"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Seeking the New Normal

My children visited for Thanksgiving which brought life, love and energy into the house. Now they have returned to their own homes and we begin redefining our priorities, goals and the way we run our lives.

This is Sunday morning. By this time on most Sunday mornings, I have received untold numbers of smooches from Jezebel and she has cuddled next to me on my pillow while I tried to sleep late. When I don't get up on her schedule, she snuggles in close and settles in to wait until I am ready to move. When I do, she leaps off the bed, races down the stairs and waits to be let outside. As I reach for the doorknob, she yips in her ear piercing screech (because apparently that is how the door is opened) and I let her out. When she comes back in, she leans against my chair so I can pet her and looks back over her shoulder if I stop. When husband starts fixing her breakfast, she races into the kitchen and watches to make sure he doesn't miss anything. If, for some reason, I am upstairs, she races up to get me because, apparently, we all have to be in the kitchen for breakfast to be served. She gulps down her bowl, cleans up what Evelyn leaves, shrieks at husband that he better not forget her after breakfast biscuit and when he goes to get it, races in front of Evelyn and skids to a sitting position in front. She snatches is from his hand with enthusiasm. After that, I sit with coffee on the couch with husband to watch the morning news shows and Jezebel settles in next to us, head on my leg, sighing in contentment. I stroke her head, which is incredibly soft. She is blissful. I am relaxed. Those days are gone.

This morning, I woke when husband came back to bed. He'd taken Evelyn out back and was returning. Evelyn dutifully climbed up on the foot of the bed and gave me a couple of soft kisses when I crawled down to hug her. For awhile she sort of purred contentedly but then turned her head away and settled back to snooze. Husband was half in and half out of the bed so as not to jostle her and run her off. When I got up, like Jezebel, she raced down the stairs to be let out into the backyard. Unlike Jezebel, she stood silently while I opened the back door. Eventually, she came back in. It is dreary and wet and she carefully and politely handed me each of her paws to wipe clean. Evelyn has good manners. Then, she climbed up on "her" chair. She watched me from a few feet away. I shared the remains of my yogurt cup with her (normally, she and her sister get to take turns licking the plastic cup - Jezebel first). Husband had to call her in for breakfast and she wasn't really interested. She eventually wandered in there and picked at her food. I let her out after that and when she came back in, I invited her to sit on the couch with me. Not interested. I put her up on the couch with me but she got right back down. Now, she is dozing on her chair. She is a very sweet girl but she is Evelyn - not Jezebel. And to be honest, she is a bit of a daddy's girl.

Evelyn is not a morning dog. She is at her most lively at night. Last night, she was exuberant, playful and demonstrative. She will never be as boisterous as her sister, but she chased husband around the house and demanded that she be noticed and played with. She brought toys, played pull and flopped upside down on her back to rest. We tossed her some popcorn while she watched the OU/OSU Bedlam match (she missed most of them). She even arooed with husband. Brought tears to my eyes to see her begin to act normal, again.

We are beginning an active search for a puppy. I had not wanted one when I wasn't sure if Jezebel was going to be ailing. I did not want her to feel slighted watching us dote on a puppy, particularly if she was sick. I wanted to see if the Muriel vaccine was going to work before taking that next step. If, as husband was convinced, she was going to beat that monster, I hoped to have time to incorporate a new baby. Things didn't work out that way.

Unless something falls into place, it will probably be several months before we can find a puppy. There is generally a waiting list for a samoyed and you frequently have to be on the waiting list before the puppies are even conceived. We definitely want another samoyed. When we've got this much hair in the house, anyway, there is no reason not to get another of these sweet, sweet girls.

I have had our name listed at the shelter for them to call if someone drops off a samoyed, for years. They tell me that they haven't seen one in all that time, even a mix. You can get a samoyed from a rescue and that is a fabulous way to go. At the same time, I am so hurting from losing Jezebel (and Sapphire less than a year ago) that I want the next dog to be young so that its puppy breath can heal, and because I want to try to put off as long as possible the time when I have to lose her. I don't think I am in the right place, emotionally, to bring in an elderly dog knowing that I will have to let her go in a year or two.

Check out the puppy cam on the right column of this post. I found that while I was doing puppy research.

I sent a few Christmas presents back with the kids but let them open my granddog, Martin's, doggie quilt while they were here. She opened the box by herself and it was cute to watch her. Here is a picture of the front:

My daughter in law is a teacher so I used fabrics with a teaching theme and with apples.

Here is the back:

I really liked that fabric and had been saving it for a doggie project.

Things are definitely better, today, than yesterday and the day before. I expect it will continue in that general direction. Thank you, again, for all the kind notes and prayers and shared tears.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thank you to all who have written

I want to thank all the kind souls who have taken the time to write and express their condolences about losing Jezebel. The kindness and understanding so many have expressed have brought me to tears with each note. At the same time, the recognition by each of you that Jezebel was a member of the family and loved as such is so appreciated.

We have been running through the emotions at breakneck speed. On the day we lost her, Husband just wanted time to reverse so he could go back and get his dog. Of course that is irrational but even though I recognized that at the time, three days later, I am feeling the same way.

I just want my girl back. I just want her back.

Samoyeds are categorized as "working" dogs. They are happiest when they have a job. When my mother was dying, last year, and Jezebel appointed herself in charge of mom, it dawned on me that she'd found her nitch. Jezebel was thrilled to have a job and she was good at it.

When we lost our old girl, Sapphire, last Christmas, Jezebel went through a blue period. When she emerged from her funk and discovered she was Alpha, she entered the happiest time of her life. She had a job. Now that Jezebel is gone, we can appreciate that she ran EVERYTHING. She told us when to get up, when to go to bed, what floor of the house we needed to be on. She decided when the back door needed to be open. She let us know when dinner was due.

She didn't always get what she wanted but she felt it was her god given RESPONSIBILITY to let us know how things needed to proceed.

And she loved it. And we are lost without her constant reminders.

Evelyn is not doing well, at all. She won't eat. She keeps looking for her sister. She lays out of the back deck and stares into space. She has even been limping. It has helped that my kids brought their dog, Martin, with them.

It has helped that my kids understand what Jezebel meant to us. One of my girls even brought champagne for Thanksgiving so we could throw a wake. Without them, the past few days would have been even worse for me.

I contacted Evelyn's breeder to see if she knows of any litters coming up. She'll ask around.

We asked them to go ahead and send off the biopsy to get a pathology report. At least we will get some answers but I doubt they will be much comfort.

All that being said, I am so thankful for my husband, my children and the relatively short period of time we had Jezebel to brighten our lives.

I know this post is a little disjointed. I can't write anymore, today. But thank you, again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

God Speed, Jezebel

We lost our girl. The damage to her heart and brain were too much for her to fight through. They worked diligently to keep her temperature down but it kept going back up to over 106. Her breathing became more and more labored and her blood pressure continued to spike. Her heart rate hovered at around 195 - 200 and they couldn't get it down. No matter what they tried, her oxygen levels wouldn't rise to sustainable levels. She never regained consciousness. We let her go about 3:45 this morning.

The raw pain we are feeling is familiar to some. The sense of loss is overwhelming. We got Jezebel right after we married and I'd moved away from home and from my family. Most of the love and energy that used to be spread out among a number of people was showered into her and it is going to take time to stitch myself back together. Jezebel was our little girl and to a certain extent, the marriage was built around her, odd as that sounds. Husband and I are feeling a grief similar to losing a child. I expect we will go through similar emotions and challenges that all parents go through when a child is taken from them. Jezebel just understood everything. Husband is devastated. I'm devastated.

I've taken a zillion pictures of her and not one of them is in my mind. My images of her are vivid and moving and full of life and sweetness and spunk. The still pictures I've taken of her don't come close to doing justice to the pure love that she exuded. She was a natural therapy dog - she always seems to know what we felt and how to help us through it. At this moment in time, I can't imagine being without her. I have no choice but I can't even conceptualize it.

We are worried sick about Evelyn who has never been alone and adored Jezebel. They were very close. She has kept me sane, this morning.

I can't do a tribute to my girl. At least not right now. But I thank everyone for their prayers and good wishes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jezebel died on the table - they brought her back

I wasn't sure how to title this without sounding dramatic. But that is what happened and the staff and the rest of us are in shock. It is touch and go and she is certainly not out of the woods.

They were late getting to Jezebel to put her under for the biopsy. The plan was to send the tissue to Colorado, which is about the best place in the country for "strange" cases. About three minutes into the procedure, Jezebel had a bad reaction to the anesthesia. She died. Heart stopped, breathing stopped. She was gone. So says the doctor.

The ER doc and staff raced to work on her. They defibilated her and got the heart back but her blood pressure was nearly nonexistent. They had her on a respirator because she was not breathing on her own. Her temperature began dropping.

The oncologist raced to come get us. I took one look at her face and knew. I recall thinking that she hadn't been doing this long enough to mask the, well, horror. She told us what happened and wanted us to get back to see Jezebel. I asked her if we were going to say goodbye and she hemmed and hawed then said that hardly any dogs come back. Maybe 1 or 2%. They let us take Evelyn with us.

When we went in, she asked us to go talk to her, which I did. Her blood pressure continued to crash and they weren't getting anywhere. She was not breathing, there was blood from the biopsy, no response whatsoever. They kept pushing things with syringes hoping to get the blood pressure up. The staff kept exchanging glances (possibly hoping we wouldn't notice) as if to say it was hopeless.

I kept talking to Jezebel. I wondered if this was the way it was going to end but at the same time, I felt completely at peace. I had a very strong feeling that she was going to pull through. But not 100%, for sure. I thought about panicking but decided I could do that, later. After about 10 minutes, her eye flickered. I showed them and she did it, again. They frantically started messing with her feet and nose, testing for responses. The oncologist looked in her eyes for dilation and Jezebel clamped her eyes shut. The oncologist seemed giddy. Her blood pressure stabilized and her heart got stronger. About that time the tech said, "Look! She's breathing on her own!" We all looked over at the respirator and could see the bag going.

Jezebel started breathing more normally and began coughing periodically. That got them all (happily) excited everytime she did it. She began drawing up her legs from time to time and when they would pinch the webbing in her toes or take her temperature, rectally, she'd react. Not much of a reaction, but a reaction

I tried to think of all the phrases that get her excited, i.e., get the squirrel, where's dad?, Get up on the bed!, Want something to eat? She seemed to breath slightly faster and nominally responded to them. Her eyes flickered more frequently. Her heart rate got stronger. Her blood pressure became normal.

About that time, Husband took over to give me a break. Evelyn was an utter angel throughout. For about an hour and ten minutes, he and I took turns getting in her face trying to keep her with us. The ER doc was matter-of-fact and business-like. Once she began responding, the staff was completely invigorated. The oncologist was pretty much a wreck, throughout. They'd flip Jezebel to stimulate her every few
minutes and rub and pound on her.

After about an hour, Jezebel coughed out the respirator tube (which they'd been hoping she'd do) and proceeded to cry and cry. They said that was normal - that dogs do that as they come out from under anesthesia. She held her head up by herself and kept drawing up her legs as if she was trying to stand but never opened her eyes or
focused on anything. Poor thing.

About that time, they said that they needed to take her to ICU and that we could come say goodnight in about a half hour. We came back a half hour later after sitting in the car in the parking lot (which allowed Evelyn to take a nap) but they never came to get us. Finally, over an hour after we came back, they took us back to see her. She'd been in pain so they gave her pain meds and a (different) anesthesia. They didn't ask us if we approved. They'd intubated her, again, and she was out of it. Her vitals signs were a little unstable - primarily a fast heart rate. We don't know that she will make it through the night but we've already gotten our gift from
God. Everyone there seemed stunned that she came back in the first place.

So now, we wait, dreading for the phone to ring. With good luck, we will bring our darling home, tomorrow. The results of the biopsy are not heavily on our minds, right now. If it is a recurrence of the melanoma, she's done. It would mean the vaccine didn't work and further radiation is not in the cards. But if is something else, well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I just called to check on her and they couldn't give me any information because, "they were working with her." Of course, that makes my blood run cold.

More when I know more. Pray for our girl.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pity the Fool Who Comes Home to This

I had court this morning with a darling young lady who was so nervous I thought she'd have a stroke. She was being charged with a failure to appear but the reason she didn't make it to court that day was because her mother forgot to bring her. The good news was that she was at school on the day in question, even though she should have been at court. She got a glowing review from the probation officer and the Prosecutor moved to dismiss the charge. It was over and done within 3 minutes and she stood their stunned. The smile that erupted on her face carried me through the next couple of hours. What a sweetie. I love cases like that!

I have also had a long, drawn out social services case that involved a mother who abandoned her newborn child at the hospital, gave a fake name, etc. Two years ago we had adoptive parents thrilled and ready to keep her when the mother changed her mind and stepped back into the picture. Not only that, but she got around to telling the father of the child (they have four other children, together) that she'd had another baby and abandoned it. The father didn't know anything about the fifth baby because they'd been separated for three months at the time the child was born and she'd hidden the pregnancy from him prior to that. I don't understand how that could happen but apparently it did. We wondered if he wasn't the father and if that was why she did what she did, but parentage testing established that they were, indeed, the biological parents.

The next two years involved the natural parents going in and out of the baby's life. They'd get motivated, then they'd drop out of sight. The reason it took as long as it did to get the matter settled was because even though the mother was a pretty easy call, the father by all accounts didn't know about the baby when she was abandoned. Moreover, he was sort of working and didn't have a record. He had a hard time keeping a roof over his head and his relationship with the mother was utterly dysfunctional. There were three different times when I thought that baby was going to be returned to his care but something always happened.

Sometimes they were going to get back together, then they'd break up. The mother caught some serious criminal charges and the father covered for her. Their relatives kept appearing and would offer to take the baby - then not follow through. The prospective adoptive parents went through hell. Fortunately, the child remained with the perspective adoptive parents the entire time so was not disrupted.

Finally, enough was enough and rights were terminated. The final adoption papers were signed and the case was closed, this afternoon. I am sooooooooo happy for that baby and her parents. I feel bad for the bio parents but you have to put the child, first. And high time. If the child had not been safe in the home of the adoptive parents the entire time I would have been raising heck sooner than I did. I was practically apoplectic about the need to let this child be adopted towards the end.

I went to three Wal-Marts on the way home shopping for my favorite stacking crates for my stash. I found 24 of the suckers and spend a bit of time this afternoon worrying about Jezebel and arranging my stash. That sooths me (arranging the stash). Here is a picture:

I also swung by the doctor's office to pick up a prescription. I see two doctors in the same office and some lab work had been sent to the second one by my General Practitioner (I have referred to her as Dr. Death). When the staff for the Second Doctor saw that I was there, they asked me to hang around because he could go over the lab report when he was done with a patient. How nice was that!!!???? He wasn't too concerned about the lab results. I tried to pay him for his time but he refused.


I was angst ridden about Jezebel, all day. My latest theory is that she doesn't actually have melanoma. No, my girl has squamous cell carcinoma. Ask me how I know?


At any rate, the oncologist called and we are taking her in, tomorrow, so they can look at her nose. It could be a recurrence (god forbid) or granulated tissue (proud flesh). I have asked them to do another biopsy so they may do that, too.

I have tormented myself into thinking that she was misdiagnosed and that instead of the getting the treatment for squamous cell carcinoma (which is a month of having radiation everyday), she got the treatment for melanoma. My angst assures me that she will die as a result.

I feel so sorry for husband who is homebound, even as I type. Between me and Evelyn, he has no idea what madness is waiting for him.

Well... maybe he does.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Less than 1600 Days

I have a countdown clock on the right hand side of my blog that is set for Husband's earliest retirement date. When he can retire - and not a day later - we will head home. This morning, I mentioned to him that I had the countdown clock (he refuses to look at this blog or any other blog) and told him that we are under 1,600 days before we can move home. He asked if it was set for his birthday and I said yes.

"We'll be back a lot sooner than that," he responded.

My heart leaped. Of course, that might mean he would be commuting and I wouldn't wish that on anyone but my heart STILL leaped!

Jezebel is feeling a little puny from the antibiotics.

Her nose is really, really sore, too. A neighbor stopped by and without knowing anything about her troubles (besides that she'd had the problem this past summer) mentioned that Jezebel sure was skittish with her nose. No question that she has some sort of infection and abscess. It appears to have shrunk a bit, today, but of course it is sore.

Today, you can't see it unless you are trying really hard. Yesterday, it was pretty obvious.

When she had the tumor, this summer, she didn't favor her nose, at all although she began sneezing furiously about a week before we caught it and her eye started watering several days before that. This is definitely different. Maybe that is better? We'll see.

I've been tidying up my sewing room and cleaning the carpets. I'm a little under the weather. Husband said I looked funny and that something was wrong with my eyes. I muttered something and he looked closer.

"Are you crying about Jezebel????"

"Nope," I sniffled. "I'm holding it in."

Apparently not too well.

Back to tidying the sewing room.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Troubling News from the Vet

Took Jezebel back in and the vet said he could definitely see the problem. Last week it looked like scar tissue but this week it is quite large. They did an aspiration biopsy (quick swipe of a swab) and looked at it under the microscope. Lots of white blood cells, as expected since there is clearly an infection of some sort. There
were a couple of clumps of fast dividing cells which could indicate cancer or just healing tissue. Of concern was that there were a lot of "dark" cells in the mix - dark suggesting that they were pigmented which goes back to melanin - which suggests melanoma. There was a wide area of the dark cells ringing right where the original tumor was which suggests a lot and the suggestion isn't good.

He put her on a round of antibiotics for the infection but thinks she needs to go back to the oncologist. He is calling the oncologist on Monday to discuss and we'll take it from there.

What can I say? We'll take it a day at a time.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lazy, Cold Friday

Here's a picture of some of the "circles" I've been working on for my Circles quilt.

Seriously, I am not excited about that quilt.

It's been a slow, lazy day. Actually, a slow, lazy week. I haven't posted pictures, lately, because I've been working on Christmas stuff. Another slow week coming up.

It occurs to me that I absolutely love the look of pure, bright white:

Add in the traditional black and red and you've got such a nice contrast:

Here is some fabric I have been playing with.

Jezebel goes back to the doctor, tomorrow. I have described my worry that "something is going on with her nose." I took her in, last week, and they didn't find anything. I could swear that sometimes I look in her nose and can see something in there. Later, I will look, again (usually with Husband right there) and her nose looks fine. I suspect Husband thinks I need medication.

Today, I made myself look at her nose after ignoring it for several days. Sure enough, it had something in there that was swollen and looked pretty bad. I took a kleenex and wiped at it to see if it was something that would sneeze out if it had any manners. A male friend had suggested that if I really loved her, I would simply "suck it out." What a sicko.

Jezebel fought like a cat. She yelped and the tissue came away with a teeny tiny scab on it. Sure enough, I looked up her nose again (she was so good) and could see a wee bit of blood where the scab came from (hardly any). The "thing" looked smaller. A couple of hours later, I looked again and could see nothing. I am pretty sure it is some sort of abscess or pimple or something. That would explain why if goes up and down. A tumor wouldn't do that. At any rate, she goes back in, tomorrow.

The kids are coming in for Thanksgiving, next week, which has me thrilled to no end. Husband and I finally finished cleaning out Mom's room to make it suitable for company. We'll grocery shop this weekend.

I've also been doing some Christmas shopping so, hopefully, I can wrap a few to send back with the kids rather than mail, later. We also took pictures of the girls and ordered Christmas cards which should arrive in a few days. This time of year of full of little details like that.

The weather has been bitter cold, windy and acting like it is perimenopausal (a common theme in my life, these days). I think a hot flash would be appreciated, frankly. We haven't had any snow but it's been all around us. This feels like the coldest November we've had in at least 8 years (since I came east). I think this winter is going to be a hard one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This and That on a Wednesday

Not long ago, I posted about Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. I mentioned in that post that I have had a number of MSP cases - more than I expected to have when I went into this business.

One of the first MSP cases I had, a number of years ago, resulted in custody being taken from the mother who was harming them. No criminal charges were brought against her and she got off scot free. The surviving children were given over to their natural father and his new wife. I just learned, today, that those children are back in the care of the state (not this state - they'd relocated). Turns out, the father starved them. The 13 year old weighed 46 pounds when they were brought back into care.

I want to punch something.

Several days ago I also posted about my friend whose son is battling brain cancer (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma). He completed radiation earlier this year and is about to begin chemotherapy. His parents took their boys in for their first formal portrait, ever. The photographer was kind enough to make a gift of the photos to the family and posted a few of them on her site. She also wrote a little about Caleb's condition.

The photos are just lovely and I encourage you to take a gander at that beautiful family. If you are so moved, please remember their story to your friends and family just in case they feel moved to help support research to fight this monster. Also take a look at the other lovely photos on the website - the photographer is quite a talent and a class act.

Jezebel had a great birthday and just now was completely crawled up in Husband's lap while he was trying to sew on a button (you notice I was not the one doing it?). Just about the time he was dissolving in a puddle of "ain't she so cute?," she threw up all over him and that ended that.

I hope she does not have what I have - woke up this morning with a killer headache and could hardly haul myself out of bed to get to work. Husband was glad to see that I was feeling better when he got home. He earnestly remarked that he wondered if I was going to die, this morning. Huh. You'd have thought he'd have taken me to the hospital if he thought that. I kid you not, the headache was so bad that if I had not been in such agony, the thought that I was dying would have occurred to me, too. I have a history of migraines and while this was not one, it was in that pain category. Feeling better, now.

Political Comment Alert - skip if you are thin skinned: Today, I was talking to a friend of mine, a black attorney, and he hadn't heard that Al-Qaeda had referred to President Elect Obama as a "house negro." My friend looked aghast and immediately responded - "Those people are living in caves and they think calling him a house negro is an insult?????" I'm not sure if what he said was politically correct but I had to laugh at his response. We agreed that Al-Qaeda will have misread the American people if they think that insulting our President (Elect) is going to do anything but cause us to stand together against them.

I've been working on my circles lap quilt but not having much fun with it. It is kind of boring. I am ready to get back to another paper pieced one.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Birthday to Jezebel!!

Eight years old, today!!!


Someone recently confided to me about the difficulties he was having with his fifteen year old daughter. After telling me quite a bit about her psychological history and conduct issues, I asked him if she was a "cutter." He looked astonished that I had figured that out without his saying anything about it.

Cutters are difficult cases with complicated origins and iffy outcomes. As a GAL, these children are very tricky to work with. They do not make good reporters, are frequently at a difficult age and often have the characteristics of borderline personality disorder. Their tendency to self injury can sometimes lead them to serious suicide attempts. Frequently they have been the victims of abuse, sometimes in the family. At the same time, their reports are ofttimes unreliable so keeping them safe is a challenge.

Cutters, particularly those who also suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD), tend to be emotionally unstable and prone to compulsive behavior that can take the form of binge eating, drug abuse, sexual acting out, etc. I've seen a number of lovely young ladies from loving homes who are intelligent and with all the potential in the world engage in prostitution, indiscriminate drug use, petty thievery and blackmail. Their lives read like a bad novel.

Their fear of abandonment, coupled with emotional volatility and aggression aimed towards family and friends (you only hurt the ones you love) make the family dynamics painful and hard to manage. Exceptionally strong parents can set appropriate boundaries and maintain their composure. Many parents can only do this periodically, if at all. In families where a parent (almost always the mother) also has borderline personality disorder, it is even more difficult to keep these kids safe. With the risk of injury so high, a strong therapist is a must.

Most cutters do pretty well with therapy. They tend to follow a two steps forward, one step back pattern which can be frustrating, but they do frequently make progress and many are very motivated and successful.

One of my most horrific cases involved a cutter who also suffered from BPD. She periodically ran away from home and would run with strangers, often hooking at parties for food and drugs. She was an exceptionally beautiful girl and we later learned that she specialized in some pretty kinky behavior. She had made a number of contacts while out on the street. She would contact them to subsidize her when she'd periodically run off. Or when she was bored. Highschool student by day, whore by night. She seemed to enjoy the dichotomy.

On time, however, was different. She ran away and her frantic parents searched for her for three weeks. One day, a younger sibling heard a sound in her room and looked under the bed. There she was - she just grinned as the sibling shrieked in shock. She'd been hiding in the house all that time and would come and go when the rest of the family members were asleep or absent. She thoroughly enjoyed spying on her family and listening to them agonize over what might be happening to her. She flitted through the house like a ghost at night, taking pleasure in moving things and, in her words, "messing with their minds." She wanted them to think she'd died and that her ghost was haunting them. She maintained that charade for weeks. When the family reacted with understandable shock and dismay to what she'd been doing, she dissolved into tears and insisted that they didn't love her. The younger sibling (age eleven), had feared her big sister was dead and was a wreck - especially after thinking that she'd run across some sort of demonic ghoul under the bed.

Eventually, at age 17, the young lady was sent to a bootcamp type treatment center. The program was structured so that if they kids want to go to school, stay warm, earn privileges, etc., they had to chop their own wood (they lived in tents even in the winter and it was in the mountains), cook their own food, keep the camp clean, dig latrines, etc. Part of the reason for placing her in the program was to put her someplace where she was away from an urban center (the other part was that other treatment programs hadn't worked or kept her safe and we were at our wit's end). She promptly ran away into the woods, got lost but was found within two hours.

Her parents nearly divorced over the situation. The mother was beside herself to think of her child in the camp. The father just wanted her to be safe. The child manipulated her mother into smuggling in contraband on a regular basis and this caused all sorts of commotion and derailed her progress. It also undermined the progress the other girls were making. Instead of learning to appreciate simplicity and self reliance, she continued to play the puppeteer.

Most kids, especially the boys, thrive in these programs if they are run correctly. They develop empathy and leadership skills. Some of these kids have just been cut adrift by their parents and the community and the program helps them to find themselves and a higher purpose in their lives. They gain a sense of self respect and self discipline, and a respect for authority and their peers. This particular girl, however, continued to manipulate her peers into doing most of the work and nothing seemed to reach her. Once when she volunteered to cook, she claimed that she added feces to the mix just for the fun of it (she didn't eat any, herself, but I suspect she didn't actually add anything - she just was messing with them). Telling them what she'd done after the fact seemed to give her a thrill. She left the program as a result. By that time, she was eighteen and we ended up closing the case, relieved that she'd made it to adulthood.

Obviously, she had significant problems well beyond being a cutter. I don't want anyone to think that simply because this post is entitled "Cutter" that I am suggesting that cutters typically behave this way because they don't.

The last I heard from her, she was twenty-one years old and had been arrested for prostitution several times. The good news was that she was still in therapy and had stopped cutting. She was going to school. And she was still alive (for two years, I periodically would lay in bed at night worried that she'd crossed the wrong person and was laying in a ditch somewhere). She looked a lot better and seemed to be in a better place, emotionally. Her parents were still standing by her although the family dynamics had not really changed. Dad was still an advocate of tough love and mom ranged from fury to guilt and back. The younger sibling reportedly was trying to arrange to go to college out of state. We never got to the bottom of what "caused" her psychological problems although she was eventually diagnosed as bipolar. I always suspected she'd been sexually abused based upon her symptoms but she denied it and we never found evidence in support other than her behavior. For what it is worth, I don't think the father had anything to do with it if she was abused.

She was an extreme case but has colored my approach to cutters by making me realize just how bad it can get. Most kids are not nearly that far down the road, thank goodness. I wish her well and keep her (and her family) in my prayers.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Tribute to My Friend

I would like to tell you about a friend of mine, probably the most magnificent woman I've ever met.

I met Kim in law school. She'd been raised in a small Oklahoma town and had just married her high school sweetheart. She was attending on a full scholarship. She was ten years younger than me but we were in the same study group. That's how we got to know each other.

Kim is brilliant, talented, hysterically funny, hard working and kind. I used to watch her take notes while the professors lectured. She'd scarcely glance at the paper as she listened attentively but her notes read like a text book. Truly a wonder. I could not think that fast, much less write, especially with such detail and accuracy.

Kim flew through the law school courses like a thoroughbred takes the home stretch - she made it look effortless. She ended up number one in our law school class - and not one person would begrudge her the honor. She earned it. She won practically every award they had to offer and not one person would be inclined to get snarky about it. She is that good. And that likable.

Kim snagged one of the highest paying job offers of any of us and as we approached the end of our law school experience I assumed, like most of us, that she would make a fortune practicing law before ascending to the bench to make history as federal judge or perhaps a state Supreme Court Justice at some point. No doubt in my mind.

Less than a week before we graduated, the law firm where she'd expected to work folded. By that time, all the "good" jobs were taken. It was quite a shock. She handled it with grace. Within a week she'd found another job for far less money, but she didn't complain about it, even though they'd made plans that had counted on the bigger paycheck. Kim simply adjusted.

After law school, Kim began having babies. She seemed to effortlessly combine motherhood and lawyering but then she did something that surprised me. Kim quit her job at the big law firm and moved out to the country near her home town. She and her husband bought a little plot of land and she proceeded to work at home - giving her more time to raise her boys - by this time, she had four. Four boys. And she made it look easy.

The youngest boy was a bit of surprise and had some serious problems when he was born. Kim soldiered through and got him all the help he needed. She build a good life with her family on her land, practicing law from home, balancing children, family, friends and work. She even found time to compete in the county fair. She was involved in her kids' lives, loved her husband, was strong in her faith and she made it all look easy.

In 2007, my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She died in May. I confided my grief and concerns throughout to Kim and she was, as always, a rock. In late 2007, I learned that all during this time Kim had been battling her own cancer. She hadn't told me because, as she said, "You already had so much on your mind."

That is so Kim!

I learned that in February 2007, Kim found a lump and went to the doctor. They told her it was nothing but she just had a feeling. She obtained a second opinion and they confirmed breast cancer. She was 38, no family history.

In March (April?), she had a double mastectomy. She began chemo which made her deathly ill. All her long, gorgeous red hair fell out. This continued all summer. Right after Christmas, she was scheduled to begin radiation. The day the treatment was to begin, the 2008 winter ice storm hit. She handled it with grace and not a word of complaint. She was upbeat the entire time saying, "2008 will be better!!" She was looking forward to getting back to work. The doctor wanted her to have a hysterectomy in April. She put it on the calendar.

In late March, her next oldest boy, age ten, who is a gifted athlete, showed signs of lack of coordination and double vision.

You can see where this is going.

Long story short, Caleb was diagnosed with a brain tumor called a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma ("DIPG"). Because it is within the brain stem, it is inoperable. When I heard the news, I was stunned. I couldn't process it. I assumed that he'd be okay - he had to be. I told my husband and he just looked at me, sadly. "That boy is going to die," he said, "I'm so sorry." I was horrified and thought he was being negative. Just by saying the words it was like tempting fate. My husband lost his mother to cancer - and he doesn't say such things lightly or thoughtlessly. I knew that in my heart but it was still shocking to hear. And I didn't want to hear it.

Caleb underwent a number of therapies including radiation. The radiation was very hard on him - his skin blistered and the headaches were intense.

The hysterectomy was cancelled. Kim simply said this is not the time. Too much to do. She probably read the entire internet seeking an answer for Caleb. They adjusted to how to deal with a sick child who, although very ill, was still a boy who was as likely as any other boy to get into mischief and mayhem.

For a time, she lived and breathed the disease, terrified that she might "miss" something that could save him. She always had a strong spiritual faith and called on her church and the community to remember the family in their prayers. As I read her e-mails over a series of months, I began reading between the lines. They ranged from disbelief, to defiance, to despair, to a steady acceptance of what was probably inevitable altough she never came out and said that. She became involved in other groups devoted to fighting this disease and grieved with those families whose children lost their battle. As is her way, she was always reaching out to help others, even while her own heart was breaking.

Kim and her husband did a wonderful job of making the summer and fall as normal as possible for Caleb and his brothers. He participated in the Make a Wish Foundation and the whole community has turned out to witness and try to help the family with his struggle with that horrible disease. He played sports and returned to school.

Kim kept me informed over the months via e-mail of how things were going. In the early stages, she talked a lot about miracles. She wondered if Caleb would survive to become a doctor who would help others with this disease. Surely, god had a plan and it would all work to the good. I confess, when she spoke like that, what I wondered was whether one of his brothers would be so affected that he would take up that cross.

Kim has handled it with grace and faith. From her e-mails, I can see that she has faced the likely outcome and continues to trust that her God knows what he wants to happen. I don't know how she does it.

They got the word this week that Caleb's tumor is growing. There aren't a lot of options and probably no "good" options. Kim learned this far from home in a motel room they'd rented in order to get Caleb to treatment at a specialist in Bethesda. I have no idea how she managed to hold it together for the sake of her boys, two of whom were with her. But I am sure she did.

As I said, she is a most magnificent woman.

I don't have the right words to end this post. I feel like I am leaving out something that needs to be said. Perhaps I just don't have words to say it.

Please pray for Caleb, for Kim, her husband and the other boys.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Picture Says a Thousand Words

Back from the vet - check out this picture if you want to know what he had to say.

All the doctor saw was some scar tissue from the surgery. She has gained weight, lymph nodes were good, she seems to be in fabulous health.

Jezebel was an absolute angel.

I've told you Evelyn is no predator - here she is eating grass.

Here are the fabrics I'm using on my latest quilt project.

I read a recent blog entry that I liked. It is about compassion fatigue and local clergy. I thought it was a good article. I also want to mention that this is a blog I thoroughly enjoy.

Hug a veteran or one of their family members, today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What Tangled Webs

Oh what a long day!

I had court this morning and then went to a school to visit a little girl (I'll call her Becky) to see how things have been going at home. Until a couple of months ago, she lived with her mother and three siblings and was doing pretty well. The parents never married. The mother has had all the children for three years. In July, Becky accused her maternal uncle (who lives with them) of sexually abusing her.

No one really believes Becky was actually abused, as shocking as that sounds. Child Protective Services dismissed the charge and the police detective was so frustrated with her that he reportedly fussed at her. The working theory is that the father encouraged Becky to make the accusations so that he could get custody of the kids and get out of paying child support. Not that he has been making child support payments, anyway... I have no way of knowing what happened but even the father was sending the child back to stay overnight with the maternal uncle present so I don't believe he believes it happened, either.

When I went into this business, I believed what I had always been told, i.e., that children don't lie about that sort of thing.

Nonsense. They do it all the time.

Small children can't make up details about things they know nothing about, However, we frequently see children who have previously been abused make accusations against other (usually males) and it can get pretty dicey to try to figure out what has actually taken place. Becky is old enough that her accusation (which was relatively mild compared to what it could have been, i.e., we aren't talking any DNA evidence) wasn't something that we wouldn't expect her to know about absent abuse or exposure to pornography (another common information source - PARENTS PLEASE PUT UP THE VIDEOS!!!). I always tell my parents that the child making these allegations should be seen by a therapist. If she was abused, she needs it. If she just made it up, there are some serious things going on and she clearly needs help with them.

Children who have damaged their credibility by making false accusations are perfect victims so you still have to check out their allegations. You can't just assume they are lying and you can't just assume they are telling the truth. But if you are a parent, I would hope you would be VERY careful to not dismiss what your child is telling you. Even if you have doubts, I hope you will assure them that you will look into it. And then do it. And keep them safe while you check things out.

But back to Becky. After the allegation of abuse was made, Becky went to live with her father. The other siblings stayed with their mother (and the uncle). The mother put on an emergency hearing to try to get the judge to return Becky to her and I was appointed.

I met all the children (apart from their parents) and visited the homes. By the time of the emergency hearing, Becky was asking to return home. She didn't exactly retract her earlier accusations instead, she said it didn't bother her and she just didn't think about it. She also confided that she'd spend the weekend with the mother and siblings (and maternal uncle), and had gone through her mother's cell phone messages and forwarded them to the father because "he needs to get dirt on her so all the kids can live with us." The father was leaving her alone overnight to go to work (the child is in elementary school!) and, frankly, didn't seem to have any parental instincts or skills to speak of.

I recommended that Becky be returned to her mother's care.

At the emergency hearing, we had a substitute judge. He didn't want to disrupt Becky's placement and declined to return Becky to her mother.

Some days you're the bug.

Following the hearing, the parents got into a screaming knock-down-drag-out in the hallway because the father was claiming that he couldn't afford to feed the kids during visitations on his salary (he makes more than I do). I am not kidding. He was insisting that when he picked up the three other siblings for visits that the mother send money with them to pay for their Happy Meals. Otherwise, he said, they'd go hungry.

That night, he left Becky alone all night (14 hours), again. I was so alarmed that I immediately filed a motion to get back before the regular judge to ask him to reconsider the substitute judge's decision.

Since that time, the father's attorney got so disgusted with him that he quit.

I swung by the school to see Ms. Becky, today. She wasn't there. She's hardly been there since the emergency hearing. When an excuse is given, it is that she is not feeling well.

Poor little darling.

After the unsuccessful school visit, I drove all the way to West Virginia to visit another little girl. What a sweetie she is. She showed me her puppy, her new baby brother, her little room and her toys. Her parents adore her. They keep her safe. It made me feel better.

I ended up being on the road about 6 hours and I'm tired.

We get up first thing in the morning to take Jezebel to see the vet. They are going to look in her nose and - please god - hopefully they won't see anything that shouldn't be there. I think I'll call it an early night.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mob Mentality (or Wondering When It's Time To Quit)

I've spent quite a bit of time this weekend working on a design for a new quilt. This is my working model. It is a design in process primarily being used to help me figure out how to set up the blocks. It will be more symmetrical when I am done.

I've finished most of the first circle and have cut out a lot of pieces. Still, I have a long way to go.

Looks pretty blah, so far, but give it a little time.

Jezebel has been my helper. She has not really been a lot of help. I have to step over her to get to the ironing board, the cutting station and the bathroom.

Remember the slippers I got awhile back? Here is a picture:

I took time out to a local quilt festival. It wasn't big, but it had some really nice antique quilts. Here is one from 1855:

And here is a two sided quilt made in Kingfisher, Oklahoma in 1940.



I'm a little blue. There appears to be something growing back in Jezebel's nose and we will no doubt take her in later this week. It makes my heart hurt to even think about it. The tumor is inoperable due to the location at the tip of her nose. If the growth is back and poking into her nostril, again, they can remove that part without much trouble - but that still leaves the original tumor. I doubt they would recommend that she undergo another series of radiation, especially since it doesn't look like it worked (if the growth is back so fast).

I used to check in on the canine cancer message board (until it got too depressing) and a lot of dogs had the growth come right back. Some had surgery 6 times within a year and a half. Most of the time those dogs did not have to have radiation because it was on their gum or footpad and they would aim to get clean margins. We can't get clean margins, with Jezebel. We basically have to hope the vaccine saves her. I'll post when I know more. Hopefully, it is just something like scar tissue or something. She is not acting sick. I hope this doesn't mean that the vaccine isn't working. I hope that if it is back, they can simply remove the growth and that will keep her okay. I can't post anymore about it, today.

Evelyn has been limping heavily for two days. Don't know that that is about. It seems to come and go. But when it comes, it is pretty dramatic. Will be watching it.

I am also a little blue (and this sounds dumb) due to a social services message board discussion. A local social services agency returned a little boy to his family and three months later, the mother's boyfriend killed him. The local newspaper interviewed the child's foster mother who told them that she'd shown the judge pictures of hand print shaped bruises on the child and had begged them to not return the child. The judge did, anyway, and now this happened.

On the message board, the posters were calling for criminal prosecution of the social worker and all concerned in the court proceedings. Some of the posters are actually pretty even tempered and sensible 99% of the time. When it was pointed out that they'd only heard one side of the story; that the abuse took place by someone who was not a relative, months after the child's return; and that the judge who made the decision had the opportunity to examine the evidence before returning the child, it made no impact. The posters wanted blood and they wanted it from the people who are "paid to protect that baby." Not one person was interested in hearing both sides of the story. And since the social service agencies can't tell their side due to confidentiality limitations, the other side doesn't get told. People think the worst and, the fact is - they WANT to think the worst. I felt like Frankenstein's Monster in the presence of the angry mob.

Frankly, I cannot imagine the judge would have sent the child home if pictures of hand print bruises were actually discovered. I just don't believe that. What is more likely is that the foster mother thought they were hand prints but they didn't look that way to anyone else.

Sigh. Times like these, I realize I am betting against the house. Sooner or later, one of my cases is going to blow up and, given the dysfunctional population, there is not a lot I can do about it that I am not already doing. When these things happen, no one wants to give anyone the benefit of the doubt or even ask critical questions. They just want blood and not just the blood of the murderer. On the message board, the rage was directed at the local social services agency personnel. The murderer and the child's mother were barely mentioned. When this was pointed out, the response was that I was just trying to make excuses for the agency.

If I were involved in the message board case, even if I did everything right and even if the judge and the social worker did everything right, the public would be calling to have us thrown in jail, painting me as an incompetent and insisting that the ones charged with trying to protect the babies just don't care.

If I had been involved in the case being discussed on the message board I would have been utterly devastated that one of my kids was killed. If I'd read the comments calling for criminal prosecution, I think I'd have been so demoralized I'd have been tempted to put a gun to my head. It is one thing to have a family mad at you. They are personally affected and not thinking straight. It is another thing to have the public automatically assume that if something goes wrong, the ones closest to the case trying to protect the child are incompetent and deserve to go to jail. I can't imagine anyone thinking that anyone working with these kids wouldn't grow to love them. To think anyone would simply abandon them to suffering if they had a way to stop it is just... well, it makes you just want to pack it up and walk away.

Anyone dealing with abused children is prone to burnout. It is horribly stressful. You are asked to play god and none of us have that kind of wisdom. Like most GAL's I have an unlisted number for fear of reprisals by angry family members. To borrow from Mr. Obama, I am called everything but a Child of God by relatives, pastors, neighbors, etc., no matter what I recommend. That is just part of the job. I understand that.

But... To also hear it from the public, who simply want to blame someone and are looking for an easy target, makes me think it is time to step aside and let someone else do the heavy lifting - before I am the one in the crosshairs. The responsibility is heavy and this reminds me of what will happen if I mess up. Maybe I am just not up to it, anymore. Once you start thinking in terms of how this is going to affect YOU, the focus is off what is best for the child. I am not sure anyone can consistently make good decisions with that distraction. And knowing that even if you do make good decisions you will be cruicified by the public if something goes wrong, well... It just makes you wonder whether it's time to quit. It wouldn't bother some people to be attacked like that. I'm not sure I am that mentally or emotionally tough.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The High Point of My Day

I had just the best day planned! I only had one court appearance at 10:00 (which meant I did not have to leave while it is still dark - woo hoo!). My plan was to take care of Suzie Q's court appearance, which should have been done by 11:30, tops. From there, I was going to hit my favorite LQS (it had a sale going on), followed by meeting a girlfriend for lunch. We were going to do some shopping and I'd be home in time to take a nice walk and maybe work on my latest quilt project. It was predicted to be a beautiful fall day. It has been a tough week and I've been hanging on by my fingernails for Friday.

Get to court at 9:30. Substitute Judge. The docket nearly ground to a halt. At 11:00, they are still working on the 9:00 docket.

11:15 - I am guardian ad litem for Suzie Q. The mother's attorney (call her Mildred) slips into the courtroom where I am patiently waiting for our turn to confide that she is withdrawing from representing the mother. Seems the mother is outside in the hallway screaming at everyone and after two years, Mildred has just had enough. She is pretty steamed and wants to vent. I nod sagely and after a bit tell her point blank that the reason I am in the courtroom instead of in the waiting area is because I am hiding out from crazy people. "I've had enough!!" she spits out.

At that point, Mildred announces that Suzie Q is out in the hall (instead of at the residential facility where she is supposed to be).

Good God Almighty.

I immediately lurch out to the hall to talk to her and there she sits, all 85 pounds of her 15 year old self, sitting on the lap of the 19 year old young man against whom there is a protective order.

Clearly they are glad to see each other. From the looks of it, I have to wonder if he is just got back from Iraq or something.

The aide for the residential facility sits serenely next to them, saying nothing. Mom is no where is sight (although I learned later that she transported the young man to court to see his little sweetie). Grrr!!

I should say at the beginning that I have had this case for years and that this young lady is frequently angry at me. She used to really like me until she crossed the line into criminality and I told her I wasn't interested in hearing excuses for her behavior that amounted to vigorously blaming everyone but herself. (She once burned down a house and has been known to try to poison pets but that could happen to anyone and I don't hold it against her).

I begin the conversation with little missy and her beau without preamble.

"Okay, you sit here (pointing in one direction on the bench) and you sit here (pointing at a place several feet away)." Susie balefully moves off his lap but young man looks me in the eye without blinking. Much like a dog trying to establish dominance.

"Who are you?" I ask the young man. He won't tell me. "I don't have to tell you and you can't tell me what to do!" he announces.

"True enough," I concede. At that point, he gets no more attention from me as I address Suzie Q. "Is this the guy connected to the Stay Away Order?"

She denies it. He tries to deny it and I give him a frosty look and turn back to her.

"Okay, young lady, what's his name?" She won't tell me. He blurts out his first name, belligerently. (Call it Sam).

"Sam who?" I ask, while whipping out my note pad.

"I don't remember," he smirks.

"Where'd you meet?" I ask.

Neither remembers.

"Let's go over here," I tell Suzie Q. "I don't have to!" she snaps.

"Yes you do," I snap back. "I don't see your mother and I don't see the social worker. That leaves me. Move it."

She blurts out the young man's full name, apparently hoping that will keep me from making her move away from him. I write it down (rather dramatically, I admit).

"This the guy that had the protective order against him?"

"Yeah, but it's dropped now!"

"He's 19," I say. "You know and I know he has no business being here and he helped get you into all kinds of trouble.

The residential facility aide leaps to her feet. "I didn't know anything about a protective order! The mother didn't tell me anything about it! If I'd known, I'd have separated them!!"

"I believe you," I tell the aide (although it doesn't explain her letting them make out in public - but I don't go there).

"Let's all move over here," I say.

So, grudgingly, Susie Q gets up and moves around the corner with the aide and me. Mom is still MIA. Probably yelling at Mildred.

Susie Q is furious. She starts making excuses. She admits she snuck a phone into the residential facility and called the man to meet her at court. She says she didn't know it was against the rules to call him. I just tell her to save her breath. "You snuck the phone call because you knew it was against the rules. Next?"

Mom shows up. Mom insists that she didn't invite the young man but that he seems very nice.

"He's 19 and he got her into all kinds of trouble," I remind her. "He went to jail over it. For that matter, so did she."

Mom just kind of flutters. "Still... he seems nice."

The young man walks up. He announces that he has some questions for me.

In response, I ask him how he knew she was at court, today.

"Her mother called and told me." He responds.

"Young man, you need to stay away from her," I say. "She is too young for you and as an adult, you need to take responsibility to make sure you don't get her into any more trouble. She needs to be concentrating on her own problems instead of having this intense thing going on with you. I can't tell you what to do, but I am asking you to leave."

He stood there glaring at me before taking a deep breath. "I won't leave," he said. "You can't make me! I want you to answer some questions!"

I nod. "Of course, you are correct that I can't make you leave. Perhaps you'd like to go into the courtroom with us and discuss this with the judge and his bailiffs? I can facilitate that."

After a pause he says, "I'll just sit over here," and slinks off.

Apparently, he is not as stupid as he looks but that's not saying much.

After a bit of back and forth, I wander back into the courtroom. The prosecutor comes up to ask me if this is my only case of the day.

"Yup," I say, "I really need to get out of here. Can we do mine next?"

"Er," he says, "Mildred left. She had an appointment but she said she'd be back, later. I told her it was okay."

"She said what?" I started out quietly. "She did WHAT??? I have a kid out in the hallway who is ready to blow. I have places I need to be. She LEFT???????"

"I'll try to call her," he quickly assures me, and proceeds to leave three messages on Mildred's cell phone telling her that she needs to be back in court, right away. I glare at him the entire time and he keeps smiling sheepishly and raising his eyebrows in a manner apparently meant to convey chagrin.

Steam is coming out of my ears and I am saying words I haven't used since I lived in Oklahoma.

An hour later, Mildred returns. She says nothing to me about jamming me up. She has two cases on the docket but instead of taking MY case, she asks the Prosecutor to let them take her other one so her client can go home. I was not part of that conversation or I would have raised hell. Apparently, she is blackmailing him...

Next thing I know, they come out of the courtroom where I am waiting to go in with Susie Q.

"Court's in recess." Sez the bailiff. "We'll reconvene at 1:15."

The Prosecutor looks horrified as we stand there and stare at each other. I turn on my heel and head to the lawyer's breakroom where I proceed to swear a blue streak.

The other lawyers, especially the men, seem impressed.

Mildred leaves to go to lunch. So does Susie Q, her mother and Sam.

I am too steamed to eat. I make phone calls to change my plans.

The bottom line is that by the time court reconvened, Sam is long gone. In fact, mom and Susie Q aren't back from lunch so... we wait.

Ultimately, they return and we go before the judge. Mildred decides to not withdraw from the case. She doesn't say anything to me and, in fact, makes no eye contact at all which is surely a good thing. The protective order is put back in place. Susie Q is bawling her eyes out about the whole situation. I leave the courthouse at 2:30.

Although my original plans were shot, I still swung by the LQS and bought more fabric I don't need.

It was not my day. I kid you not, it took them thirty minutes to get to my purchases and cut them.

After that, I swung by Noodles and Company and scarfed down some stroganoff. I brought home some Pad Thai to share with Husband.

When I got home, Evelyn was limping heavily but we can't figure out what the trouble is. She was feeling well enough to sing, however.

I stepped over to the neighbor's house to see her all gussied up for the Marine Corps Ball. She looked lovely. Came back home and spent some time with the girls out back. Here are where the leaves fell. Unlike in Oklahoma, leaves in the yard usually originated there (in Oklahoma, any leaves or snow in your yard probably blew there from down the street).

Jezebel was in high spirits.

I have to say, getting home and seeing the girls so thrilled to see me was the high point of my day.

I got home too late for a walk and didn't have time to work on my latest quilt project. Oh well. The weekend is here. I am going to sit down with a glass a red wine and celebrate.