Saturday, May 13, 2017

Constant companion...

My dog sits in the back seat. He has one of those seat belt attachments that secures him there so he isn't supposed to jump into the front. And he doesn't. But he does lean forward, put one paw on my shoulder and look out the windshield as if he is navigating the entire trip.

My dog is a character.

And I love him.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

And so it goes...with a wince...

I live with chronic pain.

I have arthritis in my hands, upper and lower back, knees, and hips - all of which makes some days just plain sucky. Today is one of those days. Awhile back my doc tried to get me to take a prescription pain killer but I refused. The side effects to those things are killer. Literally. No, I try to get through the day with nothing more than a couple of Alleve or maybe an Ibruprofen. It doesn't always work. Today, it's not working.

When you're in pain people around you don't really understand how it affects you. I'm sitting here typing this on a break from work and all morning I've been trying to be pleasant and cooperative with my co-workers. But my instincts are telling me to crawl into a dark place and rest right now. I can't. The juxtaposition of "being pleasant" and "being strong" is also giving me a massive headache because it's hard to do. It's stressful. And talking about it to others doesn't seem to help because unless they have felt this way they cannot and do not understand.

I hate this pain. It's slowly sucking away at me inside. I want to do so much and it limits me every single day. I have a new puppy that I would love to take for a walk, just around the block, but I cannot. My knees and lower back make getting to the corner a chore and getting back is excruciating. As it is, I am almost to the point, where at 18 pounds I can barely lift him anymore. I still try but it hurts and then continues to hurt long into the night.

Chronic pain makes sleeping a hit or miss event as well. I will often wake up, having slept too long (how long is too long?) in one position and my body is aching but moving into a new position is so painful that it wakes me fully so falling back to sleep becomes a challenge. I am on-call sometimes up to three nights per week so I can't take anything to help me sleep or I'll miss the calls. So I am tired. Deeply, deeply tired. And being overtired means more pain. It is a never ending and vicious cycle.

But there is nothing else to do but to go on so I live with it. Day in, day out, in pain. I wish it was different. I do things to alleviate it - try to keep warm, keep moving, massage, whatever I can. I'm sure I'm not the only one and I'm sure I won't be the last. All I know is living in pain sucks...big time.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017



The proposed American Health Care Act came out today. This is the GOP's long awaited attempt to repeal Obamacare. I don't even know what to say about it except that it's going to leave the people I work with, disabled and on Medicaid, back on wait lists for services and not getting the help the need. Because they are poor and disabled. And it is always the way of the world.

Our president is an idiot.

This man should not have been elected. This administration should not be running anything let alone this country. We, as a nation, should be very, very ashamed. And frightened. And ready to rise up and make a change to fix this mess we are in and taking health care away from millions is not the way. Accusing a former president of tapping your phones is not the way. Discriminating against entire races and religions in order to proliferate fear in people is not the way. Deporting good people from their homes and families is not the way. THIS IS NOT THE WAY.

Our president is an idiot. His way is not the way.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Rest in Peace...

My Aunt passed away last week and was laid to rest. She was 93 years old. For 75 of those years she was a nun. The year after she graduated from high school she entered the convent of the Sisters of the Resurrection and she spent the rest of her life as a dedicated teacher. She traveled but spent the majority of her years just outside of Chicago at the mother house in Niles, IL. For part of the time she was there she was the Mother Superior of the house. Twice, in fact. And both times the house underwent major updating and renovation.

My Aunt, whose birth name was Anne became Sister Mary Loyola at age 18. She wore a full habit for her entire life. Even after Vatican II when some nuns changed to more secular clothing she and her sisters opted to retain the habit. Oh, over time it became shorter - to below the knees - and they did away with the wimple that encompassed their faces - they kept their veils covering their mandatory short hair.

Twice a year my Aunt, who we always  called Sister, came to stay with us. She would come in summer and then again in winter, each time staying for a week. It was when school was out on break so she could get away and come for some rest and relaxation though staying with our big family could not have been much of either for her! I remember how she would often be awake in the night when she would hear sirens or traffic outside because her convent, though in the city, was far off the road and very well sheltered from such noise. Sleeping on her short vacations was, for her, a tad elusive. If the neighbors came home late and walked up the drive way she would be sure someone was breaking in to rob us. In this way, my Aunt had a certain kind of naiveté.

But she was also very smart and so funny! My mother and Aunt together would quip back and forth and giggle like little girls sometimes. They had a keen sense of humor that could be both biting but sharp and it would always take us off guard. In her later years, my Aunt taught herself to use the computer. She learned Windows and email and how to use the internet and she began communicating with family all over the world. She would use those skills long after she stopped teaching to continue to assist her Order with archiving their history and creating bulletins and programs for special occasions. She took on the daunting task of cataloging the Sisters massive library when she was well in her late 80s and she loved every minute of her busy life.

It was only later, in the last few years, she had to slow down. And then she passed away. I wasn't able to attend her funeral but I've been told that it was large! That many, many people - colleagues and former students - all came to pay their respects. And as sad as it is that she is gone I know that this is the moment my Aunt has prepared for her entire life. She believed in the resurrection and now she was living hers through her death. While I don't necessarily share her beliefs I celebrate her life and know that she is somewhere now with my mother and her other sister Sophie and her parents and others who have been waiting to greet her. That I do believe.

I know that in my life I have been absolutely blessed to have remarkable women as role models for all of my life. Sister Mary Loyola was one of them. I have such good memories of her. I'll cherish them - forever. Rest in Peace, Sister.

Love and prayers,
Mary Beth

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lil Fat Boy...

How is it that a small furry face and a fat round body with bad breath and seriously bad farts could make me so happy?
Leonard is a chunky little dynamo with short spurts of energy that always end with long twitchy naps complete with snoring. He's the doofiest of doofs, often running into doors and tables with his too big head, and falling over himself when his front half stops before his back half gets the message that he's actually stopped moving. He loves his kibble, chewing his elk antler, his Kong toy and his fuzzy squeaky toy. He also loves playing with Arnie, one of my cats. He's learned to give Mama Belle, the other cat and Queen of Our Home, a wide berth and much respect and leaves her the hell alone lest she hiss loudly at him and pound his smooshy face into oblivion. Sometimes he will just watch her from a distance in awe.
I love animals. I love my cats so much. And it's been a long while since I've had a dog in my life. I'd forgotten how great dogs are. I mean I knew how much dogs bring to one's life - how much sheer joy and unbridled happiness they can bring. But over time, when you haven't had a dog in your life, one of your own to come home to, to play with, to care for, to worry about, to care for you, you forget that true feeling of peace and endless, deep, abiding, unconditional love dogs give.
This lil Fat Boy is here to stay. And I couldn't be happier. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

We got Lenny...

We got an early surprise. A day earlier than expected the rescue organization called and asked if we could take our puppy home. COULD WE? Of course we could. So, dear readers, we got Leonard. Lenny for short. He's 8 weeks old, sharpei, boxer, bull dog mix, energetic and a wee wee machine! As expected, Arnie - our big male cat - loves him. He thinks he's a great playmate though they are still negotiating the terms of play. Mama Belle - our female cat who runs the house - merely tolerates him and has let him know that she is in charge, no matter what. Lenny watches her move through the house respectfully and leaves her alone.

Night one went relatively smoothly, mostly because he was pretty tired out from all the excitement. We are crate training him and though he yelped for a about ten minutes at bedtime he did settle down and sleep for nearly 4 hours. I got up to take him out in the middle of the night and he yipped some more at going back in the crate but settled down again and slept until morning. No accidents in the crate and he appropriately used the pee pee pad when he did have an accident. Day Two and we attempted some daytime crating. Not so successful. He knows I am home so he barks his fool head off. However, he did settled down eventually and nap for a couple of hour in his crate so I call that a win. Gave me a chance to get a nap too since I was up in the middle of the night with him.

Day Three - crate training was a bust. Bark bark bark whining crying...sheesh! Nothing I gave him or did helped him settled in and it seemed it took forever for him to even almost calm down. By midmorning I was at my wit's end. I hadn't had any solid sleep in three days and this was getting to me. My husband came home early to give me a break. I got in a nap. We carried on.

Tomorrow we start again. We have made his crate comfy and inviting and give him treats and reward good behavior but he's dead set against being in there. Tonight we're trying it with a crate cover and tomorrow we're getting some pheromone spray to see if that helps settle him down.

He's a sweet puppy. I couldn't be more in love. And I know that we'll get through this with patience and love. He'll learn. And so will we!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Meet Leonard...

This is Leonard. In two weeks he'll be coming to live at our house. He's a mix breed pup from a rescue. Let me tell you about him...

For over a year now, Alex and I have talked about wanting a dog. We've looked at the local shelters and even went to the horrible PetLand store and played with the puppies there just so we could play with puppies. We really didn't have a particular breed in mind or even that our dog had to be a  puppy. We just wanted a dog! And we knew, deep down, that we would definitely get one from a shelter or rescue.

So, the time came when we were able to finally buy our own home and we realized that this was our time to finally get our dog too. Now, we did have some criteria in looking. Whatever dog we chose had to be friendly, playful, outgoing, have some energy but so much that he bowled either of us over and, above all, he had to get along with our cats. We have two cats and their comfort and acceptance of this dog and he or she of them was the most important factor.

The first dog we considered was a terrier/staffy mix at the local shelter named Mr. Wiggles. This dog was so sweet. Big and energetic and so friendly. He loved us and was well trained. He was a top contender for a long time but, unfortunately for him, we met him just before we could actually move into our house so we weren't able to adopt him. He did get adopted though! Just not by us.

I kept looking and found a rescue online on Facebook called JR's Pups and Stuff. This rescue doesn't have a shelter but rather does everything by foster home. I signed up there and hoped for the best. I also signed up at TinyPaws Rescue and we looked at another local shelter. While we waiting, we moved. Then, finally, JR's called! We had a "home visit" via FaceTime which was more of an interview really. The representative asked us a lot of what we knew about dogs and our home and who we used as a vet etc. That night we were notified that they had accepted us as approved adopters and we were free to check out all the dogs they had available. Oh my gosh, there were so many! Big, little, young, old....they have hundreds of dogs brought from all over the country from high kill shelters and puppy mills. We found four that we liked. Two, Sweetie and Midnight, were a full grown bonded pair and we would have gladly taken them both in. But the foster mother never responded to our inquiry so we moved on. The other two were puppies from a litter brought up from the southern US. The pups were all named after Mammals and the two we wanted to see were called Giraffe and Cow! Ha! Well, it took about 30 seconds to know that Giraffe was the one. He snuggled under my chin and made sweet little grunts and gave me puppy kisses. He rolled over and had Alex rub his little pink belly too. We were in love. We told the foster he was the one! Since he is only 6 and 1/2 weeks old we have to wait to bring him home. He still has to stay with him mama for a while longer. On the way home we decided that a face that serious needed a serious name and he was christened Leonard.

The next two weeks are going to be the slowest two weeks ever, I just know it. I wish he was here right now! I feel like a little girl waiting for Christmas to come. A really great Christmas...where you get a puppy from Santa!