Thursday, October 25, 2012

On the subject of sags

I bent over to give Mama Pajama some fresh water and some scritches; it's part of our bed time ritual.

"Do you realize how much weight you've lost in your butt and your legs," asked Bill?

We have changed what we eat. Radically.

I looked at my thighs and, as best as I could, my butt.

"They sure are saggy," I said. "I have old lady saggy thighs."

"Yes," said Bill.

We laughed. He tried to make it better.

"I mean," he said, "you have other parts that sag much worse than your thighs."

We laughed more.

hug your hounds, and people who make you laugh

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Of Dreams and Friends

... I woke this morning from a dream about my late best friend, Alison. I was crying. Oh, thank God, it was only a dream.

I have a history of these dreams. I waited for two years to dream about my mother. She died when I was twenty. I looked forward to seeing her in my dreams. When I finally did, I dreamed I found her, alive and well. It had all been a misunderstanding. 

"You're alive," I cried! Thinking her to be dead had been a strange and terrible mistake, and she was not only alive, but glowing with health. "You're alive, alive, alive!!!"

"Yes." She dismissed my elation with a roll of her dream eyes, something she would never have done in real life. "I have a doctor's appointment. Can you drive me? I can't find my keys."

The dream was in dull black, white, grey. I drove my mother to the doctor's office, where we were told that she had cancer for real now, and was dying. 

Sucker punch.

I had that dream over and over again, and each time I woke sobbing and exhausted.

So, I should not be surprised that when I dreamed of Alison this morning, she was in a coma, and I was solely responsible for her care. I also had to walk the dogs - all of them, past and present, all at once - on a steep ledge in a slippery wet snowstorm. I came in from the walk and rolled my best friend Alison over, so she wouldn't develop bedsores, but my hands were so cold. I felt horrible because I wanted to put fresh linens on her bed, and a cute pair of flannel pajamas on her, but there was no time. I was late.

In real life, the real Alison and I loved to talk about our dreams and what they meant. She was the first I told about the dream about my mother. We spent hours together. Each of us in not great relationships. We rode our horses together. We spent hours driving to horse stuff. Alison was generous enough to take me and my horse in her truck and trailer. We talked and laughed and listen and understood and valued each other. We talked religion and spirituality. We talked personal growth and politics. We talked food and oh we talked about those relationships we were in, each of us wishing better for the other, and we talked horses, horses, horses. We talked family. We talked, and talked, and talked. We encouraged, supported, and believed in each other.

She went back to school - Johns Hopkins, no less - to get her Master's, and then her Doctorate. I went to nursing school and got remarried. We moved and lost touch. We reconnected because Alison found this blog, and we became friends on Facebook. Those missing years evaporated, poof, and unlike my dream of my mother, Alison had survived an unsurvivable cancer, and we were right where we had been. She was enamored of the whippet puppies, and was seriously considering one from my next litter.

And then my friend Alison, in real life, died. At the height of her career. Married to the love of her life, thank God, a wonderful man whom she adored. Inexplicably, she was gone; sudden cardiac death. 

Why did I dream of her last night? 

Because beautiful Ali the whippet had come to visit? Alison the person had thought Ali the puppy (then cleverly called Brindle Girl) was beautiful. Ali the whippet is so well-named, that when I am around her, it is as though there is a tangible part of Alison present. And part of her spirit. I can't put words to it, without sounding like a candidate for an intervention in a long term care facility. But it's real and powerful.

 Because I miss my friend Alison's professional voice in this maelstrom of political blah blah blah about economics? She would have made it all clear; that was her field and she was quickly rising to the top of it. She was brilliant. (Anyone who could make me understand economics had to be.) Paul Krugman quoted her.

Because I am at a Strange Place in my life? Oh how I wish she could read this and email me her thoughts. 

She would make me laugh about it, I know. I mean, acrophobic me walking my dogs up a steep, narrow, slippery, icy, frigid ledge in a blinding storm, while my comatose friend needed to be turned? Gee, what could it mean? We would laugh until the water we were drinking would come out our noses. (Okay, that would be me. Alison had more class. But we would have laughed until our bellies hurt.)

I miss her. 

And now I'll go and walk my dogs on this beautiful sunny day.

hug your hounds and treasure your friends

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

.. TEN! (Or The Kindness Of Friends And Strangers)

Mia and Ali are visiting. 
That means the canine population in this (crazy) house consists of:
  1. Fat Charlie who is 15 and almost a half
  2. Mama Pajama who is 35 minutes younger than Fat Charlie
  3. Delia who will be thirteen in March. (Oh how we miss her brother Luciano, who died in August.)
  4. Sam I Am, a youngster at 10 and a half.
  5. Swede William. He's six.
  6. Lindy Loo. She's six, too.
  7. Jabber who will already be two in December how is that possible.
  8. Baby Tindra who already turned one in September how is that possible.
  9. and 10. Jabber's litter sister Ali, and her housemate, the ever ebullient Mia.

And Bill went away. He went to McKinney Texas where he exhibited his work in a dazzling one man show at the Laura Moore Fine Arts Gallery. (If you clink on that link, and then click on portfolio, and then click on the first image - phew - you can see the paintings in the show. Which are, by the bye, for sale.)

Now, when Bill goes away and I have to work, Lee and Dee let out my dogs. Only this time Lee and Dee were going away too, and I would have their dogs oh..good..Lord. Enter dear friends and neighbors Deb and Karen and Steve to the rescue.

The dogs have been exemplary! Fat Charlie wasn't quite continent on the days I worked, but he did fine and Mama Pajama was excited to see her special friends. Delia and Sam I Am have been uncharacteristically gracious and have surrendered the best seats in the house to Mia - never imagined that, in my wildest dreams. Ali remembers that she was my darling pup pup and has snuggled, woo-woooed, and sparkled her way back into my heart, deep into my heart, that it's a Very Good Thing I am so fond of Lee and Dee. That's all I'm saying about that.

I've been walking them in three groups. (Today Bill walked Delia, so she isn't pictured, but she went on the first walk on the other days.)

The first walk was Sammy and Lindy Loo. We went a bit over a mile. The weather was perfect. Sixties and breezy.

The second walk was Swede William and Mia. We walked two and a half miles. During the first half a block we saw two squirrels. Two STINKIN' STOOPID CITY SQUIRRELS, who chattered at us and flicked their hideous bushy tails. I was ready; I held a leash in each hand. My arms are now longer. So much longer in fact that my knuckles are dragging on the ground when I stand. This will be quite helpful at work, as I will henceforth be able to empty foley catheter bags without ever bending down! And if I'm charting, and I drop my pen? Ha! Sweet!

The third walk made me happy just because; all these related Swedish Americans on one walk. Jabberwonkus, beautiful Alison, and spunky Tindra. (In the above photo, L to R are Tindra, Ali, and Jabberdude.) I was happy - for a moment, at least. One block from our home, a large saunter-y, penultimately evil C.A.T. spat at us. Oh, really? Whippet gods you think this is funny, don't you? Ali hates C.A.T.s.  Tindra? Tindra must have been a mouse which was tortured for days on end by a gang of C.A.T.s in her last life, so great is her loathing. And then there is Jabber who is only good. He takes after his Swedish grandmother, Sotis, and his American great granduncle,  Fat Charlie. He is purely goodness in a dog body. He is one of those rare souls who has no concept of the meaning of "NO", because he's never heard it applied to his dear self.

When we spied the devil C.A.T., Jabber looked at me and said, "Oops. A nasty! Over there, Dear Servant." Which is exactly the behavior I've been training for, so he got a Good Boy treat from my pocket. Good Boy! His sisters? I will skip over the events of the next several moments other than to let any neighbors reading this know that there wasn't actually an axe murderer wreaking havoc in the neighborhood at 8:30 this morning. It was just the whippets. Sorry.

I walk these days with Pandora radio in my ears. It makes the city walks less ... city? I listen to songs from my youth: Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Carol King, Elton John, John Mellencamp, and Abba. Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Rod Stewart, 60's folk, and 70's rock. I am a singer along-er. I was singing along as I walked past the Quilt Museum, when I thought I heard my name. I focused on the real world and saw a lady in the museum parking lot calling to me. I didn't recognise her.

"Patience," she called. "Are you Patience?"
"Yes," I said, pulling Sweet Baby James out of my ears.
"Oh! I thought you must be! I'm from Tennessee, and I read your blog! I knew you live in Paducah and you're always walking your dogs, so I thought that has to be Patience!"

Oh how happy this made me. And oh how sad. My poor, neglected, cobwebby blog.

"You make me laugh out loud," she said. "That Sexy/Taxi story! I could see it all, just like I was there!"

"That happened, um, right at that corner," I said, pointing a block over, to 4th and Jefferson. We spoke some more, me apologizing for abandoning my blog, she being gracious, acknowledging the difficulty of writing and maintaining a job.

I miss my blog. I especially miss my blog friends.

I thanked this kind and timely stranger for her kind words. I hadn't thought to ask her how she had found my blog. She mentioned that she had cats, for goodness sake! I put James Taylor back into my ears. We walked over three miles on that last walk, giving me a total of six miles today. 

I decided somewhere around Dolly McNutt Plaza that I would come home and write a blog.

So I did. 

hug your hounds and be grateful for the kindness of friends and strangers