Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Butch, er, no, I mean Bush

I am not a George Bush fan (except when I view him in the capacity I will show you in a minute), but I did find him less annoying than usual in tonight's State of the Union address. The speech was a lot more of the same old yada yada yada; however, he seems to have practiced all day to minimize his smirk.

Our Governor Blanco was in the audience, and she has the opposite problem: a perpetual pout. The lady's undoubtedly tired, but I don't think that hangdog expression makes anybody want to help our hurricane-devastated state as much as it makes them just want her to go away.

Now that I've demonstrated in one short post that I'm capable of bipartisan negativity, click here to see the place I most like Dubya. (You can use your mouse to help him out if he gets in a jam.)

Monday, January 30, 2006

Butch - Part II

While Butch was rapidly losing his eyesight, which made the world look pretty gloomy to us, one thing happened that gave us a light moment in spite of our sympathy for our "boy."

My neighbor got a new dog, a male fox terrier named Sparky, and he was a black and white bundle of energy, leaping at my dogs through the fence and bounding around the yard like a bouncing ball, accompanying all the motion with a high-pitched bark. Butch didn’t much like the young whippersnapper and never failed to voice his displeasure with low-pitched, warning growls.

One day we let Butch out into the backyard, and as he angled across the patio he whirled suddenly to face the fence, then crouched down, puffing out his chest, growling and barking, pawing the ground like an angry bull. We didn’t hear anything, but we figured from Butch’s posturing that Sparky must be outside, so we moved around to where we could see into the neighbor’s yard. There, about six feet beyond the fence and all alone, sat a brand-new black and white soccer ball.

To be continued...

Velvet Sax?

I've told a few special people that I've started a blog, and not one of them has understood clearly what I was saying when I told them the name of it. To me, the name represents soft little bags to hold memories (OK, kind of cheesy), but what everyone seems to be hearing is "Velvet Sax." I have to admit, that creates a more alluring mental image. "Velvet Sax" makes me see right into a dark room in an old brick apartment building, where a man is silhouetted in the open window, curtains blowing, the black bars of a fire escape visible against the flashing reds and blues of neon lights behind him, as he blows sweet, "velvet" notes on his saxophone. Hmmmm.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Butch - Part I

Before I stray too far from the subject of vision, let me tell you about Butch. My "little boy," a 7-year-old male dog of indeterminate (indiscriminate?) heritage, is blind.

The first sign of a problem came during the 2004 Christmas holidays. Butch had always had an amazing ability to snake his thick neck just enough to the right or left to catch whatever treat I tossed to him, but one morning I was tossing mini-marshmallows and he missed as many as he caught. That was odd. A few days later, a slice of cheese fell to the floor right in front of him, in plain sight, and he couldn’t find it.

At first I thought it was my imagination. Butch didn’t seem to have any difficulty at all moving around the house or the yard, going about his dog business, and his eyes weren’t watering or exhibiting any physical signs of a problem. I wondered if dogs’ eyes get worse with age the way humans’ eyes do.

Gradually, I started noticing that his eyes seemed to glow, not just outside in the dark, but almost all of the time, so I took him to the vet. The vet examined Butch’s eyes and measured the pressures in them and suspected glaucoma right away. He called a veterinary ophthalmologist at LSU, who said the symptoms did sound like glaucoma, but that with pressures as high as Butch’s were, he didn’t understand how Butch could see at all. He could see, though.

The vet prescribed eyedrops and made an appointment for Butch to see the ophthalmologist. My daughter went with us, and that appointment was frightening for all of us, with lots of bustling vet students and lots of tests, and ultimately a grim diagnosis of primary glaucoma. The ophthalmologist prescribed more drops and discussed the options available to us–all of which would only delay, not prevent, the inevitable enucleation
of Butch’s eyes.

For the time being, we would try medication. Butch needed two kinds of hugely expensive eyedrops, three times a day each, and not to be taken at the same time. My daughter and I set up a written schedule of what drops were to be given when, and we made it work. I stayed up late and got up early to give him the morning and nighttime medications, and my daughter came over every single day for months to give him the drops he needed while I was at work. We took him to the vet every two or three weeks to have his eye pressure measured.

I bought books and a DVD and read everything I could find online about living with blind dogs. I looked at pictures of post-surgery dogs and studied the hollow places in their faces where their eyes had been. I worried about my dog and worried about the money, got angry because I had to worry about the money, and prayed to God that I would make the right decision.

After a few months, it became obvious that Butch was seeing less and less of his surroundings and was becoming sad. He stumbled sometimes and bumped into things, which seemed to frighten and confuse him. He slept more and sighed a lot, and I slept little and cried a lot, and decided, with the vet’s help, that all we were waiting for was for me to be ready, and then it would be time.

to be continued...

Tomorrow is....

What I do these days
Only for the money.
Keeps looking more and more attractive.

Oh, Pluck!

You know, when I packed on some extra pounds as I grew older, I didn’t much like it, but I accepted it. Had to; I did it to myself and enjoyed every bite. And as the gray hairs started appearing more and more frequently, I even accepted that, because I sure didn’t want to retreat to the mandatory hair-coloring prison of my former blonde years. But the whole dimming eyesight thing seems so unfair.

Estimated life spans increase year after year, that’s not news, so why do we still have eyes built to last for ancestors who had life spans of only 40 years? Can’t the process of evolution keep up?

I’m thinking about this because I have looked closely in the mirror this morning, bowing my head to peer over the top of my glasses, which is the only way I can get a good look at my eyebrows. The magnifying mirror doesn’t magnify enough to let me see the individual stray brow hairs without my glasses on, and when I put the glasses on and look at the mirror straight ahead, the frames of my glasses pretty much hide the brows.

So there I am, head bent over, chin(s) tucked into neck, peering upward into the magnifying mirror held high in my left hand, and I see those hairs I hate, and I want to tweeze those little suckers. I dig around in my makeup basket for the tweezers and try once again, though I know it isn’t going to work, to contort my right wrist into some kind of angle that will allow me to stick the hand holding the tweezers behind the lens of my glasses and pluck out the offending hairs.

Can’t do it. First of all, it’s really hard to reach up (or down) under the eyeglass lenses, even on the right side. Fuhgedabout the left side, which requires reaching my right arm across my chest and using a backhand motion to go around my left cheek before I can even begin to probe with the tweezers. Another problem is that to pluck means to pull abruptly, and with maybe 1/4 inch to work with between my brow and my glasses, there isn’t much room to do anything abruptly.

Until I find a better mirror, I’ll just do what I always end up doing: I’ll whip out my leg-shaving razor, make scraping motions under both eyebrows, and hope for the best.

I should have anticipated years ago, when I got my first pair of reading glasses and noticed my face breaking out when I wore the glasses and clearing up again the instant I stopped wearing them, that the problems wouldn’t end there.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Where are the freakin' editors???

My bedtime routine always includes reading just until it's so late that I can't possibly get enough sleep before I have to get up again, so last night I snuggled in with a Dennis Lehane mystery called Darkness, Take My Hand. I'm enjoying the story, but last night something happened that made me spend entirely too much time on one page.

In the story, Main Character (MC), a detective (of course), is being paid to tail a young college student and make sure he's not in danger. The tailee's name is Jason, and MC tails him into a movie theater, where they proceed to watch Apocalypse Now. MC (speaking in the first person) describes the theater as "almost empty" and sits about ten rows behind Jason.

MC continues describing the movie/movie theater action: "About the time that Robert Duvall was holding a barbecue on the beach, a man came in and sat in the row behind Jason, about five seats to his left...I could see his profile--smooth cheeks interrupted by a trim goatee, close-cropped dark hair, a stud glinting from his earlobe."

MC's next observation: "During the Do-Long Bridge sequence, as Martin Sheen and Sam Bottoms crawled through a beseiged trench looking for the battalion leader, the man moved four seats to his left."

Are you with me so far? He must have meant to say "four seats to his right," right? Because unless I'm counting on the wrong fingers, we now have the man sitting a total of nine seats to the left of Jason.

MC goes on describing the movie scene and mixing it up with what's happening in the theater: "'Ain't you?' the kid screamed and the guy with the goatee leaned forward and Jason's head tilted back."

Whaaaaaaaaaattt??? How can the man lean forward and whisper to Jason when he's sitting nine seats to Jason's left? I don't get it. I had to reread that passage several times to make sure I wasn't missing something (please tell me if I was). By then I was no longer in the story but standing waaay back observing the writing of it and wondering how many hands this book went through before it was published and wondering if none of those people could count!

I finally moved through the discomfort and got back into the story, which is not bad so far, but you can see by the fact that I'm still moaning about it this morning, that I DO NOT LIKE IT WHEN STUFF LIKE THAT HAPPENS!

The good news is that it's Saturday, and I got to sleep late.

Friday, January 27, 2006


Just thought to mention that the weird name of my blog (all the good names I thought of were already taken) comes from a poem I wrote years and years and years ago after rekindling an old romance. It goes like this:


Random memories,
yours and mine,
pulled one by one
from velvet sacks
and laid on the table
of our common awareness,
gain strength and structure,
build a bridge
from then to now.

The poem lasted a lot longer than the romance did.

Old Soul, New Adventure

This is my first blog, and it’s been a long time coming. I’m one of those people who would rather think about writing (while sitting on my behind in the recliner and toying with clever phrases in my head) than actually do the work of typing out what I’m thinking. I like to be entertained and, unfortunately, find it a lot more entertaining to read other people’s words than to have to sit in an upright position long enough to write my own.

On the other hand, I’m skidding toward Social Security. I’ve lived long enough to have acquired a few stories and made a few observations that I’d like to pass along. Actually, I’ve already passed most of them along–-probably a few times too many–-to those in my immediate circle.

When my mother reached a certain age and I would visit her for a weekend, the stories she told me on Saturday morning seemed to rotate around again by Sunday afternoon. I used to threaten to make her a checklist, with titles for each story, so she could check off each one as she told it. Then all she would have had to do was sneak a peek at the list each time she felt a story coming on. Now I need a checklist for myself; therein lies the appeal of new "listeners."

I hope I’ll stick to blogging longer than my feeble attempts at journaling lasted. All of my journal entries seem to be dated in the first few days of January–-of different years.

So, not to press my luck, I’ll end this first blog and enjoy the remainder of the evening with a feeling of satisfaction that I finally stuck my big toe in this internet pond...and with an even greater sense of satisfaction that Master "P" FINALLY got voted off of "Dancing with the Stars" tonight.