Thursday, March 27, 2008

2 dogs, 2,000 miles

If you've ever lost an animal to cancer, this is something you'll want to read about. I discovered this website after I got a friend request through Flickr from a man named Luke Robinson who'd lost his Great Pyrenees Malcolm to metastatic bone cancer. As I had posted many pictures of Jack on my Flickr page and wrote about the devastation of cancer to his sweet face, he found me and let me know about his cause. Luke is walking from Austin to Boston with his 2 other Pyrenees Hudson and Murphy to help raise money and awareness for canine cancer research. There's many cancer foundations working to find cures, but he wants everyone to find out what's causing it to prevent it from happening to begin with. To quote part of his site, :

"The funds raised from the walk will finance the first ever nationwide epidemiological canine cancer study which will be managed by our partner, the Animal Cancer Foundation. Scientists have discovered that the vast majority of cancers found in pets are the same types in humans, which make the dog an ideal model for research. Not only will pets benefit from this study but people, too.There is another reason, too. By using dogs with pre-existing cancer for studies, it reduces our dependency on lab animals."

I added my sweet Jack to his memorial wall so that people will know how heartbreaking it is to watch an innocent pet and family member go through all this. There are so many on the wall and we need to stop it's growth. Luke's cause is noble, heartwarming, inspiring and an exemplary display of compassion. For those who don't know, I lost Jack, my border collie/black lab mix in Sept. of 2007 to squamous cell carcinoma which is a type of skin cancer. It started as a small growth on his lip which went away and then reappeared. It went away again with antibiotics, only to return months later and grow out of hand. Since it had gone away with medicine before, we tried again..several different kinds and it didn't work, it only grew larger. We had a biopsy done and got the results back way too late. The cancer was very aggressive and what started as a small bump on his inner lip soon took over his entire upper lip, soft pallate and was moving down his throat..all in a month's time. By the end, he was almost unrecognizable as his face was swollen and he went blind because of it. He could barely breathe and could no longer eat hard food. The easiest way to describe the growth is that it was red, cauliflower like, raised and ulcerated. If he'd bump it even slightly, it would bleed.

We kept hoping that the biopsy would find something like a fungal infection that could be cured, but it just wasn't to be. We found out on a Thursday that it was cancer and had him put to sleep the next morning. He was miserable. We spent his last night in the floor with him scratching him behind the ears like he likes and rubbing his belly until he fell asleep. Several times he quit breathing and I had to move him to a position where it was easier to get air. The last few hours of his life were spent outside on a beautiful sunny September morning rolling in the grass. We got to hear his bark one last time as the vet pulled into our driveway. He laid in the grass for a belly rub and thumped his tail in happiness for all the attention and then moments later, he was gone.

Sometimes I think I'll never recover from the devastation and unfairness of it all, but all I can do is live my life the best way I know how and use what Jack taught me. He taught me that sometimes, a hug is all you need to feel better. He taught me that no matter what, a good back scratch always feels good and is always needed. He taught me that you don't have to say anything to be there for someone...your presence is enough. He also taught me the meaning of unconditional love and the importance of listening. He was a great listener and gave me the most knowing looks. Of all my dogs, his presence brought me the most comfort and I will always miss him. I think of him daily.

I don't think I could bear to watch another of my animals go through something like this and that's why I think it's so great that Luke is doing something like this for all our furry family members. Please check out his website and consider making a
contribution to his cause and help discover why so many animals are getting cancer.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Food and Creative Love

Last night was long awaited. The anticipation and energy was palpable. The giddiness was seeping out of my every pore and infecting those around me. I was not disappointed. Rusted Root came through for me and replaced my day to day inner turbulence with light and happiness. Simply put, they rocked the house. Jeff and I had dinner at Tir Na NÓg Irish Pub in Raleigh before heading to the concert. They never disappoint either. Check out their menu and you'll see why. Everything I have ever had there is phenomenal. They had a couple of men playing some Irish jigs that really enhanced the atmosphere. You feel like part of a family when you're in there. My only word of warning is that the portions are order accordingly. If you get an appetizer and 2 of you want the same entree, get one order and split it. This is my opinion as I've never been able to finish a dish there. Jeff however, has no problem.

After filling our bellies with excellent Irish food and beer, we walked the few blocks over to the Lincoln Theatre. It doesn't look like much inside or out, but it's clean and has pretty good sound. I was amazed that there was no bathroom stall carvings or graffiti. That's usually a bar/theater staple, you know? There was only a faint smell of smoke which also surprised me. Smoking is limited to the rear of the theater, even though most didn't seem to abide by that. We got great seats on the upper balcony only about 20 feet from the stage. My advise is to get there when the doors open or else you'll have to stand the whole time. The opening band One Flew South came on at 8pm and played for about 45 minutes. They were alright. They were kind of an acoustic, a'cappella, folksy, country, pop fusion band I guess. They had excellent harmony! Their soundboard was small in comparison to Rusted Root and the person operating it didn't seem to be too experienced because for 3 men, 2 guitars and a tambourine without the castanets....they were incredibly loud which made it sound a little distorted at times. Some of the songs were good though and I'll have to check out some of their other stuff to be able to give a full review.

After OFS left the stage, the crowd got antsy for Rusted Root to come out. People were shoving, vying for a better spot to watch the show. Then it happened..Rusted Root took the stage and blew me away. They sounded amazing and had an energy about them that just pulsed through the room, my heart seemingly beating to every beat of the drum. If I remember correctly, they opened with Food and Creative Love. They played some of their older stuff which are favorites to all. Back to the Earth, Martyr, Laugh as the Sun, and Lost in a Crowd were included as well as some new stuff that will be on their album coming out this June. They closed with Send Me On My Way and somehow breathed new life into every song. They never sound the same from one concert to the next and I love that. You never know what to expect.

This was the 2nd time I've seen them and both times just left me wanting more. You can't help but dance when you hear them play. Their music just winds its way inside you leaving you a helpless puppet, dancing...but not remembering when or how it started. You just know you can't stop it and don't really want to. The energy feeds you until everyone there is drunk on the power of the music and is undulating and moving almost as one. This is what it looked like from the balcony in any case. There were a few groups of people who were content to lean against the wall with their eyes closed and absorb the sounds of one of the greatest jam bands in existence.

Their encore included Cat Turned Blue and Ecstasy as well as a cover of Elvis' Suspicious Minds. They blended it all into one long song that had Jeff and I thrashing around the floor dancing like a couple of careless teenagers. I was sad when it was over, but to top off the night, as we were leaving, Liz Berlin was at the souvenir table and we got her to sign the copy of her CD that Jeff bought. I wanted to wait around to see if the other band members came out, but it was 11:30 and Jeff had to get up for work the next day and for all we knew, we'd be sitting there for 2 more hours. Ah well, maybe next time. I had a fabulous night with great food, great music and a great husband. What better way could a girl ask for to celebrate an early 7th anniversary? I can't think of one.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Life Update

Sorry I haven't updated in awhile..I've been really busy!! We did get a new washer and dryer a few weekends ago. A 5 yr. old Calypso and matching 2 yr. old dryer for a sweet $280. We had to drive an hour away to get them in Fuquay Varina and basically spent half a day driving out there and back. We stopped at a neat little thrift shop, an Aldi store and a few other places. When we got back, we went out to eat at the brewery and then came back to move the old set out and the new ones in. It was interesting getting them moved with only 2 people. By the time we got it moved in and hooked up, it was about 1am. and I had to of course see how it bedtime was around 2am. I was a washin' fool for about a week. We also worked on the fence a little. It's almost done..and I can't wait! The dogs rarely let me sleep, but once we get the fence done, They can stay in the yard all day while I sleep. I'm thinking a doggie door would be best though...I just have to figure out how to keep the cats in.

I also did taxes last week. Blech. How we keep on owing money when we have $20,000 in deductions, I'll never know. I can't find any of my thrift store donation receipts even though I know there's about 5-6 of them. With those, I would at least break even. Right now, we owe $800..which isn't that bad, but still..I don't have that right now...and with gas at $3.25 a gal...I could use some money. I know we're getting back $1200 from the government during the summer, but why can't they just subtract our tax due from that now, you know? That would be so much easier. Damn IRS.

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the Eve Carson murder that happened last Wednesday. Well, the Crimestoppers line goes to our communications center and they never thought to put another person in there to answer that line. All weekend, S and I answered those calls back to back for more than 8 hours of our shift..all while trying to do our regular job. Let me tell was atrocious. I don't think they ever thought we'd be handling that kind of call volume, but it was horrible. I didn't feel like I could give my officers the attention they needed because I was answering the tips line. While I think it's great that everyone is trying to help out and catch the guy..or guys who did it, and I don't want to discourage people from calling b/c everyone's just as upset as we are, we could use some help in there should something like this ever happen again. I really hope it doesn't. We got calls from everywhere..hundreds of them. Here's my request for anyone who's going to call a Crimestoppers line...please have a FULL name or location where you think the person is. You will be asked a name, a location, height, weight, build, scars, marks, tattoos, vehicle, place of employment, hang outs, last known location, last time seen and anything else that we feel may be relavent. Here's how most of my calls went:

Me: Crimestoppers.
Them: Uh..yeah. I'm calling about that photo in the news and I think I know who killed the Carson girl.
Me: Ok, what's their name?
Them: I don't know his name, but he goes by Little T (fictitious name) and he looks just like the guy in the picture.
Me: Do you know where he lives or where he could be found?
Them: No.
Me: Do you know where he works?
Them: Uh..he used to work over in Durham but he isn't there any more.
Me: Ok, do you know where he used to work or where he normally hangs out?
Them: I don't remember the name of the place, but it was in north Durham near Wal-mart. Do I have to give my name?
Me: No, it's completely anonymous.
Them: Then how do I claim my money?
Me: I'll give you a Crimestoppers report number you can use as a reference to claim the money should the tip lead to an arrest or conviction. When was the last time you saw him?
Them: Ok, cool. Uh..about a year ago I guess.........

At this point..I have to enter it even though there's not enough information to even begin to search for this person. Some of the calls were valid tips and I had at least a first name and their place of employment to go on. This guy is apparently Superman as he's been seen all across the country in a matter of minutes. We also got calls claiming that Eve was a witch involved in human sacrifice to the God's and that's why she was killed. That she was taken for the aliens to experiment on and that she was a drug dealer. Ok..student body president, straight A's, traveled the world helping people and pre-med..I very seriously doubt that...but the information was passed along anyhow because it had to be. Craziness I tell you. I had several people who called every night with more and more information and some who said they couldn't sleep until this guy answers for what he did to Eve. I'm glad I live in a community who cares so much. I do hope this guy is found quick before vigilante justice is carried out on anyone who looks even slightly like the guy. When they do find him..he needs to be tortured and killed slowly. I was thinking of covering him in fire ants for a few hours before dumping scarabs in on him. Too harsh? The violence was an overkill, pardon the expression and he killed someone who had a TON of potential and could've really helped this world. Society has been robbed of a beautiful, intelligent, generous and kind person. It's the worst kind of senseless crime and my heart goes out to her family and friends. Anyway...moving on.

I was attacked by a bird last week. I went to Lowe's to get some plants and return some stuff and as I went to get a bag of bird seed..this friggin' bird just dive bombed me! I yelped and was trying to bat it away like you would a bee..all the while it's screeching and squawking. The garden lady came over and started helping me shoo it. All I could think of was Hitchcock's "The Birds", so I put my arm up when it got too close to my head and it scratched my arm!! It flew into the rafters..still twittering and screeching at me. I washed up and cleaned the scratch, but I still couldn't believe that happened. The lady said every time they get them out of the store, they just come back. I was able to get my birdseed, but I paid for it with blood. I should picket outside the store with signs that say "No blood for birdseed!" That bird will get what's coming to him, mark my words..this isn't over. He may have won the battle, but not the war..

I was in Rke. the weekend before last for my goddaughter Natalie's 7th birthday party. We had a lot of fun..just hung out and goofed off. It was fairly small and laid back, but I like them better that way. We also had lunch Sunday at Mom & Dad's where I got to see my very cute pregnant sister! She just looked so cute in her little empire wasted shirt. It's just a small baby bump, but noticeable since she's so small anyway. I'm so excited about it! I've been starting to plan the baby shower and at least get the major stuff taken care of..the where, when and who. I have awhile before the little stuff needs to be done. It's just hard trying to fit all that in! The first half of this year is just crazy busy for us. On the weekends that I'm not working, we have plans for every weekend through June. So..I get basically no down time. Yeah we're traveling..but it's not a vacation, you know? We spend weekends in Rke. house hopping trying to see everyone and that's pretty tiring. I mean, I'm glad I get to see everyone, but I'm worn out by the time I get home on Sunday nights.

We're going to Rke. Easter weekend to see some friends who're in town from FL that weekend, then we have a Rusted Root concert the Tuesday after that...then there's the NC Ren Faire in Raleigh that next weekend..then Mom's birthday, then I work 2 weekends, then there's Hannah's birthday, Ronnie & Misty's trip to Busch Gardens for their anniversary that we're trying to go to, Jeff's birthday, my mother-in-laws birthday, my nephew Griffin's birthday, our anniversary, then work 2 weekends..then Leslie's wedding in VA, Aldon's wedding in TN..then Kelly moves to Richmond..then..a break..shew!'s a trip to Fontana at the end of July, then the baby shower, a trip to Sunset Beach in August..then the baby comes in September!! I'm going to be exhausted by the end of this year. If you'd like to donate money to the Dana Lane Mental Health Fund, Paypal, checks, cash and money orders are accepted. All proceeds will be used to help fund weekly or monthly massages and pedicures and is not tax deductible. In return for your gift, you will not be fatally injured when Dana snaps and goes on a rampage. Bitch-slaps and bites do not apply. Please see Dana for details. The Dana has spoken. That is all.