Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Week That Was

That used to be the name of a TV news show, I believe. It chronicled the eclectic events that made the week's news and helped us make sense of it. Sort of.

We've had a wild ride this week!

It started out innocently enough with a Sunday visit to the bestest Flea around:

Mr. Tennis and I met The Maven and Mrs. Smith-Smith in Pasadena for breakfast and flea-ing. Mrs. Smith-Smith (The Writer and Sammy and The Maven's (!) back door neighbor a good friend who helped in the Stanley rescue) was a newbie. I was in heaven as she wanted to explore all corners of this enormous market.

We all returned to our 'red-neck roots' and sported sunburns later in the day.

I also came home with a couple of treasures (Mr. Tennis doesn't consider them treasures, but one day maybe he'll understand this -used is better- philosophy of mine).

A couple of Jadeite pots for my little succulent collection.

And a rusty old light.  Everyone needs one of those, right?

What's not to understand? 

As the week progressed things started to take a strange and scary turn.  A trip to the vet was necessary for the Head Boston, Panda, in the household.  She was coughing, sneezing and seemed weak.
Upper respiratory infection was the diagnosis.  Made sense to me.
Sadie listened through the door as Panda received a couple of injections to help her fight the beast.

She was still breathing a little hard the next morning when I got up for my 6am class, and I prepared to give her the first at home dose of antibiotic and cough medicine. Put the pills in her food and was setting the bowl down when she did a strange cough, made an odd noise and then wolfed down the food in one enormous gulp instead of her usual bite-by-bite style of eating.

From there she went into some sort of a panic fit. Trotting around the house, circling back, going out into the side-yard, trotting back into the house, over and over again without stopping.  Panting, eyes bulging, totally manic.

I had to head in to teach the Japanese who were waiting online, so Mr. T came out to watch her and see if she would calm down. When I emerged from teaching they were both gone.

Long story short, Mr. T took her to the emergency vet because her breathing was getting worse and worse.  They immediately put her in an oxygen tent and said that if he hadn't brought her, she wouldn't have lasted but a few more minutes like that.

She was running a fever by now, extremely agitated and upset. She couldn't stand or walk. It wasn't looking good. They sedated her, got her somewhat stabilized and asked for permission to do x-rays and blood work. Also a neuro exam to determine if she'd lost her marbles because of the 'fugue' we described.  This would take several hours and they would call when they had some answers.  Mr. T went to work and I drove towards home.

We do strange things to distract ourselves when a crisis is looming and my way of coping was to stop at a huge Goodwill store that I had never seen before.  It was like walking into a department store!  Great organization and great inventory.

Ever the mindful blogger, I snapped a picture of a section full of old tarnished silver.

Beautiful! I'll be back.

We were hoping to be able to bring Panda home for the night and avoid those high emergency vet fees, so I was anxious on many levels and just headed home and for some reason took a long nap.

Vet called about 3pm and said that her blood work was fine, her xrays were unremarkable and the neuro check found her to be sound (well, at least one of us is...).  Her breathing was getting better, she was off oxygen and she was still sedated.  I could come and pick her up.

They released her into my custody with sedatives (for her, not me-I wish!) and instructions to keep her quiet, sedated and cool.  I felt like I was bringing home a ticking time bomb.

Right after coming home, here's 'The Queen', passed out with her woobies.

After a restless night of panting, being sedated, running a fever, making her drink water with a syringe and numerous trips to the side yard, 'just in case'. She woke up looking like this:

Normal! (yes, I know, there's nothing 'normal' about Panda) No panting, no bulging eyes, ate food in a normal fashion, drank from water bowl, good to go!

She was even able to jump up on 'her' bed (which she allows us on) and sleep the sleep of the contented (and drugged).
Twenty-four hours and not a trace of the manic, panting, collapsing canine we encountered the previous morning.

As I write this we have just returned from our first 'normal' walk and she seemed to pant less than she has in years!  We are mystified and our wallets are still spinning from money spent at the ERvet.

Twelve years old. 

The Old Grey Mare, she's just like she used to be - reborn and bounced back like a two-year-old.
Thank goodness.

Now excuse me while I go see if those sedatives will be safe for humans....

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I Couldn't Be Happier for This Lady!

Not my best picture, but that's what happens when you rush into Barnes & Noble and storm the magazine rack. with your iPhone!

Turn right to page 90 and you will find a wonderful spread by our very own Linda, at Itsy Bits and Pieces!

I have been a loyal follower of her blog for a few years now and several times a year she treats her readers to some wonderful pictures and descriptions of a seasonal showcase home in her area.  You must visit her and look in her archives at her past coverage of "The Bachman Home" exhibitions.  Lots of great ideas and clever solutions.

Oh, and if you spy a copy of this charming magazine, at least page through it and take a look at the wonderful job Linda did spotlighting The Bachman House.  I can't think of a better pairing, Vintage Style and Linda at Itsy Bits....., one of my favorite bloggers who I also call a good friend.

Way to go Linda!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

What Would He Think?

This is me these days. LOL.

This is the book I'm reading:

It's about this man's incredible story of survival:

Louis Zamperini. He grew up not far from where I live now. In Torrance, CA.  You can see by the above picture that he was a runner. He ran for USC and  in the 1936 Olympics and broke many records in his day. He shook the hand of Adolf Hitler, not knowing one day he would be in a war against this man.

Becoming a runner saved him from a life of becoming a petty thief during hard economical times. The conditioning he underwent while training as an Olympian, a record holder and eventually a military airman most definitely helped him survive a plane crash, being stranded at sea and eventual imprisonment in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp.

Mr. Zamperini's story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Even those strong hearts eventually give out and he died last week. 

He was born a year before my parents, so I feel a certain affection for him since they all came of age and faced the challenges of that era.

My father could not pass the physical exam and fight on the front lines for his country, but he used his tremendous intellectual assets to help with the war effort. He became part of the plan to end the war, The Manhattan Project.

 Me and my dad, 1979

As I have been reading "Unbroken", I am reminded again and again that the Japanese were the enemy in those days.  My father still carried around resentment for them long into my adulthood. I often wonder how he would feel about me communicating and teaching these adults in Japan, some who were most certainly children at the time of WWII. Some who surely lost loved ones and relatives.

Although Louis Zamperini suffered at the hands of the Japanese during his imprisonment, he managed to forgive them later in life. I don't know if my father ever did. He had great affection for China and it's culture, but I never heard him express that towards Japan.

The Manahattan Project helped to bring an end to the war, at great cost to the Japanese people. My father once said that the feeling was that "it was either us, or them".  

None of my students ever ask me about Pearl Harbor, the bomb, or mention Hiroshimi, except to say it is a beautiful place in Japan. They are enamored of American culture and many of them visit Hawaii.  It would be an interesting discussion to have with them, but one I'm sure my managers would not want to encourage. 

So, I'm left to wonder, what would my father think of my daily contact with these lovely people. What would Louis think? And what do my new Japanese friends think?

"Unbroken" is soon to be a major motion picture, directed by Angelina Jolie and released sometime in December of this year.

If this topic intrigues you, I highly recommend the book. As well as another movie starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, "The Railway Man"

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy 4th of July From a Late Bloomer

This post I did in July of 2010 has always been at the top of my most viewed posts (over 4,000 views!), a fact that I find kind of funny. I've kept it just as I originally wrote it, in my early blogging days, complete with a mistake pointed out to me in the comments at some point.

I thought my family might enjoy reading it again, and some of my blogging buddies too.

Do you ever get comments on old posts?  I do every so often.  Go check your stats and see how many views your posts receive.  What's you most popular one?

For the first 15 years of my life I never celebrated the 4th of July.  Isn't that strange?  I was born in Montreal, Canada and lived there for the first three years of my life.  My family moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada where I lived for the next twelve years. (See?  That's me at about age 14, nothing says "cool" better than knee socks)

I was the only Canadian in my family.  My parents were both born in New Jersey.  My two older brothers were born in West Virginia.  My father's job took the family to Montreal, where I made my appearance.

We moved to Toronto in 1962 and that's where I spent my youth up until high school age.  When I started in elementary school ( public school as it was called in Canada) the Canadian flag looked like this:

We started the day reciting The Lord's Prayer and then singing "God Save the Queen" (which I still remember most of the words to!).  Then a change came about, not sure exactly when, but think it was about 1967. Our Centennial. Suddenly our flag changed, I always liked it:

And we sang "O Canada". But the Queen's pictured remained in the classroom.

My dad retired in 1974.  I remember watching Richard Nixon's resignation speech amongst boxes in our basement in Toronto.  We moved to Dunedin, Florida and my life changed drastically.

I was the new kid in school and even the newer kid in the high school marching band.  I had no idea what a marching band was, had no experience as my American counterparts did, so I was given a job in the colorguard.  Carrying the Canadian flag.  Oh my.  How funny.

Why the Canadian flag?  Well our high school was a bit different.  Dunedin's sister city was Sterling, Scotland and the high school reflected that relationship by having it's band dress as Highlanders.  Yes, we were the Dunedin Highlanders.  Kilts. A bagpipe section. For some reason the band director felt that along with the American flag and the Scottish flag, the Canadian flag should also be part of the colorguard, and who better to wield that flag than the "Canadian", even though I really wasn't since I was born to American parents.  A technicality.

I carried "my" flag with dignity and fear.  The colorguard was always at the front or back of the band doing pivots and marching in a straight line.  Except for me, the new girl.  I always seemed to get the flag blown in my face by the wind and would end up out of line during our march.  We were not allowed to turn our heads and see where we were or move the flag from our faces.  That's how I ended up doing a solo march with the Canadian flag at the Orange Bowl in Miami where we had been invited to perform at the half-time show of the game between The NY Jets and, of course, The Miami Dolphins. There were only about 80,000 people in attendance and then the national TV audience, so I don't think anyone really noticed.  Except for our especially crazed band director who yelled at me after the show.  Welcome to America. But I did get to see this guy up close:

But I have digressed.  It was in high school that I learned all the American "stuff".  The first few weeks were spent moving my lips and trying to memorize the Pledge of Allegiance.  During football games I learned the words to The Star Spangled Banner (as well as Scotland the Brave).  During History and Geography classes I finally learned the specifics about American History, state capitols, and how our government worked.  I also learned that I pronounced words funny and that erasers were to be referred to as such, not rubbers as I had grown up calling them.  You can imagine the embarrassment a shy 15 year old suffered with that gaffe! I switched the "re" around in the word "theatre" and stopped spelling "colour" with a "u".  I also was chided for pronouncing the word "again" improperly.  The "gain" part for me was pronounced just like the word "gain". Try it, you can hear the difference. The hardest thing to drop was the "eh?" at the end of every sentence.  That's right, we actually did say that, it wasn't a made up joke. And since I was living in the south I started saying "y'all" and dropping the "g"s from words like "goin'".

My parents loved to travel and I was lucky enough to spend my summers with them in various locales around the globe so I was not in the states for those first 4th of Julys.  But I distinctly remember the first time I puffed out my chest and felt proud to be an American on the 4th of July.  My parents let me invite a friend along on a trip to Spain and we were in a small seaside resort for July 4th , 1976.  Not many Americans around, but my friend and I made banners to hang on our apartment balcony and bought horns to blow.  I felt that I was an authentic American celebrating my country's bi-centennial and was so proud. Or were we just trying to impress the cute guys who had the apartment across the way? Perhaps.

My globe-trotting summers ended when I graduated from college, married Mr. Tennis and was employed.  It was then that the traditions of July 4th really started to sink in for me.  Picnics, fairs, crowds, fireworks, and lots of flags.  Of course I married into a military family and their pride in their country and our armed forces rubbed right off onto me. 

I'm glad my kids got to grow up with the wonderful traditions that come with living in this great country of ours.  I certainly don't regret my childhood in Canada.  It gave me a unique perspective and will always be a part of me. My parents also made sure I learned about the States when we lived in Canada.  We travelled a lot to visit relatives, went to Williamsburg and Washington DC, both which gave me great insight into how our country developed and thrived. My dad and I flew from Toronto to Los Angeles in his little plane and that allowed me to understand how vast this country is and how diverse it is from one region to another. I had that same feeling of awe while driving this summer with The Maven.  What a beautiful country we have and so many different and unique people and cultures that make us what we are. 

Although we still have problems in this country and everyone doesn't always agree or get along, I still feel that I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Happy 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tears of Happiness...

I've always been a crier, I'm sure it has been the source of a lot of aggravation and embarrassment to my family over the years. If I felt the need to cry, I couldn't stop myself, as a child and even as an adult.

I found myself sitting in the living room this morning crying. 
I've cried a lot of tears in the last several years, usually from great sadness, fear, uncertainty, frustration, anger, resentment, hatred-there aren't enough words to cover the emotions I've had.

Today I know for sure that my tears were happy tears, grateful tears, hopeful tears, proud tears-again I've run out of words.

The Maven is starting her new job, no, her new career today! She's working again! The fact that she will be earning money almost seems like a bonus. She will be working in a field that she is passionate about and has experience in. She will fulfill a lifelong dream of helping other people find their way in the world. How many of us get that chance?

I think back a year and remember where we were one month after brain surgery. Over-coming that challenge in itself is a big enough accomplishment in life, but this girl, this young woman, has had so many years of so many obstacles and roadblocks. Physically, mentally, emotionally. She has met every one of these uphill battles head on and soldiered on no matter what! No matter what! That's why I cry today because SHE has done this. Yes, she has had a lot of support from family, friends, doctors, but in the end it comes down to her, the strong, resilient, optimistic person she is. A lot of people would have given up. There have been times I wanted to give up, but saw that she was fighting and therefore I would fight too. That's what we do in this family, when one can't do it anymore, one of us takes over for awhile and inspires the other to step back into the battle.

I've known a lot of warriors in my life and have drawn inspiration from them, but this girl, this woman, is the one who inspires me the most with her beautiful smile and her determination to stand up and go for it!

Thank you to all our family and friends for being such a source of support and encouragement. My blogging friends are so special because most of us have never met, yet you have all been so encouraging, understanding, joyful, whatever the occasion calls for. Thank you.

And thank you for letting me talk this out.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

We Went to Venice this Weekend....

...Venice, CA, that is.

It has it's own vibe, this quirky beach town.

And a beautiful beach.

Hazy day in LA today, but at the beach, the air was cool and refreshing.

This lady was walking around with a smile on her face
 and a tub of fresh fruit for sale on her head.

My main goal was not necessarily to reach the beach, I was on the hunt for the Venice Canals.

A recent newspaper article featuring a walking tour of the canals was my inspiration.

Designed in the early 1900s by a man by the name of Abbot Kinney, these canals and canalfront homes were inspired by his trip to THE Venice.

He even went so far as to import some gondolas as well as authentic Italian Gondoliers to tour people about this quiet oasis.

The gondolas didn't last and today exist as canoes, but the neighborhood that emerged lining the canals persists, evolves and still delights those visitors and locals who know where to go for a pleasant stroll.

A lot of big homes here, some very modern.

I think I'd feel quite exposed in these fish bowls, but maybe that's the idea.

Our next rental, perhaps?

Not unless my numerous acting talents get discovered and I'm paid what I'm really worth!
Maybe then I can snap up this fixer-upper for a couple of Mil.

There's a house back there somewhere. Then we could be 
THOSE people in the neighborhood.

But my heart rests with these smaller, more quaint beauties -"the holdouts", I call them.

Real Estate is at a prime in this location and not many properties have much yard space, but oh, what they do with the space they have!

Beautiful plantings at every turn.

Fences and gates.

A serene spot before heading back out into reality to retrieve our cars.

Venice, CA.
 A small area of contrasting tastes and lifestyles that somehow meld together into a wonderfully vibrant atmosphere.

Come see for yourself!

If you'd like another look at the funkier part of the boardwalk
you can take a peek at a post I did a while back: