Thursday, April 29, 2010

This is the Day

The women on my mom's side of the family have a history of cancer; My Aunt Dene and Aunt Iva died from breast cancer; my Aunt Lee has Leukemia, and my mom has had a mastectomy. I think every family has its own physical challenges; this day carries with it all those memories as well as the very present fear of pain.

I guess I have a low pain threshold. I'm not a wuss, honestly; I'm tough as an ol' pine knot about most things. I identified strongly with Steel Magnolias. Some women say mammograms are no big deal and very little pain, if any. I sometimes leave the hospital in tears, and once they burst my breast; I'm serious, about a half inch tear in the side. When the vice comes together, and I'm standing on tip-toe, trying not to breathe, thinking, "I can deal with this! I can deal with this! and the technician who must be sooo bored with seeing boobs all day everyday says, "It's not hurting, is it?" I go through what usually proves to be the worst pain within every 365 day span of time. Maybe smaller busted women have a harder time. I don't know. If it were just that few minutes and it was over for a year, I probably wouldn't harbor such fear, but more often than not, I get the call to come back in for another set of x-rays, and of course, I begin mentally rewriting my will, thinking of how I'll miss the sunrise and wondering if it will miss me at all.

Last year, I got the call to go back in, and they always read the second set of x-rays while I'm there, and everything's okay, and I go home, but not this time. There was a definite mass, and they wanted to suck it out with a needle (aspirate it). Would it be anesthetized? Yes. Would there be pain? No. Okay, let's do this, and I didn't even have them call Jim in from the waiting room.

Long story short, the pain was excruciating as the doctor, or orderly, or janitor or whoever he was, tried repeatedly to guide the 3 foot needle by watching it on the monitor and just couldn't reach the mass! Maybe they anesthetized the surface, but that needle went far, far beyond the surface. I hissed at him, "What in God's name do you do when you get a big breasted woman in here??" I was crying like a baby, couldn't help it; it seemed to go on for hours, but it couldn't have been more than 15-20 minutes. Finally, he reached the mass, extracted it, and pronounced everything was fine. Come back in one year. Well, I was teary eyed and shaken when I rejoined Jim in the waiting room. I knew everything actually would be fine once his arms were around me, and we even stopped for lunch at Jason's.

Within an hour after getting home, though, I got so nauseated and dizzy I literally couldn't stand up, was throwing up again and again, and Jim began calling the breast care center. He was beside himself with worry. Another long story short, 2 days later, the nausea subsided. The doctor thought that the Vagus nerve had been traumatized, which is very rare. Wouldn't you just know it.

So, here it is a year later. I'm not in a good mood, and Jim is lying low; even Marley is being still. I'm pretty sure that if men had to go through this once a year, there would be a less intrusive, more streamlined way of getting the job done. I support Susan G. Komen every chance I get (hope she doesn't mind that I borrowed her logo); it's on my license plate, for goodness sake, and I know mammograms save countless lives; I just don't have to like getting one!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Green Monster, Silk Potty Pads, and a Girl!

"Until you have loved an animal, a part of your soul remains unawakened."

Hi! Things have really picked up around here since it got to be spring. I've gained 2 pounds in 11 weeks (even though Mom says I don't eat enough), I'm completely potty trained, have showed the Vac Monster who's boss, and had a play date with a girl. Life is pretty good.

Potty training wasn't half as hard as it looked at first. All I had to do was figure out where Mom and Dad wanted me to go. Sometimes they'll throw in a different kind of pad, like the blue silk pillow Mom had in her recliner, but ya can't fool me. When she put it on the floor, I knew just what to do and tinkled on it, a lot! She didn't seem all that happy, though, and the blue pad went away. I guess she was tired of it. Come to think of it, the same thing happened with the furry comforter thingy she puts at the foot of the bed at night..........Mom likes to decorate. Anyway, since the weather's so amazing, I would rather go outside. Pads for for sissies!

The Vac Monster lives in his own tiny room and only comes out once or twice a week when Mom follows him around the house. He's big, really big, ugly and green and has one yellow eye that glows, and a long skinny tail, and he roars at me! If I wasn't so brave, I'd run hide under the bed when he comes out, but I growl and bark and pounce at him and pull on his tail. Mom doesn't mind, but if Dad's home, he says Hush, Marley! in his big voice. I guess he likes the Monster more than me.

When people friends came over for supper the other night, I didn't much care; Mom and Dad are the only people I want to hang out with, but when I saw they brought their dog, Haven, I peed on myself I was so excited!! Wahoo! At last I had someone my size to play with! And she was real pretty, with a bow in her hair and all, but guess what..... She doesn't know she's a dog! I'm serious as a train wreck, her mom and dad said she doesn't play. Say WHAT? I thought all dogs played. But sure enough, she ran from me the whole evening, even though I smiled and sniffed and rolled and tried to show her how to play. All she did was pee on my toys and growl at me when she stole my bone. Maybe it's because she's an older woman; mom said she's 3 years old. That must be like 95 in dog years, poor ol' thing.

Maybe there will be other dogs in my future, ones that like to play, but for now Mom and Dad play with me a lot. I get Cheerios when I do stuff like jumping through a hoop, sitting (big deal), or chasing the ball. I have to bring it all the way back to Dad, but Mom grades on the curve and will give me Cherrios for just about anything I do that's cute. I'm really good at cute.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Garvan Woodland Gardens

(Click on the photos to zoom in)
It has been an eventful past few days; I'm writing the blog today because I wanted to tell you about the gardens (which Marley hasn't seen) and to mention his sick spell, and typical puppy, he didn't remember it 5 minutes after he got to feeling better.

A couple of years ago, we had the arbor built just outside the screened-in back porch. It's the size of a room, and in summer we stay out there a lot. Jim built me a swing, and I have my flowers, windchimes, and a waterfall, and then there's Harry, the Wisteria I've loved so much, though he has visions of taking over the world, and we have to trim him about once a week, but he has just about covered the whole roof of the arbor, in spring with heavy clusters of purple blossoms, and in summer with dense, green leaves, making everything below fragrant and cool. Marley loves to lie sprawled out with his belly on the river gravel and chew whatever's at hand....or at paw. The gravels are carpeted now with fallen blooms, and whenever he comes inside, I pick them from his long hair and vacuum the trail he leaves on the carpet.

Well, on Monday, I visited Lowe's and brought home a trunkful of bulbs and plants, and Marley and I spent a happy couple of hours planting and repotting. Almost immediately after we came in, about 2 pm, my puppy began vomiting and wretching all over the place, about every 5 minutes! My first thought was that he'd get it all up and be okay, but it went on and on, and I got really scared. Our vet is closed on Mondays, and Marley has such a horror of new places that I didn't want to put him through anything he didn't have to endure, so I kept watching the clock, thinking that if he had to go to the emergency room, we'd go before the doctors went home for the day. I managed to find Dr. Mann's home phone #, and he didn't seem too excited, just said to give Marley Maalox and keep food and water from him for 24 hours. The Maalox was magical! By the time Jim got home at 4:00, Marley jumped up and ran to meet him. What a relief! He was so hungry and thirsty that we gave him ice cubes (which he loves) for a while, a little Gatorade, and then water and puppy chow, and he was perfectly fine. I read up, of course, on what could have made him sick, and he most likely ate a bellyful of those lovely purple wisteria blooms! Never a dull moment with a puppy.....

On Tuesday, I'd planned to leave at 11:00 to go with friends from church to Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, but if Marley had acted the least bit sick, I would have cancelled. He was fine as frog's hair, as we say in the south, so I went and had a wonderful time.

The gardens are constantly changing and growing, beautiful any time of year, even Christmas; if you care to look, I'm pretty sure my first blog entry was about the painting I did of Garvan Gardens that won me the Corel Painter Master Artist award (I think that's the name of the award; it has been about 5 years, and I can't even recall what I had for breakfast yesterday.) But I digress.

The main point of this trip was to have High Tea after we browsed through the azalea strewn trails. I had never had high tea. It seems the English used to have it (maybe still do) at 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon, and it often replaced both their regular tea and dinner as well because it's a lovely meal in itself, with scones, jellies, clotted cream, lemon curd, tiny sandwiches, and delicate little desserts, along with of course, 3 kinds of tea.

Didn't get any pics in the tea room, but one person at each table chose (or was chosen) to be Mother, and she filled each cup in turn with tea and added lemon, cream, or sugar cubes. Most of the workers throughout Garvan Gardens are devoted volunteers, and our table attendant was new to her job and kept dropping the food on the floor as she tried to place it on our plates, but it just added to the fun. Anyway, have you ever seen a roomful of women with food not having fun?

And no matter where I go, I look forward to coming home to this furry little ball of love who's always excited to see me.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How I See It

Mom is persnickety about keeping the house looking all nice and pretty, but I guess she never thought about how it looks from 6 inches off the floor. Let me tell you, it could use a lot of decoratin' down here!
This is how her desk chair looks to me:

And you wanna talk art? Here are some of Mom's paintings over the sofa.

Now that the weather is beautiful, I would love to go outside all by myself, but the door handles are about 17 miles away!

The treats might as well be on the roof as far as I'm concerned.

I love playing in Mom's closet, lots of interesting smells in there and enough shoes to keep a puppy happy forever.

People go potty in the cool white things. Maybe when I'm a big boy, they'll let me go there, too.

Mom bought me a bed. It makes her happy to buy me stuff, but I won't sleep in it.

I'd rather sleep beneath her computer desk or in my trusty ol' crate.

This is my moose. His name is Moose, and he's my favorite toy. He looked better when he was new and had sewn-on eyes. Mom doesn't know what happened to them. Mostly I win when I fight him.

The view under the dinner table isn't much, either, and if you ever come to visit, do not chew on the furniture, especially the old dark table that belonged to Dad's mother!

You'll get fussed at, and Dad will be in a bad mood and won't throw the ball for you to chase.

The flowers in Mom's garden are just about the right height for biting; apparently there's a difference between weeds and flowers......... When you come over, don't bite either one, just to be on the safe side.

Here are Dad's feet; they're really ticklish. Maybe that's why he keeps 'em stuck way up there.

Anyway, maybe this gives you some idea of how the world looks from a puppy's point of view. Next year, when I'm big, things will be a lot different around here.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spring Planting

This morning I bought multi-colored Snapdragons, blue Creeping Phlox, red & gold Ranunculus (Ranunculi?), magenta Wallflowers, and lavender Petunias for the backyard flowerbed. It's a start. Most of the summer I'll be finding pretty plants I can't live without and adding them. I don't have a particularly green thumb; I call the ones that make it the survivors. Truth is, I can't help myself. Come warm weather, I must dig in the dirt. This spring, I've got a helper. Trouble is, he tries to eat the dirt, flowers, spade, and flower pots. Planting with a 4 month old puppy is a whole 'nother thang.

I got out my old pink Croc knock-offs. Yes, they're pink, and they're just as dorky as the real deal. Marley also tries to eat them. I still haven't found a puppy chow he really likes, but evidently everything else tastes great.

Ranunculus blooms look as if they're made from tissue paper. Someone who changed my life, way back when, planted them, and so there's a memory attached.

I didn't even know there were really Wallflowers. They're an old fashioned flower, and I read online that they're a biennial that takes 2 years to complete its life cycle.

I also bought red Geraniums for the big pots beside the steps. Geraniums never thrive for me, but I think it's the law that you have to buy them and try again each year.

Do you know how to make Snapdragons' mouths open and close?

I nestled the little Creeping Phlox behind my Rosemary bush that has made it through 5 or 6 winters and is about 3 feet high and 4 feet wide. It should be happy back there. The scent is wonderful.

The Wisteria (named Harry) that climbs over the arbor is budding. I'll post pics when it blooms. The little fruit trees have bloomed, and the Forsythia branches are waving hither and yon. I don't like when people prune them into flat shapes.

Hope Springs Eternal.