week 6/52 — hanging out under trees

Fozzie loves the Christmas tree. He loves to play under it, cantering around the tree’s base and making the whole tree rustle like there is a tiny velociraptor inside. He also loves to curl up on the soft, faux fur tree skirt and make a cozy den for himself. Oftentimes you can hear a quiet snoring emanating from the corner of the living room the Christmas tree inhabits, like the tree is having itself a good snooze.

Ordinarily, I enjoy the ritual of putting up the Christmas tree and decorating it, but last year was bittersweet because we were pretty sure it would probably be Fozzie’s last Christmas. I honestly wasn’t confident he would even make it to Christmas. He hadn’t been eating much, was very lethargic, and just seemed… tired. His primary vet felt that his accumulating health problems were achieving critical mass. After the tree was up, Fozz wasn’t much interested in playing under the tree, and my heart broke a little.

Fozzie had been on a steady decline during November. It got so bad that on the night before Thanksgiving we called Laps of Love, the veterinary hospice, and made an appointment for Sunday to euthanize Fozzie at home. We didn’t go through with it. We had an appointment the following Tuesday with the Internal Medicine team at MedVet Dayton. Dr. O, the internist, had helped with Kirby and we wanted to see if she could do anything help with Fozzie.

She did.

Dr. O ran a battery of tests and deduced that Fozzie had hypertension, and prescribed him something to help with it. She recommended a new diet geared toward dogs with chronic liver and kidney issues. She also put him on some other stuff to bully his organs into improving.

Fozzie slowly got better. His kidney and liver enzyme levels improved. His blood pressure went back to normal. He regained his appetite and began eating regularly. He became stronger, more energic. He started playing under the tree again. Christmas came and went, and not only was Fozzie still here, but he’s the healthiest and happiest he’s been since late 2020.

I have no idea how much longer we’ll have Fozzie. I won’t kid myself: no matter how well he’s doing now, he is still a 19-going-on-20-year-old good boy with chronic kidney and liver disease. As such, we haven’t taken the tree down yet, though we did recently swap out the Christmas ornaments for some glittery, gold stars, thus metamorphosing the Christmas Tree into the Winter Tree. Not sure what we will do in the spring, if we’ll keep the tree up or finally take it down, but for now — it’s Fozzie’s.

Fun fact: After I took this photo of Fozzie the other night, I realized he had somehow gotten a string of lights wrapped around his chest and was, in fact, stuck.

In Soviet Russia, Christmas tree decorate you!

week 6/52 — comin’ up from the bottom

I met my neighbors for the first time yesterday. We’ve lived next door to each other for over three years.

Sure, we’ll say hi or wave when we see each other coming or going, but it’s never been more that.  No real conversations.  No casual chitchat.  Hell, I’ve never even gone the extremely basic extra step to say Hi I’m Josh.

The snowstorm last week changed that.  It wasn’t that bad of a storm, probably 5-6 inches with another inch of ice underneath.  More than normal, but not what anyone in this part of Ohio would call a blizzard.  I shoveled the driveway several times during and after the snowstorm, so it wasn’t in too bad of shape.  However, the snowplows finally came lumbering down our street Friday night, and pushed a bunch of wet and thick slush onto the bottom of the driveway.  This then had the temerity to freeze overnight.

I was excavating this heavy mess yesterday morning, and it was going fine but slow, when my neighbor appeared like a Columbia-clad angel and offered to help.  I accepted, and when we were finished, I helped him dig out his car, which had been walled in by the snowplows.  When we were finished, he said, “Oh, I’m REDACTED by the way.”  I told him my name, then we exchanged the names of our respective families.  I am comically awful at remembering names, so I had to memorialize theirs in a note on my phone, otherwise they would have whistled out of my head in a matter of minutes.

I don’t think we’ll become friends or anything, but it is nice to know one’s neighbors a little bit.  Also, let’s hear it for mutual aid.

Last night we went with friends to see HAMILTON.  I am a sucker for a good musical, and HAMILTON — or HAMILTOE, as I cannot stop referring to it — did not disappoint.  Afterwards, we walked over to 1Eleven Flavor House for dinner.  The vibe was chill and the food, a mix of comfort and Caribbean dishes, was delightful.  I had a jerk turkey burger and several Latin Mules.

Near the end of dinner, one of our friends remarked, “Hey, we went almost the entire time without talking about COVID!”

I had to think about it for a second, but it was true; aside from a passing reference to someone we knew having COVID, the subject didn’t come up once.  It was probably the first time since the pandemic began that COVID and its tentacles wending into everyday life had not made up a significant part of the conversation.

It was a fun, absolutely normal day, and I am grateful to have experienced it.  More like it, please.

I didn’t get any good pictures yesterday, so instead I will share this totally not haunted photo I took a couple weeks ago in the basement of a house we looked at. Not pictured: the ghost of a small child regarding me curiously from the shadows.