Laughter, Cars, and Shopping

My sister and I are hosting a bridal shower for our niece in a couple of weeks.  We’ve been busy shopping and putting the final touches on the decorations and food.  It’s a lot of planning.

Today, I needed to do my grocery shopping and so I decided I’d leave early and go to Bed, Bath and Beyond and Ross which are in the same shopping center as the Publix I was planning on going to.

When I arrived, I noticed the parking lot was sparse, so I was able to get a good parking place in the front right between Ross’ and Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  After hitting both stores, I would load my sacks into the trunk and then drive further down to the other end of the shopping center and re-park so I could do my grocery shopping at Publix.

With keys in one hand and shopping bags in the other, I came out, saw my silver Mercury Grand Marquis (my old lady car as an old friend used to tease me) and I pushed the trunk release button as I walked toward the car.

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Nothing happened.  Thinking perhaps that I was too far away, I walked closer and pushed it again.  Nothing.  That’s when I saw the dent behind the right rear tire.  WHILE I HAD SHOPPED INSIDE, SOMEONE HAD HIT MY CAR!  I stood there with my mouth agape, then pushed the trunk button again.  Nothing.  Why would my trunk not open?  Then I saw it…. an I ❤ Dogs decal in the back window.

This wasn’t even my car.  I looked and saw my car parked in the same spot, only one section over.  Embarrassed, with head hanging low, I hurried to my car hoping no one had spotted me trying to get into a car that wasn’t even mine.  So many people drive silver Grand Marquis’.  It wasn’t the first time I had done that.

Sometimes, we just have to laugh at ourselves.  And so that’s what I did.     

Before I started driving the Grand Marquis, I had a beige Buick Lasabre (what can I say, I just like old lady cars).  I. Loved. That. Car. Do you know how many people were driving beige Buick Lasabres at the time I had mine?  Everyone it seemed.  My husband and I used to have a little game where we’d count all the beige Buick Lasabres we would pass when we’d go out.  Yeah, we’re silly like that. 

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I came out of Kroger one day (before the days of key fobs) when you actually had to stick a key in the door to unlock your car.  It wouldn’t turn.  I kept trying and trying and couldn’t figure out why my key wouldn’t turn.  That’s when I happened to notice a large brass lamp stand on the back seat which was jutting out between the front seats.  I thought, why is there a brass lamp stand in my car?  Yep, you guessed it…. not my car.  I quietly crept away, hoping my error had gone unnoticed.  One day I’m going to get myself shot, I thought.

But back to today’s story and my Grand Marquis.  I re-parked at Publix, did my grocery shopping.  When I came out, I laughed, because there was the same silver Mercury Marquis I had tried to pop the trunk on an hour or so previously at the other end of the parking lot.  It had also come to Publix and been re-parked.  This time it didn’t fool me.  I saw the same bumper sticker and after looking more closely, I noticed more paint defects and dents that my car didn’t have.  The car’s owner, an elderly gray-haired woman, was unloading her groceries.  I walked past her car, said Hello, and popped the trunk on my car which was just two over from hers.  The sweet little lady came over and said, “Why, honey, you’ve got the same car as I do!”  I smiled, then laughed as I told her about my earlier blunder.  She laughed especially hard, then told me she had thought my car was hers when she came out of the grocery store.  She said, “but I see now that your car is in a little better shape than mine.”  She asked, “What year is your car?”  “A 2005,” I replied. “Well, I’ve got you beat,” she said.  “Mine’s a 2002.”  We stood and chatted a while and discussed how we both liked the roominess of both the car and the trunk.  “It’s hard to find a car now with a roomy trunk like these have, ” I said.  She agreed.

I told her it was nice chatting with her and wished her a good day.  She smiled and waved as I drove away.  As I was driving home, I thought to myself how that wouldn’t happen again in a million years.  How I thought her car was mine, and then after we both re-parked in another parking lot, how she thought my car was hers.  Too funny, I thought.  I came home and related the entire story to my hubby at dinner.  His response?  Laughter.

It really is the best medicine.

Have you ever mistaken another car for your own? 

Gail ♥ 

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Brown Recluse Spider Tales

Don’t ask me why I had a notion today to write about Brown Recluse Spiders.  I just did. I live in the southeastern U.S. and yes, we have both black widows and brown recluse spiders here (lucky us).

Several years ago I wrote about an encounter I had with a black widow spider that my neighbor found in our water meter box.  My site stats are showing increased activity with that blog post over the past several days, so the black widows must be making appearances somewhere.  If you want to read my story, click here.

I’m scared of both black widows and brown recluses, but at the same time, they fascinate me.  I used to check out venomous spider books at the library and read them to  my sons when they were at that bug-loving stage. We always were fascinated to read and learn about them.  I also felt it was my duty to educate my sons about them since we live in an area where they are quite common.

I have black widows outdoors and could probably go find one now if you asked me to, but please don’t ask.  Thankfully, I’ve never found one in my house or basement.  I have, however, found a brown recluse in my house many years ago (or at least I’m pretty sure it was a brown recluse– identification was a little challenging after I squashed it with my shoe)!

Brown recluse spiders live in the south central and southeastern U.S. They have been found in a region comprising Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska.

Here is a brief description of the brown recluse from Wikipedia:

Brown recluse spiders are usually between 6 and 20 millimetres (0.24 and 0.79 in.), but may grow larger.  While typically light to medium brown, they range in color from whitish to dark brown or blackish gray. The cephalothorax and abdomen are not necessarily the same color. These spiders usually have markings on the dorsal side of their cephalothorax, with a black line coming from it that looks like a violin with the neck of the violin pointing to the rear of the spider, resulting in the nicknames fiddleback spiderbrown fiddler, or violin spider.

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photo credit: Wikipedia

At the veterinary clinic I worked at years ago, we had a brown recluse specimen preserved in formalin.  We occasionally treated brown recluse bites in our patients and I always liked to show clients what the culprit looked like.  I looked at it under magnification one day (yeah, I’m curious like that) and was absolutely amazed at just how much the “violin” on its cephalothorax looked just like a real violin!  These spiders have long spindly legs and their abdomen is covered in very fine hair, which actually looks like fur.  You have to look very closely to even see it though, and from a distance, they appear hairless (at least the ones I’ve seen do).  They have six eyes arranged in pairs (most spiders have eight eyes).

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Eww…. creepy, huh?

I remember a few years back when my husband and I were moving our oldest son out of his college dorm and back home for the summer.  He lived in an older dorm but the students (especially the guys) liked these dorms because they were much more spacious than the newer dorms, especially the bedrooms.  They had full kitchens.  And you know the well-known formula.  College students + kitchens = bugs.  Okay, I know that’s not always true.  Being an older dorm though, my son said they spotted occasional bugs (probably why there were many more male students living there than female students).  The day we had moved our son into the dorm, we noticed a few earwigs along the baseboards in the hallways and a roach or two.  My husband sprayed along the baseboards.  My son put out some silverfish packets which took care of the earwigs and Combat® roach discs which took care of the roaches.  Maintenance sprayed the dorm suite once about mid semester (that my son knew of) and he said he really didn’t see much of anything else in the way of bugs. Bugs don’t tend to bother him.

My son was an RA and so he had the largest bedroom of the three (which was actually a bedroom designed for two people).  It was a long, narrow room.  He kept two glue insect board traps in that bedroom (one on each end of the room).

While hubby and son loaded up the last of his belongings into the car, I began vacuuming the rug in his bedroom.  I came across one glue board (don’t EVER step on one of those things or you’ll live to regret it) and it looked sorta like this.

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Do you see all those brown recluse spiders? 

I showed the board to my son, who promptly went to retrieve the glue board trap on the other end of the room.  It was the same, if not worse, and had multiple brown recluse spiders on it, some of which looked freshly caught. Actually, if truth be told, his weren’t quite as bad as the one in the picture but finding one was too many for me. 

Yes, as any mother would, I freaked.  My son’s dorm was obviously infested with brown recluse spiders.  I was horrified thinking that my progeny had just shared an entire semester with poisonous arachnids.  At the time, I had a friend whose son had been in and out of Vanderbilt Medical Center, with what the doctors thought was a brown recluse spider bite.  He had endured multiple surgeries to deal with a necrotic wound and his doctors feared amputation. Looking back, that probably contributed a bit to my freaking.  

I got home and promptly fired off an email to the head of university housing and told him about our find.  I had met this man, liked him a lot, as did my son, and I knew he would get right on the problem and stay on top of it.  Here was his immediate reply to me:

Ms. Dozier,

I thank you for the note.  Please know that we do take Pest Control seriously and I find the contents of your note quite disturbing.  University Housing maintains a separate Pest Control contract than the remainder of the university because I am aware that we in Housing are serving a different population than those utilizing a classroom and or lab setting.  Our contract requires our contractor to assess each pest situation, determine a course of action to eradicate the pests, and follow-up.  It appears to me that they did not follow steps two or three of this process with regard to your son’s room.   This is even more disturbing as _______  (name of dorm) presents its own unique challenges having full kitchens and some of the challenges that they may provide.  We have placed special emphasis (and investment) with this provider to be certain that we were aggressive in managing the pest population over there.

 Thank you again for the information, and please pass on my apologies to your son for the oversight and any inconvenience this may have caused.

_____________

Then my youngest son, just a few years later, was bitten by a brown recluse spider (or so the campus doctor suspected).  Same university, different dorm.  A brand new dorm.  He was actually in class when he felt a sharp pin prick on his inner thigh. It hurt enough that he excused himself from class so he could go to the restroom and check it out.  He never saw a spider but the skin area where  he felt the pin prick was reddened.  It formed a red papule, then pustule in the center of the reddened area within hours and then over  the next several days, became necrotic.  He probably would not have even gone to the campus clinic had a roommate not diagnosed him with a black widow bite (and hinted that death was a possibility). The doctor though suspected a brown recluse bite and they treated him with antibiotics and steroids (both systemically and topically).  I pleaded with my son never to leave clothes lying around and to always shake them out before putting them on.  Thankfully, his bite was not severe and the necrosis was mild, as are most brown recluse bites.  Contrary to popular belief, only a small percentage of brown recluse bites cause a severe necrosis.

A doctor once told me that brown recluse bites are way over-diagnosed.  He said that many other conditions (especially skin infections like MRSA) are often mistaken for brown recluse bites.  He said the spider will try its darndest to get away from you without biting as they are as scared of us as we are of them.  And when they do bite, it’s generally a mild reaction. I was told that usually the initial bite is not felt, although on occasion, some patients report feeling a sharp pin prick pain like my son did.

Brown recluse spiders like dark areas (like outdoor privies, barns, sheds, wood piles, etc.). They prefer dry areas. They are known to get inside shoes and gloves, and they prefer areas that go undisturbed, like cardboard boxes and piles of paper.  They usually will not inflict a bite unless they are threatened or disturbed (why people are often bitten by spiders when putting shoes on).  Most humans are bitten while putting on clothes that have sat undisturbed for a while. The bad thing about brown recluses, is that once you get an infestation, they are very difficult to eradicate.  And that’s because they’re so good at hiding in things to escape the pesticides used to kill them.

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I once volunteered to help clean a house that was occupied by a hoarder (yeah–what was I thinking?).  When I first walked in and looked at the almost knee-deep mess in every room, my first thought was that there were probably all kinds of bugs and spiders living in there.  I was dead wrong.  Turns out, even the bugs found it too disgusting to live in.  While cleaning the first day with a friend, we saw only one cockroach, which was already dead and buried under debris on the bathroom vanity.  (And we came to the conclusion that he probably had committed suicide).  We surprisingly never saw one spider.

Do you have a brown recluse story to share?  Feel free to tell me about it in the comment section.  And no gloating from those of you who live in the north, who don’t have them and never will.  

Gail 

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Sunday Glory

Praying this verse today on bended knee

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Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  Psalms 51:10 KJV

Gail 

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A Difficult Observation

My family acquired a cute little six-week old German Shepherd puppy when I was almost 11 years old and in the 6th grade.  My father was a pilot and one of the line boys at the airport he worked at had a German Shepherd female who had had pups.  Our family had owned a German Shepherd previously and we were all quite fond of the breed.  The black and silver German Shepherd puppy my father brought home was the “runt of the litter.” We named him Red Baron (which was shortened to Baron).  Somehow his nickname became Bubba (I think my mother was responsible for that).

For the first week or two of his life, Baron slept in a little cozy box we had prepared for him with towels, a soft pillow my sister had lovingly stitched, an alarm clock and a hot water bottle.  He was a cute little black/silvery furball who reminded me more of a little piglet than a puppy. He made sweet little grunting and snorting noises that made us smile.

Our veterinarian examined Baron, declared him healthy, and started him on his temporary distemper vaccinations.  Our family quickly grew attached.  Baron was a great dog and became the neighborhood dog.  Everyone loved him. He followed me and my friends everywhere. He went sled riding with us in the winter, camped out in the backyard with us in the summer, and ran alongside us as we rode our bikes all over the neighborhood. He was our protector and he did his job well.  If I spent the night with a friend, he settled right down on their front porch for the evening and you could always bet on him being there when we awoke in the morning.  Giving him a bath was a neighborhood event.  He waited with us at the school bus stop in the mornings and often tried to trick the bus driver into letting him climb aboard the bus to go to school with us.  In the afternoons, he waited patiently in the front yard for that yellow school bus to bring us home to him.  And when he’d see and hear that bus come up the hill, he was there to greet us with wagging tail as we stepped off.

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My friend Debbie playing with Baron

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Baron and my dad on Christmas morning

Unfortunately, Baron was never a very healthy dog.  We learned after acquiring him that he had been inbred.  Baron’s mother had actually mated with her son, so Baron’s father was also his brother.  Baron had multiple health problems, like demodectic mange, severe skin allergies, hip dysplasia, and a malabsorption syndrome which caused him to be thin most of his life. We worked hard to keep weight on that sweet dog.

He developed a rather large cyst on his head at a young age (giving him the temporary nickname of knot head) which required surgery. For the remainder of his life, he had this odd (but I must admit cute) little swirl of hair on top of his head.  But we loved him, health problems and all.  It broke my heart when it came time for me to leave him to head off to college.  He moped and I moped.  But every weekend I came home and he forgave me for leaving him.  Until Sunday evening, when it was time to head back to college, and the moping would start all over again.

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Baron at age 3

When Baron was eight years old, we found a knot in one of his mammary glands.  We took him to our veterinarian who thought it was just a cyst.  He recommended surgical excision.  I was majoring in animal science with a pre-vet emphasis at the time and had wanted to be a veterinarian since I was seven years old. I asked our vet (the one I would later go to work for) if I could observe Baron’s surgery.  He said normally he would not recommend an owner observe their pet’s surgery but since I wanted to be a veterinarian, that it was fine with him, if  I was sure that’s what I really wanted to do.  I said it was.

So my first surgery to observe was on my own dog.  It’s not something I would recommend! It was probably the hardest surgery I ever had to observe.  I watched the veterinary team administer the anesthesia– watched my dog as he slipped into unconsciousness and his body became limp. I watched as they stretched his mouth open wide, pulled his dry pink tongue out and inserted the endotracheal tube. I watched as they hooked him up to the gas anesthetic machine.  I then watched them shave him, vacuum the loose hair from his abdomen, carry his limp body into the surgery suite, lay him on the metal surgery table on his back where they extended and tied all four of his legs down with white soft ropes.  I watched as they hooked him up to a cardioscope and then prepped his surgical site with Betadine soap scrubs followed by Merthiolate spray.

I watched the veterinarian as he donned a green cloth surgical cap and mask, did a lengthy surgical scrub of his hands, and then entered the surgery suite to don gown and gloves.  I watched him as he carefully opened the sterile surgical instrument pack.  I remember the vet sternly warning me that the most important thing I needed to remember that day was that I was NOT to touch anything blue or green or I would break sterility, thus possibly harming my dog.  I remembered. I watched as he draped my dog, applied the towel clamps to anchor the drape down, took the scalpel and made the incision around the mammary mass. I watched my dog’s bright red blood ooze from the incision.

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I think I held my breath under my mask for most of that surgery.  My emotions swelled throughout the 30 minute procedure like a flood tide. I remember perspiring heavily under the giant swinging surgical light overhead that spotlighted every drop of blood and I couldn’t wait for it all to be over.  I watched the cardiac monitor as the EKG tracing blipped in green across the screen and I listened to the loud beeps of the machine as it monitored my dog’s heart rate and rhythm.

The veterinarian mentioned during the surgery, that the mass appeared to be solid and not a fluid-filled cyst as he originally thought.  This was not what he had hoped. A biopsy was in order.

After the surgery, I watched them strap my dog on a green vinyl pet stretcher and carry him downstairs to a recovery area.  I sat with my groggy boy until he came to his senses.  My family took him home late that afternoon when he was awake enough, and what I remember most about that night was the how the Methoxyflurane gas lingered on his breath.

Baron’s mammary mass turned out to be an aggressive malignant tumor. Yes, our male dog had breast cancer.  We knew our boy’s days were numbered. I’ll never forget my mother baking him a small cake for his 8th birthday.  He would not live to see his 9th.  I don’t really remember how much time passed until we noticed that he seemed to be breathing harder than normal.  And coughing.  Chest X-rays confirmed our sweet boy had metastatic lung cancer.  Weeks later, we had to say goodbye to our four-legged friend and family member.  I cried and cried that day as did our entire family.  He’s buried at a pet cemetery in Columbia Tennessee.

Baron taught me so much about love for which I am forever grateful.  I miss him still.

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Gail 

Posted in Animals, Daily Prompt, dogs, Veterinary Medicine | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Velvety Iris

My favorite colored iris is now in bloom (though I love them all).  I believe these particular irises were originally my husband’s grandfather’s irises and were transplanted to our yard after he passed away. So they are very special to us. Oh, how I love them.

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Gail 

Posted in Beauty, Nature, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Green Fluorescent Bumblebees Astonish Me

The other day I went out to admire my pink Azalea.  It was almost in full bloom and after last year I didn’t want to miss that.  Because last year, it rained on the same day it fully bloomed and it rained for two days.  Within hours, my poor Azalea bush was beat to the ground and most of the blooms were history. I was sad.  It’s much too pretty to not even last a day in full bloom.  My husband laughs because every year I take pictures of my Azalea.  We must have 300 pictures of this silly little bush.  I’m no photographer and every year I tell my husband that the pictures never do it justice.  It’s not a very photogenic Azalea.  But every year I photograph it trying to capture its beauty.

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My Azalea today

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God’s work…. Isn’t He amazing to create such beauty???

As I stood there the other day admiring the lovely pink blooms, I heard a busy bumblebee.  He flitted from bloom to bloom and had so much pollen stuck to his chubby body that it made me laugh.  What made me stand there astonished though, was that he was bright green in color!  He glowed!  I held up my camera but Mr. Bumblebee was too busy to pose for pictures.  He may even have been just a little bit peeved that I was sticking my camera into his business and interrupting his work.  He wouldn’t stay in one place for long so he was very hard to photograph.

The photo I did get of him that wasn’t a total blurred mess, did not do him justice because I swear to you, that bumblebee was green.  A bright fluorescent green!  I thought I was seeing things and that my eyes were playing tricks on me.  I even took my glasses off and rubbed my eyes.  When I put them back on, that bee was still green!  I had never seen anything like it.  He showed up yellow in the photo and I don’t know why.

You’ll just have to trust me when I say that that bee was green.

DSCF9178 Gail 

Posted in Daily Prompt, Nature | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Curious About the Word Cur

Personally, I’ve never heard anybody use the word “Cur” here in my part of the world (southeastern US).  I never heard the word used one single time while I was in veterinary school.  I first came across the word “Cur” when I was in my late 20s and that was only because it was a clue in the crossword puzzle I was working in the back of our local newspaper.

A cur is apparently a mongrel dog.  But it can also mean an unattractive or an aggressive dog.  So I guess a cur is what I’ve always called a mutt or a mixed breed dog.

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The only time I’ve heard the word actually used was on an episode of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.  So perhaps it was used in pioneer days?

While I love ALL dogs, I’ll take a good ole mixed breed dog over a purebred ANY DAY because in my experience they’re usually much healthier canine specimens with fewer genetic disorders.  Some of the very best dogs I’ve had (temperamentally AND health-wise) have been curs mutts.

Gail 

Posted in Animals, Daily Prompt, dogs | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments