input-data crunch-output

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I have had dogs for many years and I am always amazed at how they learn. They are sponges the way they take in the world around them and form their behaviors as a result of that environment. 

Dogs learn from other dogs from the very start of their lives. Their mother teaches them about food and water and then that feeds their instinct to survive. She teaches them bite inhibition and they learn how to play by interacting with their littermates. 

Dogs learn from other dogs too if they have them in their homes and at the dog park. I am raising a puppy now and I am amazed at he mirrors the behaviors of our other dogs. Dogs of course form some of their behaviors because of instinct but they do learn from observation. He has learned proper etiquette in a pack of dogs by being corrected by them. My puppy has learned the art of calming down by watching my other dogs settle down for an afternoon snooze.  

He also has learned form watching humans and from training . He learns how to live as a dog in a human world. Dogs learn what is expected of them and because they for the most part like to please humans they modify there behavior to be able to live with us and I think they do so with happiness. 

Or if they don’t have positive modeling a dog can become what we would call a “bad dog”.  It is uncanny how what the dog sees and learns – the inputs- can create the type of dog he will be – output. 

I was a programmer and software engineer in my past. And I sometimes look at things in that logical vain. A program gives us information after we have given it input and it thinks about what it was given and then gives us output…its view of the info we sent it. 

 Input- crunch data – output

I was thinking about this today as I watch my dogs interact. And I thought about this is terms of how humans learn from birth – it is different than dogs of course  – our minds are complex but the way we form as humans  – the information we get (the input) -from our very first breath- is coming at us and we begin to develop (crunch data in our immature brains) our worldview and sense of self(output). 

It is in this early time that we are given most of our input from our family. We had schools and friends and Tv and now there is social media as well. But what we saw at home mostly influenced what developed our worldview – our truth based mostly on our families inputs. Positive and negative.

As we become teens we begin to see the outer world in a more real way. We may then begin to question our parents worldview if we see things that stand in opposition to what we have been taught in our homes. -We begin to form our own worldview – our own truth. 

What is truth? If we each have our own idea of it is any of it real? Truth only exists in the mind. We can get input like – the sky is blue and we can decide if that is true or not. 

Some of the input we receive help us to develop our values and morals. 

It is amazing how two people can receive the same input and have a vastly different opinion or learning experience from It (output). And our worldview can change at any time based on more input. 

One person may see a racially unjust society while another thinks there is opportunity for everyone. 

We are fed so much information in this day and age from many sources. I have Apple News and Facebook and Twitter, Tv news, podcasts, and family. There is so much. So much to influence how we can see the world. How do we decide what is right? What we hear at any given minute can form or reform our truth. It kind of freaks me out. We each can see one thing in such a different way. Like the witnesses of a car accident or a robbery all giving conflicting stories. 

We are all living with differing version of reality. 

Wow-

How do we coexist with each other when we each have a version of truth that differs values that may conflict? 

Well we see recently that it can be very hard to do.  

I think we all need the willingness to step outside of ourselves. I try so hard to step back from my views and look at the big picture so I can be sure I am not  being sucked in by some false observation – or maybe I will have an input that I misread or decide that it means something else entirely than I first thought.  I need to be willing to take all the input and reprocess it and to see if my output changes. Many times discussion between humans can help change our perspective and view on a topic…maybe seeing something else through another persons eyes may not change your view but can invoke compassion and care for the other person.

New real life experience can change us too. I know cancer changed mine.

As I have matured I try to choose the truth that sides with compassion, love, giving, respect and tolerance. A view that doesn’t stew in anger and one that can be helpful.  It is easy to tear things down. Harder to build them back up. I have failed myself and rebooted many times. But I am glad I am open to do that. We will always be part of our past. If we shed beliefs they kind of follow us around…like they are still attached – and we can pick them back up again but we want to be sure they are worth taking back.

I am always working on my worldview. But great writers and seers and philosophers leaned on love as truth. So I try to process my inputs using that algorithm. I can’t say that it’s the absolute right way but it’s is the right way for me. My reality.  I am a work in progress and will always be. Ask me next week- I might have a different worldview. 

But we all have adapt to a world of people who live different truths.

It is hard to get along in this world with so many different truths lolling about. We all think we are right. But in order to get along we have to look outside ourselves and as my husband says “model the behaviors we want from others”.

better new year?

I feel like I slid into 2021 rather quietly. I have never liked the celebrations of New Years Eve. Thats not to say I have never gone out to celebrate. I have…and some story’s are best left in the past!  So now I find a quiet NYE to be the best thing for me. Kevin agrees too. Though I think he has more interesting memories of his past New Years celebrations than I do. This year we shared carry-out Chinese food with my mom and had ice cream for dessert. Simple. 

This year I found myself awake at midnight- sitting in bed shopping on Amazon. I was aware of my watch creeping over to the new year but I didn’t have any other fanfare than that. We had decided to go to bed early. I fully expected to be asleep at the turn of the clock to midnight. But at 11:59 I was still awake and I watched for my watch to tell me it was midnight. 11:59, then 00:00 – that is what my watch says for midnight. Happy 2021 (I thought with trepidation) and see ya 2020 – you dazzling train wreck of a year. 

I had been texting some with my Navy son so I knew he was awake and I texted him a simple “happy new year- miss u” after the clock said midnight – and then I leaned over to lightly kiss my snoring husbands arm (didn’t want to wake him) and I finished my Amazon purchase and I opened my Kindle book- Joan Didion’s “Play It As It Lays”. Which for some reason has been a quick way to slide me into slumber. I can’t rate the book as yet- I just haven’t been able to get into it- snore snore – but I have read the reviews and know it was a movie. 

This year’s Christmas was different for us. I really wasn’t feeling in the spirit. It is just too hard with all that has been going on. We didn’t put up a tree. We have a new puppy-Del- who has been hit by Gamma radiation and is growing at and unprecedented rate- no tree would survive him- so that was my excuse for avoiding a tree this year. But really I just wasn’t feeling it. It seemed to be such a chore. And what goes up has to be taken down. That is more of a drag! So we have a couple of ceramic trees sitting on different side tables, and I had a simple but pretty centerpiece on my table, and a wreath on the door. That was fine for 2020. Enough for me anyway.

I think of all of those decorations that sat in their storage bins this year. Ornaments with years of history behind them. A collection of Santa’s that are normally displayed all over this small home. I was turning my back on them all…and still I have no regrets. Nobody was coming to see us. No kids. No family. And festive was not in my heart this year. 

We chose to FaceTime with our three young but now adult kids on Christmas morning- each live in different states from us and each other. We mailed them some gifts to open during the call. Kevin and I wore holiday Pjs for the call. They opened gifts as we watched and we had some laughs. It was fun. All I really wanted at that moment for them to be happy. To feel some connection to the day and to us because being home for Christmas was all they had ever known. But it was also a time for them to be flying off on their own journeys and things were going to change pandemic or not. It is just what happens as you let them go to forge their own paths.

I felt blessed to have this way to connect. Video calling is an amazing gift during this time. I am not sure I am fully comfortable to be seen on video calls but I am getting used to it. Not being able to see my kids in the flesh was disappointing but I know it could be much worse. I know there are many families who were missing someone they lost this year from Covid or other illnesses or accidents. There was no holiday for them only grief. 

I think I have been trying to traverse this very hard year as best as I can. I have been creatively clogged. Something I am working on. I like to write about dog’s and my horses. I like to share bits of my thoughts on different topics.  But the topics of this past year leave me speechless. What does one say as the world suffers? 

I have realized I am not going to solve the worlds problems. It isn’t my job. I write because I like doing it. The best things I have read this year have included things that divert me from the reality that was 2020 and now 2021. And if I have something to say about difficult topics the words may not be enough or be agreed with but they are my words and they will come from my heart. 

I have zero idea what to expect for 2021. I know what I hope and pray for. I also know other chaos will trot down the road. It is life. after all. I do wish for you to find joy and peace in each day. I do wish peace for the hearts that are hurting and grieving. 

I will say happy New Year- but maybe it should be happier new year. Better new year? Safe new year? 

Lets go 2021. Show us your stuff.

Blessings……

Raising Del

I had forgotten that the last time we raised a puppy(Rudy)- in the late spring/summer of 2012 – that we had kids here- they were off from school in late May- those were the private school days. We had a long stretch of summer ahead of us and we had time to raise a puppy. That was such a huge help to have them help me raise Rudy.

I had forgotten what a puppy can be like! They are busy and have to be watched when they aren’t confined. In the two weeks since Del came home we have become a sleep deprived pair- reminding us of the days when we had little kids. Del began with waking every two hours and and that has now morphed into going 4-6 hours without needing a bathroom break. That has made for some wonderous stretches of sleep.

I am used to waking at night. Nature calling. A middle age “benefit”. So I am no stranger to being up in the night – and can usually fall back to sleep in a few minutes. I think the difference is now I am lugging a 15lb puppy through the house and then down the deck stairs and after the puppy does his biz and is corralled (and reminded that 2am was not play time no matter how much fun it is trying to steal that boot and drag it through the yard )- we head back up the deck stairs and he goes back in the crate and I try to fall back to sleep.

I have been able to settle him sometimes when he whines in the night – his crate is next to the bed- but other times it is necessary to take him out. And of course I have the option to tap out and tap in Kevin who sleeps with wireless ear buds in. We have been taking turns with the nightly puppy relief breaks. That has helped both of us. I also need to thank Alexa – of Amazon fame- for providing soothing music all night.

It isn’t so bad as some nights are just so pretty. The moon and stars and cool air. The horses mill about or snort. It is so quiet- no cars -no other humans. Standing in the rain- on the other hand- nah- not so great.

Del has done well with the house training. Though not as well as I thought. I have caught and corrected him a few times when he has peed right in front of me – it was all good timing – took him right out to show him the correct place to go. But I found he must. have gone in his play area when i stepped away for too long and even though I had floor cover over the rug – the rug got peed on. My bad planning.

My attempts to clean the carpet resulted in the room smelling like dirty feet. So out the carpet went. We planned on replacing it anyway but not until after the puppy was fully housebroken. If you get really miffed about your stuff when it gets dirty, stinky, torn up, barfed on…etc DON’T get a puppy and maybe not even a dog.

We have six dogs here. We have flooring that can handle a pool of water on it for 24 hours. It is made for pets. We have only inexpensive rugs in the house. I don’t spend much on quilts or blankets. The dogs get on the beds and couches. I have never been too strict on that unless it becomes a dominance issue within the pack and causes bad behaviors.

This pup found shoes one day and loves them. I have to admit I find it hilarious to watch him dragging giant shoes all over the place. I am definitely more relaxed – or sleep deprived – as I let a lot of things go that I may not have with past pups. But I admit it may not be funny when Del as a grown dog decides to eat all of our shoes. So the ‘leave it” and “drop it” commands are being taught now even if I am laughing as I say them. Hey you got to enjoy your pup. They grow fast.

And he is growing – in his first week he gained a pound and a half. He was a whopping 15 lbs at 8 weeks and 17.4 at 9 weeks- And Kevin just weighed him today and he is 19 lbs – which Kevin said is his floof (fluff) haha. He is fluffy! The size of his paws promises he won’t be a small dog. The trajectory of his weight at this point points to a VERY large boy. I do expect that to level off though and I am noting the weight changes each week. So we will see!

As far as his making buddies of the current dogs here at home- it is slow. Someone asked me if the other dogs were pulling their weight in that they could help me tire the puppy out. So far they are not into playing with him. Rudy has a couple times but both very brief. And Del loves Rudy. He follows him all over the yard. Del loves to take walks up the lane with him, and generally thinks he is the best thing ever. Rudy says “meh”. He is feeling jealous I think. I do think that is an emotion dogs have!

Trying to make friends

In my experience these friendships – or even- basic putting up with takes time. Two of our other dogs Reece and Pierce are very playful but I don’t trust the puppies safety with them yet. I am fearful they will get carried away and over excited. Del is too small for them yet. But all co-exist fine when he’s on the leash around them. Lemon -our old Lab- was one of my puppies 11 short years ago. She can be a terror. But in her old age has done some mellowing. She has more patience and I can let the puppy around her in the yard and house – that doesn’t mean she won’t give him a correction if he needs one- but I watch her. I am happy she seems to like him. She ignored Rudy for weeks when he came!

One day last week I woke up to a different puppy. He was crazed- hyped up! I was like holy cow – who is this dog? It was like he was possessed from the beast within. I think I recall this stage from past puppies. I found the worse they got the more likely they needed a nap! And so that seemed to hold true. Today I woke to a calmer pup – though he does have a sassy side. He has the sit command down. And when in the crate or play area he is learning to self calm. All good things for future training. I know we are in store for many different phases as he ages!

The shoe thief

I haven’t done too much socialization with him except for visitors here at home as I don’t want to expose him to too many germs with just one set of shots.. He did go to Southern States and we carried him in. He and Rudy were a hit there.

I am really thrilled to have this dog. As this is my first Goldendoodle I am new to the breed and I look forward to seeing how he will grow. He is a smart bugger- so I see some antics in his future!

Now I need a nap…..

Delta Dog – YOLO

This happened recently.

I know….so cute! His name is Del – he a goldendoodle- and all it took was one look at him and I became a pandemic puppy owner. I failed all my promises to myself. I wasn’t going to get another dog until at least one of our current dogs passed. I failed my attempts to stop from getting puppy fever.

But you devils on social media that posted your new puppy pics every day – I tried to ignore you! With coffee in hand every morning I would try to surf on by the sweet pics of fifi, foofoo, and fifi. And curse you Tucker Budzyn – cutest Golden Retriever (sorry to my Rudy) – I could not stop myself from watching his YouTube videos and his Facebook stories. I became obsessed with his sweet crunched up face when he was confused.

I began researching dogs. For the future. I missed my Old English Sheepdog- there was a void. So just for giggles I began looking online for OES puppies, I then began looking at golden puppies, I then saw a doodle of some sort somewhere – probably on Facebook. And I began to look into doodles, Sheepydoodles, Berniedoodles, Goldendoodles. Site after site I subjected myself to sweet puppy faces. This for me is a torture. I LOVE dogs. I was born with a connection to dogs. I can’t remember ever not wanting a dog – not being drawn to dogs. (I was the kid who always wanted to pet every dog she saw. Even the ones you are supposed to let work like service dogs…I would reach out and touch them as they walked by- i know! ).But I do think that Dog people get this.

I think my husband saw the trajectory of what was happening before I did. I was looking for dogs online. He knows the signs – we had just gone through this with horses- I got a new one in late June- but thats another post. But Kevin knew before i did that we would be getting a new dog not in a couple years but this year. I just didn’t know it yet.

Many breeders had waiting lists – up to a year long. So I felt safe bc there was a wait. I knew this time around I wanted to get a puppy and from a breeder. We have rescued many many dogs over the years and have 3 rescues here now if you include my moms dog. And a friend even told me that she was having trouble finding a rescue as the rescues were so busy with applications.

Covid really created a pet craze. Makes sense -more people at home sheltering from a scary virus. They have more time for a dog. And isn’t a dog a nice distraction from all of the craziness and scariness going on? I can tell you I have tried daily to make my life feel normal. These are scary times.

I had a kid leave for the Navy during the pandemic. It threw me for a loop. He was our last to leave home- and it hit me hard. The military had my son. There was another void in the house. A huge one. One that can’t really be filled with pets and stuff. But I think part of my adding a new horse and a new puppy (oh and fish tanks) was to help me heal some from my empty nest.

What Kevin saw coming did come to a head one day when I saw a post about labradoodles locally. I contacted the friend who posted about their upcoming addition and asked her about the breeder. Turns out I knew the breeder – we had gotten our lab Lemon – our 11 year old gal- and our Golden Rudy from her. And when I contacted her she told me she had a 3 week old Goldendoodle male that was a distant cousin to Rudy. So the stars aligned for me and all the reasons I wanted to wait for a dog went out the window and all the excuses to get one now sounded flat. I just wanted this puppy. So Kevin and I said YOLO and and here is Del, (Delta, Delbert, Delinquent…).

Yolo is maybe what I should have named Del. It certainly is a mantra of mine. I have to decide often if I am being impulsive or just living a YOLO life. Maybe it is both sometimes. But after having had cancer and having chronic pain after the cancer treatments and then being blessed with getting that pain dialed back – I just sometimes have to say oh well WTF YOLO. And this little dog- who is growing by the minute has been a wonderful, tiring, PITA, cute, loving, destructive addition to this little place known as Glory View Farm. I hope to be posting more about him.

So I have no excuses to give. Just sometimes you have to say YOLO.

voices

I am writing from the heart here. So its going to come out in a stream of consciousness that I will try to go back and edit as best as I can but it wont’ be the best editing.

I am so sad to see a country so divided. Every issue seems to become a Dem vs Republican issue. A virus that has no political leanings has become the most politicized topic of this decade.  If you think the president and government didn’t handle things in a timely fashion then you must be a “Dem” and therefore bad. If you agree with the president then you are bad because you are a “right winger”. 

I am not one for labels and I will not be pigeon -holed into being a Dem or a right winger. I have always tried to look at things from a middle perspective and it has gotten me criticized many times. I have voted republican and democrat. I have changed my party affiliation back and forth on my voter registration so I can vote in primaries.

So today I am speaking as a middle of the roader. I have my opinions but I won’t be pigeon-holed to one side or the other.

But I write because my heart hurts. I am sad. I see the protests in this country over the hideous death of George Floyd  and I wonder why so many white people don’t get it- they think the protests are about this one thing- it is not this one thing. It is about something white people cannot relate to. We can never really understand because we are white. We do not face the day to day discrimination and prejudice and racism that people of color do in this country. That is a fact.

Many people know that I raised three Asian children, We adopted them in the early part of this century. When my husband Kevin and I brought them to this very white but sublime area in MD we live in I didn’t think about racism and the fact my children would encounter that as they grew. But they did. I think I was shocked when my daughter retold me a racist joke she had heard at school when she was about 8 or 9 and I had to explain to her why that was not so funny. That it degraded people of color and she was in that group. Maybe up until then she didn’t realize she was different -she knew she was Asian – not white but I had never had to tell her that people were judged by their skin color and ethnicity and that sometime she might encounter hate..it was not a topic I wanted to open up. It hurt me to think that my kids would ever have to deal with the hatred or racism but they did.

In high school many words were said to my kids. I found out about most of it much later. My daughter wanted to be white- change her eyes. For a time she wore makeup so white she looked like one of those pretty Japanese Geishas who powder their faces white.  But in high school none of us wanted to be the different one – but she was. In time she has learned to embrace her ethnicity and her exotic beauty. But there are scars where the unkind words cut her.

Once I had to contact the school after someone told my kid -in the middle of class while my kid was reading aloud- something that was not easy for her to do – to go back to where she came from. It wasn’t the first time she had been called out for being Asian (she told me later) but she was embarrassed  because it was in class in front of everyone and she couldn’t walk away and the teacher did not do anything. So my child called me up very upset to tell me what happened .

I am sure the teacher ignored a teachable moment because she was uncomfortable – racism is a hard topic to discuss – but we can’t allow that in a class- we have call it out. And eventually we got a some resolution. A detention- a letter of apology. But I wonder if it changed the students heart who said the words.  Did they understand the words hurt? 

One of my kids was being bullied at school for being Asian and he finally cracked one day- not because the bully was bullying him but because he began to pick on a friend and my son went to his friends defense. I would like to say he spoke out to the bully  in defense but instead he squashed a donut on the bully. Then this led to a challenge to a fight off school grounds. My kid showed up for that fight and got pummeled. Lost the fight but gained some street cred. And made amends with that bully.

I didn’t condone the violence when I found out later and had I known about this before this entire story would be different. But my kid cracked. The pin popped his balloon. When I finally found out about this event , I asked my kid if it might have been better to use his words to stop the bully  and my son said yes – but he just lost it and thus the donut incident. Then he had to show up to a fight to save face and get beat up. And the bully apologized. Who knows if this was a learning moment for him. But it was for my son- he is not a violent kid- and he wasn’t proud of his actions – but he was glad in s sense he stood up to hate. 

There were times I actually felt bad for living in such a white area. That perhaps we should have moved to a more diverse area. But that would not change anything. In fact living here may have shielded them from worse racism. In order to keep them safe I told my kids they would need to turn the other cheek – to ignore nasty comments about their race and ethnicity – that those hateful words were a show of ignorance. As humans we all have to learn to have a thick skin but it doesn’t make the barbs that bounce off us ok just because we deflect them. My childhood “Fat Albert”  label still stings when I think of it. 

I am a white mom raising Asian kids…I can sympathize, protect and defend but I will never really get it – I am white- and just by being white I automatically at privilege in this country.  I tell them to turn their cheeks because I want them to be safe. But in essence I am really shutting down their voices. I have always encouraged them to use their voices and why should they have to take abuse for their color? Their ethnicity? They are beautiful people – they are humans with souls and feelings.

How can people not see how awful it is for a black man to be out jogging and when he stops to looks at a new home under construction – something I have done many times- and then he is chased down by a two white men and then shot and killed? I am pretty sure had that had been a white jogger that would not have happened. Its sickening.

I have seen on the internet white people say “white people get killed by police and we don’t protest.” The fact is true white people do get killed by police. But the protests over the death of George Floyd are not about just Mr Floyd. This horrible death is the pin that popped the balloon and the hurt and sadness and the anger flowed out and people of color said- “we must speak out. We need to be heard…we have had enough”. This is not one event for people of color this is their every single day.

I agree with protest. I think protests are a way of people to speak their mind. To get attention for their issues and to emote. It is one of the best freedoms we have in this country. I am not surprised at the enormity of the protests that are occurring. I am not surprised some have become violent.  I don’t agree with that.  I don’t like anyone getting hurt. But tensions are high. And looting? That is someone who is using the events as an excuse to steal. They aren’t about the cause. Many of the protests have been peaceful. Police officers kneeling down with protesters. What a sight to see.

I think this is escalating because we need better leadership. There is nobody at the top saying – we care – we want to help – we see you. The president can’t change the hearts of all the people – he can’t make a culture of hate change overnight. But he can help bring justice where wrongs have been done. And he can lead with compassion and not divide the people more and more with every tweet.  He can send out the military to protect but he must see the people who are screaming to be heard.

There is a logical balance to help protect people and property during a protest that becomes violent. But we have to see that the protests are the symptom of a much larger issue. The hate is the cancer and the reactions are the symptoms. Somehow we have to make changes to kill that cancer of hate.

I don’t blame all this on President Trump. He didn’t cause this to happen. These issues are pervasive and go back years and many administrations have faced these same issues and haven’t done much to initiate change.  There has been ongoing police brutality against people of color. The divisions  in this country and in the administration have existed for years before President Trump was in office. But this is his moment and thus far he hasn’t been the type of president that brings people together. He lives in a divide and conquer world.

I have read that his advisors are split on how he should deal with this. Be more compassionate which would help his black vote or be more militant which would appease his base. Again politics at play and because of this the right response will never be found. When one is looking at his own gain there is no compassion for others there is only action for the gain of reelection. This is a situation I am sure he hopes will just go away it is not good in a campaign year. Maybe a presidential term should only be 6 years – you get one go- – maybe it would be easier to react more honestly to events when reelection is off the table. Just a thought.

People of color are trying to be heard. They are hurting. They are angry because nobody is hearing their voices. My daughter is a young adult now living in a city where there have been protests. It is upsetting to her and scary.  She knows the injustice…she has been poked with nasty words and judged for her Asian-ness. She gets it. She sees people calling out for help for compassion for love. And she wonders -as I do -who at the top is going to hear them? Is anyone really listening? 

Funk

Upgraded tank.

The other day Kevin and I went on a bagel trek to Frederick, MD- its about 18 miles from us.  For some reason the local Panera has closed. I have not been able to find real bagels other than Panera. I am not sure of the details of their closure but I wanted “real” bagels and I wanted to get out of this house for a bit- so off we went.

I know this probably was not an essential trip – though it was tied in with getting chicken feed and meal worms- and I really wasn’t keen on going so far for bagels but we did.  Wanting real bagels is not a real problem – i can hold out and eat toast or english muffins..but for me the bagels are just a way to feel some normalcy again. Get in the car, stop at Starbucks—get a coffee — grab some bagels from Panera– grab other essentials.  On Saturday AM when I realized the Panera closest to us was closed I was bummed because in my head when I woke I had that task in my head. We get to go get bagels. I needed to feel “normal”—so we went a bit further to Frederick to get them.

What is not normal is that when you leave your house you now carry a face mask, maybe protective gloves, you probably have hand sanitizer in your car and some lysol wipes or something like that.

Sometimes it can almost feel normal on the way to run an errand. .Kevin and I can chat and listen to music. We notice the lack of traffic but we can be in a bubble for a while that feels almost normal.  I love that feeling! But then we pull up to the shopping center and there is a line at the Aldi’s grocers. People stand six feet apart, donning masks (some gloved) all waiting their turn to get in because now we cannot just walk in to a store – there are limits to how many can go in- if you can go in at all.

At Panera a few doors down from Aldi- they are doing curbside pick-up.  It is convenient- but so impersonal. And it has to be for everyone’s safety. It sucks but needed. I thanked the young woman who handed over the bag of bagels to me. I had my mask on because she came to my side of the car. I tried to look grateful with my eyes as I told her to stay safe. I then complimented her on her mask fabric choice. It was cute…. but then I said “I can’t believe I am complimenting you on a mask”.  She said ” I know crazy , right?”  and we went on our way.

I am not sure if my funk began then because this is crazy-  or maybe it had been festering over these last couple weeks.  Things feel off for me.  Maybe it is because I am so over this whole thing – but I know this virus will not be over us for a good while.  We also found out my son in the Navy has been quarantined with his division because someone got Covid-19. My other two kids are out of work because of the shutdowns. Also, my horse is acting a bit off.  And I setup a new bigger fish tank and transferred our current fish- which were Navy son’s- and two didn’t live- too much shock. Such a small thing – I know. But flushing those two fish just made me feel crummy. Who knows what pushes us into the funk. I mean the virus is enough. Seeing the suffering is enough.  There is nothing I can do to stop this thing. Lack of control is scary.

I think maybe it is really dawning on me that the world as we knew it is now gone – and life has changed for good.  Like my life before and after my cancer – there is a definite division.  At least for a while things will be quite different for the world  in how we interact in public.

It is hard to watch the suffering every day. It is hard to feel at the mercy of something you can’t even see.  What will the toll to human life be?  There are so many ways  this virus can devastate us including death.  We see the toll rise each day.  And there will be a balance on how things progress to reopening – so we can hopefully live life again- on the other side of the divide.

So today I am in a funk. Some days it is just really hard….its normal to feel these feelings. This isolation takes it’s toll. The financial worries take their tolls. If you are feeling badly never be afraid to reach out to someone for help.  Even a chat with a friend can be comforting.

I do understand that this has happened before over and over throughout history – we have many before’s and after’s, the Spanish flu, world wars, natural disasters , 9-11…. We are human- and we adapt.  But it is jarring and a change – a new shift in what we knew as reality. So it is stressful and scary. And on some days very overwhelming- I just want to pull the covers over my head and sleep- so I can forget for a while.

Instead, I write.

 

 

 

 

Navy Son – Letters —

LettersOn Monday I had the nicest surprise – quite unexpected actually. I had two letters from my son, SR Sweeney (Seaman Recruit), from bootcamp. He should be about completed his two week quarantine- we think – we don’t know for sure. The letters I got from him were written April 1 and one before that.  I think his bootcamp training will begin soon but there is also the virus to contend with and there was a case or two at the center so I have no idea how things are progressing there.

I must say I didn’t expect him to write us much at all.  I was so doubtful that I sent him  with cards and  pre-addressed envelopes. I was making it so easy for him to send us a word or two. I had no idea he would be writing us in quarantine – I wasn’t sure what was allowed.

My son’s letters to us were not on the pre-addressed cards I gave him but instead on Navy RTC stationary. I think I marveled at them like he was five and in kindergarten and brought home his first handwriting assignment.  He actually wrote a whole letter- no two letters!  And yes I am saving every one we get! Just like his those kindergarten assignments.  Once a mom always a mom.

His letters were basic really. But he expressed his desire to get going to work. I also could tell the virus situation had finally become real to him. He wanted us to know the Red Cross could get him a message fast if anything serious went down with us here.  He had been out once or twice to get some medical checks. He got glasses. He’s making some friends. For that I was glad as he is shy. The food was not great. I found out from my Facebook group that they are getting bagged food until they mainstream.

He updated me on some business items they had gone over with him once he was there.  He asked that we write him back. He said he didn’t know what was going on in the outside world.  I struggle with how much to share with him. I know it won’t be anything that I feel would stress him while he is in bootcamp.

But the kicker for me were these words:I miss you both so much…I love you both so much… Definitely not words I would expect from my son. He is shy. He holds back feelings. And those words are what broke me open…tears flowed.  It felt so nice to read the words but also they made me worry about him a little more too.

I know it will be ok. Well I pray it will be.  I know he’s in a bit of a shock now. If he is homesick it should pass- especially after he gets going in bootcamp.  He won’t have as much time to think. He will be exhausted by the end of each day. He will wish he was in quarantine again-  I am told.

Letters are like gold. They connect us when we don’t have the luxury of text or email. Oh how I miss those at your fingers tools! But the separation is needed. It takes that civilian and makes them into a soldier -part of unit. United together for one cause. I get it but I hate the silence.

I am not a true Navy parent yet. We are just at the beginning. But I already know this worry about your child is not the same as leaving them at two-week camp in the summer or dropping them off at college. This is something that is bigger…and I don’t mean to downplay those other worries. I have been through those too, so I speak only from how I am feeling now compared to those other times that we let the thread that ties us together out longer than it had been before.  It was scary and exciting and hopeful.  That worry ebbed a bit as time wore on. But now this thread will be a long unending spool let out further and further. It is so much bigger – this worry- than what I have felt before. Parenthood is the never-ending roller coaster ride of emotion.

I am sensing that this worry is like a knot that lodges itself somewhere inside.  Because this is only the beginning. There will be deployments to far away lands. Missions we won’t know about in detail but know they exist in theory. We won’t ever feel  he is truly safe unless  he is real standing in front of us – and when  he is near us it is only for a short time and there will be a parting again…and the worry cycle continues. I am not there yet but I have a sense that this worry is a different beast. I am very unsettled.

And the letters come and there is an exhale…not a release of all the worry but some. They are a gift. Something I didn’t know I would cherish until they sat in front of me waiting to be opened.

I have written my letters to him as has his dad but they have to wait until we are given his correct division information. He won’t get letters addressed to the quarantine area which I am told by thanks to the Training Center Facebook group admins is the address he gave me. So as the Navy motto reminds us – I will hurry up and wait for his division info to get to us. And I hope the letters that he eventually gets from us give him some peace- and he feels the love behind them.

I had forgotten the special feel of a real letter. We have so much connectivity available all the time but when you don’t have it – the letter for me is a lifeline.  I hope I get more from him- but knowing the rigors of their schedule when doing actual P days ( processing days – first week of real  bootcamp where they process the recruit) I won’t get my hopes up.  But if I do I will appreciate the lift of some of the worry – that exhale -even if it lasts only for a little while.

 

 

 

Vacation Bonus!

We are on Sweeney South East Tour 2020. (SSET 2020) We headed south for a 14 day action packed work/vacation. Hubby gets to work and I get to vacay!

After driving 7 hours from Maryland to South Carolina we walked into our AirBNB in Myrtle Beach SC  around 7pm and I was hit with the overwhelming smell of plug-in air fresheners.  In my head I was saying oh crap, crap – this could be a problem.  I have an issue with perfumes, strong cleaners, smoke etc. It is a definite chemical sensitivity but it has improved over the last few years. Before I would have done an immediate about face once I smelled the air freshener- but I thought I would give the place a try.

It was a small place- very small. One tiny bedroom, tiny sitting area and bath.  It had three plug-ins (that seemed like too much for such a tiny place- what smells that bad they need to cover it up?) that I could find- I unplugged them all. I opened the windows. We went for a walk around the block. I kept thinking it will be ok- I can do two nights here. But when we got back inside and settled to watch TV , I was trying so hard to be a good sport but I was mouth breathing and I was tasting the smell…I could not get away from it.

I did not want to spend the extra money- airbnb was a no refund deal -but I was not going to be able to deal with the smell. I began to covertly look for a hotel –  on my phones Booking.com app- that might take us and our dog Rudy.  I found a few possibilities.and then I turned to Kevin and told him that this place was a fail and we needed to try to find another place.  He agreed – love him. He then walked to nearby hotels  to check if they would take us because the move would be so easy -no luck – some places are just too picky about the dogs size – discrimination.  Others just did not take dogs at all. But I was able to book a room online not too far away – just not as near the ocean. I just wanted to get there and get settled.

I packed up what little we had unpacked. Rudy – my dog- was probably confused.  What were these humans doing? But he’s a Golden Retriever so he’s always game for anything. We got back in the car and headed to the hotel. We were very tired at this point and probably trying not to snap at each other – so it probably didn’t help my snappy mood when we pulled into the hotels parking lot – Kevin got out of the car and went to check-in- and right then a police car pulls in to the lot with lights flashing and they approached some guy in a red winter coat with his hood on  -and then they frisked him and then began questioning him and another cop was talking to some other person in another part of l the lot.  I began to sing “bad boys bad boys, whatchya gonna do if they come for you” –  (and it turns out this wouldn’t be my last front row seat to police altercations –  we would witness a search and seizure at a GA rest stop days later- the excitement of this trip abounds!).

So as I said Kevin had gone in to check us in as I watched the drama with the cops unfold. I even unrolled my window to try to hear what was going on-  I know- I am so nosey! I really wanted to sing “Bad boys”  out the window but that wan’t in good form so I refrained.  Then Kevin came out and I thought he would hand me the key to the room we reserved ten minutes before (by this time I was not feeling super great about the hotel – but the choices were limited.) Instead Kevin said they are booked up. What? I booked it online…but the hotel blamed it on booking.com glitch and well we had no room, and their sister hotel  nearby had a poundage limit on dogs so no go. Geez. I just want to say that little dogs can do some damage too and they tend to be more barky, D – for dog discrimination!

Oh I was getting pretty freaking pissy. I decided to call the hotel chain 800 number bc I had called them when I was booking the trip – as we are booked to stay in one of these hotels in Florida – and I had been told they had no dog weight limits. So I was complaining. 

But I needn’t have worried….

The nice lady on the other end of the 800 number got us a room- it took her like way too long to arrange it and we did have to drive a bit more north of where we began – but she booked it. I was so happy that I agreed to be transferred to someone after the call so I could get $100 off my next stay….I agreed to be transferred but promptly hung when she did so…I was in NO mood for a sales pitch. But super thankful for the room.

So we finally get to THE ROOM. I am tired. Rudy is stoked bc he’s Rudy and always is stoked and Kevin is stoked because he knows my bitchy self can relax and go to bed —and we opened the door and in I walked and there was the bed -yay! and then as I walked further into the room this little bonus is sitting right in the middle of the room….

Need I say more……

 

Just do it…

I entered this year by walking a 5K with Rudy (Kevin ran)  and then Kevin and I  went plunging into the cold depths of the Atlantic for their New Years Day plunge. It was a 45 degree day in Delaware and the ocean the same temp..surely that would equal out the discomfort and I would feel no cold.  Not true, the water was shockingly cold – it took my breath involuntarily and it seized my stomach and I almost succumbed to a wave- but knew if it took me down I may not be able to use my legs to get up and back out. But I made it. It was intense as I had hoped. Exhilarating as I had hoped but it didn’t shake my funk as I had hoped.

I was in a funk. It was more than a funk truthfully.  The funk was full blown seasonal effective disorder (SAD) and it had begun in early November. Just about the time the cold hit.

A funk for me isn’t unusual and I have had SAD but it usually doesn’t hit me so early. I am fairly certain that the impending loss of my dog Ridley was looming and that and the cold, trying political climate we live in, and my mother coming off a six week illness that had her in the hospital 4 times and PT rehab for three weeks all played a part in this mood.

We lost Ridley about three weeks ago. I have been wanting write about it. But I just couldn’t – I wasn’t ready.  It hit me hard. It was time for that old dog but he didn’t know it. I miss him. I will write about it. Getting the words out usually helps me.

The words…why hasn’t there been more words on paper- the thing that could very well help me shed this mood? I have loads of excuses. I have been so busy! Really that is true. I have my part-time work running our little company which has been struggling and which needs extra massaging to keep it going. My last surgery and months of PT have allowed me to become active once again. I am taking full advantage of this blessing and have begun to get back to some old activities and enjoy learning new ones. I am not pain free and flare but I manage the discomfort with meds and trigger point injections.

Much of this deserves to be written about but I have fallen creatively flat. I can’t seem to make time for much of my creative endeavors. I find it hard to get my words out in the way I want to convey them and I find myself thinking I have no talent for it now – and that makes me sad.  I get overwhelmed.

These old negative feelings are creeping up trying to tell me that I am not good enough. I don’t fit in, I can’t write, I can’t take a good photo – and doesn’t every person in the world take photos now? Why are mine anything special? 

Then there is the self loathing too. That self deprecation is an old friend that really never goes away. This is tied to my body image and I can quell it sometimes but lately that voice sits in my ear. I can stare in the mirror and hate what I see. It saddens me. I am 56 now. Shouldn’t I have shed such negative feelings?  Again another thing perhaps getting out on paper whether anyone reads about it or not might help. But then there is that issue I noted above keeping me from putting words down.

But here I am today. I have gotten up early-ish and am setting words to page.  I am making myself write these feelings. There are so many times during a day that I think about writing. I might be doing something “exciting” or something mundane and I think about how I would frame the piece what photo I might use. So the spark is still in there. But it takes work now to get the words out.

Recently, I found out that a friend I met through my creative group some years ago is gravely ill and she is going to pass away soon. This has shaken me. She is young. Too young to die.

I was not a close friend but friend nonetheless and I know she could isolate herself from others. Even when she was present you didn’t always see her. I think she didn’t really want to ask for help from others. Many of us can be the same. It is hard to be vulnerable. Yet she shared herself in her writing…she allowed herself to be vulnerable because putting yourself out there- sending the words into the universe- makes one very vulnerable. 

She wrote (https://susanpopper.wordpress.com/author/slp711/) about many things and did it so well and took lovely photos yet always questioned her talent. I was truly touched by her writing about her childhood and her recent move to upstate New York.

When we were together she made me laugh and I loved her New York directness. She was also kind to me. So supportive during some tough times. I will miss knowing she is here in this world.

So I am sitting here today – writing – in honor of my friend Susan who would probably tell me just to get over it and just write – just do it.  She would tell me I am a good writer and she would make me laugh and I would have felt better for sharing my insecurities and my SAD mood may have lifted some. I wish I had shared this with her and my other creative group friends. So I share this now with anyone reading this. I share this with my creative group. I will write because I am able. Maybe not well but the spark is in there and I should get off my butt and just write- and we only have today. I have words I want to get out of me and into the world.

…..Kevin and I love you Susan….

Horse Dentals – it’s a thing…

Today as I stood  helping to steady each of 1000LB horse’s the vet floated both their teeth I thought “I have to write about this”.   That is the millionth time probably in my life that I have thought this thought. Can you imagine if I could just follow through on those thoughts how many blogs or books I would have written by now? Too bad most of the time I think this thought I later forget the topic I thought I wanted to write about – though I do sometimes write the idea down. Still doesn’t mean I actually write about it. But teeth floating made the grade!

I think I am lucky any time I can make time to sit down and write.  I have had many things lately that have had to come before my need to write -such as animal care and family issues. Like the fact my mother has been in one medical facility another for the last 6 weeks became a priority. But man did I have a lot of  “I need to write about this” moments in those 6 weeks!  But priority and sheer fatigue after spending days in hospital rooms and consulting with this nurse and that doc just kept me from feeling like extending my brain further to form the words that form the stories I want to write. I just couldn’t.

Today was a good day because mom is home now (yay!) and I had the vet coming early this AM and I was ready and excited to spend time with the equines and also to see how teeth floating works.  I put this procedure off for my horse Harley for years. He had been checked regularly and it was never a hard you need to get floating done now – it was more like he’s got a few areas that might need attention (a few years ago) to maybe we should do it next visit(said during last July vaccines). Yukon our guardian horse was on a more regular schedule that I must keep up on as part of my agreement with the rescue. So I scheduled for both of them to be done along with the fall vaccines.

The procedure to me was very interesting. Maybe because in my younger years I worked in a dental office! I am not sure but after feeling the before sharp edges in the horses mouth (they are sharp!) and feeling the much less sharp tooth after- and holding my horses tongue out of the way for part of the time (they have large tongues!) I was further interested and I knew I wanted to know more about floating.

So what is teeth floating? My mother jokingly asked today if they were going to take the teeth out and float them in a glass of liquid or on a cloud.  It is an odd word for sure – and after watching it be done today I wanted to learn more. What I did know was that horses develop sharp points on their teeth that need to be filed down. Upon looking it up online I found that the definition is that basic.

Here is a slideshow of some of the photos I took today:

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From Cowboyway.com “Floating a horse’s teeth means to file or rasp their teeth to make the chewing surfaces relatively flat or smooth.” A flat surface is required to allow the horse to properly and fully chew their food. If they can’t chew their food properly this can lead to poor digestion. Our vet Dr. Juress said that digestion in a horse really begins in the mouth. They need to be able to chew well to aid in the best digestion.

Horses chew in a circular like motion so that can get the food thourougly ground up. So with this motion, sharp edged teeth can rub the cheeks and create sores and ulcerations. This can make the horse try to chew more quickly and to drop feed – and not grind the food up correctly.   In the case of my horse Harley , I was told today that he did have some ulceration in his mouth.  I knew he needed floating done as lately he was fussing with the bit when I rode him – this and his occasional dropping feed from his mouth – let me know it was time for sure.

Of course we had to have a cold snowy day in which to have this procedure performed. I was not looking forward to just standing in the cold barn, but what I quickly learned was that it is a pretty physical procedure.  I warmed up pretty fast- shedding my jacket early on. Since my husband was going out of town I enlisted the help of my son who is a strong 19 year old. I was pretty sure that with my nerve damage issues my assistance alone would not be enough for the vet and I was right. It is quite a workout- and even more for the vet performing the floating!

The vet first lightly sedates the horses. This makes them just list a bit back and forth. My horse Harley listed more than Yukon.  My job was to steady him if he seemed to be listing too far one way. We try to back them into the stall corner where they can get more stability. My son helped by keeping the head on the stand that she uses to hold their head up. She inserts a speculum which keeps the mouth open and then takes the motorized file and begins the tasks of etching of the hooks and sharp edges. This doesn’t hurt the horse and sometimes no sedation is used. But with unpredictable animals that weigh 1000 Lbs I can see why the safer bet is to use it.

The vet or practitioner (floating can be done by a non-vet) will not make the surface smooth- that makes chewing harder actually – the surface still needs to be rough so they can properly grind feed and forage. This is definitely a procedure you want done by someone who has studied it and is skilled at it. Our vet became an expert in it because she loves doing it. Some vet practices don’t have this option and refer you out to equine dentists ( there are those) or some people use their farriers for floating.  Just make sure your practitioner comes with good references.

So what about horses in the wild?  What happens to their teeth?  I was curious and of course when you google that and also “teeth floating” their are tons of websites where one can find varying opinions on the topic. But I read that the horses in the wild will develop the areas with sharp edges and hooks – but the horses in the wild are in grassy and wooded areas 24/7. They use their jaws 24/7 to chew.  They are chewing not only grass – which likely will have silica in it which can help grind down teeth, they also eat woody plants that can further help their tooth surfaces stay relatively flat.  So in essence they are their own dentists.

Of course there are jaws of deceased wild horses that do show the hooks and sharp edges – I am sure each horse will be have their own specific biology and some will have worse teeth than others – same as in humans.  Sadly in the wild horse world bad teeth could lead to malnutrition and weakness and even death- but again that is in the wild where there is natural selection and survival of the fittest and all that. In general horses in the wild will chew more times a day – because of their access to 24/7 forage -than our companion horses. All we can is is try to navigate the right health procedures for our own horses – and even then the topic of teeth floating can become more complicated.

There are many opinions on whether a horses teeth need to be floated at all, or as often as recommended by the practitioners that perform the procedures, under sedation or wide awake, with manual files or motorized. I read an interesting article (here) that discusses whether in our modern world whether we interfere too much with a horses teeth. I think this is an opinion to consider. I think there is always a balance. In our horses situation maybe Yukon could have gone more time before he had it done. But in Harley’s case he had some ulcerations in his mouth which Dr. Juress could see once she was able to get a good look with a light inside Harley’s mouth – he really needed it done.  I think he will be more comfortable now for sure.

If we will do this yearly for Harley – I can’t say as yet. He went a good while without it. But he is older and has other health issues that can effect his weight. So I think making sure his teeth are in good working order is important. As for sedation…I am not against it..because I know that the amount given is very small- and for me safety for the human is key when working with horses. They are big animals. I know my horse Harley would not tolerate this procedure fully awake even with manual tools, no speculum and head down. Or he wouldn’t have today anyway because it took longer because he had more issues. Maybe if he had only a few areas that needed to be done he could have tolerated it without sedation. Not sure.

I do intend on reading more about the subject and looking at all the opinions. I think the best way each horse owner can approach the choices when it comes to equine teeth floating is to read as much as you can. Ask your vet, your farrier, other horse experts and then garner your own opinion.

There is so much to learn about equines and there care- I have been back into the horse world now for 15 plus years and I will never ever run out of things to learn. It is amazing and overwhelming. I am pretty sure that most horse owners want to do what we think is best for our companion horses to keep them comfortable and healthy. Today for us it was learning more about floating teeth. Next week it will be something else I am sure- and I will probably want to write about it- hopefully I will!