Things I’m Loving These Days

I hope you all are doing well and staying safe.  I can’t believe we are already at the end of February!  That doesn’t seem possible.  We just thawed out from both an ice and a snow storm and now we’re having temperatures in the 60s.  I’ve always said, “Only in Tennessee can you have temperatures in the teens one day and then in the 50s or 60s the next day!  I’m still staying in.  I only get out to the grocery store about once a month, to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription or to go through a drive through pick up for a meal.   I haven’t had a hair cut in 8 months and I’m so ready for one but probably won’t even do that until I have at least one vaccine.  I thought I’d do a “Things I’m Loving These Days” post since I haven’t done one in a while.

We finally got snow!  

Snow is not something we see much here in the southeast anymore.  We get more ice than snow here.  I have such happy memories of playing in the snow as a child (back in the days when we DID get deep snows here instead of just the dustings we get now) and I do miss it.  Last week (on Valentine’s Day) we got an ice storm.  It made driveways, sidewalks, and roads very treacherous as everything was covered in a thick glaze of ice.  We got so much ice that it looked like snow.  It sounded like shards of glass falling and I stood out on my porch just listening to it for quite a while.  After the ice storm, we got a good 4 or more inches of snow.  My northern friends probably think I’m crazy for wishing for snow and loving winter like I do.  But I do welcome winter every year and a break from our heat and humidity.  The ice can stay away but the snow is welcome!   I love the bare trees of winter, breathing the cold, crisp air, smelling wood burning stoves and smoke from fireplace chimneys filling the air on my afternoon walks.  To experience the quiet calm and smells of a winter day or a walk in the woods are a joy to me.  I won’t say the long successive gray days of winter don’t get to me sometimes, but give me a pretty snow and I’m ready for a moonlight walk! I love the sense I have knowing that everything is resting and it seems just calm and quiet.  The trees are shed bare and certain animals are hibernating.  This “rest of nature” is all necessary for newer things to happen in a few weeks time.

Even my cats love it (it is something they don’t get to experience much in these parts here) and both were planted by windows when it was coming down hard.

Dakota watching it snow from a bedroom window

Giraffe Cams!

Oh boy, where do I start?  At one point a few weeks ago, I was watching four different giraffe cams!  Yes, I probably need to be committed!!!  There were three pregnant giraffes I was watching.  There was Nasha, the pregnant Masai giraffe at the Nashville Zoo who was to be a first time mother.  I watched her labor one night and knew she was close and then bam, the cameras went down.  Turns out, Nasha was not progressing well and the veterinary team had to intervene.  It was a sad ending and Nasha’s calf didn’t make it.  There was some speculation that she might have stepped on the calf.

Did you know that about 25% of calves in captivity don’t survive?  Many of them die during birth or shortly after.  It gets worse in the wild, and up to 50% of calves don’t survive (mainly because they’re so vulnerable to predators).

And then there is Autumn, a Masai giraffe at Greenville Zoo in South Carolina.  Autumn gave birth to a precious baby girl three days ago who stands at 6 ft. tall and weighed 148.5 lbs.  I watched Autumn labor and give birth live and it was such a treat.  If you missed it, here it is.

I’m also watching a giraffe at Animal Adventure Park in New York who is due anytime now.  Her name is Johari (Joh for short) and she mated with Oliver (Ollie) who was also the sire of April the giraffe’s last two calves.  April is now in retirement and is residing in barn #2.  I watch her and her son occasionally on a live cam too.  April is doing well but is aging and has arthritis and she recently got a new state of the art padded floor to make her more comfortable in her geriatric years.  I had to laugh because the zoo went live on the cam the day they installed April’s floor.  At one point, there were 3900+ people watching the floor installation.  Even my hubby, who has absolutely no interest in watching pregnant giraffes on a live cam, watched it and said it was quite interesting.  There were at the same time, 1700 people  watching the live cam of Johari the pregnant giraffe.  So yes, more people were watching April’s floor getting installed!  I just thought that was so funny… but it is a testament of how much our April girl is so loved.  She is such a gentle giant.  Giraffe watching is so peaceful to me.

Black Beauty– by Anna Sewell

I’m 61 years old and I’m just getting around to reading the children’s book, Black Beauty.  I’ve never been much of a “horse person” and never had much of an interest to read horse books when I was younger.  But this book was on our shelf because it was on a reading list for my youngest son when he was in middle school (he’s 28 now).  I remember back when he was reading the book, he said, “Mom, I think you’d like this book!”  Several weeks ago I was up late flipping channels and the movie, Black Beauty, was on (the 1946 film).  I watched most of it and liked it.  So the other day I saw the book on our book shelf, and I thought, why not?  And so I’m reading Black Beauty.  I never knew the book was told from the horse’s standpoint, which makes it all the more interesting.  I have to say, I’m enjoying it.  It’s always fun to go back and read a good children’s book, isn’t it?

These Tealights

I love lighting candles and tealights all throughout the year but especially during the winter.  I discovered these on Amazon.

I love the box they come in for storing them.  They are so pretty when lit and they burn well and burn seven hours (I’ve had some burn even longer)!  When I ordered a box just before Christmas, there were some red ones too!  Considering you get 96 in a box, the price is good.

Bath and Body Works Wallflower Plug-in Paris Cafe Scent 

I ordered this scent recently and loved it.  It smells just like coffee brewing with a light scent of sweet pastries.  I have it in the room where I’m typing now and the first night I plugged it in, I kept thinking my husband was brewing coffee (which was strange since he doesn’t like coffee).  I think this might be a retired scent but if I find it again, I’ll definitely buy it!


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A Duck, a Mouse, and a Confused Veterinarian

I think diagnostics was always what I loved most about veterinary medicine.  While I am NOT a competitive person at all, and never have been, I found that I liked the challenge of arriving at a correct diagnosis.  People often say that pediatricians and veterinarians have a lot in common in that their patients can’t talk to them or tell them how they are feeling or what they feel, or where it hurts.  That’s true, and it makes diagnosing cases even more challenging.

To me, diagnosing cases was like putting together the pieces of a puzzle.  Sometimes that puzzle was very easy and straightforward and other times it seemed like I was putting together a 1000 piece puzzle with multiple pieces missing.  Yes, it could be frustrating.  It was especially rewarding though to find all those pieces and arrive at a correct diagnosis.  The veterinarian I went to work for was my mentor and I learned a lot from him about diagnostics over the years.  As a young veterinarian just out of school, I remember something he told me that always stuck with me.  He told me that if things aren’t adding up and the pieces of that puzzle just aren’t fitting together, start thinking cancer.  I can’t tell you how helpful that was to me and how many times he ended up being right about that.  But I digress as that has nothing to do with the case I’m about to tell you about.  There’s not a doctor or a veterinarian around who hasn’t missed a diagnosis at some point in their career.  After all, we’re human, and as the saying goes, we’re practitioners…. we practice throughout our entire careers.  We’re not perfect, although many people think we should be, and hold us accountable when we aren’t.

I am often asked what my most interesting case or most unusual case was while in practice.  I smile when this happens because when I was a child, I used to love to ask my uncle (who was also a veterinarian) that same question.

When I’m asked that question, my thoughts always go to a white American Pekin duck patient brought in as an emergency one night to our clinic.

American Pekin duck
Photo by Hanbo Wang from Pexels

The very excited client said she heard a commotion outdoors and heard the sound of a dog barking and growling and an obviously alarmed duck quacking and went outside just as a large dog chased this poor white Pekin duck underneath a deck.  She ran after the two, somehow managed to run the dog off and away from the duck, and then picked the poor frightened duck up in her arms and brought him in to our clinic.  The duck was in obvious distress and showing rapid breathing (tachypnea).  It was lethargic.  The feathers were ruffled in places and upon exam, I noticed severe bruising in the skin around the base of the feathers on several places on the duck’s back.  Dark reddish purple ecchymotic bruising and hemorrhaging was present all over the duck’s body.

I thought the diagnosis was pretty straight forward.  The duck had been attacked by the dog, was banged around and traumatized, hence the bruising and the shock-like symptoms.   He had taken a good beating.  I began shock treatment and admitted the duck for hospitalization and observation.  We put the duck in a cage with a towel covering the door so as to let it calm down as it was extremely stressed.  It stood in the cage and even drank some water. And then it settled down and closed it eyes.  We checked on the duck every 10-15 minutes and found it resting.

About an hour after the duck’s arrival, I went down to check on the duck.  I pulled back the towel from the cage and was hit by a sight I did not expect to see.  The duck was lying there dead as a door nail on it’s side with it’s mouth open and a dead, obviously regurgitated, soggy, and quite large dark gray slimy mouse was lying  next to the duck’s mouth.  I stood there puzzled, literally shaking my head and doing a double take.  I was so confused!  My first literal thought was, “WHAT THE HELL????  WHERE DID THIS MOUSE COME FROM?” HOW DID THIS DUCK SWALLOW THIS LARGE MOUSE?  WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?”

And then the missing pieces started coming in.  The client confirmed there had been d-con rodenticide poisoning under the deck.

photo from e-Bay

The mouse had eaten the d-con and was poisoned and the duck gobbled up the mouse, which then poisoned the duck.  This is called secondary poisoning.  Did you know ducks love to gobble up mice and eat them quite often?  I didn’t!  D-con contains warfarin or other anticoagulants that decrease Vitamin K levels interfering with blood clotting.   The duck had internal hemorrhaging.  When I picked his little deceased body up to remove him from the cage, blood came pouring from his nostrils.  I don’t think I could have saved the duck with Vit K treatment.  It usually takes 3-7 days for death to occur after a duck eats a poisoned mouse.  The stress from the dog incident probably speeded up the process a little.

So a sad ending for a poor little duck and a poor little mouse.  And a most unusual case that taught this young veterinarian that things are not always as they seem.  I actually learned after I experienced this very strange case, that secondary d-con poisoning is actually very common in poultry and also birds of prey.  In 2014/15, there were some Federal Restrictions placed on d-con and 12 of its products were banned.

I’ll never, ever forgot that case.



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Virtual Coffee #8

Photo by Jill Wellington from Pexels

I haven’t been writing much lately so I thought I’d try to get the ball rolling with a virtual coffee post.

How is everybody?  Winter of 2020/21 has been very different hasn’t it?

If we were having coffee today,  I’d tell you that all this staying home doesn’t really bother me.  I’m somewhat of a homebody anyway (hubby and I are so much alike in that way).  I can always find something to do or clean – a drawer to declutter, a closet to clean, cabinets to reorganize.  I’m slowly going through my kitchen cabinets now and getting rid of some things and reorganizing.  I’ve found things I didn’t even remember having!

It’s now been about a year since hubby and I have eaten out in a restaurant and we’re thinking it’s probably going to be at least another year until we do eat out again.  I’m not taking any chances and still mostly staying home, only going out for essential errands and the occasional doctor’s visit.  We do mostly Walmart curbside pick up for groceries and have been very happy with that.  I occasionally go to Publix about once every 4-5 weeks for the things we can’t get at Walmart.  I double mask when I do go out and always have, since the beginning of this pandemic.

Christmas during a pandemic was sure different.  If you know me, you know that Christmas is not my most favorite time of the year and I’m generally relieved when all the hustle and bustle is over.  I did 100% of my shopping online this year and it all went pretty smoothly.  This year, I felt I needed to be surrounded by the beauty of my Christmas lights for just a little longer.  So instead of taking my little 3 ft. table top tree with the white lights and gold trim down on Epiphany, I left it and my two ceramic Christmas trees up until January 31st.  These little trees give me such happy memories of the 1970s when they were so popular.  Don’t you just love them?

If we were having coffee today,  I’d probably tell you about my husband and that he had yet another major orthopedic surgery at the end of 2020.  He had a hip replacement in May and has done quite well with that and had just gone back to work at the hospital (he’s a rehab nurse).  On October 13th, he was lifting a paraplegic patient from a wheelchair to the bed and he suddenly felt and heard a loud pop and felt a burst of pain in his right elbow.  He gently lowered the patient back down in the wheelchair and at that point he said he had the feeling that something bad had happened.  And it had.  A trip to the ER and then to an orthopedist for an MRI confirmed he had ripped the distal biceps tendon right off the radial tuberosity of the radius bone!  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that nursing isn’t a physically demanding job.  He had surgery on November 4th and he was told it will be a long recovery – 4-6 months.  He was in a splint for about 6 weeks with a lot of restrictions.  But he has done well and he’s under good care with a great orthopedist and a good therapy team.  He sees an Occupational therapist twice weekly and he’s now doing resistance training and strength training.  He is a therapist’s dream come true as he follows their directions to a tee and he’s a big believer in physical therapy/occupational therapy.  He’s back at work but not doing much patient care at this point as he still has a lifting restriction of about 5 lbs. So they’ve mostly had him clerking at the desk and also doing some COVID screenings.

If we were having coffee, I’d probably ask you if you plan to take the COVID vaccine.  Hubby, being a nurse, has had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine and did well with both.  He had a little of a sore arm and that was the extent of his reaction.  I plan to get it as soon as it’s available and that won’t come soon enough.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I saw my doctor for an annual physical in mid December and we were talking about what else…. COVID-19.   Two days earlier, I’d lost someone very dear to me from COVID and I was grieving and just so darn sad and weepy.  I needed to talk to my doctor about my out of control anxiety and my insomnia, which is about as bad as I’ve ever experienced.  I felt almost guilty when I broke down right there in the exam room telling my doctor I’m just so tired of all of it, because I know he’s heard it all.  My sister had a bad case of COVID in August and she spent 10 days in the hospital on oxygen and here it is 6 months later and she’s still suffering some ill effects (hair loss).  My youngest son had COVID at the end of October/first of November and at the end of November  he suffered a seizure and got rushed to the ER.  He’s 28 and had never had a seizure before so I’ll always wonder if it was COVID related.  They discovered he was a diabetic that night with blood sugars close to 400 and a very high A1c.  Just six months earlier, his blood work had shown a normal fasting blood sugar and a normal A1c.  And now I’m reading that research is showing that COVID can attack the pancreas and cause diabetes!  Yeah, this is a bad news virus.  I would think by this point, just about everyone has known someone who has been sick with COVID or even known someone who has died from it.  I’ll never understand why more people aren’t taking it seriously.  I’m still in disbelief to see how many people don’t wear masks, if not for their own protection, then for the the protection of their fellow human beings.  And I’ll never understand how the wearing of masks somehow turned into a political issue.  I’ll never get that as long as I live.

If we were having coffee, I’d probably ask you what you’re reading and if you’ve read any good books recently.   I read far less this past year than in “normal” years which I contribute to anxiety.  It’s really, really hard to focus on books, even now, almost a year into this global pandemic.  For the same reason, I haven’t been blogging much.  I’ve tried to continue on with devotional readings and that’s probably what’s saved me from complete and utter insanity.  I only read 17 books last year and five of those were rereads.  In 2020, I read:

  1. Heaven by Randy Alcorn (LOVED this book and found it very comforting).
  2. Uncovering the Love of Jesus: A Lent Devotional by Asheritah Ciuciu
  3. The Grapes of Wrath– by John Steinbeck (this was a reread.  I read it the first time in college).
  4. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail– by Bill Bryson (the first part of this book made me literally laugh out loud and I enjoyed it so much. But I have to say the second half of the book disappointed me).
  5. Bathed in Prayer: Father Tim’s Prayers, Sermons and Reflections from the Mitford Series– by Jan Karon (if you haven’t read the Mitford Series, I highly recommend them!  I’ve read them all as has any good Episcopalian girl… they’re my favorite go-to feel-good books)!
  6. Spurgeon on Prayer and Spiritual Warfare– by Charles Spurgeon (this is an anthology which actually includes six of Spurgeon’s books on prayer.  It took me a while to get through this one and parts of it were grueling, but I liked it and am glad I read it).
  7. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn– by Betty Smith (an all time favorite and a reread…. I think I’ve read this book 4-5 times and find a new gem in it every single time).
  8. Before We Were Yours– by Lisa Wingate
  9. And Then There Were None– by Agatha Christie (this was a reread and I first read it as a teenager.  I honestly did not remember much of it or who the killer even was)!
  10. Humility– by Andrew Murray
  11. Simple– by Robert J. Morgan (this was a reread and I wrote a post about this book here.  I love any book written by Robert Morgan).
  12. The Tattooist of Auschwitz– by Heather Morris
  13. Change Your Words, Change Your Life: Understanding the Power of Every Word You Speak– by Joyce Meyer (this was yet another reread.  This book is so full of truth and it’s one I need to go to again and again).
  14. Prairie Tale– by Melissa Gilbert (I was watching the entire Little House on the Prairie series on DVD during the pandemic and out of curiosity, decided I wanted to read Melissa Gilbert’s memoir.  In all honesty, I wish it contained more about the series and less of  her sexual escapades).
  15. Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man– by Mary L. Trump
  16. Disloyal: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump– by Michael Cohen (this book, and the previous book by Mary Trump, were loaned to me by a friend who suggested I read them.  This one left me slack-jawed so many times.  It was difficult for me to get through this one due to the anger I felt while reading it).
  17. Searching for Certainty: Finding God in the Disruptions of Life– by Shelly Miller  (This was one of the year’s favorite reads for me and I highly recommend it.  I LOVED this book and it’s a fitting book to read for the times we’re going through.  I have followed the author’s blog for many, many years and love her writing so much.  Shelly received a terminal cancer diagnosis while writing this book and I was devastated to learn that she died about two weeks after the book released).

Right now, I’m slowly reading Frederick Buechner’s four memoirs.  But I’m still finding it hard to concentrate and focus on reading and blogging but I’m making a conscientious effort to do better at both.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I can hardly believe my niece will be graduating from veterinary school in May!!  These past four years have seemed to sure go by fast to me (but probably not to her)!  Recently, she was home and did two different three-week externships.  The first was in a general small animal practice and the second was in a feline only specialty practice.  She’ll be doing a preceptorship towards the end of her clinical year and she’s very excited about that.  I’m both proud of her and excited for her future.  She’s had an unprecedented clinical year with COVID-19 bringing on a lot of changes to how a veterinary education is carried out.  Vet school is challenging enough and COVID brought even more challenges!

My niece with a Budweiser Clydesdale

Yep, this is how they roll….

A once in a lifetime adventure in veterinary school.
Swimming with dolphins!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you I bought my cats the best Christmas present ever this year.  A Flippity fish!  It’s rechargeable and it really does resemble a flopping fish.  It has been entertaining to watch them and both Nugget and Dakota learned very quickly how to activate it.

Whoever thought of this toy is a genius!  Watch the video below…. cats love it!

Well, I could sit and chat forever, but I’ll end here.  I hope you enjoyed our coffee chat.  Please stay safe and well!


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Sunday Glory

With every good deed you are sowing a seed, though the harvest you may not see.

–Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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Presiding Bishop Michael Curry- Call to Prayer for the Nation



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A Prayer for Our Country

For Our Country.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favour and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the Book of Common Prayer

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Sunday Glory


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Friendship Quote

Animals are such agreeable friends, they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.  — George Eliot

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A Christmas Morning Bomb in Nashville, Tennessee

Hello friends.  How was your Christmas?

I hope it was better than mine.  For I woke up to news of a bombing in my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.  At first, I innocently thought (like the Nashville police chief did) that it was a propane gas explosion.  But it wasn’t.  It was an evil intentional act on Christmas Day.  Suddenly, Christmas breakfast and opening gifts was on the back burner.  Way, way, way on the back burner.  Instead, I was glued to the TV all day long, watching scenes that my eyes could hardly believe.   All day long, I alternated watching TV with going to the bathroom to cry.  To weep in silence away from my family.   Because I was trying not to ruin their Christmas.  I covered my face with my hands and I just let it all out.  This year has been hard for everybody but especially hard on Nashville.  It was like 12 months of stress came  pouring out with those tears.

This is the fourth time that Nashville will have to rebuild this year.  There were the  tornadoes in early March.  And then COVID hit two weeks later.  And then there was this strange Derecho, and we had the riots and the damages from all the looting.  And now a bomb.  An RV bomb on the dawn of Christmas morning?  Really???  IN NASHVILLE???

Nick Beres, one of my favorite reporters for News Channel 5 in Nashville posted these photos on his Facebook page.   Just look at the devastation.  This was no small bomb.  And yes, it’s nothing more than a miracle that more people weren’t hurt or killed.  The bomber had recorded a chilling warning and a fifteen minute countdown interspersed with music playing, so it would seem his intention was not to hurt or kill people.  But yet, what exactly was his purpose?  That remains unknown for now.

These were beautiful, old, historic buildings on popular 2nd Avenue, the heart of downtown Nashville.  On a weekday, these streets would have been full of tourists.  I’ve strolled down this street a few times in my 60 years of living in Nashville.  I’ve been in a few of these old buildings and eaten in some of the restaurants (which are now destroyed).

I have no words for this senseless act. 

I’m disgusted and tired of the meanness and the hatred going on in our world right now.  So much so, that I told my sister that I hope my kids never have children.  I don’t want grandchildren growing up in this hate-filled world we live in.  And the sad thing?  I meant every word of that with ALL my heart.  I still do.

So once again, I’m on my knees, and I’m praying hard for Nashville, a town that I love so much and that is near and dear to my heart.   Holy Spirit, help me.  For I have no words…. They just don’t come.  Dear Lord, help me with my anger and the hopelessness I feel.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

God, have mercy.  Help us all.


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Holiday Dangers for Pets

I usually repost this blog every year at the holidays. I’m still having a great deal of trouble navigating this “new” Block Editor (If you really want to know, I HATE IT) and it’s making me want to just throw in the towel on blogging. The Block Editor is too complicated for a simple blogger such as myself and there’s just WAY too many bells and whistles. Just my opinion, but it’s not user friendly for a little personal blogger who just likes to occasionally share some thoughts. Maybe it’s fine for a business/professional blog but…..

For some reason, my reblog button won’t work, so I’m providing the link to the post on Holiday Danger for Pets.

Merry Christmas to you and all your furry, feathered and scaled friends. Stay safe!

Gail ❤

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