December mornings can be cruel, especially if one lingers in bed too long upon wakening. Grey, cold thoughts creep into my thoughts in the cool darkness. They seep into my body and I wear them like a shroud. Best to swing my legs up and out. Let my feet hit the cold of the floor and jolt myself out of my reverie.

It is almost 2020. And what have/will I done/do? The urge to sink into the same old, same old is strong. I hate to use the same old lines but I am tired. But when am I not? I can’t/won’t use that as an excuse. So here I am, showing up at my keyboard, flexing my fingers, limbering up, putting my thoughts and feelings onto the page. It helps to see them in black and white and not just whirling around endlessly in the chambers of my mind. Here on the page, I can see the beginning, middle and the ending. I can see the rhyme and reason, errors in thinking, grammar, spelling. I can see them all. There’s no place to hide.

It’s will power and determination that got me here this morning. I swallowed my fatigue, cynicism and all my other bad attitudes. I can tap my way to heaven one day at a time. Maybe I can get all the way there by next New Year’s Eve. How many steps are there? Has anyone counted? Surprise, surprise! I’ve found a few Stairways to Heaven on the world wide web. The Haiku stairs on Oahu has 3,922 steps. Then there’s the Cuilcagh Mountain in Ireland. I’m not sure how many steps to it. We had plans to climb the 999 steps in Hunan province, China. But the political climate pulled the rung from beneath our feet.

It was a huge disappointment to be sure. That’s life. You make other plans and other goals. Sometimes you get more disappointments and hardships. Then I want to tear my hair out and then sink into bluedom. But I’m not good at staying down. It doesn’t feel good and I have to reach up towards the light and another stairway to heaven. So here I am, on the first step, starting again at the bottom. I’m warming up, stretching and practicing my reach for the top.




I was lost in my dream last night. It shouldn’t be any surprise. I am most often lost in real life. So there I was, in dreamland, wandering up and down Idylwyld Drive, looking for my car. I had just left this place where I was waiting for my 10 am appointment with some woman – my therapist maybe. I was hours and I never did see her. Finally I left because it wasn’t making my anxiety better. By then it was after lunch. We were suppose to be going out of town.

I never did find my car. I thought I better phone what’s his name. I found 2 phones in my purse. They were full of cookie crumbs. I thought, Oh no, they could bugger up the phones. Then I wondered if I had checked the wrong phone and got my appointment date wrong. I crossed a mess of railroad tracks, looked ahead then behind. No car. I woke up feeling lost and unsettled.

I need a new dream. I’m tired of being lost, even in a dream. I’m feeling somewhat down in the mouth. You know what they say, when you smile, the whole world smiles with you. But when you cry, you’re by yourself, baby. Better buckle up, Buttercup!

I’m trying to pull myself up by the bootstraps. It’s not easy when I feel as grey as the sky outside. I’m trying hard, thinking back to days of sunshine, to my Saturday morning swims and how I thrilled learning to do the breaststroke. I think of how relaxed and fulfilled I felt as I sat down at A & W to my whole enchilada breakfast.

Then there’s my dream of being a hula queen. So far my best result is 40 revolutions at one go. That dream is still alive even though I am stalled and dull at the moment. Soon I will be able to rise above the greyness. Sheba and I will head towards the park. We will stop to pick up some delicious dessert for tomorrow eve. A treat is always good for a picker upper.



John Lennon’s So This Is Christmas has been playing in my head for days now. I’m hardly in the mood for the season. You can call me Mrs. Humbug! for all I care. That’s right, the caring have left me bereft of  sentimental emotions. The fact is I don’t do Christmas any more. There comes a time for giving up the illusions and delusions. The time is now. It doesn’t work for me any more.

Now that I’ve grown up, I can give up the charade. I’ve played the game. I did the tree, the decorations, the gifts and the whole thing. I bought it all even though it wasn’t at all in our Chinese culture to celebrate the birth of Christ. I’m living in our adopted country/culture. To fit in, to feel that I belong, I had to practice the tradition. Like they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. I believed it all, too – then. I even saw Jesus on the cross.

Do I still believe though? It’s a difficult question to answer. But I’ve lost the spirit of Christmas. I’ve lost the spirit of many things. These are hard times for the soul. Sometimes I feel the whole wide world has lost its soul. Mary Oliver’s Of the Empire says it so well.

We will be known as a culture that feared death and adored power, that tried to vanquish insecurity for the few and cared little for the penury of the many. We will be known as a culture that taught and rewarded the amassing of things, that spoke little if at all about the quality of life for people (other people), for dogs, for rivers. All the world, in our eyes, they will say, was a commodity. And they will say that this structure was held together politically, which it was, and they will say also that our politics was no more than an apparatus to accommodate the feelings of the heart, and that the heart, in those days, was small, and hard, and full of meanness.

And so it is almost Christmas. And what have I done.


It is another sleepless night. Somehow I knew it was too easy. It’s only a little over a week since Sheba’s developed her ear hematoma. Two trips to the dog ER to get it drained 21 cc and 11 cc respectively. A followup 2-3 days later resulted in 5 cc drained. All of this has been very draining for all us, humans and canine. Sheba already had a bit of sundowning just before all this happened. Since, the nights have been worse. So the vet suggested a short course of trazodone. It would chill and help her recovery from her ear traumas. It all sounded wonderful but wasn’t. The first day, the trazodone knocked her out. Her legs didn’t really work well. When she was awake, she would pace like a stoned dog. So I decreased her dose a little. Whereas she was restless only at night, she became restless day and night. Our nerves were raw from her ceaseless pacing and banging into things with her head cone.

If something doesn’t work, why keep doing it? After 4 days on the trazodone, I stopped it. Sheba slowly became more her old self during the day. She would lay down on her pillows by herself. Hope was on the horizon. We leased her to the piano leg at night so she could not pace and bang around. We need some sleep. It worked last night. We all slept in till 8 in the morning. Hallelujah, right?

Today’s or rather yesterday’s vet checkup showed that she does have an ear infection. A good reason to rejoice. There was a cause , therefore an end to all this misery we’re going through. We were jubilant and came home armed with earwash, antibiotic eardrops and oral antibiotics. Earlier in the day my order of melatonin for Sheba and some for me came. I dosed us each with 3 mg. All was well. Sheba settled and relaxed on her pillow. Then it was bedtime. I took Sheba out for her business.

The disappointment was keen. But at least I had 2 hours of sleep when I woke and heard her panting. Perhaps I should have ignored her but I was never good at it. She gets more stressed and worked up. Then she starts barking. Yes, she is a smart dog. She knows how to get attention. But she is 13 and has an infection. Human elders with infection do the same. So here I am, sitting on the stool beside her. I’m tap, tapping away, hoping for a better day. It is almost 4 am. She is at least relaxed and laying down.

Things feel very difficult at times but they are getting better. Her ear has stopped bleeding. Surgery is not needed. The underlying cause has been discovered. Treatment has started. Nothing is easy nor simple. Hope her night time anxiety and restless with improve with melatonin increased omega 3’s. I am doing fairly well with all this. When I accept what is, I am less stressed and more at peace with it. This is what we have to do. One day at a time. Sheba deserves the best from me. She has and still is giving me much joy.



So I’m sitting up with Sheba tonight. She’s been through a lot the last 2 days. Sunday morning we noticed her left ear was swollen like a perogy. We took her in to the ER at the Veterinary College. She was diagnosed with an aural hematoma. They drained 21 cc of bloody fluid from her ear under sedation. She was a very sleepy dog after. Though she walked out to the reception area under her own steam, her legs gave out right after. She sank to the floor in a puddle. She had to be carried out to the truck and then into the house.

I thought for sure she would have a speedy recovery, that it would not recur so soon. I was wrong! Though her ear was tightly bandaged and she was so sleepy, somehow she managed to worked her ear out by morning. And she was still pretty groggy, plastered to the floor in the hallway. To our dismay her earlobe looked full again though not quite as bad as before. So after hemming, hawing and talking to the vet clinic, we took her back in late afternoon. They drained 11 cc this time without sedation. We were happy that she was not so zonked but now I’m not sure. A tad sleepy would be ok.

I’m not complaining. It’s possible that she got whacked in the ear by my twirling hula hoop. I couldn’t see. She was behind me but I heard a thump. I don’t know where she got hit. I was surprised that she would get so close to a moving thing. Usually she is afraid of strange moving objects. Ear infections could also cause hematomas but her ears are clear and clean. So I do feel responsible. My poor baby.

She’s finally laid down on her fat pillow with her chin resting on her cone. I’m holding my breath as I sit beside her tap, tapping on the keyboard. Maybe I can make a quiet trip to the bathroom, lay down, turn out the lights and get some shut eye.

It was about 40 minutes of sleep for her. I almost got off to zzz. That’s when I heard the bang of her cone on the floor. Oh well, it was enough to ease the tension between my brows. Good enough! I got up and gave her a couple of spoonfuls of rice, hoping some carbs would mellow her out. It worked the last time. I had some toasted sourdough bread. I shared some crumbs with her. I cannot insist and force how she, a dog should be. It would only stress both of us out. So I let her just wander and bang about, making sure she does not hurt herself. She will get tired again and have another lay down.

Patience, I tell myself.  I can be calm. She can see that I’m here and everything is ok. I thought about giving her something for pain but googling tells me human painkillers are no no for dogs. It’s so typical that we caretakers are left up the creek without a paddle. When I asked the vet doctor about something pain, she said to call first. In the middle of the night that I would go to the vet pharmacy? Situations don’t change for human or canine patients.

I just have to suck it up and accept the situation. Tomorrow will be better. Sheba’s ear will feel better. The bandage and cone will not bug her as much. She won’t be so pissed off. I’m just pulling a night shift, sitting with my child who has a head injury. Once in awhile we go out for ‘potty’ , stretch our legs and a change of scene. It will wear off some of her anxiety. It’s the afternoon walk we never got the last two days. She’s getting good at navigating the deck stairs with that thing on her head.

I’m off to make myself a cup of tea and maybe a bit more sourdough toast. It’ll be breakfast. Maybe Sheba will get another mouthful of rice and fall asleep. I’m not in any rush. I have nothing to do. I have nowhere to go. We can sleep in the morning. It’s not long off.