I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Creatures of habit

It's amazing to me that I got up this morning and talked with Norma Jean over coffee for an hour or so, read my usual blogs through Google Reader, went to the pool and swam 36 lengths, came home and took the dogs for a walk, all without even the slightest recollection of the fact that it's Sunday morning and I hadn't written my usual post here on the Eye! Here's why:
Norma Jean with Babe and Chester
We not only have adopted a dog for Norma Jean (Babe), but she has taken in a dog as a foster mom, Chester, a "junk yard" chihuahua (meaning mostly chihuahua but with something else mixed in). Babe is just under ten pounds, and Chester is just over. They fill the house with love, and wait in the window when we go outside and howl with delight when Norma Jean drives up after going out for errands.
Although you can't see it in this picture, both tails are wagging with anticipation of her return. It makes both her and me happy to see the life added to this house. When Allison and Lexie left last Monday, we decided on Tuesday to head to the pound to rescue a dog and returned with Babe. I wrote about it here.

We grew up with dogs and cats all around us, and although I have owned cats in the past, Smart Guy never had any pets during his childhood. When I started skydiving, I spent so much time away from home that it never occurred to me to become a pet owner. But Norma Jean has always had a dog, and although she really grieves over the loss of each one, she gains a huge amount of enjoyment from their unconditional love. When I return home Tuesday, I realize that the feeling of pet ownership I feel now will fade away as the plane takes off and I turn my thoughts toward home. Maybe one day I will own a cat again, but not while I'm feeding the wild birds!

The real benefit I've received here, other than connecting with Norma Jean again during this terribly hard period, is learning to use swimming as a form of exercise. As I swam in the pool this morning,  I realized the true meditative aspect as I breathed out my nose into the water and in through my mouth as I took a breath every other stroke. Even counting laps is meditative. I was able to swim 36 lengths, a true half mile, before stopping and getting into the hot tub. I wrote about my breakthrough in swimming laps here.

My visit has been beneficial in other ways, too. Learning to be with my sister as an adult, I flashed a few times on the two of us walking the dogs this morning. I saw a possible future of us together as little old ladies with our swimming and our doggies living in a retirement community like so many seniors do. But of course I still have Smart Guy around, and if genetics has anything to say about it, he will outlive me by many decades.

Which makes me think of the thyroid biopsy I will have when I return home. Before I write in here next, I will have it behind me. The appointment is on Friday the 11th. Although they didn't consider a biopsy before, once they did a second ultrasound, I received a call from the doctor's office suggesting it. Fortunately I have the ability to see the results of the ultrasound on line, and once I read it and noticed the word "hypoechoic" describing the nodule, I of course looked it up online. It means that the largest nodule sends a different sort of echo in the ultrasound and so they will follow up with a biopsy. This means I will know without any doubt what is going on with my thyroid. So I should be happy but I am a bit apprehensive.

I think it will be a little lonely here once I leave, but the doggies will help immeasurably, and in less than a month we will all be together again in Texas for a few days to have a family reunion. This was promised when the family decided not to descend on Florida after Pete died. I will leave Washington again on March 25 for five days to attend, and then I will probably not travel anywhere too far away for a while. I need to rediscover my own beautiful part of the country, as well as reconnect with a certain missing element in my life, my partner.


Anonymous said...

The previous owner of my house owned a small dog, which she never took outdoors (hence, no fleas!). She used one of the bedrooms for it to relieve itself on newspapers. The room even had a section with green carpet -- to simulate grass? lol.

The dog kept this divorced, retired woman company, and when she sold her house to us, the dog went with her.

Teresa Evangeline said...

I would love to have a dog or cat, but, like you, I don't want to scare away my furry and feathered wild friends. Dogs provide such unconditional love, though, and it must feel good to your sister to have their presence in her house.

I've been meaning to tell you how much I love the trio of photos in your header. Lovely.

Pamela Kieffer said...

Your visit with your sister was very rewarding in so many ways.
Cats...we have three, two Siamese and a tabby. All are outdoor cats and,to our knowledge,have never bothered the birds. There are 6 crows who come every morning for a treat. They watch for Bob and know he has something leftover from last nights supper.
He cleaned out the bird houses last week...12 and one had a flying squirrel with a nest. Twelve birdhouse tells you we are bird lovers.

Linda Reeder said...

Your trip to Florida served so many wonderful purposes so very well.

Leave a Legacy said...

Such a nice and rewarding visit you've had with your sister. I'm so glad she adopted Babe! Yes, they are a lot of work, but so worth it! Even with a Hubby in the house and frequent visits by grandchildren, my house would feel empty without my "babies". You are such an exercise inspiration. You always make me realize I need to do more. Safe travels on Tuesday and good luck on your test Friday.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Your trip has clearly been meaningful to both you and your sister. Have a safe return, and breeze through that test on Friday.

Friko said...

It is good that you had this time with your bereaved sister, it is good that she has something to love while she mourns her partner of many years and it is good that you have remembered that you too have a partner to go home to. Too soon things may change and we must make sure those we love know that we love them.

Best of luck with the test, I look forward to hearing about the results.

Red Kline said...

You've done what you can in this situation and it's been good for all. It still takes time for many things to heal and renew.
For you a change has brought about some new habits. We all need the challenge of something new...get out of the rut?

Grandmother Mary said...

Good for you for taking the time to be with your sister at this important time. And good for you for developing a new exercise. Swimming has eluded me and I admire your persistence. Blessings for your test.

Linda Myers said...

Sounds like you've made valuable use of the time you've spent with your sister. Not just passing the time, you know, but living.

The Retired One said...

Sometimes tragedies prove to give us gifts. I am sure your reunion with your sister during this awful situation has brought you closer than ever, and it also reminded you how much you appreciated your home and your partner.

Sally Wessely said...

It sounds like this visit with your sister has really been good for you both. Isn't it interesting how we can adapt to new settings, new daily activities, and be perfectly happy, but then we realize that we really miss home and the one who waits there for us?

Arkansas Patti said...

What adorable dogs. Sometimes I realize my pets tie me down, but for the other 90% of the time I don't plan to go anywhere, they are grand company.
Hope you biopsy gets that worry off your mind.

gayle said...

I know I've probably said this before ....I am so glad you have been able to spend this time with your sister. I know it has meant the world to her!!

Please let us know when you find out the results of the biopsy! Will be thinking of you!

#1Nana said...

I am envious that you've learned how to do a swimming workout. I think I'd need to have a coach to make the kind of progress you did in such a short time. Have a safe trip home and I'll be sending positive vibes your way on Friday.

Al said...

I agree with you DJ, these creatures bring joy and life to the family, in fact my two adopted dogs (poodle and chihuahua) are being pampered like a baby by all of us. I have to make sure that there's someone is with them when we all go out. They cry and bark at me when I leave and it breaks my heart whenever I go out.

Linda said...

Sounds like you've had a good and productive viait. It's hard to believe it's already time for you to come home. I'll be glad to know you are back in the PNW.

Nancy said...

Why do I have the feeling the second dog is going to be around for quite a while? I am sending healing light your way, dear DJan. Wishing only the very best outcome on that biopsy.

Donna B. said...

I said it before, and I will say it again...I realy hope Chester stays with NJ and Babe. They all will benefit so much from one another.

You really are an inspiration...

Anonymous said...

Great post DJan! I'm so happy to hear and see that Norma Jean has her new doggies!
I'll be thinking about you this Friday when you have your biopsy... please keep me posted!
Safe travels home... I think spring is starting to make itself known a little around here... Bring back some Florida sunshine! :)
Jennifer K

Whitney Lee said...

I know it'll be tough for both of you when you leave, but I know you must miss Smart Guy as well. I remember several years ago when I took care of my sister for a couple of weeks how attached I got to her dog. When I got home I pestered Chase about getting one until he finally gave in. There's nothing quite like it.

I have been thinking about your biopsy. I know it will be easier on you to have it done and all your questions answered. I am sending lots of loving thoughts your way.

Stella Jones said...

Nothing like a pet to make you feel good about life! It is the feeling of being needed that does it, I think. Someone to get up for and feed, take for a walk and most of all LOVE. We all need someone to love.
I shall be thinking of you on Friday and 'wishing' that all goes well with the results of the biopsy.
Star x

CrazyCris said...

I'm not too fond if Chihuahua's... but Chester looks cute! Babe is more my cup of tea though! ;o)

The two of them look like they could be a handful together. I'm sure they'll bring lots of surprising laughs into your sister's life! :D