Archive for June, 2009

In the Blink of an Eye
June 26, 2009

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Yet where an equal poise of hope and fear Does arbitrate the event, my nature is That I incline to hope, rather than fear, And gladly banish squint suspicion. – John Milton (1637)

 One of my prayers each evening is of thanks for an “ordinary” day, one with no accidents, illnesses or catastrophic occurrences. One where all my loved ones are healthy, safe, warm (or cool as the case may be) and secure. 

I think about all those who have just been given a devastating diagnosis of a terrible disease, one that promises suffering and pain, or one that promises a swift death. I think about those whose loved ones have been snatched from them by way of an accident, an encounter with evil people or worst of all, by self inflicted means. 

Recently I went to an orthopedic surgeon to have him take a look at my hand/wrist which I’d wrenched a week or so ago while trying to open a door that didn’t want to open. It’s hard to describe exactly what happened, but it was painful, and the pain didn’t go away. I was stoic for awhile, but then realized I was probably making things worse by not having it checked. 

He took x-rays and basically said he could fix the injury to my tendon, but what concerned him were my fingers, which have gotten somewhat stiff and painful over the past months. Long story short, he suspected rheumatoid arthritis or a lupus diagnosis and called my regular doctor to ask him to refer me to a rheumatologist. 

Wow. He was very grave about it all, and it frightened me a little bit. It took awhile to get in to see this new doctor, so I had to live with this possibility in my future until then. 

For such an active person as I, who runs, bikes, gardens, hikes, etc. the prospect of being restricted in my movements was troublesome. But I refused to cave in to any despair or angst. I put on my running shoes the next morning and hit the trail, and vowed to just keep going as long as I can go. If a disability is in my future, I hope to be graceful about it. That’s all one can do! 

Note: I wrote the above prior to my visit to the rheumatologist, who is a capable young woman… very personable. Upon examination and questioning, she basically “pooh poohed” the orthopedist’s concerns, saying that on a scale of 1-10, I was basically a .5 with what she described as “inflammatory osteoarthritis”. Not that one would want such a diagnosis, but it’s one that is easily managed with various over the counter supplements rather than the NSAID drugs that make me feel queasy and have unpleasant side effects. 

I cannot begin to tell you how relieved I was after that office visit; just knowing I was not going to end up a worst case invalid with gnarly hands and feet was a huge load off my mind! I quit taking the NSAID that the orthopedist prescribed, and will be grateful every day for my minor aches and pains… which, in the grand scheme of things, are of little consequence. I consider myself blessed to be old enough to have them!

 

Mother of the Bride, Chapter 3
June 19, 2009

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I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds and bowers: Of April, May, of June, and July-flowers. I sing of May-poles, Hock-carts, wassails, wakes, Of  bride-grooms, brides, and of their wedding cakes.   -Robert Herrick (1648) 

OK, so we’ve set the date and the wedding ceremony venue. I have set foot into a cake store, because I needed to order a novelty cake for Joel’s birthday, and while there, I perused the wedding materials. I like this place. The sales lady there said I looked like Jamie Lee Curtis. The cake was good. This bodes well for a future purchase. 

While picking up my novelty cake (which was a custom fly fishing sort of cake- see photo), I was amused by a bride to be and her mother sampling cake flavors. Please!! Cake is cake! I’m afraid I’m not suited to nitpick this event to death, and I refuse to do so. Think for a minute. Do you recall the last wedding cake you tasted? Was it good? OK! That’s good enough for me. 

Is it good enough for Shannon? I am thinking probably so. She is a chip off the old block in many ways, one of which is to not obsess over stupid stuff like this. One can easily go overboard and become a lunatic trying to micro-manage every little detail to the nth degree. I think Shannon and I (and her future mother in law, who is also a no-nonsense sort of person) will work well together on this major “project”. 

Upon thinking about it, maybe that rather discriminating bride and her mother just wanted a free afternoon snack? 

Segueing into another line of wedding preparations, I know that I’ve recounted some stories about our recent trip to the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs in an earlier blog entry (“Silver and Gold” May 2), but what I didn’t mention there was that one of the fun “activities” that Shannon and I enjoyed was a visit to the bridal shop there, de ma fille. According the Broadmoor’s website, this shop is described as one: “for the discriminating Bride, Mother of the Bride, and Bridal party, de ma fille carries the finest fashions from an exclusive array of world-class designers.”   

Shannon had been checking out dresses on the internet and in magazines, but had never actually tried any on, and so we took the time to actually do so here. This was very helpful as far as discovering which styles look best on her in person, because what looks good in a photo doesn’t always translate to one’s body type. After trying on several styles, we found a very elegant lace dress that just might fit the bill! The helpful salesperson noted the designer and style number for us; she was very nice to us, even though she must have realized that we wouldn’t be purchasing the dress through her shop. It was a fun afternoon, and very educational in many respects. I’m glad we have the luxury of time to make the final decision. 

(note to all brides in training: take a photo of each dress you like to remember them.) 

I suppose the next item on the list is the question of the reception venue. My friend Sally advised me to determine the number of folks to be invited prior to making that decision, because that all important number is key to how big or small a space one needs. I do know that the BTB (bride to be) wants a place that’s different and unusual, which will be memorable and fun. She’s got some interesting ideas and has been researching them. I guess next time she comes home, maybe we’ll go on a field trip! 

And so we move forward to 2011, day by day, step by step. Stay tuned for the next chapter of the “Mother of the Bride Chronicles”!

Puppy Love
June 12, 2009

007How much is that doggie in the window? (bark bark!)

-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AkLE4X-bbU

Last Saturday morning, Bailey and I set out for our daily walk. As we hit the end of the driveway, there was a mutual surprise! Down by the mailbox was a wee, small puppy, and when Bailey spied him, he let out a challenging BARK! The puppy, also surprised, let out a defensive little “grrrrr” as bravely as he could muster it up. 

“Aww!” said I, and when I talked sweetly to it, it dissolved into a grateful puddle (literally, it made one) and rolled over on its back in submission. Bailey touched his nose, and then the happy puppy wiggles began. My first impression was that he was a wirehaired dachshund, exactly like my sister Mary’s dog. 

“Where did you come from?” I asked him as I scooped him up. I noted a red collar (no tags) with a lead attached to it; the leash had been chewed through, thus he had been able to escape wherever he came from. “Puppy” was full of kisses and wiggles, and seemed to be very happy to attach himself to me. 

I remembered that my neighbor Jim had recently adopted two dogs from Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP), but I had not yet met them, so I assumed this one was his. We went down to his house and rang the bell. As it turned out, it was NOT his, and he had never seen this one, but he did say he’d be happy to keep it for a day or two until I could find its owner.  

 That was a very generous offer, which I accepted, but I first wanted to take Puppy’s picture to make some flyers, and so we went back home. Oh boy! What a wiggle worm! He was ecstatic to be inside and made his way around the kitchen with happy abandon. Joel scooped him up to allow me to take a photo, and I quickly made up a number of flyers to post around our neighborhood. 

I use Microsoft Publisher to make flyers and such. As I was doing so, I recalled an old Sesame Street segment from the late ’80’s-early ’90’s regarding a lost dog. Do you remember that one? In it, the family dog “Ace” was missing, so the mother had the daughter draw up a picture of the dog, and they went to a printer’s shop to make flyers. The printer etched the drawing, set the type (all backwards, of course), inked everything and cranked out the flyers. The next thing you know, there was a lady with a dog on a leash looking at one of the flyers in a window. “Ace?” she asked the dog. “Is your name Ace?” And they all lived happily ever after, because she called the phone number and the kids were reunited with their dog. 

What a difference 20 years makes! It took all of 5 minutes to make my own flyers right here at home. I printed them out, posted them around and also listed my foundling dog (with photo) on Craigslist. My hope was that someone would soon call me and there would be a similar happily ever after ending. 

It never happened. No one called. Jim kept the dog two nights, but asked me to pick him up early on Monday morning. I’d prepared a crate with a little sheepskin dog bed (Bailey’s old one), stocked up on some special food and picked out some primo dog toys from our collection. After doing so, Bailey and I set out to fetch our new little friend and walk his wiggles out. 

I decided to let Puppy take the lead, to see if he might go to a familiar place. He did seem to gravitate to a nearby townhome complex, and as we walked through it, I encountered a woman who did not recognize him, but who offered to take Puppy for the day to see if her kids could help find his owner in the complex. 

Bad move in hindsight; Puppy snapped at her when she tried to take a toy away from him, and she immediately called me to come pick him up. Sigh… Not knowing anything about this dog’s history, I didn’t know what to say about that. 

But I will say that his time with me was filled with wiggles and waggles and love. He was put in his place by my two dogs, and he never ever challenged them. My dogs seldom play with the multitude of toys that are piled in a basket in the kitchen. Puppy reveled in the variety, and would carefully select this one or that, and drag it over to his “pile” where he would happily chew and shake his “prey”, only to go select another one. 

He inhaled every meal that was put before him, and responded to the treats that rewarded him for going to the bathroom outside. What a good boy!

When it was time for bed, Puppy settled into his crate with numerous chew toys, and we never heard a peep out of him all night. Ten hours later, he thumped his tail so hard when he was released, and he went right outside with his new “brothers” to go do his business. 

Thanks to a great network of friends, my inquiry about a new home for this sweet dog was answered, and I packed up food, treats and all the special toys that Puppy had loved while in my care. It just about broke my heart to hear his whimpers while in his crate as we drove to meet his new “mom”. I couldn’t help but feel that he had invested so much of his little heart into being a part of my family… and that he felt like his dreams were being dashed yet again. 

I know I’m anthropomorphizing here, but that’s what I observed. I also observed an immediate and deep connection between Puppy and his new mom, Breeana, who has since reported that Puppy is “amazing” and that after having recently lost her dachshunds, she is absolutely delighted to have a new sweet boy to love. 

Not knowing anything about Puppy’s past, all I know is that I am profoundly grateful that I was able to connect Breeana with this very special little fellow. He truly needed a secure home after bouncing around from place to place. Breeana said, “I will love him with all my heart and give him a little extra care from you, through me, to him. And he is definitely in good hands.” 

And so there IS a happily ever after for my sweet Puppy. I am grateful, and he is blessed.

The Accidental Tourist
June 5, 2009

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Tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures .                                                                                                                                                              – John Milton (1638)

It was late on a Sunday afternoon when, after we stopped by Joel’s office downtown, he suggested we take a walk through “Sesquicentennial Park” (so named because it was created on the banks of Buffalo Bayou during the city’s 150th birthday celebration in 1986). In all the years since then, I have to admit, I’d never done so. 

So we found a place to park (street parking is free on Sundays) and took the time to explore a new side of the city. We had the place to ourselves; there was nobody at all around, save for a man sleeping on a bench under a bridge. We enjoyed looking out over the bayou and seeing its sandy banks, which had all sorts of tracks made by assorted creatures. There were dramatic views of downtown skyscrapers, historical plaques to read and a soothing, cooling waterfall. 

We popped up around the corner and down a few blocks from our car, but since it was early in the evening, the shadows were long and the temperature was pleasant. All it all, it was a fun adventure, and I felt like I was a tourist in my own town.

A “touristy” adventure of a totally different nature was my back roads tour of the Spring Branch area and northwards, as I wended my way from our house up to the HCAD office on 290 last week. For some reason, I just decided to take a “shortcut” due north, rather than drive east on I-10, then north on 610 and then back west on 290. It seems like all I ever see are the freeways, which are not exactly scenic. 

This trip, however, was a fascinating tour of well kept neighborhoods interspersed with commercial properties, warehouse districts, trailer parks, a number of  neighborhoods with signs all in Spanish, pockets of new housing developments mixed with older, more rundown neighborhoods. I loved seeing the old trees along certain stretches of the road, and I discovered Central Market’s central kitchen! 

It was definitely a different side of Houston that few ever see. I actually got lost, as I missed the intersection indicated on Google maps; it was totally not there, I promise! But I eventually popped out on 290, took stock of the street numbers and headed west to find the HCAD building about 2 intersections down the road. 

Having a better feel for the way home, I took an alternate route which was just as interesting, and MUCH more leisurely than if I had taken the freeways. 

I often wonder about people who live in Hawaii or in Utopia or in Telluride. Do they ever take the beauty of their corner of the world for granted? Do we in Houston take the beauty of our skyline, our trees, or our tropical gardens for granted? In my case, the answer is yes, and now that I realize that, I hope to do a better job of looking around me and enjoying new experiences right here in my own back yard. 

Next time you have to go across town, try a different route! With over 500 square miles to explore, you, too, will discover a whole new world.