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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from all of us 
(here and in spirit) 
at The Pink House on the Corner!

I hate to admit, I didn't send out a single Christmas Card this year, as I just didn't have the heart to -- so if you are on my Christmas Card list, please accept this as my greeting to you this year.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Another Stroke -- Too Close to Home...

You might remember Chris, my dear old friend, who was such a great help after Bob had the stroke, and who now lives in our garage apartment.

Chris suffered a stroke on Sunday.  A bad one.

I went to visit her in the hospital this week, and I hate to say, I was not "a good friend" because seeing her that way, paralyzed on one side, flopping around on the bed, brought back way too many horrid memories and I just couldn't handle it -- and I had to flee after a half hour....

I tell you, I have never felt so alone as now...

Monday, December 14, 2015

Bob's 1981 Drawing Is Restored, Matted & Framed!

Click to enlarge
And this is my Christmas gift from me to Bob and this is also the Christmas gift from Bob to me....  Thank you, Sweetheart.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Caregiving Consequences

Yesterday, I had a dentist appointment.  This was the first one in many years. I tell you, not because my teeth are fine.

For the past 4+ years, Bob has always come first. And when money was limited, there is just so much in the budget, that my health needs always fell by the wayside because Bob's needs were so much more...

This is not an uncommon theme among caregivers. A recent report issued by NAC (National Alliance for Caregiving) and AARP indicates that among the estimated 34-40 million unpaid caregivers in the US, a full 67% report that they "put their care recipient's needs before their own".  That's a lot caregivers not going to the doctor or dentist.

My teeth have been bothering me for years.  Yesterday, I finally had a molar extracted and a partial deep root cleaning -- the cleaning will be a two step process and will finish up with another appointment.  The doctor told me I was lucky that my long-time neglect hadn't caused me to lose more teeth...

The procedure was not cheap. And not fun. And just goes to show how a caregiver can put themselves at risk when we neglect ourselves.

Unfortunately, it's not a perfect world and too many caregivers do not have the time or money to take care of themselves....

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Two Nursing Homes -- Two Very Different Experiences

So, I actually got up my gumption to make appointments to take Kona out on Therapy Dog visits.  The first place I contacted wanted me to bring Kona in for an "interview".

I tell you, this was like a job interview. I had to fill out an application that was several pages long and included strange questions such as What is your favorite movie? and If money and time were unlimited, where would you go on a dream vacation and what would you do?  It felt like they were trying to get a psychological profile on me.  Then I had to provide two references, plus sign off on a criminal background check.  Oh-kay.

I mean, I'm just a volunteer with a therapy dog.

After our interview, which I guess I passed, I had to go to a 2 hour long "volunteer orientation". This included a tour of the facility and I was also given a "volunteer handbook" and a list of rules and regulations as well as a "dress code". We were also shown the procedure to "check in" at the front desk, and then, again, at the volunteer station where we clock our hours.

Then we were told we  had to have a TB screening test!


I took the TB test thing yesterday, and have to return on Wednesday for the "all clear" and then I have to set up a time with the volunteer coordinator to do the first visit with her at my side showing me the ropes.

It seems like a lot of hoops to jump through just bring Kona in for visits. But, as Bob would say, "oh well."

The second nursing home, I called on Saturday.  I had gotten a newsletter from Project PUP which stated that this particular place did not have a single therapy dog coming to see them and they desperately wanted one. Since it's not too far away, I gave them call and talked with that volunteer coordinator to set up a time to come in -- which was yesterday.

Yesterday, I arrived with Kona, met the volunteer coordinator in the lobby. She took me straight to the dining room where several residents were drinking coffee, playing games, etc. and left me there to "do my thing"!  No paperwork to fill out, no introductions, just jump in with both feet!

The one thing I found out about Kona is that although she is well behaved and everyone loved her, she tends to keep her eyes on me at all times and did not seem very interested in the residents.

Maybe this will change with time...

I have scheduled to go back to nursing home #2 on Saturday mornings.  We'll see what happens....

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Bob's Artwork

I recently came across an old drawing of Bob's dated 1981. Bob would have been 22 years old at the time.  The thing is quite (I think) beautiful but unfortunately it was folded four times, thereby creased and the edges were very tattered.  What struck me about this drawing was the eerie similarities to his post-stroke drawings.

I wish I could have scanned the whole picture into my computer but the drawing is big, 16 x 12 inches, and my scanner will not accommodate it -- but here are some sections of it.

I have taken the drawing to a nearby frame shop and talked with the proprietor there to see if it can be restored. The guy at shop thinks he can do it! So I picked out some framing and matting for it and should have it back in a week or so, just in time to be a Christmas present from Bob to me!

Now look at the similarity between some of the figures in this old drawing and these early sketches from Bob's first post-stroke sketchbook.

I find it amazing that, 30 years later, Bob's stroke damaged brain would remember a drawing he did from 1981 and try to replicate it.

Last night, I visited a neighbor lady who is also an artist. And though she is elderly, she still has many contacts in the local art community. I showed her Bob's post-stroke drawings (not these, but the good ones!) and she absolutely loved them. She is going to talk to a friend who owns a local art gallery about the possibility of doing an exhibit of Bob's artwork.

Very exciting!  I think he would be pleased.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

First Thanksgiving Without Bob

So I survived the first Thanksgiving without him.  Not that Bob and I ever really did much for Thanksgiving, especially after the stroke. Before that, we usually put up our Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving Day and I would make a ham (both of us didn't care for turkey.) After the stroke, he couldn't eat, but I still decorated the Christmas tree.  And we did have each other. And that's what always mattered.

This year, I invited a widow over from the first grief group I attended. She, too, had no plans as her grandchildren were going to be out of town visiting other relatives.

I made shrimp! Call it "Turkey of the Sea". Shrimp sautéed in real butter and minced garlic, and sprinkled with dried red pepper. Served it over alfredo pasta with garlic/cheese bread on the side. She brought wine and we sat on our porch and drank wine and talked about our dead husbands and ghosts and whether or not we believed in the afterlife and other stuff and, actually, we had a very nice day. The weather was beautiful.

I had invited Chris but she ditched out on me at the last minute, going instead to visit her daughter and leaving me to take care of her dogs. As Bob would say, "oh well".  She missed out on a really good meal.

Oh, and chocolate cheesecake for dessert!

And I only cried twice....

Not sure what Christmas will bring. Char (the widow from grief group) will have plans with her grandchildren. Not sure I want to decorate at all for Christmas. Not sure if I'll even send out cards. The x-mas spirit is just not here this year.

One day at a time...

PS: After I posted this, I realized today is the 6 month anniversary of Bob's death.  I have been crying all afternoon... Can't believe six months have already passed, seems like yesterday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Folks have been asking how am I doing? And my normal response is "hanging in there", though some days I don't seem to be doing even that (hanging) to well...

This blog has turned into a "dog blog" because Kona is the only positive thing in my life at the moment.

I am still deep in an ocean of grief. Truth be told, I am not doing so well. Physically, I am visibly trembling. Often nauseous. Still vomiting some mornings. Emotionally, I am afraid -- of what? everything, it seems.  Driving is a big one. Shopping, too, has triggered huge panic attacks for me. Even afraid to write, to spill out my heart and soul. I feel so emotionally paralyzed. It's hard to describe, but some days I am afraid to even pick up the phone. And I still haven't called any of the nursing homes to schedule a visit with Kona...

Most days, I hide in the house. Keep the shades pulled down.

This is so unlike me -- the former me, who used to be so outgoing, that me seems to have disappeared into the vast beyond along with Bob. I do not recognize this person I've become.

Grief groups have come to a halt, though five us meet for lunch now, but unfortunately the talk often revolves around things like hearing aids! ha! and I feel so young compared to these other widows...

I am seeing a grief counselor, one on one, through Hospice. I'm not sure if it's helping much. She (the therapist) thinks I should see an actual psychiatrist (who can prescribe meds, etc.) so I did call around and booked an appointment, but no one has openings until January ....

I am going to ask Kona's dog trainer if there is something we can teach Kona to do, to calm my nerves when I get this way... make her into an actual "psychological support dog" for me.

Meanwhile, one day at a time...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Project PUP

Yesterday, I took Kona to a screening/evaluation with Project PUP. This is a local organization of therapy dogs and other animals (they actually have some llamas!), PUP stands for Pets Uplifting People. 

The screening took place at an actual nursing home and part of the process was to meet a few residents. The screener took us through a hallway where we met a Project PUP volunteer in a wheelchair and also another volunteer with a walker (thank goodness there was no tennis balls on that walker -- had my fears with Kona's tennis ball fetish).

Then we met two elderly residents.

I'm happy to report that Kona passed with (almost) flying colors.  Her biggest problem was she kept heading for the door! I don't think she knew what was going on with all the other dogs and people all about... Second problem was that she Velcroed herself to my leg and I had some trouble getting her close enough for the residents to reach her. But she did pass in both performance and temperament categories.

Anyway, she is now officially "certified" as a therapy dog with Project PUP.  I have a list of places requesting therapy dog services so will be making calls next week to set up some appointments.

Dog tired after the screening/evaluation & sporting her new Project PUP bandana

Monday, November 9, 2015

Kona's First "Beach Day"

This morning, Hillary (our vet) invited Kona and me to go the dog beach on the Gulf of Mexico. It was Kona's first experience (that I know of) at the beach. She absolutely loved it. Though she would not venture in for a swim, she loved romping on the shoreline.

Of course, she immediately found a stray tennis ball.... she loves tennis balls!

So we had to play fetch the tennis ball -- here is she looking for the tennis ball in the waves!

Here she comes! Tennis ball in mouth!

One happy, happy dog!

Hillary with her dog, Genie, and Kona

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

First Day Service Dog Training

Kona's New Outfit

Taking a bathroom break with her trainer, outside of Target

Heeling down the aisles...

Then we hit the grocery store (lots of good smells in this place!)

And the office supply store.

All in all, a good first day of training. And I'm one proud mom.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Birthday Blues

So Sunday was my 55th birthday -- yup, I hit that over 55 mark, and had to do it without Bob's love and support (at least not here, in the visible world).

I did ask Bob for a birthday sign that morning....

And an hour later a huge tree branch (and I mean HUGE) suddenly crashed to the ground from one of the trees in our back yard.  The thing was at least 20 feet long and scared the living the daylights out of me (I was sitting on the porch, reading, with Kona just a few feet away).  Luckily, no one was hurt, no damage done.

(Did get a tree guy out here yesterday, who said that squirrels are gnawing on the bark, weakening limbs --- )

Anyway, I spent the rest of the day quietly, talking on the phone first to a friend from up north who thank goodness called, then my mom and dad (who call every day), and then watched the movie The Dead Poet's Society (always one of my favorites) and cried...  a lot... and was alone and feeling so very lonely ---

Then around supper time, I called Chris and asked if she and her dogs would join Kona and I for a "pizza party" on the back porch. Which we did.  I ordered pizzas. Everyone got their own plates -- including dogs -- (though Ripley stayed inside with his). Kona growled a lot.  She doesn't seem to take well to other dogs invading "her territory"....

Then later that night, I was talking on the phone to another friend (the second who called) with birthday wishes, when one of the brass posts on our antique brass bed crashed to the ground without warning or reason....

And I'm thinking, OK, Bob, you can stop now!

So, I got through the day.  Managed to stay alive... which is saying something, but basically it sucked as far as birthdays go -- then what do I expect? I miss him so very much... and nothing will ever be the same or as good --- again... and I do wonder why I even continue to breathe ...

One day at a time....

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Tomorrow will be my first birthday without Bob.....   wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Graduation Girl

Today Kona completed her last "basic obedience" class and got her graduation certificate!
She passed with (almost) flying colors.  Still tugs occasionally on "heel" but otherwise did very well.
Next week we start "therapy/service" training which includes public access training. We are meeting the
trainer at a Target store!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Bob As Motivator -- From The Other Side

So, the other afternoon, on Bob's stroke anniversary, I got a telephone call from my dear friend in Oklahoma. She immediately tells me that she's busy, can't talk long, but she has a message for me from Bob.

And I'm thinking, Huh?

Then she proceeds to tell me that she was trying to work and Bob kept interrupting her thoughts. He told her that Diane was miserable and she needed to call me because I had to do some things for him, and this would help me feel better.

And I'm thinking, oh-kay....

So, she tells me that Bob says I need to "start making our house a home" and there are some boxes (which I'd forgot about) with things we'd collected that "need to be displayed" and I need to open these boxes and put these things on display.

And also, he tells her, there are things that need hung on the walls. Like pictures, artwork, etc.

And it's time to make this house "our house" and fill it with "our things" and make it a sort of "Bob and Diane museum"...

And then my friend says she has to go, because she's got a ton of work to finish, but she had to call me and get this message to me so that Bob would leave her alone!

I hung up the phone rather perplexed. And I know there are some boxes in the closets, and in the back bedroom, and some in the garage that I had not gotten around to unpacking, but I really didn't think anything was that important... and that night, I called my friend back and asked her if she was serious about this message from Bob.

And she said it was really weird, but she kept having "Bob thoughts" while she was trying to do her inventory and the "Bob thoughts" kept interrupting her calculations, etc., and it was like she kept trying to push these "Bob thoughts" away but he kept at her, saying "excuse me, I need your help".

How weird is that?

So today, I went through the closets and found two boxes of collectibles that I had not put out "on display". One being Bob's antique thermometers (how did I forget about them? They are really cool!) and the other being his antique (mostly art deco) lighter collection.  Then I found a box of stuff for our porch that I had forgotten about.

I unpacked the boxes and found places to display everything (some of the thermometers I had to hang on walls), then I went into the garage and decided it was time to put up our big floral painting that used to hang on the front porch of our old house, and I hung it on the back porch. Then I put our whirligig together and got that in the back yard. And I can't remember when I last felt so motivated to do things around here....

And it does feel a little more like home. And I do feel a bit better.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Stroke Anniversary

Five years ago, tonight, Bob was in ICU for post-op recovery when he had a massive stroke. And the nurse, that night, was a new nurse, on employee probation and was supposed to be monitored by a supervisor, and she wasn't. And through the course of the night, she documented Bob's deterioration (arm paralyzed, then leg paralyzed, then confused/unable to talk/"glascow coma stage", etc.) without contacting a doctor. And when Bob tried to get her attention, to tell her something was very wrong, she told him to "settle down!" and pumped him full of morphine, so that he would pass out and thereby -- settle down and shut up.

That RN is still practicing today. Taking care of patients. Maybe taking care of someone you know and love.

The next morning, when the shift changed, another nurse came in and, still, that morning nurse did not contact a doctor.  She's the one who said to me, "Isn't he always like this?" (meaning paralyzed, unable to talk)

That RN is also still practicing today. Maybe taking care of someone you know and love.

And that night and morning after, those two nurses, truth be told, murdered Bob.  Even if it took over four years to kill him off. They finally succeeded.

And I think something is very wrong with a system that allows those nurses to continue working in the health care community and never have to pay any price for what they did to him. And to me.

If you ask me, they both should be in prison. For negligent homicide.

Just my thoughts...

And yes, this is a very hard anniversary for me.  No wonder I'm cracking up.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Second Round of Grief Support

I started another grief support group, this one specifically for "loss of spouse", as the other "general bereavement" group ended last week.  Yes, I guess I'm becoming a bit of a grief group groupie, although I think this group might be a bit more helpful, being that everyone in it is dealing with the same type of loss... But I'm very disappointed that the groups only run for six weeks -- because, what are we supposed to do afterwards? Suddenly be OK?? I know I'm not suddenly okay after six weeks...

Each of the groups passed out the same flyers at the beginning and one in particular that talks about "Common Cognitive and Emotional Experiences" of grief, along with 23 bullet points and I hate to say that I am still suffering from about 17 of them...


"Cocooning", i.e. desire to isolate one's self. And here I am, still, window shades drawn, hiding in the darkened house...  I swear, if not for Kona's daily walks and training, or a grief group, I would never leave this house....

And also:

Loss of Self Esteem
Over-sensitivity to words or actions of others (my parents can attest to this one, sorry mom and dad!)
Loss of zest for living
Suicidal thoughts
Dependency on alcohol (will 5 p.m. ever come?)
Feeling overwhelmed
Inability to make decisions
Misplacing things
Unable to concentrate
Unable to complete or do tasks
Exhaustion (both emotionally and physically)
Fear of rejection

I feel I'm stuck in a rut and can't crawl out. It's a chore just to get through each day. I do wonder if I'm ever going get through this -- ever feel "normal" again.  I tell you, this grief thing is exhausting. And I miss Bob so very very much. And I feel I just cannot live without him. I don't want to go on, alone.

But I weirdly find myself talking out loud to Bob, feeling that he is (not always, but sometimes) still here, sitting with me and even hearing his answers to my remarks. And I love these moments when we are having a conversation. However, when I feel he's "not here", not answering me, I find myself yelling at the walls, Bob, where are you??? I do wonder if I'm going completely out of my mind.

I have been reading a lot of George Anderson's books (i.e.: We Don't Die, Lessons from the Light, etc.), heck, I've read all of them except the one which I am working my way through now (We Are Not Forgotten: Messages of Love and Hope from The Other Side).  Anderson is a medium who communicates with souls on "the other side" and it brings me great comfort to hear his version of the afterlife and know that Bob is still alive, happy, and watching over me. Anderson swears that we all can have direct communication with the souls of our loved ones, and they do answer us, telepathically. So, maybe I'm not so nuts, after all...

Though I still wonder, am I going mad? Will I ever recover? And does it even matter if I do?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Heeling and Healing

So, Kona and I are two sessions into our training and we have both been working hard together. The first lesson was all about "heeling" -- which as you know is walking on the leash without pulling me to heck and back --

I still remember when I was handed Kona's leash at the rescue and was told, by the former owner, "I hope you don't intend to walk her, as she is a beast on a leash."

And I thought, oh boy....

And she was, truthfully, "a beast on a leash". Yanking me from hell to high water and back. And at 91 lbs., this was not very fun for me. And that was the big reason to hire a trainer, as you know, I love my daily dog walks and have been doing them for years with Boomer and it's really the BIG reason to have a dog, at least for me.

Both of us, Kona and me, have plenty of learning to do.  I must admit that I am a bit rusty on my training techniques -- I mean, it has been a long time since I trained a dog and I am a bit spoiled by 14 years of Boomer's good behavior.

So I had to relearn old things and am learning some new things in the process.  I also had to get some new equipment, including a "martingale" collar (which I never heard of before) and I am now a true believer of.

And I really had to learn to watch the tone of my voice and be consistent with both the tone and the words I use with her.  For example:

Normal tone of voice, used for commands, such as "heel", "sit", "stay".

Harsh tone for correction, only and ONLY with the word "No!"  (This is hard, I admit, for me.) One is not supposed to say, "NO! SIT!" but "NO! Sit."  The "sit" part being said calmly.  And this trainer believes only the word "No" should be used for correction.

Then of course, the happy bubbles tone for a job well done, i.e. "good girl!!!"

Well, I am very happy report Kona is really getting the hang of "heel" with our training (home work), at least twice a day, sometimes three or four times, weather permitting. We still have troubles when there is a distraction, such as another dog, but there's still more training sessions and work to do...

Kona -- sit, stay, good girl!
Last week's session was adding a "sit" and "stay" to our "heel".  This involves heeling to a stop, then a sit command, then me (looking like an idiot) walking in circles around Kona giving her the "stay" command.  We've been practicing this around the neighborhood and, if anyone had any doubts that there was a crazy lady living in that pink house, they certainly have none now!

This exercise was actually very hard for us at first.  Although, Kona would do it perfectly with the trainer, she would not cooperate with me.

The trainer explained that she was "testing me" to see how much she could get away with, and I had to learn to be stricter with her, show her some "tough love" as it were.  

She is now, as the photo shows, getting the hang of it. And so am I.

I must say, I am so very glad to have Kona in my life. This dog absolutely adores me, and I absolutely adore her. She gives me a reason to get up in the morning. And though I may have "rescued" her, she really has rescued me at the time of my deepest grief.  I may be teaching her to "heel", but all through it-- she is teaching me to "heal" as well...

Tomorrow will be our third training session with the trainer, and we are taking Kona to the dog park, where there should be many distractions to work on -- should be interesting. Wish us luck.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

In the Pink!

Finally! My painter finished up today and my, if I don't say so myself, the house has turned out beautifully:

You may remember the "before" photo:

Here's before and after photos of the back porch/deck/ramp area:

And some more photos:

I only wish Bob was here to see it and say "Cool!"
But I imagine him watching from the "other side" saying just that..... 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Unexpected Happy Memories

One thing that I had long been meaning to do was to take our wedding video which was recorded on VHS and have it converted to a DVD. I was, in fact, planning to do this for a surprise for Bob on our wedding anniversary.  Unfortunately, he died before then....

And I could kick myself for that.  (Memo to everyone: don't put things off -- you never know.)

Anyway, on our wedding anniversary, I actually dug up that VHS tape to take to a recording place and have it converted.  I found, while looking for the wedding tape, two other VHS tapes, one clearly marked as a "vintage fashion show" that I had done in 1993 and the other tape was mysteriously unmarked.  I decided to take them all.

After dropping off the tapes, I got a call from the recording place telling me that the unmarked video was a birthday party for someone named "Shirley" and I thought, hmmm.... Now, I know two Shirleys, one which would be an aunt and I couldn't imagine why I'd have a video of her party, and the other being a dear old friend, whom I haven't seen for years. So assumed it was the latter -- but still couldn't figure out why I had a party video of her birthday...

I picked the DVD's up yesterday and imagine my surprise when I popped the party DVD in and the first thing on it was Bob and me! Oh my.  I will share some clips here.  You will have to excuse the quality which because of the age of the original VHS tapes (1994) and technology is rather grainy and the audio is not perfect....  Here's the first one.

I tell you, I nearly fell off my chair as the party video progressed and there was Bob and me dancing to our song!!! Which is (I'll Stop the World and) Melt With You by Modern English.  Because the song is copyrighted there may be some pop-up ads (sorry) but YouTube informs me this is the only way to legally put it here.  Here it is.

I must say, I was crying tears of joy and then some. I am overjoyed to have this tape of us dancing to our song.

One thing that had always amazed me about Bob was how accepting he was of all my friends and what a motley crew of them I had back then!  Friends that were professional business women, teachers, feminist activists, lesbians, all the way to single moms on welfare and an ex-con on parole.  Bob accepted every one of them with open arms.

Another thing I loved about Bob was he was never afraid to get up and dance, even if he was the only guy out there on the dance floor.  Here's a clip of Bob dancing with us girls.

The woman with the long, long hair is the birthday girl.

And the tape reminded me of how much fun we used to have -- and boy oh boy, did we love to dance!! I've never had a better dance partner. We really tore up the floor together. And it didn't matter what the song. As this video proves, of us dancing to "The Devil Came Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels band and its NOT an easy song to dance to, in fact it's pretty exhausting.  Unfortunately, the person taping this cut Bob's head off several times because of our height difference (Bob being 6'3" and me 5'4") but still I love it. It reminds me of how much fun we had. And again, ads may appear...

And lastly, our birthday message to Shirley.

Yesterday, I spent all afternoon and evening watching and rewatching this tape and crying tears of both joy and grief and feeling so much love for Bob and feeling so very blessed to have been loved by him....

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Finally, A Dream

The medium had told me that Bob would visit me in my dreams, and of course, I've been waiting for him and early this morning, he finally did appear.

And I don't remember the "plot" of the dream, or if there was even a plot, but I remember Bob, looking just like he did when we married 21 years ago and I felt so very embraced by love, surrounded by love and I woke up feeling so much love around me.

It was a beautiful thing.

I wanted to go back to sleep, to go back to him.

But of course, as soon as I woke up, another blonde appeared (this one with a big nose and brown eyes) and began licking my face -- so duty called and I got up...

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

And I've been up to ...

So, I've been trying to take Bob's advice (through the medium) to get out and about more, meet people and make friends, and last week managed to stay pretty busy.

On Monday, I actually picked up the phone and called a neighbor lady who had dropped by to offer condolences and gave me her phone number, saying, we should get together some time.  I don't know why this is so hard for me to do (i.e. pick up the phone) but I did it and made a date to go out for dinner later in the week.

On Wednesday, I went out to lunch with Tiffany (our realtor who has since become a friend).  Afterwards, when she dropped me off at home, she said "let's do this again!" And I said, "What are you doing on the 16th?" (Which is our 21st wedding anniversary, tomorrow.) So, we have a date for lunch tomorrow. As I know, I do not need to spend this day alone.

On Thursday, I went to Grief Counseling Group, which was a very hard one as we all had to tell our "death stories". And jeepers, I cried and cried while telling mine... But afterwards, Jennifer (the neighbor lady) and I went down to the beach for supper and drinks and to watch the sunset at a funky little beach bar and grill.

On Friday, I got my hair trimmed at the Day Spa -- which is so nice and relaxing with the soft music, low lights and a free glass of wine!

Today, I met with a dog trainer and signed up for lessons for Kona and I. I hate to say, I still cannot control her on leash -- Kona is still jerking hard on leash-- which is her biggest problem. I don't think she was ever walked on leash before --- There's also a few other issues that need to be addressed, such as jumping up.  I've had 3 other dogs, all of which I trained myself -- but I never started with one as old as 4 years before -- so I am needing some help with her. I do admit it. Anyway -- my thought here is (if she does well with the basic obedience training) I am seriously considering taking her the next step and have her trained and certified as a "Therapy Dog". I think it might be something fun for us to do together -- visit hospitals/nursing homes.  I talked with the trainer about this possibility and he did think that Kona has the right temperament for that type of work. (She's really very mellow.)  He also said she doesn't need "much" training as opposed to a lot of the other dogs he's worked with and he can do the therapy dog training too.

Tomorrow, on our wedding anniversary, I have lunch set with Tiffany and a date for drinks later that night with Jennifer and also a couple of other neighbors. The grief counselor told me to "honor" the day, not necessarily "celebrate" it -- which is what I plan to do.

Then Thursday, back to Grief Group Counseling.

I am feeling a bit calmer these days... though still subject to "grief bursts" (as the counselor calls them).

Training starts for Kona next week, Wednesday, 9:00 a.m.  I've already ordered our supplies: 6 foot leash (mine's 4 ft.), a "martingale collar" (in pink! ha! she looks good in pink) and a 30 foot training leash for "recall" exercises.  Training will be one on one, and at our house, and also outside training on the street and at the park and even Home Depot training. This, I think, will be fun! I am excited about it. A lot will depend on Kona, of course. Wish us luck!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Bob Radio

So, pretty much everyone knows Bob was cremated and Bob wanted me to find some "real cool" antique urn to house his ashes until the time of my death when our ashes can be mixed together and scattered over the Gulf of Mexico.

And I was in quandary over exactly what "real cool" antique thing I was going to use, and first perused the funeral home's "urn" catalogs which I must say, all in there were pretty hideous and way expensive and certainly not "antique looking". Then I made a few scouting trips to antique shops etc. looking for something suitable and came up, again, empty-handed.

I wanted something not just "real cool" but something that also reflected Bob and the things he loved.

Then, I hit upon an idea to use something we already owned, that was Bob's, that in fact Bob had purchased himself because it was "real cool". And I recruited Bubba, our mechanic, to help me with the project and Bubba delivered it today:

And yes, I know that looks not like an "urn" but like a 1940's Philco radio, because, that is what it is.  Bob had purchased it years ago and it's never worked.  In fact, he had two of the same model and was planning to use parts of each of them and, putting them together, have a working radio.  This is a project that never got completed because of his stroke. Bob adored antique radios, in fact I have several really cool working antique radios in the house that Bob restored.

So anyway -- Bubba took one of the non-working 1940's Philco radios, gutted it (saving the parts for me to sell along with the other model) and fitted it with a non-warming LED light (so the station dial lights up!) and made a wooden backing that could be sealed tight.

And it wasn't easy -- took Bubba some time, especially figuring our how to get a light in there that wouldn't get hot and set the whole plastic bag of ashes a-fire. But he finally did it.

And today he brought it over and helped me store the ashes inside and sealed the back. And when I thanked him for it, he told me it was "no problem" as it was a pleasure to do it as Bob was his friend.

And now I have a "Bob Radio" that I can turn the knob and the dial lights up for a pretty cool night light!   I think Bob would have been very pleased.

Thanks Bubba!!!!! You're a gem and a true friend!!!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Message From The Other Side -- ?

OK, so this is weird, and happened a couple weeks ago, while David, my nephew, was visiting.

Before I get to the point, I must say, this neighborhood is a pretty cool neighborhood.  They have a very active Neighborhood Association and one of the things they do is have a monthly "Porch Party" which is always held at someone's house (not necessarily on the porch) and it's potluck and BYOB.

Well, that Friday that David was here, the Porch Party was held right next door.  That neighbor had asked me, not once, not twice but three times -- if I would come, so I could hardly refuse. Since David was there visiting, I took him with me. And I was glad to have the company, as it is weird/uncomfortable for me to go to something like that all alone.

So David made some pickle rolls and we took a six pack and trotted next door.  And had pretty good time, meeting some neighbors, etc.

We stayed until the end and went back home, talked awhile on the porch, then retired to bed.

It's become my habit to take the I-Pad to bed with me, just to check messages, etc., maybe play a game of late night Scrabble against the computer until I'm tired.  The I-Pad is usually on the charger and, that night, when I disconnected the plug, a picture popped on the screen.

Now, this is odd.  Because the screen was still "locked". As I haven't slid that little slider bar "slide to unlock" thingy over...

And this was the picture:
 And then, another picture appeared:

 And then this third one, an ad for a faucet ---

I know it's hard to read, but the ad says "Masterpieces made here.  Experience a gallery where you are the artist. Where you can see, touch and feel your home the way you want to..."  Then junk about the faucets and where to buy them...

And I thought -- what the F --?

Because this had never happened before, I mean I use the I-Pad all the time, and never is there any pictures on the blank screen -- and how do these pictures show up while the thing is still LOCKED? I mean, you have to slide the bar, unlock the thing, then touch an app to see anything --- get anywhere on this I-Pad ---

And the three photos kept trolling by, like a slideshow. Continuously trolling by. And the slide bar was still saying it was "LOCKED".

And I was so freaked out, I actually got out my camera.  Because I thought --- this is a message from Bob!!! It must be!!!

But then, I'll admit, we'd had a few beers so I might not have been thinking too clearly that night....

Well, the next day, I actually googled this, i.e: how to make pictures appear on a LOCKED I-Pad and found there's actually a way to do this in the settings.  So I checked the settings, and actually found these pictures loaded up -- but could not figure out how to make them into slideshow on the locked screen like they did that night --- and still can't figure out how to do it. And it's never happened before or since... In fact, I can't even seem to make it do this -- as much as tried.

And have no clue how these pictures even ended up in the settings (they are the only ones there), as it certainly wasn't me, and I know Bob couldn't have done it while he was alive and the only other two people who ever had access to the I-Pad were his CNA and his speech therapist, but don't think they would have done this...

Oh-kay -- perhaps I'm nuts and it was just a weird fluke. But I'm thinking it was a message. The thumbs up from Bob for going to that party! (The medium said he said he wanted me to get out and make friends.) The road (in pink!) to the future?  But, then, what's with the faucet ad??? Which is real strange. Except about art and masterpieces and making your home the way you want to....


Maybe I am going crazy.  Maybe not.

What do you think? Am I nuts?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Death Threat

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who left such wonderful comments on my last blog post. You all have kept me going this past week. And I really appreciate it.

Then, this morning, I logged on and found a new comment. Comment #32. Which, besides being nasty, basically sounds like a death threat...

I was going to delete it. But then, I tracked it back through my site meter and I know who the author is---

I won't say her name here, but let me say it's really quite sad.

I left the comment for everyone to view.  I really don't know what this person is talking about  i.e.: "monetary value" I "cheated the State for"? huh?  Bob never got any benefits from the state except share of cost Medicaid, which, by the by, true to form, they want to be reimbursed for every penny now that he's deceased.... and they will be. And Social Security already pulled Bob's last check, as he did not live out the full month of May. (Note to everyone: if you're going die, die on the first of the month!)

So anyway, I left the comment in case anything happens to me, the police will be able to track her down through my computer.

Meanwhile, I went to the grief support group yesterday, which left me so emotionally raw and shaking, that I bolted out the door at the end.  I probably should've stayed and talked to the other two widows there, but there's always next time, I guess.

This is going to be a hard month, as September 16th will be our 21st wedding anniversary.

Trying to take it one day at a time.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Grieving X 2 and more

I don't even know what to say --- I think all these things to write and then I stare at the keyboard thinking --- what? What do I say?

All I know is I'm not in a good place --- and it sucks and it's stupid.

I am not dealing with this so well. And few people even comment here, anymore -- I feel so alone, I feel like no one cares. I wonder why I even blog ---

And I know, everyone thinks I am "so strong" --- oy

I'm not. I guess I'm just supposed to "pop up" and "go on" -- shoot. That's not happening. Sorry.

I have been grieving for so long -- it's stupid...  "Stupid" seems to be my new word.  Everything is stupid, these days. My whole life seems stupid, right now.

But back to grieving ---

I have been grieving for more than 4 years.  I grieved the loss of Bob -- Bob pre-stroke (old Bob), the man he used to be, before the stroke - I'm talking about the charming, articulate guy with the 145 IQ, who used to make me laugh. The guy (pre-stroke) who fixed things and loved to dicker for deals when we were antiquing -- the guy who used to drive The Green Machine, his arm around me, windows open, going for a day trip. Damn, I missed and mourned that Bob. For so long after the stroke.

And I went through those grieving steps, you know, the Denial, Bargaining, Anger, etc. finally getting down to Acceptance -- which I finally did about a year ago, Acceptance that Bob (the new Bob) would never fully recover and, OK, we would deal with wheelchairs and immobility and feeding tubes and aphasia and but still, cognitively, he was getting better, so I had hope and plans for "new Bob" ---

Plans for a therapy room here at the new house (because we finally had money from the settlement) , buy a NuStep and put in bars and hire a PT for at-home therapy, also putting in a pool for aqua therapy, hoping this would make him stronger.  I would have been happy if he could just get to a pivot and stand sort of mobility. It was worth working toward. And having the Bobmobile so we could go out and about, do something fun now and then. Trying to get that new power chair more comfortable so he could tolerate being up for more than an hour --- just got a RoHo cushion approved by the insurance (no small feat, took months!) and was still trying to get adjustments to the chair, etc.  I actually thought that I could get an OT here to figure out how to get an art easel that he could reach from the power chair as he stopped drawing because of his neck issue which caused him so much pain but thinking maybe in the chair, instead of in bed, it might be a better position and I thought we could maybe figure something out to get him drawing again. And I had so many plans and hopes for him. I even found a group that exhibits art from disabled people and thought that, maybe, we could do that and wouldn't that be great? I had so many plans -- what we could do or try to make a new life for Bob and me.

And then he died. In his sleep. And after all of that, it seems so stupid. And fruitless.

Damn. And now I am grieving again, I'm now grieving for "new Bob" and also "old Bob". So I'm grieving two Bobs -- and I know, that sounds really really stupid....

Everyone seems to think I should get over it. Be over it. Go on etc.

And I am sorry that I am not over it and I am still lost now.  I don't even know what to do. I am a mess. I don't know what to do -- everything I planned, everything I worked toward (the lawsuit, the new house, the wheelchair accessibility renovations,  etc.) was for Bob and now he's not here and I don't know what to do now because everything came to a screeching halt and -- I don't know where to go from here.

And I just thank God that Ripley and Kona are here -- giving me a reason not to jump off a bridge.

If you are reading this, and care, please leave a comment. I stupidly need comments/support right now.

And sorry to be so needy...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

And now

Well, my nephew has come and gone, and we had a real good time. I so enjoyed his company and he helped me take Bob's lift down from the bathroom ceiling and haul that plus a bunch of boxes into the attic. And move the hospital bed into the back bedroom --- quite a step for me.

David and Kona
And we had some fun and even hit the beach! -- first time for me, since -- well, before you-know-what:

At the beach -- that's David on the left side, way down there in the water!
I did the "old lady thing" and rented a cabana - - as it was so very hot. So he swam while I hid in the shade reading my grim books.

So now I'm alone again and I tell you, I am still not handling any of this well.  Yesterday, I ran into a old neighbor (from our old neighborhood) at the dog park and after telling him that Bob died, Boomer died, etc. he got all excited and told me "You have a NEW LIFE, a NEW HOUSE, and NEW DOG!" and that this was a "TIME OF OPPORTUNITY!!" for me and I should embrace it as a good thing.

Oh my --- I wish I could feel that way, but mostly, I spend my days crying and just getting through, doing what I have to. And feeling alone, lonely and watching way too much ID (Investigation Discovery) Channel -- just because it makes me feel better --- I mean, my life might suck but at least I don't have any decapitated heads buried in my garage! ha!

And I miss Bob, so so very much....

And I don't know how to go on/if I can go on without him.  I am really not doing so well, at all.

Did sign up for a grief support group --- starts next week.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Another Visitor

Tomorrow, my nephew (David) is arriving for a week's stay. I am very much looking forward to the company and to getting to better know my nephew (now a young man) who I haven't seen since he was a kid!

This grieving business is a hard and lonely job --- and, I tell you, being a widow sucks.  My motto lately is "one day at a time" and in that way, I plow along....

Monday, August 10, 2015

Notes from a Mediumship Reading

I went to a medium, last week. For a reading. The reading was an hour and a half long and I was emotionally and physically drained and exhausted, for days, afterward. She e-mailed an audio recording of the reading, which I listened to twice.  The first time, I cried all through. Heck, I cried all through the actual reading. But I listened to it today again, calmer now, and took some notes.  Here are some of the highlights:

I see a man, tall and slender and light complected, blonde hair, thick and wavy. Very tall, over six feet tall. Does that sound like your husband?

I say, yes.

Tell me something for your wife:

He was sick at the end. I feel this from him.  Tell me something for your wife.

He says, he loves you a lot, he loves you so much, he loves you very very much, he comes and touches your face, sometimes, but you don't feel it.  He loves you very much, this is the first thing he wants you to know.  

And he does not want you to remember him the way he was at the end, he wants you to remember him "tall, blonde and handsome" the way he was when you met him.

Oh, this is silly, but I'm getting goosebumps. Look at my arms, see? goosebumps! I cannot fake that. Do you know what that means? It means this is a truth, a universal truth. 

He's saying to you, "you are the love of my life", he loves you so so much, he's making me cry, the love he has for you is so great, it's unconditional, there is no limit to his love, he loves you so very very much. It's the kind of love God has, angels have, that's the kind of love he has for you. 

You are the love of his life. He keeps saying that.

He's showing me you, when you are younger, wearing a blue dress, and you are dancing with him. It's a fancy dress, with short sleeves and tight on the top but with a full skirt. It looks like a 1950's style dress. He says you were beautiful then.  He says you are beautiful now.

But he does not want to talk about the past. He wants to talk about now. He is worried about you.

He doesn't want you to suffer.  He did not want to hurt you.  He did not want to leave.

He's concerned you do have not enough support.  You do not have people around you.  Your husband wants you to have friends, wants you to have support.  You shouldn't be so alone.

You are blessed. This man was your soulmate, he loves you so much. Most people never have that.  Oh, 99% of people never have that! But you did. You are truly blessed. 

But he feels like he has let you down. He didn't want to leave you.  He didn't want to hurt you by leaving you. 

He's been trying to connect with you in your dreams, but because you are so much in pain, he can't connect. He visits you at night, sometimes you wake up and when you wake up in the middle the night, it's because he has been there.

He's having a hard time because he doesn't want to leave you. He wants you to be OK. He wants to wipe away your tears. I think it's beautiful, the way he says that.  He's trying to take care of you, trying to help you. 

He's also concerned about his daughter, a daughter with blonde hair, he's trying to take care of her too. She has a man in her life that he does not like. He worries about her, too. It's too bad that you both can't talk together. You both need support.  

He wants you to have someone to talk to -- he wants you to have friends. He does not want you to be alone. He wants you to have support.

He wants you to meet him in a dream, he wants to meet you in a beautiful garden in a dream.

She asks me if I want to say something to him, I tell her to tell him "I'm sorry." That I'm sorry I did not take him to the hospital the day before he died.

He says that he did not want to go to the hospital. He says, "No way!",  if you would have taken him to the hospital he would be mad at you for that. He hates hospitals! He doesn't like hospitals, he makes it very clear, he HATES hospitals. You did the right thing. You were a very good wife. He knew he was passing and he did not want to go to the hospital. He did not want to die at a hospital. You did everything right and he thanks you for that. He is grateful. And he wants you to know, he did not suffer.

I ask, what was he trying to tell me the night before he died? He was trying to say something that I could not figure out.

He was having speech difficulty, he couldn't talk -- but he wanted to tell you he was afraid that he was going to pass and he wanted to tell you that he was going to pass--  but he couldn't find the words. He wanted you to be okay. He was afraid to leave you behind. He didn't know how to say it in words.

He doesn't want you to think of him how he was at the end. Think of him, always, the way he was when you met him.

You are the love of his life. He keeps saying that!

Diane, are you wondering, Diane, thinking about -- moving?

Me: No, not right now, but some people have told me I should.

Should I ask Bob? Ask him what he would want you to do?

I say, okay.

Bob, do think your wife should move from the house?

Well, I know it's your house, Bob, but you have to think about her! It's her house too! Maybe she should move on. Maybe it would be good for her to move on. Maybe there are too many memories there.

He is arguing with me, your husband is a very stubborn man! A very strong guy! He says it's his house and he wants you to stay there. He's very insistent on this.

It's his house and he wants you to stay there!

But he wants you to have friends, to do activities, to enjoy your life. He wants you to be okay, so he can be okay.

But he's there for you, he's with you, he's with you a lot. He's there if you need him. You may not be able to see him right now, but he's there. You are the love of his life, and he will always be there for you.

And he's hurting because he can see you and you cannot see him.  He is trying to send you healing and energy.  He is trying to help you. He loves you, so much.  The love never changes.

When your pain is not so intense, you will see him. You will know he has never left you. And you will see him again. Believe me, you will see him again.

Now he's showing me a window, with lace curtains, curtains you can see through, see the light through. This is in your house, I think, if you sit by the window and think of him, he will try to connect with you there.

As I was typing this, suddenly this video popped onto my computer screen and began playing, without me touching it, without even the play arrow, it just played on its own -- :

Sunday, August 2, 2015


It has been raining, here, for 20 days. This, I learn from the radio: today is the 20th day of rain. I cannot remember such a rainy season before -- it seems the whole world weeps, the sky weeps, the days are countless, changeless, dreary, matching my mood.

This house is haunted. Not by Bob. I am the ghost who wanders these dark, gloomy rooms. I am the voice heavily sighing in the corner. A long low involuntary sigh. Then there's Zenith.  I see her shadow, peaking around the door.  I see her on my bed at night, back turned to me, licking her paw. Zenith is still here, Zenith haunts the house with me, and I wonder: where is Bob? where is Boomer?

A long time ago, when Bob and I had one of those obligatory married couple talks, the what-to-do-if-I-die talks, I told Bob that if he went first, that he better come back and haunt me.  He laughed and promised he would "haunt my ass" (his words, well actually he would have said "your ass"--anyway) and then he said, if he couldn't do that, one day I would be sitting on the porch and a little red bird would land on the railing and look at me and that little red bird would be him or a message sent from him.

I think of this now, a little red bird, and I wonder why he chose red -- and if he chose red, or if I only imagined "red" and maybe he just said a "little bird". But I have seen no bird, red or not, on the porch railing. I have seen no ghost of Bob. I have gotten no messages from the beyond. Not even in my dreams.

Only Zenith is still here, peaking around the corner.  A flash of Siamese fur in the hallway, a dark tail disappearing through a doorway.

And Bob exists only in my imagination, in my mind, in his pictures and art on the walls, in the things we collected together, the stories we shared. In a box of ashes on my memorial table.

Long ago, before we were married, I told Bob (and I don't remember why, or what we were talking about) but I told Bob I had never received a dozen roses. Not once. In my entire life. No one ever sent me a dozen roses. I had received, of course, flowers, but never a whole dozen roses.

Bob was poor then, recently graduated from art school, unemployed and looking for work.  And he wanted to be the one to buy me a dozen roses, but he couldn't afford it and so, he drew me a picture of a dozen roses and matted and framed it, himself.

He gave it to me, saying, that now I "would never be without a dozen roses".

A Dozen Roses by Bob

I still have a dozen roses. I will always have a dozen roses.

Outside, it continues to rain. The sky is weeping and so am I.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Alone Again

My dear friend, Lori, left on Wednesday so I am alone again. I think, the thing I miss most is having someone to say "Good morning!" to every day.  This business of being a widow is a lonely one...

Lori & Kona
So I am back to aimlessly wandering this lonely old house, this house that seems no longer like a home, but a museum of memories.

Lori did help me accomplish many things, for which I'll be forever grateful.  We did manage to donate lots of medical supplies & equipment, including Bob's manual wheelchair, to the local hospice (though I still have the expensive hospital bed and power chair, I have contacted a medical supplier about selling the bed, but I'm not sure if the wheelchair is even paid off, yet.) And dispose of prescription drugs. And tidy up many other things including storing Boomer's things and picking up Boomer's remains (my little memorial table grows, I hope no more). Also did some fun shopping at thrift stores, antique shops, etc. -- and found a new (used) couch for Kona! This to keep her off my antique furniture:

Kona's new couch
Talk about a spoiled dog. She's acquired a new middle name, Kona Jean. As Lori kept calling her "Marilyn Monroe" -- such a blonde diva-dog she is on her very own "chaise lounge"!

To fit the new couch in the living room, we had to move Bob's hospital bed into the corner --- no easy thing for me. Will the tears ever stop?

Lori & I did some other fun things: trips to a couple of museums, a visit to the Gulf of Mexico (though it was raining the whole time) and some dog training/testing for Kona including a stop at a dog-friendly restaurant for breakfast.  I'm proud to say, Kona passed with flying colors.

Now it's back to "widow's business" -- my desk is piled to the hilt with paperwork:  bills to pay, cards to answer.  So many grim tasks, including yet another "certified death certificate" to send off (which, by the by, is a most horrific document: its actual title being Certification of Death and looking not unlike a car title in style and color, but saying much much worse. I can't help but to recoil in horror looking upon it and touching it, or worse, having to run to the bathroom to vomit, so I try not to look - though I must touch - while I quickly fold it and shove it into an envelope) -- this one goes to the insurance agent to take Bob's name off of our homeowner's policy. So much of this stuff strikes me as stupid and unnecessary.... I mean, do they really need an official certificate to take his name off the house insurance policy? jeepers...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

And Bob Would Be Proud

So yesterday, Lori and I stopped at Pier 1 to look for porch chairs for our front porch.  This is something I've been meaning to do, long ago, and one of those things that is hard to do, without Bob.

But Pier 1 had a sale, and I said, "let's go" and we found the perfect chairs for the porch. Unfortunately, or perhaps I should say fortunately, two of the chairs were a bit "wobbly" when we set them on the floor to inspect them. So I asked the salesperson if there was a "wobbly discount"  and he laughed and said, that yes, he could give me "wobbly discount" of 25% off -- this in addition to the sale price which was already 30% off.

So I got the two wobbly ones. I figured it really didn't matter much since our old porch floor is uneven to begin with, and anything will be a little wobbly. So, we hauled them home. And they are an excellent match to the antique wicker table that Bob and I bought back in January.

Bob always loved a good deal, he was always the one to "dicker" a price down, and he would have loved the idea of a "wobbly discount"! I can almost hear him laughing. He would have been proud of me.

Meanwhile, the little heart pendant with Bob's remains broke open again, and I had to go back to the funeral home yesterday to have it repaired --- grrrr....   This time they are sending it somewhere to have it reglued.

On Sunday, Lori and I did a "spa day" -- a massage and hair cut for me, mani/pedi for her.  It was fun. And some desperately needed "take care of Diane time" for me.

Friday, July 17, 2015


My friend, Lori, arrived late Wednesday and yesterday we went out to lunch and pretty much spent the day catching up.

Today, she went with me to pick up Boomer's "cremains". I put Boomer's box of ashes, along with his collars, next to Bob and Zenith. My little memorial table grows cluttered.

And then Lori removed Boomer's dog bed, anti-slip rugs, etc. from the living room because I could not bear to do it.

It is so good to have someone here with me, to help me through this all.  I feel bad that I seem to spend most of the time crying, so I'm sure it's not much of a "vacation" for her. We stopped for lunch today and while seated at the cafe, "our song" (I'll Stop The World and Melt With You) came on the radio and I had to run out the door --- as I was in sudden tears and did not want to make a spectacle of myself in the crowded restaurant.

This morning, Bob's cousin Mark flew into Tampa on his way to Sarasota and called me as he was quite literally "passing through" our town and then stopped by, to give me a hug and see how I was doing. This is Bob's favorite aunt and uncle, Aunt Mary and Uncle Dick's son.  Which is the only part of Bob's family that has kept in contact with me since Bob's death.  I have been pretty much dissed by all the others.

Meanwhile, Kona is a gem:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

And Boomer is gone...

Much like Bob, my other blonde boy, Boomer passed away in his sleep.  This time, I was prepared, I guess, I knew and kissed Boomer goodnight, last night, and told him I loved him and he was a "good boy".

Still it's hard. So very hard...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Company -- finally

Tomorrow, I have a dear friend arriving from up north to stay here for two weeks. This will be my first visitor since Bob died. Since then, I have been utterly alone.

And it's been so hard. Harder than I ever imagined. Some days, I just feel paralyzed. Other days, I feel like a zombie -- on auto pilot. Most days, I am in tears. I have not been doing so well.

I know, people say, "well, good thing Chris is there" and she is, and I'm grateful -- but, Chris does not understand this at all.  For one, she's never been married, let alone had a soulmate, and she's impatient with me to "get it together",  sometimes to the point of harping at me and criticizing me --- for example on July 4th when I was really breaking down, her response was "Well, I always spend holidays alone! It's not bad! You just have to keep busy!"  grrr...   In addition, she's going through her own medical crisis -- so pretty much spends the days either vomiting or with diarrhea -- and I get the whole story on that...  So, not much support there, I'm afraid.

I've been reading some memoirs on widowhood, (just finished Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking, and Gail Lynch's In Sickness & In Health and am working my way though Joyce Carol Oates A Widow's Story) and the thing that strikes me is that at first, those widows are surrounded by family and friends -- and I haven't been.  I'm just here alone.  Which really, by the way, sucks.

So! I'm looking so forward to Lori, my dear old friend (we've known each other since high school) arriving tomorrow and staying for a couple of weeks.  I really, really need this -- and I've made her promise that we will do a "spa day" with a massage and hair cut (the latter for me, I really need one) and she must drag me there, if I protest!

Also, I've spent some time getting together a guest room in our spare bedroom -- had to buy a bed, mattress, curtains, bedding, etc. And though, it's not been exactly "fun" -- it's kept me busy.

I'm truly looking forward to this visit. So if this blog is quiet for a couple of weeks, you know why.

Meanwhile, the house is getting pinker by the day!  Still far from done, but it's getting there.  I'm probably the only person who hires the painter with the prosethic leg (I'm not kidding, he really does have one)--- but I do like to hire folks who need the work. And he's doing a great job, even though it's slow going!
Window box, columns, some trim still not painted. But getting there!
(Click to enlarge.)

I so wish Bob was here to see it. He helped pick out the colors. He would have been so happy...

Boomer is still hanging in there. He has lost a lot of weight (64 lbs. now, down from 87 lbs in May and 102 lbs at his prime of life), and now has an eye infection, but on his vet visit today, Hillary thought he looked "happier" (because of Kona?).  He's got some new eye ointment and we are trying a different appetite stimulant -- it is a daily struggle to get him to eat.  The vet thinks Boomer might have some kind of cancer (because of his weight loss/appetite loss), but with his hip dysplasia + arthritis + old age -- thinks it would be too hard on him to put him through tests/treatments -- and after Zenith (who did have cancer and died after the tumor removal) I really don't think I even want to go there... Even as my heart is breaking...

Kona still has an ear infection, so new meds for her, too.

Ripley chilling out, taking over some of Zenith's former duties -- like meeting me at the door! Which is so cute.

And my chipped/sprained wrist is still killing me --- but seems to be a little better today.  Bad thing is I keep using it/straining it, so it's taking awhile to heal...

But I have question -- for all my readers -- I've been wondering, do I keep blogging here? At the pinkhouseonethecorner -- or should I start a new blog? You know, a sort of Diane-without-Bob widow's blog?

There are pros and cons to both... And I'm just thinking out loud. Would like some feedback.  Thanks.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

She's Mine!

So! Today, I officially adopted Kona. Oh my.  I consider her my "back-up auxiliary dog" for when, you know, Boomer goes.... lol

Boomer is, for some darn reason, hanging in there -- amazing! But I know, at nearly 14 years old, his time will come. He still hobbles about, real trouble with those back legs (slipping and sliding and falling down) and it's a daily fight to get him to eat -- he's gotten so thin! and it's heartbreaking -- but he's not whimpering or whining in pain and he still seems interested in life, i.e. getting up (even if it's struggle), wanting to go for a walk, following me around...  But, like I said, I know, his time is near...

And, in that event, really, it would be too darn sad, if, our little former family of five (Bob, me, Zenith, Boomer and Ripley) ended up being just Ripley and me, the two of us...   Not that I don't love Ripley, but jeepers... just the two of us? Ripley and me, alone. In just a few short months. Oh my.

I must admit, that I have fallen in love with Kona. This poor dog has lost her family and gee, I can relate to that..... and she's just so sweet.

Here she is, on the night of her adoption, with a rawhide chew ---

I tell you, three days ago, I gave her that rawhide chew and she didn't know what it was -- She  just dropped it and didn't know what to do.

Now, she's figured it out.

She's settling in. Boomer likes her, a lot.

And Ripley --- if not totally bonding, is at least tolerating her now. I mean, they are seen in the same room together with no sparks flying! So I think this will work out.

And weirdly -- is this weird? But I sometimes actually think that Bob engineered this -- from the other side -- and sent this blonde dog to me (Bob, a blonde himself, always admired the blonde colored dogs and knows I love dogs)  --- hmmmm  OK, perhaps I'm being weird.  But jeepers, the timing of this all....

Saturday, July 4, 2015

First Holiday Alone

Today has been hard.  Tonight there will be fireworks, folks out there having a good time.

I have spent the day, alone, curled up on Bob's hospital bed, in tears.

I keep the phone by the bed, but rarely does it ring, anymore. I'm sure everyone is pretty tired of this weepy widow.

I have two sick puppies by my side.  Boomer -- the usual end of life issues.  Kona has developed an infection on her incision site (from the spay) and is vomiting.  Took Kona back to the vet yesterday. She's got new meds and a prescribed "bland diet". Though the doctor thinks the vomiting might be "stress related".   I can certainly relate to that, as I've been doing the same.

Tonight, I light a candle by Bob's ashes, his sunglasses, watch, a lamp that he restored, along with Zenith's ashes, her collar, seashells from our honeymoon.  My little memorial table:

Some days, I just don't know how to deal with this....

Thursday, July 2, 2015

It's A Comedy -- and the joke's on me

So, what happened is this:

On Saturday, I took Kona for a walk.  Now Kona is a very sweet dog, very mild tempered and she minds well. She knows her name, comes when she's called, knows the meaning of "no!" and is house trained.  But that's about the extent of it. She does not know "sit", "stay", "wait". And I don't believe she has ever been walked on a leash!

The first time I put a leash on Kona, she dragged me down the alley. This was not fun, especially since she's 91 lbs.  I trained Boomer with a German Pinch collar, so I put that on Kona and decided to start training her to "heel".  It was going pretty good.

So back to Saturday, I decided to walk Kona the six blocks to the lake where there is a dog park. I thought she might enjoy running free with some other dogs.  She was doing real well, so well, in fact, that I got sloppy.

We were crossing the street to the park and I was watching traffic and I wasn't watching Kona. Big mistake. She stepped in front of me and I tripped right over her. And fell. Flat on the ground. In the middle of the street. And Kona, seeing me on the ground, laid down next to me.

No one helped me. Even though there were plenty of people around. I got up, bleeding from my knee and leg, limped across the street to sit down on a park bench.  After catching my breath, we went home.

At home, I realized that my elbow and wrist were killing me.  But I could move both and figured I had just bruised myself badly. I did the whole RICE thing, ice, rest, elevate, etc.  It hurt so bad, I hate to admit that I swiped a couple of Boomer's pain meds.

The next morning, I could not move my arm at all. So I drove myself to the ER.

The last time I was at that ER was with Bob.  Memories flooded me.  Bob in that bed saying "Go home! Go home!" and then I noticed the date, 6/28, exactly one month from his death.  I tell you, I was in tears.

Anyway, got some painful x-rays, and the doc told me that I broke my arm in two places:  at the elbow and wrist.  They wrapped me up in an "immobilization" splint that went from my fingertips to midway between my elbow and shoulder. The splint was bent so that I could not unbend my arm. They gave me a sling. They sent me home with pain meds (which were the exact same pain meds Boomer takes!) and a referral to an orthopedic doc for casting my arm.

Yesterday, I went to the orthopedic doc, who was unfortunately in the same clinic where Bob went for his foot problems. More tears. Including me, sitting in the van, wailing, "Bob, why did you leave me?!!"  

That doc cut off the splint, looked at the exact same x-rays and told me that I did not break my elbow, it was only badly bruised. That there was only a chip on my wrist bone and my wrist was badly sprained.  No broken bones.

I left with a wrist brace. Picked up Kona from the vet where she was spayed. She will definitely need more training with that leash....