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Falling in Love Again

Elsa-the-Dog and I have started taking early morning strolls. Because we tend to overfeed her she is slightly round and I think she needs to run. So, every morning Elsa eagerly looks for a stray squirrel or a deer to chase and I let her go! She doesn’t run into the woods to follow the wild critters out of my sight, but she runs like a wild thing down the road and to the edge of our Forest Primeval. Great exercise!

And it should be noted that I always let her out quietly so the critters will be in sight and not scared off first thing in the morning. Elsa gives chase, gets her morning run, and the wild critters seem to enjoy the whole thing too.

But yesterday morning there was an unexpected visitor.

Elsa came face to face with a great big SKUNK!

There was no barking but there was a confrontation. The skunk turned its back and raised its tail and Elsa backed away. Then the skunk tried to waddle off and Elsa followed. It was like she wanted to keep Mr. Skunk for a friend! Maybe the critter thought Elsa was another (albino?) skunk. They were about the same size but Elsa is a mix of browns, blacks, whites and golds.

No amount of screaming, “Elsa – COME!” from my long distance away had any effect on either of them. Elsa moved in, the skunk tried to run, Elsa moved in again, etc.

Crestfallen about what I was facing to remove the skunk scent, I gave up calling and turned back. But here came Elsa. She finally bade farewell to Mr. Skunk and returned to my side – no doubt expecting compliments, cookies and adulation for coming when she was called.

I was terrified of her approach, expecting the onslaught of painful smells. Having dealt with that scent in the past with other dogs, I knew what to expect.

In fact I once did a blog post about clearing the aisles in a Dollar Store when I carried the skunk scent and didn’t realize it.

But there was Elsa at my feet looking guilty – – – WITH NO SCENT!

I knelt down to give her a sniff but smelled nothing but the great outdoors.

A fleeting thought…was this a symptom of Covid? Losing the sense of smell?

Who ever heard of anyone coming face-to-butt with a skunk and not getting sprayed?

Was Mr. Skunk handicapped (missing his scent glands)?

Did Mr. Skunk use up his spray on something else?

You know what I think?

I think Elsa was non-threatening and communicated a message that she only wanted a friend. Or maybe they were both falling in love. After all, we are just coming to Valentine’s Day. She never even barked one bark or growled one growl. And I think Mr. Skunk recognized and honored her overwhelming wish for love. So much for logical explanations and good country stories.

Nevertheless, in future I do plan to send out morning warnings like rattling doorknobs, banging on things and uttering loud cries as we emerge from the house for morning strolls.

Meanwhile I have learned that Skunk mating season does peak around Valentine’s Day.

Male skunks begin stirring and wooing female skunks around the second week of February. Females refusing this courtship will spray in defense. Thankfully, skunk mating season only lasts from mid-February through mid-April!”

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY and A MESSAGE OF LOVE FROM ELSA AND MR. SKUNK!

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on CovidPexels.com

Have you noticed there is an in-between method of dealing with the medical world that comes short of Emergency Room visits and even eliminates in-person appointments?

It began for me with BigFoot. Remember him/her? About the time I was really getting plagued by pain and questions, that is when Covid hit.

Being in the Senior Set I was doing everything possible to isolate and that meant biting my nails over meeting MDs in their own offices, clinics or hospitals.

I began cancelling appointments.

Until one doctor suggested Tele-Visits.

We had 3 of those over a few months and in some ways our conversations were even more educating than if we had met in person.

And although I was and am still hesitant to bare my soul to a relative stranger, the comfort of distance is making it easier to loosen my tongue. Those were my first TeleVisits and I found them enjoyable, particularly if I placed the phone on my right ear (the one with more acute hearing).

I went from talking to an orthopedic doctor on the phone to working next with a would-be Health Coach. Ever hear of that?

My Sweet Health Coach needed people to practice on until she could get accredited. The work was all done by phone and computer.

I think it was a Zoom meeting.

Being part of the resistant Senior Set, I have steadfastly resisted understanding anything about Zooming.

Zooming is what my little dog, Elsa does when she is happy. She gets the Zoomies and runs through the house in wild abandon.

Anyway, I worked with my would-be Health Coach (on the phone) and it was probably similar to psychiatric sessions with Sigmund Freud. I never met Sigmund but I imagine he must have been a good listener.

So, I bared my soul and my Coach would nod verbally as if she really understood my problems. Oddly enough the calls helped. Maybe I just needed to talk.

Finally when Covid slowed down a little I made an appointment with a Dietician to see if I could get guidance on healthy eating. The last book I read on nutrition was Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit by Adelle Davis, written in 1954. I still love that book even though whole chapters should be ignored.

But I learned a lot at my first meeting with the nutritionist and made an appointment #2 but then Covid came back and we arranged a TeleVisit.

And once again I am baring my soul over the phone lines and I am sure everything I say and my inner most secrets are even being recorded!

It seems to me the whole world has now fallen into a no-touch medical environment that promotes talking, talking and more talking and the value of touchy feely connections is getting lost (or is already gone missing) in a computer connected society.

I do highly recommend TeleVisits though. It is a place where you can at least bare your soul.

Dear Customer

I live in rural Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and on the other side too, in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. In other words: Where exactly do I live?

To make matters even more confusing, I live just off a State Road on a private road, but my mail box is located on the State Road about a mile down the private road. The residents of my community pay yearly fees to take care of the private road. But I am told the State Road is maintained by the County, especially when it snows.


Are you confused yet?

We had a fairly big seven inch snow a few weeks ago. The private road was plowed by my community and the State road portion was plowed by the County.

We were all hugely grateful for the combined effort to allow us all to get out in an emergency.

However……….

The County managed to leave huge mounds of compacted snow in front of our mailboxes which are on the State Road – not the private road. At any rate, a bank of four mailboxes was plowed in.

I was with Bill when he tried to pick up our mail by balancing atop the mound, holding onto the car with one arm and the mailbox with the other in a shaky attempt to retrieve the mail. Not good for us over-the-hillers for sure. How the mail lady managed to deliver was a mystery too.

As we were rejoicing about how well things were managed here in times of crisis there appeared a notice in our mailbox entitled United States Postal Service – Approaches to Curbside Mailboxes. And it read:

“Dear Customer, The Postal Service depends on you to meet postal requirements regarding delivery and collection of mail to curbside boxes. Please keep the full approach and exits to your mailbox clear as illustrated in the examples below. Removing trashcans, snow, vehicles, and any other objects from the area allows the carrier to deliver your mail safely and efficiently without exiting the vehicle.”

  • The State owns the road connecting to our private road.
  • There is a bank of mailboxes on the State Road.
  • The County plowed the State Road after a snowstorm.
  • The County blocked access to the mailboxes for Postal Service personnel and its customers.

And the USPS says,

“Dear Customer,

You are responsible.

Clean up this mess.”

Smile!

Thanksgiving with son, daughter-in-law and three Grandgirls. Do we look cold?

Canine Hysteria

On one of our vet runs to have Elsa’s nails cut, the vet did some blood work too.

“It is as I expected,” he said, “She is hypothyroid.”

And so our little rescue dog must have been exhibiting signs of this hormone imbalance which tends to make humans lethargic and prone to weight gain. Elsa is a bit on the roly-poly side for sure.

In addition, in the olden days people used to describe women with thyroid problems as “hysterical.”

That could describe Elsa too.

She is at least paranoid if not hysterical. And now that I know she is hypothyroid I would definitely say she was/is hysterical.

She breaks out in shakes and shivers from unknown unseen dangers. I used to blame it all on her maybe being abused in her previous lives with other not so nice people.

She has severe separation anxiety.

She will not touch dog toys and doesn’t know how to play.

And she is not only food driven but is food protective.

Now Elsa is on thyroid pills twice a day. The vet says it will probably help her lose weight too.

We already notice a new dog in Elsa’s body. She runs more and wants to stay outside more in spite of snow and ice.

The other stuff remains the same and we return to the vet mid February to assess progress.

A hysterical dog may be just like a hysterical woman.

Who knew?

Being Florida born and bred I have never quite adjusted to snow events. A world transformed by white was out of the realm of my imagination and the first snow I ever saw I was 21 years old in Big Bear City, California. That snow was called Tapioca for its tapioca-like pellets, and I have never seen the likes of it since.

And then we had a whopper of an event a day or so ago here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. That storm named Izzy dumped seven inches that froze in place and dredged up lots of memories of other winters right here in rural Virginia.

In the early days years ago such a snow created magnificent excitement for those of us young enough to enjoy prepping and shoveling or just going outside to experience raw nature.

That was when my mother was living with us and I would call the power company and whine about having an elderly woman here who could not take the cold. Mom has been gone a long time and guess who is elderly here now!

In the old days we had to keep stocked up on wood for the woodstove, and I saved water in bathtubs, washing machines, and in any containers I could find, candles too, and lots and lots of comforters and blankets to cozy up in. I made stew that could be reheated on the wood stove. Never mind that it might take six hours to be heated to a palatable stage. And we got out the shovels too.

This latest storm has been a vastly different story.

The power stayed on but even if it went out the difference is we installed a whole house generator!

And because we have this remarkable new technology I should be happy to exclaim, “Let it snow.”

Because now:

There will be running water no matter what.

The microwave will work.

The toaster too.

The heat never goes off.

The freezer keeps on running.

Lights only go out for 10 seconds before the generator kicks in.

No candles necessary.

Progress! A better life. A safer future.

Then why do I feel sad? Maybe it is like people felt when the automobile replaced the horse and carriage. This first real winter storm since we got the generator has left me with a sort of wrung out memory. It was a ghost snowstorm that brought up all my old memories of bustling around preparing for a worst scenario.

I still keep a few jarred candles in a secret cupboard just in case. They are lonely reminders of more eventful days when I placed candles in every room and flashlights too.

I still filled two pitchers with water just in case. They are reminders that the need for water was paramount. Filling tanks and tubs and containers was a busy job indeed.

The wood stove has not been lit with a real fire in a long time. It once kept us so warm at times I had to open windows. There is still plenty in the woodpile but waiting for a forgotten necessity.

Yes, I did go through the motions of all the preparations I used to do, but eventually realized I could just sit back and watch the snow. There was that little glimmer of excitement as I watched the first flakes come floating down, but I actually longed to be in survival mode with all the old frantic preparations. I missed working to make my home ready to combat nature and then to bundle up in Aunt Millie’s crocheted afghan, enjoying reheated stew warmed for six hours on the woodstove.

Photo by Cedric Fauntleroy on Pexels.com

This sometimes feels like a medical diary created especially to form a deadly boring buzz in the Blog-us-Fear. But lately the medical world crashes into my real world and takes over. The last encounter actually has begun to interest me (if it doesn’t kill me first). I am hoping it will interest you too.

As you may know, I had total hip replacement surgery in July of 2021. Everything went perfectly and the hip is like new. Well, it is new…. not just like new.

Hips and teeth do not seem to have any connection but this story began in early September after the hip replacement. It all began with tooth pain…. like sensitivity to cold and pressure.

Now think about this. At the close of hip surgery I was handed a sheet of instructions to give to my dentist and told that I will have to take antibiotics for life before having any dental work done, including simple things like cleaning. Evidently infections in the mouth will travel directly to an implant (in this case, the artificial hip) and that will wreak havoc on the entire body.

The story began in early September (just two months from my hip surgery) when I felt an odd little pain in a lower left tooth. It did not seem crucial so I waited a few days. On September 8, 2021 I visited the hip surgeon for a last follow-up meeting and had no pain at that time either.

But on September 9, 2021 a real sensitivity to cold and pressure returned and I knew there was something wrong. “Probably just a cavity,” I thought so I called the dentist. The receptionist put me on hold while the dentist checked my records and when she returned she said, “The doctor says he sees nothing wrong in your chart. Please begin brushing with a sensitivity toothpaste for a week and then call again if the pain persists.” I was amazed that the new toothpaste worked after a week and I didn’t call back. However the pain returned off and on so the dentist finally decided to take Xrays and to look at the tooth for me. The results of the Xrays showed nothing, nor did a “look-see” show anything. “Stay on the sensitivity toothpaste,” was the admonition, and do not rinse.” And so it went. Until January 2022.

For two days early January 2022 I suffered intense pain with no added stimulation. Then the pain went into swelling to create the face of a ghoul! Though I tried to be brave and use my sensitivity toothpaste correctly, I called. And I got a rapidly arranged appointment with the dentist for more Xrays since evidently a swollen face is good enough reason to be concerned. On January 6, 2022 I was finally diagnosed with an abscess, given a high dose of antibiotics, and referred to an Oral Surgeon. On January 7, 2022 the surgeon removed the tooth. There was an unmistakable urgency to get all this done.

And there you have it….. the evolving story of a tooth that was basically ignored and a dentist who forgot about my hip surgery and the dangers of infection travelling to that site and the possibility of sepsis and all sorts of potential side effects like death.

Should the dentist have started me on antibiotics “just in case” as a precautionary measure? How dangerous was it to my life and limbs to ignore a possible infection reported just two months post hip surgery? How dangerous was it to let this go from September 2021 to January 2022?

It is a happier day today since the swollen face is looking a little better. I am on heavy duty antibiotics for a total of 6 days. Hopefully none of this infection will move around to attack vulnerable areas.

“Such is life” and modern medicine!

Lemme know what you think.

The Memory Tree

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Holidays!

The festive greetings seem louder this year and maybe they even mean more.

Bill and I once again managed to put the tree up and got it covered with memories. I am always so proud that each ornament carries its own story going back so many years.

There are the Hungarian hearts sold to me by a woman on a street in Budapest. It was my first trip to Hungary to see where my father was born.

And look at the smallest decorated glass globes! They are what are left of the very first ornaments we purchased 62 years ago when newly wed. We were so young and just starting our lives as adults.

I love the doggy memories too. One real ostrich egg has our pair of Golden Retrievers painted on, and another is of my brother’s Dalmation. The horses are there too – Martini and Lucy.

The list goes on and the finally the fully dressed tree each year is actually a biography of a family.

That is what Christmas is all about – Past, Present, and Future. So, I am wishing you, my family and friends, good health and happiness and more of the same and lots of great memories in days to come.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! HAPPY NEW YEAR! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Photo by Shiny Diamond on Pexels.com

About two weeks ago I looked in the un-masked morning mirror and discovered something alien in one of my two used-to-be-perfect nostrils. No pain there. No redness. Just something that looked like and felt like a skin tag.

“Thank goodness for masks,” I said to myself. “At least I have semi exotic hazel colored eyes, and with a mask to hide this nose imperfection I am good to go – if I ever want to go that is.”

On the other hand, maybe the alien thing was really something wildly dangerous? Maybe I should see my PCP (Primary Care Physician). And so I did and so he did refer me to an ENT (Ear, Nose, nd Throat man).

Notice I am writing in modern day initials again? Could this be a sign of regression to an earlier stage of life?

Anyway, I went to the ENT who said not to worry because it wasn’t the big C (Cancer) but that it would require cutting and stitches and he needed more time to dig around and get it all. We made an appointment for about a month later.

Now, to make a long story shorter, I had a next day pre-set appointment with a new, never seen before Dermatologist. Thanks to the Covid virus, I had not visited one of those physicians in over two years.

The new skin guy took a look at my nose (he couldn’t miss it of course) and offered to remove it on the spot (the tag – not the nose) with cauterization instead of stitches. The whole thing took about 10 minutes!

Nose Status Now

With a mask, I remain a mystery woman with hazel eyes.

Without a mask I can boast a perfect nose open to public view and occasional sneezing.

Sometimes life can be transformed in the space of 10 minutes!

Well, the gang was all here for Thanksgiving in the country and it was a hoot (as they used to say in another of my previous eras). Son, daughter-in-law, 3 grandgirls and one Golden Doodle descended upon this quiet, mostly people-less, oasis of calm and serenity in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Even Elsa-the-dog was in shock and only began to adjust by Day 4.

Thanksgiving day and the day before were a frenzy of cooking. And in spite of my Grand-girl, Jessica’s brilliant pre-holiday spread sheet outlining each of our specially owned menu items, we largely proceeded to cook old favorites in our own unique ways. The results were a delicious (if not elegant) meal. This is not a criticism because there are obviously benefits to using paper plates liked fast cleanup and less chaos in the kitchen.

But I had envisioned setting the table with “good china” for the first time since the advent of Covid and in fact, bought a new cloth that would spotlight the glowing beauty, etc.

I think it was the day after Thanksgiving when we almost all went to the Great Valley Farm and Brewery just to check it out and for something to do. And for no real reason we stayed and stayed in a plastic wrapped bubble laughing and talking and of course sipping the wine and eventually the view, and made friends with a giant pit bull terrier named Ed who was happily visiting there with his own human family. And Ed was truly a gentle loving giant.

Since I had not had a drink in years you might understand why the giggles came on strong. I was also chilled since being housebound and not accustomed to real air. The girls noticed me shiver and proceeded to wrap up Grammy and the giggles got hilariously contagious.

After awhile we moved on down the hill to the Halcyon Days Cider place and sampled all their delicious hard cider varieties which only amplified the giggles. There was more of course…. more food, more games, more talking and laughter.

The gang was all here and now gone. There is an odd empty feeling of quiet.

So we decorated the Christmas tree.

And all the while we were wishing the family and all of you wonderful friends in cyberspace a Christmas laced with great food, grins and giggles.

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