Something very sad happened a little over seven months ago.  I’ve been trying to motivate myself to write about it, but, oddly enough, every time I’ve begun to type up a draft, all my words are just…wrong.  I sound childish and whiny.

Because I’m a perfectionist bordering on absurdity, I’ve put it off and, in doing so, made it that much worse for myself.

I’m at the point now where I’m completely tortured.  See? Histrionic already, and I’m not even warmed up.

I can’t help it; my heart is so broken.

My beautiful picture

My dog, Rennie, was killed in May.  I had her for 14 years, and I loved her very much.  She had been by my side through an incredible amount of life experiences.  In fact, she had moved with me 11 times over the years.


Aside from immediate family and surrounding neighbors, I’ve kept her passing entirely private.  The traumatic nature of her death was my main reason for not sharing right away.

Back in May, just after Memorial Day Weekend, and I was working in my Front Yard Garden with Rennie close by me, in one of the garden rows.    It was late afternoon, approaching early evening.  This, of course, was at the end of Spring, beginning of Summer, when the daylight lasted well into the evening.

Rennie was basking and investigating the plants.

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At this point, a woman on a bicycle came up the street.  She was being led by a very large dog on a leash.  As they got closer to my house, the dog spotted Rennie in my yard, and crossed the street towards us.  Rennie (who was not on a leash since we were in my yard) headed towards the property line, yapping at the huge dog.

A lot of things happened at once:

  • The large dog pulled the woman off of her bicycle.
  • Overpowered, the woman let go of her dog’s leash.
  • The woman yelled at me to get my dog to protect her from her dog.
  • I jumped to grab Rennie but did not get her in time because I lack animal reflexes.

Rennie’s torso was clamped tight in the large dog’s jaws.  And she was shaken brutally, as if she were a toy.

The woman and dog fled the scene.

I picked up my precious, shredded baby and screamed so hysterically that every one of my neighbors on the entire street came running out of their houses.  My neighbor directly across the street, Matt, dropped everything he was doing and rushed us to the emergency vet, blowing through every red light to get us there.

Matt pulled into the parking lot and I opened the passenger door, stepped out, cradling Rennie carefully.  Matt’s car interior; the seat, the handle, the locks, everything, it had all been smeared with blood.  It was gruesome.  There was so much blood for such a little dog.

I walked straight into the Animal E.R. with Rennie, screaming and sobbing for someone to help me.  The vet took one look and said, I’m Sorry.

Rennie had died in my lap on the way there.



I don’t think I want to write anything else about it.

2015:  You hurt me so much.




A is For Apraxia


When it comes to various modes of communication, I’m much more effective via the written word than I am through verbal discourse.  It’s been that way for as long as I can remember.  And if my dialogue happens to be extemporaneous?  Well, then you can just forget hearing me utter anything remotely articulate.  I fall apart, my thoughts and words turning haphazard and rambling.  And in the moment, my arguments become so poorly reasoned, so weakly constructed, that I’m convincing absolutely no one, least of all myself.

I think the difficulty I have with any “off the cuff” exchange has more to do with my being overly influenced by emotion and less to do with any malfunction in cognitive processing.

Because I am both self-centered and myopic, I first consider this theory and how it pertains to me.

“Does this mean that I’m a good writer, but I’ll never be successful because I fall apart in person?   My life is such an embarrassing disaster–nobody will ever believe my work legitimately came from me.  Who will ever take me seriously?”

I then discuss the National Crisis that is ” Kristen and her Writing” at length with my parents, whose unconditional loves bids them do so.  Readers, did you happen to catch that uppercase W?  That may indicate significance.  You might consider making a note. ***Sarcasm***

When they are unavailable to pander to my self-obsessed verbal loop about me and my “Writing”, I debate the concept with any random stranger who makes eye contact at the market, God save them.  Just kidding!  I’d bet most readers aren’t fooled into believing that last statement;  I’m far too socially awkward for that kind of wild abandon.  Unless, that is,  I happen to be with my Dad.  If that were the case, I’d have miraculously gleaned at least iota of his charisma that he seems to radiate in endless supply.  I’ve subconsciously dubbed it his “Host Charisma” which is Warm, Loud and Silly.


Dad, Me

In contrast, when I am with my Mom, I also absorb a segment of her personality.  When I was growing up, I spent much more time around her than with my dad, so I’d venture to say my personality developed more closely to hers.  She has a Charisma which is Cool, Quiet, and Quirky.

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Me ( At Healthy Weight), Mom, Grandma

Ok, that became tangential very quickly.  I feel pretty sheepish since I’ve spent the last few paragraphs expounding on the direct nature of my writing, but, as evidenced, I get easily distracted in any forum.   ***Incidentally, I’ve switched psychiatric medicines once again, just prior to Christmas actually, and the “Flight of Ideas” symptom should hopefully be curtailed soon.  Getting back to the main point, I’d recently been discussing with reasonable frequency  obsessing over the disparity in communicative skills when my second-youngest brother, Mark, interrupted my mom and I because he was struggling to communicate.  Mark is fifteen years old and has severe Autism.


Marky (age 15), helping me open a Christmas present, 2015.

Mark was diagnosed at 18 months old and also has Apraxia of speech, which is a motor speech disorder.  This is when there is difficulty connecting speech from the brain to the mouth.  Apraxia affects nearly 65 percent of children with autism.  Do not misunderstand.  This is just one disability of the myriad that comprise his Autism.  Those diagnosed can be anywhere on the spectrum.  Unfortunately, both he and my youngest brother, Aaron, who is thirteen, are on the profound end of the Autism Spectrum.

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My brother, Aaron (age 13) at his first basketball game, 2015

Aaron, while also profoundly Autistic, is slightly higher functioning than Mark, but interestingly, non-verbal.  His Apraxia is worse than Mark’s, but his cognitive ability is more advanced.  He is able to write words and communicate at a rudimentary level to indicate if he is hungry, feeling aggressive, or wants to do an activity.


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Aaron (Age 13) receiving Equine Therapy for Sensory Issues.

Mark’s Apraxia limits him to a few “words” that sound sort of like a baby’s babbling when they’re learning to speak.  He’s very low functioning, and has disabling anxiety, cognitive impairment, and difficulty self-regulating his moods.  Compounding that, he has sensory and pain issues that he’s unable to explain in clear, coherent language.  And unlike Aaron, he’s unable write as an alternative form of communication.

So, for me to talk endlessly about how my brain feels clicking onto that one perfect word, versus how ineffective I sometimes feel speaking in person, well, I guess I should talk about it less and write about it more.



If you are interested in learning more about Autism Spectrum Disorder, check out my other related posts: Autism 101 and Autism Awareness Month.  You can also visit Autism Speaks.org to learn more about Apraxia and Autism Spectrum Disorder.




Figgy Pudding 2.0


I know it’s enormously lazy to recycle a post and, I normally wouldn’t do this, but I noticed a great deal of traffic on My Figgy Pudding Post from last year.  For a moment, I thought to myself, “That’s bizarre.  Why on earth is everyone looking at this boring old post?”.


Oh yeah.  It’s Christmas Day in exactly five days.

For the love of–honestly, what is wrong with me? 

Anyway, if you are interested in learning about what this highly mysterious seasonal treat actually is, you can click on this link or see the post below.  I sincerely hope I don’t spoil its enigmatic appeal for you.


Oh, and if you are interested in reading more recent posts about my own Fig Tree Cultivation, you can find several posts within the Gardening Category in the column on the right. Continue reading »