Days 21-31

The cone. Is. OFF!

There has been much celebrating, in the form of rolling on the ground, biting ankles, biting toys, scavaging for rabbit poo, and barking just to bark. I think she wanted to burn the cone under the full moon and dance around it.

I was hesitant to take the cone off, but my husband said the stitches were done doing their thing, and most of the healing under the scab was done. It’s nice having a paramedic / EMT spousal unit. It’s like having a reference book you don’t have to carry around. And what am I a reference for? Well, if he is interested in story structure and genre and themes and the hero’s journey, well, he knows who to turn to.

Took the pups on a hike today. A new trail and I was getting quite bored. Trees rocks snow, kaaaaay. Then I met some people coming up the trail and they mentioned caves. Caves? Yes, I will cross the stream twice over slippery, crackling ice to see limestone caves. And we did.

Day 5

  • I had a funny observation earlier today, but I forgot what it was. I always think I’ll remember, and I never do
  • Skidded on ice during my drive into work this morning and almost hit a big moving van head on.
  • Had to change the dressing on Mayhem’s foot because I forgot to wrap it during a pee break. She snapped at me a couple times, but I did it!
Not their usual formation but I didn’t want to disturb the patient

Day 3

I slept through my alarm this morning. Swear it was that drink I mentioned yesterday.

Going through my chapters this afternoon, and I really have to stop myself from editing as I go. I just recently learned that you were just supposed to charge through. You’re supposed to come back later, several times actually: tweak your story, then your writing, then micro-tweak your sentences. I’ve always jumped to micro-tweak.

I’m so sick of this damn story I dread going through it again, but I promised myself that I would finish it. I wish I got a developmental editor years ago, even if it was just for a month or two.

Took Mayhem to the vet this morning for a cyst on her front paw. They don’t like the look of it and think it might be cancerous, surgery scheduled for tomorrow morning. I have to admit that I did cry in the waiting room. I am still very scarred about what happened with Max, but I also learned a lot.

Stay calm, don’t freak out, wait for test results. In the meantime, love and play.

Day 2

I’ve been living off of miso soup and protein shakes. Of course I blame the reason for my headache-y lethargy to not taking my multi. Yeah, no. I have chapters and six (short) scene analysis due on Thursday morning, which is just three short sunrises away and I do my best work in the a.m., so I have got to get it together.

A few weeks ago, I ordered some samples from a company that has mushroom based protein powder and coffee and elixer/potion stuff. I accidentally drank one of their “chill” chai latte at work, having read the word “latte” and assumed it was a pick-me-up. It was so not. I was very relaxed that evening and I think I went to bed at 7:30. All of this to say I have another sample packet of said “chill” and think it’s just what I need tonight. And not to worry – I don’t get paid from the brand to promote or anything. I mean, who reads this besides me?

My lights just flickered. I CANNOT lose power. Tomorrow the high is 2 degrees. Dos. Degree-os.

Major win today: Getting two booties on Olive. The sound the plastic hitting the ice is hilarious. It’s what I kind of always hear in my head when she’s walking anyway – she is soooo flat-footed and the most ungraceful labrador-golden(?) I have ever seen. It’s like she’s got palapus feet – plat plat plat plat…..

I did get two booties on Mayhem, who promptly sat down and Yoda-ed her ears until I took them off, then she ran away. We both knew that was the only outcome that could ever happen.

Turn up the volume for that plat plat perfection

Day 1

Was up at 4:15 am and felt a bit proud about that, but still a bit panicked about the upcoming cold snap. Negative 26 degrees won’t crack the house open, I think, but I’m scared of things happening: pipes cracking, septic tank exploding…I can’t imagine what -26 feels like but I’m about to find out. Last year the lowest was -13. I wanted to get out of the heat and humidity, but as usual, I overshot.

  • Ate a huge pancake right out of the pan,
  • Kept a baking show on the TV all day to keep me calm,
  • Two loads of dishes,
  • Scrubbed the fridge,
  • Shoveled snow from the side steps, and walkway, and created 2 dog paths. It’s not melting anytime soon and the weather app predicts clouds with light blue stabby knives coming out of them, whatever the heck that means, but it can’t be good,
  • Rolled-up towels and blankets to stop drafts, my addiction to rubber bands coming in handy and secured the rolls with them,
  • Took the dogs out for mini-walks. They were so happy to go outside but got cold pretty quick and looked at me accusingly,
  • Took a two-hour, man-sized nap,
  • Smeared Aquafor on my face like three times,
  • Brought in some miscellaneous pet toys that were outside, and
  • Threw carrots to the bunny that is living under the front porch.
Mayhem & Olive

Skipped dinner, which I may regret soon, but Day 1 down.

I’m Still Here

Death was following me around for a little while, and I feel like I’m finally coming out of the dark. In 2020 my Labrador died slowly, then my Dad died quickly, then in 2021 my grandfather passed, and then a dog I adopted. All in less than a year.

My heart and my mind were heavy. Leaden, really. I knew in my head that others lost more, but it was still hard.

I don’t remember the holidays last year, or the ones the year before. Thank god I keep a planner otherwise I wouldn’t remember anything that happened or when. Everything is like in a big soup in my brain. That’s right, I was supposed to research trauma stages today and just remembered.

So that’s where I’ve been, in my Me-Soup. But what I’ve learned is: adopt another dog, it won’t be the same but they will still bring joy; and be a fierce and unapologetic advocate in a family members healthcare, no matter what doctors or facilities say.

But like I said, I’m seeing an end, and so a beginning. I’m thankful for my family, for two healthy pups, for bending over in laughter with my husband, for watching deer cross my lawn. You know. Small but big stuff.

Dog With One Kidney

I don’t know what my damage is with posting. I’ve had this site for years and have barely touched it, but this summer I thought I would be able to get into a groove, make a schedule, put my blah blah blah out there. Then I found a lump on Max, my ten year old Labrador.

Not one of those old-dog fatty dog lumps – he’s had those for years, but a hard thing right below his rib cage. At first I thought it was just a rib. Max was on a diet so I thought maybe it was working. But, just in case, I took him to my vet, Dr. Falcon (can you believe it?). He knows me well, so if I was being paranoid he would say so and send me on my way.

But no. Instead, he knelt down, felt the lump, and took Max in for X-rays. Falcon told me it was a tumor on his spleen, and that he could do surgery that morning.

“Ok,” I said. Max had surgeries before.

“I’ll give a few minutes to say your goodbyes, just in case.”

What?

“People usually don’t find these,” Falcon told me. “The tumors burst, and you could come home to find him dead. It could burst at any second.”

So I did. I said goodbye and cried freely, as people and staff walked past me, and I didn’t care. It was heart wrenching to watch Max trot off and flirt with a vet tech, not knowing what was about to happen. I texted work, letting them know I wouldn’t be coming in, and spent the rest of the day pacing, crying, being tortured by the unknown. It was a long six hours while I waited for Falcon’s call.

I got Max the year my daughter graduated high school. He had been with me during my first marriage, through the divorce and moving into a small apartment. We walked and jogged thousands of miles together and snuggled in bed every night. He moved with me to my second husbands home, then we road tripped across the country when husband #2 was transferred.

He was steadfast and loving, and it didn’t matter where we were – I was his home.

When Falcon did finally call, he reported it wasn’t a tumor on Max’s spleen, it was a tumor wrapped around a kidney. He took out the kidney too, and it was complicated. He had almost given up.

“He has to stay here tonight,” Falcon said. “And it’s between him and God.”

Max has always been stubborn, so I counted on that. Although I’m not very woo-woo hippie, I tried to send a message to Max as I cried and cried and paced the yard: Do not die in that kennel! Fight! You can die tomorrow, or even on the way home, but not in that kennel alone and scared! Fight, Max, fight!

He fought. He came home.

It’s three and a half months later and he’s still with us, but beginning to fade. The months haven’t been easy; he basically has kidney disease and cancer. I was going to document his struggle in real time, but I couldn’t. The stress and anxiety was too much, and it was all I could do to not just curl up in bed with him and cry for days on end. I probably should have blogged, though. It may have helped.

The contortions of care and research I’ve done have been exhausting, and only in the last few days have I let myself get un-wrung, largely due to Falcon.

“Why do you need more bloodwork?” Falcon asked on our last vet visit. “It’s going to be the same or worse, and I think it’s the cancer that’s wearing him down.”

“How long do you think Max has?” I pressed.

To his credit, Falcon didn’t roll his eyes. I already knew there was no way to tell.

“Why are you even looking for that?” He said. “You need to look at the extra time you already had. Given his medical history, I’m surprised he’s made it this long.”

“We got a bonus round?”

“Exactly.”

So, that’s why I haven’t been around this summer. You dog people know what’s up. And for the first time ever I joined a Facebook group. It is for canine kidney disease and the information and valuable resources I’ve gotten out if it has really surprised me. I thought it would be a lot of people giving half-baked advice, and it is a little bit that, but mostly not.

It felt good to interact about the issue, give virtual hugs, and ask a question once in a while. I was by myself in this but I wasn’t alone.

‘Till next time, blogspace. I swear it won’t be too long this time.

Maybe we’ll be friends.

So I wrote a book. (Collective groan.) I know, I know. But it had been floating around in my head for a while, and with the dark Dakota winters, what else is there to do? Besides knit. Which I’ve tried. Being left-handed, which means one becomes semi-ambidextrous, means that knitting and crocheting instructions can completely freeze my brain up.

Anyway, so I would get up at 4:30 am to write, and about 6 am carry on with my day. As you writers know, however, revisions and ideas would run through my brain all day. Less like run, more like those annoying “just married” cars with cans clattering behind it.

But I finished it, huzzah, after six drafts, and am now onto Phase 2: rejection. I’ve sent it out to three agents, and in two weeks, will send it out to more, and so on, until it is fully rejected from everyone and I list it on kindle.

What this means for Right Now, though, until I get my next story together, is that I still have to get up at 4:30 am and write something. I learned this because somewhere in my second draft I got off schedule, and it was painful to right the course. Don’t want to do that again.

So you might be seeing more of me.

Told ya’, kiddo.

Mr. Krouse would swing open the door to the country club, oppressive Florida sunshine glaring down the hallway. Light would bounce off the highly glossed white paint on the walls and the framed portraits of past “Commodores”. Despite all the shine, there was always a musty smell emanating from the navy blue carpet. No amount of spit and polish can cover up the stories of a fifty year-old building.

“Hiya honey!” Krouse would call out, taking off his ballcap, slapping it against his leg, a genuine smile for me as he headed into my office.

He’d pull up a chair. We would brainstorm about a committee he was on. He would get me to do things I didn’t want to do, mostly because he had more initiative and drive than me, even though he was probably twice my age.

“Hey,” he once said. “My daughter wrote a book. I think you’d love it. If you don’t, I’ll give you your money back.”

It was a deal! I bought it, I loved it, I told him so.

“Told ya’, kiddo,” he said with a wink.

I worked closely with him for five years, knew him for about ten, and we had a love/frustration relationship. I know I drove him nuts, and that’s ok. He drove me nuts too, but I still liked him a whole hell of a lot.

About a year after I stopped working at the country club, I heard he had died. He was having health issues while I was there, but he was a fighter and would bounce back. He had lost his daughter about two years previous – I wonder if that had anything to do with it. His fight, I mean. His spirit. I worry about his wife.

I’m currently writing a book. Ish. A short book. To comfort myself, I went to my bookshelf to pull some of my favorite books and see how long they were.

The Egg and I – 287 pgs
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit – 176 pgs
Magical Thinking – 281 pgs

I was feeling better, then grabbed Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, by Amy Krouse-Rosenthal. Mr. Krouse, my mind whispered. I flipped it open, read this page, and thought of Amy, of her Dad, of the COVID pandemic.

“Pg. 219
Y
You
Perhaps you think I didn’t matter because I lived x years ago, and back then life wasn’t as lifelike as it is to you right now; that I didn’t truly, fully, with all my senses, experience life as you are presently experiencing it, or think about x as you do, with such intensity and frequency.
But I was here.
And I did things.”

His family and mine would probably be surprised to know I still think about him a lot, remember the little conversations we would have. I’m not sure, but I’m suspecting with the way the world has gone sideways, that the things that people can do – the smiles in the hallways, the helpful hand at the door, the push of “no, we can do more” – these things will be remembered, and missed.

But, really there are no answers for me today, just memories of a man I miss that’s gone who smelled of Florida sunshine.

Shut Up, Pants!

Did I quit running? I’m not sure if I did. I ran and ran for four years, and now? Meh.

It started with a Super Spartan, then Disney Princess runs and Star Wars runs – half marathons, 10ks, a couple of 5ks in there to keep me honest. But now….

I know I need something to train for. I can’t just run to run. With my impending move to a much higher altitude, I’m also intimidated. I have low blood pressure and heartbeat already – I’m afraid I’ll pass out somewhere along the road in a new town.

I can see it now, me laying on the side of a country road, slightly concussed, calling my husband.

“Come get me. I’m concussed.”

“Where are you?” He would say, already in the car.

“I don’t know.”

And woe is me if I had our cattle dog with me, his baby.

Excuses, you say? I agree. There is nothing easier than being middle-aged and lazy.

I have started to stalk online a running club in my new town, thinking it will get me running and social (I am terribly introverted and so is my husband. Peas in a pod!).

However, I have noticed that my excess chub isn’t melting away like it used to. Before I could just use the power of thought, but now, post 40, it seems things have changed. At least that’s what my pants keep saying, and boy are they vocal!

“Lunges. Remember lunges?”

“When’s the last time you did a sit up?”

“A lap around the block wouldn’t hurt ‘ya. Take the cattle dog.”

Pants are nags. Not like tops.

The tight armholes in my blouses are more like “Well, this is interesting”, and my jersey tees just talk behind my back with my bra, something about doing push-ups and maybe dips. Jersey tees are kind of passive-aggressive come to think of it.

The bra? She’s just doing her best. Definitely not an instigator.

Maybe I will. Maybe I will start running again, just to shut them up. Stupid clothes. At least my leggings and tech tees are supportive. They’ve been clamoring to get out of the drawer anyway.

Aforementioned baby.