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Archive for September, 2010

The wedding was Saturday. It was a small, private affair. There were about 70 guests, most of whom were family. There were a handful of close friends, and everything was perfect.

It was held in the central hall of the Laurel Ridge Country Club in Waynesville, NC. The bride was stunning. Her dress laced up the back as if she was Scarlett O’Hara, only much more beautiful and in white of course.

The dress was strapless and overlaid with lace. The train trailed about four feet behind her. She was stunning and the joy she felt as she was marrying my son shone from her face like a beacon on a dark night. It was unmistakable and no one there could see anything but hope, joy and love.

My son was handsome in his tuxedo. He was near to tears when Kristin, his bride, walked in escorted on her father’s arm. As they said their vows there were times both of them were near tears; at those moments the minister always managed to lighten the mood, bringing smiles to their faces. They thanked him for this afterward, knowing they would have been too overcome with emotion, had they begun to cry, to continue the ceremony.

The reception was nearby at the Maggie Valley Country Club. The first dances, bride and groom, bride and father, and yes, groom and mother, were wonderful. The DJ was excellent, the food delicious, everyone had a good time. I cried, a lot. I think the photographer even caught it. Darn it.

My son danced with everyone, clear down to his baby niece and equally young cousin. The day and night were amazing and I wish you all could have been there to share in it, instead of having to listen to my second-hand retelling that will never do it justice.

When the pictures are available I’ll post some here. I want to share it all with you. May you and they be marked for only good things in the coming year.

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The Wedding

Today is the day. My son is getting married. He’s my oldest, but still my baby. There are some things time never changes. In my mind I am still laboring through delivery; watching first steps; and sending him off to Kindergarten.

I’m so proud of him today. He and his bride make such a lovely couple. I can only hope their future is filled with peace, joy and abundant love.

I would say today that I am gaining a daughter, but Kristin has been a daughter to me for most of the time she’s been part of my son’s life – she even lived with me for awhile. She helped me re-decorate my house and gave me Christmas and gifts from her travels (one Christmas and Italy in particular come to mind.) She has been a light in my life, patient with my outbursts – yes I have them and so loving words cannot describe her.

Today our family grows by one, but the love within our family will abound by many degrees. We are so blessed. Thank you for sharing this day with me.

Tracy

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News of Home and Other Stories

Well, for starters the dog, Moe, never came home. We have posters up all over. I’ve spent 4 days trying to call the pound – which incidentally NEVER answers its phone. It’s very aggravating. She’s vanished into thin air and there appears to be nothing we can do about it.

I’ve spent the week in bed sick. It is my least favorite place to be; I take that back, the dentist’s chair is my least favorite. My bed sick is a very close second though. This is really aggravating because the Western North Carolina Regional Fair is in town and so far I haven’t been able to go. It stinks.

I have fond memories of the fair going back to when I was a kid, the rides were a dime and even that was more than we could afford. Still. We’d get two rides; one on the carousel and the other on the ferris wheel.

We’d spend most of our time at the animal exhibits and the various judging of products. I can’t remember if the judging was just of animals, or if they had produce and preserves and the like. Seems to me they did, but memory is a funny thing and I can’t say for certain.

I do know the animal exhibits, which I childishly whined through are now among my favorite fair items. I still try to ignore the fact a lot of the prize winners won for their fine quality of meat distribution. I hope more of them will go on to become breeding animals than will end up on people’s dinner plates, still…

In spite of this little fact the fair remains among my fonder memories and I look forward to it each year. I hope I get to go this year. If I have to wait till next year it will be a shame. You should never postpone joy.

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More Dog Stories

Okay, I’m an animal lover, so shoot me. Actually I’m very much an animal lover. I have six dogs, or at least I did till yesterday.

See, around the time Wrinkles died our sole unspayed dog, a long-haired mini mutt mix (she weighs in at a “hefty” 6 pounds) go pregnant by another small dog in the neighborhood. At first I refused to have anything to do with the puppies because I was hurting from losing Wrinkles and all the pups were going to have to go to new homes anyway. While Wrinkles passing had taken us from six to five dogs I had already made up my mind I wouldn’t replace her. I wasn’t about to get close to any new dogs.

There was this one dog in the litter though that was so ugly she was cute and my youngest daughter, the then seventeen-year-old one, was absolutely in love with it. This made me doubly cautious. Through all our years of raising cats and dogs there seemed to be an unwritten rule that if Becca fell in love with an animal it would die before it was six weeks old. I can’t even keep count of how many times it happened. It crushed her every time, but still, when a new litter of kittens or puppies showed up Becca would inevitably fall in love with one and we would inevitably lose it.

Of course all this was back before I became a much more responsible pet owner and decided there were too many dogs in shelters to allow ours to reproduce. the only reason we happened to have this particular unspayed dog was the fact both we, and our vet, thought she was spayed.

We had known her previous owners and not once in the two years they had her had she gone into heat. After hearing this and examining her the vet agreed she was fixed so we weren’t concerned at all. Apparently when very small dogs go into heat you may not know it. At least we didn’t, till it became quite obvious, and was confirmed by our vet, that yes, she was expecting, a litter of three to be exact, though only two survived birth.

This was only seven weeks after Wrinkles died so I wasn’t ready to commit to a new pet, but my daughter was adamant, she loved the dog and desperately wanted it. Would I please let her have it?

I debated with myself for weeks, in part to see if the animal survived those first precarious months. It did, and in the end I gave in. “Moe” joined our family.

She scared the dickens out of me this past summer. While my daughter was out-of-town and despite vaccinations she got parvo. We’d lost dogs to parvo in the past so I knew how very unlikely it was she would make it. Usually I keep a bag of IV fluids from the vet on hand for emergencies. It’s a long story as to why my vet and I have this relationship, but we do. It basically comes down to nursing a dog through kidney failure years ago. Since then I had always had IV fluids on hand for emergencies that called for them to stabilize our animals till we could get them into town and into the vet. Sometimes they held us over through rough nights until the vet opened in the morning. Either way, IV fluids were something the vet normally let me keep a standing supply of. Only thing was, when Moe got hit with parvo I didn’t have any. I had used it during  the last days of Wrinkles life and hadn’t replaced it.

Don’t get me wrong, my vet is a good man, but like all doctors, human or animal, he wants to get paid the day he renders his services. I was beyond flat broke at the time so Moe and I were going to have to get through the crisis with ingenuity and prayer. Prayer was the biggest element. I called to find out what the usual treatment was. The loss of blood and resulting shock are the two biggest risks. The hemolysis is treated with fluids and steroids. I had the liquid steroids. I didn’t have the IV fluids but the dog only weighs 8 pounds soaking wet. I started giving her a half-teaspoon of water by mouth (with an oral syringe for my grandson’s baby Tylenol) every fifteen minutes. I was guesstimating how much blood she was losing and how much fluid she needed to keep from going into shock. The steroids were to help slow the bleeding and give the dog a slim chance of survival.

It was touch and go. There were times when it would take me the entire fifteen minutes to get the fluid into her and I’d have to start with the next dose. Her gums lost their color. Her jaw began to clench. I was sure we were going to lose her. I tried to prepare my daughter, who was 75 miles away at her aunt’s for the fact we might lose her. I told her she was really sick. I told her she was bleeding. I didn’t tell her it was parvo. First of all, I couldn’t be 100% sure that’s what it was, although it walked talked and acted like it. I didn’t want her to remember the visions of other dogs we’d lost to parvo; bleeding out slowly and suffering their way into the grave. No, that was not an image I wanted for her. I carried it like a sackful of potatoes on my back, but that burden wasn’t going to be hers.

Twice I thought I was going to lose her within the hour, both times she made it through. By the third day there was no longer any bleeding; by the fifth day the steroids had been discontinued. She pulled through. I was so happy and so proud of her. It’s really only been in the past month that she’s regained the last of her strength.

Yesterday my daughter took her out into the yard to show off to her friend how Moe will now follow her without a leash. I told her to please use the leash anyway. She wanted to brag though and I understood how it is with all “mommies.”

They hadn’t been outside for five minutes when our female beagle mix got out of the house. Moe took off after her. We caught the beagle mix in a few minutes. Moe hasn’t been seen since.

We’ve walked the mountain we live on several times. We’ve gone door-to-door to each of our twenty or so neighbors. A few saw her on the mountainside around 3:00 yesterday, but she wouldn’t let them come near her. She’s only ever been around us and she’s never been out of our acreage. It’s a fair distance to the nearest roads, not an impossible distance, but a really unlikely one. Hopefully we find her soon. If not, September will be marked by mourning for a dog again. Not much in the grand scheme of things, I know, but still a loss for us. If we don’t find her may she be alive, well and happy in some new home where we simply didn’t know to look for her.

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On Dogs

A year ago on the 18th my nine-year-old pit bull, Wrinkles, passed away due to brain cancer. It moved quickly, two months before she had developed seizures. We took her to the vet who examined her, did blood work, took other samples and other than finding a benign tumor in the roof of her mouth pronounced her fit. It was one of the hottest Julys on record and he thought perhaps, despite the availability of water she had become dehydrated and this had led to the seizures. Greatly relieved we brought her home. Three weeks later the seizures began again and she was started on phenobarbitol.

Within a few weeks of this she started hanging her head when she walked and she developed a fear of going outside; thinking the phenobarbitol was to blame I weaned her off it but the symptoms got no better. After ten days she was back on the phenobarbitol as the seizures returned.

She rapidly went downhill from this point. She started walking into furniture and walls. She would get herself stuck in corners. I called our vet but they were on vacation for a week. I didn’t want anyone but our vet to see her so I waited out the week while Wrinkles grew steadily worse.

Finally, the week our vet returned I got an emergency visit. I took in Wrinkles only to discover that between her July visit and that one on September 18th she had gone totally blind. She was also nearly deaf. More tests were done and a large brain tumor was discovered that hadn’t been there just a few months previously. Wrinkles was dying, quickly, but painfully. After conferring with the vet it was decided that putting her to sleep was the best option. She went quickly and easily, as though she welcomed her release at last.

She had been my youngest son’s dog as well as mine. I had said my goodbyes at the vet’s office, but he would need the chance to say his goodbyes when he came home from work.

My brother came down and dug out half of the grave, between a peach tree and a tulip poplar. My brother had lost dogs himself and said that while having help was good, digging out the rest of the grave himself would be therapeutic for my son. It would give him a chance to work out his anger and cry while blaming it on sweat. When my son got home we left him alone to finish the grave and place Wrinkles in it. Then we all kept a moment of silence and my son filled in the grave and settled the rocks on it that serve as much to keep wildlife out, here in the mountains, as to serve as grave markers.

I sat in the house with my older children, and 17-year-old daughter and we did our crying. My son sat on the hillside above the grave till well after dark saying his goodbyes.

It is now nearly a year later and I can tell you while there are finally days I don’t think about her, there are never days when she isn’t missed. Goodbye Wrinkles. I love and miss you still.

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Fall is beginning to settle into my beloved mountains. The trees are beginning to show the first changes in color with the yellows being the first to show. It will be a little over a month before we hit “peak” leaf season, bringing thousands of visitors to my hometown nestled between the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains. Still, Labor Day has passed and it is as though someone has thrown a magical switch. The days, while still warm, no longer hit the nineties that marked the summer days of a few weeks ago. The threshing machines are in the fields and the days, and nights grow cooler.

Except for the numerous tourists fall is my favorite time of year. I love the early morning crispness in the air. Mornings with my cup of coffee are almost sacred times. The fog has yet to burn off the mountains and lays softly within the valleys and peace reigns supreme in the strength of the mountains that are ancient beyond memory.

There is nothing better this time of year than putting a throw over my lap in the evening and curling up with a good book; a habit we all know I love anyway. My dogs love the fall too. They seem to fill with energy during the shorter days and longer nights. You would think spring would be their favorite time of year, but here, in the South they take their cues from their owners. We know spring means the heat of summer is just around the corner, and while summer brings its own beauty of blooming trees and flowers, it lacks the majesty of fall’s beautiful colors.

My youngest son, Paul, was the child who most enjoyed the fall colors with me and the huge vistas that would meet our eyes as we rose out of a valley, onto a mountain peak only to see ranges and ranges of color spread before us. He remarked once it was like God’s coloring box and the image of the Eternal with a huge box of crayons, childish as it may seem, has stayed with me ever since. As I look upon those precious scenes, G-d never feels closer.

So fall is slowly descending on my mountains. Winter cover will be planted soon. The leaves will change and fall. The smell of wood smoke from numerous fireplaces will fill the night air and eventually the frosts will come, but with fall comes the promise of a new year, a new spring, and new life. I love fall, for itself and for all the promises it holds beneath its layers of leaves and frost.

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The Faithful

By Jonathan Weyer

The Faithful by Jonathan Weyer is an absolutely stunning debut novel in the emerging genre of Christian horror. While many may think that term is any oxymoron Weyer proves that not only do the two go together, but they can do it extremely well.

Weyer’s main character, Pastor Aidan Schaeffer is undergoing a crisis. He’s lost his faith in God, is embroiled in the middle of an investigation involving the ritualized death of his former girlfriend, and is being attacked by demonic forces. Furthermore, some parishioners of his are having strange occurrences at their home and the wife is having strange dreams that seem somehow prophetic.

Pastor Schaeffer’s former girlfriend was just one in line of women killed by a group seeking to resurrect an evil power. They are seeking to perform ritualized murders at places of power, drawing on the energy of the places to help them accomplish their purpose.

The Faithful includes a modern group whose purpose is to stop demonic actions. They are referred to rather tongue-in-cheek by Pastor Schaeffer as Ghostbusters, though he is warned not to use the term in their presence as they would fail to find any humor in it. Thought at first to be ruled against by the Bible, Aidan is shown that is not what the Biblical passages in reference actually say. Men, and women, have to have a way to combat evil and this group goes as far as possible in their attempt to stop the evil permeating their town from coming to fruition.

Weyer’s skill is unsurpassed as he spins a tale of the macabre that leaves you turning each page desperately longing for more. Once I started the book I couldn’t put it down except to go to sleep at night. I found each page leading me further into a mystical and at times terrifying world that showed glimpses of the other side of goodness, kindness and Godliness and left me hoping the good guys would prevail, even though this is far from assured in this page-turner.

What follows is an excerpt from the book:

“Detective Brown, I’m a minister, and like doctors, we often get calls at three in the morning. On that night, I got the call at about 11:00. A member of our congregation called to say her husband was having severe chest pains.”

Jennifer traced a finger along her scar.

“And you rushed right off to be there?”

“I did…”

…”Can you tell me their names?”

“Yeah, of course, Olan and Edna Wilkes. It turns out Olan just had a bad case of acid reflux, thank God, but it took them about seven hours to get that diagnosis right.”

“You stayed the whole time?”

“Of course I did.”

“Why?”

“Um, because I didn’t want Edna to be alone while her husband might be having a heart attack.”

“You care that much?”

Okay, enough was enough.

“I’m sorry, Detective, does this have anything to do with Amanda’s murder?”

“It could.”

“What, are you trying to establish my alibi? Am I a suspect or something? I said, staring at them, not quite believing the direction the conversation had taken.

“Yes, actually, that’s exactly what we are trying to do?” Lieutenant Weaver spoke.

The Faithful by Jonathan Weyer is a must read for this fall season. Curl up under a blanket beside the fire, relax, as much as possible given the nature of book and enjoy the thrill-ride. Just make sure you leave plenty of lights on.

The Faithful by Jonathan Weyer, copyright 2010 by , Publication date October 1, 2010 by Brio Press, Distributed by Interface Media Partners a sister company of Lerner Publishing, Author Website http://www.JonathanWeyer.com Publisher Website http://www.BrioBooks.com ISBN 978-0-9826687-0-2, available from Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Amazon, other online and local book retailers

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