Three trips to Albany in one week is not my favorite thing to do, but Bear and I were scheduled to work two days, and the third day’s visit was to soothe my vanity and get all my gray hair covered up. Good grief – trying to stay ahead of the aging process is getting to be really tiresome. Hmmm . . . maybe I should just go with the flow and let nature take its course . . . and maybe not.
A few updates . . .
BOOKS. Since reading My Name is Mary Sutter, I’ve finished the first book (The Next Always) in Nora Roberts’ new The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy. It was pretty good, but certainly not her best. It’s about the reopening of a bed & breakfast by a mom and her three sons. This first book has tons of details about every aspect of renovating and decorating an old hotel, and I think maybe that’s why it was a little tiresome to me. The “people story” took a backseat to the “bed & breakfast story”. Looking forward to the next two books in the trilogy though – The Last Boyfriend and The Perfect Hope. Now I’m reading South of Superior, a book I brought home from Michigan, where it was flying off the shelves of the Island Bookstore. It’s the debut novel of Ellen Airgood who, when she’s not writing a best seller, runs a diner in Grand Marais, MI. I met several people on the Island this summer who had driven to Grand Marais just to eat at her diner and get a book autographed. It’s set in the U.P. of Michigan, and I’m really enjoying it – great characters! Next up will be Burnt Mountain, the new Anne Rivers Siddons book. When I talked with Jill the other day, she had almost finished reading it and gave it really good reviews.
PET THERAPY WORK. Bear and I worked Monday at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Tuesday at Easter Seal. Both sessions went extremely well . . . except for loading Bear. Ted had to pick him up both days and put him into the back of my Escape. I’m beginning to think it’s more him not wanting to leave home than anything else. Both days, after finishing our work, he jumped in by himself with only a little “nudge” from behind by one of the other ladies. He’s still anxious when we first leave the house – pacing and panting – but he calms down within five minutes and simply sits with his head between the driver’s side window and my head, leaning his head on my shoulder. No pacing or panting when we load back up to come home. I had gotten some tranquilizers from our vet, before we left home last summer, to have on hand in case the long trip was taxing on him, but I never had to use them. I’m thinking of giving him one on a day when we don’t have to work and seeing how he loads with one of those in his system. Or maybe I’ll take one – then I won’t be anxious that he’s anxious.
At the hospital on Monday we worked in two psychiatric group sessions. Usually these are very good meetings, with patients being very interested in the dogs – asking all sorts of questions: Are the dogs our own personal pets (many patients think the dogs live in a kennel, and we just pick them up to come visit)? What do we feed them? What kind of dogs are they? Do they stay inside? Where do they sleep (always some looks of disbelief when we say they sleep in the same room we do)? All these questions are encouraged, and we walk from patient to patient as they sit around a big table, talking with each one and letting the dogs do their job of sending out love signals. There is always at least one person who clearly doesn’t like dogs, doesn’t want to touch them, or is afraid of them – even though they are specifically asked to come to this group session to visit with the therapy dogs and can opt out if they’re not comfortable. One gentleman came in toward the middle of one session on Monday – using the aid of a walker and clearly not happy with anything about how his day was going. He didn’t speak clearly, but he did speak loudly – and when asked by staff if he wanted to pet either Happy Jack or Bear, he frowned, sat down in a chair, and firmly shook his head “no”. Of course, it was this gentleman who Bear decided needed him the most. I asked the man again personally if he’d like to pet Bear, and he just looked down at Bear’s grinning face and said nothing. He kept a close eye on Bear as we came closer, and I held Bear on a tight lead, looking for any kind of body language from the patient that might indicate he wanted us to move away. As Bear’s head came to rest on the man’s leg, he just stared down at him. Bear, not understanding why his head wasn’t being rubbed, pulled his “velcro” move, leaning heavily into the man’s thigh and glancing up with those gorgeous eyes of his. The man’s hand came off the chair arm, and he stiffly settled it between Bear’s ears . . . and began to rub. He looked at Bear, looked up at me, then looked back down at the dog. He quietly sat and rubbed Bear’s head for two or three minutes. When we moved on to another patient, he didn’t protest, but I think he enjoyed the interaction more than he wanted to let anyone know.
DUDLEY. Dudley (my sleep apnea mask) and I are doing better in our relationship. Don’t know why because nothing has really changed except I confessed to my doctor that I hated Dudley. He made the mistake of asking how I was doing with the mask, and, never one to mince words, I said: “I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, and I haven’t worn it for five months. It’s invasive, ugly, annoying, and completely destroys the peacefulness of going to bed with a good book. Why is it, with everything else we can do about medical issues, THIS is all you have to offer sleep apnea sufferers?!” My doc let me rant, then smiled and said, “You’re right. Twenty years from now we’ll look back and think how barbaric it was that apnea patients had to wear something like that mask. But right now, it’s what we have. You have to make up your mind to use it or not. You need it – you need it a lot. But no one can force you to wear it.” Well, geez. When I got home, I polished up all the plastic parts, soaked all the valves and rubber pieces in a basin filled with Dawn bubbles, and ran soapy water through the 6 feet of hose. That night I put it on and went to sleep (finally) with the lulling sensation of a leaf blower going full blast in my face. But I’ve used it every night since – right up until around 3 a.m. when I tear it off and sling it across the room (Bear already knows to keep his head down when he hears me slap off the machine).
Ted’s been doing consultant work for the State of Georgia this week, visiting schools in another county and evaluating them for Georgia Accreditation. When he got home this afternoon, he handed me his camera card and asked me to look at the pics he’d taken at daybreak this morning before he left home. It was really cold here – 28 when the sun came up – and an icy fog was hanging over the lake.
My son Blake is getting slammed with snow in Colorado, as are a few of my Michigan friends. You all know Lowell, a loyal blog reader both here and in Michigan. Here are a couple of pics from his house in Olivet, MI. and one from Jill in Lansing.
Have a fantastic weekend, and let’s all meet back here on Monday! Oh, Happy Birthday to good friend Lana in Atlanta!