Wednesday, June 16, 2021

A Few Days in Tennessee

Have you ever felt like the world was being just too much? Where things and life were pushing in, crowding out your quiet thoughts and you feel exhausted, overly tired, irritable ... Need I say more? 

Many of you know that's how I've been feeling the last few months. For me, there is no better place to remedy all that than to unwind in my happy place.... A cabin owned by friends in eastern Tennessee, where I've been with Todd and Max for the past several days. 

Out in this section of the hinterland, there are fewer people. 

There’s the huge sky full of beautiful clouds, mountains, and the people are always welcoming and warm as has been the summer sunshine. 

~The Smokey Mountains from Pigeon Forge TN~

In the morning, there are of course birds singing and there is the pecking on the kitchen window made by a male-Cardinal who we named John -- We have seen him at this window for the last 3 years. 
And for the first time since I was a kid at my Grandfather's in Kentucky, at sunset, I am hearing the call of a Whip-poor-will off in the distance. What memories that brings back!

All of this allows my mind to settle and those inner-batteries to recharge - 

And Todd and Max have fun too! 

So tell me, where do you go when you need to think? What do you do when you need to get your sense of humor and smile back ...

and restore yourself? 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Brood X -- They're Here!

It is the 26th of May, and we are really in the thick of things with life running at full speed. Whether I want it to or not. I'm working some extra hours and days to cover for a couple of co-workers who are out of the office. 

With today as my only day off this week, I'm using it to catch up on a few things, inside and outside. 


We are also in the "thick" of the cicadas, known as "Brood X." Most of the species we have are annual cicadas, which emerge every year and take only one year to complete their life cycle. But these are different. As I mentioned in a previous post, this particular "brood" has been living underground for 17 years. 

All in preparation that has been leading up to this moment when they have surfaced in droves -- up to 1.4 million cicadas per acre -- to climb whatever they can (mostly trees)

~The cicadas are making a pilgrimage up our old Maple tree~

to molt into their adult form, leaving the past behind them...

to sing their deafening love song in a loud chorus...

                           **A video below that I made today, or here's the link ....

and produce the next generation before dying in just a few short weeks from now.

I really find the whole cicada thing so fascinating, and I've taken a lot of photos. Maybe it's because it's taking place all around us, and because there are so many, we can't ignore them. 

And since their parents lived here before we did, and the ones that we are seeing did too, we are doing our best to not mow them, weed-whack them or step on them. Or let the dogs eat them, which is what some dogs in the area have been doing. Ours thankfully are not. 

Cicadas don’t bite or sting, or eat anything and so for the next several weeks, our yard, is their yard too!

I think there's enough room for all of us. 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Phone Call

I had a little bit of a surprise this week - While I was at work, Judy's son, *A* called me and asked me to return his call.  You will of course remember that he wanted to euthanize both Tiggy and Sophie when Judy went to live in a nursing home. For a couple of reasons, I was a bit leery about calling him - Because I will admit that I had a bit of a grudge against him for what I viewed as being callused and heartless towards Sophie and Tiggy. 


But I will say, that those feelings had lessoned over the last several months because *A* had paid all or part of the vet bill for Sophie when she'd seen her vet, *Dr S* in October. Of course at the time I said I would pay the bill, just as I said several times that I would do for Sophie's final vet visit. But I was told each time by Dr. S to not be concerned about it, that her vet bills would all be taken care of. Despite being told that, I still wondered if what prompted*A's* call to me, had to do with money and Sophie's final expenses, because I'd asked for her ashes to be returned to me - Which is an expense outside of vet care.

The lesson here is, to not judge and remember that everything is not always about money. Because Sophie's vet bills were not the reason for *A's* call. Well, at least not all of it. He wanted to thank me for taking care of Sophie and Tiggy and giving them a home together. He also wanted to apologize for not reaching out sooner. He then went on to explain to me about the pressure he was under at the time with his Mother and moving her into a care facility, etc. *A* felt that he had no choices with Sophie and Tiggy, because he could not keep them. In listening to him, I could tell it was a difficult time for him. *A* really didn't know what to do other than euthanize them.... Thankfully Dr. S and Irina (our groomer who gave me Sophie) were there to help him with them both.  

We had a good conversation. *A* talked about the longtime friendship he and his Mom (Judy) have had with both Dr. S, and his memories of Dr. Howard (the previous practice owner) who owned Sophie's Mother. And he told me that Tiggy had been a present from him to his Mom, about 7 years ago. We both laughed about the things that make Tiggy such an unusual character - because he is after all, a Siamese cat -- And as we shared the loss of Sophie,  he told me several times how much she meant to his Mom. We ended our nearly 1 hour conversation with *A* offering to pay for any future vet expenses that Tiggy has - I thanked him for that while reminding him that cats can live about 20 years.🙂  I don't know that I'll take him up on that generous and kind offer. But I think it was nice of him to put it out there. And I think it was nice of him to reach out and to call. 

Finally, I have to say, that after the experience with Buddy and his family, I did not want to have any connection to the previous owners of dogs or cats in our care. But this time, it is one of those instances where it's okay. I have not felt judged or under a microscope for a moment. Instead, from Dr. S, (his photo is below) and Judy's son, and even from Irina (our groomer), I have felt nothing but friendship, kindness and support for the care and the home I gave Sophie, and the life that Tiggy has with us. That trust is humbling and it has meant and still means a lot to me. 

*Dr. S*

Sunday, May 9, 2021

The Lighter Side of Life

My heart remains heavy after the loss of Sophie, coming a couple of months after the loss of Charlie. I really miss them both. But I cannot help but reflect how blessed I have been to share my life with these unique and special dogs like Sophie and Charlie that have left me with so many memories. And I'm grateful for your sharing their losses with me. There is a lot of power in that. It has become part of my healing and I cannot thank-you enough. 

On the lighter side of life, we all know that cats and dogs have a way to bring joy and laughter into our lives. If we've had a bad day, they are right there by our side helping us to forget our troubles. And as always, Todd is no exception to that. The video below is something Todd does all the time. And it always gives me a grin. Todd is truly the lighter side of life for me. 

If the video doesn't appear below, click on this for the link...

Friday, April 30, 2021

Good-Bye to Sophie - We'll See You Then....

~A favorite photo of Sophie from last year~

Wednesday began early. It was a big day where Cooper was to be alone for most of it, crated, because no one could be home with him. Our dog-walker was going to come at about noon, so I'd get an update at work on how he was doing. I'd given him his anxiety medication, and I was just praying it would work.  

It was about 5:30 and Carl had just left for work, when Sophie came into the office, and peed on the floor. Very unusual for her and I scolded her just a little and I got her moving towards the backdoor and outside. We made it as far as the kitchen when she collapsed onto the floor, losing control of her bowels. A flurry of my trying to revive her, when she suddenly let out this big sound, as she began breathing again as her color returned. We sat there for several minutes and it was a huge relief when she finally put her head up and looked at me, and even wagging her tail when I talked to her. 

~Sophie on the day we met in September 2019~

I knew of course that Sophie would need to be seen by a vet. But I felt a car ride at that moment may not be a good idea, because I thought she needed to recover a bit more before I tried taking her anywhere. Thankfully she seemed stable because she was able to walk, she was wagging her tail, and even wanted breakfast -- I gave her a little that I'd ground up in the food processor -- She quickly ate it all and just looked at me, like "where's the rest?" Labs..... 

I was lucky that Sophie's vet clinic had an opening with another vet that I already knew at 10 AM. Once there, I waited outside, trying to have some hope and optimism. A call several minutes later that Sophie's cancer had returned and was now metastasized in her lungs - I'll add here that in the last couple of weeks, Sophie's breathing was changing, and I'd really thought that it was the warmer weather causing her symptoms of laryngeal paralysis to worsen -  There were no other options, the kind thing to do would be to let Sophie go. 

The heartbreaking and unexpected diagnosis was confirmed by Sophie's vet, Dr. S, who is semi-retired and so I did not expect him to be there. But I am grateful that he was because at that moment, and even now, there are no words to express my gratitude for his kindness, compassion, empathy and warmth. 

You may recall that he has been Sophie's vet her entire life. He was truly the connection to Sophie's life before she came to us. Dr. S told me this was because Sophie's mother and her littermates belonged to the previous practice owner, named Dr. Howard, and everyone there at the time, including Dr. S of course, had a hand in helping with the puppies, because Sophie's mom, wasn't exactly the best Mom.... But Sophie's owner, Judy, had been a longtime client and friend to Dr. Howard, and she and Dr. S were/are also personal friends. I had no idea and this was the part of Sophie's story that I'd wondered about. But Dr. S and I both agreed that his being there that day for Sophie was truly a life coming full circle. And finding out later that it was Judy's 92nd birthday yesterday, also said it was. 

~We celebrated Sophie's 14th birthday in January~

Dr. S and I sat there on the floor with Sophie and chatted as if we were old friends. Him telling me stories of Sophie and Judy, and me telling him what her life had been with us. Time stood still in those moments as we both said good-bye to the beautiful Sophie as I continued to silently give thanks for her long life and this good and kind man, that cared for Sophie for her entire life of more than 14 years.

As I left the clinic and walked back to my van, in the spring breeze, the winged seeds (helicopters) produced by maple trees blew past me in the air and I watched them so free in the breeze and I thought of how "free" Sophie now was. And as I drove away, a Barry Manilow song played on the radio. It was one I've never, ever heard before, and now I can't get it out of my head. 

It's called "When the Good Time Come Again." Its words, provided comfort at a moment of sadness.

"I'll see you then

When the good times come again

When you and I have made it back

From the people and the places we have been...

The door that we go out of

Is door that we come in ......

Sometimes we have to hold

To all the good that's been

So I'll see you then

When the good times come again..."

God-speed to our "only girl," Sophie, known to us as Sophia, Sopapilla... I'll miss the wag of your tail, your running into the kitchen for your meal, because as a girl, you were always fed first ~ your sleeping next to the bed, your playing with Todd and even Max, your watchful eye over all that was happening in our house, your canine independence, your friendship, I'll just miss you.  But I hope I'll see you then, when the good times come again. 

Finally, as is our tradition, Sophie's color of the rainbow. I've given her yellow. The color yellow is around everywhere right now, and yellow is the color of friendship.

In the 601 days that Sophie was with us, she was truly a friend to all the dogs, who all loved her, and of course we did too.

~Charlie and Sophie last summer~

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Brood X - The Cycle of Nature

They’ve been buried — alive — for 17 years. And now, Brood X, one of the world’s largest swarms of giant fly-like bugs called cicadas, is ready to rise. As our ground starts to warm, they've stopped gnawing on tree roots and have started their journey to the surface by the hundreds of billions. 

~Todd, at the moment is totally oblivious as to what's underground~

After tunneling their way out of the ground near tree trunks, they’ll crawl up trees, or things they mistake for trees, and shed a thin shell from which they emerge as technicolor animals with big orange eyes and wings.

~A Brood X Cicada from 2004~

Experts have been telling us for months that here in Virginia “We are at the epicenter of an event that happens nowhere else on the planet except here in the Eastern United States.” Those same experts are also telling us that it's going to be pretty remarkable, come the latter half of May. The densities of the cicadas in some places is going to be nothing short of phenomenal, about 1.5 million per acre. 

~We have a lot of space for cicadas!~

In our corner of Virginia, we are already starting to see them emerge, as 100's of holes are starting to appear around some of our trees. 

~Cicada holes are starting to appear around our trees~

We were here in Virginia in 2004, the last time "Brood X" made their appearance, but we were living in a relatively new subdivision and only heard them. However, where we live now the ground and the area has been pretty much undisturbed, the trees are mature, so it's anyone's guess as to how many we'll see. I may feel differently once Brood X actually appears, but at the moment, I cannot wait to see them -- After 17 years, it really is the cycle of nature at its best!

~Me, showing Todd a cicada tunnel~

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Today It's About Todd

Post Script to my last post. Thank-you all for your kind words of encouragement and support that have meant so much and have lifted my spirits. I have responded on that post to most of your comments, or on your blogs. You all are the best!

Now, I promised good news. A few of you noted the roll of Todd in our household. You are right about him. And I'd be remiss if I didn't say what you already know, that each dog, and cat truly provides something to the fabric that makes up our lives and our household. 

But today, it's about Todd. On April 9th, we celebrated a milestone with him. Todd is now 10 years old. Can you believe it? I know I can't.  

~Todd, one day old~

And as is customary I have taken Todd's annual birthday photo. Longtime readers of this blog know that I take the same photo of Todd each year, with the same hat, same place at the table, and it was a bit of a challenge this year, but I purchase the same cookie too.  At some point, I'll put them all into a collage. 

At 10 years old, there is an air of calm dignity and wisdom about Todd that is more noticeable than it has been at any other time. He stands still for attention more than he used to, and as the only dog sleeping on our bed, he never gets up in the morning before I do and never goes to bed before me either. He is a loyal, devoted friend and companion and pack member too. 

Now, don't get me wrong, Todd still very much has that feisty independent spirit and that spark that makes him a Scottish Terrier, and just a terrier. As an example, he sadly "made dead" two bunnies that somehow got into our yard this past week. 😥

But Todd is great fun, and he makes me laugh. But he's clearly not into some of my nonsense. For instance when I was trying to get a silly photo of him with these ridiculous butterfly ears that I found,

Max was okay with wearing them....

for a few minutes anyway.

 Todd wanted absolutely nothing to do with them, and he let me know that. 

However, as you saw in my last post, he was more than willing to pose in a respectful Easter-bow-tie.  

Because as I've said many times, he is a Scottish Terrier after all, and his character and personality really reflects that. 

I cannot think of life without him as my co-pilot. 💓

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Not So Good News

~A deer crossing between our property and the neighbors~

This my friends, has been a really hard couple of weeks. I have not wanted to say that out loud because I am very well aware of others who are struggling and are having a much more difficult time with much more serious issues than I have. It makes me feel selfish to say anything. But the struggle over the last couple of weeks is real and has been difficult for me. It has left me feeling pretty defeated given that I'll admit to already struggling with being burned out.

I was however, feeling pretty good about where we were with our dogs. Having no foster dogs was a relief and a welcomed break. When Cooper was added, I was glad that we could welcome him, especially given that what prompted the move from his first foster home seemed to me that it would be easy to resolve, and by all reports, he was said to be a really nice dog. 

~We didn't know how Cooper would be with cats, turns out, he's fine!~

His previous foster home said Cooper was sleeping all day, and wide-awake at night and roaming the house. That problem was easily fixed because it was related to the medications that Cooper was taking. I knew by looking at the ones he came with, that one in particular had been labeled incorrectly, and the dose was wrong and another was one that dogs can develop an intolerance to. So, I took him off an anxiety medication, corrected the wrong dose for the one he was taking for pain, and we helped him to adjust to our routine. For the most part, I was happy with how Cooper was settling in even though he was starting to show signs of separation-anxiety when we'd leave him alone. I had allowed him to be free in the house for a couple of days while I went to work, because he seemed like he was okay and settling down after I would leave. 

While we were helping Cooper to adjust, I was also keeping track of how Shelby and Jack were adjusting to their new home. Things were going okay, but I had a nagging feeling all wasn't exactly as they were saying, but I stayed hopeful. But then things fell apart. Wendy and Denis (adoptive family) wanted to return both Jack and Shelby. They felt that Jack was too active, and Shelby wasn't active enough. There were a few other issues that I felt had no merit. Despite that, I tried to remain supportive of them, even as I was picking up Jack and Shelby and bringing them back to our house. 

As if having Shelby and Jack returned to the rescue and to us wasn't disappointing enough, when I came home with them, Cooper's separation-anxiety came to a head while I was gone. In about 2 hours Cooper pulled down curtains, broke one window and damaged 2 others. Added to that, there were several things that were knocked over, or knocked off a shelf and were broken. He had also gotten into the fireplace. Thankfully, no-one was injuredAnd I will also add that I don't have a lot of really nice things. At our age, we are trying to be minimalistic and so the things I have, I really love...  And of course I wasn't "mad" at Cooper, just very sad about what's gotten broken and disappointed that it happened. 

The feelings about it all consumed me since I was already on the proverbial edge about everything. At first I was so upset I couldn't talk about it with anyone. I let the rescue know that day but it was almost 2 days before I heard from anyone about it, and then it was only a couple of text messages offering a reimbursement for the broken window. But in all fairness, both coordinators that I work with had no way of knowing just how upset and discouraged I was about it all. I think they only found out when I had a melt-down at the vets office when I'd taken Cooper in for his ears to be rechecked on Monday. I'd asked the vet for her help with his separation-anxiety, only to be given the most trivial advice that even first time dog owners already know, and I pretty much said that to her. However, a call did come from one of the coordinators on Tuesday that was really helpful and went a long way. 

~Cooper at the vet on Monday~

We now have a plan going forward with Cooper that does involve his being crated and medicated. It makes me hopeful that we can work through all of this with him. Although I know it won't be easy for either of us. 

And as for Jack and Shelby, the search for their new forever home begins, again.  

And with that, I'll end this post, and promise, that there is some fun news, that I'll save for the next post that will come in a day or so. Below is Todd wearing his Easter-tie.