Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Small favors

When I left the office at lunchtime, a huge gust of wind came from behind and whipped my hair around to cover my eyes. I had to struggle to pull clumps of hair away from my glasses so I could see to get to the car. But the wind felt good on the back of my neck, and then the sun struck a single hair that was stretched across my field of vision -- it was one of the grey ones -- and made it sparkle like a long string of diamonds.

Thank you, Sun and Wind. You do nice work.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


For my birthday last November, my daughters gave me a full year of DVR (digital video recorder) service. It was the perfect gift for someone like me, someone who has been known to circle show titles in the newspaper's weekly TV schedule to be sure nothing important goes unwatched or unrecorded.

Because I was under the impression someone would have to come out to my house to install the DVR box, and because (a) I'd get busy and forget to call and order the service, or (b) I'd remember, but my house was too messy for anyone to come right then, it took me until this past Friday to make the call. Darned if they didn't fix me up over the phone and then tell me all I had to do was drop by the office and pick up the DVR box. Their office is two doors down from where I work, so I stopped on the way home and took that baby home with me.

It didn't seem like a good idea to fool around with the TV cable during the lightning and thunderstorm that was going on when I got home, so I read all the installation manuals while I waited for the weather to get better. Then, later Friday evening, I followed the illustrations, connecting this to that, and hooked it up. It seemed to work fine, except for some playback problems and some features that they'd told me wouldn't work until someone came out and changed something in the outside cable box.

Saturday morning, bright and early, someone stopped by to do just that. He told me it would take a couple of minutes, which ended up being more like 45 minutes by the time he'd changed everything he knew to change. I showed him the problem with the playback (the picture pixelates about every five seconds), and he explained that the problem wasn't with the wiring; it was with the box itself. I'd have to make another call to get the box checked out.

No problem. I'd lived without it my entire life, I could certainly go a few more days.

As he drove away, I came in here and sat down at the computer. I had no internet service. Now there was a problem. A big one.

Since I get my telephone, internet and cable service all through the same provider, I was pretty sure it was just a matter of something being disconnected that shouldn't have been. I called the high-speed internet service phone number and explained what had happened. The girl on the other end of the line asked me to re-boot the computer, check the cables, etc., (all of which I'd already done), then said she'd send someone out.

Nobody showed up on Saturday.

This morning I called at 8:00 a.m., talked to a different person, and explained again what had happened. He said he didn't see a "job ticket" for this phone number, but he'd enter one right away.

I waited until noon (24 hours without internet service) and called again. I explained the whole sequence of events to a third person, adding that we had approximately five hours until it would be dark again, and that I did not want to take off work tomorrow to have something fixed that wasn't broken until their guy came out yesterday morning. The third person said she didn't see a job ticket on it, either, but she'd get in touch with the dispatcher and see if she could get someone out here quickly.

Twenty minutes later, help arrived, and fifteen minutes after that, I had internet service again. (Big sigh of relief!) This service technician was much more knowledgeable than the first one. I mentioned to him that the two "extra" features the first guy had come to turn on still didn't work, so he tackled that job and got one of them working. The second feature, he explained after he'd made several phone calls, won't work until I call and get a new "job ticket" to change something that should have been changed -- but wasn't -- in 2005, even though I've been paying for it since then.

Like the first technician, the second one also said the playback problem is in the box itself. I asked if I could take the box in and swap it out, but he said no. They'll come to my house and swap it out, he said, but I'll have to call in and get them to issue a separate job ticket for that.

I know I'm gonna enjoy the DVR service, but all the service-procedure technicalities are making me crazy. I think this telecommunications company's right-hand and left-hand need to get together and chat for a while. Personally, I'd suggest that they meet in person and not count on conducting business by e-mail or telephone.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Back to normal...almost

Butch seems to be fine now, if you don't count the problem that sent him to the vet in the first place. Otherwise, he's very much his old self.

I, however, am still struggling a little bit as a result of the scare. I wake up in the night and listen for the breathing of two dogs. If I can't hear two separate, distinct breathing patterns, I sit up, turn on the bedside lamp, and watch to make sure both chests are rising and falling as they should. Butch, bless his good-natured soul, may be getting tired of being rudely awakened by my calling his name or making an unusual noise to test his reaction.

I'm reminded of a complaint my stepfather made about my mother a few months after he'd been hospitalized for a stroke. "I'm tired," he said, "but everytime I lay down to take a nap, Wanda calls 911."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Whew! My boy is back!

That was too close for comfort. Butch continued to improve as the day wore on today. I wouldn't say he's 100 percent yet, but he's very close to it. My relief is immeasurable.

We still face some tough medical choices in the near future if the anal sac infections persist, and there's every reason to believe they will. Obviously, it'll be especially difficult for me to drop him off for surgery again, but I realize that the repeated infections also take a toll on his health.

But those are worries for another night. Tonight we'll cuddle on the sofa and be thankful that yesterday is behind us. Tonight, we'll sleep.

Thanks, dear readers, for your prayers and good wishes. Every word of encouragement felt like a warm hug.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How will I know when to panic?

Butch's surgery didn't happen today. He fasted all night (so did Kadi) so I could take him to the animal hospital first thing this morning, which I did. They told me they do surgeries between noon and 4:00 p.m. and would call me as soon as they were finished.

I got a call around ten saying his pre-surgery blood test results were in and everything looked fine. The next call came a little after two, and the news was not so good. The way I understand it is that after the pre-surgery drug was administered -- not the anesthetic, but the canine equivalent of "twilight sleep," I guess -- Butch stopped breathing. They couldn't get a breathing tube down his throat and didn't proceed with the anesthesia. I didn't have the presence of mind to ask how they got him breathing again, but my next-door neighbor, who's a nurse, says they must have had to resuscitate him.

The vet said they'd wait a few weeks and try again on the anal sac removal, using a different "protocol," one that wouldn't put him under quite so far. She assured me that he's okay and told me I could pick him up after 4:30. That's exactly when I arrived to pick him up and bring him home.

We've been home since 5:30, and he's spent the last two hours crying (a soft whimper), pacing, crashing into furniture. He doesn't seem to have any concept of where he is in the house, although when he finds himself at the back door, he asks to go out.

I fixed him a little soft food, which he ate greedily, but he's not interested in drinking water at this time. I don't want to give him too much and make him vomit.

I tried to hold him on my lap to settle him down, and that worked for about two minutes, then he wanted down and began pacing again. I'm telling myself this is just a residual effect from the medication, but it's scaring me. I'm gonna give it a couple more hours, and if he hasn't settled down by them, I'll take him to the emergency vet.

Please send prayers and good thoughts his way.

Wednesday morning update: Butch is doing better this morning. As I write this, he's scarfing down food from his dish (which he found on his own), and his navigational nose seems to be functioning better. He's bumped into a couple of things this morning, but they were soft bumps, subtle miscalculations, nothing like last night's disorientated crashes.

I decided about nine-thirty last night to see if nighttime procedures would settle him down, and they did somewhat. He didn't want to stay on his bed, so I put his favorite old bedspread (that he slept on when he was a puppy) on the floor by my bed, then pulled the T-shirt off my back and gave it to him. He held the wadded-up shirt between his front legs and drifted off to sleep.

He woke up just before three and began crying again, but after a brief trip to the backyard, he came in, settled down quickly, and slept until the alarm went off a short while ago. He isn't whimpering now.

I think he's gonna be okay. Kim is coming over early this morning to keep an eye on him while I'm at work.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Connoisseurs of fine water

I feel fortunate to live in an area where the tap water is piped in from the East Baton Rouge Parish water supply. Our water is delicious, right out of the faucet. Those with discriminating tastes, however, find some water sources are better than others.

There's a large water bowl in the den, next to the dog food dish. It holds enough water that Butch, Kadi, Winston and Lucy can all drink as much as they want. I fill it with fresh tap water once or twice a day, and it suits Butch and Winston just fine. Kadi and Lucy, on the other hand, prefer to drink their water elsewhere.

In the hall next to the bedrooms is another water dish, a smaller one that I fill at nighttime. The two dishes are identical except in size, and the smaller dish is filled with the same tap water as the big dish. The boy dogs usually choose to drink water in the den, but Kadi and Lucy show a definite preference for the little bowl in the hall. I suspect their tastes are affected by their delicate sensibilities, that if they were human, it would never occur to them to drink wine from a juice glass instead of a stemmed wineglass.

The best water, however, isn't what's in the bowl in the hall. Both Kadi and Lucy conspicuously prefer to drink from yet a third container, one that holds water from a different source. They are intrigued, I suppose, by the fact that their favorite water isn't always available. When they can get it, they can't seem to get enough of it. No doubt this water tastes better because of the filters through which it passes and the thousands of tiny organic particles that give it its full-bodied flavor.

The other morning Kadi woke me by dancing frantically beside my bed, yipping and nudging me with her nose. She seemed desperate to go outside, and I assumed she urgently needed some bladder relief after a long night. I was wrong. Kadi raced past the dish of water in the hall and past the big dish full of water in the den. When I opened the back door, she bounded out into the yard only as far as the fourth stepping stone, one of the two that sit lower in the ground than the others, one that collects and holds rainwater. There she drank her fill.

I've always been careful with the dogs' water supply, but I'm having second thoughts about it. I wonder if, by being cautious, I've deprived them of some of the finer things of life. One day soon -- on a special occasion like a birthday or something -- maybe I should invite them into the bathroom and open the lid to the toilet.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Velvet Sacks & Subsidiaries

It's a three-day weekend, and it's off to a good start.

After work yesterday, I got my car inspected, then stopped at the store for groceries. That was my complete list of errands for the weekend, so I was able to stay inside this entire nasty, cold, rainy day, and I'll probably stay in tomorrow and the next day, too.

Today has been a busy one. I've been at the computer almost constantly since right after breakfast, and, for once, I have something to show for it -- two new (subsidiary) blogs.

Blind Dog Running
I started setting up this blog the other day, prompted by the events detailed in last Sunday's "London Googler" post. Today, I searched out all the relevant (and some not-so-relevant) posts about Butch and copied them to the new site. (Since I don't want to eliminate one of my most frequent blog topics, I'll probably always put the Butch posts here first.) Next, I added links to other blind-dog sites, some of which were extremely helpful to me when I first knew that Butch might have to have his eyes removed.

In case you're wondering, there are no plans to have a blog dedicated to Kadi. She deserves it, I'm sure, but she's so busy running the household that I don't think she'll ever find out Butch has own site.

Velvet's Bookstacks
The Q&A-style book reviews on this new blog may not be of much help to other readers, but I think they'll help me when it comes time to cull my book collection. That's a task so daunting I never seem to be able to work it into my schedule. When I get around to it, I'll need all the tools available.

Read the reviews if you like, but please don't let my opinions have much influence over your reading decisions. There are lots of in-depth, informational book reviews online, and this isn't one of them. In fact, this isn't so much about the books as it's about my reactions to them. To paraphrase the old saying about art, "I don't know much about great literature, but I know what I like."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Veterinary veterans 2

Last Saturday I took Kadi to the vet to have her thyroid levels checked. In a little less than two months of twice-a-day thyroid pills, she’s gone from being considerably hypothyroid (levels too low) to just barely hyperthyroid (levels too high). She’s not shedding nearly as much hair now, and she’s lost almost four pounds since she began taking the meds. Low thyroid levels apparently cause weight gain, and Kadi was getting a little porky. The vet seems pleased with her progress and wants us to continue giving her the two pills a day until a recheck in three months’ time.

Monday, first thing in the morning, was Butch’s turn to see the doctor. For the third time in about three months, he has an anal sac infection, and this time the recommendation was surgery. The vet explained the procedure thoroughly (even going so far as to draw dog-butt diagrams on a dry-erase board), which made me feel very comfortable with the idea of having the worn-out, leaking, obsolete-in-the-first-place, anal sacs removed.

For now, Butch is on antibiotics again, to clear up the infection before he has surgery next Tuesday. I’ll be glad when he's finally able to put behind him the discomfort that has recently, behind him.

I hope both dogs will soon be well enough that we can put an end to the frequent vet visits. They're already beginning to hesitate when I offer a ride in the car.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Perspective and survival, huh? That explains a lot.

Back in December I wrote about how pleased I was that my doctor had changed most of my prescriptions to generic ones and all of them to 90-day refills, which meant I’d only have to go to Wal-Mart once every three months. Sounds really good on the surface, doesn’t it?

The reality was slightly different. When I went to the Wal-Mart pharmacy to get the prescriptions filled, there was a problem with one of the two meds I take for high blood pressure. It was explained to me that Wal-Mart was having trouble getting this particular medication from either of their two regular suppliers. The pharmacist gave me three pills (instead of 90) and told me to come back the next day. She was sure she’d have some then.

Given the condition of my achy knees, my (politely masked) reaction to that instruction was the same as it would have been if she’d told me to go home, hurl my body to the floor, and roll around until I’d bumped into every piece of livingroom furniture –- hard -- at least once. Nevertheless, I went back the next day.

"Oh, I’m sorry," she said after I’d stood in line for half an hour. "They still didn’t send us any of that. In fact, I don’t know when or if we’ll get any more. Here, take these six pills to get you past Christmas, and I’ll fax your doctor tomorrow and see what she suggests."

Needless to say, I didn’t hear from the doctor, and I didn’t hear from the pharmacy. It was Christmas, after all, and then New Year’s right after that. What kept me from panicking was that I hadn’t waited until the last minute to fill my new prescriptions, and I still had a couple weeks’ worth before they parceled out those nine pills.

So, I made it through the holidays, and this past Monday, when I saw that I’d be out of those pills by Friday, I called Wal-Mart. The lady said they’d found a new supplier for the drug I needed. She said she’d order it "right now" and it "should be here tomorrow." I called again Tuesday afternoon. Lo and behold, they not only had the right medicine, but they’d already filled the prescription and it was waiting there for me. Things were looking up!

After work I stopped at home just long enough to let Butch and Kadi outside for a minute, then continued on to Wal-Mart. Bad idea, going there right after work. The pharmacy line was so long that it turned a corner and stretched back across three aisles. I stood in the same spot for about 15 minutes, shifting from one foot to the other, bouncing slightly to keep my knees from stiffening and locking up, realizing I was fidgeting like a child in need of a restroom. Finally, the line started moving. Ten minutes later I turned the corner and saw that I was the eighth person in line. Good. I had a goal then. I could count each customer and measure progress in minutes per person.

By the time I was the fourth person in line, another pharmacy clerk showed up. As the first clerk rang up first-in-line customers, the second clerk asked for names and birthdates to pull prescriptions for people farther back in the line. When I was the third person in line, I gave him my information and watched him find my prescription and lay it on the counter by the first clerk. When I was the second person in line, the second clerk was getting information from the customer behind me. We were moving faster.

And then it was my turn. I stepped up to the counter with my money in my hand and gave the first clerk my name. She picked up a prescription bag, checked the name on it, did a double-take when she realized the name wasn’t mine, looked quickly around the counter and then at the second clerk. "It was right there," he told her. "Did you give it to the last customer?"

We all waited again. We waited while the first clerk burst through the door of the restricted pharmacy area and ran down the aisles in search of the last customer she’d served. The clerk might not have been attentive to detail, but she did earn some approval points for agility. She caught up with the customer who had my prescription and, after a total of about 45 minutes of standing in line, I finally had the elusive pills, and I could go home.

My knees hurt so much I couldn’t sleep last night, but there was a smile on my face as I tossed and turned. I survived the pain-inducing trips to Wal-Mart, and I don’t have to go back for almost three months. Are there any questions about why that makes me so happy? It's all a matter of perspective.

Michael Bergdahl: "From Sam Walton's Darwinian, capitalistic perspective, survival of the fittest was the natural order of things."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

London Googler, please come back

I'm not as obsessed with the stat-counter at the bottom of this blog as I was when I first added it, but it's still fun to check it occasionally to see where my readers come from. A lot of folks come from my daughter's website, and some come through links kindly provided by other bloggers. A lot of people find this blog through Google searches, though this blog is rarely what they're looking for. Most of the Googlers don't stick around to read.

Oddly, the number-one Google search term that leads people here is "pictures of octagons." This comes up so often that I imagine finding pictures of octagons must be a common elementary school assignment.

There are apparently a lot of people who wonder whether Crocs and escalators are a dangerous combination, because those folks come here in large numbers, too. I always wonder if they decide to keep their comfortable shoes, toss them out, or play it safe and stay off escalators.

Then there are the people whose imaginations are captured, as mine was, by a song about a cleverly plotted prison escape. Those folks usually Google some variation of "get my lantern get my gun" or other brief snatches of the song's lyrics.

Occasionally -- not often -- someone finds this blog by searching for, well, actual "velvet sacks." This isn't the website those people wanted to find, either.

Up until very recently, it's been nothing but amusing to check out the Google searches that have brought people here, and it didn't bother me that they didn't stay long. A couple of days ago, that changed.

A Googler from London searched with a long string of words along these lines: "dog has primary glaucoma vet says both eyes must come out is it fair to the dog?" (This isn't an exact quote but my best recollection of it. My stat-counter is free, thus limited, and that search had already rolled off before I decided to write about it.) Those words led the person here -- exactly the right place to find some reassurance on that subject -- but the entries about Butch's blindness were too well buried to find quickly. The Googler came to this blog and left almost immediately.

My heart aches for that person. I remember the agony of trying to evaluate the rights and wrongs of an almost-identical situation, and I wouldn't wish it on anybody. I want to reach out to that person, to shout, "Come back, wait a minute, let me introduce you to Butch." I want him or her to read how little Butch's blindness has interfered with the quality of his life, how enthusiastically he goes about his doggy-business and how much joy he gives and receives in the course of the average day. I want to say that when the time comes for me to add another dog to this family, I wouldn't hesitate to adopt a blind dog or one with another type of special needs.

What I know now that I didn't know when Butch's eye problems began is that the condition of the animal's eyes is not nearly as important as the size of its heart, and that the capacity of the human heart will grow, too, for every day spent with such a dog.

Blind Dog Running

I think I'm gonna create another blog on just this subject.

UPDATE: Butch's blog is up -- at least the bare bones of it. The information there won't be new to regular Velvet Sacks visitors, but maybe, by putting it all in one place, it'll offer some comfort to someone else who needs it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Tissue wars and peace and love

Today is the birthday of my sister, she who inherited the cheekbones, the thick, dark hair with the well-defined widow’s peak, and various other features that have always aroused my envy. Along with my daughters, she’s my best friend in the world, and so I will confess here, publicly, that I didn’t always know she’d grow up to be that. And I wasn't always nice to her.

For the same stupid reasons most brothers or sisters engage in childish combat, we fought, too. We battled about toys and clothes that needed sharing, chores that needed doing, privileges that were granted unfairly to one of us and not the other, and, most of all, for our mother’s attention. At least once, I've learned, we must have fought about tissue.

My advantage during our fights was that I was older, bigger and stronger. My sister's advantage was that because I was older, bigger and stronger, most of the blame for our confrontations fell on me. Each of us felt unfairly disadvantaged by the other's position.

We fought for 14 years. Although there are photos of us in which we appear kind, loving, sweet and angelic, both of us agree that those pictures were probably staged.

On the day I married, when I was 18 and my sister was 14, I said goodbye to my family and prepared to leave for my new home, which was several hours away. My sister cried. That was the first time I had an inkling that she might like me in spite of our differences, and I was deeply touched.

Since then, my love for my sister has grown and grown until now my heart swells at the sound of her voice. She shares my family, my history, and my future. We've learned, through the years, that we are alike in so many more ways than we are different, and I don't know what I'd do without her.

On the occasion of her birthday, I’d like to apologize to her for hateful words, painful slaps, and every unhappy tear I may have caused her to shed. I can say I'm sorry now, not because I’m older, wiser, or (finally) a better person than I was then, but because I've uncovered proof of at least one time when my sister may have been as unreasonable as I so often was.

This twice-folded piece of paper (digitally scribbled just now for the sake of privacy) was tucked in the back of my baby book:

This is the backside:

I assume there was Kleenex folded into my sister's note at the time of it's delivery, because the note reads as follows:

I have no idea how I reacted the first time I saw this letter, but it gives me a great deal of pleasure to see it now.

I'm pretty sure you know it already, Sis, but I don't hate you either. In fact, I'll love you always. Happy birthday.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Déjà vu

It's almost bedtime, and I'm ready for it. I never bothered to get dressed all day today. Except for time time I spent sleeping last night, I've spent most of the weekend in front of the TV watching campaign news. I'm especially interested in this year's presidential race because whoever gets the job, it won't be George Bush.

I've enjoyed the TV coverage, especially the debates last night, and have formed some nebulous opinions about all of the candidates. Of everything I've seen and heard so far, nothing made me want to run in here and write about it until just a minute ago.

I just now heard Mike Huckabee say "irregardless" three times in a row. Oh, please, God, not another one who can't speak the native tongue. I don't hold the average person to such a high standard, but I want a president who can speak correctly.

If I hear even one of these candidates say "nucular," I may have to shoot myself.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Velvet: The Soundtrack

Subtitle: I Almost Bit Off More Than I Could Chew

UPDATE - JANUARY 5, 2010: It's a new year, I'm in clean-up mode, and the blog is not exempt. I've moved the "soundtrack" list from the sidebar to the bottom of this post. Once in a while I like to print a pertinent post to share with a friend, and the long song list created way too many extra pages. Maybe one day soon I'll be motivated to check all these links and fix the ones that no longer works. In the meantime, please enjoy those that do.

About three months ago, on an afternoon spent searching for obscure music videos on YouTube, it occurred to me that I could add a music feature to this blog. The fact that music has been important to me throughout my life shows up in different ways. Although it wasn't planned, many of the post titles on this blog are musical references. Then there's that whole thing with the ongoing music in my head.

What a good idea it would be, I told myself back then, to write an occasional blog entry about a certain piece of music and why it means so much to me. So many melodies hold memories for me. So many song lyrics speak words I'd like to say or hear someone say to me. Different songs take me different places, geographically or emotionally. Some songs take me back in time. Some of them I've listened to with people who have since moved on...or even passed away. A handful are so-so to listen to but terrific fun to sing. At least one song never crosses my mind at all unless I'm in the shower, but comes belting out of my mouth fairly often when the water hits my head.

So, I started collecting video links. Many evenings and every recent weekend, I've tried to find the songs that have played in the background of my life. It took a lot longer than I thought it would, but it was an entirely pleasant task. It seemed that every song I found reminded me of another one to search for, and the list of bookmarked videos, though certainly not all-inclusive, grew...and grew...and grew until I just finally had to bring it to a halt. There was no good stopping place.

My original plan was to introduce the music feature on January 1st. I thought I'd write a post about two or three songs and what they meant to me, and those songs would be the first links on the "soundtrack" list. Each time I posted anything about a song, I figured, I'd add the song to the list, and that would be the way the list would grow.

Well, to heck with that! Check out the sidebar, about halfway down. Some of these songs are too good to wait, so tonight I've added the whole bunch of them that I've bookmarked up to now.

It's appropriate here to recognize the many, many, many people who have taken the time to put their favorite songs up on YouTube so those of us who are less creative (moi) could link to them at our leisure. Some of those people have shown remarkable talent in the videos they produced. Others might not have been as creative, but they got the songs up there anyway, for people like me -- and you -- to enjoy. The selections I made were based on the music, not on the videos, so if you don't like what you see, just close your eyes and listen for a minute.

Also, I've been advised not to get too used to music on YouTube because any particular video might disappear just as quickly as it showed up. If you find a link that no longer works, please let me know. I'll either delete the link or find another version of the song to post in its place.

The songs I've chosen span nearly seven decades. Most of them I love now for one reason or another, and a couple made the cut just because I loved them when I was a little girl. I apologize to anyone who was hoping for Frank Sinatra or jazz or hip-hop; there's none of that here (yet). There are a few show tunes, a couple of TV talent-show performances, a tiny bit of opera, a smattering of Irish ballads, plenty of good ol' rock and roll, and way more country music than I expected there'd be. I hope that somewhere on this list you'll find a few songs you love, too, and maybe even a few you've forgotten about.

I still plan to write about many of these songs, a few at a time as the mood hits me. In the meantime, if any of them has a special meaning to you, it would be great if you'd tell us all about it.

  • A Whiter Shade of Pale - Procol Harum

  • Abraham, Martin and John - Dion

  • Ain't No Sunshine - Taylor Hicks

  • All I Have to Do Is Dream - Everly Brothers

  • All of My Life - Roger Whittaker

  • Always on My Mind - Willie Nelson

  • Amazing Grace - Rod Stewart

  • An American Trilogy - Elvis Presley

  • Angel - Sarah McLachlan

  • Angie - The Rolling Stones

  • Apache - The Shadows

  • At This Moment - Billy Vera

  • Baby Can I Hold You - Tracy Chapman

  • Because of You - Kelly Clarkson

  • Because We Believe - Andrea Bocelli & Marco Borsato

  • Bed of Roses - Bon Jovi

  • Big Bad John - Jimmy Dean

  • Billie's Theme - Hoyt Axton

  • Black Is the Color - Judy Collins

  • Black Velvet - Alannah Miles

  • Blessed - Elton John

  • Blowing in the Wind - Peter, Paul and Mary

  • Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen

  • Braveheart (Instrumental)

  • Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel

  • Bring Him Home - John Owen-Jones

  • Broken Arrow - Robbie Robertson

  • Candle in the Wind - Elton John

  • Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol

  • Cry - Faith Hill

  • Cry - Johnnie Ray

  • Danny Boy - Michael Londra

  • Desperado - The Eagles

  • Don't Close Your Eyes - Keith Whitley

  • Don't Cry for Me, Argentina - Lea Salonga

  • Downtown Train - Rod Stewart

  • Edelweiss - Christopher Plummer & Julie Andrews

  • Eve of Destruction - Barry McGuire

  • Everybody Hurts - R.E.M.

  • Faithfully - Journey

  • Feels So Right - Alabama

  • Fields of Gold - Sting

  • Fire and Rain - James Taylor

  • For Rosanna - Chris DeBurgh

  • Ghost Riders in the Sky - Vaughn Monroe

  • Go Ask Alice - Jefferson Airplane

  • Green Fields - The Brothers Four

  • Have a Little Faith - Joe Cocker

  • He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother - The Hollies

  • Heartbreak Hotel - Elvis Presley

  • Hero - Enrique Iglesias

  • Highwayman - The Highwaymen

  • Hold On - Tom Waits

  • Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte - Patti Page

  • I Believe - Diamond Rio

  • I Believe - Frankie Laine

  • I Don't Believe in If Anymore - Roger Whittaker

  • I Don't Know How to Love Him - Yvonne Elleman

  • I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing - Aerosmith

  • I Dreamed a Dream - From Les Miserables

  • I Hope You Dance - Lee Ann Womack

  • I Walk the Line - Chris Daughtry

  • I Walk the Line - Johnny Cash

  • I Want to Talk About Me - Toby Keith

  • I Was the One - Elvis Presley

  • I Will Remember You - Sarah McLachlan

  • I Wonder - Kellie Pickler

  • I Would Do Anything For Love - Meat Loaf

  • I'll Be Seeing You - Jo Stafford

  • I'll Stand By You - Carrie Underwood

  • I'm Movin' On - Rascal Flatts

  • I'm Not Lisa - Jessie Coulter

  • I'm on Fire - Bruce Springsteen

  • I'm Your Lady - Celine Dion

  • I've Been Loving You Too Long - Otis Redding

  • Imagine - John Lennon

  • In Canto - Andrea Bocelli

  • In the Air Tonight - Phil Collins

  • In the Ghetto - Elvis Presley

  • It's a Heartache - Bonnie Tyler

  • It's My Life - Bon Jovi

  • It's Not Easy to Be Me - Five for Fighting

  • Je T'Aime...Moi Non Plus - Jane Birkin & Sergei Gains

  • Just As I am - Brian Doerksen

  • Lady - Kenny Rogers

  • Lady in Red - Chris DeBurgh

  • Landslide - Fleetwood Mac

  • Lay Lady Lay - Bob Dylan

  • Lean on Me - Bill Withers

  • Les Bicyclettes De Belsize - Englebert Humperdinck

  • Let It Be - The Beatles

  • Let It Be Me - The Everly Brothers

  • Little Things Mean a Lot - Kittie Kallen

  • Live Like You Were Dying - Tim McGraw

  • Lonesome Town - Ricky Nelson

  • Love Can Build a Bridge - The Judds

  • Love Hurts - Nazareth

  • Love Hurts - Roy Orbison

  • Love, Me - Collin Raye

  • Main Street - Bob Seger

  • Many Rivers to Cross - Joe Cocker

  • Mary in the Morning - Elvis Presley

  • Me and Bobby McGee - Janis Joplin

  • Me and You and a Dog Named Boo - Lobo

  • Miserere - Andrea Bocelli & Zucchero

  • Morning Has Broken - Cat Stevens

  • My Heart Will Go On - Celine Dion

  • My Little Girl - Tim McGraw

  • My Prayer - The Platters

  • Nessun Dorma - Paul Potts

  • New Orleans Ladies - Louisiana LaRoux

  • Night Moves - Bob Seger

  • Nights in White Satin - The Moody Blues

  • No Woman No Cry - Ty Taylor

  • Not Ready to Make Nice - Dixie Chicks

  • Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'Connor

  • November Rain - Guns N' Roses

  • Ode to Billie Jo - Bobbie Gentry

  • Oh, Donna - Ritchie Valens

  • Ol' Red - Blake Shelton

  • Old Dogs, Children & Watermelon Wine - Tom T. Hall

  • One More Try - George Michael

  • Only the Lonely - Roy Orbison

  • Only Time - Enya

  • Operator - Jim Croce

  • Over the Rainbow - Katharine McPhee

  • Patches - Clarence Carter

  • Patches - Dickey Lee

  • Patience - Guns N' Roses

  • Piano Man - Billy Joel

  • Please Come to Boston - Dave Loggins

  • Proud Mary - Ike & Tina Turner

  • Puff, the Magic Dragon - Peter, Paul & Mary

  • Rag Doll - Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons

  • Raglan Road - Van Morrison

  • Reason to Believe - Rod Stewart

  • Red, Red Wine - Neil Diamond

  • Red, Red Wine - UB40

  • Remember When - Alan Jackson

  • River of No Return - Tennessee Ernie Ford

  • Roll Me Away - Bob Seger

  • Scarborough Fair - Simon & Garfunkel

  • Scarlet Ribbons - The Browns

  • Seasons in the Sun - Terry Jacks

  • Secret Love - Doris day

  • Sentimental Journey - Doris Day

  • Seven Spanish Angels - Willie Nelson & Ray Charles

  • Shenandoah - Sissel

  • Shrimp Boats - Jo Stafford

  • Silver Stallion - The Highwaymen

  • Sixteen Tons - Tennessee Ernie Ford

  • Skin - Rascal Flatts

  • Slow Hand - Pointer Sisters

  • Sometimes When We Touch - Dan Hill

  • Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word - Joe Cocker

  • Sounds of Silence - Simon & Garfunkel

  • Stand By Me - Ben E. King

  • Stupid Boy - Keith Urban

  • Summer Wine (Caution: R-rated video - Cover it with a Post-It Note if you're bashful) - Ville Valo & Natalia Avelon

  • Summertime - Fantasia Barrino

  • Sunday Morning Coming Down - Kris Kristofferson

  • Sunshine on My Shoulders - John Denver

  • Superman's Song - Crash Test Dummies

  • Suzanne - Leonard Cohen

  • Sylvia's Mother - Dr. Hook

  • Take My Breath Away - Berlin

  • Tammy - Debbie Reynolds

  • The Briar and the Rose - Peter Pringle

  • The Crying Game - Boy George

  • The Dance - Garth Brooks

  • The Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding

  • The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - Roberta Flack

  • The House of the Rising Sun - The Animals

  • The Last Farewell - Roger Whittaker

  • The Little White Cloud That Cried - Johnnie Ray

  • The Load Out - Jackson Browne

  • The Longest Time - Billy Joel

  • The Man Who Sold the World - Jordis Unga

  • The Music of the Night - Michael Crawford & Sarah Brightman

  • The Prayer - Celine Dion & Josh Groban

  • The River - Bruce Springsteen

  • The Rose - Bette Midler

  • The Three Bells - The Browns

  • The Wall - Pink Floyd

  • The Water Is Wide - Niamh Parsons

  • The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - Gordon Lightfoot

  • These Dreams - Heart

  • They Call the Wind Mariah - Harve Presnell

  • Three Times a Lady - Lionel Richie

  • Time After Time - Cindy Lauper

  • Time in a Bottle - Jim Croce

  • Time to Say Goodbye - Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman

  • To Know Him Is to Love Him - Teddy Bears

  • Today - The New Christie Minstrels

  • Total Eclipse of the Heart - Bonnie Tyler

  • Travelin' Soldier - The Dixie Chicks

  • Turn the Page - Bob Seger

  • Two Out of Three Ain't Bad - Meat Loaf

  • Unchained Melody - The Righteous Brothers

  • Vincent - Don McLean

  • Vivo Por Lei - Andrea Bocelli and Helene Segara

  • We Are the Champions - Queen

  • We've Got Tonight - Bob Seger

  • What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong

  • What's Love Got to Do with It? - Tina Turner

  • When a Man Loves a Woman - Percy Sledge

  • When I Dream - Crystal Gayle

  • When I Get Where I'm Going - Brad Paisley

  • When the Children Cry - White Lion

  • Where Have All the Flowers Gone? - Peter, Paul & Mary

  • Whiskey Lullaby - Brad Paisley & Allison Krause

  • Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? - The Shirelles

  • With a Little Help from My Friends - Joe Cocker

  • Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton

  • Would You Like to Swing on a Star? - Bing Crosby

  • You Raise Me Up - Josh Groban

  • You're Beautiful - James Blunt

  • Young Love - Tab Hunter
  • Tuesday, January 01, 2008

    New year, new beginning, clean slate, do-over

    Back in November I wrote that Thanksgiving Day is my favorite day of the year. I must have been living in the moment or I would have remembered that New Year’s Day is my actual favorite. Thanksgiving runs a very close second.

    New Year’s Day edges out Thanksgiving only because I get so excited when I anticipate the arrival of a new year. As much as I enjoy Thanksgiving, I don’t think much about it ahead of time. And when it gets here, my gratitude always seems to be about what is or has been.

    New Year’s Day, on the other hand, is all about looking forward. I pretty much keep a running tally in my head of things that need changing in my life, so I don’t have to do a lot of reflection as the new year approaches. I know exactly which things I’d like to do better, more of, less of, differently. I enjoy wallowing in my old ways on the last few days of the year, knowing that once that magical calendar page turns, it’ll be a whole new ball game.

    I fantasize that I will instantly become more energetic, more health-conscious, and better organized, and that I will vacuum more frequently. Those goals have carried over from one year to the next for several years now.

    More realistically, I promise myself I will drastically decrease the number of times I say “a--hole” during morning drive time, even though the people to whom the term applies will still be on the road. I will drink no more than four Diet Cokes a day, and none after six p.m. I’ll use the DVR to record must-see TV that comes on at nine p.m. or later. That way I can go to bed earlier, read for half an hour or more, and still be able to get a good night’s sleep. Getting enough sleep is problematic for me, and I'm resolved to make it a priority this year.

    Yesterday I stripped the bed and washed all the bedding, including the mattress pad, blanket, and bedspread. I wanted to go to sleep in 2007 and wake up in 2008 in fresh, clean sheets. Can you appreciate the symbolism of that gesture?

    There were fireworks last night, of course. From just after dark until two in the morning, bombs burst in the air, each one accompanied by a whistle or an explosion of the sort that normally freaks out Butch and Kadi. I felt fortunate that the dogs seemed to be managing their fear better than usual. Butch found a good spot and stayed there without moving, asleep or pretending to be. Kadi’s eyes were visible, her pupils dilated enormously. She stayed close to my side but, in spite of her fright, didn’t attempt to climb on top of my head or shoulders even once. I thought that showed great improvement.

    At bedtime I took the dogs outside one at a time, on an extra-long lead, to do their business. In the past they’ve refused to go, but last night they risked it, and at least one of us went to bed happy.

    Butch curled up on his bed, and Kadi lay in her usual spot on mine, snuggled close to the body pillow that lies between us. She shivered and panted as the fireworks continued, but her behavior wasn't panicky. At midnight, when the outside noise was at its greatest, I stretched out my arm to pet her. Reaching for her in the dark, my hand encountered a giant wet spot right under her rear end. She may not have panicked in her usual way, but she’d peed in my nice, clean bed and lain right there in it for who knows how long.

    So, my symbolic fresh start ended right there in the soiled sheets. But I will not view the peeing incident as an omen.

    Happy 2008, everybody!