Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Not in my shoes do you want to be

 I watch her sleeping on the floor, choosing to stretch out on the area rug instead of the cold concrete.  She’s a smart one, my Lily.    She’s also a sad one.  Since her diabetes diagnosis in late August she has become so ragged, in appearance and health.  Her once thick, white fur my husband and I clipped for the summer did not grow back as it usually does this time of the year.  There are still bald patches here and there, and in some places it molts like a pilling winter sweater.  Her right eye has always been a little lazy, but now her once bright, almond shaped eyes are clouded with cataracts and weep viscous, milky tears. She keeps them closed most of the time, as if holding them open is too exhausting, or futile, or both.  Bless her pitiful heart.

She wasn’t always like this.  My husband and youngest son chose her from a litter at the animal shelter and brought her home to be a pet for my son and for our other dog.  Just a little ball of white fur she made herself at home right away.  Her only quirk was she did not like to be held.  The shelter folks said she was a cattle dog, but she didn’t have any markings like the pictures of other cattle dogs I researched. I thought maybe she had some golden retriever in her.  As she grew, and boy did she grow fast, I saw more characteristics of Akita in her, and her spotted tongue made me think Chow.   No matter the mix of breed, she has the sweetest nature of any dog I’ve ever had.  She’s just a dog, and that’s good enough.

She has always been obedient even without any training.  I can take her out anywhere without a leash and she will never go far and always come when I call.  When she was able she loved to go on walks with me on our property.  She quickly learned her way around and found the bridge to cross the creek.  Not that it mattered; she would usually wade in the water for a drink anyway.  She liked to run ahead and wait for me to catch up and then run ahead again, but never so far that I was out of her sight.  I’ve always wished I knew how to train her because she is one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever known.  She learns so fast.

Before her sight failed her see she could catch any morsel of food from as close or as far as it was thrown to her.  Food has always been her favorite thing, especially food that is meant for the cats.  She can upturn a cat dish and the garbage can faster than I can run ahead and put them out of her reach.  She can lick a cat food tin spotlessly clean despite my warnings of cutting her tongue.  She hasn't cut it yet.  I said she's smart.

I love my sweet Lily dog.  She may be a little skittish with strangers, but she lavishes affection on those she loves and who love her.  I will always stand by my belief that shelter dogs are the most loyal dogs because they know they have been rescued and they are grateful.  

I am grateful Lily has been a part of my family for the past ten years or so.  She gives unconditional love to each one of us, and all she wants in return is a little attention.  All she wants to do is lie on the rug and be a part of the household.  That’s not much for what she gives.

It pains me to see her stumble in her dark world, bumping into furniture and getting lost in corners of the house. I have to lead her head down towards her food and water bowls until her remaining sense of smell finds the food she so enjoys.  As much as she eats she is not gaining weight.  Her thirst for water is unquenchable.  What little of her the diabetes hasn’t taken, her allergies are consuming.   What do I do, let her live this inhumane miserable life, or humanely put her out of her misery? I love my Lily dog.  Bless my pitiful heart. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013


I’ve been home for three days now and it was only this morning I unpacked.  I got home late on Wednesday and Thursday evening’s threat of storms kept me away from my washer.  There was no need to wash on Friday night because I knew there would be much laundry on Saturday.  So I unpacked and began the weekend’s laundry today.  It makes perfect sense to me.

Unpacking clothes is the easy part; open suitcase, dump in washing machine.  What I find annoying is unpacking all the other stuff that went into the bags at the beginning of the trip and then putting it all back to its rightful place.  Remember the Wet Ones?  Where do these go now?  What about the door prize I won, a wicker tray in the shape of the state of Georgia?  Maybe someday I will meet someone from Georgia who has one in the shape of Mississippi and we can trade.  Until then I stuck it in my pantry with all of the other wicker-type things I don’t use either.

I did enjoy Raleigh, at least what I saw of it.  Aside from the hotel and convention center most of my sightseeing was either from the rental car’s window at night while searching for a Walgreen’s, or from the inside of a restaurant.  And let me tell you, Raleigh has full authority to brag on their restaurants, especially the ones that sell fried chicken.  Those folks know how to cook a bird.

We ate lunch and dinner at a couple of great local places, but breakfast is my favorite meal when I’m travelling.  Whenever I visit a new city I like to find a good place to eat breakfast.  Monday morning I drank hotel room coffee and ate left-over pumpkin cornbread from my Sunday night meal.  What’s the saying, “waste not, want not?”  After a leisurely couple of hours in my room I ventured out into the downtown area around the hotel in search of my breakfast spot for the next day.

I convinced one of my coworkers to tag along and off we went on a blind walkabout to see all we could see in the three hours we had to kill before our first meeting of the day.  At each corner I scanned all directions for a tell-tale sign of a local diner.  I looked for words like "cafe" or "eats" written on small signs or outlined in neon.  I was getting discouraged until I saw one vintage neon sign that said Busy Bee CafĂ©.  I was fooled.  It might have once been a breakfast/lunch diner, but today it houses a trendy lunch/dinner place with its own brewery.  Down from it I did find a coffee house.  Its menu-written-in-chalk-on-the-wall promised a good breakfast, but it was not exactly what I had in mind.  It would have to do.  "I'm coming here tomorrow," I told my coworker, and we turned to make our way up another block and back towards our hotel.

That's when I saw Mecca, literally.  A long neon sign spelling out Mecca Restaurant rose high above a tiny store front with a laminated menu stuck awkwardly in the window.  I squinted to see through the hazy glass and I saw all I needed to seal the deal: booths and bar chairs upholstered in red vinyl.  “No, I’m coming HERE tomorrow,” I told her.

On Tuesday morning I set out for Mecca in the dark of the morning. I needed to be there early so I could make it back before the first conference session of the day.  I was early.  When the doors unlocked and the neon light flicked on I went inside.  Small booths with high back wooden benches for seating lined the left side of the shotgun building.   Each booth had its own arched mirror with art deco etchings and two shaded sconces for lighting, one on each side of the mirror.   On the right side was a bar with red and cream colored vinyl upholstered bar chairs.  The gray and white octagon-tiled floor led my eyes straight ahead to the kitchen and out through a screened door that opened to the street on the next block.  There were stairs beyond the row of booths that led up to what I can only assume is the dining room pictured on their website, a more modern room last updated in the late 1950s, if I had to guess.

I sat at the bar and ordered a plain breakfast.  The food was decent, but nothing great.  It would have been more convenient and cheaper for me to stop at the many fast food places I passed along the way, but I didn’t go for the food, I went for the atmosphere.  I sat alone eating and taking in all the details of a bygone time.  I thought of chatting up the waitress, but I’m not a chatter-upper for one, and for two I didn’t want to disturb the ambiance.  I just wanted to soak.  

I ate slowly and admired the woodwork behind the bar and all of the relics that had accumulated on the shelves and walls over the lifetime of the business, such as the art-deco clock from the Self Winding Clock Company permanently stopped at 2:00.  Was that 2:00 a.m. or p.m.? I might have learned the story if I had chatted-up that waitress.

Places like Mecca are relics in their own right.  They are leftovers from a time when downtown was the heart of a city and all daily business from shopping to paying your electric bill was done by foot and in person.  Somehow a few of these places manage to survive and keep on going even through the economic woes of downtowns.  I for one am thankful they do.

The rest of the trip was typical of any conference I’ve ever attended; sessions, exhibits, meetings, etc.   I learned new things, shared a few ideas and nodded off a couple of times, as per usual.  The best part, even better than the Mecca, was meeting up with friends I have made over the years at these same conferences and friends from work and spending a few hours laughing and just having a relaxing good time.   As the name of the restaurant implies, you might say my trip was a pilgrimage of sorts.  It wasn’t a religious experience, but it was a time of renewal of information, affiliations, and appreciation. And fried chicken; can’t forget the fried chicken.