Thursday, December 28, 2017

Epiphany or Candlemas Day?

[the only chalk painting I ever did]

Do you take your Christmas decorations down on Epiphany, January 6th? Or even earlier?

Do any of you keep them up until Candlemas Day, on February 2nd as some do traditionally?

We always took down our fresh Christmas tree by New Year's Day but waited until January 6th for everything else.

Not this year, this year we plan to keep them up until Candlemas Day. 

You all know why we couldn't bring ourselves to begin unpacking Christmas things in November. But not only were we heartbroken for the loss of Otis and Milo, RH had just lost a sibling and other dear family members had just learned of a health crisis.

[my mother and father, so romantic in the snow]

We didn't have the heart for it then or even early in December.

[RH and I, no snow but still romantic, right?]

It was nearly Christmas before we slowly finished.

We're going to keep Christmas around for a while, keep it around to enjoy with BreeBree and James Mason, when they come. Watch It's A Wonderful Life with them snuggled between us on the sofa.

[RH and one of his brothers and sister with Santa]

Maybe watch Elf and A Christmas Story, all of the great ones that we weren't in the mood for early.

We'll even leave our Christmas tree up because for the first time ever we didn't put up a fresh tree.

Instead we put up the sparkly tree that was in my dressing room at our old house.

There are vintage fish scale ornaments on it, Made in Poland.

And an odd French prism bought decades ago, never found another one--wish we had a dozen of them.

The tree sits on an old green metal plant stand that normally holds a diffuser and essential oils in my bedroom. The tree snaps securely in the stand and the rim holds a collection of vintage pale green and pink Shiny Brite ornaments.

This tree looks surprisingly just right against the old pine paneling of this room, a fun surprise.

There are other Christmas treasures scattered around the house, even though we shared many of our collections with family when we downsized two years ago. 

These are photos that RH took early one morning while I was still asleep. He turned on only the tree and twinkle lights and snapped these and I was charmed by them. 

We'll see if I really do keep them up until February 2nd. I think they will suit my love of winter because I always shake my head when I see others pining for Spring as soon as New Year's Day passes. Don't they remember the hot days of July and August?

But we'll see. Once I look at my blog friends' pristine January rooms, maybe I'll change my mind.

What about you? When Christmas is over is it over for you? Or do you like to let it linger?

"I sometimes think we expect too much
of Christmas Day.
We try to crowd into it the long arrears
of kindliness and humanity of the whole year.
As for me, I like to take my Christmas
a little at a time, all through the year."
David Grayson in
A Day of Pleasant Bread

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Oh, that I still had the energy I had as the little girl above at Christmas!

Oh, the cookies I meant to bake.

Oh, the posts I meant to write.

And here it is on the eve of Christmas Eve
and little has been done,
especially the visits to all the blog friends
who left such sweet comments to my last post.

I do like to visit everyone before I write another post here at the Window but I can't let this Christmas pass without wishing all of you a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah.

My very best to each of you, enjoy these next few days and treasure those you love!


P.S. Would you like to see what RH and I bought each other for Christmas?

We're hoping to welcome two sweet dachshunds
to claim these new beds in January.

There are new blankets and new toys waiting too.

And a mama and a daddy who already love
BreeBree and James Mason.

RH and I plan to celebrate Christmas a long time
because we got a little late start on it this year.

We hope yours is merry and bright too.

[Sunday morning: Oops, a friend emailed me that I didn't have comments turned on! Sorry, fixing it now but for all those who've already visited, I know you are wishing us a merry Christmas, as we are you.]

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Many Things Help

The lovely golden leaves have fallen since we last talked but I was grateful for them while they lasted. I was also grateful for your emails, thank you so very much.

Family and friends help in a heartsick time, don't they?

Even when it doesn't feel as if your heart is in it, just seeing precious faces around you, hearing them laugh and talk, lightens the sadness. 

We celebrated one son's birthday here with local favorite Centerpoint Barbecue and their amazing barbecue beans. That left me with only potato salad and coleslaw to make. I'm really becoming a believer in make some; buy some company meals.

And have you noticed that more and more we're being encouraged not to "entertain" but to simply "have people over?" I love that, how about you?

I've even noticed a following for a new type of hospitality called "scruffy entertaining," meaning not waiting until everything is perfect before inviting people to your house. Don't deprive yourself of good times breaking bread together just because you haven't done a spic and span clean beforehand.

I know some people are always party-ready but I'm just not, never will be, but I'm going to make a conscious effort not to let that stop me from making memories with my loved ones around the table.

A good dessert goes a long way to finish out an average meal, and the Hershey Bar cake I made for our firstborn's birthday was a hit. He's requested it for his birthday cake ever since I first made it when he was a teenager.

I didn't get a picture of the cake I made for our other family gathering recently. My sweet potato cake was a flop. I'd made it perfectly recently for another son's birthday. I'm blaming it on the oven, another reason for getting a new one soon, right?

The big pot of chili I made the Friday night after Thanksgiving was delicious, even without all the toppings piled on it by one grandson.

We managed to get two sons and their families here for chili that night.

And two grandsons came, one with his wife and son--you know what that makes me and RH, don't you?

I just realized that I don't have a picture of our other grandson who was here, I think because I had him taking pictures for me. Next time, Caleb.

But our great-grandson ate his chili, with onions! Then he got distracted by my new Morvarian Star light hanging over the table when I tried to get him to smile for the camera.

Our local families went home but we were blessed to have our granddaughters and their parents here for the weekend.

And in the mornings were barefoot breakfasts.

Some things do help when you're missing two little dachshunds so very much.

Having loved ones around helps, the beauty of nature helps, for me even baking helps. Maybe it's smelling cinnamon and other spices, maybe it's the beauty of the finished cake that comes out of the oven. Eating a small slice helps, well maybe a big slice. With vanilla ice cream on it.

Getting sympathy cards help because it is a bereavement in the family, make no mistake about that. RH and I even got one from thousands of miles away. 

And beautiful flowers for Thanksgiving from a son helps.

A lot of things help and I've appreciated every one of them during these weeks without our darling Otis and Milo.

"Life renews itself, no matter how much we may suffer.

Whatever beautiful and precious we may have is always ours to keep.

Losing one we love is possible only if we let it be."

Gladys Taber in Stillmeadow Seasons

Our son Zack faced that same loss this week of his beloved Bentley. The coming weeks will be difficult for him and Courtney. They worked hard from June when Bentley was diagnosed with nasal cancer to give him the best of care, and Bentley soldiered on, trying his best to stay here. He stayed as long as he could but then it was time to say goodbye.

It will be a while, Zack and Court, before anything helps. But there will be things that help eventually, so watch for them. 

And Bentley will always be there for you to keep in your heart. Gladys Taber was right about that, as she was about so many things. 

Friday, November 17, 2017


This is the most difficult post I've ever had to write.

Because the unthinkable has happened.

Nineteen days after we had to say goodbye to Milo we were forced to let his brother Otis go also.

On December 14, 2013, we drove up into Kentucky horse country to adopt two miniature long-haired black dachshund brothers who were nine years old and had been surrendered six months earlier.

It had been one year exactly to the day that our dear 15 year old dachshund Penelope had died. 

We walked into the shelter and saw dachshunds running around. Which were the twin brothers Otis and Milo who we had come to see? As soon as I sat down on the couch Otis jumped in my lap and growled at any other dog that tried to come near. My heart was his from that second on.

RH claimed tiny Milo and before long we were on our way back to Nashville, our son driving while we each held a dachshund in the back seat.

Otis reached up a little later after we bought burgers at a drive-through and in the blink of an eye bit off half of the hamburger I held in my hand. 

From the moment they ran into our house and headed straight for the kitchen and looked up at me as if to ask, Where's din-din?, they made themselves right at home. There didn't seem to be any adjustment period ever.

They were home and we were their mama and daddy. They loved our 24-acre yard and explored it happily with us, on a leash the first six months there and then were able to run leash free with us when they weren't playing in their big pen in the front garden.

Whatever the weather they were always glad to put on their collars and go for a walk with us, sometimes a hen or two along for company.

While little Milo gladly wore his sweater in cold weather, Otis preferred not to wear his. And he loved the snow.

When we moved to a beach town in Florida two and a half years later, they handled the whole experience just fine. Even the large house we lived in didn't seem to faze them. Otis just got a lot more exercise following me from room to room.

Our evacuation to Destin six months later during a hurricane? That was a piece of cake, no problem, no worry.

As long as Mama was there with them 24/7 and Daddy came home every night after work, Otis and Milo were happy.

But we were all thrilled to come home to Tennessee last January 6 where the big fenced pen in our new house gave them more room to play outside, and the house was small enough that it was a cinch for Otis to trail Mama from room to room all day long.

During the days after Milo's death, Otis became even more my shadow. 

Which was fine with me as I could hardly bear to have him out of my sight.

None of us wanted to be away from each other and he would snuggle between me and his daddy on the sofa where we would rub his tummy and silky ears and watch HGTV with the sound off.

There were lots of walks outside to his brother's little grave in the butterfly garden. And we went out on the front porch to watch daddy work in the yard, each wanting to be close to where the others were. Because our family had shrunk.

Every day when RH would come home, if it wasn't raining, we would take Otis out in the yard for a good walk.

We would walk down near our neighbor's pond, letting Otis have time to stop and sniff as much as he wanted to. We were in no hurry.

And then 15 days after his brother left us, Otis would hardly eat his breakfast.

We took him to his doctor where they said his abdomen was uncomfortable and he was guarding it. But he also seemed to have a spot on his back that hurt so they did x-rays and found that he had one slipped disc.

We thought we had a plan. We brought him home with meds and Otis and I would rest as much as possible, not moving from room to room unless necessary. No more walks outside for a while, pee pads in the laundry room were good enough for a boy to do his business.

Three days later after trips to the vet every day and changes of medication and IV fluids and more blood work, Otis, just like Milo, had sky high kidney values and was in complete kidney failure. 

That last day, last Saturday, we brought him to his doctor so hopeful because he seemed so alert after the IV the day before. His eyes just seemed to say that he would be okay. I never dreamed we wouldn't be leaving with him alive and on his way to recovery. 

Over the decades we have of course had to make that hardest of decisions for beloved dogs. Making it for Milo just 19 days before was heartbreaking but saying, Yes, go ahead and sedate Otis, was almost impossible to do. I wanted to take him home and squeeze out a couple more days of just holding him but it didn't seem right to put him through more days of pain.

These days without Otis and Milo have been agonizing. We've never not had a dog except for the first couple of years of marriage. 

If you've been through this before then you know how empty your house is, how lonely you are for the sound of little toenails clicking behind you, how hard a meal is without those little eyes below you hoping a crumb will fall to the floor. 

You know how it hits you within seconds of waking up in the morning and there's no one to want to go potty, no breakfast to fix before you fix your own, no one to tuck in bed at night.

And no one to tell "You stay, I love you, I'll be back soon" when you have to go to the store.

I wish I could end this here and just leave a final photograph of our handsome Otis, but I have one more thing to tell you, just in case you have dogs of your own.

Four days after Otis died the doctor called with the results of final blood testing that was sent off. Otis, and most likely Milo, had died of a bacterial disease called leptospirosis grippotyphosa.

I'm telling you this so that if you have dogs and don't know about this disease that you'll be sure to inform yourself and question your veterinarian.

Our doctor who we'd seen for decades and love apologized for not having run the test earlier but he hadn't seen a case in a very long time. 

Evidently the marshy areas around ponds are breeding grounds for it from infected wildlife. All it takes is for a dog to sniff or lick the urine of an infected animal, in our case it was probably a raccoon. 

After questioning the doctor about risks to people--watch for fever or chills and at the first sign see your doctor--I asked him if this meant we could never again have dogs here.

He said not at all, that it just meant that at least three weeks before coming to us they would need to have the lepto vaccine and that we should have boosters given every 4 to 6 months. He told us that more and more dog groomers are requiring that their customers' dogs have this vaccine before bring theirs to them.

This is what we hope to do because we are dog people. If you've ever read a book or article that tells you to list your defining words then you know what I'm saying when I tell you that dachshunds are one of my top defining words.

Life just seems empty without a couple of dachshunds in my life. I envy my friend Josh who has three, or maybe it's four.

But most of all I envy, long for, those almost four years when we had Otis and his brother Milo in ours. 

I'm turning off comments on this post. I know that each of you would as lovingly express your sorrow for us as you did in the previous post when we lost little Milo, so please know that I know that and it means the world to me. But I just don't have the heart for any more blogging this soon. Thank you for understanding and I wish a bountiful and blessed Thanksgiving Day for each of my dear friends who visit me and RH here.