I know, worry helps no one and nothing.

Two or three weeks ago when this virus started making headlines I texted my son, who occasionally travels for his work, did he have any travel plans?


He called immediately. “Yes,” he said. Plans to visit friends and his girlfriends’ family in Germany.

No, they wouldn’t postpone it.

So they left last Wednesday. An hour after their flight took off there were many changes. No international flights from Asia or the European Union. I began to perspire a bit.

Then a little clarification. US citizens would be permitted to enter (but for how much longer I wondered?) So I texted him what information I had and tried to sleep.


I heard little to nothing from him Thursday. He could not get the airline website for poor WiFi or overburdened site or both. Could not get a call through. I told him what I knew, limited flights from Europe.


When the UK was added to the list apparently he began to work at returning sooner in earnest. He texted today saying they are returning to Frankfurt with tentative seats on a morning return flight home. Thanking God he made this choice. Not sure he’d have a job to come back to if he missed a window of return and had to wait out the 30-day hiatus. I will be so grateful when I hear his voice and Houston traffic in the background.


Rescue dogs Lulu and Lily are way better at waiting than I am.




I honestly have no idea what happened. One day things are perking right along, the next day my blood pressure’s off the charts,  (I have normally abnormally low blood pressure) I’m screaming blue murder at no one in particular (in my house, thank God), freaking out when rescue dog Lily tries to get up on her own after her sutures were removed, and not sleeping with racing thoughts.

Honestly. No idea.

Well, some idea.

I let go my hold on my true life preserver– Jesus. I stopped praying and let my anger get a real grip. My thoughts were out of control.

When I took Lily for her suture removal I had some questions: when can she stop her medications? I thought they wanted to x-ray her leg that had surgery? what about her exercises, compresses?

The tech printed out the same ‘information’ sheets I was given when Lily had her surgery, with an area highlighted about the x-ray. No other answers. Oh, except the ever-vague ‘wean her off the meds’.

The unasked questions: is my dog ok? have we been doing the right things? can I get a “Great work, she looks like she is doing fine!” This was the same issue she had before, completely different surgical procedure.

Is it me or are veterinary clinic people becoming just that–> CLINICAL? Cold. Uncaring. I moved to this little coastal town about 4 years ago leaving a vet I had taken my dogs to for over 30 years. This is the 6th vet I have gone to. Maybe it’s me. There has to be something I do or say that rubs these people the wrong way but honestly? If their dislike for me broaches a point at which my dogs may suffer I am seeking help for my dogs elsewhere even if it means going to every single animal hospital in this town. And if I go through them all and still come up empty I move.

Like any genuine pet person I will do anything to get the best care for these dogs. But this? Seems unreasonable.

Maybe it’s because I spent 6 months helping Lily with her first ACL surgery and now we are embarking on another 6 months for the other ACL. Cabin fever? It’s possible. It’s gotten me in trouble before. Or maybe I was upset because I will miss seeing my family for our yearly vacation. So that was something I could remedy and rented a cottage near the inn where they will be staying. Just for a few days. But at least Lily, Lulu and I will have a change of scenery.

And maybe I can hold it all together for the remaining 4 months. Only with my Life Preserver.

IMG_0048.JPGPassiflora incarnata “Maypop”




finding gifts

Not long ago a friend recommended  Ann Voskamp’s little book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully, Right Where You Are. This was a popular book a few years ago yet I’d not heard of it  A horrific tragedy that the author witnessed as a child prompted her to write the book and its premise is living fully, in the moment.


Easy to forget or ignore, with busy schedules, air conditioner failures, medical problems, commitments of all kinds. It came to mind this week when Lily’s vet called to reschedule her surgery as a result of a staff schedule issue.


Frustrated at first, I expressed my concern for Lily, now dealing with this knee for 6 weeks. As I spoke into the residual silence I realized my comments would make no difference. Had the surgeon a sooner opening I am certain she would have scheduled Lily for it. Was I being punished for moving from veterinarian to veterinarian, in search of one who would be open and truthful with me about my dogs? Maybe, but unlikely. Veterinarians’ primary concern is for the patient, not their person, I hope.


The extra 4 days has given me opportunity to research the type of surgery she will have, and I read aloud to Lily the prognosis for success (very good) and the recovery and how she and I will deal with it.


In the meantime the air conditioning unit has been busy filling up its overflow drain pan. The first time, mentioned in a previous post actually shut off the unit itself which was how I discovered the problem. Four repair calls and a new shop-vac later it is still filling the pan. The drain has been cleared (twice), the crawlspace pipe has been elevated, the unit has been examined totally and discovered to be problem-free. Clearly something still needs to be looked at.


So today, as I did a few days ago, I vacuumed up 12 containers of water. The gift here? I accidentally face-timed a friend and learned how to turn the function off so it wouldn’t keep happening. I noticed the tiny attic had space to put some boxes I want to save. I went up and down those attic stairs 12 times so got in exercise steps which matters now that it is too hot to walk the dogs and Lily can’t walk anyway. Lulu won’t walk if Lily doesn’t go. And sweat! No idea how to measure the amount pouring off but I understand it’s cleansing.

IMG_0011.JPGRescue dog Lily patiently waiting for her new surgery day

My son called to let me know he’s visiting a college friend nearby and will drive up to visit me for a couple of days. Even though Lily will be in recovery and we can’t do much of anything we’ll hunker down with some tacos and old movies and have a fun time.


So I’ve got lists going for things to do to prep for Lily’s big day, things to do while she is at the hospital and stuff to prepare for my son’s visit.


Busy week coming up.

IMG_0016.JPGRescue dog Lulu not worried at all






Sometimes things just go another direction than expected.

So rescue dog Lulu. She was not dealing well with her dental procedure recovery, spitting pills out, not eating or drinking. Her vet said to call him to let him know on Monday the following week (this week) how she was.

That’s the day the tree broke.


The three of us (rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and I) were out in the yard, I was digging around planting things. I heard a large cracking sound behind me and turned to see the top third of a large river birch tree slowly falling toward us. I scooted Lily and Lulu to the other end of the yard and watched it fall in slow motion. This tree is about 15 feet from the screen porch corner of our house and about 12 feet of tree was coming down. I don’t know how to calculate the physics of height and distance but it was going to hit something.

And suddenly it stopped. I ran to the other side of the tree to see what happened and noticed a rotted place in a fork where the break was. The part that fell was now precariously resting on a smaller trunk. So I started calling tree removal companies. Two mailboxes were full, I spoke to one company I normally call and they could not get here until Thursday. I left multiple message at 2 others and got the last company I called. Long story short, the reason they were available was they are unlicensed, uninsured and not bonded, though they said they were. The guy who gave the astronomically high estimate told me. I said no thanks, bye, can’t afford it, they came down a fraction, nope, still no.

So I took the dogs for a walk. I saw a truck turn into our subdivision with that tree company’s name. I was talking to a friend and told her. She told me to go home immediately, before they started sawing on the tree.

“But I already said no,” I replied and she told me it did not matter. They were likely to start anyway for the money (naive me). So I turned and dragged the dogs home. Tree guy called just as I turned onto my street and I wondered what part of No was confusing for him. So they stood around chatting for about 20 minutes as I scrambled to lock my backyard gate, took down their license plate number and  waited for them to leave.

My friend drives up, takes one look at Lulu and tells me to get to the 24-hour emergency vet, now. I said I’d never been to an emergency vet before. She yelled, “NOW.” So we went. This is Monday evening.

IMG_0994.JPGthe local Arboretum, a lovely 7-acre garden near the emergency vet office

The following day I tried my regular tree people again and they came and looked at it. They could see, windy as it’s been this should be taken care of so they came the next morning and took the tree down. Affordably.

So Lulu. I won’t go into all the painful (especially for Lulu) details, but she still would not eat, even my visits with her availed nothing. She was groggy from iv pain meds, she was mercifully being rehydrated with fluids and now on antibiotics. But a small lump had developed on her throat, so we had to have a cat scan. This was inconclusive, though thankfully it ruled out a likely tumor. The area was drained and sent off for cytology and culture. The cytology came back inflamed but not infected and we are still waiting for the culture to tell what, if any, bacteria it has so a proper course of antibiotics can be given.

The hard part was this: Leaving her everytime I visited. So after the cat scan Wednesday I said I would like to take Lulu home at the weekend until the culture results came back and a decision could be made as to what comes next. Surgery is still on the table.

IMG_0979.JPGwhirly-gig art piece

After much discussion her emergency vet agreed I could come and get her Saturday. Each morning up to now I had usually heard around 10 or 11 a.m.from the ICU tech an update on Lulu. By 10:30 this morning I had still heard nothing so I decided to go over there. On my way I had second thoughts and detoured to the Arboretum, wander around the lovely flower beds and among the trees and wait. If I had not heard by noon I would go to the hospital.

I sat on a bench in front of this whirly-gig sculpture and watched each side madly twirl in opposite directions. I suddenly laughed realizing that this was what my life had been this week. There was a methodical, rhythmic routine to the care Lulu had been receiving. My anxiety over her condition was like these two sides spinning against each other at the whims of every breeze or wind that came along. My thoughts had run wild escalating to the worst imaginable possibilities. I watched it spin for a good while. It was as though God was showing me how ridiculous my worry had been.

IMG_0980.JPGheron in flight wire sculpture

After a while I got up and wandered through the rest of the gardens. This heron was comforting. Here is a graceful bird rising above earthly cares. I realized I had become mired in murky musings of my own making and had to stop bathing in it. My focus was all wrong. It was on things over which I have no control, not the One Who is in control.

IMG_0982.JPGwhimsical gnome

I began to truly feel the heavy weight I had created through the week disappear. I had realized, rightly, that Lulu, a quiet and shy little dog was in an environment that was by its very nature noisy and likely hadn’t gotten much if any real rest. So I was gratified in this strong urgency in bringing her home at least in that aspect. I noticed it was now around 11:30 and still no call….

IMG_0992.JPGflower sculpture behind the children’s garden

I slowly walked through the rest of the garden and sat on a bench near the exit. After a bit I saw it was almost noon so I headed to my car.

I arrived at the clinic and was surprised but thankful to see the waiting area nearly empty. I settled up Lulu’s bill, received her medications, spoke to her doctor about her follow-up appointment and brought her home. So far we have gone through one round of each of her medicines, I have held a warm compress to her throat and she has eaten a little. She is drinking water which, to see her do this when before she could not made me want to alert the media. But we still have a ways to go because we have the remaining test result and a decision to make about what this is and what to do about it. And there is her extreme dislike for the liquid medicines and hatred for me after I give them which fortunately is short-lived. Dogs are truly loving and forgiving creatures.

But, for now, Lulu is home.






Not like Amahl’s visitors but visitors just the same. My son and his girlfriend are coming to spend Christmas day with me as a starting point for a marathon of visiting family.

I know I should be flattered but I kind of blew it when I raised my son. I knew he was “on loan”, enough churchy friends were more than happy to remind me, many times. I was fiercely independent but unfortunately that doesn’t buy food or pay bills. So I got a job.

Several jobs, actually. One year I laughed so hard at my 1040 form because it literally fluttered with W2 forms, I’d had so many jobs. But the most important one I saw as an inconvenience.

I often hear flattering compliments when people meet my son. How handsome, how nice, pleasant, polite, interesting… and I laugh and say yes, he grew up in spite of me. There may not be another mom in existence as hard on herself as I am but honestly? I truly believe this. While my parents were alive (and we were on speaking terms) they were the ones to go to my son’s plays, pageants and parents’ days. Oh I always went to the teacher’s meetings but I missed all the fun stuff. My dad was good about taking pictures but it’s not the same.

So my son’s life growing up was not unlike mine. My mom enjoyed DAR, junior league, bridge club, garden club, book club and filled her free time with golf. My dad commuted from NC to NY Sunday nights and was gone all week. Usually once a year they took a trip out of the country and as a family we did spend a week at the beach.

Carbon copy for me, only for all their activity I substituted all those jobs.

You miss so much when you are trying to fill someone else’s shoes. I wanted very much to please my parents. Finding that this would never happen I became disillusioned, right in the middle of raising this precious child of mine. It’s amazing how sons and daughters think their moms and dads are heroes.

Until they don’t.

When my son went to college everything changed. He needed me for… nothing. He had his own car, knew what he wanted to study, even had an (only one) episode of trouble his freshman year like everyone does and got through it without me. I think there is nothing so awful for a parent to discover….. that their child no longer needs them. Maybe never did.

But there it was. Even his breakups he didn’t need me. He gets through everything without me. So when he said he wanted to come here for Christmas this year I truly did not get it. Why are they coming? To make fun? Out of a sense of obligation? Sweep me in a collective family visit dustpan? He feels guilty for some obscure reason? I honestly have no idea. The dynamic now, between him, his dad’s family (not unhostile towards me), his girlfriend (with whom I have never established a connection) is total disharmony. So I think I must be something to be checked off the list.

I even went so far as to try and make this dinner fun, texting my son to tell me what they might like for dinner. They got a pretty good laugh because he came back with complete un-festive things, off-hand, non-special ideas. So I texted back and asked about vegetables.

Nothing. No response.

I have no idea where they are even staying.

Makes me want to just scream at them: “Why are you even coming here??”

But then I’d look totally nuts. And his girlfriend is a social worker. Wouldn’t want her having me put away.

Wish me luck. No idea how this is gonna fly.

Any ideas??


We don’t usually start making these until we grow up. Except of course the lists we made for birthday presents, holiday gifts, stuff we wanted to see when our families went to the beach. Those were important.

Then we’d have the best friend list. These were usually torn and smudged from erasing and changing the names so much.

We got older. We now make grocery lists, lists for other people’s gifts, lists for meeting agendas, lists of questions we need to ask someone, lists to remind us how to close down a server, or turn the server on, or back the server up. To-do lists we make for our jobs, for our families, our pets. Lists of ideas for something we want to write about, a paper and pen by the bed if we wake up with some amazing idea for a million-dollar patent, or a paper and pen in the kitchen for a running list of errands to run.

Then I have another list. My sleeping list. I won’t say this is a no-fail because there are the rare times it does not work, but on the average it works quite well. This is a list I make when I wake in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep for the thoughts ping-ponging around my head. Something someone said that hit me wrong, something I forgot to do, things bothering me, things I need to take care of and keep putting off, things I wish I’d said but didn’t, and so on.

Like I said, this doesn’t always work but generally after I empty my head of these little nagging anxiety-makers I am usually blank enough to be able to fall asleep.


Oh, to have those simpler days back where as soon as my head hit that pillow the day was over. When next I opened my eyes it was a new day. A fresh start.

When did we lose this? Maybe some never do.