Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Bag Buddies, my new fabric friends

With several craft fairs under my belt, I'm finally getting the hang of it. But it took a mad scramble to make a completely new product to get me back in the game.

The craft fair I've had the most success with, hands down, is the one at the Sierra 2 Center in the Curtis Park area of Sacramento. My upcycled rag quilts have a target audience: Environmentally-conscious shoppers, not in the demographic that is frantically trying to downsize, and some disposable income doesn't hurt either. I've done two craft fairs at the Sierra 2 Center, and they were both very happifying to this rag quilt maker.

One year I couldn't make the Curtis Park fair because of my brother-in-law's wedding. Another year, after paying the sign-up fee, I decided the flyer was too Christmasy, so I bowed out. The flyers since then have been much more inclusive to those who don't celebrate the holidays, so I take that loss of money as a win. Last December, even with a horrible emergency regarding our dog's health and a late start to the day, the good folks of Curtis Park came through for me and made for a successful fair. 

This year I couldn't participate because of a work conflict. So I decided to finally give the Davis Craft and Vintage Fair a try. It's got several things going for it - namely a start time that isn't at an ungodly hour, plus it's on a Sunday, which works much better for me. It's outside, so weather is a factor, but hey, some cold blustery weather is good for quilt selling, right?

Welcome to November 2018, which saw the temperature topping 80 degrees this last Sunday! Did I get a lot of looks at my quilts? Yes. Did anyone want to buy one on a day that had me peeling off layers before 9 am? Nope. No quilts were sold. Boo.

But my late blitz of making about 60 "Bag Buddies" to diversify my product line was successful. Not only are they super fun to make, I used up some of the fabric that just wasn't finding a place into any of my quilts. Yeah for Bag Buddies!! They will be a part of future line ups. I'll try again in Davis on the first Sunday in December. Maybe the temperature will dip below 65 that day, and someone will feel the urge to buy a cozy and warm upcycled lap throw. If not, move over quilts, I'm befriending these little squares of joy.



Put them on your luggage handles.
Your suitcase will be the envy of the luggage carousal.  

They are reversible. 

No, they're not pot holders.
They are buddies for your bag.
And they are incredibly fun to make.

My hats are even jealous. 

The quilts are getting nervous!
Bag Buddies, they're stacking up!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Chilled to the bone!


Last December I decided to do a big experiment with my diet, and I went raw vegan for a year. Well, make that nine months, because our trip to France sort of did it all in. Not to mention I never got back on the raw routine once we got back. You can't really be a raw vegan if you're eating cooked food, even just at times.

My reasons for stopping mostly involve the amount of time, money and mental energy for me to sustain a diet that has no cooked elements. I'm not saying it can't be done easily, cheaply and effortlessly, but I sure can't do it. I feel great eating this way, I have tons of energy and my body does backflips of appreciation for me everyday I cram it full of fresh fruits and vegetables. But it's Fall, and squash is calling me, soup is yelling my name and vegan stews - well, you can just imagine how they felt when I shunned them for salads. And since our food budget has been over-the-top expensive, something has to give, and it's going to have to be my raw vegan adventure.

If the time, energy and money weren't enough to get me to stop eating raw for now, there's an oddity about my body that's been making me crave hot and steaming bowls of cooked food. Years ago when I was dealing with some puzzling health issues, a doctor looked at my finger tips and said, "Do you know you have Raynaud's Disease?" What in the world is that?

While it's a "dis-ease" I wouldn't call Raynaud's a disease - it's more like an annoying syndrome. It causes the fingers and toes to get super cold and numb in chilly weather, and they take a long time to warm up. It can cause pain and numbness in the extremities. Imagine how it was shoveling snow off my car window in South Lake Tahoe with this issue. Brrr, my body shudders in memory of those icy mornings. 

For me the severity of Raynaud's comes and goes, but has it ever come on with a vengeance this Fall. Drinking a cold smoothie not only makes my fingers numb from holding the glass, but my entire core will be chilled for up to an hour after downing a healthy but cold green smoothie. It's not fun! I love smoothies and they set me up for a great day of energy. But a warm would be so very gross and the cold ones make me feel like I'm on an excursion to the South Pole. Once I get chilled, it's hard to unchill. This morning after my pumpkin smoothie I tried to grab a few things out of the freezer to make our dog some food. Just touching the frozen food bags made my hands instantly ache with pain. My husband had to come help me get food out of the freezer like I had a fear of frost. Brrr. 

Because of this flareup, just thinking about salads and smoothies makes me shiver. Hopefully this will pass, because I love them. But for now my body is demanding warmer foods that I can curl my little frozen fingers around. Hot foods. Cooked foods. Steaming foods. Foods you have to blow on before eating. Not raw, not cold. Cooked. My "Year of Living DangeRAWsly" is over. Pass the soup!



Chilly, not chili.

Chili, not chilly.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Plant-based in Paris? Vegan at Versailles? Bearly!



Years ago I read about a family who stealthily kidnapped their neighbor's little garden duck decoration, and took it with them on their European vacation. Upon returning, the travelers presented both the missing duck and a photo album of all the places in Europe the duck had visited, to the delight of their neighbors.

Several years back I picked up the Jessica Bear keychain while visiting my husband's German relatives. I took one picture of the bear with a bigger bear, and that was it - Jessica Bear's Adventures began! We've photographed her at the Great Wall, on the canals of Venice, in Germany, Switzerland, Poland. I got in trouble attempting to take a photo of her in a Romanian grocery store (by a can of carp, which is spelled "crap" in Romanian.) She gets tucked away on most all of our adventures, and we have a great time finding places to pose her wherever we visit. It's great on my bad hair days, at least we get a good photo of one Jessica.

Our recent trip to France was no different. The Bear and I went for 10 days, my husband flew in for just the last five. I was first in Paris with friends in unusual but terrific accomodations - a houseboat on the Seine. Then my husband met our train with minutes to spare to head down to a lovely small city in the Tours region, Blois. More on those places later, but this post is all about food, because it's France and France equals food. 

In 2016, we noticed an amazing change in both Germany and Romania when it came to finding vegan food. It was easy, especially in Germany. There were Soy Curls in the drugstores and most every restaurant had vegan options. It seemed to us that these meat-centric countries had done a complete flip cuisine-wise, much to our delight. But would France be the same way? 


Jessica Bear, packed away with the other travel essentials.

Air France did not disappoint, I ordered a Hindi Vegan meal plan.
Spicy garbanzo beans for breakfast? Why not?

The houseboat held seven people and one bear very comfortably.

Upon arriving and checking out our accommodations, our group hopped on the metro and headed into Paris. Before jet lag hit, hunger hit harder. The group was really hoping to find the perfect Parisian bistro to eat at, you know, the kind with outdoor tables, waiters in white aprons, that lovely ambience you think of when you think Paris restaurant. But hunger is a powerful force, so we begrudgingly settled for a place that advertised burgers. This vegan hoped for the best.

Not only were the burgers swooned over, and the charcuterie and cheese platter cleaned to the last crumb, this plant-based eater was extremely happy with her choice - a quinoa and veggie salad. I made entirely too many happy food noises as every last grain of quinoa and each bite of fruit and vegetable was consumed with culinary appreciation. Ah food, the French do food like no other. Why did I doubt?


A vegan salad at a burger restaurant? No problem!

Jet lag? Grin and bear it, with lots of caffeine, of course.
I thought this would be a sign of things to come, that plant-based eating had arrived in Paris, but this was not the case. I had to be super creative in most of the restaurants we visited after that first night. It's not hard to explain what you need in a restaurant, if you speak the language. But with lots of facial expressions, pointing and with our trusty French speaking Blake helping out, I was able to get the point across - I want food with no meat, eggs or dairy please. 

My biggest peeve about asking for a food change is when you're asking that the expensive part of the salad be left out, and they do just that, leave it out but then leave you with a tiny boring salad. Not in France, they get it - she doesn't want meat, but she does want vegetables. So they piled on the good stuff and I piled the good stuff in. The combos were delicious, the dressings were divine and I ate like a queen. 

I did taste the French Onion Soup. Yum.
But there it's just called Onion Soup for some strange reason.
;o) 
On the way to and from the metro each day, we passed a very fancy Indian restaurant. My first thought was, I sure don't want to eat Indian food while in Paris. Oh how wrong I was. On the last night before we headed south, I was in the mood for something, but I couldn't quite decide what. My friends were debating going out for one last meal in Paris, but something was drawing me to that Indian restaurant. I had already (according to my phone) walked 8 miles that day and climbed 38 floors, but I summoned the energy to walk back for some Indian food takeout. 

I found a worker who could understand my needs, I wanted some "take away food' with no meat, eggs or dairy. I was shown an item on the menu called Mixed Vegetables. Since I can't read French, I wasn't able to point to anything more interesting sounding, and I didn't want to be a difficult vegan, so I agreed to the Mixed Vegetables with rice. I was picturing some boring cauliflower and carrots, dry. What was I worried about, this was Indian food in France! Where would I get better Indian food outside of India? Their clientele was French, of course their food would be the best take ever on food from India with awesome French ingredients.

That was one awesome meal. I artfully arranged the out-of-this-world mix of vegetables in the yummiest and perfectly spiciest of sauces over the fluffiest of rices on a real plate and enjoyed it on the deck of the houseboat. It then occurred to me, Why was I passing up the ethnic restaurants in Paris for "real French food"? The French do food great, so they would do all the food great. Next trip to Paris, if there ever is one, will have me visiting Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Turkish and every other kind of restaurant I can find. Who cares if it's authentic? Who needs authentic when it's cooked in France?

Our fruit stand in Blois, France.

One night they said the sorbet was vegan.
The next night they said it had "a leeeetle milk."
It was goooooooood.

Best. Melon. Ever.

Cupcakes after the civil ceremony.
They weren't vegan, but they were very pretty.

Wine is vegan.
Very much so.
The main purpose of our trip to France was to attend the wedding of my dear friend's son and his French Canadian fiancee. Her family owns a chateau in the Tours region, in a town near Blois. It was a lovely setting for a lovely couple on a lovely day. It was just lovely, if I haven't said so already. 

The wedding was catered, but the groom's mom had the task of adding some items to the after-the-ceremony champagne serving hour, while the wedding party was taking photos. So she purchased lots of cheese, nuts, fruit and crackers along with some bread. Can you imagine the feelings of three Americans realizing they were arranging cheese boards for French people who really know cheese? Like intimately, since birth? We did the oh-so-chic presentation of a little bit of this, a little bit of that, artfully arranged in a sort of messy manner - the fashionable way you present appetizers in the US right now. It was quite the juxtaposition between our overflowing cheese and fruit platters and the sparse and precise hors d'oeuvres served by the catering company. All-you-can-eat American style verses French culinary conservatism. Our cheese boards were appreciated, but I also appreciated the different food approach as the evening continued. 

Say cheese!

The ultimate in outdoor cafes.

There was a vegan option, but we didn't get the memo.
So we just traded with our seatmates.
In the most elegant way, of course. 
When the dinner arrived, it became quite evident why French women don't get fat. The food, while very rich, was served in small portions. There was more white dinner plate showing than food. We switched and swapped food with those sitting next to us to get some vegan options. We tried to eat slowly. Pick up the fork, eat something, put down the fork. let the body know it just ate something, swallow, pause, repeat. 

Everything was lovely. We started with a pear sorbet with pear brandy to cleanse the palate. After that came the dinner as described above. Then they took away the food plates and we were served the salad course. After that the five cheese course. I was expecting overflowing boards of cheese like we had created earlier. Silly me. A server approached each guest with a platter of five cheeses, and asked which were their choices. He or she was then served a small portion of the chosen cheeses. The guests ate them slowly, savoring each morsel with the bread on the table. (The Americans had already finished off all our bread with the main meal. Silly Americans.)

It was all so refined, and no one pushed themselves back from the table exclaiming they were stuffed to the gills and would never put another bite of food in their mouth ever again. The French, they have the whole eating thing down to a perfect art. 

So if you're traveling in France as a plant-based eater, have no fear. While vegan menus aren't the norm, you'll have no problem getting your dietary needs satisfied, along with your tastebuds getting satisfied too. And when you find yourself in an Indian restaurant, just order the Mixed Vegetables With Rice. I'll happily accept your "merci" ahead of time. 

Venture into non-French food.
It's bound to be wonderful. 

Bistro perfection.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

From over my shoulder



My Mom had an amazing memory for what people wore to various events. Why? Because she loved clothes and was interested in them, the color more so than the cut or style. Someone would mention a Christmas party 25 years in the past, and my Mom would say "Mrs. Hickerson wore a blue dress and Fern had on a red blouse." (Some neighbors were always Mr. or Mrs. while others were on a first name basis, for no apparent reason.)

She didn't need photos to remember these details, photos weren't in color then anyway. The memories were burned in her brain, in all the hues of the rainbow. Remembering what people wore was her super power. She was awful at taking photos, my Dad was the one behind the camera in our house, but her photographic memory for fashion served her just as well as albums full of snapshots. 

Taking photos used to involve remembering your camera, having enough film, having a flash attachment, taking a decent photo which you didn't know turned out until you had the film developed, not destroying the film before you got it developed, taking the film in for processing, waiting to see how they turned out, being disappointed and/or thrilled how they turned out, then deciding whether to keep/toss/put in an album/shove in a box, or some other completely inefficient way to store precious memories.

Nowadays taking photos just means having your phone, having enough battery power and enough storage on your phone to take photos. So we take A. Lot. Of. Photos. And then we take another because someone had their eyes closed. Oops, another one because I look fat in that one. Another one. And one more just in case I lost a few pounds in the seconds since we took that fat photo. So many photos. Too many photos. 

Last week we went on a whale watching voyage to the Farallon Islands. Which meant seeing a boat load of people's behinds as they leaned over the edge taking photos of whales, who probably think they look fat in all the photos. "It's mostly water weight." I took so many videos trying to film these amazing birds flying just above the water line, that by the time we came back into the mouth of the Golden Gate, I was out of battery. The fog had lifted, the sun was out and it was such a magical moment on a gorgeous day of an amazing city built on hills. And I was upset I didn't have any juice left on my camera.

Then it occurred to me, Just look at the city. Look at the water. And the bridge and the hills and the sea gulls and the skyscrapers and the boats and the beautiful day. Instead of looking at it through my camera, I looked at it. It was fabulous. I won't forget that moment in time. Just me, Ernst in his Elmer Fudd that, the spray of the water from the boat and a memorable afternoon. I need to run out of battery power more often. 

As I embark on another trip, I'm trying to get a major portion of photos off my phone. I downloaded them to my computer first, so if heaven forbid I delete a screenshot of Vegan Tofu Stew it isn't lost forever. Or one of the millions of photos I have of my irises? I can't lose any of them! Or the Pinterest haircut shots that never seem to translate into the haircut I really want - those cannot be lost.  Because it took a lot of work to find that perfect search of "Messy Parisian bob with whispy bangs for slightly wavy hair but a really low hairline in back. Low maintenance. Pretty. Easy." I many never get that exact match again, so it must stay on my computer with all the other grand ideas I had for my hair. That's how the digital age works. This stuff is forever. 

Goal for the next coming year? Stop taking so many photos, or at least stop letting them clog up my phone. My plan is this - each Sunday evening go through my camera and delete all dumb photos, useless screenshots, duplicates, triplicates, blurry pictures, pictures of my dog being cute, and of course all photos that make me look less than toned and in fabulous shape. Wait, let's be realistic here, I'm keeping all the cute dog photos.



Monday, August 20, 2018

It's all in the jeans


Not too long ago I was given an amazing pair of jeans. They fit me in all the right places, the pockets were the perfect size for my sturdy Swedish "background" and they were not distressed or torn or bleached or ragged in anyway. They were fresh off the denim mill and sewn into a shape I could wear with joy. 

The only tiny problem was they were incredibly long. On this new kick of realizing quality is worth fighting for, I had them altered to fit my vertically challenged legs. Then, feeling all confident and happy with a great pair of jeans, I wore them to a work weekend in Chicago. I'm pretty sure they made it home, but I can't seem to find them anywhere. I tore apart my closet looking for them. Nope, they are still missing in action.

The closet tear apart was a good thing though, I ended up trying on everything in my summer closet and then some. I put some items back in rotation and permanently let go of others after close inspection. A full length mirror with a hand mirror as an accessory is hard to take, but knowledge is power. I also gave a good hard look at my shoes and told a few pairs to hit the road.

While I didn't find my perfect jeans, I found a pile of jeans someone gave me for my quilts on Etsy. Rather than call my search a complete failure, I got out my rotary cutter and mat and went to work on that stack of denim. There is more than enough for my next quilt idea, which is a Casual Friday quilt with jeans on the back and shirt material on the front. I made one in the past that turned out super cute, and with fall coming along soon, I need to get my quilt inventory up for the colder weather.

While jean styles come and go, the fabric is awesome for making rag quilts. So certain friends who frequent thrift stores and garage sales give me the unwanted jeans they come across at dirt cheap prices. In this latest stack of donated jeans, mostly ones I wouldn't dream of wearing, I found a pair that made me take a second to try them on - full length mirror and all. They looked better than my "old good jeans" (stay with me here), which are now my "new old work jeans." Oh the drama Levi Strauss put into play with his invention.


     
        
The stack of jeans for the chopping block!
 
No skinny jeans need apply, I want jeans with some wiggle room!

Short shorts!

Distressed jeans. What Would Audrey Think?



Ready for their new life in a quilt.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

If McDonald's Made Evening Gowns

Have you heard of the "slow food" trend? The antithesis of fast food, the slow food movement emphasizes quality over quantity and balks at the idea that food should be fast, cheap and/or good - quick pick two. Here's the basic concept:
  • Ignore the lure of convenient, cheap and "shovel ready" meals. It's not about speed - embrace the idea that preparing food isn't a waste of time. Food prep is an enjoyable part of a happy and healthy life.
  • It's not all about the price. It is OK to spend a bit more on high quality and superior tasting ingredients that will produce high quality superior tasting meals for your family.
  • Fake food is not food. Say no to genetically modified ingredients and products full of chemicals, additives and preservatives.
  • Making food takes time, and that's OK. Enjoy the process. Sit down for meals. Chop. Cook. Chew. Chill.
All new movements have to have their little clone movements, and so enters "slow fashion." Saying no to cheaply-made, in-this-year-out-the-next, poorly-constructed throw-away clothes, the slow fashion movement has the following advice:

  • Ignore the lure of cheap fashion. It's not about the price, it's about the quality of the garment. If you end up buying a timeless piece that you'll wear for years and years, you save money in the long run by purchasing well made clothes.
  • Look for pieces that were designed and constructed with care. Pay attention to pattern matching, how well the buttons are sewn on, how the seams are finished, is it lined, does the zipper seem to be high quality, is it made of natural fabrics, etc.
  • Know your style - don't just run in a store and buy anything off the rack. Examine your wardrobe and see what pieces may be needed, and then carefully shop for these items. Build a wardrobe, not a closet full of clothes.
  • Look for well-made, well-respected brands at thrift stores and in re-sale stores. 
  • Say no to cheaply-made, poorly-constructed clothing made from inexpensive fabrics. Clothes shopping isn't a race, it's a journey.
And that's been my goal for a while now. I just love the Talbots, Liz Claiborne and Jones of New York items I find at my favorite local thrift store in Sacramento,  Fabulous Finds on Fulton. It's right up the street on, you guess it, Fulton Avenue. I've been on a bit of a bright clothes kick, so you might want to slap on some sunglasses for the next photo.



Talbots, Jones of New York and my new Tommy Bahama skirt.
With bright summer Talbots sweaters to match!
Ignore the weird pose.
Look at the skirt.
It's got little tiny beads all over it.

This is the underside.
The beads are sewn on, not glued.
That's slow fashion.


Just a few weeks after I snagged my nifty Tommy Bahama skirt with the sewn-on, not glued-on beads, it was time for a very important clothes shopping trip. It was one I was dreading. I need a fancy evening gown (gasp!) for a social event in my near future. It's a wedding, and everyone is wearing long dresses. I'm not a long dress person. I didn't even wear a long dress at my wedding, I wore one with a handkerchief hem. I look bad in long dresses, really bad. They hit me in all the wrong places. They don't swoosh out where I swoosh out, unless I want to look like an extra on Gone With the Wind. I need that much swooshing. The worst kind of long dress imaginable on me is one with an empire waist. Back in the day, if I wore a dress with an empire waist, it looked like I was trying to hide being pregnant. Now it just looks like I'm trying to hide a grown person.

So it was with extreme negativity that I walked into my local Ross Stores, the den of fast fashion. But if my local Ross does one thing perfectly, it is they have lots of dresses. Ross DRESS for Less, no joke they have them. So, what was my plan?


  • Grab any long dress on the rack that was within 3 sizes of what fits me.
  • Look for colors that don't give me a migraine.
  • Loose threads and buttons? Ha! I'm never going to wear this thing again.
  • The price to hem it for this shorty will most likely cost more than the dress.
  • NO EMPIRE WAISTS! 
  • No sparkles. Ugh to sparkly fabric.
  • Why Oh Why does that invitation say evening wear? Can't that mean pajamas?
With little hope, I grabbed 6 long dresses off the rack. Five were very long. Trying not to trip, I made my way to the back of the store, I got my little card that said 6, and choose a dressing room with plenty of floor space to fall down into a fetal position and roll around wailing.

First dress. Ugh, Ugh, Ugh. No way, move on. It made me cringe even after I took it off. Ugh.

Second dress. Why am I even putting myself through this torture? Do people really have to have weddings? In the evening? Can we go back to the jumping over the broomstick thing, because that had to have been pretty fun, until someone decided weddings should be fancy. 

Third dress. Hmm. Double hmm. Why am I not shrieking in agony? I should be in tears by now. But hmmmmm. Could it be that this dress may possibly look good? It's long. And it's got some shimmer in it. I don't think it's my color. The waist is sort of empire style. It doesn't swoosh much. Quick, send a picture to the mother-of-the-groom, she'll be honest with me. 

Hey, she likes it! She loves it! I found a dress on the third try, it doesn't need to be hemmed. I don't even want to look at it closely because the stitches will probably fall off but I don't care because I'm not on the floor in a heap of tears. And it's only 20 bucks. Oh, Ross, if you are the McDonald's of fashion right now, I just got something delicious off the Dollar Menu and I'm lovin' it!


My McDress!!!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Coonhound Paralysis? But She's a Retriever!




We live in the suburbs of Sacramento. It's not Daniel Boone country, but we do have our fair share of critters. Our dog has got into it with squirrels, rats, possums, skunks, raccoons and an unfortunate rooster, or was it a chicken? It was hard to tell which when we found it floating in the pool. Molly feels all living things except human beings do not deserve to be on the Planet Earth, and she is good at ridding our globe of breathing things. So far no cats. Thankfully they can outrun her.

She's a sweet dog, she really is. She is great with kids and babies, even the quick moving ones that probably at times sound to her like wild animals. She has not so much as nibbled on any kid toes, even when they steal from her beloved stuffed animal collection. She just walks over to the little thief, gently reaches in ever so gently and takes back what is hers. Not so much as a ruffled feather on her part.

That's why it seemed a bit odd that a few weeks ago she was so subdued at our friend Elliot's Super Hero Party. Molly came as Aqua Dog, with a pack full of water themed toys for the children at that party. Sure she slyly walked over and stole Squirrel Girl's fluffy tail when she wasn't looking, but for Molly, her demeanor at the party was calm. A bit too calm. She didn't jump up or out of the car that night, Ernst had to lift her into the back of my vehicle. She didn't steal any hot dogs or hamburgers, mostly she just sat and had a great time watching all the kids, drinking in the complete canine joy of being the only dog at the party. She got a bit annoyed when the neighbor dog barked, and answered back with a few barks of her own. Deep barks. Serious barks.

We got home that night and she flopped down hard on the wood floors. The next morning we noticed her limping a bit on her left hind leg. It was a super busy day, and a slightly limping dog was not high on our worry list. That night it was worse, and even worst the next morning, so we made an appointment at the vet.

The diagnosis was a relief, a pulled ACL. A relief that is until I started Googling ACL issues in dogs, they can be hard to heal, especially in a nine-year old dog like Molly. But better than something worse, so we knuckled down into making sure she didn't overextend herself and set up her new pain medication schedule.

Wow those pain meds did a number on her. She was weak and loopy and having trouble walking. We backed off the dose. No change, only worse. Googled some more and learned they caused muscle weakness and loopiness. Emailed the vet, and he agreed, stop the Gabapentin. But she just got worse. Her front legs were buckling under her, and her left foot started flapping in a weird and scary way. Back to the vet she went. Xrays to rule out bone cancer had us freaking out a bit. But they came back fine. The vet was perplexed, and began to prepare us for the possibility this was much more than a muscular problem, it was beginning to look neurological. The vet suggested a wait and see approach.

Wait and see became wait and wail, because our dog was becoming incapacitated before our very eyes. She couldn't stand up or walk without falling right back down, the foot flapping was getting worse and we were complete wrecks. The worst of it had me out on the back porch, down on the blanket with Molly, texting my family through big drippy tears falling from my eyes, while sharing a few drops of my Pomegranate Cosmopolitan with Molly. Hey, she seemed to be days away from having to be put down, what harm could a little booze be at that point?

We set up the back room for her comfort, moved the chairs out, moved in a cot for Ernst to sleep on and put up an ottoman blockade so she couldn't climb the stairs and hurt herself even more. We didn't sleep much that night. The next morning had a new symptom. She was barking like a seal. Actually more like a coonhound. Her pathetic deep bark was the symptom that broke our hearts even more, this was sounding more and more like a neurological problem by the hour. Now it was my husband's turn to cry. That bark sounded awful and it was not in our imaginations, our dog couldn't walk and she sounded like she belonged in a remake of Where the Red Fern Grows.

It was time to hit Google with a vengeance. I typed in "NEUROLOGICAL PROBLEMS IN DOGS THAT CAUSE STUMBLING AND THE BARK TO TURN INTO A COON HOUND OR PERHAPS A SEAL ON A WHARF." You know, just one of those typical Google searches.

I found a website that suggested various ailments, one of which was Coonhound Paralysis. I scrolled on down, because we don't have a coonhound, we have a Golden Retriever with a touch of Australian Shepherd. Ernst Googled his own search, probably much more scientific sounding than mine. That's when it hit us, Coonhound Paralyses isn't just for hounds who hunt 'coons, any dog can get it. They can get it from raccoon saliva. It starts with a weakness in their back leg, moves towards the front legs, the dog can barely walk and it starts sounding like a....coonhound or a seal.

Bingo! By this time we were a bit miffed that the vet missed this diagnosis, so we called a mobile vet to come out to our house. Granted, Molly's regular vet didn't have the opportunity to hear her newest symptom of the bizarre bark, but still, we figured it out from Google, or were pretty sure we had. The vet on wheels observed Molly's walk, or lack of walk, and I played the video of her barking. He had taught at a vet school in Oklahoma and had seen a lot of this unusual disease, and was confident we were correct in our Google diagnosis - Coonhound Paralysis, or polyradiculoneuritis.

The prognosis? Good, she should make a steady recovery in the next few months. She is already walking so much better, her little sick room has been taken down and our house is pretty much back to normal. The mobile vet said we had been doing everything right, letting her rest and just get better, with some swim therapy to keep her strong.

As for how she got it? Either from fighting with a raccoon in the yard, or possibly from eating plums on the ground that raccoons had half eaten. There is some evidence that this awful immune system response, which is similar to Guillain-Barre Syndrome in humans, can also come from possum saliva, and we have plenty of those in our neck of the woods too. The good news is she will get better, and she already is so much better. No more tears, no more Pomegranate Cosmos shared with the pooch. Now if we could just do something about all these critters in our yard. Know anyone with a coonhound?


Not quite herself at Elliot's party.


Aqua Dog!


Molly being mopey isn't her usual MO.


Diagnosed with just an ACL pull.
What a relief!


Still happy. Still goofy.


But getting worse by the hour.



And Pomegranate Cosmopolitans.



Thought the cot was pretty cool.


Couldn't walk, but she was still smiling.


Swim therapy! Almost sinking.


She was not happy about swim therapy, but our instincts were right to keep her limber.


Visitors!


Needed a harness and sling to go out.


More visitors!


Playing possum for the mobile vet.


"Draw me like one of your French girls."


Wearing Doctor Busby's Toe Grips.
So fashionable.