29 May 2012


I am a huge fan of peonies.  They were always a part of my Mom's and both grandmothers' gardens.  Dan's grandfather raised them commercially, and Dan's cousin (who now lives in the grandfather's house) still maintains the huge peony field at the farm.  I put a couple of peony plants in a few years ago and this year is the first time I have masses of beautiful blooms.  We are supposed to have thunder storms (and possible hail) this afternoon so I've just cut several.  They are now in the living room.  Among their other attributes, peonies smell absolutely amazing.

This particular white peony is my favorite - it is called Festiva Maxima and is known for a splash of red in the center.  Gus and Meara used the peonies from the farm for their wedding and most were this variety.

27 May 2012

Sunday Skyping with Rosie

I made a very rare spur-of-the-moment decision this past week.  And as Gus pointed out, not only is this rare but rarer still because it involves flying - not something I do without lots of preparation.  But on Wednesday I had a thought that I would like to spend Rosie's 1st birthday with her.  I woke up Thursday and checked for flights to Portland.  I made sure that Dan will be here to watch the dogs, and I sent a quick email to Gus to make sure that they had no other plans for that week.  By 10 o'clock that morning I had received confirmation for my flights there and back.  I am still amazed that I did this in a monumentally short time frame.  But now I am so excited that I will soon get to see Rosie in person.  Last time I was there she was only 3 weeks old, and now she's almost walking.  Skype is a wonderful thing, perhaps one of my very favorite technology-type things.  But there are no virtual hugs, and I can't wait to see that beautiful smile for real.  

26 May 2012


One of the blogs I follow is 'written' by Roddy the Black Labrador.  Roddy lived in England with his 2 devoted owners who rescued him from the 'dog home' (as Roddy called it). His blog has always been filled with his stories and adventures, and the many lovely people he has met along the way.  For obvious reasons I have loved this blog, and I've come to love Roddy.  This morning I read Roddy's last posting - he died on May 24th after a long and happy life.  As I sat here crying for Roddy, Blackie and Lucy each came to me and put their heads on my lap as if they know the reason for my tears.  Both will be getting extra love today, in honor of a very good dog who led a very good life.

20 May 2012

Sunday Skyping with Rosie

Rosie has picked up speed since last Sunday.  Gus tried to keep up while moving the screen as Rosie crawled towards me.  Her balance has improved too - she can stand and walk holding just one hand now.  And as always, she's adorable.

Goodbye until next week my sweet ones!

17 May 2012

Blackie (the Brown Dog)

Blackie has been having some health problems.  Last summer when he was at the vet for his annual check-up I showed his doctor a lump just behind his upper right front leg.  I had done some research and suspected a fatty tumor (almost always benign) - the vet concurred.  At the time it was about the size of a tennis ball.  Her advice was to bring him back if and when it got larger, or if it started to bother him.  Late this winter it started growing at an alarming rate - here's what it looks like today - about the size of a small soccer ball.

So a few weeks ago I brought him in to see the vet.  She still thinks it is a fatty tumor but also thinks it should be removed due to its size.  In preparation for surgery she drew blood for pre-op testing.  A couple of days later she called to say that the blood work showed his red blood cell count was low (anemia).  We put a hold on the surgery; Blackie and I (with a stool sample) headed back so the vet could draw more blood.  The vet checked what she could while we were there - no lime disease, no intestinal worms, ... nothing obvious.  The vet wanted a urine sample while we were there.  Blackie and I went out with one of the assistants who followed us with a bowl - every time Blackie lifted his leg, she would stick the bowl under him - it took 4 tries (might have taken fewer but we were both laughing pretty hard) and at last she got some in the bowl.  The vet checked the urine and still nothing abnormal.  She then sent the rest of the blood to the lab for more analysis.  Two more days and she called - still nothing.  She listed 3 possibilities; the 2nd two were not encouraging.  Her first guess was an under-active thyroid - if this were it then it would be very treatable, and he seemed to have lots of the symptoms for hypothyroidism.  So back to the vet for more blood.  Blackie is a really nervous dog - he hates to have strangers touch him, so for safety the vet must muzzle him while taking blood.  She also lets me stay with him because she knows that he calms down considerably when I'm there.  This last time one of the techs drew the blood.  She came out to get him - I told her I usually go with him but she insisted that wasn't protocol.  I handed her the leash and off she went - she didn't get far when there was no more slack in the leash and she was pulled almost backwards - Blackie was sitting by me and had no intention of following her anywhere.  Some people have to learn the hard way I guess.  So about a week ago the vet called again to say that all of the thyroid tests showed normal function.  We were both disappointed because this was the one optimistic option on her list of possibilities.  She said that the next step would be ex-rays and that would require anesthesia.  She's a great vet and she knew that both Blackie and I needed a bit of a break.  So for now he is taking mega-iron supplements to try to give his blood a boost.  The main problem with the low blood cell count is a really low energy level.  I've noticed Blackie slowing down a lot in the past year - he used to love to run fast; just running made him happy.  Now he moseys along and sticks close to me, with an occasional ramble through the high grass or the stream.  I've credited the slowing down to age (he'll be 8 in July) but I guess low blood count is actually the reason.  I guess I'll have to subject him to the ex-rays soon.  The iron isn't hurting him and maybe he seems a little friskier, or at least he's less lethargic, or maybe I want to see that.  He does not under any circumstance seem to be in pain which is a very good thing.  And even the vet (who would not lie to make me feel better) admits that sometimes you never find a cause and sometimes the blood count goes back to normal levels.  Fingers crossed for a spontaneous recovery.

By the way, I once promised I would explain how Blackie (an obviously brown dog) got his name.  Lucy was my 50th birthday present, so I got to name her - I gave Dan 3 names and he made the final choice.  So when we got Blackie it was Dan's turn to pick the name.  He wanted either Buddy (for the chocolate Lab we had many years ago) or Blackie (for his first dog, actually a black Lab).  I wanted to remember the original Buddy as the only Buddy, so I selected Blackie because I never knew the original.  And OK, the irony appealed to me as irony often does.

13 May 2012

Happy Mothers Day to Two of My Favorite Moms

My Mom and me, July 1959

Meara and Rosie, December 2011

Mothers Day Skyping with Rosie

Last week Rosie and Meara were in Omaha so there was no Skyping.  Oh my gosh she has changed so much in 2 weeks - predictions are that she will be walking, maybe running, within the month.  Rosie is making her way around the L-shaped couch with no assistance.  Isn't that the best smile ever?  

At this point Slinky the cat has jumped up on the couch and is standing next to the screen.  The next bunch of photos show Rosie using her amazing climbing skills to get to me and Slinky.  Her Mom and Dad will be getting lots of exercise really soon.

Not just walking and climbing but dancing too.