Thursday, March 24, 2005

Time Out

Sorry everyone, I find I just do not have the energy or desire to Blog at this time. I hope to return to Blogland by the end of the month. Everyone take care.

Monday, March 21, 2005

...dogs and cats living together ...

Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"?
Dr. Raymond Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr. Raymond Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling.
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria
-Ghostbusters 1984

I am in a cruddy mood today. I have been in a cruddy mood all weekend. Someone once said, I love mankind, it's people I can't stand.

Well, that's the way I feel right now. First Kansas residents will be allowed to vote on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on April fifth. Signs saying:

Vote Yes!
Protect Marriage
April 5th

are going up in yards all over town.

It seems that allowing couples, other than the one man and one woman kind, to marry will destroy the "sanctity of marriage". The fact that for every 7.5 marriages last year there was 3.8 divorces doesn't seem to have any effect on it though. The "sanctity of marriage" I mean. I guess I don't understand what "sanctity of marriage" means to proponents of same sex marriages if these numbers are correct.

Next, the congress and George W. Bush have decided they, and only they, have the right to decide when a person dies. Quality of life does not matter to them only the "sanctity of life" is important. Of course they are the ones who get to decide what "sanctity of life" means.

Since the issue of a patient's right to decline life-sustaining treatment was decide in the Karen Ann Quinlan case back in 1976 what Bush and Congress have done is disgusting. They are prolonging the life of a woman who has stated that she never wanted to continue living if she ever found herself in the vegetative condition she now in. They are doing this because they can and then calling it a culture of life decision. Again, only they get to decide what the phrase exactly means.

Why have these two things pissed me off? Because I don't want a government that thinks it can regulate personal life decisions. If I want to get married and I am a person of legal age getting married to another person of legal age in a civil ceremony, then that is no one's business but mine and my partner. The conditions under which I am willing to live my life are also no one's business but my own.

I know a lot of conservative people, including Bush and those control freaks in Congress, feel that the "moral fiber" of society is breaking down but, damn, get a grip, letting people decide for themselves what kind of life or death they want is not going to lead to dogs and cats living together. You are the ones creating the mass hysteria.

Note: Since I wrote this I found out the Kansas Legislature voted against the marriage amendment . Living out here on the western edge of the state we get Denver news quicker than we get Kansas news. Even though the amendment was defeated the yard signs remain.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Photos Of Amsterdam (12)

(boathouse on Amstel Canal)

Ornamentation is the principal part of architecture, considered as a subject of fine art.
-John Ruskin

Architecture is inhabited sculpture.

An architect is the drawer of dreams.
-Grace McGarvie

Every man's work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.
-Samuel Butler

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy St Patrick's Day

Hey, let's be careful out there.
-Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, Hill Street Blues

Only amateurs need a special holiday to get drunk.
-Jeanne Shannon

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

You Can Run But You Can't Hide

We went to Denver on Saturday and came back late yesterday afternoon. The main reason I went was to go to the Denver Metaphysical Fair. The second reason I left, and the reason my husband came along, was to get away from memories of Emma and the pain those memories brought up. Running away worked pretty good until we got back home yesterday.

When ever I go to Denver I do some grocery shopping and bring the cold stuff back in a large cooler. First thing I did when we got back was bring it into the house. I started unloading it while squatting down in front of the refrigerator. When it was empty I stood up. The refrigerator is right next to a wall that has shelves attached to it and as I stood up I made the mistake of leaning forward to pick up the cooler. As I came up I rammed the top of my head right into the bottom shelf. It hurt so badly I couldn't cry. I am sure the second I did it my subconscious whispered, Hah! Thought you could just ignore your emotional pain didn't you? Well, try to ignore this!

Ten minutes later I was in my bedroom unpacking my suitcase. I pulled out a pair of slipper socks and automatically put them on the bench under the window. As I did so I felt a sense of confusion; why didn't I put them on the floor? Then I remembered why because Emma loved to play with socks. If you put a pair down Emma was there in a flash to snatch one of them and take off with it. I don't know how many times I chased her around the house trying to get a sock back. She considered slipper socks more sock that slipper and if I put them on the floor she would grab one and run away. I would set them on the bench folded over so only the soles showed. I guess that way they looked more like slippers than socks to her because she never touched them when they were on the bench. I thought about moving them to the floor but I couldn't and left them where they were.

I didn't start crying until I was in bed that night. I thought I had cried myself out last week but I found myself crying as deeply as I did when Emma first died. Then I realized that the tears I was now crying were not tears of anguish but tears of anger and frustration. I was angry at Emma for eating the poison. I was angry at the idiot who put the poison out. I was frustrated with myself because I could never get Emma to stop eating everything she came across.

Finally I cried out my rage and lay on the bed feeling empty and numb. I knew being angry was a waste of time. Emma was a dog who did not know she was eating poison. The man who put the poisoned food out was a careless person who has never thought about the consequences of his actions. This was the same man who three years ago let his eleven-year-old son drive a grain truck during harvest. The boy was killed when he lost control of the truck and drove off the road. Being angry with either one was like being anger at a baby for passing gas in church. Neither one of them knew any better.

I think this may be my last entry about Emma. Today we took her favorite stuffed bear and a small stained glass angel holding a tiny charm shaped like a dog to where she is buried and left them on her grave. I won't be making anymore special trips to visit her but I will stop by whenever I take Kate to the vet for her check-ups.

I want to thank everyone for their written and spoken words of sympathy, they have helped greatly. The Monday after Emma died I started reading other people's blogs again. As I read I realize that her death had not stopped their lives from moving forward.

In the movie The Wizard Of Oz Dorothy's house is picked up by a tornado and dropped down into Munchkinland. Up to that point she had lived in a world of black-and-white but when she opens her front door she sees a world drenched in Technicolor. That is what I felt as I read, like I had stepped out of a black-and-white world into a bright land of color. Emma had died but the world was still turning and life continuing on. I found this thought comforting.

Does that make me an optimist, a realist, or a fool?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


No one can give me peace, that's my job.
-byron katie

My husband and I have been doing better emotionally the last few days but woke up this morning feeling depressed. These next four days are going to be hard. A week ago today Emma ate the poisoned cat food, a week ago tomorrow we stepped onto a roller coaster ride of optimism and despair, and a week ago Saturday Emma died. I am confident that when we get to Sunday things will start looking better again.

Emma death has been harder on me that I expected, which is a strange thing to write since there is no way to know exactly how deeply you are going to grieve until you do. Sunday I was in so much pain I sat on the living room couch screaming her name over and over. I wanted her to be alive. I wanted to pretend she was outside in the yard and that when she heard me she would come racing though the doggie door and up to me with tail wagging and a big smile on her face. I wanted the pain to stop.

My husband is having a hard time too. He blames himself in part for Emma's death because he felt he did get her to the vet soon enough. He said he did not feel this devastated when his sister died at the age of 28 or when his mother died at the age of sixty-three. I think that Emma's death has brought up all the unexpressed grief from incidents like this for both of us. I know I feel like the inside of my heart has been scooped out with a large spoon.

This morning while reading the news I came across a story reporting that 50 Filipino children died after accidentally being poisoned at school. My first thought was how can I feel so badly about a dog dying when 50 children have died horribly in the same way? How can my grief be as deep as a parent losing a child? If this had happened five years ago my answer would have been, "it can't," and I would have stuffed my feelings deep inside me and pretended they were not there. Five years ago I did not have the tools to work though this, today I do.

About seven years ago I heard about a process called The Work. The premise of The Work is that all of our emotional pain is caused by the unconscious beliefs that we hold clashing with reality- the "should" and "shouldn't of happened" thoughts. The tricky part, and the part I had trouble understanding, is whenever you find yourself saying something shouldn't have happened you turn that statement around and say it should have happened. Then you ask yourself how do you know it should have happened with the answer being because it did. I had a hard time with this at the seminar I went to because some people were dealing with some pretty traumatic things. How can you tell someone who has been raped that it should of happened? I finally understood this is not what katie means. What she was saying is that whenever we say something shouldn't have happened we are trying to ignore reality. By thinking "it shouldn't have happened" a part of us is not accepting the fact something did happen and therefore we are stuck there reliving the incident or thought over and over again. By not accepting what has happened we are arguing with reality and anytime we argue with reality we loose and then cause ourselves a lot of emotional pain. When we accept reality we can let go of our pain and move beyond it.

Now, that is a pretty simple explanation of The Work but what I have written in the above paragraph is helping me though Emma's death. I never went to "it shouldn't of happened" when she died. I didn't want it to happen but I did not deny the reality of it. When I read about the 50 Filipino children and then told myself my grief shouldn't be as deep as a parent losing a child I was denying my reality. My grief should be as deep as a parent loosing a child. How do I know? Because I am grieving that deeply. As long as I acknowledge this I will be able to move past it.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Holy Goof

Last Wednesday I drove to Denver for my niece's birthday. That same night when I called my husband to check in he told me the dogs had disappeared for an hour during their evening walk. About an hour after that Emma threw up rabbit entrails and now, at bedtime,was still feeling sick. The next day when I pulled the car up to the gate no dogs greeted me as they usually do. When I opened the backdoor I saw Emma walking through the kitchen toward me. She was weaving back and forth like a drunken sailor on a ship at sea. She was smiling and her tail was wagging furiously. When she got to the back steps she stumbled and at the same time fell down them and then crashed into my legs.

My husband said she had spent the night getting up constantly to drink water and then head outside. She had been a little shaky when she got up in the morning but spent most of that morning sleeping. Not being able to walk very well was a new symptom. He had called the vet first thing but she said she could not see Emma until 3:30PM. It was already around 11:30AM and I told him we couldn't wait that long and to call another vet. When we gave them Emma's symptoms they said to bring her in right away. It took us 40 minutes to get there.

After examining Emma the vet asked if she could have got into any anti-freeze. We said no and told him about her eating and throwing up the rabbit. Emma was still throwing up a little bit and the vet left to prepare an injection to stop the vomiting. While we waited for him to return my husband mentioned to me that he had run the dogs out at the "Smith" place the morning before. As he said this the vet tech walked into the room and heard the end of the conversation. She ask what he had said about the Smiths. When he told her she said Mr. Smith's grandson had called to say his dog was sick and he was bringing him in. That was too much of a coincident.

The doctor decided to treat Emma for anti-freeze poisoning even though over 24 hours had passed. My husband and I headed home and then he drove out to the Smith place. He decide to search the machine shed and hidden in a corner behind a truck engine he found a iron skillet of dry cat food and meat floating in a sauce of anti-freeze. Now we know Mr Smith would never do something like that. He had given my husband permission to run our dogs out there and assured my husband that there was nothing in the machine shed that would harm them. But things had changed in the last month.

Mr. Smith had put his farm up for auction and there was now bad blood between he and his son. After Mr. Smith had decided to sell, he bought a home in town that the son considered too big and expensive. The son's own farm was not doing well and he was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. He need as much money as he could get from his share of the sale. The son was also upset that the farm was not cleaned up as well as it should have been before the auction. The Realtor was also pressuring the Smiths to clean up the farm in order to get more money for it.

Someone had put that skillet of poison out to kill some animal they didn't want there; cats, skunks, raccoons, who knows what. Unfortunately my dog and Mr. Smith's grandson's dog found it too. Setting that mixture out to kill any animal was unbelievably cruel. Walking away from it was unconscionable. When my husband talked to Mr. Smith's son and the Realtor about the skillet they all denied putting the mixture there. One said it must have been and accident, maybe someone was draining anti-freeze out of the engine and some splashed into the cat food. Or maybe someone was working on the engine and anti-freeze started leaking out so they grabbed the skillet to catch it in.

That night when I was in the state between awake and dreaming I found myself floating above the vet clinic where Emma was being treated. It was night and I floated down to the clinic and through the door and down the hall to door of the room were the kennel cages were and where Emma was sleeping. I floated through the door and into the room. In the room I found myself looking down at Emma's kennel and, as I watched, the interior of the kennel started glowing with a light that got brighter and brighter and then exploded into a white brilliance that filled the room. I was so surprised by this I jerked instantly awake.

On Friday morning, we drove back up to the vet clinic to see Emma. We brought Kate with us and when Emma saw Kate she struggled to stand up and then staggered out of the kennel to see us. We were delighted by this and the fact that her eyes were clear and not clouded over in misery. She climbed into my lap and lay there with her tail wagging. Every time she heard one of us speak her tail would wag in happiness. We stayed with her about 45 minutes and when she started shivering and showing signs of weariness so we carefully put her back in her kennel and prepared to leave. She keep struggling to get up and come with us. My husband took off one of his socks and put it next to her nose and that seemed to calm her and we said goodbye. The doctor was out on an emergency call but the vet tech told us that the doctor was pleased by how alert Emma was that morning but at the same time still worried because even though they had started on the second bag of saline solution Emma had still not peed. Anti-freeze kills by damaging the kidneys so Emma not urinating was a bad sign.

We went back that afternoon and she was not doing well. She was lethargic, weak, cold and the look of misery was back in her eyes. She still had not urinated and they were getting ready to start a third bag of saline solution. We took her out of the kennel and sat with her for two hours while she slept. I think she was comforted by the fact we were there. After two hours we put her back in her kennel and went home telling the vet techs we would be back in the morning.

Early Saturday morning we again made the drive up and took Kate with us. As we turned into the driveway and the clinic building came into our view I felt a wave of fear and nausea rising inside me. Nothing about the building had changed since the last time we had been here but I knew that this time I was looking at a house of death. I think my husband felt the same way because he said we should take Kate for a short walk before we went inside. We did and then brought her inside with us. The vet tech who met us was solemn as she lead us back to Emma. It was not good. Emma still had not urinated, she was on her third bag of saline solution, her body was starting to retain the fluids they had already given her, she was throwing up green bile, and the blood test they had run showed the anti-freeze had metabolized and the toxins were in her blood. Her kidneys had shut down and she was dying.

We took her outside under the trees and sat with her as we decided what to do. We had three choices, we could keep putting fluids into her and hope for a miracle, we could take her home to die, or we could have her put to sleep. In the end we decide that the first two choices would only benefit us and not Emma. She was in misery. She was starting to look bloated from the fluid build up and she was shivering. Her ears, gums, nose, and feet were cold to the touch. She had sores in her mouth and on her lips. Her gums were swollen. In her eyes I saw only misery. My husband kept looking into her eyes and she would focus on him for a few seconds and then drift off somewhere. He would call her name and she would come back for a few seconds and then drift off again. It was time.

Each night at bedtime we take the dog's collars off and tell them it is time to go to bed. As I hugged Emma I took her collar off and told her it was time to go to sleep. The time it took for Emma to die was measured in the space between inhaling and exhaling. She was alive at the beginning of that pause and gone by the end of it. As we sat with her in death I called Kate over and we watched as she carefully smelled Emma rear end, her feet, and her nose. After she was done she walked a few steps away and laid down. We then buried Emma's body in the pet cemetery near the clinic.

Emma was our clown, our knucklehead, our cuddle bug, our doofus, our love. One friend said Emma was the only dog she ever met that was always smiling.

She was my Holy Goof.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Small Family Crisis

We just got back from dropping Emma off at the vet. We are not sure what the medical problem is at this moment but we do know it could be very serious. I will be gone until we find out just what is going on. Right now I am in "maybe if I don't talk about it every thing will be OK," mode. Damn, damn, damn!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Photos Of Amsterdam (11)

Look over yonder, what do you see?
The sun is a-risin', most definitely...
Ain't it beautiful, crystal blue persuasion

-Tommy James

(transom over department store entrance)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Angel Story

do you believe, like I believe?
-The Loving Spoonful

Do to the overwhelming response to yesterday's post I am forced to tell the story about my seeing an angel sooner than I anticipated. (Sigh) My readers are so demanding.

Fifteen years ago this month my husband and I moved to Tampa, Florida. One day, soon after we arrived, we where sitting at a picnic table outside a fast food restaurant eating burgers. As we sat there I looked up at a large white and gray cumulus cloud that had formed in the sky about 2,000 feet above us and saw a large bird with outstretched wings soaring up across the face of it. I then noticed that all I could really see of the bird were the wings. No body, just wings. The wings were grey-tan in color and beautifully formed. They were wide across the top and tapered down to a point at the bottom. For a moment I wondered why I could see them so clearly at that distance; I could almost define each individual feather. I also wondered how this bird could soar straight up in the air like it was doing because other birds I had seen moving upward like that had done so in large lazy circular motion. The bird continued soaring straight up the face of the cloud for another 10 seconds and then disappeared into it.

I would not have given this another thought or even remembered it if what happened next had not happened. As I turned my attention back to my burger one of the seagulls hanging around waiting to get any bits bread and french fries we might drop on the ground took flight and wheeled around in the air about fifteen feet above us. As I looked up at it I realized that the "bird" I had see at 2,000 feet was about the same size as the gull that was now circling above me. This was impossible. For a bird that high in the sky to look the same size as a bird only 15 feet above me, well, it would have to be huge. Then I understood, it must have been an angel.