A Crisis Or Two

It’s been one hell of a week, I have to say. On Tuesday around dinner time, I was getting the meal prepared and I realized that Atlas was just lying on the kitchen floor, looking really sleepy, instead of jumping around and begging for pieces of whatever I was making. But he’d had a long walk earlier, and as I said to Ken, “Maybe he’s finally over his growth spurt”, because right now, at 6 months old, he weighs 63 pounds. Ken agreed, but after dinner he was still pretty dopey (Atlas, not Ken), and at 9 o’clock when I had to WAKE him for his before-bed snack, he barely reacted. He finally got up and went downstairs with Ken, but when they came back up, there was a problem:

Ken: He seems a little wobbly.
Me: He’s weaving back and forth. What’s up, buddy?
Atlas: I don’t feel so good, Ma. I—

With that, he started to fall over sideways. We immediately called our vet clinic and got connected to the on-call vet, who said we needed to bring him in right away. The vet clinic is half an hour from our house, and we flew there, only stopping once when he suddenly threw up, all over the back seat, all over himself, and all over me. Luckily, we carry around copious amounts of wet wipes, thanks to covid, and we got cleaned up as best we could. Dr. Hunter, one of the many wonderful vets at our clinic, determined right away that it was some kind of neurotoxin and started filling him full of charcoal to absorb anything he hadn’t already puked up, then ran some blood tests, which came back normal. But he was still out of it, glassy-eyed and could barely stand, so she said, “I want to keep him here overnight. Don’t worry—I’ll sleep in a cot next to his crate and make sure he doesn’t start having seizures. I’ll call you if he gets worse; otherwise, I’ll contact you in the morning to let you know how he is.”

As much as I wanted to bundle him up and take him home, I knew it was for the best, so we left him there whimpering a little, telling him that everything was going to be OK.

None of us could sleep. I lay there waiting for the worst and thinking of him crying in his crate, his first night away from us since before he could remember. Finally, at 6:30 am, the phone rang. Dr. Hunter sounded very upbeat and chipper. “He had a good night,” she said. “He fell asleep almost right away, and now he’s up and seems very steady, pretty much back to his usual self. He ate a hearty breakfast and he’s keeping it down. You can come and get him at 9:30. One thing—he won’t pee.”

Which was understandable, because he won’t go anywhere except in our yard. Even when we take him for a walk, he waits until we get home then makes a mad dash for the grass by the back door. So when we got to the vet clinic, he was super-excited to see us, but there was no way I was driving him half an hour home with a full bladder. After being vomited on, I didn’t think I could take a urine shower. So I brought him over to the grass verge.

Me: You have to go pee here.
Atlas: This grass is weird.
Me: We’re not getting in the truck until you pee.
Atlas: Let me sniff around for a sec—oh, there we go. Ahhhh.

He peed for literally two minutes, having had a litre and a half of fluid through an IV overnight. By the time we got him in the truck, he was exhausted, and fell asleep on my lap.

We still have no idea what he got into—being a puppy, albeit a giant one, he still eats things off the ground or in the yard indiscriminately, so we’re watching him like a hawk. Long story short, he seems fine now, but it brought back terrible memories of what had happened to Titus not that long ago, especially since the initial symptoms were so similar. As I write this, he’s mooching around the kitchen, trying to convince Ken that he should have a second breakfast, so crisis averted.

Here’s another crisis that’s a little more like what you normally find on this site:

As I’ve been working remotely, I’ve noticed that a lot of people use virtual backgrounds. I don’t like the way they make you look like you’re on green screen, so I’ve tried to create an aesthetically pleasing REAL background for my desk area, and central to that is a giant, antique clock. I’ve had a lot of comments about it, so here’s the story behind it

One weekend, I saw an ad on a local buy and sell site for a tiny antique clock. It didn’t work, but the price was cheap and the case was pretty. I decided it would make a really great little jewelry cabinet, so I contacted the guy and arranged to pick it up. When I got there, right on time, he was like, “What? I thought you were coming tomorrow. I’m just going out for a ride on my motorcycle and the clock is in the basement.” He said this like it made absolutely logical sense. Then again, the weather WAS charming, and riding a motorcycle is like smoking crack for some people, so I said I’d come by the next day. After a series of confusing messages (at one point, he said, “I’m here” and I thought he meant outside my house, so I spent ten minutes waiting for him to come to the door, but he meant HIS house), I drove to his place to pick up the clock. It was sitting in his garage, and it was WAYYY bigger than the picture made it seem. I had envisioned it as being less than a foot tall, but it was, in fact, over three feet tall, and much too large for a jewelry cabinet, unless you were a member of the Royal Family. Still, it was beautiful, so I put it in the car, and brought it home. It weighed a TON (I discovered later that it still had the original lead weights inside), and I struggled to get it up onto the kitchen counter, where it stayed for a week. Mostly because I had NO IDEA where to put it. Ken said I should sell it for parts, but here’s the issue: it still had the original paper label inside it, and after doing some research, it turned out it was a very rare “Chauncey Boardman” American clock from the early 1800s.

Me: I can’t gut it for parts, Ken. It’s 200 years old! People didn’t even have WATCHES back then.
Ken: Um…I’m going to say that’s incorrect.
Me: Well, fine. But they kept them in their pockets, which is not very convenient.
Ken: What time is it right now?
Me: Not sure. Let me check my phone. Now, where’s my purse?
Ken: Did you know that there were no Canadian clock manufacturers 200 years ago? There would have only been individual watchmakers. I saw this documentary last week about…

I have no idea what happened in the documentary because I tuned out, and started mentally going through rooms to see where I could put the clock. When I tuned back in, Ken was talking about ANOTHER documentary about pygmy goats, or Shakespeare’s skull or something, so I started physically walking around the house to figure out where a 3-foot-high, non-functioning clock could possibly go. After another week, I promised Ken on my honour as a woman that I would find a place for it, and get it off the kitchen counter. And that’s how it ended up as a background prop on the windowsill in my office alcove. Another crisis averted. If only they were all that easy.

His favourite place to lounge in the sun.

My Week 6 – Mennonites, Sweary-ness, and Normal Ken Dreams

Sunday: I ponder the wonderful world of Mexican Mennonites

I grew up with Old Order Mennonites. They were always around when I was a kid—at the market, driving along the side of the road, just a fixture on the landscape. I never really paid them much attention. As I got older, I wondered about them. For example, they like to go to auctions and buy pots and pans, and other household goods, I’m assuming to be part of a dowry or something, like “Here’s my daughter, a set of Lagostina cookware, two fuzzy blankets, and a goat”. Also, I often questioned their lifestyle—like why they couldn’t have electricity, but could use cell phones, or if you’re out on a Sunday in a buggy with a boy, does that mean you HAVE to marry him, or are you just trying each other out? But overall, I didn’t give them too much thought. That is, until we bought our cottage down by Lake Erie shore and were introduced to the “Mexican” Mennonites. OK, here’s the deal. They are not Mexican. They don’t speak Mexican. They certainly don’t look Mexican, They’re a splinter group of ‘regular’ Mennonites who went down to Mexico for some random reason, stayed there for a few generations, and now have returned to Ontario to share their glorious Mexican-ness with us. They are AWESOME. They should be the poster children for Mennonites, if the Mennonites were ever interested in recruiting. I spent some time gathering intel on this new brand of Mennonite—this is what I learned:

Appearance: They are all blonde and lithe. The men wear cool plaid shirts, ball caps, and jeans; women wear brightly coloured, floral dresses. Apparently they all have perfect eyesight. And teeth. They always look relatively happy, compared to their older order counterparts, who always look like they’re worried about getting the harvest in. I don’t think Mexican Mennonites worry about too much, especially the harvest, judging from their laid-back attitudes and lack of farm equipment.

Food: Mexican food! Very spicy, homemade Mexican-y goodness. Including gluten-free corn tortillas—these people are cutting edge. And they LOVE hot sauce. At the Aylmer Market, they make Hot Tamales, freshly wrapped in corn husks, and they have a food truck in PB called Dos Gringos, which may or may not be an insulting reference to white folk, but if it is, I admire their nerve. What do other Mennonites eat? German food? They make a LOT of maple syrup and sell it out of their buggies, that’s all I know.

Drink: I’m really hoping Tequila, but I don’t know—I’ve been told they don’t actually drink. If they did though, it would definitely be Tequila because Tequila is the FUN Mennonite drink (at least in my world).

Activities: These people are entrepreneurs. They have real estate companies, restaurants, grocery stores, and all kinds of businesses. They don’t have roadside stands. They DO have a lot of Chihuahuas. The teenagers rove around in gangs like Abercrombie and Fitch models waiting for a photographer. They lounge in their front yards, laughing, in co-ed groups. They always look extraordinarily happy. It could be the Tequila.

Small Children: Mexican Mennonites have large families. There was a group renting the house across the road from us in PB a couple of years ago, and they had a LOT of kids. I used to watch them play—they didn’t have any toys, but they made up the best games, like one day, they were all a bus, and they took turns driving it around the yard. The littlest one was a two year old girl, who was so adorable that it occurred to me that maybe a family with a lot of children wouldn’t miss one, and she could come home with me, but I never acted upon the impulse on the grounds that it would be highly illegal, obviously. The only thing I know about Old Order Mennonite children is that they seem to get lost in cornfields a lot, prompting OPP search parties.

I think I’ve made it very clear that to me, thinking about Old Order and Mexican Mennonites is like watching Lord of the Rings. You have the dwarves, who are short, stout, and dour, then you have the elves, who are exotic, athletic, and supremely confident. Neither group wants to interact with outsiders, but I’ll take the Mexican Mennonites hands down, if only for the awesome food. Because me, I’m all about the tacos.

Wednesday: I contemplate my sweary-ness.

I swear a LOT. I’ll admit it—I have a potty mouth and I always have had. One of my earliest memories is being told off by my dad for exclaiming “Holy Sh*t” at the number of cars in the K-Mart parking lot one day. (Which was kind of hypocritical, because where did I learn that expression anyway, Dad?) At any rate, I swear all the time, with one major exception—I rarely swear at work. I was just talking to a friend of mine from work, and I said, “Do you think I swear a lot?” and she said, “Not really.” Then I asked Ken the same question and he looked at me like the answer was obvious and said, “Uh, yeah.” But this is WHY I swear a lot—because I spend all day NOT swearing. In fact, I spend a lot of the day saying to students (hypocritically), “Watch the language!” I have to keep it all bottled inside so that when I get home, the real me comes flying out. I knew it was a problem when K was about 4 years old, we were with some friends who also had a 4 year old. We were trying to get a picture of the two of them, and Ken was taking so long that K finally blurted out, “Just take the frigging picture, dad!” (I was so proud. Also, it was good that it wasn’t me who had to point out that Ken takes way too long to focus). The other day I asked K if she thought I swore a lot, and she raised one eyebrow at me. I said, “Not AT you, just in general. I try not to swear AT you.” She agreed then that I don’t swear too much AT her, but I do swear a lot. I also reminded her that we’re mostly together when I’m driving, which might account for the extra-sweary-ness.

The problem is that I’m with teenagers all day and I have to be a good role model. It would hardly be professional if I peppered my teaching with the F bomb. (“So why isn’t your f*cking homework finished, Timmy?” “That answer was total bullsh*t, Sally.”) The only time I’ve actually sworn in class was a couple of years ago. I was in the middle of a lesson, and it was going really well, when all of a sudden, the overhead screen behind me scrolled up and almost snapped itself off its hanger. I was so freaked out that my immediate response was to exclaim “Holy Sh*t!!!” Then I turned and looked at the class, and they started laughing hysterically. One girl even said, “This is the best class ever!” Which proves that I DON’T swear in class, because it wouldn’t have been such a novelty when I did. It also proves that my first instinct is ALWAYS to use an inappropriate epithet, but that also I’m really good at suppressing my instincts. So Ken and K, and the rest of my family, have the joy of experiencing the F-bomb factory that is ME. Thank god they f*cking love me.

Saturday Morning: I realize that Ken is completely normal, even in my dreams.

I’m a very vivid dreamer. I have crazy movie length dreams that are like watching crime dramas, and sometime horror movies. Last month, I was watching a dream unfold where a patient in a hospital was extremely ill, and detectives discovered that she had been given an injection of “lupus alcoholis” by a guy who was stalking her, and this had caused her to become deformed and almost die. The doctor at the hospital formulated an antidote, and the detectives arrested the stalker. It was awesome, and cheaper than actually going to the movies. This happens to me all the time, and it’s wonderful and sometimes scary too, especially when the dreams involve K getting kidnapped or my mom driving a car into a river and me trying to rescue her (don’t worry, Mom, I saved you)—stuff like that. But for some reason, whenever I dream about Ken, it’s always the most perfectly normal dream you could have. In fact, they’re about as close to real life as you can get. Last night, I dreamed that Ken was driving me to work, but I forgot my cell phone so we were going back to get it, when he spotted a garage sale and pulled over. The only thing they were selling was these really expensive clock faces and Ken got super-excited, because he keeps talking about making his own clock (in real life, not in the dream). So I said to him (in the dream, not in real life), “Spending that kind of money on a clock face defeats the purpose of making your own clock.” He looked disappointed, but he agreed with me, and we carried on back home to get my phone. WTF kind of dream is that?! The only way it differed from real life is that Ken NEVER pulls over for garage sales unless I make him. In the future, I’m going to try a little “lucid” dreaming and introduce some zombies onto the field of play, just to see what he does. A minute ago, I asked him what he was doing, and he said “resting” (even though we just got up an hour ago), and in my head I was like, “Just see how tired you’re going to be after a night of The Walking Dead. Ha ha, Ken!!”