Sunday, May 23, 2010

Desperate Hours

Why is it that urgent health concerns in people or in pets only occur on holidays and weekends? I've spent many an hour waiting in hospital ERs with my mother because she always seemed to hit crisis mode when her doctor's office was closed. I've also spent a lot of time chewing my nails and fretting until the time came that I knew the telephone would be answered at the vet's.

Major deja vu. Friday when I got home, Mojo was acting a little bit odd. He wanted in my lap, but he was too agitated to settle down. I figured he was about to have one of his regular seizures. It has been about 6 weeks since the last one, so he was a bit overdue. Not to worry. I've weathered many seizures with him and I know what to expect.

But, as the evening progressed, other symptoms began to appear. He was not interested in our afternoon walk, which I still took to mean that he was anticipating the onset of a seizure. He initially attacked his supper with his usual enthusiasm, but he only ate about half. About an hour later, the vomiting began.

I still felt like we were in the prelude period to a seizure. Vomiting has become a regular component of the seizure process. We went on to bed. He woke me up a couple of times as he would leave and return to bed. About 3 a.m., he woke me up when he began vomiting before he could get down to the floor. I got up to deal with the soiled bedclothes and that's when I discovered he had also begun having bloody diarrhea.

From 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. I watched and worried. My little boy was mighty sick. My first thought, to call the vet as soon as they opened, changed to a decision to be sitting on their doorstep instead. For 4 hours, I watched him getting weaker and by the time I pulled out of my driveway, I was preparing myself to receive the worst possible news. My little boy, who hates riding in the car and usually has to be confined in his carrier to keep him from bouncing all over the place, lay lethargic in the blankets.

I am well known at the vet's. (They've been my pet care providers through 5 dogs and 8 cats.) When I walked through the door without an appointment, carrying Mojo in his blanket, they knew it was serious. We were lucky that one of our favorite doctors was on weekend duty. I was beginning to edge into the realm of hysterical mother and it helped to be talking to someone who knew me and who I trusted.

It did not take her long to diagnose the problem as hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, a malady that frequently occurs in small dogs and can be extremely serious if treatment is not quickly started. She assured me that she felt he would be responding to treatment in a matter of hours and that he could probably go home the next day. I had so braced myself for bad news that it was hard to believe her. She swept him into intensive care for IV fluids and antibiotics and promised to call me later in the afternoon to give me an update on his status. On my way out, I spoke briefly with the receptionist who told me a Pomeranian was headed in with the same symptoms. How odd to never have known such a thing existing, and then to have two cases arrive at the same vet on the same morning. (The condition is not contagious, it may have some kind of bacterial or possibly stress-related cause.)

It was a long afternoon of waiting and worrying. I consoled myself with the knowledge that if things were going badly, I would hear sooner rather than later. Sure enough, when the call came about 5:30, it was good news. Both he and the little Pomeranian were responding to their treatment and she would allow me to come in on a Sunday and take him home.

In another of those little coincidences, I showed up a split second before the Pomeranian's mommy and we checked our patients out in tandem. She and I were both much relieved to see our little ones perky and alert and ready to go home.

Mr. Mojo has spent the day resting and being coddled. I've spent the day bone weary, but much relieved.

When the baby is sick, the world is a dark, unhappy place.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Big and Little

This was the second year in a row (and the third time altogether) that Lana and I were able to attend the Texas Miniatures Showcase in Dallas. Despite the heavy workload that I get hit with every May, I hate to miss one of the few opportunities we Texan miniaturists get to mingle with the true artists in the field of miniatures. I worked overtime last week in order to get caught up with the work crush so I could head to Dallas with a clear conscience.

We headed out Friday morning, bound for Big D and the anticipation of three hours that evening to roam two large hotel ballrooms of miniatures displayed by artists who had traveled from all over the country to show us their work.

We took our time along the way, stopping to explore a big antiques mall in Bellmead, just north of Waco. Shortly after we resumed our journey, we began to watch dark blue storm clouds starting to roll in from the west. I had hopes that we would be able to outrun the storm, but it hit us broadside about 40 miles south of Dallas. It was, in the words of Andy Griffith, a real frog-strangler. We slowed to a crawl and debated whether the smarter thing would be to continue on and possibly drive out from under it, or to pull off and take our chances on finding a place to sit it out.

Unfortunately the rain was coming down so hard that we had no idea where we were and we didn't know if the exits would be flooded. We decided that it would be best to continue on, so we followed the example of our fellow travelers, turned on our emergency lights to increase our visibility to others, and kept moving. Slowly. The rain came down in sheets and continued without let up until we had almost reached the Dallas city limits. Thankfully it finally eased up as we joined the Dallas freeway traffic. With the able assistance of the GPS system in Big Red, we located our hotel and got checked in with enough time for a rest before the show began. I, for one, needed it.

We were glad we were staying in the same hotel as the show and there was no need to get back in the car until we were to leave the next day. A little bit of rest and some food and we were ready to shop big for very tiny things.

Oh, the temptation. You see things at a miniatures show that you never see in shops or in catalogs. The vendors are true artists and most are selling one of a kind items only available at shows. Exquisite dolls, beautiful pieces of furniture that cost almost as much as the full-sized equivalent, unbelievable needlework, miniature food that looks good enough to eat, hand thrown pottery smaller than a thimble, flowers and plants and tiny oil paintings were just some of the wonders we saw. Along the corridors were displays of finely crafted roomboxes that almost make you throw up your hands in dispair at your own efforts.

The only flaw in the proceedings is that the older I get, the harder it is to inspect these tiny treasures. After the first hour my back was protesting loudly in response to the continual "stoop to see, stand to move, stoop to see" routine. I was having to whip off my glasses to get a good, clear look at the displays. And I wasn't alone. Dollhouse enthusiasts who frequent these shows are like genealogists. The majority of both groups are middle-aged. It takes some disposable income and getting the kids out of the house to be able to really indulge in both hobbies. There were a lot of us whipping off glasses and groaning as we struggled upright.

The first time I attended the Dallas show, I passed on an item that I really, really wanted because it was really, really expensive. I've long regretted that spurt of willpower and have been looking for that item ever since. Nowadays when I see something that really pulls at me, I am more likely to indulge myself and live with the guilt. After cruising the main room this year, I was beginning to think that I was going to escape that guilt this time around. I even made it most of the way around the second ballroom before I knew I was in trouble.

There was a gentlemen from Spain who was displaying some really fine furniture pieces. My eyes zoomed right into a display of tiny lace-making pillows with tiny wood bobbins. The paper patterns were pinned to the pillows, the pins were just barely visible, the lace was in progress, a few loose wooden bobbins were scattered under the table and each of them had a cat thinking about messing the whole thing up. One of those little pillows would, I knew, look absolutely wonderful sitting in the corner of my knitting store.

They were way, way, way too expensive and I talked myself out of buying one. I went to bed, congratulating myself on being sensible, but feeling a little disappointed. By morning, my willpower had taken a powder. I did not want to regret passing up this opportunity, so I decided to take another look and see if they were as great as I had thought they were the night before. I managed to fight the impulse for another hour, but I finally gave in. It's a little hard to see the incredible detail of the piece in this picture, but let me just tell you that the little porcelain bowl is full of tiny little pins, the wooden basket on the floor is full of incredibly small, turned bobbins and spools, and the lace pillow is perfect in every detail. I refuse to feel guilty about indulging myself, even if I end up having to eat beans and macaroni all month.

We decided to visit the local dollhouse store before we left town and found some additional items we just had to have. It was a little after noon when we turned Big Red for home. The drive south was much less stressful than the trip north. We took in another antique mall on the opposite side of the highway in Bellmead, and got back in time for me to spend a little time in a small bookstore in Georgetown, where I found 3 new local history books to add to my collection.

I got home to a joyful greeting from Boo and Scout, who spent the evening enjoying their rare opportunity to sit in Mommy's lap and curl up beside Mommy in bed, without two dogs fussing at them. The house is way too quiet without Mojo, Coco and Dixie prowling around. I was driving into the parking lot at Collie Cottage on the stroke of the hour they open on Sunday. Now we are unwinding from our respective weekend outings. We are all happy and content.

I really can't wait until the May work madness dies down so I can find the right place for all these new miniatures that came home with me.

And I can't wait until next May when we do it all over again.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Abundance and Affirmation

You may remember a blog entry from last summer regarding the partial set of stainless flatware that my grandmother Wilcoxen gave me when I was in high school. Although the pattern had long been discontinued, I had decided to try and pick up pieces through EBAY and antique stores to complete the set and use it for my everyday dining. Since then I had acquired enough pieces to complete 10 place settings and I was still monitoring EBAY in hopes of finding matching service pieces and the elusive iced teaspoons.

I had been a little less conscientious of late in running that periodic search, but I remembered to check last week and was amazed to find that someone was offering a complete set of Grypsholm flatware. I jumped into the bidding immediately and kept a close eye on it for several days. When the auction began to draw to a close, I discovered that there was another interested party and in the final hour the bidding war got really hot. Both of us wanted that set of flatware in the worst way. It was in the last minute that I emerged victorious.

Today my package arrived, containing 12 full place settings, PLUS all the service pieces, PLUS 12 of the coveted iced teaspoons. I think I have sufficient now. Grandma would be pleased. I know I am.

I found myself pleased about something else on Saturday. I attended the monthly meeting of the Smithville genealogy society and the topic for the day was Genealogy 101. The speaker was a friend of mine from DAR, which was one of the reasons I was attending, plus you always learn something, even in the basic beginner meetings.

Ella began by asking the 15-20 attendees how long they had been at this thing called genealogy. A good number of them were very new to the hobby. A couple of them had been founding members of the society, which was formed 17 years ago. She herself got started in the early 1970s. She turned to me and asked how long I had been researching and was surprised to hear that I began my ancestor hunt in 1968. I had her beat by several years even though I am about 20 years her junior.

As she made her presentation, I enjoyed the reactions of the new genealogists. They had no idea of the journey in store for them. Census records, deed records, probate records, online databases, military records, Genweb, NARA, and on and on. They were taking notes feverishly. I wasn't. I've been immersed in all these records for 4 decades. With every topic and idea she presented to them, I was fully aware of what they might find when they got there.

I've always considered myself a competent genealogist. There was something about watching that group listening to a woman I consider to be a very good researcher and realizing how thoroughly I knew what she was talking about. It was like a little light bulb going off in my head.
I'm a good researcher. I know what I'm doing. And I'm having fun.


Saturday, May 08, 2010

Bouncing Around Texas

This has been a wild and crazy two weeks with hardly a chance to catch my breath, much less stop for a bit of blogging. April and May are generally a blur, with too many things piling up to do and this year was no exception.

The last Saturday of April saw the Hodge side of the family gathering in Elgin to celebrate Aunt Bill's/Bettye's birthday. Unkie/Son/Grady/Hodge (nobody in this family goes by just one moniker) built a big bonfire in his front yard, we roasted wieners for hot dogs, sang some country songs to brother David's guitar accompaniment and kept each other laughing non-stop. We are a crazy bunch with a common crazy sense of humor. A good time was had by all.

On the breezeway, pre wiener roast

Sunday morning began the annual marathon to prepare a family history newsletter for the big Frankum reunion that falls on the first weekend of May. Every year I have no idea what I'm going to write about and every year I figure may be the year I have to show up empty-handed. Fortunately I had some inspiration at the last minute and I managed to put another one together at the last minute.

That was barely out of the way before the first client files started arriving for May. Every May the law firm is required to mail special notices for the majority of our clients. May generally passes in a blur, as I struggle to keep from being buried alive in work. Just because I work better under pressure (hah!), I also scheduled a couple of days vacation in order to take full advantage of the reunion activities.

So, fully knowing I shouldn't take the time off but determined to do it anyway so I wouldn't miss anything, I began Thursday morning with a trip to Elgin to check Mojo, Coco and Dixie into pet camp. At noon, Cousin Glynda picked me up and we left for the reunion.

If I tell you that the trip from home to the reunion site in West Columbia is about 140 miles, you might wonder why it took us 10 hours each way. The reason is we took the scenic route through Gladewater. What? You didn't know there was a scenic route through Gladewater?

Here is one scene we made a point to see on our way:

I can hear you scratching your heads in bewilderment, but this little house was a very important place to me once upon a time. This was where my grandparents lived when I was a little girl and I spent many Christmases and the better part of one summer here. I played in this yard, I visited the couple who lived next door, I watched the train as it roared by on the tracks that were at the back edge of the property, and I explored the cool, damp storm cellar in the back yard. It was nice to see that the place is still standing.

Our reason for going to West Columbia by way of Gladewater was to pick up my aunt and escort her to the reunion. We spent the first night at her house, where we met her new dog Sunny and made the aforementioned brief tour of Gladewater where we visited all the places where my grandparents and my aunt and uncle had lived. The next morning we headed out bright and early, going south.

By early afternoon we were in Wharton, where we made our annual visit to the City Cemetery. In addition to my Wilcoxen grandparents, my great-grandparents Wilcoxen and great-grandparents Frankum and great-great-grandmother Frankum are buried there. Also most of my grandmother's siblings and their spouses, a great-aunt on my Wilcoxen side and a pile of cousins have their final resting place in this cemetery. After many years of visits, I am finally beginning to remember where all the graves are located and no longer wander aimlessly looking for them

Friday evening was a preliminary get-together of the Frankum clan and usually involves some cut-throat dominoes. This year was no exception. Here is a wad of Frankum cousins, with yours truly about center of the front row.

Saturday, the official reunion began bright and early. There was way more food than you can imagine, lots of story-telling, some good music, a raucous auction and lots and lots of hugs. There were 134 cousins signed in on Saturday, ranging from a newborn to our wonderful 93-year-old Nita B. After a full day of reunion activity, the three of us hopped back in the car and began the trip in reverse, heading north to Gladewater for the final night.

Early the next morning we took some time to enjoy the fruits of my aunt's labors in her garden. She has quite a green thumb and a real knack for decorative gardening, not to mention a collection of iris that puts my purloined posies in the shade. (She laughed when I told her about by recent trip to a remote cemetery to acquire some iris bulbs. She said my grandmother would definitely approve.)

The patio area just outside the garden room.

My aunt digging up a tree sprout to send home with us.

The morning of the fourth day, we made our 4th and final leg of the trip home. We arrived home with 1,000 miles under our belts, a cargo area full of plants and a growing awareness that we had eaten way too much.

Arriving home, I jumped into my own car and went to get the dogs. As much as I enjoyed the long weekend, the best part was seeing their little faces light up when they came through the door and saw Mommy.

Not so happy was Dixie when I picked her up the next morning. Dixie had spent the weekend with the vet, getting microchipped and having her matted fur issues addressed with a close hair cut. I had impulsively agreed to a "lion cut" because a co-worker had recently had a cat at the office who had the same cut and I thought it was cute. On Dixie it was not so cute and she was one unhappy cat about the whole thing.

The other cats have followed her around all week, hissing. I thought she would appreciate getting cooler for the summer, only the weather turned cooler and now she seems to be chilled. I keep finding her asleep under lamps and she curls up between me and the arm of the couch whenever she can. I've promised her we won't be trying this again and keep assuring her that her bad hair cut will grow out. Eventually. It would really help if the other two cats would quit calling her names.

Now it is back to the May mailings and my desk is loaded down with files. Life promises to continue to be a blur for a couple more weeks.