Thursday, January 15, 2009

Banks and Books

I brought Banks to work with me today. He suffers from separation anxiety and we're not sure how he's dealing with Nellie's absence when we're not around. They certainly got along but I don't think that they bonded all that much. The folks at work seem to like him and he's being a very good boy.

One of the things that I was planning on writing about before Nellie became really sick was the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyers. My secretary just devoured them and loved them. My mom read them and liked them as well. With as much publicity as they received, I decided to go ahead and see what the fuss was about. I started the first book and finished in a day...same with second...and third. The last book, I read in two days because I saved the last 20 pages so that I could savour them.

On Ms. Meyer's website, she writes that she was in the process of writing another volume...the first story but from Edward's point of view. Unfortunately, 12 chapters were leaked and posted on the web. She was understandably angry and didn't want to finish the book. (She did mention that she might take it up again at some point but not in the near future.) She went ahead and posted the chapters on her own website. They can't be printed so it's a bit of a bummer to read over 200 pages on a computer screen. It actually took me quite awhile to finish it because of the eye strain. Anyway, I thought it was a great concept and it cleared up some of the gaps in Twilight. There are petitions all over the web begging her to finish it.

So, I have to admit that my inner 12-year-old-girl loves that series.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Nellie Memories

I didn't go to work again today. I'm still a blubbering mess. While I was walking the dog that we adopted shortly after Kangaroo passed, Banks, I noticed Nellie's footprints in the snow. I also saw the marks left from her eating snow out of one of the banks. She always loved it when it snowed. She'd eat the icy snow but much preferred new, fresh snow. We're having a warm spell and I would imagine that the bite marks will be gone today and the footprints not long after. I realize the fact that there will be constant reminders of her everywhere in the house. It's going to take a bit of time to get used to it.

Nellie gave much more than she ever asked for. I have never regretted adopting her and she has added more to my life than I could ever hope to thank her for. She will be as sorely missed as much as she was utterly loved.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Nellie's Gone

Nellie took a dramatic turn for the worse yesterday. With help from her vet, she passed quietly at 10:30 this morning. The vet technician broke down when Kevin attached the new tag to Nellie's collar.

She's resting alongside her beloved and revered sister. Nellie didn't care about much but she would certainly want to be close to Kangaroo. We also buried her with her lambie...she loved that thing and I think she'd be happy to always have it to sleep on.

I walked into the house when we got back from the burial. I still opened the door slowly out of force of habit. She'd very patiently lie down in front of the doors so that she'd know when we got back. It's going to take a while to break that habit...although, maybe I won't break it. It might be good to keep a memory alive; for what that's worth. The bottom line, however, is that... baby is gone.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Nellie, my baby

It would certainly appear that we won't have as much time to say goodbye to Nellie as we thought. I would never, never do anything to cause her pain and I think it would be beyond selfish to keep her going any longer just for my sake. We are still debating the specifics but it will likely be much sooner than later. (We'd planned on Thursday morning.)

As I've mentioned, Nellie has never seemed to have missed out on anything because of her lack of hearing. Her quality of life has appeared to be just as good as any of her peers. However, it is our fervent hope that while she's been deaf since birth, this life is only a small part of forever. Our last gift, besides love that cannot possibly be described, will go with her.

She has been such a wonderful part of my life. I can't believe that she'll be gone. I just can't quite wrap my head around that fact that she won't be lying in front of the door when I get home anymore, she won't wag her stub of a tail when I wiggle my finger at her and she won't be there to put her head down on my lap while we watch T.V.

I think that I've finally decided the answer to my earlier quandary...I'd rather it go fast- no warning- than have to CHOOSE the time that my baby will go to sleep and not wake up.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Prayer for Nellie

Kevin and I came to the very difficult decision that we would accept the blessing that we've had with Nellie but recognize that it's time to let her go. We are selfish enough that we'll go to the vet in a couple of days.

We have amassed an extensive art collection and one of the odd pieces we have is a clay St. Francis. Every morning, I've knelt before this statue and prayed. I'm not an overly religious person but this habit became a litany:

St. Francis, please hear my prayer and intercede.

Please help us have as much time with Nellie as we can.
Please help us take joy in what time we have.
Please help us have the strength to accept when that time is up.
Please tell her that it's alright to let us know when she hurts.
Please tell her that when she's had enough, to take one of us by the wrist, the way she used to when she was young.
In God's name; Amen.

I hope that I have the strength. I know that she'll join the adopted sister that she adored but that doesn't diminish the pain of my breaking heart. I can't help but think that a bit of my heart, a bit of myself and a bit of my joy with go with her. That won't be nearly enough to repay her for all that's she brought to me. She was always there for me when I needed a cuddle. She was always vigilant in protecting us from all the evil that lurks. (Every night, she'd get up several times and check the windows and sliding door to make sure that everything was in order...we called it patrolling.) Life just won't be the same.

I'm not so cynical to think that I will never get over this...but a small part of me never will.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Pets, "Children", OCD behavior & I don't deal well with loss

Kevin and I actually make a fairly decent living. We aren't the best money managers in the world and if the POD really does shut down(which is more than likely), it's going to be a lot worse. Anyway, that wasn't always the case. When we were first starting out...and still very much enjoyed each other's company (take that for what it's worth) of our favorite things to do on the weekend was to go through the Pet Shop listings in the phone book and go just to look. I usually gravitated towards the fish and Kevin liked the odd and unusual. It was a cheap way to pass the time and we had fun. When we started making a bit more money we started indulging. Since neither of us is into doing anything by measures or half-assed, we soon ended up with a chinchilla (which later became two), two aquariums, a cat, a dog, an iguana and a cage full of finches. (A hamster, Siamese fighting fish and various other things came later.) By all reasonable measures, it was an OCD binge run amok.

We started thinning the herd, finding homes for various things and very sadly, we lost our miniature Shar-Pei to cancer when she was just two. That was certainly a VERY hard hit. (When the incredibly stupid iguana bolted and ran into the side of its tank and broke its neck, it was sad, but nothing compared to the loss of our "baby".) For those reading who aren't playing on the same team, our pets, particularly dogs and cats, tend to become stand-ins for children. For all intents and purposes, they are our babies. To lose Piggy so young was a blow that took me a long time to get over.

(I'm going to skip over a couple of misadventures for the sake of space.) We still liked to visit the pet shops but it didn't have the same appeal that it once did. It was on one such foray that an event took place, without any hyperbole, that changed ours lives. Kevin was supposed to be looking at the birds and I had gone to the back to look at the salt-water tanks. I heard Kevin calling me in a really strange voice and turned to see him running down an aisle with a puppy in his arms. She had her front paws on his shoulders like a hug and Kev exclaimed rather loudly that "I love her!!". My shocked and nearly horrified response was that puppies are not gum to be thrown into the cart at the check-out on a whim. We'd think about it and come back if that's what we decided to do. He relented and agreed to a discussion.

As we drove back the next morning, his mantra was "She'd better still be there...She'd better still be there." I freely admit now that it was one of the best things that ever happened to us. Kangaroo was a hell-child as a puppy but she out grew that and we couldn't have loved her any more. She charmed anyone who met her and while I know I'm biased, she was one of the smartest dogs I'd ever come across. We bought her one of those big, round plush beds. We'd tuck it under our bed during the day to keep it out of the way. At night, we'd tell her, "it's time for bed, get your bed," and she'd grab a corner of it and tug and pull until she had it out from under the big bed and then fluff and scratch it until it was the way she wanted and then flop down and go to sleep. (We never managed to teach her to put it away again...but we tried.)

There are a lot more stories and I wish I had a digital picture to post...I'll keep looking and add it later, if possible. But the important part is that we lost her a year ago. She started having small seizures so we rushed her to the animal hospital where they ran tests and gave her a shot but couldn't figure out what was wrong. They sent us home and told us to go to the regular vet first thing in the morning. It wasn't long after we got home that she had a grand mal seizure and even going back to the hospital, she never came out of it. We had to make the decision to let her go. When she was little, and would bite, I'd bite her back (on the nose) to teach her not to. She remembered that and whenever you didn't do what she wanted, she'd pretend that she was going to give you a kiss and then bite your nose. At the end, we both kissed her goodbye and she lifted her head to bite us both on the nose. Kevin thinks that he was so out of it that she didn't recognize us and was actually snapping...but I know better. It was her way of saying goodbye.

So, I still have a hard time with that loss. But, several years ago, we adopted a deaf dog that had been saved by a rescue but she was still running out of time. They'd called her a boxer but that didn't look right so after researching, it turns out that she's a Dogo Argentino. Her name is Nellie. And less than a year after losing Kanga, Nellie is dying. We found a tumor and had it removed. Less than a month later, we found another and had a second surgery. Before the stitches had even been removed we found another and decided that we couldn't subject her to a third surgery in two months. Where Kanga was outgoing, Nellie is sweet and gentle. She, also, is our baby.
We decided to make her as comfortable as possible and realize that we'd have to have the strength to know when it was over. The vet gave her six to eight weeks. The tumors multiplied and grew but at eight weeks we took her back and he said that she was remarkably healthy and that it might be another six to eight weeks. In the last week she's taken a dramatic turn and it won't be much longer.

I've been wrestling with the question of which is better; to lose a baby quickly, with no warning or slowly. I'm grateful that we've had the extra time with Nellie but it's killing me that everyday, I have to watch her moving one more step toward death.

Nellie worshipped Kanga and was never really the same after her passing. At least this way, I believe that Nellie will once again be with the "sister" she adored. Kevin also believes that while Nellie has never missed out on anything or had a diminished quality of life because of being deaf, that she'll be able to hear for the first time. I hope, with all of my heart, that that's true.

Watching Nellie's labored breathing this morning, Kevin and I agreed that we need to spend the weekend making plans and coming to terms with what will have to happen next week.

My life has been infinitely better for having had Kanga and Nellie in it. There will be a hole that won't heal anytime soon. I really, really hate this!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Timothy, very graciously, gave me permission to post links to his websites. His personal site, which includes the interviews that I mentioned earlier can be found at and the site that he and his writing team maintain is . While I'm still skeptical about anyone actually reading this. If can I introduce anyone to a writer that I very much admire, I'd gladly do it. And if someone is as moved or enthralled as I've been, then so much the better. (and Timothy, if you do read this, please disregard anything that sounds needy or the like)

The Good, The Bad and Waring Blenders

It was recently pointed out to me that I've horrible about keeping up on this. Which is quite true. I'm going to try to be better about it.

Shortly after my last posting, I went on a trip to visit my grandmother in Arkansas. It ended up being a great trip. I very much enjoyed spending time with her and we did some fun stuff. We went to a botanical garden that was fantastic. I bring this up for a reason other than just the fact that I had a great boss called me while I was there (there are certainly down sides to cell phones) and informed me that the Utah Legislature had decided to closed down the nursery that I manage.

Closing the nursery is not just a short-sighted, ill-advised and eco-unfriendly decision, it's just plain stupid. Our governor had initiated several "green" programs and goes on ad nauseam about how "green" he is. Well, this is about as ungreen as it gets. There are at least a couple of programs in the state that are utterly pointless...perhaps even continue without the nursery to provide plants for. There is an effort in the south-central part of the state to eradicate an invasive species that been decimating the ecosystem for decades. They've found a beetle that does a great job of killing the offending plant but without replacement plants to stabilize the riverbanks, the risk of erosion is way too great to ignore.

On a more personal note, the decree from my department's executive director to the division director was to find the two nursery employees (inclusive of myself) new positions within the department. However, there is a soft hiring freeze in effect so that makes finding an opening a bit tough. I've been looking outside the state system but with what the current administration has done to the economy, there's not too much out there. Pickin's are slim as my grandmother would say. And truth be told, I'm more than a little concerned about what's going to happen under the incoming administration.

On a more pleasant note, however, I have a short story that's going to be published in an anthology. It's scheduled to come out in February. A few years ago, I picked up a book...the cover intrigued me. I read it in a day and hadn't even closed it before flipping back to the beginning and reading it again. I haven't done that very often and never so quickly. But, after the second go through, I did something even more out of character, I looked up the author's website and emailed him. I explained that I wanted to thank him for the book and how much enjoyment it had brought me.

He actually wrote back (which surprised me) and said that if I enjoyed that book so much, I'd probably also like the first one. I went out and bought that as soon as he named it and he was right, I did like it just as much. So, every time he came out with a new book, I'd write to him and he'd write back. (In the beginning, he hadn't developed quite the extensive fan base that he enjoys now so he had more time. I received a couple of emails, like one at Christmas, that I just couldn't believe where just to me and not a bulk mailing. When I asked him about these later, he confirmed that he had, in fact, sat down and written specifically to me. I felt like a cad that I hadn't responded to those.) Anyway, we've been writing back and forth ever since...and not just when he has a book coming out. When he found out what I do for a living, he'd write and ask plant questions...some of them tough. I had to look up answers for him.

I'd ask him for advice with my own writing and he's been a great mentor. In fact, in one such email, he mentioned that his publisher had asked he and a partner to edit an anthology. They wanted unknown and established authors. He asked if I'd be interested in submitting a story. Of course I jumped at the chance. I didn't figure that it would actually go anywhere but still thought of it as an excellent opportunity. I had a story that I'd been playing with and did some editing and rewrites so that it would fit within the parameters that I'd been given and then sent it off.

Not only did they not laugh at me (well, they might have, I don't know) but they liked the story. In fact, they mentioned using it as the center piece of the anthology (since then, some better, more established authors came on board and my piece was bumped a bit from the center but hell, it's still a story, with my name on it!!). My friend (and I have come to think of him as more than just an email pal...he really has been a mentor and friend...I told him that in an email not too long ago, I guess I was feeling open and vulnerable and while he didn't ridicule me, I didn't get the same, "I think of you that way too" response that I was kinda hoping for) asked me some questions for the publicity bit and one of them was inquiring if I was surprised by the invitation and the acceptance. WELL HELL YA!!! Anyone who knows me is well familiar with my singular lack of self-esteem and confidence. I need to ask him if he'd mind if I posted a link to his website...the interview is on there along with those of some of the other authors.

At any rate, I will, technically be a published author. At the risk of beating a story to a pulp, many know that my brother (again, should ask him about posting a link) is an author (among other things). He used to wax poetic that if he ever sold a really big project, he was going to buy me a Range Rover. I told him that this was really not necessary and that a Waring blender (Professional Bartender grade) would be great. He responded that he'd leave the blender on the front seat of the vehicle. Well, it's been a while and my bro has had things published, never sight or sound of my promised blender. So, when I got a whopping check for my story (it was less than what it would have cost to fill the gas tank of the aforementioned SUV), I kicked in a little extra and bought my own damn blender. I'm rather proud of it. It's only been used just half a dozen times or so but it makes great margaritas (if you like them slushy, which I do not) but it makes great pesto as well.

So, there you go. I've started blogging again, not too painful, and managed to fill up lots of space without actually saying a damn thing!! It's better that way. Trust me. More will come.