Monday, December 31, 2018


Mother Nature is overindulging us with rain.  Tonight,  we expect thunderstorms...
Which means that I won't be able to go to the New Year's Eve party in Auburn
I'd even bought new shoes for such an  occasion... Seeing as Dax has obliterated every single dress shoe that I own.

 Here he is trying to steal said pair of new shoes while I'm in the closet trying to pick my outfit.
He's a ceaseless source of destruction.
 As it appears that my plans will now be to ring in the New Year with 4 dogs while overnighting in the barn with 10 horses, it's gonna be a pyjama party non pareil.

Imagine the debauchery with a crew consisting of me,  Window Licker, Sumo Wrestler, Supreme Leader and who can forget the Demon Spawn!

All bets on Dax not wearing the lampshade,  but eating it.

Wishing you the best of the best for 2019. Looking forward to more adventures in the new year.  Remember y'all,  never give up,  the best is always over the rise. 

Sunday, December 30, 2018


FINALLY I will have my glasses.  

I spent some quality time Saturday afternoon at an optician's.  Dr. Uzoho had forewarned me that glasses with prisms cost 'an arm and a leg'.  So, I braced myself for the cost of a pair of regular glasses and reader to be about $1500.  Due to internet and phone problems all day long at the store, the three staff members were vexed, frazzled and impatient.  I was and remained the only client.  Seeing folks having a rough day, my inner comedian came out and I used the store as my stage.  I went the full monty. I shall hereon out be known as Crazy Four Eyes.

The associate helping me, now knowing about my job and my predilection for accidents, had suggested glasses with an elastic strap, that's when my Carol Burnett side popped out for a visit and stayed.

By the fifth try, the computer system stopped timing out and losing all the inputted data, and finally accepted the order... I had 3 pairs of glasses.
Prescription safety sunglasses!!! 3 pairs for the price of one.  $750!  The store manager voided all six extra charges for the 6 prism lenses.  Thy should be ready within 10 days.
All through December it has been like Christmas morning every single day.  I'm beyond grateful-- in awe at how fortunate I am to always find and be surrounded by the kindest people.I can't promise my texts will no longer need deciphering, but I feel lucky!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Learning to Love Atlanta

Once upon a time, I hated Atlanta.  Loathed it.  Avoided it like the traffic laden plague it is.  
My tune has changed since I've been a patient a Emory University's Eye Clinic and Heart Clinic this year.

The corneal specialist, Dr. Behshad, gave me hope 3 months ago that if my eyes could be stabilized, there was hope that I could see normally again.

This doctor devotes himself to promoting and expanding specialized ophthalmic care to Syrian refugees in Jordan.  I knew I'd found the right doctor.
Dr. Behshad referred me to his colleague, Dr. Ozoho after my 3 months had elapsed.

Yet another physician who dedicates his spare time to helping patients around the globe. This Nigerian born Canadian specialist deals specifically with eye movement disorders and binocular vision (double vision).  
Dr. Uzoho spent over an hour AND a half working with me trying to figure out why my double vision at a distance is the reverse up close.  DEDICATION.  His office manager left for the day, then his appointment manager left, still he worked to map out why my brain can't make sense of the input fed to it by my eyes.

SUCCESS! First time since Oct 2017 that I can see without double vision.  First time in even more years that I can see up close, not as I am now with +3.50 reading glasses still guessing at what my phone texts read.
I AM ELATED.  I can't wait to have these prescriptions filled and get my glasses. I'll never be able to wear contacts again, at this point, who cares!  Bring on my fancy glasses with prisms in them.  

The cherry on the icing, they never had to dilate my eyes.
To celebrate this day, I took my happy little self to the Bodies Exhibit in downtown Atlanta.  Been on my bucket list for years.

Real human cadavers dissected and preserved by plasticination.

Don't you sit at your kitchen table reading without your skin on???

My favorite:  the entire human blood vessel system preserved with a system called corrosive casting whereby a polymer is injected into the circulatory system and the rest of the body is dissolved, now that's what I love about freaking science!!!
Atlanta really rocks.
Total disclosure here:  I stumbled upon a newly opened slow food cafe that served the weirdest cauliflower tahini sandwich with the best harissa infused pickled carrots. But that's not the part I have to confess about.  It's the pain au chocolat pastry that rivals any I've had in France that I'm fully admitting to eating ALL of it.  Be damned my sugar free month, this was worth the Mulligan!!!

Getting home to the same house I left many, many hours earlier.  No shredded curtains, no eviscerated pillows, no tracking through separation anxiety diarrhea, nothing to greet me but kisses... priceless.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Up for the Challenge

December 15th, I accepted a challenge to go sugar free for a month.  No table sugar, no added sugar to foods, not that I would ever touch artificial sweeteners but none of those either, no honey, stevia or maple syrup, no juices...nada.  Not that I drink, but that's out too, no alcohol.  See how this could be challenging?
Turns out it isn't the gustatory death sentence I thought it would be.  On the contrary, I feel better, more energetic, and I'm loving the challenge of coming up with new recipes.
Also, did you know that coffee is drinkable without sugar??? Who knew!!!
Acceptance of the newest prognosis from the cardiologists took a while.  I went through the gamut of emotions from disbelief, anger (lots of that), despair, loneliness and depression.  So much fun that I decided enough is enough; we'd been through something similar when Cole's cancer diagnosis came in.  Fight is what we did.  We made cancer rue the day it came a knocking.  The war was predetermined, but we did not capitulate or make it easy for disease to win.

I was recommended to use a heart monitor, which I eventually returned because it caused me more stress than anything.  One of the problems it did show is that I've lost the ability to mitigate stress, as my cardiologist put it.  The monitor mistook a 30 minute episode where my heart rate skyrocketed as a form of exercise.  No, it was an aggravating telephone conversation.  Every day had episodes like that-- no wonder I was burning out.  

To add insult to injury, the monitor showed me why I wasn't recuperating at night.  Dangerous roller coaster rides from seriously low heart rates of 20 to 80.  The graphs showed how my heart rate plummets and then, like an alarm goes off in my body, I semi waken and my heart beat rises, then I try to fall back asleep and the whole process starts over again.  Never knew I was so close to dying in my sleep.  I believe data because I have faith in science, so begrudgingly, I accepted to add to my daily pill intake.
The worst enemy is sometimes one's own mind.  Since the realization that the Grim Reaper has been trolling me in my sleep, I've been having restless sleep in spite of the confidence gained by my new pill regiment.  I haven't ever felt so alone as I have recently.  Scared. Panicked sometimes. Abandoned.  Yet, never completely devoid of fight.

This is me fighting.  The twin bed wing added to my King size bed means I can be guaranteed to have all the dogs around me at night.

My reverse version of Cerberus.  Instead of guarding the gates of Hades to make sure souls don't escape.  My Cerberus keeps death form crossing my gates.  Whatever it takes.

The cherry on the icing was to do something I swore I would never do... I brought a TV into my house.  So now if the new transcendental meditation that I'm trying so hard to learn doesn't work, I can flip on a British mystery, calm down and embrace sleep instead of fearing it.

Part of the fight involves further changing my lifestyle.  Part of the reason I embarked on the sugar free challenge was to cleanse my system for a month of sugars to make it easier to enjoy my new low fat, more vegetarian paleo lifestyle.  

Trying to learn to build balanced meals with proper non meat proteins.

Spent a good deal of my vacation time cooking and experimenting.

Ensuring that when I got back to work, I'd have healthy frozen meals for every day.

Tea and anise infused Asian eggs.

Love me some roasted brussel sprouts and poached salmon.  See, I can do this!

Another benefit of the sugar free challenge is that I appreciate fructose more.  Bananas taste like dessert foods now.  Everything is a discovery.

I miss Cole every day, but now I understand why a pest like Dax was sent to me.  I'm on a new path in life and when I lose my resilience and joy, Dax can always be counted on for enthusiasm and sheer pluck.  A new road unfolding and I'm keeping my eye on the little white butt leading the way.

Carry on, Dax, I'm right behind you.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Shopping for Million Dollar Life Insurance Policy

It has occurred to me that I have the means to leave my family with more than 4 dogs, 17 year old 1-ton truck, 2015 SUV with crispy wiring, 65 year old camper (needing TLC)... I can leave them rich!

Dax is eager to participate in the plan.  Overzealous as a matter of fact.  Hang on, little buddy, I haven't purchased the million dollar life insurance policy yet.

Dax insists we practice anyway.

There's no tiring him, I'm just gonna die trying.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Tourist Review

Friday Review:
In the morning, Dax and I sampled about 8 miles of trails.  

From glorious waterfalls, courtesy of the monsoon rains,

to a once hidden derelict truck forgotten in the woods.

Between the natural beauty, the resulting fatigued puppy, my daily cardio, this adventure gets a 4.5... 1/2 point taken for the bitter wind and rain, but I suppose that builds character.
Afternoon adventure consisted of striking something off my Must See List:  The National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Imposing building with almost 200,00 sq. ft of exhibits.  Too much to take in on one day, let alone an afternoon.

The exhibits range from the first military engagements of the fledgling country to today's preeminent military powerhouse.

You want to stop and read everything and watch all the gripping documentary shorts.
The smartest thing to do is to avoid rushing.  Absorb what you can and make plans to return to finish touring the exhibits.

A new feature of the museum is the interactive combat simulator.
My first attempt at providing cover from a Blackhawk helicopter to a hostage rescue mission was going not too badly until, in my excitment, I shot the hostages and ground support. Oops.  Newbie mistake, my bad.  The attendants strap you into the helicopter seats because the incredible real feel of the simulator goggles can make you fall off your seat or lean out the door too far to take a shot.
My next mission was to provide support fire for a convoy of Humvees crossing into enemy territory to rescue humanitarian aid workers... without any friendly fire this time. 
From my perch in the commander's seat of the Humvee I did better than average, making 35 head shots and 101 kills (far better than my helicopter massacre).  
Exhilarating on one hand...

Humbling on other.  Because I got to walk away unscathed.  The museum proudly showcases all of America's military ingenuity and prowess, but discretely and profoundly leaves you wishing non of it were necessary.

Unequivocal top rating of 5.0.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

My Not So Canadian Adventure

On Sunday, the eve of my official vacation, I'd been ruminating about how there was turmoil in the lives of my family members in Canada and how I hadn't gotten a handle on my own bad news.  
Ruminated for 14 hours straight.  When I finally parked the mower,

 I decided to act on what my cousin Rolly had written to me about:  family ties and regrets.

It took me less than 2 hours to pack all the dogs' food, bedding, winter coats, my own necessities and our inflatable bed.  Hard boiled some eggs for the road, loaded everything in my 17 year old dually (car's been in the shop for two weeks since it's last attack of electronic gremlins).

I didn't get very far, like into Georgia, before I had to pull over due to fatigue. 
Then I hopscotched my way, napping as I could in shady parking lots, towards Canada. 

Progress was excruciatingly slow.  
Naps were fitful and unproductive.  

Tried to jar myself back to life with a little stroll in a Virginia state park with the dogs, with little success. My plan was to drive the 21 hours straight, partly because I'm insane, but mostly because no motel will allow 4 large dogs.
Still in Virginia's southern end, I threw in the towel.  Situations had changed and I nosed the my 1 ton truck back to Alabama. Sad, disappointed and dead tired, we rolled back onto the farm 24 hours later.

Having been crammed like sardines, the dogs relished the space afforded by the King And Wing beds.
I'm calling this a dress rehearsal for the real trip.  My mother was elated at the thought that I had planned to surprise her by tying Dax to her front door and hiding the truck down the road.  Not one iota of disappointment showing, bless a mother's heart. My Dad was visibly relieved when I aborted mission, fearing I'd either end up in accident from fatigue or the forecasted snow storm to hit at the end of the week.

Next time, we will have the car and her snow tires as our coach.  Chester will not have to endure Dax invading all his personal space.