Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Teddy Chasing Squirrels in the Snow

Teddy, my 11-month old English Springer Spaniel, was jumping for joy in the first massive snow fall of 2009. I just watch and grin and occasionally call to him. And try to snag photos.

Some time I will find the words to describe the evolution of my feelings for and relationship to Teddy.

He is named for the lion who died on the same day I brought Teddy home in August 2009. I am happy to let people assume that his namesake is Teddy Roosevelt. Either is a fitting image of this energetic, tail wagging little dog.

My vocabulary seems full of cliches: bundle of joy (when he cavorts in a pre-dawn field, galloping at full tilt)! full of love (when he puts his head in my lap and looks up with baleful eyes and wagging tail)! rascal (when he goes upstairs and comes back down with one of my shoes).

The more serious parts are my evolving and growing relationship with him. I had trouble at first. I think/hope that I have found the sweet spot in the racket (pun intended) of being a good dog mom. Sometime I will chart the evolution

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Teddy my Dog

A video of my new pooch, Teddy.

I love my dog.
He's wonderful.

Sonia Sotomayor, a Gentle Giant

My 20th law school reunion was wonderful (much to my surprise). Seeing old friends (not enough of them), meeting new friends (not enough of them either), communing with cousins (not enough time) and having the chance to be in this photo. Taken by Bill Eskridge, now on the YLS faculty. It was an awesome weekend. To say the least.

Sonia Sotomayor will grow into being a great Supreme Court justice. For two reasons.
One, she is as solid and constant as a lava flow coming out of a volcano. She simply rises to a level of discourse that is complete, creative, funny, touching, thorough going, brilliant, human, and filled with the gentle self awareness that a grownup has. These qualities give her great, great strength and breadth.

Second, she is an intentionalist. There are two kinds of justices (three if you count the practical centrists, but they aren't really interpreting the laws or constitution, but finding a good middle ground, more equity than law (O'Connor). Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts are literalists. They focus on the text, on the words, on the grammar, on some mysterious concept of "the law," as written in ever more limiting words. Intentionalists, like Breyer and Ginsberg, ask what was the intent of the law, what is it there for, what is its purpose. Breyer has a wonderful, slim, easily readable book, Active Liberty, that lays out in clear terms what an intentionalist does to interpret the law and the constitution. Sotomayor always asks what is this law trying to do. (Look also to Peter Gomes' "The Good Book" about how to read the Bible.)

During an hour long colloquy with the YLS alums and larger school family, she told some telling stories. One was that in her visits to senators before her confirmation hearings, she learned more about them and their concerns than she thinks they learned about her. She talked of her great appreciation of what is on the minds of people all around the country. She is open to the diversity of humankind. Another phrase was "grand clerks" which refers to the children of her clerks. She said, "while I don't have an birth children," I have lots of children in my life, my grand clerks, my god children and lots of others. A lovely way of phrasing it and revealing someone who is interested in others, not just in articulating what she thinks.

She will pave a very wide swath through this area of utmost importance to our country. A number of people have said that she will be more conservative than I think or would want. I don't really care. The actual outcomes are often a lot less important than the general direction of an opinion. She will push toward a more humanistic view of the law and its role in human lives. And, intentionalists, like liberals, always come out ahead, in the end. History is written, by and large, by them.

We are so lucky, once again!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Posts after a year's hiatus

So much to say, so many pictures to post!!

A new launch.

Simon, to be renamed, my new dog. He comes home on Friday.

A solitary finch.

The green roof at Eastern Village Co-Housing in Silver Spring. Note the rooftop cooling accoutrements on the building across the way, compared with the green roof. Go Green!

More caterpillar and parasitic wasp pupae.

Parasitic wasp pupae infesting a caterpillar. The garden books call the wasps beneficial.
I only wish there were a parasite to infest the late fungus that has damaged everyone's tomato plants. The caterpillar was downed by the rain, but he was already dead, having fed the wasp pupae.

A butterfly in Mason's Neck Wildlife Refuge

This year's water lily

A box turtle on the Appalachian Trail

A bee in a thistle

Some new fun photos.

Another Miracle

I have written about an hispanic man who is my ward (or, I am his court appointed guardian), who made miraculous progress after 3 years in a coma, and who was discovered to be able to point to letters on a large page, and so communicate his real name, his birthplace in a middle american county, and through that, with the help of the consul from his country, locate his local family here in the US.

Today, we leapt over Mt. Everest.

Since that last story, I have battled with hospital doctors to try to get them to put him on an antidepressant and some antipsychotics. They made it to the antidepressants, but never the antipsychotics. After over 2 years in the hospital, some overseeing angel found a way to get him paid for in a nursing home and he was moved.

The nursing home doctors were a lot more understanding and cooperative and immediately did the psych eval to determine whether he needed medication. Answer, yes. This addressed the psychological underpinnings to ease him into a more cooperative mood, so we could work on his physical issues.

He had been on a trache and ventilator as well as a feeding tube ("PEG") for over three years. He kept pulling out the PEG, being sent back to the hospital for reinsertion and then returned to the nursing home. His family, meanwhile, were telling me that he wanted to eat and that they brought him food and that he could eat and swallow, despite the tube down his throat.

When I visited the last time, he had progressed so much that when the doctor was told he had pulled out the second trache, he said leave it out and see what happens. He was able to talk, and greeted me with a very clear "son of a bitch" pointing with squinty eyes at me. He was getting better! One can't take these sorts of things personally, on the contrary, he was communicating. So, I asked him whether he wanted to eat. He nodded yes. I asked whether he wanted chocolate milk, YES. Steak, YES. So, I went to the care team and asked whether they could get him some chocolate milk. They had to call the doctor. Doctor said clear liquids only. Took them half an hour to get two little containers of frozen apple juice. I took it to him, but he turned away.

I persuaded the care team that since he wasn't cooperating with the nursing home staff on passing a "swallow test" that we could have the family come in, bring food, and staff could watch him eat and confirm that we could advance his diet. The doctor agreed and the nursing home director thought it was a great idea.

So next day (today) I meet his mother and brother. They had brought superb smelling soup filled with chuncks of celery, carrots and tortillas. I called the "speech therapist" who had agreed to come to witness. By then he was chowing down the tortillas like a champ. The speech therapist was troubled because the nursing home protocols weren't being followed and she herself couldn't certify that he could eat or recommend that he be moved from being tube fed to removing the tube and eating. But, she would note that she had seen him eating. And that the next steps would be to remove the feeding tube and order regular meals.

Here was a man for whom I had four times recommended we put him on hospice and let him not be fed by tube if that was what he wanted. Now, I am looking for the day that he is sitting in an electric wheelchair, can go home to his family and I can terminate the guardianship.

Hard work over three years. But what a result. !! I am flipped over the moon.

My work is fun and gratifying!