Thursday, September 24, 2015

Life and Death

Been a strange few weeks with the pets in the family. We've held a death-watch for my daughter's Beagle/Rottweile mix, Jake. Jake grew up with my niece's family. They moved to Texas and asked that we watch the 10-year old until they settled. My daughter took Jake.

Jake scared me. Short, blackish, stocky, and eyes like steel. Booming bark. First day - my daughter trucks off to work and leaves me with my granddaughter (about 3 at the time) and Jake. First thing the dog does - sits right next to me on the couch. Scrunches next to me. His heart beats with a rapidity born of the strange people and house and dog beds and toys that he finds all around him. Nothing familiar. And I am there, sitting next to this 80ish pound monster.

The door bell rings and berserker explodes from the couch, howling and barking with such enthusiasm and volume that my ears hurt. I try to answer the door - salesperson - but can't even hear the pitch over Jake's fervent attempt to eat the salesperson and protect me and the house. The salesperson, eyes wide with fear, (probably mirroring mine), takes the front steps two-at-a-time in his hasty retreat.

I look at Jake. He looks at me. I am no longer afraid. This wondrous dog knows his duty. He's here to protect me and the little one. Jake and I have been friends ever since.

A few years back, Jake starts loosing weight. He also begins a never cured :) process of marking the house. Turns out, Jake has contracted diabetes. Within a weak of the diagnosis, Jake's eyes have white scales over them. He is blind - blind as a bat. No thought, of course, of putting him down. His ears and his bark are as good as ever. He learns the lay of the land faster than I could ever. Once in awhile, we shout 'door' or 'steps' and Jake navigates the odd places until familiar with them.

The entire family, along with the extended family, learned how to give Jake his morning and night shots. My daughter discovered a great home-made recipe to feed Jake that caused his need for insulin to drop from very high to near normal. Life settled and we loved Jake - even more.

Last week, Jake started having issues with eating. He wouldn't. My daughter  pureed his food and used a syringe to feed him. The vet didn't know what was wrong and so she sent him home with some meds. Jake refused to eat. He could walk to the door and do his business outside, but, once done, he'd go to his bed and close his eyes. We knew what was coming. On Tuesday, my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter took Jake to our vet and let Jake go to Doggy Heaven. It wasn't simple, though Jake passed with speed and looking very peaceful, but it hurt.

I've put down a few dogs in my time, but Jake, the beloved scary dog, broke my heart. Good dog. Blessed protector. Love of the family.

PS - A neighbor of mine passed on the same day as Jake. My granddaughter says Mark is walking Jake in heaven. I'm sure they are having a good time.

PSS - Not sure if the dates and ages are quite correct - but you get the drift.

Monday, September 14, 2015


Honest to goodness, something is wrong with my body. 

I have to use a cane!!!

Now really. I look in the bathroom mirror (which only shows my face and neck) and I don't look old at all. Of course, something is wrong with the mirror because I look a tad older than the 30ish my mind says I am. In fact, there are days when I feel like 16ish. 

But something is wrong with my body. It isn't functioning right. It hurts in more than one place. It creaks and cracks and scares the bejeebees out of me. Pippin looks at me, when I use the cane to get up from the couch, like I'm insane. He can jump off the couch easily. Doesn't even need the little foot stool I put next to it to help him. He sits on the floor, once he's landed, and stares at my struggles. I swear he wants to grab the cane from me and make me jump up, too.

Drat. I just don't understand. Why is my brain telling me I'm somewhere between 16 and 30 when my body tells me I am closer to 80. 

I have to use a cane!!!

Now, I remember when The Glorious One had to use a cane. She is much younger than I am, but she had some problems with her knees - brought about. in her words, by her athletic youth. She has an excuse.

My other friend, The Radiant One, had to have railings put on her steps going into her house. However, it was not for her, really, it was for her 'older' husband. She has an excuse.

My other friend, The Magnanimous One, still romps around as if she were 10, if her false teeth don't fall out in front of everyone or get lost, wrapped in the napkin at the restaurant when she takes them out to eat. There is some reason for her lack of teeth. She has an excuse, I'm sure 

As for Her Ladyship -- she is the youngest of us all. 'Nough said. I hate her. I'd never tell her that. She flaunts her salt and pepper hair as if no one else's hair is turning a different shade. She is proud of her gray hairs.

I, on the other hand, have sun damage. I'm sure that's why the color has changed. I have an excuse... too much time, as a youth, in the sun.

Ah -- I have an excuse. I'm sure I'll find one for the cane. 

Friday, September 11, 2015


When I moved into my condo, I'm not sure why, but my neighbor, Mark, decided he would take me under his wing. It took me awhile to realize what was happening. He was an old curmudgeon-type person with his nose in everyone else's business. But it was a kind nose. He meant good. I was glad, especially when I'd leave my car lights on, or slept-in on the morning they were tarring my parking lot. He spent some time banging on the door to wake me and tell me, gruffly, that I'd better move or my car would to towed.  I have another wing-man at these condos. He saw Mark telling me to move, they have a small rivalry, and he told me to put my car into the garage. Mark, thankfully, informed me that if I put the car in the garage, I'd be stranded for a couple days while the tar 'cooked.' I moved it to a nearby parking lot.

Yesterday, I was told Mark passed away. His sister found him on the floor of his condo. They think it was a massive heart attack.

I've only been here four years, but Mark was a fixture in the neighborhood, walking his dog, Pugsley, and waving to folks as they passed by. He'd offer my Pippin a treat now and again. There were people who didn't see around the gruff exterior. They didn't know his heart and his kindnesses. Some told me they were 'relieved' that he was gone. That he'd been such a busy-body.

But he wasn't. He was a true neighbor. He didn't try to tell me how to live my life or how to raise my granddaughter or what to wear for the weather. He did offer hints on how to get Pippin to stop pooping in my house.

To get back to Mark... they put his dog down. Nobody wanted him, supposedly. My heart broke. I would have taken him or given him to my daughter. She knows how to care for dogs. She liked Mark, too. He'd show her photos of his 'hippie' days and they'd laugh.

I suppose I started to write this to complain about the other neighbor's reactions to Mark's death, but what I really want to say is - I will miss him. I will miss his shy smile. I will miss the comfort of taking Pippin out, late at night, for 'his' duty and not feeling afraid because Mark was around. He perused the neighborhood nightly, with Pugsley, and I knew he would be there for me, if necessary. He was there for others, too, and most of them didn't know it. Taking the older people to doctor's appointments and such. A good man.

I cherish the fact that he knew I was a friend.

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Hair Brushes

Hair brushes - instrument of torture or creator of beauty.

I love to brush my hair. I have two brushes that I use exclusively. Don't tell anyone - I also have a pick in my purse.

One brush is made out of natural horsehair. My hair slips through it and never untangles. Not without a lot of wrist work. It glides over the hair and makes it look nice and smooth, but underneath lie horrific tangles. It doesn't matter much to me - I still use it. It's the one I wield when I am fantasizing that I am Greta Garbo or Loretta Young. I pull it over the hair and begin to count. 1, 2, 3, all the up to one hundred. I bend over and swipe the brush through the back of my hair. I remember when I was young and my hair, Rapunzel-style, almost touched the ground. It feels so luxurious, so smooth, so soft, so - sexy. My arm aches by the time I am done.

On the other hand, I have one of those plastic beady-ends brush. I love this one. It drags along my scalp and tingles down to my toes. I know it is destroying ends while untangling the strands. It feels like I am at the spa receiving a much-needed and well-deserved head massage. Oh - to have one of those again. I can't seem to find a masseuse who delivers such pure joy. Someday, perhaps. I do not do the one-hundred count routine using this brush. This brush works sensually through my scalp and brings great joy and peace.

The pick is next to useless. When I get to my destination, I pull it out, give my hair a quick whack, and put the gimmick back in my purse. 'Nough said.

PS - please offer up a quick prayer for 'Jake' - a really wonderful, very old Beagle/Pincer mix. We think it is time for him to go to doggy Heaven, but we really don't want him to. We will miss his howling and his snuggling and his snoring. Jake is the black sweetie in the background. Malley hogs the pictures.