Little Big Boy

Laddie at 6 months by Akuokuo Vallis

Watching the mail lady throw a package — onto the neighbor’s porch —  from her truck— some 30 feet away.   Fragile, it said.

Sounds like a new ringtone on my older sister’s phone.

Doggy day care  calling about Laddie — her 6 month old puppy —  Laddie.

Laddie can no longer be in the play group with Emma, Valentina or Abigail, the voice said.  And — Paula The Great’s mom just called.  Laddie is forbidden to be in the same room as Paula The Great.  Also — we’ve removed all the striped pillows from the doggy disco — the plain ones are fine — Laddie doesn’t go anywhere near the plain ones.

Downloaded the puppy-cam app  —  wanted to see for myself.

Oh no — Laddie!

My sister’s phone rang — doggy day care — again.

Just so you know — you’ll  be getting a call from one of  Prince Michael’s dads.  


The New Boy



Little Laddi (Aladdin) did it deliberately–passionately licking my face–way too close to my mouth–while staring at the big girl Kookaburra.  He wanted a reaction.




But just like the night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind or another…

All that prancing and dancing, chewing and scratching–they were pesky annoyances–a mosquito buzzing in Kookaburra’s ears.



Kookaburra’s deep, low growl, exposed teeth and turned  back was enough said.  Laddi was kept at a distance.

By this point– it was obvious–Kookaburra had already stepped into a private boat and waved good-bye and sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day…

She was having a moment.



Kookaburra was very  sad after she met Laddi.  Too wrapped up in our own grief–we did not even think to tell Kookaburra about Brooke–my older sister’s other dog.

And now suddenly–there’s this playboy who just wants to  love  her!



My Gnome is George


George–my gnome– normally stays on my desk, near my computer.  He is helpful, neat and oh so  funny.  If you could only hear the things he says… har-de-har-har!!  And he’s sweet. Sugar and spice–like the perfect shortbread cookie.  And… he’s a gentleman.  Smells nice too! Like limes and coconut with a hint of cardamom.  George is very social. That, however, can be a problem. Sometimes he disappears for days and days. When he returns home–he  smells more like rum and “tobacco.”   But,  he says he’s balanced.  He does yoga. I think he said it’s Bikram…I should double check that.  George is a shaman.  And he’s from Jamaica!   So, of course, I trust–I know that George can help me with this little problem I’m having.


Somebody or something  is playing tricks on me.  For about 2 weeks now–a few of my favorite things have mysteriously vanished.  But, yesterday was a game changer! I didn’t even notice that huge tear in the back of my pants–until it was too late.  So now.  Game over.  I want my glove back. I want my sock back and I especially want my earring back. George will get to the bottom of it!  

I told George that it must be elves playing tricks on me. George thinks it’s  probably a pixie. But…he’s really hoping it’s a beautiful fairy!  I know one thing for sure–it is not my dog Kookaburra.


She’s been busy (obsessed)  trying to find the perfect holiday outfit for our neighbor’s annual hot-diggity-dog party.  This year’s theme:  Must Wear Red.  So, it’s definitely  not Kookaburra.  George will figure this out!


George knows all about  magic  and like I said before–he is super social.  The elves will surely listen to him.  Initially, I tried contacting the elves on my own.  I even left out a wee piece of fruitcake  and a smidgen of chocolate for them.  But, I have since learned that some  elves are easily offended.  I should have made it clear that these items were gifts, not payment.


Last night I put George in the kitchen with a bowl of cream next to him.  I reminded George to offer the cream as a  gift to the elves. I also reminded him that elves can be tricky.  I told him to be careful. I said, Don’t drink anything they offer you and certainly do not smoke, please!  I wanted him to make a good impression.  His goal was to get my stuff back.


This morning, I rushed down to the kitchen to check on things.  The cream was still there–untouched even.

But George was gone!

He left a note:

I haven’t figured out the glove/sock thing.  But…I met a Sugar Plum Fairy.  See you next year (maybe).  He He.




Rock School


Some dogs, like my girl Kookaburra, require multiple daily walks– or else– they’ll dig their way to Timbuktu.


On today’s afternoon walk– we saw something unusual.  There was an older lady standing by a tree stump.  Her clothing made me think she was from  Machu Picchu or thereabouts. Even though Kookaburra and I were at a distance– I was awestruck by the lady’s beautiful, shiny, white hair and super bright eyes.


The lady did not seem to notice me or Kookaburra. She was slowly placing rocks on top of the tree stump.  At one point–the lady closed her eyes and placed her hands over the rocks– gliding them back and forth. She was breathing very slowly and it sounded like she was whispering or chanting something.


Next, the lady started breathing very quickly–like breath of fire breathing.  It was definitely deliberate–this concentrated initial slow breathing followed by super fast breathing.  I could tell she was using her breath like an  engine– revving her up or slowing her down depending on what she intended to do. She was deeply entranced  by the time Kookaburra and I  got close to her.  Thankfully, she did not notice us.  I did not want to disturb her.


I walked by the lady as quietly and as quickly as I could. But Kookaburra could not help but  stop and stare.  I don’t know if she was scared or mesmerized or a little of both.  But she was going nowhere. I had to pull and tug and pull and tug to get her to move along. Surprisingly, all the dragging noise did not disturb the lady.  Or so I thought.


Suddenly the lady opened her very bright eyes and stopped and stared at us–and then she smiled.


The lady read my mind.  She knew I was awestruck by her eyes and hair.  She said, Bone Broth. Google Bone Broth.  That’s all you need for bright eyes and shiny hair.


Ok. Thanks. Bye, I said.  Then I ran home.


And  I googled bone broth.  There’s even a vegetarian version!


The Company of Dogs

According to  — looking at “puppy dog eyes” triggers a 300% increase in a person’s oxytocin levels – the “love hormone” involved in maternal bonding.


According to :

  • Dogs in particular can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health. 




  • One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.


  • People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. 





  • More than any other animal, dogs have evolved to become acutely attuned to humans and our behavior and emotions.




  • While dogs are able to understand many of the words we use, they’re even better at interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures.





  • And like any good human friend, a loyal dog will look into your eyes to gauge your emotional state and try to understand what you’re thinking and feeling.



  • Stroking, hugging, or otherwise touching a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe us when we’re stressed or anxious.



  • Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.



  • One of the reasons for these therapeutic effects is that dogs (and cats) fulfill the basic human need to touch.





  • Taking a dog for a walk, hike, or run are fun and rewarding ways to fit healthy daily exercise into your schedule.



  • Studies have shown that dog owners are far more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements




  • And exercising every day is great for the animal as well. It will deepen the connection between you, eradicate most behavior problems in dogs, and keep your pet fit and healthy.




First Night Jitters


Once we got home, my sisters and I had to figure out how to get our mom out of the car, down a few steps, onto the walkway  and into the house– in a wheelchair.  At this point our mom was unable to maneuver steps well.  The therapists at the rehab facility told us to remember, “right foot up, left foot down.”



But the rain made walking more complicated.  We had to figure out another way. For some reason we thought carrying our mom in the wheelchair was the easiest option to get from A to B.  It was a clumsy mess.  But– finally we got her to the front door and eventually into the house.




Once inside, our mother was in a state of total disbelief.  It was like she was returning from war or prison.  We were  prepared for the little things like getting rid of the floor rugs and making sure we had plenty of pull-up diapers and wipes and even a bath lift and shower chair. But we were miserably ill prepared for the emotional aspect of our mother’s return. We were each experiencing a sort of PTSD.



I kept waiting for my own emotional meltdown.  I busied myself by spending time with Kookaburra.



The therapists warned us against installing a stair lift to get our mom from the first floor to the second floor.  They said stair lifts promote laziness. Instead they suggested bumping up the stairs.  That first night–it took us two hours to bump our mom up those fourteen steps. We were all exhausted.


My sisters and I divided our time with our mother– giving each other breaks to avoid burnout.  I chose the night shift.  I crazily thought this would be easy.  That first night was easy.  Our mom slept like a baby.




At the E.R.


On the walk to the Emergency Room,  our mother kept insisting that she was ok. My twin sister pointed out a penny on the sidewalk. “See there.  Pick it up. That’s a good sign,” said our mother.  She then said she was going to tell the E.R. doc that she injured herself falling the night before.  But when we got to the E.R. my twin sister, Akwelle, immediately told the E.R. receptionist that she thought our mom was having a stroke.  Our mom was rushed to an examining room.  “Code Red:  Stroke,” was announced over the loud speaker.  My mom was allowed only one visitor in the examining room. My twin sister stayed with her while I sat in the E.R. lounge.




I started  thinking about how earlier in the week, at home, I had seen a little white cloud in the house. It was slowly floating, rotating like a wheel through the breakfast room.  “Was that a sign of something bad or something good?” I thought.   I had also seen this weird lady at the grocery store. She  had this thin cob-web like string  coming from the top of her head.  It moved with her wherever she went.  I could not figure out where it originated.  I blinked my eyes several times but I still saw it.  I must admit it–every once in awhile I do see unusual things.



Back in the E.R. waiting area, I finally decided I should just go back to sit with my mom and twin sister. I figured the E.R. check in people were not keeping track of which one of us (twins) was where anyhow. This worked out perfectly. The E.R. doc was talking to my sister outside the examining room.  She said the Cat Scan showed no bleeding on the brain but she said she was concerned because clearly our mom was either having  a TIA or a real stroke.  She talked  about a drug called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) that she could give our mom.  “But, I won’t– because there’s only a short window to give this drug and if your mom had a TIA last night and then another one today, then that window has closed.  It is too dangerous. It could even  kill her.  There is no way I am risking that.  She will have to stay here overnight for observation,” she said.

  • tPA or tissue plasminogen activator (from
    The only FDA approved treatment for ischemic strokes is tissue plasminogen activator (tPA, also known as IV rtPA, given through an IV in the arm). tPA works by dissolving the clot and improving blood flow to the part of the brain being deprived of blood flow. If administered within 3 hours(and up to 4.5 hours in certain eligible patients), tPA may improve the chances of recovering from a stroke. A significant number of stroke victims don’t get to the hospital in time for tPA treatment; this is why it’s so important to identify a stroke immediately.

My twin sister and I went into the examining room to sit with our mother.   She was eating a turkey sandwich.  “You should go home.  I am fine.  Pick me up tomorrow. Go home and walk Kookaburra,” she said.