Showing 1 - 10 of 110 posts found matching keyword: family
About a zillion posts ago, I posted a pic of my grandmother's newspaper wedding announcement. At the time, Cam asked for a pic of my grandfather to accompany it. Never let it be said that Walter doesn't follow through! (Eventually.)
Okay, I confess. That's not just my grandfather, and this certainly isn't his wedding photo. This is three generations of his family circa 1979. From left to right, that's my grandmother, my mother, Trey, my grandfather, and my aunt Kelley standing in the backyard of my grandparent's house. I still haven't identified the dapper little member of the Lollipop Guild in the front row.
(This reminds me of a true story: not too many years after this, I attended a Georgia State University initiative for "gifted" children on Saturday mornings. A local magazine ran an article on the class. I was mentioned, described as a snaggletoothed youngster who wore a fake watch. I cannot deny that I had snaggleteeth, but my Mickey Mouse watch worked just fine, thank you!)
I'm guessing that my father was the cameraman. He was big into photography back in the day. I have no idea why the family was framed so far to the right. That's bad composition technique. Visual scanning tendency in Western culture leads the eye naturally to the bottom right of an image, so you should balance the composition by keeping focus away from that edge. Sorry, Dad, but not everyone is cut out for art school.
Mom went out of town for the week and left me in care of her two-and-a-half-months-old puppy, Audrey, who has been conditioned to Mom's 9 to 5 schedule. I also work 9 to 5. However, my 9-5 is on the other side of the clock. As you can guess, I haven't been getting a lot of sleep.
As much as I love dogs, I'm not big on puppies. Audrey is no exception. She's cute and all, but I'm not sure it's worth the trade off in trouble. For example, the first thing she did on the first day Mom was out of town was start digging into a fire ant pile. I grabbed her and tried to brush off the ants. So far as I can tell, puppy went unscathed. I got bit. A lot.
While I was treating my wounds, puppy turned her demonic path of destruction on my geriatric poodle. July's no fan of puppy, but that never detours Audrey. She nips and nips and nips until July finds a safe hiding place. That day, there were no places safe from puppy. Through the use of either her needle sharp teeth or razor sharp claws, Audrey cut open the sebaceous cyst under July's right eye. I left the bathroom to find blood everywhere. The house looked like a war zone.
Since then, Audrey has spent a lot of time in her kennel.
Mom came back yesterday, which is good. If she'd waited much longer, there wouldn't have been much of a home to come back to. The little devil is her problem now.
Maybe because the United States government has devolved to a Marx Brothers comedy, it seems I've been watching more movies in 2017. Frankly, I think we can all use the distraction.
15. (1074.) Cannery Row (1982)
I'm no fan of Nick Nolte, but I still enjoyed his take on the stereotypical genius-hiding-from-the-terror-he-created. Even better was Debra Winger in the stereotypical part of the prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold. And keep your eyes peeled for the well-intentioned-but-dangerous-giant-retard! This feels too lighthearted to be an adaptation of a Steinbeck novel, but I still enjoyed it.
16. (1075.) A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)
Seth MacFarlane has built a cottage industry on a very particular style of non sequitur nostalgia comedy. He tones it down a bit in this live-action western that strives to be a 21st-century Blazing Saddles. What can I say? I laughed.
17. (1076.) Brute Force (1947)
Burt Lancaster leads a prison break in this incredibly violent (but well named) film. It's a slow build, but totally worth it.
18. (1077.) Snowden (2016)
Mom said, "Let's see Snowden." I said, "I don't like Oliver Stone films." She said, "Tough." So we watched Snowden. It does go a bit too far out of its own way to deify the guy, but otherwise does a pretty good job of explaining what he did and why he felt it was necessary to do it. Why are men like Snowden treated like traitors while men like Trump are elected president?
19. (1078.) Storks (2016)
Mom said, "Let's see Storks." I said, "Sure." Now I know where babies come from. Thanks for nothing, 6th grade sex education class!
More to come.
Everyone say hello to Mom's new dog.
Audrey is an 8 week old Havanese parti-colored puppy. She already likes to chew and nap. If she grows to enjoy a glass of wine, she and Mom will be best friends forever.
MentalFloss.com has compiled a list of the most distinct last names by state. That's the name that appears most often in each state compared to the frequency of that name nationally. Imagine my surprise to discover that the name associated with Georgia is Stephens.
The Internet Surname Database says that Stephens means "the son of Stephen" and derives from the Greek "Stephanos," meaning "crown." It claims the name was popular in the Middle Ages because it was the name of the first Christian martyr (St. Stephen, who was stoned to death).
Maybe that's all true. Maybe Georgia is full of Greek Catholics who were named after saints. However, that has nothing to do with my last name.
Sometime in the late 19th century, probably around 1875, my great-great grandmother Rosa and her four children traveled from Lebanon to America. U.S. customs officials apparently misunderstood (or didn't care) when she told them she had come to meet her husband, Stephen Basil. No one in the family ever changed it back, so the family name has been Stephens instead of Basil ever since.
For the record, Rosa was a practicing Catholic, and most of her descendants remain so. However, you can see that my name has nothing to do with Catholic martyrs. I wonder how many of Georgia's other Stephens are descendants of my great-great grandfather?
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My mother has had Chewie put down.
This is actually only the second time I've ever mentioned Chewie on this blog. I never really liked the little jerk. Yes, he had a rough early few years. His life was much improved when my Mom rescued him. However, he never became what I would call an affectionate or an obedient dog. But Mom still liked him. She's put up with me for all these years, so I guess she must have developed some fondness for stubborn assholes. Go figure.
In recent months, Chewie developed Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, the dog equivalent of Alzheimer's. He walked in circles, got stuck under furniture, and stood by his full dog dish barking for food. Even for Chewie, he was becoming higher maintenance than usual, to the point that Mom could no longer meet his needs.
So that's the second dog we've lost in 2016. (The third if we count Dad's puppy, Tyr, who died in March.) We're running out.
Watch yourself, July. It's dangerous out there.
"Am I interrupting you? What are you doing right now?" my father asked when I answered the telephone.
"Nothing important. I was just reading an article from Ezra Klein about why Hillary Clinton's private reputation is so good but the American public hates her," I said. "He calls it The Gap."
Dad laughed. "Of course they'd publish that now. They just can't believe that the American public could be right about something."
I said, "Your response indicates that you believe there's no point in ever investigating this reputation gap. Don't you think there's value in examining the difference in someone's public and private personas?"
"I'm open-minded, but it's just election year spin. If they really wanted to investigate that gap, they'd do it next year."
I shook my head, though dad couldn't see this through the phone. "This is the ideal time, from the news industry's point-of-view. Capitalize on everyone talking about her during the Democratic National Convention."
"Have you been watching? There's been open revolt from the Sanders supporters. This party is tearing itself apart. I haven't seen anything like this since McGovern in 1972."
"What about last week? A week ago today, delegates at the RNC tried to pass a resolution to end-run Trump. Is this so different?"
"That's not the same thing," Dad harrumphed. "These people are angry at a party leadership that openly schemed to give their preferred candidate the nomination."
"What's new about that? Isn't that what the Republicans did in 2012 with Romney? That's what parties do, manipulate things to get their choice candidates elected."
"It's not fair! It's against the rules!"
I remained unswayed. "What rules? American political parties can do whatever they want with their candidates."
Dad practically growled. "Well, since we're not talking about facts, and I can see I interrupted you, I'll just let you go." Click.
I admit that I edited that conversation from my memory of the telephone call, but I think both Dad and I come out looking better in my version than reality. (He refuses to admit his own bias — he wants to Make America Great Again® — and I'm intentionally argumentative. About everything.) Frankly, we behave better when we don't talk about politics. Or government. Or sports. Come to think of it, maybe we never behave better.
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Tomorrow will be the 70th anniversary of my grandparents' wedding. (Happy anniversary, Dink and Buddy!) They're both dead now, but that doesn't stop anniversaries. Time keeps marching on whether we do or not.
I can't say as I regularly read wedding announcements. In 2016, do they still report on what type of flower the bride wore with her alligator accessories?
(And for the record, yes, "J.W." stood for "James Walter." I think it's a pretty good name.)
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I had a poodle cartoon scheduled to run today, but sometimes life interferes with your plans. Victoria died at 5:25 AM. Her overtaxed heart gave out.
On Monday, April 25, Victoria collapsed at the end of her daily walk, so I took her in to see her vet the next day. He heard a "crackle" in her lungs, and given that I had noticed an occasional cough over the weekend, he prescribed a regimen of amoxicillin antibiotics. The next day, when her blood work came back from the lab showing a deficiency of thyroid hormone, we started her on levothyroxine treatment. But things only got worse.
The following Saturday, Victoria woke me up with a heavy, rapid breathing. Not exactly panting, but close. I took her back to the vet to see what could be the matter. He thought the likely culprit was the amoxicillin. It's rough on the stomach and common allergic responses include heavy breathing. Over the next few days, she didn't improve, so I stopped that treatment. When she still didn't get better, I stopped the levothyroxine, too. (It can have similar side effects.) Neither of these actions helped her.
By now, Victoria had no appetite and very little energy. So the vet called for radiographs of her heart and lungs on Tuesday, May 10 to see if he could find something we were missing. He did.
Her heart was abnormally enlarged and her lungs were filled with fluid. This was bad. Very bad. There were two possibilities: either the heart was causing damage to the lungs, or the lungs were causing damage to the heart. He scheduled an echocardiagram for the next day to figure out which possibility was the one hurting her. It turned out to be possibility three: a tumor.
Victoria had surgery to remove a mammary tumor last June. They just cut it out. That wasn't an option here. Honestly, neither was much of anything else. The tumor was aggressive and had already done a lot of damage. The fluid in her lungs wasn't actually in her lungs: it was serum that had leaked from her blood vessels into her thoracic cavity because of the bad pressure the tumor had created. Her whole circulatory and respiratory system was breaking down fast. Chemotherapy was the only treatment option for the tumor, and given the type of tumor and damage already done to her body, even that wasn't really an option. So I did the only thing I could do: I took my dog home to die.
I was told to expect that she wouldn't survive two weeks, so I tried to make her last days special. I gave her a haircut because she typically appreciated that sort of personal attention. (She lay still, but I know she loved to be touched.) I took her for a ride in the Jeep to pick up her favorite food, pepperoni pizza crust. (She refused to eat it, but I could tell that she enjoyed the smell.) And at night, I let her have the best spot in the bed: mine.
She didn't get to live out those two weeks. Sixteen days after her initial collapse and not even 16 hours after her ultimate diagnosis, she passed away beside me on the floor. She'd gotten up at 4:40 AM struggling to breathe. I lay down with her until long after her heart finally gave out. She took my heart with her when she left. I loved that dog.
Thank you, Kelley, for finding her. Thank you, Mom, for giving her to me. Thank you, Jeff, for trying to save her life. Thank you, July, for being so patient with your Sister until the end. Thank you, Victoria, for brightening my life for the past 7 years.
The poodle comic scheduled to run in today's space will be seen tomorrow.
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