Showing 1 - 8 of 8 posts found matching keyword: kelley

For Christmas, my aunt gave me a Libra 2021 Calendar ("Personalized Daily Horoscope Presented by The International Astrological Alliance, a Leading Resource on Astrology and The Zodiac").

Personally, I have never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful force controlling everything. But maybe that's because I've never been exposed to someone who really understood it all. Reading the back of the calendar, it says that "Libra can be possessive, smothering, insulting and sarcastic." If that wasn't written for me, I don't know what was.

Yesterday, on the first day of the year, my horoscope recommended that I should hang out with friends so that I could meet "someone who brags about every little thing." That doesn't sound like fun, but hey, maybe because I now know about it, I can avoid it, right? Thanks, horoscope.

On the other hand, today's entry reads:

Wedding bells may ring for many Librans in love. Others might get engaged. You can also meet interesting people at the wedding reception of a friend.

Um, I thought this was supposed to be personalized. Not only does that not sound like me or anyone I know, it also doesn't seem to have anything to do with 2021. Doesn't my horoscope know there's a pandemic on? "May ring"? "Might get engaged"? "Can also meet"? I've read things in cookies that were more definite and useful.

But maybe that's just one bad entry. Rather than throw it out, I've decided to hang the calendar in the most appropriate place I can think of: in my bathroom over my toilet. May the stars continue to be my guide in 2021.

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2020 killed my dog.

July, R.I.P.

July beat cancer for the first time in 2016 after having her toe amputated. She beat it a second time when she had a portion of her ear removed in 2019. This past July, she had a mammary tumor removed. Three times seems to be the limit.

In late October, she got wobbly in the legs. We crossed our fingers that it was a spinal problem. She initially responded to treatment, but she took a turn for the worse about two weeks ago when she lost even the ability to stand with assistance. It was downhill from there.

So long as she was lucid and had an appetite, I felt it was my duty to support her however I could — I couldn't justify killing my dog simply because she had become inconvenient. But I realized late last night that we had probably reached the end of the line. (I'll save the gory details except to say that cancer can be a real bitch.) I had her euthanized this afternoon, and she died in my arms.

For the better part of the past decade, July had been my shadow. Her sister, Victoria, wanted to be near me; July *needed* to be near me. She followed me everywhere and complained to whoever would listen when she couldn't see me. I can't blame her. Who else was she going to get to take her for walkies or hand her a slice of pizza?

I already feel like I'm missing something when I walk into a room and don't hear the tappa-tappa of toenails trailing behind me. I keep looking for baby, and she's not there anymore and never will be again. That will take some getting used to.

Thanks to Kelley for bringing her into my life and thanks to Mom for being a substitute Walter when necessary over the years. Thanks to her vet, Jeff, for helping me keep her around as long as we did. (Fourteen years is a good, long life for a standard poodle!) And especially thanks to July for doing your best to make 2020 bearable for as long as you could.

In happier times

I loved my girls.

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My contribution to Thanksgiving dinner 2019:

Pie. Apple Pie.

It's not just the first apple pie I've ever made from scratch, it's the first pie I've ever attempted. Turned out well, too. The recipe came from the Better Homes and Gardens Complete Step-By-Step Cookbook (1978). An oldie but a goody.

I'll have to raise the bar next year, but in the meantime, my next goal is gingerbread men for Christmas. I'll keep you posted.

ADDENDUM 1: I used Honeycrisp apples. Mom already had some Honeycrisp she wasn't enjoying as eating apples, so into the pie they went despite Friend Robin (and the recipe) calling for Granny Smith. (In fairness to the recipe, Honeycrisp wasn't introduced to the market until 1991, so it would have been real odd for a 1978 cookbook to recommend them.)

ADDENDUM 2: Leaving dinner, my aunt Kelley asked for "a small slice" to take home with her. As I started cutting what I considered a small slice, she shouted, "Not that small!" The piece that she ended up taking was not what I would call small, but I guess Kelley knows what she's doing. She's the lawyer, after all.

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My aunt's contribution to our Thanksgiving feast included stuffing, chocolate ice cream, and three dozen sugar cookies bought from the Kroger bakery.

The others ate the stuffing and ice cream. I ate the cookies. All of the cookies.

To be honest, I ate too many cookies. I don't know what Kroger put in them, but each was more delicious than the last. I. Just. Couldn't. Stop. Now I'm going through cookie withdrawal.

I thought I was through the worst of it when Mom went grocery shopping today... and returned with another three dozen cookies.

"I came around the aisle," she said, "and there they were, the only cookies on the table. The last batch. They wouldn't have been there if I wasn't supposed to buy them and bring them home for you."

So that's my Mom, who thinks that fate is trying to bring me and cookies together. Fate is not the boss of me! I'm an independent, rational, strong-willed individual. I can resist the allure of a basket of sweet, sweet sugar cookies.

Cookies 72, Walter 0


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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.)

Down in front!

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.

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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.

Victoria, R.I.P.

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.

She always had a big heart

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.

Heart Based Tumor would be a great band name

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.

Goodnight, my queen

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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Filed in the "Better Never Than Late" category, my aunt who said she wasn't giving Christmas presents this year just gave me a pair of bedroom slippers. I suppose technically, this was a re-gift, because she had bought the slippers for her husband who couldn't wear them. (His feet are too wide.) Since she bought them on "Christmas Clearance" for $4.75, she thought I might get more use out of them than the trash can. That remains to be seen.

See, these aren't just any slippers, but Conair™ Massaging Slippers. That title is a little misleading. They don't massage so much as they vibrate. Anyone who confuses a vibration with a massage has clearly not had a real massage. It makes you wonder what those people call "turbulence."

Each of these slippers requires a single AAA battery to begin their "massage" function. The battery compartment is inside the sole of the slipper, which has the unfortunate effect of making wearing the slippers feel like you are balancing on a narrow remote control. Despite what the packaging says, "comfortable" and "relaxing" are not words I would use to describe the experience.

Conair™, the same company that made my hairdryer, seems to have several misunderstandings about what house slippers should be. You know something isn't quite right when slippers come with a 6-page instruction booklet. Included in the "Important Safety Instructions" for this delightful pair of shoes:

  • This product should not be used by, on, or near children. (No standing on children, check.)
  • Never drop or insert any object into this product, except feet. (What do I do with the battery, then?)
  • Should pain or discomfort result, discontinue use and consult your doctor. (Call my doctor for pain? What a novel idea!)
  • Do not use while bathing or in a shower. (You really don't know what slippers are for, do you Conair™?)

The "don't ever get them wet" warning appears in one variant or another 6 times in the Warnings and Cautions. I guess wearing these things fresh out of the shower is a no-no then, too. I'm beginning to think that the "faux suede" is made of the pelt of mogwai from Gremlins.

Will I wear these slippers? I don't know. They aren't very comfortable, and I suspect that the instruction booklet would frown on any attempt to wear them with socks or while drowsy, like, you know, shortly before bedtime. Other than that, they are a great gift. Thanks, Kelley!

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For the first time in 38 years, I opened no gifts on Christmas Day. Mom and I celebrated on Christmas Eve so that I would have plenty of time to get Dad to the hospital by 6 AM this morning for his scheduled angiogram. He'll likely be in the hospital until tomorrow, which is also his birthday. That's my birthday present to him; I figure a trip home from a hospital stay is probably as good a gift as any.

Not that our Christmas Eve celebration was exactly a big deal. Mom and I had a brief gift exchange and some homemade hamburgers (we forgot to make the french fries we had in the freezer) before working on a jigsaw puzzle. Other than the case of 20-oz Cokes given to me by my new bff Randy, everything I got for the holiday fits in a single, moderately-sized cardboard box. And not a single video game! A quiet evening with mom and no video games? I must be getting old.

I should probably point out that fewer people gave me gifts than ever before. I used to get presents from my aunt, but earlier this month she declared that she is in financial straits this season and wouldn't be exchanging gifts with anyone. I was worried about her until she showed up at our house with the brand new Kindle Fire she bought herself. The worst part was that she only came over because she wanted me to teach her how to use the Kindle. Add that to the time I spent installing Dad's new Blu-Ray player last weekend, and it's been a very Tech Support Christmas.

Still no word from my brother. Presents are wrapped and waiting for him and his new bride, should they ever decide to communicate with us again. Trey's defection from the family certainly remains a bummer, but on the upside, a small holiday gathering of just Mom and me prevented a recurrence of our dysfunctional family's most cherished tradition: our annual shouting matches. I have to say, it was a kind of a nice change of pace.

For the record, this post isn't meant to describe how shitty my Christmas was. In fact, I quite enjoyed myself. It was certainly among the best holidays I've had in the many years since Santa Claus stopped visiting. I only list these things and point out that they combine to something of a high-water mark in my experience so that you, my dear reader, can establish a metric by which to compare your own Christmases to mine. It is my dream that one day we can all have better Christmases through Science. It's what Jesus would have wanted.

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To be continued...