Saturday, May 24, 2008

Man Bites Dog

We have been having great fun the last two days with a young territorial deer who has staked a claim to our drain field hill and sees Sophie the Wonder Dawg as an interloper to be contended with.

This started yesterday when I dutifully opened the door to let the Wonder Dawg go out to do business. As I stood there watching her trot across the gravel drive to one of her favorite watering grounds, I noticed a young, antler-less deer standing stock still on the drain field alternating its gaze from me, to the Dawg, and back again.

Now normally, when the deer see the Dawg, they get ready to skedaddle. The Dawg, for her part, has seen a lot of deer over the years and now scarcely gives them the time of day. Part of that might be that she is becoming quite limited in her sight from cataracts and doesn't see deer until she is right on top of them.

So there we were, me on the porch, Sophie looking for just the right spot, and the deer up on the hill watching. As soon as Sophie had found her spot and settled down for a good dump, the deer started to slowly walk down the hill toward the Dawg. This was unusual behavior and I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next.

Just as Sophie was finishing up, the deer made its charge and damn near bowled her over. It took a second for the canine to figure that she was under attack from a giant four-legged creature, but once the synapses fired, she wheeled and gave chase to the deer who was high tailing it down the side yard. It was just for show however as Sophie stopped dead at the end of the mowed portion of the yard and then came ambling back to me shaking her head at the crazy state of the world.

I took her inside and went back to whatever it was that I was doing and wound up on the back screen porch which is one-story up on the back side of the house. Looking down, I saw our bambi friend looking back up at me. We stood there for some time before he turned and slowly headed back the way he had come, around the side of the house and up the hill toward the drive.

I quickly crossed through the house and out the front door which I closed but did not latch. The deer shortly appeared as it crossed the mowed portion of the side yard, across the drive, and up on the drain field once more where it set about munching on all of the new spring grass.

Just about then, a gust of wind blew the front door open and before I could catch it, the Wonder Dawg made a quick passage out onto the drive. Deja vu all over again. The deer with its excellent sight and hearing immediately focused intently on the Dawg. The Dawg, with neither of those faculties remaining, trotted blissfully toward the drain field to see if she could find any tasty deer or rabbit pellets to snack on.

Normally I would have called her back, but this was too interesting.

As the Dawg reached the field and started nosing around in the tall grass, the deer slowly began to stamp its front hooves. After about 30 seconds of that, it gave a loud snort that was as visible as it was audible. The deer was on the top of the hill and back lit by the sinking afternoon sun and as it snorted, I could see blasts of vapor shooting out of both nostrils. The deer was getting pissed.

Meanwhile, the oblivious Dawg got ever closer to the deer, either totally unaware or, simply ignoring the potential threat in a dismissive way. Whichever it was, it totally wanked the deer off and once again the deer charged, leaping clear over the Dawg who didn't even bother to give chase. The deer danced down the hill and out of sight. I reeled Sophie in before she ruined her appetite and I then peered out through the screen on the back porch.

There it was, staring back at me with a somewhat agitated look on its face. When the Dawg joined me it was too much for the deer and it wheeled around and ran straight through the fence of netting my neighbor had put up to keep the deer from nibbling on his shrubs. The attack deer went through it like it was not even there. The last I saw of it was as it stood in my neighbor's yard looking at the goldfish pond.

Until today, however.

Same scenario. I let the Dawg out and watched as a slender brown head rose over the drain field grass. Paw, paw, snort, snort, charge. But this time, the deer pulled up short and danced back a few steps. Was it trying to play? I don't know, but this time Sophie decided enough was enough and took a few running steps toward the deer, resulting in the deer jumping over her once more and taking a few leaps into the thick brush surrounding the drain field where I could hear it snorting in annoyance.

Sensing that this could go on all day, I called the Dawg off the hill which was difficult because she had found a pile of goodies and was ignoring my increasingly shouted commands to "come." When she finally recognized my commands and sauntered down off the drain field as though nothing strange had happened at all, the deer burst out of the brush right behind her doing the leaping thing and disappeared down the hill into the brush below.

So there you have it. Deer chases Dawg. Silly games in the north woods.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Prom Pix

Here you go, as demanded.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Prom Night

It is prom night and I am alone. My daughter is off to her senior prom and her brother is at a friend's house.

This afternoon, the house was full of teenagers preparing for the big night. For much of that time, I was laying in my bedroom in a lovely state of semi-consciousness, a result of a full morning of yard work. I sat down on the bed after lunch and started to read a book and slowly sank into a half slumber.

As I drifted through this particular space, I was conscious of voices in the kitchen, various comings and goings in and out of the house, until a persistent ringing sound drew me back to the present, a reluctant return. Turns out the call was from my son who needed me to get out of bed and look up a recipe in the kitchen for home made pasta. He was going to prepare it for the family with whom he was visiting.

Well then, I was up. Just in time to welcome the prom date who dutifully waited in the kitchen as supernumeraries and messengers made frequent visits to inform him of the progress downstairs. When my daughter finally appeared, she was a vision. Due to the delays already experienced, everyone rushed out of the house with such speed, there was a distinct vacuum produced by their absence.

There was comment tossed over a shoulder as they hopped into the cars and roared out of the driveway - something about pictures in a park - and they were gone.

I slowly went around the house closing windows against the increasing winds in preparation of leaving for what I hoped was the right park. Getting there was a simple thing - finding the right bunch of babes and gents proved to be harder. There were at least three groups of prom goers and all their attendant groupies - parents, siblings, aunts and uncles. I drove slowly around the parking area looking for my daughter's rather distinctive dress. It was harder than it sounds. Kind of like driving through a pet shop looking for a particular parrot amongst many.

Turns out I was in the right park, but the wrong parking area. Before heading back to the house, I detoured around to the other side of the park and there found them snapping pictures of each other in a desperate race to capture the perfection that hours of preparation had produced before the wind wrested and teased strands of hair from the intricate designs so lovingly wrought.

I had time to take a couple of quick snaps before they were off the the next event - the dreaded Grand March, a place where thousands of parents, grand parents, and other hangers on gather in a gym for the express purpose of raising the ambient temperature and snapping badly lit photographs of their offsprings walking the yellow brick road. I, for one, had no intention of subjecting myself to another one of those, having paid my dues and gotten lots of dark pictures to prove it.

That was the plan anyway. I was home, reclining again, contemplating a leisurely evening of doing fuck all, when the phone rang with my oldest child on the other end of the line asking me to bring her purse along when I came because she desperately needed it. Shit. So, off I went to do what I said I would not, but fate smiled on me as a parking space miraculously opened up as I arrived. I walked in and instead of going to the oven of a gym, I snuck around the corner and down the line of couples waiting their turn to make the grand parade. As luck would have it, I found my goal right at the entry door and made arrangements for a quick rendezvous.

Back to the gym door, quick entry, walk to the dead center of the back wall, ignore staff orders to move, snap two horrible pictures of the happy couple, walk back out, around the corner and meet them at the exit. Make the purse hand off and head for home once more.

It is many hours later now. I am waiting for my son to come home. Tomorrow I may have to drive my sleepless daughter to her delayed retreat. Better her than me.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Medical Updates

OK, so I promised that I would post an update on those of us here currently supporting the medical industry. Here it is.

First the girls knee. We met with the doc this morning and he agreed with the previous diagnosis and she will kneed (sorry, couldn't resist) surgery. That's the bad knews. The good knews is that we can schedule the timing in such a way that she will be able to do most of the things on her agenda without too much disruption. The doc said we should schedule the surgery out at least a month. When we talked about this summer's activities, we agreed to schedule the procedure after she returns from the Conference on National Affairs (in North Carolina) the second week of July.

She can get rid of the crutches and walk on it from now until then. Afterwards, she will be back on crutches for a while and will be doing PT. She should be walking again by Blues Fest in August.

Now for me. The results I received yesterday at the Mayo were positive. The CT-scan showed that the lymph node tumors have shrunk since starting this new therapy. They are still there, but things are moving in the right direction. I was given another month's supply of pills and sent on my way.

So we have a plan. Now all we have to do is sell a house, move everything into storage, and hope the other house gets done in time for the start of the school year. Piece of cake.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008


It's been a busy day around here and I am tired, dog tired, as Mr. Coffey would say. Over the past few days, we have had AP tests, doctor appointments, track practice, and so on.

Today, both kids left for school at the regular time while I went back to bed to contemplate my "to-do" list. All too soon, I had to roll out again and get going. The major item today was to haul everything out of the garage, separate the good from the bad, clean the floor, and stick it back in a rearranged format that will allow me to come along with a rental truck and pack a bunch of it up to take it up north for storage. Thereby making the garage look bigger and neater and much more desirable for a prospective buyer.

It was a piece of work and I am sore from my hair to my toes. It took me all of the morning and part of the afternoon to do it. In the end, I had a full garbage container, a pile that needs hauling to the hazardous waste site, and another pile for the Good Will. The last pile went in my car and I was off.

But when I got there, they didn't want most of it. WTF? Why wouldn't you want two boxes of Halloween lights? Or snow sleds and saucers? Or oily jack stands. I couldn't believe it. Shit, I had to bring most of it back and stick it in my nice clean garage which looks a lot like my old garage again. Shit.

Then, I had to run into the house, change into nicer clothes, and go to school to pick up my daughter, drive down to the big city for her music lesson (I got to go sit in a bar and read my book), then drive across the metro area in rush hour traffic to get her to an awards banquet where she was honored for her youth leadership.

Then we left quickly and drove north and east back to the high school where her true-team track meet was under way. Somewhere along the way we got a phone call from her brother alerting us to the fact that he had just cleared a new personal best height in the pole vault.

After dropping the girl off at the high school so she could change her clothes in the back of her car (don't ask) I rushed home to let the dawg out, feed her and get the mail.

In the mail was a letter informing my daughter that she had been selected for a four-year scholarship by a local community group.

Now, I am sitting in bed, writing this. Tired, dog tired.

Tomorrow I head for the Mayo for a day of excess radiation (CT-scan), sitting, waiting, meeting with the doctor, and more waiting. The point of this visit is to see what the effect of two months of the experimental drug has done to me. I hate these things. You never know what the news will be.

So, I will try to give you an update in a couple of days.


Saturday, May 03, 2008

A Day Later

Just a quick update on the gimp situation.

The swelling in my daughter's knee lessened quite a bit over night and she can actually put weight on the leg this morning. She showed me that she could even take a few careful steps without using the crutches.

This change in conditions has had a remarkable effect on her spirit. She is no longer in that dangerous world of gray depression. She sees improvement and new ranges of choices opening up to her.

For me, that is a wonderful thing too.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Bummer Week

It has been a wild week here at Casa Phaedrous. There was the student art show for the school district where my daughter had one of her paintings hung, followed by a scholarship interview featuring the same larva. Then there were the multiple track meets for her brother. The second of the two track meets coincided with an appointment on the other side of town for beers with some old coworkers. Just as I was approaching the appointed spot, steam shot from under my hood and all the dashboard warning lights came on.

That resulted in a very expensive flatbed ride home for the White Whale (and I had to leave the party early). The next day, I discovered that I paid a king's ransom because a hose had popped off a fitting behind the engine and my car pissed all of its coolant out on the road. Total cost of the repair = zero if you don't count the grease on my hands and the tightening of a hose clamp.

While I was in the mechanic mood, I changed the oil because it was time and I planned to drive up north the next day.

But, as in many things, the plan got changed. Upon arriving at the high school that afternoon to retrieve my two track stars, I was told by my son to park in the handicapped spot (without explanation) and then saw my daughter coming out on crutches. Apparently, she had a bad vault and came down wrong, twisting her knee.

Today, instead of driving north, I drove her to the doctor's, and then to the MRI place. The news was not good. She did a number on her knee for real and our next stop is an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. I now have a very bummed daughter who is looking at the end of her high school athletic career, a prom involving crutches or a wheel chair, and a summer of physical therapy and rehabilitation.

The weather is appropriately stormy.

Secretly, I am happy she came down feet first. It could have been so much worse.