Category Archives: Family

Vote Early — For Duncan!

He forced me to do it.

“Mom,” he said, “I’m a shoe-in to win the calendar contest.  When have you ever seen a cuter puppy?”

“Well, that’s true,” I responded.  “But you rarely stand still for pictures.”

Duncan laid down and started chewing his butt.

“I know!  Put the one of me in the basket!  The cute one!”

And so I did.  I entered Duncan in the Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s annual pin-up competition:

Their 2015 Calendar Competition!

Duncan in his toy basket

You can vote for me, or you can turn the page. I mean, click on another blog.

If you can, please click on the picture which will send you to my fundraising page.  Each vote costs $1.00 — any critter with 100 votes gets into the calendar.

All proceeds go to help needy animals.  And to help make my puppy a star.

Vote Early and Often!

And to get you into the campaign spirit, here’s one of my all-time favorite songs.

Remember, ELECTIONS MATTER!

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Filed under Awards, Bloggin' Buddies, Campaigning, Dogs, Duncan, Family, Huh?, Pets, Taking Care of Each Other

The Long Hall

While John and I were having a nice, romantic anniversary dinner last weekend – our 28th – I was thinking of another man. And another couple’s marriage.   And how, when you say those words, “in sickness and in health,” you never really know what you’re getting into.

As anybody who has read a few of my posts knows, John and I have been both lucky and unlucky through the years. I’ve had a lot of health issues that neither of us bargained for – infertility and Crohn’s to be specific. But through it all, John has been with me every step, helping me, cheering me, making me do things I don’t want to have to do.

Illness effects all members of the family, and changes their lives. Some people rise to the occasion, and some are brought down by it. I am delighted to say that I’ve been truly lucky to have this guy with me through all the , ummm, shit. I even nominated him for Sainthood when he survived a particularly, ummm, nasty point in my Crohn’s.

But the other man I was thinking of on our wedding anniversary was Charles Gulotta.  OK, I was thinking about his wife, Jill, too.  So don’t criticize.

Two weeks earlier, I’d finished reading Charles’ memoir, the Long Hall.

The Long Hall by Charles Gulotta

The Long Hall by Charles Gulotta

 

It’s the story of how Charles and Jill met, fell in love, married, and had a daughter, Allison. It’s also the story of a simple twist of fate that changed their lives dramatically, when Jill suffered a stroke during childbirth. It’s the story of how Charles went from a happy expectant father, to a shocked but loving caregiver to two very different people, one infant and one adult, with very different needs.

It is now a month since I read the book. And honestly, I haven’t stopped thinking about it.  The story sounds a wee bit depressing, doesn’t it?  I will admit, there are a lot of rough patches.  But that’s not what I found so memorable.   What stayed with me is a constant feeling of hope.

Often, when I’ve read Charles’ delightful blog, Mostly Bright Ideas, I’ve felt that he’s gotten into my head, asked questions that have been milling around in my mind for years. With The Long Hall, Charles got into my heart as well.  And I really think that this book will stay with me, always.

Read it. It is the most uplifting story I have read in decades.

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bloggin' Buddies, Bloggin' Buddy Books, Books, Crohn's Disease, Family, Health and Medicine

Not One More

Maybe you’ve seen this before.  Maybe you haven’t.  But it is worth watching.  It is worth seeing again.

 

We do everything we can to protect our kids from possible dangers.  Except when it comes to guns.  Really.  How can we as a country, we as thinking rational people, we as parents continue to let the NRA decide.

Get rid of politicians who won’t stand up to the NRA.  Get rid of politicians who think that it is just dandy that anybody can get a gun.  Or collect enough of them to maintain an arsenal.

Protect your family.  Vote these folks out of Dodge.

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Campaigning, Cancer, Childhood Traumas, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Elections, Family, GOP, Gun control, Health and Medicine, Huh?, Hypocrisy, Law, Mental Health, Politics, Stupidity, Voting

A Sunny September Day

“It is September 24! You’ll catch your death.” Mom declared. “You may not go swimming with your friends.”

“Moooommmmmmm.”

I couldn’t believe it. I’d finally, finally, finally been invited to the cool kids beach by Cathy, a seriously cool girl. And Mom was telling me that I couldn’t go. Or that I couldn’t go swimming, which was what people do at the beach.

We compromised. I got to go to the beach with a promise not to swim. A promise I was planning to break just as soon as it was out of my mouth. Mom wouldn’t be there – she’d never know. And she didn’t until much later.

Mom was being ridiculous, I thought – it was a warm September day, in the 80s. A perfect, last beach day of the year.

In spite of growing up on the beach, I was (and am) a rotten swimmer. I never really learned to get very far or very fast. I splash around in the water in something a half notch above a dog paddle.

But I love the water.

Early on I learned to back float forever. When I tire after my first 10 strokes, I turn over, point my head in the direction I want to go, and meander through the water. I watch the gulls overhead, see pictures in the clouds, daydream. It’s wonderful. Relaxing. Peaceful.  Not at all tiring.

In elementary school, Burying Hill Beach was where the cool kids went in the summer. It wasn’t my beach.  I was not generally invited there. But when school started that September, Cathy took a liking to me, and invited me to meet her and some other friends there.

In fact, there were tons of people at the beach that day. It was likely to be the last sunny, warm day for swimming at the beach. Everybody in 7th grade was there. Everybody in our class and all the other classes. The beach was packed.

For some reason I don’t recall, Cathy wanted to swim in the causeway that runs between Burying Hill and Sherwood Island State Park. All the cool kids did it. At least when the life guard wasn’t looking, they did. In fact, it was probably what the lifeguards spent most of their time doing all summer long – chasing people off the jetty and away from the causeway. Of course it was late September; there was no lifeguard. We were free to swim wherever we pleased.   As we stood there considering the other side, we heard half-hearted warnings from behind us, which, naturally, we ignored. We’d crossed to Sherwood Island earlier in the day. What was their problem?

Google Image, Natch.

Google Image, Natch.

“Race you across!” said Cathy. And in she went.

Ingrid and I looked at each other, shrugged, and dove in after Cathy, who quickly outpaced us. Soon, I was left far behind even mediocre swimmer Ingrid.

It had been really easy to swim the causeway just an hour or two ago. Even I managed it.  But of course, the tide had ebbed, and was now going out. And while the water looked completely placid, the tidal current was heading straight out. Fast.  And it took me with it, out towards Long Island, 30 wet miles away.

But don’t worry. Remember, I am a champion floater. Possibly the best back floater ever.  Olympic-quality floating.  (Hey, synchronized swimming is an event.  Don’t judge.)

I wasn’t scared in the least. I turned over on my back, pointed my head towards shore (I had long since passed the end of the jetty) and started kicking my feet and flapping my arms. I was making good progress, getting out of the strong part of the current. I was heading to Long Island a little more slowly. And besides, it was a beautiful day, the water was warm, the sky was blue. It was delightful. And I knew I’d make it back to shore. I only hoped I’d make it before dinner. I was supposed to be home by then.  If I didn’t make it, my mother’d kill me.

I don’t know how long I was floating, enjoying myself, when I was rudely interrupted. Some man just swam up to me and started shouting stuff to me.  At me.

“Put your arms around my neck,” he ordered. “And don’t be afraid. I’ve got you now.”

“Afraid of what?” I asked. “What does this guy want?” I wondered. Fortunately, I kept that thought to myself.

But I did as I was told for the first time that day, and held onto his neck. I must admit, that it was easier to see the crowd that had formed on the shore while my head was above the water.  What’s everybody looking at?

So the man towed me in, chatting all the while.

“You’re very calm. Some people panic,” he said.

Frankly, I was more panicked about having my arms around a strange man, to tell you the truth. That’s why people panic, I thought. It was quite humiliating, in fact.

As soon as we got in, somebody else immediately wrapped me up in a towel and started rubbing my arms and back as if I was suffering from hypothermia.

“I’m OK!” I kept saying over and over again. Why is everybody making such a fuss? I wondered.  What’s the big deal?  I would have made it.

I imagine I thanked him. I’m sure I did. Positive. I mean, I do have manners. I just can’t remember thanking him or anybody else.  I thought they’d overreacted.  (They hadn’t.)

It seemed that Cathy had made it to the other side. Ingrid, like me, had gotten back to dry land on some other unknown man’s back. I vowed to become a better swimmer, because it really is embarrassing to be hauled out of the water like a flounder.

I learned not long afterwards that Jenny L’s father had been the guy who fished me out.

Each of us went home, vowing never to tell our parents the story of that day. Nobody told.  Strangely, nobody else let our parents know, either.  Life was better when nobody was a tattle-tale.

But just like the promise I broke to my mother that day, I broke my pledge of silence.

I told Mom in 1982 when she was staying with me after my operation.

“What?!?!” she shouted. “Somebody saved your life and I didn’t even get to thank him?” She was mortified. Laughing, but mortified.

“You would have killed me yourself if you’d known at the time.”

“You are in such trouble for going swimming when I told you not to.”

“Mom, this happened in 1968.”

“… wait until I tell your Dad.”

 

*     *     *

 

In a couple of weeks I’ll be going to my 40th High School Reunion. I sure hope that Jenny’s there, and that her Dad is still alive. I hope that I can at last pass on my parents’ deepest thanks, and my own, for his unheralded rescue.

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Family, Huh?, Humor, Mom, Taking Care of Each Other

Monsters’ Throwdown — A Blogger Book!

As a person with Crohn’s Disease, I have seen my fair share of toilets, and my experiences there have been memorable.  And sometimes life threatening (especially if Goliath was involved).

And while I fully expect to die on a toilet, I was not born in one.

The same cannot be said of Eleanor Tomczyk, who writes a terrific blog called How the hell did i end up here?  If you don’t already know Eleanor, go on over.  She always brings a smile, makes you think, makes you laugh.

The story of her life is written up in her memoir, Monsters’ Throwdown — from her disastrous beginnings being born in a toilet, through her triumphs.  Eleanor always managed, somehow, to keep her head above water.

Monsters’ Throwdown will make you cry, make you laugh, make you thank your lucky stars that you didn’t have to go through what Eleanor did to just survive.  But Eleanor did much more than that — she thrived.  And we are all the better for it.

Monster's Throwdown

Available at Amazon — which, coincidentally, is where I got this image.

In today’s world, where racism has become, once again, less hidden, Monsters’ Throwdown is a book worth reading, and its lessons of survival, people helping people, love and triumph leave me very hopeful.

The book is available in paperback and on kindle through Amazon at this link.

Well, what are you waiting for???????

 

 

 

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Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Books, Childhood Traumas, Family, Humor, Taking Care of Each Other

Angel/Demon

My mother used to caution me:

“Be careful what you wish for,” she’d say.

“Why?” I’d ask.

“Because you might just get it.”

Her response usually baffled me.  As a kid growing up in what I thought was abject poverty (ummm, not even close), I felt like I never got what I asked for.  Or if I did, one of my four siblings had used it first.  Or “it” didn’t really live up to my expectations.  Or getting “it” not precisely what I expected.

Getting what I asked for always held a surprise.

You know what?  Mom was right.  And it is just as annoying now as a grownup as it was when she was right when I was a kid.

You guys know that recently I got what I asked for:

A Puppy! !!!!!!

Yup, here is an update on Duncan, that fluffy little guy who gave us such a scare last week when we brought him home.

You know what?

He came with teeth!  I knew that he would, but I had forgotten what it felt like to have razor sharp puppy teeth inserted into my arms.  Or my legs.  Or, during one memorable cuddle, into my nipple.

He came full of energy!  I knew that he would.  But I had forgotten just how much.  And how much energy went into those teeth.

He came determined to destroy my house.  I knew he would.  But I had forgotten just how many times I can say “no — chew on this”  during a single hour.  4,682 times to be exact.

Yes, this is a brief Duncan update — he is doing great.  He is full of mischief, sharp teeth and a desire to rule the world — or at least the household.  John, Jacob and I are holding our own, but it is only a matter of time before Duncan realizes that he is King Duncan.  And while none of us would ever murder him, I’m not sure I want Duncan to know that just yet.  At least not until he loses those teeth.

Who you gonna believe? I’m an Angel. (Well, except when I’m a Demon.)

 

Thank you all for your concern about the cute little guy.

I really did get what I asked for.  And Mom?  He’s wonderful!

 

72 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Dogs, Duncan, Family, Huh?, Humor, Out Damn Spot!, Pets, Taking Care of Each Other, Wild Beasts

Blame Duncan if I Didn’t Respond to Your Comment

Thanks, everybody, for all the nice comments about Duncan.

Sorry if yours was one of the comments I didn’t answer.

You see, I was afraid.  Afraid of what was happening with Duncan.

Yup, things didn’t start smoothly at all.

Twenty-four hours after bringing our new son home, we were at animal emergency, with a dying puppy.

We don’t know what happened or why, but he developed a fever of 106.3 degrees — dogs are normally 99-102.  Our puppy was sick, and possibly dying.

If I am ever reincarnated as a dog, I want to be my dog.  I’m not quite sure how I can work that out, though.

Anyway, Duncan was admitted, treated with antibiotics and IV fluids (at great expense).  We left him last night, certain that he was going to die.

Thankfully he didn’t.  He spent some more time with our own vet, closer to home, this afternoon before we brought him home early this evening (Monday).

So far, Duncan is acting very much like a puppy — he plays, eats, poops and pees.  We are keeping a close watch on him.

I will never let him see this picture of himself during the interval between the ER and our vet.  Because I fear he’d die of embarrassment.

"This is Embarrassing"

“This is Embarrassing”

When I texted this photo to Jacob, he responded:  “When did we switch to Dish Network?”

Everybody was saying sweet things about Duncan — and I just couldn’t answer when I didn’t know if he was going to make it.

We have no idea what caused the problem.  It may be a bacterial infection, a virus.  It could be all kinds of things.  Tests to possibly determine what caused it would have cost $THOUSANDS, and we opted to treat, rather than investigate.

So far he is doing OK.  Keep your fingers crossed.

 

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bloggin' Buddies, Dogs, Duncan, Family, Pets, Taking Care of Each Other