Friday, August 29, 2008

Beastly Tired

I'm teaching again in the classroom, not just collaborating, and let me tell you, it's hard, hard work. I co-teach a 90 minute block of World History and the class is large. Today it was also hot. We have so many students who either don't speak English or don't read the language that it's hard to keep them up with the 10 or so who actually can move ahead in a relatively speedy fashion. I'm the disciplinarian. I'm the coach making sure that each student gets the drill, finishes the assignment, and tries his/her hardest. That means I'm on my feet and moving all 90 minutes.

I also teach alone a 110 minute Junior/Senior English class of students of moderate to problematic disabled students. One is so dyslexic he cannot write or identify even simple words. One will not talk -- well, once in a while in whispers. Three only yell responses. We're working on moderating tone. Three have discipline plans because they cannot monitor their own behavior in a classroom setting. Interestingly, maybe because I expect this class to have problems, these kids are the easier to teach.

At the end of the day I have a study-skills class and they're getting short shrift, partly because I'm so tired by the time they arrive, I just want to sit and veg. Again these students have some severe behavior and learning problems but I've had most of them before and they make my life very easy. They understand the rules, know the drill, and I don't have herd them through involved lessons.

My on-line grad class started this week (three more hours) and the syllabus includes a test every week. Sigh. Huge sigh. I hate that kind of thing.

My church somehow thinks we don't have life. They keep planning weird weekend meetings that eat up valuable time, along with the regular service schedule.

The new pup demands attention, as well as doctoring for the "sad" eye problems. And he's still a pup in training. He chews everything he can get his mouth around -- our ears, anything paper or styrofoam, trash, food, garbage, but, thankfully, not shoes (or at least, not yet).

This weekend Hubby has gone off to advise a church in a city four hours from here about a money raising concert. I'm dog sitting and puppy handling and washer woman.

Maybe I'll even get a couple of decent hours of sleep.

Happy Labor Day everyone!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Can You See Me Now?

Hubby took the proverbial bull by the horns and got Luie an appointment with the ophthalmologist. Our vet recommended one in the 'burbs and our friend who works at the local nature center concurred that this vet hospital had the very best. (Well, it should be good -- $95 just to walk into the waiting room!).

After school yesterday we took Luie (and Gus) to see the eye doctor. Lots of tests. Lots of drops. A maze of waste baskets set up and Luie had to go through them. In the light he found Gus immediately. In the dark he was completely stymied.

The diagnosis is Luie's left eye is a small eye which is called microphtalmia. Both eyes have corneal dystrophy. The right eye also has cataracts and is currently ulcerated. He is blind in the small left eye and only has limited vision in the right but he can discern light. He is not frightened by what he cannot see and is happy to bump into things. He is not afraid of people and once he is used to where things are normally placed, he jumps and chases and plays vigorously.

We are treating the ulceration with antibiotic eye drops. Another eye drop that must be ordered from a specialty clinic will use calcium to help deter further deterioration and separation. The cataracts will be watched closely. He may get worse. In fact, he most certainly will as he ages, but for right now, he is not in pain and the eyes don't bother him greatly.

In all other aspects, Ludwig is hale, healthy, and full of good cheer. He is pretty good about peeing and pooping outside as long as we get him out immediately after he's eaten. He loves to eat! He loves to chew even more. He is still very, very much a puppy! And what a happy little pup he is. Everyone that comes in contact, immediately falls in love with him because he is so outgoing and demonstrative. He is happiest giving kisses -- and those of you who know Schnauzers, spreading kisses around is not the norm for this rather selective breed. In the past two weeks he has gained a pound, destroyed a trash bag of styrofoam containers and spread tiny pieces of them from the garage through the living room, and given Gus the most intense workout of his life. He has also lightened my heart considerably.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


If you claim that your campaign is in support of change, how in the world can you go with the predictable, ulta-expected, choice for voice president of an old white man with bad hair?

How? Why?

Do you really WANT to lose this election? Is that the game plan all along for the Democrats?

Didn't you realize that you energized your (my) party by going outside the standard "old white guy with bad hair" candidates?

Don't you know that going back to the old white guy who's been in politics for 35 years is going to turn us off?

Obama wasn't my choice for change within the Democratic party but once he became the heir-apparent, then I supported him fully.

Now he's rejected change for what the Dems undoubtedly call the "safe" choice.

I'm totally turned off.

I'm even considering NOT voting.

McCain, Obama, Biden -- no different between 'em.

I'm so very disappointed. In fact, I'm more than disappointed -- I'm sick at heart. Hillary, we needed you -- and Buba! You represented change, you AND Bill. I'm so sorry that once again the Democrats took the path that will lead to another four years of the same old, same old . . .

I think I'm losing hope that ANYthing connected to a power structure can ever evidence real change.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


  • I'm terribly busy but I'm finally getting well from the horrible aches and pains of the summer.
  • School started a week ago Monday but no students until last Friday. Instead we were in workshops and meetings and actually had one full day for room prep. Friday the freshmen were oriented; Monday school started for real.
  • I'm co-teaching with a social studies teacher second block (90 minutes) and teaching my own English class third block (110 minutes), as well my usual studies skill class during the last 45 minutes of the day. My English class is full of juniors and seniors and I adore them. My world history class has 33 sophomores in it -- and they even have a sense of humor and I adore them. My studies skill class is small and loving and I adore them. But it's hard, hard, hard physical labor and my body is very tired this week. Not sick tired, just worn out from all the activity tired.
  • My SPED caseload is the smallest it's ever been and I'm very grateful. Holding/writing up only 16 IEP meetings during the year feels so much more doable than having 21 - 25.
  • Luie is adjusting in his own funny way. He loves Gus with all his heart. Gus would like to send Luie back, I think.
  • Lu chews everything he can get his teeth on. Hubby's $500 glasses are being replaced because Luie got a hold of them and completely demolished the frames and pried out the lenses and tossed them around the house until they were thoroughly scratched. Then when Hubby was attempting to find out if the scanner was hooked up and was down on the floor, Luie jumped up on Hubby's body to see if any treats were on the desktop (they were and he could smell 'em). Of course, since he's nearly blind he didn't see the full and open bottle of orange soda on the desk and he knocked it over onto the CPU. Hubby was pulling wires as fast as he could as the sparks flew out of the back end of the CPU. Consequently we have been computer-less for three days. However, Hubby found a little shop in the middle of the city who worked magic and brought everything back to life. Luie's accidents are getting a tad expensive.
  • Luie also had his first vet visit and got a complete clean bill of health. All he needs now is an ophthalmologist to confirm the eye problems and a good grooming to make him look all pretty.
  • Meanwhile we continue to go to church, try to adjust to a new pastor, attend church workshops, and read church literature. Some days I think it's all great. Some days it's just too much effort.
  • My new school contract has arrived and been signed. I am happy. I picked up a couple of extra thousand by having arrived at the 15 hours beyond my master's mark.
  • Grad school starts next week. The good news is the class meets on-line. The bad news is there's a test every week over a huge $125 text book.

Updating may be slim for a while. But we'll be around.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

As the World Turns

Hubby couldn't take the emptiness of the house and especially the car but he tried to blame little Gus, saying he was so lonely running by himself in the park. So he went on line and looked at all the miniature Schnauzers the rescue organizations had up for adoption. He also checked out Scotties and Pekes and Doxies. He settled finally on three young dogs: a Scottie/ Schnauzer mix, a dog in Florida who I decreed was too far away, and an 8 month old in Oklahoma. He saw the Scottie who was huge and would have eaten little Gus in one mouthful. We talked to the rescue in Oklahoma and Hubby fell in long-distance love. Tuesday we picked up Skylar -- renamed Ludwig -- in a ten hour round trip drive. Yesterday he was wild and crazy, today he's mellowing out, probably due to the sweet influence of little Gus.

Here is Skylar, the rescue:

And here is his story:
  • Skylar was found on the side of a highway. The passerby noticed him because he almost got hit by a car. Though we believe he was only about 8-9 months old, his hair was overgrown and matted. After cleaning him up, and after two vet visits, we surmised that his left eyeball is smaller than normal. It is probably a birth defect.
  • We took him to a specialist three weeks ago. The final assessment was that he most likely does not have vision out of that eye. The right eye appears to be normal and functioning.
  • So what does this mean. Well, he gets along just fine. But every once in awhile he appears to be clumsy.... jumps on the sofa but misjudges the distance for the leap, jumped off the sofa after a toy and rammed right into a brick wall, when you offer him food out of your hand, it can be right in front of him and he doesn't see it, etc. But you really cannot tell anything is wrong with him 99% of the time.
  • He is darling, cute, spunky, friendly, playful... everything a Schnauzer should be. He gets along well with all the other dogs in the house (all 7 adults, most of which are males of varying ages). He can use a doggie door, and he is crate trained. He is just SUPER sweet!
We have renamed him Ludwig with the rescue's permission, and we call him Luie. His first vet appointment is Friday at 5 p.m. We'll know more about the eye then. By the time we picked him up, the rescue was afraid he was nearly blind in both eyes. They held his little head and made us stare into the bad eye and then look at the "better" eye so we would be sure to understand his problems.

Initially Luie was very afraid of us (people) though quite fearless in the car and with Gus. We think it was because he really couldn't tell what we looked like or if we were threatening him Last night he adjusted easily to the house and spent a quiet, restful night. He's pooped and peed in the park. He's eaten and drunk. He's played with Gus until Gus cried for relief.

Luie is just perfect! We are so fortunate! Hubby picked a real winner. We needed a Luie and Ludwig needs us.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Cold Comfort

Dearest Itty Bitty Pretty Fritty:

Last night was hard. By the time we got home from the vet's, I was second guessing our decision to put you to sleep. I disparately wanted to undo the deed, gather up our little boy, and hold you close. In fact, my misery started the moment I pulled out the credit card to pay for the final injection and the cremation. I asked the vet tech if you were still laid out in the examining room and could I go hold you one last time, but you had already been removed to their surgery. They told me I could go see you if I wanted but I left without holding you.

Most of last night I sat huddled in misery, constantly crying. Gus lay at my feet or tried to cuddle with me on the bed. I didn't reject him exactly -- but one dog certainly does not replace another. You couldn't comfort me when Wolf died. Now it was Gussie's turn to feel my pain.

At midnight I had finally exhausted myself into a sound sleep. I do not know if I dreamed of you. I don't remember doing so. I only know that at 3 a.m. I suddenly woke up and KNEW in my heart -- not just my head -- that we had done what you wanted us to do. You were no longer sick and tired and worn out. You had really wanted us to help you stop feeling so bad.

On Monday night I knew that you were telling me to let you go. On the Tuesday drive to the vet's, when you had vomited in the car from the heat and the misery in your little tummy, you had lifted up those huge brown eyes and told me how awful you felt. But once the vet started telling me about more hydration and starting new IV's and what they could do to try to bring you around (again) and long vet stays in strange cages, I began to second guess myself.

I had finally broken into the recital of options and said to the vet, "Don't you think he's telling us he's really tired and ready to stop all this?" And then finally they had offered up the deadly option. Afterwards, they all assured us we had done the right thing for you. "He had lost more than a third of his body weight since May. He wouldn't eat. He couldn't keep food down anymore. He was weak and tired and sad. He didn't want to visit the park and his buddies any more. He couldn't play. Even sleeping was becoming harder because he couldn't find a place of real comfort." Oh, yes, they assured me finally, this was the best choice.

Yet, if I had been willing to spend another $800 or so could I have kept you alive for at least another three weeks? So did I put you down simply to save the money? That was why I cried and cried and cried last night. Had I scarified my loving boy for money?

So, one more time, my little boy, you came through for me. You somehow let me know during the night that I had been right in my belief that you had clearly communicated to me that you didn't want to feel so sick any more. That you were tired and worn out and I needed to fix this problem even if that broke my heart. It wasn't money that made up my mind -- it was Fritzy, telling me you were done and to please help stop the misery.

Am I still crying? Of course. But my heart is easier in the tears now.

Thank you, Little Man, for all the love and joy and loyalty you gave to me and your papa and Wolfie and then Gus. Thank you for your life. I will always love you. I will always miss you. If there's a heaven, my little boy, you had better be right there, waiting to greet me and give me a nudge with that lovely bearded chin so I will rub your belly. I will have treats just for you. Keep the faith with Wolfie, okay? Because you and Wolf are the two I will be looking for first thing when I cross over . . .

With deepest love and thanks -- your mama

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Farewell Little Man

Fritzy, 1999

Last night he looked so sad. We cuddled in bed, he put his head on my breast, and he gazed longingly into my eyes. I held him close. I rubbed his belly and his back. I straightened his poor, savaged beard. He sighed and closed his eyes and leaned heavily against my heart

For three days he hadn't eaten a bite. He had thrown up in the heat every time he tried to ride in the car. He fell over in the park. He could no longer jump on the bed by himself. He didn't go to the door when the package delivery man knocked and Gus was throwing a fit.

At 4:00 this afternoon the vet checked his blood work to find he was off the charts in all the bad things that signal kidney failure. He was so very sick.

So, at 4:30 the vet carefully inserted the catheter. I held him and kissed him and sobbed into his soft, sweet fur. Papa held Gus, who looked on with wonder. The vet inserted the needle and he sank sideways onto the soft toweling given him his last bit of comfort. His heart continued to beat but he no longer knew us. He was so quiet. The vet left us alone. Papa cried. I sobbed. Gus watched in wonder.

We knew immediately when he was gone. One minute his gentle little spirit was with us -- and then suddenly the room was empty.

The vet came back, checked his heart, but we already knew.

I paid the final bill for him, arranged to get his ashes later in the week, and we drove home, just the three of us now.

I love you, Fritzy. I thought after Wolf that my heart simply wouldn't break again. But it could -- and it has. I will miss you terribly. You are such a good little boy, such a silly, pretty little minx, such an engaging personality. Saying goodbye my dear little friend is so awful. The tears just won't stop.

Fritzy during his last summer, 2008 -- sleeping with Gus