This week in overload…

So, this week’s calendar includes:

  • Monday night rehearsal for the daughter with her community orchestra (across town, of course)
  • Tuesday night band festival prep clinic for the son
  • Tuesday afternoon viola lesson for the daughter
  • Wednesday evening orchestra festival prep clinic for the daughter
  • Thursday afternoon ACT class for the daughter
  • Friday evening orchestra festival
  • Saturday band festival
  • Sunday community orchestra concert

And this is, of course, on top of our regular jobs, MIL care, homework and the rest of the circus of activity that seems to follow us around.  Is it wrong that I’m sort of rooting for the snowstorm that’s headed our way to knock a few of these items off the schedule?



Why can’t my dogs ever get sick during business hours?

Our dog Cooper came down with pneumonia. Cooper is a dear elderly and somewhat dumb alleged border collie mix we adopted from a rescue a few years back. We don’t know her actual age but best guess is around 12-13ish. She came to us grossly overweight (94 pounds) and couldn’t stand without assistance, let alone run or even walk very far. It took a lot of exercise, love and hiding of anything resembling food but she’s now a much healthier 60 pounds. And I’m serious about the hiding of food – she was so used to eating anything and everything all the time that when we restricted her to a reasonable amount of kibble, she started foraging around the house for anything that smelled food-like. She pulled anything she could reach off the counter, cleared out the trashcans and went as far as eating lemon-scented wipes and two packets of Aveeno oatmeal bath. Thankfully, this phase has passed. And on a side note, I’m also serious about the dumb part. She’s a sweet old thing but this is a dog that’s surprised each and every morning when a magic portal to the land outdoors opens up in the wall and she’s told: “Cooper, out!” I suppose things are never boring when every day is new so she has that going for her, anyways.

our two border collie mixes Sadie and Cooper.

Our dogs, Sadie and Cooper. That’s Coop on the right.

But back to the pneumonia. Naturally, as with most pets, she used her instinctive cunning and wits to ensure she didn’t start looking truly ill until Saturday evening, at which time she went down hard. My husband and I watched her trembling and labored breathing and knew we had no choice – off to the emergency vet she went. Exam, X-rays, bloodwork and about $1,000 bucks later, the diagnosis was in and pneumonia it was. Luckily it was pretty early on – just traces of it on the lung x-rays – so things weren’t too horribly dire but she is an older dog so an infection like this can always be pretty dicey. Naturally, the vet recommended she stay in-patient for 48 hours so they could keep her hydrated and closely observed – at a cost of another 2 grand, btw, leaving us with a dilemma. Do we do what the doc is recommending, even though we really don’t have the money on hand or do we bring her and the heavy-duty antibiotics home and nurse her ourselves? We love our dog and wouldn’t want to risk her but decided to bring her home. I used to be a vet tech so felt pretty confident she’d get the care she needed. I also knew how sensitive she is to separation or strange surroundings and felt the stress might do her more harm than the benefits of hospitalization. And let’s be honest here – $2k is $2k. The vet wasn’t tickled but went along with our decision – giving her a mega-shot of Baytril and some IV fluids before sending her on her way.

This was not a happy creature. She didn’t want to eat or drink, was quite weak and had a fairly nasty cough (which is actually a good sign). We set her up a bed in the guest bedroom – which is on the main floor of the house. The stairs up to our daughter’s room where she normally sleeps were just a bit too much for her to handle. Truth be told, the stairs are getting to be too much for her in the best of health – she’s getting older dog hips and older dog vision so the trip down, especially, is a bit rough and tumble these days, but I digress. My daughter moved her headquarters down to the guest room for the duration so Cooper wouldn’t be lonely and we set ourselves to nursing the old girl.

She wouldn’t drink a drop of water I used a drinking straw to dribble water in her mouth, a bit at a time, every few hours – we’d graduate to a turkey baster after a few days if she still wasn’t drinking but I didn’t want to overwhelm her at first. She wasn’t much interested in eating either but that’s okay for a day or so. We set up a space heater to keep her toasty and let her sleep, other than occasional bits of water, antibiotics or trips outside. By the next afternoon, we were already seeing signs of improvement – she ate a couple of mouthfuls of food after a business trip outside. She still wouldn’t drink so we still had our straw sessions – which both of us were heartily sick of by now. By Monday, she was beginning to get up and walk around just a bit and by Monday night, she began drinking on her own again. We knew she was truly on the mend when my daughter and I came in the door from running errands and there she was, tail wagging.

It’s been a week now and she’s really back to her old self again. We took great satisfaction in letting the doubting vet know all was well when his office called to check on her a few days after her trip.

I should say here that I am in no way recommending that folks run about, willy nilly, ignoring the advice of their doctors whether DVM or MD. In this case, with this dog and this illness, we knew she’d do better at home in her familiar surroundings. All’s well that ends well, I’m happy to say.

In which the new blogger asks advice from experienced bloggers

Hi There, O Experienced Ones!

As you’ll note from my very short archive list, I’m awfully new at this blogging thing.  I’d really like to make a go of it so I’m looking for advice, help, to-do’s, warnings or general whatever-you-do-don’t-do-that sort of assistance.  I’m not necessarily looking to make into the big time here – I have a great job that is mostly rewarding – but I am looking to create a true outlet for myself (think: sanity preservation) and hopefully, some enjoyment for those who share it with me.  (Naturally, I’d like to have folks actually share this with me – i.e.: readers).  So, I’ll get the ball rolling here with a couple of questions and I’m hoping that this post will come to the notice of a few of you with some time under your belts who won’t mind giving me a few pointers.

1. Etiquette question:  I write about my life, stuff around me and quite often, my family.  When I’m writing about myself, it’s easy to know where the line is between what I’m willing to put out in public and what I’m not.  That’s the easy part.  When it comes to my family, that’s tougher.  So far, I’ve refrained from using their names – not that I’m under any illusion that that affords them much in the way of privacy.  I haven’t yet written too much that either child would be embarrassed by – at least, no more than the natural level of association-with-mom embarrassment innate in any teen.  How do you handle what’s appropriate and what isn’t?  Do you use photos of your kids or family in your blogs?

2. Content question: So far, the topics I’ve covered run the gamut from the viola to my cat’s ass – and a few stops in-between.  Now I’ve read a few posts out there on “getting started in blogging” and many of them caution that the burgeoning blogger should choose a theme or a topic area and stay somewhere within those boundaries.  Okay, I get this.  And I’ve seen this on many a blog I read as well – where the content is centered around the writer’s career, for example, or a favorite hobby.  Mine seem to center mostly around my family but I absolutely don’t want to be bound by this.  Maybe I’ll talk about my work life (it’s absurd enough to qualify as interesting, that’s for sure) or other things I find interesting.  How do you determine what is blog-worthy or not?

3. Audience question: No, I’m not a professional writer and no, I don’t fancy myself one of those so-called mommy bloggers with sponsors elbowing each other out of the way to get to first.  I would, however, like to have an audience, however modest.  Folks who might find what I write interesting or entertaining and might even be driven to comment, like, or even – gasp – follow this blog.  When I write about issues I’m wrestling with, it’d be great to hear from others in the same situation.  I haven’t done a lot to really publicize this blog yet.  Sure, it’s hooked up to my Facebook and Twitter accounts so every post is pushed to at least that audience.  I’m also seeing a bit of traffic from WordPress itself, also appreciated.  I haven’t started truly pestering friends and acquaintances to please read and share – frankly I’m still feeling a bit insecure about my writing and whether it’s of interest beyond immediate friends and family (who have to say nice things).  I’d like to bring in a wider audience – how have others done this?  How did you reach beyond your immediate circle, bring in the readers and build a loyal base.  Did any of you use paid media to jumpstart things?

Those are the biggies for now. But there’s more – I’m new enough at this I don’t even know what questions to ask!  Any words of advice would be greatly appreciated!

And as an advance thanks, here’s a gratuitous photo of my cat Mac in a too-small shoebox:

Kitty in a shoebox too small for him

Mac is never one to turn down a good box sit.

What makes a redhead a redhead? My adventures in haircolor.

So, I’m a redhead.  I wasn’t born this way but I consider myself a redhead nonetheless. I’ve had my hair some shade of red, from strawberry to deep russet, for well over 20 years now, which should give me at least honorary entre to the club by now, I would think.

I wasn’t always a redhead, of course. I was born a blonde, that kind of super-fine blonde hair that is destined to darken over time. And darken it did, leaving me a dishwater brown by my teen years, a color I found most undistinguished.  Let the color experimentation begin!

Sun-in hair color

Sun in promised so much more than it delivered

My initial attempts at livening my tresses began, as with many other teenagers in the ’70s, with that amazing product “Sun-In”.  It was simple – you sprayed the magic potion through your hair, went out in the sun and bingo, your hair turned blonde. In actuality, it was simply a high-powered peroxide mixed with a conditioner and a bit of scent. Like Axe for boys, Sun-In brought with it dreams of sun-kissed locks and hunky boys eager to run their fingers through them. For most girls, this product produced a color closer to screaming yellow-orange than sun-bleached surfer hair but I was lucky and managed to get a yellowy sort of color that approximated the typical ‘suicide blonde’ of that era.

My first experience with the stuff came during a family trip to Hilton Head Island over spring break in 8th grade. I had it all planned out: I’d head out of town for the week and use my time constructively – lay in the sun, get a bitchin’ tan and blonde hair and come back transformed. Life would be changed (bifocal glasses and tendency towards geekyiness aside, this was sure to work.) Naturally, if a little Sun In was good – a lot of Sun In was better. I sprayed the hell out of that shit every day and quickly went from my mousy brown to screaming-yellow-zonker yellow.  Top that off with a QT-based tan (my Irish skin just isn’t capable of the bronze I had in mind) and I arrived back in Michigan looking much like a straw-headed Oompa-Loompa.

Let’s pause here a moment and imagine the bemused expressions on my parent’s faces when they’d see me off to the pool each morning and I’d come back in yellower and oranger each afternoon.  Okay, that’s done.

Back at school, my sense of triumph and glamour lasted till exactly second hour, when I ran into my friend Josie, who had spent her vacation in Florida with her family.  She was an authentic shade of deep bronze and her hair – much darker than mine – was lightened ever-so-slightly by the sun, streaking her dark locks with shimmers of deep red.  And the boys were hovering like flies.  *Sigh*  I did have one moment of triumph, however, when I ran into another friend, Sandy, who exclaimed how jealous she was that Sun In “worked” on me – she’ d had an unfortunate bout with orange herself the summer before.

A few weeks later, the other side effect of Sun In became apparent: roots!  But that’s a story we all know well.


That's me on the left, pearls and all, with my 80s partner-in-crime Lynn on the right.

That’s me on the left, pearls and all, with my 80s partner-in-crime Lynn on the right.

The years flew by and I continued to play with my hair.  Merely flirtations, mind you: a few streaks here, a bit of lemon juice there.  Nothing serious, nothing too committed.  This all ended, of course, with the convergence of two big events: my enrollment in beauty school and the arrival of the New Wave era.  Right around when I found myself with access to many chemicals and surrounded by folks just dying to play with them, the culture around me encouraged such experimentation.  I flirted with frosts, colors and the rest before finally throwing up my hands and going full-on platinum.  Now I’d found what I was looking for!  It was attention-getting, looked fine with my white skin and Souixsie Souix eye-liner and damaged my fine hair just enough so it would do most anything I wanted it to.  The 80s were my time.

My time in platinum far-outlived the 1980s, truth be told. I wore this style long into the early 90s, sometimes accentuating with streaks of pink, blue or burgundy.  Well, I did have a 1 month period where I decided a deep brunet would be nifty – but the dark hair and my pale skin had folks asking me if I felt okay allt he time and my mother shipping me off to the doc for blood tests, sure I was anemic. A month later, I as back to blonde.  My constant goal during this time was the extermination of every bit of yellow that might show up on my head. This meant shampooing most days with a special purple concoction that neutralized yellow into the whitest-white (or sometimes, the faintest silvery-lavender).   How I kept a single hair on my head with all of the constant (every three weeks!) bleaching, I’ll never know.

Finally, I got sick of the whole thing.  The constant root vigilance! The money spent on bleach, toners, conditioners (to keep my hair from breaking)!  I was over it and ready for something with less maintenance.  But what to do?

Well, here’s the thing.  I may not have bona fide red hair but I do come from good redhaired stock.  My mom was a natural red.  Thick, curly, gorgeous auburn red.  Everything I didn’t have, dammit.  While I couldn’t get the thick or the truly natural waves but, thanks to our good friends at Clairol, I could approximate a lovely ginger.  Took a bit of doing at first – red doesn’t stick so well on bleached out hair but eventually the bleached bits grew out and some semblance of a uniform color came back to my head.  I flipped back and forth between red and blonde for a few years before finally settling down in the red zone right around 1992, when I met my husband.  Strange to think he’s never known me as anything but a ginger.

So here’s my question:  is a bottle redhead really a redhead?  I come from redhead stock, it’s true, but my color is not my own by any stretch.  It is however, a big part of my identity after all these years.  My husband has long referred to me as “the redhead” – as in, “you’ll have to ask the redhead if we’re free Saturday”.  My children have always known me in this color.  Most of the people in my life now have also always, or at least for a very long time, known me in red.  I feel like a redhead.  There was this one guy I used to work with who, even though I quite liked him most of the time, had this irritating habit of pointing out, usually in front of others, that “it’s not like you’re a *real* redhead, Teri”.  Not sure why this was important for him to point out, but he did.  But this guy notwithstanding, I feel like a redhead, ergo, I am red.  As I get older, I’ll likely have to fade back to a graceful strawberry but for the time being, I’m rocking the ginger and loving it.

My burmese cat coco enjoying life from her favorite POV

My burmese cat coco enjoying life from her favorite POV

What about you?  Tell me about YOUR hair.