What is it with pugs?

Waffles the pug
Waffles last July on our Park City vacation.

My daughter called at 8 a.m. yesterday freaked out because Waffles the pug wouldn’t eat breakfast. If you know anything about pugs this is a serious sign something is wrong. I asked if she’d taken him for a walk and if he’d eaten some grass. She said, yes, he ate grass and threw up but he was still obviously in distress.

I asked if she was taking him to the vet. She said they were on the way to the emergency hospital.

It was a long day. They didn’t see Waffles until 2 p.m. My daughter missed work as a tutor which made me nervous. She’s been at this job less than a month. But what choice did she have?

That evening she called me crying hysterically. Oh no. They gave Waffles an ultrasound and found a mass in his small intestine. It wasn’t moving so they’d have to operate. They also told her it was risky because he’s a pug and they don’t always do well with anesthesia. They said he’d die without the surgery.

I haven’t been this worried since Friday getting driving through the hail storm. But this was worse. What would happen to my daughter if Waffles didn’t make it?

Waffles had surgery last night. The surgery was successful. The object was a piece of wood. What is it with pugs having to put everything in their mouths? They think anything on the ground is food. They are 100% motivated by food.

Last year when Waffles was with us during COVID shut down he ate half a package of pork chops that my husband put in the sun to defrost — styrofoam and plastic wrap included. He ate poisonous berries from the ficus tree and ended up in the ER. When my daughter was in college, he ate an adderall one of my daughter’s college friends had dropped on the floor. Another ER visit.

Waffles the pug
Waffles the pug

It’s not like he’s not well taken care of, but he is incorrigible. It literally takes one second for him to put something he shouldn’t into his mouth while you’re not looking. My daughter is blaming herself. I’ve told her it’s not her fault.

I’m relieved Waffles survived surgery. But now he’s having trouble with congestion with his flat nose. They want to keep him longer because they have to siphon out his nose every few minutes. I’m hoping for the best for Waffles and my daughter.

What happens if the emotional support animal doesn’t make it? That’s a question I’ve wrestled with overnight. My son told me this morning, “My view of dog ownership is setting yourself up for heartbreak in nine or so years.” He’s got a point.

Waffles as a baby pug
Baby Waffles

And I was so excited….

Mother daughter at Pike Place Market Seattle
Me and my daughter at Pike Place Market during a mother daughter trip before COVID.

Today I had an appointment for a pedicure. The first one since January 2020. I really didn’t miss them that much during lockdown. I wouldn’t have bothered. But, we’re going to be visiting friends soon at Lake Tahoe and hang out at their house on the deck with lake views. We may be out on their boat and swimming. My feet and toes will be exposed for the world to see.

Yesterday when I went grocery shopping, I noticed a nail salon a few doors down. I stopped in and made an appointment for today. I left the salon with a big smile on my face. A pedicure seemed luxurious. It was something I took for granted in my pre COVID life. My daughter and I would often go together. It was quality mother daughter time, sitting side by side, being pampered, chatting and readings books. I was looking forward to my appointment today.

Fast forward to today and I set an alarm on my iphone so I wouldn’t get busy and miss the appointment. While I was sitting in the pedicure chair, my daughter called. She was very upset and had gotten in a fight with her dad (my husband). I explained where I was and that I couldn’t talk, but I could listen. She was sobbing and I didn’t want to hang up on her. Then I got a text from my husband.

At the same time, my left big toe really hurt. It was painful at every touch and especially during the massage.

Needless to say it wasn’t the peaceful “me time” I had looked forward too. I had quite a lot to say to my husband when I got home. He’s the type that has to “win.” I told him he needs to work on listening to his daughter. He doesn’t need to give advice. He doesn’t need to tell her what to do. He just needs to be there, be quiet and let her talk. He did listen to me and finally agreed.

Then I looked down at my pretty bright pink toes. There’s something awfully wrong.

swollen toe after pedicure
My left big toe that hurt to the touch is swollen!

Next time I’ll skip the pedicure and try something else like reading a book on the sofa. I’ve noticed this toe hurting during my 10,000 steps each day and when I push off the walls swimming. Ugh.

What are your ideas of quality “me time?” I need some new ideas.

The Power of “Not Yet”

charlift rides in the summer
Hanging out with my daughter in Deer Valley, UT.

My daughter shared a TED Talk with me yesterday about “The power of believing you can improve” by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. I’ve read Dweck’s book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” and am a fan.

In the seven-minute Ted Talk, Dweck explains the word “Yet.” At a high school in Chicago, if kids failed a class, instead of getting an “F” they got a grade of “Not Yet.” Instead of feeling like they were a failure and shutting down, they learned they could improve and they tried harder. Dweck explained, “Not yet opens up a path into the future that creates greater persistence.”

Dweck said people with growth mindsets are open to challenges, they learn from their mistakes and they can actually get smarter. In contrast, those with a fixed mindset are influenced by judgement of the moment. They are stuck in the tyranny of “now.” They tend to run from difficulties.

In studies, she offered tests that were above the children’s level of ability. The kids with a growth mindset were up to the challenge and excited, even when they did poorly. After failing the test, the fixed mindset kids said next time they would cheat or they looked for someone who did worse than they did.

My daughter thought I’d find this Ted Talk useful for writing a SwimSwam parenting tip. Dweck offered one gem to parents on how to raise kids with a growth mindset. She said to “Praise wisely.” Never compliment our children on their natural talent or intelligence. Instead, praise their effort, hard work, perseverance, etc. Don’t praise the outcome. Dweck called it “Process Praise.”

Every time our kids push out of their comfort zones to try something new and hard, the neurons in their brains form new and stronger connections. I think this is true for us older people, too. It’s important to stretch and do something new and challenging.

What have you done to push out of your routines and take on a new challenge? How did it make you feel afterwards?

Study: 56% of young liberal women…

I ran across a study from Pew Research that showed that more than half of young liberal women are suffering from depression and anxiety. I wondered why? There’s been an epidemic in mental health issues for everyone due to the global pandemic. Women in general are hardest hit, but this one group is suffering more. In fact, I also learned that women suffer from depression and anxiety 40% more than men. That’s an issue for another story, but worth exploring more.

Katherine Finchy Park Palm Springs
Where I spent the year on my morning walks while sheltering in place.

I read about this phenomenon in Evie Magazine in an article by Elizabeth Condra:

Here’s What the Study Found

“The study in question — which, by the way, isn’t from a news source or media outlet but Pew Research for heaven’s sake — is, when all’s said and done, pretty damning. 

The study, which examined white liberals, moderates, and conservatives, both male and female, found that conservatives were far less likely to be diagnosed with mental health issues than those who identified as either liberal or even “very liberal.” What’s more, white women suffered the worst of all. White women, ages 18-29, who identified as liberal were given a mental health diagnosis from medical professionals at a rate of 56.3%, as compared to 28.4% in moderates and 27.3% in conservatives.

Interestingly enough, the study, which is titled Pew American Trends Panel: Wave 64, was dated March 2020 — over a year ago. Yet it took a Ph.D. candidate in political science posting about the study on Twitter for it to garner even a smidge of attention.

What I learned by reading the study and several articles about it is that young liberal women often focus on horrific things out of their control. The words used are “no agency.” They worry about climate change, poverty, rape culture, racial injustice, all the awful things in our world that they can’t fix. All worthy things to be concerned about, but it can be overwhelming, especially during a global pandemic.

To top that off, the algorithms of social media and news articles continue to feed more and more negative stories — if that’s what they’re reading.

The conservative young women do care about these issues, too, but tend to focus more on what they can control in their own lives. They also may not have such an overwhelmingly negative feed with their big tech algorithm. And they may have faith and practice their religion.

From the article: Zach Goldberg, the doctoral candidate in question, consolidated the study’s info in a set of visuals and posted them to a thread on Twitter. But it’s important to note that he clarified the following: “I didn’t write this thread to mock white liberals or their apparently disproportionate rates of mental illness (and you shouldn’t either). Rather, this is a question that’s underexplored and which may shed light on attitudinal differences towards various social policies.” 

This reminds me of advice I received at a writer’s conference from the great Ray Bradbury. He said “garbage in, garbage out.” He advised us to turn off the news altogether because they are selling soap and it’s overwhelmingly negative. He said to read a poem, essay and the Bible every day instead. I am a big believer in trying to stay positive and look at the bright side of things. I tease my husband that it’s because of my blood type “Be Positive” as opposed to his “Oh Negative.”

What are your thoughts about political beliefs and mental health? Do you believe there is a connection or not? Do you think social media plays a big role with the epidemic of depression and anxiety and why or why not?

It’s a special Wednesday

pug face
This is Waffles snuggling my daughter.

Today is Wednesday. I’ve been waiting patiently for today to arrive for several weeks. My daughter is coming to visit. She is driving from the Bay Area and should be here within the hour. This is the first time anyone from our family will see our new home. We moved in December.

When we announced to our kids that we were selling our home, they were furious. They were so angry with us that we’d consider selling the only home they ever knew. All the memories of their lifetimes were wrapped up in our 1930’s old Spanish home. Birthday parties, sleepovers, hanging out with friends between swim practices. Christmas, Easter egg hunts, spaghetti feeds for the team. Playdates at the neighborhood park. They were born in the hospital a few blocks away.

old spanish style house
Our home of 28 years.

So today, I get to see my daughter. It took several months for our kids to get over their sadness. They were never coming to Arizona to see us, they told us. But now we get the first visit.

It’s been a tough year for a lot of us. The shut down for two weeks to flatten the curve turned into a long year with people suffering from lost jobs, lost wages, isolation, depression and anxiety. My daughter lost her job due to COVID around 10 or 11 months ago. We told her she’d be fine with the enhanced unemployment. But the state of California couldn’t get that right. She was one of approximately 1.13 million people who are in unemployment limbo.

She got a few checks and then they stopped. They owe her thousands of dollars from summer through today. Nobody answers the phone. She calls and calls. When she was lucky to get through after weeks of calling, the person on the other end of the line said they couldn’t see anything wrong with her file. Finally, after writing to her Assemblywoman and Congressmen, she got through a second time. She was told she was going to receive all her back unemployment. She was thrilled. A week later she was told she’s back on hold and they were investigating her account for fraud. She was crushed. And she continues on in limbo.

Here’s an excerpt of an article that explains the ongoing problems with California unemployment:

With an added emphasis on fraud, the EDD spent the remainder of December locating unemployment benefit cases that were ‘potentially fraudulent’, eventually find around 3.5 million cases that fit that description by late December. Two million of the cases were immediately disqualified, such as those sent to inmates and some registered to deceased people, leaving 1.4 million to be suspended in January while the EDD takes a closer look at them.

The suspension of the accounts led over a million unemployed Californians to learn of the situation in the last week. Many found out from communication with the EDD, being told that “Your claim is suspended because it may be tied to fraudulent activity.” Others received notices in the mail reading “You have been receiving unemployment benefits, but we have temporarily suspended your claim because it may be tied to fraudulent activity. You will receive further instruction from EDD on how to verify your identity beginning Jan. 6, 2021.”

While initially silent, the furor of unemployment beneficiaries, who rely on the money to tide them over during the pandemic while they find another job or wait until their business reopens, led the EDD to make a statement during the weekend, days before the full number of beneficiaries in limbo was known.

“As part of ongoing efforts to fight fraud, EDD has suspended payment on claims considered high risk and is informing those affected that their identity will need to be verified starting this week before payments can resume,” tweeted the EDD. “More details on the EDD website in the days ahead.”

What a nightmare! It’s hard enough to lose your job. But then California can’t do what it’s promised to do to help. It’s been hard for her to stay positive. She’s been locked down in a tiny apartment for months on end and is suffering from depression. The Bay Area has some of the strictest restrictions of the state. Good news is on the way with vaccines. We’ve all had shots. Now that businesses are beginning to open she has found a job and starts next week. She decided to make the trip to see us before her life gets back to normal. I’m so thankful I get to see her!

selfie in front of the Public Market sign downtown Seattle
This was two years ago in Seattle on a mother-daughter trip.

Was it really one year ago?

pretty kitty with flowers
Our cool as a cucumber cat helps keep me calm.

It was a little more than a year ago that COVID-19 was hitting our daily lives. We had no idea what was heading our way. Our kids got orders to shelter in place a few days before us. They live in the Bay Area and we were in Southern California. A year later, my husband got his first shot and I’m scouring through pages on my computer to find an appointment for me. Once we are vaccinated will our world open up? Will I want to be in crowds? Or has this isolated lifestyle become something I won’t want to shed?

This is what happened to me mid-March 2020:

I was doing okay, but yesterday when my kids called me and said they were under mandatory “shelter in place,” I started to panic. I’m wondering if the world will ever get back to normal? They were working remotely in my son’s house in the Bay Area.

The mandatory shelter in place started today. Yesterday they were told to prepare to be home for at least two weeks. My daughter is working remotely and decided to get out of the city and drove home last night. It’s so nice to have her home! I wonder how long she will be here?

Waffles the pug with flowers
Waffles the pug came home, too.

My dad agreed to let me grocery shop for him and I found everything he needed except for toilet paper, of course! While I was driving from his home, my daughter called and Waffles, her pug, ate something and was trying to throw up, but nothing was coming up. I told her to call a vet and I got really stressed out again! She called back in tears and said that the vets she called would NOT take new patients in their practice due to the Coronavirus! I was in the car and while she was talking to me and I noticed a big white pick up truck on my tail! Then he swerved in the lane next to me, and started yelling and screaming, giving me the finger. He threw a milkshake at me! It hit my windshield and the car was covered. I’m still shaking.

What in the h*ck is going on, folks? Is this really the time to become completely unhinged?

White truck throws milkshake at me
This is the guy in a white pick up truck with a Home Depot trailer who threw a milkshake at me.

Let’s take a moment to breathe some fresh air, calm down, take a walk and enjoy your families. And love up our dogs and cats, too!

What are some of your memories from one year ago? Did your area shut down or did it stay mostly open?

My latest fears…

With all the wildlife around our new home, you’d think I’d be afraid of the huge coyotes, the bobcat slinking under the window, or the javelinas staring at me through the gate. But no, I’m afraid of a neighbor’s dog.

coyote on wall

A coyote has been hanging out on our wall.

I’m not sure if it’s an irrational fear or not. You should see the dog! I’ve been walking along the road outside our development for my morning walks. One side is backyards of houses and the other side a nature’s preserve. The views across the street are breathtaking.

The dog sits in his backyard and barks at me as I walk by. He’s a big, ugly dog with a nasty growl and bark.

I was okay with it, thinking there’s no way this devil-looking dog can get outside his fence. But then one day I faced the dog being walked on a leash by the owner and their young teen son walking a huge pit bull — who looked friendly compared to the beast. The devil dog lunged at the end of its leash, growling. The woman holding the leash pulled on it precariously. I crossed the street from the sidewalk to the open nature’s preserve.

“I’m afraid of your dog!” I called out.

“Oh, he’s fine,” she said.

I hoped she could hang onto that damn leash! I wish he was wearing a pinch collar or at least a choke chain.

Back at home I googled vicious dogs and looked for the breed. I found it. Presa Canario. Here’s the website where I found the picture.

photo of presa canario

I found this photo online. It looks like the neighbor’s dog.

This is what I learned from one of many websites I clicked on.

This breed is widely considered to make for a loyal pet and a first-rate guard dog when raised properly. But it also has a reputation as a fearsome fight dog with an aggressive streak when it is not well trained. Unfortunately, Presa Canario attacks are known to happen, and can prove deadly.

So, I don’t feel secure about this dog. I don’t know if he’s well trained or not. Whenever I go out walking and spot the woman with her dog, I turn the other way. I wonder why they need a pit bull and a presa? Isn’t that overkill? I’m sure they sleep well at night, though.

I find myself second guessing where to walk. I think I’m overacting and my walks aren’t as enjoyable. I may have to get back to the pool!

cat sitting next to flowers

Olive outside at our old home.

My other fear is that my kitty Olive will get outside and tangle with the wildlife. She went outside at our old home and loved her time outdoors. So far, she runs the opposite direction and hides whenever a door is opened.

pug face

This little guy is more my speed than a presa. It’s Waffles the pug snuggling my daughter.

Do you think my fear of the neighbor’s dog is irrational or not? How would you react in my situation?