Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Happy Surprises

I've received some wonderful gifts and happy surprises in the past week. I'm so very fortunate in life to have many, many wonderful friends! First up, from Parsnip in Tucson:

A care package for Ginger and George! They love the chicken crisps (she's sent them to our lucky canines before) and George loooooooooves new toys. He's been hoarding both of these in the dog bed and he barks like mad when Ginger grabs one of them. Which she does strictly to annoy him; she's never been big on toys but she delights in anything that bothers George. (As you've probably surmised, she's feeling much better!) Thank you so much, Parsnip. You're a thoughtful and dear friend.

Next: I won a book giveaway for the first week of October from the delightful Rue! Her Great October Book Giveaway is an event to look forward to each year. Pop over to her blog if you're interested and leave her a comment for a chance to win a magical/Halloween/Samhain themed book! This is what the package that arrived looked like:

And here's the book I got, which is very serendipitous considering a craft project that I'll be starting next week (more about that later!!)….

What fun!

On Sunday morning I texted Marla just to say hello, since what with one thing and another we hadn't seen each other in a couple of months. We decided to have a little impromptu visit that afternoon and she showed up about 4pm with this little cutie-pie:

Isn't she precious? I love those pink cheeks and big brown eyes. It was so good to see little Carsen, who's already walking and talking. Man, that happened fast!

She's been fascinated with our aquariums since she was a tiny thing. Speaking of Carsen and tiny things...…….we had a small house sparrow that lived with us for over a decade named Chip. After Chip died a while back Marco stopped saying his name....until Carsen came along. He's always (and consistently) called her "Chip". Every time he sees her, he says, "Hey Chip! Heeeeyyyy Chip Chip!"  I guess in his mind Tiny Bird = Tiny Human. How cool is that?

After Carsen spent about 30 minutes here, her daddy came and picked her up and took her home so that Marla and I could have some baby free time to hang out. It was so much fun! We got caught up and we even had wine together for the first time in two years! Marla didn't drink while pregnant, of course, and after that she was too cautious to even have a small glass of wine while breastfeeding. I totally respect her for that, but I'm glad we can finally have drinks together again! My new back porch was just made for wine and conversation. It was so very good to see her. :)

All of these happy surprises really helped lift my spirits after several weeks of stress and unhappiness. Things are feeling much lighter around here!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A few more...

I had to stop and take more pictures when I was leaving school today. Those zinnias out front are still blooming like mad and butterflies were everywhere. Granted, the bottoms of some of the longest flower stalks are looking brown and dried up, but there are still lots of fresh new blossoms around. These flowers grew from seed and started blooming in May and here it is, October. They looked great all through the heatwaves and drought of the summer when lesser flowers would have given up the ghost. I must grow zinnias next summer!

Image may contain: plant, flower, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: sky, cloud, plant, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: plant, flower, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: plant, flower, outdoor and nature

There were about 10 butterflies enjoying the flowers and the sun when I took these photos. It's a nice way to end the workday, walking past these beauties....

Autumn leftovers

The zinnias in front of our school just keep going and going. I snapped this photo yesterday afternoon as I was leaving work.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Good things

Things are getting better around here. The cloud is slowly (slowly) lifting a little. For once I have some good things to comment on!

Good thing the first:

Ginger has improved quite a bit. Except for a slight residual head tilt, to look at her you wouldn't know anything had ever happened. And you'd have to be looking for the tilt to notice that. Martina came over yesterday and told me that if she hadn't known what had happened with her, she wouldn't have any idea something so dramatic had gone down. Martina works as a veterinary technician so she's used to looking for health issues in dogs. We've also noticed Ginger get slightly off balance a time or two while out for short walks, usually when she's walking up onto the shoulder of the road. We're hopeful that these two minor things will resolve given a little more time. Today we're trying her without the motion sickness pill for the first time to see how she handles it. Of course, I'll be here all day to give her one if she gets dizzy or sick. Cross your fingers for us that she'll be able to discontinue it!

Good thing the second:

Martina came over yesterday to see Ginger, but also to take me out to the movies, her treat. She had gifted tickets left over from her birthday in July. We went to see Downton Abbey (something neither of our husbands cared to see) and we had such a good time! It was a lovely little escape from reality and very much needed. We're both fans of the original show.

Good thing the third:

Later this afternoon I'm going for Mexican food and margaritas with a few women from my book club group. We're celebrating the fact that one of the Karens finally landed a new job. It will be nice to have some time to catch up with them and I'll be back home early enough that Gregg and I can spend some time together doing the classic "Netflix and chill" thing! A night spent at home when (hopefully) nobody is sick or depressed sounds really good to me.

What kind of good things are going on with you this weekend?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019


Back in 2016 I entered John Gray's novelty vegetable competition that he always hosted on his blog during the Trelawnyd Flower Show. I had some overripe peaches on the counter and their vivid orange color reminded me of a certain insane Republican candidate for president. Little did I know when I created what I called "Impeachable Trump" that the man I still considered a joke at that point would go on to become the most horrendous president in U.S. history. And now, lo and behold, he's in office and about to get impeached!

 Did my creation call this situation into being?!?! And if so, my next one will be a rotting peach in a prison cell!

Here's the post and picture that John shared on his blog that day:

It's 1.30 and I've just got home. The results are comming in and it's looking like "leave" winning at the moment....
I will leave you with a cracking novelty fruit entry from jennifer
Donald Trump out of peaches!


Monday, September 30, 2019


One of the guidance counselors at the school where I work has the sweetest little boy. He's in the first grade, and rides the bus over to our school every afternoon to meet his momma and ride home with her. He's forever asking me if he can "help" me, and I've taught him how to do a few simple tasks--dialing the extension for me when a call needs to be transferred, clicking on my "inbox" icon to check emails, operating the big copier in the mail room. He loves it.

The other day, I brought him a little bag of treats as a thank-you for being "my little office helper". He was so pleased with it, and immediately asked me what my favorite color was. I told him it was green.

The next afternoon, he ran to me when he arrived and gave me a big hug, and then he presented me with this:

I just love that little sweetheart!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Progress: an update

Thank you all for the wonderful comments on my last post. I know that many people might think it strange, but you all (my friends in blogland) and your friendship and support mean the world to me. I love you guys.

Ginger is improving a little each day. She still has a pronounced head tilt and some very minor balance issues, but every day she's a little more back to normal. She's eating well, drinking well, peeing and pooping well.... :)  Yesterday she started going back to her normal spot to sleep (on the rug beside my side of the bed) instead of staying in the den where she's been all week. This morning she made the first sounds we've heard from her since this all started--George ran to the porch door and started barking at the neighbor's Lab, and Ginger hurried over and joined in! She hasn't made a peep during all this ordeal, not even a yelp or a cry. That's one tough girl! She's even managed to give us a doggy grin or two when we've had to scold George for being too rough near her. She's always enjoyed watching George get in trouble! And she wags her tail at us sometimes in the circular motion she uses when she's happy. We're hoping she'll continue to improve and beat this thing altogether.

I had a great talk with Dr. Causey yesterday. First he gave Ginger a thorough exam and went over all her bloodwork with me. Then he closed the doors in the examining room and talked with me for over an hour about the situation the other day with Dr. Harper. He swore to me that it would be addressed and that something like that would never, ever happen at his office again. He hugged me three times and got teary eyed with me when I cried. He remembers Gregg having cancer 8 years ago and how much Ginger meant to us during that time. Then last year, Dr. Causey had cancer himself and had to undergo serious surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. So now those shared experiences are an extra bond between us and he's not just our vet, he's our friend. I feel so much better now that we've had that heart-to-heart! He made some good suggestions regarding Ginger's recovery, like feeding her lots of fish packed in oil to support her brain while she recovers from this (primarily neurological, we think) event. He then talked to me seriously about finding ways to ease the stress Gregg and I have right now and taking care of ourselves. He said that dogs are so naturally empathetic to their people that our stress and fear will easily rub off on them and that might impede Ginger's recovery. He advised cultivating a sense of calm, peace, and as much as possible, normalcy in our home to help her keep her stress hormones down as she recovers. Isn't that wonderful advice? I just love Dr. C. He's going to see us again in two weeks to check on Ginger's progress. We're hopeful she'll be almost totally back to normal by then.

As for me, the congestion in my chest is about 75% gone and I'm feeling better. I'm still tiring easily, and sometimes at work this week I'd break out in a sweat and feel kind of weird for a while, but all in all there's been a lot of improvement. It felt good to go back to work. Two days back to a normal routine were enough to banish the last of that awful, anxious, "end of the world" dark cloud that had been dogging me for days. Keeping busy is good medicine, and it's hard to be sad when you're surrounded by lively young teenagers all day. :)

Thanks again for all the kind comments and concern for us. I'll update again soon. In the meantime, please send our girl plenty of good vibes as she recovers!

Ginger relaxing on the porch this morning after breakfast. She was smiling at me. ❤

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Low point

The last few days, yesterday in particular, have been one of the low points in my life. I hope by writing about it here I can relieve some of the heaviness on my heart.

Let me begin by saying that I've been sick. My cough got worse and worse over the weekend and then I started running a fever, so I finally gave in and saw the doctor at Urgent Care on Monday afternoon. I had (and still have) a bad case of bronchitis, and the doctor said I shouldn't have waited so long to get some help. He started me on a strong antibiotic with strict instructions to see my primary doctor later this week for a re-check. My oxygen levels were a little lower than normal, not dangerously so, but enough to give him some cause for concern. I felt really, really terrible.

In the middle of all this, we found out that our home warranty wasn't going to cover the latest repair to our air conditioning. It was going to be a huge expense to repair it (in the neighborhood of $1000) which we would be nuts to do for a 36 year old unit. So on Monday we also called a man that was highly recommended to us, and had a whole new HVAC installed. That cost us several thousand dollars, but at least it's done now.

So then while the guy was installing the new unit (and I was at the doctor) Gregg happened to be outside watching the dogs running around and barking at the workmen. Suddenly Ginger fell over, and when she got up, she was walking funny. Gregg's initial thought was that she had stepped into one of the holes they're forever digging in the back yard and had hurt her foot. But no, it was so much worse than that.

For the rest of the night, Ginger couldn't walk straight. She kept losing her balance, tilting her head to one side, and her eyes were darting around in a peculiar way, as if she couldn't see straight. In the middle of the night she vomited a couple of times. We were so scared. Gregg slept on the couch in the den beside her and watched her all night. I didn't get a bit of sleep, myself, between being scared for her and sick. I was up, showered, and waiting with her at the vet's office when they opened at 8am.

Our regular vet, Dr. Causey, is wonderful. I love and trust him and he takes wonderful care of our dogs. But Tuesdays are his day off, and a new young female vet was working instead. They took Ginger inside, and by the time I got the car parked, they were already bringing her back up front. The young (looking) girl holding Ginger's leash said, "We took her temperature and it's normal. This must be neurological, either a brain tumor or a stroke. Can you take her to the specialty animal hospital in Columbia? They do neurology and oncology there and that's the best place for her." I said, "Can I at least see a vet here first?" And she said, "I am a vet. I'm Dr. Harper." Well, my bad. I didn't know. So I said that sure, we could take Ginger to Columbia or wherever we needed to go. My heart was breaking and tears were streaming down my face. Dr. Harper said, "We'll call ahead and let them know you're coming" as she handed me directions. And just like that, she walked off. The office manager wasn't even looking my way, so I got her attention and said, "You'll make sure Ginger's records go out ahead of us? And you'll let them know we're coming?" and she said, "Yes, we will" and went back to her typing.

Guess what? They didn't call ahead.

So anyway  I raced home, calling Gregg on the way and telling him that we had to take Ginger to Columbia Veterinary Emergency Trauma Surgery which is about a 90 minute drive from here. I pulled into our driveway in full crisis mode to pick him up, Ginger drooling and panting in the backseat. George barked and whined at the gate as we pulled off and I felt so bad leaving him behind. He's utterly devoted to Ginger and he knew something was very, very wrong.

That drive was one of the worst experiences of my life. We were both convinced Ginger was going to die. This is the dog that showed up as a puppy on our back porch the year after we were married, and adopted us. The dog that was by Gregg's side every minute of every day for the 6 months he was out of work undergoing cancer surgery and chemotherapy. The dog that's as beloved as any human member of our family could ever possibly be. We both cried the whole way there. I'm not exaggerating when I say that that drive was a traumatic experience. At some point I remember thinking how glad I was that we had never had children, because life is just a long series of heartbreaks, one after another, and I wouldn't want to inflict that on another human being. I was in a bad, bad place.

But the story has a happy ending. Something I had Googled the night before turned out to be what was wrong with Ginger: Peripheral Vestibular Disease. Apparently it can sometimes be caused by an inner ear infection, which wasn't the case here, or it can just happen for unknown reasons. But the key thing is that it usually resolves itself completely over a period of a few days as long as all the dog's bloodwork comes back normal. And Ginger's bloodwork showed her to be remarkably healthy for a 12 year old dog. The only thing that hasn't come back yet are her thyroid panels, but everything else was superb and the vet said she expects Ginger to do very well. They told us to give her an over the counter human medicine for motion sickness once a day for 5 days and to have our primary vet do a follow up at the end of the week.

CVET was an amazing animal hospital. It's state of the art, offers all kinds of specialty animal medicine, and is open 24/7/365. I'm really happy to have it as a resource for future reference. The staff was incredible. But it was expensive....$725 altogether for blood tests and some fluids to rehydrate her. We could have had all that for half the cost at home, not to mention the truly awful car ride.....for a diagnosis I had found the night before with a 10 second Google search.

All because it was Dr. Causey's day off and the
new vet in the practice couldn't be bothered to give us more than 5 minutes of her time. I plan to have a good long talk with Dr. C. when I take Ginger for her follow up appointment later this week.

Of course I'm beyond grateful that she's probably going to be ok. When we got home with her yesterday we were both exhausted. We've been sick ourselves, and we had missed a whole night's sleep, and then with all the stress and was a horrible, horrible day. But at least our girl is still with us and expected to recover.

And then, right after we got home yesterday, there was this....

Oh, my heart. ❤

Georgie had his Ginger back.