Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Christmas I Tried Not to Have

Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you. -Walt Whitman

You may be wondering where I have been, since it has been nearly a month since I posted. I am kind of wondering about that myself. First of all, my last post suggested we were going to get a new refrigerator...that did not happen. The freezer section did ice up again because, apparently, there was ice inside the door that did not completely melt the first time, but this last time we got it all. So, our old one actually started working as it should without icing up thereafter and we cancelled the order. I still want all stainless steel appliances—one day—but this may not have been the best time.

Since my life has been a series of flashes, this way and that, I thought I would just go with it in this post.

I like simplicity, partially because I think everyone overdoes Christmas with decorations and fuss, but then I myself tend to overdo it...probably to make up for a childhood that did not have enough. This year was the picture of simplicity...a bit too much simplicity. Is that an oxymoron? We did get out our half-sized nativity set, because I think the entire neighborhood would miss too much if we did not have that at least, judging by the number of vehicles that still slow or stop in front of our house when it is lit up. Other than that we had no outside lights and no wreaths on the windows or even the front door.

We had gotten a Noble Christmas tree and my husband and I trimmed it. A few days later the Princess and I got the lights on it, which is something my husband and I usually do, but we knew that he was going to be working even through the weekend before Christmas. Now we like about a week with just the lights on the tree and last year I had bought all new programmable lights after Christmas on clearance, as our old one would not twinkle anymore, just so I could have my highly desirable random twinkle lights with no muss and fuss of dealing with old wires and lights. As it turned out, these were to be the only decorations on the tree.

Christmas Day
This is the very first Christmas my husband and I have been apart and it was going to be anything but typical or traditional or what we wanted it to be. There have been Christmases my husband had to work, but he was at least at home for most of it. Knowing that we would be apart, we decided to postpone the opening of presents. Instead, my daughter and I planned to take friend of hers for his first 3D IMAX experience to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which took up our day from 11:00 a.m. when we left our house to 4:30 p.m. when we returned—so worth it and got our minds off what could have been rather a rather depressing day. Then we fed all the furry ones and ourselves before we skyped through my husband's computer to Grandma at the hospital so she could see the Princess open the presents she sent her. She also opened the one thing she asked for, arm warmers, and a planner with stickers and such from me as that was time sensitive, so to speak.

Flash Back to About Two Weeks Ago
My mother-in-law fell onto her left knee from tripping on the low step from her Florida room into her bedroom on that weekend. It became swollen but she assured us that she was able to walk on it without much pain. She did have x-rays taken right away this time. (I write "this time" because, if you remember, she fell just six months ago: Stepped on a Crack.) However, since nothing was broken this time, she made an appointment to be seen by her primary doctor on Thursday. He was rather upset with her because by that time it was so swollen he placed her in the hospital.

While there she was seen by a knee surgeon, who felt that there would be a higher risk of infection if he tried to surgically drain the knee, which by that time was draining on its own through open sores. So she was released after a two-day stay with a home care nurse scheduled to redress her bandage three times a week.

My husband was still working Connecticut on an installation and I told him that he needed to go see his mother, because I just knew (being empathic) that it was worse than they thought and it seemed I was wrong for the first day, but then came the next day....

Mom did not answer the door for the home care nurse nor did she answer her phone. The neighbor, who had taken her to the hospital and had a key, saw the nurse leaving and stopped by to open the door. Mom was sitting in her chair and seemed a bit off. The knee was infected, so she was taken back to the hospital.

At this point she was going into septic shock. They planned to do surgery to drain the infection immediately, but then they were faced with the same problem she had a year before I started blogging when she contacted C. Diff. from visiting her husband in the hospital: low blood pressure. Low blood pressure is not just a problem that makes surgery risky, it also makes it difficult to get antibiotics and medicines to circulate through the body that would help her fight the infection. (Last time, her arm was chemically burned from the inside out, but they saved her life after she was given only 20% chance of living. She had to have skin grafting on that arm, which complicates for future IVs.)

My husband was at a standstill with the install due to damage from the freezing cold during the transport (not of his doing) and there was a problem with the replacement parts, so he flew down to Florida when she was supposed to be in the first surgery that was postponed a day. Apparently, it is common that two surgeries are needed for this kind of drainage. After the first surgery, her knee was about half the size it had been. It had partially swollen more because she was dehydrated from the antibiotics, so they were pushing fluids that her kidneys, due to beginning to shut down from the septic shock, were not able to work well at getting the fluid out.

Flashing A Bit Forward, But Still Behind
Mom had her second surgery. She had two different infections and still has one or developed another one...still fuzzy on the facts of that. However, it was said that she had a deep blood infection, which I think is another way of saying she was septic...? They would have released her from the hospital three days ago, but for this infection. Then the plan is two weeks in a rehab nursing home to work on her mobility. Maybe my husband will be able to come home during that time so we can have the rest of our Christmas together...? However, his work wants him to go back to Connecticut to finish the install. I honestly do not plan to see him for another two to three weeks, but it would be nice if he could make it home.

Flashing Into the Future
After trying the soft approach with increasing pressure to get Mom to move so we could avoid these events where we have to rush to Florida because Mom has no one who really watches over her, we finally have taken the no-more-choice approach. Mom has been told that she is NOT going to be living alone anymore. She has always given the argument that when she moved her own mother down to Florida from New York, she lived alone until her last two years. I then asked Mom how old her mother was when she moved. 63? Mom, we are talking about a 20 year difference in age! And your mother did not fall even once. She is not really arguing the point now. I think this past year she has come to realize that she is not doing so well on her own.

While she was in the the hospital for the first time I went with the tough love talk, I told her that either my husband quits his job and we move in with her or she moves up here. She said she had been thinking about moving and she wants to go into an assisted living place. We all have told her that she does not really need that level of care yet and she will not have enough money left to get good quality care when and if she does really need it. Even her doctor, to whom, she listens to more than us obviously, has told her that she will have greater control of her life and better care if she lives with family. However, she just does not want to do any yard work, cooking, or laundry anymore. It is not that she is incapable, just that she does not want to do those things and that might be mostly due to her living alone in a house too big for her to keep up by herself for the last six years since her husband passed on.

So, our future kind of looks like this: Mom moves here. If she can take a few steps to get into our house then she will live in our home with us while we work on getting her home sold or she will rent a place for a few months. Then we try to find a three-to-four bedroom home with three full bathrooms (we still have a teenager) and buy it together if we can get financing before we sell our home. Mom will have the master bedroom on the main floor of the new house. Then we will work on selling our house.

So, we have a plan....?

My Lord, I hardly know where to start, for what to pray, and certainly I am not looking forward to any of what must be done, but I trust You. Help me to keep my face always toward You and let what is not from You fall away.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fire and Ice and Colds and Rain

Sanity is madness put to good uses. ~George Santayana, Little Essays

When my husband and daughter returned from the Guatemala mission trip, both were run down, as I expected that they would be with the grueling schedule. I had been having more sinus trouble, which can be typical for this time of year, but the Princess went into a full blown cold with sore throat and coughing, and I followed with less coughing, thankfully. My husband got achy and rested for one day but he did not really get sick. So, I was in bed all day yesterday and I was not well enough to drive around for errands this morning although I am on the mend and feeling better now. I would have been been in bed the day before, Sunday, as the Princess and I both were in no shape to go to church, but...

Well, we had another battle with the freezer frosting up and the frig not being cold enough that started on Saturday. We decided that the refrigerator is just being too unpredictable to feel comfortable with it, so we went refrigerator shopping. I have to say it was not very fun. First of all, we have about a 36" width space, but one side is against a wall, so we really need a 33" refrigerator to be able to open the door to 45 degrees and those are few these days. However, we found one with a bottom freezer (like we have already) and ice maker in freezer, something of a new luxury for us. The thing I like the most is being able to actually set the temperatures in both the freezer and refrigerator—no more number dials that I have to balance the air flow between the freezer and refrigerator. No other fancy stuff, like a water dispenser or anything like that, other than French refrigerator doors. I just see it as less to go bad on it. Oh, and it is stainless steel, which means for the first time in since my husband and I have been married and bought the refrigerator we now have, all my kitchen appliances will match! I am taking a moment to just breathe that one in.

Later on that same Sunday, we went to pick our Christmas tree with Mishka. Being that he is a puppy, he was not used to all the people who wanted to pet him and his enthusiasm was barely leash-able. (Not a word but works.) After we got home from that on Sunday, I went to bed and stayed there until today, Tuesday morning.

We have been in a drought all summer. Although there has been spots of rain here and there, it is way too dry in all of north Georgia. On our property, the last time it rained for a couple of hours was on September 27th. I remember the day because I was so happy it was raining I had taken a video of my front garden with the fountain running with my new wind chimes ringing softly. Before that it had not rained here for weeks upon weeks. Spring started out well, but summer was dry.

Remember how disappointed I was that we did not get to go to north Georgia because Mishka had Parvo? Well, that was the first week in November and we had not considered the wildfire that started on October 16th in that area. People living there and depending on tourism this time of year say their businesses and their health are suffering because of the smoke. It is said that more 40,000 acres have succumbed to wildfires in Georgia and now 14,000 people have been evacuated in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas in Tennessee. However, it is being reported that the fires in north Georgia are under control. More rain would definitely be helpful and rain is expected here tomorrow and possibly the weekend.

Thank you, my Lord, for us all getting better from the colds every day, for the nearly 30 years our refrigerator worked problem-free, for being able to afford a new one, for the blessings that You will give to the people in the Gatinburg area and in all the wildfire areas in answer to their prayers when so many have lost so much, and for the rain that is now coming to us and the areas where the wildfires are.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Guatemala Mission Trip

Let my heart be broken with the things that break God's heart.
-Bob Pierce, World Vision founder

This is the quilt that my husband bought in Guatemala for me.

I am giving just a sampling of the pictures from the mission trip that my husband and daughter went on. Most of the best ones were taken by the Princess. Everyone warned her not to take out her camera in certain areas, like the airport because it would likely be stolen, and definitely not take pictures of certain places, like the dump, but she did get a few anyway. She not only has the eye of a professional photographer, although not a camera adequate to her talent, but also the heart for it, to tell stories in pictures.

Getting to Guatemala was an ordeal in of itself. The plane tickets were particularly high priced and going up, so the best deal was to rent a van in Atlanta, drive to Tampa, Florida, fly from Tampa to Atlanta—yes, from where they began—and then fly from Atlanta to Guatemala. On the way back they just did not get on the last connecting flight from Atlanta to Tampa. Of course, there was a layover in Tampa so youth and adults were sleeping wherever they could.

On the way from airport to the missionary's house where they stayed most of the time, with one night at a youth camp.

It is a more diverse region than I thought it would be. For instance, there is a large Jewish community there. The first picture below is of the synagogue which could be seen from the youth camp.

The missionary's home was rather nice. Most of the homes in this neighborhood are owned by missionaries who rent to other missionaries, so the family moves often but within this neighborhood.

Arriving at the campgrounds....

At the camp, our kids were with other kids from the area, many training to be leaders in missions or churches. The camp had amazing views, as it is a beautiful country, but the lake is so polluted that no one swims in it. My husband was told that a few million was paid to have it cleaned up, but the man split with the money and did nothing. Very sad.

During the worship times, this building was packed. Guatemalans worship with lots of jumping and dancing. My daughter was participating so she did not take pictures. My husband and I have not yet synced up so I have some of his pictures of the kids.

This was on the campgrounds also. I think it is my favorite because I like pictures of abandoned structures. I always feel that they are filled with mystery and forgotten stories, like I wonder how many have been baptized here?

Another favorite although it is probably not abandoned....

Most of the streets are made of stones.

The group was five teens and four adults. Our church pastor, two youth pastors, and my husband made up the adults. All the adults, but my husband, ended up with tummy troubles on the trip. My husband adds a few drops of food grade hydrogen peroxide to even his bottled water because the extra oxygen fights off germs of all kinds whether from contact, food, or the water. However, they all agreed that the chain fast foods tasted better there than here, particularly McDonald's.

Then they all went to the dump. Seriously, people living there, who have nothing and scavenge, began to build shelters on top of the dump. It is highly unhealthy. Some areas have cemented floors now, but still.... This is the area where the group was warned not to take pictures because of the gangs there. They will steal the camera for its value, or worse because they do not like having their pictures taken. They went there to pray over the people living there. Afterward all their shoes had to be washed or sprayed with disinfectants. Imagine children living in such a place!

One man told my husband that his wife has had three children, but he does not know if they are all his because when a gang decides it time for a boy to become a man, he is expected to rape a woman. My husband also told me of a boy who would not smile but tried to look "tough" in all the photos, because he wanted to be in a gang, probably not knowing all that he would be expected to do, but eventually the boy began joining in on the worship services and he smiled. I hope that he is hearing his Lord speak to his heart.

In contrast to the dump, here are coins that were tossed into a fountain. Perhaps because the people not only have wishes, but they have hope.

My Lord, thank you for keeping the group safe and for my daughter seeing how hard life is for other people.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Refrigerator War

My refrigerator is powerful. In fact, it has a direct link to my overall well-being. -Kris Carr

My refrigerator is going down!

My husband noticed some ice building up in our frost-free bottom freezer, so he checked it out and came to the conclusion that it was the seal going bad. He ordered a seal and it did not arrive after a week. He was about to cancel the order and go with another company when it did arrive, only it was for the refrigerator section, not the freezer. Finally, the right seal arrives after another week. He placed it on the freezer door and we hoped all would be golden. That was his battle.

My battle began when he left for a youth mission trip with our daughter and some others (more on that to come) and gave me instructions. I have a refrigerator/freezer thermometer....somewhere, but I am still not finding it. However, I knew that the freezer was not getting cold enough; everything that was frozen stayed frozen, but the items on the door were not. However, now the refrigerator was not cold enough either and probably had not been for a while.

Who really pays attention enough to know when the air blowing into the refrigerator is not cold enough or not blowing strong enough, to know that with just a feel, unless it is something you do for a living. Well, I finally figured that out, but what to do about it was another thing.

This refrigerator was the first appliance that my husband and I bought together after we were married. It was a high-end floor model with a couple of small dings (hidden with magnets) marked down by half. It survived the move from Florida to Georgia, so it is at least 20 years old, maybe more like 25 to 28 years.

So, I was thinking with Thanksgiving and Black Friday practically upon us, it probably is the best time to for getting a really great deal on a new refrigerator, but the worse time for a refrigerator to go down and try to get one in within a few days. Still, I spent quite a few hours looking online for that dream new stainless steel beauty that I have been waiting for some years now. In fact I look at refrigerators every time I am in a store with appliances. Being mostly fresh food eaters, our refrigerator just never seems adequate. it would be my dream to have a kitchen with one full size refrigerator with a matching freezer beside. Yeah...such a nice dream!

Now I have to say that we have three freezers. Two large ones are in our garage and are definitely not frost-free. One is an upright and the other a deep freezer. They are pretty full currently. Remember we raise rabbits. I have skins to tan and meat, lots of frozen veggies and fruit, bulk grains and flour, and so on. I would love to have a second refrigerator there may be a small one to store things like cheese and other bulk buys, but space is a problem.

In the meantime, I really needed to see if I could get the refrigerator colder somehow, so I took out half-gallon frozen containers that we use for our cooler on our errand/shopping day and placed them in the refrigerator. I put everything from the bottom freezer in the other two, and that is when I noticed the ice at the back of the bottom freezer.

I would have turned off only the freezer, but in my unit the on-off control is in the freezer and it controls it all. I do not know if they still make refrigerators this way but that would be a feature I would be looking at in the future. So, off it all went and I just waited until the ice melted enough that I could work it off.

As the ice melted down, I noticed there was another slit that ran across the back of the freezer with a lip like it was a drip strip to catch water in the defrost cycle, only there was too much ice to defrost in such a short time. Now I have to say, it would have been so nice if I could have taken the shelf and baskets out of the freezer to get to the ice, but our freezer has a door and it is next to a wall so those things cannot come out and I have to crawl in over the shelf to clean out all the ice and water. (The next refrigerator will have a drawer freezer.) So, after seeing that opening, I thought it would make sense that it was for airflow also, recycling the cold air to make it colder would be efficient. The frost there seemed to be the main problem left over from the bad seal. When it was finally cleared, I turned the refrigerator back on and definitely felt a stronger air flow, but it was not as cold as I thought it should be. I was hoping that it was just because it had been off for nearly 8-hours and the freezer air was not cold.

Then it happened! My refrigerator began going down...in temperature! Still not finding my refrigerator thermometer, I came up with this idea to use our wireless indoor/outdoor digital thermometer. I placed the outside on in the freezer and the inside one in the refrigerator.

So, my aging refrigerator is still working well, but I am still considering getting a new one soon. I really do not want it to be an emergency especially around the holidays. However, I have to say that messing with it made me more aware of the features I would want and definitely not want.

Thank you, my Lord, for the good You provide, for being with me even while my family is away. Help us to make good decisions with which the money You have provided us.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Presidential Election

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. -Romans 13:1-2

I have avoided this subject for the most part. I voted early, not really for the person I wanted, but for the one whom I thought would do the best job and had a chance to win of the ones presented on the ballot. However, since the only one running for which I could have stood up did not win the candidacy, I was able to view the rest of the election with very little bias. I just did not have a dog in the fight, but I had a hope that God would place who He wanted in the Oval Office.

I did stay up to sometime after midnight on election day pretty sure that Trump would be our President-elect in the morning for two reasons, actually because of two swing states: Ohio and Florida. I have lived in both. Ohio can brag that there has only been two times in 30 presidential elections since 1896 when it failed to go with the winner. Once I saw Ohio and Florida was a certainty, I felt it was just a matter of the rest of the country's votes being counted to prove without a doubt that Trump won.

I know that the moderates in the swing states, actually the people who consider themselves to be independent thinkers rather than being loyal to either party, are the ones who determine who will win the electoral votes of their states. I also know that people are angry. There are not enough jobs or opportunities for advancement if one has a job. There are too many people too deeply in debt from a college education that they cannot use. There is far too much red tape and costs to start a small family-operated business. People are coming here illegally for work, while companies are bugging out to remain profitable; it is not sustainable! To those who see these things, all this stuff about Trump's personality flaws can be tolerated, as one tolerates a "rough around the edges" boss as long as he keep the business going so they have paying jobs.

I will not even begin on Hillary because her record is too silent about accomplishments she should have made and too loud about her lack of good judgement with National Security. But, even if all that is pushed completely aside, I honestly think there should be a law that if one of a couple has been the president, then the other should not be eligible to run for the presidency at all, not ever...period. (And I hate the phrase "there aught to be a law" because for the most part we have enough laws, but in some areas not enough enforcement of them.)

With all that said, here is the main thing I wanted to address. I have a friend, who used to be a blogging buddy I dearly cared about as she was one of the sweetest Christian people I have ever known. We have been out of touch because she prefers Facebook and I am not a Facebook fan at all. She also has become rather outspoken politically. I did not really know her stand on politics previously, but I certainly have no doubts now. While I am on the highly conservative side of the spectrum, she is as far left as I am right. I am okay with people having differing opinions. What I have a problem with is when people, who are Christians, will say that they are trusting God about the election and then when their candidate does not win, they use their First Amendment right to say things like "now we reap the whirlwind" and "...many of the foreign students are gathering up their visas and planning to leave the country. GOOD WORK AMERICA!" with the latter being shame-blame sarcasm.

Where is the trust in God in such words? Regardless of who won, I mostly wonder what God has in store. That maybe, just maybe, the Almighty Creator of All had need for His purpose that I cannot understand because my ways are not His ways or maybe I would never really see it because His wisdom is so far beyond my own. How arrogant it is of me to think that I know better than God? And I cannot think of one person in politics that did everything the way I thought he or she should...even the one I really wanted to win in the primaries has said some things that made me cringe, possibly God too, but God can still use anyone to His purpose, right?

I was very much against Obama and it had nothing to do with his skin color, because I have voted in the presidential primaries for two black men and a Hispanic or two in my lifetime and I have voted for women over men when I thought they were the best candidate. However, when Obama won, I did not think the world would come to an end, that all whites automatically would be considered racists or anti-black, or that America and Israel would be ruined, not by him alone, at least, and certainly not without God allowing them to be. I may never really know what God's purpose was or what was accomplished through Obama, but I trust that God is in charge.

So, Christian Americans, whether you are happy, sad, or angry, with the outcome of this election, I have to ask these questions:

Are you really being like Jesus about this? 
Are you really trusting God?

My Lord, I think if we really have Jesus as the leader in our hearts that our opinion of who should or should not be the leader of our country would not matter so much. Jesus lived in a time when Rome controlled what You had given to the Israelites and He did not speak ill against Caesar, the Romans, the soldiers, or even the people that favored Rome even though He was the only Rightful King. Help Your people, all of us, to be like Your Son.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Coffee Shop Recital 2016

Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life. -Ludwig van Beethoven

The Princess Makes an Impression

La Folia by Palmer/Manus/Lethco
Counting Stars by One Republic

There are just no words to describe how proud I am of my daughter!

Nor words to describe how beautiful she is!

After the Recital
I ended up talking to a mother of one of the students, a girl just a year older than the Princess. We only really get to talk at this recitals and usually one of us has to clear out, but this time she had some health questions for me, so we stayed talking long after everyone else had left. We wrote down our exchanged contact information, because I had lost my phone earlier that very day.

While we were talking, my daughter taking pictures while walking around with her daughter. She is posting the pictures on Instagram.

My husband called to say that Mishka seemed to be relapsing with the Parvo. Although my husband told me that was energetic, drinking on his own, and seemed perfectly well otherwise, he had one bout of projectile diarrhea. My husband had started him back on the hourly treatment protocol. This made me highly concerned because of our experience with Sasha's relapse when the Parvo came back with a vengeance.

So forget that no hurry-worry drive home and then pick up my husband so we could go out to eat, as our tradition after the recitals. I now have serious anxiety. So serious that at one point, right after my daughter was trying to show me a picture she had taken, I just blew through a red light and nearly hit a car that had the right of way making a left turn, which is so unlike me.

The rest of the drive was uneventful but my nerves were raw. We decided to order a pizza and stay at home to watch Mishka. When I finally walked in the door and expected to see Mishka showing signs of sickness, I was happy to see he did not look sick at all. In fact, he was acting completely normal, a bit too normal as we had to pen him so we could eat without him pestering us...he was rather hungry after being sick for a couple of days and on a restricted food allowance after all. I posted an update to Treating My Parvo Puppy so that everything related with his treatment was all on the same post.

Anyway, I had been up all Sunday night and Monday saved a two-hour nap. I went to bed a bit earlier than normal with the idea that I would relieve my husband of watching and treating Mishka around 3:00 a.m. but Mishka was doing so well, he has stretched the treatments out to to every two hours and let me sleep until 5:00 a.m.

When my husband was coming back from work, he stopped in at the church and I then had my phone back! YAY! You just never appreciate all the things you can do on a cell phone until...you lose it.

The Election
I was still tired from the weekend and I had developed a colossal headache before dinner, so I planned not to stay up and watch the election results, but I guess I could not help myself. However, I did not stay up until it was official. Once I saw that Trump had both Ohio and Florida and California voting closed, I was pretty sure it was just a matter of counting the rest of the votes to prove Trump had already won. There have been only two times since 1896 when Ohio failed to go with the winner but Florida made it pretty much a done deal in my mind so I hauled my dozing husband to bed with me a little after midnight. Then I suffered another head-aching hour before I finally slept.

Enough is Enough
So the past few days have been a real drain emotionally and physically. I woke with my head still splitting. I had called to cancel the Princess' piano lesson the night before knowing I had had enough. It is still hurting even as I am typing this out and I have to take the Princess to church tonight because my husband will not be back in time to do it and it is mandatory for going on youth mission trip in Guatemala.

It has been a challenging and highly gratifying week, my Lord. Thank you for being with me through it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Just Before the Coffee Shop Recital

Bad is never good until worse happens. ~Danish Proverb

I always plan it well, envision it as ideal yet expect it not to be, try not to worry about all that can go wrong, but....

The Programs
Trudy, the piano teacher, asked me to do the programs for the coffee shop recital, which I love to do. This time she did not want anything of autumn (possibly because it has been so very warm here for autumn) and she did not have any students doing the artwork either. She thought something more funky and I designed this:

Now while I was in the works of design, Windows decided my computer needed to update and that required a restart. When working with computer graphics, things are done in layers so that I can choose one layer to manipulate without changing anything else, which is great, but in the program I have, which is quite old, I cannot save the image with those layers. Whenever the graphic program saves an image, it merges all the layers together as one. I already had to start over after having the top word "Coffee" done, because the program glitched and shut down so I lost all of it. I had scheduled the restart out as far as Windows allowed which was five days, the Friday before the recital so that was my hard deadline to get the graphics completed and I did, thankfully.

There were some Christmas songs in the program and very few students with a short program so this time Trudy decided to clump them together. That allowed me to make a Christmas page with a different font on the third page between the beginning to intermediate students on the first two pages and the more advanced ones on the last page. Usually we have six to eight pages and I have had to squeeze the formatting to fit it all.

Since the program was going to be thin, I decided to trim the cover page and put in a red sheet to give it a bit of interest with red edging. On the red pages inside I printed the name of her studio and the acknowledgements. The two colors she hates is pink and red, but I thought red was ideal in this case. So I had all the recital programs done, folded and stapled, Friday night so that we could go on our hike Saturday and not be hurried on Sunday. I was even hoping that we could drop the programs off Saturday morning as Trudy's place was practically on our way. This, of course, did not happen because our dog became sick as I described in Treating My Parvo Puppy. (By the way I added an update to that post just this morning.)

Sunday Morning
Our church has an early service that is a shorter than the later one. We basically sing less songs and are done around 10:00 a.m. Since Mishka was doing well (at the time), we decided there was time to go before the recital.

I had put my cell phone on "Do Not Disturb" as I usually do for service and I had it out to add upcoming events to my calendar. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that would be the last I would see of my phone.

We get home, eat, and then my daughter and I have a long discussion about her hair and make-up. She wanted frizzy hair and no make-up saved for the mascara she already had on. I wanted sleek and shiny hair with tastefully light make-up. Had my husband not been here, it would have ended up with her physically fighting me off as I did exactly what she said she did not want, but in the end, I think she actually did like it. She will still say she did not and I made her wear it, of course.

The Plan
Now if we had been able to drop off the programs on Saturday, this would not have been a big deal as my daughter is a more advanced student scheduled later in the recital, but I need to be there before it starts so everyone can get a program. The plan was to leave at 1:00 p.m. to with no hurry-worry drive and arrive about 15-30 minutes before the recital began. Also, I planned to be sure to take my camera with a fully charged battery (because I charged that Friday night as I worked on the programs).

Toss the Plan
We ended up leaving a 1:15 p.m. because of me, a wardrobe thing, I think. I really do not remember because it was minor to all that came later. Oh, yes, I could not find the black boots I wanted to wear.

My husband had his car in the driveway between my van and the road. Thinking it was helpful, he said to take his car. Okay. Oh, by the way, it is very low on gas.... I am instantly thinking: and this helps me how? But there is enough to get there. Uh-huh...so much for the no hurry-worry drive.

This is the guy who advises me to never let the tank go below the ¼ mark, which I was my own rule before we even met, and currently our area is in a gas shortage with some rationing because of gas line explosion a few days ago in Alabama. So I am thinking, there might be enough to get there, but will I find a gas station with gas to get back also.

Anyway, we had everything, so we thought, and are on our way. I look for my phone to call Trudy. No phone. We have to go back. No phone here, no phone there, no phone anywhere, and it is on "Do Not Disturb" so no ring when we call it. The Princess grabs her phone and we leave. By now we have just one hour to get to a place that is just about one hour away when there are no traffic problems.

There is an accident on a two-lane road before the highway. My daughter says it is fine because the cars are off to the side with a deputy there. I am listening for sirens because I know all that changes if we do not get past it before the fire truck and ambulance try to get to it. But, that works out. I then take some Valerian I had brought for the Princess in case she felt nervous. Yeah, I was just a bit frazzled on the edges.

I also was still worried about the gas. I thought of a gas station that was on the way, not too busy and easy to get in and out. It it is not the one I usually go to, but have one or twice in this similiar situation. I stop in and give my daughter $20 to prepay while realizing that the gas tank on this vehicle is on the opposite side I am used to and I have to move the car. Just one more thing! As I am pumping the gas, I am reading the paper taped on the pump that customers are being limited to 10 gallons of gas. (On the way back, we noticed that same station was out of gas...need I say more?)

There was more traffic on the way than I hoped, which slowed us down a bit. I was trying to call the piano teacher to say we would be there either right on time or a few minutes late but she was not recognizing the number so she would not answer. She finally answered when we where just a block way. This is a very busy place so, of course, there are no empty parking places. I realize too late that a vehicle I just passed was backing out and it was right in front of the coffee shop. The Princess grabs the programs and says she needs to go the bathroom. I told her I would come back around as she needs to get her music and prayed the entire loop that God would save the one special place for me.

God loves me so very, very much! The only empty parking space in that entire place without a hike was still there waiting for me as my daughter walks out. She grabs her music and I grab the camera.

End of the Before
We are finally inside and, as Trudy is giving her acknowledges and telling all attending that I had designed the programs, I then notice that everyone has a program, everyone but me....

Thank you for Your Love, my Lord. I appreciate all the time, yet never enough and certainly not as much as when I am having a bad day.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Treating My Parvo Puppy

Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend. ~Corey Ford

On the day we planned to go to North Georgia for apples, sourwood honey (to die for, as honeys go), and a hike on this beautiful autumn day, our plans changed drastically because my husband spend most of the night before up with Mishka. 

Past Experience
We have had our share of pets getting sick, but none quite as frightening as when our first German Shepherd, Sasha, had Parvovirus, Parvo for short. That was in year 1997 or 1998—I am terrible with dates which is why I appreciate keeping journals and this blog so much—just a few weeks after we had gotten him. We had no experience with Parvo, did not even know much about it, but we have made a point to know a great deal about it since. You see, I was treating Sasha with a homemade homeopathic remedy for his diarrhea for a day or two, thinking that was all it was, and he was getting better, even started eating and drinking, but either I stopped too soon or I was not aggressive enough with the treatment because he relapsed. Before I knew it, he had projectile diarrhea and vomiting in the morning, and by the afternoon he could not stand up.

Parvo itself is a virus that attacks the villi of the small intestines impairing the absorption of nutrients. The body, trying to rid itself of the problem, responds with drawing all the body's fluids to the intestines to flush out the virus, but by the time symptoms are showing up, the virus has the upper hand. The virus itself rarely is the cause of death—yes, it is that serious—but rather it is the dehydration. Dogs can die within a day or two without any treatment; it is touch and go even with it.

Treatment is the key issue. Most people will pay about a $1,000 to $2,000 for the necessary vet care. That is what we did with Sasha. Actually, we had a vet that was a combination of holistic and conventional and when he told one look at Sasha he recommended for us to put him down saying he was just too far along. We asked what would be done if we had brought him in at the first signs: IV with vitamins and electrolytes, also some antibiotics that would only fight against secondary bacterial infections, not the virus itself. We asked that he get started and we told him we would be back in the morning. I prayed and looked up stuff but there was very little, although I found a few mere mentions of colloidal silver and I had some experience with it for other things.

The next day I brought with me a bottle of 10 ppm colloidal silver. The vet was open to trying it (probably because he thought the dog was a goner anyway) but he said Sasha would not keep it down. I told him I understood that and I wanted it injected. He did his muscle testing as he does for homeopathics and herbal treatments. The dosage was to be 5cc three times a day, which he mentioned was a lot, but then it is only 10 parts per million (ppm) so it is mostly water. He gave Sasha the first dose while I was there that Saturday. The office was closed in the afternoon and the next day, but I got through on Sunday to one of the caretakers. Not only was Sasha still alive, but he had pulled out his IV twice that day, and they reported that he was up barking, eating, tipping over his food dish, and biting at the cage—he always hated being penned.

I went to see Sasha on Monday morning. He was energetic and ready to go home, but the vet wanted to see a stool and since there was nothing much in him that took another day. The vet's office called him the miracle puppy. Even the vet admitted he had never seen any dog recuperate from Parvo so quickly and rarely ever at all; the only thing he had done differently was the colloidal silver. I think he began to use it for all Parvo puppies after that.

Friday, November 4, 2016
Through the night Mishka had diarrhea and in the morning he threw up some food from last night that was not digested. He would not eat his breakfast, which is the first time ever, and then when he urgently had to go out he had projectile diarrhea. Thankfully, we have not seen any signs of blood from what was coming out of him, which suggests it is not as bad as it could get. Right after we had decided to get Mishka, I did more research on natural approaches to fighting Parvo, given our past experience with it, and bought a few products that had been proven to help support a Parvo puppy. Support, but not cure. Because Parvo is a virus, the body has to develop its own antibodies and it needs time to do so, which is something that the acute dehydration does not allow. Mishka was given colloidal silver, a homemade homeopathic remedy, and these herbal tinctures from Amber Technology: Paxxin, Vibactra Plus, and Life Cell Support. He was also being given small amounts of Pedialyte regularly to fight the dehydration; by the afternoon, every now and then, he was drinking a little water on his own.

Mishka was penned in the kitchen, being it is not carpeted, in case of accidents. My husband, who was the one up all night, decided to sleep and the Princess helped me with the timer, logging the treatments and symptoms, administering the treatments, and getting Mishka out when he had that urgent need. The instructions read to give the supplements every fifteen minutes for the first hour and afterward every hour, but with my gift, I felt it should be for the first hour and a half. It was recommended to use Pedialyte orally if possible or as an enema if necessary.

I was confident that the colloidal silver would work again and we were able to give it to Mishka orally because he is not vomiting, possibly due to the other herbal tinctures that are meant to sooth the intestinal tract and support the immune system. It is the silver that actually lowers the viral count because it impedes the virus' ability to reproduce and slowing it down gives that time needed for the body to create its own antibodies. Mishka was rather lethargic, but his body seemed to be fighting the virus without worsening symptoms.

By evening, Mishka was obviously feeling better. He even ate half a portion of his dinner and seemed to be looking for the rest, which he was given later. He played with his toys and began to grab kitchen towels and do all kinds of bratty puppy stuff. The consistency of his stool was still just liquid, but he had not thrown up since morning.

I suppose most people would say that he did not really have Parvo because he was not as sick as he should have been. Well, that was the point, to address it early so that he would not be so sick that it would be life threatening. It could still take another day or two or more of treatment for him to have a normal stool. It could take almost as long for him to really be able to digest his food completely, absorbing all the necessary nutrients, but he seems to be doing very well on that end.

As I have said before, being empathic has its downside. Although I may not feel but a shadow of what another may feel, it is quite enough to feel rather lousy. By evening yesterday, after the day's constant influence of Mishka's condition, I was feeling pretty sick even as he was acting like he was feeling better. My husband took the night watch and I went to bed.

The First Day of Treatment
This is a general accounting of how things went. We logged everything but I am not going to bore you with all the nitty-gritty details.

First symptoms were notice on Thursday. At 11:00 a.m. Mishka vomited some undigested food from the night before and at 1:00 p.m. he had diarrhea. We did not think much of it because he was also on a natural worming program and although he had been on that for about a week without symptoms, it could have been the cause of both. However, later Mishka was up from 1:00 a.m. Friday morning having diarrhea about every two hours, becoming more runny each time.

We began the treatment on Friday at 9:00 a.m. after he vomited again and then had projectile diarrhea. The treatment for the first hour and a half was every fifteen minutes:
  • One dosage each of Paxxin, Vibactra Plus, and Life Cell Support
  • ½ tsp. of Sovereign Silver (colloidal silver 10 ppm)
  • ½ tsp. of my homemade homeopathic remedy made with my personally designed remedy maker (but there are others on the market you can find—probably not as good as mine but I used another one for years with very good results)
After the first hour and a half, we did all the above every hour and added 1½ tsp of Pedialyte every hour on the half in between the treatment times that was increased up to 5 tsp as the day progressed and because it was apparently that he really liked it after his energy began to return late afternoon. So every 30 minutes, Mishka was being given something.

In the afternoon he began urinating again for the first time since the projectile diarrhea. At around 4:00 he began looking for food and seemed hungry. We fed him half a portion of his regular meal around 4:30 and he seemed to want more but we did not want to overwhelm his digestive system. He handled it well and was more energetic.  He was given the rest of his meal at 8:15 and afterward he was playing with his noisy toys so much that I could not go to sleep for awhile. He had not vomited since the morning, but he still had runny diarrhea, although no longer projectile. He was fed another half a meal at 12:30 a.m.

Because he was doing so well and we were exhausted, we felt we could stretch out the treatments to every two hours and just put the Pedialyte in his water. If he had still been lethargic, we would have stayed with the same treatment plan we did during the day.

Saturday, November 5, 2016
My husband, who had the night watch, came to bed and it was my turn this morning. Mishka was still penned in the kitchen so he was not happy about being left alone even for those minutes. I am still dealing with some cramping and yucky tummy feelings from the Parvo empathy, but better than last night. Parvo is a weird illness, from what I felt of it; it makes the dog lethargic and very hungry but not interested in eating at the same time.

As I began my watch, Mishka acted normal, biting everything as healthy puppies do, but my husband reported he still had diarrhea during the night, although it is beginning to have more consistency. Also, Mishka felt a bit warm to me, although his paws and ears are normal temperature. I think he is still fighting the virus itself, but its symptoms, the part that can cause the deadly dehydration, seemed to be under control. I gave him a dosage of the homeopathic and I decided to go back to hourly treatments, particularly with the colloidal silver. Because of our experience with Sasha seemingly getting better just like this and then getting  seriously worse, we are planning to stay aggressive with this until we see normal stools. When I took him out before giving him half of his breakfast meal, he only urinated and did not even act like he needed to have a bowel movement. Good signs all around.

Better signs at noon! Mishka had his first solid stool! My husband is up and we plan to continue with the homeopathic when required and the silver regularly for the rest of today. Unless we see a stool change in the wrong direction, we will probably continue the other supplements possibly every 2 to 3 hours.

Mishka is now running freely about the house. In control of his bowels, but lacking in self control—like a puppy! He has his freedom and we now have ours because we have been careful to  avoid the places dogs go so he would not get Parvo—like the hike we were going to take yesterday was a concern—but now that he has had Parvo, we do not have to be so careful. I was disappointed we did not get to go on our annual autumn day trip but I am also thankful that Mishka had it while my husband was home; it was easier than trying to do everything on my own. God is very good to us!

A Special Thank You
I want to get a special thank you to Wolf Creek Ranch. It was from this website that I learn the most about treating Parvo at home and it was their experience with a number of dogs having Parvo that gave me confidence to not fear treating Parvo. It is also where I bought the tinctures necessary to support Mishka's healing process.

It is because there is so little in instructions about treating Parvo at home to be found that I have written out this blog post, so others may see how it can be done and make an informed choice to try home treatment or not. Home treatment requires, at the very least, two to three of days devotion with round the clock care. We also have only one dog, if you have more than one, you might consider doing more, like isolation, washing toys, disinfecting, etc. Personally, I think of Parvo as I do most childhood illnesses, scary but it allows the immune system to do what God made it to do and provide better immunity than shots do.

Update: Tuesday, November 8, 2016
When I wrote all the above, we thought Mishka was done, but there was a bit more to the story.

On Sunday, I was with my daughter at her Coffee Shop Piano Recital, while my husband stayed home with Mishka. We have left him home alone for about two hours but the recital is about a two-hour drive round trip and then however long it is. We had considered bringing him, as he loves trips, and one would have to watch from outside. Then we tried to get our house/pet sitter last minute, but she had other obligations. We finally decided that my husband would stay home with him, especially since he was still recovering from Parvo. (You can read about the mishaps getting to the recital and see my video of the Princess playing in the following blog post.)

My husband calls my daughter's phone (because mine was not with me—you have to read the next post) after the recital was over, and everyone had left but I was still talking to one of the mothers long after. (In my defense, she wanted some help with something her daughter is going through.) He tells me that Mishka had diarrhea again, at least one time with projectile diarrhea. My heart sank. As I wrote before, our former dog Sasha was doing well and then it came back on him worse and we nearly lost him.

So I got home and I saw Mishka for myself. He was not dehydrated. He was up to greet me and seemed energetic and his eyes were bright, but he was a little warm. My husband had already started him back on the treatments and we decided to not take any chances so I stayed up the entire night with treating him every hour, probably overkill but we were determined not to make any assumptions that it was over until we were absolutely sure. We put Pedialyte in his water as he was drinking on his own, although he probably did not really need it. He still had some diarrhea but he also was very gassy, which made me think this could mostly be compromised intestinal tract not fully able to digest food properly and it was oversensitive. However, there was a fever earlier so there likely was a weak relapse also.

My husband worked yesterday and seeing that Miskha's stool was still too soft yet improving plus he was acting anything but sick, I began stretching out his treatments to two hours and took a two hour nap between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. with the Princess keeping a watchful eye on him as he was again penned in the kitchen. Mishka was given very four small meals, about ¼ of his normal meals, two to three hours apart with digestive enzymes throughout the day. By afternoon he began having solid normal stools. We continued with treatments every two hours throughout the night and he continued having solid stools without gas.

So, this morning we are still dividing his meals giving a bit more each time, but he has been energetic and playful as a healthy puppy should be. I think he is absolutely in the clear and now the rest of us just need to recuperate from sleep deprivation. So very worth it though.

I emailed Wolf Creek Ranch a link to this post and was surprised this morning that Julie and Journey responded thanking me for getting the word out on this Parvo treatment. It was very sweet of them to answer back. Although we planned to buy a bottle of each to replenish what we used, I was also told that Paxxin was originally formulated for human stomach flu and can be used for general tummy trouble also. 

Thank you, my Lord, for bring Mishka back to being a healthy, happy, lovable, (and somewhat bratty, crazy, and at times clumsy) puppy.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Red Hood -n- Wolf

We humans fear the beast within the wolf because we do not understand the beast within ourselves. -Gerald Hausman

Everyone who knows me, knows how much I HATE Halloween. It does nothing to honor the Light and Life of my Lord. It does far more to honor the Anti-Christ, pagan gods, fear, and death. With that said, I do love costume parties and face painting. Last night my daughter attended the youth costume party at our church. All the costumes where cute, but there still had to be one...a boy who used makeup to look like a dead person and even made a coffin out of cardboard. This is the reason I do not like costume parties at the church around Halloween time: that element of Halloween ALWAYS comes in. That is all I am going to say on the matter.

My daughter decided she wanted to be a modern Little Red Riding Hood and was hoping to use Mishka as the wolf, but I thought he was just too undisciplined and just large enough to create havoc at the party. We did not find that long, oversized red hoodie we searched for, but we did find a hooded jacket that she liked at Goodwill. After all that we talked about makeup yesterday, because I know that she does not like looking "sweet and vulnerable," so I came up with some ideas to make her Red Hood -n- Wolf, that would not be frightening or gory or bloody or whatever else that I hate about Halloween costumes and makeup. Perhaps it was skirting the edge, but I just saw it as twist on the a fairy tale and the Princess actually wanted to sit for the face painting, which she has not wanted to do in years. We also silvered her hair on the wolf side.

She won third place in the costume contest.

She originally got the idea for her costume from this picture:

Now some people see a scary Fenris about to eat a vulnerable, frightened little girl in a red hooded raincoat, but we have a Fenris, so we decided that if we just turn a bit we can see a pet Fenris, who looks threatening to everyone else, but is smiling and just wanting to play with the little girl he loves and who is smiling at him.

It is all about perspective.

Thank you, my Lord, for giving so much to my daughter and help her crave Your Light more and more.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sick Kitties Getting Better Now

The phrase "domestic cat" is an oxymoron. —George Will

I have been rather busy not doing the things I would like to get done, but things that required immediate attention for one reason or another. I just realize that most of this week I did not even think about eating breakfast and often not dinner!

For one, both of the Mitten Kittens had abscesses. I am not sure from what. I suspected that it was a combination of two new supplements I had begun giving them, but having talked that over with my Lord while using my gift of empathy, I am thinking now that was not the case. They both got abscesses, but in different places. Sharii was on his left fore leg and was huge. Midnight's was on the right side of her face and was big enough but not as big as Sharii's. Being that they are outside cats and do hunt in tandem at times, my husband thought it was possible that they tangled with something that passed on the infection to them and that seems more likely.

Since I dealt with Sharii having a huge abscess before on his neck and knew it would be at least $100 vet bill to have it lanced and drained, and then I would have the task of keeping the wound clean and open to allow it to continue to drain. Back then the vet told me that the abscess would likely break open on its own in a day or two, but being the first time I had ever dealt with such a thing, I decided to have the vet do it. This time I hardly even got to think about it before Sharii's broke open at the top why he struggled just a little bit as I examined it. Undoubtedly it was quite painful. He had already pulled off all the fur in the area, but unfortunately, it did not stay open to allow it to drain in the following days. I gave both cats colloidal silver in their food and water to help them both fight off the infection.

Midnight is the scrappy one about such things and she has the curviest small nails; I don't think they ever retract fully, but thankfully she is small and more controllable when it is a necessity. Midnight's broke open a day later while I attempted to examine it and it drained for about 48 hours, although I did have to reopen the wound once with a soft wet cloth; she is healing up nicely.

With Sharii, however, this process keeping the wound open so it would drain was not working out so well and the abscess filled up again and again, although smaller. His abscess was far lower than the first opening so I had to assist more with his draining every day. He is not one to use his nails on people unless he really means it. He is the one who purrs when he just looks at you. He is the one is strong enough to put up a challenging fight, but rarely does it. He is the one who always is ready to eat. However, yesterday he was not a well kitty at all. When we returned from a day of errands, he would not come out from his hiding spot in the garage were I purposely left him for the day. He picked a good spot, one that required me to do some interesting gymnastics to get to him. He had felt feverish around the abscess that morning, so I was not surprised, although quite concerned, that he was not interested in food and just wanting to not be bothered by anyone, but Mama had to do what Mama does.

After we had gotten in all the groceries and had all the other furry ones fed and the puppy had been out, I got out one of our pet carriers and lined it with flannel throws we had gotten for my Jamie cat, who just could not stay warm enough in his old age. Sharii was quite comfortable and happy to lie down, even in such confinement. (He was in so much pain that he growled every time I touched him and picking him up was cause to try to bite me. If he had felt better, I am sure he could have done some real damage to me, but if he felt better he would not have.) Then I made him a homeopathic remedy with my remedy maker, one that I had an inventor design for me over ten years ago but I never got to market it. I gave Sharii seven drops of the remedy every fifteen minutes for three hours. After the first hour, he seemed to perk up a bit and began licking the abscess area, which was not as low on the leg as it had been previous, and it broke open on the bottom, which would allow it to drain better.

Although he protested my gentle hands last night, I felt all over his body. He had swelling in various areas particularly on the left side of his body. I believe it was his lymph system overwhelmed with the infection that had begun affecting him systemically. I was quite concerned about him, but seeing it drain, I felt that he should be better in the morning and that is what I believed I was hearing from God as well. In fact, I believe He told me Sharii would be well in three days. He will still have some healing to do in the area most affected, but the infection would be completely gone.

Last night, just before I was going to bed, I placed Sharii in the garage and gave him food, which he ate ravenously and wanted more. This morning he was up and out like his normal self. He was still tender and has swelling in the lymph glands, but he no longer was growling and he purred whenever I touched him. He is staying inside the garage for the next few days, most likely.

Sharii is my husband's favorite of the Tuxedo Twins and Sarah claimed him also. He loves to walk under foot when we are feeding the rabbits; he nearly trips me every day. I love both cats but I am partial to Midnight; because she is just so small, she seems to need a protector...especially from Sharii. However, I do love the male cat personality better than female cat's. They just seem to be calmer and less scrappy over all. I am hoping that this will be the last of it for Sharii so he can enjoy the outside again soon. Those squirrels are getting rather cheeky without him around outside.

My Lord, thank you for Your guidance in helping my cats to heal.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Things in Change

Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are. ~Bertold Brecht

This is a bit different for me. I am just going briefly write on some things that have changed recently and could change soon. I usually do not like to write about things before they have happened because sometimes they just do not happen and yet because I wrote them, it feels like they should've-could've-would've.

I originally opened an Instagram account to help bring encouragement to the Princess, who has a propensity for looking on the dark side of just about everything. I already had access to her account, but there were a few times I just wanted to nudge the conversation to be more uplifting. However, I found that I really like Instagram. I have never really been a fan of social media in general and seriously dislike Facebook because it requires real names, but Instagram allows usernames.

180° Teenager
Every day is different with a teenager, but since the incident with J-Void on the Instagram Direct Message, I now hear and read my daughter advising her friends to talk to their parents and do not hide things from them or go behind their backs. She is saying the things we have told her for all her life, but she mostly rejected since she hit the tweens. That is when we parents somehow transformed into her enemy and she knew so much more than we did...until the J-Void incident when she realized she had not seen that one coming and began to appreciate a little why we read all her conversations. The Princess has begun to stop seeing us as the enemy and trusting us again, although she still mostly knows more than we do.

Also, the Princess she is beginning to love to play the piano again. In part, that is because of the youth praise band that has been gotten off to a rocky start during the summer with vacations, but is now picking up steam. Another part was I heard her playing something on the digital piano without her earphones when she thought I could not hear from just outside on the porch. I suggested she play it for the Coffee Shop Recital this fall and she said she would not be allowed to do that. It took both her piano teacher and me to convince her that it is a casual recital so she has a far greater variety of choices, not just classical music, and that we all would love it. So, she is doing this very pretty piece that is played much faster originally, but sounds so lovely slowed down with dynamics.

Child Sponsorship
We have been sponsoring Judite Joao for the last three years with only three letters and two pictures from her, although we sent more. She should be about 14 years old at this time. A few weeks ago, we received a letter from a 7-year-old girl written to the Princess, who is the named sponsor. There was no notice, no explanation, and no choice of this change. All I could think was how awful it is to have a child write to someone, who she thinks is going to sponsor her, when that has not even been decided. I mean, we do not even know what country the child is in...! I called the agency and was told this was an interim sponsorship because Judite did not "qualify for the program"—whatever that means, because I was not told—so we are just suddenly cut off from her completely. I like sponsoring a child, but we do not like the way this particular agency goes about it, so we terminated our participation through them.

On the Horizon
My husband is being highly recommended for a opening with another company this month by a man helping to find his replacement so he can relocate. This man used to work under my husband in another company and thinks highly of him. This change would be highly welcomed if the pay offered is worth it. The stress from his current job has been difficult for him and he still has not been promoted after being promised for five years?

Braces Soon
Once we know if my husband is going to be switching jobs this month or not, the Princess is going to have braces. Our present dental insurance does help pay for them, but if we have to switch insurance companies, then we would have to think about our options. We were told she would be in them for about 2 to 2½ years. I found an orthodontist that I just love, who is board certified (meaning lots of extra hours of peer review), but he is on the higher end of pricing. There are cheaper places, but I do not like their impersonal clinic atmospheres and question how thorough their orthodontists would be.

Will Change
My husband and I named a cousin and his wife as the Princess' god parents when she was a baby. Since that time, some things have changed within their home and with their health, so we decided to consider a family we trust in the area. Actually, one of the Princess' best friends. Hopefully, it will never be necessary, but since neither one of us has family and the Princess has lived in this area all her life, we thought this would be a better choice for her should it be necessary.

My Lord, help us to only change in the direction You wish for us. Guide us to be where You wish us to be.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mishka, My Mishka

A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.
~Ogden Nash

Finally, after all the 90 degree days, there is a chill in the air! I love autumn. I do not like the shorter days and longer nights thing, but I do love the weather. Walking with my dog in the cooler air is far more appealing.

It has become quite clear to me why, over all the years of our marriage, my husband still tends to stay up late and I tend to get up early. It can be summed up in one word: dogs. Except for a few short months, we just have always had a dog.

Now having a puppy while my husband has been away through the week is more challenging because I am the only one who is making sure our little Mishka is getting out when he needs to do so. However, being that he just 11 weeks old, I am quite impressed that he sleeps about 5 to 6 hours straight at night now. I used to only sleep about that many hours a night for most of my life, but these days another hour does a bit better for me, however it is more doable than every two to three hours taking out a puppy.

I have gotten to know Mishka a bit better in the past three weeks. His favorite game is to grab a shoe, sandal, or sock and play keep away...and he would probably chew on them if we were not watching him. He likes to grab the shoes by the door a lot so we had been working on that bad behavior. He was sleeping on those very shoes when I got the idea for this picture. No, I was not shaming him, he just was opening his very sleepy eyes without moving.

Mishka's own toys are just not quite as fun in his eyes, but he loves balls and a particular squeaking snake toy I got him in the last week, with three separate large squeakers. When we squeak that one, he will drop what he is doing and try to pounce on it, but squeaking it too much makes him frustrated, which my teenager is learning the hard (teeth biting her) way.

Mishka still fights to stay up and can get rather nippy during that time. Determined to nip means time for a nap and if he will not lie down on one of the floor vents, which are his favorite places, then he gets placed in his pen. Since he is already 20 pounds, lifting him when squirmy is getting to be a challenge and he has not mastered going down the front steps, which are not carpeted like the ones inside...a few more weeks for that.

When I say nippy, I mean he really goes after us, especially the feet and ankles but also hands, arms, and clothing. German Shepherds have a herding instinct so we have to work with him so that he is not "herding" us, which is why he nips at the feet and lower legs. He has already ripped two of my lightweight jeans and I dare not wear a skirt! We have to be very wary walking in our house about what mood the Mishka is in. There is that Fenris side that comes out now and then.

However, for a puppy his age, he is actually on the calm side, I think. I mean, puppies are puppies with immediate needs and chewing is their life, but he is not hyper, which makes me thankful now that we decided on another German Shepherd rather than a Belgium Tervuran.

A nickname has not officially emerged yet. In our house, the nicknames are longer than the name. For now I find myself often saying, "Mishka, my mishka." It just seems to fit.

My Lord, thank you for this new member to our family. May he grow and learn to be a good companion and protective guard dog and...well, just everything we need him to be for our family.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Three Nights with No Midnight

The cat is the only animal which accepts the comforts but rejects the bondage of domesticity. ~Georges Louis Leclerc de Buffon

When you're used to hearing purring and suddenly it's gone, it's hard to silence the blaring sound of sadness. ~Terri Guillemets

Introducing a new member to the family always requires adjustments. Mishka, being young, adjusted easily to the new environment and schedules, but he has not been really introduced to our two cats. He has seen both cats from a distance, but we are allowing the cats to take their time to get acquainted in their own ways.

Sharii has been the bolder one, mostly because he has the stronger claim on the home territory and stays closer to home most of the time. He was a kitten being introduced to our Hanah about six years ago. He warmed up to her quickly. He always rubbed up against Hanah purring loudly and Hanah used to try to back away because eventually he would begin wrapping around her legs and biting her. Sharii loves just about everything that does not make loud or strange noises. That same Sharii has sat on the back deck watching Mishka through the glass door without any threat. He even was within a foot in the back yard with a fence between them. However, Mishka is a little too much puppy for Sharii to try his direct affections on him yet.

Now Midnight is quite different in her approach. For one, Midnight is not a dog lover, nor much of a cat lover either...she is a people lover, although I am her favorite human as far as I know. While Hanah was trying to get away from Sharii, she also just loved Midnight, but Midnight did not love her. Midnight would run away from Hanah and Hanah would chase her within our perimeter. Pretty much, Sharii would do the same, so Midnight often leaves the property to go to other places around the neighborhood or in the woods for much of the day. Being the smallest cat in the neighborhood has its disadvantages, but one thing she is very good at is finding places to hide and she is a very friendly to everyone. I often see her approach someone, plop down, and roll around in front of them...who cannot resist petting her or even picking her up? Most people think she a half-grown kitten but she is five years old.

So, Midnight was not even in the mindset to want to warm up to a new exuberant hunk of fluff that likes to chase and out weights her by more than double with paws about half the size of her head, but when she saw me picking up the puppy...me, her protector from dogs and Sharii, me, who makes sure I spend at least 20 minutes almost every day giving her quality time and primming her. Well, her look said it all.

Midnight has stayed away overnight before, but not often. Unless she has food from a hunt, she usually comes home for dinner and when she is not here, we ring a bell. We have done this since the cats were kittens. We rang a bell when they were eating so that they would associate the bell to meals, knowing they were to be outside cats. I can ring it at anytime of the day and because it can be heard all over. They both usually show up within in few minutes even if they are not that nearby.

We came home on Tuesday from our errands and Midnight did not show up even to the bell. I was a little more concerned than usual because of the new puppy factor, but puppies need lots of attention so I was distracted most of the following days. I had not seen Midnight and my daughter failed to mention that she had not come to dinner the next day either, but I knew because even though Sharii is rough with her and does not mind her being out and about during the day, he sorely misses her when she does not come for dinner and he is all alone in the garage for the night. Sometimes he will not eat if she is not there...well, he will not eat right away. We heard his mournful howling for hours.

Thursday evening after ringing the bell and not seeing my Midnight, I began knocking on a few neighbors' doors showing a picture of Midnight on my smart phone. Yeah, that cat gets around but most said like us they had not seen her for two days. I have always had this concern about Midnight that someone would take her or at least take her inside their house so she could not get out. Midnight loves going inside houses, but also hates being forced to stay in. I often let her in on hot or cold days to take a nap on my lap or a chair. She paws at the glass door in the back when she wants to come in.

I went out the next morning calling her and meeting some of the parents at the bus stops. Still no Midnight. I was planning to go a different direction to knock on doors that evening, but a neighbor I had talked to stopped by and showed me a picture of Midnight saying his daughter was friends with a girl whose family had found the cat, although they would not be home for a couple more hours.

After dinner I went to get my cat. The father of four young children answered the door and I showed him the picture, He said he figured she belonged to someone and he was just holding her until they could locate the owner. I thought this family might be new to the neighborhood as we now have quite a few rentals here, but no, they have lived here for six years. He said Midnight just walked right up to him and was very friendly. I told the children that if Midnight comes around again that they can pet her but I asked that they do not take her inside the house because she cannot come home and that she has a "brother" that missed her so badly that he has been crying for her for the past two days.

They said good-bye and I asked if they would like the collars back because I do not put collars on outside cats that hunt and can get them caught, but the father said no. I carried Midnight home, who seemed happy to let me, but she was not herself...she was not purring as she usually does when being carried by me. One of the collars was a flea collar, which makes me ill and they do not stop fleas anyway. I think Midnight hated it too and it was making her sick as well. I took off both and began combing her out. Fleas are always a problem for the cats, but they are a bit happier after I comb them out.

Midnight seemed to just be tolerating the combing instead of fully relaxing. After her dinner and a night with Sharii, everything was back to normal the next day. Midnight even tried to approach me when I took Mishka out...she came within 18 inches of him. I picked her up, showing her again that I will not let the puppy pester her. Her willingness to approach me while with him proved to me that she was not staying away just because of Mishka. She was content up on her regular perch on my left shoulder...but she has not yet purred once for me since her return.

There is so much going on in our lives right now, but as I prayed about Midnight, God was telling me that she would be coming back...vague on the how and when, though. So I was not highly worried, I just wanted to get her back where she belongs. Midnight was out and about yesterday to come around at dinner time. I gave her lots of attention and combing out yesterday as she fully relaxed in the early evening, but still no purring. She is out napping in some cool spot right now, I would think, enjoying her freedom once again.

Thank you, my Lord, for all my pets, and for protecting and bringing Midnight back to me. Of all the pets I have ever owned, I have always felt she needs my protection the most.