Harder to Kill: 1st Quarter Update

Three months of 2016 are vaporized, and i am holding myself accountable out here on my annual pilgrimage into the wilds of self-improvement. Time for an update on my quest to Prepare to Die while Becoming Harder to Kill.

Harder to Kill: i got off to a fabulous start with my health and strength goals! January found me doing another round of eating clean for three weeks! It is energizing and cathartic to do this – after a week of going without sugar, alcohol, dairy and caffeine, it became clear that i CAN do this.  My third session of unprocessed foods, it was noticeably easier this time.

Combining the aggressive control of my food and beverage intake with a jacked up workout routine, and i managed to drop 12 pounds through the end of January! A fine start to the quarter!

Then the travel started… i was on the road virtually all of February. A dive trip to the Caribbean, followed by a pile of business trips. On the bright side, i kept up the exercise routine, doing strength training in hotel fitness centers. On the down side, i added back in sugar and snacks and alcohol and… whatever the hell i felt like eating.

Boom. Almost 10 pounds right back IMG_20160406_191715where they started.  It could have
been worse. Course corrected, despite continued travel, i’ve
managed to get back on track. i need to do MUCH better with consistency, even if i focus on eating real food during the week, and allowing myself just one or two indulgences on the weekends.

Goal for the 2nd quarter? More push ups, more core strength and another 10 pounds vaporized. i love my trainer, and am ready for bicycling season to begin in earnest…

Preparing to Die: Partial win and partial fail here… i managed to do some office excavations, but it was mostly annual maintenance, rather than getting my personal paperwork in order. Clearing out “stuff” went fairly well, due in part to a new volunteer job i’ve taken on…

Being angered by the anti-refugee sentiment – now fueled by a certain orange businessman who has become the pied piper of ignorant bigots – i now volunteer with the non-profit responsible for refugee resettlement in my small town. A good group, they are short handed, and have limited resources. They need housewares, and i have extra housewares, so that’s worked out. A great outlet for re-homing things i don’t need. That, plus a carload of items taken to the local thrift, and i did make some progress on this one…

The real progress may have come from an unexpected source. As i sort through end-of-life issues for my ancient dog, and discuss this with my adult children, a lot of turf has been covered. Hospice care vs heroic measures. Disposition of the remains. Legacies. Memories. Saying goodbye…

i have alIMG_20160128_170450ways believed one of the benefits of raising children in a home with pets is that this is a healthy way to learn to deal with death. Burying guinea pigs in the side yard prepared my children for the loss of their beloved dogs, and later, it gave them a reasonable foundation for losing the first grandparent.

Turns out, the conversations we are having regarding my Elder Mutt are continuing to teach those lessons. As they prepare to say a final goodbye to him, they are in training for when i die.

Took this picture as i brought him home from the vet, stitches removed from a 7″ incision on his hip, resulting from the removal of a fist-sized cancerous tumor. Normally, i wouldn’t have had surgery done on a dog almost 15 years old, but had it been the really bad kind of cancer, it would have ruptured and he would have bled out. Not a good way to die. Had to do it, and he bounded back… Congestive heart failure is what will likely get him. It’s all about palliative care now. And enjoying every single moment with this old boy…

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Crickets and Tumbleweeds

Lots going on here at Chez Daisyfae, but the compelling urge to write has left the premises…

Being a blogger, however, i must uphold the “Blogger Oath”, and not let the complete lack of having something worthwhile to say stop me from posting!

Some scores, highlights, and coming attractions…

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For lack of meaningful pursuits, i ended up in the midst of a “Jello Shot Bake Off”.  Two friends and i talked enough shit about the quality of our alco-culinary skills that it seemed reason enough to have a party.  Although my entries to the contest were out-classed by my compatriots, i crafted a Rainbow Jello Shot Cake.  Took almost an entire bottle of vodka, and 5 1/2 hours, but it scored the coveted “Holy Shit!” award…i don't cook... i distill...

It wasn’t just the jello shot smack talkin’.  Spent a good bit of energy (and money) over the winter renovating my downstairs theater room.  It turned out to be a nice space – suitable for play.  Not just because of the wall mirrors in the fitness area…

work it on out

Over the course of the long holiday weekend, i managed to work in a long bike ride, a cardio-horseback riding lesson, and a ride on the motorcycle.  Somewhere along the way, i wrenched my lower back, and am momentarily hobbled.  Part of my self-prescribed physical therapy involves being flat on the floor, legs in the air, working the core muscles to un-wrench the knots.  My dog does not understand physical therapy.  He wants to play.  He is a turd.

The song of my people...

Remember that time i got drunk at a charity auction?  Oh, yeah.  That time last February to be more specific (Smart asses… All of you…).  In a few short weeks, i’m going to suit up and sit in the right seat of this thing.  And foul my undershorts at very high speeds…

Marchetti

photo from the combat usa website.  holy shit.  what was i thinking?

The first half of the year has gone pretty well, but i’ve missed traveling.  Due to circumstance, most of my holiday time is going to take place over the next three months.  In addition to shopping for booze, turns out i’m also a fiend for shopping for hotels and airfare!  Getting pretty jazzed about what lies ahead…

Might be running into some blog mates soon, too.  Oh, and fishies.  The SCUBA habit demands attention. Suspect i’ll be even more scarce out here over the next few months!

Onward!  Adventure awaits!

Road trip for the ages...

photo found here.  i’ll have my own to post in a few months!

What is love?

This is the face of my 12-year-old puppy, Mr. Pickles, taken right before he darted after a tennis ball, into a roiling doggie mosh pit at the local bark park.


He came up with a bit of a limp – and two tennis balls in his mouth – so we cut the Friday afternoon session short, hopped back in the jeep and headed for home.  He was still limping through the weekend, so i took him to see the Dog Doc on Monday.

News wasn’t great, but could have been worse:  partial tear of the ligament, or a severe sprain.  No surgery required, unless it got worse.  Anti-inflammatory meds, and minimal activity prescribed for the next several weeks.

Try explaining that “minimal activity” thing to a dog that takes great pleasure in the art of the “Sproing”.  His preferred method to get in bed?  A running start and a flying leap.  With the bad wheel, he was simply doing it on his three good legs.

Some improvement through the week, so i left on my planned weekend trip, leaving my critters in the capable hands of my live-in pet-sitter. While i was out-of-town, Mr. P took up the art of splatter paint – from both ends of his body.  Pet Sitter filled me in on the details, and i made another appointment with the Dog Doc.

Worse news this time.  Mr. P is one of the rare dogs that do not tolerate those specific types of anti-inflammatory meds.  Through a series of diagnostic steps, ruling out worse things, we learned that his liver had suffered severe damage.  A rough road ahead.

This is the face of my 12-year-old puppy, Mr. Pickles, as we drove home from the vet that day, with the news that he was, in fact, a very, very sick puppy.

That was almost a week ago.  i’m happy to report that he’s doing well.  As a woman who rarely cooks, i boiled chicken and steamed rice for him.  Getting him eating again was a challenge, so we started with a few bites at a time.  Hand feeding him to keep him from gulping.  Burying pills in chicken and cheese.  Tracking every change in his excretions like a human spectrometer.

The Boy came home this week for a short stay, and was watching me slowly hand feed the brown dog a viscous glop of bland chicken and rice.

daisyfae:  Watch carefully.  You might have to do this for me someday.

The Boy:  I’ll be contracting that shit out.  Ship you off to Turkey, or wherever The Girl is living at the time.

It’s nice to have him home.  Really.

The healing process for my dog is going to take some time.  And i’ve already made a mortgage payment to the veterinary clinic for the care, diagnostics and medications.  So far…

But this is the face of my 12-year-old puppy, Mr. Pickles, as we settled down for bed last night.

We are a pack of two.

Semper Fido

Dragged Mr. Pickles the Wonder Mutt out with me for a walk tonight after work. He’s not good on a leash, and at almost 100 lbs, can knock me over while chasing invisible bunnies and following orders received from his handlers on The Dog Planet.

Rather than the choke collar – which didn’t work, and made the local animal rights people put my face on the “Evil Dog Mommy” posters displayed at the post office – i’ve started using something called “the gentle leader“.  This is a head harness that presses on the snout when pulled. He hates this thing. But he loves walks, so once we’re out of the Jeep, he’s forgotten his annoyance and is back to being the Marco Polo of the doggie set…

It was a beautiful evening… and it didn’t seem unreasonable to go out for an hour. At the halfway point Mr. Pickles had other plans. I’d brought a dog water bottle, and as he drank from the spout, he flopped to the ground with an audible plop – effectively telling me he was on strike.

Just as a human can appear to be in good health but have no cardiovasular strength, i suddenly realized that the Couch-Meister was in dire need of a fitness improvement program… yet i was 30 minutes away from the Jeep and had to deal with the immediate problem at hand. Thinking through several possible outcomes, i realized i might need to sling 100 lbs of squirming fur, poo and saliva around my neck to carry him back*.

Fortunately, he recovered enough to make the return trip… and i now have an additional workout buddy. Even though he’s a lean, not-even-close-to-mean, slobberin’ machine, my canine life partner dog is seriously out of shape.

Misery loves company, and Mr. Pickles better get used to evening treks with the old lady.  And i’m going to have to get used to seeing this when i get him home…

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* Not only would i be slinging the dog around my neck, but i’d be juggling the water bottle (which could have been tucked into my shorts) and the bag of lukewarm poo (which could NOT have been tucked into my shorts).

The Dog Log…

It was worth a try, but time to regroup.  It turns out, an empty nester with a neurotic and dysfunctional highly affectionate dog cannot in good conscience abandon him to the kennel when business travel beckons…

It was working the first few times, dropping off my confused, but generally happy, pup at the kennel before roadtrips.  He’s a bit ADHD and confused, and it seemed i was retrieving him before he even noticed i was gone. 

Things didn’t go so well last time.  While i was drinking and whoring networking in California, Mr. Pickles was on a hunger strike at the kennel.  By the time i picked him up (after 4 days) he was a wreck – fur coming out in chunks, a hint of his ribcage peeking out at me… and he was barely able to bark, offering a raspy, pathetic and guilt-inducing substitute instead…

Evaluating options, i found the name of a highly recommended pet sitting service.  Having just completed the initial interview*, i think this is going to work out pretty well…  The price is right, the sitter will bring in the mail and newspaper, and the mutt doesn’t have to leave the couch.  She even offered to bring over a ‘doggie play buddy’ to keep him company!

chocolate2.jpg

Now, if i could just stop referring to him as that “Little Brown Hole of Need”…

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* I spent almost an hour straightening my house before the interview, putting away dishes, cleaning dog bowls, digging suitable pet toys from under the sofa.  Seriously, why do i care?  Must i really prove my ‘dog mother worthiness’ to hired dog-sitters?

Responsibilities vs Opportunities

Demographically, i’m a single, middle-aged empty-nester.  My baby chicks have flown the coop for college – but with fairly regular weekend drop-ins to spend quality time with me and the dog, and perhaps to take advantage of the laundry facilities*.

On paper, there is nothing keeping me in town, except a house that would be difficult to unload in a shitty housing market, friends, and the job.

Things are never that simple, though…

I have two opportunities for positions on the east coast – one more real than the other.  Sort of ‘open offers’, but the real one may have an expiration date.  It caught me a little off guard today, as i was dealing with an unbelievable stream of ‘you’ve got to be shitting me’ events**.

My response to the offer presented this afternoon? “I’d love to, thank you for the offer, but I’ll need some time to think it through”.  I was surprised by the hesitation – this one has the makings of a great alignment of circumstances.

First, i need time to weigh a move against impact on the kids – they know that this is part of my long term plan, and wouldn’t be surprised.  In fact, The Girl is holding out for me getting a position in Europe to provide better support to her travel habit. 

Second thought?  Mom.  Although i’m not involved in her daily care, i am still the ‘senior strategist’ for whatever happens in The Park.  And i worry that this year may be rough… and no, Dr. M’s hotness isn’t a factor.  Well, not a huge factor…

The biggest surprise?  I have a brain-damaged, attention-deficit-disordered dog.  He hasn’t adjusted to being at the kennel when i travel – coming home hoarse from continuous barking, scrawny from not eating, and tired from lack of sleep.  I’m exploring options for ‘pet sitters’ to see if i can manage travel with less trauma to the canine…

So what is it?  I just can’t see him living in the city… And besides, do i really want to be one of those people carrying a bag of warm dog shit while being dragged down a sidewalk by an NFL Fullback disguised as a labrador? 

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* we all agree that they don’t show up here for either the well-stocked pantry, or the fine home-cooked meals…unless jello shots count as a fine home-cooked meal…

** i was extremely tired because i didn’t get to bed last night until 2am after the car-sicle incident at the airport, couldn’t get the dog from the kennel this morning as planned because it was below freezing outside and he was still wet from his bath (apparently blow drying a 100lb dog isn’t an option at this kennel), 30 minutes of frustration attempting to just login to a required training site – all the while dealing with a stream of boneheaded colleagues intent on wasting my bandwidth.  I then had a flat tire on my way to a lunch appointment, with sub-freezing weather.  And then the day got messy…

Introducing…

The Wonder Dog himself, Mr. Pickles.  In Spanish, he’s Senor Escabeche.  Mostly, he sleeps.  On this particular day, the kids decided he needed a cape, to fully capture his magical powers.  Once the novelty wore off?  He slept….

WonderDog1

 

So i’m playing around with embedding pictures and the like.  Too tired to write anything short and clever, and not quite up for finishing up any of the morose and brooding nuggets that are in the works.

Here’s to big, slobbery, warm and toasty dogs.  He pre-warms the bed for me at night, jumps down to let me get settled with the blankets, and jumps back up to make a happy ‘dog pile’ at the end of the day.

As my housemate, and fellow refugee from The Park, i couldn’t be happier to come home to him every night.  Probably one of the healthiest relationships i’ve ever had!

Neither man nor beast can escape…

…the long arms of The Park.

About 5 years ago, when DQ was still married to her first husband (before he went to prison), she asked if i wanted another dog.   DQs cousin had paid a ridiculous amount of money for a chocolate lab, only to learn that he would grow to 100 lbs – about 50 lbs above the livestock size limit for his current housing arrangement.

I stipulated a ‘try it before you buy it’ approach to assure compatibility with our smaller dog.  It was within the realm of the plausible that this beast was, in fact, a champion Pit Bull being disguised as a lab, and hidden from the mob…  Always be cautious in business dealings in The Park.

He had been named “Lando”. For Lando Calrissian of Star Wars.

Much to my amusement, the large brown dog had been named for the only ‘person of color’ these folks could think of…  clever bunch, they are…

Had they named him “Billy Dee”, we might have kept the name, but even in the car on the drive home, we agreed that the name didn’t work…

The two dogs got along well, and it was clear that the large brown dog was a sweet, subservient and very slobbery attention whore (hmmm… probably a good concept for an episode of Jerry Springer…).

The smaller dog went with my ex-husband when we separated – but the large brown dog stayed, assuring that my house never lacked noise, fur and dog slobber.  As a single, ’empty nester’, the large brown dog is still my canine life partner faithful companion, licking joyfully at his maleness as i write…

Somehow it’s fitting that Mr. Pickles and i are both refugees from The Park.