The Dog Days Are Back: This Author is in a Drought!

This is a quick post and is in no way representative of my writing abilities but I want share with you a brief update into my life right now. I’ve completed my Office Surgery Inspections contract (my first with the State of Florida) and now I’m just trying to get caught up on the daily duties of my job that have fallen behind due to writing a contract (which is very time consuming, might I add). Because of that and other life events, I haven’t had the time to even think about personal writing. On top of my work life, we are definitely back to the dog days of summer with Miss Annie.

A few weeks ago, Kyle and I went on a date (a rarity for us lately) and were only gone for two and a half hours. When we returned to our apartment, we were greeted at the door by Annie making her “Uh oh, I did wrong” face. We walked into the living room to find her bed covered in staples. Yes, staples. Like those sharp metal things that you use to bind paper together. Where did she get the staples? Your guess is as good as ours. Oh, but she got them, alright. She tore the box apart and tore the staples apart. They were chewed and gnarled and literally everywhere. After picking up each individual staple that we could see, we vacuumed the carpet and her bed and combed the area for any lingering staple. I called the emergency vet line to find out if we needed to take Annie to the vet immediately since she probably had ingested a few staples. The vet on-call said that it wasn’t necessary because of her size. She would probably pass the staples in a few days with no problem. The vet did warn that if she began vomiting or showing signs and symptoms of a more serious condition, we should bring her to her regular vet immediately. Annie was alright for the first day after eating the staples but, of course, on Monday morning, we awoke to her hurling her poor puppy guts up. She was sick. I called into work, took a day of hard earned sick leave, and called her regular vet for an appointment. The vet asked questions about the staple eating incident and then said that the only way they could tell if she was sick from staples was to do x-rays. Shortly after the x-rays were taken, the vet came in and said, “Well, she definitely ate staples. A lot of staples.” The x-rays were displayed on the computer screen and I could clearly see that the staples were in there. And the vet was correct, Annie had eaten A LOT of STAPLES!


 

anniestaples1

anniestaples2


 

My first question was, “What can we do?” The answer, of course, was surgery. She told me that she could take Annie into emergency exploratory abdominal surgery as soon as we were ready but she wanted to check another option first. Apparently, there was a new specialist in town who did doggy endoscopy and our vet said that she thought it might be a better option for Annie than surgery. Of course, the less invasive you can be, the better. The price, however, was extraordinarily invasive into our pocketbooks. The specialist did agree to take Annie as a case, so I drove her right on over to their office for a consultation. They didn’t waste any time in getting her evaluated and the specialist (an internal medicine specialist with a Scottish accent) said that he wanted to put her on IV fluids overnight, have her stay in the hospital, and then determine whether or not to do endoscopy in the morning after a new set of x-rays were taken. At this point, we didn’t have any other choices other than surgery so we agreed to leave her overnight. I had to pay a deposit to leave her which cost several hundred dollars and I also had to sign a waiver stating that I wanted her to be revived if she went into cardiac arrest. In the morning, the vet called and said he would have to do endoscopy to remove the mass of staples that was stuck in her pylorus. For those of you who do not know what the pylorus is, it is the part of the stomach that connects to the duodenum (or small intestine). The rest of the staples had moved out of her large intestines and into her colon so they would be coming out in her next bowel movement. The staples that were stuck weren’t going to go anywhere without help. The endoscopy was done fairly quickly. She was up and running by that evening, even though she was quite drowsy from the anesthesia. Annie is perfectly fine now–no more staples. Fifteen hundred dollars later and we have a happy healthy dog again. Oh, the joys of being a dog owner! We’ve now officially made it through our first year of having Annie in our lives and it may have been one of the most stressful, most expensive, and most fulfilling years of our lives.

That being said, thank you for your continued support and love! If you want to read more of my work, go buy my book! It’s 99 cents on Amazon Kindle or the free Amazon Kindle Reading App for almost all mobile devices and tablets! You can download the free Amazon Kindle Reading App from my Works page or by clicking on the image below. What a steal of a deal! It’s also in paperback as well if that is more to your liking. Check it out!

FREE Kindle Reading App

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The Dog Days: Too Much Fruit!

“I can’t talk! There’s too much fruit in the house!”

Lemons

One of my favorite television sitcoms is Everybody Loves Raymond. One episode, in particular, has been on my mind as of late. In the pilot episode, Raymond gets Marie (his mother) a birthday gift that “keeps on giving”. He signs her and Frank (his father) up for the “Fruit of the Month” club which sends a crate of fruit to their house each month for a whole year. Below is the dialogue that ensued:

Ray: Listen, Ma, I want to talk about Debra’s birthday…

Marie: My god, talk about birthdays. Your birthday gift to me finally came this morning. Did you know they sent me a box of pears?

Ray: Yeah.

Marie: From a place called “Fruit Of The Month”?

Ray: That’s right, how are they?

Marie: They’re very nice pears. But, there are so many of them. There are over a dozen pears. What am I supposed to do with all those pears?

Ray: I think you’re supposed to eat them.

Marie: Myself?

Ray: You and Dad and Robert.

Marie: How many pears can Robert eat? I appreciate the thought, but please, don’t ever send us any more fruit again. Thanks.

Ray: Another box is coming next month.

Marie: What??!! More pears??!!

Ray: No, it’s a different fruit every month.

Marie: Every month??!!

Ray: Yes, that’s why it’s called “Fruit Of The Month” Club.

Marie: It’s a club??!! Oh, my god! What do I do with all this fruit?

Ray: Most people like it, Ma, they share it with their friends.

Marie: Which friends?

Ray: I don’t know. Lee and Stan?

Marie: Lee and Stan buy their own fruit. Why did you do this to me? I can’t talk, there’s too much fruit in the house.

[Frank walks in.]

Marie: [to Frank] Do you know the fruit keeps coming, month after month? [pointing at Ray] He’s got us in some kind of a cult.

Ray: It’s not a cult, it’s a club.

Frank: What do you mean, month after month? For how long?

Ray: A year.

Frank: My god, are you out of your mind? What do you think we are? Invalids? We can’t go out and get our own fruit?

Marie: I tried to tell him.

Ray:  Alright, I’ll cancel the Fruit Club.

Frank: Marie—

Marie: I can’t talk! There’s too much fruit in the house!

The “Fruit of the Month” club then became a running joke throughout the series and was mentioned in several other episodes. Marie will frequently say, “I can’t talk! There’s too much fruit in the house!” She gets flustered and inconsolable about the fruit. As ridiculous as this may seem, I see it as a perfect parallel to life. When things go wrong in my life, I feel like saying, “I can’t talk. There’s too much fruit in the house!”

Recently, I wrote about our mold and landlord problems. Being newlyweds, we expected to have some difficulties during out first year of marriage. We just didn’t expect to be unexpectedly displaced from our first home together and forced to stay with Kyle’s parents until we figure out what to do. Now that I have an hour and a half commute to and from work, I have time to think about what is going on in life.

The other day on my evening drive through the bumper-to-bumper traffic, I decided that life had signed us up for the “Fruit of the Month” club as a belated wedding gift. Of course, a crate of a different type of fruit each month would be pretty nice since we like fresh fruit and it can get kind of pricey sometimes. That would have been a great gift to get. Unfortunately, life didn’t think we needed the variety package so it signed us up to receive a crate of lemons each month for an indefinite period of time. We’ve got crate upon crate of lemons stacking up in our lives and there’s most definitely “too much fruit in the house”.

lemoncrates

With all of these lemons, we are starting to get creative. We’ve made lemon pies, lemonade, lemon chicken, lemon juice, and any other kind of lemon concoction possible but the fruit keeps on coming. From illness to job loss to financial difficulties to Annie and now this, it seems like we are having lemons with everything we eat!

That being said, we don’t actually have lemons overflowing in our home. We do have obstacles and difficulties abounding, though. Just as I think things are starting to get better, something else happens. Take this, for example:

We’ve been managing with the commute from Georgia to Florida and things seemed to be getting better in life. We both had to make the drive on Monday morning so we brought Annie along and let her stay at the apartment while we went to our respective work places. I took a break from work to go a check on our dear sweet Annie. I didn’t want her to have to stay there alone for very long because of all of the mold problems we have been having.

When I walked in the door, I found the apartment in shambles. All of the blinds on all of the windows had either been mangled or torn down. Annie’s fourth leash (which didn’t last two weeks) was chewed through. The pinch collar and some of the leash were still hanging on the peg where we left it but the remaining ¾ of the leash was upstairs with chew marks on the handle. Our IKEA lamp that was in our bedroom was ripped to shreds. Furniture had been knocked over and pieces of the blinds were strewn about the floor. Apparently, Annie decided to forget how to behave like a good dog in the few days that we have been displaced. I promptly ordered a giant dog crate (which we had been putting off purchasing due to her fabulous behavior when left alone) and patiently awaited its arrival.

AnnieApartmentMess

Too much fruit!

Now we are on the search for a new place to live that doesn’t have mold and terrible management. I’ve searched most of the popular internet sites and we’ve asked our friends and coworkers for help. We need a place with good air quality and someone we can trust for a landlord, but where do we find the perfect place? Who knows!

What I’ve learned from this experience is that you can’t count on a place being the “perfect” place. When we were about to get married, we sat down and decided as a couple to spend our honeymoon money on the “nice apartment”. Now, after almost a year of living in the supposedly “nice” apartment, we are forced to move once more. This time, we will check the utility closet BEFORE we sign the lease. Hind sight is almost always 20/20.

Would I go back and do things differently? Probably not. We did what we thought was best for us and our future at that time. Plus, there’s no way of knowing when life will sign you up for the “Fruit of the Month” club.

Sometimes we all have to say, “I can’t talk! There’s too much fruit in the house!”


Have you ever had “too much fruit in the house”? If so, tell me about it in the comments. I’d love to hear your story about life and lemons!

Until next time…

J. G. McNease

The Dog Days: It’s Getting Hot In Here

**This episode of The Dog Days is more about our Labor Day weekend adventures in the heat than it is about Annie, but Annie is always a part of our lives in every way.


This past weekend was Labor Day weekend which was a holiday for most people. At 5:00pm on Friday afternoon, I left work feeling jazzed about the long weekend. I couldn’t wait to get our apartment cleaned up and start relaxing. So many things were happening this particular weekend… it was the start of college football, it was a long weekend, and things were looking positive in life.

As Kyle and I cleaned every nook and cranny of our apartment, we ventured into the utility closet. When we opened the door, a cloud of dusk billowed up to greet us.

“This is disgusting,” Kyle remarked.

He proceeded to vacuum the dust bunnies that had collected on the floor and scrubbed the walls. I continued cleaning the kitchen and other areas of the apartment until I heard him say, “Oh no!”

I rushed over to him and asked him what was wrong. He pointed up towards the ceiling while holding his shirt over his nose and mouth. What I saw before me was mold. It was green mold all over the corner of the utility closet ceiling. This wouldn’t have been such a problem if it wasn’t for the fact that the utility closet houses our air conditioning unit and is the primary place from which the A/C unit pulls clean air. Clean, moldy air.

After consulting with Kyle’s parents (especially his father who designs and builds houses), we decided we needed to meet with our landlord. We took pictures, grabbed our filthy filters, and headed out to the main office. When we arrived, it looked vacant. There were no cars in the parking lot and no sign of movement inside. I approached the door and read the signed that was posted. It said:

“We will be closed on August 31st, September 1st, and September 2nd for the Labor Day holiday. Please leave your rent in the box by the door.”

Continue reading

The Dog Days: The Back To School Blues

Annie McNease

It’s still hot outside, giving the illusion of summer days, but summer has come and gone and school has begun. My wonderful husband, Kyle, teaches at Florida State University which means he, too, must return to school. As with any first day of school, we tried to make sure he got started out right. We ate a hearty meal of grilled chicken and angel hair pasta with spaghetti sauce and went to bed at a reasonable hour. We did all of these things with good intentions…


“Amount of time it takes for a dog to ‘do its business’ is directly proportional to outside temperature + suitability of owner’s outerwear.” – Betsy Cañas Garmon

Last night, we took Annie out for an evening walk. There were children playing in the large, open field that sits in the center of our complex. Many of them wanted to see Annie and pet her. She was a good dog to them and for that we were thankful. She has always been good with kids, so we didn’t worry. Kyle took her out first while I gathered our keys and the batteries we needed to return to the grocery store. I locked the door and made my way over to where Annie was sniffing around, attempting to “do her business”. Unaware that the new neighbor (who never puts his small-ish black schnauzer-mix dog on a leash) and his dog were behind me, I saw all of the children and warned Kyle to hold Annie tight. At my advice, he wrapped our broken, used-to-be retractable leash around the plastic handle until it was taught enough to pull on Annie’s prong collar a bit.

“Did you say that because of the other dog?” Kyle asked as I finally reached him standing in the field.

“What?” I inquired, confused.

At that, I turned around to see a hyper black dog running at full speed towards us and his owner (the new neighbor) running awkwardly behind holding a Frisbee. Oh no! I thought to myself. Given the current state of Annie’s leash, I panicked. She began to bark excitedly as the neighbor approached her (still running, I might add) without saying a word to either of us.

“Hi Annie!” said the neighbor in a high-pitched tone. “I remember you! You remember me, don’t you?”

He squatted down to her level and put his hands out to pet her. That’s when I noticed her collar. It was broken and only hanging on because it had gotten tangled in the not-so-retractable leash string.

“Kyle,” I said nervously, “her collar.”

He looked and saw the problem and tried to pull Annie back. By this point, the neighbor (whose name I have yet to find out) had gotten her extremely excited. She started jumping and barking a shrill, desperate bark. She wanted to go play with the man and his unleashed dog who were running around throwing and catching the red Frisbee. The children only made matters worse because they immediately swarmed around the new dog on the block, ignoring Annie completely. Annie doesn’t take being ignored very well. Her crazed, desperate barking continued and I overheard one of the children remark, “That dog barks a lot,” to which another responded, “Yeah, that dog is bad.” Infuriated, both Kyle and I tried to contain Annie to no avail. She wouldn’t hold still long enough for Kyle to fix her collar and return it to her neck. After about 5 minutes of struggling with her in the field and becoming a spectacle for the children who had gathered to point and laugh, we dragged our loud-mouthed puppy back to the apartment.

“Rambunctious, rumbustious, delinquent dogs become angelic when sitting.” – Dr. Ian Dunbar

It was embarrassing, needless to say, and she still had not “done her business” yet. After fixing the prong collar, we put her pathetic excuse for a leash back on and took her out once more. I wanted to show the kids that she wasn’t a “bad dog” so I walked her to the field and made her sit several times. Things seemed to be going well until the unleashed pooch approached us. Trying to avoid another mess, I turned her away and quickly walked her out to the grassy knoll that is designated as a “dog area”. She managed to finally “do her business” properly and we promptly left to go to the grocery store.

Hours later, after dinner was cooked and enjoyed, and we had been asleep for some time, I was awakened by a terrible sound. It was something you would expect to hear on a horror movie when a ghost or evil spirit is doing whatever ghosts and evil spirits do. It sounded horrible and I turned to find out the source of the devilish sound. What I saw was Annie, heaving like she was possessed (further confirming that the sound was straight out of a horror film). Kyle had fallen asleep on the couch trying to prepare his lesson plans and was at the door to the room in a split second.

“Baby?” he asked, sounding terrified. “Is that you?”

“What?” I said, still half asleep. Once I figured out what he was saying and had awakened enough to process what was happening around me I said, “Oh, no. It’s Annie.”

I rolled out of the bed as she began to vomit all over the floor in front of me. Kyle grabbed her heaving body and quickly guided her to the bathroom where she proceeded to vomit again. I held her as she continued to dry heave and Kyle went to wipe up the disgusting mess. Once her heaving had subsided, she wagged her tail and begged for food. Kyle and I, on the other hand, were trying to investigate the cause of this sudden upheaval (pun intended). We inspected the vomit that Kyle had cleaned up and found hard pieces of something we couldn’t quite figure out. Then we saw a brown looking piece that, upon closer inspection, was determined to be an almond.

Nuts! I thought. It was an almond, which she must have found on the floor after one of us had eaten a handful of them. Fabulous! It was 3:00am and both of us needed to get some rest. After the evening we had with Annie and the embarrassment, this was simply the icing on the cake.

Annie seemed to be unaffected by the event and curled back up on her bed and fell fast asleep. Once we had managed to clean everything up and calm down, we, too, attempted to rest our wearied eyes.

Annie Sleeping


News and Other Noteworthy Information:

I’ve submitted what I hope to be the last revision to CreateSpace for The Last Navigator and will be ordering another proof as soon as possible. As soon as it is just right, I will get it out there so everyone can buy a physical copy. Yay! Get excited!

Also, The Woman in the Zebra Hat is now available on Kobo and has shipped to Barnes and Noble and Apple. Once it is available in other stores, I will post links. The Last Navigator is being released for purchase in multiple formats on September 2nd, 2013 (Labor Day) so don’t miss out on that. You can pre-order your copy now and it will automatically download on Labor Day.

I have joined the Independent Author Network and my profile is now live so you can go take a peek. It has links to all of my social networking profiles, my website, and links to purchase/download my books. Below is the link to my IAN profile:

http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/j-g-mcnease.html

I hope everyone has a fabulous week!

Until next time…

J. G. McNease

The Dog Days: Eclipsing Heat

“The kind of heat that August brings eclipses hot in an odd way; the atmosphere radiates with such intensity that you know fall is on its way.”

This week’s episode of The Dog Days is going to be shift from the norm. My wonderful husband, Kyle, has written a guest post about summer heat, vacation, and thoughts on life and death. It’s a refreshing break from the stories about dogs and it gives us a little more to ponder as summer comes to a close.


If you have been following this blog lately, then you already know that Jamie has been writing about the dog days of summer.  Since she has been so courteous as to extend an invitation for me to write something this week, I will keep to that theme—though I will approach it a bit differently.  Bear with me.

In our master’s program, Jamie and I had a professor who taught us the power, process, and dynamics of group therapy.  In our process recordings we were forced to reflect on as many of the exchanges we could remember from each group session.  Our professor asked us if we noticed a trend.  No one spoke up with an answer and, as she was a pretty thorough Freudian, she informed us that the topic that kept coming up was death.  Like a gyre, the conversation spiraled from humdrum talk of classes and grades to the profundities of life.  You could set your watch by it; every session, the group would end up ending up with talk of the end.  What does that have to do with the dog days of summer though?

In the deep south, the August heat chases dogs to the coolness of shades, preferably ones under the porch or, better yet, IN the house.  The kind of heat that August brings eclipses hot in an odd way; the atmosphere radiates with such intensity that you know fall is on its way.  The burning gusts of August will eventually give way to a milder fall—continuing a cycle that began before us and will continue long after us.

The dog days of summer are my favorite days of the year, weather wise.  The heat signals something in my unconscious and creates a longing to return to places of my youth—places where happy memories and moments were shared with my family.  Just about every year of my life, we loaded up in a vehicle and traveled to the same vacation spot.  I am sitting there now, which, of course, makes it here-now.  I am here now, again.  This here is the last place I ever saw my grandfather draw a breath.  I am sitting a few feet away from the same spot that I perched upon so many years ago, as I strained to catch a few glimpses of my papa.  Continue reading