Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 1932

Today was so much different than yesterday. Days like this serve to remind me that everything does get sorted out eventually. Despite yesterday's dubious start, the yard looks great. The huge piles of dead Winter leaves have been removed. A new St. Augustine turf has been installed. Patchy areas in the ground cover have been filled in. Even the dog poop seems to be gone. It's too bad we have to do this almost every year, but it's nice while it lasts.

There was no need for drugs today. I don't think the dogs even heard the landscapers. The crew didn't arrive until Dot and Dash had gone back to sleep after breakfast and since there were no loud leaf blowers to wake them, they continued to sleep for the rest of the morning. By the time their internal clocks informed Dot and Dash that it was lunchtime, the landscapers had finished and gone.

The FedEx guy arrived right on time, so I didn't have to waste half the day waiting to sign for the packages. Even work went smoothly. I finished two more new articles and shipped them off to the client before deciding to call it a day. If it weren't for the fact that I still have to hold on to the rear handle of the Help 'Em Up Harness whenever Dot goes somewhere, today seemed absolutely normal.

Dot continues to get stronger on her short walks down our street each morning. We walk her about 50 feet further each day, watching carefully to make sure she isn't getting too tired or dragging her feet. These short walks have really improved Dot's spirits. I think she sees the light at the end of the tunnel now. She may never be able to navigate slippery surfaces again, but at least she can walk. I don't think even Dot's surgeon thought she would do this well.

I still like my Keurig coffee maker. I even ordered some more coffee pods today. It's nice being able to have one variety of coffee for my first cup in the morning, and they try a completely different variety for my second cup. There needs to be more inventions like this. I get all the enjoyment of drinking good coffee with none of the preparation or cleanup. What I need now is a machine that I can put in a pod to fix breakfast or dinner in two minutes. You can kind of do this using a microwave, but microwave meals are terrible. I'm looking for gourmet food in a pod.

Until that day arrives, I can still fix omelets. Omelets are easy. Cast iron skillets are a snap to clean if they are well seasoned. This simple breakfast is also a great way to use up leftovers in the refrigerator. Just dump them in the omelet and you've got a whole new meal. This sounds so good, I think I'll have an omelet tomorrow.

It would be nice if tomorrow went as smoothly as today. Every day is different though. Something as small as a cat in the back yard, or a spider in the shower can change everything.

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

Monday, March 30, 2015

Day 1931

Nothing was in sync today. The landscapers were supposed to come out early this morning to fix up the back yard. They didn't arrive until 4:30 PM. Janet was worried that having strangers in the yard all day would aggravate Dot, so I agreed to give her a doggie Xanax before they came. This was a big mistake, because the drug had worn off completely by the time the landscape crew actually arrived. To make matters worse, the Xanax didn't seem to calm Dot at all. She and Dash got in a barking match and wouldn't shut up until I fed them part of their dinner around 2:30 PM. Dot was more agitated than usual for most of the day. All the drug seemed to do was make Dot's legs weak again. Everything is more or less back to normal now, but I won't be using Xanax again.

The landscapers must have been trying to cram two jobs into a single day, because when they finally did arrive, they stayed until well after dark. It was almost impossible to take the dogs out to pee and Dot ended up pooping in the kitchen because she couldn't wait any longer. I hope the yard looks amazing tomorrow, because right now the whole effort hardly seems worth it.

Tomorrow will be weird as well. The landscapers are returning in the morning to put in some new St. Augustine turf and I've got to wait for a signature required Fedex delivery as well. I usually just redirect FedEx and UPS packages to the nearest service center these days, but since this is FedEx Ground instead of regular overnight Fedex, the service center is almost an hour away. I can't really leave anyway, so I'll just have to wait and wait while the dogs are barking at the landscapers in the back yard. Maybe I ought to take Dot's Xanax instead. If the FedEx guy takes my package to the neighbor's house, I'm going to need something stronger than Xanax.

Waiting for the yard guys today made me realize that I've almost totally lost my ability to roll with the punches. I'm still able to put in an enormous about of effort when required, but I expect things to go right. It irritates me when people are late or a store isn't stocked with what I drove halfway across town to buy. I want everything to be consistent and predictable and it seldom is. I wish that I knew years in advance when appliances were going to break or clients were going to send me work. Disruptive events like landscaping should always begin and end on time. Maybe this is why I like dogs so much. Dogs are extremely predictable. Just don't try to surprise me. It usually doesn't end well.

Predictably, I'll get up early tomorrow and walk Dash before Janet goes to work. I'll have cereal for breakfast because I don't want the milk in the refrigerator to go bad. I can have eggs later when the milk is gone. Since I'm done with my taxes and caught up on work, I'm not sure what I'll spend the day doing. Hopefully, the landscapers can finish their remaining work quickly, because I don't want to spend tomorrow doing what I did today. Oddly, I would welcome rain tomorrow. The roof is fixed, and if it rains, I won't have to water the new grass.

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

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Day 1930

You can certainly get a lot more done when the weather is nice, the dogs are behaving, and you've had a good night's sleep. I had a feeling that today would go well when I walked Dash this morning with clear blue skies overhead and dry ground under my feet. Dot gets a walk now as well. She only goes a very short way down our street, but it makes her a lot happier. It seemed fitting on a day like this that we celebrated with bacon for breakfast.

The front yard looks much better now after I finally mowed it this morning. I had to mow the yard twice, once at a high setting and again at a lower setting. The Spring weeds had already grown too tall for the mower to handle the job in a single pass. I like the convenience of electric mowers, but they sure aren't as powerful as my old gas powered Yazoo.

I was able to wash the car while the dogs were sleeping this afternoon. I'm still not sure about leaving Dot alone, but I could easily hear her bark while I was cleaning the car on the carport, so this didn't worry me. Dot and Dash not only slept through this chore, they slept through all the Sunday chores. I was able to do a load of laundry, write another article, clean up dog poop in the yard, and look for new wasp nests under the eaves before they eventually woke up and wanted to be fed.

When I woke up this morning, I was surprised to notice a big ugly bruise on my left hand. I don't remember dropping anything on my hand or bumping into a wall yesterday, so the whole thing is a mystery. You see these kind of bruises on old people a lot. I'm sure they bump into things all the time and don't remember it later. I hope I haven't got to that point yet.

I didn't bother going to the gym today. Mowing the yard twice was all the workout I needed. Dash was enjoying the nice weather this morning so we took a longer walk this morning too. Somehow, I don't think I'll ever be able to incorporate going to the gym into my regular routine. I'll go when I'm feeling fat, or weak, or tired, but I'll never become a gym rat. Some people, including Janet, love this type of activity, but I can usually think of other things I'd rather be doing.

I'm coming to the realization that we're never going to be able to get rid of the ugly rugs. We had lots of rugs on the floor when Spot got older and the rugs stayed with us for the rest of Spot's life. In retrospect, we should have kept Spots collection of rugs, but I didn't have a storage warehouse back then. Dot has been healthy and active for so long that somehow I didn't think she'd ever get old until she was diagnosed with cancer last year. Seeing her joy at taking short walks down the street again makes me realize that you're only as old as you think you are. Despite everything that has happened to her during the past twelve months, Dot doesn't think she's old. In her mind, she's still a young dog. That's probably why she's still with us today.

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

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Day 1929

I woke up early this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. So much for sleeping in on Saturday. There was little point in sleeping in anyway, since I had a ton of errands to run in the morning before Janet had to leave to run her own ton of errands in the afternoon. Dash had to go to the vet this morning for a minor checkup. Sometimes I feel like he is getting shortchanged since we are spending so much time caring for Dot. I do what I can though. Dash got a nice long walk this morning before I had to take Dot's special hammock out of the car so I could put the seats back down and make a flat area in the back for Dash to ride. Transporting the dogs was easier with the Defender, since there were only two seats anyway and the back was always flat. Now, the car is back the way it used to be, but I will have to reinstall the hammock before Dot's next physical therapy session. It's a good thing Dash is fairly healthy now.

With Dash's vet visit completed, I went to the bank, mailed some letters, got gas for the car, and did my grocery shopping. Since it was a nice day, I had planned to wash the car and mow the grass, but I ran out of time. Janet had her own errands to run, so after lunch, I took over watching Dot and spent the rest of the day around the house. Oh, well. I didn't really want to mow the grass anyway.

There was still plenty to do inside. I spend quite a while adding 30 new dogs and cats to an animal rescue website and when I was finished with that, I wrote another article. There's still one more article to write before I get caught up again, so maybe I'll do that one tomorrow. I could have vacuumed all the messy rugs that are scattered around the house to keep Dot from slipping, but the dogs were both sleeping peacefully and the noise of the vacuum cleaner would have started a whole new round of barking. When I'm alone with the dogs, I keep the house very quiet. No TV. No radio. And no music. Dot is still supposed to be getting a lot of bed rest and Dash sleeps on the bed when everything is quiet anyway, so this enforced solitude works pretty well as long as I have work to do on the computer.

Dot celebrated another small milestone today. She has been eager for a walk for quite some time, so we finally decided to take her on a short walk halfway up our street and back. Dot was so happy to get out of the yard. Neighbors must have wondered what we were doing, because Dot had a leash on both the front and the back. The front leash guided her forward and the rear leash, attached to her harness, was there to prevent her from slipping. It was a bit difficult to keep Dot walking slow, but she actually did quite well. She made the entire short journey using her own legs. I didn't have to hold her up at all. There were a couple of times when I could sense she was starting to slip, but for the most part, her feet moved naturally and normally. Considering how paralyzed Dot's legs were when we started this journey, I continue to be amazed at her progress. I'm not sure that we'll ever be able to let Dot walk off leash again, since there are so many temptations in our neighborhood for naturally active Dalmatians. All Dot has to do is slip or fall the wrong way while she was chasing after a cat and she could instantly undo months of hard work.

It looks like the lawn mower battery survived the Winter. Amazingly, it recharged properly this morning, so I'm all set to mow again whenever I can't think of anything better to do. Mowing the yard seems to get harder and harder with each passing year. If I mow the grass tomorrow, I probably won't even think about going to the gym.

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

Friday, March 27, 2015

Day 1928

I was a model of efficiency today. I got up at 6 AM and walked Dash in the dark. Less than an hour later, I was eating breakfast at my favorite restaurant. By the time Janet left for work, I had already returned home, switched on the computer and was ready to start the day. It's too bad that I'm not a morning person. It's actually quite pretty walking the dogs just before Dawn. I could still see the stars when Dash and I left the house this morning. As the sky slowly brightened, the birds began to sing. By the time  we returned home, the Eastern horizon had an orange glow and the day had commenced. As pretty as this celestial progression was, I'd still rather sleep in.

I had lots of work to do today and the dogs were surprisingly cooperative. They both slept soundly for most of the morning, allowing me to write two new articles and update five websites. Dot didn't even wake up when the roofers arrived around 10:30 AM. I was sure that all the banging around on the roof would startle Dot and start a frenzy of barking, but she slept through the entire repair job. Dot is slowly going deaf and occasionally that's a blessing. I doubt highly that the roof is as good as new, but the roofers were quite nice and took care of everything I pointed out to them. With any luck, the roof is good to go for at least another year, when we'll probably have to patch and repair all over again.

I'm amazed at how well Dot is walking now. Several times a day, I take her out in the back yard with a leash tied to the rear handle of her harness. This way she can walk on her own, while I still have a way to protect her from falling if she slips. Each day Dot's sense of balance and her ability to hold up her own weight improves a little more. We walked around in the yard for almost ten minutes this afternoon and Dot never faltered or slipped. My main job now is to keep her from doing something stupid. She would still run after the neighborhood cats if she could and she hasn't quite learned that the only way to stay stable is to walk on the carpets and stay away from slick surfaces. We're getting there though, one step at a time.

I've already got a long list of things to do tomorrow. There are checks that never made it to the bank, bills that never got paid, and prescriptions that need to be refilled. The grocery list is pretty long as well. The only thing I don't seem to need is gasoline. I don't spend very much time at the pump anymore, since I don't go anywhere. I think I only spent $9 on gas last week.

This would probably be a good weekend to see if the lawn mower works. If I wait much longer to mow the front lawn, the grass will be too tall for the mower to handle. I think all the vegetation has come to the conclusion that Spring is here. Lawns are green again and flowering trees like redbuds and dogwoods are in bloom. The wildflowers are still a long way from reaching their peak, but I see a new variety start to come into bloom almost every day. The only bad thing about Spring is that the wasps and roaches return. It's almost time for the snakes to return as well. Before I get too euphoric about Spring, I need to remember that this is when my seasonal allergies start to flare up as well.

Now that I have the car configured perfectly for Dot, I just realized that I will have to take everything apart again whenever I need to transport Dash. Dash won't let me pick him up and place him in the car. He flays about in a panic whenever I try, so I just let him jump in by himself through the tailgate when we need to go somewhere. I'm not sure where he's going to ride now.

Despite all the difficulties, this month has gone pretty fast. Problems get solved and new problems arise to replace them. I guess this is what life is all about. Sometimes I think it's all a weird game of Whack-a-mole.

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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Day 1927

Dot did great at her first physical therapy session. She was able to walk for almost nine minutes in the underwater treadmill before she got tired, and the vet thought that was excellent. Her acupuncture treatment relaxed her and she seemed happy to be back to her old routine. It's too bad she couldn't have had acupuncture before we went to the vet. The trip downtown in the car was the the only difficult part of the entire afternoon. Although I thought I had prepared a nice, secure place for her, Dot still managed to get stuck in an awkward position twice during our journey and I had to stop the car and get out so I could reposition her. If she would just lie down and rest, she would be fine, but she always wants to look out the windows. Inevitably, if she's looking out the window on the left, something catches her eye on the right and she tries to move to get a better view. Since the space I prepared for her is small, an attempt to move to the opposite side of the car sometimes results in getting stuck. When Dot gets stuck she starts to whine and I think she might be hurt. I stop the car, reposition her, tell her to lie down, and off we go again. It was a long journey. I'll need to think of a better solution before we return for therapy next week.

As you can see, we've been getting started on our morning walks very early. It's dark when we begin, but the sun is usually starting to come up by the time we return. After a good walk, Dash is much calmer for the rest of the day, so the further we go the better as far as I'm concerned. Both dogs were pretty good today. I was able to get up on the roof while they were sleeping and remove the standing water for the second time this week. The roofers didn't come today, but the roof will be ready when they do get around to fixing things.

Maybe some of my clients are still reading the blog, because I've suddenly got plenty of work for tomorrow. There are four new articles to write and an equal number of websites that need updates. I won't be able to get all this work done in one day, but it's nice to have plenty to do again. Work does help the day go faster. The other thing that helps the day go faster is a really long breakfast, so I've started making omelets again. I made a nice ham and cheddar cheese omelet this morning and the dogs were quiet during my entire meal because they knew they were going to get to lick the plate afterwards.

I'm pleased that the vet thinks Dot is making good progress. She didn't provide me with any shortcuts though. Getting Dot walking again is going to be a long, slow process. I was somewhat relieved to learn that Xanax isn't really a good solution for leaving Dot alone. The drug relieves anxiety, but it is not a sedative. Dot could still fall taking Xanax just as easily as she could without it. I did learn some exercises I can do with Dot to help strengthen the muscles she uses to sit with, but it looks like I'm going to be housebound for a while longer.

I'm going to walk Dash even earlier tomorrow morning, so I'll still have time to go out for breakfast before Janet needs to leave for work. This worked well last week, and if Dash will cooperate, there no reason why it shouldn't work again. It's going to be a busy day, but I still hope the roofers will be able to make it out tomorrow. The damaged area appears to be growing and I definitely don't want another roof leak. I've got enough problems.

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Day 1926

I hope the vet has some suggestions for me when we go to our physical therapy session tomorrow. Dot can stand up on her own now. She can even walk somewhat awkwardly on her own if she's on carpet. She can't sit down on her own though. Her leg muscles aren't strong enough and she just crumples. Unless she is sleeping, I still need to be nearby, so I can grab the harness if she starts to fall. There have been no accidents, but I'm afraid that if she twisted her leg when she was trying to sit, she could hurt something. I'm kind of trapped, because I don't feel comfortable leaving her alone, even when she is contained in the small pen.

I've been told to just give Dot a doggie Xanax if I have to leave the house, but I'm not comfortable with that either. I really don't like mood altering drugs of any kind and I know that Xanax can have some bad side effects in people. I guess I'm trapped in the house until Dot gets a lot stronger.

If I were busier, the housebound hours would go a lot quicker. I've spent an enormous amount of time over the years just sitting here at the computer anyway. This shouldn't be a big deal. Unfortunately, work has slowed down for some inexplicable reason and there's not much to do. There's nothing worth watching on TV. I can't relax enough to read a book. And most of the household chores are loathsome tasks like fixing a leaky shower pan or getting rid of wasp nests. This is when I need a nice long writing job.

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that the roofers get here before the rain does. They said they'd come out tomorrow, but I hear it might rain tonight. I don't know why they couldn't have come earlier? The weather has been nice all week. This could change pretty quickly though. I hear that tornadoes have already touched down in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas this evening. I hope this bad weather stays North of us tonight.

We were out of milk and cereal this morning, so I fixed myself an omelet using leftover pesto, mac and cheese, black beans, and eggs. It was surprisingly good and got rid of some leftovers that were on the verge of going bad. I'd cook more often if I didn't have to clean up the kitchen afterwards. When it takes longer to clean up than to fix the meal in the first place, it's hardly worth the effort.

Tomorrow should be an adventure. It will be my first attempt to transport Dot in the car by myself. The hammock I've installed in the back seat looks very secure, so I think things will go smoothly. I hope the water therapy will go smoothly as well. Since Dot's legs are weak, they will fill the tank with more water than usual to provide extra buoyancy. I don't know how Dot is going to react if she starts to float though. I hope this works, because Dot really needs to be using her legs more.

I'm disappointed that the BBC fired Jeremy Clarkson. I'm sure he had a good reason to get in a fight with that producer. I've known quite a few producers who were jerks. Jeez, Top Gear was of the few TV shows that I actually enjoyed watching. It won't be the same without Jeremy. After hearing that the German plane crashed in the Alps because one of the pilots got locked out of the cockpit, I'm going to be nervous every time I see a pilot walking down the aisle to go to the bathroom. You would think they'd give the pilots keys to these cockpit security doors. Not to worry though. I only fly about once every three years.

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Day 1925

I love my new Keurig coffee maker. I don't know why I didn't get one of these things earlier. It's quick. It's easy. The coffee tastes good. And there's no cleanup whatsoever. This machine, with it's touch screen menu and ability to brew almost anything is the iPhone of coffee makers. I'm not usually impressed by kitchen appliances, but this one is a keeper. One of the first things I noticed about this 2.0 version was that it will only accept it's own brand of K-cups. I didn't think this restriction would go over very well with people and a quick Google search confirmed my initial suspicions.

Even though this version of the coffee maker is fairly new, there were already 100's of hacks that would let you use old style K-cups and those reusable containers that allow you use your own ground beans with the system. Since the only reason I bought the machine in the first place was to avoid grinding beans and cleaning up the mess later, it baffles me why people would go to so much trouble to convert their machine into an old style drip coffee maker. I guess it is human nature when someone tell you you can't do something to try and do it anyway. I'm not going to try any of these hacks. I'm not going to jailbreak my iPhone either. Why bother. It seems a wasted effort to fix something that works already.

I forgot to give Janet the folder with my tax information to take to the accountant on her way to work this morning. As luck would have it, she forgot her phone and came home to retrieve it, so I was able to give her the tax folder anyway. It takes a lot of coordination to get things done when you can't leave the house. It doesn't help that we are both becoming more forgetful too. Lord help us ten or fifteen years from now. Dot is forgetful too. Half the time when I take her out to pee, she forgets why she's outside and just comes in again. As soon as I sit down to do something, she remembers that she needs to pee and we repeat the whole process.

Since work was slow today, I tried to get some other stuff done. I made arrangements with the roofer to come over and repair the roof. When I got off the phone, I noticed that the day the work was scheduled to be done, it was supposed to rain. Sounds about right. I also contacted the landscaper and made arrangements to replace the dead grass in the backyard. Keeping the back yard looking nice is an exercise in futility. We've put in new sod every single Spring for the last five years. It looks nice until about August and then it dies. I water the grass, treat the ground for grubs, and apply fertilizer, but there just isn't enough light. In the Summer, the tree canopy overhead blocks almost all the direct sunlight and the tree roots suck up all the water. The grass doesn't stand a chance.

Dot continues to get stronger. I provide very little assistance when I use the harness now. I'm trying to encourage her to support her own weight again. When her legs are placed correctly, she does great, but it is still easy to slip. Dot must be getting more feedback from the nerves in her legs now, because she can balance her weight much better. She'll automatically shift her legs and re-balance when she is starting to slip. I have a feeling that the ugly rugs are going to remain in the house for a long time, but we're definitely making progress.

This housebound existence is a weird way to live, but hopefully in another month or so Dot will be able to move around on her own. Dot just needs to get better before I go crazy.

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

Monday, March 23, 2015

Day 1924

I got quite a bit done today. My taxes are finally ready to go to the accountant. I finished writing two more articles and sent them off to the client. I made an appointment to resume Dot's physical therapy later this week. And I contacted the roofer and told him about the problems I've been having with the peeling elastomer. Considering that today is Monday, this was pretty good.

A small piece broke off the grinder component of my new single serve machine when I was making coffee this morning. This was actually a good thing, because it gave me an opportunity to take this worthless thing back to the store and exchange it for something else. I boxed up the coffee maker and as soon as Janet came home to watch Dot, I took it back to the store and got a Keurig instead. All I want is a nice cup of coffee in the morning without having to spend half an hour cleaning the machine. Who knows if the K-cup pods will be as tasty as the beans I'm currently grinding, but the whole process will certainly be easier. I don't think you have to clean these K-cup coffee makers at all.

Dot continues to get stronger with each passing day.  Today I attached an extension to her Help 'Em Up Harness that lets her support her own weight and just serves as a fail-safe device to keep her from falling if she starts to slip. I was pleased to see that Dot can walk without me holding up her rear legs. On the other hand, I was a bit alarmed to see how awkwardly she walked when I wasn't supporting her. Dot is definitely not ready to walk completely unassisted yet. I'm in no hurry. We'll just continue taking things one step at a time. The stronger she gets, the better she'll be able to walk.

It would be nice if the roofers could come out tomorrow. I'm not going to hold my breath though. They probably won't show up until it starts to rain again. Since there is currently no rain in the forecast for the rest of the week, this would be an excellent time to get things repaired. The roof may be dry now, but it's going to take a lot longer before the park dries out. Dash's favorite routes seem to always traverse the soggiest and muddiest areas. I let hm walk wherever he wants though. He's been really good about dealing with all the extra attention I've been giving Dot, and I don't want to rock the boat. Peaceful, happy dogs make life a lot easier.

It's proving to be quite difficult to keep the house clean with a muddy yard and throw rugs all over the place. The vacuum cleaner doesn't deal with the little rugs very well and keeps trying to suck them up. It may be time for a new vacuum cleaner. For now, the house it just getting dirtier by the day. Dot has always been scared of the vacuum cleaner anyway and I don't have the heart to use it while she's trapped in her pen and unable to move. There are so many elements to this rehabilitation effort that catch me by surprise. I'm getting better at finding the dog poop but there's always something new to deal with. Since it's getting warmer, the wasps have returned and I can no longer just leave the back door open while I take Dot in and out to pee with the harness. The wasps are already starting to build nests under the eaves and if I leave the door open very long, they are sure to fly inside. The only good thing about Winter is that the bugs disappear for a while. Now, they're back again.

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

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Day 1923

None of my roof patches worked. They dried completely and looked like they should have worked, but for some unknown reason the patch didn't adhere to the roof itself. When I went to clean the rainwater off the roof this morning, I discovered that some of my patches were actually floating on top of the water. The rain had loosened them like they were a decal and I could lift each patch by a corner and peel it away, completely intact. I didn't have a patch at all. Just a perfect little one foot square of flexible vinyl. I hung a couple of these detached patches out to dry on a nearby tree limb so I could show the roofer later, and threw the rest away. All my efforts were worthless.

Later, I installed the special dog hammock Janet bought in my car and initially though it was worthless as well. On closer inspection, I realized I had installed the hammock upside down, so I started over again. When I was finished, we all got in the car and made a test run to the post office and back. Dot appeared comfortable and secure. It appears that this is going to work. The special sling that hangs between the front and rear seats is kind of ugly, but now the car matches the rest of the house. Hey, it's all for a good cause. I contacted Dot's vet and told her about this new development and she agreed that Dot is ready to resume her physical therapy again. Hopefully, by this time next week, Dot will be walking in the underwater treadmill again.

I'm really disappointed with my new coffeemaker. I did my research on Google and still managed to come up with something worthless. I think I'm going to scrap the whole thing and try something else. When I was getting groceries this afternoon, I looked at some of those K-cup single serve coffeemakers. I hadn't initially considered them before, because I thought that the cost of coffee pods would be prohibitive, especially since I drink so much coffee. I had forgotten that the beans I use now are pretty expensive as well. When I did the math, I realized that the monthly cost would be about the same. Maybe I'll go get one of those Keurig machines next week sometime. I'm really tired of cleaning up coffee grounds and grinding new beans every time I want a cup of coffee. I should have thought this through a little better.

I've almost got my tax materials ready to go to the accountant. The big stack of papers means almost nothing to me. I have no idea anymore whether I owe money at the end of the year or will be getting money back. It's always a surprise. I wouldn't mind paying taxes so much if I had any faith that the government was using the money wisely. I'm firmly convinced that 90 cents of every dollar I send the government is wasted. They certainly aren't using the money to fill potholes. The streets around our house are absolutely atrocious this year after all the rain we've gotten.

I hope next week will be peaceful and quiet. I've already got some new articles to write. There should be more website revisions by Tuesday as well. I'll call the roofers in the morning and see if I can get them to come out before the next round of rain. I don't think this new roof is even three years old yet. I shouldn't be having any problems at this stage of the game.

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

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Day 1922

Weekends were always busy. Now, they're becoming impossible. When you try to add a week's worth of postponed activities to your normal weekend errand list, not everything gets done. Janet and I both had lots to do today and neither of us got everything finished. I guess this is the new normal, just like the mismatched rugs covering the floors, the dog beds in every room, and the metal playpen in the living room.

Dot is sleeping much better now. Since we've discontinued the prednisolone, she doesn't have to go outside to pee in the middle of the night anymore. I need to help her when she wakes up and wants to circle around and change positions, but I can almost do this in my sleep. I still had to get up early, so I could walk Dash, mail some bills and go to the bank before Janet had to take her car in for service, but all-in-all, I think everyone got a good night's sleep.

The pet store was nice enough to let us return the crate we got for Dot immediately after surgery. As soon as she got strong enough to protest, she refused to sleep in it. It was a nice, sturdy crate, but if Dot refuses to use it, it is just something else to trip over in the bedroom. Now that we have the circular pen in the living room, we probably don't need a crate anyway. Janet bought some sort of a hammock thing while she was out today that she says is a safe way to transport Dot in the car. I'll read the instructions and install it tomorrow and see if it works. About half the things we get for Dot's rehabilitation work and the other half don't. At least the pet stores have been pretty good about taking back the things that didn't work.

I don't know how much more of this rain I can take. It rained again today. Our yard is as soggy as a wet sponge. The park is a mud pit. And if you don't pick up the dog poop immediately, you can never find it the next day. I got a new pair of waterproof boots, but I continue to wear the old leaky pair and throw my wet socks in the wash as soon as I get home. This doesn't make any logical sense, but I hate to ruin a new pair of shoes before I even get them broken in. At least Dot's incision has healed nicely and I don't need to worry about it getting wet in the rain anymore.

Maybe I'll get more done tomorrow. I certainly hope so. There is still some shopping that needs to get finished, there is lots of water on the roof, I never made it to the post office, and I haven't been to the gym in a long time. I've noticed that the grass is starting to grow in the front yard too. This means that mowing the grass will soon be on my weekend chore list as well. I wonder if the lawn mower battery survived the Winter? Maybe next week I'll find out.

As you can probably tell, I'm totally burned out. Dot's amazing ability to bounce back makes it all worthwhile though. After all she's been through this year, I never would have dreamed that she would have responded so well to the risky surgery. Nobody, not even her surgeon and neurologist, can believe Dot is fourteen years old. She is definitely the Energizer Bunny of Dalmatians. I wish I had Dot's energy. Unfortunately, everybody can believe I'm in my mid-sixties. I might as well wear a sign that says "Grumpy Old Man."

Big Boy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, March 20, 2015

Day 1921

I got up early and was able to walk Dash and go out for my Friday breakfast before Janet had to leave for work. I considered this a success. I managed to time things pretty well, because almost as soon as I returned home from the restaurant, it started to rain. The rain continued for the remainder of the day, but I tried not to let it get me down. Hey, it's the Spring Equinox today. This is traditionally the first day of Spring. It may still be cold and wet, but looks can be deceiving. Winter is officially over.

The dogs are always restless on rainy days. You take them outside and they immediately want to come in again. As soon as you finish cleaning their paws and drying them off, they want to go out again. Dot had little desire to go outside, but she was still restless. When I took her in the kitchen, she wanted to be in the bedroom. When I took her to the bedroom, she wanted to go to her octagonal pen in the living room. When I left her in the pen to get some work done, she started to whine. It was a long day.

Eventually, Dot and Dash decided where they wanted to spend the day napping and I turned on the computer and started to work. Sometimes my assignments are pretty silly, but it's not my job to criticize. Silly pays exactly the same as profound. Actually a silly assignment seemed the perfect compliment to a dismal, grey day. To continue the theme, I stepped in dog poop the first time I took Dot out to pee in the rain.

I thought I'd finish preparing my tax information today, but I never got around to it. The dogs are much more labor intensive on rainy days and my writing assignments took longer than I anticipated. Maybe I can wrap things up this weekend, but I doubt it. There is already a long list of errands I have postponed during the week while a was keeping an eye on Dot. Nothing is all that exciting, but there are still groceries to buy, prescriptions to fill, and bills to pay. If it ever quits raining, I'll go up on the roof to see whether my elastomer patches survived under all the standing water.

I can't decide whether to get an Apple watch or not. The last thing I need is another watch, but I'm very loyal to Apple products. I try to convince myself that Apple Pay would be convenient, but none of the places where I shop seem to support it. Monitoring my sleep patterns would be useful, but you have to take the watch off every night to recharge it. There are all sorts of fancy ways to communicate with friends using this watch, but I don't talk to people all that much. I saw a friend this evening while I was walking Dash and complained about the rain. She said she loved rainy days and that pretty much ended that conversation. I was in a hurry anyway. The weather radar app on my phone said that I had a ten minute window before the rain would start again. We got home just in time.

I'd like to sleep in tomorrow morning. I hope the dogs have the same idea. This new schedule makes for a very long day. My day seemed too long even before Dot's surgery. Now it seems to go on forever. I try to tell Dot that on days like this, sleep is your friend. I don't know if she's listening.

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

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Day 1920

Things are looking up. Dot seems a little stronger today. Her energy level and ability to walk varies from day-to-day, but today was one of the good days. Dot and Dash both seemed calmer than yesterday. They were content to sleep while I worked and let me eat my breakfast without any major disruptions. I wish I knew why Dot seems better on some days than others. Her recovery is not a linear process. Maybe she just got a good night's sleep last night. Maybe I slept better as well. From what I can see, a relaxed family seems to be a happy family.

Towards the end of the day, the UPS man delivered the collapsible dog pen that we've been waiting for. So far, Dot seems to like it. The pen is large enough for her to stretch out and reposition herself when necessary, but it is still small enough to keep her from getting into trouble. The six-sided, segmented metal pen is heavier than I thought it would be, but it is well made and should be durable. We'll see how easy it is to move it from room to room later.

All things considered, I got quite a bit done today. I made some website revisions, finished my writing assignments, and made quite a bit of progress in getting my tax materials ready for the accountant. I'm getting used to the new coffee maker and all the household appliances are working properly. On days like this I think that maybe I'll survive this ordeal after all.

It probably helped that it didn't rain today. Rain was in the forecast, but all we got were a few light sprinkles. I think the rain just got postponed until tomorrow. All the current forecasts suggest that tomorrow will be very wet. It doesn't look like I'll get to go out for breakfast tomorrow. I'm still not comfortable leaving Dot alone in the pen and there may be thunderstorms anyway. I guess I can survive one more day eating cold cereal.

Now that our house is filled with cheap rugs and there is a metal playpen in the living room, I'm feeling better about our rehabilitation program for Dot. We've had a few false starts and bought some things we didn't actually need, but we're getting there. Now I just need to figure out an easy, safe way to transport Dot back and forth to her physical therapy sessions. So far, I've found some easy solutions that aren't really safe and some safe solutions that aren't easy to implement. I know there is something better out there. Dot is doing well, but when we are able to resume her acupuncture sessions and underwater treadmill workouts, I think we'll see even more progress.

It's weird not going to the bank, post office, and pharmacy almost every day. I do these things on weekends now. These little rituals only took me away from the house for a few minutes at a time, but somehow they made all the difference. I can tell that Dot is really looking forward to regaining her freedom. So am I.

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Day 1919

This experiment isn't getting any easier. Dot is strong enough now to get up on her own, but isn't strong enough to walk without slipping. This is a bad combination. The small padded 'safe area' works fine, but Dot doesn't like it. If she is confined there too long, she either gets depressed or angry. When she's angry she barks incessantly and when she's depressed, she just makes me sad. I've pre-positioned dog beds around the house so I can keep a close eye on her wherever I am, but it doesn't always work out so well. Dot always seems to be in the kitchen when I need to go to the bathroom, or in the bedroom when I really need to be in the office working.

Nobody is very happy. Dot wants to go on walks with Dash in the morning. Dash mopes around because his buddy Janet has returned to work. And I have a terrible case of cabin fever. If it weren't for the fact that both dogs like to sleep a lot anyway, I'd probably never get anything done.

I'll really be glad when Dot can resume her physical therapy in the underwater treadmill. Until she can regain some of the muscle mass she's lost in her rear legs, I don't think we're going to see any dramatic improvements. Janet bought some more rugs today to make the slippery areas in the house safer, but it's going to be quite a while before I feel comfortable letting Dot wander about on her own. Until that day arrives, I'll just try to get as much done as I can while the dogs are sleeping.

At least the new circular doggie playpen is supposed to arrive tomorrow. This should give Dot a little more room, while still keeping her safe and secure. If this new pen works, I may still be able to go out for breakfast on Friday. If it doesn't work, it will just join the dozens of other things that haven't worked as expected.

I did get some new writing assignments today, but I'll have to be careful what I ask for. Today's assignment seemed to take a lot longer than it should have. Every time I started to make a little progress, Dot would decided she needed to go outside to pee. When we returned, she inevitably didn't want to come pack to the office with me. Eventually, I had to confine her to the safe area again so I could get the assignment finished.

I haven't had the nerve to go up on the roof and see whether my patches help up under last night's rain. It didn't rain very hard, but I don't think the elastomer was completely dry yet. This might be a problem, since we don't seem to be able to get two clear, warm days in a row. I'll go check on things tomorrow while the dogs are asleep.

I need to get started on my taxes tomorrow. Since Spring is almost here, I need to get a bid for re-landscaping the back yard too. This might be overly ambitious though. In my present burned out condition, I'll be lucky if I remember to take out the garbage.

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

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Day 1918

I had to turn the air conditioner on today. It's hard to believe that we were dealing with sleet and ice when Dot had her operation and just a few weeks later it's over 80 degrees. We might still have a few chilly days, but I'm fairly convinced that Winter is finally over. I'm starting to see some early blooming wildflowers and the Mallards have begun their Spring nesting ritual. It won't be long before there are baby ducks everywhere.

We're starting to establish a schedule that everyone can live with. Dash gets a long walk while Janet is eating breakfast. When she leaves for work, I eat my own breakfast while feeding the dogs a few treats to keep them quiet. Since they both seem content to stay on their dog beds while I'm in the kitchen, I'm usually able to wash the dishes and throw a load of laundry in the washer before it's time to take the dogs outside to pee again. If I eat slowly and do kitchen chores, I can usually extend breakfast until Dot and Dash are ready to go back to sleep. Dot goes in her safe area and Dash goes wherever he wants. I'm real quiet and hope the dogs will sleep for a long time because this is when I get the most done.

If I'm lucky, the dogs will sleep until 1:30 or 2 PM and then they inevitably want to eat something again. I give them both a rice cake, so they won't get fat. Both dogs would eat non-stop if I let them. Since they've slept most of the morning, they often appear bored after their lunch. They don't feel like sleeping any more. I take them outside. I walk Dot from room to room. I do some of the physical therapy exercises the neurologist showed me. Sometime a watch a little TV in the kitchen, if Dot and Dash are being quiet on their dog beds.The afternoons aren't nearly as productive as the mornings.

When the dogs finally settled down and went to sleep around 3 PM, I went up on the roof and gave my patches areas a second coat of elastomer. It's supposed to start raining again tomorrow and I don't want to worry about leaks. The one gallon can of elastomer material doesn't cover as much area as I thought it would. No wonder the roof was so expensive. The roofers used boatloads of this stuff.

Since I'm essentially housebound, I thought I'd start fixing some of the non-running watches in my collection. I've gotten three fixed so far. This is a fairly pointless activity, but it makes the day go faster. This would be a good time to have lots of writing work, but things are a bit slow right now. With my luck, I won't get busy again until Dot gets better and I don't need to stay here all day. Oh, well. It's hard enough for Janet and I to coordinate our schedules. I'm not even going to attempt to coordinate things with my clients as well.

The sunrise was pretty again this morning. That's all she wrote though for this week. I think it's going to rain for the rest of the week.

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

Monday, March 16, 2015

Day 1917

We've got a new schedule now. We get up several hours earlier than we did yesterday. The dogs get fed. Dot's nighttime bedding gets put away. And I take Dash on a walk, while Janet is getting ready for work. This is pretty much the same schedule we had before Janet's brief retirement, but when Dot was healthy, the dogs and I just stayed in bed while Janet was getting dressed. Now, we need to coordinate things, so Dot is always under supervision.

On days like today, getting up early isn't so bad. The temperature was warm and there was a beautiful sunrise that changed colors minute by minute as we made our way through the park. When we returned, I traded placed with Janet and was in charge of the dogs for the rest of the day.

Dot is a handful. If you crate her, or contain her in her safe area, she barks continually. If you let her stay nearby, you have to watch her like a hawk. Dot has already learned to stand up on her own again. I was sitting right next to her at breakfast and when I turned my head for one second, Dot was standing on all fours, and drinking from her water bowl. Another time, when I was loading the dishwasher, she was walking down the hall toward the bedroom. You may be thinking that if Dot can stand and walk, the problem has been solved. Nope. Dot is still very wobbly and can't stand for very long. If I'm not there to support her rear legs using the Help 'Em Up Harness, she will quickly fall over and hurt herself. Since it will take up to a month for her to heal from her extensive surgery, she's going to feel better before she actually is better.

Breakfast is not a peaceful interlude anymore. There is lots of barking and I have to lead Dot back to her bed again and again when she tries to get up. If I let Dot be a part of things during mealtimes though, she will reward me by sleeping peacefully for the rest of the morning. When Dot is asleep in her safe area, I take a shower and get started on my work for the day. Generally, things went pretty well today, except when I needed to go to the bathroom and was in the wrong end of the house with Dot. It is surprisingly difficult to lead a dog around by the tail. We're learning though. I have to get a little better at planning ahead and Dot needs to get a little better at listening to me.

I'm not sure that my new single serve coffee maker is any better than the old one. It's very easy to make a cup of coffee, but if you decide your want two or three cups, you have to clean out the filter, add more beans and start over again. I think the solution is to just get a bigger coffee cup. This machine will fill up to a 16 ounce cup at a time, and that's usually plenty for breakfast. You can wash all the parts in the dishwasher, so the machine is easy to clean, but the parts are plastic, so they will probably break, just like every other coffee maker I've had. They do make durable, all metal automatic coffee makers, but they are ridiculously expensive. I'm not a barista. I just want a nice, trouble-free cup of coffee with breakfast. I really should have just got one of those glass French Press coffee pots and filled it with boiling water from the tea pot. That seems easy.

During the dogs afternoon nap, I was able to get up on the roof and start patching the trouble spots. On close inspection, I discovered three more areas where the white elastomer top coat had torn and exposed the black adhesive below. This is not supposed to happen. I'm going to call the roofer, but roofers always have an excuse. I doubt highly that they will put on an entirely new roof because of a few tears in the elastomer. Making the best of a bad situation, I patched all the bad spots with the same tough elastomer the roofers used. Hopefully, my patches will have time to dry completely before the Spring rains resume later in the week.

Tomorrow, and every day for the rest of the month, will be a repeat of today. Hopefully Dot will continue to get stronger as the month progresses and I won't go insane trying to manage this odd three-ring circus. We made it through day one. Now it's on to day two.

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

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Day 1916

The dogs were good today. It makes a big difference. I was able to get the water off the roof. Janet cleaned the floors. And we were both able to go to the gym. Things work pretty smoothly when we take turns watching Dot. I have no idea what to expect tomorrow, except that my shift will be quite a bit longer.

In anticipation of Janet's return to work tomorrow, I tried to take care of as much unfinished business as I could. I paid the bills that were stacking up on my desk and took them to the post office. I also went shopping for a new coffee maker, since the old one has just about given up the ghost. I came home with one of those single serve coffee makers that are becoming popular these days. I'm the only one that drinks coffee in the house, so this seemed to make sense. Instead of making a pot of coffee in the morning, I'll just make it by the cup as needed. I think I've wasted a lot of coffee over the years by brewing way more than I needed.

Since we've reduced Dot's prednisolone dose, she is able to make it through the night again without needing to go outside and pee. This makes life a lot easier. We all got a decent night's sleep for a change and even the early rising dogs didn't feel the urge to get up until about 7:30 AM. I think when her circular pen arrives next week, we'll just let her sleep there. She doesn't like sleeping in the crate, but this new enclosure is larger and should allow her to change positions relatively easily. Right now, she sleeps in a secure padded bed near our own bed. She can't hurt herself, but she can't move easily either. If she has to get up or shift positions during the night, I have to get up and help her.

I hope the sun comes out tomorrow. When I removed the water from the roof this morning, I noticed that the problem area had become a bit larger. I'd like to re-coat this area with the waterproof elastomer and give it time to dry before the next round of rain heads our way. It's weird that California is having such a severe drought, because here in Texas it's seems like we get more rain every year. I can't remember a rainier Winter than we've had this year.

When I was walking Dash this afternoon, I noticed a perfectly circular hole in the clouds with bright rays of sunlight shining through, reflecting off the water below. It looked like something out of a science fiction movie. Whatever caused this phenomena was short lived. Ten minutes after I took a picture of the odd hole in the clouds, it was completely gone. I also saw my first turtle of the season today. When the water turtles start sunning themselves on rocks and partially submerged logs, Spring can't be far behind.

I hope tomorrow will go smoothly. It would be a good day to write, but that will depend in whether there are any writing jobs in my inbox tomorrow morning. Dot walks like a drunken sailor, but she can actually walk now. The main reason I hold on to her special harness is to help her up when she's sitting and to keep her from trying to run. She already tries to chase squirrels when I take her out to pee. It would be very bad if she was able to run at this point. She'd probably make it about ten feet, slip and fall, and injure one of her legs. It's my job to keep Dot safe. I take this job seriously, because Dot apparently has no idea how fragile she is right now. Dalmatians and complete bed rest don't co-exist very well. They just don't understand the concept. As soon as we get Dot walking normally again, I think I'm the one who's going to be needing some complete bed rest.

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