communication, musings, social media

Dining on fresh food for thought, and not “incorrecting” people…

I woke up this morning to an interesting post by Father Nathan Monk, a dyslexic former priest and author who has an impressive following on Facebook. This is what he wrote:

I think this makes a lot of sense.

Naturally, the above post attracted a lot of feedback. Many people made points that I thought were entirely valid, even if they didn’t agree with Father Nathan Monk. Some people protested that abortion is always a terrible thing, but a private decision that is sometimes necessary to make for one’s own well being. Some were on Father Nathan Monk’s side, and congratulated him for his words of wisdom on an experience that he will never personally face. Still others pointed out that the word “abortion” has wrongly been turned into a bad word that needs euphemistic language to get around the taboo with which it is associated.

Personally, I agree with Father Nathan Monk that abortion isn’t a dirty word. I’ve even written about that topic in this blog. But I also agree with people who have emotional responses to the term. Some people have no emotional connection to abortions. They don’t see it as anything other than a medical procedure. While many people associate abortion with tragedy, others have experienced immense relief after having one. Some have experienced gratitude that the procedure was available to them when they needed it. Reactions to the abortion experience run the gamut. No one’s reaction is “wrong”, because everyone has their own story.

As it so often happens in comment sections on Facebook, some people got on a soapbox, and the topic segued a bit into discussion about other societal issues. As the discussion developed, I noticed some tension. Some people took issue with other people’s opinions and felt the need to “correct” them. I especially noticed it when someone used a term that another person found objectionable. More than a few of them responded to other posters with condescension, hostility, and criticism, rather than measured consideration. I noticed that many people chimed in on comments that were directed to other people, and they often did so with a certain haughtiness. And some went into ass kissing mode, although overall, I agree with what this person wrote…

Dearest Father Nathan Monk I totally support your comments.

Furthermore, I know you are a gifted wordsmith but for a moment I’m going to take full on offense at the cretin level witlessness of the individual who took it upon themselves to *correct* your wording.

Dear Sir or Ma’am I suggest that you desist lecturing a published author on their use of words. You can take your insulting remarks and trot right off the end of that short dock over yonder. Yeah that sketchy one that’s probably going to dump you right back into the swamp of self-righteousness that you seemed to have crawled out of at some point.

Sheesh people. Give it a rest with the gatekeeping.

Alrighty. I’m done.

Carry on my friend. And my deepest apologies if I’ve crossed a line.

After the above comment was made, someone else wrote this:

On a related note, I saw a stand up comedian a few months ago give a great response to unwelcome corrections:

“Thank you for incorrecting me”

Apparently, that quote was from comedian, Steve Hofstetter. I have never heard of Mr. Hofstetter, but maybe I need to look him up and see if I find the rest of his observations so astute. People do have a tendency to “correct” other people when they disagree with them. I think there’s a certain arrogance in assuming that one’s perspective is absolutely the only “right” one. As I mentioned up post, everybody has a story, and those stories can affect how people view things that aren’t cut and dried. It’s a barrier to communication, and ultimately, learning new things, when people come at others aggressively for saying something they assume is wrong, or just “politically incorrect”.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Years ago, I was part of an online messageboard for second wives and stepmothers. In that group, I sometimes used to post about how Mormonism had affected our step situation. It was a valid issue, as within Mormonism, there is a strong emphasis on spreading the faith and encouraging people within a family of maintaining their common belief system. For example, Mormons typically exclude non believers from their weddings, which usually take place in a temple (though some have civil weddings and then do the religious ordinance later). Mormon temples are only open to people who have “temple recommends”. The only exception is when a new temple is opened, and there’s an “open house”, which is for a set period of time. So, the fact that my husband’s daughters were converted and raised LDS, and Bill had left the faith, was a legitimate issue within the family.

There was a Mormon woman in the group who used to get very offended when I dared to bring up this topic. She insisted that I was being disrespectful to her. She claimed that I “misunderstood” and was confused by her religion, and that my “negative” comments were destructive to her. She was not receptive to “hearing” what I was trying to communicate. Instead, she focused on what she thought was my “bashing” her religious beliefs. In short, she basically labeled me a bigot, because I said something negative about her religion that she found offensive. She wasn’t willing to see it from my perspective. She just wanted me to shut up and color.

Honestly, I don’t give a shit what people’s personal religious beliefs are. It’s when your beliefs affect other people’s lives that I have a problem. The fact the Ex had decided to convert to Mormonism and raised Bill’s children LDS was a real problem that affected us, because Bill and I aren’t LDS. To be fair, I don’t think Ex is LDS anymore, either. But, back when the girls were still kids, the fact that they were LDS caused issues, because their perfectly good father was portrayed as “less worthy” simply because he didn’t have the same religious beliefs they had. It didn’t even have to be Mormonism that caused this problem. The girls could have been raised Orthodox Jewish or Muslim or Jehovah’s Witness, and that could have been an issue. I was simply trying to point that out, and being specific about how the LDS religion caused steplife issues for us. This should have been okay in an online support group for second wives and stepmothers, but instead, it was a “taboo topic” that I was strongly discouraged from discussing because one person found it “offensive”.

For the most part, I think people should be heard, even if they say something that seems “wrong” on the surface. And if someone does say something that seems “wrong”, it would be really excellent if more people would simply take a deep breath and hear them out… or at least try to respond with civility, instead of rudeness and snark. Being self-righteous and condescending is not how you win hearts and minds. And if you’re not trying to possibly change someone’s perspective, what’s the point of making a comment? Especially if you’re so insufferable that they block you.

A few days ago, I made a comment to someone about how most Americans have no idea of what we tolerate. They haven’t lived anywhere else, and they’ve been fed a bunch of horseshit about how “great” America is. I wrote that if more Americans experienced living in Europe, they might be outraged by what is normal here, and not normal in the United States. I was going to specify Germany, but I realized that there are a lot of countries in Europe that offer affordable healthcare, childcare, and education. As it was Facebook, I didn’t want to make a list, because that would make my comment too long and convoluted.

I then got a somewhat hostile comment from someone in the Czech Republic, who groused about how Europe isn’t so great, because medical care in her country isn’t “good”. I hadn’t addressed this person, but she chimed in on my comment to someone else, so I explained further. I don’t think I did so in a condescending way. I simply explained where I was coming from, and she came back with swear words and rudeness, as if I had insulted her intelligence. Her point was that not all European nations are created equally. My immediate reaction was “duh”, but that’s not what I wrote. Instead, I posted that I had originally considered writing only about Germany, but realized that much of the continent is similar and I didn’t feel the need to type out the countries for a Facebook post. I added that I did that because I didn’t want to wind up in a rude exchange with a stranger. Then I finished with, “but I see that’s happened, anyway. Have a nice day.” I was surprised she didn’t come back with more snark. I probably shocked her by calling her out for being unnecessarily offensive.

One of the things I really love about my husband is that we can have conversations about anything. He’s thoughtful and considerate, and he hears what I have to say as I flesh out a thought. He doesn’t react with indignation, or break out the red pen, wanting to “correct” my opinions. He doesn’t always agree with me, but he’s always willing to listen. I think we’re both better off because of that. We learn new things, and dine on fresh food for thought. Just as a new food can be exciting and interesting, so can a considering new perspective. But it’s hard to access that “fresh food for thought”, if you are preoccupied with correcting someone else for their opinions that don’t align with your own.

Now, when it comes to abortion, I can certainly understand why many people find it a sad and abhorrent thing. I understand why some people, having had an ectopic pregnancy that necessitated termination, can’t bear to think of that action as having an abortion, even if that is technically what happened. But I can also see how someone might find abortion liberating and even exhilarating. Father Nathan Monk’s post spells out how it can be a huge relief for someone to have an abortion. It should be okay for people to be honest about their feelings without fear of being shamed. We should be encouraging respectful communication, rather than trying to squelch things we don’t want to hear or read. Imagine how much more interesting life would be, if we could consider things that are “taboo” without feeling ashamed or threatened with censure.

I imagine that we might even have fewer Trump supporters if more people could stop themselves from being holier than thou toward others. I suspect that a lot of people like Trump because he’s not “PC” and doesn’t insist that people be “PC”. I think a lot of people like it when a loudmouth jerk like Trump says what they’re thinking, without any shame or hesitation whatsoever. This isn’t to say that I think people should be going around being deliberately offensive, but more that people might not be so compelled to be deliberately offensive if they felt heard and understood, even if the other person disagrees. A basic level of respect can be a great lubricant for productive discussion and– dare I say it?– a broader perspective on life, a keener intellect, and a more interesting existence outside of an echo chamber.

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communication, condescending twatbags, dogs, Germany

Pre-emptive and defensive bitchiness is not the best advertising strategy…

This morning, as I was waking up to a brand new day, I scanned Facebook and noticed a post by someone in the local pet group. She has a ten year old Jack Russell terrier that she wishes to rehome. She wrote that the dog is good with kids and other animals, but has allergies that require medication. Fair enough. But then I saw the last sentence of her ad, and it kinda gave me pause…

We are looking to re-home our 10 year old Jack Russell terrier. She is great with kids and other animals (we have two cats and two children). She is house trained and super sweet. She does have allergies and requires medication. Gets motion sickness in cars. And please don’t pass judgement if you don’t know the reason why she is being rehomed. I don’t have to explain my reasons and get approval from anyone.

Um… first of all, people are going to pass judgment, and they are going to infer things. You can’t avoid it, even if you say “please”. And secondly, when you pre-emptively leave a defensive comment like “I don’t have to explain my reasons and get approval from anyone,” you kind of put off a difficult, bitchy vibe. I would hesitate to contact the person who wrote this post, because based only on that post, she doesn’t seem like a pleasant person. She’s asking people to consider taking in a dog who is already ten years old and has a couple of issues. She’s the one who is asking— other people aren’t necessarily clamoring to take the dog. In the long run, she may actually be doing someone a huge favor by offering them her dog, but at this point, she’s the one who needs help. She should probably consider that fact and behave accordingly.

I’m sure she has good reasons for rehoming the dog. I truly do try not to judge people who need to find new homes for their pets, unless they are egregious assholes about it. Every single one of our dogs in the past twenty years is with us because they were rehomed. And every single one of them has been wonderful, unique, and loving. Each one has enriched our lives immeasurably and taught us new things. We’re better off for having shared life with them.

I don’t consider someone inherently bad or guilty simply because they can’t take care of a pet. Shit happens. Sometimes, rehoming an animal is the kindest and most responsible thing a person can do. But when a person ends their request to rehome a pet with a pre-emptively defensive statement, it’s a bit of a turnoff. I don’t think it helps her case.

On the other hand, I can understand why someone would make a pre-emptively defensive statement like that one. People– especially in our overseas military community– can be immature and judgmental. Drama erupts for the stupidest of reasons, and that can have terrible effects on one’s mental health and self-worth. Believe me, I know about this firsthand. But if you’re asking someone to take your ten year old dog with allergies off your hands, and you leave a hostile statement demanding that people don’t “judge” you before you explain yourself, you kind of ask people to judge. And believe me, they will… whether you like it or not. But maybe some will skip leaving rude comments, even if they’re thinking them, or blogging about them. 😉

I’m not in the market for a new dog at this point. We still have Arran and Noyzi, although Arran will likely be crossing the Rainbow Bridge before too long. I don’t know when, or even if, we’ll be looking for a new dog. Given that we don’t know when we’ll be leaving Germany, and the high costs and hassles of moving pets, we may decide that one dog is enough for now. But if I were looking to take in a new dog, I would probably see red flags in the above ad. Because I think if you’re asking someone to take in another living creature, you really need to be upfront and honest about why you need to rehome them. And your attitude should be one of hopefulness, rather than defensiveness.

We had an experience about nineteen years ago with a woman who had found a cute little hunting beagle on the side of a country road. She named him Flea (after Fleagle, the dog in Banana Splits), and offered him for adoption through a beagle rescue in Northern Virginia. This woman lived near Richmond, Virginia, so the dog she was offering for adoption wasn’t really known by the people at the rescue, who were mostly in the DC area and Maryland.

Flea had been found in Chester County, very flea and tick infested and sick with heartworms and Lyme Disease. The rescue had given the woman money to treat Flea for his infestations. She had gotten the Lyme Disease treated, and had the first part of the heartworm treatment done– a labor intensive affair that required an overnight stay at a vet hospital and a month of crate rest. However, she neglected to bring him back for the second part of the treatment. She never told us that she didn’t get the second part of the treatment done. That was totally shitty on her part, since the second part of heartworm treatment is a lot less painful and invasive than the second part is. It just consists of the dog taking a big dose of ivermectin, or a similar drug, to kill off any baby worms that survived the first part of the treatment. My guess is that she was either too busy, or needed the money for her own purposes. Sad for Flea, and for us.

We adopted Flea, and at the time, we were pretty broke ourselves. We did have him tested for heartworms, and the test was positive, but the vet said that sometimes dogs might still have positive results right after they get treated. She wasn’t concerned, so we didn’t worry about it.

We still have that couch, complete with stains made by Flea when he had cancer.

After we’d had him for a few months, we decided that Flea badly needed a dental. And he REALLY did– his teeth and his BREATH were atrocious– when he finally got a cleaning, four teeth fell out completely on their own. Fortunately, the vet tech at the hospital where we were going to have the dental done noticed that there was no record of his ever completing heartworm treatment. She called the animal hospital where the first part of the treatment was done, and they verified that the treatment was never completed. Sure enough, he was still very infested with heartworms. Going under anesthesia to have his teeth cleaned could have killed him.

Flea and MacGregor loved Germany, too.

We tried to contact the woman who had rescued Flea. She ghosted us. We contacted the rescue. Bill, who is usually very mild mannered, was very upset. We had just lost our first rescue dog, who came from the same rescue, to a mysterious and rare mycobacterial infection. We’d only had him for sixteen months when he died. Now here was Flea, heartworm positive, and us with no money to get him treated. We had been led to believe that Flea was cured, and now we felt “lied to” by this rescue. I think our vet quoted us about $850 for treatment, which at the time was prohibitively expensive for us. Bill was extremely pissed, and understandably so.

Fortunately, the rescue was willing to pay for Flea to be treated at their usual vet hospital, located some distance from where we lived. They were wonderful about coordinating the treatment, and we got him all fixed up.

Flea and MacGregor in Germany, circa 2008 or so. Flea is the one not looking at the camera.

We had Flea for six years, and he was an awesome character who was even more temperamental and crotchety than our sweet Arran is. Flea was certainly difficult at times, but I adored him, and I never once regretted taking him into our home. We brought Flea to Germany the first time we lived here, and he helped us break the ice with our neighbors, because he loved their toddler aged son. He was exceptionally good with children; especially little boys. One day, he saw their child and moaned as he strained to go meet the child. That was when they started talking to us! Flea was a true canine ambassador. Their little boy even named his stuffed dog “Flea”.

Flea and MacGregor with Bill in our first German house, back in 2008 or so.

I think Flea would have lived longer if he hadn’t had untreated heartworms for so long. Ultimately he got prostate cancer, which was diagnosed by our old vets in Herrenberg (Germany), and like Arran, he proved to be quite a fighter, lasting four months with just palliative care. We brought him back to the US with us, and he died two months later in Georgia. A month after that, we adopted Zane, whom some of you know. But imagine what Flea could have achieved if his heart hadn’t been damaged, or the woman who rescued him had leveled with us and, at least, told us that he’d only been partially treated for heartworms. We could have had him treated sooner, and he might have been with us for longer than six years.

God, I miss these two… they were such characters! MacGregor, in particular, was a star!

I’m not saying that the person offering up her dog is definitely or deliberately being dishonest. She probably has perfectly valid and reasonable reasons for rehoming her dog. But making a comment like, “I don’t have to explain, and I don’t need approval” makes me think she might not be as honest as she should be, and has an attitude that might make asking about the dog difficult. That could mean unpleasant surprises, like the one we discovered in Flea. Or worse, maybe she’s the type to smile as she hands you the leash, then ghosts you when problems arise. While pre-emptively making a statement to forestall negative comments and judgment is understandable, especially in the military community, it also raises some red flags that would warn me to steer clear. Just sayin’.

Aside from that, there are already enough unpleasant interactions to be found on social media. I don’t need to have one in person, too. I think those who know us, know that we try to take really good care of our dogs. But I wouldn’t contact someone whose very first communication to me is one that is bitchy and defensive, even if it’s a post for everyone to read. I would hope this lady would consider that protecting her ego is less important than finding a really excellent home for her dog to spend her last years, hopefully never to need rehoming again. It’s the least she can do.

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condescending twatbags, dogs, good news, music

Arran did fine! I think he was determined to come home…

I know there’s so much in the world I could write about today, but I’m just not ready to write about things in Ukraine, the MAGA cult’s desperate attempts to hang on to relevance, Lizzo’s awesome flute playing, or Trump’s ridiculous bullshit. Today, I want to write about our sweet Arran, who apparently did fine at the Hundepension.

Bill went to get Arran and Noyzi last night at the appointed pick up time. I’m sure he was nervous about what he was going to find out when he got the boys, or the condition Arran was going to be in. But, as it turned out, Arran did fine. He had diarrhea one day, and wasn’t all that interested in his food that day. After that, he was more like himself. He does look like he might have lost some weight, which he needed to do anyway. For so many years, Arran was a very fit dog, but in the past year, he’s put on some weight. It could be the cancer doing this, but it’s nice to see him with more of a figure, even if it’s temporary.

Bill said Arran really liked the male caretaker at the pension– someone we don’t know yet. The pension has recently changed ownership, although the same staff is there. I get the sense that the old owner is up there in years and ready to retire, and maybe he sold the business to someone younger who worked there. I don’t know, but I’m grateful that they took good care of our boys. Noyzi absolutely adores Natasha. He goes nuts when he sees her.

Both dogs were excited when Bill showed up, and it took a few minutes to get them on leashes because of the reunion happy dance. When they got home, Arran was running around the house, rubbing against all the furniture, no doubt marking it with his scent. He ate some food quite eagerly, said hello to me, then jumped up on the bed for a nap.

Obviously, Arran still has cancer, and he’s going to probably get test results today. That will determine what, if any, treatment he’ll get. We’re both thinking we’d like to make him comfortable, given his advanced age. What that will mean remains to be seen. He’ll go see the vet tomorrow. I know we don’t have much time left, but it made me feel so much better to see that he did okay during our trip. He’s our little ass kicker, much like our old dog, Flea, was.

This morning, Arran even got up with Bill and ate all of his breakfast. He went outside, did his business, and is now sprawled out on Bill’s side of the bed, sleeping. He’ll probably come in here in a few hours and ask for a walk. This is the most bittersweet part of having a dog in your life. For years, he’s rewarded us with loyalty, devotion, and undying love for us. It’s a privilege to make sure he ends his extraordinary, but too short, life in the best way… for as long as it takes.

And actually… now that I’ve written about our amazing Arran, I do want to make a statement about Lizzo and her crystal flute performance. I managed to hear the whole thing yesterday, and I thought Lizzo played beautifully. I am excited to see her igniting passion for music in young people. At least one of my friends reported that thanks to Lizzo’s historic turn with a 209 year old crystal flute, once owned by President James Madison, her daughter wants to learn how to play the flute. That is priceless!

I think she plays quite beautifully… better than I do, anyway.

It saddens me to read so many awful comments about Lizzo– everything from body shaming to comments about how she’s a “mediocre” flute player and shouldn’t be allowed to play such a “special” instrument. That flute was meant to be played, and Lizzo is far from being a “mediocre” musician. I think the issue is, a lot of uptight, conservative, white people want to see people like Lizzo kept down in what they think is her “place”. They should all go fuck themselves until they’re dead. Check out some of these disgusting reactions!

Why is she wearing that! I think it’s great that she’s proud of her obesity but now I’m blind!

There are many great flute players who have never even touched that instrument. Why her? She is at best mediocre. This instrument should have been left alone. It’s an American heirloom, a gem, that should be where all other historical items belong – protected and preserved.

Special talent? Ummmm you know there’s thousands of kids playing this in band right?

BUT THE DISRESPECT SHE GENERATES IS NO FUN AT ALL. KEEP YOU KIDS AWAY FROM HER!!!!

Have some class and stop twerking all the time especially with a classy peice of history

And it goes on and on… People have the right to their opinions, of course, but I think it’s sad that they have to show everybody how awful they are on social media. Personally, I thought Lizzo was amazing on the flute. I don’t follow her career, but I have a lot more respect for her now than I might have before I heard her play that flute. She made a positive difference for a lot of people– especially young people. So the assholes who think she shouldn’t have played the flute should all go play in traffic. Preferably nowhere near where I live, thank you VERY much.

Now to get back to my travel blog… I’m about halfway done.

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blog news, condescending twatbags, dogs, rants, travel

Home again, and glad of it!

Here’s a quick post before I delve into blogging about our most recent trip to the Schwarzwald. Bill and I got home about 45 minutes ago, after a relatively peaceful drive back to Wiesbaden. Today is German Reunification Day, so almost everything is closed. The posts are open, though, so Bill has gone to the commissary to buy some food for tonight. The weather cleared up just as we were leaving Baiersbronn. What a shame we’re missing it, because there were some things I would have liked to have done, had there not been rain.

We still managed to have a good time. It was restful in the Black Forest, and it’s always a pleasure to visit. I often feel twinges of regret and bittersweetness when we’re down there, since we lived in that area for about four years. It’s too bad we left living in that area with a rather bad taste in our mouths, thanks to our lawsuit against our former landlady. But at least we can visit, and enjoy how pretty it is. Living there introduced us to some nice areas that we can now justify booking stays in when we go see our dentist in Stuttgart.

As for the Bareiss Hotel… it really is a lovely place and we had a good time. We spent a good chunk of change, but it was significantly less than what we would have spent on a cruise. And since we were there with our car, we could easily get around and not be a captive audience. Not that we really took advantage of that. Thanks to the rain, we stayed pretty close to the hotel grounds.

Bill and I both had a lot of weird dreams while we were at the hotel. I think it’s because we were both worried about Arran. I really hope he’s okay. We’ll find out tonight.

I woke up at about 3am this morning, needing to go to the bathroom. When it was over, I was wide awake, so I went on Facebook… That was a mistake. On Saturday, we had a really nice lunch at the hotel. I had fresh trout, which was absolutely delicious. However, because it’s Europe, the whole fish is served. Several people left disgusted comments on the photo I shared. I let the first couple roll off my back somewhat, but then someone said it looked like someone had thrown up on the plate.

I guess the heart means we’re going home… because that’s where the heart is.

My response was an angry reaction, and the comment “That is not nice.”

The person doubled down with more “‘yucking’ on my ‘yum'”, so I posted “Can y’all who don’t like this picture of my delicious, fresh, trout lunch just keep scrolling or X out the photo, rather than leaving negative comments? Some you are being quite rude.”

To their credit, the person did apologize and delete the comment. Of course, by then I’d already seen it and felt irritated about it. And then I just deleted the photo, because I didn’t want to read and feel the need to respond to any more inappropriate comments about it.

I hated to have to make that statement, and I’m sure some people would call me “overly sensitive” for being annoyed about that, but I was already irritated because I couldn’t sleep. I just don’t see the need to leave those kinds of negative comments. Some people were enjoying seeing what we were eating at the hotel, and obviously, I like fresh trout. I don’t necessarily like looking at the eyes and the tail either, but the alternative is a decapitated fish. In any case, a fresh trout decoratively covered in almonds, tomatoes, and lemon is in no way reminiscent of vomit. And even if it was, there’s really no need to say so. I was delighted by the fresh trout, so posting that it looked like puke is basically insulting my taste. I don’t like looking at mushrooms on Facebook, but other people do. I simply X out the photo and move on. It’s not hard to do… moreover, the person who made that comment has put up photos that I have not commented on, but surely could say plenty of rude things about if I were a less considerate person.

Maybe it’s my fault, though. I can be inappropriate sometimes. Some people probably think it’s okay to say whatever they want to me. Anyway… I’ll probably bitch more about this in the travel blog, so I’ll stop now.

For now, I’ll just say it’s good to be home… and it’ll be so good to see the dogs again. I hope Arran will set our minds at ease, but if he doesn’t, at least we can take care of him and make him more comfortable.

I’m grateful that we got a few days away, though. We needed them. And there are plenty of world events I’m ready to opine about in the coming days. So now, if you want to read about our trip, come over to the travel blog. That’s where the story will be, starting today. I hope you’re there for it.

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dogs, healthcare, politics, rants, royals, social media

Yesterday was a particularly crappy Monday… mind if I vent?

I knew yesterday was going to suck when I woke up at 3:30am needing to go to the bathroom. It wasn’t just a quick pee, so when I was done, I was wide awake. I instinctively knew yesterday was going to be very difficult for a few reasons. I knew I was going to watch the Queen’s funeral, and there would be beautiful music, bright colorful uniforms on stalwart men and women in her service, somber people in black who came to pay their respects, and wise words from religious leaders. That would provoke an emotional response under the best of circumstances.

Then I knew that we would be getting the results of Arran’s cytology report. I knew that they would not be the results we hoped for, and I was right. Arran has been diagnosed with lymphoma, and our time with him is growing short.

We have dealt with lymphoma before. Our dog, Zane, had it in 2019. He was diagnosed on the Saturday after we came home from vacation, and was gone a week later. He wasn’t as strong as Arran is, and his disease was found later. We were in Scotland on a cruise when Zane’s symptoms appeared, and had no idea he was ailing. Unfortunately, canine lymphoma can sneak up quickly and work devastatingly fast. My one comfort in Zane’s situation was that his last week was relatively pleasant, as cancer goes. He was able to enjoy the weather, lie outside in the sunshine, and even take a walk the day before we said goodbye. Steroids kept him relatively comfortable until the end.

Arran is still quite strong and vital. He still eats, sleeps, walks, jumps, and engages with us. He’s also around 13 or 14 years old, which makes him elderly. Dying is part of life, and as lives go, Arran has had a pretty good one with us. So I’m not particularly sad that it’s getting close to the end of his life. I will miss him very much, and it will hurt to say goodbye. But I know this is a simple part of life.

I made a social media announcement, and wrote this for a friend who expressed preliminary condolences:

…I kind of look at this as I do the death of the Queen. Unfortunately, dying is part of living, but we’ve had almost ten wonderful years with Arran and so many fond memories. We’ve been able to give him a very loving home and a pretty luxurious lifestyle in two countries, plus the ones he’s visited with us. After being passed around a few times when he was young, he finally landed with the right people– especially Bill, who is his favorite person. 

It’s always hard to lose a beloved family member, but some situations are worse than others. At least we know kind of what to expect, and this isn’t a particularly painful cancer. I think he’s got some time left to enjoy… and when and if the time is right, we can give a home to another dog who needs one. In my experience, the successors seem to be sent by the predecessors. I feel very sure that our old dog, MacGregor sent us Arran in January 2013. 

As the Queen once said, “Grief is the price we pay for loving.” But that doesn’t mean it won’t be hard to say goodbye when the time comes.

After we lost MacGregor in 2012, I started making memorial videos for my dogs. I made one for MacGregor, and two for Zane, because I had so many great photos and another song to use. On Zane’s videos, I even sang the songs that accompanied the photos, while I used Willie Nelson’s version of “Rainbow Connection” for MacGregor. Yesterday, I made a recording of a song I might use for Arran, when his time comes. I decided to do that, because I suspect I might be too emotional to do it later. In Zane’s case, I already had the recordings done, just because I had wanted to try the songs. I find that making the videos helps me process my grief, since it requires me to look at photos from years ago and see the progression of the time we spent together. I have tons of videos and pictures of Arran, so I think there could be two videos.

MacGregor’s video.
Zane’s video.
And more photos…

The timing for this diagnosis comes at a bad time. We are supposed to go to the Black Forest next weekend for a much needed five night break. We’re close enough to the reservation that I can’t cancel without owing 80 percent of the cost of the room, which is very expensive, because it’s at a five star resort with half board. We’re talking about 3800 euros… but it’s a special hotel. I do have travel insurance with cancel for any reason coverage, but I would rather not have to use it. Of course, I had no idea Arran was going to have lymphoma when I reserved. We are also going to see our dentist. Fortunately, the resort is in Baiersbronn, which is only a couple of hours away. If it comes down to it, we can probably still deal with Arran if he goes downhill during that trip.

Then, soon after we come back, Bill has to go on another business trip. It’s in Germany too, though, so he can get back if he has to. Still, it would be good if we can keep Arran going until that stuff is done– at least a month or so. I think we can do it, provided we have some chemical assistance. But lymphoma can go south really fast, as we found out from Zane’s experience. Or, dogs can be treated and go into remission… We’ll have to see what the vet can do for Arran’s situation. He did try to chase a squirrel yesterday on his walk.

The next thing that sucked about yesterday is that I spent the day feeling physically bad. I threw up breakfast because my stomach was all messed up. I have a burning, pinching feeling on the left side of my stomach. I think I have gastritis. I feel somewhat better today, since I tee-totaled last night, and drank herbal tea for breakfast instead of coffee. Bill made me eggs, which seemed like they would be the least offensive. I didn’t eat much yesterday anyway, and that tends to be bad for me. But I had no appetite or inclination to prepare anything. And when you’re 50 and you have these kinds of aches and pains, it gets harder to shrug them off, especially when you’re phobic of seeing doctors, like I am– and especially when you’re in a country that isn’t home.

And finally, I made the mistake of posting a comment on Amy Klobuchar’s Facebook page the other day. It was an innocuous comment– nothing that should have invited controversy. I wrote that I live in Germany and got a phone call from a German about voting in the US elections. I explained about that incident here on this blog, too. Naturally, I got several laughter reactions from MAGA trolls, which is irritating enough. But then some old bat left me a pissy comment about how I should post my address so she and her MAGA friends can send me their bills.

Already annoyed because of my gnawing stomach ache and the news about Arran, I responded “Grow up.”

She came back with more vile piss and vinegar about how she’s “grown up” and yada, yada, yada. I blocked her, and then ranted a bit to Bill, because for the life of me, I don’t understand why people feel the need to mock and harass perfect strangers for having different opinions than theirs.

Then this morning, I saw this very “literate” comment from someone else:

How could they get your phone #? Please, if you you make up stories, make them at least more believe label. Do you write fiction novels?

So this was my more eloquent retort, which I probably shouldn’t have bothered with:

I’m not making this up. They had my number because I signed up for Democrats Abroad. I just didn’t expect to get a phone call when I did that. My guess is that the guy who called was either a dual citizen or spouse of an American, or he might be a German who cares about American politics because our leaders affect Europe, too. Nevertheless, I am done voting for Republicans because of Donald Trump and his ilk. 

I don’t see why stating this on a page for Amy Klobuchar should invite rude, derisive, comments from anyone. You are free to vote your conscience. I expect and deserve the same consideration. And when you “laugh” at me and accuse me of lying, you just show us all that you don’t stand for American values.

This photo alone is one reason why Trump needs to go. People actually believe this shit!

She’ll probably laugh at me again, which will prompt me to block her. Seriously… I ain’t got the time for it. I like how the woman can’t fathom how someone over here would call me about voting… There are LOTS of Americans in Germany, and we are affected by our country’s policies. But so are Europeans, and folks, from over here, America looks like a three ring shit show.

I was surprised too, about the phone call, which is the only reason I decided to post about it. Why can’t people simply be civilized and decent? Especially when a stranger posts something pretty innocuous. It’s one thing when someone posts something obviously incendiary or obtuse, but I didn’t do that. I want to ask that person if she’s that much of an asshole in person, too. But that would only reduce me to her level, and I don’t need to go down there.

Oh well… no need to fuss over it. I’ve got bigger issues to deal with. At least the weather is nice today. I’ll walk the dogs and try to enjoy our precious time with sweet Arran… and maybe my stomach will calm down. At least the funeral for the Queen is over… I know not everyone loved her, but I will miss her. Overall, I think she was an exceptional person, and she did many good things, in spite of the many controversies surrounding the monarchy. At the very least, her funeral was a masterfully presented show for the world to see. Nobody does pomp and circumstance like the Brits do.

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