Saturday, December 29, 2007

Garage Extreme Makeover...Part 1

GarageTek: "The world's cleanest garage."
"The slogan of progress is changing from the full dinner pail to the full garage." ~ Herbert Hoover
The garage organization renovation was scheduled for Wednesday, November 28th. Of course the garage steps weren't done, just in and stained but not sealed or varnished. Sigh! But the truck arrived from Richmond right on time at 10AM and they began.

Men at work... putting together cabinet units
My part had begun a week or so earlier. First Dad and I bought a big storage cabinet to put behind the door in the laundry room. We had to put it together and get it in there so I could move the larger "sometimes used" kitchen appliances in and off one of the metal shelf units I brought over from the old garage. This way my parents wouldn't have to go to the garage and carry them up the steps to use. This took a full day. Then I boxed up the stuff on a second shelf unit I had already put in the garage and started stacking the boxes in the middle of the garage. The contract with GarageTek said that we were responsible for moving all things in the garage at least six feet away from the walls. So, cat tree, plastic containers filled with cat food, toys, bedding, and all things cat went to the middle. Then toolboxes, lawnmower, spreader, boxes of music, boxes for eBay, bicycle and a variety of "stuff" moved to the middle. Then a keeper cabinet that was my grandmother's and two filing cabinets (full) moved away from the walls.

....and working on the wall covering.
Five fellows showed up and they divided up the work. Three set to putting up the wall slatted units on three of the walls, while the other two worked on the overhead storage units and started assembling the wall cabinets. One of the two work benches was ready and delivered and all the wall cabinets. They had their own radial saw set up and after the leveling and marking of studs, the work went rather smoothly. As the wall covering neared completion, one of the men started in on the trim. They were determined and obviously familiar with the installation. They ate lunch in short shifts and the work never stopped... not even when my dad accidentally hit the panic button on his security key fob and it sounded like the world was coming to an end. They started at 10 AM and finished by 4:30 PM.

Stage one my work begins again. Posted by Picasa
So here it is... the end of stage one. Now I have ten days to arrange all the things in the middle, getting as much organized into the cabinets, on the shelves, on the hook hangers and tool hangers and leaving as little as possible on the floor. They will be back to bring the other work bench and put down the floor covering and I must be ready!

(To be continued....the end for now)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas At Catalina Court.... Come On In!

Christmas on Catalina Court
(Click pictures for larger view)
"God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love; the radiance of Christmas, which is purity; the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice; the belief in Christmas, which is truth; the all of Christmas, which is Christ." ~ Wilda English
Christmas Day is here, our first on Catalina Court. We combined households, furniture and Christmas decorations this year. Though we still have much to put away and things put away that we cannot find, we found our Christmas decorations and did our best to make it magical.....Come on inside!

"Come on in!"
Together we have three larger trees. One was placed in the dining room, one in the den and the smallest in the foyer. The tree in the dining room is primarily covered with ornaments my parents have collected through the years and the one in the den with mine. Our thin tree in the foyer has been designated our "Austrian tree" and here we have ornaments from Salzburg and other parts of Austria. Delicate hay and wood shaving ornaments mix with fragile, hand painted eggs and small painted glass hearts and thin glass teardrops. Some of the eggs did not weather the move that well, with small cracks and pieces of shell missing, but most are intact.

Our "Austrian" tree.
I also put a very small 3ft tree on Nyssa's dresser, a large ceramic tree in the master bedroom sitting area and a small white ceramic tree in my room. We have five nativity sets in various places, garland on the winding staircase, the stockings hung by the fireplace with care and the cat stockings hung from the upstairs. We have baked gingerbread cookies, sand tarts, chocolate chip cookies... OH YES!!... I have made 21...yes, 21 potica breads over the last two weeks. Ours is ready to cut for breakfast.

Our dining room tree. Posted by Picasa
Oh, look! It is after midnight and I must take my aching knees and hands to bed...but before I go, let me wish you all a joyous and peaceful Christmas. As we spend time with family and feel the excitement of exchanging gifts, let us remember the greatest gift ever given .... the Christ Child... Immanuel... God with us.

May you have a blessed Christmas!

(end of post)

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Step In The Right Direction

The new garage stairs, freshly built....side view.
(Click pictures for larger view)

New garage steps - face on view.
"The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps - we must step up the stairs." ~ Vance Havner
The stairs up from the garage into the new house were straight, with no landing and quite steep. With a 7.5 inch rise and 10 inch widths to the treads, it was hard for older folks to navigate. So, Dewey, who originally built the stairs, came up with this. There are seven steps instead of five and each one is 11.5 inches wide with a 5.5 inch rise. The platform at the top is nice to set groceries on while opening the back door. Dewey built them in one day.

However, the staining and painting and sealing and varnishing have been another story. That has taken four weeks and much prodding. But now.... FINALLY! The grand staircase is finished and ready for the unveiling.

The final product....(side view)

Stairway to heaven....well, the kitchen anyway. Posted by Picasa
I have to admit...Dad was right. They really ARE easier to get up and down!!!!

(Coming soon... the garage organization system. My brother is really anxious to see pictures of this in its finished state. You can just see a hint of it in the final stairway pictures.)

(end of post)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tanyah - Royalty Became Her

Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives. ~ John Galsworthy (1867-1933)

Tanyah (1991 - 2007) Posted by Picasa
Cat Poem

They will not go quietly,
the cats who've shared our lives.
In subtle ways they let us know
their spirit still survives.
Old habits still make us think
we hear a meow at the door.
Or step back when we drop
a tasty morsel on the floor.
Our feet still go around the place
the food dish used to be,
And, sometimes, coming home at night,
we miss them terribly.
And although time may bring new friends
and a new food dish to fill,
That one place in our hearts
belongs to them. . . and always will.

by Linda Barnes
When I met Tanyah, she was already in her senior years; although I suspect, as most ladies do, she would rather be called a "mature diva". Actually, she was just that; a seasoned actress and prima donna with attitude to spare. But Tanyah began life in a difficult position as a tiny stray.

The day Diane found Tanyah was the luckiest day of her(Tanyah's) life, though she would not admit it. Her life of luxury began that day and she took to it like a fish to water. Tanyah was pampered with gourmet food, posh cat trees and proper playthings. Oh yes! She also had a playmate....Tucker... theirs was a relationship of mutual tolerance.

Tanyah didn't care to travel, which was sad since she probably saw more of the country than many humans do. While traveling with Diane who was dancing in The Phantom of the Opera, Tanyah spent time in Chicago, Florida, Washington DC, Denver, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, as well as other locations. Tanyah didn't like to ride in the car, so she hid.... and she was very, very good at it. Once Diane thought she was really gone this time. She and Stephen searched the entire room and even the ouside area, to no avail. Finally, when all hope was almost gone, they saw Tucker sitting by the bed, staring at the mattress. There they found Tanyah..... inside the mattress box springs. She found a small hole and decided that this was where she would stay. After over an hour delay and much difficulty in getting her out... lesson learned.... put Tanyah in her carrier before she figures out it is time to go back to the car.

When Alec met Diane, he had to meet Tanyah and Tucker too. Tucker, ever the protector, wasn't pleased at first and did all he could to make the intruder leave. But Tanyah looked upon Alec as a conquest... and she worked her black feline magic on him... wrapping Alec around her fluffy tail in record time. She pranced and purred and head butted and showered him with attention and Tanyah wedged her way right into his heart. She became Alec's cat. Now she had what she wanted... a 5th floor window with the view of Manhattan, fancy treats and a personal groomer at her beck and call. She was "Queen Tanyah" and Alec was her willing slave.

Tanyah survived much in her "mature" years... kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure and other ailments. She survived the death of her housemate, Tucker, just last year. Actually, Miss "Diva" Tanyah flourished in the spotlight; with Tucker no longer around, she had the full attention of both of her humans and to her, this was how it should be. And though her physical ailments continued to progress, she was still happy and loved.

The cancer took Tanyah quickly, as it is want to do. Its swift progression surprised Diane and Alec, as it does all of us, even when we expect the worst. On November 30th, Diane and Alec made that most difficult decision and in a final act of love, let her go. Now there is a big hole in their hearts and great sadness.

Miss now in peace.

(end of post)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Time To Review

The fence.
"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." ~ Albert Einstein
And yet it seems as if the last five months have been one big blur of everything happening at once.... and it continues, this longest move in the history of mankind.

  • June 4th: My brother, Stephen, flew in from Europe for a whirlwind house hunt. The same day, Mom had her knee replacement surgery.
  • June 5-6: Thirteen houses visited, offers made, negotiations and a verbal contract set.
  • June 7: Obtain power of attorney for all things "house" related and do four hour home inspection. Work out written offer and contract and get final acceptance by builder at 6PM. Mom gets out of hospital and goes to rehab facility
  • June 8: Stephen flies back to Europe at 6 AM and I tangle with the concrete curb initiating my intimate and ongoing relationship with knee braces.
I did fairly well keeping up with my posting in June, even in the face of checklists and inspections and a glitch in Mom's knee recovery that required an additional week in the hospital. And then there was June 30th... the day I signed my name and Stephen's name on a stack of papers an inch thick... and the real "fun" began.

Miss Chloe enjoying her new home.
  • July 1: We vacuum and clean the hardwood floors in the huge house during a significant thunderstorm. Utilities have to be changed over and the grass mowed....(the grass saga will not be mentioned again...but it does go on and I don't think it quits, even in winter here) Formal request is made for fence to the homeowner's association.
  • July 3: Max has his surgery and starts his recovery in air conditioned comfort. I start with the dismantling of the 10 x 23 foot storage unit. (This takes three weeks with the help of my beautiful, strong and energetic daughter... it would have been impossible without her.)
  • July 8: We started putting down the rugs
  • July 13: My furniture arrived from storage and some found a home in the new house while other pieces would find their way back to the old house and be sold. The packing and sorting of my parent's house begins in earnest and boxes arrive daily... one van load at a time. Max begins his new chemotherapy... weekly for three weeks, blood check the fourth week and two weeks off.
  • July 19: Finally get screens put in the windows and find that we have an extra one... wrong size and we are missing one. (This is still an ongoing problem) I spend the first night in the new house.
Then the days merge together with packing at the old house and hauling boxes to the new house and unpacking them so we can recycle the boxes. Did I tell you that I found boxes I used in the move from Oklahoma to Mississippi when Nyssa was 3 years old? They have so many labels on the side, it is impossible to find space for more... these were good boxes! Somewhere in here they hooked up the security system and at the end of the month they connected the phone... although it took six weeks to bury the cable. And approval for the fence but then a wait on the installers. All the while, Mom was doing home rehab and the boxes in the living room ear marked for the moving sale were stacking up at the old house.

I must stop here and ask you to remember that it is a 13.5 mile drive from the old house to the new house.....and a 13.5 mile drive back again.

  • By the first of August I began spending more nights here at the new house than at the old. Each time the garage seemed to clear of boxes, more came over.
  • August 10th: Broke down and had cable put in for the TV and computer and found out that the living room, while wired for HDTV, did not have the simple connection for standard cable.
  • August 20th: The poor installation of the cable modem shorts out the motherboard of the security system. Oh! Joy!
  • The security company who wired the house comes and connects the "hidden" standard cable outlet, at the same time informing me that the warranty on their wiring is VOID because I didn't chose them to monitor the security. (Now tell me this. If a security company sent you a round smart box key in a flat regular envelope and sent it by regular mail and when the envelope arrived, the key was gone and the envelope was in a "US POST OFFICE 'WE'RE SORRY ABOUT YOUR MAIL'" get up....tell me, would you trust them with the security of your home? Their answer to my question as to why they sent it without padded packaging? "We have ALWAYS sent keys that way.") Anyway, since the wiring would be considered VOID when the guy left, I had him look at the intercom which only worked in two rooms. Wonder of wonders... it had not been hooked up correctly! (Again back to my "would you trust" question.)
  • August 16th: I spend the day in Williamsburg, moving Nyssa's lamps, fridge, microwave, futon and various boxes from Jamestown South 4th floor to Jamestown North 4th floor. We get caught at Target in a ferocious severe thunderstorm that frightened even the budding meteorologist and finally took shelter by pulling the van under the drive through lane at a closed bank. (I was nervously waiting for the police to arrive because of this maneuver.)
Also during August, Mom finished her home therapy and began her outpatient segment. This knee was rougher than the first but started to come along. Max's new cancer didn't respond as quickly to the chemo as the lymphoma and while he seemed on the mend, he preferred the cool comfort of his sunroom waterbed crate and all the kitties to the open back yard. I finally consented to start up a routine watering of the yard with the sprinkler system, knowing full well that this would only cause the weeds to grow at an exponential rate... and it did.

  • September 4th: A date is set for the movers to move my parents.... September 28th. But wait! The movers are ONLY moving the furniture!!! But the kitchen cabinets and the bedroom closets and the garage stuff and the pantry stuff.... who is going to move all that? I had not planned for this eventuality... so I had to get it in gear and unpack boxes to recycle and start packing up the kitchen. Again we moved one van load at a time.
  • September 6: The fence guys finally start. The permit was secured in August, the homeowner's association approval given the last of July and finally in September, they begin. I noticed that the contract has a provision stating "we have no liability for sprinkler system lines". The fence is finished in four days... the fence looks great... but zone three of the sprinkler is not working. Water bubbles from the ground around a fence post... AH, YES. They cut the line... in two places....let's see, now where did I put that sprinkler system guy's number?
  • September 10th: BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) starts. This year we are studying Matthew. Add homework but great blessing as well. Mom again volunteers to play the piano and I now help in the children's program full time so we no longer carpool.
  • September 15th: We start the window coverings... first the master bedroom and bath.
  • September 24th: Max doesn't want his biscuit. A trip to the vet and Pepcid AC seem to help but he isn't the same happy go lucky dog. Pain in his back leg, limping... but he still eats some, just not as much.
  • September 28th: The furniture arrives from my parent's house and they spend their first official night here. Mom loses her pajamas on the way from the master bedroom to the master bath and doesn't find them for two weeks. Max gets to see his new back yard and the night is cool. He is not eating much at all, barely enough to take his medicine, but when the sun goes down he hears or sees or senses something off in the preserve and excitedly runs back and forth by the fence. He will feel this new wind in his face and the cool grass against his tummy here for only four days, it will have to be enough.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
  • October 1st: Nyssa comes to say good-bye to Max. We sit, we cry, we rub his head, we offer all sorts of steak and chicken and hot dogs but to no avail. It is time.
  • October 2nd: My precious Max is longer in pain...his new yard empty. I put away all his things, wash his crate, empty his waterbed, launder his linens...cry a lot.
  • October 3rd: I have to take all six of the cats to the vet for shots in preparation for their move and let him know that Max is gone. Flowers arrive from the veterinary oncologist. I cry some more.
  • October 6: My parents take their ragdoll cat, Maggie, to be groomed. Three hours later I receive a call for them to come and get her... she is too hysterical and is hissing and biting and no one can handle her.
  • October 8th: I pick up Max's ashes and his clay paw print. It is strangely comforting to have the beautiful marble urn with me.
  • October 10th: Maggie finally gets a bath and nail clipping at my vet.... under sedation. It is the big day... all the cats move to the new house at the same time. We introduce them to the garage first, then other parts of the house after several days. They like the stairs... up one staircase and down the other.
  • October 15th: I start getting ready for the big garage/yard/moving sale at the old house.... target date... November 3rd. The living room at the old house is full of boxes to unload and the decision is quickly made to have the sale inside, setting up in the garage, living room, dining room, kitchen, den and the large study. I set up nine, eight foot tables along with three square folding tables and five smaller four foot rectangular tables and one very, very heavy ten foot table in the garage. I used all the kitchen counters and even some of the cabinets, the corner kitchen hutch (which stays with the house), all the cabinets and shelves in the garage and all the built in bookshelves in the office. Did I ever mention that we had an obscene number of books? Nyssa sold her Barbie dolls and I had some of my Cabbage Patch collection to go as well. Of course the stuffed animals were everywhere as well as four hot curler one seems to use those anymore. I often despaired of ever having it together.
  • October 25th: My brother arrives for a week and spends his first night in his new house. Success!!! He likes what I have done so far. He helps label all the books and "stuff" for the sale but has to leave the day before.
  • October 29th: Stephen orders Stickley furniture for the new dining room... The first garage organization man comes to pitch his product.
  • October 30th: The guttering company comes to give a quote... the second garage organization company comes to pitch their product and the blinds man comes to measure for the eating area, the den and Stephen's room.
  • October 31st: Decisions made for guttering to be done in the spring, the garage system... to be done the week after Thanksgiving and the change in the garage steps making them better suited for our elderly parents. At dusk we have a very special time at the edge of the preserve behind the new house. Nyssa, Stephen and I speak of three dogs... Dixie and Dottie who lived long lives and left us a few months before Max found us. They loved the woods, so it was only fitting that we mingle their ashes with those of sweet Max and let them play together forever in the trees and the brush. They were all rescues, they were all good dogs, they were all special. Stephen sang "Memory" (yes, I know it is from 'CATS') and "O Danny Boy" in which he changed the words to "O Maxi Boy". Their ashes clung to the brush until the winds came and they became part of the earth again.
It was also the first Halloween here and Stephen didn't want to run out of candy.... he loved giving the candy out...but there were not as many as expected, so Nyssa took a LOT of candy back to William and Mary.

Look who mowed the yard!!!! Posted by Picasa
  • November 1st: Stephen's Stickley sideboard is delivered. When he answered the door, the young fellow handed him a pink carnation... with a very red face. Apparently, most deliveries are made when the "lady of the house" is there and the furniture company has the drivers give her a flower. Oh, well... not this time... I almost forgot... Stephen mowed his lawn for the first time, after I showed him how to operate the mower. No edging, but he did mow!!!
  • November 2nd: Stephen flies to Europe... Christmas in Paris. And now there is more to do.
  • November 3rd: The big moving sale... 7AM until 4PM. Hurricane Noel has evolved and interacted with a strong front to set up the season's first Nor'easter with only misting rain, but with 50 mph winds from the northeast... it is cold. The flow of people is steady, not overwhelming but never really dead either. While we sold a lot of stuff and made over $1000, it was still difficult to tell that people had actually moved out of the house already... there was SO MUCH STUFF! One idea was.... leave it and have it again next week.... NO! NO! NO! It took three weeks to put it together and one week to box it up again. We finally have most of the left overs distributed to various charities. I have some books to donate to the library for their book sale and we kept Mom's cookbooks. Nyssa is going to help her SELL them on the internet. The tables have been returned and now the preparations to sell the house begin in earnest.
Stephen said I should sleep in for several days after the sale....(peels of laughter!) not likely. One thing just leads to another. Why, this week alone there have been sessions with the security system guy, the fireplace man and today... they tore out the garage steps and built the new..wider steps, lower rise and platformed version. Tomorrow the painter comes and hopefully by next week, this will be done. You see... the garage people are starting on November 28th.

So, you see... I really haven't been neglecting you on purpose.. I have several posts started, but by the end of the day my knees and hands and eyes are just begging to go to bed.... I will do better... at least I hope to do better.. and send more pictures as things start falling into place. Thanks for all your encouraging comments!!

(end of post)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Goodnight, Sweet Prince

Empty collar, silent toys and a hole in my heart.

The Last Battle
If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done,
For this -- the last battle -- can't be won.
You will be sad I understand,
But don't let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.
We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn't want me to suffer so.
When the time comes, please, let me go.
Take me to where to my needs they'll tend,
Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time you will agree
It is a kindness you do to me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.
Don't grieve that it must be you
Who has to decide this thing to do;
We've been so close -- we two -- these years,
Don't let your heart hold any tears.
~ Unknown

I wasn't looking for another dog. After losing two old dogs in a six week span, I wanted time to recover, but three months later, he found me. He was a matted mess of hair, hard to tell which end was which, except for that swishing tail. He had been lost or more likely, dumped and had been on his own for some time. He had the art of begging for food perfected and with a college campus, had quite a few sympathetic sources for his meals. But he limped a little and smelled awful. Nyssa knew, so did the dog... I have the word "sucker" written on my forehead. He followed us to the van on that last trip with the dorm debris and when I offered him a seat, he graciously accepted. The dog was friendly enough, as long as you didn't try to comb out his matted fur or touch his paws. He had a collar, but no tag.

(Clockwise from upper left) Max, the day he "found" me;
After the first trip to the vet; Max with his first toy; Lounging in luxury.

At the vet he had to be sedated to be examined, and for good reason. His nails had grown into his paw pads and they had to be cut out and the infection irrigated. His coat was hopelessly matted and shaved off in large chunks. The wet fur left him with several patches of raw and infected skin and he had heart worms; but he was neutered and most likely dumped by some thoughtless human. After his treatment for the heart worms, he came home...home to his air conditioned dog house, padded lounge chairs and regular meals.. along with the obligatory biscuit treats, head rubs and squeaking toys. "How old is this fellow?" One vet thought he was about five and later on another thought he might be a bit older. It didn't matter. In a matter of two days, he became ours... he became Max. (short for Maxwell)

For a long time, Max had nightmares and would cry and wail and yelp as if some horrible creature were after him. Sometimes there was no trigger, but most often it was a siren in the distance. Had he been in a fire? Could that be how he got lost? Finally, these last three months, his nightmares stopped and sirens no longer made him cry.

Max loved his toys and his chew bones, but most of all he loved his basketball.

Max loved to play fetch, except he never wanted to give you the ball back. He wanted you to take it but would pretend he was fierce and growled if you tried. But if you were quick and grabbed it from his grip, he would jump and prance with joy, waiting for that next toss. I always tired out first, so Max would sit and entertain... growling at his ball, then tossing it up in the air or nudging it with his nose, then running to grab it as it rolled away. Yes, he loved those basketballs.

Max never dug in the yard, he never chewed shoes or tore up plants or chased the cats. Max never met a dog he didn't like, but he was a staunch protector of his humans and always kept himself between us and anyone who invaded his yard. He was a connoisseur of comfort in his heated doghouse with the linoleum floor and covered porch. He had a fan for the summer heat but preferred to be with his kitties in the air conditioned sunroom. Max was an expert at getting what he wanted, even figs.

Max and his ever present basketball.

We had only been together for two and a half years when Max first started getting his large skin nodules; on his chest and sides and back.... all over. They were malignant, high grade, poorly differentiated... lymphoma... of the skin. We were referred to Dr. Brewer and Max started on a long road of chemotherapy. No IV's, just a pill in a big lump of dog food... right up Max's alley. He always did his hoot owl impression all the way there and was quietly happy all the way home. I think he conned the girls out of a lot of doggy biscuits. He took the chemo like a champ, never had a low platelet count and, wonder of wonders, his nodules went away... all of them... within four days of the first treatment. This was his life for almost 16 months... a chemo pill every three or four weeks, then a CBC, then one or two weeks off. He was happy, he was fat, he played and ran and talked to his dog friends next door, he barked at the lawn man and stole figs from the tree... no one would ever suspect he had cancer.

Then in June the nodules started coming back, but they didn't look the same or feel the same. So around the first of July, he had two taken off and they were malignant, but now, a different, second type of cancer. This time they were high grade, poorly differentiated mast cell tumors. It took longer for his incisions to heal but he was as bouncy as ever. Now, Dr. Brewer added another agent, an IV shot for two weeks and then his regular pill and a rest for two weeks. The one remaining nodule finally went away on this new plan, but more slowly than the lymphoma. Max did well in July and August and most of September, but his appetite would sometimes be off and he tired out more quickly playing fetch. He preferred his waterbed inside in the cool sunroom.

The last week of September, Max didn't want his biscuit and I knew something was wrong. We tried to give him Pepcid AC as the mast cell tumors can cause stomach ulcers. It became harder to get him to eat and he simply wanted to lay on the ground and sleep. He started limping and yelping as if his leg hurt. On October 1st, I spent most of the day trying to get him to eat a few bites of food, but this dog who would dance for his supper and inhale it within two minutes just a few weeks before, sat with six different offerings off food and even chunks of steak and just looked at it.

Our last day with Max. Saying good-bye.

Max was to get another round of chemotherapy on October 2nd but I knew it was time. Max loved to eat and he couldn't. He was uncomfortable and couldn't run and play and another tumor nodule had appeared in just the four days. It was time, before he was in so much pain he couldn't move, before he became too weak from not eating.

The staff at Dr. Brewer's office were kind and gentle. They placed an IV in his paw and wrapped it so Max and I could have time together; as much time as I wanted. We sat on the floor on a blanket and I rubbed his head and his ears.... he kept a firm grip on his basketball the whole time. I called them in after a half an hour because my resolve was weakening, though I knew this was the best and kindest thing I could do for Max. I held him close in my arms and told him I was sorry I couldn't fix this and that he was loved so very much and he didn't cry or shake, but just relaxed, fell gently asleep and was gone before his ball fell from his mouth and hit the floor. I sat and held him for a long time afterwards; he was so soft and still and I didn't want to leave him. The tech came and gently gathered his body with the blanket, his pillow toy and his old favorite basketball. Max was cremated with his favorite things and we will scatter his ashes in the woods behind the house along with a few biscuits... his favorite kind.

I was... and still am, a basket case when I see the empty dog house or his leash or carrier or just a picture, the tears come and I can't stop them. He may have been just a dog to some but he was a friend to me. Max made me laugh when I was down, he would sit and nudge his nose under my hand and look up with those big eyes and just seemed to know how you felt. Knowing how neglected and abused he was in his former life, I wanted to give him a life free from care and with abundant love. Four and a half years was just not long enough to make up for all the misery he suffered. He deserved so much more.

Dr. Brewer's office sent a bouquet of lovely flowers, so beautiful and thoughtful. They will miss him too ... the big goofball...Max!

Max (birthdate unkown - 10/2/2007)
A big-hearted, free spirit... gone too soon.
Posted by Picasa

"Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"
~ Horatio (William Shakespeare's Hamlet)

(end of post)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Slow Progress

Entryway before....
"Progress, of the best kind, is comparatively slow. Great results cannot be achieved at once; and we must be satisfied to advance in life as we walk, step by step." ~ Samuel Smiles (Scottish author, 1812-1904)
Progress here is slow. It feels like we are moving things from my parent's house to the new house, three or four boxes at a time. OH!!! Right!!! We really are moving things only three or four boxes at a time! Some of the boxes are running out of labeling room and it is very confusing to see "Box 19...Attic", "Nyssa's Books", "Lorane's Cookbooks", and "My Study" on one little box. Long gone are the organized labels listing the specific contents of the box. We are rapidly approaching the saturation point, where we can handle no more boxes until the furniture is here, we need the furniture to put the boxed up stuff into. My goal is to have their furniture here in the new house by October 1st... then we can unbox and clean the old house and have garage sales.

But progress, though at a snail's pace, does continue... I have begun to hang pictures, trying to remember that this is my brother's house and we have different taste's in some things. I decorated my home with photographs of family, most specifically... Nyssa. I did have one huge still life painting that I "won" in a contest I didn't even know I entered. It was ugly... actually, it surpassed "ugly" and made its way on to "ghastly hideous", but it filled a space on my dining room wall. It is now in the garage sale pile. (Stephen is very happy about that.) I did hang this picture over the piano in the entryway. It was the one year I really splurged and the photographer worked with an artist to create this oil canvas over the photo.

I used my handy dandy laser level and one of those snappy "tiny pin prick hooks that holds a gazillion pounds" and there you have it. I wear many hats these days. I built shelves in the eaves of the house by my closet for sewing notions and storage... that is my carpenter hat. I sanded and painted and sanded and painted and sanded and painted some more... additional shelves for the built ins in the living room and den and a little open platform for the television in the den so that the VCR and DVD player could sit under the TV.... that would be the painter hat. I seem to have successfully connected the stereo system... well except for the speaker wires and have managed to connect an eight port router to the cable modem and ethernet wires so that all seven outlets are working. I have my PC connected and wonder of all wonders, my old Power Mac G4 that has not seen the light of day for almost four years is connected and working and on the internet and the internal battery is still alive, although with OS9 I don't know which browsers will still support it...I guess this would be my electronic technician hat. I have covered all the shelves and lined all the drawers in all the bathrooms and kitchen and laundry room in this house....

OH! Yes! And I have mowed the grass FOUR times and haven't set off the security alarm once!!!!

Time flew past... way to fast. Posted by Picasa
So forgive me if I haven't been around.. by the end of the day, my brain is mush. The only reason I had time to post this is because I need to be somewhere in an hour and I was trying not to get all sweaty. Isn't that a sorry explanation?

(still trying to do better... end of post)

Monday, September 03, 2007

A View From The Mansion

A view of our preserve land... please ignore the yard!
(Click pictures to enlarge view)
"There are those rare days of late summer; perhaps ordinary circumstances don't necessarily go right, but mother nature grants you a glorious memory. If only you had manicured the weeds before her visit." ~ srp
Sorry about the yard; I have since done another mowing, my third since the first of July. It had been over 30 years since I mowed the lawn this much, not since high school. I discovered that if I turn off the sprinkler system, the weeds don't grow as fast... but then neither does the small amount of grass that still exists. Thus the conundrum....
"To mow, or not to mow... that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The disapproving looks of neighbors at outrageous weed growth
Or to take arms (and legs and knees and carpal tunnel wrists)
against a sea of crab grass and broad-leafed wild grass
And by rotating mower blades end them.
To mow, to sweat profusely (buckets full) --
To sweat -- perchance to draw the attention of mosquitos (no perchance about it!.....slap!!): aye, there's the rub."
~ srp's soliloquy

Eupatorium purpureum or Sweet Joe-Pye Weed,
attracts these butterflies (Sulfers, Family Pieridae)
Anyway, back to the post at hand; while taking a rest from the boxes, I spied something yellow on the flowering weeds at the edge of the preserve and found five of these lovely creatures completely intoxicated with the nectar from tiny, fuzzy purple flowers. No long lens here... just the regular 18 - 55mm zoom, hand held about two feet away to get them all in the picture.

Feasting side by side....
As one would leave another would flutter in and take its place. All morning they flitted and fluttered on wings of pale yellow with tiny golden dots and inhaled the sweet liquid with those long proboscides.

....or at a table for one. Posted by Picasa
Then as suddenly as they appeared... they were gone, off to play... satiated for the moment. And I returned to the boxes.

(end of post)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

In The Shadow Of Your Smile

Brother and sister rest in sunlight and shadows. (Rhett & Scarlett)
(Click pictures for larger view)
"The present is the ever moving shadow that divides yesterday from tomorrow. In that lies hope." ~ Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)
This post was supposed to be for the Saturday Photo Hunt back near the first of July, but things got really busy and haven't let up much. So, being tired of my boxes and my parent's boxes and Nyssa's boxes and moving things to the old house for garage sale and to the new house for unpacking and from and then back to William and Mary and to the garage for... well, everything, I decided to go ahead and post it. Never let a good picture go to waste, nor good quotes either.

I think the cats are going to like it here. There is always a sunbeam somewhere in the house, unless it is lightning. They will not like the thunderstorms here; unlike the cocoon of the small rooms and the den with no windows, they will not be able to hide from the flashing streaks and the thunder. Did someone ever say that golf courses seem to attract the lightning? There has probably been a study somewhere on the subject.

Norfolk Botanical Garden
"I look out the window sometimes to seek the color of the shadows and the different greens in the trees, but when I get ready to paint I just close my eyes and imagine a scene." ~ Grandma Moses
I had never thought about the color of a shadow before, but it's true. The shadows cast by the midday sun are inviting shades of blue and green and brown, all the earth tones. By contrast, the shadows born of the street lamp at night or a dim light in an old dark house are gray and black and quite creepy.

"Mine! Mine!" says the seagull.
"I have a little shadow
That goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him
is more than I can see."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
In the bright sun, this (obnoxious) seagull has a distinct shadow. Sometimes I wonder if they ever think it is another bird following too close. Max barks at his shadow and chases it back and forth at times. Perhaps the gull can perceive its shadow, or not..... just a thought to keep "boxes" out of the head.

Shadows on the water....Williamsburg, College Park.
"Most people think that shadows follow, precede or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories." ~ Elie Wiesel, (Nobel Prize for Peace in 1986. b.1928)
What memories were being made by these shadows? A quiet day, warm but not hot... time spent gazing into the water, watching the leaves float by on the marshland, the sound of geese overhead... a rest before the whirlwind of excitement that always surrounds a college girl.

By the way, I could update on Nyssa. She spent her summer as a resident assistant at William and Mary, while she traveled almost every day to the eastern shore to work on her senior research at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The professor and grad students were impressed enough to let an undergraduate in their lab... labs are hallowed ground for researchers. Her work is in using sediment analysis to predict hurricane history in an effort to study the strength and cycles of storms. Of course the samples are from Antigua and the group had to make a trip down to procure more material. They found grant money for her to go with them, so she spent a glorious week hauling a boat over marshland, getting stung by bits of sea nettles (from jellyfish) and having the time of her life. They cataloged, processed and packaged the samples for shipment back to the states and she will continue her work this fall.

She also helped immensely with the clearing of the storage unit.... I could not have gotten that job done without her! Yeah! Nyssa!

"When walking through a warm and lush forest setting one's thoughts can easily take flights of fancy. It is not difficult to shed the layers of modern life and find one's more subtle or primitive beginnings. Somewhere from deep within the spirit and majesty of each single tree steps forth and at once one can find themselves transported to a world of shadow and shade." ~ Morgan La Fey
Oh! And here she is, resting in the shadows of a huge tree in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden last summer. She looks a lot cooler than she actually was.

So there are my "shadows", better really, really late than never I guess. And now...... back to the boxes. (Groan!)

(end of post)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sometimes Life Imitates Art.... Or At Least A Cartoon

It has been a while since I updated on Mom's knee. For a while it was very uncertain; she had that additional trip back to the hospital for over a week with cellulitis and a hematoma around the incision site. Then back to the extended nursing facility for only a few days. Since then she has had home therapy with the physical therapist two to three times a week and things have made progress. Her surgeon did a special scan to look for infection inside the bone as she was having a lot of pain just below the knee, but that is clear and so her exercises continue. Soon, she will start the outpatient part of her therapy and those two guys really work her hard.

She has ventured out and now with her cane she has come to the house twice and has even gone to Linens 'n Things to shop for her bedspread and to a blind shop to look for her window treatments. But this picture is from an outing to the Norfolk Botanical Garden. It was cooler and a breeze was blowing so I took them to the rose garden. She was still on her walker then but put on her shades and one of Nyssa's childhood Sunday hats and this is the result........

Pretty spunky, hey!?
(end of post)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

No, I Am Not Dead.........Yet!

Remember this photo?
"Nothing got without pains but an ill name and long nails." ~ Scottish Proverb
No chance of having long nails here!! You remember this picture of the 10 x 23 foot storage unit that contained a majority of my life for three years? It had boxes stacked to the ceiling in the back half... chairs, books, dishes, books, clothes, books, Christmas decorations, books, twin bed, books, stuffed animals, Beanie Babies (bet you thought I was going to say "books"), rocking horse, books, computers, books, grill, books, trunks, books, keyboard and more books; this really was my life in a box, or boxes.

I did well cleaning it out for a while, until I got to the "wall" of boxes. Then Nyssa showed up at the depth of my despair and suddenly the infusion of young energy started the ball rolling. We moved it, box by box... van load by van load... and finally only huge things that we could not lift were left... bed springs, treadmill, filing cabinet and a couple of boxes for garage sale. So Wednesday, the hottest day of the year here at 103 with a heat index of 111... we had two men my dad knows to help with the last of it.

Oh, yes... during the process we only had one... "Joshua" experience... you know.. "Joshua fit the battle of Jericho and the walls came a tumbling down". Who knew that small box was holding up the whole layer? Fortunately, they were light and didn't hurt a bit....

Now, the storage unit looks like this......
And this.....


PS: This post was to prove that I am still alive and that I haven't been slouching! The knees are still with us... as long as I keep moving I do better... that sitting still and sleeping makes the muscles tighten up and then.... it is HARD to move.

PPSS: Books are the Achilles heel of this family... all of us! We don't really need a house... we really need to live in a library!

(end of post)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Life Is Like A Box.... But Who Took The Chocolate And Left All This Junk?

Dining Room....a staging area for knick knacks.
My poor hutch and table are swallowed up in here and the table has the leaf in it!
"Violent exercise is like a cold shower; you think it does you good because you feel better when you stop." ~ Robert Quillen
I may have given the wrong impression with my post showing the formal living room in the new house with furniture and tables and even a flower arrangement in place. The rest of the house is basically in shambles. Well, not exactly "shambles".... (don't panic Stephen), but rather more of an out of control chaos..... and it is my fault, partly. When we closed on June 29th I had this wonderful, blissful plan. It started out ok with the dusting of the floors and the laying of the rugs. Then it went a bit awry!

First, the moving company held my furniture hostage longer than I expected. No problem, we will just start on vacating the 10 X 23 foot storage unit (see bottom picture). So I started with the Christmas items and boxes near the front and those wardrobe boxes; I could hang clothes in the closet without having furniture. This went well for a while, but then I started hitting the boxes with books.... lots and lots of books.... and these boxes started piling up in the new garage and suddenly it was full. So I stopped and started going through the boxes... these same boxes that only three years ago I had so carefully packed and labeled and weeded through before packing. I had had two garage sales and donated six boxes of perfectly good kids clothes to the local children's home and woman's shelter and six van loads to the charity thrift shop before moving, so you would think things would be in order... right? Oh! No! So garage sale boxes started and Ebay boxes started and boxes for Nyssa to sort through and trash....

Speaking of trash.... did you know that I just got the trash can from the city this week... the one I called for two weeks ago? So yes, I had to haul trash back to the old house, back to the storage unit trash bins and even one up to William and Mary, but not on purpose.

Anyway, I made a little progress and then hit the wall. No, really, I hit the wall in the storage unit... the wall of boxes, half way back that was stacked almost ten feet high; packed solid to the ceiling with these lovely boxes marked "Nyssa's books" on top that were heavy and the boxes clearly marked "CHINA - FRAGILE", stacked beneath them.. six rows beneath them. Even with a six foot ladder I am not going to get up there and... well, the knee I fell on is not so great and the other one is a bit crunchy. As I contemplated "two men and a truck" while my almost 80 year old father still insisted he could help.... Nyssa arrived to the rescue! She came and with her youthful enthusiasm, she dove right in on that wall and we started to see cracks. Of course we still had to go through the boxes and there still was no furniture and the garage was full to the brim.

The den... how most of the house really looks,
only worse... it is a staging area...well, for everything!

The three days before the furniture arrived, I worked hard to at least have space in the garage for the overflow of additional boxes as they came in. So, boxes had to go to the loft or the bedrooms where furniture was not going or... or.... just somewhere out of the garage. The den became a staging area and as I found kitchen boxes I unpacked them and .... you guessed it, began boxes for Nyssa to take to grad school. Merging two households and two that have such a propensity to collect kitchen gadgets is unbelievable. The grad school kitchen boxes mounted and it became obvious that the dream of not having a separate storage unit was for naught. The attic is not yet floored to our satisfaction and the walk in attic is too small for everything, not to mention the sixteen steps to the second floor and the pull down ladder up to the attic.... with my knees? Right! So a much smaller unit was procured, just a few blocks from the new house and.... just in time... there was space in the garage.
The old storage unit.....remember this picture!!!!!!

(To be continued.....the end for now)