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Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Wintergreen Springtime of 2013

The equinoctial spring arrived last Thursday with a beam of light down our upstairs hallway. TheCastle is built on an east/west axis perpendicular to the North Star and we can mark the seasons by the sunlight coming up in the windows of the east bedroom and setting into the window of the west bedroom.  Stellar observations notwithstanding, it is a chilly spring if it is spring at all. Even yesterday, with it's blue skies and bright sunlight, had a breeze with a nip of winter in it. There is some greening around me, but it's a winter green and the air smelled as if there were some gusts of snow not far away. 

Still and all - Callie was not to be ignored yesterday. She'd gone 2 days without a walk and she was either getting a walk or getting into trouble. BD was working on the boat, taking advantage of a brief day of paint-drying sunshine and Callie was eager to help. In the interests of peace and safety I took her for a walk instead.

She couldn't wait to dash out on her three good legs into the barley. See how she gleams in the sunshine.

But she's a good girl and comes when she calls. In fact, she's called so often these days that she's much better behaved than she was before the broken leg. Shes also much more attuned to me than she was. It's common for a Lab to have a Special Person and then to be merely friendly to the rest of the pack and since BD is home all the time he was and is her Special Person. Even before her break I had started taking her on a Girls Only walk in the morning to form a closer bond with her. In fact, we continue to do that. Also, she's glad for more cuddling from Mama - which is giving me more status. 

I hadn't intended for Saturday's morning walk to be just us girls but Jack was very comfortable, thank you, underneath his bush so we started off without him. Lots of opportunities for sniffs and squints and peeks.

But at the big bend, Jack joined us. Fortunately, Callie, way out front as usual, did not see what I saw - way up ahead.

You probably can't see it either but if I use my maximum zoom and stand very still look what Jack sniffed and I saw.

I called Miss Callie back before any stray breezes could carry their scent to her but later that afternoon she did sort of follow a rabbit. She will walk much more closely supervised from now on. And she's not allowed to wrestle with Jack either, though she tries at every opportunity. I'm not sure if he misses that or not, but we are not taking any chances on a tussle turning into a tumble and undoing all the good work Drs. L and L did  2 weeks ago.

Instead, we went out and got the mail - and looked back at the beauty that is a spring day; even a Wintergreen spring day. Don't you just want to drive down this deliciously pretty lane?  And imagine how beautiful it will be in a month when all those trees have leafed out?

Of course, Jack and Callie take it all for granted - but in that good way a dog takes things for granted. Not callously but all-accepting - like some Buddhist priest.

The afternoon continued all blues and white clouds. Callie prefers to stay outdoors when she's not sleeping on the couch and she looked so cute out front that I had to go play with her. I will hand wrestle with her while she's lying down so that she can't get hurt. She's good for only about 5 minutes and then, since it's not the real thing, she grows bored. But Mama is always good for a cuddle and a snuggle.

Just so long as I don't try to take her picture.  "Mo - om! Don't take my picture with that silver clicky thing!"  just like a teenager.

Here she is, like Gollum, guarding her precious(es). Goodness - can there be a plural of Precious when it's a proper noun? 3 leg bones and a skull - what more could a dog ask for in life?

And here she is at her most noble. She looks like she's about to burst into Brutus' speech to the Romans. 

Yesterday was also a great day to dry clothes on the clothes line. I actually hang clothes out all year 'round and only use a dryer in town if we get extended rain. Most of the time I prefer this but one of these days I'll get up off it and buy a dryer. It's more laziness and a bit of miserliness but I am sure Mother Nature will one day push me into Lowes with a credit card in hand.

We took another longer walk through the woods in the afternoon. Once we got to the lane Callie was hot and thirsty and since her stitches are healed, she got to take a swim. Ahh. how sweet that cold water is.

See my shaddow? And BD's? and the very top of Jack's head? Yes. He has entirely too much dignity to get all wet like that while Mama is holding her silver clicky thing.

Today is a completely different day. It's colder and grey and it's also Sunday which means everything starts back up tomorrow. Back to werk and it's Budget Time, and time to get the summer reading program on it's feet, and oh la - just so much.  I will certainly have to think about it tomorrow - even if I am not at Tara.  And now - it is snowing.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Is This What I Think It Is? (and a status report from Life-0-TheQueen)

 Is this an Oreo stuffed brownie? I'm already having a chocolate meltdown. I found this on a SparkPage as a sidebar add and the link is protected - evidently you have to be a member to get in and there isn't any way to become a member on their website. Or maybe it's my ancient computer or maybe it doesn't like Google Chrome for a browser or perhaps you just can't be from a red state .... even if Virginia isn't so red anymore. But the photo was worth drawing attention to and if you want to contact them, here's an email.  It's enough for me to just look at the photo and maybe that's enough for you too. Wow.

Anyway - I know you're here to find out what's happenin' at TheCastle and how Callie is. Callie is improving ... I'm tempted to say by leaps and bounds but we work very hard to keep her from leaping at least. She's done with pain pills and antibiotics and she's sleeping less - more like a normal dog - sleeping till something interesting comes along. She's still talking all the time - which is adorable and effective since if she ROWLEROWLs, her mama comes running and brings her a treat and snuggles. She gets very hot, very fast and would much rather sleep outside. She also seems to be growing still. Both BD and I think she looks a little bigger and a lot skinnier. We're adjusting her food daily.

Dr.L warned us that the pins might begin to push their way out of her bone ... sounds creepy to me ... and I think they may be shifting - because there's a slight puffiness where they'll take the pin out. Okay, okay, TMI. What this means is she's getting to the stage where she'll need to be watched more closely so that she doesn't do too much and injure a rapidly healing leg. Am I afraid we'll fail at this. Yes. But we won't. Just because I'm afraid of something doesn't mean I can't do it.

Not going there.

Instead, showing you how much she's enjoying herself and how Capt. Jack is taking advantage of the lowering of the bar around here.

In other news:

Last Monday I visited Mama with an old diary of hers and we read it out-loud and laughed with happy memories. It was from 1960 and it was full of our childhood and her vigorous youth. The day began hideously with a slushy snowfall so I got a late start. The idea had been to visit with Mama, check out the perfume at Sax 5th Ave that I will probably never buy, but at least wanted to smell, meet up with my sister and then window shop for spring clothes till late ... after the 5 o'clock rush hour. I managed to do most of that - though I had to skip the sniffing at Sax and I left before the rush hour - which seriously shortened the time I had to browse. Happily, sister and I had a great visit and I did score one fashion triumph. I have been longing for a pair of flowered skinny jeans. I had fun trying on the utterly wild ones in the Junior department of Sears - but as cute as they were, they were definitely too jejune for me. These, though - a pair of Jordache in a pastel flowered pattern - I picked up at Walmart of all places. Yes. I do love them. Yes. I don't care if I am 60 years old. Cute Cute Cute.
Fortunately I had gone through about half my warm weather clothes the day before because I have been in a spending mood for weeks - but it turns out the attic is full of cute clothes. I'll sort out the other half in the next week or two and once the budget season is over (ugh don't ask. it's horrible and it begins this week and I dread it.) I will celebrate by filling in as many gaps in my wardrobe as I can.   

Of course, a trip to the city is not complete without a stop by a Barnes & Noble. This time I hit the drawing books, partly because I was buying a birthday present for someone who is learning how to draw, but partly because I want to learn more too. As I've been playing with Zentangle® I finally admitted that I am in love with the cartoon fairy&dragon world of graphic novels. I don't like them as books but I love the pretty ones as artwork. Every Zentangle® I've drawn has cried out for a fairy and lately I've yielded to that cry. So. I would like to improve my cartoon fairy drawing skills and lo - there was a book! (Librarians' Credo  "Of Course You Can. It's In A Booooook!")  Click here to get this at a super sale price. 

I love this book because it's both an instructional book and a sketch book. There are lots of blank pages in it after each aspect of fantasy art they demonstrate. Of course - I bet it takes me a while to mar the beautiful white pages, but that's okay. I have lots of paper.  So here you can see how TheQueen has been spending her free time this week.

Yes. I do believe there is a story line. It's on its way. Patience. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Callie's Progress

It occurred to me that folks would like to hear how my little Callie Dog is doing so here's a catch-up on the life of the incredible flying dog.

On Monday Dr's L and L operated on Callie, setting her broken femur with 2 pins. Alas, Dr. L said there were some fragments that couldn't be replaced so her leg will be a tad big shorter than it was - but he assured us that she'd adapt. She spent a second night at the clinic but BD took her home on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, I had a night meeting, but I drove home between the end of work and the start of the meeting so I could pet my little girl anyway and arrived to find all three of them, BD, Jack and Callie, on the way home from Jacob's Gut. That's half a mile from the house and of course, inside I was shrieking at the stupidity of Guys Who Walk Dogs Who Just Had Surgery (and I confess, guys in general). She had a pronounced limp and I scooped her up and drove her the rest of the way home.

I know that my methods of caring for sick and injured is to coddle and swaddle and Someone Else's methods include getting up and taking long walks. Somewhere in the middle is probably best and as this week has progressed we've moderated from our extreme stances to a fairly reasonable routine. Of course, as she heals, that routine changes and as she grows stronger, we must be more vigilant because once she thinks she's strong enough to move fast, she will try to.

For the most part she sleeps all day. We didn't get a crate for her, yet, because we thought we'd try penning her in the bathroom, where she spent her early puppy days. She used to love that room and would go lie on the rug whenever she was tired. Not so much now. She prefers the couch. In fact, she prefers the new white bed laid on the couch ... which is fine with me since it's got a waterproof lining and it catches all the shedding white hair.

I say "yet", though, because we may borrow one anyway, so that BD can leave home while I'm at work. Another option is to get a baby gate (a kind neighbor has offered to lend us one) for the bathroom. We shall see. This is an ongoing process.

The big deal for us is blocking the staircase. Not that she's interested in going upstairs right now - or even that she might have trouble going upstairs. The danger is falling down - so we have barricaded the staircases - a makeshift solution which Jack just shoves aside so he can go get up in the Big Bed every morning. Yeah. I know. We should do better but we are slugs. Besides, I can step up on the little chair to the side of the staircase, then over the card table and onto the 3rd step. It's a nice bit of aerobic exercise. I am always finding reasons to be glad we don't have a railing and banister on that staircase.

All last week we had nice enough spring days and Callie spent her few waking hours outdoors. Here she is checking out the incision on her leg. BD was working on his boat every afternoon and she went out to supervise. Her gait is much less tortured looking - that first day she really seemed to have to pump her whole body to move but she sort of glides along now. I love walking with dogs and love to see their pretty little legs trotting along in front of me - so although her movement is graceful, my heart constricts as I see her carry her right leg off the ground. It's shaved too, so it looks so much smaller than her left leg. Whenever I start to feel gloomy about this I put the feelings in a box which I will open later - At Tara - when she is healed.

Which I have every confidence she will be - just look at the difference between Wednesday and Sunday! She also wanted to play a little with her toys and to tooth wrestle with the red leather glove. She tires quickly when I play with her, but just seeing that little bit of interest in her usual pursuits lifts me up a bit. She's also developed a few new vocabulary barks. She has a little ARF for when she wants to go outside or come in. Then there is the YIP that means it's time to be fed. (Jack is much more subtle. He just comes up and shovels his nose beneath your hand over and over till you feed him.) And now she has a ROWELROWL that she moans out whenever she's left alone and wants you to come play with her. A talkative dog - ya just gotta love it!

Till her incision heals she is not supposed to get wet and with the spotty rain we had all weekend, she had to stay indoors for most of the time - something she definitely did NOT like. In the wee hours of this morning I thought I heard her ARFFING by the front door but I knew BD wouldn't have forgotten to bring her in last night.

WRONG-ish. She was outside and he didn't forget. She refused to come in. And in the slushy wet snow and the black darkness of a country yard he wasn't about to go prowling around looking for her. She spent the night with Jack in one of his dry spots - they neither of them ever use the dog house unless LD is here with his dog, when Jack gets very with-a-bone-ish and tries to shove Buster out of His House. But when I let them in this morning they were both dry so I know they were alright.

So. That is the state of Callie's Progress. Let us hope it continues apace and in a month I will be able to show you a picture of her dashing out into the world. Thank you all for caring so much about my little white dog.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Life is a Roller Coaster

This has been a full week - with ups and downs and goods and bads.


  1. Daylight Savings Time - an anathema for a morning person like me  
  2. Baby Puppy Callie's broken leg 
  3. 4 of my library staff down with bronchitis/flu/pneumonia 
  4. Tuesday night board of supervisors meeting - had to skip gym and stay out late   
  5. Began to feel 'off' Thursday and didn't feel any better on Friday. Actually feeling low down by the afternoon.
  6. As a result of all above - have not gotten in the exercise I normally do  


  1. Baby Puppy Callie back on at least 3 of her feet again after surgery. 
  2. 2 of my sick library staff were much better by end of week
  3. BoS meeting didn't last too long and I had good news to share that brought big smiles. Just in time for the budget sessions which start in 2 weeks.   
  4. Got 3 big tasks done at work - three things that had been nagging at me and making me feel guilty. DONE! Yes.  
  5. Had the absolutely most awesome strength training workout Thursday morning ever. Actually did 2 sets of pushups much deeper than I've ever done before.  
  6. Got to go home early on Friday and slept 11 straight hours  
  7. Got to within 2 lbs of my goal weight and no longer have to pay for WW meetings.  

What a week! Still, it looks like the good outweighed the bad. And sometimes a week is just like that. Plans had to change and routines got disrupted and most important of all - I had to adjust and adapt. I do regret not getting in the exercise I normally do because I seriously love exercise. But I don't worship it. It is high on my priority list but not at the top. Balance is at the top. And today I do feel better so I'll get in some exercise and some housework - which, around here, in the land of guys and dogs and farm fields, tends to be very aerobic.

A week like this doesn't leave much time or opportunity for creativity but I hope to get in some Art and some Fiber tomorrow. And on Monday I go to the city and after a brief dr. apt. I get to visit my mama, have lunch with my sister and shop for myself. That's a triple whammy! What a roller coaster ride!

Callie wishes a happy, healthy weekend to you all.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Broken Bones

Jack and Callie on Friday - before her leap from the truck.
 On Sundays we like to take long walks. On beautiful Sundays, like yesterday, we like to take very long walks. So around 2 o'clock, yesterday, we loaded the dogs into the back of the truck and drove over to White Oak Swamp. That's about 2 miles away - down our dirt lane and over about a mile and a half of tar surface. The truck is ancient. It does not go very fast. In a mile it can  hardly get up to 30 mph. Not very fast but fast enough that when a wild spoiled impulsive 7 month old puppy sees her neighbor dog running down the field and decides she wants to PLAY - and leaps out of the truck - broken bones will follow.

I'd been watching her out the back window. We weren't going fast. I turned my head for just a moment, then heard a thump and looked back to see white puppiness on the slope of the field as it dips down from the road. I hollered and BD slammed on the brakes. "She can't get up!" I could see her try to get up and fall back down and then try again. We were at her side in a flash. BD scooped her up and she yelped. He set her gently on the front seat of the truck. Instantly the bossy school marm in my left brain began issuing instructions but before things could deteriorate into an adrenalin squabble my wiser self clamped my mouth shut tight. BD was already wrestling with his own accusatory and self accusatory brains and we drove back to the house in silence.

I would NOT be scared and I would not imagine The Worst. In the living room we set Callie down and examined her for breaks but - neither of us being anatomists - couldn't really tell and didn't want to hurt her more by moving her about. I sat on the floor with her head in my lap while BD called Dr. Lauriel, who, thank God, was home and in her very sober quiet kind and gentle way said "I'll meet you in 45 minutes".

I got up to change my shirt and my little baby, wanting her mother, tried to follow me. She could hop on 3 legs but fell down when she tried to climb the steps. Did I mention that my heart, lodged somewhere just below my uvula, constricted yet again? I sat back with my baby and stroked her gently till she was calm again. She never really did yelp or complain so we could battle those black demons of fear.

Jack wondered why we didn't take him with us in the car, but he's very forgiving about that sort of thing. Callie was silent on the back seat, head down, slightly sleepy. Dr. L was already at the surgery when we got to town and right away identified a broken femur.

This is not a photo of Callie's broken femur - her's is the right leg. She tested her for other things - internal bleeding, and such - but there didn't seem to be anything else wrong. Callie lay as sweet and gentle as could be. She even flapped a tail as BD lifted her, only to gently lay her down on that broken leg for the x-ray. She never whimpered and she never complained. I don't know if that's because she was in shock or there is nerve damage so she couldn't feel it - but she just acquiesced to whatever her humans did to her. Dr. L did say that if she could hop on 3 legs it was a good sign that she was going to be alright.

The treatment will be surgery, this morning, first thing. They will put a pin - or pins - inside her bone to hold it straight while it heals and then take it/them out in 4 to 6 weeks. We left her at the vets for the night to be sure she would be confined and quiet. Dr. L gave her some shots to keep her relaxed and some antibiotics to prep her for surgery.

It was a sober and somewhat sad afternoon without our little wild puppy. But we're deeply grateful that there are good doctors near by and that Callie is young, can heal fast, and is in great health at the moment. Whatever comes next we will just take it a step at a time. But what a day!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

heART Healthy

Sometimes you need to feed your soul more than your body - or perhaps I should say - in addition to your body. I've been working very hard all winter - which used to be the quiet time at the library - the time when we did inventory, wrote up plans for the summer crush, maybe even goofed off a little. That hasn't been the case in a long time (because I've been here an even longer time). In addition to schmoozing with the state politicians, dealing with the budget, making it through the audit and holding the quarterly board meeting there are just plain lots more people using the library and this past week we had a book&author event.


Ordinarily I would have taken off the day after the B&A but that was Wednesday and Wednesday means story hour - AND I'd remembered, at last, to bring the crayon scented perfume for the kids.

You surely remember the crayon perfume I got for my birthday? They even have a perfume for zombies now!

Check out this website.  

But back to MEMEMEMEME  20

I knew I needed a recuperative day and had scheduled one. I invited a girlfriend to bring her pens and paints and come visit for a day of art and talk. Rita is quiet and shy - nothing like big mouth me, but we really appreciate each other. And we both long to be better artists. She is the gf who drew every day in August and exchanged her sketches with me via email.

Of course - we also had to catch up on library gossip. She is a retired librarian so she's been a little out of the loop and there have been a lot of changes in the area libraries - with people coming and going. All of my colleagues are retiring and I will be the last of them. I am so jealous. When I go ... which won't be till 2018 - I think I will be the longest serving library director in Virginia - maybe not in all time, but at that time. Yeah. 40 years! Sheesh!

But we won't talk about that. It's off in the future. What we will talk about is yesterday - which was a blissfully sweet day for recharging my mojo. AND of course I made good eating healthy choices and we got in a walk through the forest ... where I suddenly realized why I'm so fixated on drawing and writing about pixies and fairies - I mean can't you just see a sylvan sprite ducking down this path?

So here is a Spring Fairy drawing to cheer you on this weekend.