Sunday, August 15, 2010

Deaths, Births, and Other Random Happenings

We've had a whirlwind of a week. (Disclaimer - this is one of my long ones....but there are lots of pics at the end!! I want to hear how many of you make it all the way to the end. Yes, that's a dare.)

First and foremost, I must mention that our beloved dog, Schnitzel, died. Actually, I feel it is misleading to say she "died" because that would imply that she fell off a cliff, or stepped on a landmine, or succumbed to some horrible illness. In actuality, we had her put down and I feel horrible about it.

People tell me not to feel badly, that it was a long time coming, etc...but I still do. It was a long time coming, she literally had one foot (or 2 feet) in the grave for the past 18 months or so. And I thought it would happen naturally. I wanted it to happen naturally. I'm that way about things of this nature, and I include birth in this category - you know - entrances and exits should happen naturally, without pitocin to bring on birth or whatever it is they inject to bring about death.

I know we picked the humane route - you know - intellectually I get that. But still. Why couldn't she have just passed peacefully in the night? For quite some time she'd had no control over her bowels, she couldn't hear at all (seemed to be completely deaf) and the cloudiness of her eyes indicated she couldn't see very well, either. Her back legs didn't always work - but her tail did - and she wagged it often, which I took to be an indicator that she was still enjoying life and enjoying being in our family.

She was basically the boys' dog - liked to hang with them and sleep with them and they adored her. When she could still hear, she was completely bilingual - as I swear she understood English. "Schnitzel!" I would say. "Where are the boys?" And you know what? She would take me right to them, little straight tail serving as a spotter flag for me to follow as she pounced off through the tall grass to lead me straight to where they would be hiding in the cattle pens, or behind the dam of the tank, or the tractor shed....they were always hiding.

Until the past few months, she never entered our home without being invited in - we joked she was like a vampire. But lately, she just barrelled on in, not being able to tell whether she'd been invited, or not.

She was viciously protective in the way that small dogs often are, and she would nose out a rat, mouse, or snake with lightening speed - and show it no mercy.

Yet, she was capable of incredible tenderness. When they were small, she would tediously pick sticker burs out of the boys' laces, with her teeth. She did this after observing them trying to pull the stickers out.

We're not sure how old she was, exactly. Before we moved to the farm, when we were still coming out on weekends and ripping out doors and painting walls and replacing windows...back when Joel had just turned 2 and Ellie 4...she showed up one afternoon while Jeff was sanding cabinet doors in the shed. He tried to chase her off - people were (and still are dammit) constantly dumping dogs out here. "Shoo!" he said. "Get on out of here, dog." She did, but being somewhat vindictive in nature, she grabbed Joel's sippy cup, first. Took off in a big hurry with it, too.

"Dog!" Jeff yelled. "Bring that %^@# thing back here!" She stopped in her tracks. She turned around and walked back with her little head hanging and dropped the cup obediently at Jeff's feet, sat down, and looked him in the eye. "Well now," he said. "That's a good girl." A few hours later, he was referring to her as "our dog." That was about 14 years ago.

The endless coughing started about 2 weeks ago, along with some major stumbling around, and then finally, some bleeding and vomiting. Sigh. How do you know when it's time? People say you just do, but the truth is, I'm still not sure I knew. I'm still not sure it was time.

Our vet came by the house (he's used to making house calls for cattle) and put her down pretty much in the same spot she's pictured in above. **I know this is an inappropriate time for me to point this out, but I feel it is necessary to let you know that we have ripped up that awful vinyl floor in the picture - it had come with the house and it stuck around for a horribly long time.

Anyway, back to Schnitzel. We were all with her. I'd like to say it was peaceful and lovely. But the truth is, it was kind of like every other death I've mom's, my brother's...painful and uncomfortable and not like in the movies. She cried and whimpered when he administered the sedative - she always hated shots. And after she was asleep he gave her the next injection, and she passed quickly. But I hate that she cried, I hate that she tried to get out of her bed, I hate that everyone knew what was up except for her. I hate that she couldn't hear our voices, and that she probably wasn't all that impressed by the fact that we did it in her own bed in her own house...not enough to forgive us, anyway.

Jasper cried for a solid 30 minutes afterwards. I had to give him cake (I'm that kind of mom), which he ate while crying, and then he finally calmed down in the bath.

I miss the sound of her nails scratching across the tile in what had become a familiar drunkenly gait. But I don't miss the poo and the vomit and the coughing. Some people say we should have done it, sooner. Before the pooing and the vomiting and the coughing became so bad. But I think the fear that I might have been doing it for my own convenience (I admit to being very tired of cleaning up the messes) kept me from doing so.

Anyway. Schnitzel was simply the best dog ever. I don't know what else to say. She is buried under the oak tree with the three swings hanging from it, next to Moonshine, the goat we loved for many years (he thought he was a dog) and Buddy the cat and various rodent-type animals.

The kids are a lot younger here. Moonshine used to do battle with the swings - head butting them as they "attacked" him. He would sleep on our front porch and those horns poking up, showing just through my front window, cut an imposing form, let me tell you.

Camille and Jasper made a lovely stepping stone to place on Schnitzel's grave.

OK - that was a total bummer of a beginning of a post. On to the other things that happened last week - because life is like that. Camille participated in an Intensive Dance Workshop all week - had an absolute blast. Here she is with her adorable jazz teacher.

And here is Ellie with her godfather and my best friend. He's from New Orleans...has the accent and the whole bit. I'll tell you how he came to be my best friend in some other post. Anyway - he held her when she was born, and he still babies the heck out of her now.

Ellie celebrated her birthday with a trip to the beach with friends...and then they decided to head to The Cove the next night. The Cove is a restaurant, bar, car wash, and laundromat. They serve all natural food that is locally grown. They have great bands and a good selection of beer. Jeff was in heaven at El's birthday celebration because the guy on the right? Represents Miller Beer and pushes a line of Belgian ale that Jeff loves. There were 3 beer guys there, and they adopted Jeff and he got free beer all night. Jeff was giddy. He had new friends and the new friends had free beer. It was a deep and meaningful relationship in the way that most one night stands are deep and meaningful relationships....Jeff woke up the next morning unable to remember their names - but he had a smile on his face. I hope the beer boys don't feel used because Jeff is really hoping for another hookup.

This is my foot under the table. Yes, I still take pics of my tattoo. I can stop anytime I want.

Here's El with her best friend, Juliana.

Here's Joel with Alyssa. Joel had refused, for several frames, to make a normal face for me to go along with the one sweet Alyssa was sporting. Finally, he got serious and smiled like a normal person and look what sweet Alyssa did? So, if you know Joel, you see the attraction.

This is Harlan - not mine, but somewhat of a Permanent Fixture.

Here's Jules. He's having a good time and this is actually his Happy Face. He had a good night, and didn't get into a gang fight like last time (it wasn't his fault - the 3rd grade girls picked on him first).

The band was a good group of kids - Ellen and the Degenerates. They were tight and even did a Fleet Foxes cover, which is hard to do...and they sounded great.

Ellie with her Auntie.

Jasper with an actual soda. He is protecting it....savoring it....and even enjoyed a refill. "It's all natural!!!" he screamed hysterically when I told him he couldn't have more. "It's all natural!!!" It is - no dyes and no high fructose corn syrup - but sugar is sugar and it is like smack to Jasper. He just can't handle it.

Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention to how many refills Jules had, and Joel says it was somewhere around 10 - and I'm totally not exaggerating when I say that Jules did not go to bed until 10:00 THE NEXT MORNING. I don't know if it is the Asperger's or just another way in which Jules is lucky - but he can't handle stimulants.

I'd like to say that this wasn't the second time in one week that I took my kids to a bar, but that would be a lie. The previous weekend, we hit the Riverwalk with The Godfatha, and ended up at Durdy Nellie's in the middle of the afternoon (which is why they let us bring the kids in). Durdy Nellie's is a tavern - a pub - an Irish bar with a piano guy who plays and sings badly and everyone joins in and it is all great fun. It was loud, there were peanuts on the floor, and I yelled at the kids, "What do you want to drink?" To which Joel replied, "bourbon" and jules replied "whiskey" and they both got sodas. Camille and Jasper, who recognized they were in a bar immediately, shouted "Shirley Temples!!" because Shirley Temples are special and they are how we get the kids to sit and be happy while we hang out in a bar in the middle of the afternoon. As for me? A margarita and a couple of shots of Patron. Oh, and did I mention that we also had my dad and Lee's mom? Who also partook of the spirits.

Durdy Nellie's is where Jeff took Lee on the night Ellie was born (to celebrate) so it seemed fitting that we all ended up back there 18 years, later. Kind of touching in a drunken sort of way. Ellie wasn't with us, she was with her friends somewhere else. We called her to tell her it was time to come home and we heard her say as she was hanging up, "Oh god, they're in some kind of bar..."
Here she is with Cody at the Cove the day after her 18th birthday. They're cute.

Here she is suffering while Jeff and Cody engage in some sort of boring technical conversation about boring technology.

Here is Juliana, leaning across the table to converse with my dad.

And this is officially The Cutest Couple Ever. We'll be hitting 25 years of marriage in January.

Here's my dad with Miss Joyce, Lee's mom from New Orleans. She was my mom's best friend from before I was born. Her husband, Paul, passed shortly after my mom. See that face? She has two. In addition to the one shown above, there is the one where she is hysterically laughing with tears streaming down her face while stomping both feet and slapping her hands on her knees. She goes from one to the other without warning, but you get used to it after awhile. We love her love her love her.

And here's Dad with Wendy-girl. Her husband couldn't come and he is KILLING HIMSELF over it because Jeff told him all about the free beer.

Here are the newlyweds, still slumming with the teens and the old people.

The Three Muskateers ride again!

Grayson (Wendy-girl's son), Ellie, and Cody.

This pic has nothing to do with El's birthday, just one I've been meaning to post. This is her quintet group. Or maybe that's redundant. Maybe I'm just supposed to say quintet. Don't you love that lime green dress on that sweet little redhead?

Now I've started with the random pics and I can't seem to stop. Here are our all natural turkeys. Woot! Yes, we will eat them.

Here is one of our all-natural cows. Yes, we will eat it. (Well, Ellie won't.)

This is our untrusty tractor.

And THIS is what was left of the hay bale after the firefighters put out the fire and broke up the remaining hay.

Which leads me to the firetruck story. Joel was mowing...see what a great job he was doing? And he decided to mow around the hay bales and he got the mower wedged up against one because he got too close and the mower backfired or something and the hay caught on fire. Joel tried to secretly put it out for awhile but then it went up in an inferno and he ran in screaming like a girl. See how green everything is? If the hay had caught on fire last summer....during the endless drought...we'd have simply lost everything, including our house. No doubt about that. But it wasn't and we didn't and it made a good story instead of a tragic one.

Finally, here's a haunting picture. Since you asked for it and all. Actually, I think it was somewhat of a tie between the haunting and the haybale fire, as far as requests for pictures. It was exciting...just like that time Al Gore beat George W in the was really really close...too close to call....something like 3 to I compromised.

Remember that scene in the Sixth Sense where she turns around and all the cabinet doors are open? Scary, right? Okay, well, that happens to me ALL THE TIME. See? See the pic? That means my house is haunted. It must be. The alternative is too frightening and chilling to consider, you know....that my kids could actually be That Lazy as to not even Freaking Close A Cabinet Door. Or, that maybe they're pod people. Or zombies. Or completely brainless. So I'm going with the haunted angle. Sorry, I know that was a letdown. (Actually - I DO have haunting stories....ghost stories and this house and my sister's house where an Actual Ghost has Actually Been Spotted by Actual People Who I Know.) Maybe I will talk about that next?
As of now, it is time for me to go jump back into my life, which has been carrying on quite happily without me for the past few minutes or so.
Signing Off as a Schnitzel-less Sardine Mama :(.


  1. I'm sorry about your Schnitzel. We're approaching the end of our Maggie and have had many conversations of the 'I hope she just dies in her sleep' variety.

    Tough decision and I know you'll miss her.

    Loved all the pictures, I feel like I know everyone now.


    Oh. And I did make it to the end of the post.

  2. Okay, I'm going to make a real comment in a few hours or tomorrow morning. Right now, I'm nursing my 2nd glass of wine and it took all I had to get through that post. Yes, I actually made it. Good thing you mentioned the pictures at the end. Anyway, see you, again, soon.
    "Red, red wine. Stay close to me".
    Your Friend, m.

  3. I'm so sorry about your puppy. It sounds like she had a good life. We lost our Harry Dog over a year ago and it still hurts. I know how you feel about the guilt. I had that for awhile.
    My husband leaves all the cabinet doors open. I get up in the morning and close them all. For awhile I thought we were haunted but now I just know he's lazy. HA!
    And I would love to hear your ghost stories!

  4. Read all & enjoyed. It's so easy to read quickly on the iPhone.

  5. You owe me! I actually read this again just now. But that's what I get for not commenting properly yesterday and forgetting what I read. But still now, you have like 4 or 5 Posts shoved into one. Focus!
    First, putting down pets is a hard thing. I keep promising myself "not again" and then out of the blue, in comes another pet.
    Camille and Jazz Teacher - "both" adorable.
    Male bonding - Nothing better. When I'm done typing, I'm going to bed and do some myself.
    Kid's Partner's - They look like keepers.
    Jule's Happy Face - Gotta love it!
    Kids in bars - I miss my Grandfather.
    Sugary sodas - Bad Mama! Bad!
    Cutest Couple Ever - I haven't seen one cuter yet.
    Miss Joyce - She cracks me up!
    Newlyweds - No wonder they're smiling.
    Wild turkeys - Do they come pre-smoked?
    Hay - Did you find a needle in there?
    Ghost - I was hoping that you would talk about this one. I'm thinking that maybe your house has settled unevenly and that gravity is just taking over. It happens to the best of us.
    If you think I'm going to re-read my Comment for typos, forget about it!
    Your Friend, m.

  6. Is the best picture of me, the Godfatha aka. Parran, that you could find?

  7. I only have a second before I have to move my clothes to the dryer ;D, but I wanted to pop in and say that I'm sorry to hear about your dog. I am dreading that day in our home...

  8. I DID read this. sometime last week. so you can mark another one down on your list (I can't ever back down on a challenge). I actually printed it out because we don't have internet at Maggies and brought it home with me to read. Then I felt totally guilty for throwing away the 17 pages it amounted to instead of recycling them. lame.

    Really though. It was sad to hear about Schnitzel. Poor puppy. She lived a happy life.

    The Beach and the Cove were both super fun. It's so cool that we all still hang out post-marriage! lol.

    As always, I feel famous when I get my picture in your blog. SWEET! You captured the true goof-balls that we are.

    Now I have to go and read your most recent blog post. so I'm outta here!