Early in my blogging adventure, I found the blog of a magical man in Canada. We became friends. I developed a deep affection and admiration for this person I'd never met. So much so, that when he died after contracting esophageal cancer, I mourned. Barry introduced me to another blog writer, Kat. "I think you will enjoy her writing," he said. "She's good."
And, as was often the case, my friend Barry was right. Kat is a good writer. In the time that I've 'known' her, (we've never met), she has had four, count 'em four, novels published. Four! Plus she contributed to a collection of short stories, The Firefly Dance, and she edits an online literary journal, Rose & Thorn.
Three of her novels are a trilogy: Tender Graces, Secret Graces, and Family Graces. (This link takes you to her publisher's website, where you can purchase the paperbacks. All of Kat's work is available in ebook form and from Amazon, etc., but since yesterday was Small Business Saturday, well, there you go. She also wrote a stand alone novel, Sweetie, which I loved, loved, loved. Oh I love them all.
Kat's characters are real. Her language is musical, lyrical, lilting, what? I'm no book reviewer, but I am a snobby reader. The writing takes me to impossible places, and I am right there, hanging on, smelling the mountain, and shaking my hair in the wind. You know the books. You pick up your book so that you can fall asleep after a long day. Sure enough your eyelids get droopy because you are tired, but the book makes you fight with all your strength to keep on reading, because you can't stop. You are sad when the book ends because the characters have become important to you and you'll miss them. You end up thinking about them years later, and you reread the book, finding a new layer this time.
I don't know how a writer gets 'discovered'. (Obviously! ha hahahahaha!) But I know this: you will enjoy her books.
I worked the weekend. It wasn't a horrible weekend. I finished work and left the hospital at 8:00 PM on Sunday.
Not bad at all.
Monday morning the dogs let us sleep until 6:15, woohoo! Fat Charlie had some diarrhea during the night, sometime after he asked and we let him go out at 1:30 AM. It wasn't hard to clean. He can't help it. I don't care. Oh I hate cleaning dogshit as much as anyone, but I don't care. He is the World's Best Oldest Dog In Our House.
Pottied dogs, fed dogs, washed dog bowls, fed me, remarked on day's news with Bill. (Mostly I grunted unintelligible 'unh's' while Bill remarked on the day's news stories.) Settled onto the couch in the teal hoodie footie (only have photographic evidence of the Big Pink Thing, so you'll have to imagine it in dark teal) to watch my new favorite morning show, CBS This Morning.
I'm too sexy for my ... to sexy for my ... No, I'm really not.
I got up to pee. (That's a good thing!) Bill was in his study. I said, "It is purely amazing how my body feels after working the weekend. It feels like in the old days when I had a bad fall from a horse at speed. Even my toes hurt."
"Well," said dear Bill, "All you have to do today is keep the couch in place."
I walked into our guest bathroom. "BILL!" Crap! "There's a bird in the guest bathroom." I promptly walked out of the guest bathroom, closing the door so quickly that I caught part of the ass of my teal hoodie footie in it.
I don't do birds in the house. Bill doesn't do bats in the house, so it all works out. Bill opened the window and out flew the grateful bird. The guest bathroom was, er, bathed in birdshit. Walls, tub, sink, floor, toilet, paintings, birdshit birdshit birdshit. It's a white tile floor.
I have a confession, or maybe two. Bless His Heart Bill returned to the guest bathroom with inappropriate cleaning equipment. He was going to try to clean up the birdshit birdshit birdshit. He is truly a Good Man. I (ever the ingrate) said, "That won't work. I'll clean it. Thanks anyway." And then I decided it could wait until the next time I had to get up.
The couch, the dogs, and the I were one.
My phone rang. The number was my unit at work. DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE!!!! Oh I had to. What if they had a question about something with one of my patients from the weekend.
"Croak," I said. (Translation: hello.)
"Hi, Patience." It was our unit coordinator. "Is there any way you could come in? Two people are out sick, and they're already up to six patients each, and we're still admitting."
"Croak," I said. (Translation: think, brain, think! Please think of an excuse! Come ON BRAIN, THINK!) The best I could do was to say I would check with Bill and call right back. Six patients is a nightmare. More than six is plain old dangerous. Oh how I wish I had a not my problem brain. All my life, I can't even watch a scary movie, because I can't do the not my problem. Bill would be my salvation.
"They are short at work and want me to come in." I just knew Bill would tell me no, you are way too tired, and I love you, and I'm putting my foot down. You get back on that couch and hold it in place!.
"Well, that's up to you," he said. And then he uttered the unutterable, the bastard traitor. "You do whatever you think is right."
I showered, dressed, grabbed a piece of bread, and went in. It was fine. Eight hours is a piece of cake! A tiny piece of cake. I had wonderful patients and I got to see my patients from the weekend who had stuff going on and I wanted to see them anyway. It's always nice when you can make other people's day better, and because of my your problem is my problem brain, I knew that just my being there made the five other nurses' days instantly better like magic. That's pretty darn potent.
Bill and I have tickets to see West Side Story at the Carson Center tonight. I might nod off, and I can't say I'm looking forward to leaving my dogs and couch, but I'm sure it will be fun once I get there. Now I need to walk the dogszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
And then ... there's some birdshit I need to clean up. Even after magic, life goes on.
Do you ever feel that you were plopped into someone else's life? Or that your life is somehow a size too large or small? That whole drink me eat me Alice in Wonderland scene.
It is difficult to acknowledge, much less write about; then again, the writing gods have been partying elsewhere for so long, might as well.
"Might as well, as well as not, once the pants is down." I cannot say 'might as well' without hearing my sainted mother-in-law's voice. "Might as well, as well as not, once the pants is down." Who knows where she got that, but it still makes me laugh.
I live in a southern city. On a river. I grew up, first in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, and then in the rolling horse country north of Baltimore, Maryland. My family was full of generations of educational snobs. Princeton, Vassar. My ancestors were Presbyterians and Quakers. I was confirmed in the Episcopalian church. I now work at a Baptist hospital. One of my co-workers, who was worried for my soul, asked, "Episcopalian? I've never heard of that. Is that like Amish?"
I sound funny here. Though I must admit to saying, more than once, at the end of a twelve hour shift, "Yes, I'm fixin' to get your pain medicine now." I'm fixin'. I've always been a parrot.
I love the people I work with. They are good people. Smart, caring, funny, highly skilled, and professional. Dedicated. And they are kind to me. In our crowded nursing station when someone asked who I would vote for, and I said, "President Obama," there was a stunned silence. Eyes met each others' but not mine. "Are you really?" They were still nice to me.
And then I say I have eight dogs. Two fifteen and a half year olds, a twelve year old, a ten year old, two six year olds, an almost two year old, and a yearling. Are any of them indoor dogs? "They all sleep in our bedroom," I say. Really! They say. They look at me a little sideways, with an involuntary narrowing of their eyelids. They feel compelled to tell me about a wonderful dog they used to have, who got hit by a car in front of their house.
I feel like I have landed on a planet that looks like Earth.
If you had ever told me that I'd be living without horses in a city, I'd have told you to keep smoking whatever you were smoking. Me without a horse? Not in this lifetime. After that lifetime of nothing but wide open countryside, I walk my dogs on sidewalks. The same sidewalks as the day before, and the day before that, and now it's been ten years of day before that.
I love it here. I love the people, and the spirit, and the heart of this place. I love Victoria's Secret push-up Angels Fantasies bras, too, but that doesn't mean they fit! Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! If I'm going to shop at Victoria's Secret, I better find myself a pair of flannel PJs and the free matching slippers; or maybe just go for the slippers and call it a day!
I need a hair cut. Badly. Maybe that's all it is. There are times when I feel I fit just right. Any time I'm with my husband. (Oh, alright. Almost all of the time. That's the worst whack-a-doodle - when Bill and I get out of sync.) Being on the couch under a pile of whippets fits just fine, you may have noticed from my incessant Facebook photos. When I am listening to my patient who has just received a horrible diagnosis, or news of a cure, and my empathy makes a difference, or I'm re-positioning my hospice patient and am able to make them comfortable, that feels like a perfect fit.I sail through those moments.
Howsa bout it? Does your life fit? Is it just me being a spaz?
I was going to title this simply "Fat Charlie" but when you have a fifteen and a half year old dog, and you title your blog post "Fat Charlie" everyone would gasp and think that he died. So I added the "is okay" to prevent heart attacks among Fat Charlie's many dear friends.
Here he is, right this very minute, lying next to my chair as I type. He's okay. He has laryngeal paralysis. It doesn't bother him mostly, but three times in the last year (most recently Monday morning before I left for work) his larynx has gone into spasm. He can't get air in or out. He gets so oxygen starved that he is incontinent and his legs slowly buckle. The first time it happened, I thought I was watching him die.
As he is about to lose consciousness, the larynx muscle doesn't have enough oxygen supply to stay in a spasm and it relaxes. Air goes whooshing in and out, and Fat Charlie looks up at me with big eyes that understand more than I can. The first two times it happened, I screamed for Bill in a panic. This last time Bill happened to be right there in the room. I calmly held Fat Charlie, and told him you're okay bud you're okay, and when he started getting some air in and out in big deep hungry gulps, it was Bill - my steady, one you want in an emergency, keep his head and assess the situation, Bill - who said, "Well. I am certainly glad THAT didn't happen while you were at work! My God, that was awful."
Now Bill understands why I screamed for him the other two times. In a high pitched help me I ain't birthin' no babies terrified Friday the Thirteenth aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Biiiiiiiiiilllllllllllllllllllll kind of scream. By the time he got to me the other two times, Fat Charlie was already at the whooshing air in and out stage, and Bill (might have) thought I was being a nanny booboo. Now he understands.
Mama Pajama fell down our entire staircase the other day. She hates to be helped. Hates, hates, hates it. I try to get a gentle hold of her collar at the top of the stairs. She dodges. And wham! Thump! Crash! Down, down, down. My heart hits each step with her little sideways body. She gets to the bottom, stands up, and looks at me.
"Oh, Mama Pajama! Are you okay?"
Mama Pajama is okay.
I, on the other hand, have 25,007 new grey hairs.
Having two fifteen and a half year old dogs is not for sissies. Just sayin'.