Archive | July 2012

Gentle Leader Saves Life

Lila can act very dramatic about wearing her gentle leader even though she is very excited about seeing it, at first. When I fasten the gentle leader around her snout, she accepts this routine because she knows that we will be going for a walk. After we head outside, Lila rubs her face in the first patch of grass she finds. She bends down with her rear in the air and walks and slides one side of her face in the grass. Then she flips her head and rubs the other side. Little pieces of grass and dried up leaves stick to her head and in her collar. She then shakes off the grass probably hoping to shake off the gentle leader as well. By now I thought she would have figured out that there is no way for her to get it off.

“Lila, it won’t come off,” I reminded her. “Let’s go.” She sneaks a quick peek at me, accepts her fate, and off we go. It has been a while since I used the gentle leader because last winter it drove me batty when she slid her face in the cold and icy snow. During this walk, it was nice how she mostly stayed right next to me. A few times she swaggered in front of me and I almost fell over her, but most of the time she didn’t pull. Not being pulled by a 70-pound dog for a three-mile walk is a good thing for both of us.

I wondered if she huffs and puffs and sticks out her tongue as far as it can go to see if it will aggravate me enough to remove the thing or if Lila wants to see how other walkers will react to her clowning around. The people we met along the path looked at her in a very concerned manner. Then they dug stares into me as if I was torturing my dog. I always say, “Hello” and act as if my dog is perfectly fine even though she might look as if she has rabies at the time.

Just as I was about to give up and remove the thing because I felt bad for her, her entire demeanor changed the minute she heard a rabbit rustling about in the woods. Suddenly her breathing was normal, her tongue was tucked inside her mouth where it should be and she puffed up as if she had been commanded to stand at attention. I waited for her to watch the rabbit for a while, and the minute I said, “Come on, let’s go,” the huffing and puffing started up again, and the longest tongue in the world practically fell out of her mouth.

The park where we walked that day has many trees. Along the way I peeked to see if I could look through the thickness. Worn out logs have fallen in the woods and some greener branches hung loose from recent storms. There are a few bridges that go over the creek, and Lila took a dip to cool off just before we headed for home.  As we turned the corner to see our house, Lila got close to a rabbit, and got away from me. She chased the rabbit from one side and then to the other side of the church in front of our house with her leash bouncing off the ground behind her. The prickly needles of the pine trees did not bother her as she dashed around the branches. I imagine the rabbit’s little heart could have burst out of its chest from all the excitement. Luckily for all of us, even though Lila is a fast runner, the rabbit was faster or did not get grabbed because Lila was wearing her gentle leader.

I got Lila’s attention by offering her a treat inside the house, and now the rabbit is fine. I wonder if the gentle leader saved that rabbit’s life.  It’s amazing how fast Lila can run while being tortured by her gentle leader.  They don’t call it gentle for nothing!

This is part of the Saturday morning blog hop.  To get your link, click here.

Thankfully, Scary Turned into Everything’s Fine

I found out some new things by having this happen. I learned that 80 percent of women get called back after a mammogram. This was my first time getting called back. I didn’t know that 80 percent of women get called back until after, when I told my friend who recently went through a call back.  My friend was the one who heard about the 80 percent at her clinic when she got an “everything’s fine” after her call back. I wish I would have known about that statistic before they called me back. When they call you, they don’t say, “Hello, we scare 80 percent of the women who get mammograms every year, so don’t worry.” Instead the very-concerned sounding voice on the other end said, “We need you to come back right away. We need to do an ultrasound.” Oh, my hands got numb and my boob that needed the ultrasound hurt. Sweat started to pucker off the back of my neck.

“Okay,” I used my most confident voice. I acted like I could handle it. I made the appointment for the next morning and wondered how I would sleep that night. As I hung up the phone, my mind raced. What if it’s bad news? Would I be able to handle it? How did this happen? Haven’t I been taking good care of myself? I reminded myself that people can’t help getting sick, even the ones who take care of themselves.

I was at work at the time of my call back, and I texted my husband to call me when he got a chance. It took a while to hear back from him, and as I tried to calm my fears, I did a little research on the Internet. I learned that 80 percent of lumps are not cancerous. That almost made me feel a little better about my call back. I also read that 80 percent of women who get breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease. As far as I know, no one in my family ever had breast cancer, so learning that family history doesn’t matter really didn’t make me feel better.

As I went through the day, I mentally tried to be nice to the people around me. I noticed that sometimes my voice was at a higher pitch than normal, and it was annoying to me and made others take notice. I could tell by the funny tilt of the head of the person I was talking to that they noticed my voice had gone squeaky. I remembered how just earlier that morning I thought about people who have bad things happen to them. I wondered if they should automatically have the right to be mean to other people? I decided they do not.

My husband called me, and I knew that he would stay by me no matter what. He told me it would all be okay, and I knew I could count on him. When I finally got home from work, I acted as cheerful as I could, and I tried not to think about the call back even though that was impossible. I didn’t want to tell my kids because I didn’t want them to worry. I went into the garden and noticed that the flower that I had been waiting to blossom finally did. Since I am one who looks for some sort of sign, I took that blossom as being a good sign that all would be fine.  I surprised myself that night by giving up and realizing that I had no control over the situation. I would just have to go in, have the ultrasound and see what would have to happen after that, if anything. Letting go helped me have a pretty restful sleep that night, and I was sort of ready to meet the day the next morning.

My husband went with me, and we were the first to arrive. Many more women came shuffling in.  Practically every person’s name that got called before me was named Mary. Every time a Mary was called, I jumped out of my chair a bit. Finally, they called me.  The woman who brought me to the changing room asked me how I was, and I wanted to tell her that I was scared. Instead I told her I was okay, and asked, “How are you?” I put on the lovely green robe with the huge snaps in front. I locked my precious belongings in the locker, and picked up a magazine with an article about a woman who had just gone through surviving breast cancer. Gee whiz, I thought and hoped that wasn’t a bad sign.  A technician arrived to take me away from the daunting magazine and lead me to a dark room.

“Why did I need to come in?” I asked her.

“There’s been a change,” she said.

After I laid down, she glopped some warm gel on the spot, and I heard myself silently pray “Hail Mary, full of grace,” and then she took the ultrasound. It lasted about five minutes.

“I am going to show these to the radiologist, and then we will let you know if you need to come back or not.”

When she left the room, I got up, cleaned the gel off of me, and washed my hands.

The door opened, and another young woman, the radiologist, walked in with the technician.

“I’d like to see this live,” said the radiologist. “There’s asymmetrical blah, blah,” she started to sound muffled, like how the adults sound on the Peanuts Gang cartoon shows. I had no idea what she was talking about.

The gel went to the same spot, and I closed my eyes. When I opened them, I saw the very serious and concerned face of the technician. She didn’t know it, but her look scared me. Then, thankfully, the radiologist told me that they couldn’t find anything, and sometimes tissue gets folded over on the mammogram.

“We’ll keep an eye on it. You just need to come back in a year for another mammogram.”

“How scary,” I said with great relief.

Later that afternoon, I told Katie that I had to go in for an ultrasound.

“Was it okay? Are you okay?” she asked in a concerned voice.

“Yes, everything’s fine.”

“Mom, you should always start off by saying everything’s fine,” she said in a shrill voice.

Ok, I will. Every time everything is fine, I will.

The Mosh Pit


Lila Watching Over the Neighborhood
During the Beginning of the Mosh Pit

When we first got Lila just a year ago, we learned that she was a bit of a digger.  When we gave her certain treats that looked like bones, she held them tightly in her mouth and pranced about the house. She whined and demonstrated to us that she had to go outside with her “bone.” It was probably bad that we showed her that we thought it was cute when she dug, carefully placed the bone in the hole and pushed the dirt back into place with her nose.

Today, Lila has not been allowed to sit in her favorite place. It’s a place we like to call the “Mosh Pit.” Passersby probably would not even notice her lying there. The only times she barks is when she sees a black dog, wants some company or sees a stranger getting too close.  When she first started sitting by the front steps, she rested her back up against the side of the step and stretched out her body along the length of it. We thought that was great, but then she somehow got the urge to make a hole.


Mosh Pit at Its Early Stage

During Lila’s little pit stops at the front steps, we noticed that little by little, dirt started to get dug up where once beautiful green grass grew. Some days the dirt would be strewn about the sidewalk leading up to our front door. Even though I sometimes sat with her and told her not to dig, the minute I was gone, the process would begin.  The kids and I would take turns hiding the evidence by making sure that the dirt was swept back into the hole before Dad got home. Some days we didn’t get to that chore, and Dad discovered that dirt had been thrown by the dog that sits in the mosh pit.  Dad was not happy to see this.


A Cool Nap

At the beginning of the formation of the mosh pit, I thought that all would be okay. Lila seemed happy and cool, and the pit didn’t bother me too much. I thought, “She will grow out of wanting to dig holes eventually.”   Then the hole got bigger and bigger, and now the once-even sidewalk is tilting a smidge. The rocks are covered with dirt, and I noticed that when she gets out of the hole, she looks like Pig Pen. A cloud of dirt dust can be seen floating off her fur. Gritty little pieces of dirt can be felt on the floors of the entryway, living room and kitchen. While trying to sweep the dirt away, the little cloud of dirt dust can be seen flying about. I was not happy to see this.


Pig Pen
Image courtesy of Yayaro

We thought that it might be a good idea to remove the loose dirt from the sidewalk instead of sweeping it back into the hole. We are now collecting the dirt in a bucket to put back in place in the fall and top it off with a nice slab of green sod. Now we have a bucket full of dirt, and the hole is getting even bigger. Removing that loose dirt did not stop Lila from digging!  If any passersby looked very closely they could see our dog buried in a hole with just her head sticking up!  Yes, she rested her head on the outskirts of the mosh pit!


A big rain storm turned this into a mud pit!

Lila is a dog that likes to be outside, and we know it’s her way to dig. Today, we are keeping her inside. Sorry, girl, but we are getting tired of the Mosh Pit!

It Helps Us to Say Thanks


Can you find the frog?

They say the frog has been at Como Zoo since 1923, but when I looked at the pond, I thought it looked different from when I was a kid. I remember a small, greenish blue pool with wild things growing about. Now the frog lives in a very nice large pond surrounded by trees. Since the frog’s head looks straight towards the conservatory, he does not see the white pergola that is up on the hill just to the right of him. It looks as if the frog would be able to see the conservatory where he sits. He might even have been able to witness all the additions and improvements that have been going on over the years, if such a thing was possible.


The Como Conservatory


Pathway to the Sunken Flower Garden

The conservatory is where I went on field trips with my grade school classmates. We learned what banana trees look like and saw other sorts of vegetation that does not normally grow in Minnesota. After seeing all the greenery, we were happy to gaze at the surprising beauty of the colorful flowers in the sunken flower garden. It was nice to see that building has not changed, just as the frog has stayed the same.


These Photos are from the Sunken Flower Garden

All the talk about banana trees, led my classmates and me to the monkey. The monkey lived in a building where he could go look outside at us humans from behind bars, and then we could see him from inside the building too. Their homes used to look like something straight out of a Curious George Book. The lucky monkeys that live there now will soon be swinging about on a new and very large island that is being built just for them.

I quickly walked around the zoo since the humidity and heat caused rivets of sweat to stream down my back. A giraffe posed for me and seemed happy that I was taking his picture. The polar bear that just arrived from the recently flooded Duluth Zoo was hiding behind a rock trying to stay out of the scorching heat. The lions moped about and didn’t even want to play with their toys. Even Sparky the Seal was not scheduled to perform. The sea otter looked to be the happiest as he swam around in the circular pool of water gladly accepting little fish that the visitors bought to feed him.

There are lots of treats for people too. The antique popcorn wagon is always fun to see, and there are many other stands decorated with big bags of cotton candy where treats such as pop, hotdogs, and ice cream bars can be found. Now there are even places for people to sit down to eat.

There is even an amusement park where people who enjoy rides can visit.  It seemed as if their screams were muffled by the thick air. Nowadays, the beautifully carved carousel that was built in 1914 is protected by a large circular brick building.


Toby the Tortoise

I circled around the Toby the Tortoise statue to read some of the commemorative bricks. Some bricks show a path that is slightly worn down by the many people who have walked there. A lady’s face is etched into one brick, and another brick remembered the couple who walked around the park every day. If Mom and Dad were here, they would say not to make such a fuss because that was their way. Yet, when I saw the Como Friends magazine sitting on Mom’s table and remembered the times we visited the zoo and conservatory together and the picnics we went on, I thought it would be a good place to request donations in her memory. My brother agreed with me and said that Mom had asked to go for a visit there a few days before she died. Even though Mom and Dad wouldn’t want the fuss, it helps us to say thanks.

Now all we need to do is figure out what to put on the brick.