Oh, deer

by Lorin Michel Sunday, April 5, 2015 8:12 PM

The desert always amazes me. Friday night, after several hours spent unpacking boxes, I cut them up, flattened them, and put them in the back of the Range Rover. The hatch wouldn’t close so I started down the hill very slowly. At the second turn, I sensed some movement and slowed even further. A deer emerged in front of me and bounced across the road, up the hill and out of sight. I smiled.

I expected to see rattlesnakes, which I have, though not as many as I would have thought. I saw more in California. I expected to see lizards, and they’re plentiful. I’ve seen gila monsters which generally freak me out. They’re funky looking creatures, black and corral or black and pink or black and lavender. They lumber across the road or through the desert. Every time I see one and it’s not often, I recoil a bit. I’m not generally squeamish. I think with gila monsters I remember what a woman said to me when we first moved here. “Make sure you watch your dog closely because they’ll be curious and go to sniff and the gila monster can’t get out of its own way and so it will bite, and when it bites, it doesn’t let go.” I could just imagine Cooper with one of those things hanging off of his neck, panicking, as we flew to the vet.

My sister has long been worried about scorpions. When Mike was here last week, and Bobbi was here alone, he proceeded to tell her that he was going to beef up the padding around the door and to be very careful because new construction tends to scare out the scorpions. I had never seen one. And of all people to tell, he tells Bobbi who’s not especially fond of spiders and creepy crawly things. Yesterday, when I moved a box in the bedroom, I saw one. They’re smaller than I thought they’d be, and easily and quickly killed. I told Kevin we needed to start emptying our shoes before we put them on, just in case.

Coyotes roam through the cactus freely. We haven’t seen any out here; haven’t even heard their incessant howls in the night. We heard them more when we lived in the city. Coyotes were plentiful in California, too, of course. We used to see them regularly when we were hiking. I saw one brazenly walking down the street one night in Oak Park. It was on the sidewalk and just meandering along. It was late, probably after midnight and I was taking Maguire out to pee. He always had to pee in the front yard. It was routine. I always checked first to make sure the proverbial coast was clear. It wasn’t. That coyote stopped right in front of the house and stared at me as if willing me to bring the old guy out. “I’m hungry, lady.”

We have javelinas, wild pigs. And pack rats. We have two hawks that soar above the house daily. We have tarantulas or actually tarantula. Beetles and crickets that come equipped with saddles. When we bought the motorcycle a year ago, and were taking it out for its inaugural ride, we saw something black flying toward us. It was a weird kind of low cloud, and we had no idea what it was. Turned out it was a swarm of bees that hit us and the motorcycle straight on. It was ugly. We had bee carcasses everywhere.

This is life in the desert. It’s more lush and lovely than I ever imagined, and more prickly. This morning we were hiking in the hills above us and came upon a cactus that was flowering. Most of the others haven’t yet; it’s a bit early. By about the third week in April, the saguaros will all be sporting hats made of flowers.

After we got back from our walk/hike we made some coffee and eventually I made breakfast. It was a beautiful morning, warm but not hot. We decided to eat on the deck. I took the juice and the silverware out and glanced up the hill. I stopped. There was an animal. I thought it was a coyote. But it was big for a coyote. Still, the coloring was right. Then it raised its head and turned to stare at me, ears straight up, still as morning. It was a deer, perhaps my deer from Friday night. It was as if it had come back to say ‘Hi, welcome to the neighborhood. But don’t bother me.’

If this keeps up, I’m going to have to name it. As it is, I’ll just say ‘Hi, deer. Nice to meet you” and celebrate the fact that we have majestic creatures like deer that co-exist with the dreaded gila monsters. 

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Hurts so good

by Lorin Michel Monday, March 23, 2015 10:27 PM

I have moved quite a bit in my life. When I was growing up, we moved a lot. My dad started as a salesman for a company called Ligget & Myers when I was very small, and as he worked his way up, he was given new territories that almost always mandated a move. I was born in Olean, New York, just over the border from Western Pennsylvania, where my dad was from. For the first year of my life, we lived in Eldred, then we moved to Erie, then to New York (where we moved twice), then to Columbia, Maryland and then to Amherst, New Hampshire. I moved to Durham for college and from college I moved west to San Diego, then east to Scottsdale, Arizona, then back to LA where I moved eight times between 1986 and 2013 when we moved to Tucson to a rental. Today we started our move to our forever home.

And dog are we tired.

As I type this, my nutbag of a husband is still working in the garage, packing up his tools. We have a 15’ UHaul that has already been to the house once today. It will go again tomorrow, along with the 26’ moving truck that’s coming at 10 am to move our furniture. We need to get the UHaul loaded again tonight with everything that didn’t make it, like the tools, some clothes from the master, the artwork, stuff from my desk. I am not a fan of moving. It didn’t bother me as much when I was in my 20s for two reasons: I didn’t have as much stuff and I was a lot younger.

When Kevin and I bought our house in Oak Park, we had stuff but not like we accumulated there. We moved from my two-bedroom townhouse and everything from the house fit into the garage which is where we moved it because we wanted to paint and clean before decorating. We were in that house for sixteen years. We accumulated a bunch.

In the summer of 2013, we made the big move to Tucson and it was horrendous. We were up all night the night before we actually left because we weren’t done. The movers had come and gone. We ran out of room in our UHaul and had to leave things behind. We pulled out onto the freeway at about 6:45 a.m. so exhausted and so disgusted that it didn’t even occur to us to be sad. We were sad to leave our friends, of course, but after spending so much time in our beautiful little house, where we had banked a lot of special memories, I thought there would be more tears.

Now comes this move into our glorious house on the hill. Unfortunately it’s still not finished. We’re moving in anyway. Tony the tile guy is still dong last minute tile. Mike was there hooking up the grill. The portico needs to be tiled. Mike says everything will be done by Saturday. I’m not so sure. Mike has said that before.

In the mean time, we’re lifting and moving and struggling and cursing and loading and moving. My back hurts. My arms hurt. My right knee hurts. My eyes are tired. My hair is flat. But we’re moving in. Walking through today, always with a box or a small piece of furniture, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe. Of wonder. We did it. We did it.

Everything hurts tonight, for both us. We’ll be gobbling up the ibuprofen. But it’s a good kind of hurt. It’s a hurt with a limited shelf life. And tomorrow, when we sit on our deck with Roy and Bobbi, who are making the trip, it will be even more awesome. Worth celebrating.

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Get a move on

by Lorin Michel Friday, March 20, 2015 8:56 PM

Because there's not enough happening in the world of Kevin and Lorin and Cooper, today comes word that the move is off. Well, maybe not off but postponed. We had been schedule for Saturday. Mover Mike, not to be confused with Architect/Builder Mike, had a truck ready, had all his guys lined up. We had a Uhaul rented and ready to fill with the stuff that Mover Mike isn't taking, like most of the packed boxes and artwork, other breakables.


The phone rang. I was at my desk and I glanced over to see if it was someone I wanted to talk to. Kevin. I answered it, hopeful that there was good news about what was happening at the house. "Tell me something good," I said.

"Can't."

Well that's no way to play the game. Instead of something good he proceeded to tell me something the opposite of good. Namely that the tile wasn't done, the water pressure was still screwed up, the water tank was leaking and the wiring for the audio system was all wrong. Of all of those the only one that we can live with, at least temporarily, is the audio system. But we have to have the tile finished in order to put furniture on the floor.

Also, the house is still a bit of a mess though getting better. Cleaning people were there, vacuuming out the cabinets, scrubbing the dust off the stone, cleaning the bathrooms on the west side of the house. The east side is the side that is still meandering along.

After I recovered from my meltdown, I asked, as calmly as I could, just when the f$@& the f$@&ing house was going to be done because if it wasn't done soon, someone was going to die. Violence was the only answer.

Violence or wine.

As it was still early, and I still had work to do, I decided that wine was probably not in my best interest. Instead I poured a cup of coffee and didn't use any cream.

Tell Architect/Builder Mike to finish my f$@&ing house, I said calmly. Or else. An empty threat but it made me feel good.


Sick Cooper. Sad Cooper.

I called Mover Mike and in my best apology voice asked if there was any way we could reschedule for Monday or Tuesday. I'm really, really, really sorry (even though it's not my fault) but if you could pretty please?

Can't do Monday. Can do Tuesday morning.

So now we're renting a Uhaul on Monday and taking stuff. Furniture on Tuesday. Life on Wednesday.

If not, well, I don't care what time it is, wine will flow.

Is there anything good about this? Under the banner of everything happens for a reason, both Kevin and I think maybe it's because this will give Cooper more time to start getting better. We're hoping, though today he's worse than he was yesterday. Still, we're clinging to the hope. Hope is good, hope is necessary. Hope leads to good things. Hope knows that soon we'll be in, all of us, living it out loud.

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Finding the good in frustration

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, March 17, 2015 9:48 PM

I’m experiencing an extreme case of frustration and since my husband is tired of hearing about it and my dog doesn’t feel very well and I don’t want to burden him with my petty irritations when he’s dealing with some major tiltage, I decided to vent to my blog. Since a blog is a little bit like a diary and since diaries are known to be a place for spilling, spouting and spewing, I thought: what the hell?

I have so much good in my life. I know this. I have a remarkable husband, wonderful friends, a dog that I adore (even when he’s suffering from vestibular disease and holding his head at between 90º and 45º angles), work that I’m lucky to have. I’m also lucky enough to be building my dream house. I’m doing something I know most people dream of doing and few actually do. I have a remarkable piece of property, nearly four acres, on a hill, with a view that, on a clear day, stretches for at least 10 miles, and where at night, the lights of the city twinkle and dance and sparkle.

I have a home that will be – is – spectacular, one that stretches out over the desert, suspended in space. I am lucky.

So why the frustration?

BECAUSE IT’S NOT DONE AND WE’RE MOVING IN ON FRIDAY.

For weeks now, when I’ve walked into my beautiful soon-to-be home I have been terribly guilty of only seeing the things that aren’t done. I could walk in and see the incredible view. I could marvel at the green of the surrounding hills, at the drama of the rock formations. But no. What I see is the tile that’s not yet done, the lights that aren’t yet hung, the water pressure that’s still screwed up, the painting touchups that still need to be completed.

Kevin went to the house today armed with a list of 53 things to review with Architect/Builder Mike. He called me on his way back and told me that the tile won’t be done, that the east side of the house won’t be done, that the grill hasn’t even been picked up yet, that the tile on the grill countertop isn’t done, ditto the portico, that they’re still trying to fix the water pressure, that the finish carpenter is supposed to come back on Friday to hang the mirrors, that the gas meter is screwed up.

WAGHAGHAGHAGHAGHAGHAGHHHHHHHHHT?

We have to move this weekend. We have to take possession. We have company coming on Tuesday and more on Thursday and a party to throw on Saturday for Roy’s gallery opening. I want to show off my house, and all I can see is what’s not done.

I’ve been feeling frustrated for several weeks. Frustration has led to stress. Stress has led to lack of sleep which leads to more stress and more frustration. Is there anything good about this?

I think so, even though some days I have trouble finding it. Today was one of those days. But I dug deep and here’s what I came up with: life.

I’m alive, I’m healthy, I’m working, I’m loved, I’m building a house. I have an amazing life. Life is good. Life, in fact, is pretty damned amazing. Life is here, in front of me and all around me, and I'm loving it. I'm living it out loud.

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Watching the wind and thinking out loud

by Lorin Michel Saturday, February 28, 2015 7:46 PM

The house seemed to be doing a lot of settling in last night. Creaking and shifting. It was probably just the wind, the palm fronds and other branches whipping against the side and the roof. At one point, something appeared to land on the roof. It was still dark, the world was still mostly asleep. With the sound of the wind, the sounds of any traffic were drowned out. It could have been a branch broken free. But when whatever it was appeared to scurry and plod across, we decided it was some sort of animal. There is a tabby cat that hangs in the neighborhood. It’s a feral cat. We’ve seen it since it was a kitten. I tried to catch it several times, but like most feral cats, it wasn’t interested, and I didn’t have the tools necessary to trap it.

It has grown into a beautiful cat that saunters around the streets and often suns itself on the sidewalks. Last week, it was lounging on the rocks of a swale. Those rocks are rounded and smooth, like river rocks. I imagine they were warm from the sun. There was a dog in the yard behind, fenced in, barking at it. We walked by with Cooper who also spotted it and began to bark. The cat simply flipped its tail, refusing to be intimidated. What are you going to do about it, punk?

We suspect this was what plodded across the roof last night. We could follow its movements as if we could see the little feet moving across the ceiling. We continued to wonder if maybe it actually was the wind, just playing with us, but this morning, Cooper picked up a scent in the backyard and he was fairly animated by it. What are you going to do about it, you, you dog?

This morning we opened the blinds in the bedroom and watched the wind. The trees were whipping, the branches still creaking, swatting at the air. The bougainvillea, just beginning to show new pink buds, was rippling against the back wall. We could see clouds drifting by quickly, rushing to their next destination, maybe Texas. Tiny leaves have started to appear on the tree right outside the window. Spring is coming, at least here in the desert. They were dancing in the wind, too. I worried that they might not be strong enough to withstand the power. I wondered where they might fly off to.

Kevin yawned. You realize we’re not really watching the wind, he remarked. You can’t see the wind. We’re watching the trees being whipped around by the wind. I hadn’t thought about it that way but it’s true. You can’t see wind. You can see what it does. You can hear it. Sometimes you can smell it.

You know what else you can’t really do? he asked. My philosophical husband. You can’t think out loud.

This morning, the wind was blowing, the trees were dancing, we were listening and wondering, and yes watching. And thinking about all of it, while living out loud.

Early birds versus night owls

by Lorin Michel Sunday, February 8, 2015 7:35 PM

My mother has always loved the morning. I think it’s because she’s not a very good sleeper and by the time the sun comes up, she too is ready to rise. She’s long been like this though worse I think as she gets older. Now that she in fact a bit older, she also likes to take naps. It’s nice to take naps. I can’t remember the last time I took a nap. Maybe when I get older, too.

Mom loves to have a cup of coffee, a breakfast blend pod in her Keurig. She used to have a bowl of cereal. She’s been healthier lately though, having yogurt. She steps into her fancy shower and lets the hot water blast and life is good. She has always said that a shower in the morning is what truly gets her up and going, ready for the day.

I consider myself more of a night owl. I love the dark, the mystery of it. I love to staying up long after everyone has gone to bed. That’s when I love to write. The silence of the night is like a blanket to me, wrapping me up in its cool warmth. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer and the night really lets the imagination run wild. Anything could be hiding in the night. Everything is.

The cold, crisp light of the morning leaves nothing to the imagination. It paints the day is white gold and allows you to see everything that’s coming. Maybe that’s why my mom likes it. I like the surprise of the night rather than the surety of the morning.

I went to bed around midnight last night. A train whistle sounded in the distance and I began to wonder where it had come from, where it was going, who was on it and why. Perhaps it was a train hauling food, maybe it was filled with manufactured goods; perhaps cars and trucks. If it was a passenger train, were they traveling east toward Texas or west toward the glistening Pacific. Maybe north into the desert. I drifted to sleep imagining and creating stories.

I woke up this morning before sunrise. Kevin was going to be leaving early to go hang the wine room doors. I would join him briefly, but my day was going to be filled with work and catching up. As much as I love to sleep, I knew it was not in my best interest. I got up and while Kevin packed up the rented van, I took Cooper.

The air was cool, the sun a blinding light, low in the eastern sky. I had sunglasses on and still couldn’t quite see. Cooper trotted along as he always does. I love the continuity that is dog. I shoved my hands deep into the pockets of my Zaca Mesa hoodie. I thought how lovely it was with no cars, no real sounds. The day stretched before me, along with everything it would hold. There would be some surprises, but I would be able to see them coming.

Whenever I get up early, as much as I prefer the solitude of the night, I am surprised by how much I also enjoy the awakening of the day. I love to watch the sun as it ascends imperceptibly. I love to watch it paint the colors. What was shades of gray and black is now lush and green, waiting.

Maybe my mother has been right all along. She is an early bird and I’m a night owl, but every once in a while, I can appreciate the dawn. Every once in a while it makes me happy, and allows me to see that I’m living it out loud.  

 

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Desert musings

by Lorin Michel Saturday, January 31, 2015 8:08 PM

Last night, I drifted off to sleep listening to the tap tap tap of rain hitting the skylight. I find it very soothing. It’s one of nature’s lullabies and one of my favorites. It had rained all day. There was standing water everywhere, the washes were running. Bobbi remarked that she couldn’t believe how much weather we get here in the desert. I agreed. Of course, part of the reason it seems like we get so much here is because they don’t get any there. California has been suffering through a horrendous drought now for far too many years. When it does rain, it’s never enough. And it’s not snowing in the mountains so there’s no snow pack to melt to deliver water.

It doesn’t rain here constantly but it does rain. I remarked that considering when it does rain, it tends to rain a lot, you’d think there would be better drainage. The southwest in general doesn’t do very well when it comes to rain drains, probably because it doesn’t rain very much in general and because when it does, it pours. Too much rain comes down in too short a period of time, overwhelming the system’s ability to deal with it quickly and efficiently.

Oh, but how green it is. I am forever amazed at the color of the desert. People who have never spent much time in the Sonoran think of it as nothing more than endless stretches of sand. I’ve often joked that my mother thinks we live in a sand pit. It’s not sandy at all, and while we don’t have towering oak trees, we do have towering saguaros and they are green. All of the cactus plants are green, and they are plentiful, making the landscape appear alive, vibrant. The rocks are black and brown and orange. The palo verde trees, as the name implies, are also green, from the trunk through the branches. The entire tree looks almost fake, like how a small child might color it.

In the spring, the cacti flower, the birds of paradise open. The colors dance. It is because of the season, and the rain.

It rained all night. This morning, I was lying in bed, having a cup of coffee. It was just 7:30 and I wasn’t really ready to begin my day. The blinds were open and I was looking out into the backyard. I could hear the scuppers running, draining the water from the roof onto the patio, out into the yard. The palm trees were heavy and dripping as was all of the foliage. The sky was gray. There were no birds flitting about. I’m sure they were all safely tucked into wherever birds go during inclement weather. From the top of the skylight came the cooing of doves.  And the tap tap tap of the rain.

The morning was otherwise quiet, and the rain seemed to make it more so. The sounds of traffic seemed muted. I knew that soon, I would hear the telling splash and slop of tires grabbing at wet asphalt. But until then, I was enjoying my coffee, enjoying the rain, and musing about how green the desert here truly is. Another oxymoron, but one truly appreciated only when you’ve witnessed it and realize that the predetermined notions of sand and dust, where little is alive save the occasional rattlesnake or scorpion, is in fact incorrect. This desert is alive and almost lush, beautiful, especially so when painted against the deepening gray of a rainy sky.

A pack mentality

by Lorin Michel Friday, January 23, 2015 9:14 PM

My grandparents on my mother’s side evidently moved a lot. My mother often referred to them as gypsies. My grandmother was always restless, always looking for something else, but never quite sure what it was. While they moved a lot, they never moved far. They were always in the vicinity of Pittsburgh and its suburbs. It’s one of the reasons why when we went to Pittsburgh to visit, we always stayed with my mother’s aunts, Beryl and Eleanor. They were always in the same house and there was always room.

My grandmother on my dad’s side never moved. My dad was raised in the same house that my grandmother lived in until she died. My parents friends Charlotte and Ed, who bought the house next to us in Fairview, Pennsylvania when I was about six, still live in that house, though my mom just told me that Ed is in a nursing home, recovering from a fall. He’s in his 90s.

When I was a kid, we moved quite a bit because my dad kept getting promoted and transferred. We started out in a very small apartment in Eldred, Pennsylvania but I think we only lived there a year or two. Then we moved to Erie, PA, to another apartment. My brother was born and we moved again, though I don’t think he necessarily had anything to do with it. We still stayed in the Erie area, moving to the aforementioned Fairview. From there we moved to Staatsburg, New York, then to Hyde Park, New York. We were in New York for about six years before we moved to Columbia, Maryland for a year, then to New England where all of my family – save for me – still resides. I moved to Durham, New Hampshire to go to college. Immediately after I graduated I moved to San Diego where I lived for a year, then to Scottsdale, Arizona where I lived for another year, then to the Los Angeles area where I moved a total of six times in 27 years.

In 2013, we moved to Tucson. Now we’re getting ready to move again, to the home we moved to Tucson for.

Each of these moves, whether they’ve been mine, or my family’s or my grandparents before me, have one thing in common: they all entail packing. I would like to state for the record that I absolutely hate packing. I especially hated it when we left Oak Park because we had to have every. single. thing. out of the house because we were moving so far away. There was no, well, we’ll move a few things this weekend, or after we move the furniture, we’ll go back to the house and clean it.

Nope. Everything. Every thing had to be wrapped, boxed, stacked and moved.

I don’t know how my mother didn’t go insane for all of those years when she had to pack not just a house, but three kids worth of stuff, too. I suspect that she didn’t get much help from my dad because he was usually traveling for business. He also was probably already in his new position in the new city to which we’d be moving. When we packed up the Oak Park house, we thought we were on schedule and everything would be fine. It wasn’t. We didn’t end up sleeping the night before we left to drive for 10 hours. It was a nightmare.

And now we’re getting ready to do it again. Hopefully in about a month, we’ll be moving to our forever home. That means packing. Again. Granted we didn’t unpack everything from when we packed and moved 18 months ago because we knew this place was temporary. Still, it’s amazing how much needs to be packed again. Everything in the kitchen, the laundry room, the bedrooms and the baths. The offices. The living room.

Ugh.

It occurred to me the other night, or morning, rather. It was about 2:35 am. I was staring into the darkness of the bedroom, listening to the occasional woot from my dreaming dog, and the quiet of the wind outside. And I thought: we’re moving in a month. And I’ve done nothing to prepare. I haven’t packed a box. I haven’t even pulled boxes out to get ready to pack. The closest I’ve come is thinking that I need to start packing soon.

Soon has arrived. The big hand is on the S and the little hand is on the oon, and boxes will be deployed this weekend. For another move, another trip, only this time it will only be across town. And this time, dog willing, will be the last time.

I’m ready. I’m channeling my grandmother on my mother’s side. I’ve got the pack mentality. Let the wrapping, boxing, taping and stacking begin.

I hear you knocking

by Lorin Michel Saturday, January 17, 2015 8:15 PM

It happens all day long but I don’t always hear it. But come the night, the sound is impossible to ignore. At first, it frightened me. What is that? Then it annoyed me. Come on. Again? Now I find it almost comforting. It’s the tat tat tat tat tat tat tat and then some of the Frigidaire side-by-side refrigerator in our rental house.

When we moved in, in August of 2013, it was hot as it often is in the desert. The house, with the exception of the swoosh of the AC as it blew cool air through the ducts and the soft whirl of the ceiling fan, was quiet. The only sound that came from the refrigerator was the usual electric hum, the occasional drop of ice into the tray from the automatic ice-maker.

Then the temperature turned colder and suddenly the fridge began to keep a steady beat. It wasn’t constant, but it was often, and it got more often as winter descended. We called a refrigerator repair guy who came out to inspect the machinery and gruffly told us that he could find nothing wrong with it. Naturally it made no sound while the man was here just like when your car is making “that” noise that it refuses to make when you take it to the mechanic. Since it gave us the silent treatment that day, it didn’t get fixed. As soon as the guy left, it started again. Tat tat tat tat tat tat.

Several days later I suggested that perhaps it was the temperature as the advent of the tapping seemed to correspond with the arrival of the cold weather. Kevin essentially said that was impossible.

Summer came and the refrigerator got quiet again. It hummed and dropped ice but there was no knocking. For six months or more we had silence emanating from the kitchen. Then came the cold weather and with it, the knocking. It started slowly. Tat tat. As winter continued and the temperatures remained cool if not actually cold at night, the tatting continued, growing steadily. It never gets any louder; it simply lasts longer. Kevin has started counting the knocks. 11 became 22, 22 became 37 became 67 became even more.

It happens during the day but we hardly notice it. At night, though, when the world is quiet, when there is only the occasional woosh of heated air pushing through the ducts, when Cooper sighs heavily, the weight of it all, when we’re supposed to be sleeping, that’s when it comes. The tapping, the tatting, the knocking.

Kevin has now come around to the idea that maybe it does have something to do with the change in temperature though it makes no sense to his logical mind. It doesn’t make sense, but there it is.

Tat tat tat tat.

I always want to say come in, come in already. As the knocks continue, though, I find that they bring me something akin to comfort. I don’t know why. It’s really an annoying sound. Maybe it’s the mechanical-ness of it, the machine-like continuity of it. I can’t put my finger on it. But when I hear the knocking I am somehow soothed. I don’t count the knocks; they don’t keep me up. They simply are. Like the ticking of a loud clock, they record the passage of time and become a reminder of the life before and the summer still to come.

I hear you knocking. But you can’t come in because it would ruin the illusion, it would solve the mystery. And take all the fun out of wondering why.

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live out loud

Veterinary medicine

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, January 14, 2015 9:33 PM

Once upon a time, in the year 3000 BC, there lived a man named Urlugaledinna. He was known as the expert in healing animals, and he began the practice of veterinary medicine. Like much of medicine it remained medieval for hundreds of years until a Frenchman by the name of Claude Bourgelat founded a veterinary school in Lyon in 1761. It was after witnessing the devastation caused by a cattle plague that Bourgelat decided to devote his life to finding out why, and more importantly, developing medicine so that it wouldn’t happen again. He did, and it didn’t.

In England, the Odiham Agricultural Society, founded in 1783, worked to promote agriculture and industry. A founding member named Thomas Burgess began studying more humane ways to treat sick animals. By 1790 the official profession of veterinary medicine was recognized. And thank dog.

When I had Tori, my beautiful tortoise-shell colored cat, and lived in woodland hills, I discovered Dr. Stan Kunin and his Veterinary Medical Center. He took care of my girl and when she got cancer, helped me through the decisions I had to make. When it came time to put her to sleep, he's the one who did it. I was a wreck. We went into one of the back rooms and he told me I could stay with her as long as I wanted. Then they had an emergency and suddenly, there I was with my lifeless little girl while Stan and his team worked to save a dog that had been hit by a car. The juxtaposition was wild; the symbolism couldn't have been stronger.

When we got Maguire, the first place we took him was to see Stan. When our little guy got sick and he was diagnosed with Parvo by the emergency pet clinic it was Stan who called us the next day to say it had been a false positive. We took Maguire there for years for checkups and shots, after he was attacked by a neighborhood dog, whenever he just wasn't right. It was a longer drive by then since we had moved farther away but it was worth it.

After awhile he got to be too old to make the journey and Stan recommended a vet in our area who made house calls. Her name was Lorraine Watson and she, too, was great. When we lost our boy, she was one of the first to send a card. Inside she included a small doggie angel pin. He had crossed over the rainbow bridge.

Over the years, we've visited many veterinary offices, we've gone to the 24 hour emergency per hospitals. Whenever we move, one of the first things I do is find the nearest pet hospital. Then I find the closest people hospital. Priorities.

Our Cooper is sick and has been to the local vet twice now in less than 48 hours. He was weirdly lethargic over the weekend and I called on Monday. They saw him that night (our new vet, Acacia Animal Hospital, has extended hours, until 8pm Monday thru Friday) but they didn't really know what was wrong. Last night we were up with him several times as he got sicker and sicker. This morning we went to see Dr. Laudonio at Acacia. He doesn't really know what's going on since there are no outward or obvious symptoms. We did blood work. Now we wait. It’s hard because, as the vet said, animals don’t always follow the text book to let us know what’s wrong. We have to guess sometimes; we have to hope. 

I am so grateful to people who dedicate their lives to the practice of veterinary medicine. They help our animals, our pets, our furry family members when we can’t. Kevin and I don’t know what’s wrong with Cooper. We just hope that it’s something treatable. Maguire was relatively healthy right up until he wasn’t. He was over 15, long past his expected life expectancy. Vets and the hospital helped us when we couldn’t help him. Same with my beautiful Tori.

Tonight, while we hope that our Cooper starts to feel better, while we wait for the results of his blood work, I sit here in celebration of all the vets I’ve had care for my pets. If I was someone who prayed, I’d pray for my little red-furred boy. I’m not. So instead I’ll just think positive thoughts that he’ll be wagging it out loud soon thanks to good veterinarians and veterinary medicine.

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