29 August 2007

A Record Broken!

First, a correction: Tuesday we tied the old record at 28 not 27. However, today we set a new record at 29 days of above 110 degrees - it hit 113! Firework celebrations are not allowed due to drought conditions. Rats!

Thank You

Grandma and I thank all of you for your messages of condolence on the death of our beloved Pepper.

A Record Broken?

The record for the most days of temperature over 110 degrees is 27. We tied the record on Tuesday. Today, we break may that! Wow! What an accomplishment to be able to tell my great-grandchildren! I can hardly wait for the 5 o'clock news.

21 August 2007

Pepper Miller

Pepper Miller, March 31, 1996 - August 18, 2007

Pepper, a red and white Pembroke Welsh Corgi, came to us from a pet store, most likely the product of a puppy mill. We also brought home her littermate sister, Ginger. They were both four weeks old, and had been separated until we made the purchase, when they were overjoyed to see each other again. The more lively puppy was named Pepper, and her sister, who tended to be more casual, became Ginger.

Pepper was my shadow. She looked to me to protect her from other dogs; she was scared to death of them, and would jump into my arms if any came near her. We tried to take them to parks for walks, but unleashed dogs brought that to a halt. She also hated kennels, so she only stayed in one when she was sick or going to have her teeth cleaned. When we traveled, rather than put the two of them in a kennel, they stayed in their own home and a neighbor came in to care for them.

Every morning, we would put them up on the counter in the laundry room where Grandma would brush their teeth and I would brush their coats. Baths were every other week, and I made sure to clean the patio beforehand of the particulates that landed there (Arizona air is noted for particulates). Otherwise, they would come in almost as dirty as before their bath.

The window sill in the front room was just the right height for them to lie down with their heads resting on it. Whenever we went away, they would both wait in the front window for us. In recent months, though, when Ginger came into the room, Pepper would leave. There seemed to be some unsaid understanding between them that Ginger had the say about that.

We have a dog door in our bedroom that was put in for our Siberian Husky, who had passed away several years before Pepper and Ginger came to us. When we first brought them home, they wouldn’t use it. It took a few minutes to realize their legs were too short; their bellies would scrape on the bottom, so I installed a ramp. Pepper was leery of it until I covered it with some old towels; after that she would come and go at her leisure.

Pepper enjoyed being outside. We had a game of “catch me” that we played on the patio: she would run around the furniture and I would run after her to try to catch her. Usually after a few turns she would declare the game over and wait for an ear scratch or a back rub.

In the morning, as soon as they were allowed to go out, Pepper would survey the yard, making sure neither feline nor fowl trespassers lingered. She always went to the far ends of the yard to do her “business” and tried to make sure nobody was watching. (Ginger, on the other hand, felt that anywhere out the door was fair game for her toilet.)

Several years ago, Pepper suffered two torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL), which were repaired, after which she was able to run and play with no signs of injury. She had lost several teeth over the years, found during her annual teeth cleaning at the Veterinarian’s hospital. And she was gradually turning grey around her muzzle and ears.

About two weeks ago, she seemed to lose her energy and her appetite. X-rays were taken, during which we found that she had a dislocated right hip. At first, she was diagnosed with a kidney problem and she was treated for that, to no avail. A subsequent ultrasound examination showed no signs of organ problems or cancer tumors. After being examined at three animal hospitals and by ten Veterinarians, it was finally determined that she was not able to keep up a blood supply; either her immune system was attacking her blood cells or her bone marrow was not making sufficient blood. There was no good treatment option that would bring her back to health, so we visited with her one last time. She gave me a couple of goodbye kisses and then we held her to the end. She will be cremated and her ashes spread around the yard.

18 August 2007

Pepper Is Gone

Pepper has been put to sleep. There were no good options for treatment, and her condition was not good. We held her to the end.

Pepper Update

The latest word is that she either has an auto-immune problem in which her immune system is destroying her blood, or a bone marrow problem in which her marrow is not producing blood cells. We will find out later today what the latest prognosis is, but we are preparing ourselves to say good-bye.

15 August 2007


Grandma and I are on tenterhooks. We're on pins and needles. We're edgy. We're mentally pacing up and down. Our Pepper is at the vets where they're trying to find out why she is so listless, and, to me, obviously in pain. She didn't eat last night or this morning. She has been on a special diet, after being tested a week or so ago for valley fever and deer tick disease. The only thing that showed up then was a possible kidney problem. We hope to know something positive this afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed for her.

14 August 2007


We had a real gully-washer last night. I woke up about 11:30 to the sight and sound of lightning and thunder, followed by rain on the skylight. The lightning continued to flash and the thunder to crash until about 2:30, then resumed around 3:30. Grandma slept through it, as she puts ear plugs in her ears. The ground was soaking wet when I went out, so I turned off the automatic sprinkler system. No sense watering ground that was already saturated. Now if I can just remember to turn it back on before everything dries up.

Happy Birthday, Sharon

We hope you are having a great day. I think the best photo of you is the one on your blog, riding a bicycle. (If anyone wants to see, it's at mimimiller.blogspot.com.) Just goes to show what a grandmother of 7+ can still do.

10 August 2007

Happy Birthday, Mark

Happy Birthday, Son. Hope you and Karen are having a good time in New York.

05 August 2007

I've Been Workin' On The Railroad

One summer during my college years, I took a job with The New York Central Railroad on a signal crew. We were mostly college kids and on our first day, we built up our sagging muscles by emptying out a gondola car of sand. The rest of the summer was spent digging deep holes for a line of telephone poles along a new switch-over connecting the Main Line to the North Shore Line. It was hard work in the hot, humid New York summer, but we were given enough breaks to replenish our water (and beer) supply.

One day, one of the gang brought a large basket of home grown cucumbers. On our break, we dug into the basket. I can still remember how cool they tasted and how refreshing they were. They certainly slaked our thirst. Today, the sight of a large green cucumber brings back the memory.