Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A White Tiger Rug

As y'all know, I've gone back to work. The last time I worked on a medical/surgical floor in a hospital was 1985. (Since then, I've worked in the Operation Room, PACU, and in Primary Care, but I hadn't worked in nursing at all since 2002.)

Things have changed since 1985. Just a bit.

(Oh, I'm 55 years old.)

The hospital is wonderful. I'm so impressed with the nursing staff. They are orienting me as though I were a new grad (GOOD IDEA!), and at the halfway point, I'm now taking my own patient load, under the watchful supervision of my (SAINT of a) preceptor. She is a sweet, beautiful soul, three years out of nursing school. She is a very good nurse.

(Yes, I am 55.)

While I'm in orientation, I work my preceptor's schedule. We worked Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I will be honest with you: I was very worried about my physical capability of working three twelve hour shifts in a row. The young nurses at work said that it's really hard.

(I am 55.)

I was worried about the dogs. Okay, that's not the whole truth. Bill has been doing great with the dogs. I was worried about me missing them. You know. There is a big ol' chunk of my heart that doesn't beat quite right when I'm away from them for too long. It beats, but that big ol' chunk is not quite in rhythm, so it sounds like, 'lub-dubb, oh thunk, lub-dubb, hmmmm thunk, lub-dubb, sigh thunk.'

(My heart is 55, too.)

Well, it turns out, that I was worried for nothing. I am a Tiger! A fifty-freaking-five-year-old White Tiger*! Three twelves in a row was a cinch.

See? Here I am arriving home on Monday night:

Note the victorious thumbs up!

The dogs rush to greet me.

Sammy -- don't forget he is a Therapy Dog -- astutely checks for a pulse, and immediately calls

Swede William says, "Whew Lordy!! You can say that again!!!" Easy can't look.

Mama Pajama to the rescue!

A sweet Mama Pajama kiss can revive the weariest of souls. It can make a 55-year-old soul feel brand new. A Mama Pajama kiss can make a heart that was going kerthunk-plop just race along lubby-dubby, lubby-dubby, lubby-dubby-doo!

I am the luckiest older than dirt nurse alive.

hug your hounds

* Thanks to Sue for the White Tiger reference!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Friday My Town Shoot Out - Dressed for Christmas

Here is the sum total of the Christmas decorations at the Casa Renzulli so far:

Bill plugged in the string of lights that's been hanging around the gallery door since last Christmas. Or the one before.

But the town of Paducah is a different story. It is lit.

The charming Texaco Station (now an information booth in the Arts District)

The Hotel Irvin Cobb - a classic from the past, where Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, The Tommy Dorsey Band, and more entertained Paducans - now hosts a lovely florist shop, and housing for the elderly and disabled.

The costume store is in the spirit. (Click on that to see the look the 'Car Freshener Baby' is giving his less than thrilled Christmas Tree Mother.)


The downtown gazebo, where you can catch a horse-drawn carriage ride.

The downtown directory, reflecting the snowflake street decorations.

Back in the Arts District, The Colonial. Isn't she graceful?

I hope to write a story tomorrow. One is tickling my brain. I'm back to work on Saturday. I get to see how I do with my first "three twelves in a row." I work Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I'm afraid they might have to call a code on me by Monday. Not a code blue; it will be too late for that. Just a code D.E.D. (It's spelled D-E-D, but it's pronounced dayedd. There is no such thing; I made it up.)

"Code D.E.D. in the hall, 3C. Code D.E.D."
If you hear one, that will be me.

Nah, I'll be fine. But as much as I can, today and tomorrow, I'm hugging me some hounds, while the hugging is good.

You could hug some, too.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday Shoot Out on Saturday and Stuff

In the words of someone, I'm late I'm late for a very important date.
This week's My Town theme is from Emma in Arizona, who said:

When I think of trying to photograph weather, I think about [...] any type of clouds, the sunset, a beautiful snowfall...should the weather cooperate for us, I thought it would be a fun topic to catch on film!

I haven't been out in the weather much. Heck, I haven't even been out in the daylight much. So here are some photos of last winter's once-in-a-hundred-years ice storm, just to make you feel warm and snugly where ever you are. Except Minnesoooooota. And Norway.

It was beautiful.

From indoors.

It will be another hundred years before the trees recover, and I will never forget the sound of all of those huge branches cracking and crashing. Some people in neighboring counties were without power for 32 days.

Enough of weather. (I am not such a big fan of winter and it's been dismal cold and gray.)

On to stuff.

We are hanging in here. Bill and the whippets are getting along just fine without me. Bill loves to cook, and now he has a couple of hours to kill after the gallery closes until I drag my weary bones in the front door. He fills that time by piddlin' in the kitchen. On Thursday, I opened the door to the sound of manic whippet woo-woo-woos and to the smell of Italian heaven.

I had had a Fairly Hard Time of It, and spent some part of dinner sobbing into my linguine with sweet Italian sausage marinara, Sammy's worried face resting on one thigh, Swede William's on the other, Easy and Fat Charlie lying like twin Sphinxes waiting for plates to lick. Between those pathetic tremulous gasps that possess your throat when you've fought tears all day, and moments when I almost fell sound asleep face first in my plate, a little bell went off in my brain. Tinkle! Hey! You! This pasta that you are crying into is really good!

And then I wasn't crying any more.

I spoke to my Nursing Director yesterday. I said, "Um. I feel like the learning curve I'm facing is as though I'm driving the Le Mans, in a Gremlin, and they're holding it on Mt. Everest." I asked her to please be honest with me, and to let me know if she had any doubts that I was up to this task. She cocked her head at me and said, "Patience, you've only been on the unit for two weeks. I think you are being a little hard on yourself. I knew when we hired you that you would need extensive orientation. Actually, I've heard that you're doing really well." She went on to say kind things.

(Thing is, I'm used to being more than competent. I'm used to being the one who people come to with questions. I'm accustomed to having solutions. Whoa Lordy!!! Now? I'm checking everything with my SAINT of a preceptor. Even stuff that I know I know, I check with this dear soul first. Twice. Once more for good measure. And when you read this, please be sure to give those italicized words sufficient punch.)

So last night when I got home, after doing fairly okay and getting the nice pep talk from the Director, I was feeling a little more rosy. The whippets picked up on this and gave me their best Excessive Greeting Disorder Welcome Home ever. There was crazy chaos and folderol. Mad, wild, loud bedlam. Luciano stood halfway down the stairs with his nose pointed to the heavens and his lips in a perfect O, just a'howling to beat the band. Sammy ran silly little mini zoomies around the dining room table. Easy barked his head off and jumped up to give kisses. Delia ran between Bill and me, screaming the entire time. William and Lindy wooed and wrestled for good measure, William throwing in a hump or two while Lindy was distracted. Mama Pajama and Fat Charlie wagged and danced and smiled right into my heart.

And Bill said, "I've made something I've never made before. You are going to love it." There was a Bon Appetite magazine on the cooking island. "It's penne with root vegetables," he beamed.

It smelled wonderful.

The recipe called for golden beets, which were not to be found in Paducah, so Bill substituted regular beets. They made the dish a lovely, bright rose-fuchsia color. Just perfect for my new outlook.
The dogs all had precious pink lips after they licked the plates.

I was still smiling when I fell into bed.

Life, even when you feel not quite up to the challenge, is good with eight whippets and the world's best husband.

hug your hounds

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Here we are!


Playing catch up.

I've got some orders to get out: thank you wonderful people who are buying my book! You know how in that James Stewart Christmas classic movie every time a bell rings an angel gets wings? Well, for me, every time a book sells, I feel like I can fly. Just for a second.

But it feels great, so thank you.

We went to a dog show on Sunday and had a blast. All three dogs showed like pros! Emmett went first, and did better than I imagined he would. His Heather was home - baby Ben's little brother is due in four weeks, but that wasn't why. Ben's daddy had to work, so Heather had a day with Ben, just the two of them. My great and generous friend Dee (of Lee and Dee fame) went with me, packing a yummy lunch to eat on the way, to hold dogs ringside and be excellent company on the SIX hours - three up, three back - of fascinating southern Illinois Interstate.

So Emmett had to go first, and didn't have his Heather to cheer him on, but he was a brave and happy and wonderful boy. No stage fright for him! Then it was Swede William's turn and he gave me goosebumps. Not so much the judge, though, who apparently got indigestion from William's glorious Swedish color. Dee reported hearing collective ooooh's and aaaaah's from the whippet folks ringside, which is gratifying.

Lindy Loo, who is the worst little fussbudget when we practice, was showier than a Rockette! She stood like a statue, arched her neck, cocked her head at the judge and moved like a dream. I couldn't help smiling - okay, beaming - at her. She had a blast.

These three dogs just love to show, and that makes it so much fun for me. Plus I got to see some friends who I haven't seen forever. Dee and I got home to Bill and Lee enjoying wine and cheese in our kitchen while Bill made a signature pasta dish - oooooh sun dried tomatoes artichoke hearts shrimp wine and cream sauce ohhhhhh ahhhhhh. It was just a great day. I was asleep under a pile of whippets by 8:30.

Work is going fine. (Although you've noticed it cuts into my blog time something fierce.) Bill is doing a heroic job of being primary dog servant. I am so enjoying giving patient care again: it is such a special privilege. I don't have the time to devote right this minute, but in another post I'll talk about that. The gift of caring for people.

And I'm having a blast getting to know the staff of the floor where I'm working. It's a delightful, fun, energetic, responsible, cooperative group of people. They help each other, and they put their patients first. That makes for a rewarding work environment. My preceptor is a very good nurse. So young! More on that in another post, too.

It's a busy day. The Paducah Kennel Club Christmas Party is tonight. No rest for the weary!

Hug your hounds - it's good to 'see' you!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Is It Friday?

The two weeks of classroom orientation at the hospital is over, and I've begun working twelve hour shifts on my unit. This week is a doosy, as we had our last two eight hour days on Monday and Tuesday and then yesterday and today are the twelve hour days on the floor.

This is my lengthy excuse for not having gotten my Friday My Town Shoot Out up. My kind blog friend, Barry
over at An Explorer's View, said some lovely things about my little book, Mama Pajama Tells a Story. He was generous enough to purchase one, and then he mentioned it on his blog. (Including a lovely photo of Springer Spaniel Lindsay reading it!) Thank you, Barry.
The photography assignment for this week was to show off Paducah's Christmas celebrations. The town is lit up, let me tell you! But I can't now, as I must dash off to work.
hug your hounds, I miss mine!