself to lunch.

Near the medical office is a Mongolian Barbeque where we eat often, but I realized that near that place was a Red Lobster. I'm not a lobster fan, but I knew that they had...what else?...crab, of course, so I decided to treat myself to some steamed King Crab legs and they were wonderful. I like the flavor of Dungeness crab better, but King Crab has the advantage of giving you a huge bite of crab when you crack a get more without having to work as hard.

My eyes undiluted and my belly full of crab once again, I headed home, continuing to listen to the James Patterson book. It's a gripping tale about lynchings in the deep south at the turn of the century.

It was so gripping, that I came in and sat down to listen to the last 45 minutes of the book before doing anything else.

It's an interesting book about hatred to read during a time when there is such an outcry about the Health Care bill -- five bricks tossed through the windows of Democratic representatives, name calling of the representatives, that lovely "you're a baby killer!" comment yelled, ironically, at Bart Stupak. I ended the day deciding that we have not progressed very far in this advanced country of ours...and finding that very depressing.

(Does the it occur to anybody the irony of all this violence erupting over the health care bill because it is too much government interference in our lives...but nobody thinks twice about the government deciding who can get married and who can't? Government interference in the most intimate area of our lives is OK...but don't you dare try to change my health care? Or is that expecting logic from irrational human beings?)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Apparently William S. Gilbert and Arthur S. Sullivan were completely different personality types. Gilbert was married, a homebody; Sullivan was single, a swinger, liked to party with the glitterati of the day. The two men rarely met face to face (and sometimes were angry with each other and not speaking), but they managed to produce thirteen operettas, most of which are still being performed today, more than 100 years after their first productions.

Both had other collaborators, but neither achieved the enduring success that they found with each other. The two complemented each other perfectly.alison.jpg   (3993 bytes)

I thought about that today, sitting in Alison's living room for our first planning session for the new Lamplighter history.

We have been friends for more than 30 years, yet we are so different in the way we work.

I have realized over the years that it's a very good thing that I never went to work in any sort of a corporation. I am not a team player. I hate the whole "corporation" mentality, watching every word you say, the groupthink, the endless discussions to reach a decision. It's why I worked well in the medical office when it was a stand-alone office, but couldn't deal with it when we merged with the big medical corporation.

I am also not a good "board" person. I have been a member of several boards from s couple of nursery schools to the School Arts Foundation to the SPCA to my latest term of office on the Davis Community Network board and several in between. The endless discussions make my eyes glaze over. Give me a project to do and I'll happily do it, but don't make me discuss it for weeks before decisions are made.

Alison is a great board person. She has been on a number of boards since I've known her, including the Hayward Library, and she was a trustee for the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District. She thinks in terms of bullet lists, she thinks in terms of board decisions and board processes.

It's why our first two books went so well.

If I were to write a theater history on my own, I'd start interviewing people, transcribe the interviews, write the book and then take it to whoever was in charge and let them deal with it.

Alison starts from the board perspective. What does the board expect of us? Should we make regular updates? With whom do we need to check to get which permissions? Whom do we contact about specific persons to interview? Who is going to investigate printing options? What sort of budget are we considering? etc., etc., etc.

We met at her house today. It's a 2 hour drive from here and I don't think I'd made the drive since the mid 1980s. I remembered which off-ramp I was supposed to take, but nothing looked familiar as I got into town. It's just possible that there have been some changes to streets and buildings in the past twenty years! I was glad I had a GPS to get me where I was going. I didn't really recognize where I was until I was about 2 blocks from her house, which sits above California State University at Hayward (where her husband taught for many years).

It's kind of up in the hills and looked more remote 20 years ago than it did now, but I had no problem recognizing it when I got there. She had pulled out the box she kept from our last two collaborations and it was amazing to see how organized it is. I don't know that I have anything left from those projects, and if I do, it would take me years to find it.

We settled in on the couch and began to discuss what our plan of attack should be. She sat surrounded with sheets of paper filled with bullet-pointed lists and arrows pointing to important subjects to remember to discuss. My lap was empty. I take lousy notes and then can't read them anyway, so what's the point?

She worried about process. Should I just call this guy I know who happens to be the current president of the board or should we make a formal presentation to the board? I'm for the phone call, or the e-mail. She thinks in terms of what is the proper thing to do. She crosses Is, dots Ts and think in terms of what is legally appropriate. She keeps us honest and legal and on schedule. All the things I can't do.

We finished our discussion in a couple of hours and then broke for lunch, after which I drove home again, knowing that we have now taken the first steps, we know where we are headed, we know how we want to get there, and who needs to do what before we can get started.

Sounds like a plan.

(Thanks to those who asked about Polly; whatever was going on with her was over sometime in the middle of the night and I was relieved to wake up and find her cuddled up against me like every other night.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Where's The Band?

In the endless....e.n.d.l.e.s.s....discussion of the health care bill today, one thing was missing: it needed a soundtrack. Maybe something from 1776. I could have done with a couple of verses of "Sit Down, John" as each represenative tried to go on record opposing or supporting what everyone already admitted was a done deal.

As Pulitzer Prize winner Eugene Robinson said, everyone seemed to be gripped by a sense of history as the House stood on the edge of passing what may be the biggest bill since Civil Rights or Medicare.

I yearned for John Williams and some sweeping Star Trek kind of background music. How do we know what is serious and what is frivolous without a soundtrack?

As the hours crept on apace, I began to realize I was going to have to make a decision--watch the historic vote on Health Care or the premiere of the first episode of the Discovery Channel's magnificent Life.

In honor of Bart Stupak, I decided to choose Life and switched back and forth between watching lizards and amphibians stalking and devouring their prey and watching congresspersons doing the same thing on the floor of the House of Representatives.

For what it's worth, Life had a musical soundtrack. Definitely an improvement.

After the tragic death of the puppies, I'm extra leery about the other dogs.

Ashley went to see the mother of the pups and found that she was still having a nasty discharge. She also learned that she had given birth to a couple of pups before she was taken to the animal shelter, so they think the puppies may have been premature and probably would not have lived even if Mom had taken care of them. It's still sad.

But tonight I'm concerned about Polly. I can't figure out what's with her and I hope it's nothing.

Sometime around 8 she got in my lap and was just acting weird, like she couldn't get comfortable. She would turn in circles, then lick her lips, then get down again. She started trying to make a bed in the dog bed (by trying to dig in it--Lizzie does that all the time, but I've never seen Polly do it). Then she got up on Walt's recliner, which she never does if I'm sitting down.

Then she started growling and I couldn't figure what she was growling at, but I glanced out on the patio and Lizzie was standing there, with her head inside the door, but seeming to be afraid to come in. She finally left the back door and kind of slunk in the dog door (which opens into my office).

Polly got down out Walt's recliner and started making a bed in the dog crate, digging in the bedding there. I called to her, but she wouldn't come out. Lizzie came into the family room, and started to get into the recliner, where she frequently sleeps while I'm watching TV, and Polly growled and barked at her. She has never done that before.

Next thing I knew, Lizzie was lying on the floor by the kitchen table (which she has never done before!) and Polly would not come out of the cage when I called her.

I went to the bathroom and Lizzie followed me inside, sitting at my feet. She has never done that either. When I left the bathroom, Lizzie went into the living room, where she is sleeping (which she frequently does at night if she doesn't sleep in the recliner).

All is quiet as I write this and I'm hoping that by the time I turn off the lights and go to sleep, Polly will be back to normal again.

But given what just happened with the puppies, naturally I'm expecting the worst.

Cue an ominous piece of music...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Proust Questionnaire

In the back pages of Vanity Fair each month, readers find The Proust Questionnaire, a series of questions posed to famous subjects about their lives, thoughts, values and experience. Apparantly the reason it is called "The Proust Questionnaire" is that the young Marcel was asked to fill out questionnaires at two social events: one when he was 13, another when he was 20. Proust did not invent this party game; he is simply the most extraordinary person to respond to them.

You can take the Proust Questionnaire here and compare your answers with others on Facebook (mine most compared with Donna Karan and Walter Cronkite).

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I can’t improve on Proust’s answer! To live in contact with those I love, with the beauties of nature, with a quantity of books and music, and to have, within easy distance, a French theater, except I’d add "a good theatre."

2. What is your greatest fear?

I've already experienced my greatest fear--twice (the death of a child). Now my greatest fear is being incapacitated and dependent on someone for everything, being unable to write.

3. What word or phrase do you most overuse?

Cool. (and a couple of 4-letter words)

4. Which living person do you most admire?

"Most" is dependent on a number of things, but today I saw Jane Goodall on Bill Moyers and I realized how much I admire the things she has done to make people aware of the plight of animal species and how she has changed the world.

5. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

A toss-up between sloth and gluttony!

6. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Unkindness. This takes in a host of things such as discrimination, judgmentalism, intolerance, etc.

7. What is your greatest extravagance?


8. On what occasion do you lie?

When to tell the truth would either be unkind to someone or embarrassing to myself.

9. What do you dislike most about yourself?

Duhhh. My weight.

10. When and where were you the happiest?

Wow. 67 years of memories and when/where was I the happiest? Maybe arriving at home from the hospital with newborn Jeri in my arms, to an apartment filled with pink flowers and the sound of music box music playing.

11. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

My attitude about food and exercise.

12. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

That's easy--I'd bring Paul and David back.

13. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Writing Book 2 of The Lamplighters history. I never thought I could actually write a whole book...but I did.

14. If you died and came back as a person or a thing, what do you think it would be?

I don't know what I think it would be, but I'd like it to be my mother's (or Peggy's) dog.

15. What is your most treasured possession.

I've answered this question before. It would have to be "Delicate Pooh," a Pooh bear that had originally been a gift to Jeri when she was a year old, but who had been passed along to each of the kids, and loved until he had very little fur left, not enough stuffing to give his body any shape and then that year the dog ate his face. Jeri made a new face for him and it was my Christmas present that year. I think that was the best present I ever received. (I wrote a whole entry about Delicate Pooh, which was lost in the Yahoo purge!)

16. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

The death of a child.

17. The quality you most admire in a man?

Intelligence, compassion, a sense of humor, and the ability to communicate.

18. Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?

"Little Women's" Jo was my first heroine. She's still a good one, though my favorite heroine these days might be Kay Scarpetta.

19. How would you like to die?

In my sleep. I'd like to awake to a bright light with Paul and David in it saying 'Hi, Mom--welcome home!"

20. What is your motto?

You can only make a difference when you care.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I Was a Bitch

I worked hard at being a bitch today...and I mean that in the most positive of ways.

The puppies didn't make it. None of them. I fed them all at around 9 last night and planned to feed them again around 11, but I heard squeaking around 10 and found Ozzie squirming around, so I got him up to feed him again. By now, deciding they were getting very little from the bottle, I had switched to an eye dropper. He took about 2 ml of formula, spilling some out of his mouth, and then didn't want any more.

I decided to feed the other two at that time too. First I picked up Star, who was warm, but floppy. I realized he was dead. Then I picked up Red and found out that he was dead too. I wrapped both puppies up in a washcloth and put them in a box and sent a message--the first of many--to Ashley: 2 gone, dammit!

But it was late and I knew she wouldn't see the message until morning. Given how quickly his siblings had died, I wasn't sure Ozzie would be there in the morning.

I fed Ozzie three times more during the night and was pleased that he did seem to be taking something in, though he was obviously very weak.

I decided that I would devote the day to giving him skin stimulation, and having him sleep on my chest, near my heart. I sent this to Ashley:

I'm giving Ozzie heartbeat therapy. Sitting with him on my chest, over my heart. Good excuse to do nothing.

I settled in with a movie and a cup of coffee and just stroked him while he slept up against my heart. It's the therapy they use for human preemies and I had hope it might work for Ozzie.

Polly overcame her initial leeriness and was VERY interested in the puppy, smelling him repeatedly.

When I fed him the next time, I weighed him and he had lost 1/2 to 1 oz. I sent Ashley a note:

Ozzie has lost half an ounce. Eating about 1-2 ml of formula, but reluctantly. Going to start feeding him every hour. I think body contact helps. He's pooping.

Ozzie had been the only one of the puppies who eliminated anything and I took it as a good sign. At first it was very black, which I figured was meconium, which forms in a baby's intestines during gestation (and I assumed probably in a dog's as well). But it was getting lighter in color, which made me think he was getting some nutrition from the formula, though it still wasn't the normal yellow you expect from a puppy. He also was eating less and less and it was more of a struggle to get anything into him. Instead of feeding him a dropper full, I was dropping one or two drops on his tongue, so as not to have him choke and get it into his lungs.

I was very discouraged when I left to take Walt to the airport (going to see his Mom again), wondering if Ozzie would even be alive when I got home.

I got home and he was alive, but weaker. I sent a note to Ashley:

Watching Ozzie breathe, I know he's not going to make it. Just trying to make him feel loved while he's here.

I tried feeding him and it was pretty much useless. I realized that I was now on a death watch. I sent Ashley another note:

Not dead yet, but close. Body cold, even with heat pad. Won't swallow. Just going to hold him till the end.

I settled in the recliner with Ozzie and Polly, covered Ozzie up and sat there with my hand on his back, trying to get as much warmth into that cool body as I could, and to let him know that he wasn't alone.

Then something strange happened. It was more than a muscle twitch. It was as if something rolled from his shoulder, down the length of his body, and ended at the rump. If I had to describe it, I would say it was round, and about the size of a small marble. I could feel it much like you feel a baby moving in utero. I figured that the end was very near.

I opened up the blanket that was covering him and watched myself pet him. He opened his mouth and moved his paws and then went limp. He was gone.

Watching an animal die makes me believe in "something" about living things. It makes me believe there is a soul. I remember being with Toby when we had to put him to sleep. The vet gave him a shot and he rested, but was still breathing. Then the vet gave him the fateful injection and he stopped breathing. But in that moment between sleeping and death "something" left his body. You couldn't see it, his body appearance didn't change, but he was just different. Whatever had made him Toby was gone.

That's how it was with Ozzie. I think that "rolling" motion I felt was his "something" leaving his body. It was more than just intestinal organs relaxing because it started in the bone of his shoulder.

Maybe doing this so many times I am starting to be more philosophical about puppy deaths. Though I was physically closer and worked harder with these three little guys, I haven't cried at their deaths. I feel that I did all I could. When Megan handed them to me at the shelter, she had that look in her eye that said "I'm really not sure they have a chance." I knew that I had my work cut out for me, but it just wasn't meant to be. But they didn't die in the shelter, they didn't die alone, and at least Ozzie died in the arms of someone who really cared about them.

Even if I was a bitch. :)

BTW, this is my "journalversary." I started my original journal, Funny the World (of which this is a mirror copy) on March 20, 2000.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Trading Spencer

I received a note from Ashley this afternoon, asking if I would like to trade Spencer for three 2-day old puppies. We were going to send Spencer to a new home on Saturday anyway, and I really like taking care of puppies, so it was a no brainer.

This afternoon, Spencer and I took our last ride together and I left him at the SPCA Thrift Shop where, presumably, someone has picked him up and taken him home. I do miss the little guy, but I don't miss the problems he has been causing the last couple of weeks.

Then I drove out to the animal shelter to pick up the little puppies.

Megan came out from the back hold this tiny little bundle in a towel and said that they were still moving so she was hopeful. Apparently the Mom hadn't been taking care of them. I carried the tiny bundle to the car and put it on the floor of the back seat and opened it to see what I had.

I only saw 2 pups (there are actually three) and when I touched them they were very cold. They needed a heating pad NOW.

We drove home and I left them in the car in the sun (where they could keep warm) while I washed out a carrier and fixed it for bedding and a heating pad. Then I brought the package in and let the other dogs sniff it. I finally settled the pups into the cage and made some formula, 1 Tbsp of powder which makes 2 Tbsp of liquid formula, and dug out my baby bottle with the smallest nipple.

I took out the first pup. All three are kind of a dark chocolate brown (Ashley says they are shepard mixes). Two have tails and one does not (which seems strange). I had to figure out a way to tell them apart, so names were obviously the first order of business while I fed them.

The first pup I picked up had kind of a star on his chest, so I called him Star (all pups are referred to as "he" now because I haven't figured out what the gender is). Interestingly, he is the only one of the puppies who has no tail.

StarPup.jpg  (28888 bytes)

He ate the best of all three at this first feeding, but when I went to feed him 2 hours later, he wasn't looking good at all. He seemed to eat, but then didnt seem to be able to get his tongue back in his head and began a gasping sound that I've seen in dying puppies before. Then his body went totally rigid. Legs straight out, tongue hanging out of his mouth. No matter how I moved him, he didn't change that rigid position. I told Ashley it was like he had died and went into rigor mortis instantly. But as I massaged him and talked to him, his body began to soften. When I checked him an hour later, he seemed just fine.

The second pup I picked up looked like he had an upside down map of Australia on his chest, so I named him Ozzie.

Ozzie.jpg  (28367 bytes)

Ozzie is the biggest and most active. He weighs 6-1/2 oz (the other two each weight 6 oz). This photo is blurry because he was flailing arund in my hand.

The third pup has a very red mouth (almost looks like he's wearing red lipstick) and red paws, so I named him Red.

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An hour after their first feeding, he was whimpering, so I picked him up and he became "floppy," reminding me of puppies I've known who have died. By the time I fed them the last time, he was just fine and ate well.

I know that things can go sour with newborn orphans in an eyeblink, so I'm going to be watching these guys very carefully. I had a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, but I rescheduled and am going to be at home, keeping a very strict 2-3 hour schedule and giving them lots of skin stimulation throughout the day.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cousins Day, March 2010

We were just finishing round #9 of the morning game of 65 when the text message came from Walt.

"A squirrel just peed on our roof," he wrote. (This is the beauty of cell phones and instant technology--you don't miss a single moment in the life of your loved ones.) I responded "Did it hit you on the head? Everybody wants to know how you knew."

We never got an answer, but it sparked the discussion about squirrel elimination. Do mail squirrels lift their legs when they pee, or do they squat?

It is the meaty stuff of such topics as these which make up conversation at Cousins day.

Yes, we've come through another Cousins Day. Peach and Kathy picked me up yesterday morning, earlier than usual, and we were at my mother's in time to have a cup of coffee or two before lunch.

After lunch, of course, the cards came out. Three games before Kathy went to take a nap. My mother, Peach and I played 2 games of canasta while Kathy was asleep. I crushed them in the first game and the second game was pretty even until...I think it was my mother who won the 2nd game, but we were all within 500 points of each other, which was pretty good.

Then it was time to break out the drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Peach made something called an "Olympic Martini," which had really pretty liquors.

CDBooze310.jpg (43101 bytes)

The bottle on the left is something called a 'Cranberry Twist Mix." The stuff in the middle is "X Rated," which is "a sensuous fusion of ultra premium French Vodka and Sicilian Blood Orange mingling with Mango and Passion Fruit." Quite yummy, I mist admit. And then the blue bottle is just plain Skyy vodka, equal parts of each over maraschino cherries and it was delicious.

Kathy made hors d'oeuvres, which was a mixture of chicken, sesame seeds, sesame oil, soy sauce, and mayonnaise all stuffed in pre-made filo dough shells, and also delicious.

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We continued to play cards until time for dinner. This month was going to be our crab feed. My mother had gone to some sort of boat shop, where the crabs are brought in fresh every day and they were delicious.

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(Yes, I do realize that this blog is starting to become a litany of crabs I have eaten!)

While we were eating dinner, I got a text/photo message from Bri, via Tom about the Jacquie Lawson card I had sent her for St. Patrick's Day.

ThanksGma.jpg (27539 bytes)
"Thanks, Grandma!"

I made a small mistake when I responded "Night, Night, Bri." I should have taken my picture to go along with the message...but we'll get this thing worked out. I'm very encouraged!

We were asleep by 10:30 and in the morning I made breakfast. It had the promise of being really good, a recipe I got from the Pioneer Woman's cookbook and it looked delicious.

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The recipe called for putting ham in the bottom of individual ramekins, then topping with either sliced tomatoes or some sort of salsa, top with an egg and sprinkle with cheese. Broil for about 4 minutes to set the yolk on the egg. Well, it LOOKED good, but I made two mistakes. I put the egg UNDER the salsa, so the yolk cooked, but the white was raw...and the salsa was just barely warm and quite watery. I should have drained the salsa and put the egg on TOP of it. But what we could eat was tasty anyway.

My mother kicked us out of the house after Peach won all the morning's games and we drove home.

We never did get our squirrel questions answered, but when I got home, Walt said it had been too complicated to answer by text message. Seems he'd been lying on the bed and he saw water dripping down off the roof. He didn't know what happened until the water drops stopped and he saw a squirrel look over the edge of the roof. Which also brings up the question--what was the squirrel looking for?

Thursday Thirteen

Things I love to smell

1. Freshly brewing coffee
2. The ocean
3. A newborn’s head
4. Talcum powder
5. Boiling crab pots
6. A real rose (not a hothouse rose!)
7. The pages of a new book
8. Acetone
9. Gasoline
10. Puppy breath
11. The air after a rain
12. Sheets dried outside on a clothesline
13. Freshly baked bread

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Teen Agers

There is nothing I like better at sunset than running up and down the street in my stocking feet (it's so easy for me to run, you know!) chasing the damn dog.

I was sitting in the house, peacefully watching Jeopardy when the phone rang. It was Walt, who had just left the house about 3 minutes before. Rather than opening the front door to scream at me (as he did in the last video I posted), he had pulled his phone out to call and tell me that Spencer was loose.

The one good thing about Spencer, as he becomes a teenager, is that if nothing else, he will come when I call. Does he still bark and bark and bark and bark at the back fence? Yes, but if I call him he comes running in the house.

Has he gotten out before? Yes, but when I call him and invite him to run with me, he does, following me into the house for a treat.

Tonight he discovered the joy of freedom, and he wasn't about to join me in a romp or come when I called, not even for a promised treat. No, he preferred to run back and forth across the street in front of oncoming cars.

I know better than to try to catch a happy dog who is enjoying his freedom. Heck, our first dog, Ho Chi Mutt, made it his life's work to get out of the house and he knew how to stay just far enough away from me that he was tantalizingly close, but too far for me to touch. He was like a carnival midway game that looks like it should be easy to win, but in truth is almost impossible.

For a short period of time it looked like we might have him cornered, me and a woman across the street, but he got away from both of us. I finally sat down on her lawn and hoped he'd come to me. He did. He thought that was just the greatest thing to race at me full speed and leap over me.

I finally was able to grab him. Then, of course, I had to get UP off of the lawn, holding a puppy who wanted to play some more. I had to ask my neighbor to help give me a hand so I could get to my feet and I kept a strong hand on Spencer's collar as I took him home again, all the while telling him what a GOOD dog he was for coming to me and saying as sweetly as I possibly could all the terrible things I was going to do to him when we got home again.

Spencer, aka "the really good dog" the one who is going to "make somebody a wonderful pet" has become a teenager. If he were human, he'd have a couple of tattoos, several piercings and low-rider jeans.

Other than a couple of Jack Russell terriers we had for a couple of weeks, Spencer is the only dog who insists on standing on the kitchen table, searching for good things to eat. Tonight he polished off two little bowls of mayonnaise left over from the asparagus we had for dinner. It doesn't help to push the chairs up to the table, which foils most other would-be table snitches. He's so skinny that he can find ways around blockades.

He is teething on the big straw basket that I use to store large items in the family room. It was my one "decorating" accessory that I bought several years ago. Several puppies have teethed on it, but Spencer is more determined. Other puppies have been foiled when I cover the basket with a towel. Spencer just dives under it and continues to chew.

He is constantly challenging Sheila for top dog position. She doesn't usually mind foster dogs, especially ones who have been here a long time, but Spencer's on-again, off-again subtle challenges cause lots of loud wrestling around here. I don't think anybody's really serious, but they all respond to Spencer's mood.

He's still basically "a really good dog," but I sure hate the canine teen months. I remember when our beloved dog Toby was known as "the dog that ate Villanova Drive" (including a chair!). We go through it with all of them who are here at the right time--and stay long enough to feel that this is "home."

But I'm ready for Spencer to be someone else's problem!

Tomorrow is Cousins Day again, so the next entry will be late. It's an overabundance of riches. We are having a crab feed for dinner tomorrow night. I can't wait!

I just hope that Walt doesn't have problems with Spencer while I'm gone.

Be sure to check this video of my friend Jim Brochu's exciting day at NASDAQ. It is so cool!