January 28, 2010

Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.--Thomas Jefferson

Today was my day to pack up our bags for the return to Baja. But instead it turned out to be another day of total useless frustration.

First I went to my physical therapy appointment, with plans to go from there to get AT&T to figure out why my cell phone hadn’t worked for the last 3 days. Right in the middle of physical therapy session my cell phone rang. I was astounded that it rang since it hadn’t been working. It was my sister who wanted me to go to the bank and sign some papers on my mother’s account.

My siblings are all co-signers on my mother’s account. After my oldest brother’s recent passing, my sister went to bring the account up to date with just the remaining three of us as co-signers on her account. In order for that to happen, each sibling has to sign a piece of paper for the bank agreeing the deceased sibling should be removed from the account. So although my sister has given the bank my brother’s death certificate, it is not enough. I have to agree to have him removed even though he is no longer living. When I went to the bank they could not contact the account manager in New Mexico to get the papers as the New Mexico bank’s phone was not working. They called and called, but no luck. So I had to leave without accomplishing my small task. My banker told me she would be in the office until 3:45 pm.

Then I went to the AT&T cellular store to see if they could do something about my wacky cell phone. They replaced the SIM card and it is seemed to work ok there, but when I got home it didn’t work again. I called them back on a land line to ask them what was going on and they told me that my area was having issues with cell phone reception from some recent repairs. They would file a complaint. I said you’ve got to be kidding, that’s all you can do? You can’t look at my phone and see if that’s the problem. Well no, I had to go somewhere else half way across town to do that.

I got on the internet and sent my sister an email about my failed bank experience. I called my sister on Skype and left her a message on her cell phone. Then my internet service went down too. My home phone has no long distance carrier since we have it on a minimal service contract. So now I am without my cell phone to make long distance calls, my internet to make calls through Skype or any other way to make contact with my sister and explain stuff. She finally called and it turned out she did get my phone message from Skype. She could call me on my home phone, even though I cannot call out. The banker in New Mexico wouldn’t fax the form to Denver as the bank wanted to mail it so it remained an original document. I leave for Mexico on Friday I told her. I know she said, I am working on the banker. She finally persuaded the banker to agree to fax the form to my Denver banker. But it now was 3:30 and I knew my banker would be gone before could get there. At 4:45 my banker called and said the papers were ready for me to sign but she was leaving—why was she still there???? I could have done it if I had gone when my sister told me to go.

In the meantime I decided my sister needs a Limited Power Of Attorney to represent me on my portion of my mother’s account so she doesn’t have to jump through 15 hoops when I am down in Mexico and can’t sign and send documents readily. I paid $20 to get an online power of attorney which I spent the next two hours modifying. Our bank account has a benefit of free notary service. I called the bank to see if I could get a notary there to sign the Limited Power of Attorney at the bank when I go to sign the checking account form. Oh yes of course, they said, however if it is a Power Of Attorney then the legal department must review it first which will take about 30 minutes. Aaaaargh! This morning, a day later, Esperando was home and called his banker to see about the Power of Attorney. It turns out that my sister could not sign for me in absencia EVEN with a Power of Attorney. How did life get so ridiculously complicated? Cell phones and computers run our lives. And all banks want is to see if you can squeeze blood out of a turnip or sign over your newborn before they will help you. I never did get the bags packed. I cannot believe how complicated things are any more. I’m not saying I would want to go back to the days of mimeograph machines—oh well, maybe I would.

January 26, 2010

Packing up a princess for success

Lupita’s dedicated serving staff (Duena de la Casa and Esperando Esposo) are packing up her vittles and her chattels in preparation for her upcoming move to Mexico, the return to her “ancestral homeland” as the vet referred to the move just the other day when she gave Lupita a clean bill of health. Lupita now weighs 3.5 pounds, but her accumulated goods far exceed her tiny little self.

Lupita is flying with us in-cabin to San Diego on Friday where we will stock up our truck with food and other goodies for us humans and other pets before we start the drive down the Baja. We will spend the night with Junior Birdman, Esperando’s son, and acquaint Lupita with the concept of cats (he has two) before continuing on to Catavina for an overnight, then on to Santa Rosalia the next day.

Lupita’s chattels are many and take up more space than five Lupita’s would. First of all there are the pharmaceutical items: parasite medicine she continues to take for coccidia; Frontline for ticks and fleas; and Interceptor for heartworm. Then, there is the little pile of assorted small doggie clothes and her harness and leash, a whole folder of papers that includes her rabies certificate and health certificates for the airline. Besides all that there are assembled favorite toys and chewy sticks, her blankie, her carrier, her food and water bowls, a sufficient quantity of food to get her home, and Boulder Dog Food Company’s All Natural Turkey bits which make an excellent training treat that she will die for. More puppy food will be purchased in San Diego for the long drive down to Santa Rosalia.

Esperando and I are hoping sufficient suitcase room will be leftover for the two of us to bring back the items we brought up with us when we came, before there was ever a Lupita in our lives. My how life changes in the blink of an eye! We will need a small suitcase or perhaps a mini Louis Vuitton trunk just for Lupita’s stuff, although I wouldn’t want to encourage her spending patterns—she is already in way over her head. Good thing she is still too young to apply for credit cards.

January 21, 2010

What the well-dressed puppy is wearing these days

Let’s talk puppy clothes. I find it becoming sort of an addiction. I think deep down I must be really perverted to be dressing a little dog like a doll in tiny clothes. It started in El Paso when we were driving back to Denver, and I knew it would be cold there and in Taos. We bought Lupita a cute little pink cable knit sweater since we thought she might get cold. After we got back to Denver and she had the surgery for her abscess, the vet wanted her to wear a t-shirt to cover the sutures. I thought the protruding ends of the suture material might catch on the sweater and be irritating. Esperando offered up the cut-off ends of a long sleeve gun-metal gray t-shirt. It was a humble homemade article although the neck had a nice finished look, with the cuff turned back at her neckline. I must admit the gray color didn't do much for her complexion. She wore that for a week until someone at the Landrover dealer commented on her “grunge look” when I went to pick up my car for servicing. Hmmm? My dog looking grungy?! That was not to be! Off I went to Petsmart to peruse the doggie clothing and found some really hot little numbers. Now my dog is better dressed than I am.

She seems to like wearing clothes. That is, she obliging pokes her nose into the neck hole and stands still while I feed her little paws into the sleeves. She seems to actually prefer some clothes over others and is consistently more cooperative in putting those on. As I child, I used to dress my cat up in my doll’s clothes, so it’s almost like returning to some familiar state of mind. I got a bad enough time in Vancouver when I bought a doggie raincoat for Sweet Pickle. Since he is large and has lots of hair it saved me from using up multiple towels to dry him off everyday when we came in from walking in the rain and snow. A street reporter doing a special on doggie clothes snagged me on a corner and wanted to me to explain why a big dog like Dash needed to wear a jacket? So I had to tell him about the facts of life which caused Dash to be propelled onto public TV in a newscast. How embarrassing!

Lupita is more fortunate than some dogs in that she has the money to work on her fashionista collection. So far she has three sweater vests, a gray and pink hoody with Canine All-Star written across the back, a small doggie Harley Davidison t-shirt, a really cute Rock Star t-shirt with a sequined guitar on it, and a fuzzy purple fleece jacket that has the words Princess emblazoned across the back. Unfortunately she considers the jacket be more of a chew toy. I am afraid it won’t hold up well to that kind of treatment.

I have seen some street dogs in Santa Rosalia wearing clothes. We are talking about dogs much bigger than Lupita who live in a hot climate. Unfortunately they do not have a change of clothes, and what with lying around on the street, their clothes could often use a good wash. What a silly world!

January 19, 2010

Puppy power

I just put Esperando on the airplane to Korea where he will be working for the rest of the week. I was so happy when he was here this past weekend to catch up and have some help taking care of the new doglet. We keep wondering how the rest of our menagerie will adapt to Lupita, we are sure Sweet Pickle will be jealous, at least at first, but what will the cats do? We have been told that Chihuahuas want to be the dominant dog. As for the cats, Sour Pickle is not intimidated by much and is a pretty curious guy. I see photos of this but--do Chihuahuas and cats really get along well? I guess we will find out in a couple of weeks when we head back to Mexico.

After I dropped Esperando off at the airport, I went to physical therapy, and then ran a few errands before coming home. Lupita rode in her travel carrier in the car with me and basked in the sunshine when I went into therapy, and then again when I went into the store for a brief jaunt. It didn’t look as though she slept after I left her because every time I returned she was gnawing on the chewy toy that I left in the carrier with her. When I got home to take a nap she did her little snapping-turtle-under-the-covers routine, spinning around on her back and biting at various parts of my anatomy and clothing. She got more hyper and more hyper and kept trying to climb off the bed. I finally had to crate her in our bedroom to try and take my own nap. I laid there for the next 30 minutes wondering what she was doing. In the end I couldn’t sleep: I got up and released her. She had peed and pooped in the crate and then curled up on some bedding at the other end and was sleeping. I don’t know when this fouling up of her crate will end, at least this time she didn’t make much of a protest being put in there other than the physical evidence she deposited. I keep thinking this is either an anger thing or an anxiety thing and I don’t know how to deal with it.

After the aborted nap attempt, I decided it was time to take her for a walk around the park. Yesterday Esperando and I had a nice time walking with her. It took her about 10 minutes to seemingly understand wearing a harness and leash. One of us would walk in front and she would follow while the other held the leash. The walk we took is about a mile long and she must have walked almost half of it. We were pretty amazed such a little one could go so far. She seemed fairly tuckered out when we were done.

Today I did the same walk, but there was no Esperando to lead her while I walked in front. We had some difficulty moving forward and not fighting or dragging on the leash. A bicycle zoomed by and that freaked her out so badly I had to pick her up and carry her a good ways; more bicycles passed us, several in a row, and even though I was holding her she was terrified trying to climb up into the sleeve of my jacket. Once they passed by I put her down again and she walked fairly responsively for awhile, but she didn’t do as much walking as she had done the previous day. When we finally got near home she seemed to know where she was and had a conniption fit when I wouldn’t let her go up my neighbor's steps. I think she thought they were ours.

Finally she ran through our front door. She began to zoom around in circles and spent the next 3 hours literally racing around the house at 90 mph, upstairs, downstairs, through the living room, dining room and kitchen in circles, every once in a while, concerned she might need to pee I would open the back door and she would race around the backyard in circles. I don’t think I have ever seen so much continuous energy expended in my entire life by such a tiny creature except by hummingbirds. I was exhausted watching her. After she stopped doing circles, I threw the Trash Man doll, which is twice her size, and she must have retrieved him 50 times. If puppy energy could be stored we could solve all our electricity problems better than with oil, gas, wind farms, or hydroelectric power. Of course that would be a lot of puppies!

January 14, 2010

Why can't our credit cards take better care of us?

With our frenetic travel lifestyle, Esperando and I have a real issue managing to keep our credit card accounts from being frozen by the bank. I am sure it is confusing to fraud divisions worldwide, as we, especially Esperando, travel so much. Our cards get charged in each new location. We are constantly calling up credit card companies to verify charges we have made.

We keep telling them, “We travel constantly, couldn’t you make a note our file that we travel all the time?”

“No, no, never, we could never do that,” they say.

But, when we say, “Oh, he is in Mexico now, next week he will be in Korea, and the week after that he will be in the U.S.”

They say “Oh, we will make a note of that in the file.”

I can’t fault the card companies, although lately they are getting much worse about freezing our account to the tune of every 4 or 5 days. The other day it was two of them in a row. It was sort of embarrassing. I was at the pharmacy trying to pick up a prescription. The first card I tried wouldn’t go through, and then the other wouldn’t work either. I am sure the girl at the drive-up window thought that I had stolen them or that I hadn’t paid my bills. I was amazed to have two cards rejected in a row. “You’re kidding!” I said.

When I got home I called the first card. Esperando had been charging airplane tickets for Korea. It was a pricey item and the card company declined to pay it as fraudulent, so the airplane tickets were hanging in limbo. In their favor they had both called and emailed him; unfortunately at the time he was on an airplane so he couldn’t respond either communication. After I got that straightened out, I called the second card company and I couldn’t remember my social security number properly. I gave her two variations before I could remembered the right one. (Travelling erodes your brain.) That really set the alarm buttons off. I had to answer five more security questions and I was very hopeful I could manage those. Luckily for me they were things I could answer, not some esoteric question such as ‘if you could meet anyone living or dead, who would that be?’ (Yes, we did have question just like that on a recent credit questionnaire. I was going to enter Cleopatra because I had been reading about her at the time, but realized that probably wouldn’t stick in my mind so I went with Jesus Christ instead.)

It’s the little things like this that really screw up the flow of life. You know that TV ad where everyone is using their ATM card, a long line of people buying things and the flow just keeps humming along? Then some jerk wants to pay cash and puts a big wrench in the flow of operations. That ad implies that credit cards make life move along smoothly. I wish I could say that was true but it just doesn’t work for me.

January 8, 2010

Lupita, aren’t you glad you get to go home?

I asked her yesterday at 4 pm when she was finally released from the Alameda East Animal Hospital. She peeked out of her carrier with luminous puppy eyes but didn’t utter a word. As we drove home the snow was blowing, the morning’s grapple had now turned into big fat flakes while the temperature dropped to 12°F from the influx of a cold Arctic air mass.

When I went out to shovel this morning, I saw lots of bunny tracks in the snow and the paws of a large animal, either a coyote or dog that might have been chasing it/them. My neighbor tells me she looked out her window late one night after a snowstorm and saw three bunnies in the moonlight, dancing and tumbling together in the snow. So maybe Fido or Wiley came along later and left his tracks after the snow party was over.

When we got in the house Lupita ran all over the place like a little mad person. She had only been in our house for 2 days before we had to take her to the emergency clinic, it was a new place to her then. Nevertheless it was as if she was running around looking to make sure everything she had seen before was still there, just like a little kid. She has four medicines to take throughout the day for the next 7 days and 6 cans of Hills Prescription Diet a/d Food to nourish her during her recovery. Last night the vet told me she would need to have access to food and water all night long. So, I set her up in a big crate in our bedroom, although my inner child was laughing at me the whole time saying, “suuure, you know how this is going to end.”

I put her in the crate, turned the lights off and dove under the covers. She immediately began to cry, scream and yelp shrilly building into an amazing crescendo then diminishing into tragic weeping whimpers, which repeated themselves for the next 40 minutes. I kept thinking, ‘ok, when she quiets down I will just put her in bed with me (so that she doesn’t decide that crying is what releases her from the crate); I will set the alarm to get up and feed her every 3 hours instead of leaving her in the crate.’ She continued to cry for an hour and I tried to keep awake until she stopped. When I finally realized she was quiet, I was barely awake. I thought, ‘Ok, I will just rest for another 2 minutes and then go get her,’ but in 2 minutes I had drifted off into sleep quicker than you can say "Jack Robinson”. An hour went by before she woke up and started her testing her high soprano notes again.

I decided it was no good for her to get so upset since she is just recovering from Parvo, especially since she is scheduled for surgery tomorrow. Poor little thing, will her trials and tribulations never end? They need to stitch together the big abscess on her back (at the site of her vaccination injections) that apparently developed from not having enough white blood cells because of the Parvo virus.

At 11 pm I got up and put her in bed under the covers with me. At 2 and at 4:30 am she started stirring, licking and biting my hand, then crawling upside down under the covers in little spinning circles, using the top sheet as a floor on which to gain leverage. Also it turns out Chihuahuas are big lickers; at night lying on your pillow you are a helpless victim to getting your face and ears washed, whether you want it or not. I got up and gave her some food and water, then took her downstairs to the cat litter box I had set up so she wouldn’t have to go outside in the subzero weather. Although this seems somewhat akin to waking up all night to care for a human baby, at least that baby doesn’t have to lick your face and ears besides. Would anyone want them to?

January 5, 2010

Taking on the World

Today is my day for personal battles. I had been looking forward to sleeping in this morning, but when you are in town for only 2 weeks you have to take whatever appointments you can get. So I went and got my teeth cleaned at 7 am. I ended up having to buy a new toothbrush—yet more shekels out the door!

Then I spent two hours on the computer duplicating a billing statement from the physical therapy place I went to last summer to help repair my surgerized shoulder. (Did I mention in a past life I was a graphic artist so copying a relatively simple accounting statement was a time consuming but do-able occupation?) I had submitted this statement to the insurance company and cross-hatched out a portion of the itemized bill. I had to make a pretty statement without the hatch marks. Am I anal or what? I am resubmitting it to the physical therapy people now, along with the insurance benefits statements, to show them what they owe me since the stupid insurance people reimbursed them, not me, for my out-of-pocket expenses. These insurance/medical care claims are the worst. They seem to drag on forever and you feel like you expend way more energy than necessary. If you are lucky you may get some of your money back.

Next I started thinking about my cute little puppy Lupita who is recovering from Parvovirus and gets to come home this evening. Yay! Did I mention that in addition to Parvovirus she had two parasites (giardia and coccidia) as well as a urinary tract infection? She was one sick little puppy. When took her into the emergency vet her white blood cell count was down to 0.8 as compared to a normal count of 6. He really wasn’t sure she would survive. The regular vet just called me now to tell me how sad she was Lupita had gotten sick and that she’s seen a lot of little Chihuahua puppies go from bouncy and playful to sick with Parvovirus and be completely overcome within an hour and die. She was amazed Lupita made it. I too think it’s a miracle that she has survived. I can’t believe that breeder was so careless because everything my puppy had wrong had an incubation period that started in her timeframe. I can only attribute her recovery to lots of prayers from lots of people, excellent 24-hour veterinary care from Alameda East Veterinary Hospital and a strong constitution on the part of Lupita.

In any event after I finished writing a nasty letter to the physical therapy people I started stewing about the woman that sold the puppy to us who has not returned our phone calls or emails since Lupita got sick. She had a whole van load full of puppies, probably 15 of the little tiny guys—Chihuahuas, Teacup Chihuahuas, and Shitzus. I believe they must all have gotten sick with Parvo, and we know she probably wouldn’t to pay the $2000+ plus per puppy that Esperando and I had to cough up for Lupita’s treatment. When I talked to Esperando several hours ago he too was pretty angry about the breeder and planned to call a Carlsbad vet to see if any action could be taken against her. So often he and I are thinking about exactly the same issues at the same time that it is scary. We have a pretty strong connection to each other.

Tonight will be interesting. I will have to feed Lupita every 2 hours, then go for some more shoulder physical therapy (at a new place) at 8 am. Lupita will have to go with me in her crate (she hates her crate because she is not used to it.) Everytime I put her in a crate she starts screaming and yipping and I sure don’t want her to do that at the physical therapist’s. Good thing I am doing my battles today—I don’t think I will have any energy for them tomorrow after feeding the baby all night.

January 2, 2010

Starting the New Year with a Whimper

The year 2010 arrived the other night—it kind of has a prophetic ring to it doesn’t it? At my neighbor’s party I discovered that 3 out of 4 of the guests there, after much to drink, admitted to believing that all of us are descended from aliens in the distant past. Now isn’t that food for thought?

Anyone who knows Esperando and I can testify that we are possessed of much whimsy (caused by the thick alien blood in our genes no doubt), both of us feeding each other’s impulsive behavior. We are prone to making off-the-cuff decisions that really complicate our lives. A recent example of this is the new puppy we bought from Roswell, New Mexico, when we were traveling at Christmastime from a roadside puppy vendor. This vendor brings her puppies to Carlsbad to sell out of her van. Esperando fell fast and hard for a little black and tan Chihuahua he saw there. He has wanted a Chihuahua ever since we saw the movie Frida in 2002.

We have named her Guadalupe, or Lupita for short, for a breed native to Mexico. Lupita has a perky little face and shining eyes. Up until a few days ago she was playful and bouncy, but yesterday we took her at Alameda East Animal Clinic in Denver because she hasn’t been able to keep food or water down for the last two days and weighing not quite 3 pounds could become dehydrated easily. They discharged her to us last night, but we took her back again this morning as she was really lethargic and she still wouldn’t eat. This morning when we took her back again they tested her for parvovirus—which its turns out she has. Poor little thing, she is so tiny. She is in intensive care now where she will remain for the next two to four days on liquid and antibiotic IV’s and may even need a transfusion. Treatment efforts are focused on keeping puppies hydrated, making sure that their electrolyte balances are relatively normal and preventing secondary infections that occur due to the tissue damage and low white blood cell counts. Her chance of survival is 70%, however we have found out from a fecal exam that she also has a parasite which will diminish her hopes. The vet told us that this is mostly a puppy, not dog, disease and that if humans had they same disease in our population they would be devastated. She had probably just contracted the disease before we bought her

We have only had her 5 days. Everywhere we took her everyone fell in love with her, even people like me that have always disliked Chihuahuas. She is a very special little puppy and if you are reading my blog, please say a little prayer for her recovery.