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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Closing Time, and Hardly Anyone Sleeping

Last night was our first night of dinner and an activity since we had added a new puppy to our family several weeks ago. We left the puppy in the able care of a young man willing to puppy sit. 

So we went to see Leonard Cohen at the Louisville Palace. He shook it like a Cajun Queen, to borrow a phrase from Gillian Welch, as Cohen performed numerous old songs as well as many from his new album, "Old Ideas". Twenty-nine in all. 

Cohen came on stage a few minutes after 8 PM, apologizing for the delay and explaining a long-time band member, Roscoe Beck, had been rushed to the hospital.

Cohen remarked anyone could be next to drop. But Cohen added, while they were on stage they would give us their all. And they did.

I've heard it said one of the best clinical tests to determine whether an elderly person is frail and will die soon is to have them sit on the floor and then get up. Assuming they can sit on the floor and then get up, the doctor is supposed to watch how they maneuver to stand up. 

These days, a couple decades younger than Cohen, with a recent bout of bursitis in my hip, I’m having trouble getting up after sitting on the floor with our new puppy.

Leonard Cohen, on the other hand, while he didn’t sit on the floor during his three hour concert, with one short intermission, nevertheless demonstrated at 78 years of age he still can maneuver with ease and grace. 

Cohen was on his knees, bending, dancing, squatting, and shaking it, as he whispered, belted, crooned and sang his hymns. Some apparently inspired by God ( such as "Hallelujah" and "Going Home", and some perhaps from another supernatural realm ("Closing Time").

On the latter song, Cohen demonstrated his true devotion to the realm of music as god. When Cohen muffed a line in "Closing Time":
and my very sweet companion she's the angel of compassion'
he went back to the beginning, not once but twice, and started the song again until he got it perfectly. Gently apologizing to the audience for keeping us up late on a Saturday night; sort of the point of going to a Cohen concert is to stay up at least until "Closing Time". 

But then he treated us to a second encore of four more songs, finishing with "Save the Last Dance" and the ironic final song, "I Tried to Leave You."

Cohen and his fabulous musical troupe, including the “sublime Webb sisters”: Hattie and Charlie, and Sharon Robinson on vocals; the wonderful violinist, Alexandru Buvlitchi; Rafael Gayol on percussion; Neil Larson on the Hammond organ; Javier Mas on guitar; and Mitch Watkins who filled in for Roscoe on bass, gave us all they had.

Even if by sheer chronological age Cohen could be considered elderly, he demonstrated the staying power that predicts he's going to be giving us his all until he passes the century mark. Let's hope the same is true for the rest of the outstanding musicians and vocalists who perform with him.

At one point our dog sitter texted us a photo of our puppy, sleeping after an exhausting game of fetch. He was the only one sleeping last night.

Blazer tuckered out

Our puppy sleeping as Leonard Cohen "Danced (us) to the End of Love".

Friday, March 29, 2013

New Puppy-itis

I think I have "puppy-itis".

I just got a cortisone injection in my hip for bursitis. The medical people explained to me that's an overuse injury. Like when you have a job where you are on your feet all day or riding miles on your bike. I said no, I don't do either of  those things.

But I do have a new puppy who requires constant attention. Blazer is now three months old and has boundless energy. If he's not chewing on my shoes, the furniture or electrical cords, he's displaying chewed pieces of mulch from indoor plants all over the house. So I find myself jumping up and out of my chair, running up and down the stairs and chasing after Blazer all day long. Probably more exercise than I had been getting by a factor of a thousand. Who knew exercise could be so damaging to your body?

Well it is. Especially if you're more or less sedentary and you increase your exercise dramatically and all at once. And with a puppy there's no time for warming up those old muscles and tendons. Or in this case, bursa.

But my body is not the only thing taking a beating with the new puppy. Most of my shoes are off limits for wearing these days. Either Blazer tries to eat the shoelaces, tear through the fabric to bite my feet, or rips out the stitching that holds the shoes together. And that's while I'm wearing the shoes and trying to fend off the puppy teeth.

I found the one type of shoe Blazer can't destroy: Crocs. You may know them as the sort of ugly rubber-ish clogs that you can clean with a hose and wear anywhere as long as you don't care what you look like. So those are my latest stylish choice of footwear. And at least my feet and shoes are safe from puppy bites.

Anyway, back to puppy-itis. The doctor said to rest and stop doing whatever it was that caused the overuse injury. I laughed. Yes, that's a real plan. Maybe I should just get some rubber protection guards, sort of like Crocs for the furniture, plants and electrical cords as well as everything else in the house.

If they made Crocs for the home our home would the be puppy-proof and I could follow the good doctor's advice. Has anyone invented this total puppy-proof protection device yet? I think there's a fortune to be made here. Sign me up for  the full house shipment.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Blazer in the snow

At least it's not raining! I thought the groundhog had predicted an early spring. The heavy white flakes falling from the sky today sure don't look like cherry blossoms. But Blazer enjoys eating this fluffy white stuff. And then we play a game of tug-of-war with the towel as I try to dry a wiggly puppy.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wishing the rain would stop

Blazer on a rainy cold day

Blazer the pup loves to play outside. Whether it's climbing over the newly-installed fencing around the asparagus garden, sleeping in the Japanese ivy, or eating patches of onion grass, he loves his yard. He also likes to somersault head-over heels in the thick front-yard grass. Or tug on his leash on the way to the park and visits with his new friends in other yards. Not to mention bird chasing. But today's cold rain didn't invite any of those kinds of play.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Blazer bites

We're still working on teaching Blazer our hands are not chew toys.

Checking in

Just trying the new blogger app with my iPhone. Hope Blazer's being good boy with Dad while I'm at Apple store.

Blazer and Me

Living with Blazer the Razor

We have survived the first two weeks of new puppy parenting.

Twenty pounds of holistic, grain free puppy chow, two vet visits for vaccinations and de-worming, and Blazer, at 11 weeks of age,  appears right at home in his new house with his forever family. He’s grown, gained weight, and already has the fuzzy-haired look of a puppy starting to grow in adult hair.

We just wish he’d grow in his adult teeth and take on the well-known adult collie disposition of gentleness. But more about that later.

Blazer's already largely house-trained. He goes to the back door and yipes if we don't open the door fast enough. About 95 times out of 100, and those are not random numbers but more like an average for a given day, Blazer goes to the back door when he needs to "go". He also goes to the back door another 200 times a day when he wants to find sticks or leaves to chew on, birds to chase, or just hang out in the yard.

This would not seem to be a big problem, given that we have a fenced yard. However, in his many forays into the yard, with us in tow because he's so little, Blazer had been systematically testing the fences, much like the raptors in "Jurassic Park" until he found a weakness last week. We discovered he could slip under the slats in spots, even with one of us right next to him, faster than you can say "jack-rabbit".

Though it was people, talking loudly on cell phones, not rabbits that enticed Blazer to look for fun outside his own back yard. Luckily we were able to get him back before he made good his escape. And the "weak spots" now are fixed.

Having a new puppy is loads of fun. His soft fur and sweet demeanor make him a real mood elevator. And he already has demonstrated he has brains and personality. He's learned to climb all the stairs in the house, including the tall staircase to the second floor. In fact, he now shows off, by carrying a toy halfway up the stairs and dropping it, turning around and looking at us expectantly to see if we appreciate his latest accomplishment. We do. Though it does add just one additional location where puppy toys are not only a charming decorative addition but also a tripping hazard.

And despite a houseful of puppy toys designed to entice a puppy to chew on them, Blazer has taken to chewing everything else he can get his razor-sharp puppy teeth into: electrical cords, furniture, shrubs, sticks, shoes, and especially hands, to name just a few items already scarred by puppy teeth. So much so that we have nicknamed him “Blazer the Razor”.

Constant vigilance has been our motto. I’m no puppy whisperer or trainer either. But we are trying to judiciously to use the word “NO”—only for dangerous items. And the bites that hurt. The rest of the time we try to distract him.

When you do say no he seems even more determined to chew an item. I’ve “arm-chair” (though there no longer is any sitting quietly in an arm chair in our puppy-centric house) psychoanalyzed him and concluded his chewing behavior is like rebellious teenage behavior. Better to ignore the orange hair, or to name a Blazer favorite: shoe-chewing, and focus on the really dangerous things.

The good shoes are now in closets and old shoes, whether on my feet or just on the floor, I’ve decided are not worth a battle royal. When he goes away to college it’ll be someone else’s problem.

Oh wait a minute; he’s not really a human teenager who will go away to college. Maybe I better stop the chewing shoe behavior before I have no shoes left.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Blazer and "Dad"

Crazy for our new pup--or just crazy

We have a new collie puppy. Nine weeks old and cute as all get out. We got him the week after my husband had surgery. Probably not the best of timing.  That's a joke or an understatement. Not sure which. 
We had made the commitment on getting the puppy and didn't really have an idea of what the surgery and recuperation would involve. But then you never really do, do you? But that's another blog about what doctors don't tell you. And it had been so long since we had a new puppy we had completely forgotten what a new puppy involves. Sort of like childbirth and a new baby. If anyone remembered what either involved our species would have ended long ago.      
Today I'm dressed. That's a big improvement over last few days--neighbors probably tired of seeing me in pj's, boots and my husband's big rain jacket. But the neighbors don't seem to mind talking to me in that attire. And who knows maybe I've come up with a new fashion statement. I haven't even mentioned the unmatched socks--yes, the pup usually has gotten one of them. 
I still have not showered, or done any of the usual chores today: like making the bed, stacking the dishwasher, folding the large stack of  clothes or even combing my hair. Actually "Before Blazer"--that's our new puppy's name and the term I coined for life before him, I usually brushed my hair and showered every day. Though I won't claim I always did all the other chores every day BB. 
But Blazer sure makes a good excuse for not getting to everything these days. The new baby analogy is very apt--except think new baby with sharp teeth, no diaper and the baby can run faster than you can. 
But what can I say, we're crazy about him. Or maybe just crazy.

The good news is my husband is doing well post surgery. He's still supposed to be taking it easy--nothing strenuous, no lifting over 5 pounds.This weekend he wanted to clean out our asparagus bed as he usually does this time of year. So I agreed to do the chore as long as he just held the bag for the yard waste. Blazer got in asparagus bed with me and "supervised"... Nothing like a little outdoor fun for the whole family.

My husband went grocery shopping for the first time after surgery. I reminded him he's not supposed to carry over 5 pounds and should ask the grocery store to keep bags light or else let them load groceries. Or let me do shopping or go with him. Maybe he has cabin fever and / or he needed to escape wild dog for a little while.  Or maybe he didn't want to be seen with a dirty wife with crazy hair. Anything's possible.
So I'm at home, dog sitting. And Blazer right now is being an angel. But I'm reluctant to move and inadvertently wake him up. I'm just glad my laptop is within reach so I can at least post this blog note. 
My readers may be happy to know my rants on political or news items are in hiatus. I haven't read much news or anything else since Before Blazer. I did watch some TV news but couldn't concentrate with a wild dog in the house.

But I am getting out of the house occasionally. For example, I had physical therapy (PT) on Friday for my neck and pain in right arm. I left my husband with the little wild dog while I went to PT. I came home to find my husband exhausted.  I am now walking with a limp and pain in my lower back and hips. I really don't know if that's related to therapy or just a new issue. But the good news is my right arm feels a little better. 
And another piece of good news--Blazer is mostly house broken--that is if we pay enough attention. Or maybe we are getting trained on when to take him out.  
I will say, this getting old is not for sissies. But having a small fluff ball of a pup biting on you sure takes your mind off of your other problems. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Laugh a Day Keeps the Dr. Away—Just Watch the News

Do you remember the old TV show ‘Make Me Laugh”? One contestant’s job was to tell jokes or do something funny in an effort to make a panel, whose job it was to not laugh, laugh. Lately I suspect the evening news programs have taken over where “Make Me Laugh” left off. I try to take the news seriously but sometimes it’s just too hard. I have to laugh.

A recent national a news program was a great example. We had the report on the “Sequester”. Every few months it’s some clever new title for the latest looming disaster. Before the Sequester it was the “Fiscal Cliff.” I’m not sure who dreams up these catchy titles but I’m sure it’s someone’s job. Just yesterday, I overheard a couple of older women talking about their grave concerns about the latest looming disaster. One said she did not know what was going to happen to this country if we went over the Fiscal Cliff. I was tempted to tell her she was on the wrong looming disaster by a few months. But then I decided she was smarter than I. Obviously she had stopped watching the evening news.

So about the crisis d’jour: Sequester. Despite the grave fears, Congress went home and refused to do anything about the automatic and drastic cuts to virtually all segments of the federal budget until “Obama comes to his senses”. Doesn’t matter that Obama won the most recent election with a rather tidy margin. And that he’s made offers of 2 to 1 budget cuts to revenue increases. Or that all the polls show most voters want our elected officials to act like grown-ups, get along and solve problems. Not take their ball and go home like our Congress did. If you can’t find a laugh in the dysfunctional government that led to the Sequester what good is our system of government anyway?

Then there was some story about criticism for a member of the Kennedy clan, a son of Bobby, and how he has the unmitigated gall to say something nice about Cesar Chavez, the President of Venezuela. OK, we all know Chavez has been on America’s bad list for so long because he well… he’s been on our bad list I forget why he’s there. So nobody better say anything nice about him.

But this Kennedy fellow, a good- looking silver-haired man who used to work in the U S Congress and now works with a coalition to help the poor in this country get heating oil, said Chavez did a good thing. Seems, CITGO and Chavez were the only ones who gave assistance to Americans who can’t afford heating oil. That is unless the poor folks stop buying groceries. Well, a half billion dollars in aid to the poor in this country who can’t afford heating oil may be a bit of an embarrassment. But so are old people starving or freezing in their homes. Laughing yet?

I suppose this Sequester is not going to help the old people who have been struggling to pay for their heating oil. Good thing our Congress is stepping up to do something about that. But no, I forgot, they all went home for a much needed break. LOL

The next item of news was a sink hole that swallowed a man and his bedroom while the swallowed man’s brother tried to save him. Sounds like something from one of those horror movies. Was that “Poltergeist” where people were sucked out of their homes? Like in most horror movies, the national news included an interview with the swallowed man’s relatives. There was no mention of any efforts to bring in equipment or do anything to see if they could save him. I guess he was taken to another dimension and the whole rescue thing was pointless. Or maybe with the Sequester we just don’t have rescue funds any more. But really—if they can rescue coal miners who have been trapped for weeks, why can’t we even talk about whether rescue is feasible? Still not laughing?

Then there was the all-consuming story about the retiring Pope ascending in his helicopter--to be taken to his castle, a temporary retreat until his new abode is built. We were reminded a Pope has not retired in hundreds of years. And the last leader of the Church to ascend was Jesus. When there were no helicopters, at least as far as we know. The world waits with bated breath for the process of selecting the Pope’s successor.

 I may be the only one, but as a fallen-away Catholic, I am not bating my breath waiting for a new Pope to be selected. In fact, I’m wishing some of the other really old and out-of-touch decision-makers in this world would consider retiring. But I am laughing at the image of the retiring Pope ascending in a helicopter.

Which brings me to the next news item. The Supreme Court heard arguments on the Voting Rights Act. Apparently they are considering whether the Voting Rights Act is now an unnecessary “racial entitlement”.  Rather than talking about voting as a racial entitlement I’d expect the most conservative members of the Court, who support judicial restraint and deference to the legislature, would be considering that Congress overwhelmingly renewed the Voting Rights Act—the Senate voted to renew 98 to zip.  I’d like to know how the Senate agreed on anything with that degree of unanimity. And now the Court may overturn it. A little chuckle here for our dysfunctional government.

But now for a belly laugh. The national news ran a clip of Obama saying he could not use a “Jedi Mind Meld” on the Republicans to get them to see the error of their ways on Sequester. Obama got a nerdy sci-fi reference wrong. ROFL!!LOL!!!

As we all know, or anyone who raised a son, has a geeky husband or friend, or is themselves a sci-fi nerd, Jedi’s don’t use mind melds. That’s Vulcans in Star Trek. So not only do the Republicans criticize everything Obama says and does. But now he has the whole galaxy of sci-fi nerds outraged. I have three words for you nerds: “Get over it.”

Obama was not reciting a movie quote he was riffing on sci-fi themes and creatively melding two concepts to create an analogy to fit the situation.

But as we all know, what Obama really needs are some Jedi mind games if he hopes to get the Republicans to do what is right for this country, given that they are immune to rational appeals. Now that is a movie I’d happily go see.

Instead of laughing at the national news’ rendition of “Make Me Laugh” with their recounting of actual events, I’ve gotten so I prefer Jeff Daniels as a fake news anchor in “The Newsroom”. At least when I laugh at that program, the laughs are intended.