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Very, very quiet day

Friday, November 30, 2007
It was such a strange day. I kept talking to Charlie or thinking I was hearing him. I realized that this is the first time in nine years that I've been home alone. I think we're going to have to get another pet sometime. It's just too darn quiet around here.
Thanks for all of your kind words and prayers.

For those of you outside of the Omaha area, we are due for a major winter ice storm here tomorrow morning. I'm going to have Rod bring in some wood so we can have a nice warm fire tomorrow while the outside world is turning into skating rink!

Thanks for reading.

Charlie is gone...

Thursday, November 29, 2007
Rod and Nick took Charlie to the vet tonight to be put to sleep. I've been the one in the past that had to take Charlie's brother Oscar and our previous dog, Cody in when this had to be done. Since they were both available to go, I decided to sit this one out. Logically we know this was the right thing to do. It's just tough.


Nothing new...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Charlie's really having trouble. We're going to talk to his vet in the morning. We'll probably be taking him in within the next two days. It's so difficult. He'll be hurting so much and be really uncomfortable and I'll think, "Yah, it's the right thing to do." Then he'll get all happy because he sees his Twizzlers or he is begging for some meat from our dinner or he wags his tail because Rod comes in the room and I think, "Why would I even consider 'putting him to sleep' when he's so happy?" Nick just stopped by so he could see Charlie. Charlie went running across the room, dragging his leg because he's so happy to see Nick. I asked Nick, "How can we consider killing him when he's so happy and looks so cute?" And Nick says, "Well, he have to look at his leg and then we know." Nick says that the skin is so tight on Charlie's thigh, leg and groin area that he's afraid if it gets much tighter, there might be a problem where Charlie's skin won't get enough blood flow and potentially the skin could die.

Now, look out, there is a pity party about to start.......

I'm really tired of having people and pets die. We lost Rod's mom two years ago. Then we had to put our other dog, Oscar down a little over a year ago. Then Rod's dad died last year. Then my friend Jacque and now Charlie. I hope I haven't insulted anyone by including Oscar and Charlie in this group. AND, I hope I haven't sounded to whiney. It's just tough. But, I guess it's just life. I keep reminding myself that God promised us he would be with us during tough times. He didn't promise us a smooth-sailing life, but he did promise his love and support. It does help to know that and to feel that.

Thanks for reading.

A semi-productive day!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I have been extremely tired over the last few days...actually more like the last few weeks. When I went to bed last night I decided I was going to get my butt out of bed in the morning and get something done! And, I did! I did some organizing of bills and receipts and such. I downloaded some pictures to the Walgreens website to be printed. I called in some prescription refills. I even went to Super Target to pick up some cheese for hiding Charlie's pain meds and some little chew treats for him. I figured, "What the heck! What better time to spoil my guy than when he's so sick and he hurts?" So now it's 9:00 pm and I need to mix my Flolan and take my other night meds and get going to bed. I think I'll try this approach again tomorrow!

Charlie update: I just don't know how much bigger his thigh and leg can get. He's still eating, he's got a new addiction.... Twizzlers! (What the heck, right?) He still wags his tail when he's sees one of us or when we say his name. But, he's putting almost no weight on his left leg at all. "Doing his business" is getting tougher. The poor guy. I'm so glad that he doesn't really know what's going on.

Thanks for reading.

Honoring and remembering my friend Jacque!

Monday, November 26, 2007
I would like to thank all who have read yesterday's post and those who either responded here or who sent me an email. Your kind words and understanding mean so much. So, I've been trying to figure out all day what I could do to honor and remember Jacque. I made a donation to the Naivasha Women's Hospital in Kenya fund in her honor, but I kept thinking that I could do more. It needed to be something simple but important. I was preparing my things to go to bible study tonight (which I need to get going to so I won't be late...:) ) and it dawned on me the perfect thing I could do to honor and remember Jacque! I'm going to do my best to post at least a little bit on my blog every day! It was Jacque that helped me get set up to do a blog. It was Jacque who guided me on how to add pictures! It was Jacque that gently "nagged" me to go ahead and write just a little every day, but I never seemed to get it done. It was Jacque who blogged every single day, even when "The Beast" was doing it's damage. So, in honor of Jacque, I will do my best to get on here every day. You are loved and missed, Jacque! I will try to do you proud.
Now, I better get my butt in gear! It's really bad form to be late for bible study!!
much love

So, I went to a funeral today...

Sunday, November 25, 2007
A friend, PEO sister and fellow teacher was laid to rest today. Jacque fought a tough fight against breast cancer. (She called it, "The Beast.") She fought it with grace, guts and glory. She kept her spirit strong and her faith stronger. She loved music, especially religious music and jazz. Music was a huge part of her ceremony today. She even had a couple of local jazz musicians play, "A House is Not a Home." It was an afternoon of celebration and sadness. I was visiting with a woman after the ceremony. I said, "It was quite a service. I keep bouncing around with my feelings. I'm happy for knowing Jacque but also sad because she's gone." This lady said, "I disagree. I think it was the most uplifting funeral I've even been to." I thought that I must be in a morbid mood. I just felt incredibly sad. When I visited with another person, I got the same positive response. She also thought it was such a great celebration. Then it dawned on me. I actually did have a different "take" on Jacque's service. You see, Jacque was 54 years old, just three years older than me. Jacque had two "boys" that are the same age as my two boys. Jacque had a wonderful husband who loved her. I have a husband who would lay down his life for me. She was a teacher until she got sick. I was a teacher until I got sick. I went to a funeral today and I guess it just hit a little too close to home.
Goodbye Jacque. I'm so glad that you are finally free from "The Beast."

Sorry I've been away so long. It's been busy!

Friday, November 23, 2007
It has been a very, very busy couple of weeks! First, let me give a Charlie update. He's still with us. He's still able to get around a little bit, he's still eating and he's still happy. His leg/hip area is extremely large and swollen. We took him to the vet last week to see if they could drain some fluid off to make him more comfortable. Unfortunately there was no fluid, it's all tumor. We'll just keep working on keeping him comfortable.
November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month, which is one of the reasons I've been so busy and haven't written for a few weeks. During the second week in November I delivered 30 hand-knitted and crocheted scarves to Together, Inc.

Together, Inc. is a non-profit organization in Omaha that reaches out to a significant number of needy people in Omaha. These scarves were made by three PHriends (friends that have pulmonary hypertension) and myself. These PHriends live in different parts of the country. When they finished several scarves, they would mail them to me and I would sew on these special labels that I had purchased.

I'm going to cut this short. One of my PEO sisters passed away on Thursday from a very brave and hard-fought battle against cancer. We have her visitation tonight and funeral tomorrow. I really need to get some things done around here. I promise to get back into the "writing mode" and do better at keeping up with things.

Thanks for reading this "short" update.

From Vacation to a sad reality....

Monday, November 12, 2007
I've been avoiding this post like the plague. But, I also wanted to share it with all of my friends. When I returned home from my "lovely" colonoscopy X's 2, I noticed that Charlie's left hind leg was really, really swollen. He was also limping more than normal. (He has bad hips, so he always has a bit of a limp.) I called the vet and got him in right away. Charlie has a lot of fatty lumps all over his body so Rod and I both assumed that he just had another fat lump growing in that muscle. The vet wasn't so sure and ended up doing an x-ray and took some fluid from the area to try to figure out what was going on. She didn't get any definitive answers so we had to keep "The Big Guy" overnight so they could do a biopsy in the morning. The vet was not happy with what she saw. But, we had to wait for the results from the biopsy that had to be sent to the specialist in Colorado. Anyway, the results are back and Charlie has an aggressive form of cancer in his left hind leg. This type of cancer usually goes to the lungs. They tell us he probably has 6-9 months. The only thing we can do is keep him comfortable with pain meds. When it goes to his lungs and he starts coughing and/or he is unable to walk we'll have to tell him goodbye. Right now he's comfortable. He's eating well and is generally his happy, normal self. He spends 90% of his time on the couch (much like his mother!) and is still able to get out and about to "do his thing." So, anyway, such is life.
Thanks for reading.

Annette (and Charlie)

One more thing....

Saturday, November 10, 2007
Sue T. asked me about what kind special things we did on the cruise ship and I realized that I never really talked about the ship! So, if you'll bear with me, I'll do one more post and share a little about the actual cruise!
We had a fabulous room! We had an actual bedroom, bathroom, sitting room with a couch and table AND a deck!! Some very good friends had previously been on the exact same cruise for their honeymoon! So, they surprised us with some "Bon Voyage" decorations!!

Look at how HUGE our bedroom was!!

Cruise ships are known for their food and this ship was no different! There was a buffet for breakfast, a buffet for lunch and, if you wanted to, you could also have the buffet for dinner! Usually though, we ate dinner in the formal dining room. We shared a table with a wonderful bunch of people from California!

When we weren't busy eating, we lounged around reading books, visited the on-board library, dropped a couple of quarters in the slot machines, went to movies at the on-board movie theater and.....went rock climbing!! (Just Rod, not me!)

OK, now this is REALLY the last posting about our vacation! Thanks again for reading!


The big finale....ROME!!!

Friday, November 9, 2007
This was, by far, the highlight of our trip! It was so bizarre to see buildings that were constructed during the 1st century, sitting in the middle of a bustling, typical in some ways, big city! There are over 3 million people that live in Rome. The history of this ancient city includes such famous names as Caesar, Octavian, Antony and Cleopatra! There is so much I could share but I don't want this blog to turn into a BOOK, so, I'm going to just try and hit the highlights.

The Colosseum was completed in 80 AD during the reign of Titus. It is basically a huge concrete amphitheater containing miles of stairways, tier upon tier of marble seats which accommodated more than 50,000 spectators! This was a very barbaric time in history. Gladiators, which were trained slaves or prisoners, were forced to fight to the death, just for entertainment purposes. Sometimes gladiators were even forced to fight lions, tigers and other wild animals. This first picture shows two of the world's most famous and dangerous gladiators.

Trevi Fountain is one of Rome's most popular attractions. Our guide told us that there are a couple of different traditions when it comes to this beautiful work that was built in 1762. One is to throw a coin into the fountain with your back to the water to guarantee a return trip to Rome. Another one is to stand in the same position and to throw in one coin to find true love, two coins to stay with that true love and three coins if you want a divorce! There was actually a guy in our group that threw in 3 coins when he wife wasn't watching! When he noticed that I saw what he did, his eyes went big and he put his finger to his mouth and shook his head "no" to let me know that he did NOT want his wife to know! What a pig!! Well, as you can tell, Rod and I had no trouble stopping at two coins!

St. Peter's Basilica is the world's largest church. While standing in the "Piazza San Pietro" which is St. Peter's Square you can easily see St. Peter's and the Vatican Palace with the balcony used by the pope when he addresses "the faithful." You can even see the window of his private room.

Next door to the Vatican Palace is the Vatican Museum. It is actually a complex of eight museums and five galleries that contain things from Egyptian artifacts to the famous and quite beautiful Sistine Chapel. This picture is of the hallway of the museum! We were pretty restricted with what we were allowed to photograph.

Well, I think I'm going to FINALLY bring this vacation to an end! Thanks to all of you who continued to "travel" along with Rod and I on our once in a lifetime excursion!

Corfu, Greece

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

It is believed that when Homer wrote about a luxurious and joyful island named "Phaeacia" he was actually writing about the island of Corfu. It is a very green and fertile island. Unfortunately it was raining the day we visited. It was also unfortunate that the garbage companies had held a strike that was over by the time we got there, but, you couldn't tell by the piles and piles of garbage, everywhere!

We has our guide take a quick picture of us when we stopped for coffee and pastries.

Here is a picture of Rod in front of our "little boat!"

Dubrovnik, Coatia

Dubrovnick is an important seaport and tourist resort. The primary spot to visit is the city's historic section, which is a medieval fortress. Stone walls up to 20 feet thick surround the "old town." This amazing little town has withstood an earthquake in 1667 and damage done while Croatia was under siege by the Yugoslav army. In fact, it was not unusual for us to see large bullet holes in the walls of the churches, fountains or other buildings within the city walls.
This is outside the "old city" walls.

A 14th-century Franciscan Monastery houses one of Europe's oldest and still functioning pharmacy! It was founded in 1317.

Rod went up about 50 stairs so he could get a peek at Europe's 2nd oldest synagogue. He was sneaky and took a couple of pictures so I could see it.

This is a very typical and beautiful example of what we found in the many, many churches. This one was in the St. Blaise Church which was constructed in the early 1700's.

I appreciate you all continuing to "travel" with me as we sail through the Mediterranean. We only have two stops left, Corfu,Greece and Rome, Italy!


Saturday, November 3, 2007

I just realized that I'm running out of adjectives to describe each of these amazing places! Venice is, quite honestly, the most unique stop we made on our trip! It is built on 118 islets within a lagoon. It actually began as a small fishing village in the 5th century, AD. Throughout the centuries Venice became prosperous and became a target for pirates. This led to the building of castles and the creation of the Venetian Army. Venice continued to grow and prosper and it's unique design lured artists and musicians including Vivaldi, Verdi and Wagner. Another "famous" Venetian was Casanova who supported himself by writing, gambling and seducing women. He was imprisoned and later escaped from the prisons which were attached to the Doge's Palace via the "Bridge of Sighs." It was named because people could literally hear the prisoners "sigh" as they were led across the bridge and spotted their last look at their beautiful city of Venice.

St. Mark's square is the meeting place for anyone who comes to Venice. This large square is surrounded by St. Mark's Cathedral, The Doge's Palace, The Clock Tower and lots and lots and lots of shopping!!

The other extremely odd thing about St. Mark's square is the thousands and thousands of pigeons that "hangout" in the square. People were actually buying bird seed from a vendor so they could feed these disgusting birds. Of course, being that they ARE disgusting birds, they don't just walk around and politely eat. They jump on people, on their heads, their arms and just basically hang all over them! I'm sorry, but I just don't understand the lure of spending money to have dirty birds dance on my body!

One last thing about "________" (fill in your own adjective) Venice is the historical and beautiful gondola boats! They are very beautiful and it was very fun going on one of these famous romantic symbols!

Goofy picture, huh?

Thanks for reading!