Random Goings-on While the Leaves Were Turning

I vacillate between the excitement of the seasonal splendor and the worries or annoyances regarding larger and smaller events surrounding life these days. The blog postings here tend to go in erratic cycles. I might not post for months and then suddenly one pours out of me every week, or even a few in a week. It looks like there will be five posts this month. Apparently October has gotten the synapses firing. One of my sisters pointed out that the posts tend to swing between essays and almost diary entries. I guess that’s okay with me. As I pointed out when I began this brain-purge over a decade ago, it’s just random thoughts that pop up into my head that are primarily written for me. If anyone wants to come along for the ride and happens to relate or to enjoy it, that’s okay too.

While this flamboyantly beautiful season was unfolding, my little dog Rudi was sick, which was cause for much anxiety. He is a loyal and loving companion, but also functions as an extra set of ears for me, an unofficial hearing/alert dog. Even aside from riding out the isolating days of the early pandemic together, I probably spend more time alone with him beyond that – more than with anybody else. I depend on him daily, not just for comfort, but actually in order to navigate parts of my daily world. He is my constant. He is a quirky little rescue, appears to be a papillon/chihuahua cross, I am guessing probably around nine years old by now.

my boy

It was an odd progression of symptoms, unfolding over almost a three week period. He was at a routine vet visit when they discovered he had a fever. I had no idea, as his behavior had not changed. He was acting fine. He had thrown up a few times, but this dog more than occasionally throws up, so it was not unusual. As a matter of fact, when the vet asked me how long has he been vomiting, I said “about eight years”.…because it’s true. He always throws up on the landing of the stairs. As an aside, I always end up stepping in it, in my socks or barefoot. Eight years of dog puke. So it was not a red flag.

Not feeling so well…..

I took him home with instructions to monitor the situation. A day later his temp was back to normal with no obvious cause found. But a week or so later, Rudi started having diarrhea and vomiting up every single thing he ingested, including water. Then he stopped eating altogether. Not even the most high value treats or meats could entice him. He became extremely lethargic and began hiding behind and under things. At one point he suddenly leaped up and began trembling for no apparent reason, then ran away to hide again. He seemed to barely be able to get up and down the stairs and was clearly weak. When we went out for a walk, instead of his usual sniffing around to investigate, or trotting with excitement to go down the block, he immediately turned around and wanted to go back into the house.

We returned to the vet and found he was running a fever again, indicating some sort of infection. Oddly, his labs were all within normal limits and he didn’t appear to have a blockage. So he was given a shot of prednisone to address arthritic pain and put on antibiotics for whatever else was going on. If it continued after the course was finished, he was to come back for x-rays. By this time he had lost a couple of pounds. Rudi is a little guy, topping out at ten or eleven pounds at his heaviest, so two pounds on him was significant. I could feel every rib and the bones along his spine, and even had to adjust his harness down so it would fit him. It was very unsettling. And honestly, I was terrified of having a similar situation occur like what happened with my last dog.

leave me alone

I actually gave him a Covid rapid test, which was inconclusive.

Of course, just like when you or your kids get sick, this stuff always seems to peak at night or over a weekend when offices are closed. It was a Saturday night when it reached the point where the dog was not even drinking water. I found myself hand-feeding him the smallest bits of whatever I was eating that might interest him. He took a wee bit of oatmeal from my fingertips. He readily took the final dose of the liquid antibiotics he had been on all week. I kept offering him water with an eye-dropper. I contemplated taking him to the emergency on-call veterinary place for fluids and decided if he wasn’t better by morning that was the plan. He hid in his crate (which is his private “leave me alone” space) the rest of the time and slept. I admit I didn’t sleep very well, filled with worry.

The next morning he was totally fine! Appetite back in full force. Trotting around the house with bright eyes, alerting me to whatever was going on, barking at whatever was outside the window, wanting to engage in play. Jumping back up on the bed. Hanging out. Whatever it was, I guess the antibiotics addressed. He’s so little, so sweet, and he’s my boy. I’m so relieved he is alright, it is as if a great weight has lifted from my heart.

On a much lesser note, a large tray of granola that I left every-so-slightly too long in the oven ended up burning. I am so annoyed about that, not only because the ingredients add up to being costly, but because I really, really wanted to have more granola at that moment, and this is a good granola recipe. What a waste! I have actually been slowly eating the burnt granola in very small quantities because I just can’t bear to throw it all out. I am trying to convince myself that it is just “heavily toasted”. Well, maybe “very heavily toasted”. I wonder if it is bad for you to eat very heavily toasted, almost (but not quite) blackened granola…..

Bummer – beyond heavily toasted granola

The latest in my flora and fauna world – while driving down the road I saw a hawk struggling to lift off with a very large something in its talons. It looked sort of gray-ish and could have been a large squirrel. Or a cat (I hope not). Or something else, draped and hanging down from the hawk’s grasp. The bird was having a rough time gaining any altitude. I couldn’t pull over to watch because there was traffic behind me. But the image stayed with me.

On another day last week I was heading down a hill, admiring the kaleidoscope of fall foliage, when I saw a bear running parallel to my car through the trees on the side of the road. I pulled over to see what it was going to do. With significant speed it veered off onto a side street, its large bear-butt rolling and shaking (very adorable, actually) as it retreated down the pavement and out of sight. That is the second bear I have seen this season. Sightings seem to be more and more frequent. This past week a young black bear was struck by a school bus on one of our local roads, which is the first time I have heard about anything like that happening, someone actually hitting a bear. Usually it’s deer. This was upsetting and sad news.

On a nicer note, I went to visit my friend and neighbor of many years in her rather magical rainbow house. I go there every once in a while to touch base and clear my head. She once said to me “Mi casa es su casa“, which felt inviting and kind; indeed it is grounding for me to wander around communing with nature, share updates and get into some thought-provoking dialog. It runs the gamut. Travel. Family. Nature. Emotions. Marek’s disease in chickens. One of the topics that stuck with me the other day was Object Permanence in relation to Narcissism. Intelligent and insightful conversation. I value the perspective and left there feeling more centered.

“Mi casa es su casa”

The ginkgo trees are in full lemon-yellow display. I love ginkgo leaves with their beautiful fan shape. They make lovely patterns on the ground. The crushed ginkgo seeds, or “ginkgo nuts” of the female trees smell really bad (actually like vomit). There is one area of the sidewalk down the street that is littered with those smelly things every year. I have read that the seeds contain a toxin that can sicken a dog. Rudi did not eat any of these, but it’s good information to know.

Flocks of starlings have been hanging out on The Crow Tree. Every once in a while there is a raven or a hawk, but mostly it’s become a starling haven. They are okay, but I don’t find them as exciting at the crows.

Starlings hanging out…..not as cool as the crows

Today I pruned back the lavender in preparation for winter. Hopefully next year the plants will come back with a wonderful show of blooms. I always lose one or two every year, or they become too woody due to my usual hands-off neglect. So I made a tiny effort….we will see. I noticed there are no praying mantis egg cases attached to any of them this year. While I was doing the trimming, there was a very vocal Carolina Wren singing a melodious song. It was a nice accompaniment, the scent of the lavender, the song of the bird.

Lavender pruning, with Rudi’s supervision

As part of the pre-Halloween cleanup I removed anything from the porch that I might have regrets about losing. Everything would probably be fine if I didn’t bother, but after having had a wicker chair walk off years ago, I would just as soon bring the remaining ones in for the night and not leave out any temptation, especially since in this neighborhood we get some significant Halloween traffic. Some of the plants that summered outdoors need to come inside anyway. I rolled up the colorful little outdoor rugs and stored them. And then of course I had to sweep, since it’s littered with dirt, peeling paint and debris.

I seriously hate sweeping. I think I hate sweeping more than I hate vacuuming, but less than I hate painting. A trio of domestic aversions. I have a friend who is a very enthusiastic and productive sweeper. She learned at a young age to sweep. Sweeping was her chore and she does it well. As a matter of fact, a few years ago she actually swept my porch with great gusto and and did a beautifully thorough job of it. My sweeping is for shame. I have made a pathetic attempt at it this year. The poor porch needs a total revamp though, it’s a flaking, rotting, falling apart mess. I think at this point even a perfect sweeping job would be undermined by the condition of this porch.

After I finished sweeping I sat down on the somewhat cleaner porch and ate a greasy eggroll leftover from last night. I periodically get a craving for eggrolls. It was very satisfying.

greasy but oh so good….

On the subject of food, I just printed off a slew of recipes I have been coming across and emailing to myself all year with intent to experiment with. Since we are moving into soup season, the other day I decided to wing it and threw together a pea and sweet potato soup flavored with za’atar, which ended up being pretty tasty. This winter I hope to get into some interesting cooking endeavors.

So that’s what’s been mostly going on in my world this past month. We have just tipped past the peak of autumn, but it is still lovely, the hills carpeted in an ochre rust with pops of vermillion and gold here and there. A few holdout trees are still wearing green. I have been gathering leaves and making little leaf mandalas on the front lawn or in the driveway, but the wind keeps blowing them away before I can finish, so I’m mostly just stacking them one on top of the other and enjoying the contrasts. The art of impermanence….


This entry was posted in Animal Stories, Autumn, Dogs, Perspective, Uncategorized, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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