Loving

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New Mexican Black Dog. Maybe not technically a breed but the most accurate description of our girl. She is most likely a Kelpie – Cattle Dog mix, but we’re happy to let the mystery linger.

What we DO know – that she loves all that is important in a dog’s life –  to hike and walk and eat and cuddle and play. Oh, and dig holes (grrr…) and run, especially after rabbits and squirrels.

 

Oodles of zoodles, and a few meatballs, too. Zoodles, if you don’t know, are made by spiralizing a zucchini, which is pretty darned awesome. Heat them in the oven, and they, to my mind, are the best substitute for pasta. But that isn’t really fair, because I would honestly rather eat the zoodles. Really!

Why? I have been trying, and succeeding a good 90% of the time (sweets the weightiest albatross), at eating low carb. Not to be part of a growing bandwagon, but because my body has gotten very LOUD about what constitutes its best fuel. After trying just about every food combination imaginable to keep my hormones (and dreaded endometriosis) in check, keto (low carb high fat) works THE best. I have very little pain, fewer hot flashes, better digestion, more energy and focus (I didn’t know how foggy I was until I made the change). Also, to quote my friend Chrissie, “Where did your wrinkles go?” She is exaggerating, but my skin looks and feels great for a forty-six(!) year old. So zoodles, and casseroles consisting of my favorite pizza toppings (fennel, roasted bell pepper, mushroom, & Italian sausage), salmon, hamburgers without buns, bacon, and piles and piles of green things: broccoli, asparagus, cucumber, kale, lettuce, avocado, cabbage. These are my staples. So good.

Such a sap for this sweet girl, who, even in sleep is almost always on the move, wiggling, panting, stretching, smiling, cuddling. Juniper Beulah, I love you!

And to make this post an even more odd assortment, tomorrow I am going to my grandparents house for the first time since my Grandpa died. For reasons both obvious and puzzling, I am feeling a bit wrecked at the prospect. My family, member by member, is taking furniture and knickknacks, items random and sundry, and dispersing them to the four winds and our respective homes. My list includes a ladder-back chair, a whisk, bookends, a bowl, muffin tins, and a stool. Every single item touched by my grandparents hands, well used, loved even. Soon enough the house will be empty of Lewis and Sohn and Johnstone traces. With laughter, the sound of traffic, the flutter of toilet paper by the heat register, the creak of stair to the basement, a glimpse in the mirror at the end of the hall seen and heard by other eyes, filled with other voices. More than sixty years of memories. My whole life, thus far, and I am at a loss. Say a little prayer for me…

Deep velvet black tuxedo and brindle; quiet, a day with a bark as frequent as a full moon; paws the scent of corn chips, amber eyes rimmed in thick lashes. Our girl, Juniper Beulah. She is the best greeter, wriggling and wiggling into tight “C” shapes, little tail nubbin a separate and most ecstatic mover of its own.

We adopted her one year ago today! Nervous heap of a pup, forty-five pounds lodged solidly on my lap for the car ride home. Tired and tentative, we coaxed her in and out of her crate with food. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. But we kept at it, walking (more, more, more!) cuddling, loving, watching her bud and blossom into her true self.

She is a dog’s dog: scratching, licking, nibbling at an itch as one would an ear of corn. A supreme lover of W A L K S and ace whimperer when she believes she is overdue. Same goes for breakfast, dinner, the afternoon treat, too.

On the office chair she cuddles, in bed after gobbling down breakfast, on the sofa come evening time, but NOT in summer, and never when it is time for a W A L K (see a pattern here?). She sleeps on beds in our respective offices, dividing her time.

Afternoons, and after not long enough promenades, she frolics, silly and free in the back yard. An often eager digger, she works to unearth freshly covered holes before animating sticks and her one toy (particular, she is) with high and wild gestures of Juniper joy.

Every evening, at unpredictable times of HER choosing, early to late, she puts her own self to bed. Dead asleep on the sofa one moment, eyes wide, air of genuine concern the next, before hopping along and ever-so-patiently waiting for the crate door to open. She will not do it herself.

A ridiculously fine traveler, quick maker of friends, and honorary member of our RPG group, she is simply the best. We count our luck in the sound of her sighs and cheeks licked in the stealth of conversation. Here’s to a wonderful year with our magical girl!

 

My nephew was in the neighborhood to check out a car that turned out to be a lemon, but we ALL reaped the benefits! We ate, put up our first Christmas tree in twenty years, and as always, enjoyed one another’s fine company.

During our last days with my Grandpa, my adorable little cousin, who normally keeps to herself, came to visit and was positively smitten with our sweet pup. Juniper was an angel doggy, letting her pet and hug and squeeze. Good girl!

I went a little crazy (at least for me) in the holiday sweets arena – making candied orange peels, biscochitos (but you already knew that, didn’t you?), walnut fudge, salted pine nut brittle, and my peppermint yo-yos. Egads, so good!

Love that face…

Grandpa

Baby Marvin

High School

Wedding Day

June 14, 1947

At home – the house they bought new in 1957. Grandpa will take his last breaths in this room.

This is how I will always remember him – wearing my favorite glasses, smoking a pipe, and driving the white LTD.

Fancy!

He and Juniper were good friends. He called her Juni and liked to give her lots of treats. She repaid his kindness by taking on the role of guard dog.

Marvin, Marv to friends, Dad and Grandpa to a very lucky few.

Grandpa L O V E D. He loved his family, my grandma most of all. He loved an afternoon cocktail, the stronger the better, “A touch more whiskey, please, Leenie” (what he always called me). He loved to camp and especially to fish, sometimes to hunt. He loved to eat: cookies, a good tamale, salmon, asparagus with hollandaise, biscuits and gravy, pecan pie. He loved to have fun: to laugh, to tell stories, to play Farkle and throw horseshoes, to while away the afternoon in the company of a friend. He loved whistling to the radio, playing his favorite big band music and standards of yore. He was one of those people that charmed the room, easy going and light-hearted; his whole being said, “Welcome.” And though it was less frequent, he loved solitude, too: immersing himself fully in the crossword, sitting alone on the back porch watching the birds, smoking his pipe.

He served in World War II, after memorizing the eye chart to gain entrance to the Navy. He was among the lucky who saw no combat while serving in Guam, though was not spared injury, nearly dying from typhus while his unit attempted to find a cure. Upon his return, he met and fell in love with my Grandma in Albuquerque, and sold his car to buy an engagement ring. His best man drove them so they could celebrate with a single night in Santa Fe, taking the bus home.

Tenacious and charming, it was no surprise that he became a salesman for medical equipment, Cutco Knives, and an independent insurance agent, earning trophies, accolades, and trips for his hard work. He and my Grandma took a proper honeymoon to Niagara Falls (where they saw Joseph Cotten and Marilyn Monroe – her dress was painted on!!), and flew to Mexico, New York, Florida, and California, even a solo trip to Canada for the best fishing of his life.

His health declined since losing my Grandma nearly three years ago, and it was my great wish that he would die on the same day as she did, a sweet reunion of souls. I am beyond grateful the last of his suffering did not stretch out that long. He contracted pneumonia and fell three times last week, doing awful damage to his already fragile body, bruises and sores and wounds. He hurt everywhere, the lightest of touches causing him to cry out in pain.

Greg and I, knowing the time was near, came to give much needed respite to my exhausted mom, aunt, and uncle. We arrived Friday evening, and though he could no longer walk, his spirit was intact, giving a hearty “Bless your heart!” for baking his favorite biscochitos. He ate one, and we chatted and laughed before giving him his medicine and going to bed. I awoke to him screaming at 1:15, in pain or in terror, I am not certain. He refused more medication, but I was able to soothe him back to sleep.

Saturday, my cousins and our dear friend Sybil Ann surrounded him with love, and he delighted in seeing everyone and calling each by name.  We listened to his favorite music, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand. As the day wore on, he became tired and grew confused, starting sentences with clarity but ending them in gibberish or not at all. I asked him if he knew where he was, and when he nodded yes, I said, “Hawaii, right?” He exploded with laughter and smiled! How glad I am to have made him laugh one last time. He ate a bite of cookie and slept a lot. The pneumonia was awful and the blanket hurt his tender skin, so I helped him cough out the uglies and rubbed pain lotion on his withered leg.

He shouted out and grabbed the hubster’s hand, “Greg! Help me up!” The hubster asked, “Where do you want to go?” Grandpa replied, “I don’t know…” but kept a firm grasp on his hand, only releasing it to mine, then Sybil Ann’s, hours having passed, keeping a last hold on this life, I suppose.

After the family left, we kept the music playing and he lost consciousness. The nurse came, taught me more ways to keep him comfortable, and we talked about the signs – there were more and more. I swabbed his mouth and gave him syringes of water to keep it moist. We went to bed.

I awoke at 2:30 to check on him, his poor body heaving. I swabbed his mouth again, gave him more water, and a dose of morphine to ease his pain. I stroked his hair and kissed his head. I whispered, “Good night, Grandpa. I love you. We all love you and will miss you. It’s okay if you want to let go.” Twenty-eight minutes later, he was gone.

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