30 May 2010

Good Company

Coming and going outside my window this afternoon, in no particular order:
  • robin
  • black-capped chickadee  (I love these little guys!)
  • downy woodpecker
  • Steller's jay
  • Bewick's wren
  • Oregon junco
And eastern gray squirrels, of course, careful to stay out of whippet-reach.

Just puttering around. Nothing exotic, even if I could recognize something exotic, which I probably couldn't. But good company.

I really need to put out a feeder.

28 May 2010

Easily Distracted

OK. I'm sitting at my desk, dutifully working my way through the list of referrals for home care I got from the MS society. I haven't actually called anybody yet. I'm still visiting webpages, comparing services, that kind of thing.


There's a pileated woodpecker on the tree right outside my window! (Credit where credit is due. I did not leap up and grab my camera for this shot. In fact, this is a male. The bird outside my window was a female. But she was about this close -- without a telephoto lens. Credit for this photo is to Tom Munson of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.)

Even though they're not uncommon around here, pileated woodpeckers are very distracting birds. They're big and flashy and she was really close and when I'm doing something I don't want to do I have the attention span of a gnat on crack.

(I didn't take this picture either. It's another male.)

Well it's 6:30 and Scarecrow is working on something that smells really good for dinner. Have you ever noticed how it's hard to concentrate when you're hungry? With the long weekend and everything, maybe I'd better come back to this home care thing on Tuesday, when I can  focus.

Yeah. That's what I'll do.

27 May 2010

I Know, I Know...

Why do I hate this idea so much? I know I need to arrange for some home health care. Scarecrow is currently doing everything for me -- everything -- 24/7, literally waiting on me hand and foot. He insists he's OK with that, but even he admits we need backup, just in case. If anything happens to him, I'm toast. I know I need to do this. I really hate the whole idea -- we both do -- but I know I need to do it.

OK. So. I dig out the list of referrals I got from the MS society a couple of years ago. I'm looking at the list. From the names, these places all seem to specialize in services for senior citizens. I understand the overlap between services for seniors and services for people with disabilities. I was prepared for that; at least, I thought I was prepared for that. I was perhaps not as prepared as I thought I was. And of three suggested contacts, two are apparently out of business.

That was actually a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday I finally got tired of ignoring the item on my to-do list. I contacted the MS society for a more recent list of referrals. I figured it would take them a couple of days to put it together. It was in my in box 10 minutes after I hung up the phone. I hate it when that happens.

OK. So. I've got a list of referrals from the MS society. I'm looking at the list. From the names, these places all seem to specialize in services for senior citizens. I'm still not prepared for that. I'm going to call one of these places. I might as well start at the top of the list. I'm looking at the list.

In years past, we always spent a good chunk of Memorial Day weekend at the Northwest Folklife Festival. I haven't tried it since I've been in a wheelchair. It gets pretty crowded, particularly if the weather is good. I'm not that big on crowds in the first place, and in my experience places that are crowded, standing up, are claustrophobic sitting down. I did Pike Place Market on a sunny summer afternoon a couple of years ago when my brother was in town (and ran over somebody's foot, to their considerable and noisy dismay), but I haven't been brave enough to try Folklife. Maybe, if I get a better way to drive my chair, I'll brave the butt forest next year. If I run over somebody's foot, at least I'll do it on purpose.

While I'm at it, here's a shameless plug for the group I used to dance with, and later played music for. The Eclectic Cloggers are dancing on the International Dance Stage at 1:50 PM on Monday (May 31). Music by Minnie Pearljam. If you're in the neighborhood...

OK. So I'm looking at the list. It's six minutes to five. Scarecrow says he's ready to go home.

Tomorrow for sure.

Why do I hate this idea so much?

26 May 2010

World MS Day

Second annual.


Look, I am indebted to organizations that raise awareness of MS, and raise money for research, and all that. They do good work. I appreciate it. I do. I asked my local MS Society chapter for help on a couple of occasions, and got it. A couple of years ago I took advantage of an aquatics program they sponsored at the local YMCA. They sent me information a couple of times, and I appreciate the resources they make available through their web site. I owe them. I know I do.

I guess I feel like I should be more of a booster. It just seems that in the great majority of my interactions with MS organizations, they are asking me for money. There's nothing wrong with that. I know fundraising doesn't just happen. If you want to raise money, you have to ask for it.

Please forgive me if I can't get more excited about the second annual world MS day. I just feel like MS has already taken everything I had to give.

24 May 2010

Stop Me if You've Heard This Before

My dad tells the same stories, over and over.

It's hardly surprising. He's almost 90, after all. He's got a lot of stories to tell, and although I've heard most of them before, occasionally he comes up with a new one.

I, on the other hand, am not almost 90, even though some days I look it, and most days I feel it. Still, I'm becoming painfully familiar with the fixed smile and glazed look that Scarecrow and Tuffy get when I start to tell a story they've already heard, but they're too polite to say so. Nothing makes me feel old and absent-minded like getting caught repeating myself. Did I say that already?

Lately I find I forget what I've written about in previous blog posts. The titles don't even sound familiar. I tell myself it's OK. If I repeat myself, I'm just being considerate. After all, one can't assume that anyone who might be reading a blog has read every previous post. If being considerate happens to coincide with being absent-minded, this is one circumstance where I guess it's OK. There are way too many, after all, where it's not.

So if you've heard this before, don't stop me. I want to hear it again.

20 May 2010

Celebrating the twentieth of May

One evening the king will say, 'Oh, Liza, old thing —
I want all of England your praises to sing.
Next week, on the twentieth of May,
I proclaim Liza Doolittle day!

Audrey Hepburn was beautiful, but Julie Andrews will always be Liza Doolittle. Just so you know.

OK, I admit it, dark shameful secret: I love musical theater. That's even more humiliating than admitting I like old-timey music, but there it is. Now you know.

It never bothered me that characters burst into song for no apparent reason. The production number with only a tenuous tie to the plot line? Whyever not? Camelot! My Fair Lady! Oklahoma! The Unsinkable Molly Brown! I could rarely afford to see a live performance, but when I did it was a big production, so to speak. A Chorus Line. Irma La Douce. Richard Kiley in Man of La Mancha. Debbie Reynolds and Harve Presnell in Annie Get Your Gun. The Robber Bridegroom (Scarecrow was one half of the two-man on-stage orchestra for the Boarshead Theater production in Lansing Michigan in 1989. I think I saw it four times.)

So, May 20th. Happy Liza Doolittle day.

18 May 2010

Why Do We Have So Many Dog Beds?

Whippets have no concept of personal space.

Ernie was not a particularly standoffish greyhound; he just preferred to have a bed to himself. All of our other greyhounds, of either gender, always felt the same way. One dog, one bed. In training and on the track, greyhounds are accustomed to having their own kennel space. When they first come off the track, some retired racers can be pretty testy about being approached where they sleep. Although Ernie was never crabby when Bareit invaded his personal space, he always resignedly got up and went off to sleep someplace else.

It was a thing Bareit could never understand. It's just not part of the whippet mindset. The boys got along fine in every other respect, but their preferences in this regard were irreconcilable.

With two whippets, it's different.

Giada (her registered name is Apex Everyday Italian -- her breeder is a Food Network fan) is now Jasmine, or Jaz. She seems to be settling in fine, thanks for asking. Like Bareit, she's a washout from the show ring. Bareit didn't have the temperament to be a show dog; Jaz didn't have the body. When they're playing in the yard, she doesn't understand why Bareit's always chasing her. Bareit doesn't understand why she's always running away. They'll figure it out. The two of them are well on their way to becoming a dog unit. Jaz is very fond of Tuffy, who is flattered by her attention. Although she's still on her best behavior, she has the potential to be a world-class counter surfer and Bareit's capable partner in creative mischief.

From years of habit we still set out one bed for each dog, but I'm thinking we can reclaim some of our floor space. One greyhound-sized dog bed can probably accommodate 6-8 whippets. Maybe more.

One full-size human bed can accommodate two adult humans and two whippets, although the sharing of covers is a matter of perpetual negotiation. And whippets never have enough pillows.

11 May 2010

The Red Queen and the Wheelchair Guy

"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else - if you run very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."

"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place."

Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking-Glass

Last week we finally got to meet with the wheelchair guy. He says a joystick control is really the best way to control a power chair and he's probably right about that, but having tried a variety of shapes, sizes, and locations for the joystick on my chair, we had to conclude that I just can't do it that way any more. When a 350-pound chair goes unpredictable places at unpredictable speeds, bad things happen. The plan was to install a head control, to see if it might enhance the safety of persons and property and inattentive whippets in my immediate vicinity. If it works, we can start worrying about what it will cost, and how to pay for it. No point going through the agony and expense involved in procuring durable medical equipment, only to find that the Red Queen is still winning the race.

So the wheelchair guy (I'll call him Mike. Because that's his name.) shows up with an extremely large, user-hostile-looking contraption, which he proposes to install on my chair and position around my head.

After about an hour of plugging and unplugging and twiddling and muttering, he gave up. The control unit, switches, head array, and chair, all made by different manufacturers, are apparently not plug-and-play. At least, they are not plug-and-play-nice. Just as well. The hardware cobbled together for the trial, which Mike assured me was a lot scarier looking than the equipment I would finally wind up with, was plenty scary looking. I already feel like a robo-monster in this chair. I would rather not make it even worse. I would do it, if that's what I have to do to be able to drive this thing. But I would really rather not.

Mike's fallback plan is to get the chair manufacturer to provide a loaner with head controls that I can try for a couple of days. He'll call us when he's got something set up. So once again, we're waiting to hear from the wheelchair guy.

10 May 2010

Bareit's New Buddy

Timing is everything.

Although Bareit was doing surprisingly well as an only dog, we really wanted him to have some company during the day. Greyhound Pets recently brought in 22 dogs from Oklahoma. They'll be available for adoption in a couple of weeks, after they've been vetted, neutered, etc. We expected that one of them would become Bareit's new buddy. Really, what's the chance that we'd come across a whippet looking for new digs sooner than that?

Like Bareit, Giada is a refugee from the show ring. She's a sweet little thing, petite and fine-boned. Next to her, Bareit looks like a tank and sounds like he's stomping his feet when he trots down the hall. They got along fine.

What are the chances?

Scarecrow now has two little red and white shadows.

04 May 2010

Dancing at Dawn

I might have called this "Confessions of an Ex-Morris Dancer." Although it's been many years since I danced at dawn on May Day, and the Greenwood Morris side no longer exists, I have fond memories of gathering at 5:30am in the Beal Botanical Garden on the MSU campus to dance the sun up. Well, reasonably fond memories. Dawn on May Day in Michigan can still be pretty darned cold. Wet, even, sometimes. Hey, it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

I've still got my Greenwood Morris kit: the green vest with the embroidered badge, the arm bands, the hat with flowers and ribbons and pins, a big stack of white hankies, and of course the bells. When we were clearing out all of our surplus stuff I just couldn't bring myself to let it go. Really, how much space does it take? Besides, you never know. I might need it again someday.

So, I wasn't dancing at dawn on May Day this year, but lucky for you the Lassington Oak, Forest of Dean and Wild Oats Morris dancers were at the summit of May Hill, Gloucestershire to get the job done.

Well, somebody's got to do it.