Thursday, October 17, 2019

All for the Love of You

We just got back from a cruise. But this isn't about that. It's about losing Daisy, our young dog.

We were told months ago that Daisy most likely had kidney failure based on her symptoms and that we probably had a year left with her. At the end, she would stop eating and start throwing up because of the toxins in her body. I didn't believe it. Surely something else was going on. She looked too healthy and happy!

Her eating habits were always wonky for a dog- she was finicky, like a cat. But at the end of September, she started skipping meals. We kept trying different kinds of dog food in hopes she'd find something she liked. No luck.

In the meantime, she was still running around at full blast. Running to me when she spotted me in the morning, jumping into my lap and licking my face frantically. Finally, I'd say, "that's enough," pulling her soft little body out in front of me so that we were face to face. She'd sit in my lap, those ridiculously long legs propping her up while I scratched her belly.

We were always outside for our morning ritual. We had to be because little Daisy had a problem. She peed a lot. Sometimes if we forgot to take her out, urine would gush out of her, uncontrolled. She felt bad about that. She'd run to the door or hide. She knew she was supposed to do that in the grass.

Around the time that she became extra fussy about eating, I found a phenomenal fare to Seattle during my birthday week in late September. I told Greg I wanted that to be my birthday present. We had booked a cruise almost a year ago to see the fall foliage in New England and Canada during early October, but I would be back in time for that.

My week in Seattle was one of the best I've had. I'm glad I went. But when I got home Greg told me Daisy wasn't doing well. She had been in a kennel for a few days while Greg was out of town and when he brought her home she stopped eating altogether. I thought she was depressed, missing me. I lavished her with attention. I took her with me on errands. Greg said she looked a little better but she still wouldn't eat. And when I held her on her back in the crook of my arm to scratch her tummy, I felt her bones poking through the fur.

The next day she refused water. She didn't run to me in the morning. And then the vomiting started. She threw up all morning. I stroked her back while it was happening and told her it would be OK. I knew what it meant so I told her she was a good girl and that we loved her.

Unfortunately, this was the day we were leaving for our cruise. We had a kennel booked and were planning to leave our house at noon, though we had some wiggle room. It was around 11:00 when Greg called our veterinary friend for advice. He said Daisy wouldn't survive the kennel and that it would be an unpleasant death. He said if it was his dog, he'd make an appointment with our vet to put her down immediately.

I was sitting with Daisy on the floor when Greg told me. I nodded. He called our vet who said Greg would have to bring her in right away if we wanted to do it that day. Suddenly, Greg was taking her from me, telling me he had to leave. I was sobbing and asked if there was anything else we could do. Greg said no. And then they were gone.

Here's a stupid detail. I couldn't go with them because I had dye in my hair. I was covering the gray for our cruise. There wasn't even enough time for me to wash it out. Instead, I put her stuff away that we were planning to take with her to the kennel, navigating the house with blurry eyes as I cried.

Greg brought her home and buried her next to Henry.

We loaded our bags and left. Too fast. It all happened too fast. I didn't have time to process it.

First day of the cruise, I cried whenever I was alone. Second day, I got angry. I was irritable and mean to Greg. I knew I had to deal with losing Daisy somehow. When I found out there was a chapel on the ship, I decided to give it a try, even though I have issues with God at the moment.

It was a small chapel, non-denominational and thankfully- empty. I closed my eyes and thought about Daisy: the day I brought her home from the shelter; her maniacal running, around and around in circles; the way she tossed her toys in the air; her furtive licks. I pictured her in heaven, running free in a field without the invisible fence collar, playing with other dogs and drinking from a toilet as much as she wanted.

And then my crying stopped. I felt peaceful.

I managed to enjoy the cruise after that, even making a button without crying with a drawing I did of Daisy. (It was one of many of the ship's on board activities.)

I knew I'd grieve all over again when we got home to our empty house, but that's OK. She was a special little light, one who shouldn't be forgotten easily.

Everyone tells us the same thing: We gave Daisy a loving home during her short life. We did all the right things. I know that's true but tell my arms why they're so empty, tell my heart why it aches. I loved her. I miss her.

Friday, May 24, 2019


I need a haircut. I always need a haircut. The thing is, I have difficult hair and am usually disappointed after a trip to the beauty salon. I even had a hairdresser apologize to me once when she was done. I wound up comforting HER. I'm not kidding.

My hair is very fine, straight and thin. Absolutely no wave. I always go in with my hair freshly washed and not styled in any way so they can see what they're dealing with. I have a photo at the ready of my new hopeful hairstyle. I even took a live human being with me once to show what kind of style I wanted.

It was my sister, Jacky. She had the "Dorothy Hamill" and it was adorable on her.

The hairstylist took a good look and Jacky left to do some shopping. By the time she came back, I had the "MARK Hamill." No lie.

The woman had given me a conservative, man's hairstyle. When I commented that it wasn't what I wanted, she said, "Sometimes you have to get what's right for your hair, not what you want." She could have mentioned that before she came at me with scissors!

I envied the girls at school with long, flowing locks like Farrah Fawcett's. In the locker room after gym, they shared blow dryers and curling irons while I got my styling tips from Mr Tabel, the shop teacher.
The next time I needed a haircut my Mom suggested a perm. It would give my hair VOLUMN!  And- oh boy! She said she could do it herself at home.

Yeah. It looked terrible. Just a big old pile of frizz. Because my high school senior pictures were coming up, I went to a hair stylist to see what she could do. What did she do? She cut it all off. I was left with very short hair with frizz on the ends. I looked like I had been electrocuted.

What did I do whilst looking about the worst I've ever looked in my life? I GOT MY SENIOR PICTURE TAKEN. To this day when my husband sees that yearbook photo he says, "It's scary to think you once looked like that." (Don't worry, that's going in my book titled, "Stupid Things My Husband Has Said.")

I went to college, my hair grew out a little and I was back to having a suburban dad haircut.

Oh, and by the way, I was mistaken for a boy several times during this period. A receptionist called me Carl. A girl walked into ladies room where I was washing my hands and immediately turned around saying, "Sorry! I thought this was the girls room." And on and on...

Anyway, when my hair finally got long enough, someone suggested a body wave. "It's not a perm! It gives your hair body." What a little liar. I was back to being a frizz head. This time I tried to learn how to style it. The thing is, my hair had so MUCH volumn that when I curled it, it came out BIG. Think Dolly Parton. Now think about Dolly Parton's hair, you perv.

Remember, at that time, every girl had sleek, shiny hair like Ali MacGraw in Love Story. *sigh* Every girl but me.

So you can see why I put off getting my hair cut. My husband knows when he comes home and I'm under the covers, wearing a hat, I went to the salon that day and I'm gonna need some space.

I guess it's my destiny to have bad hair. But, shoot, I'm ever hopeful. I have yet another photo to show the miracle worker I'm hoping to find this time. The results couldn't be any worse than what I've already experienced, right?

Tuesday, March 12, 2019


There’s this tree on our neighbor’s empty lot that used to be big and thriving. One year, it died. Just like that. Leaves failed to return after winter and small branches fell to the ground in a heavy wind.

It’s a bit of an eyesore, I must admit.

Our neighbor had plans to make it into a pencil tree, like this one:

They started to trim the branches towards that end when suddenly they sold the lot and left the tree as is. I felt sad whenever I saw it, because we have a history with this tree that goes beyond looking at it from our patio.

Many years ago, we considered buying the lot it stands on. It’s a great location. But the tree is right where a house should go. We hated the thought of cutting it down. We considered designing a house that would somehow incorporate the tree. You know, a hippy-dippy house that wrapped around the tree? Or something. Luckily for us, the lot next door to that one became available, so we were able to build in the same great location without having to kill a big, beautiful tree.

That was nine years ago. Watching it die made me sad. But watching a colorful woodpecker take up residence in it this past year has made me happy. There are two impressive, perfectly round holes in one of the branches that I assume he/she created. I’ve enjoyed watching his/her family fly in and out of them.

Today, though, there was some kind of war over this prime real estate. The woodpecker and a black bird got into a fight over what I can only imagine is a plush, four bedroom waterfront nest inside that branch. At one point, they were BOTH in there, still fighting. I mean, how big is that place?

They would argue outside the hole, wings flapping, and then retreat to separate branches. Finally, the woodpecker holed up inside the tree but kept a close watch on this interloper.

 More fighting!

Then, for reasons I don't understand, the woodpecker flew away.

He/she had been living there a long time. Maybe the blackbird threatened its parents? Maybe they settled on a financial arrangement? I don't know. But the only one living in that tree now is the black bird. And I'm kinda pissed about it.

Look at him/her laughing his/her beak off. What a jerk.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Won't You Be My Gardener?

I hate gardening. I know, you're outraged. I'm sorry but I can't stand the heat, fire ants, lizards, SPIDERS (omg, it's ON me!!!) and whatever else jumps out at me without warning. I also don't care what each individual plant needs. Sun, shade, pruning, watering schedule, plant food? I'm still trying to figure out what I need in order to thrive.

But lately I'm looking at these ugly flower beds and wondering what fabulous thing someone else would do with them.

These concrete borders were there when we moved in. But they looked even worse. When we bought the property, vines were growing wild in these flower beds and snaking on up a nearby tree. Greg put in countless hours cleaning it up.

He had to dig up the flower beds, take an axe to the vines and put down landscaping fabric. I stayed vigilant, pulling weeds whenever I saw them. We finally got the vines under control and called the whole mess DONE.

But look. They're still ugly. There's a brick wall behind the flower beds (ick) which defines our property line. You're also seeing a structure beyond the wall that doesn't belong to us and will hopefully be torn down soon. Let's just focus on these flower beds, k?

Do I paint the concrete? Cover it with tile or stone? Rip it out? What do I plant in there? I'm told those bushes/trees are Crepe Myrtle. No clue how to maintain them. You have to remember that I'm gone a lot. We can't plant anything that needs a lot of attention. And by the way, I've been banned from buying potted or hanging plants because they always die. I have many talents but obviously, gardening ain't one of them.

I'm curious to hear what someone else would do. I know there's potential here. It's just not something I'm good at.