In Decision

The medications weren’t really helping, so his doctors decided to try alternative measures. TENS units, TED hose and PT were added to Jeff’s mix. None were working as well as hoped. When a sleep study proved he had alarming apnea, an oxygen concentrator and a PAP machine arrived in our home.

After our dog excursion, Jeff mentioned the puppies a few times. I shook my head each time. I thought we had enough troubles.

More than two weeks had passed and I couldn’t get the pups off my mind. Jeff was bored and lonely and, according to his doctors, beginning to show signs of depression.

As far as I could tell, Jeff was still Jeff. Still, I began thinking maybe a dog wasn’t such a bad idea. It’d keep him busy, provide companionship.  I was a little worried about what a puppy would put Miss Fred through, but then again, it was a big house. Freddie wasn’t fazed by much. She wasn’t a constant attention grabber or a snuggler. With the exception of drive-by leg-bumping, she wouldn’t get that close. She’d sit near you – maybe close enough for a pet, maybe not, and definitely not often. 

On my way out the door to work each morning, I left Jeff his daily list of to-do tasks jointly devised as a way to keep him occupied and helpful. We’d talk about it the night before and hand note what was needed on a pre-printed form I created. On Thursday night we wrote: make a grocery list, make dinner, wash bedding. Friday morning, finally in decision mode, I added an extra line item: call to see if any puppies are left. 

Within hours, he found out there were only two puppies left. On our weekend way back to the farm, Jeff of the Big Heart said, “You know… I’ve been thinking… maybe we should take them both, because they’re the last ones, and then one wouldn’t have to be lonely.”

I said, “I’m not even sure about one. I don’t think two is a good idea.”

“Well, how will I decide?” he asked. “You’ll just have to,” was my answer.

There was no commotion in the kennel, this time. Inside the barn, two babies slept peacefully in a hay-lined, low-sided wooden crib. Jeff lifted one in each hand, and set them both down both in the morning sun. While their tiny eyes adjusted into squints, I decided I’d try the ‘Kelsey’ test and plopped myself down on the ground to see what would happen. The next thing I know, I was playfully attacked by a little black and white streak. He ran around me in circles, jumping in and out of my lap and zealously yapping. Continually, and quite normal for a Jack.

The other simply one laid down near Jeff’s feet. The yapper bumped into her a few times, so Jeff picked her up to get her out of the way.

“Is she sick? Could she be contagious?” I asked, comparing her docile demeanor to her energetic brother. “I don’t think so,” Jeff answered. Because I was me, I adamantly encouraged him to ask. Because he was Jeff, he handed her off to me and set out for the house.

Quote for the Week:

2017 08 01 Comparing apples to apples isn_t always fair judgement jakorte 07 31 2017

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Apple: Facts

Apples: Applause

Puppy Diseases: To Watch For

 

 

 

Triple Dog Ambushed

Backing it up a bit….

Kelsey came into my life purposefully from the Nashville Humane Society. She was a three-legged motherless German Shepherd/Sheltie mix I met after the NHS experienced a fire. I’d gone to foster a cat, but was ambushed by a wicked fast furball that jumped into my lap, snuggled up under my ear and held on as if her life depended on it. She was so seriously quick, I didn’t notice her missing leg until I put her down a good 15 minutes later.

OK, back to the TN litter experience….

Cab was a black lab mix puppy from a purebred chocolate lab and … some other type of dog. This puppy boy was talkative in the way Cab Calloway sang: Ayow, ayowa, yowa, yow. He ambushed me with cuteness and sang the entire time I was driving. Yes, beginning in Tennessee, all the way to Michigan.

Anticipating the same sort of scenario in Michigan, I was determined not to reach in anywhere or pick anyone up.  Jeff seemed to know the farmer that let us into the dog run area. The man didn’t stick around, closing the gate behind him as he left. “I’m gonna finish my dinner,” he said. “Let me know when you’re done.”

We rounded a corner were completely ambushed by steady stream of roly-poly Jack Russell tumblers. I stopped moving at once and must have looked as surprised and terrified as I felt, because Jeff stopped, too. “What?” he asked.

“I don’t want to squish one!” I faltered. He laughed and advised me to move slowly.

“There are more in the barn,” he explained, grabbing my hand.

My eyebrows shot up and my eyes narrowed. “And you would know this how?” I inquired. “Because… I’ve already been here,” he answered matter-of-factly. I realized I’d been ambushed by my dogged husband, too.

Moving inside, it took me a moment to adjust to the dark. I was still squinting a little when one of the little spotters ran up to Jeff’s foot, sniffed and start a happy dance. “

Oh,” he said scooping it up to eye level, “you remember me!?” He scratched both ears, rubbed it’s pudgy belly and turned to me with hopeful puppy-eyes. “It’s a boy….” Jeff  offered, extending the little guy toward me.

I took him without fear, because, as I mentioned earlier, the pip squeaks weren’t ready to leave their momma, yet.

Quote for the Week:

2017 07 25 seeing past whats best for your jakorte

 

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

 The Right One: Animal Planet Dog Selector

Dogged: Persistence

Relief: Pets Against Depression

 

 

 

Once a Week

As near as I can tell, I began my first on-line blog in February 2008. The only semi-proofs I have are a binder-clipped, wrinkled paper table of contents printed on December 27, 2013, and an entry dated November 10, 2009 that indicates I’d been at it for 89 weeks.

The announcement that the University of Michigan library would be offering a free movable type publishing platform arrived in a daily news email. Known as ‘mblog’ the site hosted my weekly entries until December 2013.

I eased into blogging by rolling away from a previous weekly publishing. What started as a weekly email to 37 people turned into a way to update family, friends and coworkers on a 2007 mission trip.  I called the original email newsletter, “Midweek Encouragement” and it offered just that. The standard header on each weekly Word document read, “One Page, Once A Week for the Promotion of Learning and Love.”

When mblog ended, I had to find a new way to keep sharing. I researched a bit and ended up on WordPress. The reviews indicated it was an easy-to-use site, the yearly fee was reasonable and instead of having to email a link directly to my readers, the link could be auto-sent to any subscriber.

The subscriber thing didn’t exactly take. The direct email list is now 64 participants, and the WordPress subscriber list has stalled at 58. Exposure on Facebook and Twitter is auto-linked and between the two, there are at least 250 potential exposures.

February must be an historically slow month for me because that’s the month I chose to enter the Instagram world in 2016. I’m hovering around 175 followers there.  To be honest my average weekly WP stats show about 25 average views per week.

The most read week I ever had was October 4, 2016 with 131 views, not so coincidentally the near 10th year anniversary of my husband Jeff’s  passing. This isn’t a pity party. It’s just me contemplating my strange dedication to maybe being heard, at least once a week.

Here’s what I do know, though. 484 weeks in, the answer to the hard and frequent question addressed in that November 2009 passage hasn’t changed much.

Quote for the Week:

2017 06 06 Its been said to take a minimum of 3 weeks jakorte

 

 

Broth – no ‘el’

Nannee went back and forth a few times, but eventually settled into an extended stay with us.

That was precipitated by a very bad flu. She had terrible coughing fits, trouble keeping anything down, and was reluctant to eat. Through badgering, I finally got Nannee to agree to try some beef broth and crackers.

When I brought them to her, she looked up at me tiredly and apologized ‘for being such a burden.’ “You shouldn’t be taking care of me,” she said. “You should be doing what young people do…”

“What do young people do?” I laughed, as I set down the tray. “Nannee,” I told her. “We want you here with us. The only time we feel you’re safe is when you’re here.”

What I meant was if she was with us, we weren’t worrying about her at home alone. It didn’t come out that way, of course. She distastefully screwed up her face, looked at me sidewise, and said she was going to rest.

“Ok,” I replied, backing out, well aware I’d managed to insult her again. This time by inferring she was incompetent and couldn’t take care of herself.

I didn’t get a chance to explain it all to Jeff when he came home because he stopped in Nannee’s room first.

After a while, he came into the kitchen and gave me a look of complete unfathomableness.

“Why,” he asked, extending his arm and thrusting out his pointer finger, “did you tell Nannee the only time we have sex is when she’s here?”

“That’s not what I said!” I protested.  “What I said was – the only time we feel you’re safe is when you’re here!”

Jeff let out an uproarious laugh. Then, the doorbell rang. Pastor David had come to give Nannee communion at her request. Jeff ushered him into the guest room and within 30 seconds, I heard more uproarious laughter coming from that end of the house.

Of course, I was mortified. First, because I would have never said what she thought I said. Second, because now the pastor was in on this situation. Third, because Jeff’s brother Eric was also in on it, as well.

After communion, and after Pastor and Eric left, I slid by Jeff. “Nannee,” I sat on the edge of the bed, “I didn’t say that!” “Jeff told me,” she smiled widely, patting my hand with hers.  Jeff started laughing, again, which made me laugh. That set Nannee off into a combo laughing/coughing fit.

When we all calmed down a bit, I noticed she hadn’t eaten anything. I took the tray off the nightstand and told her I was going to warm up the broth, again.

On my way to the kitchen, I heard Jeff laughing again. Although I saw the amusement in the situation, it just wasn’t funny enough to keep carrying on like that. It didn’t last long, so I guessed it was finally over.

I came back in with the reheated cup. Jeff took one look at me and doubled over. He was laughing and sweating and slapping his knee and trying to breathe. “Nannee thought,” he wheezed out.

“Oh, Jeff – don’t… ’” Nannee interrupted him.

“Nannee thought,” he continued after a deep breath.

“Jeeehhhff!” Nannee squawked.

Jeff was determined. “Nannee said…” He straightened up a bit and another deep breath.

“She said,” he hiccupped like a broken record. “She said – ‘Did she say something about a brothel?!’”

Quote for the week:

 

2017 05 30 Speak softly jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

For: softly

Against:  softly

Musically:  killing me softly

Furnished, Part 3.

The house in Adrian, was our first test of wills… as in “will we or won’t we?”

I said “yes” to Jeff a lot. I also said “no,” a lot. I said yes to some strange things and no to some very normal others. That was my young marriage my version of “give and take.”

Three bedrooms became an obvious master, a guest room and an office. Jeff preferred to turn the room closest to the guest bath into the office. I said, “No.” Explaining that the guest bedroom was situated in a small alcove and the bathroom was in that alcove, as well. Therefore, it made more sense to do it my way.

Jeff just shrugged and started lugging boxes to the right rooms. Truly, he didn’t really care which room would be what. Once the office was set-up he noted that the now office was really a bit bigger than the other room, received more natural light and said with a smile, “You were right.”

We were generously gifted a slightly used dark wood bedroom suite: bed base, bureau and mirrored dresser, which we loved.

My travelling bed, (the simple metal frame, box spring and mattress my parents made me buy), landed in the guest room

There was den on the backside of the house, and an awkward formal or semi-formal living room space inside the front door. The reclining couch went to the den. The slate tile tables originally went there, as well, but we quickly got tired of heaving the heavy rock coffee table out of the way each time we wanted to put our feet up.

For a while, our living room oddly consisted only of a coffee table and two end tables.

Prefab houses come pre-decorated. With the exception of the kitchen and what became the guest bathroom, the entire thing was carpeted in a shade of red that reminded me of the congealed mess after the first “Don’t be alarmed,” vein popping experience.

We chuckled that was our good fortune should there be any future incidences, but I really disliked it. I also disliked the maroon and various shades of blue wall papering, chair rails and curtains, and the only slightly matching pinkish and light-blue linoleum in the kitchen and the guest bathroom. The master bath was also wall-to-wall carpeted; same color.

I swore I would dislike that color scheme, forever. “Nah,” Jeff said. “You’ll get used to it, and then you won’t even notice anymore.” I was predictably skeptical.

Quote for the Week:

2017 03 07 decor disasters you will get used to it jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Bathrooms: Carpet, No

Noticing: Or, Not

Color: What Goes

No Chickens on New Years

An update and a correction:

  1. Regarding the politic of cows, I have been informed by a very reliable party, that I am guilty of glamorously rephrasing. Jeff’s true 1988 election sentiment was, “No matter who is the President tomorrow, I still gotta pull tits in the morning.
  2. Christmas was at Jeff’s brother’s the year Sally died. Nannee came for a while, but asked to be taken home because she was feeling sick.

Neither of these is an earth shattering revelation. The first makes me laugh, and the second one leads to another story.

But let’s talk about New Year’s. This was the year I learned that we’d never have chicken at Nannee’s on New Year’s Eve. That would be a bad omen. Chickens, she believed, would peck away at your money and bring poverty to your door.

Despite that, Jeff bought me a crowing cookie jar. Made of plastic, it looked a little like Foghorn Leghorn but different enough that there’d probably be no copyright infringement.

Tilting the hinged head to get inside would make it squawk-a- doodle do. I remember thinking that would be a good diet enforcing, snack-deterring tool. And I’m sure it would have been, if that had been where we kept the cookies.

Instead, it sat atop our fridge in our chicken-décor kitchen, not in our everyday line of vision. Once in a while, Jeff or I would re-notice it perched up there, and mischievously crank that chicken’s neck back just to hear it crow. It was such a random thing to do, and, to be honest, we both enjoyed the laughter that cackle encouraged.

Anyway, back to New Year’s. The resolutions are flying and folks everywhere are crowing about goals. I get that. I make a point to give voice to mine or text it to someone because the possibility of being asked “did you treadmill today?” makes me that much more likely to actually follow through.

So, Resolutions.  All the fail safes, plotted reminders, and spiritual encouragements don’t mean much if they’ve fallen into background noise. You have to remember to see them, pay attention to them.  It’s not good enough to fill up space with them; fill your heart and mind and soul.

I don’t have that jar anymore, but I think if I did, I’d keep it on the kitchen counter closest to the basement stairs. I’d joyously tip the cockscomb-ed head back each time I emerged from treadmill land.

Instead, I’ve push-pinned my Wounded Warrior Project calendar to the very past its prime inherited thin wood paneling that wraps the treadmill room. I’ve added an old green felt-tip to mark my efforts, but that all doesn’t seem “shiny” enough.

Yeah, I’ll use it, but I’ve eyeing that blue storage tote just a few feet away from my Sole. I’m gonna pull out one of those Christmas jingle-bells I put away last week and relocate it to one of the three built-in spaces designed to hold stuff like water bottle and hand weights.

That way it’ll be handy for vigorous shaking – signaling the end of exercise mode for the day.

I could possibly retrain my own Pavlovian response to jingle bells signaling the season of non-stop holiday eating. With enough repetitive reinforcement, I could end up feeling compelled to leap from my seat and take a few laps around an extended-as-far-as-it-will-go family table.

I could probably get a grant for that… just sayin’.

#imakemyselflaugh.

Quote for the Week:

2017-01-10-2-imakemyselflaugh-jakorte

 

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

How to:   #

How do:  Bells Jingle

How you:  Resolve

 

Tree First

After that news arrived, I began calling friends to see if someone could take me to the hospital. Jeff told me not to go to the hospital but go straight to Nannee’s because she was going to need me there. So, that’s what I did.

Shortly after I arrived at the house on Union Street, the doorbell rang. I opened the door to find a clergyman on the doorstep, and invited him in, offering him a seat on the couch. I was about to step away to give them privacy, when he turned to me and said, “You look familiar…” “Oh, no.” Nannee shook her head. “You wouldn’t know Jodi… she’s Jewish.”

It was then quite obvious where he knew me from, as he was the pastor who declined to marry Jeff and I.

Many hours had gone by when the decision to remove Sally from life support was made. The hospital was kind and let us wait for one of Jeff’s step-brothers to return to Michigan, so all her kids could all be together in one place. To say goodbye.

I don’t remember Christmas that year. We must have gathered at Nannee’s.

I do remember the next Christmas. We’d lucked-out at Meijer, finding an artificial tree in the markdown/discontinued section and having a $20 off coupon we could use, too. We bought indoor and outdoor lights, garland and a few bulbs to supplement our Bronner’s collection.

Jeff was sitting on the floor of our new home in Adrian, piecing together the tree first. As he secured one artificial limb, another would fall off. In frustration, the man almost incapable of  temper, viciously wadded up the instructions and threw them aside.

“Let me help,” I offered. “You can’t help me,” he sniffed, as a tear ran down his cheek.

“This isn’t fair” he stated bleakly. “She should be here. My mom should be here to see this.” Jeff was struggling to not only keep the tree together, but himself, as well.

I sat down on the floor with him, leaned in and held him close. We shared our tears for a while, then stepped away for a lunch break.

With his sandwich in between the plate and his mouth, Jeff suddenly stopped and looked up at me. “I’m sorry,” he said. “You don’t have to be sorry,” I immediately answered.

“I’m sorry for what I said… that I thought you’d be over it… after your Dad died.”

“You just didn’t know,” I replied. “And I’m sorry you do, now.”

Jeff’s mouth lifted in a small smile. “You’re the best wife. I don’t know how I got so lucky.”

“You didn’t get lucky,” I reminded him with a grin. “I had to use a rolling pin…”

It took all four hands, some wrangling and a bit of good-natured bickering, but we did get the tree up and decorated, and it was beautiful.

We hosted two Christmases that year, both of which meant a great deal to Jeff and I.  We welcomed families and friends, shared wonderful meals, laughed a lot and soaked up christening love; all gathered around our first tree.

Quote for the Week:

2016-12-13-ive-come-to-love-these-grainy-memories-first-tree-2003-jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Christmas:  why trees and tinsel?

Holidays: and grief

Grinch Song: just because