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New Family Member

I haven’t written anything personal in this blog since March of 2012. I’ve never made a habit of updating this blog and since China’s death in November of 2011 I just haven’t felt like updating any of my sites, with the exception of the MJFDB.

But now I have something good to blog about and I’m surprised it’s taken me this long. Most likely I’ve put it off because I’m still superstitious and didn’t want to ‘jinx’ it. In fact, I’m still nervous about the so-called jinx huju even though tomorrow is the day.

We adopted a dog. Currently his name is Wags but it seems likely that his name will be changed to Max shortly after he arrives.

A few months ago I was browsing the Pets section of Craigslist just looking at dogs. I wasn’t looking with any real intention of adopting, I just wanted to look at the pooches. I noticed Wags, watched his video and thought he would probably be a good dog for us but we still weren’t ready for that yet.

When we decided we were ready to at least start looking I kept checking out Craigslist and a few weeks ago Wags was posted again. I couldn’t believe he was still available so I read his information more closely.

Wags was in Arkansas and had been at the shelter for several months. Unconditional Love Rescue had noticed him and decided to add him to their group of dogs for which they would try to find a home.

To be completely honest, Wags sounds like he’s a lot like China. We will never be able to replace China but she was such a great fit for us that finding another dog like her seems almost miraculous. I could be wrong though and he may be completely different from China – we won’t really know that for a few months. Hopefully, even if he turns out to be the Yang to China’s Yin he’ll still be a good fit.

We really need a new canine member in this family.

I contacted the rescue, we filled out an application, they talked to me and talked to our vet and we were approved. He arrives tomorrow morning in Kittery, Maine via Got Orphans Transport and we’re very anxious to meet him!

Here’s hoping that he fits in, especially with these two crazy cats.

Wags...being serious

Wags…being serious





Wags’ video

China is gone

China got much worse on Sunday. We let her go Sunday evening at 6:45 p.m.

China Mills: 2000 (?) - November 13, 2011

China Mills: 2000 (?) - November 13, 2011

Pet News of the Sad Kind

A few weeks ago China, our beloved pooch, became very stiff and got to the point where she couldn’t walk. We took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. We got her on antibiotics and within 36 hours she was almost back to her old self.

Cut to a week and a half later, and she became lethargic and her limbs were stiff all over again. We took her back to the vet and they did some more blood work. Her liver wasn’t great, but not terrible, and her kidneys looked fine. They figured she wasn’t swallowing her antibiotics correctly and gave us a different kind. Within 24 hours she was much improved.

Cut to a few days ago. She became lethargic again, constantly nauseous although she rarely spit up anything other than bile and white foam. We hoped it was an upset stomach but it continued to get worse. When she stopped eating and drinking I called the vet.

I took her in today after hours and the doc did some more blood work and took some x-rays. I was pretty much convinced that she had swallowed something nasty while we weren’t looking and that her bowels were obstructed. The vet was more concerned that her Liver had taken a turn for the worse.

We were both wrong. China has acute renal failure – 75% of her kidneys are no longer functioning.

It could have been caused by the Lyme disease but the fact that her kidneys looked great just 10 days ago makes that suspect. The doctor said that it looked more like antifreeze toxin, but we have none of that around here and she’s never outside alone where some cruel person could slip it to her. We watch her like a hawk.

The doctor is going to talk to an internal specialist on Monday to see if he has any other ideas, but basically it comes down to this: She will never be ‘normal’ again. We’re going to work to get her to a point where she’s comfortable but if we can’t give her good quality of life we aren’t going to force her to live in misery just to ease our own suffering.

She also has an enlarged heart. No idea how long it’s been like that.

The kidney failure is very bad news and I’m trying to prepare for the worst, but I will work to keep her with us for as long as possible. If we can get her to a reasonable comfort level she’ll have to take Pepcid and Tums everyday for the rest of her life long with weekly subcutaneous fluid injection which we can do ourselves. Her diet will also change – basically reverse Atkins for dogs. It has to be a low protein diet.

I’m pretty much heartbroken right now because when I was a vet tech, I helped take care of dogs with renal failure and in those cases, it never ended well. But that was over 10 years ago so I’m hoping that the meds they have now are better than they were a decade ago.

I’m not giving up hope.

Things That Make Me Smile

Things have been getting me down lately but there are a few things that will always make me feel at least slightly better, no matter what. (These are in no particular order).

  • Hugs from my husband
  • Watching Fred Astaire dance
  • Seeing growth in my gardens
  • The fact that my dog is excited to see me every single day when I get home
  • Messages from friends and family
  • Listening to popular standards (songs) from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s
  • Watching escapist science-fiction and fantasy films/television


My Year in Pictures

This past year was a pretty routine year – nothing terribly exciting happened, but nothing terribly, well, terrible happened either (unless you count the elections). We did close a few doors behind us that had needed shutting for a while so it was good in that respect, but so many more things are waiting to be done.

Here are some visual aids to show you how this past year toddled along for me and mine.

January and February

January and February 2010

Waiting for Spring

January and February were pretty much the same as every January and February. We stayed inside and hoped for an early Spring.


March 2010

Early Spring Shadows

And we actually got it. It was a bit of a tease – it would be warm and then cold and then warm again – but Spring did come early in 2010. All the plants and flowers were about 1-2 weeks ahead of schedule.

March 2010

Early Buds


April 2010

Spring Cleanup

As soon as the weather was warm for a few days in a row, the first thing I did was clean up the yard. All the outside winter insulation (ugly bags of leaves) were removed, all the sticks were raked and composted and any trash in the yard was gathered and thrown out. Ah, a clean slate.

But, like I said, Spring was a tease is 2010…

April 2010

Emo flower is sad


May 2010

Tidy Garden

In May the garden work began. This year I ‘cleaned up’ the existing garage-side garden by adding a border, some mulch and a rock path. This was my favorite project of the year.

In addition to my own gardens, I made a point to enjoy the wild ‘gardens’ all around me. Seen below is a field Buttercup, worshiping the sun.

May 2010

Reaching for the Sun

In 2009 I created raised beds for my vegetable garden, but they looked horrible. In 2010, I took the time to make sure they were straight and level. I was quite proud of this garden.

May 2010

Straight Lines


June 2010

WHAT DOES IT...oh, it's only one. Meh.

We didn’t have nearly as much rain in the summer of 2010 as we did in 2009, but we had a LOT of rainbows – and even double rainbows (all the way).

I made a few new flower discoveries last summer including Dianthus and Lobelia (seen below).

June 2010

New Discoveries

And, as mentioned above, I kept my eye out for the flowers that nature had to offer – all for free.

June 2010

Black-Eyed Susans


July 2010

How the Garden Grew

The raised beds did make quite a difference and the included birth bath helped attract birds that ate the bad bugs from my vegetable leaves. 2010’s vegetable garden was my most successful so far.

July 2010

Perfect Summer Day

The summer was rather hot in 2010, especially compared to 2009, but as you can see in the above picture, we had several ‘perfect’ days even in the middle of July and through August.

We made sure to take advantage of these days and spent a lot of time outdoors.

July 2010

Summer Cuisine


August 2010

Flower Buttons

August was pretty much a repeat of July, although we got a couple of weeks of really nasty heat.

The upside to that heat was that the tomatoes finally started to ripen…and there were no signs of tomato bugs (hookworms).

August 2010

Almost ready...


September 2010


In 2009 what tomatoes that did ripen (there wasn’t enough sun and the excessive rain caused a lot of them to split) were wiped out overnight by tomato bugs. I only got about a dozen. In 2010 I didn’t have that problem at all. I actually gave dozens away. Woo hoo!

And before I knew it, my favorite season was already upon us. The heat lingered longer than we liked, but it eventually did give way to the cool, crisp air of Autumn.

September 2010

Oncoming Autumn


October 2010

Ghastly Trio

While not the most colorful Fall we’ve seen since moving here, 2010’s Fall season was still beautiful.


Orange Skies

Skies of Gold

November was, as always, a time of packing up the house for winter. Out came the black bags of leaves, away went the garden decorations. The starkness of winter had begun. Election day made it even starker.

November 2010

Snowy Bales


December 2010

Bath, Maine on Christmas Eve

December was a little different for us this year. My mother and step-father visited for Christmas and we got out a bit more and saw some of the state. Even in winter Maine towns are very picturesque.

We didn’t have a lot of snow until the very end of the month, a few days after Christmas. It gave us a beautiful end to the decade.

December 2010

Winter Wonderland

Things I Have Learned

No resolutions this year. I know what needs to be done, I know what I want to do and making a list won’t help me accomplish anything other than making yet another list to add to the plethora of lists I’ve made every year for decades.

Plethora. I’ve always liked that word, although I have never personally had a plethora of piƱatas.

Anyway, so instead of a resolution list, I’m going to make a list of things I’ve learned over the past year. Yes, I will still be adding to my abundance of lists but at least this one is different. Some items will make sense only to me, some will be depressing and I have no doubt that most of them will be pop-culture related.

So, let’s get on with it.

  1. I have learned that the following are cool: Bow-ties, Fezzes and Stetson hats
  2. I have learned that people will believe any lie put before them if it affirms their fears
  3. I have learned that the only Tea Party worth paying attention to occurs in Wonderland
  4. I have learned that gold is not a good skin tone for Peter Cushing
  5. I have learned that Star Trek: Enterprise got a lot better after it’s first season
  6. I have learned that Pecan Pie is good for the soul
  7. I have learned that the Harry Potter books stay good, no matter how many times I read them
  8. I have learned that putting your faith in others’ intelligence and reasoning will only lead to great disappointment
  9. I have learned that Wil Wheaton is a very funny individual and that his pets are freakin’ hilarious
  10. I have learned that none of my family reads my blog
  11. I have learned that the first Doctor was awesome and that Ian and Barbara are now in my top five favorite companions, third to Donna Noble and Ace
  12. I have learned that Amy Pond is my least favorite companion and I sincerely hope she’s gone before Matt Smith finishes his run as the Doctor
  13. I have learned that despite it’s rather weak last episode, Lost was still one of the best shows ever produced
  14. I have learned that Danny Kaye was a pain in the ass to work with but that I still love watching and listening to him
  15. I have learned that when it comes to growing flowers, my gardening skills are sorely lacking
  16. I have learned that I like Hydrangeas quite a bit
  17. I have learned that putting a bird bath in the middle of your garden will cut down on the number of nasty bugs on your plants
  18. I have learned that Craig Ferguson is the coolest late night talk show host ever
  19. I have learned that Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants equals true genius
  20. I have learned that Spider and Scorpion does not update often enough
  21. I have learned that watching a meteor shower with my husband is now one of my favorite things to do
  22. I have learned that I still do not like Jonah Hill and don’t understand why Apatow (or anyone else, for that matter) continues to cast him in movies
  23. I have learned that I can lose hours of a day playing Roller Coaster Tycoon
  24. I have learned that J.J. Abrams relies on lens flares WAY too much
  25. I have learned that you apparently never stop missing your favorite Kitty
  26. I have learned that no one but my husband gets my Eurotrip references
  27. I have learned that no one but my husband gets me, which is why I love him so much
  28. I have learned that my tolerance for people is at an all-time low
  29. I have learned that I find physics difficult to learn
  30. I have learned that my grasp of World Geography is shaky at best
  31. I have learned that some movies/mini-series are MUCH better than the books upon which they’re based (North and South trilogy)

I’m sure there are things missing from this list – I certainly hope so, anyway – but that’s all I could think of for now. My memory isn’t what it used to be…which is another thing I learned this year.

Ten years ago today a lot of things changed

Today is the 10th anniversary of the day my husband and I first met each other in person. We had met online months earlier (August 30th, to be exact) and sometime around October decided it was time to meet in person even though he lived in Florida and I lived in Arkansas.

My mother and step-father gave me the plane tickets as a Christmas gift and I spent my week’s vacation down in Sunny Florida. However, my flight didn’t get in until around 11:00 the night I flew in and this (along with other reasons I won’t delve into) screwed up both of our sleep schedule so I didn’t see much of that sun anyway.

By the third day it was clear to both of us that we wanted to be together permanently. A month later I became a Floridian and 10 months after that, I became Mrs. Mills.

There’s still no other place I’d rather be than with Chris. He is the man I love, my partner in all things and the best friend I’ve ever had. He even tolerates my love of talking dog movies.

We rang in the year 2000 together and now, ten years later, we’ll ring in the second decade of what I hope to be many more decades together.

I love you, Chris.

Like my dog? Buy her stuff!

Yes, some shameless self-promotion here. If you know and love China (like all those who meet her do) you can get yourself some swag with her sweet poochy face. Check it out!

make custom gifts at Zazzle


I will be on vacation for the next two weeks so I’m afraid there probably won’t be any updates to the site.

My father still lives in the dark ages and doesn’t even have dial-up! Oofah!

More Bloodsuckers

Back in 1990 there was one-season television series titled simply ‘Dracula – The Series.’ I had never even heard of it until just a few years ago when my husband happened across a DVD in a bargain bin. He had seen a few episodes on television and was curious to see it again.

It’s a weird mix of Dracula (of course), The Monster Squad and your typical family sit-com.

Shot completely in Luxembourg, this show is about two boys, Max (Jacob Tierney) and Chris (Joe Roncetti), whose mother moves them out to Europe to live with their uncle Gustav Helsing (Bernard Behrens) and his attractive young ward, Sophie (Mia Kirshner). If moving halfway across the world wasn’t a big enough adjustment, they quickly learn that Dracula – THE Dracula – is a town resident and that Uncle Gustav is the descendant of the famous Van Helsing line.

This Dracula character is closer to the novel than most modern-day vampire characters. He can go out in the day – sunlight does not kill him – but he does not have ‘vampire powers’ until nightfall. However, he is not the type to sleep in during the day. He can’t – he runs a multi-million international business under the name of Alexander Lucard.

As with many early 90’s syndicated shows – and one aimed at families – the dialogue can often be silly and the plots a little ludicrous. Fortunately, this show does not take itself too seriously and it’s obvious that the actors and writers had fun with it without camping it up too much.

The stand-out performer of the program is Geordie Johnson, who plays the title character. I’ve never seen a blond Dracula before and I wouldn’t think it would be an appropriate look for him but Johnson plays it so well that it seems right for this portrayal. He has a nice, square jaw (all the better for making those fangs look even more menacing) and resembles Kyle MacLachlan, which is never a bad thing in my book.

Dracula can get a little campy – silly one-liners, over-dramatic entrances and exits – but he is played seriously enough that the line is never crossed into all-out camp. Even when Drac is popping off those groan-inspiring jokes, you never stop believing he’s a dangerous monster. Johnson plays the villain just right in that we don’t want him to win, but we don’t want him to die either.

The entire show was released on two DVDs, out of order, but this hardly matters because there isn’t much of an over-arcing story to this program like most modern-day shows. The prints are acceptable but not all that great. The show was shot on 16 millimeter film so the graininess should be expected.

If you do happen to pick these up, make sure you’re in a frame of mind to watch something fun, but not too deep but not too fluffy either.

Purchase Dracula: The Series (2-DVD Pack)

This show is also available to rent through Netflix.

To learn more about this show, visit Lucard’s Home Page, an in-depth fan site covering all aspects of the show.