This blog was formerly dedicated in 2009 to my Dad who died of Alzheimer's in 2013. It's been three years now...and I find myself missing I am re-inventing my blog... because, after all, life is about moving through, and going forward...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Last day of hubby's vacation...

We all eased into the day... hanging out in our PJs... my husband playing with Izzy, while I intently flipped through the exciting chapters of Dan Brown's book, THE LOST SYMBOL...

We took Izzy to PetSmart for more Bully Bones and a new toy.  Izzy and I went for a walk, while my hubby checked show times and set out his clothes for tomorrow. I am using my left arm to hold the leash, trying to manipulate it as much as possible to "unfreeze" my shoulder.  Now that I know my Rotator Cuff is not torn, I am using it again for EVERYTHING!

We enjoyed Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel and then went to see  THE BLIND SIDE with Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw.  GREAT movie by the way, based on a true story about Michael Oher, who became an All American football player. And, if you want a good  laugh, go see OLD DOGS.  I could barely see the movie, I was laughing so hard, I cried.

Tomorrow, my hubby returns to work, and I have a looooong list of "To Do's" to get done...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dare we hope...

I am happy to report, in the five days my husband has been off, he and Izzy have become a lot friendlier.  Dare we hope, their relationship will continue after my husband dawns his suit and returns to work?  Izzy and he play, as my husband belly laughs himself into oblivion!  He gets the biggest kick out of Izzy.  Despite me asking him not to, he insists on sharing his morning toast and pieces of turkey with her.

His excuse to me is, "She almost drown, the poor thing had a near death experience!!" She fell in our son's pool during Thanksgiving dinner.  I had just finished a delicious bite of yams, and suddenly heard a high pitched YIP! from the backyard.  I raced to the backyard, and she was no where in sight.  I called to her and another YIP!! sprang from the far corner of the yard.  In between the pool's waterfall, and the spa, was our little pup-cycle hanging on to the side of the pool for dear life...

Her eyes are so big anyway, but soaked to the bone, all I saw were a pair of huge, frightened, eyes looking up at me, with chattering teeth beneath.  I scooped her up and yelled for a towel, then took her into the bathroom to dry her off.  Poor thing was pure ice, but after a good toweling and a little help from the hair dryer, she was back to a normal temperature.

So, my husband still thinks, the trauma of a nearly drowning, warrants extra measures of compensation.  I am just happy they are becoming buddies. No barking and no growling! She actually will follow him around too, and stay in the same room with him.  He has been able to get some pets around her face and neck, but still not on her body.  Slowly but day at a time...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bye Bye Blackbird...

When I was a little baby, and throughout my life, my Dad would sing Bye, Bye Blackbird, to me.  It was our special song.  He used to tell me, I would be crying and fussing, and when he sang it to me, I stopped and listened to him with a big smile.

It was the music we danced to at my wedding, for my Father of the Bride dance.

The song was written in 1926 and was very popular.  It was composed by Ray Henderson, an American composer and lyrics by Mort Dixon. Despite controversial interpretations of the song, when Dad sang it to me, all was right in my world. In case you have not heard of it, these are the words... my memories are mostly of just the chorus...

Blackbird, Blackbird, singing the blues all day,
Right outside of my door,
Blackbird, blackbird, gotta be on my way,
Where there's sun shine galore.

Pack up all my care and woe,
Here I go,
Singing low,
Bye, bye, blackbird.

Where some body waits for me,
Sugar's sweet,
So is she,
Bye, bye, blackbird

No one here can love and understand me,
Oh what hard luck stories they all hand me,
Make my bed and light the light,
I'll arrive late tonight,
Blackbird, bye, bye

Bluebird, bluebird, calling me far away,
I've been longing for you,
Bluebird, bluebird, this is my lucky day,
Now my dreams will come true.

How I would love to hear my Dad sing it to me once more...

Friday, November 27, 2009

I know it in my head, it is just tough to make it stick in my heart...

Mom went to visit Dad today and found him, in the front row playing Bingo. The card numbers were huge and they used poker chips to mark the numbers called.  We thought he hated Bingo!  He was so engrossed in the game and his card, she did not want to interrupt. Mom took the Country magazine she had brought him, and read it in the hall until the game was finished.

When Dad came out, he asked to be taken to his room, so Mom followed along and watched as the attendant helped Dad into bed.  She said Dad seemed weak, and needed the attendant's strong arm for assistance to get settled.

She sat beside his bed and asked him how his visits were with their youngest son, daughter and her husband.  Dad laid with his eyes closed and rambled about the chapel at Cal Poly, the younger generation needing our support, and big rocks in the ocean.  He gave her yes or no answers to her questions, and continued with his own conversation. Mom said he only mentioned "medical history" once.

Mom is doing her best to not take it personally when Dad ignores her, but I know it is still difficult for her. It was clear to her that Dad had no idea yesterday was Thanksgiving. In retrospect, it was probably my emotions I was thinking more about, because clearly, Dad is in a world of his own.  If we would have brought him to the house, it was have been emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting for him.  He would have been out of his comfort zone, felt strange being the only one in  a wheel chair, and would not have had the attendance of his caregivers to maintain his dignity.

I know my youngest brother was right.  We have to think about what is best for Dad, during the holidays, not what is best for us. I know that in my head, it is just tough to make it stick in my heart...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving was "just another day" for Dad...

My sister and her husband went to visit Dad at the nursing home, before going over to my brother and sister in laws to join the family for Thanksgiving. They found Dad in the dining room, relishing turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, ambrosia salad, rolls with butter (all covered in gravy), pumpkin pie, milk and coffee.  They kind of sat and smiled as he devoured every single crumb or drop.

Afterward, my sister invited Dad to go sit out on the patio among the trees and flowers, which he eagerly wanted to do. Dad recognized her husband and was very happy to see him. Dad's word of the day was "medical history" and she said he must have said it at least 15 times. She reassured me, Dad had no idea it was Thanksgiving.  To him, it was "just another day".

Dad's doctor and taken him off the appetite enhancer pill, so he now has the sensation of fullness.  My sister said after about a half hour, he kept getting droopy eyes, like he was ready to fall asleep.  No wonder from all the food he packed away!!  She noticed the lesion on his right eye did not look as good as it had in the past, but the lesion on his lip looked a lot better.

They wheeled him back to his room, and he was anxious to get into bed and get all cozy.  My sister said it looked like he would be catching some z's, any minute.  They hugged him good-bye, as he was already closing his eyes.  My sister whispered, "Happy Thanksgiving Dad, I am so thankful for you"...

Happy Thanksgiving to YOU!!

May each of you
feel as full
as you do

May thankfulness
swell inside your heart
bringing you peace and calm.

May you be over-flowing
with love and friendship,
enjoying the glow
of family and friends.

May those in pain,
have a reprieve of their suffering,
feeling the joy and
healing of laughter.

May those who are lonely,
have someone,
with two legs or four,
to share your turkey.

May you  all soak in
the dance of togetherness.
relishing a
lazy, happy,
day of good food,
good company,
and a soft place to land,
to rest and nap...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A pre-Thanksgiving visit from his son...

My youngest brother went to visit Dad yesterday.  When he arrived, he found Dad, sound asleep with the afghan Mom knitted him, keeping him cozy and warm.  My brother sat down and was going to watch some TV, while letting Dad get some "shut eye", but, while rifling through Dad's drawer to find the remote, Dad woke up.  Dad's face lit up with joy when he saw his son sitting there...

Still under the effects from his dreams, Dad was talking about files in his mind and deposits for his savings.  Not knowing what Dad was referring to, he attempted to change the subject to Thanksgiving.  He asked Dad what he was thankful for. Dad told him he was thankful for his faith, and he had to make daily deposits in his savings for his faith.

My brother told Dad he was thankful for his family, his friends and his faith.  "Pops" told my brother he had "visions of heaven" and it was beautiful.  He told my brother,"We have to say our prayers to get to heaven".

Dad told my brother how much he enjoyed his wife, Katie Couric's voice.  Dad smiled, as if remembering, and my brother changed the topic, by asking Dad if he remembered the family dog, Brutus.  Dad smiled again, and began to describe the dog's face.  Dad's face fell sad, as he told my brother he felt badly, because he had abandoned Brutus.  Dad said they had been walking and Brutus would not follow him, he stayed on the other side of the street and then someone had taken him.

They laughed together remembering how Brutus was attack the mail slot at the house, when the mailman would start to push the mail through.  Brutus was run as fast as his stubby legs could carry his chubby body and throw himself at the door, biting the stack of mail, pulling it through the slot!  No one really knows what happened to Brutus, he just disappeared one day.  It broke Dad's heart.  He loved that dog so much.  Dad plastered the community with posters and put ads in the newspaper. We never found him...

Very seriously, Dad told my brother, "Never water the Pomegranate tree".  This was Dad's mantra in the summer, because if the tree got too much water, the fruit would crack open in the fall.  Mom did not heed his warnings, and over watered the tree.  This fall, we did not get our delicious pomegranates, as we normally do, because they all split open and the birds got to feast instead.

My brother was not sure what made Dad bring up the Pomegranate tree. He hoped Dad did not remember, one of his "punk kid" remarks, when he told Dad Brutus had died, and he buried Brutus under the tree... Dad had gotten so upset, he told my brother, "If you really did that, I will disown you as my son"....that sobered him up quickly from his mean spirited teasing.  We all knew how sensitive Dad was with Brutus and we should not even bring up the subject that Brutus was gone...

Again, my brother changed the topic, this time to childhood memories, asking Dad if he remembered bringing him McDonald fillet of fish sandwiches to school, when he had forgotten his lunch... Dad remembered and reminded him of the Reese's Peanut Butter cups he had included for his dessert, which made my brother smile with affection.  They reminisced about fishing off the Huntington Beach pier. Just as my brother was about to bring up the golf tournament they were in together and took home a trophy, church friends of Dads walked in for a visit...

He kissed and hugged Dad good-bye, watching Dad's excitement as he clasped hands with his dear friends. My brother assured me, Dad showed no sadness or indication of even realizing it was Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Investigating Izzy...

Today I finally got ahold of the animal shelter, where we adopted Izzy.  A very nice woman helped me with Izzy's history.  I had begun to suspect she had been turned in more than once, due to all the shots she had listed on her medical history, and so close together...

The lady told me Izzy came in the first time as a stray, the beginning of August, then was adopted the 15th and was sprayed, microchipped and had her rabies shot.  Izzy had to recover from the surgery and was not picked up by the new owner (which was a woman) until the 29th of August.  The new owner turned her back in October 19th, due to "bad living conditions".  To me, I would interpret that as "abuse".  If her home was foreclosed upon, I would think she would have said, "I lost my house".

So maybe she was abused and ran away the first time, but I really feel strongly she was abused at the adopted owner's home.  It may take a good three months to six months before she realizes she is here to stay and this is her home, and that my husband only wants to love her...

I took her to a lady Vet for a well visit, and the Vet said she thought Izzy might be a Carin Terrier/ Yorky mix.  The nice lady at the Animal Shelter, told me Carin terrier as well.  That was my first instinct when I saw her.  She reminded me of one of our grand doggies, Sully, who is a Carin Terrier.  She is not as stocky as Sully, but she definitely has the coat and markings. She said she weighed 12.5 pounds, (she weighed 10 when we got her) and was a year and a half.  The shelter told me she was a year old.

She still seems so afraid of my husband.  He is so frustrated and tries to very hard to get her to like him.  I think he should acknowledge her, but leave her alone, and kind of ignore her, unless she comes up to him.  She seems so anxious when he is trying to play with her or talk with her.  She prefers to sit at a distance from him, and cock her head listening to him.  She enjoys rolling around on his scent, after he has gotten up.  She will even lick where he had laid.  It seems like she wants to like him, but is too afraid of what he might do... that is definitely learned behavior, that needs to be changed.

Since we will be home this Thanksgiving, maybe we will have more time for him to walk with us, and eventually, try taking her out to walk just the two of them together... None the less, more time for us all to be together, is a very good thing...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dad asked Mom for a divorce...

I missed Dad's care conference call this morning.  My Orthopedic Surgeon was informing me I have a frozen shoulder, instead of a torn Rotator Cuff.  Glad to hear I don't have to have surgery... but, I still have to be put to sleep, so he can manipulate my arm and free it up.  I also have to have physical therapy for 6 weeks to make sure my shoulder does not freeze up again. Terrific!

Mom said the care meeting was very positive.  Dad weighs 141 pounds! So needless to say, the doctor is taking Dad off the appetite stimulator medication.  His hearing aid has been ordered, but it will take awhile.  They removed enough ear wax to wax several surf boards, but all in all, he is holding his own.  He dislikes wearing his compression stockings and yells at the aides when they try to put them on him.  We have decided we are not going to fight with Dad about it.  The nurse reassured Mom that they check him every two hours and if there is any swelling, they will elevate his legs immediately.

The nursing home called me and informed me of this decision, as they are suppose to.  I am to be the first one they call with anything out of the ordinary with Dad.  I asked the nurse if it would be possible to have them select a time and then call me so I could talk with Dad. I have such a difficult time connecting with him.  She was very kind and called me back so I could talk with Dad.

Dad sounded tired, but started the conversation by telling me he had sad news to share with me.  He then proceeded to inform me he had asked Mom for a divorce.  He said it was for the best, and she knows, but pretends not to.  He had to tell the truth, and he would give her ice cream.  He told me he was looking for an apartment and he was going to get a car so he could go to church.

I reminded him of what my youngest brother had told him.  Dad considers himself a Farmer, and loves the out of doors, so outside in Nature, is a great place to pray.  I told Dad, he can talk with God, any time, any place, any where, and his voice warmed up as he thanked me for telling him, saying he needed to remember that...

He hoped Mom would be OK, because he is no longer happy with the neighborhood.  I assured him, the brothers were checking in with her.  He told me he loved Mom very much and she was a brave gal.

As soon as we hung up, I called Mom.  She confirmed Dad had told her they were getting a divorce, "because God had told him to".  He had told Mom he was in love with someone else. Mom told him she was still coming to visit him.  Apparently, there is a little lady, who is quite taken with Dad, and thinks he is her "Papa" (husband) and she tells him repeatedly she loves him.  She asks him, if he loves her, and of course, he tells her he does.

I know he does not know what he is saying, but it was very strange to hear.  Dad was singing Christmas Carols, and again telling Mom, how very happy he was there.  He mentioned tonight being the "scariest night of the year" again, and I assured him Halloween was over with.  He told me it was a year ago.  He thought Christmas was this week.  I told him it was next month.  I did not have the heart to tell him this week is Thanksgiving...because he will not be celebrating with us.

My husband and I are staying home this year, to celebrate with his sons and his grandchildren, who live here.  We try to alternate years to celebrate.  We'll go to California for Christmas and come back to Nevada before New Years.

Mom said the nurses told her, they did have a haunted house for Halloween and watched scary movies.  She said Dad LOVED the haunted house and enjoyed going through it.  She never saw him watching any of the movies, however.  The nurses guaranteed they would replace any scary feelings with happy, joyous ones through the holidays...

I told Dad I would see him for Christmas, and he told me that made him so happy to think about.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Closed due to congestion...

an elephant
and a rhino
are sitting upon my face.
i think hoofs
have become embedded
in each eye socket
my orbits
into my nasal cavity
which finds
temporary relief
from sneezing...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The quest for Balance...

This morning, while mentally wandering through one of my favorite books, THE ARTIST'S WAY, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron, I began thinking of balance....the balance of being one's own person and seeking to full fill one's need to create...

I look back frequently on my life, as if glancing over my shoulder, to see where I have been.  It is part curiosity and the quest for balance.  When my sister and I were younger and still living at home, our chore together was doing the dishes.  One washed, the other dried. When I would wipe down the stove, I would always, put the salt and pepper shaker together, side by side, because it appealed to my certain way of doing things... My sister, enjoyed moving the shakers apart...and when I would put them back together, she would taunt me with, "Certain, certain, certain".  This is one of our favorite memories to laugh about together...

Ever since I can remember, I have had a inner guide to what is right and wrong, for me and how I want to deal with something in particular.  Often, in that persnickety state, it can remove the opportunity to see something a different way.  I once read, there were 360 different ways to see any one issue, like in the perspective of a circle...and being so rigid, denied me the opportunity.

Watercolor painting has been  a way for me to to challenge my preference for order.  Maybe it is also coupled with this particular time in my life... When I was younger, prettier, and had a better body, I was not happy with who I was.  Now that I am older, wiser, and more comfortable in my "wider" body, I realize the person I have become, is the culmination of my travels from then to now...

I had a wild side, an emotionally curious nature that took me several places, (I probably should not have gone..) but, that is all part of the tricky tight rope walk in the quest for balance. Growing, maturing, learning, having responsibilities, earning a living, protecting values, and wanting to express myself in a way that wakens my soul. Accessing and contemplating the dance between the two.

Writing, as always been my best friend.  Keeping journals since I was 18, I could pour out my heart, be angry, be disappointed, feel on top of the world, the world was my oyster...or so it felt.  Just the cathartic effort in capturing thoughts and dreams. It kept me sane.  It filled in the gaps and made me feel whole.

Writing comes easier to me, maybe because I have always trusted it more.  To paint, to put a visual feeling onto canvas or paper, has always been a romantic dream of mine. I love the thought of being an Artist. As if, it will transport me on a mystical journey... To, one day, have a one woman show of my creations...

Yet, I am not as prolific with painting.  It is more sporatic and moody. I put too many restrictions or make too many excuses.  How does one capture mercury? Often, I feel like a child, on a windy day, running a futile chase to gather my homework.  I want to know... it is a matter of not trusting it, or to realize, writing is more my passion?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quiet time for Izzy and me...

The quiet of a senior community,
Only the sounds of my foot steps,
and the jingling of her tags
The flap of an occasional flag,
the random garage door opening,
with very few cars,
The whistle of the wind,
The breeze against my sweaty brow,
as this tiny dog pulls me,
works me,
up the hills.
Time to myself to think,
to plan,
to wonder...
to be thankful,
for the company of this sweet canine,
who keeps turning back to look up,
at me,
her big brown eyes,
bright and shining
full of happiness
and joy...
A dancing leaf,
scampers by,
Quails flutter and peep
in nearby bushes,
This scruffy dog perks her ears
as our lone Harley rider
departs his rental.
as he considerately
and slowly,
rides by us
and waves...
Quiet time
for Izzy and me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The reality of Dad 's dreary life...

Mom went to visit Dad yesterday at the nursing home.  She talked to the Director of Nursing about my phone call to her about taking Dad out for Thanksgiving.  Mom told her we were still discussing and praying about what was the best thing to do for Dad...Mom told her we were afraid of him not wanting to return, and he has been doing so well, not having to go back to the psych ward.  She agreed with Mom and told her that may be a problem...

When I spoke with Dad's nurse yesterday, she told me Dad had been yelling at the staff because they would not allow him to walk on his own.  His gait is very unsteady, and he has already fallen two times.  The staff feel he should be in the wheel chair at all times, unless someone can assist him walking.  Dad does not like that plan, and wants to take walks inside the building and outside on the patio. 

When he lived at home, he took a daily walk every single day.  I imagine, when he slips in and out of reality,  on those reality days, he no doubt, does not understand why he can't do what he has always done...

Mom found him in the day room, watching Little House on the Prairie, on a huge big screen TV.  She watched two episodes with him and half of Pride and Prejudice.  Dad was more interested in watching, than talking, so Mom took the cue, and watched quietly with him.

Dad is still preoccupied and possibly traumatized from Halloween. He told Mom, "Tonight was going to be the scariest night of all".  Mom explained that Halloween was a week before his birthday, and asked if he remembered his birthday celebration.  He said he did, and was shocked so much time had passed. They watched more TV, then, suddenly, Dad told her, "I am very happy here, my prayers have been answered."

Dad looked out the day room window and remarked how beautiful it was outside.  Mom said there was an Asian family dining together out on the patio.  Dad looked at them, and told Mom, "There is one of our sons"... Mom said, before she could stop herself, she told him he was mistaken, and their son was not out there..

Dad told her one of my brother's friends came daily and read the Bible to him.  This time, Mom did not correct, that Dad was again, mistaken...

Dad's next Care Review meeting is on Tuesday.  I will attend via conference call, and Mom will go and attend the meeting. I am very frustrated at not being able to reach Dad.  It always seems "it is the wrong time" and they ask me to call back.  I call back, and I am disconnected.  Mom has warned me NOT to complain during the conference.  I know Mom is scared to death the nursing home would kick him out, if I made a fuss...

I am also concerned as to why I am not being informed of these issues with Dad...until I call them! I am the first on the list to call, and it is not happening consistently.  Bottom line, I HATE that Dad has to be living there in that nursing home.  I just HATE IT.

The reality of Dad's dreary life, really has me in an emotional tail spin.  Especially, with the holidays approaching.  As much as I want him to be there, it is now clear to me, we would need an aide to assist us with him.  He needs so much care and supervision.  He can do very little for himself.  He would feel embarrassed to be in a wheelchair when everyone is walking around.  All the noise, laughter, talking, he gets overwhelmed if too many people are talking.  He still does not have his hearing aid either, so he would feel left out not being able to even hear.

Dad could very well become agitated and emotional being inside my brother's home.  There is a possibility, Dad may not want to go back to the nursing home.  He used to tell us all the time how much he wanted to come home or to one of our homes. It could be dangerous if he did not want to stay in his wheelchair.  The last thing we want to happen, is Dad to get so upset and get combative.  We don't want him to end up back at the psych ward...

The Director of nursing told me we could not take him longer than 4 hours we also needed his doctor to give us permission, via a doctor's order.  To me, that is ridiculous, getting permission to spend time with one's Father!! I know they have to keep his world consistent and mellow, because he can get over excited and act out...I know they are looking out for his best interests...I know we have to also.  I am being selfish, only thinking of how I will feel, if he is not there...

Still, it sucks.  Not having Dad there with us, is like he is already dead.  I just cannot get myself to go into that nursing home to visit my Dad on would I ever explain to him, why he is not with all of us?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A time to recharge and re-center...

Here are some sunrise shots, early morning in front of my house...

The above is the sun reflecting on Red Rock Canyon in the distance, making the view even more magnificent at the sun's first light...

Had to have an MRI yesterday, so my Orthopedist can determine if my slip and fall at the casino in July, tore my rotator cuff.  Please pray there is no tear...

Needing time to recharge and re-center, so it feels good to admire nature, listen to music, take walks with Izzy and get plenty of sleep...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Did you ever...

Did you ever sit down with your lap top, feeling creative, wanting to share something wonderful.... and while you are contemplating what to say, you fall asleep?  That's what happened tonight...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Izzy girl helps...but there is still this void...

Before, I would awake with my husband, and he would get dressed and leave for work at 7:30am.  I would be alone until 5:30pm or 6pm when he got home.  I'd make dinner, we finish dinner by 7-7:30pm, and he would be asleep before 9pm.

Don't get me wrong, I am independent, and know the art of know how to keep myself busy. I can always get lost in the world of cyberspace....but now I awake to the jingle of a collar, open my eyes to the sweetest little face peering at me.  I open the door to her crate and greet her, as she yawns and makes a big stretch.  She follows me, scampering, prancing, smiling, all the way from our bedroom to the back slider into our yard.

First step out, she is shivering and cold and wants to go back inside.  I pick her up and snuggle her inside my bathrobe and get her cozy and warm.  She thanks me with kisses and then I place her back down to "do her business".  I bounce the tennis ball, trying to teach her how to play ball.  She is clueless and watches it roll past her.  More interested in me, smiling, bright eyed.

We return inside, and she plays with her toys, pouncing from one to the other.  My husband comes out to join us and she plays hide and seek with him, cautiously.  She still is hesitant and jumpy with him, but I have found if we sit together on the couch, and have her on her leopard blanket, between us, he can sneak some pets in...

She watches us kiss good-bye as he leaves for work and then she stands at the door, looking out, looking up at me, like, "Where is he going?"  When he comes home at night, she barks, until I tell her to "Shhhhh!"...

Before, the house was quiet and silent.  Just me and my own sounds.  Now, I have her company and her "stinky" doggy smell, (that I think I am getting used to..) with total unconditional love and devotion 24/7.  We take a walk in the morning and one in the afternoon, or we take one long-one, mid day.

I work on the computer and she lies on her pink blanket on the futon, in the office.  Every now and again, I turn around to see her sprawled on her back, eyes rolled back in her head, sleeping  soundly.  Now, after 24 days, she does not follow me when I get up and get something, she is beginning to know, I will be back...

She fills a void, a lonesome spot in my heart.  I miss my two daughters, my two grandsons, my family, my friends, all in California.  Almost weekly, my husband and I discuss the pros and cons of moving.  We keep hoping the market will go back up so we won't lose our investment.  Our loved ones, are the only draw to go back.  Although I am a native Californian, I don't miss the damp, the fog, the smog, the earthquakes, the traffic and the poorly paved roads...

I enjoy the new roads, the beauty of a newly established community, the landscaping, the crisp air, the blue skies and fluffy white clouds.  The views, the quiet of the desert, and the smorgasbord of things to do.  I love the beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  The distant Red Rock canyon we see from our front patio whenever I pick up our newspaper from the driveway, and the twinkling of the distant Strip at night.

We've made a few friends, we have nice neighbors, but it does not compare to having the sound of little children playing inside my home.  Reading stories, playing video games, creating fun with our imaginations.  I miss their laughter and the fun times we have.  I long to go out with my daughters more than once or twice a year when they come to visit.  To go have lunch with someone other than myself and my book...

I can busy myself, and keep myself occupied, I know how to enjoy my own company.  I am not afraid of solitude, but is this what I really want?  I have always believed, life is a dance, and I don't like to dance alone...  all the time...

When we grow older, or become ill, do I want to be 3 and a half hours from my family?  If money were no object, we would buy a cottage by the California coast and have the best of both worlds...but, money is an object.

I think of Dad, and how little quality time we have left with emotional I feel lately...crying at the drop of a hat... My day fell apart yesterday, after talking with Dad on the phone...and today, crying my eyes out while writing to my family about Thanksgiving.  I feel this huge cloudburst looming overhead and it keeps following me, where ever I go...Like some huge melting pot, being stirred, and I am spinning and swirling around inside it...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lord....please hear my prayer....

Been trying to reach my Dad all morning at the nursing home.  Finally, after four attempts, I just connected with him and had about a fifteen minute conversation with him.  His voice sounded good (like Dad) but with slightly slurred speech. He went in and out of reality.  He told me he was married to Katie Couric now, and was unsure of how many children he had..  He is working for the government on some confidential programs.  He wished he could come up and see my husband and myself.

He is still preoccupied about "scary nights".  Apparently he did not like Halloween was afraid of several of the costumes.  He has been talking about scary nights since his birthday.

He talked of wanting to see the Memorials in Washington, DC.  I know that is something he has always wanted to do and it makes me sad he never got to do it.  At one point he said he was the President of the United States and the Official Captain of the Mother of the world...

It rips my heart out.  I hate this damn disease so much I cannot even adequately describe it.  I hate to think of my Father, reduced to such a state of helplessness and hopelessness.  He still has dignity, and I can hear the sadness in his voice when he tells me how he must rely on others for such private things...

I realize, this is why, I have allowed larger gaps of time to elapse, in between visits and phone calls.  It is so very difficult to see him or hear him the way he is, and sadly, to know, it will never get better...I love my Dad so very much, that I may begin to pray the Lord takes him sooner than later...this is no life...there is no quality of life...he is merely existing...

When I listen to his voice, and think of him there, a lump the size of a tennis ball, sticks in my throat and I cannot swallow.  I cannot see for the blur of so many tears...Please Lord...take him Home with you and allow him the Glory of Heaven...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A serendipitous walk with Izzy...

We're going out with friends tonight.  Afterward, my husband's son and his wife are coming over, around 11pm, to spend the night.  They are driving up from Arcadia, California to check on their  rental condo.  So, I decided to take Izzy for a nice, long walk, to "poop her out". We were gone for a little over two hours.  I think I have successfully tuckered her out!  Myself as well!

I watched the Dog Whisperer last night, and also went on his website and read some of his tips.  I discovered I am allowing Izzy to be the Alpha Dog by walking in front of me.  I am not suppose to be allowing her to be first out of the door either.  The DW profiled two German Shepherds that get along, until they are in day care, then the female attacks the male dog.  Turns out, the owner was not sending out good vibes and the female dog was trying to help her.  The DW said it was important to remain calm and be in control.

He also profiled a Schnauzer who barked and bit a couple's grandchildren, so the parent stopped all visitation at their home, due to the dog.  The DW used the "Shhhhhhhh!" command , along with being calm and in control to stop the dog from barking.

So I decided to try some of the techniques while on our walk.  I have to say, by keeping her on a shorter lead, so she has to walk beside me, instead of ahead of me, really made a difference!  Not only am I going to lose weight, walking Izzy, my arms are getting a real work out holding her back!!!

Whenever we encounter a larger dog, Izzy barks her head off, growling and doing the "sled dog lunge" to get to the dog.  Today, I kept her right by my side, and used the "Shhhhhh" command, and it worked!!!  She growled and kept looking at the dog, but the more I "shhhhhhhed" the quieter and calmer she became.  AMAZING!

It was a serendipitous walk with Izzy. Today we met a very nice woman and her husband.  She used to have three Shitzus. She shared her training tips with me and I found them very unique and interesting.  We stood and chatted for awhile, and Izzy behaved herself.  She leaned over and picked up some pieces of Corian, and explained she had some work done in her home.  We have the same model of home, and she explained how she had the Corian extended and curved over above her toilet in the guest bathroom.

She was friendly enough to take me inside her home (while I held Izzy) to show me her handyman's work.  While showing me that, she showed me the cabinets built in her master closet (we have huge master closets in our particular model, it is the size of a bedroom.) She had beautiful oak cabinets and curio shelf in her laundry room, and the Handyman even made a Grandmother Clock from scratch!  It was beautiful!!!  She hooked me up with his name and phone number.

She also told me she does landscaping and also uses a landscaper I had heard of, from another friend, and whom I had recently gotten an estimate.  She told me about the free coffee grounds for gardening from Starbucks, and showed me how she uses it around her plants.  Apparently it really feeds the plant and enriches the soil.

She showed me her back yard (which was gorgeous) and wouldn't you know, there was a big dog living next door.  Izzy saw it and began to bark, and again, the "Shhhhhhh!" command worked. I felt so much more relaxed, knowing what to do, instead of yanking her back on the leash, yelling, "HEY! HEY!!".  The "Shhhhh" command is so much more pleasant, than yelling in some one's face while having a conversation!!

We really hit it off, and I enjoyed meeting both her and her husband.  She told me she has Tuesdays off and for me to drop in any time. We exchanged phone numbers. I spend more time alone, than I care to, so it is so great to meet someone I click with and would enjoy her company.  Thanks Izzy girl, it would not have happened, if it weren't for you...

Friday, November 13, 2009

50 First Dates and educating Izzy...

My husband said he feels like Adam Sandler in the movie, 50 First Dates. (If you have not seen it, Google it or rent it, it is a sweet movie.)  Every day he feels like he has to start from scratch with Izzy.  She was doing pretty good while he was off work.  She was taking treats from him, and letting him pet and scratch her neck.  He returned to work yesterday, and she sat in the hallway, cocking her head, like she was thinking, "What?  Where's he going? Is he leaving me? What about sharing your toast?"  When he came home, it was almost like she was mad at him.  She acted like he was a stranger and she had never met him. Talk about the cold shoulder!

I talked with the trainer at Pet Smart and she gave me some good tips. Instead of "NO!" She told me to make an irritating noise.  When she bites her lease, when I am standing and talking with someone, because she wants to get movin', I make a sound that sounds like a wrong answer buzzer. If she nips at me when playing, I am to make a high pitched "Ooowwwww" sound, and or hide my hands behind my back.  The trainer also suggested pennies inside a soda can, taped to prevent Izzy from eating the pennies.  Shaking at her to warn her of bad behavior.  She also advocates, a water bottle on stream setting, right between the eyes.  Not sure about that...I may not have the best aim, and would hate to hit her in the eyes...

She is not a fan of the Dog Whisperer, as she thinks he is too gruff with the dogs.  Pet Smart has a more positive enforcement program. She likes some English lady on Animal Planet, who shares their training techniques. When I told her I had put Izzy in Time Out for barking at my husband, turns out that was the right thing to do...who knew?  I sure didn't.  I am flying by the seat of my pants here...

My husband told me, this could be a sign he needs to retire, so Izzy can used to him....we had a good laugh over the thought, but who knows... We will know a lot more of what is going on with his job the beginning of the year.  He used to love his job, and look forward to going, now it is no fun at all.

I had asked the trainer about her nipping when she gets excited, and the stalking stance she takes often when she sees a dog.  She has a "three strikes rule, give Izzy three warnings (high pitched noises/hiding hands) and if she is still nipping, isolate her in her crate with something to keep her busy.  Start with a short time, and if she is not learning, extend the time in isolation, nothing longer than 15 minutes. When Izzy takes the stalking stance, I am to acknowledge it and discourage her. I learned when she is barking at big dogs, and I am talking softy telling her,"It is OK", I am actually re-inforcing her barking.  So yesterday, when walking her, and she started barking and the other dog was barking, I let out a deep, firm, "HEY! HEY!!" and surprisingly, both dogs stopped barking!!!

She told me not to use the laundry room anymore when I go out, to use the crate instead.  I kind of figured the laundry room was not working, because she barks and jumps on the door.  The room looks like a cyclone hit with her bedding all over the place, water spilled and paw prints all over the floor.  When I open the door, she jets out of there like a bullet from a gun.  My art studio is in the garage, and to get to it, I must go through the laundry room.  She used to always follow me into the garage, now she stops at the door to the laundry room, as if to say, "You're on your own on this one, Mom"...

I tested the crate theory last night.  Her crate is in our bedroom at night, but during the day, I leave it out in the living room..  I met my husband for dinner last night, so I put her in the crate, with her Bong bone with treats inside.  She really has to work the bone to get to the treats.  I was gone three hours and when I returned, she was quietly resting in her crate.  Guess it does make her feel safe in there...

I hate to admit it, but I was getting anxious, feeling the pressure of where and how to leave her. I don't want to feel like I am prevented from coming and going, to live my life.  The trainer told me my goal should be to socialize Izzy, training her to be well adjusted and adaptable.  I like that goal, plus, I want her to like my husband!

They have training classes over a period of eight weeks, and I may consider one of us taking the course with her.  Izzy seems like she is so smart and has so much potential.  I really think she is basically a very good dog, and hope we can get her to trust and bond with my husband...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dad's imagination is still alive and well...

Mom went to visit Dad today and found him totally absorbed in a TV program, all cozy with the afghan she made him for his birthday.  She took his Daily Walk Bible to him, which put a huge smile on his face.  Mom had the day off yesterday, so she had to get her brakes relined.  She didn't get to see Dad yesterday, on Veteran's day, due to all the errands she can't get done while working.  I had tried to call yesterday too, but Dad was enjoying the special festivities honoring all the Vets.

Mom said Dad seemed very calm and content.  We were all so happy to see the CNA had finally trimmed both his eyebrows and nostril hairs.  I am not fond of the buzz cuts they give him.  I guess I can see it in the summer, but now that it is colder, I may have to request a parted, man's hair cut next time.

When I was at Mom's last week, I had collected all of Dad's journals and brought them home with me.  I also brought home his cassette tape recorder.  I have a bag of tapes he recorded, and I am anxious to see what he had to say...

When Mom saw Dad on the 8th, he told her that he was riding in Santa Anita soon.  He had already been to the jockey's room and picked his colors.  Dad's imagination is still alive and well...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A quiet holiday...

Today was my husband's last day off before returning to work tomorrow.  Izzy allowed him to pet her and scratch her around the neck.  She is more friendly when he is lying on the couch as opposed to standing.  She still runs and shys away from him when he stands.  Non the less, he was thrilled with his victory!  They have established a little morning routine, where he shares the crust of his burnt toast (he burns it on purpose) with her.  Despite me telling him not to encourage her to beg when we eat, he wants her to accept him more...

We both took her for a walk. She was really thrown off course, looking behind at us as she pranced along, to check how close he was, but by mid walk, he had the leash and she seemed fine with it.

We talked of going to a movie or taking advantage of some of the casino extra point offers, or going out to eat, but seemed too content to relax and watch good movies instead. My sore muscles from hauling rocks and the work at mom's house, are finally better.  I am not walking like Frankenstein anymore...

 Later, my husband went out and bought Izzy some marathon dog chews and Chipotle bowls for us for dinner. Tomorrow I return to normalcy and have compiled a to do list of things to get accomplished.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Busy days, early nights...

We got a lot accomplished at Mom's during my trip to California.  My nephew came over and saved my back while cleaning out underneath the eaves of Mom's house.  We spent all of Friday emptying the eaves and discovering hidden treasures.  We found the rug that saved Dad's life.  When he was a young boy, he played with matches and caught himself on fire.  His Dad and Uncle smothered the flames with the rug.

We found hand carved chess boxes made by my Great Grandfather, a handmade, heirloom quilt given to Mom shortly after her marriage to Dad, two red dial phones, some old tables and Grandma's old sewing machine.  There was an old projector as well.  The rest of the stuff will go in the yard sale pile.

Saturday, my sister arrived bright and early and began prepping the front door for re-painting and replacing all the door hardware.  She drilled a new hole for a peep hole, had to enlarge the door knob hole for the new hardware.  New mail slot, which also needed to be enlarged, and a new door stop.  The paint Mom had purchased was too fuchsia and did not match the trim.  Luckily, Dad had purchased some paint that was more plum, and looked way better.

Once we painted the front door, we needed to paint the trim.  I did that while my sister wrestled with enlarging the holes in the solid wood front door.  After I did the trim (in between walking Izzy) I did some yard work and moved some plants around in the yard.  My poor sister's hands were so sore she could not open a bag of nuts she brought for us to snack on.

Sunday, I drove out to visit my daughter and two grandsons.  The boys had been ill with the stomach flu, but were holding their own. I had a DS game for them, and had to deliver it, plus they wanted to see Izzy.  Unfortunately, they have several big dogs on either side of their house, and Izzy could not focus.  She ran from one fence to the other barking, growling and trying to break down the fences.  I ended up dropping off the gift and getting back on the road to return to Nevada.

Izzy was soooooooooooo good.  We stopped once half way on our way to California, and half way back from California, for potty breaks.  She slept the entire time in her crate, or laid quietly. She played with my nieces dog, Layla, and only had one accident (because I was talking with my niece and not paying attention to the time to take her out).  When we worked on the door and left it open, she stayed in her crate without complaint.  I am so very proud of her.

After getting home Sunday, I was exhausted, and I am still tired.  I have been doing a lot of napping with Izzy napping beside me.  My husband is on vacation until Thursday.  We were going to go away, but decided to stay home and let Izzy have more time with him. At least she has stopped barking at him.

I may take Izzy for a "well dog visit" with a Vet.  I want to find out what breed she is.  My girlfriend, who has had many dogs, told me today, she thinks Izzy is Border Terrier.  I have been researching the characteristics.

Yesterday, we slept practically the entire day.  Just laid around watching TV movies and napping.  It was glorious.  Mom does not have a yard safe enough for Izzy to romp and run around without getting out.  She can go in and out as she pleases here, so it is so much more relaxing for all of us.  Today, I went out early, leaving Izzy with my husband.  I went to collect some rocks for the bottom of our fence.  Izzy likes to dig...I wouldn't think a dog would dig in rock gravel, but she does!

I am still getting used to rising early and consequently, going to bed early.  Today I took Izzy for two long walks since we did not take any yesterday.  These are busy days and early nights....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This side of ninety...

I really didn't have any expectations for Dad's 89th birthday celebration, other than all of us being together with Dad. We went with faith, hoping for the best...

We were all there, except for my eldest brother with his family in Ohio, and my second to the eldest brother, who was sick. We found Dad asleep in his bed.  We woke him up and dressed him in the new pajama outfit, our sister got for him. Mom had prearranged for us to have a private room for our celebration, so we wheeled Dad so the festivities could begin.

Dad was so happy and excited, telling us we were an answer to his prayers.  He kept telling us, "This was suppose to be the scariest night of my life".   We gave Dad his gifts to open.  Mom knitted him an lap blanket, which we placed over his knees.  We each took turns reading our cards to Dad, as he did not have his glasses.

Mom also made his favorite rice, cheese and green olive casserole and our sister made him a pineapple upside down cake.  My youngest brother bought him oatmeal raisin cookies and some of his favorite flavored gum.  My second to the youngest brother and his son, brought Dad chocolate covered cherries.

I showed Dad a picture of Izzy, and he laughed and laughed.  He just loves animals. I found a poem on line and painted a card to go with it. The author is unknown...

What Makes a Dad

God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of  a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle's flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so,

He called it...Dad

While my sister, brother, and his son went to Dad's room to arrange all his cards and pictures on the wall, my youngest brother asked Dad what was his best birthday memory.  Dad told us, "This one, this can't be beat".  He asked Dad how old he was, and Dad said, "This side of ninety".  We all laughed and gave him a standing ovation!

We wheeled him back to his room and showed him his wall of love with all his cards arranged on his wall.  We tucked him into bed and each gave him a kiss, hug and told him how much we loved him. It was the second best visit we have shared together as a family since Father's Day at the Psych Ward.  These are the cherished moments, we know, are gifts from the Lord...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A period of adjustment...

There is a very high probability, that I am being too anal and overprotective with Izzy, but that is my nature.  When I am focused on something or someone, I devote my complete and total that is how I am and that is how I roll...

I got some very good advice last night from those closest to me.  My daughter suggested I be the one to scold Izzy when she barks and growls at my husband, because he can't, she is already afraid of him.  So last night when she barked and growled at him, I told her "No!" and took her into our room, where her crate is, and put in there for a time out.  I left her there for about 3 minutes (like Super Nanny instructs discipline with children), explained to her she was safe and I would protect her, but barking at my husband was unacceptable behavior.  She stood up, wagged her tail, and when she came back to the living room, she did not bark or growl the rest of the night, OR this morning when he was wearing his suit. (I am not kidding!) It may be a fluke, but it gives me hope...

My girlfriend reminded me dogs are generally more loyal to the one who rescued them. (Maybe my husband should rescue another dog and we can double our trouble??) That is why Izzy protects me and favors me.  We are just going through a period of adjustment...If we put in the time now, she will be so much better adjusted and well behaved.  It has only been 12 days, we are still getting used to one another.

Despite Mom being reluctant for me to bring Izzy, I really don't feel she will be any trouble. I need to see how she does on trips to California, because I make so many of them.  I have a strong instinct Izzy will want to please me and will mind her manners.  She will be much happier if she is with me.

I discovered she is not fearful of the vacuum, so that is unusual.  Most dogs and cats I had in the past ran and hide when I pulled out the vacuum.  She is doing so well on her potty training.  She has begun to not want to eat in the morning, she seems to prefer to eat later in the day, so I will take my cue from her... She sleeps an average of 7 hours in her crate at night, without any fanfare or fuss.  She rides well in the crate in the car. Tomorrow, on our way to California to celebrate Dad's 89th birthday, we will see how she does on a long car ride...

She loves her daily walks.  After our walk this morning, I gave her a bath.  Again, (I hate to brag, but..) she was so good...(Course I ended up taking one too) She sat in the sink as I washed her twice.  Bundled her in a towel and took her outside in the sunshine.  Gave her a good rub before I let her shake the rest off.  After a good shake from head to tail, she took off like a bullet train, smiling, leaping, bounding, I had to laugh!  She looked like she felt so good!  I know she sure smelled better!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

It is important to me, not to betray Izzy's trust...

Nine days with Izzy.  She is playing with her stuffed hedgehog in the pic to the left... and starting to fill out a bit.

Today I took her out most of the day, riding in her crate inside the car.  She did not complain once.  We ran errands together, dropping off paperwork at our insurance agent, shopping at Target (put her in a cart), got gas in the car, checked out a possible Vets office which also has board and care, and made a stop at Petsmart.

My husband bought her some toys, his past weekend, in his attempt to get her to warm up to him.  We did not realize what a strong chewer she was!  She had chewed off pieces on each of the two toys.  Figuring rubber would not be too digestible, Petsmart allowed us to return them for a full refund.  One of the employees helped me find the right kind of toys for her caliber of bite!

The employees are absolutely wonderful at our Petsmart, they treat us like Royalty.  Since we have been in there so much lately, they gave us one of their left over "Trick or Treat" bags for doggies.  There were some good treats in there for her...

Cannot believe how well behaved she was....well, except when a friendly Doberman Pincher sniffed her...  Izzy turned around like a rabid wild wolf, growling and barking so aggressively, both the Doberman and its owner quickly moved away from our cart.  Yes, Izzy was in a cart! Apparently, she is not afraid of bigger dogs.  She goes after big dogs on her leash while walking too, and when they pass by our yard.... Is there anything we can do to make her less aggressive toward the dogs?  Can I raise my voice to an abused dog?

The three day weekend helped my husband and Izzy get closer.  She is beginning to warm up to him, unless he is wearing his suit and tie.  She barks and growls when he is dressed for work. I am not feeding her at all, he is her only food connection.  That really seems to be working.  Next week he is on vacation and hopefully, we will more successful with the two of them bonding.

I am still so undecided whether to take her when I go to California to see Dad for his 89th birthday.  I think my gut is saying, take her... but then again, I am overly protective of her...
I am curious how she will do at Mom's house and traveling.   I don't want Izzy to think I am abandoning her, if I would put her in board and care.  So far, Izzy seems very calm, patient, willing and adapable.  She is up for almost anything, as long as I am there, she seems to trust me. Its important to me, not to betray her trust...

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I deleted my profile.  Wiped it all out, with the exception of the About me part... I was feeling inspired, uplifted and all Mystical...and tried to create a second blog, without reading any kind of instructions.  So all the profiling (interests, movies, books) I wrote, "attempting to be so cool" and "minimalistic" for the second blog, replaced my profile from my first blog.  CRAPOLA!

It is 1:15am, and I have no business being up this late...Izzy is sacked out behind me on the office couch instead of tucked away in her crate...if I was any self respecting, decent dog Mom. My obsessive-compulsive-anal streak wants me to keep my nose to the grindstone and resolve this problem...but the other part of me, the free wheelin', fly by the seat of my pants side, is telling me to turn off the computer and get some shut-eye!  Free wheelin' wins...good nite!

We must teach the grandkids about the American flag and patriotism...

Dad is much more alert in the mornings, so Mom is doing her best to see Dad in the mornings, on the days she works in the afternoon. She went to visit Dad yesterday morning to check on his recent fall.  She found him sitting in his wheel chair in the hall of the nursing home, with a couple of others, near the nurses station. He was glad to see her, but began talking doom and gloom.

Mom tried to steer the conversation toward more pleasant subjects, but he was very concerned about her living alone.  He talked of all the bad in the world and how important it was to "teach the grandchildren about the American flag and patriotism".  Don't worry Dad, you have taught your family well, and we will carry on those traditions you fought so valiantly to protect. 

Mom tried to quiz Dad about his fall.  He told her it happened because he doesn't have his soft black shoes. Mom had  no idea what shoes he is talking about, but I remembered some really nice black Nikis he was wearing when my husband and I visited him, and gave him his painting. He wanted Mom to take him home right away to find them. She told him she could not handle him alone with his wheelchair, so he suggested Mom call "one of the boys". She told him they were at work, so Dad wanted Mom to take him shopping for a new pair. I sympathize with her, because some days, Dad can be like agruing with a two year old...

I think I will have to call to have the nursing home, to investigate one particular, little-old-white-haired-pony-tailed-lady, both my sister and I have caught "borrowing Dad's shoes".

The doctor saw him Friday and ordered more Lasix for his swollen leg. One of the nurses put the white pressure hose on Dad, because when she tried to put the prescription compression stockings on, he yelled and said they were too tight. She got them on him yesterday without any complaints.

The charge nurse made a sign and put it above Dad's bed to remind everyone to put the stockings on Dad in the morning when he gets up and remove them when he goes to bed.

Desperate to change the subject, Mom asked Dad about the Harvest Festival party the nursing put on for the residents. There were decorations all over the home with bales of hay in the parking lot. Dad said he was scared and stayed in bed. Some days, are just stormier than others...