WINTER: Baby, it's cold outside

xkcd: Winter

I am exhausted, so much so that my brain fog seems to have permanently warped into a vortex of confusion.  I find myself searching for the correct words when speaking or writing. Who needs those, right?  We're all good provided the message gets across.

I have not kept this blog updated for that reason. My normal routine is suspended while Mum is in the hospital, and I've stepped down from much of my day-to-day things - including command of my CAP unit. That was bitter-sweet.

Mum finally got it into her head that her recovery speed is entirely dependent upon her mindset. She stopped fussing over every ache and pain. She stopped fighting the therapists with regard to what her limitations are (comfort vs compliance).  And she seemed to take it very well when her surgeon told her that she could not smoke or drink again.  (In fact, he told me to get rid of all the ashtrays and pour out the alcohol - Mum didn't bat an eye.  Better Half and I poured out her bottle of scotch last night. It was a cathartic experience for me.)  

She's been in the hospital over a month, so most of it is out of her system. Her ability to refrain from smoking or drinking rests upon her own willpower. Also, none of us are going to run to the store to buy her some smokes or a bottle.  I'm somewhat dreading her arrival home and the potential shitstorm arising from the lack of access to this stuff.  

Cigarettes and booze are what she - and so many people - turn to when seeking a quiet moment away from stress. Having quit smoking myself, I know that horrible feeling when you just need a few drags to clear the head but haven't anything around to smoke. I've met a few heart patients that absolutely miss the occasional glass of wine. They, too, find themselves frazzled by the situation.  

The key to making it work is to fill that "breaking point" moment with something other than nicotine or alcohol. The urges will pass. We still have the ability to mentally step away for a moment.  Some go for a walk. Others snap a rubber band on their wrist. I eat a carrot.

Poor Schmedly watches the sun set

That brings me to this title of this post.  Baby, it's cold outside. This is the first true winter day we've had. It's currently -2 °F here, though it feels like -18 °F.  The expected windchill is -25 °F tonight.  Weather like that can rapidly cause frostbite, and it can easily kill domestic animals left out in the cold too long. 

Dapper Piper
Like any good pet owner, we try to take every precaution available. The thin and elderly dogs have sweaters. The two young boys don't but they'll manage. We never leave them out long (and they tend to rush their business) with temps this low.  A dog will not necessarily make a sound before the bitter cold causes it to crumple.  Never take your eyes off your pets in severe weather. 

My concern is for the ancient Italian greyhound.  After 19 years on this earth, there just isn't any meat left on his old bones. Zephyr manages to cope, however.  And we manage to tolerate him.  After all, he has something to actually complain about.    

And this dog complains about everything!  The blanket isn't covering his head? He warbles his displeasure.  Try to cut his toenails? He's dying, obviously!  Touch someplace on his body when he's not in the mood to be touched? He yelps like he's being beaten with a pool noodle.  This isn't pain. This is just Zephyr being an asshole. He's done this nonsense since he was a pup.  What a pussy.

Epitome of warmth whore
What takes the cake today is his methods for staying warm.  He'll spend most of the day in the kitchen dog bed if we're downstairs. It rests in front of a large heat grate. Covered with a fleece blanket, he insists upon pressing his body against the grate whenever the furnace is blasting.  Today, he decided to take his warmed blanket with him. Need to drink or want to know what people are up to? No problem. Just walk really slowly so the blanket doesn't slide off.

Eh, we're happy as long as he's happy.  Better Half tucked him into his sweater not too long ago.  Now he's upstairs under yet another fleece blanket topped by a heating pad set to warm.  He'll likely sleep most of the night.

The dog, not Better Half. He isn't sleeping well because of his cracked feet. Another story for a different post.

That pretty much wraps up life behind the scenes here.  Dad's doing well, we don't have a release date for Mum.  I've got a house to spruce, supper to put away, and a craving for chocolate. Let's hope I can find some quality free time in the next week or so.