Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

You can find Part 1 here.

The diagnosis: Auditory Processing Disorder or, APD (I can’t help put look at that and instantly think Anchorage Police Department).

In short, I do not always process sound correctly.  I have a harder time hearing what’s said if there’s much background noise, if the speaker is not looking at me, is behind me or is in another room.  It is most likely hereditary as my father also has similar issues and I catch myself saying the same things he used to say to me, “speak up!”, “look at me when you’re talking”,  “all I hear is ‘me-me-me-me'”.  The list goes on and on.  However, this could simply be from an one or all of the concussions I’ve had since the age of 19.  Really, if it’s the doing of a concussion, it would be from the car accident I was in at 19 (where my head shattered the rear windshield of a hatchback- yes I was a backseat passenger).

Or at least I’d like to believe that to be the case.  Because, once upon a time, I was an auditory learner.  I ate up lectures in class and retained what I learned well that way.  Now, I’m a visual learner.  I often feel frustrated with books on cd as there is usually a distraction in the background I can’t block out, like road noise.  And this frustration can translate to my everyday life with my family.  That frustration turns to crankiness when the people around me who know I’m hearing impaired and know what it is I need from them, decline to actually follow through and do it.  And that’s not the only way my life has changed.

I used to be a light sleeper.  A really light sleeper.   I used to live in a Gawd-Awful section of Anchorage called “Mountainview”.  There  was a meth dealer just 3 buildings down from where I lived.  More than once I was woken to the sound of gun fire outside.  It was a really, really sketchy neighborhood.

Within months of adopting Freya, I began to sleep deeper at night.  I knew I could relax and not be on alert all the time because she was on duty.  She was my ears, alerting me to anything I might need to know.  A knock at the door, a stranger outside, Dude getting into something as a baby.  I came to rely on her for this and soon, it was just a natural part of how we worked together.  I could rest easy because she was there, able to hear what I couldn’t.

My life without Freya has been empty.  Those around me just accepted her as an extension of myself.  In so many ways she functioned as my assistance dog, without me really recognizing it, and without the formal training and certification.  Obviously, Copper isn’t going to fill this role as he can’t be bothered to tell me when someone’s at the door.

These last weeks without her have been very challenging.  I haven’t slept well because I can’t hear what’s going on outside.  And we’re in a new place with new sounds.  Copper only barks when he wants something.  He won’t bark at a knock at the door, at a stranger in the house, nothing.  I discovered this the hard way when some neighbor kids wanted to play with Dude a few days after moving here.

My anxiety and restlessness over not being able to hear was also getting to BP.  And so, something had to be done.

To be continued…

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As a couple of you already know, I am a bit hard of hearing.  My friends and family have known this for years and have patiently taken the time to make sure they’re facing me and have my attention before they talk.  Well, most of the time.

I keep the volume up on my phone at all times.  So, if you call, and can hear yourself, this is why.  (Can you, Mrs Mom?)  I have the ring tone set to some heavy metal flavor and at full volume, but I still often don’t hear it.  I’ve even set the phone to vibrate as well, but unless it’s in my pocket, it usually goes unnoticed.

For years I’ve told my children to be quiet when I’m on the phone or go into another room.  I put the tv on mute, turn off the radio or seek the quietest place I can find.  I continuously remind my girls to speak up and to look at me before they talk because about all I hear sounds like a mouse squeaking.  I ask all 3 of the children to walk into the room I am in if they have something to say to me rather than just yell it at me, which ends up sounding like mumbling and leads to frustration on my part.  The kids, especially Kitty and Doodle, have shed many tears because I didn’t hear them or I got frustrated and yelled at them to speak up.  Speaking up seems to be the hardest when you’re a girl.  I know.  I’ve been in their shoes before.

In February, I finally went in for a hearing test.  I got to sit in a little booth and push a button every time I heard the tone.  There were no distractions, no outside noises.  Just me, my button, and a set of ginormous headphones.  I scored well, very well in fact.  The outcome was that I have a 5% hearing loss in my right ear.  Which isn’t enough of a loss to be noticeable to most people.

After the test, my audiologist asked me a lot of questions.  Was anyone else in my family hard of hearing?  Why yes!  My father!  He always believed it was from working heavy equipment back in the ’60s and ’70s.  (I told you I knew how the girls feel!)  Had I had any head injuries?  Yes, multiple concussions throughout my life.  What about my children?  How was their health?  Hearing?  Behavior problems?  Wait!  What?  Behavior problems?  She informed me that hearing problems can manifest as behavior problems in children.  Makes sense.  My nephew is hard of hearing and it only got diagnosed a year ago.  Until that time, it was assumed he had ADHD and was on medication for it, which, in all reality, did help with his behavior.  Probably by slowing him down.  (I think we’ll be getting Dude tested just to be sure).  But, I digress…

Her diagnosis: Auditory Processing Disorder or, APD

To be continued…

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Well, we made it to Georgia, but not without trial and tragedy. Here’s a quick recap:

Got bit by a spider, stung by a bee and poison oak on me all in the same day- and I don’t remember any of it.

One of the cats went on walkabout and didn’t return home. I think she moved in with the neighbors because she didn’t want to go with us.

Took a day longer to get out of Portland than we thought it would. So, we were a full day behind schedule.

On the day we left, we got soaked through to the skin and had to change clothes 3 times just trying to get the tow bar hooked up between the pickup and the moving truck.

Lost my pickup while still in town when the tow bar gave. Even the auto parts guys were surprised this happened. Pickup damage was extensive enough that we had to leave it in Oregon. So, we are now auto-less.

Blew an air hose clamp just outside of Laramie, WY. Luckily, they had us back on the road within 30 minutes.

Stayed at a creepy motel in a not so nice part of Kansas City. I will never stay at that particular chain again. We left after just a short 4 hour rest, in which I don’t think we slept at all.

The house is one bedroom shy of what we were told, but we’re making it work.

Can’t find anyone in the Atlanta area that will sell us a car without a Georgia license. Seems strange to me because we have Oregon licenses, and we could have bought a car pretty much anywhere else with our valid licenses, out of state or not. As we will have to re-take the driving test for Georgia (no reciprocity here with Oregon apparently), we cannot do so without a car. So we are caught in a catch-22.

Our beloved Freya passed away about the time we crossed the Georgia line. She was apparently hiding cancer from me. However, she passed peacefully, doing what she loved best- going for a ride. We are devastated and she will be greatly missed.

I am taking a mental health week because I’m not good for anything right now.

Hope this past week has treated y’all much better than it did me.

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Dear Friends,

It is with great sadness we have arrived at our new home. Our beautiful Freya has crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I will be back in a few days.

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I’ve been worrying about Freya a lot lately.  She’s 9 this year and slowing down. Since the day I brought her home at 18 months (a rescue I adopted,- collie/malamute and quite likely wolf mix), she has made it her job to take care of me. She loves the rest of the family but I am her priority. Over the years, she’s defended me from people when we lived in a seedy part of town in Anchorage, from the meth head trying to get in my door to pit bulls charging at me. Even in a locked truck, she looked intimidating enough to keep me from getting hassled by pan handlers.

She’s always accepted every pet, every critter I’ve brought in to the household. All I’ve ever had to do is show it to her, let her sniff the new member and tell her “mine”. From that point on, she would look out for the little one, regardless of species. She has watched over tiny kittens that want to crawl all over her with their needle claws, silly chickens and sick goaties with the same love and devotion she has cared for my children. They were mine, thereby an extension of me, and she watched over them all.

When we moved here, she extended that protection to the farm. This past winter, she started having some difficulty with the stairs here in the house. More recently, she’s cut down on her “patrols” and hunting varmint (her favorite pass time). She spends more and more time on the deck, barely leaving it to relieve herself, and then not going only a few feet from the stairs. I talk to her often and tell her to let me know when it’s time for her to go, that it’s ok if she needs to and that she’s done a great job. I especially worry knowing that we’ll be making a major move involving a climate change within the next 2 months.

This morning, as I let her out, the chickens set up a major fuss. She took off and within seconds, I could hear her barking. Freya ran to their defense, running off a lone coyote. And for a split second, the old wolf disappeared. I say my Freya at her peak again, young, fit, healthy and on guard.

When danger had passed, Freya limped back to me, her eyes shining, soft and full of love.

“Good Girl”, I said, “You did a great job!”

We came back inside and she laid down on the floor in “her” spot, the spot she can survey her indoor kingdom from while I poured a cup of coffee. There she lays still as I write this blog, not quite ready to give up the title of “Grand Protectress, “Heart of the Pack”, “Guardian of the Farm” and “Most Beloved Dog of Dogs”.

I guess we’re gonna make it to Atlanta together after all!


*Footnote: She didn’t make it to Atlanta.  She passed away just as we crossed the Georgia line.  RIP my beautiful girl!

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Well, it’s official.  We’re being transferred to Atlanta this summer, probably around the beginning of June.  This move is bringing us a lot of joys and lots of heartbreak.  While BP’s company is paying to move us, we are having to say goodbye to the farm and farm life.  I’ve made a list of the good and the bad here.

The Good

-Cost of living is less

-Houses are more affordable (Portland did not suffer the housing market crash, so that’s in our favor it Atlanta)

-BP will be getting a promotion and a raise

-BP will be starting up his own office in Atlanta

-It’s good for his career

-They’re moving us

-They’re moving Casey, the dogs and the cats

The Bad

-We’re not taking Luna with, but we already knew we needed to rehome her because of Freya’s issues

-Can’t take the goats with- too costly and too hard on pregnant does

-Can’t take the chickens or the peeps (which are pullets now, they’re growing up!)

-Trying to move far away without being there is hard.  Trying to find an appropriate boarding facility is harder.

-Dude will start a new school, again.  With his issues, this may be a problem.  It will be difficult to find the right placement for him.

Well, the positives outweigh the negatives, at least from a practical, logical standpoint.  It doesn’t negate the heartache of giving up beloved pets or changing our lifestyle.

Maddie will be returning to her owner shortly.  She’s not the horse for us anyways and we’re ok with that.  Plus, her owner misses her horribly.

That’s it for now!  Gotta go figure out how to move my dogs to Atlanta in the middle of summer weather.  Any suggestions?

PS Luna and the goats are already advertised as available.  I’ve got people coming out to see goats this weekend so saying goodbye is coming sooner rather than later.  It’s important to me to get my does settled before they kid as to lessen their stress.

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Anyone know of any great horse transport companies?  Have experience with anyone in particular?  Recommendations?  Things to ask?  Things to watch out for?

What about for tiny pygmy goats?  Short of hauling them myself, ideas?

I have a secret.  Will divulge when I can!

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On this day, three years ago we were wed 

At times, life has been trying, eventful and down right stressful  

We’ve had good times and bad, laughter and tears

I love you still and I’d do it all again

Happy Anniversary 

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Devotion of Dogs: Luna

Each one of my dogs gives me something different.  Each one has their own unique personality.  Here, we’re going to explore each of my dogs, one at a time.

Luna, my 10 month old Doberman pup, is pure energy.

She is crazy, often doing things to make me laugh.

Yes, I made this mess! Alls of it!


She has a zest for life like no other.

And just about the best recall in the whole darn world.  Doesn’t matter if she’s on the other side of the farm, she comes running pell-mell the second she hears me call.

Luna keeps me on my toes.  I never know what her crazy puppy antics will have her doing next.

She rockets around like her “butt is on fire”, zooming everywhere, rarely walking at a sedate pace.

Luna can’t stand to be wet or dirty.  For all her athleticism and energy, she’s really a girly-girl dog.

She walks perfectly on leash, often acting dainty which belies her true riotous nature.

Luna can’t hold her “licker”.

Luna in one word: Entertainment.  Luna is always good for a laugh, which makes up for the bits of frustration some of her antics cause.

Hey Horsey! Let's race!

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What’s In A Name?

As Dude and I were heading out to the bus this morning, I began to ponder the meaning of some of the names critters and people have here on Blackberry Farm.

Freya- Freya is the Norse Goddess of Beauty, Love and Destiny.  She rode through the skies in a chariot pulled by two large cats.  Fitting for Freya Dog’s back story, isn’t it?  My Freya is a beautiful girl who loves cats.  And it was destiny that we be together.

Copper- Copper’s full name is “Copper River”, after the Copper River in Alaska, where the best salmon in the world are found.  True to his name, not only is he a red-gold, coppery color, but he drinks great quantities of water and then floods out great quantities.  He is also full of life and wiggles, much like the salmon that spawn in the river every year.

Luna- Luna’s full name is “Luna Blue Moon”.  Luna does get quite a bit “looney”, is blue in color and often has her rear pointed at me.  If she came with a theme song, it would be Wild Thing by The Wild Ones.  She often rockets around the farm as though shot out of a cannon.

Dexter- means “right-hand”, and Dex prefers to walk on my right side, stay by my feet and just be near me.  He’s already decided that he’s going to be my “right-hand dog” here at the farm.

Dude’s name means “small river” in Celtic.  I found that to be fitting.  As a baby, he would often flood his diaper.  Then later, struggled with bed wetting.  He seems to always be thirsty or in need of the restroom.  Yes, he’s been checked by a doctor and is perfectly normal.  🙂

Casey- means “alert, watchful”.  That describes my pony perfectly.  While he’s finally learned to relax and that no one will kill him, he still remains alert and watchful just incase the people around him become horse eating monsters.

Maddie- means “maiden”.  As far as I know, she’s a maiden mare at 17.  And she’ll stay that way if I have anything to do with it

Beatrice (the goat)- means “voyager”.  She’s already moved at least 3 times in her short, goaty life.  Here at the farm, she’s the braver of the new does, exploring things first.

My real name is french for “friend”.  I was named by my eldest sister after Holly Hobby’s doll friend.  I’m not 100% sure it’s fitting.

The Corporate Prince’s real name means “people of victory”.  In the few years I’ve known him, he has always bounced back better than ever, every time life has knocked him down.  So, it’s fitting.

Kitty’s real name means “pure”.  Once, I thought it was quite fitting.  I’m not so sure at the moment.  Darn teenagers!

Doodle’s name means “princess”.  She believes she is one.  😉

How about you?  What does your name mean?  What about the name of your pets?  Do you name your pets or children because of the meaning, hoping it will become instilled in them?  Do they live up to the meaning of their name?  Why or why not?

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