Friday, April 26, 2019

Friday with a Golden Lucy

Another week, more rain.  Today is bright and sunny but with scattered showers.  Rivers are still high and fields are still flooded.  While an inconvenience for us, the continued rain has been disastrous for farmers and early crops.  And for families who enjoy having a garden.  Especially for those families who really need the garden to supplement their food supply.

The rain has definitely increased the beauty of the spring trees and flowers.  We hear a lot of birdsong every morning and a pair of wrens have built several nests about our deck.  There's no guarantee they will use any of them, but it is interesting to watch them working.  Towhees are once again nesting in the bushes near the driveway.  Chickadees have found two of our bird boxes to their liking and are nesting there.  The Pileated Woodpeckers come to the suet looking quite dirty and take food back with them so we are certain they have nestlings in hollow trees nearby.  Quite often we find a Tufted Titmouse flying out of the garage, but so far we have not found a nest.  It's a wonderful time of year.

Lucy is holding her own.  She manages to walk around a bit outside and indoors but she definitely spends more time snoozing than she did before her leg went lame.  She seems happy and has adjusted to the changes in living and eating upstairs rather than the den and "doggie room."  We try not to leave her alone for very long at a time, because she seems to want someone around.

A raggedy but comfortable old girl

Our Violet loves to be outdoors and especially loves bubble time.  Notice the amazed look on her little face when she actually caught a bubble in her hand.  Her sitter had put her hair in a "Cindy Lou Who" style.  Her hair does seem to be growing.  Finally.  My son allows that she might be cuter with hair, but grooming a bald-headed daughter is easier.  Especially after she gets something like syrup in her hair.  She had her first croissant recently and has a new favorite food.  She continued lip-smacking and saying "good" in the car all the way home.

Delighted to be holding a fragile bubble in her hand.

I had my endoscopy this week and it showed a narrowing of the esophagus near the stomach.  The procedure included dilating the area so that my diet was liquid for 24 hours and then soft for two more days.  The gastroenterologist did not think this was a significant problem but did biopsy the area to make certain.  Everything went smoothly and Lucy enjoyed seeing our marvelous dog walker/sitter again.  Now that I can drive myself to chemotherapy, it is no longer necessary for leave her alone and have the dog walker come by.  Lucy really loves her and the walker always stays around long enough to give Lucy a good massage.

I have mentioned before that there were times last year when I wasn't at all certain that I would see another spring.  But here it is in all its glory and here I am, optimistic with a healthy dose of realism.  Just looking out at the trees and birds and flowers makes me happy.  It helps that I do not watch any "news."  I stick to reading, driving, and watching movies and documentaries.  No need to get upset watching politics.

I often quote Marcus Aurelius because he had a lot of sensible advice that rings true yet.

"You have power over your mind---not outside events.
Realize this, and you will find strength."

In these days of widespread shouts of Christianity from people who do not behave at all like Christians, it is well to keep in mind that there are many gods, each as powerful to believers as any other.  We must be more tolerant and come to value a good life more than a specific belief or non-belief.  Another Marcus Aurelius quote says it well:

"Live a good life.

If there are gods and they are just, they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you lived by.

If there are gods and they are unjust then you should not want to worship them.

If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."




Friday, April 19, 2019

Wet Golden Friday

Severe thunderstorms seem to be the weather of the week.  I sound like a broken record, but once again the roads are flooded and rivers are running high.  We did have some sunshine earlier in the week and totally enjoyed it.  But the rain is torrential today with widespread flooding, landslides and fallen trees.  Debris in rivers is hitting the bridge pilings, threatening the integrity of the structures.

We have bought several sets of boots for Lucy, since they get wet every time she goes out.  At a given moment we have several boots hanging to dry on the hooks in the garage.  She spends much of the day curled up or stretched out although she has done a little bit of running in the driveway.  She does not seem to have any pain.

A little bit of light but no real sunbeams.

Violet is mostly recovered from her GI virus.  Our son learned from the pediatrician that it is rampant in their area.  No need to worry unless she starts running a fever or stops urinating.  So she was kept on electrolyte drinks for most of the week.  She likes the drink and kept hydrated.

We sent her a book for Easter.  And a little lap board with some "magic" stamps and markers that make marks only on the special paper.  We sent an extra packet of the paper as well.  She loves them and spent quite a bit of time drawing.  It was almost impossible to keep a hat on her when she was smaller.  Now she loves them and often wears one all day inside the house.  Her wise parents do not see that as a battle in which they wish to engage so they let her wear them as long as she wants.

I'm not sure what distracted her from her work.

In these days when so many euphemisms are used for lies, it is well to recall what the Buddha had to say about truth.

"There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth;
Not going all the way,
And not starting."
The Buddha

So don't fall for "slip of the tongue" or "alternative facts."  They are in fact, lies and we need to start holding people accountable for them.  Too many people wear their blinders and utter, "well, that's just the way they are."  No.  It isn't.  It's wrong and sends such a bad message to our Nation and the rest of the world.

Holy Week ends on Easter Sunday for Christians all over the world.  Today also marks the first Seder, the special meal that begins the Jewish Passover.  In a spirit of unity, some churches will co-celebrate Good Friday services with a Seder meal.

Whatever you will be celebrating, or if you will not be celebrating anything...



Friday, April 12, 2019

We Love Lucy and Spring

It's finally spring around here.  The proof is in the first hummingbird we have had at our feeders.  Because we live very near the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment, we note on maps that hummingbirds have been seen to our east, to our west, and to our north for several weeks before we see them here.  We put out the feeders and then wait.  And then they come.

Not a great picture, but the first of the season.

Further proof of spring can be found in our very strange weather patterns.  While we didn't have a blizzard like much of the northern Midwest, we did have severe storms, one of which brought very large hail.  We've had strong damaging winds and loud thunderstorms.  Flash flooding is common throughout the county.  And we're in for more this weekend.

Downtown Brevard
(Photograph from The Transylvania Times)

Lucy continues to be the same.  We are happy that the storms do not seem to bother her at all.  I have shown you a similar picture, but I love this one.  It shows just how happy she is in spite of her lame leg and restricted living space.  On nice days, she loves to sit on the deck soaking up the sun.  And while she no longer goes downstairs, she seems happy enough remaining on one floor.  She still has that internal "clock" that tells her when feeding time comes around.  And she loves her food.

We are so please that Lucy remains happy and pain-free.

Our Violet had a GI "bug" for a day or so.  She spent the day in her jammies sipping clear fluids and getting lots of extra hugs and attention.  A huge treat for her was that she got to watch much more television than is normally allowed.  She loves television, perhaps because she doesn't get to watch much.  She is wrapped in one of the blankets I knitted for her and one of her handmade quilts is on the back of the sofa.  It is "Sunbonnet Sue" and is one of several made for her by a 90-year-old woman who is like a grandmother to our d-i-l.  The quilts are works of art and such treasures.  The woman makes them for Violet because our son and d-i-l so love and appreciate them.  She wants them to be used and not packed away.

There are two television shows that their family watches together on a regular basis.  The first is because Violet LOVES it.  She watches "Wheel of Fortune" as if it were created for her.  They all love "Jeopardy" because my son so often shouts out the correct answers.  [BTW: Have you seen the current champion?  He bets every cent on each daily double he encounters and has set a record for winnings.  Wouldn't you know?  He is a professional gambler.]  After that, it's story time and then bed for Violet.

Too absorbed in the program to look at the camera.

She is much better now and pretty much back to her usual busy little self.

A word about my own health:  I saw my oncologist when I had chemotherapy on Wednesday.  He is delighted with how well I am doing.  The "cancer marker" blood levels are still low and I am feeling quite good.  We will continue the chemo as "maintenance" for six more weeks and then stop.  We will follow the blood levels and do another PET scan in the summer.  So while we are realistic we are also profoundly grateful that my cancer responded so well to the chemotherapy.  It rather makes all that pain, weakness, and discomfort worth the outcome.

The quote today is a thought-provoking one from Albert Schweitzer:

"At times out own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.

Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."

During some of my worst times the past eighteen months, my own light certainly flickered and threatened to go out.  And each time it was rekindled by a spark from someone else.  I am eternally grateful for those sparks that kept me going in dark times.



Friday, April 5, 2019

Golden Dog and Golden Granddaughter

Life has been blessedly uneventful for us.  Lucy is certainly no worse and we are grateful for that.  It's already spring downtown but is a bit slower up here on the mountain.  We've enjoyed  sunshine most of the week although it's a bit chilly for this time of year.  Unfortunately we are expecting rain over the weekend.

The bike ride "Assault on the Carolinas" will occur tomorrow, rain or no rain.  Limited to 1,000 bicycles, there are two rides, a 50K and a 100K.  Neither is for the faint of heart.  The 100K is 66 miles over hills and dales with an ascent of 3,700 feet.  It goes up the mountain, then  down to South Carolina and then up the mountain again.  The 50K has a 1.1-mile hill climb with as much as a 15% grade.  Traditionally, fans will line the highway in certain areas, ringing cowbells to cheer on the riders.  Both routes go past the gate to our community and both routes begin and end downtown.  Needless to say, we do not plan to be on the highway during that time if we can possibly avoid it.  Sharing the road with bicycles in the mountains is difficult enough.  Sharing with 1,000 bicycles is near impossible.  Even with rain in the forecast, lots of fans will stand by to cheer and welcome the riders at the various drink/rest spots.

Lucy is really looking rugged in spite of being groomed often.  She has become a rather shaggy dog and as she sheds her winter coat, we have lots of dog hair around.  But she doesn't seem to mind so neither will we.

Curled up and waiting for her maximum sunbeam.

Meanwhile...someone gave Violet an Easter Duck outfit.  And yes, it does remind one of Ralphie's bunny suit and she seems rather overwhelmed by it.  Yes, it quickly came off and was worn only briefly for the photograph.

I don't get it, Daddy.

This bright sunny day started out as bubble-chasing fun.  Then Violet discovered the shadow that copied every thing she did so it became more of a shadow game for a while.

Lift up your foot, shadow.  Just like me.

Because she celebrated a birthday this week, it is appropriate that the quote comes from one of the people I most admire, Jane Goodall.

"I think my message to the politicians who have within their power the ability to make change is this:  'Do you really not care about the future of your great-grandchildren?  Because if we let the world continue to be destroyed the way we are now, what's the world going to be like for your great-grandchildren?'"