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Sunday, December 28, 2014


It has been a very long year since I have seen my daughter Courtney and my son-in-law Beau. They came rolling into town Friday the 26th after a visit with Beau's family outside Chicago. It took a little longer than expected when they drove up to a major mile long traffic jam on I-40 at the good old 407 exit. For those of you not local, that is the main interstate exit to the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains. You still have about 20 miles to go before our house from the exit.  This is not where you want to be on the Friday after Christmas... so with some local road knowledge they detoured around the car loads of worn out tourists who come to our area for New Years Eve and skiing if it is cold enough. What they have found this season is 50 degree weather, mud and way too many people with the same illusion of snow covered pines. Speaking of illusions, I myself patiently watched for the kids all evening. The pot roast was on the warmer , cornbread ready to be placed in the oven and Courtneys favorite comfort food simmering on the stove: Soupy Taters. What is that you yanks might ask ? Potato soup.
In my mind, I had this scene from one of my favorite Americana artists Norman Rockwell:
Now the ride from Illinois had been a long one for the kids and the two dogs. Traffic was heavy the whole way and they had to stop several times for the dogs to walk/pee. Well , for Roy anyway, Sue  the newest pooper, is an absolutely beautiful white lab. She is around nine months and decided she would have a stand off with her bladder and refused to pee all day. Roy is not feeling well and he is just a sweetie that I have written aboout before in a previouos post titled "The Joy of Roy".
As I saw them pull into the driveway I went out with open arms to welcome my brood.  I guess I should have really given more thought to how my animals were going to react to two strange dogs joining the Holiday party. My dogs and cats are ass holes. They are much like their owner. Loners, socially awkward and definitely on a structured routine.
Soon my Norman Rockwell Christmas took  a dark turn. Up the steps flew Sue and Roy and I let my guys in the back door. This is what it looked like:

Two cats running, hissing and brandishing twenty tiny switchblades across noses. Pappy, my old pretty much blind/deaf foster Whippet simply decided, even though he is house broken, to let the river flow in the middle of the living room rug. All I could think of was this classic line of great literature:
My two Toy Fox Terriers , who weigh about 7 pounds each were both making snarliing sounds that honestly could have been mistaken for weed-eaters being revved up and down. Dracula would have envied the display of fangs. I got my first bite that evening but it didn't break the skin. To truly appreciate the traditional Christmas animal bite, alllow me tell you a little story.
On Christmas Day 2009 I was bitten by a feral cat. Note to self and others: Do Not reach into a cat fight and try to put them in their perspective corners. It does not work. So the next day I was on antibiotics and had a tetanus shot. I hoped for the best after reading the stats on rabies and cat bites. The next Christmas , Courtney was home from Idaho and we again dreamed of a  perfect white Christmas Day.  On Christmas Eve it snowed and it was a gorgeous blue sky with fresh snow kinda day. It was only she and I and we were very happy, almost living the dream. I had a Paula Deen spiral cut honey ham and all the fixins. Then I saw it...outside sitting in the snow was the most beautiful solid black huge dog that appeared to be a shepherd or a wolf mix. I guess its obvious to most folks that read this blog that I love dogs. I grabbed a chunk of ham and slipped on my snow boots. I was wearing flannel Christmas patterned  pajamas. Much like Ralphie when he ran into the snow with his cold steel blue beauty. Now I have no fear of any dog. I recall that Courtney said "Mom don't go out there". Of Course I paid no I approached the dog that I did not recognize as a neighborhood dog I suppose he smelled the slice of  Paula Deen ham. I had just lifted my hand and said "come on boy , you hungry?", when the dog lunged through the air and snapped the ham and most of the skin and nail off my index and middle finger...OH MY GOD I'M DOG BIT!
Once again I was running through the snow in my flannel pajamas (there seems to be a theme here). My hand was on fire. I had it raised up and was applying pressure due to the bleeding. The pristine Christmas snow was spattered with red polka dots as the big black dog had his Holiday meal.
I couldn't take a change on this dog with the rabies issue, so a full scale search was on to find the owner. Our little community fire and police department both looked until they saw him trotting home, burping honey baked ham I suppose,  and followed him to his owners. He didn't mean to bite me and it was my fault completely for holding up the ham. The owners had his shot records so all was well since I had gotten a tetanus shot the year before. Folks, you cant make this stuff up.
Now back to the present, it is a running joke in our family about me staying away from all animals on Christmas Day.  As the kids ate their tater soup, the animals all snarled, foamed at the mouth and totally showed their arses. Mine, not Roy or Sue. They just looked horrified. They are cool obedient Colorado dogs who I am sure have only heard urban legends of hillbilly hounds. My guys were out of control so I did the only thing I know to do when things get rough. Go to bed. On Saturday morning around 4:30 the chorus of  bad to the bone started again, when poor excited and over stressed Sue decided to give up the 24 hour bladder standoff upstairs in the bedroom floor. So Courtney and I were up and letting them all have at it again. By mid morning we decided to take down the Christmas lights and place these on the tree:

I made it until about 1pm today before I received the traditional holiday animal bite. Pippa, lunging for Sue's nose, missed and got my fore-arm. Ouch, damnit!!!  My little dogs have placed themselves in my lap in the recliner. It looks and sounds like the hounds of hell guarding the entrance to Hades, my own Cerebus.

 At the moment the kids have escaped the chaos and are with friends watching a football game. I have thrown all the dogs outside  into the fenced in yard and told them to work out their issues. I have no idea where the cats are hidden... they can fend for themselves.

 Happy New Year from the animal house!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

POTS and Plans....

I should know by now that I cannot make any type of plans with this illness. POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, try saying that three times fast), is a bugger. It is an autonomic nervous system condition in which the body fails to properly regulate the pulse rate, blood pressure and various other vital components of  functioning upon standing. I have the sub type Hyperandrenergic. This means instead of a drop in BP, I get an increasing BP and heart rate the longer I stand and I produce way too much adrenalin which has lead to adrenal fatigue. Therefore, I recline  - a lot. Today is one of those days as I am reclined, home from work on a sick day. I have two new employees to train and had planned  hoped to start that today, but as I have said before Man Plans, God Smiles. My heroes are the young women( this usually is the case, but not always) who have this condition and they are in the prime of their life and have young children, family obligations or are in school. I don't know how they do it. I slept from 8p-8a this morning and struggled to get out of the bed today I was so exhausted. 
I love this, only when you have a love affair with a memory foam mattress do you really get it.  I get it, much like I suspect my dear departed Granny did as well. They're days I do give up on and just go to sleep hoping for the light of a clear blue morning.  The Granny Bed, a place of total surrender were the only Fifty Shades of Grey are on my pillow.
 I'm trying to get myself recharged a little for the holiday season.  I plugged in the fiber optic tree and the plastic Santa, so I'm good to go on decorations. I have not given in to the lure of the chocolate covered cherries yet. I'm sure I will, it's just a matter of time and the right stressor... I'm trying really hard not to get the Seasonal Blues this year.  Actually, I have been looking forward to the colder weather. I have been hot for two years now with no end in sight. My poor co-workers/employees look like Bob Cratchit huddled around a single lump of coal, bundled in sweaters as I scream "Did that *&*#  heat just click on?" I expect a visitation from three ghosts any night now. At home my heat never goes above 62 in the day and I turn it to in the 50's at night. That is one good thing about living alone, total control of the thermostat and the remote. My poor fur babies might disagree, they really wish mom would get on some hormones....