Wednesday, November 27, 2013

To the Mountains

Off to the mountains for Thanksgiving, along with everyone except the Nashville delegation. And there's snow! Not on the roads yet but the fields are white.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Nov. 22, 2013
Jean Ruth Stewart Brown, 92, of Brunswick, passed away Friday morning at Hospice of the Golden Isles.

Mrs. Brown was born June 17, 1921, in Savannah, GA, and moved to Brunswick at the age of 7. She attended Glynn Academy, was a member of Lakeside United Methodist Church, was a former member of the Brunswick Country Club.

A Celebration of Mrs. Brown's life, will be held Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, 10:00 am, at Chapman Funeral Chapel. A private inurnment will follow at Evergreen Cemetery.

Mom said:

 Mema's Memorial Service was FABULOUS!  :)   It was honoring and double dipped in humor.   Jonathan
nailed the music as he is so capable of doing....   your dad did a good job of scripture and the rest of us shared fun times with Mema. Hard to describe it - you just had to be there. There was knee slapping fun and much laughter and pure hilarity but all in good taste. Mema had to be loving it.  :)   It lasted for an hour and seemed to be about 20 minutes.  People were saying how fabulous Jonathan's music was and about the service itself that they had NEVER been to a "funeral" like that

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Zoe Chow

Experimentation over the last few days indicate that Zoe likes:

  • ice cream
  • chicken cordon bleu
  • bacon cheddar burger
  • lasagna
  • fondue
She's always been fond of "people food" but now we're spoiling her even more than usual, and she thoroughly approves.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Out, Out--"

For Mum's funeral we ran around and organized things and packed and booked plane tickets and took time off from work and flew to Canada and did the service and reception and so forth. 
Mema didn't want anyone to be bothered, so she asked that there only be a graveside service, and that only for the people already in Brunswick; the Virginia contingent will have a memorial at the farm when we're all there. I'm reminded of Robert Frost's poem that ends with:

                       They listened to his heart.
Little - less - nothing! - and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

When I die, I'm going to insist that people fly to Uzbekistan or Ecuador or wherever I've settled and attend the funeral. It's when you go through the inconvenience and bother and time that you grasp that it's important. 

Bathing the Mutt

Since the diagnosis, we haven't been taking Mutt to get groomed. We've washed her a couple of times--she considers a "walk on the beach" to necessarily include a "roll in the sand"--but it's too cold now to spray her with the hose on the deck. She doesn't like the bathroom shower; when she realizes that we're herding her there, she digs her feet in and refuses to budge. I have to scoop her up and carry her in. Once she's actually in the shower, she sighs and says "Oh all right then, if you must" and resigns herself to it, but she doesn't enjoy it. So today we tried her in the big tub upstairs. When she goes to the beach or the pool, she usually plunks herself right down, so we figured that it the tub was half full of warm water, she might do the same. But no. She was fatalistic about it but as soon as we hinted it was okay for her to get out, she scrambled out and away.

The girls at PetSmart invariably cool "Oh, she's such an angel, she was perfect" and so forth, which makes me wonder whether there's some other technique we should learn, or if their threshold for "angelic" is low.

Friday, November 22, 2013


My grandmother died this morning.

Jean Brown, but we called her Mema, or just Me--I shortened it when I was very young, and being hustled to get into a car and leave, and called out "Goodbye, Me!"

It's odd to think that when I was six, and we moved off to Virginia, that she was 48. Younger than I am now.

She had been ill for about ten days--congestive heart failure, kidney failure. She told Mom "I had a little talk with the Lord and I told him I'm ready to go."

I talked to her on Monday evening, for about a minute. "I love you." "I love you more!" "You're probably right, Mema." A couple more sentences and she was out of breath.

Mom kept watch in the room beside her, for the last few days; she called at 7:00 this morning to say "Momma has finished the race."

Friday, November 15, 2013

OGRE Designer Edition

The OGRE Designer's Edition game arrived today. This is the one from Steve Jackson's 2012 Kickstarter campaign, that started with a goal of $20,000 and ended up with over $923,000. And it grew, and grew, and's the only game I've seen to have a "Team Lift" warning label on the box. Just to give an idea of the scale, the box was 28lb and measured 25" x 21" x 7.5"--I'd been imagining that I could put it into the bookcase with the other games, but this is way too big, so it'll have to go under the coffee table. Over 1000 counters. At least 27 of the 3D OGRE counters; I may not have found them all because there are still thirty-one counter sheets I haven't punched yet.
So Josh and I set up the original Mark III scenario and had a game. My defenders managed to immobilize his OGRE before it got in range of the Command Post, although I had only one GEV and one Mobile Howitzer left, right down to the wire. Good times.

Four Weeks

It's been four weeks since the vet said "probably two to three weeks" and Mutt seems to be doing pretty well. She was a bit less energetic today than usual; but we all have days like that.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thor: the Dark World

Or possibly "The Rise of Loki" since Loki is a more interesting character.
The movie was entertaining. Thor was a good Norse God of Smashem Inna Face, not particularly clever but able to solve things by brute force + invulnerability + physical courage,  He didn't wrestle with tough moral choices; he did have to make one tough choice, but all the discussion on that one was "how do we pull this off", not "what will it cost us?" and "what if we're wrong?" The line from the trailer "Ask yourself: what would you sacrifice, for what you believe?" just didn't apply. Thor isn't, apparently, much given to worrying about consequences.
Other than that: I didn't find the villain's "Let's destroy all the worlds" motivation to be believable, although I think it could have been improved with a bit better writing; also, he apparently didn't care about his own people's casualties, which is a bit odd since that's all that's left of his whole species. The Asgardian flak guns and aero-boat fighters (with open decks....) were jarring, particularly since the Asgardian infantry only uses melee weapons. I think they tried to give too many people screen time; for instance, they could have eliminated Selvig and given all his "figuring out what's going on" functions to Jane, which would have made her less of a passive victory token and more of an active participant.
Still, it was fun.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Yesterday Muttling took us to Francis Land House in the afternoon. I'd been there before, but it turns out that behind the house, there's a short trail that looks over the creek they used to use to canoe goods to the Lynnhaven River and thence to ship. The water level is lower there now; I might be able to get a kayak from there to the bay but I don't think there's any chance of getting a laden canoe out. We also looked at the gardens, including the herb garden with chives, tansy, madder, false indigo, St John's wort, and many others.

Today I took Zoe for a quick walk around 1:00, but when we got back to the house, instead of prancing up the steps and going inside, she started tugging back toward the street...past the car...and then she stopped at the car's back door where she usually gets in. This didn't really require a round of "What's that, Lassie? Little Timmy's fallen down the well and we need 252 grams of neodymium to save him?" to figure out. So, after lunch, we set out towards another park. This time we went to the 64th Street entrance for First Landing State Park,  also known as Seashore State Park. I'd been there before, several years ago, and Diana hadn't been to that part of the park at all. There's a narrow sandy beach on the Broad Bay side, and just back from the beach there's a trail through woods, where red-leafed maples stand next to live oaks hung with Spanish moss, with marsh on the other side. Zoe made a good choice with that one.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Three Weeks

It's been three weeks since the vet said "probably two to three weeks" but Zoe is looking like her normal self.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A few more days

Muttsy has been pretty perky since Sunday. Bright eyed, prancing as usual on her walks, and sitting next to the table in her usual "I'm not begging, mind you, just conveniently available" pose. She has also jumped onto the couch without trouble, although we still have the mattress on the floor so she can sleep on the bed with us without having to exert herself.

Meanwhile, I've gotten the new computer up and mostly running--Win7 is changing the screen resolution when the computer wakes up, which is a nuisance but not unbearable, and that's been the only real issue thus far.

Reading Spider Woman's Daughter, which is a continuation of Tony Hillerman's books by his daughter.

The Philippines are getting hit, right now, by a supertyphoon, known as Haiyan or Yolanda. The "tropical storm" level diameter is 300 miles, the overall storm is over 1100 miles across, and it has sustained winds of 195mph, gusts of 235mph.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Walk in the Park

Other than refusing some foods, Zoe seemed perfectly normal today. Maybe a little creaky, giving a bit of a grunt when she lays down, but given that she's 14, that's nothing unusual. She turned down mesquite turkey but she took all the chicken cordon bleu we would give her, and then decided to accept a couple of slices of the turkey after all. This evening, she took a couple of chicken thighs we cooked for her, but declined the pumpkin ice cream that she liked a couple of days ago. We took her to Great Neck Park for an hour this afternoon and she wandered around off the leash, never getting too far from us but enjoying sniffing at the leaves on the ground. and trees, and little hidden things that we couldn't see but must have announced themselves to her nose. A couple of spots she investigated excitedly, and then rolled on, although they seemed to be bits of grass just like any other bits across the field. When it was time to leave the park, she jumped into the back of the car on her own, before I could lift her.
I took her out for a walk this evening and she pranced along like she always did.

In other news--it's National Novel Writing Month and I should be at 5000+ words now. I'm actually at about 1300. I can knock out 600 words in 20 minutes, no problem; but having them be 600 words connected to a story I really want to tell, well, that's more of a trick. Bleh. Novels may not be the thing for me.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Once more unto the Beach, dear friend

Zoe seemed better at her 6am walk, although not up to par. She usually follows a particular route--this hill, that patch of lawn, this tree, that bush; this time she just wandered along, hitting a couple of usual spots but not others. Is she confused? I don't know. She seems alert.
I thought a lot last night about when to take her for that last trip. I don't want to sacrifice even one day that she could be happy. I don't want her to suffer one day that she doesn't have to. But life isn't binary; it doesn't go from "happy" to "suffering" with no possibility of mixing. My shoulder usually hurts, has for months; that doesn't mean life isn't worth living. And we say "I don't want her to suffer" but then you think "When they put her to sleep, I want it to be to take away the suffering, not to take away the life"...but that implies waiting till she is suffering. I didn't come to any good resolution on that.
I pretty much had to put a piece of ham in her mouth to get her to eat anything this morning, but once she started she ate five slices.
I figured if we went to the beach and she just laid there, that would be a good indicator that the Time has Come, but I was hoping she would enjoy it. And....she enjoyed the beach. Trotting around, happy as can be, getting into the water, sniffing at things, going up to a lady walking up the beach and getting petted. We walked back through the memorial path around 47th Street and looked at some of the names: some people who were eighty or ninety, one who was forty one, one who fifteen.
On the way home we got frozen yogurt for all three of us, and Zoe polished off hers without hesitation. But then when we got home, she didn't eat any ham. So...I don't know. But at least she had one more happy time. All we can do.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday in the Park

Diana had physiotherapy and our scheduled Zoe-sitter fell through, so I took my lunch hour to go pick the Mutt up from the physio place at Hilltop and take her for a walk. We went to the woods next to the Great Neck Library. Muttsy mostly walked around slowly; however, she was mostly sniffing at the ground, so maybe that was why. She did trot a little bit.
It really hit me, though, that absent a miracle, she's not going to be with us long, and at some point I'll have to carry her in and tell her "Just close your eyes, Good Pup, and when you wake up you'll be in a sunny meadow, with wildflowers you can bound through, and open lawns where you can run, and streams you can splash in, and other happy dogs you can play with. And not very long from now, Mommy and Daddy will come, and you can tear back in forth in excitement like you used to, and jump on the bed with us, and Daddy will toss his shirt over your head and play Peek a Woof with you."

One of my coworkers suggested that we go ahead and get a new dog now. I told him "I don't want a new dog, I want my dog."

An emotionally draining day.