a sleepless smile

(backtracking to This is My Truth)

At 2:00 in the morning, I was annoyed to be so wide awake. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was just the long day we’d had Saturday. Maybe it was knowing Sunday would be busy with church and groceries, and maybe meeting that baby. Maybe it was me being selfish after a long week at work. I just wanted to get one good night’s sleep.

Once I’d done what I had to (the mask and the loo thing), I wandered back to the kitchen for a snack. I don’t recall what I was looking for, only that there was a minuscule amount left. My frustrated feelings admittedly moved to more along the lines of exasperation. Directly associated with this continual pet peeve: leaving 2 crackers, 1 cookie, 5 chips – or only the crumbly remnants of what might have been.

Unhappy, I turned about for the other side of the house, again. I figured as long as I was sort-of cognisantly sleepless, I might as well be productive. Jeff and Freddie and Sadie were all slumbering soundly, so I took advantage of the quiet. Parked in front of our home office computer, I tackled month-end book-keeping for September.

I made notes, reviewed cash-register close out receipts. I ticked-off sales, counting the number of salsa, hot sauce, snacks, candy, cookies, gift goods and beverages that had found their way off of our shelves. I ran comp numbers, created projections, brainstormed upcoming holiday and marketing scenarios by myself.

In the early morning hours of October 1st, I’d delightfully determined our September had continued our positive streak for the second month in a row. I, fully alone, full-on grinned at the spreadsheet, looking forward to sharing success and smiles with Jeff in the morning.

That was finished and nicely settled, but I wasn’t. I was on an accomplishment high.

To wind down I relaxed into a Scrabble game, battling it out with the computer-generated Maven. Winning a rare game against the programmed-to-win competitor, lead to another round.

When I was sleepy enough to try sleeping, again, I shut down the computer, packaging up tall of the papers and receipts.

By rote, I turned off the office light and turned the corner, fully self-expecting to return to my side of the bed.

Quote for the Week: 2019 09 17 go ahead smile alone jakorte

 

at the wheel

Visions of a mangled Buick danced in my head.

It wasn’t that much of an extreme over-reactive leap, considering.

The previous week, Jeff had accidentally put the car into reverse instead of drive. At the gas station. He managed to crumple a bit of the hood of the vehicle behind him.

Luckily, “It was a junker and the fella didn’t care.” At least, that’s what Jeff told me. Right before he told me, “I gave him 50 bucks, and he was happy.”

“What about our car?” I wanted to know. “Nothin’’” Jeff smiled. “Not even a scratch.”

I was curious about that. How did he damage the other car without damaging ours, and where did he get the $50 from? “Well, I wasn’t going all that fast,” he chuckled. “Buick’s solid.” The money game from the store till.

Anyway, that’s why the ‘Did Jeff tell you about the car?’ question, riled me.

Split-second, internal conversing commenced. I would have noticed that, right? I couldn’t have walked right by the car and missed that, right?

“Oh, it was so funny,” she laughed.

‘Funny’ caught my attention. I rationalized. If it was funny, it couldn’t be that bad, right?

“I looked out my window and Jeff was sittin’ in the car with the door open, and one leg hanging out.”

“One leg out?” Flashback to the time he decided to hang his blood-spurting leg out of the car on our way to the hospital, conveniently located at the end of our street.

“Yep.” she continued. “I looked out again, and he was still there, and the car was still running!”

Again? How much time had passed between the two look-sees? Then my brain caught up.

“The car was … running?” I gasped.

“Yeah, but don’t worry, hon. He woke up.”

“He. Woke. Up?” My stomach dropped into a downward flip-flop. A heart skip had me clutching the phone and the counter. “He was sleeping? And, the car was running?”

“Yeah, it was just a few minutes.”

‘Don’t worry’ is one of those knee-jerk, antonym inducing commands. I was worried. “Ok.” I said, and thanked her for calling and letting me know.

Jeff wandered back into the kitchen with the last of the shopping.

“So…” I raised my eyebrows, and peered over my glasses. “Wanna tell me about falling asleep… in the driveway…:

Jeff took a deep breath.

“With the car running…

 Big-mouth bass impression.

“And one leg hanging out?”

“Oh, geez,” he protested. “I was just waitin’ for the end of the song.”

Quote for the Week: 2019 04 30 Some people assume the worst case scenario jakorte

Club?

(First, an embarrassing tidbit. So, I’ve mistakenly miss-remembered a crucial detail about our store. It was not 10 x 10. All of the newspaper article clippings I’ve saved clearly say that the space was even ridiculously smaller at only 8 x 8.  This makes me laugh. As do the many news articles, which I’ll share coming up.)

Jeff got to thinking… maybe having ‘Tecumseh’ in our name was too specific, too limiting. “Maybe we’ll want to open another store, someday, in another town.” he adorably, optimistically supposed.

I told him I liked the way he was thinking, and got to thinking, myself, too. I threw out, “Michigan Hot Sauce Company,” but that still seemed plain. And, then, from nowhere, I surprised myself and Jeff, too, by stating, “Michigan. Hot Sauce. Club.”

“Club?” Jeff wondered aloud in my direction, “but, we can’t call it a club if we’re not a club…”

“Well,” I started, “technically… we could be.” Looking at our dream blueprint, I pointed out that we were halfway there. We were already planning a monthly newsletter mailing; we already were planning on a ‘club’ type frequent buyer card.

All that was missing was meetings.

“We’re gonna having meetings? About what?” Jeff wanted to know.

“Well, maybe not ‘meetings’ exactly.” I explained. “I’m thinking special club member invitation only taste tests. Cooking demos. You love hot sauce and know so much about it. Do you think we could ask our members share recipes and make a cookbook out of that?”

Jeff’s big grin split and lit up his face. “You’re a genius,” he said. “I love the way you think!”

With a wonderful name on our lips, a license number to provide, we went into fast action. By this time, we only had two and a half weeks left in our promise to be open in three weeks. Timing was important because we wanted to be ready by the big ‘Grand Opening’ announcing the newest stores in the mall on September 23rd, 2004, and to be sure we still enough time to get our name out there before the Christmas and gift giving season.

We split up to divide and conquer and briefed each other throughout the day and every evening on our progress.

I had: décor, licensing, marketing, banking, budgeting.

Jeff had: fixtures, locating a manufacturer for our salsa (because we didn’t have and couldn’t afford a commercial kitchen), and the important cornerstone of hot sauce.

Quote for the Week:

2017 10 17 its embarrassing to have to fact check your own life jakorte 10 17 2017

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

About That: Memory

Fact Checking: Memories

Broadway Cat and: Memories

 

Leaps and Bounding

Sadie continue to tall-up. She was adorable and sweet and fun, just different. Maybe not so smart, but sometimes smarter than us. We solved the litter-box raids by putting up a baby gate at the door to the laundry room. For the first few days, she’d do a double-take whenever she passed it.

A few days later Sadie seemed to realize what she was missing. She’d stop and sit, stare longingly into the laundry room for a few seconds, huff and then hoof it. She was also obsessed with the red ball.

She really loved that cheap dollar-store firm foam orb. As far as toys go, Sadie never touched the kong. Squeaky toys were instantly dismantled; pieces strewn about were discarded. Somehow, she always managed to hide the squeaker part somewhere obscure. We’d look for them, but never once found one. There’d suddenly be a squeeze frenzy days later. Many times, while one of us was on the phone and often after we’d been asleep for a bit.

Jeff discovered he could keep her entertained longer by sending her on longer indoor fetches. He had perfected a double bounce that would propel the ball into the dining room. He achieved that by launching the ball toward the right wall of the hallway, where it angle-bounced to the left wall. From there it flew it into the dining room and if Jeff and Sadie were lucky, the ball would deflect off a chair and travel toward the living room.

That worked well until the day Sadie bounded after her red ball as it bounced off the hall wall into the laundry room. I watched in fascinated dread as it seemed she would easily clear our brilliant barrier. Sadie flew after it, naturally jumping right over our stop-gap.

“Sadie! No!” I cried out. But my sudden loud outburst hadn’t slowed her down at all. When she didn’t reappear, I slammed the recliner footrest down, stumbling away from a startled Jeff.  He hadn’t quite processed what was going on, partly because he couldn’t see around the corner and mostly because I hadn’t filled him in.

“Oh, no! No, no, no no no!” I wailed in dismay. By the time I arrived at the entry door, Sadie was snout deep in Miss Fred’s refuse.

Jeff was halfway out of his chair with alarm, yelling back, “What? What?”

Sadie smiled happily at me, picked up her ball, took a running start and just as easily re-cleared the gate on her way back to Jeff.

“You bounced the ball into the laundry!” I huffed. “She jumped the gate and got into the litter again.”

“Oh, that’s no big deal,” Jeff poo-poo’ed me. “That’s what dogs do.”

“Just now!” I emphasized. “Right before she picked up that … that ball with her POTTY mouth and gave it to you.”

Jeff looked down at his hand. “Arrrgghhhh!” His situational assessment was shortly followed by “EEWWWWWWW!” and a forceful arm catapult as the ball went whizzing by my head.

Quote for the week:

2017 08 22 The fancier the plan, the more can jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Fancy Doggie: Gates

Patent Baby: Gate

Safety: Gates

Leaps & Unexpected Bounds

I learned that runt meant Sadie was just behind the doggie curve… not destined to remain inherently mellow.

Miss Fred learned she could hide under the wooden rocking chair, shoot her left paw out and slap Sadie’s face as our tireless pup ran by in pursuit of her red ball.

We doggedly tried to get that on video tape, sure we could with $10,000 on America’s Funniest Videos. Back then video meant a large clunky machine with a blinding light near the lens. It didn’t help that it needed to be retrieved from the office closet, either. We left it out on the dining room table for a very long time. Freddie never cooperated.

Jeff learned something, too. “Hmm,” he said self-quizzically one day, after Sadie got into what Jeff humorously named the “no-bake doggie buffet.” She’d root around in Fred’s box and stealthily eat the crunch-coated brown stuff. The thing is she wasn’t as stealth as she thought, but by the time we saw the cat litter impacted in her nostrils, the deed had already been done. “Ya know,” he said thoughtfully. “I don’t think I’d ever heard you yell – before we got a dog.”

At about 6 months old Sadie had appropriately doubled her width, but something wasn’t quite right.

As she grew, her legs grew to twice the expected height. She wasn’t quite sure what to do with her long limbs, either. Instead of a low-to-the-ground JR scoot, Sadie pranced around like Bambi.

I said to Jeff, “I don’t think she’s normal.” Jeff glanced over at me and asked, “What do you mean?”

“I mean… her legs, and her tail…” I pointed to where Sadie stood smiling. “She shouldn’t be that tall. She’s like a Jack Russell on stilts! And her tail? Is it supposed to be that long….?”

 Jeff tilted his head to that doggie-don’t-understand angle. After a beat, he peered over his glasses at me. “I told ya she looked different and probably wouldn’t get adopted…”

I tilted my head to an unnatural angle even for a dog and said, “What?”

“Yeah,” he said shrugging his shoulders. “She didn’t look like the other ones…. and her tail didn’t get docked because she was too tiny and weak.”

I struggled with this news. “She was weak?” I asked. “Sickly?” I asked. “We got a defective dog?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Jeff said eyeballing me cautiously. He gnawed on his bottom lip, took a big breath and sighed. Looking at the floor, he pressed his lips together like he was trying to come up with the just right thing to say. Nodding once to himself, he looked up and continued on patiently, “That’s what runt means.…”

Quote for the Week:

2017 08 14 you should always know the meaning jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

The First: Dictionary

Word of The: Day

Definitions: Runt

 

 

My Dogs Are Barkin’

While Nannee was staying with us, Jeff was attempting to sort out his medical problems, as well.

In December 2003, his feet became too painful to walk on and moved from sometimes-pain to constant-pain. Original suggestions of taking time off for pain management and keeping his legs raised for two weeks straight had not helped.

By February 2004, Jeff was still off work and having to use his short-term then long-term disability benefit. The diagnosis of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy sparked a series of long trials attempting to ease the constant 7-8 pain rating on a scale of 1-10. On really bad days, when the pain jumped to a 10 or 11, Jeff used his sense of humor remained. He’d explain to me, his doctor, a nurse, anyone who really needed to know why he was moving so slow, “My dog’s are really barkin’!'”

In addition to his Type II Diabetes Mellitus and Venostasis (bursting blood vessels), the Neuropathy, Hypertension, pitting Edema, skin ulcers and possible Sleep Apnea were added to his diagnoses, as well. Jeff’s medication list began to grow: Percodan, Neurontin, Elavil, Lasix, Lipitor, Humalog Lantus insulin, Zestoretic, Lopid, Glucophage, Celexa and a multivitamin.

That was in 2004. By the time Jeff passed away 2.5 years later, the number of drugs he needed to take had grown to over 20 daily, with many taken multiple times a day. Those cute little regular daily pill containers were uselessly too small, and only had compartments for morning, noon and night. Jeff creatively converted two tackle trays into his medication monitor. He’d fill them up once a week and it would take him about an hour.

I do believe having Nannee with us was more of a blessing for us than for her. Up until then, Jeff had been spending his days mostly alone, trying to handle the pain. Weekdays, we spent about 4 awake hours a day together – one in the morning and three at night. Weekends, though, we were inseparable, much like our 24 hours a day for two days courtship.

On one of those weekends, Jeff casually suggested we stop by a local farm where a new litter of Jack Russell puppies had been born. I reminded him we had a cat. He said we were just going to look, because they weren’t ready to leave their mother, yet. The only reason I agreed was that I knew there was no possibility we’d be taking one home.

My only previous puppy litter experience was gained in Tennessee. A friend’s dog had gotten out in a storm and had a clandestine canine affair. The adorable yelping squirmers were contained in a makeshift arena for adoption. It was entirely up to you whether you wanted to lean in and pet them, or not. With no intention of adding a dog to my life, I simply leaned in to scratch a few ears… and came up with Cab.

Quote for the Week:

2017 07 17 Let_s Just Look jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Why Do We Love Puppies: Scientifcally? Oxytocin

Neuropathies: There’s More Than One

If You’re Diabetic: Pay Attention!

Open Doors

 

She walked in through the front door and helped herself to pizza.

It was, after all, just sitting there invitingly. All warm and cheesy, flipped open on the coffee table waiting for the Friday night after work sofa plop.

 

(Back track: 12 year-old Talli’s kidney issues had taken their final toll. I chose not to take that ride with him to the veterinarian’s office two blocks away. I said my goodbye’s and handed him to my husband, happy to hold onto my memories.

A short time later, my husband was home, asking if I wanted another cat. Talli was such a lover, a hugger, a good one. We were beginning the search for a non-rented home, planning to be married, working full-time jobs, selling at craft shows, budgeting. Partly too heartbroken, partly too logical, I said, “No.” We donated Talli’s food, waterer, feeder, and an unused bag of litter; tossed the litter box, used toys and collar.)

 

We picked up our traditional Friday night fare of pizza, and soup. Jeff always had soup with pizza. He set up dinner as I ran upstairs to change. He stepped outside to get the forgotten soup out of the car.

Just as he came back in the door, I came down the stairs. We met at the juncture and stared. There was a furry black lump the middle of the pie, licking its way to a full tummy. Green eyes barely glanced up at us. We glance at each other, laughed, which startled the cat under the couch. We couldn’t leave it there, so Jeff crouched calling, “Here, Fred. Here, Fred!”  Fred jumped into his arms, and casually sat there are we decided what to do.

I put on my coat, picked up the saucy kitten, and went trudging through the snow door to door asking anyone who answered my knock, “Is this your kitten?” A few folks confessed to feeding it once in a while, although it mostly fed from the dumpster. Someone had tried a few times to catch the stray to take it to a shelter, but did not succeed.

Within a half-hour it was clear no one wanted to take ownership, and we weren’t going to send it back out in the freezing snow. So, we put the toilet seat down, secured the downstairs half-bath door closed; threw out the pizza, and headed to Pamida.

Another half-hour later, we had all the makings of cat accommodations; litter box, litter, food, treats, collar, toys, waterer, feeder and a new addition to our lives.

It was another week before Fred was able to make it to a Saturday health check. How my farm-knowledged husband mistook Fred for a Fred remains a mystery. Despite well-meaning recommendations of alternate names like Fredericka and Francine, she remained Fred. Although, to avoid confusion, her fill-in form name was always listed as Miss Fred, and amusingly explained as Miss Fred the Misread Cat.

She disappeared once – on the day Jeff’s mom died. I hysterically surmised she must have jumped into a half-packed moving box, fallen soundly asleep and been accidentally sealed up inside. He rationally believed she must have run out an open door unnoticed. He was right. One night later he heard her distinctive pigeon-mew, and opened the door.

Freddie wasn’t at all like Talli. She disliked being held, had an anti-purr dove coo, didn’t care to play, but loved her catnip. She tolerated our new baby Jack Russell to an extent. She would sit under the rocking chair and slap Sadie’s puppy nose as she ran by in pursuit of a ball. We always thought we could easily make $10,000 on America’s Funniest Home Videos, but Freddie never cooperated when the camera was rolling.

At 11 years old, she seemed bored, slept a lot and was getting chubby. A friend of mine rescued an adorable stray. I checked with a vet and was told as long as the new kitten was a boy, we should all be fine. Three years into being a two-cat household, H. Blu was still willing to be friends, and Freddie was still not.

When we moved into the condo this past March, the frequency of Fred’s 3 AM “I’m-not-amused, I-don’t-like-you, I-don’t-want-to-play-with-you-and-never-will” zombie wailing lessened, but never went away. Mid-April, her voice changed a little, she began losing weight, and making funny sounds when she swallowed.

Two and half a months of vet visits, decongestants, antibiotics, and steroids only slightly slowed down the tumor making its way from her ear canal down her throat. Her dry food became painful to swallow, so I fed her tuna and chopped pork.  When she stopped eating soft foods, I created tuna water and offered milk.

After two separate veterinary recommendations, I made an appointment at a specialty clinic for Wednesday. The information on their website almost talked me out of it siting statistic such as 92% of feline nasal tumors are malignant, and extended survival after treatment is an average of 382 days.

Sunday night, she refused both cold liquid dinners, so I warmed up some beef broth. She worked at it a while, and maybe got 2 tablespoons down. Monday morning, we woke up together as the alarm went off. I went through 3 snooze cycles just enjoying her company, even though she could only get one eye open, and was trying to purr but couldn’t. I phoned the vet again.

This morning, at 14 years old and 9:00 AM, I opened a can of Hunt’s Garlic and Cheese Tomato Sauce, spooned some into her milk dish, and set it down with a prayer.  She didn’t understand, because she couldn’t smell it. I scooped a bit on my finger and touched her mouth. She didn’t hesitate a second, and when that finger was clean, I scooped another bit, and another. Her feasting sounded painful to me, but she kept going, and kept her nose pressed to my finger between extra-long breaths.

When she had enough, I sat with her for a while then scooped her up. She didn’t resist or complain, and for once went quietly into the carrier. I missed this part with Talli.

It was better and worse than I imagined; sad and painful, but only for me. Miss Fred went quietly through another open door, and I went home without her.

I doubt pizza is a staple in cat heaven, but I’m sure Jeff will find a way to get it for her.

Quote for the Week

2015 07 21 strength to watch love leave jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

What it is: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/why-we-love-cats-and-dogs-introduction/4538/

What is was: http://animalsurgicalcenter.com/Library_articles/oncology_nasal_tumors.html

What now: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/coping_with_pet_death.html