Friday, May 31, 2019

Friday Again

Suddenly it is hot and dry after all those weeks of rain.  Plants actually need to be watered for the first time in quIte a while.

Little Violet has improved dramatically as expected.  She has a lingering cough, worse at night but has been several days now without a fever.  No more constant cuddling for this little girl.  She wants to be out and going.

Their household is home to two cats, one found them one winter day but she was hardly free.  After several days the cat still hung around their doorstep so they took her in the veterinarian right away to see if she had a chip and to check her for any disease or parasites.  (They already had one cat.)  When their first cat died they went to the local shelter to look for another.  There was a trembling little kitten who was days away from being euthanized.  She was a tiny little thing born with neurological disabilities and considered un-adoptable, so they truly rescued her.  The little cat has improved dramatically as she has learned to accommodate for her disability.  She is rather shy.

But the cat who found them immediately figured that she had a new responsibility the day they brought Violet home from the hospital.  She is never far from Violet and Violet adores the cat right back.  She gave Violet a lot of comfort while she had croup.

Hair a mess from feverish sleep, Violet confers with her friend.

There are times when it seems Violet is patterning her life after the cats.  She loves to crawl behind curtains, hide in boxes, and climb in baskets.

What?  I like it in here.

This is a photograph my son took with his phone while a photographer was taking a picture of Violet.  So I don't feel obliged to credit the photographer since she did not take this particular photograph.  My son did.

I had a little mouse who gave brief thought to building a nest in the back of my car's front passenger seat.  Two days. That's how long she was in there.  That's all.  Two days.  While it appears to be no more than two tiny slits in the leather and pulling out bits of foam, the little devil was also chewing wires.  The cost of the repairs is unbelievable and the length of time I will have to wait makes me long for fewer electronic devices.  Almost.  The dealer will actually have to completely replace both the seat and the back and then re-wire and re-program the computer.  All because of one little mouse in two days.

That is a preamble that due to car repairs plus several most welcome visits, I will not likely post for several weeks.  I finish my last chemotherapy treatment in two more weeks and then undergo another round of blood work and scans.  I feel good, but we do remember what a dreadfully sly bitch cancer can be, especially the ovarian branch of the family.  But I will return.

I will leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes about survival.  I have already survived (and well, thank you very much) beyond initial hopes at my original diagnosis and surgery so I say, 'why not keep on keeping on?'

Aristotle said:
"The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival."

And this one from Marcus Aurelius:
"When you arise every morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive---to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love."




Friday, May 24, 2019

Golden Days

We're having a heat wave for this Memorial Day weekend.  The swimming areas of the various rivers will be filled as some will spend the day picnicking and cooling off.  Downtown there will be a token  military parade with laying of the wreaths on the monuments on the courthouse lawn.  But in this county known for its white squirrels, The White Squirrel Festival will eclipse most Memorial Day activities.  I have no idea why Memorial Day weekend was selected for the large festival.

Lucy continues to be about the same.  We were ever so fortunate to find a neighbor who had previously been a vet tech and had recently moved to our community.  She came to our home and clipped Lucy's nails.  The rear paws were particularly bad since she wears boots and therefore the nails don't touch pavement.  The neighbor did a fine job and was so gentle that Lucy was not at all bothered,  This wonderful person (now a friend) will also come to trim some of Lucy's overgrown hair and help us give her a bath out on the driveway.  We are more than thrilled to have her to help us.

Lucy appears deep in thought

For weeks now we have been looking forward to a visit from our son and d-i-l and our dear Violet.  Plane tickets were bought weeks ago for a flight down yesterday.  Wednesday night Violet awakened them crying and coughing.  She was hot with a temperature of 102.  There would definitely be no flying down on Thursday.  Instead, she went to the pediatrician where she was diagnosed with croup.  The doctor was very pleased they had brought her in so early.  Since it is caused by a virus an antibiotic would not help at all.  She was given steroids which will help a great deal with the severity of her coughing and duration of her symptoms.  The doctor's assistant spent quite a while explaining what they needed to watch for and what actions to take.  The doctor had said that last night (Thursday) would be her worst night but then she should begin to improve.  The cough is likely to linger for some time but will decrease in frequency and intensity soon.  It is very fortunate that she was seen early in the stages of the illness.  So while we are so sorry she won't be with us this weekend we are very happy that she is comfortable at home and that her mother had already planned vacation days so there will be two parents to care for her.  So it's wear jammies all day, be cuddled all day, read stories and watch children's programs on television, a real treat for her.  They have re-scheduled their trip for Independence Day.  Thank goodness they always buy travel insurance when they fly.  It certainly makes sense when you have a baby or young child.  You just cannot plan for certain that the child will be well enough to travel.  Here's hoping everything goes well.

She is drinking fluids well.
But the only thing she will eat are croissants from her favorite bakery.
She may be sick but she has good taste.

Even if our White Squirrel usurps Memorial Day, we do not.  We both had relatives who fought and died in WWII, Korea, and Iraq.  Names of my ancestors who died in the American Civil War are engraved on the base of the Confederate Soldier in Morganton, NC.  So our thoughts turn to all soldiers everywhere who gave their lives.  We will fly Old Glory in their honor.

The first of our quotes is from Helen Keller:
"So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart,
I shall say that life is good."

And from Daniel Webster:
"May their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored."

So let us all pause to remember those who died in our wars.  We do not dishonor them by failing to stand during the playing/singing of our National Anthem so long as we are respectful in whatever position we take.  We do not dishonor them by allowing speech with which we totally disagree.  We do not dishonor them by not requiring children to stand and pledge allegiance to our flag.  We do not dishonor them by giving honor to the Civil War dead, many of whom were conscripted and were teenagers.  We honor them by respecting the very freedoms for which they fought and died.




Friday, May 17, 2019

Now We Are Two

Violet had her second birthday last Sunday.  She did not have a birthday party.  Her parents do not think much of having parties for a one or two year old.  So while they will definitely have a third birthday party, she did not have one this year.

She hates her stroller now, and doesn't want to ride in it.  So my husband and I sent her a tricycle stroller for her birthday.  It is a full-sized tricycle but with a canopy and handles to make it a stroller as well.  It's a pretty large tricycle and she is not quite tall enough to reach the pedals so she uses the footrest.  When she no longer needs a stroller, the stroller parts can be removed and she will have a real tricycle that adjusts a lot so it will be the right size until she is six or so.  The trike/stroller is a genuine Bentley, made by the Bentley Motor Company.  My son said he always wanted to drive a Bentley and now he does.  Violet loves it because she can "steer" with the handlebars.

Violet and her Bentley  Yes, that's a Pink Floyd shirt.
Who doesn't love "Dark Side of the Moon"?

Violet's other big present was from her parents.  An outdoor gym, complete with slide, swings, ladders and a picnic table.  She loves going to a nearby park so she was really excited to have one in her own yard.  Before the workmen had driven off after assembling it, she grabbed her jacket and took it  to her father.  She climbed up the ladder and slid down the slide time and time again.  Her father told her she could come down the slide one more time and then they must go inside.  "Understand, Violet?  You may slide down one more time and then we go inside."  So Violet climbed up to the top of the slide.  She gave her father a defiant look and sat on the top of the slide.  Since she knew sliding down meant going inside, she simply sat there.  It's going to be an interesting year.

She loves the gym

Most readers know that Violet is adopted.  Her birth mother selected my son and his wife to be her parents when the adoption agency gave her several biographies and photographs of potential parents.  While my son and d-i-l would have preferred an open adoption, the birth mother wanted the adoption closed so they have never met her.  Immediately after the routine care after the birth, the little baby girl was taken to a room adjacent to the delivery room and handed to her adoptive parents.

Immediately after her birth in her new mother's arms

The hero of Violet's two years on earth is the courageous young woman who gave birth to her and who made two of the most difficult decisions any woman can make;  1.) to give birth and 2.) to have the baby adopted.  We are blessed and think of her often.  All of us still hope that some day she may want to be a part of Violet's life although we will continue to respect her decision.  Our son and d-i-l maintain a portfolio of Violet's life and send regular updates to the adoption agency to keep in case the birth mother wants to see the photographs.  And they have told the agency they would be happy to receive the mother in their home should she desire at any time to see Violet.

Instead of a birthday party on Violet's first birthday, our son and d-i-l held an open house for all the people who assisted in Violet's adoption.  Friends who wrote references and went for interviews, friends who helped get their house ready on short notice, the social workers from the adoption agency and others involved in any way dropped by for champagne and hors d'oeuvre and left with a small potted plant.  A violet, of course.

And beginning with her birth and both Mother's Days since Violet's parents plant violets in their natural yard in honor of the woman who gave them the most precious gift possible.

Violets are symbolic of love and harmony

Today's quotes come from birth mothers written anonymously.  They are the true heroes of the adoption story.  While people say how lucky the child is, the truth is how lucky the adoptive parents are.

"A mother's love for her child is like no other.  To be able to put that feeling aside because you want the best for your child is the most unselfish thing I know."

"He is mine in a way he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way he will never be mine.  So together we are motherhood."

"If you love someone unconditionally and with your whole heart, then you will do what is best for them, not you.  I have never learned a harder lesson than giving my child up for adoption, and I probably never will.



Friday, May 10, 2019

Golden Lucy and Sweet Toddler

Lucy takes a very expensive arthritis pill every morning before breakfast.  So first thing when my husband gets up, she takes her place near the kitchen cabinet where the pills and treats are kept.  The two of them get up very early.

Lucy waits patients for her morning treat

Hurry up, Dad.  I'm waiting.

The pills have worked magic for her and she does not seem to have any pain when she takes them.  Her lameness has not progressed to other areas and does not seem any worse than before.  So if she does have a tumor (as the veterinarian highly suspects), it must be a slow-growing one.  She still seems to enjoy her life and we definitely enjoy having her around.

As Lucy ages and no longer runs in the outdoors, our Violet is growing fast  and running and discovering the wonders of the outdoors.  Their very large front yard is full of trees, so they do not plant grass but allow the natural bed of ground cover, weeds and wildflowers to flourish were the grass will not.  They did scatter daffodil bulbs all over which is gorgeous when they are blooming.  Regular trimming keeps the yard attractively managed so the neighbors don't complain about a "field" growing there.  But while others are killing off the dandelions and other wildflowers, our son and his family are enjoying them.

Violet recently discovered the art of blowing dandelion fluff.  She hasn't quite mastered it but she is learning.

First, you find just the right one.

Yes, this one is perfect, so I'll pick it.

Then you hold it up and blow and blow like this.
I think you need to hold it a bit closer, Violet.
But you have the right idea.

It's a common passage of life, isn't it?  Our dogs grow old and our grandchildren grow up.  It's Nature's way and we cannot stop either from happening.  And that's a good thing.  We humans have demonstrated over and over again that we should not be in charge.

Noted anthropologist, the late Margaret Mead provides our first quote:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

And we would be remiss if we did not include a quote by Jim Fowler, renowned zoologist who died only two days ago:
"Our challenge for the future is that we realize that we are very much a part of the earth's ecosystem,
And we must learn to respect and live according to the basic biological laws of nature."

Compare those quotes to the ones from our (gulp) Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo who is excited about the melting sea ice in the Arctic.  In a speech at the Arctic Summit in Finland, Pompeo gave us the following quote:
"Steady reductions in sea ice will open new passageways and new opportunities for trade...the forefront of opportunity and abundance."
Yes, the Arctic region has reportedly lost 90,000 square miles of sea ice since last year alone, and the United Nations reports over a million species are at risk of extinction due to human influence in climate change.  But  Pompeo also defended President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.  Because he said:
"Collective goals, even when well-intentioned, are not always the answer."
No, Mr. Pompeo.  But they are at least a beginning.


Friday, May 3, 2019

Loving Lucy

Yet another week of nice weather.  I was surprised to find one-way traffic twice this week while road crews cleared up more landslides and fallen trees.  Looking at some of the ridges above the roads one can see exposed roots of large trees.  It appears they could fall at any time.  So while the rains have stopped, the dangers remain.

I find myself more and more looking at old photographs of a younger Lucy.  She was such an active and competitive dog.  Independent and somewhat difficult to train, and acting more like a puppy or adolescent far into her adulthood.  She loved to run and we were fortunate to have several places in which our dogs could run freely off leash.  Lucy routinely ran until she was exhausted.  No such thing as pacing oneself, it was all about going.

Lucy, the eight-year-old puppy

On the one hand, it's sad to see her so much less active.  She rarely runs and then only for a few feet.  But on the other hand, she seems to enjoy life.  She isn't having pain and she still approaches us for extra hugs.  She enjoys her food and snacks and loves sitting on the deck.  She really loves the sunshine and will find a sunbeam if there is one to find.  Best of all is that she is still with us and still enjoys life.  What more can anyone ask?

Snoozing in the sun once again

Hard to imagine, but our Violet will be two years old this month.  Our daughter sent her Neil Gaiman's set of books about Chu, a sneezing Panda.  She included a stuffed Panda as well.  When it arrived, Violet decided it must be hungry after the trip so she fed it a toy cracker.  She is very serious about caring for her animals.  (She learned a sad lesson about feeding stuffed animals real food like blueberries.  That didn't turn out so well.)   Her little kitchen, complete with microwave is behind her.  She does a lot of cooking there.

Feeding her new panda

Oh, and she's learning to do duck lips

It is fitting that today's quotes involve the environment.  The first is from Gaylord Nelson:

"The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard."

The other quote is from Mohandis Ghandi:

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs,
But not every man's greeds."

As proof that the fox is not a good guardian of the henhouse, the head of the Interior Department has announced a relaxation of the rules for deep water oil drilling.  These rules were put in place after the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe and will put the oceans in danger of more.  The new rules allow the oil companies to do their own safety inspections and will not be required to report the results.  Does it make you feel better that this will save the oil companies money?  Me neither.

The "leaders" of the United States do not seem to be willing to sacrifice anything for future generations.  They seem to think the entire earth belongs to Americans and that we are free to make terrible decisions that affect the other people inhabiting this planet.