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!

Peeps – The Kiss First Clause

I may have mentioned this before, but it’s still Peeps season.

As far as I’m concerned, it will remain Peeps season until all of the Peeps are gone.

I’m talking about the coveted and cabineted ones. Even with the holiday in my rearview, there’s still time to increase the stash. I’ll be ‘Peep Seeking’ a little while longer in the likely vain hope of a misplaced carton or even sleeve.

I admittedly will not give up until it becomes clear I will not find this year’s coveted flavor. I sadly started the search too late, and was left standing forlornly in Target staring at the empty box labeled “Vanilla Caramel Brownie Peeps.”

I also admit that I might not have believed that was a true special occasion creation, but, as I said, I saw the empty box for myself. In retrospect, I should have photographed it. It would have made a social media plea for them an illustration of frustration and perhaps I would have been flooded with good-willed Vanilla Caramel Brownie Peeps. Sigh.

Sometimes the very thing that makes me happy, makes me sad, and then makes me laugh.

My husband, Jeff, was a man who would not even slightly hesitate to insert his entire arm into a cow’s uterus.

So, how a cute little squishy marshmallow chick could cause him to cringe, shake and gag was always beyond me.

Physically. He’d watch me bite into one, and pull his head back like he wanted to turtle into his own shoulders. He’d wave his hands at waist-level, muttering “yuck” and shivering into goosebumps.

As true love often does, I willingly made small sacrifices for Jeff, and Jeff willingly made small sacrifices for me. One of the sweetest involved the seasonal search and appropriate pre-consumption seasoning of Peeps.

Religiously poking holes in their cellophane habitats, Jeff would clandestinely hide my favorite treats somewhere I was sure never to look. You know, that almost useless over-the-stove cabinet that only tall giant-sized people ever consider an actual place to store things.

He went to all this trouble for two very good reasons.

The first was so that the adorable, delicious candy creatures would be ever-so-slightly crunchy-stale when he ceremoniously presented them to me on whatever holiday it was we were celebrating.

The second was for the kiss he knew he would get after I finished squealing in delight.

The kiss had conditions, though: it had to occur after presentation, before ingestion. I tried it once the other way and Jeff objected.

“Ew,” he’d said. “Don’t ever kiss me after you eat one of those!”

After that, he always insisted on that order, sometimes going as far as keeping them way above me with his outstretched arm.  “Kiss first!” he’d grin. And I would happily oblige.

Quote for the Week:

2017 04 18 Sometimes the very thing that makes me happy jakorte

The Lilac Connection

The lilac connection is a curious thing.

Little by little I am hearing stories I’ve know nothing about. Like this one from Jeff’s brother, Eric:

“Lilacs played a huge part in Jeff’s life. There were lilacs in Papa and Nannee Vincze’s backyard.

We would play whiffle ball, catch fire flies, have parties and learn about life from our Grandparents in a backyard encircled by huge lilac bushes.

When my grandpa had his heart attack and was in the hospital, the lilacs were in bloom.

Each morning, my grandma would awake before dawn to spray water on them to keep the frost from killing them.

When he came home, he was sad to see all the freezer-burnt lilacs on the way.

But, when they pulled into the driveway, he saw all of their lilacs in full bloom…

an act of love.”

That story reminded me of another one that requires a bit of explanation.

Certain moments have stuck with, even as I’ve been oblivious for years. Sometimes, I am in the memory of the moment. Sometimes, I am an observer of events, watching us both make our way through the life we shared.

I don’t know why this one is an observer moment. I’m sure someday it will become clear.

When Sally passed, she was interred in Brookside Cemetery. Waiting at her gravesite, Jeff said he was glad she could be so near her father (Papa) and someday, her mother (Nannee.) It was a source of comfort for him.

I wish I could remember the exact words. I’m not even sure if Jeff was relaying it was Sally’s wish or if it had been his own comfort.

Anyway, there we were, slowly walking away from the ceremony, hand-in-hand, as usual.

Jeff stopped at a spot halfway between Sally and Popa. With a firm down-stroke of his chin and a leftward tilt of his head, Jeff made a nodding point toward a smallish bush.

Maybe he said, “At least…

Maybe he said, “I’m glad…”

But the last part of the sentence was, “… she can see the lilac tree from here.”

(You know, after the memory movie in my head ended, after I’d written it all down and re-read the story, it seems I don’t have to wait for that ‘someday’ answer. Something did become clear. It’s a good thing I learned to type without looking at the keys. I’m not sure I could have seen them through the tears, tonight. Because, remotely watching us standing made the mystery unravel. That spot Jeff stopped on turned out to be his. He can see the lilacs from there, too.)

Quote for the Week:

2017 04 11 We can spend a lot of time asking why or let the universe jakorte

 

Bonus Photo: through the power of Google Maps from my brother who knows how to use it: 2017 view of the Lilac and the Oak from last week’s ‘Lilacs’ blog.

Blackwood Road Screenshot_20170411-205227

via Daily Prompt: Unravel

Sometimes the Story

Sometimes the story just won’t tell itself.

 

There are times when I have nothing to say, but this isn’t one of them.

 

I know where the story goes from here, but tonight is not the night.

 

This night is distracted, blocked; a tumultuous time crying out the truth in tears,

howling high over the whorl-winds, this crucial point:

I cannot avoid the storm, because I am the storm.

When it’s over, again, I won’t feel the same, again,

and that’s ok: I’ve been a storm long enough.

 

2017-02-28-sometimes-the-story-just-wont-tell-itself-jakorte

Furnished, Part 1

For two people in their mid-thirties, neither Jeff nor I had a lot of anything.

I had my first-ever moving sale when I left temporarily Tennessee. It took three trips back and forth from Michigan, stuffing my Volkswagen Golf to the gills with books, and music and chickens. Not live ones; paraphernalia.

My first Michigan apartment furnishings were either free, flea or followed me. Free is self-explanatory. Flea is a bit of a poetic reference to garage sales, flea markets and second-hand stores. Only two items followed me from Tennessee.

I moved a hand-made wooden rocking chair purchased at a yard sale, and a coverta-table. Also hand-made and wooden, the table top swiveled up easily converting it into a chair. There was also a nifty little storage area in the bench for linens.

Both chairs had hand-carved and wood-burned sheaves of wheat. I didn’t think about that detail much back then. All I knew was I like the motif, had purchased them at separate times, and they sort of matched. A year later, in Michigan, I found a close-out entertaiment center with sheaves of wheat to match. I briefly acknowledged that with a fleeting thought of “Hm, what a coincidence.”

Among my early Michigan acquisitions were a second-hand orange and brown plaid couch and a second-hand matching orange velvet chair that were stashed in an empty office where I worked. A wood coffee table that needed some balancing help and an old used-to-be-white dresser and mirror came next.

I painted the dresser a yellowish-white to match the yellowed laminate top, then added a few burnt orange accents. I happily accepted a compliment when the previous owner exclaimed, “If I’d known it could look like that, I might not have given it away.”

I purchased an old wood-boxed TV that must have weighed about 100 pounds. Trying to corner roll that into my new apartment building, lead to meeting the neighbor who would later introduce me to online dating.

I also acquired an old copper dry sink, an old three-tiered wooden sewing basket, and a beautiful piece of stained glass art.

Of all those first run belongings, only three remain. The dry sink sits just inside the door of my current home. It’s where I set my work bag down when I get home, and where I pick it up from in the morning.

The sewing box serves a dual purpose as an end table in the living room. The stained glass rainbow hangs over the bureau in my bedroom.

I guess you could say I don’t hang on to much furniture.

Quote for the Week:

2017-02-14-you-cant-take-it-with-you-when-you-move-jakorte

 

 

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Why DO We: Keep It

What To Do With: Sentimental Pieces

On the Other Hand: Minimalize

 

The String Thing, 1

I feel like I should explain why I am explaining. It’s more now than memories; more toward the end of the story than the middle. Based on past success, it’s a hopeful reminder that I can get there, yet.

So, where were we?

I stayed in Adrian 4 more years before moving to Ann Arbor. During those years, I drove a commuter van from Adrian to Ann Arbor, with one stop in Tecumseh. I started out as rider and by default became a driver. Cost-wise, those 3 years were very helpful to my budget.

As a driver, all I had to do was collect gas money from my riders and deliver the van for regular maintenance. The responsibility kept me going after my loss, and the extra “busy” time meant I spent less time at home; alone.

After I got home, after chores and sometimes dinner, I still had time on my hands. A lot of time. I also had a treadmill, a healthy collection of angry music and International Music Feed.

The more I used it the more addictive it became.  15 minutes became 20. 20 minutes became 30. 30 was always my goal. By then, I usually surpassed that waiting for a song to end or wanting another tenth of a mile to round off the distance. I’d set it on manual so I could control the pace.

Eventually, 30 minutes wasn’t hard, so I challenged myself. I’d use the programmed interval incline. I’d switch it up by using the cardio program. I found myself adjusting the speed down during cardio, but would still follow through with ups and downs.

I also didn’t sleep much. Oh, I’d shower and crash after exercising, but then wake up around 2 AM. I’d wander to the TV and watch whatever happened to be on. A predictable variety of infomercials of questionable integrity aired during these odd hours.  Slicers, dicers, miracle pills, body transformers, pot, pans, and the upside down inversion thing that was so popular, back then.

Cuddling a cup of tea on just another normal after-midnight night, my life changed. A different sort of wee-hour, call-now advert caught my attention. In between sleepy sips and throwing our Jack Russell Terrier Sadie’s favorite red ball down our longest hall, what I was hearing made sense.

I paid a little more attention which left me more awake. It was the opposite of what should have been achieved by watching mindless drivel; boring myself back to sleep. What I was seeing was what I wanted, attainable or not.

The core of the pitch was a “core” building hip-hop dance program regaling the importance of balance and stance.  I stopped playing fetch with Sadie when she plopped down in the middle of the hall, swiveling her cocked head longingly between me and the bedroom, silently suggesting as only dogs do.

It figured; the one night I managed to tire the hyper missy out, I ended up all hyped up .

So, that’s how I learned about the string thing.

Quote for the Week:

2017-01-31-the-tired-mind-may-be-more-receptive-01-31-2017

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Inversion:  Something Like This

That Red Haired Lady: The Infomercial Queen

Know Your Hawker: More Infomercial Faces