Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Power of Positive Thinking

Ol' One-eye

My sweet puppy-love, Raikki, needs some seriously positive energy directed his way, my people.

Tuesday night, we got home kind of late after spending the evening with some friends. We let all the dogs out and fed them and let them run around a while. Just before going to bed, we let them out one more time. Jasper and Chico came back in, with Raikki behind them, and as he came up the stairs, Dr. SmartyPants noticed he was dragging his left rear leg. Now, Jasper and Raikki are known to roughhouse quite a bit, and so our first thought was that Raikki had pulled a muscle or something and was just favoring the leg.

The Smarty called me in the kitchen and I started manipulating Raikki's leg, trying to find a sore spot, but nothing seemed to be causing him any pain - he just couldn't make the leg work. I pushed along his spine, but still no painful spots. Within about an hour, neither rear leg was functioning, and while he wasn't in any obvious pain, he was obviously in a great deal of stress. We talked about going to the emergency vet place, but with no one to stay home with the boys, we decided to make him comfortable and be at our vet's office as soon as they opened in the morning.

We put him in bed with us and watched him pretty much all night - there wasn't a whole lot of actual sleep going on.

We got to our vet as they were opening and after a physical, she decided to send us down to the University of Tennessee's vet school for a neurological exam, as she was afraid he had somehow ruptured a disc. The neurologist spent about an hour with him, and given his lack of pain, and all his other symptoms combined, diagnosed him as having had an FCE, which is something like a stroke that affects the spine instead of the brain.

The bad news is that there is nothing medically that can be done for it - no meds, no surgery, etc. The good news is that with physical therapy, there is a possibility that he will regain mobility in his rear legs.

He spent the night in the hospital last night for observation. They called me this morning and told me that he was about the same as yesterday, but that he won't drink any water and he's becoming dehydrated. They'll be doing some urinalysis and blood work to see if there are any other things going on that are causing that, and they may have to start an IV with fluids if he doesn't start to drink soon. If so, he'll go into their ICU and likely spend another night.

If he makes it through all this, he's in for a long road of recovery - and so am I. Raikki weighs about 68 pounds, and there are no flat exits from our house, so I'll be building up my muscles helping him navigate the stairs in and out of here, not to mention helping him with whatever therapy activities he will have to do.

In his favor are his age (20 months) and the fact that he's composed of nothing but muscle and energy. And all of it will be worth it if I can watch him like this again...

Someone's Glad to be Back in Knoxville

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ode to a Tomato


Small or large, red or yellow
nothing can compare
to having one's own mater plant
on one's own deck so fair.

Upon rising I always check
to see what may be ripe,
and smiling, pluck the juicy fruit
from vines held up by pipe.

(or bamboo...whatever - you try rhyming bamboo.)

Into the colander they go
to have grime washed away.
And then the process doth begin
of what to make today.

Salsa, salad, sauce or sandwich,
it really matters not.
The main thing is to eat them all
before they start to rot.

(Seriously. Three tomato plants and I'm overrun with tomatoes. Who knew?)

They've weathered storms and broken stems
and suckers tween the branches.
Now I wish I could remember if
my grandma boils or blanches.

For canning is the way I see
to preserve summer's boon.
To drive away the winter's cold
that's bound to come too soon.

Dear tomato, my sweet friend,
you're more than just a food.
No matter what you are placed in
you make it twice as good.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Oh, Boy.


I feel like I've spent his whole life trying to help people understand him.

When he was a toddler, we had a play group in our neighborhood that would meet once a week at fun locations, or at each others' houses. They were usually an hour or so long, and Derek would spend the first 45 minutes of those times sitting on my lap and staring at the other kids. These other boys and girls would be playing next to each other, talking baby talk and banging tea set cups on the ground, smiling their toothy grins, while my boy sat on me, his brow furrowed in concentration, his lips pursed with anxiety.

15 minutes before the end of the group, he would cautiously venture out, pick up a toy and sit down next to another child and start playing.

Then, everyone would start leaving, and he'd be devastated that the whole thing was over.

"He must be shy," the other parents would say. "Come over here and play with my daughter," they would ask, as soon as we arrived. I would try to explain to them that he was not really shy - he just liked to assess the situation before venturing in. He was cautious. He needed to fully understand how the social dynamics were going to work before he was going to be comfortable playing.

They would just blink a few times and say things like, "You know he's only 15 months old, right?"

I knew. I had been analyzing him for 15 months.

His first day at Kindergarten, he didn't cry or cling. He walked into the room, found a quiet place and started watching. His teacher told me later that he didn't speak to the other kids for about two weeks, and only spoke to her when she asked him a direct question. After the two weeks were up, he was laughing and playing and interacting with all the other kids just like all the other kids.

"He must be really shy," she said to me. I told her no - he's not really all that shy. He just wanted to find his place in the group and make sure he wasn't going to make any tremendous social gaffes. He was just assessing the situation before venturing in.

She blinked a few times and said something like, "You know he's only 5, right?"

I knew.

He's analytical to the extreme. He's intensely hard on himself. He's a perfectionist, which stalls his ability to move forward sometimes. He's brilliant and tender and good and just and occasionally infuriating.

So this past Monday, when I was talking with his new tennis coach after a lesson, I was preparing myself to explain Derek to him, so that we could just get on with the coaching already. But before I could say anything to him, his coach said something like, "Derek's really driven. He's super analytical about every stroke - maybe a little too much, but we'll work on that. He's also incredibly hard on himself and I can tell he's got a little perfectionistic streak. He tends to get in a few good strokes and then start over-analyzing things and that's when he kind of loses his edge. We'll need to work on him not thinking everything to death."

He knew.

People. It was all I could do to hold myself back from bursting into tears. Frankly, I did burst into tears, but I managed to wait until I was alone. So many many many people who just didn't get him. And this one tennis coach finally sees what I've seen all along.

Potential. Ferocity. Determination.


Thanks, Coach.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Little Chickadee

chickadee on mesh

I finished a new little painting a couple of weeks ago. It's based on a sketch I made a couple of months ago.
Actually, it's not all that little...

bedroom painting

That's it above my king-sized bed. The painting is 6 feet x 4 feet. It's like Chickdeezilla, really.

I originally painted it for my mother, but it looks so nice above my bed, I may not give it to her.

Is that wrong?

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Fire in the Sky

The summer is flying by more quickly than I ever thought possible. I'm rather stunned that it is the middle of July, honestly. I haven't meant to take a break from blogging, but that seems to be what I've done. Maybe I needed it. Maybe I was feeling stagnant and frighteningly non-clever, and didn't want to just come out and say so.


I feel like I've been gone forever. I logged into blogger and found that the entire format has changed - it's so very streamlined and pretty. I think I like it, although I'm finding myself searching for familiar buttons and commands a little more than I used to. I'm also using Google+ here and there - trying to figure it out and see if I can replace my Facebook account, with which I have a love/hate relationship. If you're on Google+, look me up.


I have a million iphone photos of this set of power lines. I'm starting to compile them all into one place to tell a story. I'm fascinated by them the way they play with the sky. Is that weird? Part of the fascination has to do with the fact that they cross over our tennis club and I see them every day, in all different sorts of lighting situations. There are a couple of red-tailed hawks that nest nearby, and I often see them swooping around or lighting on a cross-bar to scan the field below for prey. They give power to the people in the community and give advantageous hunting strategy to the hawks.

That makes them pretty important, I'd say.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

July? Really? Dang.

Fort McHenry Drum Corps

I hope your 4th was wonderful. Sorry I missed it...

I'll be back soon, I promise. I just need to get a few more hours sleep...