There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The evolution of the PDA

Steve needed a large tote. Being a perfect wife, I emptied my large tote that was in the garage so Steve could use it. Stored in this tote were memories; t-shirts from places visited, book ends made by Gil, a ceramic spoon rest made by Christine and a wood candle holder made by Art.......and on the very bottom of the tote was my mother's PDA.

This PDA is made of wood and bound together with leather. It has a copper plate on the front with the family name and a leaf decoration. It is well over 65 years old and is called an address book. The letter tabs are all broken off, the leather strap has come apart and the pages are crumbling....but it is still beautiful. My mother was incredibly talented. She could sew like a professional, crochet, knit, paint, draw and created a planter, wall decor and this PDA with copper.

Mom carried this book everywhere. I remember it being in her purse, on the front seat of the car, and she always took it inside when we visited someone. Did she call people from her friend's homes? What information in this book was so valuable to her? It isn't a date is an address/phone number book. I remember lots of the folks listed in the book.....of course all of the family info is written there in my mom's beautiful Catholic school girl uncles Sonny, Augie and Sugar, my moms brothers, are listed on the front page along with my grandmother.

As I looked at the pages I wondered what ever happened to Millie Boisvert, Kay and Chappie Chapman, Vivian and Potsie Potts, or Mrs. Dunnivan my first babysitter? Who was Dan on Figueroa in L.A. or Jack Foster? Is Lynn Kirkland still around? How about the handsome Fleming brothers; are they still alive? The name and address of my Godmother Rose is there. She lived in Long Beach. We visited her a lot when I was small. It was always an overnight trip because my mom said it was too long a drive to do all in one day.

Sears had a repair number back then and Dr. Wisotsky has girdle written next to his name.

My dad had written on one of the pages Dad & Mom Oct 13 1902 married at Allen County Ohio. Good to know this about the grandparents who never said my name out loud.

I had added a few entries as well. Obviously the talent gene passed me by.

See how beautiful the book is?

I must have been in a monster mood this day.....the opposite page has all of my dad's family listed. Rowena and LaDoyt, Ruby and Cloyce, Ilo and Earl and there is Harold Bible.

Did you know I was the originator of the happy face, sad face and crying face?

What better place to practice printing my name than under Pee Wee's Garage!

I have put the book in a plastic bag and tucked it away. I don't think I will look through it again. It is too fragile and too important, holds too many memories and reminders of how fast time goes by.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cat hospice....

Fuzzy is in a holding pattern. He has settled in Steve's office by choice. It is quiet in there for the most part. He is living on Violet's blankie/bed and seems to be comfortable. He gets three pain injections and a nausea injection daily, will take small amounts of pureed baby meat from my finger and we actually saw him at the water bowl this morning. He felt adventuresome yesterday and bypassed the litter box in the office and walked to his old box in the snorage room. I am positive his pain is under control and that was our goal. How long this will last is anyone's guess. For now he is OK.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sliding down that slippery slope again....

Update: Fuzz has cancer. I took him in this morning (Wednesday) for the ultra sound. He has just a short time left. We will pick him up tomorrow so we have a few more days with him at home.

Fuzzy is sick.....really sick. About a week ago he vomited. Of course he has vomited in the past and was just fine so I wasn't concerned. By Friday he was spending a lot of time on the couch. Again, he naps, that's what cats do but the couch wasn't his usual nap spot. Saturday night I was in the snorage room while he was using the litter box. After he got out of the box he went to the water bowl, took some long drinks and promptly vomited it all up. By Sunday afternoon it was obvious he was off kilter. Monday morning I called the vet and took him in at 3:30 yesterday. He has elevated blood lipase and amylase levels and that should mean pancreatitis. But x-rays show something going on with his small bowel and that could mean cancer. Either way he is in a bad place.

He had stopped eating and drinking so he got some subQ fluids at the vets office plus a shot for nausea, an antibiotic shot and a pain shot. Today I am finger feeding him baby food and giving him small amounts of fluid by syringe. He is miserable. I will call the vet in the morning and he will probably go back for, at a minimum, more fluids and possibly an ultrasound for a more definitive diagnosis.

Fuzzy is 12. He is Mimi's brother and my doodle head. I got Fuzz and Mimi from a co-worker in 1997. Their mommy was Siamese and Dad was a gypsy. Fuzz was named before he was born, but had I known he would be so regal looking I might have named him Frederick or maybe Edward. But, Fuzzy fits his personality. He is sweet, lovable, snoozes in my lap whenever he gets the chance and loves to steal any one's food; human, canine or feline.

Steve made a kitty playpen for Fuzzy when we moved to Idaho. The playpen is a 3 sided wood frame covered in chicken wire, pushed up to the slider door with an opening cut in the screen so he could go in and out. Fuzz can be found at the slider bright and early every morning asking to go outside so he can lay in a sunbeam or rain shower or feel the wind. He hates winter because the playpen goes away and he is stuck looking out a window at the snow and birds.

When not at the slider, napping on our bed or in the napper, Fuzz lays on the rug in the snorage room on his back hoping someone comes along to rub his tummy. I can't imagine not having Fuzzy. He is the man of the cat family. He was Drake's pal comforting her when she was sick, he keeps Mimi in line when she hogs the heated bed, and has taught the babies manners. He loves me more than anyone, human or pet.

The next day or two will tell the rest of the tale. I am giving him antibiotics and pain meds three times a day and if he doesn't rally somewhat by Thursday we will have the ultra sound done. If it is cancer, we will keep him comfortable until he isn't comfortable anymore. If it is pancreatitis and he doesn't respond, we will keep him comfortable until he isn't comfortable anymore.
I just don't know how my old heart can stand to lose another little, sweet creature. These cats, these dogs have given me so much love, so much companionship, comfort, laughs and wonderful memories. I have taken Fuzzy for granted I think. He has never been demanding, never complained when I squeezed him or kissed him and continued to be faithful to me when I didn't have time to rub that soft tummy. Kiss, kiss my sweet Fuzz. I love you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A barking tail......

For several years before we moved to Idaho full time we would visit at least twice a year. Steve was here monthly. Penelope was our official greeter whenever we arrived and she visited throughout the day. When we were here the routine was for me to give her a pig ear every morning. That routine continued up to 2006 when she became ours. Then she got pig ears only as a treat....good mothering and all because she was ours.

We got Charlie from the shelter in 1998. Right from the beginning he ignored Cicero our shepherd and acted like Goldberry our Lasha Apso was invisible. Cicero died shortly after we got Charlie and Goldberry was mildly tolerated after that......kind of a sympathy tolerance. Charlie was always our boy. He would rather hang with us than chase balls, bark at the wind, play with other dogs or snap at flies. He loved going for rides in the car, but his first love was just sharing oxygen with us.

The day after Charlie arrived, Penelope came over to check out the new dude in the house. She acted like he was just another dog, but for Charlie it was love at first sight. There was a bit of posturing between Charlie and Cicero whenever Penny was around.....Cicero thought she was pretty special too. Goldberry? Neuhh....he was happier snorking around the yard and barking at anything that moved.

The sad joke at the end of Charlie's life in August of 2006 after Penny had moved in was.....he finally had his girlfriend living with him, but he didn't know it. Makes me cry every time I think of him in those last days.

Both Charlie and Penelope have been on my mind constantly these last few weeks. I don't want Penelope to suffer like Charlie did....and he did because we couldn't let him go. Steve and I have promised each other we would never, ever do that to one of our pets again.....we did it with Magic our wonder cat in the late 90's, we did it with Goldberry, Drakie and probably would have with Sophia had she not gone on her own so quickly. But no more. Comfort is the goal, quality right there next to it. is some news. I posted the blip on Penny Monday at about this same time. I am not much of a prayer person. I have trouble concentrating and talking to God in the right way if there is such a thing. But, I have said the Lord's Prayer and a marysillion Hail Marys for Penelope every night and I have a sneaking suspicion that some of you have included her in your prayers as well.

Yesterday afternoon we had an appointment in town. We left the dogs in the heated garage. We had tried the night before leaving them in the entry way with all of the comforts of home thinking Penny would be more comfortable...blankies, water, pottying before we left.....and it was a disaster in every it was back to the garage with their doggie beds, blankies, water and treats yesterday.

Whenever we push the garage door opener after being out without the dogs it is fun to see if they have been caught snoozzzzzing or are waiting for us to get back. Yesterday afternoon when the door went up Penelope sauntered over to the car with barely a single hitch, limp, glitch, bump or wobble. We just about fell out of the car with amazement. She has continued to walk at least 80% better. She still does the hesitation thing with her front leg when she is standing, but has been able to go down the stairs without us holding onto her in a death grip and is barely limping this morning.

I know, I know....the steroids have kicked in, but you know what.....I think her shoulder has had a hand placed on it to make this time easier for her. That's exactly what I think. The vet will be amazed....and I KNOW she has been worrying about Penny because I talked to a friend and temp tech at the vet's office yesterday and she told me just that. Penny has been the talk in the back office for 2 weeks. (An FYI addition after posting: Steve is a PharmD...on Monday he said Penny should have responded to the Prednisone if she was going know doc speak.....loading dose, half life, blood levels....whatever, blah, blah.....he said she had pretty much run out of options).

Thank you if you said a prayer for this sweet girl of ours. The prayers worked. I am absolutely positive.

This was taken in autumn, 1999; Fatso me, Charlie and Penelope.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Almost mid-January....YIPEEEEEEE...

...and that means Spring is almost here, right? Yup, that's what I'm thinkin! The weather has calmed down a bit and we have had just over-cast, grey days; no snow, no rain, no garage flooding, no plow berms....and that is a good thing. The snow thrower has 500 dollars worth of gear box ills, we have diesel in the drum in the garage and while the tractor decided to get sick in first neutral and not start, it will start in the other neutral gears. That will be a fix-it for Spring and spring is right around the corner!!!

Guido must be feeling a little bit of Spring fever because he jumped onto the kitchen counter (he is not a jumper because he is a bit on the pudgy side) and was checking out the thermometer and weather out the window. I wish I could have captured the jumping down because he was a big fraidy cat!

This is a rare sighting...BoyZ in the hood...Guido and Fuzz napping on the bed...Fuzz and anyone other than maybe Mimi Louise sleeping on the bed together is a photo event .

And lastly....our sweet Penelope. Here is the long story. Penny was mildly limping the day before we left for California in November. She did OK at the doggie spa while we were gone, but the limping started again and was worse after a few days home. She went to the vet, was diagnosed with an inflamed shoulder and started on Rimadyl twice a day for 2 weeks. As soon as she went off the Rimadyl she got considerably worse. So, back to the vet for a change of meds....Metacam and a pain pill three times a day. We tried that for two weeks but she got progressively worse. Back to the vet for lab work and a discussion of how far we wanted to go with diagnostics and treatments.....ranges were conservative to bombs away.

Around Christmas time we were able to talk with the woman who originally got Penelope as a puppy when she was in 7th grade. We now know that Penny is 13. I have described Penny's environment up to the time we took her as ours in other posts, but it bears repeating. She lived outside 365 days a year no matter the weather. She ate whatever food was on sale and supplemented her diet with a variety of animal left behinds and other not so nice animal stuff. She drank from a coffee can placed under a leaky faucet and when that water froze, she ate snow. She was clawed by skunks and raccoons, hit several times by cars and was never bathed. When her brother went lame, he was shot and buried in the woods. Penny's fate would have been the same. You have to realize that in my little, tiny, very rural part of Sandpoint, dogs are just dogs. They are rarely considered part of the family and are kept mainly to scare off strangers and bears, skunks and other unwanted visitors. When they become a liability, they are gone. Penny never had vaccinations, never had a rabies shot, flea treatments....nothing. Penny simply took care of herself.

When she came to live with us she was groomed, slept inside on a sheepskin bed and ate the same brand of healthy food, got vitamins every day and had her water changed daily. She also had to walk up and down 17 stairs every time she wanted to go potty, for a walk or to get into the car for a ride. Those stairs have probably contributed to this problem now more than any other thing. There is no stair solution other than keeping her ups and downs to a minimum.

The last discussion with the vet came down to conservative care...mainly because of her age and tolerance for aggressive diagnosing . She is now on a loading dose of Prednisone and will taper to a daily dose in another few days. The limp is still very evident, but it is better. She goes back to the vet Wednesday for another evaluation and possibly follow up x-rays. She also now has worms. She just can't seem to break that animal left over dinning habit....and the home she came from (across the street) now has a new dog that is destined to live the same life Penny did and that life includes fleas and flea worms....try and figure out what is hidden between the lines.

It breaks our hearts to see her struggle to do the activities that came so easily to her just a few months ago. She pants for no reason, seems tired and kind of worn out. The vet laughed at me but in a good way when I asked her if dogs became "addicted" to pain meds. She said she doubted Penny would rob a pharmacy to get her Tramadol, but that a tolerance could be expected with increasing doses needed in the future.

So, our sweet Penny is in her golden/silver/grey years and we will do everything possible to keep her comfortable. Kiss, kiss my sweet old girl.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Living in a movie.

Perhaps some of you have seen the movie Snow Falling on Cedars. It is a beautifully filmed, haunting story and was shot in Vancouver, B.C. I think. It is a study of life in black and white with a bit of sepia for color.

For the last few days I have been living in this same kind of colorless world. Daylight brought only shades of grey and the darkness had an eerie feeling of something trying to come to life on the branches of the trees. But a coming to life didn't happen. It was cold, it snowed and snowed. Roofs collapsed from Spokane to our little corner of Sandpoint. We shoveled and pushed snow wherever there was an open space. The plow driver was merciless and laughed at the berms he created at intersections; berms he had no intention of clearing. All of the neighbors banded together and worked 12 hours to dig out our mile of road.

Then in blew an ill wind. It carried portents of things to come. It brought more snow, but this snow was heavy with water that slapped when it hit my face. The snow turned to rain and I swear I could hear the roofs 100 miles away falling in on the thankfully empty stores and homes. As I lay in bed, I could hear the rumble of the snow sliding off of our roof; pitched for just this purpose. This odd house, this home of ours that holds so many memories was originally a shop; a shop built to withstand the weight of 3 weeks of continuous snow and that bad tempered rain. We are safe. Our roof and home are intact.

But the ills left behind are heavy, wet snow that can't be lifted. And while we are blessed to be safe at the moment.....the snow thrower is broken and in the shop.....taken to the shop in the truck on slickery roads, and we are out of diesel for the tractor. That problem will be resolved today with another life threatening drive. Meanwhile, we wait for the call that will tell us how sick the snow thrower really is.

Tuesday morning......

Tuesday afternoon......

This morning.....

Saturday, January 03, 2009


Mother Nature is fickle. Or maybe she needs some serious help. There is a homeopathic/naturalist healing kind of guy in town. I could call and make an appointment for Mother because this weather is just not right. It is downright screwy. Yesterday it was snowing like crazy and the temp was 28.

It is currently......umm, minus 4. It was minus 6 when we got up at 7. So......

I went outside and what do I see? The sun. How can it be minus 4, sunny, and there is a ton of snow on the ground? It just is. The snow on the right is the actual depth. On the left is where Steve snow throws. This is looking North.

Here we have the Southern side. Actual depth is in front of the windows that are partially obscured.
Looking out the driveway....actually a lovely sight.
Part of the snow has fallen off the overhang. When it warms up (to what; oh maybe 20) the rest should go kaboom!

Spokane had the largest amount of snowfall in December ever recorded and a total of 132 inches for the calendar year 2008. Let's see 132 divided by 12 = ELEVEN FEET OF SNOW. That is a lot of snow for Spokane. They are reporting 28 roofs on commercial buildings have collapsed. These are flat roofed buildings where the idiots didn't shovel them off. Sandpoint? Just plodding along, plows working as usual, roofs being shoveled and everyone driving carefully for the most part. We have a bit of experience with snow . We get tons every winter. We had a few roof collapses last year on residences but only one serious leak/sag problem on a commercial site.

Cabin fever is at an all time reading, however. Mine is at about 200 degrees. JP suggested we get some penguins to keep the kitties company. I am thinking we just might be able to save the polar bears up here. If I could just get enough fish to feed them, we could keep them quite comfortable out by the pole building.