Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hunkering down with Gustav

I thought of a lot of things to write about that might be interesting for those of you who don't live in hurricane-prone parts of the country, but there isn't enough time left to write it.

We've spent the last several days making preparations to ride this one out. Kim and her dogs are with me and mine at my house, which is about ten miles southeast of Baton Rouge, if you're watching on the weather channel. My other daughter, Kelli, and her husband, Troy, are at their house about 20 minutes away from here. Michelle is there with them, and Brad, a deputy sheriff, will go to their house as soon as he finishes his 16-hour shift. Jez, Kelli and Troy's outside dog, is in the house with their little indoor dog, BeBe. My grandkids, Kalyn and Koby, are at Kalyn and Adam's house, along with Kalyn's dad and stepmom, a couple of friends, their two dogs and several extra ones.

Trying to go to a shelter with all these pets is pretty much out of the question, even if we were inclined to do so.

We're well-stocked with non-perishable food and water, so our biggest concerns are wind damage, water damage, and (the most probable outcome) lack of power. Temperatures have been in the 90s all week, with heat indexes in the 100-plus range.

If the power goes out, I'm not sure how long it will be before I can get back here to let you know we're okay, but I'll post an update as soon as I'm able.

In the meantime, we're off to catch a little sleep before the scary weather sounds arrive to agitate the dogs.

I'll see y'all on the other side of this storm.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

As the world turns

For the past three weeks I’ve been battling allergy-induced vertigo. This may be the longest bout of it I've had since the first episode 24 years ago.

Vertigo is funny, but not the least bit fun. It’s funny in the same way it was funny when we were kids to spin around and around and around until we could no longer stand erect or walk a straight line. I’m sure it would be equally hilarious to watch this much older version of me navigate a lurching, zig-zag course from the bed to the bathroom, alternately clinging to walls and bouncing off of them as they spin. If it wasn’t for the nausea, I could probably appreciate the humor.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep the worst symptoms under control except for one morning and another afternoon. “Under control” in this case means I can function at a minimal level as long as I hold my head perfectly steady. Certain routine tasks become dangerous. If I forget and bend over while filling the dogs’ water dish, emptying the dishwasher, or picking up the newspaper, my body tries to follow my head, and I have to grab onto something to keep from falling. It’s easier to just plant myself in the bed or the recliner and avoid any sudden moves.

Usually I can avoid the full-fledged vertigo by avoiding known allergens or by taking antihistamines at the first sign of a drippy nose or itchy eyes. But if I don't catch it in time -– for example, if it sneaks up on me while I’m sleeping –- I’m in for trouble. All I can do then is double up on the antihistamines, climb into bed, and keep my head perfectly still until the fluid in my inner ears regulates itself. Reading is impossible, and TV isn’t much better. It’s not only a nauseating condition, it’s boring as well.

Yesterday afternoon as I lay flat in the bed, missing the third annual barbecued-rib cookoff at my granddaughter’s house, it occurred to me to wonder why they call this condition “vertigo.” It seems to me that “horizontigo” would more accurately describe it.

I’m hoping that today’s non-stop rain (pushed here ahead of Tropical Storm Fay) will beat all of August’s airborne pollen into the ground. Then, if it would only rain on my household dust somehow, I might get some relief.

Hope to see you soon with a clearer head.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Anal Sac Saga: The Final Chapter

Two weeks after Butch’s surgery, we went back to the vet to get his stitches out. Two weeks after that, this past Friday, we went for his final recheck. He’s doing great!

It feels good to me to know Butch isn’t in pain, and he undoubtedly appreciates feeling better, too. I’m sure he’d be even happier if I could communicate to him that the dreaded 45-minute car trips have ended for a while. On the other hand, he’s thoroughly enjoyed the social interaction with his friends at the vet’s office, so the miserable car rides might have been worth it.

When Butch’s veterinarian released him, she joked that she hopes she doesn’t have to see his butt again anytime soon. I know just how she feels. I’m grateful for the excellent medical care Butch received, grateful for the support and good wishes of his friends, online and off, and grateful that there’s a happy ending to this long tale tail.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

7,000 words?

I don't seem to have much to write about right now. At least not much that I can dash off and post with any sense of satisfaction. The few ideas I have would require lengthier posts than I'm willing to commit to on a work night, and I don't want to give them short shrift. So, I'm going to fall back on the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words and hope these photos will tide you over for another day or two:

I took this shot of Kadi indoors at night, with only the light of the television and one lamp, and could only make out the barest outline of her profile when I checked it on the camera screen. Even though I bought Photoshop months and months ago, and bought two books to teach me how to use it, I haven't taken the time to explore it the way I should have. Nevertheless, I pulled up this dark photo in Photoshop, clicked on auto-fix, and, boy, was I impressed. Look what I got:

Photoshop also helped me save this shot of Butch sleeping beside my bed. There's a terrific dog bed about eight feet away from this spot, but this 20-year-old bedspread is 10-year-old Butch's security blanket. He's loved it since he was a puppy. I finally got wise and cut the thing in half so I can wash one piece of it while he sleeps on the other. (I fully expect to meet my demise by catching a toe in a fold of this blanket sometime when I make a middle-of-the-night trek to the bathroom.)

The neighborhood peacock, having lost my favor when he spurred me after I turned my back on him to carry in a couple of bags of groceries, evidently doesn't understand that there's a problem in our relationship. He still greets me many afternoons when I get home from work, often hopping out of the bed of the neighbor's parked pickup truck and approaching before I even have my car door open all the way. On the day I took the following photo, I walked around him (cautiously), pretended to ignore him, and came on into the house. As you can see (through the hundreds of dog-nose prints on the glass door), he didn't give up:

His persistence paid off. My daughter Kim was here, and it's been more than a year since he flogged her.

My next-door neighbor is a nurse, a lovely person, and an avid gardener. I've always loved to look over the fence at the green things growing in her yard, even if I don't always know what I'm seeing. Yesterday evening I realized she has a large tree I've never paid particular attention to, and it's loaded with pears. I don't even like pears, but there's something about a tree full of 'em that fills me with a sense of the earth's abundance.

In the same neighbor's yard is another tall tree with branches that hang over my driveway. As I left the house to go back to work after lunch today, I heard a rustling noise and glanced up at that tree just in time to see a big tail disappear among the leaves. When I discovered the source of the noise, even though I knew I'd be late for work, I came back inside to get my camera. Here's "hoo" I found:

I've since learned that this is a Barred Owl. It appeared to be disinterested in me and my camera, but I suspect this one visible eye was paying close attention:

I've heard owls near my house on several occasions, but this is the first time I've seen one. It made my day.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Time: slipping through my fingers

If you’ve noticed the meager postings on this blog lately, let me apologize and assure you that my negligence isn’t because I don’t care. It’s because of my pathetic time management skills and too many other things going on:

I’m compelled to watch the political news shows that come on right after I get home from work, and then there are the reality TV shows I can’t seem to pass up. I’m caught up in "America’s Got Talent," "America’s Greatest Dog," "Big Brother," and "High School Musical: Get in the Picture." "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Last Comic Standing" just ended, fortunately, which will give me two or three extra hours a week.

I’m at least ten books behind on the Velvet’s Bookstacks blog. The stack of books to be reviewed is sitting right in front of me, and I’m discouraged to realize that there are a couple of them I’ve already forgotten. If they were that forgettable in the first place, it won’t be any fun at all to skim through them again to jar my memory.

Trips to the vet
There were two of them in the last eight days, both in the middle of thunderstorms and at the height of Baton Rouge rush-hour traffic. Butch needed to get his stitches removed, and Kadi needed to have her thyroid levels checked. I’ll have to take Butch back once more for a recheck, but he seems to be doing well. Kadi has gone from hypothyroidism to hyperthyroidism, so we’ve cut back on her medication, and she now needs more extensive testing to rule out Cushings disease. I’ve spent a lot of time online comparing the symptoms of both hyperthyroidism and Cushings. I’m thinking we need to get the thyroid condition under control before we do the Cushings tests so one condition won’t throw off the test results for the other. I’ll have to talk to the vet and see what she thinks about that.

Last weekend, when a sudden spurt of energy sneaked up and surprised me, I started cleaning out boxes and books that had long been neglected under my desk. Evidently I disturbed the dust enough to get a big snootful of it, which led to spinning rooms and drunken lurching. I spent Sunday through Wednesday of this week practically mainlining Benadryl to keep the allergy-related vertigo under control so I could work, albeit with a foggy brain.

That damn bird freaked out the other day and punctured my backside with one of the sharp spurs on his legs. I realize this incident didn't eat up any of my time, but I thought I'd add it anyway, before I forget to tell you about it. He's still beautiful, but I'm mad at him now.

As for tonight, it feels good to be home for the weekend. The opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics will start in less than an hour, and even though I’m not much of a sports fan, I always find the Olympics inspirational. During the commercials, I’ll switch channels to watch the talking heads speculate about John Edwards’ revelations today.

It’s always something.

Note: I see lots of opportunities for links in the above post, but if I take the time to create them, I won’t get this posted tonight. Maybe I’ll come back tomorrow and do it right.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Happy birthday, Wanda June

Summer of 1957

When you found love and hope again on a Texas beach.

We miss you, Mother.