Wednesday, April 30, 2008

White water rafting the real estate river..

See addendum at blog end for rest of story.

Well, blogger boys and girls, here's today's lesson. In the not so happy world of Real Estate in the 8th year of the century, there's many a slip twixt the offer, the contract and the payoff. Having watched my parents buy three houses and having bought and sold six in my life, I already knew the uncertainty of the business. Like life, nothing is certain until its over. As you know, dear readers, I've been working hard the past six weeks to get Mom's house cleared out and the necessary (minor) repairs done. My body was sore and my fingers torn up, but I did it. I was ready, willing, and able to close the deal today as the contract stated. Experience is a good teacher as the cliche goes.

But, for reasons that must be unknown to me, as of this moment, the buyers do not have their paperwork done, and have as far as I know, no intention (or perhaps no ability) to close this afternoon. After today, the contract no longer exists. Even though they are what HGTV likes to call, 'property virgins', they surely must know that.

They seem like a lovely young couple and seemed enthusiastic about the house before. It is, until May 1 dawns, a great deal for them. From what I can surmise though from the little information I have, they haven't been given much updated or useful advice from their realtor ( grapevine has it family member or friend). As of this morning, the title company didn't have their paperwork. A family member was providing some of the downpayment money. Maybe he changed his mind. Maybe they found another place they like better and don't care about losing the deposit. I don't know. Not my concern. They have an hour to get all done with loan commitment in mano to make the closing happen today. I doubt that will happen.

From my perspective, if they walk, they walk. If my realtor got two offers in the one month the house was on the market, she will get another. Even in these terrible economic times. I'll go over and put some candles and flowers here and there and artwork on the walls. Reinstate the yard man. Put fluffy towels in the bathrooms. Rewax the floors. That's all. We'll sell it unfurnished this time.

Whatever does or does not happen with this sale, I'm still glad I got everything all cleared out. Glad I found all the treasured letters and photos and stuff. It was a job I had to do eventually and better sooner than any later. Course, if this particular deal falls thru, I won't be able to waltz into my bank after closing and pay off the mortgage on my own house with the proceeds of Mom's. I can wait to be mortgage free, fortunately. Thanks to Mom, I am financially sound. Will be nice though, some day in the hopefully near future to be mortgage free forever! 'Specially in these troubling times.

So, dear readers, I'll let you know what happens. As somebody said, I can't remember who, "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is."

So, whatever, I'm going to get back to my book edits, go to the beach, and pick up where I left off last December on my own house updates n stuff. I'm glad I waited to redo the wood floors, since I've decided on tile instead. Chili peed on the dining room rug again yesterday. I can do the math. Chili+ carpet+wood floors=damage. Can't hurt tile.

I'm going to clear out my garage and closets paint the dining room. I'm sick of the salmon color. Get new window treatments for my library/office. New door, shelving, and window in garage. Buy new a/c system and replumb. Retile and resurface pool. I'll even go out and tackle my jungly back yard again. Just call me reno-girl. I can do anything. Except straighten out the confusopoly of Mother's stocks. Oh day...

Live long and prosper.

Well, bloggers, it is six hours later. I am about to go out for a high calorie Mexican dinner and come down off my closing stress afternoon. The closing did happen after all: about 45 minutes after it was supposed to and didn't end until six when I got my check in my hand. Just in time to miss being able to pay off my own mortgage today. Oh, well, there's tomorrow. I didn't know it (the closing) was gonna happen until a whopping five minutes before it did. I still couldn't begin to guess who dropped whatever balls were in the air. Maybe nobody, but it did seem that this one was the most chaotic I've ever experienced. Its a crazy time anyway in the financial world with rules changing so fast and completely. And this closing involved FHA which means government. We all know how well government agencies function these days. Remember Katrina? Don't care though, now that all is done. It was kind of a weird closing compared to the others I've done in the past. But, it is over for better or worse. I hope the young couple will be happy with Mom's house.

Onward to new projects. Some fun: Amy's graduation, activating our Sea World passes, going to the beach. Seeing Baby Alex more often. Making up for lost writing time and getting Between The Lines in print. More home renovations like I said. Practicing dog agility with Ginny. Getting jury duty over with. I start tomorrow, paying off my last mortgage. Great God Almighty, I be free at last.

Live long and prosper.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday Monday

Well Bloggers, it was a Busy week end. Friday night after work, we went to a production of an improvisational theatrical mystery. Fun as it turned out. Saturday after dog walking, we went to Lakeland for Stephen and Casey's baby shower. Got back in time to stop by Ikea for shopping and Swedish meatballs. Sunday we cleared out the last stuff at Mom's house, then met friend Karen at Donatos pizza.

All was well until Danny decided to upgrade my desktop computer which runs Linux Ubuntu to the new Hearty heron program. Like updating Mac to Jaguar or Windows to Vista. Well, he wiped all clean, installed the bird thing and then I discovered he'd forgotten to save the files on my desktop screen. What was up there you might wonder? Well, mostly unimportant stuff...and the ONLY file I had of my poetry book manuscript. The manuscript that was one last line and one last content edit away from sending off to the publisher.

No, I didn't get mad or cry or yell. Danny was tired. Anybody can make a mistake. And he felt real bad about it. I did feel sick and panicky and, well, like somebody had punched me in the gut. Punched me hard.

Then I had a dim memory of putting one of the versions of the manuscript on my jump drive. Thankfully it was there. A fairly recent version, without the edits and final formatting and missing four poems I have in my poetry file. But close enough to keep me in business. I've lost some weeks of editing and formatting work, but not the book. So, its okay.

Lesson here folks. Keep multiple copies of everything. On jump drives, discs, hard copies, X drive. Whatever. Just keep multiples. Always. Update those copies too.

Chili ripped up Danny's good backpack stealing sandwiches and Zone bars. Guess she hasn't figured out zippers yet.

Live long and prosper.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

rascal dawgs n such

I found this photo in my pictures file and had to look twice. Don't remember where I got it, but I know why I saved it. Somebody is a brave soul since it is two ACDs (Australian Cattle Dogs) and a 'hoola (Catahoula Leopard Dog). I can only imagine what it would be like to have one more ACD in the house. Total breakdown of all functioning systems.

One ACD is almost more than I can handle most of the time...and I am a confirmed dog person and experienced owner. Chili, my ACD, is the most challenging dog I've ever owned. And I've had Corgis, hoolas, a Rottweiler, and an Akita. All known to be hard to handle. Chili has em all beat. Chili is the Queen of Chaos.

She is busy every minute. Forget 'bout the epilepsy or allergy drugs making her tranked. Recovered from picking a fight with Ginny a week past, she lead Ginny into a bit of typical rascally business yesterday while I was walking my 'good dog' Abby, a Rottie mix. Not content with trashcan dumpster diving, the dynamic duo broke into the pantry and into a box of spaghetti, a box of Life cereal, a box of Honey Nut Cheerios, graham crackers, and most notably...a can of peppered 'Squirrel' brand Virginia peanuts.

After returning from our walk and cleaning up the mess, I called the vet. I knew the rest of the stuff wouldn't hurt them and didn't suppose the peanuts would either, but just in case thought it wise to ask. When the vet stopped laughing, he said it was okay. While on the phone with the vet's office Chili tried to steal my turkey sandwich off the kitchen counter. She's a pip.

Do you suppose she recognized the drawing of the squirrel on the can...and thought they were going to eat, ah, squirrel nuts? With a ACD, you can take nothing for granted.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My RX for back and hip pain

Yesterday, my left hip and low back hurt so bad that I felt crippled. I tried some stretching, lying down, a hot bath, a heating pad, and finally Ibuprofen. None helped. I could hardly turn over in bed. Could barely concentrate on anything. I was grumpy. I could walk, but if I sat down, getting up was excruciating. My concern, since I am a flaming hypochondriac, was sudden onset arthritis...with soon to follow broken hip...and doom. Ya know, that old chronic impending death syndrome. Runs in my family. My rational moments hope was that I'd done some muscle injury moving extremely heavy boxes when I've not been regularly working out for over a year and a half.

Well, after supper and after listening patiently to me moan and groan and watching me play with one of my mother's many canes and say, "Woe is poor little me", Danny suggested Yoga. We did 45 minutes of poses for hip, legs, and back. And guess what? Today I feel at least 80% better. Only a wee bit stiff and sore when I twist the waist. Getting up easier and much quicker. Slept like the proverbial baby too. Energized like the big pink bunny.

So, boys and girls, although this is a purely personal observation, I believe Yoga works to relieve pain and stiffness and muscle cramping! I am going to do it again tonight. Of course, if you haven't been lifting heavy boxes and steel shelving and you have sudden onset pain coupled with an inability to move I recommend a doctor visit.

On another tack: We moved another truck load of stuff to storage last evening. Earlier in the day, I took six heavy cartons of Mother's books to the library for donation. (Were in my car already) When I called the library, they said somebody would help me carry the books in. When I got there though, there was only one very elderly lady working in the used book store. I sighed. More back pain loomed ahead for me. Very fortunately, a man walking into the library volunteered to carry the books for me. Six whole boxes. Thank God for Good Samaritans. They still exist. I will pass the good deed on.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Progress Report

Well, my little bloggers, I can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel of Mother's house clear out...we worked most of the week end at it and got most of the bonus room/Free Geek storage area cleared out and successfully tackled the storage area off the carport as well. Yes, folks, we fought the dust and survived. Only one teensy weensie spider barely visable even to me too. My dad must have used the carport area as a work room at one time. It was a little sad, even after 15 years, to see his neatly hung pegboard with what now appears antique tools. Danny found an old hand lawn mower that still works and mowed a little of the lawn for fun. As far as treasures go, we found some wonderful antique chairs but they are in such poor condition that I don't think I will try to save them. An antique butter churn was falling apart, but the family cradle looks pretty good. Some dishes and pottery from Mexico, and an old copper washtub with lid are savable.

We reorganized the rental storage unit so we can bring the rest of the stuff over. Went to Lowes and bought some heavy duty adjustable steel shelving for the Free geek monitors and Danny assembled it...put half of the monitors on it. Took a few pieces of my furniture over from our garage too. I feel so much better. It looks like we will be ready for closing on the 30th at this rate. If I can get the stuff I'm giving away to Good Will dropped off and the nine boxes of books for the library, etc. Hard to do by myself when my hip hurts so much of the time.

We took some time off Friday night to visit with friends out on Lake Harney. We got lost about five times getting there, taking about an hour and wasting all sorts of gasoline. But we did enjoy our visit. Last night we went out for an Italian supper out rented the film There Will Be Blood. Amazing performance by amazing Daniel Day Lewis. No wonder he won the Oscar!

Tonight just after supper Chili had a major epileptic seizure. This one was a scary one, so, I finally gave in and put her on Phenobarbitol. She seems tired but so far so good. No adverse reaction to the meds. Here's hoping that it helps her.

Tomorrow, more work at the house. Its Danny's last class night of the semester. One class to go over the summer and he's finished the first IT degree. Then on to UCF. He's done well.

All for now. Ta.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Agility, Spiders, n other stuff

You'd never guess from this photo but Ginny is really good at dog agility. She started intermediate level last night and had a bang-a-rang time. She got the hang of the a-frame, tire, table, weave poles, and jumps right away. Her favorite thing that she understands what to tunnels. She'd rather do tunnels than anything else. If there are several jumps before the tunnel so much the better. What she doesn't like is the sea saw (teeter totter). She wasn't alone in her aversion to the thing. All of the other dogs in her class refused to stay on it as well. The trainers recommended that we lay a ladder down on the grass and practice with her walking across it. Get her used to where her feet go. We'll try. I don't blame the dogs. I always hated the sea saw as a kid. The other kid would always jump off when I was up in the air and I'd crash. Ouch!! The dogs don't seem to mind the motion as much as the banging. Natural to jump off in the middle.

It looks like the sale of Mother's house is going to close on April 30. That gives me a little over a week to finish my jobs there. Only three week end days with Danny to help move stuff into the storage room with his truck since we're going to Lakeland for Stephen and Casey's baby shower next Sat.. The pressure is on. I was so proud of myself yesterday. I actually tackled the walk in storage closet out in the 'bonus room' between the kitchen and carport. Had been putting it off for fear of encountering my arch enemy. For those who don't know...arachnids. Ya know, those eight legged horrors. Spiders.

Lions and tigers n bears are fine. At snakes and roaches I shrug. But, I'll jump up on the highest chair if a spider is down on the rug. That rhymes, I know. I know spiders eat bugs. I like bugs better. I know spiders are a vital part of nature. I don't care. I hate spiders. I saw Charlotte's Web. I don't care double. Spiders are not cute. If one talked to me, I'd still smash the nasty thing. The itsy bitsy spider was crawling all about. I saw him coming and gave a little shout. Down came my shoe and smashed him on the floor. Now, the itsy bitsy spider won't scare me anymore. So there.

Anyway, there weren't any you know whats in the closet. Just dust, Christmas decorations, a dog crate, my father's wheel chair, and a giant electric wok. That gave me the courage to face the last area to be cleaned out: the dreaded storage area off the carport. I've never been in there. Not in all the decades my parents lived in their house. I opened the door and peeked in. Looks like a lot of stuff to be gone over. Sigh. Please, just no dang spiders.

This week end we're planning to get the crazillions of Free Geek computers we've been storing at Mom's out of the bonus room, clear out the books (9 boxes) I'm giving to the library, move the rest of the stuff inside the house we're keeping to storage, and maybe with a little luck get crackin' on the carport stuff. Working every week end since New Year's except art festival week end on getting the house ready to sell and then clearing the house has been miserable. I'm so glad we're nearly done. I'll be glad as well to close the deal, settle the Estate, complete the organizing of Mom's things and get back to living my own life. To spend time with Baby Alex, finish the edits on my next book, continue the updates on my own house that I had to suspend last December, have time for Yoga and work outs, and cycling again!! I won't even mind jury duty...much.

Tonight, we're off to friend Karen's for pizza and to watch Danny fix her computers. Chili got her sutures out this afternoon but not her hat off yet. She tried to start a rumble with a Flat Coat Retriever in the vet's waiting room. She is a Hell dog. (Australian Cattle Dog=trouble) Anybody who has a cow that needs chased, let me know. She needs the outlet.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Remembering My parents

Pictured above: Miss Nordena Miller at eighteen, Sgt. William Harry Wayman, US Army Air Corps c 1943, Nordena and Bill in 1978 with Abby I

Dear Bloggers,
I write fiction and poetry in my real life. Diary entries and sometimes rants in Blog forum. Occasionally a true life adventure piece. I don't generally write an essay and I have no interest in attempting the Memoir genre. However, having made that somewhat clumsy disclaimer, I offer today a piece on my parents. Somebody recently asked me about my mother and it got me to thinking. Today's piece is the result. So, if you don't want to hear about Nordena and Bill, check back another time. Otherwise, read on.


The first anniversary of my mother's death is coming in several weeks. That sad fact in combination with having to pack and move all of her household goods prior to selling her home has got me to thinking a lot about my parents recently. Pouring through old letters, documents, and family photos has made me see them in new ways. It has been bittersweet. Like all children, I suppose I saw my parents as supporting players in a drama in which I always held the starring role. Busy with the process of growing up and growing middle aged, I never really paused to consider them as individual people in their own rights. Now that they are both gone and I am (shudder) the family matriarch, I wonder, who were these two people really?

I wish I could have known them as children and teen agers and young married folks. The letters and photos I found in the closets and drawers of their house help a bit in delving through my own memories and filling the blank spaces. I am in one of those 'passage' points in life –whether I wish to be or not-- and in order to move into my own final years, I feel the need to process the past. Whew! Weighty subject!

So, I ask myself again, who were these people? Were they unique or more likely a product of their time and place? My parents were members of what we call, “The Greatest Generation” and their parents were born in the nineteenth century, at the end of the Victorian Era, when America was morphing from an agricultural society into an industrial giant and world leader.

In that era, parts of America were still frontier. Wyatt Earp, Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill were alive. Civil War veterans still marched in parades. Electricity and the telephone were new. So was deodorant and indoor plumbing. (I can only say "Yuck" to that). Ninety percent of America's roads were unpaved and Henry Ford was still tinkering with the automobile. The Wright Brothers had not yet flown an airplane. In that now distant century, rugged individualism was praised as was a “can do, make do” attitude, however there was a strong sense of community and cooperation as well. America was booming with optimism and bulging with immigrants from all over the world while most of the rest of the world was still ruled by kings and queens and emperors. The values and morals and social customs of the late Victorians were well defined and, by our lax modern standards at least, very strict.

My parents were raised by those strict late Victorians, who were also the survivors of World War One. My father, born William Harry Wayman in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1916, made it safely through the great post WWI flu pandemic that killed millions. My mother, Nordena Carol Wilson Miller, born a year post pandemic in 1920 in Butler Pa, lost an older brother and sister. My parents grew up in the economic misery of the Great Depression and came of age just in time for World War II. They'd already learned to be tough. To place honor and duty above personal gain. Sacrifice and hard world was expected. They hoped for stability and worked to achieve it. Personal happiness was desired but neither expected nor seen as a God given right. The grandchildren and great grandchildren of Americas pioneer's, they lived up to the title we now give them. They were 'the greatest generation' of their own century. Their like may not be seen again.

But, even seen in the context of their world, who were these two people who raised me? Born in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania, they were ethnically the typically pioneer Pennsylvanian: a mix of English, German, and Scots-Irish. Their fore bearers defied England's might and literally helped create America. Despite the passage of centuries, my parents retained the pioneer mentality: take care of yourself and your community. Don't tread on me and I won't tread on you, but I'm not taking orders I don't agree with.

Mother was the passionate, mercurial, fiery parent, a genealogy buff and guardian of a thousand years of her family's history. She would frequently admonish me with pointing finger when riled up about one thing or another, “Never forget that your ancestors once ruled England!” Then, she would pause and laughing at herself add, “Of course that, and the correct change, will buy you a cup of coffee.” I never forgot her words. How could I when treated to a spectacle of this lady looking and sounding like Bette Davis in Elizabeth, the Queen, pacing back and forth in the living room of our small house in the Pennsylvania burbs with her lavender-blue eyes seeming to flash fire. All she needed was Cecil B DeMille asking if she was ready for her close up. She'd have been great on film in another life.

It was true though: Mother's family tree did indeed include royalty. Also Hessian mercenaries, two American Presidents, German and Irish indentured servants, Quakers, Scottish political prisoners, Revolutionary and Civil war vets, missionaries, teachers, farmers, doctors, and lawyers... but as far as I know... no Indian chiefs. An Indian captive during the French and Indian War, though. Come to think on it, if Indians had come round the cabin door lookin' for trouble with Mother in charge, she'd have shot them between the eyes, replaced the family Pennsylvania long rifle on its hooks atop the fireplace mantel and calmly gone back to making stew. Nobody messed with Mother and got away unscathed.

With or without the drama, Mother's stories made the past live for me in a very direct way and I credit her with my lifelong fascination with history. She, the gregarious social parent, literally forced good manners on me. (It must have been an exhausting and daunting job since I resisted enthusiastically on every occasion throughout my entire childhood.) Mother was strict and persistent though: a lioness of a woman with straight back, porcelain skin and a cloud of chocolate hair. A lifelong staunch Republican, too. She admittedly melted under the warmth of the JFK charm when meeting him in New york during his campaign for President but still voted for the other guy. Opinionated, stubborn, independent, perhaps a bit of a snob at times, she was also unflinchingly honest and fair. Kind, funny, and smart. She loved to dance, loved to read, loved the theatre and films and dogs. She had her own set of quirky standards: even on the day she died she was wearing freshly self laundered clothes, lipstick and jewelry.

She was producer, director, writer and leading player of her own life story. In her later years, she grew fond of silly hats and Elton John like sunglasses. Deaf as a post, she somehow managed to stay on top of things, frequently saying, “I didn't just fall off a turnip truck you know.” True oh so true.

I wish I'd been a fly on the wall to see my mother as a young girl and young woman: riding a shiny black horse in competition, scandalizing the ladies of the bridge club on their trip to New York where she proved she really could kick as high as a Rockette, watching her finagle her way onto a military transport train for a free ride to Pittsburgh from Boston in WWII (pretending to be a pregnant woman with a pillow tied under her blouse), seeing her confidently interviewing Mickey Rooney, Katherine Hepburn, and Judy Garland for her high school paper. Sadly, I didn't usually get to see her have fun.

My father, on the other hand, was always fun. Fun radiated off him. If those same troublesome Indians of Mother's paragraph had come round with Daddy in the cabin, the story would have gone differently. No shots would have been fired. Everyone would have ended up sitting around the fire drinking potlikker, swapping jokes, with Daddy being made an honorary Mohawk or Huron. Everybody liked Daddy. I admit happily to being “Daddy's girl.” Maybe because I wear the face of his German fore bearers. Or because I have their weird wacky sense of humor. I dunno. In any case, we always got along like a house a fire.

My father, who died in 1992 after suffering for years from Parkinson's Disease, was, and remains, my hero. Calm, patient, wise, and witty, he was also our neighborhood's 'Mr Fix IT'. An Engineer, Air Force Veteran, and star college athlete in golf, he was known for creative practical jokes. Unlike me, he wasn't chatty but when he did say something it was memorable. He enjoyed kids. He made a Halloween fun house for the entire neighborhood every year and never flinched at taking a dozen of us to the circus or to ride the ponies. He taught me to ski. He tried, without much success, to teach me to bowl, play softball, and box. He read stories backwards and made up languages that sounded just like the real thing. He took me to museums and the county fair with equal enthusiasm.

As far as I know, despite his propensity for practical jokes, my father never had an enemy. He could, as I wrote in a poem, “Talk to princes and homeless folk and like them both the same.” He lead from behind. Never raised his voice, never knowingly hurt another human being. Although he would have scoffed at the term, he personified that hard to define aura of class. He was unfailingly supportive of me and gave me the positive example of treating my mother as an equal partner in their marriage. He told me that there was nothing I could not accomplish if I wanted to put my mind to it. Being born female was second to nothing in our household.

My father came home every night a six from work and helped me struggle through my math homework. He was there for every school Open House, every recital, every play. So was my mother. It may be that she fussed over my sometimes shaky health a bit too much for my liking. Mother and I didn't always see eye to eye but I always knew she was on my side. It mattered.

My parents were ordinary folks in the sense that neither did anything in their lives that the world will stop turning and take notice of. But, to me at least, they were special and unique. Now that they're gone, I truly realize how fortunate I was growing up in the loving and stable home environment they provided. I wish I'd said thank you when I could have.

Now, my parents live only in the tales I write about children growing up. If you read them, you will know Nordena and Bill even if their names in the stories are different. I guess, that is the only tribute I can humbly offer. To not be forgotten as long as the stories are printed on paper and hopefully enjoyed.

Live long and prosper.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cat in the hat n some doggeral

Aren't these pictures a hoot? They are Laura's very unhappy cat in a fish hat. He doesn't care that he looks cute, although he does. He looks mad as heck. Poor little kitty, wearing red fish blue fish. Wonder if he likes green eggs n ham?

I actually got time today to run through my poetry book manuscript in an editor-ish manner. It was the first time this entire month that I've had more than few minutes to sit creatively at my keyboard doing something just for myself. I long for the days (to come again) when I can sit and write all day long if I want to. Hopefully, that will happen by this June. In any case, I think the book is close to finished. Maybe write a few more poems, but its all formatted and titled and I've got the cover idea.

Since Chili's been injured again and in hospital to the tune of a few more bucks, I thought I'd post a poem I wrote in her honor two years ago. With Chili, its always some drama. Here's the poem:


By Nancy Wayman Deutsch

You didn’t die this time, luckily,
although the doctor spoke of esophageal tears,
intestinal blockage, or possible pancreatic disease.
It cost five hundred dollars for x-rays and fluid bags and blood work
some pills that I had to hide in canned food rolled like a meatball.
But luckily, it was just a bad case of gastroenteritis.

Luckily, when you threw up next to me I was already sitting,
so I didn’t plop down in the slimy black green mess
which looked like a toxic dump in a third world country
and smelled worse than a baby’s dirty diaper.
You chose my new plaid sofa to throw up on,
but luckily, I’d put a blanket over the cushions,
and paid extra, for Scotchguard.

You didn’t die, this time.
Maybe next time though, you will
if you keep eating carpet in the bedroom doorway,
if you keep opening up the kitchen cabinet door,
sticking your head into the garbage can
gobbling up week old turkey and green bean casserole,
the one made with the onions toxic to normal dogs,
but maybe not to one like you,
one who had dingos scratching fleas
underneath her family tree, not so long ago.

You snatch a chicken bone,
hiding underneath the ivy in the neighbors yard
swallowing it faster than light speed, not concerned at all
for brittle bones that choke and poke inside a little dog,
ripping tender parts that never designed for such treats.

You are not supposed to swallow the squeakers inside the fluffy duck
nor chew the rubbery cord snaking from the lamp you knocked over,
or lick the toad in the Mondo grass beside the garage.
Come to think of it, you are not supposed to eat the grass, either.
But you do. You always do the first thing that crosses your little doggy mind.
That’s how you broke your hip, wrestling with a pit bull
the one who outweighs you by seventy pounds of solid muscle.

Luckily for me and luckily for you, up to now
it seems you have a guardian angel.
Maybe it’s Belle, looking down from the rainbow bridge
trying somehow to make good on a job not finished.

So, luckily, you didn’t die last week.
I wish I could make you understand
but we don’t speak the same language
I think in words and you think in smells
if you really think, at all.

I’m only trying to keep you alive
and its not easy, might as well stop a hurricane in its path
or convince the earth to stand still on its axis.
I’m only trying to keep you alive
so I can have the time to love you.

So you can twist my heart in ten years or so
when you give me the final surprise and die, like Belle
on a Sunday night between twelve and twelve-o-five,
heartbeat stopping, between a whimper and a sigh.

All for tonight my little Bloggers. Live long and prosper.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

of tykes, trials and tribulations

Here's two photos of our recent visitors, Sir Benjamin of Buford and his sister, Lady Alexandra the Fair. Danny has the cutest widdle nephews and nieces.

Today was a challenge in patience. Started out okay. After breakfast, Danny replaced a dozen rotten boards along the back fence while I walked the dogs but then the day seemed to go downhill from there. He was going to put the storage shed together we bought last night for the back yard but discovered the land sloped where he planned to put it. So, another trip to Lowes for concrete blocks, gravel and boards was in order.We planned to go to Mother's for more loads of stuff for storage first but somehow got a really late start. We accomplished one trip and planned one more before going to Lowes, but I wanted to stop home to check on Chili.

I'd put her in her crate just in case she and Ginny had another disagreement. I didn't put water in the crate since she always knocks it over and makes a mess and was concerned about her. We walked in the door and nearly passed out from the smell. She'd pooped in the cage...all over the cage and on the dog bed and towel. She was sitting in poop. She can't have a soap and water bath with stitches. She has long fur. You do not want any more of this story. Suffice to say, we didn't get back to Mother's for more clearing out which is unfortunate since I think we're behind schedule and on a deadline. But, life keeps happening. And I'm not putting Chili in the crate anymore. If she wants to pick a fight and get creamed, let her.

Anyway apres poop, I had to deal with some annoying stuff online regarding board nominations for a volunteer group I belong to. Used to be a great group with great camaraderie doing a great event. For the past year, a squabbling group of warring factions, bruised feelings, swollen egos, he said/she said, etc. Not fun anymore. Hurting the event, too. Many people say they are thinking of quitting. I tried to help with Nominations. I did it for two other groups this year which went smooth as silk. But not this one. The slate and election is apparently one more bone of contention in an overly contentious year. I'm over the whole thing. Done. Finis! Why does this always seem to happen in Volunteerism? I don't understand how people seem to forget the reason for doing the work is the event or the charity not their own personal agenda. I've seen it happen again and again. One reason why I do very little volunteering anymore. I just don't have the patience with the agendas and the egos. Oh well, rant over.

I'm gonna watch Jody Foster kick some butt in the film "The Brave One." Hopefully, tomorrow will be a smoother day. And there's still ice cream in the freezer. Ta.

Friday, April 11, 2008

On and of little people

Here's some new Alex/Amy pictures and Alex with Auntie Laura and her friend Paul. I think Alex's gonna be a big boy...already going into six months clothes! And he's only three months old.

Speaking of little ones, we spent some interesting hours this week with Danny's brother (Mark), wife (Nichole) and cute as bugs copper haired children, four -year-old Ben and two-year-old Lexi. The family was in town for a Disney/ Universal vacation and to visit with us. Last night we took them out for Mexican food and I remembered what it was like to wear spatters of chocolate milk in my hair. (Straw Wars). Been a long time. I also forgot that rice can be eaten one grain at a time.

Ben is at the stage where he has a dozen questions a minute. An information sponge! Probably gonna grow up to be an actor, professor, or maybe...even a writer. Lexi is the quiet reflective analytical type. She was fascinated by Chili's wire crate. She figured out how to unlock it and crawled inside to nap on Chili's faux sheepskin bed. Ben got rascally and locked her in. When ready, she calmly reached out and unlatched it. Didn't cry for help. Didn't need it. An engineer's daughter.

Today, I caught up on sleep after being up pretty much all night the night before with Chili's Vet Clinic crisis. She is fine and manages quite well with the e collar. I think she's practicing to play Jai Alai with her ball.

I'm off to have Oreo ice cream and watch battle Star Gallactica. Live long and prosper, Earthlings.

PS: We extend out deepest sympathy to Elias, Amy and the entire Khoury family on the unfortunate and accidental death of Elias's first cousin, Eli Khoury last night.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

In which Chili gets Ko'd

Chili is an Australian Cattle Dog. ACDs are also sometimes called Blue Heelers. Cattle dogs have Dingo DNA. Cattle dogs are tough, smart, frequently aggressive, driven, a challenging breed 'not for the novice owner'. Well, duh. I'm not a novice owner. I've had corgis, an Akita, a purebred Rottweiler and a half Rot. Two Catahoulas. And Chili. She is the most difficult of the lot. By far.

Chili raids the trash and opens the pantry. Chili chews rugs and pees wherever she shouldn't. Chili challenges every dog and every human walker we see on our walks. Chili bites our other two dogs whenever she gets excited. She is an Alpha with a capital A. She is also, as you can see from her photo, excruciatingly cute. Loving, protective, cuddly.

Tonight she decided to see what would happen if she attacked our Catahoula, Ginny while Ginny was eating. Intimidate the hoola and steal her food. Fun, eh, mates? Ginny snarled and warned her off. Chili dove for the bowl. Ginny reared back. Chili, not content with stealing the food, bit Ginny on the face. Chaos ensued.

I yelled for Danny who grabbed Ginny's back feet and yanked with no effect at all. I threw a pot of water over the battling dogs. The dogs continued to fight. The kitchen floor was soaked and slippery, Danny fell down, Chili continued to chomp down on Ginny's face while Ginny held on tight to Chili's leg and shook her like a rag doll from side to side. I banged pots. The dogs continued the fight. So much for the advice of dog experts.

Somehow, I don't know how, we got them separated. Ginny had a nasty puncture wound on her face. Chili got the worst of it by far. She was limping badly and had a three inch flap of skin hanging from a leg wound oozing blood. Three or four more bites on the other leg and several on the face. I spent three hours in the Emergency Vet Clinic before they sent me home. They're doing X-rays of her paws, cleaning and treating her cuts, stitching up her bad leg wound. They're splinting the leg. If its broken, she may have to have surgery. She's on opiates and antibiotics. So far, I've spent six hundred dollars. I'm supposed to pick her up whenever they call...may be the middle of the night.

All in all, a dreadful and expensive evening. Chili is not Rocky. I just wish she knew that!

I have to go pick up Chili alone since Danny has to be up at six thirty for work. I'm not driving half way across town in the middle of the night without Abby, my half Rott, in the car with me for protection, though. Abby is Rocky...and she knows she doesn't have to prove it, either.

Live long and prosper.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


This is a Petscan of a headache. Not my head, you understand. My head would show lots more yellow, cause I have one Godzilla of a headache. Could flatten Tokyo. I've had it all friggin day and all friggin evening. I've taken Excedrin and Bufferin and several doses of allergy medication but nothing helps. My neck muscles are tighter than Madonna's abs and my eyes are swollen and feel like they might, with a little more encouragement, pop out of my skull like a champagne cork from a bottle. When I look in the mirror, I'm suprized that the dagger that I feel sticking in my left ear isn't actually there on this plane of reality.

It has rained all day and all evening, too. Rained most of yesterday and last night. We even lost electric power. Yesterday, with the approaching storm system and the fluctuating barometric pressure, my hip joints ached all day. This morning, I woke up with normal joints but in Headache Hell. It's gotta be the weather...all the mold, etc. Or maybe all the extra dust I breathed in all week packing up old stuff at Mother's and transporting it to storage. Allergies+barometric changes+stress=headaches. Happens for me all too often this time of year.

I looked up headaches on Wikipedia. Did you know that headaches are also caused (triggered) by eyestrain, dehydration, estrogen fluctuation, blood sugar drops, and sinusitus? I've got all of those too. Yeah, all of them. Woe is poor little me.

According to Wiki, the brain itself can't feel pain cause it lacks nocieptors. I haven't got the slightest idea what a nocieptor is and I don't really care. Sounds like a dinosaur, which would actually be more interesting to have around than a headache. Anyhoo, the head has a network of nerves, blood vessels, muscles and meninges which can and do transmit pain. Cluster headaches, vascular headaches, migraines. All of which are one big ouch. Especially on a dreary rainy week end when you're on a countdown to a real estate closing and trying to move furniture and cardboard boxes from a house to a storage facility.

Despite the headache, we did manage to get most of the stuff moved and joined Danny's brother and family out by Disney for dinner. Couldn't walk the poor dogs though. I guess rainy days are as hard or harder on them than us. At least we humans don't have to go out in a monsoon to potty. I wonder if dogs get headaches. too?

I also wonder what meninges are?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ginny passes a test and I find more treasures

Ginny has graduated from agility level one. She had her tests tonight and got her official Dog On It Club certificate. She did great: even did the tunnels correctly and held the sit and down /stays for the correct times. Danny was happy. He didn't fall down this week, either. Level two begins next week, barring horrible weather.

When all the dogs were on the field and about a third of the way through the tests, a Border Collie/Husky mix on lead and owner unknown to all the other dogs entered through the gate. The Border Collie began lunging and barking and showing an aggressive posture. Every dog on the field, without exception, stopped their exercises cold to hurl swear barks at the newcomer. "Wait a cotton pickin minute," they seemed to say, "you're not a member of our agility pack, and we certainly didn't invite you in." The dogs were used to ignoring each other for the past six weeks during training. All bets were off with a 'rude' newcomer.

Since dogs are worked on lead during level one, there were no individual nose to nose confrontations. Had the dogs been off lead though, about twenty five dogs would have instantly surrounded the stranger at the gate. He then would have realized he'd better mind his manners. And he would have. Leashes keep dogs from being able to show and read proper canine body language. As it was, the new dog continued to bother everybody for awhile until the other dogs got bored with him, interested in their liver and chicken bait rewards, and ignored him. The interesting thing to me was that the owner seemed to be oblivious of the chaos she caused bringing him into the middle of a training class. She never corrected him. Dunno who she was. Nobody ever said. For all I know she was a 'ringer' sent by the trainers to distract everybody. If so, it worked. At least briefly.

I'm still clearing out and packing up Mother's house. I had an unhappy find today. At the top of a closet, I found an old suitcase that was crumbling. Inside, it was full of old photographs, newspapers, letters, and journals. All water damaged and unreadable. Flaking into moldy piles. I was able to tell (barely) that several of the letters, bound in string were from Arizona territory in the 1870s. A crumbling journal belonged to James H Miller. Either his Civil War journal or the original from Ft Defiance. At the bottom of the suitcase were some Indian made items. Looked like the bags medicine men wore. Beadwork. Once beautiful. Now ruined. I couldn't save any of it. It was beyond repair. I will always wonder whose face once looked out of the ruined Dagerrotype photograph. I'll never know now. I was able to save a dagger also in the suitcase, lying next to the Indian bags. The sheath is bedragged, but the knife is still shinning steel and very sharp. Engraved on it are these words: "Never draw me without reason nor sheath me without honour."

I must presume the knife belonged to James Miller or his son, William. So, it was either my great great or my great grandfather's. Anywhere from 150 to 100 years old probably. In any case it belonged to a man of honour. James, who fought to preserve his country in The Civil War and attempted to better the lives of his Navajo friends in the West or William who volunteered in middle age to serve in the trenches in France as a doctor during World War One.

I have only one more closet to clear out in the 'bonus' room and then must tackle the storage room off the carport. More interesting finds perhaps. Or not. I just hope there aren't spiders! Then, at last, I'll be done. Move the rest of the furniture to storage and find homes for the giveaway stuff. Three more weeks to the deadline. I'm taking some time off tomorrow for lunch with a friend and an hour's shopping.

That's all for now. Ta.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Some more pictures unearthed today

I unearthed four more big boxes of photos at Mom's today. Among the gems were picture number one, yours truly in third grade (never mind the year); number two, Carrie Rose Sill who was my Grandfather Miller's (pictured in the last blog entry) mother; and my cute lil Amy wearing my mother's blue rain slicker. Amy's pix was probably taken around 1983 or 1984. Hard to believe Amy is now all grown up and a mother herself!
I packed for four and a half hours this afternoon. Walked three dogs twice, did active yoga and I am going to bed. I'm wiped.
Live long and prosper!