Death, Life, Mourning and Dancing

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It’s been a month and I’ve just gotten to where I can talk about it.  Yes, Clara was a dog, but there are some dogs who are more than dogs. Even now, just remembering her big, soft ears and deep brown eyes, and the way she would lean on me so hard she almost knocked me down at times, brings me to tears.  I know that the love of dogs has a price- their lives are far too short.

Everything I had learned of the Malinois breed indicated they are noted for health and longevity. Most of the 12 years she lived in our home she was happy, healthy and robust.  In spite of Clara’s difficult start as a rescued dog with a laundry list of physical and emotional issues, she healed and blossomed with us.  She mentored our other dogs.  She visited the nursing home when my Grandma was there, and offered comfort to many of the residents. Clara was a gentle, intuitive dog, who even took care to mentor Brutus, her final protégé, who she had a month to teach, until she got ill.  He has many of the same beautiful, intuitive traits Clara had.  His gentleness reminds me of her.

Brutus

I am thankful her final illness was brief.  It took only a week from the time I noticed she was getting a bit melancholy and slow, then she stopped eating, and by then she was displaying all the classic signs of congestive heart failure.  We took her, and for the first and only time, I had to lift her in and out of the truck- to our long time family vet.  I hoped the vet would have a different answer than what I knew to be inevitable.

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Our vet knew the labored breathing and heavy plodding of a dying dog all too well though. One look at a dog who used to be vibrant and alert and active, but now was struggling just to breathe and move a few steps, was enough for the vet to conclude that given her age, and the signs of heart and probably multiple organ failure, that Clara was, indeed, dying. We agreed that letting Clara go in peace without pain would be far more humane than heroics that may or may not buy a week or two. I held her in my arms as she passed, so she would know how much she was loved. We buried her near the gate she used to guard.

Clara 14 small

Clara was 14.  I was blessed to have her for a little more than 12 of those years.

Unfortunately there is more impending death around me, and it will cut even deeper than losing Clara.  Jerry is getting more and more ill from the pulmonary fibrosis.  He keeps getting put on more meds. He tires easily and is spending more and more time on the oxygen box.  The only hope for him to improve- and hopefully not die right away- is to get him on track for a lung transplant.  He will have to go on disability to do that, which will be at most optimistic, the very least a month or two away.

To add more to the chaos in my life, we will be moving as we are buying my grandmother’s old house.  Dad is selling it to us, and I am glad to get the strangers he’s been renting it to gone. They are supposed to be out tomorrow, then I can assess what needs to be done before we can move in.  I will have a lot longer drive to work for me, but it will get him into a quiet neighborhood out of the city.  The house is small but the yard is huge and there will (soon) be a large fence so the dogs can go out safely.

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Talk about the psychological maelstrom that I am trying to navigate.  I want Jerry to stay healthy enough for a lung transplant but the reality is that I may lose him too.  Yes, he is difficult and high maintenance, and he takes out his frustration on his health issues on me, but contrary to logic and reason, I am in this regardless.  Death, life, mourning or dancing- it’s all part of the drama of life.

I am looking forward to moving if only because it feels like I’m going home.  I will finally be able to be in a home I will own, that nobody can arbitrarily throw me out of, and my grandparents’ house will stay in the family. I’ll also be closer to my parents, my son and my granddaughter.

 

Creative Use of Just About Everything, and Adventures in Eclectic Home Décor

 

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If Steve-o thought I had problems with the whole “warm and fuzzy” mommy bit, just wait until I try my hand at home décor- in his house.  That is just plain scary, given that my idea of decorating has much more to do with function than the aesthetic.  I still have the big Ohio State tapestry on the wall in my room that Jerry put there, for some inexplicable reason.  I’m not even that much of an Ohio State fan.  I like some hangings on the wall to break up the monotony, but I don’t really give décor much thought.  Unless, of course, it’s funny.

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For example, this is funny.  It will be even funnier when I get the outhouse next to it done.

For the most part, however, I can live without a whole lot of kitsch.

I already told Steve-o he will have his very own G T F O sign- since he doesn’t really get into cute little “Welcome” signs.

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Figure it out.. it’s not difficult.

Of course he will probably come up with his own unique flair:

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I can imagine all the other funky things that being a man, he won’t mind, such as shall we say “dated” furniture, archaic bathroom fixtures and strangely colored kitchen appliances:

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70s kitchen

In all seriousness, Steve-o’s house has two full bathrooms.  Both of them have new plumbing and faucets, but the tubs, sinks and toilets are straight out of 1975.  One bathroom set is this horrible yellow (like the above kitchen) and the other one is a sort of medium brown.  On the plus side, the brown will probably hide a lot of stains.  Especially in the toilet bowl.

I envy him the 70’s non-low-flow toilets though.  Those things are industrial strength, heavy duty beauties that will flush down horse piles, and various and sundry objects up to as large as Jimmy Hoffa.  The way he shits, that’s going to be necessary.  I don’t know how many times he has had to run for the plunger not just in my house but in my parents’ house (Dad replaced the toilets in the early 2000s and they are awful) as well.

plunger

I’m still getting him a couple of plungers as housewarming gifts.  In fact, three- one for each toilet, and one for the sinks.

I’ll have to put together my list of crap you need when you move but don’t think about, and then work on collecting said items for him.

1. Drain cleaner.

2. Clorox.

3. Paper towels.

4. Cleaning rags and towels (cloth.)

5. Lysol and various spray air fresheners.

6. Mop and mop bucket- also Murphy’s Oil Soap and magic erasers.

7. Plungers.

8. Coffee- coffee pot, coffee filters, coffee cups.

9. Paper plates, Dixie cups, plastic silverware and napkins.

10. Toilet mints (the blue things you put in the toilets to keep the water blue and to keep dogs from drinking out of the bowl)

I’m sure I’ll come up with more. I have time.

Things that Suck #501- The Fridge Took a Dump, and #502- Drunken Assholes Smoking in My Car

No, as much as I like the pink fridge, I can’t afford it, and Jerry would crap himself should he have to retrieve his Natties from this.  However, I don’t even think a pink fridge would stand between him and Nattyvana.

The beautiful Central Ohio area just went through a week’s worth of apocalyptic storms followed by interminable stygian heat.  Yesterday wasn’t quite as intolerable as the rest of the week, so I decided I would go to the campground party knowing that if worse came to worse there is AC in our cabin as well as in my car.

It was hot- and I didn’t stay in it too long, but I stayed long enough to munch on some fresh perch (believe it or not, Lake Erie perch is quite nice) and to sit around and shoot the shit for a bit.

Perch is good eating.  Lightly breaded and deep fried.  Mmm, mmm.

By the time I left the campground it had been a nice afternoon, though rather subdued.  Jerry had gotten his drink on pretty good Saturday night, so he was more quiet than usual.  He wasn’t able to get shitfaced yesterday because he had to drive his truck home,  which was fine with me because that meant I didn’t have to deal with driving Tipsy McNumbNuts home.  I live for the small victories.  Attempting to drive 40 miles with a babbling drunken smoking idiot flopping about in the car is most unpleasant, trust me.  It was worse when he and his (now) estranged buddy Terry used to get shitfaced and then demand I take them home at 1 AM.

Joy and rapture.

Paarrtty!!!!!  YEAH, DUDE!

Two drunken idiots, running their mouths, flopping about, smoking, waving around their lit cigarettes (intentionally or not, threatening to burn holes in the upholstery, each other or me) in one car.  I’m surprised neither one of them managed to visit cousin Ralph in my car, though they both came close.  Puke smell does NOT ever come out of car upholstery.  Neither does cat piss, which is why my mother should learn to roll up the windows on her van, but that’s another story.  I would be happy to find an effective method to keep Jerry from thinking the first thing he needs to do when he sits down in my car is light up.

I used to smoke in the car when I smoked- a lot- but by the grace of God I’ve been 10 years without lighting up myself, and now I really despise my car smelling like his ashtray.  I get him back for it though.  Since I love strong scents- they have to be strong or I can’t smell them anyway- I try to find the absolute strongest air fresheners I can find.  One of my favorites is the Chanel #5 knock-off cologne from the Dollar Store.  It probably smells like insecticide to normal people, but with my very limited sense of smell it actually smells somewhat like Chanel.  Jerry hates it even though he knows that’s his punishment for smoking in my car and leaving that god-awful smell in it as well as ashing all over it.  Jerry is not a neat smoker.  Imagine someone with tremor disorder who’s drunker than a monkey with a lit cigarette.  My car actually becomes his ashtray.

I know I smoked for years, but it’s a nasty gross habit.

So I arrive home blissfully un-stressed from a peaceful drive home- just me, the AC on full blast, and Metallica on full blast.  I go take a shower and put on some lounge clothes.  Then I go to the fridge to get some iced tea (strong, no sweetener, and a bit of lemon) only to grab the ice tray and get another shower.  Everything in the fridge freezer had melted- ice cream, (there’s a bloody disaster for you) ice cubes, previously frozen vegetables, and so forth.  Damn, damn, damn.  The irony of this is that the power never went out, the AC unit is (knock on Formica or whatever the hell that stuff is) holding tough and the cable is on.  The chest freezer is plugging away quite nicely, as is Jerry’s small beer fridge out in the foyer.  But the main fridge- the side-by-side 30 year old behemoth fridge that takes up half my kitchen, took a major puke.

I had to move the beer to save the food. Sorry about your luck.

Guess who’s got some warm Natties.

So, because I’m poor and he’s cheap, Jerry gets on Craig’s List looking for a fridge.  There were crazy people wanting $1000 for used fridges- granted they were the high faluting stainless steel ones with the drinky fountains and the ice makers and wine chests and so forth but if I’m going to spend that kind of scratch I want a new one with a warranty.  So Jerry keeps looking and happens upon a nice simple used fridge for $100- about 45 miles away.  I call the guy and tell him I’ll be there in about an hour.  When I get there the fridge is still plugged in, nice and cold.  I gladly gave the dude the money- it’s older, but a nice, clean working fridge- and he and his buddy get the fridge loaded up in Jerry’s truck.

Jerry, of course stayed home in bed, because he’s helpful like that, while I drive off to see some strange people who could potentially be serial killers, who I never met before in my life, in the dead of night, to conduct business.  I knew the neighborhood (not terribly far from where I grew up) and it was in a nicer area than where I grew up, otherwise I would not have taken the risk, (the people turned out to be most personable and cordial also) but sometimes you never know.  I arrived home with the fridge around 11:30 last night, but I did not attempt to remove it from the back of the truck in the dark by myself.  He will regret not helping me unload it last night- tonight when he has no cold beer- but tough titty.  I could care less about beer, so I moved it out to save the milk and cheese.  It’s not as if Natty is going to taste any worse warm.

Does temperature really count for much when you’re drinking canned horse piss?

Today Jerry is supposed to accomplish two things.  One is to remove the old behemoth fridge from the kitchen.  I cleaned it out- at least the big pieces and anything that might rot and stink- so the scrap guy (who is always scrounging for used refrigerators, working or not) can do what he will with it.  The other is to get the fridge I acquired last night in the kitchen plugged in and running.   Let’s see how he does with his assignment.  I have a feeling I am going to be very sore in the morning after I drag these appliances where they need to go by myself.

I get to move this son-of-a-bitch all by myself!