Friday, May 30, 2008

In his father's arms...

Last night I received some terrible news. An old family friend committed suicide this week. He had moved back in with his elderly parents and early one morning he shot himself. His father rushed in and he died in his father's arms.
I cannot imagine the pain this family is experiencing. This person's death has shocked an entire community. Like an earthquake the tremors have far reaching effects. The worst hit area is the small town where he lived and worked. But this act has reached where I lived, where BB2 lives out west and who knows where else. Even though I have not seen the family in years and years, I have so many loving, happy memories from my childhood of them. They were a huge influence on me. They were so much a part of my life, of my parents' lives and still are of my family's lives even today. The effects of this man's death are unfathomable.

The image of him dying in his father's arms haunts me. I keep seeing them in my mind's eye: his elderly father cradling him, and behind them, the Christ cradling them both. I know some believe that suicide is the ultimate sin against God. But the God I serve, the one who heals fish and children, who listens to my ramblings about sick animals, wounded people and helpless children, would never turn His back on someone so desperate as to take their own life. I cannot believe God who loves all His creation would forsake His child, who out of agony and pain so deep that he saw no other option than to die, would not take that child into His arms once he had passed from this life.
I cannot believe that God is not standing behind those elderly parents arms open, ready and waiting to hold them in their unimaginable pain and mourning. I cannot imagine that God is not there in that community ready to wipe away tears and soothe the pain and despair of the bereaved. I cannot imagine that God wasn't there when that man, so broken and wounded, picked up a gun and aimed it at himself. I cannot imagine that even now any of us are alone, unloved or unwanted. I cannot and will not believe that...

photo link:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fish gotta swim... birds gotta fly...

Dennis apparently is part Parks! He is stubborn and has taken on an "I'll show you!" attitude~ something that is genetically programmed into my family... He absolutely refuses to give up the ghost.
He is swimming more today and working out the kinks. He even ate some of his freeze dried bloodworms for me! He refuses to quit... he seems to be recovering thanks to a dose of aquarium salts, magic blue fish medicine and lots of fish prayers.
In celebration the hubster took me to PetSmart and we bought Dennis a fake turtle friend for his tank.
I just gotta admire a fish as stubborn as I am...

In a totally unrelated note our resident mockingbird has increased its song list. Not only does it mimic our beeping car locks but it now has our cat Maggie's plaintive "MEOOOOOOOW" (high pitched and whine-y) down perfectly. Maggie sits in the upstairs window meowing at anyone and everyone on the street, crying out her tale of woe. And the mockingbird has her down pitch perfect. I discovered this when I was standing by my car and heard her up in the tree! I started freaking out thinking she had somehow pried open the window and climbed out only to discover the bird bobbing and mewing at me.
Yeesh. If that bird starts baying like the beagle Riley next door, I may have to lose my compassion and make the cats a bird sammich!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dennis Update

Dennis is still hanging in there. He swam a little for me this morning. Flashed his fins but then settled back to the bottom of the tank.
SIGH... fish are so hard.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Dennis is my Betta fish whom I inherited from school. I have become very attached to him. Now he is sick. He had a bout of "ick" which I treated and from which he recovered.
But for the last few days he has just sat on the bottom of the tank not moving much. After consulting with Alycat she explained that fish don't live as long as dogs and cats... or even chickens...
I know there are those who would say "its just a fish" but not to me.
I have a relationship with the little blue finned fellow. I greet him morning and night. He follows my finger and "flares" his fins for me. He's not just a fish. He has a name, he has a place in my heart.
He's Dennis. And I fear he is dying.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sniffy Pie

I have decided to share the cats' stories too. I think they are becoming jealous that Molly gets all the press!

Sniffy Pie came to us as a rescue. She had been boarded at the vet clinic at which I used to work for a month with her two fellow cat mates. Her then name was Maggie. She had a pretty serious upper respiratory condition which entailed her sneezing huge wads of mucous multiple times daily. Not a really attractive trait but her charm and personality made one forget the flying snot balls. She was a lovebug, a cuddler, a true snuggle puss. The owners finally decided to take the cats home. Two of the cats anyway. They didn't want Maggie. Because they had just redone the whole house and well there are those flying wads of snot to be dealt with... so they decided to euthanize her. After a month of 8+ hours a day with this sweet cat, the whole staff couldn't believe their decision. We all started to discuss the possibilities. We talked with the owners about their decision asking if they could find her a home instead. They told us we could find her a home if we wanted but they were ready to put her to sleep.
So that's when the hubster got yet another tearful phone call starting "honey there's this cat..."
So Maggie became mine. I had them sign her over to me and I started her on the first of many rounds of antibiotics. After a week or so she started to breathe better and the mucous lessened. She came home and immediately fell in love with the hubster sitting on his chest, burrowing into his beard, sneezing lovingly into his face. We also began to notice her quirks... carrying socks around wailing sadly, then piling them into her bed like kittens. She loves heat, sitting on the furnace vents, under a lamp on top of a warm computer, in a sunbeam. She also started to go around smelling everything: food, our drinks, our breath, lampshades, the dog, the other cats, toes anything and everything. Just sitting for long times smelling stuff... I mentioned it to the vet and she said "Well yeah, the poor thing hasn't been able to smell anything for years until you treated her!" Thus she became Sniffy Pie.
She loves kids too. When our young nieces and nephews visit she is all over them. She once tried to drag our 4 year old nephew away from his big brother because he was crying... My nephew got scared and thought she was biting him but his mom witnessed the event and told me that "No, Sniffy was grabbing his collar with her teeth and trying to drag him away from the torturing older brother..."
She loves to lick faces and often the unsuspecting guest in our house will wake up to her washing their face if they leave their bedroom door open. When we babysat a puppy, she was continually at its crate patting it with her paws. She is definitely the maternal one.
Sniffy likes to climb all the book shelves and peer down at everyone too. Sometimes she will leap down on them for fun.
So if you visit us, remember the socks on the floors are "bebees" and you may get a facial if you doze off...

Visiting the kiddos

I went to visit my kiddos in the hospital today. It was heart wrenching on a new level. They were glad to see me and I was glad to see them... But it was difficult to leave them there. Their moms were all there too. I admire these young women, trying to raise kids alone, often with no help except the government. And not much help from that entity.
But what struck me about the whole visit later was the absence of the dads. Dads are a rarity on my case load. The ones who are there often are step dads. Its rough trying to grow up as a boy with a father present and I imagine its even harder trying to grow up without one around. Especially if you already have the weight of a mental disorder on your tiny shoulders...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

True Love

Last night the hubster proved his deep and enduring devotion. I have an inexplicable fascination with parasites and he showed the depth of his love by sitting through many, many youtube videos of worbles.

Don't click the link if you are squeamish, its intense and um... well gross if you aren't into medical stuff...

Consider yourself warned. But if you do choose to view, you will understand just how much the hubster loves me...

Hard day...

Today I went for the 2nd time to admit a child into the psychiatric unit to stabilize them. This is probably my least favorite part of my job. I know it is for their benefit. I know it is for all the right reasons. I know they are a danger to themselves and others and need this intensive level of help.

But watching a mom and child separate even for all the right reasons breaks my heart clean in two.

I must admit I was not able to maintain the clinical, professional face the whole time. I cried a little too. (Not that that will surprise anyone who knows me). But I didn't really beat myself up over it. And I was able to still do my job and pull myself together and be there for the family. So in many ways I have grown. Because I can be professional, but not cold and I can realize its not about me at all, but its all about my kiddos...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Loveliness in the 'hood...

Tonight was a absolutely perfect Mumma and Molly Dawg walk in the hood. The temperature was just cool enough. The sky was robin's egg blue with large fluffy clouds and the sun was setting at a striking angle, the light was low and that shade of gold that makes everything sparkle.
As Molly and I walked we could smell the sweetest scents. The lilacs and tulips of a few weeks ago have been replaced with the wild roses in the 'hood. These roses are small, just larger than a quarter and grow on wild vining bushes in almost every other yard. But they pack a wallop~ their scent carries across the entire neighborhood filling it with a sweetness no perfume can capture.
Also in glorious display are azaleas and rhododendron. The peonies are just about to pop too. There are flowering trees as well. I don't know what they are, but they add to both the sight and smell bringing pleasure at every turn.
As we sidled up the street, the laughter of children ebbed and flowed, washing over us carried by the breeze. The children played in yards, rode bikes on the sidewalks and in the street. Its safe enough in our neighborhood that they can do that. Although one young man did lose his basketball to a tragic mishap: it rolled into the street and someone ran over it, popping it. Earlier the hubster found its limp caved in form lying dejectedly in the road and carried it back to the basketball goal.
Hopefully someone will find another basketball and the kids can play again.

Thought for the day

I asked for strength and was given challenges to make me strong. I asked for wisdom and was given problems to solve. I asked for prosperity and was given brain and brawn to work. I asked for courage and was given dangers to overcome. I asked for love and was given troubled people to help. I asked for favors and was given opportunities. I received nothing I wanted. I received everything I needed. ~ Unknown

Saturday, May 17, 2008


My hubster ran a 5K race this morning... so why am I exhausted???

I am so proud of the hubster. He didn't quit, he finished in good time and we hooted together at the finish line!

Then we came home and I promptly slept the day away...
I think Saturdays may just have to be my recovery days. The week takes a lot out of me lately. I run full steam and just can't/won't make the effort to keep that pace on Saturdays. I had envisioned it would be a day of chores: cleaning the bathroom, litterboxes, mop, sweep, do home repair projects... but lately its been more a mental health day for me. A time of decompression from a week of expending enormous amounts of energy both mental and physical. I went to the gym more this week, made good progress on the elliptical. The iPod helps sooooo much! 30 minutes goes much faster when you are rockin out w/ the Eagles or the Beatles!
And as far as mentally, there may be a letup for a short while. Afterschool groups have ended for the semester, and only 8 days of school left. Then I change up my work routine and start doing more out of the school in the community therapy work w/ the kiddos.
So stay tuned for the summer.
Now back to my lazy, hazy Saturdazy.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Good things come in threes...

Last night I got the third announcement of impending parenthood from one of my younger friends/former coworkers!
Over the years I began some significant relationships with a few younger women at the clinic where I used to work. These are incredibly cool, smart, compassionate women that are *ahem* young enough to have been my daughters... yet we bonded and became really good friends. They all have taught me so much about life and love and friendship and fun. They have supported my dreams of becoming a clinician, they have encouraged, celebrated and sorrowed with me over the years. And I have done so in return with them.
These women and their spouses are going to be incredible parents: because they are incredible people, they are loving, they are smart, they are dedicated, they are compassionate, they give 110% of themselves daily and they really, really are excited about having kiddos. I don't think these kids will ever end up on my caseload.

SO now all 3 are going to be MOMS!!! And like cats they all apparently came into heat at the same time because all will have their litters in the fall!

Congrats Katie, Libby, Bonnie. You all rock! (Also Patrick, Brandon and Chris for your part in the incredible mystery of life~)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

My mother has been dead almost 19 years... I can clearly recall her some days, others I have to struggle to remember how she looked, sounded, smelled. And that breaks my heart.
Mama never had more than a 6th grade education. She grew up dirt poor, a middle child in a family of 8 kids from an Irish father and a Cherokee mother. She grew up in the Depression in a small KY town. Her family lived off of what they could grow and hunt down. She once told me she would never, ever eat groundhog again...
She married my father when she was in her early 20's. He was in his late 40's. He was a traveling salesman. (Seriously. His story will come later...)
She had 2 children early. My sister and Big Brother #1, then 10 years later Big Bro #2, then 5 years later, me. She thought I was menopause! HA!
Mama may not have been educated but she was smart. She knew how to cook, raise a garden, mend worn out clothes to look new, how to soothe a fever, calm a scared child, raise a family on next to nothing, love a very complicated older man and most of all, love us unconditionally.

Once when I was about 9, I became very dramatic and went through a period of threatening to run away. Finally enough was enough, Mama didn't argue or plead, she quietly packed a suitcase, walked me to the car, put me in the backseat, started the engine and asked me where I wanted to go, bus station or my older brother's house?
Needless to say, I never threatened to run away again.
Another time I got mad at our dog, Dinky. He had chewed up something of mine and I was furious. I (again very dramatically) stated we should shoot him. Mama got a gun and asked me to hold him and then asked where she should shoot him. Lesson learned. Mama would have made an incredible children's therapist!

My father died when I was 15 and BB2 moved out about a year later, leaving Mama and me to navigate my teen years on our own. It could have been a lot rougher had I had a different mom. Lucky for me I had her.
My friends thought my mom was cool. She had a great sense of humor, she would joke around and act just as silly as us. She didn't mind teenagers messing up the house or hanging out. I realize now that me envying all the formal living rooms and spotless houses was so stupid. None of my friends hung out in those rooms. They weren't warm and inviting. They weren't accepting or comfortable. My mom opened her home and her heart and that made the difference.

When it was time for me to go to college it was hard for us both. By then Mama had had a series of heart attacks and by pass surgery. But she insisted I follow my dreams. For awhile I came home every weekend. Then we both realized we would and could be okay if I didn't do that. When I got my first apartment she would come and spend weekends with me. I took her to the theaters I worked at so she could see what I was doing for a living. I am sure my new world was strange to her. But she gamely followed me around not judging or lecturing, just taking it in, excited by my journey.
The hardest thing I ever had to do was leave for New York. If I wanted to succeed in theater, that was where I needed to go. I remember us both talking and crying about my decision. Cutting those apron strings were hard.
She never visited me in NYC, but regularly sent me care packages and cards. I would faithfully call on Friday nights no matter what. I knew she had the phone right beside her and wouldn't mind waking up.

While I was in NYC, our cat Bojo had to be euthanized. He was probably about 11 or 12; an un-neutered male, never vaccinated long haired yellow tabby that had become more her cat than mine over the years. Bojo had gotten in one too many fights and was ailing badly. Neither Mama or I had the spare cash to really give him the treatment he needed and he appeared to be suffering. That was a horrible, terrible phone conversation. Together we knew what had to be done. But she was the one who took him to the vet and ended his suffering. I carry the guilt to this day that I couldn't be there for either of them. I am sorry Bojo. I am sorry Mama. Forgive me. I hope you both are together in Heaven loving each other today.

My old friends continued to stop by a visit Mama when they were in town to see their parents. They would update me on what a joy it was to see her. Since she died, I have lost track of many of them. She was the link in the chain from my teens to my twenties...

Mama loved my husband. Before we got married, I had one last big trip. I headed off to Russia and Japan with a theater tour. The hubster called Mama and took over the weekly phone calls since at that time the phone service from Russia was unpredictable and impossible. They would talk and talk and she grew to love and trust him.
Mama died shortly after we got married. The last time I saw her was the weekend of our wedding. I did talk to her after that of course. I even talked to her the day she died. As did all her kids. Her death was unexpected. She was in the hospital for a routine procedure. The tough little woman had pulled through so many harder things that we didn't expect a blood transfusion to do her in...
But she left us quickly. With a sigh, she just left, surrounded by family, after talking to or seeing all her children. No dramatic lingering death. No heroic measures. It was as if she knew we would all be okay, that we were all going to survive and it was OK for her to go.

I don't wish her back, sick and suffering. I know she is free from pain and in a better place. But I miss her to this day. I miss my Mama.
God bless and Happy Mother's Day.
I love you, Mama. Hug Bojo for me.


I have taken 2 vacations with my mum-in-law. The first was a long drive north to a friend's wedding in Ithaca NY. I met Mum in PA and we drove up from there. It was a lovely drive, we laughed and talked, listened to music and just rode in silence at times. We planned on staying at a Bed & Breakfast on a real working farm. I had only stayed in a B&B once and it was lovely. Again, I pictured a lovely Victorian house, surrounded by green pastures with lambs frolicking... inside we would have tea and cakes on antique china underneath an ornate chandelier at the family table. Later we would sleep on beautiful bed linens...
Then reality set in. We pulled up to an old farm house. OK, so it wasn't Victorian. A woman came out and invited us in. We walked in... to the B&B from HELL. It was cluttered. No that didn't do it justice. These people were serious OCD hoarders. There were paths to the kitchen and the TV. Mum and I looked at each other. Her face was priceless. I was sure I had just fallen to the bottom of "fave daughter in law" list. OR maybe even off it. We went upstairs, with me hoping that it would be better. Our room had twin beds... with scratchy army blankets. The owner cleared away her grandchild's toys. We inquired about the bathroom. Trudged back downstairs. OH JOY! We shared it with the couple. Had it not been so late and we had been so tired we would have turned tail and fled. But we decided to stick it out...
We stayed up late whispering and giggling at the absurdity of the "Lovely B&B" I had found for us. We finally slept.
In the morning we went down for breakfast, the old man was sitting at the table (dirty sticky table) and informed us there was cereal and toast if we wanted it. We declined. I decided to shower. Mum came back up and barely containing her laughter informed me that as she had tried to get in the bathroom, the old man was there, and started clapping and shouting out "I'm in here!" So I waited a bit, went to freshen up and Mum started calling hotels. We were getting the heck out of Dodge!
We left explaining we needed to be closer to the wedding, I think we were both concerned if we told the truth that this was just horrid that Ma & Pa might shove a tower of trash over on us and we would never be seen again...
Its only now, years after the fact that we can really laugh about this. I have not stayed in a B&B since. Mum has. She reports that it was lovely, Victorian, tea, all the amenities that I had imagined...

Happy Mother's Day Mum. Thanks for all the good times! I love you.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I will admit I hate exercising. I want weight to magically melt away from my body with no discernible effort on my part. I am a person who would gladly spend a day~ no a week~ in a comfy position reading book after book...
But this year I became a middle age woman. Totally against my will. Mentally I still spend most of my days as a young saucy thing. Its a shock to see myself w/ gray hair and wrinkles: who is SHE???? staring back at ME????
Anyway because of weight gain and genetics I am diabetic now. It sucks. I have been in denial about it for a few months thinking it would go away if I just take the magic pills and pretend it doesn't exist. But no, magical thinking doesn't work for the clinician any better than it works for the clients!
So the truth is the only way I can beat or at least better the disease process is exercise. Lucky for me the hubster is becoming a world class athlete and is inspiring, coaxing, nagging, daring me to do better.
I went to the dang gym today. I did the elliptical, I did the weights. I didn't hate every minute of it. I actually felt better afterwards. So I will do better. I will show diabetes that I can give it a run for its money.
That what we stubborn women in my family do...

Animals past...

Lonesome was my chicken. A rooster to be exact. He was a lovely pale yellow with one black tail feather. Out of the entire brood of chicks he was the lone survivor (hence the name Lonesome) from a predator eating them by his cunning ploy of hiding in an empty canning jar. So he was remarkable from infancy.
Daddy and Mama let me keep him as a pet. I think I brought him inside to live in a cardboard box by the woodstove until he was old enough to be put back in with the other chickens. I changed his paper, gave him food and water and "wallered" him daily with love. All the petting and carrying spoiled him apparently. The other chickens didn't like him and one of them pecked his eye, blinding him so he came back to being a pet and not part of the flock.
Lonesome would ride on our shoulders. When Daddy was stripping tobacco, Lonesome would perch up on his shoulder and stay there for hours. Lonesome would hang out around the house and I would sneak him cornbread. He didn't like being chased, which is what my ornery cousins would do, making me furious. It took days and lots of cornbread for him to calm down and trust me again.
Lonesome was one of my first pets and I loved him dearly. Unfortunately my dad got sick and we had to move in to town. I reluctantly took Lonesome over to the Brewster's farm where he finished out his days. He just disappeared one day. He was up in the years by then and with the one bad eye, I figured he never saw the end coming. I imagine it was a fox or coyote. The predator got him at last... I just hope it was swift.
Most of all I just hope animals really do go to Heaven. I would love to see that pale yellow rooster again. Although I am sure he will hate all the cats lined up to see me there...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Long, long week

Well. It has been a long week. Lots of meetings. Lots of my kiddo's having really rough times. Welcome to the world of a mental health worker! It ain't all sunshine and lollipops after all...
However there have been some wonderful moments. I have witnessed significant breakthroughs. I have seen one of my kiddos make a joke; first time ever which signifies brain development! A sense of humor means a new neural pathway is in place!
I got my Amazon order with new texts so I can start to learn even more about the mysterious world of childhood.

On the home front, Molly Dawg hopped up the ramp! And wagged her tail repeatedly! Her new meds are great and so far no sign of inappetite or nausea which would signal liver problems...
We had a lovely rainy day and I got to fall asleep to the sound of rain falling which is one of my favorite ways EVER to fall asleep.
The poppies bloomed. They are gorgeous this year. The peonies are budded and ready to explode next.
I got awesome new shoes. Bob ran and ran and ran; a dream he has been working on for while now. I am so very proud of him.
All in all, a long week but with enough good times that I can say, it really is worth it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Clinician at last: MAY DAY, MAY DAY

Today I start officially as a clinician with my first 2 kiddos. I am excited, nervous and prayerful.
I want so much to be good at this. I want to do no harm. I want to help.
In some ways life as a vet assistant was easier. Animals were easier. No, I take that back. They were just different in the way they broke my heart. The kiddos break my heart too. That's ok. When hearts break open love gets in and it flows out. I think that's why God made hearts breakable.

I read a story about a Rabbi who was teaching on God writing the scripture on our hearts. When questioned about the wording in the Torah, Why on the heart? Why not in the heart? The Rabbi explained God writes on our hearts so that when they break, His words fall into our hearts.
It seems we can only experience the divinity that is in each of us in our brokenness.
It is only through our pain and suffering that we become real and authentic and connect one to another.
I want to spare the kiddos pain and suffering, I want to shelter them, but I realize it is the hard lessons that we learn the most important things. It is the darkness that makes us love the light and it is in the struggle that we are strengthened.
Perhaps I need to take these lessons to heart myself as I begin this new journey.

The unsinkable Molly Dawg

Molly just keeps truckin'
My olden golden went in a week or so ago for bloodwork and a recheck. She had been having a few rough weeks, stumbling and falling a lot. Even some accidents in the house. (I don't mind the accidents, I long ago chose animal companions over priceless antiques and thus buy furnishings at yard sales for that very reason, so if something gets ruined, it gets replaced much more easily than a cherished family member!)
So Molly goes to the vet, and the hubster in the throes of a depressive episode thinks we are taking her to be euthanized. I have to admit I was unaware of this, I knew he was crabby and out of sorts, but I didn't realize he was in such a dark place... so much for my clinical observational skills!
The doc and I start talking bloodwork and therapy and the hubster starts talking euthanasia. It becomes confusing and tearful fast. Eventually we sort it out and leave with a new Rx and a still living dog. I go to work and the Hub goes to bed for the day.

Molly and I now understand the whole Abraham and Isaac story a lot better...

PS: The new RX and a lovely 10" ramp that Bro in law and I built have upped Molly's life quality immensely. We recheck bloodwork in 2 weeks to make sure her liver values are OK and if so she continues on this arthritis med and we get to have her for a while longer!