Macadew is a big powerful dog.  He weights 80 plus pounds and his spirit is stronger than the body that contains him.  We picked him and his brother Moby out at the SPCA four years ago.  The night we brought them home, two rambunctious pups with two middle-aged “parents,” my husband looked at each other and said, “What have we done?  Maybe they were right, those people at the SPCA, when they saw us leave with two pit bull mix puppies and said, really, both of them?”

My husband said, “the brindle’s ok, but that little black & white (Moby) one might have to go…he seems a bit high strung.”  The next day began a routine that my husband has really been in charge of…I’m good with the love part and the walk part, he is great with the training.  The first thing he taught them was  Sleepy Time treat…from their first month with us, as soon as he said Sleepy Time, they stopped what they were doing and marched into their little cages.  Here is a glimpse.

As time wore on, we realized that the little Moby, was the more docile creature of the two. He is also, like a little Buddha.  He watches things, he follows us around, he watches more things, he sighs, and his walk is a little zig zaggy.  We thought he was going to have hip problems.  But, as time has demonstrated, he zips along happy as can be and gets plenty of rest.

Its Macadew who is a handful.  Not in a bad sense, but in a, oh my gosh, you don’t want to get on the wrong side of his teeth when your playing with him; and he needs to run and jump a lot!  One day, as a pup, he ran away, like a gazelle leaping over bushes and small trees on a bright sunlit winter morning…he moved faster than my eyes could track.  Suddenly, he was across the pond…his bronzed shape running like a beam of light under the green pines and against the white snow.

We worry when we take him on long woods walks that he will pick up a scent and disappear forever.  It gives us pause when we look up and see no sign of the boy. Then with great relief, we hear him charging through the bramble and Radames says to me, “Look at him jump, here he comes.”

A strong dog, I did not expect at 4.5 months to look over at Macadew last Thursday night and see a creature shriveled up in pain.  His back was arching and he had a look of an old man on his face.  I panicked.  We thought maybe it was a bug and it would go away in an hour or two.  The next day, things weren’t getting better.  We took him to the vet and to the animal hospital.

Macadew has disc disease…apparently all the jumping caused it, or perhaps, it was one moment of play with Moby. At this point he is healing…completely in his crate with leash walks to eat and go outside and then back in the crate.  We see him making progress but the whole family is down.  Moby doesn’t understand when he is outside Mac’s cage, why Mac won’t engage in play.  My husband and I are worried that Macadew won’t get better and/or we will be faced with a 7000 surgery or wheel cart.  But mostly, we are in shock that our beautiful, robust creature is down.  We hope the next 7 weeks show healing and we hope that when he does get better, his little spirit can soar through the woods he loves.


My Aunt, her TV and Communication Theory

My Aunt lives in a nursing home where she is very content. Since getting her own room, I noticed she never had the TV on when I visited.

My aunt is 92, she spent her life watching soap operas, beauty pageants, the Late Show, Wheel of Fortune and cooking shows. How did she become so disinterested in TV? I wondered and I occasionally asked her, to which she replied, “There’s nothing on.”

“I read alot. ” Read, I thought. I never saw her read a book but I in her room there were many romance novels on her dresser.

Time went on, she complained of boredom but made sure to say how grateful she was to be where people were so kind to her.

Now and then, I said to my Mother or one of the care team, curious and clueless, “Its strange, Aunt Claire never watches TV.”
“Well, she says there is nothing on.” They replied. She never has her TV on.

Along about last September, after the upteenth boredom comment, I asked again “Why don’t you watch TV, you use to love the cooking shows.”

“There is nothing on. Cooking shows, what channel are they on?”

I looked over at the TV handed down to my Aunt from a resident…its old I thought, maybe she needs a new one.

I mentioned this to my brother who visits weekly and he replied, “I dont think her TV works.”

Next trip down, my husband checks it out in detail. The TV turned on but he could not coonect to the cable stations.There was nothing on but broadcast fuzz.

I decided it might be the TV so we arranged to get my aunt a television. I then told the staff and my mom I was getting  my aunt a TV. “Why,” they seemed surprised, “she never watches it. She says there is nothing on.”

At Christmas, we brought a new digital TV down and a lovely young man helped us connect it. We immediately found the cooking shows. Aunt Claire has been reportedly watching a lot more TV lately.

The problem is that we had all coordinated the meaning of my Aunt’s words, there is nothing on, to mean nothing that she wanted to watch.

This is a common complaint and common way to express that complaint.

But, in this case, all of the people involved with my aunt, including myself, missed her literal point. There was nothing on her TV.

When I inquired further, I learned that the switch from analog to digital, involved a conversion box, a second remote, and too much complexity in operation for a 92-year old gal.

In conclusion, the meaning of There’s nothing on was coordinated by most of the people involved in this piece to mean, the non-literal use of the term, There is nothing on worth watching. But the most important source of information, my aunt, was using the term literally, she told us There’s nothing on and meant what she  said.

Coordinated management of meaning…description from the source
Overview (7th Edition)
Persons-in-conversation co-construct their own social realities and are simultaneously shaped by the worlds they create. They can achieve coherence through common interpretation of their stories told. They can achieve coordination by meshing their stories lived. Dialogic communication, which is learnable, teachable, and contagious, improves the quality of life for everyone. (Socio-cultural and phenomenological traditions)
– See more at:


Pancake Moments … everybody has a pancake story

Wednesday night I attended a fund-raiser for the The History Center in Tompkins County called Encouraging Connections through Variations on Pancakes.The presenter, Paula Younger, gave us a glimpse into how one thing, pancakes, can spark a conversation across generations and cultures.  The event itself was a kick off for the The History Centers Generation to Generation series.

At the center of the talk was what the presenter called a pancake moment.  I don’t know how to define it except to say that it is a moment associated with a memory of pancakes in a historical/personal context that teaches you something, marks something, or leads to some type of transformation, even if just in your thinking.  (Click on Ms. Younger’s site, pancakemoments TM to find out more information.)

Here is my pancake moment.

In October 1995, my now husband invited me over for breakfast with his twin boys.  He routinely made the round trip to Syracuse every other weekend  and bring them to their home here, the home that he wanted to be their forever home.

I had tasted some of my husband’s cooking but was not prepared for his specialty, blueberry pancakes.  While the boys slept, he brought out the ingredients, mixed them finishing with a big handful of blueberries thrown into the batter.  The pancakes on the griddle fluffed up to the best  cakes I have ever tasted…not too high and airy, but high enough so that the pancake does not drop into your stomach like a round of lead.

Calling the fifteen year olds to breakfast, he prepared their plates and let them pour as much syrup as they wanted onto their pancakes.My husband then made sure they had a juice or something to drink, fussing over them as he does with people he holds dear…like a mother hen.

The boys gobbled up their pancakes as if it was the most routine thing in the world.

At that moment I could feel the love.  The contented feeling of soul food like delicious blueberry pancakes set in a scene  laced with its own brand of heart ache, transformed into that routine place that never leaves you…that place you carry in your heart forever, that place where you are unconditionally loved.

And I saw the soul of my husband, Radames: when life gives you cracked eggs put them in a rich mix and then throw in a lot of color and sweetness to make it whole and beautiful for yourself, and for those who must continue.

Fall home

©claire anne perez