Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!" - From "Rabbi Ben Ezra" by Robert Browning

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Dad!

Do you know what awesome things happened in 1927? Well, among other things...

    First trans-Atlantic phone call
    The first transatlantic telephone call was made via radio from NYC to London, England on January 7.

  • FCC created
    The US Federal Radio Commission (later renamed the Federal Communications Commission) began regulating radio frequencies on February 23.

  • First Academy Awards
    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded on May 11.

  • Charles Lindbergh
    Charles Lindbergh made the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight, from NYC to Paris in his single-seat, single-engine monoplane, the Spirit of St. Louis, May 20-21.

    World Population, 2 Billion
  • At some point in 1927, the World population reached 2,000,000,000. (two billion). 

Wish I had a baby picture of Dad!
  • And most important of all, on May 16, 1927, my dad, Gentry Wright, was born!

It's rare that I find a good gift for my dad. It isn't that he's hard to please. It's just that he doesn't ever want or need anything. It's been this way all my life! He's the only person I've ever had trouble shopping for. I have to watch him really close for months, or remember things he's mentioned in the past. But this year, I think John and I did good for his birthday!

This year we decided to take Dad to Family Billiards & Cafe on Broad Street in Monroe, GA. It's a great, family-oriented billiard parlor, and they serve unbelievably great food! Their menu includes wings,  half-pound burgers, hot dogs, and great sides! If you live anywhere near Monroe, you've just got to try this place out!

Miss Dot
Dot Jernigan is the manager of Family Billiards & Cafe. She's a really great lady who knows how to to make you feel right at home. It's an added treat that Miss Dot also knows how to cook a really great burger!

We started the afternoon with a game of pool, and let me tell you, we sucked! Dad used to be a real hustler, and I was known to make some really amazing shots once in a while, but neither of us has played in 40 years! Honestly, we were pathetic, but we kept going, and you know what? We got worse! It took a full hour to finish that first game.

So we took a break and had a bite to eat. Dad had the half-pound hamburger and crinkle fries. He was just saying the other day that nobody serves crinkle fries anymore, and he likes them because they're gentle on his gums. So that was a big plus!

I had the half-pound Chili Cheeseburger, and it had grilled onions on it! OMG! Major yuuuuum! John started with Teriyaki wings and fries, then had two slaw dogs. I'm telling you, even the Diet Cokes tasted better at this place!

Reporter Rachael Ward interviewing Dad
While we were there, Rachael Ward, a reporter from the Walton Tribune popped in. I called the paper earlier and found out they would be very interested in doing a story about my 85 year old father, a veteran of three major wars, who served directly under General William Westmoreland in Vietnam, and has a number of other extraordinary life experiences to share!

Dinner and billiards at Family Billiards & Cafe
We had a great time today! After we ate, I was surprised to hear Dad say he was up to another game of pool. John and I took alternate shots against Dad. After watching the first game, John said he felt like he could play us on an even field! Believe it or not, Dad and I improved significantly during the second game. We still sucked! We just didn't suck as bad!

I really love my dad! I'm so glad he's still here with us. I don't know how much longer he's going to stick around (he's anxious to go on and be with my mom), but I'm going to enjoy every minute we have together, and I'm going to keep looking for experiences he can enjoy ~ because he's really tired of sleeping through his days!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Maggie Update

Maggie is doing great! She had her follow-up with the Veterinarian this afternoon and got a good report. A few more days of antibiotics and she'll be completely out of the woods!

After we got her to the vet last week, Maggie showed marked improvement within 24 hours, and she has continued to improve with leaps and bounds daily. She's more active, and close to being her old self again!

The top layer of Maggie's skin, which had turned red with the infection, has yellowed, and is peeling away. The doctor said it was to be expected. The wounds are healing well, so Maggie will be able to spend more time outside, an hour at a time.

Maggie has even gained a little weight since last Thursday. That's no wonder since her appetite has been good, and she hasn't had to do anything more athletic than lay around the house for the last five days!

So all is well for now, and we actually have several days in the next two weeks where we aren't scheduled to be anywhere but home! I even had time this evening to do a bit of planting in the garden, but I'll catch you up on that later!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Early Morning Hospital Visit and Breakfast Out

My father had cataract surgery this morning. We had to be there at 6:30 a.m.! I couldn't believe it! But Dad was first in, and his surgery was over quickly.

The surgery went really well. It's remarkable how far medicine has come in just the last 50 years. When I was a small child, my grandmother Carroll had cataracts, and she wore those very thick "coke bottle" glasses. She still could see very little. I can remember my mother trying to point out a bird in the garden, and although grandmother was saying, "Yes, yes, I see it," it was obvious she couldn't. Now, they remove the lens and replace it! I don't know what they replace it with, but its fantastic. My mother had both eyes done a few years ago, and this makes both eyes for my father. Now? His vision is nearly perfect!

In recovery after surgery
After the surgery, Dad felt well enough to go out to breakfast, so we went to IHop. I don't get to go to IHop very often at all! Well, I've been three times since February (with a guest, after John's dental, and today), but before that? Years!

So we got home, and it's been quiet all day. All of us took a nap at some point, trying to catch up on the sleep we lost early this morning.

We're out early again tomorrow morning. Gotta take Dad to the doctor's office to get the patch removed. He'll be using drops for a while, but he isn't having any pain, and his vision will be just great within a week!

A hospital volunteer escorted Dad to the curb
Personally, I'm hoping Dad's vision will be improved by Wednesday. That's his birthday, and John and I are going to take him to a family-oriented pool hall for hot dogs and a few games.

Dad used to play pool often, and he was a real shark! It's going to be a surprise, so don't say anything! I'm hoping that once he has been there and played a few games, that he'll want to go back on a regular basis. It will give him something to do every once in a while, and keep him active.

On another topic, Maggie is doing great! She's practically her old self, and can't figure out why she is getting to stay inside all the time. We have to take her back to the vet tomorrow, so I'll give you an update on her condition tomorrow evening.

Have a good evening, and take care of yourselves!


Friday, May 11, 2012

Maggie Goes to the Veterinarian

There's something I have to tell you. I'm ashamed to tell you, but I have to tell you. I'm horrified that I let it happen, but I want to tell you about it so you can prevent it from happening to you. I don't know. Maybe this would never happen to you. Maybe it's just me, and I really am neglectful. I'm still going over that one in my head.

I've mentioned before how busy we stay here at 5~Acre Farm. My last post focused on that. Well, it's really easy, when you're busy, to see something (one more thing) that needs your attention and think to yourself, "I need to take care of that, but I don't have time right now," as you're running to your next responsibility. Then, the something you noticed slips your mind until you see it again. Then, when you see it again, you realize it's worse because you didn't take care of it when you first saw it, and the shame rises in you, but not nearly as profoundly as the sudden fear.

I think it was on Tuesday evening that I noticed our dog, Maggie, had a raw spot on her back, near her tail. It was only the size of a quarter, but it was raw. I was on my way out somewhere, and she was bouncing around quite a bit, so I told myself I'd look at it later. Then I forgot about it, even though I saw Maggie on Wednesday. But she looked fine, and was bouncing around as usual.

March, 2012
Maggie is around 12 years old, and came to us four years ago, along with Lucy, who is 15 years old. A close relative of mine lost her home in the mortgage mess that was going on back then, and we agreed to take her two dogs since she wouldn't be able to keep them anymore. She'd had the two dogs for more than 10 years, and it was terrible to think of them going to a shelter after so long in a family setting. Since John and I already knew Maggie and Lucy, and we loved them, bringing them to the farm was an easy decision to make.

Maggie is a favorite, and our most vocal yard-baby. She is always the first to greet us at the gate and announce our arrival home to all the other dogs. She practically sings, she is so vocal, and you'd swear you can hear her saying "I love you!" when she's going on so. As I'm opening the gates, it's common for Maggie to head-butt me in the rear-end, and then slide between my legs affectionately. It's her most emotional greeting, and I've become strangely accustomed to it. Maggie is a large dog, and very furry, but she isn't clumsy at all. In fact, she's very delicate and feminine in her ways. I could say so much more about this adorable dog, but let me just add this, that Maggie is a blessing, a beautiful blessing, and we thank God for the day she and Lucy came to live with us.

So, Maggie seemed okay on Wednesday. When I saw her, she seemed normal and fine, her usual self. I did spend a minute trying to look for the wound, but she wouldn't hold still, and I couldn't see anything, but I know now, I didn't look close enough. And that is why I feel so ashamed. I should have been more deliberate in checking Maggie out, even if she did seem fine.
At the Vet's office, Thursday evening

Thursday morning I had a doctor's appointment and left. Maggie wasn't there to see me off. When I came home, Maggie was the only dog who didn't show up to greet me. I was aware of her absence, but I kept moving, things to do, you know? Later, in the afternoon, John had to go out. I walked out with him and realized Maggie was nowhere to be seen, and I realized at that point that I had not seen her all day, and that was unusual. John had not seen her either. We both started looking for her. Our house and yard has a six foot chain link fence around it, so if she hadn't gotten out of the fence, she was somewhere in the yard. I soon sent John on his way so he wouldn't miss his appointment. A moment later I found Maggie under the front porch. She was sitting up against the foundation, looking at me, but she wouldn't come when I called her. Big sign to me that something was wrong.

I went inside and got some bologna to coax Maggie out from under the porch. When I came back, I went to the side of the porch where I would be closer to her, and that's when I saw them, the flies, swarming around her back, and I knew, dear God, I knew what was happening.

I got Maggie out from under the porch and she was able to walk with me. I took her inside and put her in the bathtub right away. I still couldn't see the wounds through her heavy fur, but I knew what was happening. I began pouring warm water down her back, and rubbing the area with a wet cloth. She sat there quietly letting me, looking at me with such trust in her eyes, but I knew she was in terrible pain. I didn't think the water was accomplishing much, so I ended up pouring two large bottles of hydrogen peroxide down her back where I thought the wounds were (I still couldn't see them).
Today, back shaved. Red area indicates infection
I called our Veterinarian's office for advice, and waited for the doctor to call me back. In the meantime, I called John too, and told him what was happening. He cancelled his meeting (which was a very important one), and he came right home. The vet's office called back, and I told them we were bringing Maggie in.

We were at the Vet's office at 5 p.m., and by now, Maggie couldn't walk. John and I put her in a blanket and carried her to the car rescue style (the way we'd learned in CERT training), then into the Vet's office and straight to the back where we put her in a tub. The assistant began shaving Maggie immediately (no small feat for the amount of fur she has); and here's the awful, shameful, disgusting part... Maggie's wounds were filled with maggots! That's what I knew when I saw the flies around her under the porch.

The doctor was so upset by what she saw, she wanted to accuse us of neglect, and I was so distraught, I almost let her, but I knew we'd missed it primarily because Maggie is an outside dog, and her fur is so thick. This whole incident had happened in less than 48 hours!
"She isn't out of the woods yet," the doctor told us. They had shaved most of Maggie's back, cleaned out all the maggots, and pumped her full of fluids and antibiotics.  If they didn't tell us that Maggie was too far gone to save, I thought they'd want to keep her overnight, but she was well enough to go home by 8 p.m., and it was an added blessing that her blood tests came back with positive results. The doctor didn't expect that at all!  We'd caught it in the very nick of time!
Resting at home this evening

Maggie is fighting a massive infection! She'll be on antibiotics and pain meds for a while, but she is showing strong signs of recovery. She spent last night and most of today just resting inside. This evening, she is walking around a bit, sitting, scratching, and doing normal dog things. Her appetite is good, and she is drinking sufficient amounts of water. She's able to go out to use the bathroom, and John or I have gone with her to make sure no more flies bother her. My dad even went out today and bought a liquid bandage (for dogs) to use on the wounds when she goes out.

We've got a follow-up visit with the veterinarian on Tuesday afternoon. I'm confident that Maggie will show marked improvement... at least, that is my prayer.

I am so grateful that Maggie has survived this ordeal. John and I have talked, and we realize that we need to stop letting the chaos of other people's lives, and unexpected events, take us away from our primary responsibilities here on the farm. What are our primary responsibilities? Each other and my dad, our animals, and then the house and land.

John and I have always had a tendency to drop what we're doing and run to the rescue of others in need. It's been our ministry in some respects. We have poured out ourselves and our resources for the sake of others. However, when doing so means that serious problems develop at home, because we aren't there to deal with them, then our ministry is tainted, and we aren't truly honoring God. We aren't being good stewards of those lives and the property that He has put in our care. Home is and should be, our primary ministry. Home is every Christian's primary ministry. We should work outwards from there.

Although John and I want to continue doing whatever we can to help those who call upon us, and others who are in need, we realize that it's time for us to pay more attention to our responsibilities at home; each other, my dad, our animals, and the house and land. In other words, we need to get our house in order, or we're not going to be any good to any one!

Things are not as important as life, any life. This is a really important piece of wisdom that busy people need to realize and hold on to when the tornadoes of life are carrying us away. Somehow, lately, I've let "things" distract me, and I haven't given adequate time to "life"; my yard-babies, my dad, my husband, and, frankly, myself.

If I don't take care of my car, and it dies, I can get another car. If I don't take care of my garden and it dies, I can plant more vegetables. But if I don't take care of the lives that have been placed in my care, and they die, they cannot be replaced, and their loss will be felt deeply and profoundly.

If you live a very busy life that tends to push you around a lot, I hope you are (or will be soon) making time to take care of life; your life, your family's lives, and your animals' lives (especially if you have a small farm, and those animals live outside all the time). Life is more important than anything, and it is meant to be appreciated, and enjoyed!

Time to change things up, don't you think?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Busy Month of May, and Samantha Is Growing Up

Dad waiting to see Samantha at the Vet's office
Well, my computer was in the shop for nearly a week, and although I have a Xoom Pad, I couldn't access my blog account on it for some reason. Grrrr! Very frustrating! I've got my laptop back now, however, and I'm ready to go!

Samantha with the Vet
In this blog, I frequently mention that we stay pretty busy here at 5~Acre Farm, not just with farm chores, but with numerous appointments and errands, and those surprises that pop up in-between.

Going home, post-surgery
Well, May has not been an exception to that rule. In just the first eight days of this month we have had no less than nine engagements; and the remainder of the month is filling up fast!

I just wish I could remember to take photographs more often so I can post them here and talk about them!

Our Schedule So Far This Month

May 1  Morning: Dad: Pre-surgery eye exam
and X-ray at VA clinic
May 2 Morning: Me: blood work at my Dr.'s office
May 3 Morning: John and Me: Job Fair in Lawrenceville
           Afternoon: John: Cardio Clinic at VA Atlanta
May 4 Morning: Samantha to vet for spaying;
           Dad: Pre-surgery eye measurements
           Afternoon: Pick up Samantha from vet
May 5 All day: Chantal and Gentry visit;
we all went out to dinner
May 7 Evening: Beekeepers' MeetingWatkinsville
May 8 Morning: Me: check up with my doctor

We missed church on Sunday due to sheer exhaustion (and I really wasn't feeling well)!
 All I can say is, it's like this every month!

More About Samantha

Tiny Samantha, 8 wks old, Dec 2011
The biggest thing so far this month was Samantha's surgery. Not a big deal, really, getting a dog spayed, but for some reason all of us were over-concerned. John and I took a long time deciding to get it done. We debated about breeding her and letting her have a litter of pups. She'd be a great mom! But in the end, to insure her best health, we opted for the surgery.

Samantha was a scant eight weeks old when I got her in December of 2011, a tiny handful of terrified fur. We all fell instantly in love with her, especially my father, and the infatuation (extravagant passion or attraction) has continued!

With Samantha, I get why people call their pets their "babies." She's a dog, but she is the closest thing I've had to a baby in a very long time. There are a hundred things I could mention that back me up on this, that prove why she is like a baby, but I promise I won't do that to you. It would be like taking out a wallet and pulling out that long, two-sided acordian of pictures that I'd expect you to "ooh" and "ahh" over as I describe each and every photo! I just can't do that to you!
January, 2012

I can only say that this little girl is spoiled rotten by all of us, bullies and bosses all the other dogs, harasses the chickens daily, and gets her way in just about everything. And why not? She continuously entertains us, makes us smile and laugh, and heals our wounded souls just by climbing into our laps and licking our faces. She sleeps with my dad almost every night, and I'm delighted that she is so much good company for him. He has had far fewer sad days since we got her.
March 2012

I have to say though, that I am always secretly delighted on those once-in-a-while late nights when Samantha trots into our bedroom, jumps up on the bed, licks me in the face to say hello, and then settles herself down between John and me. It is a blessed comfort to one (me) who doesn't think she needs comforting that often.

Samantha is smart, and is different with each of us. She plays quietly and naps a lot with my Dad, comes to me for slightly rougher play and comforting, and leaves John alone until he comes to her. Then she rolls over in that "you're the man (alpha)" kind of way that acknowledges John's leadership position, licks him on the nose when he gets close enough, and runs off when he looks away.

Outside, Samantha does harass the other dogs, as I mentioned.  They didn't like her at first, which puzzled me. They've always been open and accepting when new dogs came. Then I realized, they just didn't know what to do with her! She was so tiny, so full of energy, and so zipping around like a bullet! Samantha plays rough, runs hard with the big dogs when they take off, and she never acknowledges that she is low dog on the totem pole. While all the other dogs are sitting around panting, it's Samantha helps herd and re-pen stray chickens. When she goes out each morning, the chicken pen is the first place she heads to, announcing her arrival and her authority!

Well, back to this busy month! Catch you all later!