Update on Zorro Dog

So we’re back from the vet, and we only spent $195, which for Zorro is almost nothing, considering we used to spend $120 a week in acupuncture and Chinese herbs for him.

Here’s where we are:

Heart murmur: stage 6 of 6. We’re having an ultrasound done @ the 15th in order to determine if it’s really as bad as it sounds, and to come up with managed care. There is no cure for canine heart disease, only treatment of symptoms.

Heart is enlarged: enough that it’s pressing his trachea almost into his spinal cord. Current resting heart rate is 176 bpm. It should be more like 120-130.

Lungs have fluid: not a lot, but enough to make breathing an effort.

Hips: are sore because blood isn’t being oxygenated and because he’s old and has a touch of arthritis.

As well: he has a bit of bronchitis / kennel cough, though not the official virus that bordetella shots are supposed to prevent.

Drugs we now have for him:
Clavamox (antibiotic)
Enalapril Maleate (an ACE inhibitor, to lower blood pressure)
Lasix (a loop diuretic used often in racehorses with congestive heart failure, to help reduce the edema)
Cough suppressant (which will hopefully let him sleep and soothe his throat.)

As well, he is banned from walkies.

I can’t wait to see the end of tonight and this year. As someone already said, 2007 has been a suckful year for animals, and a less than great year overall.

We will be going back in ten days to follow up, and doing an ultrasound around the 15th to get a better idea of the heart issues.

Zorro Dog

Click to Embiggen

It’s nearly five in the morning, and Zorro isn’t doing very well. He’s been coughing nonstop all day, the first time he’s shown any symptoms of his heart murmur. The pet sitter didn’t mention any coughing, and we didn’t notice anything bad on Saturday, but today it’s been pretty awful. Of course the vet is closed.

I’ve emailed them, though I’m not sure if they’re open today, and I’ll call them as soon as their opening hour hits, and I resorted to giving the dog a benadryl to knock him out as we are out of valium, and I don’t know what else to do.

This isn’t a normal small-dog reverse-sneeze sort of coughing, but the canine equivalent of hacking up a lung, and what’s worse is that it’s not even the kind of congestion you get from a cold, but a symptom that his heart murmur is worsening. Those of you who’ve known us for a while know that we’re not sure of Zorro’s exact age – he could be anywhere between nine and thirteen, and eleven is probably the most accurate estimate. Those of you who’ve been reading this for a while also know that he’s been through epilepsy that involved cluster seizures so bad our vet had been preparing us to put him down six years ago, though he’s been seizure free for five years now.

If we’re lucky, the vet will work with us, and Zorro will get some nice drugs to help the heart congestion. Either something cortisone based or the drug LASIX that is used for race-horses.

If you’re reading this, please send my little Zorro-dog some comforting healing energy. He’s a sweet little guy, who cooperates with vets, doesn’t bite, and lives for cuddling, walkies, and pieces of cheese. He’s been part of our family for ten years, and he’s special.

Foreign Films

One of conversations we had with my parents was about the fact that they get most American movies in English with Spanish subtitling, unless they’re perceived as “children’s” films, in which case, there are Spanish-language versions (dubbed) with the occasional showing in English, which you can find if you read the movie schedule carefully. However, as I wrote a few days ago, the title of the films are often translated, and some of the translations can be quite perplexing.

This conversation returned as one of many subjects that came up during dinner last night, when Helen mentioned that it’s the same in Chinese, where often, the translated titles have no resemblance to the American version of the name.

That aside, I have a great fondness for foreign films, and while many are actually in English – like The Lover, which is one of my favorite movies ever, others come in two flavors, dubbed and subtitled. Almost always, I prefer the subtitled versions, because the voices never match the actors correctly, both in flavor and in synchronization, and that bothers me.

Favorite subtitled movies?
La Cage Aux Folles, the original one, of course.
Amalie, did anyone not love it?
Mostly Martha, a cooking film. I like cooking films.
Avenue Montaigne, I watched this a while ago, and now want to see it again.

Any suggestions?

Donate a Car, Change the World?

I have to admit, when I heard about a car donation organization that used the money to make children’s videos promoting good values, I was a little bit leery. I mean, yes, I attend church, but that doesn’t mean I agree with everything taught there.

But then I got deeper into reading about Car Angel / Boat Angel, and their organization Car Angel Ministries, and I found out they also reach out to the addicts and the homeless, as well as working toward prison reform – all the things street ministries and urban religious organizations should be concerned with – and that’s something I can support, at least in theory.

The Car Angel site is easy to navigate, and offers information about what sorts of vehicles they accept (cars, boats, motorcycles, and rv’s) as well as some of the projects they’re working on (adult literacy, outreach to children, drug prevention) and how you can get a copy of their anti-drug film “D.O.P.E.” for your organization.

The trailer for “D.O.P.E.” is below, courtesy of YouTube, but if you want to check out the free children’s videos they make, which are reminiscent of the claymation series with the kid and the dog that I remember watching as a child in New Jersey (and which, I’m told, are somewhat akin to Veggie Tales, but you all know I don’t do animation, so I wouldn’t know).

In any case, check out the trailer, and if you have an old car you want to donate in time to get it on this year’s tax return (you still have 24 hours or so), check out Car Angels.

Dream House?

The weekend before we left for Mexico, we attended a dinner party at which one of the hosts asked everyone, “If you could travel to any place in the world, where would you go?”

London and Hawaii were popular choices. I chose Paris, because I still want to spend a month there, writing. I will manage this before the year is out. It’s a promise to myself.

More recently, talking with my mother, I said I wanted to live on the beach, and teased that Fuzzy should get promoted a couple more times, so that we could afford such a thing. “Any more promotions,” he said, “will require us to live in Florida.”

“Oh,” I replied. “I don’t want to live on a beach there.”

My mother suggested we save our pennies and buy a second home somewhere coastal, which has me fantasizing: if I were to buy a vacation home, where would it be?

I wouldn’t mind living in Portland, OR, but it’s not on the beach, and rivers don’t do it for me. I love Half Moon Bay, CA, but it’s insanely expensive. Bolinas and Benicia, also in California, are favorite places, though Bolinas is a bit weird. And often smells funny. And I love love love the region around Tomales Bay – Pt. Reyes Station and Inverness – so much do I love that region, actually, that the town where my book opens is based on it.

But California is expensive, and I don’t really have ties there any more. So the search continues, with other dream locations including Ocean Grove, NJ, where we lived for a while when I was a child.

The thing is, I prefer cold, stormy beaches to just lying in the sand baking on hot ones, so warmth isn’t entirely an issue, though a temperate climate would be nice.

You may ask, “why not Mexico?”

My parents live there. I can visit any time. It’s not a place I really want to live.
But I really should visit more.


Adrian Monk, fictional San Francisco detective with severe OCD, had my deepest sympathies while I was in Baja. Oh, I loved being there, but the public toilet facilities in Mexico – at least in that part – lack things like cleanliness and toilet paper.

I often found myself wishing for wipes, before entering rooms. Not that the bathrooms at LAX were much better, but in La Paz, the local custom is to put used toilet paper, not in the toilet for flushing, but in the wastebasket.

Even in Dorian’s, which isn’t a cheap store (I mean, you walk in and there’s a Clinique counter – it’s a traditional department store), the bathrooms were scary. They probably did have toilet paper (unused) when they opened, but at three it was clear that no one bothered to check their status.

They have a guy at each Caja (cashier’s desk) whose whole job is stapling bags, but no one to empty the overflowing mass of used bathroom tissue or put fresh rolls in the dispensers.

And then there was the scary bathroom at the car park. “Esta limpa?” my mother asked. “Is it clean?” The guy at the desk nodded yes. “Hay papel?” He handed her a roll of toilet paper.

We opened the door to find a disgusting urinal, and off in a cement closet with no floor and no light, a toilet that was only clean if you compared it to, oh, say, the ruins of Pompeii.

Or maybe those were cleaner.

I’m not easily squicked, really, but after that bathroom (which we both refused to use) I totally sided with Mr. Monk.


Beach Magic

Beach Magic has made me the only person ever (I am certain) to come home from vacation having LOST weight, despite eating chocolate and coconut shrimp and all sorts of luxurious, delicious, bad-for-you foods.

We won’t even talk about the cream of green chili soup.

Seriously, ten days in Mexico was somewhat akin to a six week course of hydroxycut – I am not tan, because it was cold (for Mexico – low 70’s), but I am toned, energetic, and anxious to get up and do things.

Like fly a kite.
Or run through a field.

Things I don’t really take the time to do.

But my parents gave Christopher this brilliant 3-cube box kite for Christmas and we never had a chance to fly it. So now we have to, especially since we carried it home.

It’s beach magic.

The Problem

…with living in a foreign country is that things that should be easy, like getting term life insurance quotes, become more difficult.

On Wednesday, my parents’ home insurance agent called to ask them to renew, and told them their policy had lapsed ten days before, even though he’d promised not to let that happen. I got to experience my parents’ side of the issue, hearing them complain about how the binder was wrong, and having another, more reputable agent agree with my mother, “You may have payed a premium…but you weren’t covered.”

And yet, despite this…their life seems so relaxed and peaceful.

Problems seem to lend flavor.

Resting States

Sitting in LAX last night, sipping a mocha frapp between planes, and taking a moment to catch my breath, I read a blog comment from my mother, and an email from her as well. I miss her already. The bond between mothers and daughters is an interesting one, rather like an elastic band. You stretch it thin, then let it snap back to its resting state, but you are always tethered, even when the connection is so thin you think it might break.

My mother and I have been through every stage: hero worship, worst enemy, best friend, close confidante, distant acquaintance, but always there is that connection. Where my mother is, is home, even if I didn’t grow up there. She has the knack of taking two pieces of fabric, pinning them to a wall and making a blank space into something warm and comfortable. We both have short tempers, and we sometimes don’t communicate well, but neither do we tend to hold grudges, and we eventually snap back into our own resting state of shared references and long memories, and similar, but not identical tastes and opinions. She shaped my perception of the world, of course, as do all parents, but she gave me the freedom to mold the window I look through to my own liking.

With my stepfather, it’s different. We don’t have that blood bond. We don’t have that instant connection. We had to forge our relationship in fire and ice, and it didn’t come easily. He wasn’t accustomed to children who fight back, who fight at ALL, and I didn’t trust him to stay. Our resting state is at a different vibration than that of my relationship with my mother. With Ira, it’s witty banter and affectionate teasing, and an evolution of language. He challenges me. I like to be challenged. It’s good.

They say that women marry their fathers. On the surface, my sweet geeky husband who looks like Steven Spielberg right now because his beard is trimmed short, and he has color on his cheeks, and has been wearing a baseball cap all week, is nothing like my stepfather. But then there are ways in which they are eerily alike: neither can complete a task without getting lost in minutia. My mother and I draw the world in broad strokes full of color and light, the men in our lives use finely-honed pencils and are detail oriented, not at all impressionistic. Both are inclined to curl up in corners with books or blankets rather than be outwardly social, but are delightful companions when in the mood.

I am writing from bed. My own bed. My normal weekend morning resting state: one husband, curled up with his face turned away from the light seeping in from the gaps between the blinds, two dogs, exhausted from their early morning welcoming of their people, many pillows, one laptop, total contentment.

I am rested.
I am home.
I have found my resting state.
For now.


Here’s how I spent my day:

Up at four – couldn’t sleep. Tried to sleep. Didn’t work.
Gave up on sleep at five. Packed. Showered. Woke Fuzzy. Had coffee and a bagel with mom and Ira.

Arrived at La Paz airport @ 12:30 for 2:30 flight.
We were in line behind a blonde woman with many bottles of tequila (and not even the good stuff) in her suitcase which was overweight. She was refusing to pay the $2 per kilo (it would have been about $10) overage. Instead, she held up the line by removing books and such from that bag (and adding them to her carry on) which required the officials to keep weighing the pile of removed stuff until it equaled the overage.

Then waited while Mexican TSAs searched every bag. We were polite, therefore our bags were not searched terribly deeply.

Went to waiting area. Sat for about an hour. Twenty minutes before flight was called, found out we had two hour delay. Checked with gate agent, who was a) very handsome in that Old World Mexican kind of way, and charming, and called me My Lady, and b) very patient. Informed that we’d likely have more than enough time to clear immigration, clear customs, and go back through security at LAX.

Waited more.

Got to LAX @ 5:30 PM local time. Cleared immigration. Cleared customs without bag search. (Answered “no” to “do you have any food or alcohol. Decided tiny wheel of brie, tiny bottle of Damiana, gummi worms and Mexican oreos do not count as food. Or alcohol. Never mind that Damiana is widely used as an aphrodisiac and is derived from an herb that is one of the ingredients in viagra.)

Walked bags from terminal 5 (international arrivals) to terminal 4 (American Airlines – domestic). Handed bags to very tall TSA. Walked through security. TSA there liked our kite.

Discovered, en route through security, that plane from LAX to DFW was also delayed. Relieved.

Used restroom. Had Starbucks. Waited for plane.

Waited for plane some more.

Finally boarded 7:35 pm flight to DFW at 8:15.

Scheduled landing time: 12:35 AM. Actual landing time: 12:55 AM. Not bad, really.

Waited for luggage.
Waited for bus to car.
Drove home.
Stopped for food and gas.

Greeted dogs.


I think I’m ready to crash now.

Miss mom.
But glad to be home with cute furry animals.