Them’s gator in the waters…

alligatorI will never forget the feeling of dread when I saw the door to our condo was wide open.  My youngest daughter, my mother, and myself had just come back from an evening swim at the community pool.  Kristine and Gracie had stayed behind at the condo, as Kristine was tired and didn’t feel up to watching Gracie in the pool.  Kristine has likely fallen asleep and Gracie may have escaped into the night.  I’m thinking, “Please, God, please let Gracie be in there.”

Let me back up a bit.  A while back we decided to take a weekend trip to Busch Gardens, as we were tired of the Disney theme parks.  So we opted to do something different, and rented a condo in a gated community on a golf course.  This community also has an awesome pool and mini waterpark.  If I’d known about the latter, I would have skipped Busch Gardens altogether.

After driving across the state of Florida and then spending all day at Busch Gardens, we enter the grounds where our condo is located.  As we’re driving thru the community, I notice several small and medium-sized ponds with signs warning of alligators.  These signs are rather ubiquitous throughout Florida.  Despite that, I notice them anyway.

We check into our condo, looking forward to bedding down for the night.  Everyone except our youngest, of course.  She wants to go swimming.  With reluctance, I agree to take her to the community pool, and my mother decides to join us.

The water is refreshing.  It’s nighttime and the pool is lighted thru lamps in its walls.  A slight breeze is rustling thru the palm trees, and there are only a few other swimmers enjoying a late-night dip.  The scene makes for a very idyllic one.  Gabby is enjoying herself, hanging on to her daddy.  When we’re ready to head back to the condo, we wrap towels around ourselves and begin our long walk back thru the darkness.

As we come around a bend, I notice our condo right away.  The door is open, and I say to no one in particular, “Why is the door open?”  I quicken my pace and close the gap between myself and our condo.  I step into our condo and see that Gracie is pacing the floor, and Kristine is on the sofa, fast asleep.  Attracted by the light, there are bugs flying about in our condo.  My relief is palpable.

I say Kristine’s name, sharper than I intended.  “What?!” she says.  Kristine awakes quickly, with a look of confusion on her face, seeing her husband, Gabby, and her mother-in-law all staring at her.  I know that she had locked the door after us when we left to go for our swim.  Gracie must have opened the door.  For reasons we can only guess at, Gracie decided to stay with her momma.

I investigate the door.  It has a deadbolt, but the kind that allows a person on the inside to unlock it and open the door simply by pressing down on the door lever.  I place several obstacles in front of the door before we retire for the evening.

The next morning I’m sitting on the condo’s back patio, looking out across a pond and sipping my coffee.  The edge of the water is about fifteen feet from the patio.  Then I detect motion across the far side, underneath some tree limbs and foliage just above the water’s surface.  I watch it intently to confirm my suspicions about what is causing the ripples in the glass surface of the water.  And then I see its eyes…

I calmly get up and go inside to our condo.  “It’s time go, people,” I say.

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Angels We Have Heard on High…

I challenge anyone to listen to this little girl without getting a tear in their eye.  Those that manage not to do so either have ice in their veins, or a stone-cold, dead heart.

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Papaw manages a lucky shot

I’m at work, deep in concentration on the task before me.  My cellphone rings, and I look at it to see the Caller ID displaying “Unknown” and a number I don’t recognize.  However,  the number is local, and I think to myself that I should probably answer the call.  There’s no telling what the call could be about.  Sighing, I answer the phone.

“I need you to remain calm.”  It’s Kristine calling me, and right away I am steeling myself mentally to receive the worst news a parent can receive.  Gracie has managed to get herself killed somehow.

“But she’s okay,” says Kristine.  I’m clenching my teeth now, struggling to keep my emotions in check.  I take a deep breath.

“Are you there?” Kristine asks.

“Yes,” I hiss through clenched teeth.  “What’s happened?”

Kristine informs me that Gracie walked out of her classroom, and out into the world.  Yeah, I know.  How does this happen?  Gracie’s classroom has an exterior door, a common feature at schools in Florida.  Anyway, Gracie managed to leave the school grounds, cross Commodore Boulevard in front of the school, and turn right to walk to the intersection of Commodore and Eau Gallie Boulevard.  The latter is a major east-west highway, with four lanes of traffic.  Believe me when I tell you that crossing Eau Gallie can be dangerous, given the volume of traffic on this highway.

Gracie obviously must have thought crossing Eau Gallie didn’t seem to be in her best interest.  Instead, she turned left and wandered into the parking lot of an office building, entered the office building, and proceeded to wander up and down the building’s main aisle.  A Good Samaritan noticed Gracie, and thought something wasn’t right with what he was seeing.  This person decided to call the Melbourne Police, while keeping a watchful eye on Gracie to make sure she wouldn’t endanger herself.

I tell Kristine I’m leaving work to go straight to Gracie’s school, so I can speak with the staff about the incident.  Kristine asks me to wait for her before I go into Gracie’s school.  So both of us leave our places of employment, and meet at Gracie’s school.  We go into the school’s office and ask to speak with the principal.  We’re escorted into the principal’s office to meet with him and another administrator.  I think I see a look of fear on their faces.  I express my outrage in mostly calm fashion, although I did let an F-word expletive slip out during my statements.

It is a miracle that Gracie wasn’t harmed.

On a different subject, yeah, I said I was pulling the plug on this blog.  But I made no promise to do so.  Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.  I don’t know.  We’ll see when the bill comes due.  Cheers.


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Gracie’s EEG

Gracie getting her EEG.  Going on eleven hours, and may need to go another thirteen.

UPDATE (from Kristine)

Gracie was transported from Viera Hospital to Florida Hospital in Orlando last night, where she is getting a 24hr EEG. Last night Gracie had a CAT scan.  At 3 or 4 o’clock I may find out if she is getting released today. Doctor said if they do not see anything on EEG they most likely will want her to stay overnight again. Neurologist said Gracie will be on medication for seizures. The neurologist was very thorough.

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Another ER trip

In the ER again with Gracie.  She’s had her second seizure in four days, which makes for a total of three now.  Don’t know what’s going on.

UPDATE (from Kristine)

Gracie was transported from Viera Hospital to Florida Hospital in Orlando last night, where she is getting a 24hr EEG. Last night Gracie had a CAT scan.  At 3 or 4 o’clock I may find out if she is getting released today. Doctor said if they do not see anything on EEG they most likely will want her to stay overnight again. Neurologist said Gracie will be on medication for seizures. The neurologist was very thorough.

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Counting gummies

gummiesKristine takes Gracie to a neurologist, given Gracie experienced a grand mal seizure a few weeks ago.  During Kristine’s conversation with the doctor, Kristine mentioned Gracie’s difficulty with sleeping.  The doctor suggests a product he sells right out of his office, Sundown Naturals Melatonin Gummies.  Kristine buys a bottle with the intent of helping Gracie sleep better.

I arrive home from work later that same day.  Upon entering our home, Kristine proceeds to tell me about her day.

“Hi.  I took Gracie to the neurologist today, and he told me to try this to help Gracie sleep,” Kristine says, pointing to a bottle of  melatonin gummies on our kitchen counter.  “I’m going to try one.”

“I’ll try one too,” I say.  I look at a clock, making a mental note of the time.  It is almost 7 PM.  Kristine and I pop a gummy into our mouths and happily chew away.  Not bad… only a slight medicinal taste.

Later in the evening, near 10 PM, I’m sitting in a recliner watching TV.  Wow.  I’m so tired. Kristine is sound asleep on the couch next to where I’m sitting.  I hope I can make it to our bed.  I’m so tired I don’t bother to wake Kristine up to get her to move to our bedroom.  So tired I don’t even bother to brush my teeth.  So tired I hope I make it to rest my head on my pillow, as a spot it from afar upon entering our bedroom.

I wake up the next morning, feeling actually refreshed.  Not like Death warmed over.  I get up and head to our kitchen, and find Kristine making coffee.

“Wow.  That stuff works,” I say to Kristine.

“I know.  Karen tried to wake me several times, to get me off of the couch.”  Karen is my sister-in-law, who has been staying with us to help out with Gracie.  Kristine adds, “I think it helped Gracie too.”

“How would you know?  We were both passed out!” I say.

“And I gave Gracie two of them!” Kristine exclaims.

Gracie stumbles thru our kitchen, still half asleep…

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Fixing Gracie

Always a project...

Always a project…

Fixing Gracie.  Not literally, no, no.  I mean metaphorically.  Fix her so that she doesn’t destroy things.

I recently had been thinking about changing the oil in Gracie’s dresser, given all the miles it has traveled as of late.  The dresser is solid wood, and is very heavy.  Gracie recently has been pushing it all about her bedroom.  When she’s not doing that she’s opening the drawers the little bit she can, taking stuff out of the drawers, and either chewing on it and/or strewing it about her room.  The drawers have child locks on them, but the locks allow the drawers to open about two inches.

Last week we changed our satellite TV service, and decided to move service from one of our other TV’s to Gracie’s.  Prior to that Gracie watched movies on DVD or via Netflix.  After getting home from work the day our service was changed, I went into her room to check out the installer’s work… sigh… this is why I have to do things myself.  Cables everywhere, and a receiver on top of a well-traveled dresser.  It wasn’t but a few days later that Gracie decided to take the dresser for a ride and ripped all the cables out of their connections, and broke the wall plate of the receptacle into which the power cords were plugged.

I put everything back in its place, reconnected all the cables, etc.  Later that evening I go to check on Gracie and I find the dresser has been moved again.  The receiver is dangling underneath the TV, hanging by its cord.  I get some tools from our garage, return to her bedroom, and dismantle Gracie’s source of televised entertainment.  I move her TV and all its accoutrements to a more secure location in our home, with plans for the coming weekend to fix Gracie.  It’s 11:30 in the evening when I finish, and I need to get up in less than six hours to get ready for work.

This dresser is going nowheres!

This dresser is going nowheres!

I basically bolted Gracie’s dresser to her floor, hid all the cables in a conduit fastened to her bedroom wall, and strapped the TV satellite receiver to the side of the dresser.  Flush with satisfaction, I use my phone to take pictures of my handiwork and send them off to Kristine.  Gracie’s mother is in Michigan on a business trip.

I need a better plan for keeping Gracie out of her drawers. Make that plans, plural.  And sometime before or after I address the drawer situation, I have another project to tackle:  Gracie’s window blinds.  She is destroying them.  I’m leaning towards replacing the window with one that has blinds between the interior and exterior panes of glass.  That will set me back a nice chunk of change, no doubt.

Fancy entertainment center.

Fancy entertainment center.

At this moment Gracie is pacing the family room floor, looking for something to get into.  She stands with one foot in Mitsu’s water bowl (Mitsu is our dog, an eight-month old Akita).  Gracie walks over to Mitsu, who’s sprawled out along the floor, napping.  Gracie stands over Mitsu and sticks a foot into Mitsu neck.

“No, Gracie!  Leave Mitsu alone!” I yell.

Gracie wanders away from Mitsu, over to the door leading out to our rear patio, and turns the doorknob.  I’m waiting for the day she figures out how to operate the deadbolt.  What do I do then?  Eh, when we cross that bridge.  And all during this time, while writing this post, Gracie has been humming non-stop.  It’s maddening.  Even when she’s not here, I think I hear her humming.

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