Sunday, October 31, 2004

Doggie Update

Laughter is the best medicine.

Emma is doing great. The swelling has gone down and we can put her collar back on her. Her throat is still saggy but all the edema lumps have gone. She can bark again (something I did not notice she could not do until she started again three days ago) and is playing big time with her cousins. I can't believe a week ago we were afraid we might loose her.

On the cousin side, my husband sent the following message to our niece.

Subject: report from Kamp Kansas

Just a quick doggie report:
The coyote bait (a.k.a. "Paris" and "Hilton") are still with us. They have been on so many long walks that there are just bloody stumps where their feet used to be. They saw their first cow today. Paris's eyes got as big as softballs and she started shaking, for she had never seen such a big dog. Hilton of course wanted to attack immediately. I got them calmed down, so they are now O.K. with cows. They were completely befuddled when encountering a large weed in the path, but now know how to go around or over. They are, however, a little embarrassed about getting beat up by the jackrabbit. Enough for today. Uncle "Bob"

My niece sent this message in reply.

Thats very funny. Paris is a little wimp.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

You Are What You Eat

If I were on a diet I would have officially fallen off of it the last couple of days. Yesterday I got a migraine and slammed down four 12oz Cokes between the hours of 4:00PM and 9:00PM. I also ate dinner which consisted of two small baked potatoes with lots of butter, two servings of greenbeans, a side of cranberry sauce, and two 4oz. servings of poultry. This was on top of what I ate an hour before dinner. I cannot for the life of me remember what that was. The scary thing is, I slept like a baby.

This morning I was still having trouble with my Name Nouns and getting a pain like someone was sticking an ice pick into my brain just to the right of top center on my head every time I bent over. I had another 12 oz. coke and then had a cheese burger and a Sarsparilla. Later I said, "What the hell," and had a nice early dinner of a half a bowl of cream cheese clam dip, with Ruffles,"R R R Ruffles Have Ridges!" brand potato chips, and a 20oz. Coke.

I now feel like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon and (with apologies to e) very, very, bloated. I can, however, bend over with no problem and am no longer having trouble with Nouns.

"Crap. Its what's for dinner."

Friday, October 29, 2004

A Fist In The Face

An emotional shock is like a fist in the face. It causes the mind to reel away from it and reverberates though out the body. I've been doing well with the shock of what has happened- in the daytime. It is not until night when I am drifting off that I am shocked awake by an image exploding in my mind's eye based on something I have either read or been told about the incident. All hope of sleep disappears for at least an hour. A vivid imagination can be a curse sometimes.

This morning I read about yesterday's funeral in the newspaper. It sounded wonderful the way a "good" funeral can be, a mixture of tears and laughter, and a church overflowing with people sharing their respect and love for the ones who are now gone. When I reached this sentence in the newspaper, An enlarged, black-and-white photograph rested on the altar at the front of the church. It was a picture of (them) on their wedding day, holding hands and laughing, smiling bright-eyed in the camera, the achingly bittersweet image in conjured up causes something inside me to crumble. I started sobbing, longer and harder than I did when I first heard the news.

I am grateful for that.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

More Angel Whisperings and Two Goodbyes

When things like this happen, sometimes I'm not sure what the message is. I have been walking my dogs at the cemetery for ten years now, for such a long time that I no longer notice the grave markers. Last night I walked through a section of the cemetery I don't usually walk in and stopped to give one of my sister's dogs a quick pat. When I looked up it was right at a name chiseled into a large tombstone. The name was that of my brother-in-law's dead brother.

Today is the funeral for my brother-in-law's parents.

If I Knew Today

If I knew that today would be the last time I'd see you, I would hug you tight and pray the Lord be the keeper of your soul. If I knew that this would be the last time you pass through this door, I'd embrace you, kiss you, and call you back for one more. If I knew that this would be the last time I would hear your voice, I'd take hold of each word to be able to hear it over and over again. If I knew this is the last time I see you, I'd tell you I love you, and would not just assume foolishly you know it already
-Gabriel Garcia Marquez
( Via Kathryn over at A Mindful Life)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

These Broken Wings Won't Fly

I'm tired but my body won't relax. I want to relax but my thoughts won't stop racing. My stomach is jumpy, my nerves are jangly, my head aches, and my eyes burn. I want to curl up into a ball and drift away in sleep to avoid what has happened. I want it not to be true. I want these familiar feeling to go away.

Sunday morning my sister called and told me her husband's parents and grandmother had been killed by his brother. An hour later she called back to say the police had killed the brother.

How do I write about this? I feel I shouldn't because it is private but violence is never private. I feel I shouldn't because it would be disrespectful but to whom?

I wouldn't be writing this at all if an angel hadn't whispered in my ear this morning. I was checking books in at the library and when I flipped open one book there, printed on the library check-out card holder, was my brother-in-law's mother's first and last name. I wanted to cry as I stared at it but at the same time I felt like a warm blanket had been wrapped around me. I hope sometime in the future, after they get past the horror of this, my brother-in-law and his family are wrapped in the same blanket .

Snake Bite Update

Emma is home and looking like she has mumps. Actually, she looks like one of those dogs in the photos that are popular right now. The ones that are distorted to make the dogs look like they have huge snouts. Big snout, little head and body. She is still weak but has a healthy appetite. Sleep is the number one priority for her right now. She should be back to her old self in a week or two.

Monday, October 25, 2004

In 1814 We Took A Little Trip, Along With Colonel Jackson Down The Mighty Mississip

I don't get no respect.
-Rodney Dangerfield

If you had asked me a week ago what I knew about the War of 1812 I could of told you the following:

1. It was a little war that fit in between the end of the American Revolution and the start of the American Civil War.
2. It was between the USA and the British.
3. The British burned down the White House.
4. Two songs were written about it, The Spangled Banner and The Battle Of New Orleans.

After watching a two hour program, First Invasion: The War Of 1812, on the History Channel, I now see it was the war that gave the USA its identity as a country. Before that American was the Rodney Dangerfield in European politics. Thirty years after the American Revolution the British still occupied American territories along the Great Lakes. They were supporting Indian raids against Americans in the West and hurting American commercial interests by interfering with American trade with the rest of Europe. America was spoiling for a war and only need one more insult from Britain to explode. Britain gave it to them.

At the same time the British were dinking around in America they were mired in a war with France. Britain claimed the right to board any American merchant ship and remove any British sailors found on board. They would sometimes take American citizens. America, as a neutral country, was outraged by this practice and, to preserve American's "honor", war was declared against Great Britain on June 18, 1812.

Ok, we have this little country with no standing army and no navy to speak of declare war against Britain. What is the first thing they do after that? Invade Canada hoping to push the British out of American territory and picking up a little extra territory for itself. It doesn't work and the Americans are chased out of Canada. The British retaliate by setting up a blockade along the Eastern Seaboard that disrupts American trade and its livelihood. New England talks about seceding from the Union and making a deal with the British.

By 1814 Britain's war with France is over and she sends some of those troops and supplies to America. The British plan to attack from Canada across Lake Champlain and down the Hudson River in order to cut New England off from the rest of the country. They also plan to attack New Orleans, and Washington DC.

The attack against Washington DC proceeds on August 24, 1814. When the untested American soldiers meet up with the British troops they panic and turn and run like "sheep being chased by dogs" and the British march into Washington and set it ablaze. That night the glow from the fires can be seen from 50 miles away. Then a miracle occurs. From out of nowhere a storm comes up and torrential rains fall, putting out the fires. Winds pick up and a tornado races through the middle of Washington. The weather does what the American soldiers could not, killing many British soldiers and scattering the rest.

On September 11, 1814 the British fleet is destroyed in a battle on Lake Champlain with what ships left returning to Canada. The British now turn their attention to Baltimore. The American government had given private citizens the authority to attack British merchant ships. This was done because the government had so few ships of its own. A number of these "privateers" are based in Baltimore. Defending Baltimore is Fort McHenry standing at the entrance to the harbor. The officer in charge, Maj. George Armstead, asks merchants to sink their own ships to create an artificial reef. This will keep the British ships from entering the harbor. The merchants comply knowing if the British take Baltimore they will loose more than just their ships.

Armstead also commissioned a flag for the fort "... so large that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance..." The flag measures 30 by 42 feet with the stars measuring two feet across from star point to star point.

When the British ships start the bombing of Fort McHenry at 7;00AM on the 13th of September, Francis Scott Key was on one of the British ships trying to secure the release of a friend. He was not allowed to leave until the bombing stopped nearly 25 hours later. He watched the attack all through the night, knowing that as long as the British continued shelling the fort the Americans had not surrendered. Then in the early morning hours the shelling stopped. Had the fort fallen?

What Key did not know was that during the shelling Fort McHenry had failed to return fire. This was because the British ships were out of range of the fort cannons. The British decided this lack of response was due to the fact the fort could not respond and had moved several of their ships closer to the fort. When the ships sailed into the range of his guns Armstead opened fire, turning the ships into Swiss cheese.

Key peered into the morning twilight and was relieved to see the flag Armstead had commissioned still flying. The British had abandoned the attack. Key started writing down the words to a poem he would call The Defense of Fort McHenry on the back of an letter he had in his pocket. The opening words were:

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Later the poem is set to music and the title changed to The Star Spangled Banner. In 1931 by act of Congress it became the American National Anthem.

On December 24, 1814 the Treaty of Ghent was signed in Belgium ending the war between America and Britain. Unfortunately, this news would not reach America for another six weeks and the Battle of New Orleans began on January 8, 1815. Again the British underestimate the Americans and, again, the British were beaten soundly. The British still had not learned that it was madness to march smartly, in nice even rows, toward men positioned behind a barricade while wearing bright red uniforms and white belts that criss-crossed your chest. It gives a man something to aim at.

Now, when I was a kid I would hear Johnny Horton's version of The Battle Of New Orleans on the radio during "oldies" weekends. I have since found out that Horton's recording is a shorter version of the original song. The original song was written by a school teacher in the 1940's as a way of teaching his history class about the battle.

Instead of describing the battle myself I am going to let Jimmy Driftwood's song do it for me. I will tell you that Colonel Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson, seventh president of the United States, was in command of the American troops while Sir Edward Pakenham, brother-in-law of the Duke of Wellington, was in command of the British troops.

Battle Of New Orleans
Well,in 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we met the bloody British in the town of New Orleans

We fired our guns and the British kept a comin'
There wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began a running
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

Well, I seed Marse Jackson come a-walkin' down the street
And a-talkin' to a pirate by the name of Jean Lafitte;
He gave Jean a drink that he brung from Tennessee,
And the pirate said he'd help us drive the British to the sea.

Well, the French told Andrew, "You had better run
For Pakenham's a comin' with a bullet in his gun."
Old Hickory said he didn't give a damn
He's a-gonna whup the britches off of Colonel Pakenham.

Well, we looked down the river and we seed the British come
And there must have been a hundred of them beating on the drum
They stepped so high and they made their bugles ring
While we stood behind our cotton bales and didn't say a thing

Old Hickory said we could take em by surprise
If we didn't fire a musket till we looked em in the eyes
We held our fire till we seed their face well
Then we opened up our squirrel guns and really gave em well..

Well, they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn't go
They ran so fast the hounds couldn't catch em
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

Well, we fired our cannons till the barrels melted down
So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round
We filled his head with minie balls and powdered his behind
And when we touched the powder off, the 'gator lost his mind

They lost their pants and their pretty shiny coats
And their tails was all a-showin' like a bunch of billy goats.
They ran down the river with their tongues a-hanging out
And they said they got a lickin', which there wasn't any doubt.

Well, we marched back to town in our dirty ragged pants
And we danced all night with the pretty girls from France;
We couldn't understand 'em, but they had the sweetest charms
And we understood 'em better when we got 'em in our arms.

Well, the guide who brung the British from the sea
Come a-limping into camp just as sick as he could be,
He said the dying words of Colonel Pakenham
Was, "You better quit your foolin' with your cousin Uncle Sam."

Well, we'll march back home, but we'll never be content
Till we make Old Hick'ry the people's president.
And every time we think about the bacon and the beans
We'll think about the fun we had way down in New Orleans.

Copyright Warden Music Co., Inc

The Ghent Treaty did not resolve the issues that started the war but the war did do two things. It gave Canada and the United States a sense of pride in themselves and their countries as both of them had successfully defended themselves against foreign invaders.

And that, my children, is your history lesson for the day.

Click here for more information.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Broken Wings

-Dougie MacLean

A tall tree
Turn and face the west
O we're running with the wind
A high clifftop
We're waiting with the rest
For this journey to begin

These broken wings won't fly
These broken wings won't fly
These broken wings won't fly at all

And O how we laugh
But maybe we should crawl
And ask to be excused
We shout loudly
Have answers to it all
O but we have been refused

These broken wings won't fly
These broken wings won't fly
These broken wings won't fly at all

Girl child
You're dancing with the stream
Growing with the silver trees
Your young questions
You ask me what it means
O but I am not at ease

These broken wings won't fly
These broken wings won't fly
These broken wings won't fly at all

(For my brother-in-law)


Sometimes I think having a dog is almost as hard as being a parent. Yesterday I was walking to the garage to get some tools to start painting the front porch when I spotted Emma sitting under the Lilac bush staring intently at something on the ground. I walk over to see what it was and when I got closer I could see that see that she was breathing hard and drooling from the left side of her mouth. I squatted down next to her and was alarmed to see part of her face, near the jawline, swollen.

My husband had just brought her back from a run and, after examining her himself, he was sure she had been bitten by a rattlesnake. We quickly called the Vet, got some children's liquid Benydryl down her throat, and drove her to the Vet's office. By the time we got there the entire left side of Emma's face, staring above her eye and extending all the way down the left side of her neck, was swollen. The Vet injected a strong anti-inflammatory directly into a vein in her leg to help reduce the swelling quicker than the Benydryl could.

The good news is she is going to be OK. The Vet said that at this time of year (Fall) rattlesnakes are not producing as much venom as they usually do so Emma did not get hit with a full dose of poison. The bad news is that we had to leave her at the Vet's office until Monday so he could give her the injections she needs to keep the swelling under control.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Sixteen Things To Do In Denver (While Dog And House Sitting For Ten Days)

1. Go to dinner at Maggiano's Little Italy.

2. Attend your sister's wedding at Sanctuary Golf Course.

3. Go to dinner at Rock Bottom.

4. On the way to the airport to drop your sister and her husband off for their honeymoon flight, stop at Borders Bookstore so they can pick up some beach reading. While there pick up a copy of The Tao Of Chess for yourself.

5. Attend your niece's junior varsity softball game.
(Note: they won.)

6. Every morning drive your niece to school and stop at Starbucks on your way home for a hot chocolate (nothing better than hot chocolate made with steamed milk). Marvel at the fact that although Starbucks calls itself a coffee shop it only serves three real coffee drinks; the rest of its menu consist of fu-fu drinks with coffee in them.

7. Visit the Barnes and Noble Bookstore on South Colorado and pick up a copy of Denver's Elitch Gardens. Read it while waiting for your niece's softball team to finish with their team photos.

8. Every morning take the dogs for their run at Cherry Creek State Park and every evening take them to one of the city dog parks.

9. Peruse the metaphysical bookstores on East Colfax Ave., Spiritways, Isis Books, and Herbs & Arts. Buy a copy of Astrology for Beginners to see if you can use it to figure out the Astrology chart you had done two years ago.

10. Go out to dinner again with a family friend. Eat at Papa D's.
(Note: Papa D's used to be called Angie's- same restaurant, different name.)

11. Take niece to a 11:30PM showing of Team America at the Denver Film Festival. Prepare to be amused.

12. Spend the morning walking around the Cherry Creek area and the Tattered Cover Bookstore. Be amazed by the fact you walk out of Tattered without buying one book.

13. Rent two DVD's, Saved and Super Size Me. Prepare to be amused.

14. Take niece to the Unique Thrift Store (per her request) to search for a skirt to finish her Homecoming Dance outfit. While browsing the store find a new paperback edition of The Stars by H. A. Rey and a hardback edition of House Of Spirits by Isabel Allende, each only 80 cents. Buy both because you can't pass up a deal like that.

15. Go to dinner at a friend's house and eat a wonderfully prepared grilled salmon.

16. Pick-up sister and brother-in-law from airport and later be taken to Outback Steakhouse as a "thank you for all you help" gesture.
(Note: Waiter, talking to my brother-in-law, said earlier in the week he had a couple come in who said they had been to a wedding at the Sanctuary Golf Course the weekend before. My sister tells him that was their wedding and asked if he remembered who the couple were, "Uhh...table thirteen?")

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


A quick story to share with you. My sister was married the weekend before last and she had the wedding rehearsal dinner the Friday before that at a Denver restaurant call Maggiano's Little Italy. It's one of many across the country. The dinner was held in one of the private banquet rooms. The restaurant is decorated with hundreds of old black and white photos of individual people, families, and large groups. My husband was examining the photos in our private dining room and found a photo of the Wichita Choir and Orchestra taken at Wichita, Kansas in 1933. His grandfather was a member of the orchestra at that time and although my husband could not tell which member of the brass section was his grandfather (the photo was taken from a distance and all the faces were blurry), he knew his grandfather was in the photo. So, here we were in a restaurant we had never been in before, in one of six private banquet rooms, looking at a photo that had his grandfather in it. What are the odds of that happening?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Walking In Rhythm, Moving In Sound

I have been walking two miles a day for the last two weeks. I seem to need this right now and I feel antsy when I don't walk. Today on my walk I smelled the sea. I live in Kansas. Having the scent of an ocean breeze waft into your nostrils is not normal. At first I thought, "Can this be?" I stopped and took a deep breath and inhaled the aroma of salt, sand, sea air, and a hint of decaying seaweed. I don't know were it came from or how it got here but the smell sent my spirit soaring.

I have also had songs playing in my head for the last two weeks and I now realize they usually match the emotional state I am in at the time. What the song Who Shot Sam says about my emotional state I cannot begin to guess.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

AGGGGGHHHH! It didn't work! I just caught myself humming that song.

Make It Stop

I've had songs playing in my head all week. Don't know why, I'm not a songs playing in my head kind of person. I do know that during my walk the same thing happened. Songs played in my head everyday. I've had this one playing since last night- went to sleep with it and woke-up with it. I think I even dreamed about it. I'm hoping that if I post the lyrics here it will stop.

(Darrell Edwards - Ray Jackson - George Jones)

Well, I met Sammy Samson down in New Orleans
He had a lot of money and a big limousine
He took us honky-tonkin' on a Saturday night
We met Silly Milly, everything was all right
Her eyes started rollin', we should a-went a-bowlin'
Wham-bam, who shot Sam,


Well, Sam and Silly Milly, about a quarter to four
Was rompin' and a-stompin' on the hardwood floor
Along came Flirty Mirty bargin' in on the fun
Silly Milly got jealous and she pulled out a gun
Tables started crashin', forty-four's a-flashin'
Wham-bam, who shot Sam,


Well, the police, fire chief, highway patrol
Knockin' down the front door with a big long pole
Sammy was a lyin' on the cold-cold floor
Shot through the middle with a forty-four
Milly was a-cryin', Sam was surely dyin'
Wham-bam, who shot Sam,


Well, they took Silly Milly to the jail downtown
Booked Silly Milly for a-shootin' old Sam
The judge he gave her twenty, Milly said that's a lot
You shouldn't give me nothing, he was already half shot
A-drinkin' white lightnin' started all the fightin'
Wham-bam, who shot Sam,


Well, the police, fire chief, highway patrol
Knockin' down the front door with a big long pole
Sammy was a lyin' on the cold-cold floor
Shot through the middle with a forty-four
Milly was a-cryin', Sam was surely dyin'
Wham-bam, who shot Sam,


Monday, October 04, 2004

I got them steadily depressin’, low down mind messin’
Working at the car wash blues.

Stupid Warning Labels

No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people
-H. L. Mencken.

Collapsible baby stroller:
Remove child before folding

Toilet-bowl brush:
Do not use orally

Do not use snowblower on roof

Do not attempt to stop chain with hands

Hair dryer:
Do not use in the shower

Container of underarm deodorant:
Caution: Do not spray in eyes

Microwave oven:
Do not use for drying pets

6x10 inch inflatable picture frame:
Not to be used as a personal flotation device

Automobile cardboard sunshield:
Do not drive with sunshield in place

You just know some of these warnings are there because someone once tried to do what the warning now tells you not to do. Want proof? Go find "Stumpy" and ask him about the chainsaw.