Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy 14th Birthday Mama Pajama and Fat Charlie

Happy birthday to two wonderful whippets. Three wonderful whippets, as we celebrate Mama Pajama, Fat Charlie, and Sammy's mom Jessie who lives in Maryland.

Here are Fat Charlie and Mama Pajama on today's walk.

Mama Pajama in a Best in Field run dusting a ridgeback ;-)

Mama Pajama was the most amazing lure courser. Ah she loved it. She was the #1 AKC whippet in BOB wins, Best in Field wins, and number of dogs defeated. No campaign. We just went lure coursing when we didn't go showing or racing.

Mama Pajama was usually half the size of the competition, but at least to my eyes she had twice the heart

Fat Charlie (left) winning a feature race in CWA

Fat Charlie was also a brilliant lure courser, but his first love was racing. He would quietly hunker down in the starting box and then explode up the track running on sheer glee.

Puppy Fat Charlie

Puppy Mama Pajama

Steve Surfman photo of Mama P at the AKC Regionals. I love her grass-stained chin from grabbing the 'bunny' at the finish. And her ears, her darling wonderful ears.

Happy muddy Mama

Fat Charlie goes a'racing


Then - 3 months old

Thank you dear friend Laurie Erickson for this treasured photo

hug your hounds

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Runs and Staple Guns

Preface: I am a pacifist. To my core. Maybe it's my Quaker name. I cannot watch a PG13 level violent movie - nightmares forever. I had to walk out of the theater when I tried to watch Slum Dog Millionaire. I am a nurturer by nature.


The most darling Mama Pajama

For the first three years (2002 to 2005) when we moved to Paducah, my dogs had the runs. For the first three months the nine dogs and I were living in Bill's studio while the rehab on rest of the house was being completed and Bill was still in Maryland working. We didn't have a fence yet. And within three weeks all nine dogs had copious, constant, explosive, mucousy, foul smelling diarrhea.

You want to talk nightmare?

I didn't know a soul. Hadn't found a vet yet. Oh my God in heaven just the thought of those days gives me palpitations and the butt sweats.

At first I blamed the water, but store bought water made no difference. I cooked for all of the dogs back then, had been for years. Maybe southern chicken had so much more antibiotics that it screwed up their normal flora? The first vets I went to did fecals - normal. No parasites. We would do a round of antibiotics (amoxicillin and flagyl) and they would get better, only to have the diarrhea reappear when the antibiotics stopped. Queen Gracious had a bad neurological reaction to the flagyl, scaring the beejeesus out of me.

After five months poor Luciano had a terrible episode and started pooping frank blood. By then I had found the Paducah Kennel Club and members advised me to go to Ol' Poke 'n Stick. He asked if Bill and I had been sick. No. Did I ever have any problem with any of the dogs before I moved? Nope. Instead of only doing a fecal he looked at a rectal scraping (poor Looch) under his microscope. Was there a lot of rotting vegetation around the house? No, but, hmmm, well, the contractor said that when they removed the old roof it was over two inches thick: layer upon layer of rotten stuff that had been on the house since just after the Civil War. They of course threw it off the roof onto the ground. Our yard.

"Your dog has a bad clostridium infection," said my veterinary Angel, Ol' Poke 'n Stick. "I bet your whole yard is full of spores." Clostridium? As in the anaerobic bacteria which causes botulism, tetanus, and gangrene? Oh. My. God. The dogs were on amoxicillin for three years. (I have recently discovered that my home cooked diet did contribute - it was too low in fiber. High fiber helps the body keep the normal clostridia in check. And to this day my dogs don't tolerate chicken.)

Okay. That's "behind" us. Ancient history. Until two weeks ago when Mama Pajama got sick. Fine one minute, not so much the next. Vomiting. Lethargic. God-awful smelling uncontrollable squirts. I was sure she had some horrible cancer. I cried when I made her appointment. I cried while I sat in the waiting room. I cradled her in my arms when I told Ol' Poke 'n Stick, "She'll be fourteen on the 29th of this month. If this is something bad, we are not going to keep her alive for a miserable week, so that I can get used to the idea of losing her. I do not want her to be miserable, not for a minute."

Ol' Poke 'n Stick gave Mama a pat. He smelled her breath and looked at her gums. I'm thinking he's going to do blood work and abdominal x-rays and find some lethal tumor. He lifted her tail and sniffed. He gave her another pat and grabbed a Q-tip, lifted her tail again and lived up to his nickname. He disappeared out of the exam room, stinky Q-tip in hand.

I held my Mama Pajama in my arms and wept. A few minutes later Ol' Poke 'n Stick stuck his head back in the door. "Come look at this. Leave her here. She'll be okay for a minute. I want you to see this." I left a relieved, if slightly bewildered Mama Pajama in the exam room and walked to the microscope.

"Look," he said. (Ol' Poke 'n Stick overestimates me. I wouldn't know what I was looking at under a microscope unless the bugs wore name tags.) But, what I saw looked just like this:

"It's clostridium," he said. "She's going to be fine. We just need to give her some antibiotics, is all." I was so busy happy dancing all over that fact that Mama Pajama didn't have some horrible terminal illness, my brain too busy with the oh thank you God wanting to hug Ol' Poke 'n Stick, I picked up Mama Pajama and her prescription and tra la la'd to the van.

Halfway home it hit me: the roof! (This is where the "GUNS" part of the title of this post comes in.) The fudging, fluffing, goddamned roof!

Seems like our contractor thought we were crazy stupid Yankees who bought this old shell of a house and would never make it here and would be high-tailing it back to cooler climes before the paint dried. Because last fall we had to replace our front porch roof which had rotted off. It had been a new front porch roof just eight years ago. Oh and we had to replace every single window trim on every single window on the new additions. They had rotted off as well. Our original contractor wouldn't return my calls. The (reputable) contractor who did the repair work took photos. He just scratched his head in wonder. "This is so basic," he said. "I mean it's code, but it's just basic." Something about backwards flashing and no flashing and really dumb stuff.

Bill and I just scraped up the $8600 to do the repairs, grateful that I have a job, and chalked it up to life's experiences.

But remember when I was at the National, Bill had to cope with a major roof leak? The roof had leaked several times over the years and we were always having to replace shingles. I'm no builder, but this struck me as odd, what with the whole thing being brand new. We got a (reputable) roofer to take a look. He came down off his ladder with his eyes bugged out. "There's no vapor barrier on your roof," he said. "I mean my GOD! That's CODE! Why in the hell would anyone bother to put on a roof without a moisture barrier? I'm really sorry, but you need a new roof."

Once again all the shingles came down off the roof onto our yard with a fresh load of clostridium spores. The new roof was $9200. We talked to a lawyer in Lexington. We shouldn't have had to pay for the porch, the window trim or the new roof, but we have. The contractor did return Bill's call. I think his ears perked up when he heard Lexington lawyer.

I was willing to be quiet and see what happened. But now my dogs are sick, again. Sam I Am started straining and straining with nothing coming out and then before work on Saturday at 5:40 AM he vomited a gallon of undigested food. Poor thing had to go out a bazillion times and Saturday night Swede William started. Monday morning I took specimens in from each of them: clostridia galore.

I'm telling you right now, my dear friends, I cannot work twelve, thirteen, fourteen hour shifts and get up to let eight dogs out six times each during the night. My friend Heather (whose husband is a good lawyer) saw my van leaving the vet's and she called me to see if everything was okay. I fumed. I said the shitty contractor wouldn't return my calls. "Maybe you should go to his office and talk to him in person," suggested sweet little Heather. She had no idea of the seed she planted.

Patience the Pacifist had a thought. The Great Satan whispered in my ear and I listened and I listened hard.

"I could go to his office," I said. "I could buy one of those staple-y things they use to put the shingles on. I could go to his office and I could point the staple-y thing at his crotch. I could tell him I am a nurse. Being a nurse I would know that if I were to staple your testicles to your chair [oh dear readers I am relishing those words: staple. your. testicles.] that you will survive. Or, you and I could drive to your bank. You could get out $8600 for the porch and the window trim plus $9200 for the roof, and, oh let's get an even thousand for the vet bills I've incurred over the years which doesn't even come close."

Sweet little Heather sucked in some air on the other end of the phone. "Patience? Are you all right?"

Oh I hadn't felt this good in years! The money is awful and I am working too hard to be pissing it away because of some shoddy construction work, but that was just what it was and you go on with life. But the bastard's corner-cutting code violating crap is making my dogs sick. THAT WILL NOT DO.

So. I feel marvelous. The sumbitch pays us back and soon, or I dream of stapling his balls to his chair.

It's all just a little fantasy, don't worry. In reality, I will pray for the man. Anyone who makes a living ripping people off can't like himself much. Maybe since Bill and I have been MORE than decent about this he will restore my faith in human kind. It just surprised me that I was able to imagine a scene that I wouldn't have been able to watch on a movie!

But actually? I couldn't even get to the stapling part in my imagination: in my fantasy we just went to the bank and got the money he owed us and I thanked him very kindly.

Patience the Pacifist lives

hug your sweet hounds

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Free Day :-)

I was supposed to work today. Actually I was supposed to work this weekend. We are scheduled to work every third weekend.

No. Matter. What.

But this weekend is the Paducah Kennel Club show. I am the president, so I must be there. I had to beg, borrow, plead, and freak out to get the weekend off. Meaning I can't get the weekend off; I must ask my fellow nurses to trade days with me. Because of this, I was scheduled to work yesterday and today, which was icky and a half because Bill is tra-la-la-ing around back east getting an award from his college, visiting with family and friends, and eating. (I'm not envious. Or anything.)

Now I do have the best friends-and-neighbors in the world, so they come and let the dogs out for me, and feed them. The dogs were actually less frantic when I got home last night (late - two end-of-shift admissions meant I wasn't able to leave the hospital until after 8:00) than they are when Bill is home. They nonchalantly said, "Woo, woo. It's only you. We've had such fun with our new best friend Deb today. She pretty much rocks. Obviously she cares about us because she came and let us out from LOCK UP. And Lee and Dee are the best cooks! Dinner was scrumptious. You could take a lesson or two."

But. Two days in a row of crates all day, just the thought of it was giving me hives.

Then around one o'clock yesterday at work my belt phone rang. Patients can call their nurses directly on our belt phones when they need something, and our unit clerk can transfer calls from doctors or alert us if a patient puts their call light on. But this call was my Charge Nurse who was off yesterday. She asked if I could possibly switch days with her. She needed Wednesday off, so could she work for me on Tuesday and could I work for her Wednesday?

Yippeeeeee! Oh yes I could switch days with her!!! Oh thank you God and Charge Nurse! So, the dogs got to walk this morning, and lay around on couches and I didn't have to leave them for two days in a row of lock up. And my old body didn't have to work two days in a row at the start of the busiest kennel club week.

The Universe was lining up to make my Free Day pretty darn awesome. After the dogs and I climbed in bed last night, I remembered I needed to give Fat Charlie his second dose of thyroid medicine. I threw on a pair of shorts and trekked downstairs to get it. Oh. That somehow triggered the thought that I hadn't brought in the mail. And in the mail? Lo and behold the videos of Best of Breed from the National! Me, the mail, and the moonlight doing twirly happy dances on my front sidewalk. I had ordered those videos so long ago and here they were in perfect time for my Free Day? Oh yeah, more twirly shoulder pumping head wagging happy dances. Me and the mail and the moon.

Something else happened at work yesterday. To get the joke in this I have to make you like me a little less, and understand a little more just what a Saint my Bill is. For a solid year, and more, I have dragged my sorry self home from work and cried. I won't bore you with the why's of it all. I come home to a delicious dinner of Bill's creation and I tell him through sobs that I can't do this. That I'm a burden to my fellow nurses. That I'm constantly asking them questions, because I would rather ask the question out loud even though I know I know the answer, just to be sure I don't make a mistake.

I cry to Bill that the nurses I work with are fed up with me. That they must think I am the stoooopidest old woman alive. I weep and wail to Bill. (Sometimes the weeping is because of the human tragedy I see - this is expected, weeping about bad things happening to good people.) It's the wailing, the constant "I can't DO this!" that tries my dear husband's patience.

"You are too hard on yourself," he tells me. Over and over. What I want him to say is, "You are right. This is too hard on you. You should quit."

But he doesn't. He says, "I believe in you."

Last night I phoned him but he didn't answer. I emailed him: I have two fun things to tell you. I wrote about my unexpected Free Day, and said that the second fun thing needed to be told, not written in an email, so please call. He called after I had climbed back in bed from finding the videos in the mailbox.

"What's the other fun thing," he asked?

"You are not allowed to say I told you so."

It had been a bad day at work. The most experienced, organised nurses were just shy of frantic. No one could get caught up. One of nurses was sick and was going home. She was finishing up her charting in the nurses' station. I zoomed in to get a dose of pain medicine out of the AccuDose.

"Oh," she said. "Congratulations, by the way."

"For what," I asked? I thought maybe she just heard about Swede William at the National.

"For being Employee of the Month," she said.


"Yes," she said. "I got an email that you are this month's Employee of the Month."

I started to giggle. "You mean GOOBER of the Month, maybe! You are not well! You better get home and lie down." I couldn't stop giggling; this was surreal. Each month or so all of the staff on our unit does a secret ballot to pick out an Employee of the Month. Even now I'm shaking my head and chuckling. Goober of the Year, maybe.

Our Unit Clerk joined in. "Oh that's right! Congratulations, Patience!"

"What? What? You two are funny." I headed off to give my Small Bowel Resection their Zofran and Dilaudid. Still giggling. Later I pulled up my work email on my Computer On Wheels.

"Oh my God," I said out loud. I blushed. I started giggling again. "I do NOT believe this."

Bill cleared his throat. "So. I'm not allowed to say I told you so?"

"Good night," I giggled. "I love you."

hug your hounds

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Western Kentucky is hot.

We set an all-time record yesterday. I don't complain about the heat. I complain about cold weather. (Just ask Bill.) Cold weather physically hurts. I have this ethical thing; it rules me from deep in my center and probably explains much of who I am if I took the time to examine it. It is this: if I complain about the cold, I can't complain about the heat. That's my rule.

So I don't.

Bill is home visiting family and friends and getting an award from his college. When Bill is away, I'm surprised at how well I get along. Get by. Of course that is because Lee and Dee come and let the dogs out and feed them when I am at my 13 hour shifts. I'll have to ask some other neighbors to help this next weekend, because it's the Paducah Kennel Club show, and we'll all be out at the club. (As president, I must be there.) It is way too hot to bring the old dogs.

This morning I woke up at 5:30. We got up - the dogs and I - had our breakfasts, and walked. First Mama Pajama, Fat Charlie, and Sam I Am. It was 6:00 AM and steamy. Mama Pajama was panting before we got out of our yard. We dawdled. We stayed in the shade and walked through the neighbors' automatic sprinklers instead of around them. Mama Pajama dragged. Fat Charlie is feeling spunky since his vet appointment on Thursday. We upped his doses of heart and thyroid medicines and he is sleeping soundly at night, and feeling pretty darn peppy. Mama Pajama and Fat Charlie will be 14 in a couple of weeks.

The next walk was the eleven year olds, litter mates Luciano and Delia.

Delia and I are special buddies when Bill is gone. Normally she is all about Bill. When he drives away with a suitcase, she wags at me and grins, "Us girlfriends have to make the best of this, huh." And she's my dog again, until the second she hears Bill's car pull up.

This walk with Looch and Delia starts at 6:20 and it is astoundingly hot. And steamy. Good lord. And there are stooopid city squirrels everywhere. It's like it's "Bring A Friend For Free Day" at the Stoopid City Squirrel Sauna. I tempt, or I attempt to tempt, Looch and Delia with the treats in my pocket. I really do not want them sounding the Stoopid City Squirrel Sirens at 6:30 Sunday morning in my sleepy southern town. Other than the squirrels, we are alone. It is one of the things I love about this town. Quiet empty Sunday mornings. It is almost like our old walks in the back fields at our farm. Almost.

As I put Looch and Delia in their crates and get out the last three - Swede William, Jabber, and Lindy Loo - I feel sweat drip between my breasts and run down my belly.

I have a denim jumper on with a sleeveless polo and no bra. No people, no worries. I didn't sweat like this when I was younger. But then, I didn't live in Western Kentucky.

We set out and I catch a salty drop of sweat on my tongue as it dives off the tip of my nose. This instantly produces the image of Bill's dad working in the garden, cursing in Italian because the sweat has evaded his sweatband and runs into his eyes. (We thought he was cursing. Years later we found out that he was saying, "Ah! Go to Naples!" And the Italian equivalent of "Oops!")

The young 'uns and I go all the way down Broadway to the river. My glasses fog up in the humidity. I wonder if Bill is up, back in Maryland, and what he's thinking. I'm dazzled by the amount of sweat that is rolling down my chest and belly.

I see a downtown restaurant owner and ask how last night was. One of the boards I'm on is responsible for "Live on Broadway" - a weekly summer Saturday night party in the streets of Downtown. Started years ago, it was meant to bring folks to the historic district to support the retailers. It had become the opposite. People came for free entertainment. They didn't shop and they certainly didn't eat. Instead of supporting the district's stakeholders, the event was ruining their Saturday business. We're trying lots of new and exciting things this year, including hiring some kickass creative organizers.

The restaurant owner smiles widely. "It was fantastic," she shouts!

Good. That is good.

Swede William, Lindy Loo, Jabber, and I get back to our street. Our neighbor catty-corner from us is a flower gardener. There must be a word for her art. She creates beautiful 'paintings' from plants. I feel like I live across from a miniature Longwood Gardens. Anita gardens with the passion that I 'do' dogs.

I miss Bill. I am fine. The way toast is perfectly fine without fresh strawberry jam. I am diminished. The dogs gulp down water, back at the house. I water my potted plants on the porch and my little herb bed. I'm proud of how much I'm sweating. I want to share this with Bill: feel my back, honey, it's soaked clear through! Pasta without sauce.

I want to hear what he thinks is interesting as he peruses the Sunday New York Times and Washington Post. I'm pancakes without syrup.

I'm hungry!!!

hug your hounds