Monday, September 1, 2014

Day 1721 - Labor Day

Since it was Labor Day, I thought I'd undertake a laborious task. I got out the the toxic bottle of cleaning fluid, moved the teak lawn furniture to a dog-free zone on the side of the house, and set about making the wood look new again. The job wasn't as bad as I anticipated when I initially read the warning label on the bottle. Nothing caught on fire and the wood didn't boil or bubble as I applied the cleaner with thick rubber gloves. I was surprised that the stuff actually worked, since it had been sitting on a shelf for over ten years. After much scrubbing with an abrasive cloth, I rinsed the chairs off and was delighted to discover that they did look like new. After spending the past year giving Dash his chemotherapy drugs, I've gotten pretty good at handling hazardous materials. Cleaning the teak chairs was a piece of cake.

I discovered today that my iPhone is eligible for Apple's battery replacement program. Evidently, my phone was part of a small batch that received defective batteries when they were manufactured. The battery has never held a charge well, but I always though that I had just installed too many battery draining apps on my phone. I thought I'd investigate how hard it was to actually obtain my free new battery and got nowhere. The Apple stores are completely automated now and it is impossible to talk to a real person on the phone. I hit a dead end with the automated system. I couldn't even find out if the stores were open on Labor Day. I thought about just driving over to Northpark to see for myself, but then I remembered all the Labor Day sales at the mall and decided to wait until a quieter day. If experience is any guide, I will have to make an appointment to see someone at the Genius Bar online and then when I go to my appointment I will be told that I have to make another appointment to actually get the battery replaced. When I go to this second appointment, I will be told that the store ran out of batteries at 10:30 AM and that they will call me as soon they arrive. Then I won't hear from anyone for another month. That's the way it works at the Apple store now.

When we were having dinner last night, Janet asked me if I considered myself retired now. This seemed like a strange question, since I still fire up the computer every day and go to work. Sealander & Company is still open for business. I guess it was a fair question though. Much of the work I do these days pays very little and is largely meaningless. I've been losing the high-end jobs to younger, hipper companies for at least five years now. Maybe I just can't see the forest for the trees.

Since I didn't feel like fighting the holiday crowds at the shopping malls, there was very little to do after I finished cleaning the lawn furniture. After walking the dogs this morning, Janet set up a production line and began sewing dog bandannas for the upcoming Dalmatian Rescue golf tournament. She does a different design each year and this year's seems the best ever. I wasn't so productive and eventually wound up watching old Top Gear episodes on the BBC channel.

In keeping with today's toxic theme, I found another patch of Jimson Weed to photograph. It's amazing to me that these pretty flowers are poison. They look just like Easter Lilies to me.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Day 1720

We went out to dinner tonight. This wouldn't have been a big deal if it weren't for the fact that it's been almost a year since Janet and I have gone to a restaurant together. This year has been so filled with work related stress and dog emergencies that going out to eat has been the last thing on our minds. On most evenings, all we really wanted was a good night's sleep. Since we have a three day weekend and both dogs are much better now, it was a good night to get out for a while. We went to P.F. Chang's using a gift card that had been sitting around the house for ages and had a very enjoyable evening. Since everything was just fine when we returned, it's probably time we got out more.

Actually, everything was just fine for the entire day. There was a hint of Fall in the air when we took the dogs on their morning walk. Although it warmed up later in the day, this morning was just about perfect. Dot has a good night and didn't pee in her sleep. When this happens, Janet and I get a better night's sleep as well. Since I slept well, I was surprised to wake up with a painful foot. At first I though I needed new walking shoes, or at least a new set of orthotics. Then I notice a big bruise on the arch of my left foot. It looked like I had dropped something heavy on my foot. How could I have dropped something on my foot yesterday and not even remember it? I have no memory of dropping a heavy object on my foot yesterday, but the foot tells a different tale. Maybe I dropped a tool on my foot while I was fixing the screen door. Maybe the picture frame I broke hit my foot before it hit the floor and shattered. You'd think I would remember something like this, but my mind is a blank.

The pain in my foot gradually subsided as the day progressed, so I went ahead and went to the gym as I had planned. I still need to go workout more than once a week, but all things considered, I'm doing pretty well. Probably walking the dogs several miles each day and doing chores around the house that most people reserve for their yard guy helps keep me in shape more than these weekly gym visits. I still need to start going to the gym at least twice a week though.

Janet sewed another waterproof pad for Dot to sleep on this afternoon. We have three of these over-sized absorbent pads now and there are better than anything available commercially. The front is a soft, absorbent terry cloth fabric and the back is a waterproof oilcloth like you would use for a tablecloth. We have already washed these things at least a dozen times and they work great. This wouldn't be the first time we've invented a product when none was available that met our needs. We'll never get rich from these endeavors though. When you design something for an audience of one, that's usually as far as it goes.

Tomorrow is the first of September. The dogs get their monthly heartworm pills and we get a rare Monday without the usual getting ready for work rituals. By the end of the month the worst of the Summer heat will be over for another year. The days will get shorter and I will start photographing sunsets again instead of wildflowers. I like these repeating rituals. This year certainly hasn't been what I expected, but it still feels familiar.

Domino is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Day 1719

I only had one thing to do today. I was going to fix the screen door. I've done this dozens of times before, because screen doors don't last very long with Dalmatians. In the past, dogs have jumped right through the screen when they saw a rabbit in the back yard. Typically, the damage isn't this severe but the metal mesh always gets damaged eventually by scratching paws, wagging tails, and simply bumping into the screen over and over again. It was time for a new screen today.

I thought this would be an easy job, but I was wrong. Unbeknownst to me, they stopped making screen wire in the correct size since the last time I fixed the door. I couldn't even find anything close, so I had to buy a much larger screen and cut it down to size. I keep forgetting that my Mid-Century Modern house is really sixty years old. Doors have gotten larger, along with just about everything else. When I got the screen sized properly, I realized that I needed staples for my staple gun. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that nobody makes staples that fit my old but very nice Swingline stapler. All the staples are made to fit Arrow staple guns now. My sturdy, American made staple gun had become a relic. Home Depot had an entire aisle full of staples and nails, but nothing for me. I finally found a single box of Swingline staples that looked like it was from the 1950's in my storage warehouse, but this is going to be a problem in the future. Fixing the door was never this much of a problem before. It made me feel old. I had a hard time even getting the screen door off its hinges because of the carpel tunnel in my left wrist and my dislocated right shoulder.

I did eventually manage to get the door fixed, but in the process I broke a pretty brass watering can that I've used for years to water house plants. I knocked the can over when I was positioning the door on a nearby table to attach the screen and all the braised brass joints just fell apart. One little tap and the spout and legs just fell off. Later, when I was picking up dog blankets to wash, I knocked a picture frame off the wall and broke it too. It was that kind of day.

Dot had a better day than I did. There were no accidents at all. It's strange that today was normal, because last night she peed all over one of her waterproof mats while she was sleeping. Maybe it was just because we slept in a bit later this morning. She probably would have made it through the night if we had all gotten up at 6 AM like we do on a work day.

I watched the latest Dr. Who episode while I was getting the bed ready for another unpredictable night. I don't know if Dot's bladder will leak tonight, but I do know that Dr. Who needs some better writing if this season is to be a success. Peter Capaldi could still be a great doctor, but he needs better scripts. In my humble opinion, tonight's show was a poorly conceived mess. I felt like I was watching a parody of Fantastic Voyage. I'll still watch next week though.

Janet has a weird weighted hula hoop that she sometimes uses to exercise with in the back yard. I tried to use the hoop while I was messing around with the screen door this afternoon and I couldn't keep the thing spinning. How embarrassing. I would have thought using a hula hoop was one of those basic things like riding a bicycle that you never forget. Who knows. Maybe I can't ride a bicycle anymore either.

Tessa is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, August 29, 2014

Day 1718

I thought I'd do something useful today, so I decided to clean the teak outdoor furniture in the back yard. I had a bottle of special cleaning liquid and made the mistake of reading the fine print on the back of the bottle. Before using this product, I was supposed to put on rubber gloves, wear protective eyewear, and dispose of any clothing that inadvertently became exposed to the product. The warning message also told me to cover the ground under the bench I was about to clean, so the product wouldn't seep into the soil when I rinsed the furniture off with a garden hose. WTF? If this stuff is this dangerous, why was it sitting on a shelf in a hardware store begging to be purchased by idiots like me. Needless to say, I didn't open the bottle. I only read the label to make sure the cleaner would be safe around dogs. I never dreamed it would be hazardous to my own health. The last line on the warning label included the number for the poison control hotline, just in case something went wrong.

With my plans to clean the patio furniture thwarted, I decided to go ahead and finish my August writers group essay a few days early. The prompt for this month was "windows," but it could just as easily been kangaroos. I'm not particular about what I write about. As my regular blog readers have already learned, I often write about nothing.

The weather was strange today. We woke up to the sound of rain pounding on the roof. By the time I had gotten dressed and made the bed, the rain has stopped. I took the dogs on a nice walk and then went out for breakfast. Almost as soon as I returned home again, the rain started again. It went back and forth like this for most of the day. One minute it would be bright and sunny, and the next minute there would be ominous dark clouds on the horizon. Everything worked out well. The dogs got both of their walks. I was able to run all my errands. And the plants in the yard still got some much needed water.

Dot had a good day. There were no accidents at all. We woke up in a dry bed and the day proceeded normally from there. I still can't figure out why Dot would be completely normal one day, and pee all over everything the next. Dot does appear to be getting better, but her progress certainly isn't linear. There are still good days and bad days, but the good days seem better than they were two weeks ago and the bad days aren't as bad. I wish I could take Dot along with me the next time I see my urologist. Maybe he might be able to explain what is going on.

I'm looking forward to having a three-day holiday. We don't have anything planned for Labor Day, but that's OK. Doing nothing is always fine with me.

Duke is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day 1717

The year is winding down. Most of the wildflowers in the park have been replaced by seed pods and odd looking fruit. These will provide the seeds to begin the whole process again next Spring. Most of the flowers we see on our walks are actually weeds. One of the most common is Horse Nettle. The small white flowers with the bright yellow stamen are ubiquitous in the meadows below our house. In the Fall the pretty flowers are replaced by clusters of small yellow fruit that resemble cherry tomatoes. Farmers and ranchers often call these things devil's tomato, since they are poisonous. One more thing to steer clear of with the dogs.

I got a letter today telling me that the only remaining store in Texas that specialized in selling astronomical telescopes will be closing at the end of the month. This store joins a long list of fascinating small businesses that I've enjoyed patronizing over the years. The Observatory has been around for over 15 years, but I guess it finally succumbed to the same pressures that have caused many other small businesses to shut their doors. The stores that sold model trains were the first to go. Then the independent camera stores and retail lumberyards disappeared. Even though it never gets dark enough in Dallas for serious star gazing, I used to like visiting the telescope store. When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronomer. I never had a good grasp of math, which explains why I went into advertising instead, but I still have a fondness for nice telescopes. I'll miss this unique store. It's just not the same buying things on eBay.

Dot had an excellent physical therapy session today. We started interval training again and she did just fine. Her weight has stabilized at 53 pounds and her rear legs are definitely getting stronger. There is still a tremor in her left rear leg when she is standing still, but it doesn't seem to affect her mobility. For a senior citizen, Dot is really quite remarkable. She can still keep up with Dash, who is probably five years younger. We may have to learn to live with the incontinence issues though. We still haven't tried medication, but this doesn't look like it is going to clear up on its own. Dot doesn't even know she is peeing on things, because she is always asleep when she has an accident.

This week has gone quickly. This entire month has gone quickly. It's hard to believe it will be Labor Day on Monday. I'm already looking forward to my breakfast outing tomorrow. It is supposed to rain on Friday, but hopefully I can get the dogs walked and have my breakfast before things get messy. I don't mind designing websites in the rain, but walking dogs in the rain is another matter entirely.

Mandy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 1716 - Dot's Birthday

Dot had a big day. We started the day by returning to our regular route for the dog's morning walk. I walked Dot and Dash together and Dot had no trouble going the full distance. We walked a lot slower than usual, but nobody was in a hurry. Dot also got to go back to training class this evening. This was the first time she's returned to the class since her surgery and she seemed to enjoy the outing. We didn't do all the exercises, but she seemed eager to participate in some of the easier routines. When we got home, we all had cake.

I'm still not sure how old Dot is. Janet says she turned 13 this year, but I thought she was 13 last year. Maybe it's like a woman's 39th birthday. Dot might end up being 13 forever.

I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast. I don't know why I hadn't thought of this before.  It's easy and it's delicious. When I was worried about my blood sugar levels, I stopped eating wheat products for over a year. Since grain converts to sugar during digestion, cutting bread out of my diet brought my blood sugar levels back to normal very quickly. I also lost a fair amount of weight. All this is good. The only problem was that I have always loved bread. Now that my liver is functioning normally again and I have significantly improved my chances for avoiding diabetes by eating a healthy diet, bread has become a bigger temptation than ever. I haven't pigged out on French Toast with Maple Syrup yet, but I do enjoy the occasional sandwich. Even though this morning's grilled ham and cheddar sandwich was delicious, I'll be back eating my oatmeal tomorrow. Dot won't be eating cake again for quite a while either.

I wish I was was busier at work, but it's probably been good that things are slow now. I've spent so much time this Spring and Summer caring for sick dogs and driving them back and forth between various vet appointments that I don't know where I would have found the time to do my normal workload anyway. Tomorrow is another physical therapy day for Dot. She's gotten strong enough now to do a full twenty minute workout on the underwater treadmill. It's amazing how well she's doing physically. You'd never know she was a senior citizen until you saw her pee all over the house. If we can ever resolve her incontinence issues, I think Dot will have made a full recovery.

I need to order a full set of ink cartridges and a new maintenance tank for the large format printer tomorrow. I've managed to use up all eight cartridges just doing cleaning cycles to keep the printer from clogging. Since the cartridges cost $57 each, I wonder if it is worth the effort. It's kind of insane to work so hard to keep this cranky printer running properly. Who knows? Maybe I'll have a gallery show again, but I probably won't. I may never make a huge print again. It's nice to have a good printer just in case though. I may not do much these days, but I'm certainly well prepared.

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Day 1715

Today is National Dog Day. I was curious how this holiday originated and quickly discovered that creating your own "national day" has become somewhat of a cottage industry. Creating recognized national days has become a hobby for some and a calling for others. It is remarkably easy to create your own special day. You or I could do it if we had the inclination. The woman who created National Dog Day in 2004 has also created National Cat Day, National Living Room Day, and National Farm Animals Day. Although there are only 365 days in a year, there are already over 13,000 officially recognized national days. This all seems kind of weird to me. Here I had been thinking that National Dog Day was a real holiday and it is just a totally made up event created by a woman who likes holidays.

My own important dog day is tomorrow. It is Dot's birthday. Our best guess is that she will be 14 years old tomorrow. I say this because we've been telling people she was 13 all this year. It's hard to know exactly how old a rescue dog is. When we initially adopted Dot, we thought she was about three years old. Our vet thought that this was a good guess. She was fully grown at the time and her teeth looked like those of an adult dog. We may be wrong. Dot could be older or younger than we think she is. August 27 is not the day Dot was born. It was the day we adopted her. It is still a very special day. Especially this year. When Dot had a 105 degree fever a few months ago and was clinging to life in the ICU, we didn't know if she would make it to her next birthday. The fact that both of our dogs survived cancer this year and are now healthy and happy again makes this a very good year. We will definitely celebrate tomorrow.

I spent more time taking Dot to her physical therapy session today than I did working. It's time consuming being a dog's rehab nurse. Dot did great on the underwater treadmill and walked a full twenty minutes. She is strong enough now that I've started walking both dogs together again. We had an enjoyable pre-dawn walk this morning and another not so enjoyable, but very necessary, walk in the afternoon heat. Dot really got her exercise today.

We used to bake the dogs a special three layer cake on their birthdays. At some point in the past, I even took a cake decorating class and became quite adept at decorating fancy dog cakes. Neither of us has the energy for that sort of thing anymore. I don't think we've baked a dog cake in over three years. These days, we either go buy a cake or do nothing at all. In truth, the dogs would rather have a nice juicy piece of chicken than a cake anyway. We'll conjure up some sort of a celebration.

I wish it were Friday tomorrow. I actually wish every day were Friday. I could make that happen easy enough by just going out to eat for breakfast every morning and picking up something tasty for dinner at Whole Foods or Central Market. This seems all wrong though. Once a week is a treat. Every day would be an indulgence. We can't have that. Indulgence has always been my personal road to ruin.

Cammy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 1714

I went up to visit my watchmaker today. I guess the guy is still a client, although I haven't really done anything for him in years. When I was still an active collector, I was a frequent visitor, bringing the watchmaker a steady stream of new acquisitions to repair, evaluate, or just take a look at. I used to tell people I collected watches because they were smaller and easier to store than cars. That was only partially true. The real reason guys collect things is so they have something to talk about with other guys who collect the same things. I used to love visiting with the watchmaker. We both were interested in European cars and mechanical things. I had other friends with similar interests, but few of these people collect things anymore. Life eventually gets in the way. Unless you are very rich, the pressures of putting your kids through college, paying medical expenses, and dealing with a somewhat unforgiving economy gradually make any collection almost irrelevant. The watch I brought in for repair today was only a token gesture. I could have easily brought in twenty more in a similar state of disrepair, but what would be the point? I don't really need these things. There's nobody to impress anymore.

Somebody asked me today if I still did personal portraits. They way they asked led me to believe this was to be more of a favor than an actual job. I decided to be honest for a change and tell them I wasn't interested. I've grown weary of lugging hundreds of pounds of lighting gear and equipment around for nothing. Now that everyone has become an Instagram expert, people tend to think that photographers like me just take pictures for fun. Nope. It used to be a great business. Maybe it still is for a few.

I was going to brag about how well Dot had done today but I just noticed that she has peed on the carpet again while I've been writing the blog. It was her first accident of the day, but she could have definitely picked a better place. I had waterproof pads all over the place. I don't know how she managed to find the one place that wasn't protected. This is my day these days. No wonder I've lost interest in collecting things and taking portraits.

The weird thing was that it really wasn't a bad day at all. We had a great walk early this morning before the weather got hot. I actually did enjoy talking with the watchmaker, even though my interest in watches has waned a bit. I think I've become quite good at taking care of sick dogs, but I'm really tired. I'm ready to go to bed, but there's one more thing to do. I need to waterproof the bed first.

Pinky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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