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Monday, November 23, 2015

Breakfast of Champions Not

Looking at this picture makes me giggle and makes me hungry. It also reminds me that I am not only failing my character Mallory (last seen at the Waffle House - if curious check earlier posts) my very own breakfast of champions is  . . . well, pathetic.

I don't cook. I used to bring in things to zap in the microwave. And, at one time I purchased frozen Jimmy Dean breakfast bowls that gave the illusion I was eating a real breakfast. Now, I pop some pills, drink my coffee, and start the day checking on Facebook posts and Pinterest. Those two sites are my morning companions. My virtual friends. I leave comments and it seems like a conversation to me.

Of course, there are the dogs. I talk to them every morning as I teeter about, trying to get my balance, that hip that still needs surgery keeping me from my normal activities. Although, I have to ask myself these days, What is normal for me? I've been dealing with hip issues for over a year.

The six-pack of hounds are my constant companions. I talk to them, they wag their tails, then they stare, wanting to be fed. I actually get more of a response on Facebook, folks liking my pithy comments, than I get from hungry dogs who are just thinking about themselves.

The dogs have learned the meaning of brunch. BS (before surgery) I got up at seven am and all the dogs ran down the hall, anxious for breakfast. I couldn't feed them fast enough. Now AS (after surgery and another big BS, as I have to have the other hip done sometime after the first of the year) I barely teeter down the hallway. The dogs run out. I refresh their water bowl. They run back in expecting food. They are greeted with a handful of biscuits. You have to wait, I tell them. I can't move. I pop a pain pill, grab my coffee and head to the computer. I have to get myself together before I can start serving their breakfast. Six bowls in six different locations. Each has to be lowered with a grip as I can't bend to reach the floor.

I read somewhere in a dog manual that the one who controls the food controls the pack. And the alpha eats first. That be me. Even if only coffee, pills, and maybe something to nibble on, they see I am getting something, they are not. The hounds are very very respectful of me these days. They do get treats before meals and they have learned to like that. Even my old sick gal, Annabelle, perks up, waiting to see what treats come her way. She is hanging with me a little longer to see how much rotisserie chicken she can gulp down in her remaining days. The dogs love to eat. It is the biggest part of their day.

Let's face it, I love to eat, too. As much as the dogs do. And I don't have to wait for someone to feed me. But, I don't like to prepare food. When my husband was alive, I did cook breakfast. Every. Single. Morning.  We had a trade off. He cooked dinner. Every. Single. Night.

On my own I have reverted back to my old ways. How I was before we met. So many years ago. I life-time ago. Never cooking, eating out, or bringing in take out. My idea of breakfast was a left-over cold pizza slice. Yum. (I do have a small pizza in the freezer. Perhaps I will upgrade today. After all, it's not delivery. It's DiGiorno! That almost seems home cooked.)

I rallied for a bit after my hip surgery in May.  I learned to love cereal and milk again. In the hospital.  I carried that breakfast theme over to my return home and the next two months. Little single bowls of cereal that I could add my milk and plastic spoon and make it to the computer to have a healthier, simple breakfast with my friends on Facebook and Pinterest. A few bones tossed at the hounds and we were all good for thirty minutes or more.

I am addicted to certain rituals for short periods of time.  It depends how much I was influenced by them at first meeting. Hospital food was . . . well, you know, hospital food. Cereal, milk, and fruit was refreshing in comparison to an unknown egg mixture with strange potatoes that were fried, I think, but could not be certain.  Coming home I continued the cereal tradition.

This was not my first addiction to breakfast with cereal. In 1988 (some of you may not have been born then. Argh to you.) my mother and I went to England. She was a recent widow and wanted to travel. We stayed at a very small hotel off Trafalgar Square in London. Their breakfast included milk (in a silver pitcher), small boxes of cereal so we could choose our favorites, fresh apricots, and toast with tiny packets of lovely jams. The table cloth was a thick white cotton, the utensils were real silver, cloth napkins, and a bud vase with a rose. Upon returning home, I had that breakfast for months. There was no table, no cloth, no silver, but there were real apricots. OMG. I lived for breakfast. The memories were happy and strong. So much so, that my little fictional novel, Danger In Her Words, included the same description for a breakfast as one of the characters loved her English breakfast and kept the tradition going upon return to her home. (Write what you know. I know cereal, milk, and apricots!)

My recent cereal experience fell short of exciting within a few months after my surgery. Nothing tasted good to me. Perhaps it was the pain meds. (Cliff hanger! More on that in another post.) I no longer eat cereal. Coffee, pills, and maybe a muffin. But that's how I roll at the moment.  (Look, almost a pun . . . muffin, roll . . naw, I agree with you. Sadly unexciting.)

Living alone (if you can call living with six dogs alone - let's rephrase that to living without a human companion in the house) has shaped how I do things. It's just me and the dogs, and as I've mentioned, they have to wait for my next move to see when food comes their way. Surprisingly, they have learned to be fine with that. When I head back to bed to get my energy level up to for the day and to let any meds do their magic, they jump in with me. Food has taken a back seat to snuggling on the bed.

Somehow this silly lifestyle of mine agrees with me. I plan to find a better way to do things, sooner or later, but most probably after my next surgery. My non-surgery hip is very uncomfortable most mornings. I have to ease into my day, limber up, and then move on. I am blessed with so many wonderful friends. When I do head out, I eat out. With my friends. Sometimes brunch, sometimes lunch, and most times dinner. Sometimes two meals a day out with different friends. I love that. Not so much the food, but the company.

In fact, I love it so much, I may have a new title for myself.  Social Diner. But that is the subject for another post!

I have a frozen pizza waiting for me to zap it! Oh, and the dogs are getting impatient with me. I've taken way too long to feed them this morning.



Friday, November 20, 2015

A Very Sick Dog With A Great Attitude


Annabelle and I have long chats in the car to and from the vet.
 Our most wonderful vet!

Once again I am learning lessons from my dogs. Annabelle is a very sick girl, but she is moving along, enjoying the moment, and teaching me to live in the now.  

     Recently diagnosed with Lymphoma she will not be with the pack much longer. I say that and find it hard to believe. Do I sound accepting of this fact? Not really. I am more in denial that she is so ill. She is a trooper. Now on prednisone, her symptoms are masked, and she is quite content for her remaining days. However many there are. I don’t have a clue, no one does. The fact she is with me now, happy, pain-free, and enjoying her time here is good enough for me. I chose not to put her through extended treatments. She is old. It would not buy her enough time to make that time so unpleasant for her.

     Her age is a mystery, too. Her owners lied about it to animal control. Perhaps with a good intention out of a bad act. As a younger dog she might find a home. She came to me in late April 2009, when I was on my dog adopting frenzy. She was number two. The folks with animal rescue pulled her from DeKalb Animal Control. Her owners turned her in, giving her age as five years old. A quick run by the vet brought up many guesses as to her real age. Anywhere from 8 to 10, based on her teeth and overall health and appearance. She had puppies at one time, maybe lots of them, her belly sagging low as she walked. Her teeth were a mess, and shame on me, they still are. Annabelle had a few teeth pulled but the rest are still in her mouth. Her breath could knock you over. Yet, she gives kisses freely, even now, and her breath? Well love conquers all.

      Annabelle had her chapter, Someone New In My Bed, in my widow memoir. Her first night in her new house - my house, our house, and the doghouse, where the numbers were growing -  told me all I needed to know about her. She got up on my bed and curled next to me. I rolled on my side, slipped my arm over her chubby tan frame, and slept the best sleep since my husband had died the year before. She had come in for a trial run but I knew she was mine forever.

      She could put the cartoon character Maxine to shame. Annabelle can be a curmudgeon, a cantankerous old lady, or a sweetheart.  She looks like an old school marm on days and on other days she smiles her partially-toothless grin that is infectious. She is a heartbreaker, no doubt about that, and soon will be breaking my heart.

     Our time now is fun. I treat Annabelle as a princess. Of course, all my dogs are spoiled; she is just getting a bit more attention and a bit of special food. I tuck her meds in hunks of rotisserie chicken. She inhales the bits so quickly she has no clue what is inside. Her eyes are bright as she does a happy dance.

      Trips to the vet include a stop along the ride home. A bit of Chick-fil-A sandwich, a small cup of low-fat yogurt from Brusters (free to dog visitors) and plenty of treats tucked in my pocket to keep her entertained on the short drive.

      Her arrival back home is that of a rock-star. Five dogs sniff her butt, saying Welcome Home. Rascal licks Annabelle’s face, a caring gesture that happens often and I have yet to figure out why. I wonder if they know.

     I do not count her days. I count my blessings. I am lucky to have this time with her and with all my dogs. Each day is a miracle. For her, for me, for you. None of us, canine or human, know how many days or years we have left. The gift is to live those days full of love and compassion. Perhaps a dog enjoying her remaining time teaches a lesson for all of us. My old gal Annabelle is full of grace and beauty, and yes, rotisserie chicken. She won’t let me forget the chicken . . .
More chicken, please!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Failing NaNoWriMo I Will Post Here For 30 Days

I am failing quicker than I am writing. NaNoWriMo inspired me that I could sit down and write. I started November 1st with a plan to knock out a 50,000 word novel.  I am now, on day 19, still at just over 5,000 words. My main character stopped for coffee at the Waffle House and never left. As I sit here and sip my steaming hot cup of java, so does Mallory. She must be on a high now, sixteen days in a row drinking coffee. I think I left her with a plate of waffles, too, if I remember correctly. Since fictional writers say their characters take on a life of their own, perhaps Mallory has done that and ordered more food. Eggs, bacon, and in the evening hours, I hope she had a burger, well done with all the works, to keep her strength up.

It was going to be an romance novel, not steamy hot, but a kind look at a woman trying to rebuild her life. I'd like to think that while I have failed Mallory, the Waffle House has not. Is she sitting at the Formica top table with a handsome cowboy? Yeah, yeah, the old cowboy hook. But she is in Florida and there is horse country around her. Far off, actually. She is by the beach. Cowboys like the beach, too, don't they? Romance at the Waffle House is quite possible. And if you steal that as the title for your next book, I'm coming to find you.

I have a list of reasons why I haven't written more. If only they were exciting reasons. But I am a slug in a void about writing. I don't even want to label it writer's block. It may come down to this, fiction is difficult for me. I like non-fiction, short essays, and with my crazy life with dogs, I like to write about  . . . . me!

It isn't that I missed Lesson 94. I haven't gotten there yet. I think I am wallowing more around lesson # 32. And truly, it isn't all about me. But writing about my life and the things around me, help me sort out dealing with life's big issues and perhaps my little missives hit a nerve with someone else, someone who can relate to what I am saying.

My reason for writing in the first place was to learn how to cope with the loss of my husband. A year's essays turned into my memoir The Unfaithful Widow. That book connected me to others who had a loss and I made friends, friends I've never met in person but feel as close to them as if I had.

Non-fiction, no matter how deep or silly it gets when I start hitting the keyboard, is my way of connecting to people. I am a social gal and sharing my thoughts with others when I write is as good as sitting and having a margarita with friends. Except I don't have to wear makeup, can stay in my PJ's and frankly, sad as this is, I can't drink at the moment, still on a few pain meds for my hip.

Aha, a flash. Pain meds and margaritas . . . maybe I can get Mallory out of the Waffle House. Probably not. She, we, us - well, it's a big menu. I'll just drop in and have dinner with her. In my PJs because she is just a fictional character. . .

In lieu of a novel writing month, which is a tad past halfway over, I've pledged to myself to write on this blog for the next 30 days. We'll see how that goes. Time will tell if I am good for my word, or just a procrastinator who wants to be a writer.

For now I am signing off and heading out for breakfast. All that talk of the Waffle House has made me hungry. Perhaps a bit of bacon and an omelet (who am I kidding, and a big fat waffle full of butter and syrup) will inspire me to figure out what Mallory would do next.

I've a heard a sugar high can get you going, too!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Remembering To Count The Dogs

There are many quotes about counting;  counting your blessings, counting sheep to sleep at night, counting days or hours until . . . whatever that is you are waiting for happens, counting money, counting the stars at night, counting the words you are writing for your novel, especially if you are participating in NaNoWriMo this month! There are many more fine examples, but in counting my brain cells this evening, they seem fewer than normal, so I'll stop with this list above.
I have a special count I make each time I let my dogs into the yard. I count them as they come back in. Each body that wiggles or races or drags through my kitchen door is numbered. One, two, three, four, five, six! Once I have reached six  I can close the door and go about my business. Sometimes, I forget to count and just assume six dogs have come back in. Especially challenging, when only half the pack goes out, trying to count who is still in and who is reentering.  Sometimes I mess up. A dog gets left outdoors. While most dogs love to be out, my pack loves to be in. When a dog is left unaccounted for, well, there is a price for me to pay. No dog wants to be outside alone. Not in the heat of a summer day, certainly not in a rain storm, but as I found out a few minutes ago, not in the dark of night.
Four hours ago I fed the hounds. I opened the back door to my large fenced yard, well lit by lights around the premises, and dogs ran, in many directions. Dogs ran into the yard, dogs ran into the sunroom, and dogs ran into the living room. I assume they had a game afoot, romping and playing with each other. Of course, the purpose of the open door was for the dogs to go out for their last evening run to pee. All the dogs came safely back to the sunroom and settled in, or so I thought. I'd forgotten to count.
Pounding away on my keyboard (sounds like I am really knocking out my NaNoWriMo novel, doesn't it?) I heard a howl from my back yard. A high pitched howl that seemed to come from the far side so I had to think, is this my dog or a neighbors? The howl came again and I knew who it was. (don't you know the sound each of your pups makes? an individual sound like no other dog, the dog's voice as I like to call it) and swung around. Five dogs were sound asleep. Rascal was missing.
I looked at the clock at the bottom of my monitor screen. Holy cripes, it was almost eleven-thirty. And my dog was outside making a hideous sound, one my closest neighbor on the other side of the stone wall, would most likely hear. We have a truce - I keep the hounds quiet after ten.
Barefoot and in my PJs, I dashed to the kitchen and ran out. Loudly, but quietly as I could, I called out into the night, "Rascal".  What a perfect name for a little thirty-five pound butterball of a dog who gets in trouble more often than not! I called again, my voice a little louder, "Rascal!"
Across the yard, from the far corner by the right-of-way, my butterball came running. She sprung into the kitchen and came to a sliding halt. Then she looked at me with a bit of disdain. If I could have read her mind, she might have been saying, you left me outside for four hours!
I looked at her and wondered what she had been up to for that time. Her howls only surfaced in the last few minutes. There was a smudge of dirt over her brow, or was that one of her markings? She is a colorful gal. All pinky white, one blue-eye and one brown. Her back looks like a brindle sweater, and her tummy is full of polka dots. My little clown dog. I grabbed a few biscuits and fed her. Smiling, happy she was back inside, although honestly, I had no clue she was missing. Safe in the yard, but missing from her usual spot on the couch.
Yes, I count my blessings. And among my blessings are six dogs that make me happy to be a member of the pack. Just shame on me! I must remember to count my dogs when I close my doors. One, two, three, four, five, six. Oh good, now I can relax.
It's exhausting having an adventure!