Things I’m Thinking About

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  1. I actually found myself feeling just a tad bit guilty for being excited that spring is here when we had no winter.  And I mean NO winter.  It seemed to skip us by this year.  I can’t tell you how many days in January and February my husband and I had the windows thrown open in the house.  I shudder to think how bad the bugs are going to be this year.  Ugh.
  2. I never thought in a million years that I could (or would) spend 4 weeks watching a live cam of a giraffe’s rear.  I’m still watching the live giraffe cam at Animal Adventure Park (in New York) and am so addicted.  I can’t tell you the joy that watching April the pregnant giraffe and her mate Oliver has brought to me.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in front of my computer watching those two, the times I’ve hilariously laughed out loud at their antics or the many witty comments on the live chat and the times I’ve cried.  I’ve been so touched by the loving care these keepers give their giraffes.  And then the wonderful news on their Facebook page today that due in part to the sponsorship by Toys R Us, that the Animal Adventure Park is making a $25,000 donation to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF).  Wow!!  Very impressive!!! It’s made me happy to read comments from so many people from all over the world who have said that April has brought them so much happiness and peace— from people suffering from cancer and going through chemotherapy, elderly people who are both alone and lonely, and those suffering from depression or other illnesses.  One lady said on the chat site tonight that her daughter, who had Cerebral Palsy, has really enjoyed watching the giraffes.  April and Oliver have been a great educational tool and a welcome break from all the “ugly” unkindness in the world right now.  We need more of that.  We need more  things like April’s hay showers to make us laugh.  Or Oliver’s “happy dances” when he knows feeding time is near.  I will be so sad when that web cam comes down. Baby giraffe, you just don’t know how this 57-year-old woman has prayed and prayed for your safe birth and arrival into this world.  The whole world is waiting for you and we can’t wait to meet you.  God love you.
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No, this is NOT April (her photos are copyrighted).  This is just a free stock photo of a giraffe.   Aren’t they just beautiful animals?

3.  While I’m on the subject of animal butts, I may as well share this story.  Last week, I swept, vacuumed, and swiffered my hardwood floors.  Then I cleaned and shined them up with Bruce Hardwood Floor cleaner (best stuff ever)!  I figured when your cats are running down the hall chasing and pouncing on dust bunnies,  and batting them all over the place like hockey pucks, that it just might be a sign that it’s time to clean the blasted floors. Yes, really.  Well, here just a few days after all that cleaning, I kept finding these odd little smudges all over the den floor.  I kept wiping them up, but they kept mysteriously reappearing.  I couldn’t figure it out.  I thought maybe the smudges were perhaps from a new pair of shoes I recently bought, but then noticed the smudges appearing when I had not worn the shoes.  Then today, I happened to catch Nugget, (my sweet blonde tabby who my husband swears is missing a few chromosomes) scooting on his bottom across the floor which gave me the answer to where all those odd little smudges were coming from. Yuck.  Thank you Nugget.  Nugget has never been much into hygiene (I think he was taken away from his mother before she got around to teaching him some very important things— like how to clean your butt).  Thank goodness Nugget’s brother, Dakota, is VERY much into hygiene and so he bathes both himself and Nugget, butt and all.  Bless him.  He has the hairballs to show for it too.  Laxatone is his friend.  Needless to say, little Nugget got his rear end tuned up this afternoon (anal sac expression which didn’t seem to be the problem) and a thorough rear end washing.  Nugget is not speaking to his mommy tonight.  Nor is he scooting across the floor anymore.  Well, so far anyway.

020 4I saw my doctor today for chronic neck pain that started as a crick in my neck at the end of last September. I first saw my doctor for this problem in October who sent me for physical therapy and put me on Meloxicam (potent stuff) which worked wonders for the pain but tore my stomach to pieces and gave me the worst reflux EVER.  I stopped it.  The pain returned.  Long story short, here it is almost April and the pain is still there.  So today I had cervical spine X-rays and I’m probably looking at an MRI in the near future.  My doctor suspects a bulging disc in my cervical spine.  I should not have ignored this symptom of pain for so long.  I know better.

5. While we’re on the subject of health….. Last January, I contracted the respiratory infection from hell.  My primary care doctor and an ENT I ventured to, both thought it was a mycoplasma bug.  I’ve treated some very sick cats, rats, and rabbits with mycoplasma so I knew it could be a nasty bug. Well, hope you never get mycoplasma because I thought that little germ was going to do me in.  It knocked me for a loop and put me out of commission for weeks.  For days, I ran a fever and chilled and broke out in sweats, and went from the bed to the couch and back to the bed.  It affected my sinuses and my middle and inner ears and gave me a cough like I’ve never had before.  And I coughed and coughed til I thought I would cough up a lung.  The cough never went away.  Not after several rounds of antibiotics and steroids or anything else.  Yep, 15 months later and I’m still coughing.  I haven’t been to church, in like forever, because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that Episcopalians don’t like to share pews with people coughing (can’t say that I blame them) and after two Sundays of getting cough drops and peppermints hurled in my lap during the service, I decided I’d better just stay home. My husband wonders if my neck pain is due to my violent paroxysms of coughing. I have an appointment with a pulmonologist next week to finally get to the bottom of this.  It took months to get this appointment and  I’m kicking myself for having waited so long to even make the appointment.  Again, I know better.  As much as I’m ready to find out what’s going on, I have to admit I’m a little extremely nervous.

6. I’ve been trying to get motivated to do some spring cleaning.  So far I’ve thought about it more than I’ve actually gone into action.  I’m always battling clutter around here and as much as I dream about having a pristine house, I have to face the facts that I just am not that into housecleaning.  I take after my mother in that regard.  One can hope though.  I’m cracking out some of my organization and cleaning books and making out a huge to-do list.  I usually don’t fare well with to-do lists because I make them way longer than they ever should be which of course overwhelms me.  So I end up setting myself up for failure before ever starting.  Yeah, I’m weird like that.  I’m trying to learn to do better and keep my lists shorter.

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Household organizing books

7.  I’ve had a hard time sitting down to blog and come up with posts lately.  I’m not sure, but it could have something to do with #2 and #4.  Ya think?  When I started this blog, it seemed the topics I wanted to write about were endless.  Now when I sit down to write, I just draw a huge blank.  Thank goodness for prompts.

I’ll end this long rambling post now.  It’s time to go chill with the giraffes for a while.

Gail ♥

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Sunday Glory

Glen Campbell sings Amazing Grace.  Loving this….

A Blessed Sunday to all.

Gail ♥

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Sunday Glory

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.  Psalm 141:3

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Gail ♥

 

 

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Backyard Wildlife

Yesterday, while getting dinner ready, I happened to look out my kitchen window while washing my hands at the sink.  Our backyard slopes upward and at the top of our yard to the right are some woods.  I called my husband to come look out the window as there was a rather large white-tailed deer just beyond the edge of the woods grazing.  We stood there and watched as seven more does slowly walked out of the woods and into our yard to graze.  I think eight is a record for our little backyard (at one time).  They grazed awhile and slowly ambled back into the woods.

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Two days ago (at dusk) we were walking in the neighborhood when my husband looked up and straining to see better said, “Look, is that a hawk or an owl?”  My eyes gazed way up into the tree and there was the most beautiful gray Great Horned Owl.  He looked rather Halloween-regal sitting there staring down at us in the darkened gray skeleton like limbs of the tree— his body gradually turning shadowy like in the increasing dimness of the approaching night.  He was making soft little hoot chatters under his breath.  I think he was letting us know he was uncomfortable with our presence.  On our second lap, he was nowhere to be seen.

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Great Horned Owl

I have seen many owls in our yard and neighborhood but this was the first time I had ever seen a Great Horned owl and I was quite excited.  Years ago, we used to have a barn owl who would come and perch on our basketball goal at the edge of the driveway at night.  He was mostly whitish in color like the owl in the photo below, and we named him Hedwig (my sons were really into Harry Potter at the time).

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Barn Owl

Hedwig swooped down off that basketball goal one night in pursuit of my cat when I let the cat out the garage door (have you ever seen a grown woman chase after an owl in the middle of the night while flailing her arms wildly)?  Bigfoot thankfully escaped by running under a little decorative wooden bridge we have by our driveway but this encounter forever ended his little nightly constitutional. Hedwig frequently used to leave owl pellets under our basketball goal and I was known to take the dried out gray pellets and dissect them from time to time.  It was always interesting to see the mice skulls and other little bones in the pellet.  Hedwig ate very well and seemed to have a well-rounded diet.  He finally quit coming around and I sorta missed that ole owl.

We have tall pine trees which border the back and one side of our yard.  We often have barred owls sit in those trees at night and yell their mating calls to each other.

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Barred Owl

I love to listen to them but they can get very loud!  Sometimes in the spring and summer, I have to get up and close our bedroom window due to their loud calling.  For some reason, 3 am seems to be their prime time.

I remember the night many years ago when our boys were young and in cub scouts and we decided to have a family camp out in the backyard.  I was kept awake all night by a little screech-owl. For such a little guy, he sure had a spooky sounding voice.  His whinnies and trills sounded rather ghost-like.

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Screech Owl

Ever tried to sleep with a screech-owl around?  I told my husband between the tree root digging in my back all night, the serenading by Mr.Screech owl, and the neighbor’s barking Labrador Retriever, there wasn’t much sleeping that night for me. I decided backyard camping’s for the birds… pun intended.

Gail ♥

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Ruminate

This post is in response to the WordPress one-word daily prompt: Ruminate

The first thing that popped into my head (of course) upon seeing this prompt was my anatomy and physiology days in my animal science and pre-vet courses and learning about the four-compartment stomach of a ruminant (cattle, sheep, goats, deer, giraffes, etc.) and the functions of each stomach.

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But I digress.

I’ve always been a ruminator (is that a word?) and I think any psychologist will tell you, it’s considered a negative trait to have.  I guess it would be if one tended to ruminate on just the negative.  I tend to be a very deep thinker who overanalyzes everything.

Most of the things I ruminate about are the losses in my life—both animals and people.  I lost a close friend to an automobile accident in July of 2013 and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about losing her and mourning the fact that I never got to say goodbye to her or tell her what she meant to me.   She’s the second really close friend I lost in that manner (driving off the road and hitting a tree).  Six weeks after her death, while still deep in the throes of grief over my friend, I found myself at the vet clinic having my almost 20-year-old cat euthanized.  He had been a precious gift to me from a client when he was just 8 weeks old and I literally felt like my heart was being ripped right out of my chest.  I didn’t think I was going to survive it.  Really.  My husband and I had a little funeral for Bigfoot and I delved into the grief books as I did when both my parents died of cancer.  I think I read everything written by Elisabeth Kübler Ross.  I went through all the stages of grief during his illness and death— the denial, the anger, the bargaining, the depression, and finally the acceptance (although sometimes I don’t think I’ve completely mastered that last one yet). I also added guilt to my stages of grief the day it hit me that I was grieving harder over the loss of my cat than I was over the loss of my friend.  I remember right after Bigfoot’s death how offended I got when people would tell me I needed to just go out and get another cat.  I remember Bigfoot died on a Monday and was buried on the following Thursday.  On Wednesday, the day before I buried him, I was told by a well-meaning friend about a cat on Craig’s list that needed a good home.  My cat wasn’t even in the ground yet, and people were trying to get me to get another cat to replace the one I had lost.  I got emails and phone calls in the days that followed his death about kittens and cats needing homes.  My mind could not even fathom getting another cat at this point.  I know these people meant well but still, it hurt.  I cried every day for a year over the loss of my cat, who was like a son to me.

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Bigfoot in his final days

When my mother was dealing with her multiple cancers, the oncology group she went to had a therapist right there in the office.  The oncologist, who was just the kindest most caring doctor I believe I had ever met, urged my mother to talk to the therapist.  My mother didn’t want to and told him she didn’t see the point, that she had cancer and nothing that therapist could say was ever going to change that.  He told her there were “cancer related issues” he felt she needed to discuss and end of life issues.  So my mother very reluctantly went.  I sat out in the waiting room and cringed.  I remember the therapist coming out to talk to me at the end of my mother’s session.  I don’t really remember what all she said to me, but I do remember this.  She said that while my mother seemed to be accepting her cancer diagnosis well, that she would move back and forth between the different stages of grief.  That it wasn’t necessarily a smooth straight line flow from denial to acceptance, and then you’re done.  She told me one day my mother might be in the acceptance phase, and the next day she might be in denial and a week or two later, she might be very angry about her cancer.  Boy, was she ever right about that. That’s exactly how it all played out in my mother’s cancer journey.  I never saw my mother in the “acceptance stage.”  She simply wasn’t ready to die and she made that very clear.

As a veterinarian, I have seen my share of pet loss grief after the loss of an animal.  I’ve seen clients who would go out immediately after losing a pet (sometimes the same day!) and get another pet.  And I was happy for them because they were happy.  Others, like me, needed more time to grieve.  Some needed six months and some needed a full year or more.  And that’s okay too.  I went to a veterinary conference last weekend and attended some lectures on euthanasia and pet loss grief.  The speaker, who runs a hospice center for animals (and certainly sees her share of pet loss grief), emphasized over and over that grief is different for every single person and people grieve in different ways.  She said for some, grief lasts days, for some it lasts weeks, for some months, and for others years.  And it’s all “normal.”  When she said that, I somehow felt relieved.  When my cat died, I heard comments like I needed to move on, I needed to just get over it, that life goes on whether we like it or not, etc., etc., etc.  To me, those are the worst things you can say to somebody grieving.  Are there times when I think people need professional help in their grieving? You bet I do.  Sometimes I think people can get stuck in their grief and need a gentle nudge to help them in processing their grief.  But I don’t think we can put a time limit on grief and we have to be careful not to tell people HOW they must grieve.

I ruminate over other things in my life. I ruminate over health issues, things going on in my sons’ lives, what my purpose in life is, spiritual issues, what the future holds, etc.  And the list goes on and on.  Today, I’ve found myself ruminating over a movie my husband and I watched last night.  It was a Nicholas Sparks movie (why oh why do I even watch those) called The Best of Me that we got out of the $5 bin at Walmart.  It was a good movie but my husband and I both predicted how it was going to end and we both said we were not going to like it if it did indeed end that way.  And it did.  But isn’t that typical for Nicholas Sparks movies?  Isn’t there always a twist?

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Writing this has me wondering if ruminating is synonymous with worrying.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of difference.

What do you think?  Is ruminating and worrying the same?  Are you a ruminator?  Is it always a bad thing?  Please feel free to leave a comment if you so desire.  

Gail ♥

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Swarm

This post is in response to the WordPress one-word daily prompt: Swarm

I remember a time many years ago when my children were small and the periodical cicadas emerged from the ground in droves.  I think it may have been 1998(?).  The periodical cicadas are the smaller cicada version and are black with red eyes.

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My sons— one in preschool and the other in 3rd grade, were in heaven.  We checked out books at the library and read all about them and my boys could tell you anything you could ever possibly want to know about cicadas or recite the whole cicada life cycle without batting an eye.  We stood for hours one night and watched a cicada attached to the underside of a maple tree branch emerging from its exoskeleton.  My kids went around for days collecting those exoskeletons in sandwich bags.

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Cicada exoskeleton

Our pet turtle, Snapper, was in heaven also.  I would put him out in his little swimming pool, and when the cicadas would haphazardly fly into the pool,  he was on them like flies on honey.  He would ingest all of them with the exception of the wings and eyeballs.  So after several hours, the pool would be full of little cicada eyeballs and floating cicada wings and one happy smiling turtle. I swear that turtle gained 5 lbs. that spring.

If you’ve ever looked at a cicada wing up close, it’s really lovely.  The wings have a shiny iridescence to them and they’re delicate and lacy appearing.  I saw on the TV one night that some smart crafty woman was collecting them and making earrings out of them. They were actually quite beautiful.  I saw the wings strewn around for weeks after the cicadas were gone…. in the grass, on sidewalks, on the driveway, and the edge of roadways. Everywhere.  I thought, at least she’s putting them to good use!

I remember my son’s 3rd grade teacher telling me that the school actually had to cancel field day when the cicadas were swarming.  It was over 100 degrees outside that day and extremely humid and the boys were zooming around catching the cicadas and terrorizing the girls with them and the girls were freaking out and running from them.  I remember the teacher telling me she was a nervous wreck and couldn’t wait for the darn things to disappear as the kids kept bringing them into the classroom cupped in their hands (and you know how loud cicadas can be) and setting them down on her desk.  So the cicadas won over field day as none of the kids were interested in playing games that day.

I went sort of crazy when the cicadas came.  We started doing just really silly things with the exoskeletons.  Don’t ask me why. I guess because, well… they were there and because they were so darn plentiful and mostly because it’s just plain fun to be silly sometimes.  There were cicada races.

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And cicadas getting eaten by dinosaurs.

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And yes, even a cicada tea party.

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Along with Cicadas, come cicada killer wasps.  Ever seen one? They are HUGE wasps and strong too.  I’ve seen one drag a cicada into its burrow with no effort at all.  I’ve seen them fly by carrying a cicada.  It’s amazing!  The female stings and paralyzes the cicada, then carries it back to its burrow and lays an egg (or eggs) on it.  The eggs hatch and the larvae then feed on the cicada for a couple of weeks, and then will spin a cocoon where they will stay until they emerge from the burrow the next summer.  A cicada killer wasp got in my screened in porch one day and landed on the screen and let me tell you, that was one intimidating wasp!  Check out the stinger on these things)!  It’s as big as the diameter of pencil lead.  Thankfully, they aren’t aggressive wasps and aren’t interested in going out of their way to sting humans at all.  Males, which are smaller than the females, don’t sting. Only the females do.  They rarely will sting humans if provoked— like if you step  on them or sit on them or they get tangled in your clothes.  I’ve read some articles that say their sting is nothing more than a pin-prick and other articles that say they’re extremely painful stings.  I don’t think I care to find out.  Just looking at the size of the stinger hurts me.  I have a friend who told me he was stung by one once and the pain was excruciating. He said the pain was over quickly but it was really severe pain when it stung.

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This was a cicada wasp killer that got in my screened-in porch.  The picture doesn’t do her/him justice.  This wasp was massive!

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cicada wasp killer in my porch

That was a spring  I will never forget.  I don’t think my boys will either.

Gail ♥

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Sunday Glory

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Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV

Gail ♥

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