Marilyn Armstrong:

Today’s a perfect day to reblog this one. It made me laugh. It made me laugh a lot and I have to admit, it did not make Garry laugh nearly as much.

Sometimes I think there is only one husband in the world. He comes in a variety of packaging options — size, color, age, ethnicity — but underneath, it’s the same guy.

Originally posted on Stuff my dog taught me:

woman and dogThe other night I had an argument with the husband so I harrumphed up the stairs and went to bed early.  (Actually, I harrumphed up then back down then back up, since I had forgotten the ipad in the living room.  This took away a fair bit of the effect from my initial harrumph but it also allowed me to watch a new season of The Vampire Diaries in bed, so…).

Buster the Schnauzer did not have even a moment of angst over what to do in such a situation.  Without hesitation, my loyal friend followed me up the stairs, AND back down, AND back up.  As I settled under the covers, he sat upright on the bottom of the bed with a look that clearly said, “You are everything wonderful and perfect in the world and HE is an ass.” (Buster has a very expressive face).  As we shared…

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Good Tidings — Present-day you meets 10-years-ago you for coffee. Share with your younger self the most challenging thing, the most rewarding thing, and the most fun thing they have to look forward to.

Ten years ago. Like — 2004, right? It hasn’t been an upbeat decade, I fear … but all is not lost.

Garry Kaity Divot RiverBend

I suppose I need to tell me that my health isn’t going to improve. No matter how sick I am now, it will be worse in years to come. Each ailment will be more threatening and disabling than the one preceding it. You will nearly starve to death as your damaged digestive system collapses and before you fully recover from that, you’ll have bilateral breast cancer.

A couple of years later, massive heart problems will follow. The arthritis and bursitis get worse but everyone will tell you how well you’re doing — and how lucky you. Sometimes, you will wonder what they mean by “lucky.”


You’ll work hard, but be unable to continue. Too ill. Anyway, the high-tech job market will collapse, so by the time work starts to trickle back, you’ll be too tired to seize the day.

Your book will be praised (you’ll finally write one), but it won’t sell.


Rewards? You won’t get a Pulitzer or a big movie contract, but you’ll keep on keeping on. Your husband will stick it out with you. He’ll be inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of fame and grow to be the person he always had it in him to be. This will mean everything.

While most old friends fade, a few re-emerge and others will become ever more important. You’ll find new people where you least expected to find them. They will support you when you urgently need it. It will remind you there is still kindness and generosity in the world. A layer of your cynicism will wash away … which is good because old layers of cynicism get pretty crusty over the years.

Life won’t get easier, but you will make the best of it. You’ll finally ride two of the biggest, baddest roller coasters on America’s east coast and it will make you howl with glee. You’ll see the Grand Canyon. Your dogs will make you laugh every single day and smile, even when they aren’t around.

Superstition Mtns Arizona

You’ll learn there are worse things than being alone, realize your own company is better than you imagined. You’ll write a lot and you’ll have a bigger audience than you hoped for. Your photography will keep getting better and you’ll get immense gratification from it.

The Red Sox will win three World Series.

You’ll fight illness, poverty, loneliness, and pain. Successfully, for the most part. You’ll beat back despair with a big stick and battle the Grim Reaper to a stand still.

You will survive and won’t end up living in your car.

Deep in your heart, you’ll always harbor a foolish dream that the big lottery hit will rock your world. Because it’s not impossible, merely unlikely. So many unlikely things have already happened, why not one more? Maybe a good one this time.


Our dreams change and some vanish. But we are what we are and thus invent new dreams. The canvas on which we paint is smaller, but our brushes are sharper and the colors stronger.


By Hand — What’s the best present you’ve ever received that was handmade by the giver, not store-bought? Tell us what made it so special.

Garry and Divot

Garry and Divot

I’m not sure what to say. You mean, the lumpy ashtrays kids make in school? The kids don’t even think much of them, but we all ooh and aah over them like we have a budding Rembrandt in our midst. Because buttressing the egos of our fledglings is our job.

96-Garry-618Of course, both the nascent Rembrandt and his/her admirers know it ain’t so, but we appreciated the sentiment and good intentions.

So I’ll go with the concept of “not store-bought” as the major factor in this story.

One bright Christmas, Garry had a pictures taken of him and our two dogs, Divot and Pagan. He signed it, and had it framed. Both dogs have long since passed and Garry doesn’t look like that any more, but that was the best gift.

It captured a time and a place that would soon be gone, but because of Garry’s gift, lived with us for decades longer.


About two years ago, we parted ways with the group of vets we’d been using for ten years. The quality of the care was not at issue, but the prices they were to charging were. For years, they had been reasonable, caring. You could set up payment plans for the most costly procedures. They worked with you to keep prices down so your pets could get the care they needed.

dog prisoners in garden

In came new management. Prices skyrocketed, service slumped. No more payment plans. No more affordable dental care. No more multi-pet discounts. The cost of routine medications and shots went sky-high. A trip to the vet for anything cost at least $100, no matter how minor.

dogs with bishop and gar

I objected. Then, I got mad. They got mad, because I had no right to get mad. With medical care, whether human or veterinary, the doctor’s front office is always right. Just ask them, they’ll tell you. We left.

We have too many dogs to go for long without a vet, so we defaulted to The Convenient Veterinarian — Agape Animal Hospital in Northbridge — the one nearest home. How bad could they be?


Our dogs have been mostly healthy. Bonnie has an issue with her eyes requiring twice daily medicated drops. Nan is arthritic — she is 13 — and she gets a low dose aspirin with her dinner. Nan and Bonnie both needed dental work. To hear Dr. Lawrence explain it, their teeth were in horrendous condition, dangerously, lethally infected. A disaster area which would kill them.

Kill them, that’s what he said. As in death.

Me and Bonnie

He knew we had limited resources. Retirees are typically strapped for cash. It doesn’t mean we don’t love our dogs. It means you can’t squeeze us for more money because we don’t have it. And won’t have it in the future. We can usually pay over time, but we can’t come up with big lump sums.

Price for Bonnie’s teeth — no payment plan option, and no negotiation — would be no less than $800. For Nan? Minimum $1190.

I pointed out if my teeth cost that much to do, I couldn’t do them either. He shrugged, looked sympathetic, but didn’t give an inch. The medication for Bonnie’s eyes went up from $97 to $110 per month. No discounts there, either.

She needed drops twice a day, but usually only got them only once because we couldn’t afford more medication.

Nan - 14

I’d have sought a new vet sooner (like immediately), but I was facing heart surgery and I just couldn’t deal with it. After the heart surgeries (all 5 of them) were done and I was back to being a person, I knew I had to get a new vet. This one was interested in money, not the health of his patients.

We got a recommendation from Furry Friends in Milford. She is the groomer my son had discovered and she’s wonderful. Not only does she know what your dog is supposed to look like (our Scottie looks like a Scottie again), but she charges based on the amount of work involved in grooming your dog rather than how much she can squeeze out of you.

She suggested we go to Metrowest Veterinary Association in Milford. And we did. It’s not as convenient, but it is — sorry for the pun — what the doctor ordered. Bonnie’s teeth got done for under $500 (payment plan, too) and came out with teeth white as snow. Turns out her teeth weren’t all that bad, either.

Bonnie has her smile back. The $110 medicated eye drops now cost $58 and for 50% more drops. Because we can give her the drops twice a day, her eyes are clearing up. Eventually, she may will longer need drops at all.

Not only was Dr. Lawrence screwing us for money, he was also lying about our dogs’ health. Bonnie’s teeth needed work, but they were not infected, not killing her. Nan is next up and we are assured her teeth will cost about the same. They will let us pay with post-dated checks and meantime, she’s okay. Not an imminent medical emergency.

Nan and Bishop

Sometimes, when you think someone is out to get you it’s because they are out to get you, or at least out to get your money. That Dr. Lawrence could say this stuff to us and not care about its impact on the dogs — or us — is hard to comprehend.

If you live locally, don’t take your pets to Agape Animal Hospital. It’s a ripoff. Worse, it’s bad care with a dishonest veterinarian at the helm.


Cee’s Black & White Challenge:

Walk 100 Steps and Take New Photos

Today has been a quiet, sleepy day. Raining outside as we snuggle up inside.

I didn’t walk 100 steps to take pictures. Maybe I walked 5 steps to get to the top of the stairs for a shot of the landing below. I walked couple more steps to get a better angle on Bishop, the big Aussie Shepherd.

This is my world, or important parts of it. This is where I spend most of my time, most of my days.






Literate for a Day — Someone or something you can’t communicate with through writing (a baby, a pet, an object) can understand every single word you write today, for one day only. What do you tell them? (Thanks for the suggestion, Chic Prune!)

Dear Bonnie,

I know you are a Scottie and have an inbred tendency to attack life head first. It’s charming, in its own way but I’m going to suggest it’s time to moderate your behavior.

Bonnie - 8

Lately, you’ve been showing up in the house looking like Druid Dog. You’re so covered with leaves and twigs and stuff, it’s hard to recognize you as a dog. You look like a piece of the forest floor that has grown legs. Also, attacking the hall gate by ramming it with you head can’t be healthy. Doesn’t it hurt? It’s not helping the gate stay on its hinges either.

I’m sorry that we can’t have all of you sleeping in our bed, but the bed isn’t big enough and you guys are all much too icky and smelly; frankly, we are too old.

Bonnie Resting

And finally, there’s the whole matter of treats. We humans are not as stupid as you think we are. We do remember having given you a treat mere minutes ago, so hitting us each up for another if we are near the kitchen, is ruining your credibility. How can we trust you when you lie to our faces?

You cannot have an unlimited number of daily treats. It’s unhealthy and will make you fat. You wouldn’t want to lose your girlish figure, now do you?

Bonnie - 1

I’m glad we had this opportunity to chat.

Tomorrow the well guy is going to be here and we will have to do some serious negotiating about not running up into the road. And not getting in the way of the big machines, or falling into the well (that would be really terrible). It’s just one day … surely you can behave for that long, can’t you? Please?


Cee’s Share Your World – 2014 Week 43

What is your favorite time of day?

Ironically, though I hate having to get out of my warm, comfortable bed, morning is my favorite time of day. I love morning light, morning coffee.

Kitchen summer morning 2

The quiet in the house. Morning is when I write best, think best. It is when I get most business taken care of. Sipping coffee, writing a post, making phone calls and appointments. Then Garry is up and the dogs start to charge around and morning is done.

What’s your favorite charitable cause and why?

The Durrell Wildlife Park is a zoological park on the Isle of Jersey. Established in 1958 on the island of Jersey in the English Channel by naturalist and author Gerald Durrell, it is now operated by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. 

I read — and loved — Gerald Durrell’s books and I remember when he was fighting to get his park established. He was one of the first to see that breeding endangered species was going to be the only way to preserve many animals whose habitats were disappearing. He is, for the literature majors in the crowd, the younger brother of author Lawrence Durrell, or as Gerald always called him, “Larry.”

Address: La Profonde Rue, Jersey
Area: 25 acres
Opened: March 26, 1959
Phone: +44 1534 860000

Threats-1-durrell.org 2014-10-27 13-45-12

Their motto is “Extinction is not inevitable.” At Durrell Wildlife Park you’ll can meet — face to face — some of the rarest animals on earth. Be amazed by their beauty, wonder at their majesty and uncover their stories of fight for survival. The park is also a vacation park, an educational resource. I have never been there (I wish!), but I have contributed money when I could and followed its progress from when it was founded through today. It has come a long way and maybe, someday, I will be able to visit.

They have a wonderful website with video, information, stories, stuff for kids. Please check it out!

How do you like to spend a rainy day?

Reading, writing, hanging out with the dogs. Kind of like I spend most days, actually.

When writing by hand do you prefer to use a pencil or pen?96-Bonnie-OnGuard_03

I hate writing by hand. I’ve been touch-typing since I was 10 years old and my handwriting, once elegant and readable, has become illegible. I can still sign my name, but when I have to actually hand write anything, I have to print it if I want anyone but me to be able to read it.

Even then, it’s just 50-50. And I make typos even by hand, which is hideously embarrassing when one is signing a book for someone. Maybe I should use crayons? I like those rolling tip marker-writing thingies. I used to have some of them, but I think Garry stole them. He has a thing for pens.

What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

We finally got Bonnie’s teeth done and they were not nearly as bad as we had been led to believe (another story, to be written separately).

Our little girl has her smile back. It turns out, our dogs are fine. What we really needed was a better veterinarian.

Next week? THE WELL!