BESSHAILE   48,833
40,000-49,999 SparkPoints
BESSHAILE's Recent Blog Entries

Why I'm glad I'm not the president or prime minister or king or any other head honcho

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lawsie! I had now idea I'd be away this long - almost as if I got buried at that funeral too. Which, in some ways, I was. At least my ability to focus seemed to sink out of sight - my power to think creatively and critically and make good decisions and meet deadlines - it just shriveled up and wobbled in a corner all summer long.

Of course - when I am not coping with the loss of a parent and the loss of a beloved pet and the weeks of triple digit temperatures I am quite capable of doing all those things and by good chance, all last winter and deep into the springtime I had - so while l my brain has been on hiatus, the good things set in motion rolled forward, were accomplished and came to fruition.

Ha! Just in time for Hurricane Irene!

Okay - joking aside - I have been amazed at how difficult it's been to cope with grief and am thankful for my friends, my staff, the folks who have carried the ball for me these past months. I had no idea how often, during the day, I would save up little bits and stories, incidents and funny happenings to share with Daddy. I had no concept of how much both he and my little dog Priss defined me. Daddy was, without a doubt, the most difficult man to live with on earth. At one point this summer a girlfriend commented "I can't believe how all over the place you are whenever you talk about your dad" and I said "YES!" He sucked everything out of you and made you look at it - live with it - deal with it: joy, furry, fear, delight, confidence, wisdom, disgust, happiness, vivacity ... every extreme word you can imagine. And I managed to survive it all. He was proof to me that I could live through anything. He was proof to me that all emotions - all states were there at my fingertips - to be used and lived with and acknowledged.

And my little Priss? Ah. She was proof that at my very core I was a good person - someone a little abused dog would look at and know was her safe haven. I loved to tell "The Story of Priss" and if it sounded like I was bragging - well - I was. Because we all want to think we are good and Priss always made me feel like I was.

So this summer was pretty much a lesson in living on auto pilot. Perhaps I let myself do this because I knew things were fairly well lined up and wouldn't need much supervision. Perhaps I couldn't help it either - since I can't imagine pulling my scattered wits together and making Good Decisions on Important Matters. I think, if I dig deep into my memory, I can remember a moment when I said "In September ..." Like going back to school, In September I would start swimming forward instead of treading water.

Of course, August had one final gift for us - a massive hurricane that left us with more than an acre of downed trees, washed out our road, took the power AND phone, and closed the library for 3 days. Whew!

And then came Katia who just would not move north fast enough - she gave us another 12 inches of rain, though thankfully none of the wind. So out went the road and phone again! I have been home now for 2 days.

All this down time, though, has been very therapeutic. The quiet of a house without power is very soothing. We had plenty of water and supplies and we cook with gas, which is in big tanks in the back yard. I had books and knitting and Himself for company. Here it is looking at mid-September and I'm actually feeling like a normal person again. Last week I could actually see what needed to be done - work productively, creatively, and when I got stuck at home - everything could move ahead without me actually being there. Cool, huh?

Ah - but where am I on my journey to a healthy weight? That's okay too. Moving very slowly - but there has been very little stress eating this summer. I've averaged about .25 to .5 lbs of weightloss all summer - which is okay by me. My motto has always been Down is Down. I've found that 10 lbs moves me into a smaller size and I'm able to Shop My Closet for things that I hadn't worn in years. I'm also ready to devote attention and energy to this journey now too - a not uncommon September phenomenon. Might even set me a goal....

So - dear friends. I haven't meant to be gone so long but there it is. I'm just glad I had this summer to grieve and contemplate, asses and consider, drift away and fritter. I'm glad World Events didn't depend on me. I'm glad nobody really needed me much this summer. Glad someone Else wants to be president or prime minister or king or head honcho. Aren't you glad too. emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MSLZZY 9/11/2011 10:35PM

    It is always better to leave the load to those who choose to be king. I am content being just
"little old me" LOL!
Sorry about the weather this summer but you have taken it all in stride. And remember,
grieving takes time and we all have to deal with it in our own way.
Hope things continue to improve and wishing you a healthy journey, one day at a time.

Report Inappropriate Comment
WEDDWT 9/11/2011 7:19PM

    You can't rush the grieving process, it takes time, and I'm glad you took it.
I wish the water from the hurricane could have been more 'cleansing' or 'purifying' as an end to your summer.

Report Inappropriate Comment
AEBROWNSON 9/11/2011 8:04AM

    you could have been describing my father! and its hard work to grieve! you've had a heckuva summer, but i'm glad you're back...and good for you for continuing to lose weight through it all!

Report Inappropriate Comment
OPAL50 9/10/2011 10:36AM

    Grief is all encompassing! Take care and glad to have you "back".

Report Inappropriate Comment
SHEILA1505 9/10/2011 9:37AM

    So good to see you again, Bess - and I think many of us have been keeping a low profile these past few months - licking wounds, cocooning or whatever might be the case

Glad to see that you are ready to face the rest of the year with renewed energy


Report Inappropriate Comment
JLITT62 9/10/2011 7:44AM

    Welcome back. It's important to grieve on your own time schedule.

Report Inappropriate Comment

Singing Daddy Home

Sunday, July 17, 2011

When I got in the car, last Monday morning, to drive back to the city for Daddy's funeral, I told Himself that the one thing I hoped for was to have birds singing when we were at the grave site. That happened once at a funeral for a farming cousin of ours and it would be the most comforting thing to imagine the birds singing Daddy home. Among many other beautiful moments that happened that day, there was a mocking bird who sat in one of the only trees on that windswept greensward and serenaded the entire ceremony. At the end. When we were holding on to our composure with all our might.

The funeral mass was held at the beautiful - in my mind, most beautiful Catholic church in Richmond - St. Benedict's Church. It was the church I went to in high school. It has an organ and a glorious music program and a kind, tender music director. Mama was already there when we parked on Shepherd St., dressed and coiffed and ready to participate in everything. She was a little bewildered but mostly wearing her gracious company face. We'd hired a nurse she knows to help but we kept her with us all the time.

Fabulous cousins were arriving - even beloved Haile cousins - warming my heart and sucking up some of the sadness. Darling men, who I last saw as boys, trekked the miles across state lines to hold us and hug us. And there were children at the service. I know of nothing that makes such a difference, when I'm staring at death, as the sight of youth, with its promise of a future, dressed in Sunday best, ready to participate in real life passages.

Sister B played hymns from the choir loft and in those old style churches, violin notes soar out over the sanctuary like angel voices. It's odd - in all the years I went to St. G's I was never once asked to play my violin for any service - and at that time I was very good. Funny the things that you think of when you go back to childhood haunts. But then - I remember the 'hip' masses were all Folk Masses and we all sang Michael Row the Boat Ashore to guitars. Ahh well.

There was an ocean of nostalgia beneath the surface of the whole ceremony. Father Kaufman gave a nice homily that talked about the generous heart and made no false references to my 'sainted father'... who was no saint and who might have risen from the coffin had he done so. It would have been much nicer if he hadn't used a personal microphone. That church does not need amplification and it was big enough and empty enough and made of enough stone to echo his voice back onto itself to the point that most of what he said was unintelligible - like it was to me, when I was tiny and mass was still said in Latin (and I thought the priest was offering dominoes for breakfast).

My cousin J spoke about Daddy, weaving stories of his own with tales he'd gleaned from the rest of us. He is a superb speaker and fortunately, his microphone had less reverb so I hope people could hear him better. I could. Mama could not.

After the ceremony the cortege snaked through the city with a police escort; first with a Richmond squad car and then, at the county line, with three motorcycles. Daddy would have loved that - being escorted. The cemetery is way out in the western part of the county where we were greeted by both the singing bird and a full military honor guard of 8. The heat was fierce and there was a breeze almost strong enough to be called wind. It blew so hard against the flag the soldiers had a difficult time folding it, even having to unfold it and try a second time. But eventually they were able to present it to Mama ... before everyone baking in that noon day sun was completely singed.

When all the ceremony had been fulfilled, we drove to the Capital Alehouse out on West Broad where we'd reserved the back room for the afternoon - and things fell into a traditional Family Funeral Reception - or Irish Party - whichever name you prefer. We are not a solemn sober kind of family. We are loud. We are boisterous. We are really all pretty vivid, now I come to think of it. We had a fiddler - my sister - who played the songs and gigs of Appalachia and Ireland. We had men lifting beer and toasting the Daddies of the world. We had lots of food and a signature family desert made of chocolate and whipped cream. We sent Daddy off with laughter and tears and memories and more hugs than a teddy bear. We did it right for him. We did it right in honor of him. We absolutely know that he's been reunited with his brother and his sisters, his mother and father, with Earle Corcoran, his best friend from WWII days. And without a single doubt I know
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, From the lake, From the skies.
All is well,Safely rest,
God is nigh.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRAFACE 8/18/2011 8:27PM

    Bess, that was beautiful. I'm sorry about your loss. I'm sure your Dad enjoyed his life's celebration as much as you and your family did--as bittersweet as it was, I'm sure he would have been happy with the way you chose to send him off. emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
MSLZZY 7/17/2011 11:06PM


Report Inappropriate Comment
OPAL50 7/17/2011 7:51PM

    What a beautiful tributes and sentiments to your father...a real celebration while "singing your daddy home"! May you find peace. emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
WEDDWT 7/17/2011 1:10PM

    May your Daddy rest in peace.
God is nigh.

Report Inappropriate Comment
DUSTYPRAIRIE 7/17/2011 9:57AM

    Wiping bittersweet tears from my eyes. This was heart moving.

Report Inappropriate Comment
SHEILA1505 7/17/2011 9:48AM

    Ah, Bess this is beautiful and it sounds like a wonderful Wake - just the job to make the day somewhat bearable

All love

Report Inappropriate Comment
JLITT62 7/17/2011 9:17AM

    Woe, those last lines brought back memories of my own. Isn't it odd how a funeral brings families together? You write so beautifully about it. I hope you've found some peace with it all.

Report Inappropriate Comment

Life's last roller coaster ride

Monday, July 04, 2011

For the past 3 weeks my sister and I have been dealing with end of life issues around my dad. She is the primary caregiver - I jokingly call myself the non-custodial daughter. We each bring special gifts to the table - her's are more visible, more practical, though I think of myself as a pragmatic sort of person. It's just that she's the one who lives there and I come in from out of town - but I have an intuitiveness that picks up on things that someone who's been dealing with an overwhelming number of burdensome facts might miss. Together we have juggled the care of two elderly, difficult, demanding and beloved parents with ease and grace and much success.

Of course, nobody ever did anything with Daddy that didn't carry with it the threat of his ungovernable temper and as he's aged, his hold on language and fury has not abated a whit - only his physical abilities have diminished. Remember - this is the same daddy who disinherited me last September, tearing my picture out of the family calender and banning me from his sight forever. He forgot about that after a while and thankfully, I know it didn't matter what he said. It was the ravings of an old terrified man. It hurt a little while and then went away. Most of the time when he throws his tantrums I just laugh at him and say too bad. We're not the ones in a wheel chair and besides, our turn will come when our kids boss us around. Right now, it's just his turn.

Now, though, things have sunk pretty low. He went into hospital 2 weeks ago with a kidney infection - then his heart began to fail - then a lung infection - I've been up to see him every day this weekend. We called in the far-away sisters who are arriving today. My son has been with me all week and has made even more trips to see his grandfather and another grandchild got in last night.

Ours is not a cozy cuddly family. One sister won't speak to another. A third sister never sees me without complaining 'mother loved you best'. I doubt all of us could gather anywhere other than a neutral location like a restaurant - or a funeral home. It's too bad. It's also the way it is.

Sister and I went to the funeral home yesterday to pick out things like prayer cards and flowers - all the things that we'd really rather not have to decide later, when we're weeping. And we got an itinerary so we know what the next steps are. And the price. It feels good to not have to worry about those things.

So. Now we are waiting. And I am driving a lot and trying to decide if I want to drive back over to the city today and witness the tension between siblings. And participate in it, if I'm honest. There's a part of me that would like to see all my sisters and hug them and feel warmth and remember. And there's a part that asks myself "what makes you think that would happen?". What I really think is that I'd have to drive 75 miles to get to the hospital, then miles around the city to visit one sister and then miles more to visit the others. I haven't decided yet. It may be that I'll do the ostrich thing and bury myself down here, in the safe little cocoon of home.

and the food thing? How am I eating through these endless hours in a car, eating at restaurants, sitting in hospital rooms? Not too badly, actually. I've been going a little overboard with the ice cream at night. Mr. Ice Cream Box and I have a longstanding relationship and usually we treat each other with great respect. It's only when a visiting son brings in Karl's Frozen Custard, all the way from Fredericksburg, that my careful portion control goes out the window. I don't like most full fat ice cream. It's too rich for me. but Karl's .... well. Well. that's an entirely different matter. If you are from Virginia, you know this.

I haven't officially weighed in with the WW guys in 2 weeks because I had work commitments last Tuesday, but the home scale is encouraging. Actually, it's been complimentary. To stay within my weekly food budget I need only eat a normal day's worth of healthy food and the kitchen is loaded with the best white peaches I've ever eaten - from Crozet, Virginia, not 50 miles away, and as sweet as sugar.

So that is where I have been this crowded and challenging month. I hadn't intended to stay silent so long but time whizzed by and now it's July. Hangin' in there, down on the farm.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRAFACE 7/5/2011 6:09PM

    Bess, I had no idea you were going through this. My thoughts are with you, your Dad, and the rest of your family. It's even harder to deal with these things when your family doesn't all get along. If you need anything, please let me know! I'm not that far away. I haven't been in your exact situation but I do have experience with the death of close family members and dealing with ones that you don't get along with. Great job with your eating, although it's understandable that it's the last thing you want to worry about right now.
Even though I only live 15 minutes from Carl's, I haven't been there in ages. I'm not patient enough to stand it that line!

Report Inappropriate Comment
AEBROWNSON 7/5/2011 3:29PM

    This is a tough time...I've been through it, too as the non-custodial daughter. I remember feeling guilty I wasn't there more often to help, but was fortunately in a position to contribute monetarily, which helped. My thoughts and prayers are with you, as you go on this part of your life's journey.

Report Inappropriate Comment
WEDDWT 7/4/2011 9:38PM


Report Inappropriate Comment

    Sorry for your situation. I lost a grandfather this year and my family laughed awkwardly through the whole process--but then, we're very strange. I envy the strength you posses that helps you face these issues head-on with head held high and still continue to eat mostly well. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

Report Inappropriate Comment
JLITT62 7/4/2011 10:13AM

    So sorry for all that's going on. My prayers are with you.

Report Inappropriate Comment
OPAL50 7/4/2011 7:44AM

    Difficult days...I hear you are realistic about expectations. This time in life brings out the best and worst in all of us. Take care...HUGS and Prayers! emoticon emoticon and eventually Peace. emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
EDWINA172 7/4/2011 7:38AM

    Wow. You have your hands full. I am sorry that you have to go through this right now. I have one sister and had a very similar situation when both of my parents passed away. Why does it seem like strangers are more kind than our blood relatives? Family just push our buttons. They should be the ones who love us unconditionally, but they don't. They judge. Sad.
I am sending love and hugs your way. You will be a stronger woman after this.

Report Inappropriate Comment
MSLZZY 7/4/2011 7:36AM

    Sorry for what you are dealing with but you are strong and keeping things in perspective.
Make the most of the time left to you with your dad so there are no regrets later. HUGS!

Report Inappropriate Comment

The story of Priss

Thursday, June 09, 2011

March 17, 2000 - June 7 2011

In the country you may not know every dog who lives along your road, but you always recognize a stranger. Sometimes a neighbor has gotten a new dog, but often what you see is that great rural tragedy, the dropped off dog. In honor of the dignity of my wonderful Priss, I won't go into what I think of the low-life scum that abandons a dog on my road but will confine myself to explaining that half way along the 3 mile stretch of tar, at the end of which, I live, there is a creek that is a tacit boundary of responsibility for dealing with downed trees, dead animals and dropped off dogs. If there is an issue on our side of the creek, we, and our closest neighbors, take care of it, calling out men with trucks and shovels and chain saws. On the other side of the creek, the responsibility falls on the folks who live closer to the big highway. It's just a shared duty divvied up by geography.

In the spring of 2000 ... March, to be exact ... I was driving home one day and just before I reached the dividing creek I looked out the window and on a gentle slope lay a little dog, head high, perky face, surrounded by 4 puppies. As I turned my head, she turned hers and our eyes met. Between us passed the arc of love that sometimes sparks across a distance, piercing deep into the heart. Her little soul whispered to mine “I'm yours. You are mine”.

With gritted teeth and clenching fingers I turned my head and drove on, muttering “I already have 2 dogs. You are not my responsibility. You are on the wrong side of the creek”. Have you ever thrust away love? Is there a moment in time you can remember when you turned your back on it? Rejected it? It is something you never forget. You'll think about it and obsess about it and wonder about it. I can't remember what I thought about that little dog later – if I contemplated going back to find her. I just don't know. What I do know is that 3 days later a man drove up to the house and said “did you know there is a mother dog and her 4 puppies at your mailbox?”

I knew then. I knew who the little dog was. I knew that she had come to me because we were meant to be. Mind now – my mailbox is half a mile from my house – and 2 miles from where I saw that little dog. The man was from Canada, come down to buy a sailboat from BD, with all the complications of an international sale, with currency exchanges and such. The boat wasn't even at our house, but at a marina in another county and they had to drive off to see it. It was a work day for me but they drove out first. At the time we had the most vivid black lab, Ike: a dog with more personality than you could fit in an entire circus of dogs. He always escorted BD off the farm but I followed shortly behind. At the mailbox there was Ike, beside himself with joy and fascination as he capered and pranced about the little dog. She responded in kind, actually flirting with him and letting him sniff her puppies.

What a beautiful little dog she was, too. Thirty-five pounds of thick silky fur, still puffed out with her winter down. Her face was pointed, her ears stood up in expectation, and her eyes were the most orange shade of brown I have ever seen. There was some shepherd in her dna; you could tell by the way the down fur was so white even though the top coat was brown – so she had that greenish cast you sometimes see in a German shepherd. And by now, by hook or by crook, I knew she was going to stay with me. How BD was going to be convinced, I wasn't sure, but by golly, this was one dog who was here to stay.

About that time, my farmer neighbor drove by and made a joking comment. I don't remember what he said, but I remember recognizing that he was thinking “thank goodness it's not my problem.” I understood – I'd said the same 3 days earlier. Besides, love was already gushing over me as I stroked and petted this little creature. Who cares what other people think? What I also did was scoop the puppies up and take them deeper into our own property, down by Jacob's Gut where they could get water to drink and be safe from cars. And be a little closer to my house without being too obvious to a certain someone who was already preoccupied with Other Things.

It was late when I got home, dark and pouring rain. The headlights picked out little furry puppies as I turned at my mailbox, but there was no little green dog with orange eyes. I piled the puppies into the car and brought them up to the house. No way was I going to leave them out in that storm – we have a dog house in the front yard. They could spend the night there. The surprise when I actually got to my house was that capering around in the rain was Ike and his inamorata. Already they wouldn't be parted. I was a little surprised that she'd abandon her puppies to go off with Ike – but I was also glad.

Mr. SoftHeart, Mr. TenderHearted, muttered a feeble complaint about stray dogs, but he really was tied up with negotiations with the Canadian fellow and, in fact, stayed so the rest of the weekend. Some other words about 'talking about it on Sunday' were probably spoken. What I remember was thinking that if I just lay low, things would work out.

And they did. I was working in the garden all that weekend, March 17, 18 and 19, according to BD's diary. I had a young boy helping me and I tried hard to pawn off one of the puppies onto his family, but the father absolutely refused. They were cute little fluff balls, but they were also, obviously, no-breed curs with only pet value. Most folk around here are looking for dogs who can do double duty, either hunting or herding or guarding. All weekend long, Ike and my dainty prissy little new love capered about, frisky, happy, flirty. On Sunday, a neighbor came up with his friendly black lab to give him a long country walk and the little mother nearly bit his nose off for even looking like he'd smell her puppies. Obviously she was a fierce protective mother – except when it came to Ike, where she knew her true destiny lay. In fact, time came when we began to call her Ike's Wife.

And so. There was a long walk with my wonderful husband, oh man of enormous heart, where we hashed out the future. He had all the good arguments for not keeping such a dog – a stray, an adult, probably with heart worms, with her personality already formed, bad habits already in place, who knew what her history was, a cur, a traveler, a burdensome family of puppies. The same arguments that had flashed through my own mind in the brief moment of first seeing her. In the end, of course, love prevailed. “What are you going to call her?” he asked me and I replied “Priss, because she is so dainty and almost prissy”.

And that is who she became. Our little green dog with orange eyes. Miss Priss. Ike's Wife. Sleek, stubborn, independent, she became dog #3 in our household. She was unpredictable. She would bolt the moment she was let out of a car and refuse to come when called, so that eventually we wouldn't take her anywhere except on long walks about the property. Even then, walks with Priss involved her dashing off into the woods, or across the fields, only to circle back to us when we were on the way home. When we went swimming, she'd disappear into the field behind the swimming beach and often didn't catch up with us till we were in the middle of the creek paddling home. She had a way of begging that involved pawing you and the curvature of her claws always made her gesture dangerous – lethal if you were in the river swimming with her. We treated her with more gentleness than we've ever given any of our dogs – no rough play with her – because it was obvious that she'd had some pretty serious trauma in her early years. There was a bit of buckshot just below the skin over her hip. She quailed at gunshot or even the sight of a gun or the sound of it being loaded. Thunder sent her, not just indoors, but under my bed. We got so we knew if a summer storm was on the way because we'd hear the screen door slam shut and she'd come dashing into the house, up to us, seeking comfort.

Her devotion to Ike remained strong and she mimicked some of his gestures. He would always plunge his whole face into water whenever he drank and she did too. Only last Sunday BD and I remarked on how she was still drinking like Ike – and we said simultaneously “Ike's Wife”. Ike had a fanatic's passion for chasing balls and when the apples ripened and fell from the tree, Priss would get an apple, run up to Ike and toss her head, letting the ball fly, so he could chase it.

That was our Priss. BD found homes for all 4 of her puppies. We had 3 dogs. A year later we found baby puppy Socks on Our Side of the Creek and we had 4 dogs. Then Ike died. Then Topsy. Jack came to live with us in 2005. Each time a dog would leave us our broken hearts grieved. Each time a new dog would come to us our swelling hearts would rejoice. We are dog people and we give dogs a special, country life full of smells and tastes and space, with warm fires in the winter and cool cement floors in the summer.

A few years ago Priss developed a limp that made her squeal when she put weight on her front paw. Concerned that it might be a dislocated shoulder I dropped her off at the vets on my way to work. Later that day the vet called me, angrier than I thought it possible for such a gentle spoken man to be. The fury in his voice was palpable, it oozed down the phone line to drip into my ear and pool on my desk. “Do you know your dog's been shot?” the venomous voice demanded.

Shocked, I tried to figure out how I could have transported Priss all the way from my house to town without noticing any blood anywhere. “Impossible. I know I would have noticed if she had been bleeding” I remonstrated.

“Not now. This is an old wound.” came back the gritted answer, and how well I remember the sensation of muscles relaxing. I hadn't noticed how tense I'd become with his first question. “Oh yes. I know. There's a little buckshot just below the skin of her hip” I explained.

“No. She's been shot. With a hollow nosed bullet. Her neck and shoulder are full of shrapnel. She's peppered with it. There's nothing I can do.”

I reeled then. I'd have sat down if I hadn't already been sitting. Evidently, the early years of Priss' life had been harder than I'd realized. I called BD, who drove into town, looked at the X-rays, talked things over with the doctor and then took her home. We treated her with a little buffered aspirin, but when she began chasing and wrestling with Jack again, we stopped.

It was autumn when this happened and shortly thereafter Priss got a cocklebur wrapped up in the thick fur around her neck, forming a lump about an inch long and half an inch thick. In the evening I sat with her between my legs, gently working the burr out when suddenly the top of that lump just lifted up like the lid on a trashcan and out of it rose a piece of metal! A fragment of that bullet had formed a cyst and worked its way out of her body! I kept that tiny thing for years, along with a natural pearl I'd found in an oyster one Christmas – but it was lost last winter in a fit of cleaning up after the holidays.

In the past 18 months Priss seemed to have aged a lot. She couldn't jump up into the big bed. She grew a little deaf. She stayed curled up beneath her favorite bush by the front door. Her face grew grey. She still ran fast and hard across the fields and through the woods. She still walked 3 miles for every mile I walked. And on Sunday we took her for a nice long walk down the New Path. I had a library function that afternoon and came home around dinnertime. BD usually feeds the dogs and it was a hot afternoon, so I never noticed, and thus, never asked, about Priss. I figured she was in the cool beneath her bush out front.

But Monday morning she wasn't there waiting to come in for her biscuit. This was not like her and I was a little concerned, though not unduly – because, after all, we live in the country. All sorts of interesting things, smells, sounds, can tempt a dog away from the front door. When I got home, though, I asked Himself if he'd seen her and, at first he said yes, but after a moment's thought he said he hadn't seen her all day. We looked around the yard, and in the hideyholes that our dogs retreat to if they're upset about something – but no Priss. Tuesday morning she still wasn't in her spot by the front door and while I was at work BD went searching for her.

And he found her. Lying in Jacob's Gut – on the north side, where she likes to stop for a drink when we take long walks, out to the mile point or even beyond to Robert's Landing. Her back half was paralyzed and she had obviously been there some time. My darling man picked her up and gently placed her on the road while he went back to get the truck. When he got her home he fed her and she ate and drank but she was still immobile. He took her down to the clinic and dear Dr.L gave him the bad news. I hurried over to be in on the conference. Was it cancer? A slipped disc? Was there anything that could be done? An MRI? Surgery? Almost 3 days in paralysis already? Minimal to no chance of recovery? A wheeled cart strapped to her waist? Diapers?

Each word was a bullet into my own heart. My Priss – so wild. So independent. So generous to have loved us and trusted us after such a rocky start? Poked and prodded and cut and strapped by strangers? She had had a life of good doggness. I wasn't about to rob her of the dignity of a gentle ending. And neither was the softer, kinder, more tender half of this marriage. Instead, we loved our Priss all the way to the end – without a tear or a sad sound in our voices, until she had fallen into her final deep sleep. And then we could sob and we are sobbing still. But we aren't regretting a thing. Only savoring the grief that must come with love. Even my sadness feels - almost good – because it is so very right.

Oh Priss. I love you. I loved you the moment I saw you. I loved you for 11 wonderful years. I will love you as long as I live. Wait for me up ahead and we'll take a walk down heaven's country lane once again.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

OPAL50 6/9/2011 6:47PM

    Priss, your beloved dog, will be missed! Sorry.... emoticon emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
WEDDWT 6/9/2011 3:49PM

    I too had a dog whose love entered deep into my heart. The first time our eyes met, her soul whispered to mine the same words Priss exchanged with you “I'm yours. You are mine”.
Bess, how lucky are we??

Report Inappropriate Comment
JLITT62 6/9/2011 1:42PM

    I am so sorry, I write, with tears in my eyes. They never live long enough, no matter how long they live. You gave her such a good life, I know, & in return she gave you that love that only dogs can give us.

I had the same immediate connection with Lola, even tho with her it was her photo on the Internet. I just knew she was meant to be ours.

Report Inappropriate Comment
DIETSAFARI 6/9/2011 11:18AM

    You made me cry.
Thank you for sharing.

Report Inappropriate Comment
SHEILA1505 6/9/2011 10:06AM

    Bess - this is a beautiful love story
Big Hugs

RIP Priss

Report Inappropriate Comment
ANGEL0101 6/9/2011 9:53AM

    I am so sorry that you lost ur wonderful friend.... i just happened to see ur blog scroll by because i noticed the name Priss.. well my name is Priscilla and all my friends call me Pris..... loved ur wonderful blog... I have a boxer called Angel and my hubby and I love her to death .....

Report Inappropriate Comment
AEBROWNSON 6/9/2011 9:42AM

    I'm SO Sorry for your loss. A good dog is a better friend than almost any of the human variety.

Report Inappropriate Comment

Workin' the plan - my adventures with Weight Watchers

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

As I told you in my last blog - I've been following the new Weight Watcher's Points Plus plan since March and so far I've dropped 9 lbs after flirting with the extra 3 christmas lbs I put on at the end of 2010 - up one week, down the next.

I joined WW in 2003 and took off almost 40 lbs as I learned a number of staggering truths about my eating habits. Oh - I already knew that a bag of M&M's was going to load on the lbs and a that butter doesn't come from cows, but is rather, the sweat of the devil. What I learned from the WW guys first time around was what 4 oz of meat looks like - and baby it's not much. And that if planed it out carefully, there was room for a stack-0-pancakes with syrup on an otherwise healthy diet, but not very often.

In fact, once I figured out just what "that much syrup" cost me in points/calories/however you measure your food - I pretty much lost interest in pancakes. Even though it's the Sunday Breakfast in our house. I do the cooking so it's not too hard to make my particular favorite, which is a Parmesan (high quality) cheese omelette.

So. Portion control was the powerful lesson I learned from WW the first time around. I already liked healthy food - I just ate too much of it. And living that close to - even over - the edge meant that a party with birthday cake - a wedding with bacon wrapped scallops - a bar-b-cue with potato salad - would sneak on another pound or so and my regular habits didn't whittle it off again.

So what happened? Ah. Well. Life happened, of course. With family crises and boredom and oh just all those things that DO happen. And then, any plan you get to know really well, you learn how to sabotage - and for me it was with the (s)wheat things - the 2 point bars that WW manufactures and other flour based foods that I finally gave in to. Honest and true - I seriously love grain products - whether they're sweet ones or savory ones. It just got easier and easier to eat wheat/rice/quinoa/amaranth/oat/barley you name it any grain!!! - than to eat the other stuff. Or worse, in addition to the other stuff. Given the opportunity to step into a kitchen and pick a single thing - it was always more likely to be a grain product. Then, guilltily I would think "Oh - I need some protein" or "oops. better add some vegetables" - this on top of a stomach bloated with delicious whole grains. Oh - and then, well, a little glass of wine with dinner.....

You see how it was. Gram by gram I tolerated the weight till suddenly I was wearing at a size 16 once again and wondering if I ought to try that 18. And the evil one whispered in my ear "You're almost 60. Who cares what you weigh?"

yeah. That too.

But of course, I do. And more than that - I hate how uncomfortable I am in the summer when the double chin sweats against my neck. And I hate it when I hide behind the children in the family reunion photographs. Yeah - those are the true irritations of being overweight when you're 'almost 60'.

So here I am back at the WW meeting and what do you know - they gave me just the tool I was looking for. I am a closet math girl - too lazy and slap dash to be a real mathematician, I still absolutely love what you can do with math. I love strategic planning. I love budgets. I'm really really REALLY good at living within almost any sized budget and maximizing the delights and treats I can purchase with my cleverly budgeted funds. I look on numbers the exact same way I look at a box of crayons - and see limitless possibilities. So here comes WW re-calculating the numbers for us, giving us more points to work with, upping all the grain based points (even their own snack foods) and taking away the points on fruits and vegetables. Better than that, they go and give us a little calculator! Well. they don't give it to you - you have to pay for it - but it's cheap and it's cool and it keeps track of what I've eaten with absolutely no possibility of going back and changing things.

So that is where I am with the new WW program. Cutting back (but not out) the grain products, enjoying the fruits and vegetables, having fun with my cousin, who's doing this with me, and playing with the cute little calculator toy. I can see progress on the scales and am able to wear some of the clothes I'd plumped out of over the past few years. It's all good.

I'm aware, also, that the time may come when I'll figure out how to sabotage this plan too - but maybe this time I'll have a different attitude. Bad juju could wham into my life - no reason to think bad stuff doesn't happen in the lives of thin people as well as the fluffy ones - but that doesn't have to be the motivator for a date with the hostess twinkee box. I am certainly not going to worry about it. It's just a little factoid I have filed away - knowledge brings power that temptation can take advantage of.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the healthy eating and looking forward to a single chin!

Hope you find your own motivator and cool toys to play with on your journey into good health.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PURPLESPEDCOW 6/3/2011 10:03AM

    Good luck to you. I hope you did find something that works for you.

Report Inappropriate Comment
MSLZZY 6/3/2011 6:52AM

    Learn and re-learn is the key to success. HUGS!

Report Inappropriate Comment
SHEILA1505 6/1/2011 8:59AM

    Hi Bess - and when you learn how to sabotage this plan, I am confident that you will find another one in its place! I've finally admitted that my food problems are mostly associated with boredom (sulking) etc and hope that saying this out loud is going to give me the nudge back on track that I've been needing

It really does matter - over 60 too!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
RAINBOWCHOC 6/1/2011 7:36AM

    What a great blog...I smiled my way through reading it. I love the numbers too, had a huge loss with WW in 1982 when it was just portion control but never got on with the points system. Now I am doing a great job with CALORIES!
Best wishes for further success, Sandra

Report Inappropriate Comment

First Page  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 Last Page