Friday, April 23, 2010

My Girl, Diamond

Yesterday was Diamond’s appointment for her yearly physical with her vet, Dr. Jeff. She knew something exciting was about to happen when we pulled the car into the parking area of the clinic. She could hardly wait to get out of the car and into the building. She loves Dr. Jeff and his staff, and also relishes the smells in there. Forgetting the ‘Heel’ command, she practically dragged me from the car to the door.

We were called into the examination area as soon as we signed in, not giving her a chance to sniff the floor and furniture first. “Let’s see how much you weigh,” the assistant said to Diamond, then to me, “She’s too big to lift. Can you get her to walk onto the scales?”

Obviously, she didn’t know my girl very well. I took the leash and pulled slightly in the direction of the huge scale. Diamond knew what I wanted from her, and stepped gingerly onto the platform and sat down. Then came the surprise – 102 pounds! Diamond had gained over 5 pounds since last year. I silently gave a prayer of thanks for the daily longs walks we take together – it could have been much worse!

Once settled in the examining room, we waited patiently for Dr. Jeff to come in to see us. Diamond kept her eyes focused on the closed door, and cocked her head in anticipation with every sound she heard from the other side. Finally, Dr. Jeff stepped into the room, greeted her warmly, and she was a happy girl.

Diamond didn’t know what Dr. Jeff began talking to me about. If she had, she might not have looked quite so happy. “Diamond is a Senior Dog now that she’s 7 years old,” Dr. Jeff told me. “Have you noticed any changes in her since last year?” I admitted that I had. Besides the weight gain, she seems to be getting lazier and not so energetic about racing around the yard or playing. She also has been showing less interest in her food, although she eats well. She’s just not excited about dinner the way she used to be. She also has trouble at times getting up from her favorite position, “Down –Stay.”

Dr. Jeff looked at me, and said, “She’s just like us. As she ages, her metabolism slows down and things begin to change for her.” It felt like déjà vu for me – I had heard almost these identical words at my annual physical exam a few months ago. We’re both getting to be old ladies!

Dr. Jeff proceeded to give me his advice. No more table scraps, except for special treats. No more bones to gnaw on, unless they are big and lean (and don’t let her chew them up), increase the daily exercise (walking), begin including glucosamine and chondroitin in Diamond’s diet for arthritis, take off a few pounds. The good news was that peanuts are still o.k.- Diamond’s favorite treat. I was relieved to hear this, and I felt like Diamond was, too. While he talked, he slipped in 4 shots, which Diamond didn’t even seem to notice. She was fascinated with Dr. Jeff’s voice and his gentle ways with her.

“Let’s give her three to four months of good eating, plenty of exercise, and the glucosamine and chondroitin,” Dr. Jeff said to me. “Bring her in to be weighed on a regular basis. If she doesn’t perk up and lose some weight, then we’ll run some tests on her to see if there’s something going on inside that we can’t see.” And, to Diamond, he said, “You’re a beautiful lady, Diamond.”

And she is. As we left Dr. Jeff’s office, Diamond looked up at me with understanding in her eyes. “We may be getting older, but we’re in this together,” her eyes said to me. Wagging her tail and giving my hand a nudge with her nose, I knew she was ready for a walk and a treat for being such a good girl.

The long walks will do us both good!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Springtime on Planet Earth

Driving home from Martha and Grady’s house last Saturday in Belmont, North Carolina, I was amazed at how the view had changed in only two days since I had made the trip up Interstate 85 for a short visit.

On Thursday, as I was driving northward, the air was cool and heavy with moisture of an impending front, and pine pollen was blowing around in clouds across the highway and median, whipping around the cars and trucks on the highway and giving the air a yellowish cast. As I got out of my car to fill up with gasoline in South Carolina, the chilly wind hit my hair, sending it wildly flying around my face, and I grabbed for my sweater that I had tossed onto the passenger seat. After filling my tank, I raced the clouds into North Carolina, and arrived at Martha and Grady’s home less than an hour before the first rain shower of the day passed through.

Saturday morning, the day for driving home, dawned sunny and brisk. The rain had washed away the pine pollen from the ground and the air, and the world seemed to sparkle with brightness. It promised to be a beautiful day.

What hit me as I drove down the highway was how much brighter and greener the world had become since Thursday morning. Where there was only a hint of new life in the tree branches two days earlier, they now graced an array of shades of tender green, set against the dark green needles of the pine trees. Bright pinks, whites and purples decorated the scenery, as springtime brought out her finery in redbud blossoms, dogwood blooms, and drapes of lavender wisteria vines. And the sky – what a vivid blue! White fluffy clouds decorated the sky, and the contrast of blue, white and green took my breath away. The rain had washed away all hints of the yellowness of two days earlier.

In spite of the heavy traffic and the noise of the highway, Mother Nature ruled the morning. As I drove along, soaking in all of the visual beauty of the morning, I thought about our wonderful planet, Earth. In my mind, I tried to imagine what it must have looked like before the age of interstates, factories, and cities. How I wished I could travel back in time to take a glimpse of the world when it was fresh and unspoiled. I wondered if the first inhabitants of this part of my world marveled at the spring flowers, the azure sky, and the budding leaves on the trees. Did they suffer from the pollen? Were they as happy as we were to watch the rain wash away the yellow dust from the earth? Did they stop in their tracks to follow a puffy white cloud cross the sky, changing shape as it traversed the blue canopy? Did they breathe deeply of the wisteria blossoms and pick a few wild flowers to grace their homes? Did they appreciate the miracle of new life in our planet’s springtime?

My imagination kept me company along the trip home, and before I knew it, I was pulling into my own driveway, only to see my strawberry patch loaded with white blossoms and the promise of luscious berries in a few weeks. I prayed a quick prayer of thanksgiving for all of the blessings and beauty of the earth, my home.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Brand New Day

Today is going to be a busy day, so I got an early start this morning. I was up, dressed, and wrist-deep in bread dough by 6:00 am. The weatherman is promising another warm, sunny day, which I am going to absolutely love! Here are my plans for the day.

While the bread is rising, I am checking my email and my Facebook page, and I’m writing this blog entry.

I’ll be at my window in about an hour to watch the sun rise, after which I’ll form my bread into loaves and bake them.

While the bread is in the oven, I’ll start a new tray of tomato seeds. I’m not pleased with the ones I’ve planted so far this spring. They sprouted very quickly, but then lost their oomph. Most haven’t made it past their first couple of weeks of life. Now that the weather is warming up, I won’t have to rely on indoor grow lights and I can see how they’ll fare out in the great outdoors. I have great hope and expectations that they’ll like it as much outside as I do.

I plan to plant my squash and cucumbers later this morning. I prepared the spot for them yesterday in the open space between my two strawberry beds. I think they’ll like it there. As a treat, I am going to plant a row of sunflower seeds on the western edge of their bed, and look forward to smiling sunflower faces later this summer.

At noon, I’ll find my way into town to help out a friend. My good friend, Vickie, is having a lumpectomy for breast cancer today, and I am going over to her house with Diamond to give her German Shepherd, Shadow, some mid-day time outside. I’m sure that Diamond and Shadow will enjoy a romp in his back yard together. I’ll leave a loaf of my fresh bread on her kitchen counter while I’m there.

As of right now, I have no plans for afternoon. Perhaps I’ll make it to our lower garden to plant some beans and purple hull peas. Maybe I’ll pull out my knitting and begin another baby wash cloth. Or, I might relax out on my porch with a good book, which will probably segue into an afternoon nap. Option Number Three is looking like it might be the winner.

As the day comes to an end, Phil and I will enjoy a nice supper, and then Diamond and I will set out for our daily three-mile walk. We are both working on losing a little winter fat, and we are also keeping an eye on our favorite wild plum groves along our route. The plums are in full bloom now, and visions of wild plum jelly are dancing in my head.

So, that’s how this new day looks as the light begins to invade the eastern sky. I think it’s going to be a very good day.

Friday, April 2, 2010

My Life - My Inspiration - My Sons

In my collection of days, I generally share tidbits and insights about my life and my days. I am taking exception today to write about my sons, and how they have enriched every day of my life since they entered my world.

Wade, my first-born, is the author of many of my pet sayings, the favorite of which is, “It’s a froggy day,” when he so creatively described a dreary, rainy day while gazing out the window one morning when he was about three years old. This has been a year of many froggy days in Georgia, and I think about Wade every morning that I awaken to the sound of rain on our metal roof. Wade is a computer animator, after breezing through a series of unfulfilling occupations, seeking one that would stick. He’s been doing this for several years now, and I think he’s found his bliss at the computer. Last week my niece, Connie, and I saw the movie, “Alice in Wonderland,” which is the latest project that has Wade’s fingerprints on it. Talk about a proud mom! If you haven’t seen it yet, you must go see “Alice.” Wade is now awaiting an interview with an animation studio in Australia for a short-term project, and all my fingers and toes are crossed for him, hoping he’ll get the gig! I am already eager to see the next animated movie that he’ll work on.

For my younger son, Brian, a tornado of creativity and energy, the world is his stage, and has been since he played the part of a crow jumping out of a pie in a kindergarten production. He’s been in New York City since graduating from college - could it be 13 years ago? Beginning with a desire to perform on the New York stage, his focus shifted to writing plays, where he created roles for himself. His two plays have seen the off-Broadway stage in New York theater festivals within the past year – he performed in both. One of the plays, “The Jungle Fun Room,” is currently stretching its wings in high school student productions. Brian has also penned a novel, which is now in search of a publisher. Whenever I go to New York to visit Brian, I know that I’ll have a great time with him, his partner, Roy, and all their friends. For those who are interested in learning more about Brian’s latest venture with his play, “Checking In,” please visit, where you can read about “Checking In,” the movie.

I can’t imagine what my life would be without Wade and Brian. They have brought such joy and inspiration into my life; I can’t begin to describe it in words. My personal life may seem unexciting at times here in rural Georgia, but I always know that with my sons out there in the world, a new adventure is just around the bend for me!

How I love my boys!