Saturday, December 31, 2016

Day 2574

I can safely say that I've mowed the grass for the last time this year. The grass has been dormant for some time now, but I always mow it one last time so it looks nice for the winter. Since it was a pleasant warm day, I thought I'd tackle the leaves as well. The trees are bare now and all the leaves are on the ground. There are an enormous number of leaves on the ground in the back yard, making it difficult for Dot to walk. It would have taken me a week to bag them all up, so I just used the leaf blower instead. Leaf blowers are a silly invention. You don't really get rid of the leaves. You just move them around. Maybe there's a temporary sense of victory, but sooner or later a big wind will just blow them all back.

Hey, at least I tried. The house has been vacuumed, the grass has been mowed, and at least Dot has a fighting chance to make it to the back of the yard to pee. There is a certain futility to all this. It is almost impossible to keep Dot, or anything else, clean for very long. Literally two minutes after I got Dot's blankets out of the dryer this morning and placed them back on her bed, she pooped on them again. I always wanted to acquire more patience, but this is not the path I thought I'd be taking to get there. You just have to understand that Dot has no control over what happens anymore.

I keep hearing a lot of people says that 2016 was the worst year ever. Mostly this was just because their favorite singer died, or they didn't like the election results. Those kind of things seem so distant to me. Singers and celebrities die every year. I'm almost certain that a lot more will die next year. I measure each year by what happens much closer to home. I've known that Dot is dying for a long time. The fact that she is still here, barking and pooping, and sharing her life with us is definitely something to be happy about. I know that my working years are just about over too. This was the year I finally learned to accept it. It's OK. If somebody wants to hire me for something, I'll be happy to take the job, but I'm not looking for business anymore. I'm not seeing as many doctors as I was several years ago. My health seems to have stabilized. That's good. Sure, I liked David Bowie too, but my dog and my health are far more important.

Next year I have to renew my passport and my driver's license. Every time I renew my passport, it looks like I've aged 10 years. Of course, this is because I actually have aged ten years. I've had quite a few passports by now. I liked the old ones before the creation of the European Union best. Each country had it's own distinctive stamp and many of my passport pages were filled with stamps from countries I will probably never visit again. My current passport looks like I haven't been anywhere.  I'm a bit more apprehensive about my driver's license. My vision has deteriorated over the years and I'm afraid they might make me wear glasses. I don't particularly want to wear glasses. A slightly fuzzy world is fine by me.

We haven't gone out for New Year's Eve in ages, but I probably will stay awake until midnight and have a glass of champagne with Janet. Years ago when I played in a band, New Year's Eve was always a work day. We made our best money playing big New Year's Eve parties. I loved the various bands I played in, but I don't miss those parties at all. There were too many drunks and too few people to help pack up the equipment when it was all over.

I hope you have big plans for the year ahead. I'm not sure what I'll be doing, but there are a few things I'd like to do. Did you know that there is going to be a total eclipse of the sun next August that crosses the entire United States? It's going to be one of the best opportunities to see a total eclipse in this century. I almost saw a total eclipse when I was going to high school in Alaska but the sky clouded over at the last minute. Maybe I'll get another chance. The eclipse is a big deal, but if Dot is still around on her birthday next August, that would be an even bigger deal.

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

Friday, December 30, 2016

Day 2573

When I was eating breakfast this morning I ended up sitting next to the kitchen and overhead three of the cooks talking about guitars and amps. It seemed apparent that all of them had either been in a band or were still in a band. My ears always perk up when I hear someone talking about guitars. I love guitars. I kind of wanted to join the conversation, but the guys looked very busy and I was a little too far away to be heard anyway. Musicians don't talk about music the same way fans do. They usually talk about gear.

One of the guys was talking about a certain brand of strings meant to be tuned an octave above the standard tuning. Another mentioned that he once had an all-white Marshall Super Lead amp like Randy Rhodes used to use. He then mentioned that his amp was a cheap copy, which made sense since the limited edition Marshall tribute amp was hugely expensive. All three of the guys seemed to like Randy Rhodes, which reminded me that I once did a fashion photo shoot at the home of Ozzy Osbourne's drummer. Maybe this was after Randy Rhodes died, but I'm not really sure. The drummer's girlfriend was a model and they lived in a huge home with almost no furniture and some pet rabbits hopping all over the place. The drummer seemed to spend most of his time playing with radio controlled model cars when he wasn't on tour. This is why I enjoy my Friday breakfasts. I just listen to other people's conversations and lose myself in memories. Now that I know that the cooks are musicians, it kind of explains why the restaurant makes its own mix tapes instead of subscribing to a plastic sounding SiriusXM channel like other places.

I thought today would be a good day to vacuum the house, since basically the floors were covered with dog hair and leaves. It was getting to the point where I couldn't avoid this task any longer. I've become convinced that all the people who think a Dyson vacuum cleaner is wonderful have a maid that does the cleaning. This machine is difficult to maneuver, even more difficult to clean, and has a long heavy cord that is always getting tangled up in the furniture. The dogs were asleep when I started vacuuming, but that didn't last long. For some reason both dogs like to follow me around when I'm vacuuming. I had to stop the vacuum every few minutes and gently move Dot out of the way. Moving around was actually good exercise for her, but it made my job harder. She was always getting stuck in precarious positions and as the house became cleaner, I began to worry that she was going to poop on my freshly cleaned rugs. Eventually, I finished the task I'd been postponing for so long. The Dyson canister was completely full of dirt and the house looked exactly the same as it did before.

It has gotten cold again. This weather is driving me nuts. One day it's freezing outside and the next day it is balmy and warm. I've literally been alternating between using the air conditioner and the furnace. It would be nice to have a little consistency in my life. The weather isn't consistent. My work isn't consistent. And Dot's pooping schedule doesn't even come close to being consistent. I hope my Friday restaurant stays consistent. After my first breakfast restaurant lost it's magic, it took me quite a while to find this new place. I don't want to do that again.

I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I probably should. My problem is that I'm not very big on self-improvement. I'm happy with my weight. I certainly don't want to become a kinder, friendlier version of myself. I'd like more money, but that's probably more of a wish than a resolution. I'd like Dot to get healthier, but that's a wish too. Maybe I'll just make a New Year's wish...

Penny is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Day 2572

Why have the Russians suddenly become this huge problem? Something seems fishy to me. Let's say that the WikiLeaks information originally did come from the Russians, even though Julian Assange denies this. The WikiLeaks information was all true. Even the Democrats acknowledge that John Podesta's e-mails were authentic. So, are we supposed to believe that our democratic process was compromised by revealing information that was actually true? Heaven forbid. This just seems like a lot of sour grapes. Whatever the Russians are doing, they've been doing it all along. We do the same thing to them. It's called spying. This manufactured crisis didn't happen overnight. Personally, I don't think Obama cares what the Russians are doing. He just wants to create havoc for Donald Trump by pitting hard-line republicans like John McCain against him and making it as difficult as possible for the new administration to conduct foreign policy. This would certainly explain throwing Israel under the bus at the United Nations too. People should be outraged at the way we threw Israel under the bus, but they are too busy being outraged about a bunch of things that don't even matter. Grow up people and quit being such sore losers. Instead of pardoning a bunch of criminals and thugs during his last days in office, Obama should pardon Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. I learned more factual information from these two guys than I have from any politician.

As you can see, I need to get out more and quit watching so much television. I'm dangerously close to talking back to the television like my Dad used to do. Is is a bit distressing that there is almost nothing to unite us anymore. There is no objective truth either. All the recent furor about fake news has made me realize that most of what I've been listening to for the past fifteen years has been fake news. It's all fake news. I don't trust Fox. I don't trust MSNBC. I don't trust any of it. It's sad that we have become so tribal. Worst of all, Facebook has ruined everything. Now that I know what my friends really think, I don't trust them either.

It should come as no surprise that caring for an old, sick dog has become my solution. I don't have time to argue about politics. Each morning I try to gather my wits about me and get ready for a day of cleaning up poop, helping Dot walk, and keeping her from injuring herself. I try to keep Dash engaged too, so he doesn't feel left out. Dot did very well today. Maybe it was the cool temperatures and low humidity. She walked with confidence and for the most part, was able to move her rear legs without my help. Dot did poop on the floor, but I was able to make a dramatic save and quickly place a nearby piece of paper under her before the poop hit a rug. Little things like this make my day.

An old college friend called the other day and wants to have lunch when he is in town next week. This shouldn't be a dilemma, but of course it is. For starters, I don't eat lunch anymore. I don't feel comfortable leaving the house for very long either. I wouldn't mind seeing the guy though. I wonder if I'm starting to use Dot as an excuse when I actually could go somewhere. It's complicated.

I do still eat breakfast, so I'm looking forward to going out for a tasty meal tomorrow morning. My breakfast excursions are perfect. The dogs are sleeping after their morning walk. My favorite place is nearby, so I'm rarely gone much more than an hour. I don't have to talk to anyone, but I like the other customers and feel vaguely connected anyway. It's just what I need.

Petey & Greta are our Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Day 2571

Jeez. I completely forgot about my blogiversary this year. It was two weeks ago and it never even crossed my mind until today. Can you believe I've been doing this since 2009? Years ago, a blog's anniversary date used to be a big deal for many bloggers. Obviously this is not the case anymore. I didn't even remember the date myself.

I'm getting better at managing the dogs by myself, but it sure would be nice if they'd be more consistent. I never know what to expect when I wake up in the morning. Dash is moody. Some days he will race out the back door and other days he won't even get out of bed. It's hard to tell which dog wants their walk first, but it's easier to get Dot started immediately after she's finished her breakfast. Dash is lazy and usually doesn't mind sleeping a little longer. One way or another, everything gets done. I'm just glad that I wasn't very busy this week.

I decided to renew my Pro Tools and Avid Media Composer subscriptions for another year. It would be a miracle if I actually needed either of these applications again, but it's hard to abandon them. Maybe it's just a matter of professional pride. I want to be ready if the call comes. I'm not even sure  the latest version of Media Composer runs on my current computer. Each new edition seems to require faster processors and more memory.

Janet returned to Dallas today. In a perfect world I would have cleaned and straightened the house before she arrived, but it's far from a perfect world. At least things don't look much worse than they did last week. We got two new rugs almost a month ago to replace a large one in the living room that was becoming worn and haven't even found time to exchange them yet. The new rugs are still sitting rolled up by the front door. It's hard to get ahead of the game when Dot is always pooping on something. I wish the house had a big laundry room with giant commercial washers like some of the veterinarians have. I could keep them running full time.

Dot doesn't look like she's almost 17, does she? She tires easily and we stop to rest frequently on our walks, but she definitely hasn't given up yet. In her own mind, or at least what's left of it, she still thinks she's a young dog. Walking Dot is a strange experience. Occasionally I feel like she is a marionette and I'm the puppeteer holding the strings. She enjoys these short walks though. They are the high point of her day.

Only three more days and 2016 will be over. I'm strangely optimistic about 2017. The dogs both survived this year and I became a little more adept at dealing with adversity. I'm ready for a new year. Work slowed down quite a bit, but somehow I'm still able to pay all the bills. Maybe the nice little stock market rally we've been having will continue. Maybe Dot might actually make it to her 17th. birthday. I don't really expect all that much, so I doubt that I'll be disappointed.

Dot & Petey are our Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Day 2570

More pills to keep track of. The good news when I took Dash to the vet today was that the growth in his neck does not appear to be cancerous. There is something going on though. It turns out that the strange mass I discovered yesterday is a swollen lymph node. The cells the vet aspirated all seem normal, so it seems likely that this problem was caused by some sort of infection. Nothing seemed obvious, but the inflammation could be caused by almost anything. Ear infections often cause swollen lymph nodes in people. With dogs, it is often a problem with the gums or teeth. For the next two weeks, we'll be adding clavamox to the lengthy list of pills Dash takes each day. If antibiotics don't clear up the problem, I guess we'll do some more testing.

We're sleeping longer now, since there's no reason to get up early. Until Janet returns, the alarm stays off. My fitness tracker says that I'm getting almost an extra hour of sleep every night. Dot still needs to go outside and pee when she first wakes up unfortunately, but surprisingly, both dogs seem content to go back to bed until the sun comes up after this initial race to the back door. In theory, I should feel a lot more rested, but I don't. I seem to wake up more during the night, and once the dogs finally do decide to get up,  I'm on call for the rest of the day.

I made Dash's vet appointment for 11:30 AM, thinking that this would give me plenty of time to finish our lengthy morning routine. I was wrong. It took so long to get both dogs walked and fed, clean up the poop inside and out, and get the car ready for Dash, that by the time I finished my own breakfast, it was time to go. I was almost late. I didn't even turn on the computer or take a shower. Just taking care of the basic necessities took almost four hours.

The dogs seemed quieter than usual after dinner last night, so I thought I'd try to watch the Dr. Who Christmas Special I'd taped earlier. Everything seemed fine until I got Dot up during the closing credits to take her evening meds. Yuck. Dot was sitting in a big pile of very messy poo. How could this have happened? I'd been sitting right next to Dot throughout the movie and didn't smell a thing. Maybe my nose has become desensitized to the smell of poop. Dot didn't make any attempt to get up either, even though she wasn't asleep. It was a strange and very inconvenient way to end the day. My first thought was how do I get Dot outside without making the situation worse. Her harness, as well as the leash I use to hold up her rear end were covered in poo. Luckily the temperature had warmed up, because I had to use the hose again. Eventually, I got Dot clean, gave the dogs their evening meds, and we all went to bed.

It's so close to the end of the year that I keep thinking I must be forgetting something. Is there an outstanding bill I still need to pay in 2016? Are there software subscriptions or domain names that need to be renewed? There must be something. When my company was busier, I always used to buy new equipment at the end of the year so I could expense it using the Section 179 deduction. There is no need to buy any more gear though. I would just be fooling myself if I thought I was going to use it.

I think I've become a full time dog nanny. I don't think I accomplished a single thing today that wasn't directly related to the welfare of Dot or Dash. It was a busy day too. These are very high maintenance dogs. Maybe there will be a return to sanity tomorrow. Or maybe not.

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

Monday, December 26, 2016

Day 2569

Sometimes I feel like the bar that's being set for me keeps being raised a little higher every few weeks. Last night I found myself cleaning up Dot's poop in the kitchen at exactly the same time Dash was throwing up in the bedroom. It's a three ring circus around here. Needless to say, I didn't get to watch very much of the Dr. Who Christmas Special. Lord knows what makes Dash throw up, but it happens from time to time. Usually Dash has an upset stomach when he eats something bad he found in the yard. You might ask why I don't find the dead things first and get rid of them. I would, except that the yard is covered by a million Oak and Elm leaves that have fallen from our trees. I won't be able to find anything in the yard until Spring.

I made an appointment to take Dash to the vet, because when I was checking him out after he threw up, I noticed a small mass in his throat. This feels like a fatty lipoma to me, but since Dash has already had thyroid cancer and lost one lobe of his thyroid gland, I don't think I should let this one slide. It is always possible that another tumor is developing in the remaining part of his thyroid. I worry too much, but that is one reason why both dogs are still alive. I may be guilty of ignoring my own health, but I never ignore the dog's health.

Yesterday evening was far too distracting to sit down and watch the Dr. Who Christmas Special, although it was playing on both televisions. I got the general idea that this was a Superman and Lois Lane story wrapped around a typical alien invaders on Christmas Day story. I didn't think I'd like this one, since I'm getting tired of Peter Capaldi, but from what little I saw, the script seemed well written and clever enough to make me want to go back and watch the show again the next time I find some quiet time.

I'll never get used to Texas weather. After our recent cold spell. I really wasn't ready to start using the air conditioner again. It seemed to go from cold and dry to hot and humid almost overnight. I've had the air conditioner on for two days now. Go figure. At least the yard is finally drying out. I didn't need to clean the dog's paws nearly as often today.

Today must have been a holiday for people who have regular jobs. The park seemed really crowded for a weekday. At first I kept thinking "what are all these people doing skipping work," but I finally realized that since Christmas was on a Sunday, that offices were closed on Monday instead. Maybe if you were lucky, you got Friday off too. I haven't had a paid work holiday for decades. Of course there are those who think all my days are holidays, but they would be wrong.

I got an REI sale catalog in the mail and of course the one thing that caught my eye was something I'd never, ever use. It was a GPS satellite tracking device that lets you text people and send emergency messages when you're off the grid and far away from a cell tower. I haven't been off the grid since I was in college and if I had gotten in trouble, I would have been out of luck. Cell phones and GPS trackers weren't even invented yet.

I'm hoping for a quiet, uneventful day tomorrow. One can always hope.

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

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Day 2568 - Christmas

It's been a very quiet Christmas. Dot and Dash were both sleeping soundly when I woke up, so I just stayed in bed until they started to stir. I need all the sleep I can get. I get up several times each night to see if Dot had pooped in her sleep, and then I change the Puppy Training Pads I've strategically placed under her if necessary. This usually works pretty well, unless she wakes up when I'm cleaning her up. It's amazing how soundly a dog can sleep. I wish I got that kind of sleep. I need it. My cold is finally getting better, but when Janet called to wish me a Merry Christmas this afternoon, I immediately started coughing again. I guess it was because I haven't used my voice in several days.

Yesterday Dot was eager to walk as soon as she'd finished her breakfast. Today, she wanted to go right back to bed as soon as I'd taken her outside to pee. Dash wasn't in a hurry to go anywhere either, so I ate my own breakfast. I thought about fixing myself something a bit more festive than my usual fruit smoothie, but I knew that bananas would probably get the dogs moving again. I was right. As soon as the dogs had finished sharing a banana with me while I drank my smoothie, Dash was ready to walk. It was still a grey, dreary day, but it wasn't nearly as foggy as yesterday. I probably would have forgotten it was Christmas if it weren't for two strangers who wished Dash and I a Merry Christmas as we passed them on our morning walk.

Dot was finally ready to go around 10 AM. It takes longer to walk Dot to the end of the street now than it takes to walk Dash a mile and a half. I wonder how long we can keep doing this? Each month Dot gets a little slower, but I can tell that she still enjoys the short walks. I wish the entrance to the park was a little closer. After all these years, Dot still loves to smell things in the park. There are so many animals that call the park home, that I'm sure this area is quite a sensory experience for a dog.

I've got to figure out how to give Dot a good bath. She's starting to smell like pee, despite my best efforts to clean her up. Janet thinks once of those mobile grooming trucks that come to your house might be a good idea, but I'm not sure if these people have much experience dealing with an injured dog. Dot's physical therapy vet could give her a bath, but it's such a long drive. Dot would probably poop in the car and get herself dirty again before we even got home.

I can remember when I sent out tons of Christmas Cards each year. They went to clients, co-workers, friends, and just about anybody I had an address for. It wasn't always the holiday spirit. Like many designers, I thought Christmas cards were a cool way to show people how creative you were. It was fun to print up something new and original every year. Times have certainly changed. I sent out exactly zero cards this year. I didn't receive many either. I still put a tree up, but I'm starting to wonder why.

I'll tape the Dr. Who Christmas Special this evening to watch later. This is Dot's restless time of the day and I've got a feeling that I won't be watching much television. All in all, it's been a calm and relatively peaceful day. It just doesn't feel like Christmas.

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

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Day 2567

Today was certainly different. Janet got up real early and went to the airport before I was fully awake. I vaguely remember saying goodby before I went back to sleep again. When I woke up, I noticed that I had done a terrible job cleaning up Dot when she pooped during the night. I guess I should have turned the light on, but I didn't want to wake anyone. At any rate, I failed to clean her completely and the poop had dried on her fur and blankets. It took a lot of time and a lot of wet rags to clean her properly.

Our new routine still starts by getting Dot outside to pee as soon as I can, but after that it gets more complicated. I give the dogs their morning meds and then feed them their breakfast. Dot gets her walk first and then I fix my own breakfast. Both dogs like to eat slices of banana while I have my morning coffee and drink my smoothie. Dash is lazy, but barking for bananas usually gets him energized enough so that he's ready for his own walk when breakfast is finished. When both dogs are back at the house, I wash the dishes and then go outside and see if I can find where Dash has pooped in the yard. If I don't do this, it is inevitable that I will step in the stuff when I take Dot out late at night. Today was somewhat of a work in progress, but I was amazed at how long everything took without Janet's help. By the time I had finished the complete morning routine and was ready to turn the computer on for the day, it was almost noon.

Once both dogs were sleeping, I took a quick shower and ran to the store, since everything will be closed tomorrow. The first thing on my list was a big box of puppy training pads. We are running through these things at an alarming rate. Now that Dot's incontinence is getting worse, I must use five of six of these things a day. The weather is so wet and humid that pee isn't the only problem. Both dogs track water and mud into the house every time they go out. Cleaning Dot's paws was always a two person job. Since she can't stand up properly, one person has to hold her up while the other cleans the paws. Did I mention the house is pretty dirty.

I hope I can refine my plan a bit in the days to come. I thought I'd try writing the blog in the morning when the dogs are sleeping, but that never happened. The walks took a lot longer than I expected and I needed to go to the store. When Dot is in her evening restless period, she is constantly whining to get up, wandering around aimlessly, and falling over if I'm not nearby to steady her. Consequently, I'm writing the blog one sentence at a time this evening.

Today was one of those foggy days that I love to photograph. Everything looks so ghostly in a thick blanket of fog. Dash had no interest in turning his morning walk into a photo excursion unfortunately. I grabbed a few quick shots with my phone, but that was about it. The sailboats on the lake are often quite beautiful in a thick fog, but I couldn't get near the sailboats with Dash. He just wasn't interested. Sure, I guess I could have gone back on my own later, but there wasn't enough time. There is never enough time these days. It took over an hour just to clean the poop off Dot this morning before we had breakfast. Hopefully, I'll wake up tonight before she has time to make a mess of herself again.

There's enough food to last until Janet gets back. I doubt that I'll have many work assignments between Christmas and New Years either. That leaves plenty of time to see if I can perfect caring for one sick dog and one crazy dog on my own. I still need to give the dogs their evening meds and then try my best to get Dot to pee outside before I put her to bed. If I can't get her to pee around 11 PM, she won't make it through the night.

The Dr. Who Christmas Special is tomorrow. Maybe I'll watch it. Maybe I won't. This is the first year in a long time that I'm not all that interested in Dr. Who.

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

Friday, December 23, 2016

Day 2566

Janet and I decided to go out for an early Christmas dinner before she leaves for the holidays. We went to Knife to try their burgers. Knife is basically a steakhouse, but after a well known food critic wrote that Knife's hamburgers were in his opinion the best in the entire world, I've been curious to try them. I'll have to say that I wasn't disappointed. These burgers were amazing.

I've learned not to check the pet cam when we are trying to do something enjoyable away from home. It always spoils everything. We had a relaxing and very enjoyable dinner, but I wasn't surprised to see that the house was a disaster when we returned. Dot is completely unpredictable now. When she poops, it might be ten hours before she goes again or ten minutes. I thought we had a chance this time, because she'd pooped about an hour before we left the house. It wasn't meant to be. My poop forensics abilities were able to determine that she'd heard a noise outside and pooped while she was struggling to get up and investigate. It's so much easier when Dot poops while she's asleep. This time she stepped in the stuff and tracked the mess all over her penned in area in the hallway. Three blankets and a large waterproof floor protector all needed to be hosed off and thrown in the washing machine. Dot needed quite a bit of cleanup herself.

Janet had a vacation day today, but it still seemed like a normal Friday to me. I checked to make sure the trash had been picked up, went out for my regular Friday morning breakfast, and then returned home to finish writing my last article before the Christmas holidays. I wrote the article quickly enough, but then I discovered that my client hadn't been receiving my mail all week because their IT department was blocking me again. This happens every couple of months and it is infuriating. Guys, how many times do I have to tell you that I'm not a spammer. I'm sure that there are a few spammers using Bluehost servers, but you don't have to block the entire hosting company to catch them. To make a long story short, it took more time to successfully send the article than it took to write it.

This has got to be the worst weather for fighting a cold. It's cold and damp outside and warm and dry inside. I'm constantly taking Dot out without adequate clothing, because there isn't time to bundle up. At least I've got a bunch of cough drops now. I'm surprised that the dogs haven't caught colds too. It's really nasty out. If Dot didn't need me, I'd probably spend the entire holiday weekend sleeping. It's almost certain that she's going to wake up at 5:30 AM tomorrow morning though, just like she always does. If I don't get her outside by 5:31, there will be pee on the floor.

I hope it dries out and warms up a bit tomorrow. There are too many wet leaves on the floor and too many wet paws on the bedspread. It would be nice if I quit coughing too. At least I didn't cough during dinner tonight. Dinner was definitely the high point of the day.

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

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Day 2565

I had to do some last minute Christmas shopping today, so I used my free time while the dogs were sleeping to make a quick trip to the mall. I'll have to remember that early mornings are a good time to go to the mall. Even though it was only a few days before Christmas, the crowds weren't that bad. I had no trouble finding a parking place. If I had waited until this afternoon to do my shopping, parking would have been impossible. Sad to say, I'm still not feeling the Christmas spirit. I navigated my way through the holiday shoppers and mall displays filled with thousands of Poinsettias as quickly as I could. My time is limited these days.

Dot was just starting to wake up when I returned and there was no poop on the floor, so I considered my trip a success. I should have gone to CVS and bought a giant bag of cough drops. I should have gone to the Container Store and bought some new wrapping paper. I should have done a lot of things while I was out, but I just didn't want to clean up any more poop.

Since I had already squandered today's productive time, I had trouble finishing my one remaining article. I literally had to write the thing one sentence at a time. I don't know why Dot is so active in the afternoons now. She sleeps from the time she returns from her morning walk until about 1 PM. After that, she tries her best to stay on all fours for the rest of the day. I think it's great that she's trying to walk around; I just wish she was more successful at it. To keep Dot from injuring herself, it is really essential that I have her back at all times. I follow her around, steadying her rear legs by holding up the rear of the Help 'Em Up harness. Dot is showing signs of dementia. Sometimes she just forgets where she is. Other times she is alert and seems like a young dog trapped in an old dog's body. I'm learning how to adjust to these changes and hope that she is too.

Caring for Dot has got me wondering what will happen to me when I get really old. Humans without strong family ties are pretty much on their own. It's bad enough now, and I'm still pretty healthy. I often feel like I am operating without a safety net. What would happen if I had a heart attack or fell off the roof? Nobody would even notice. Even if I managed to call 911, I worry that the dogs might escape or get taken to the pound when the EMT's arrived. With that in mind, my goal while Janet is away is just staying alive.

I wish I could shake off this cold. It has lingered far longer than I thought it would. I still haven't taken any antihistamines. I just try to remember to keep a few cough drops in my pockets in case I need to talk with someone. The cough drops won't cure anything, but they do seem to prevent violent coughing spasms. It probably doesn't help matters that I race out of the house every morning in my underwear, trying to keep Dot from peeing on the floor. Once I see her start to wake up, there just isn't time to get dressed. I was successful this morning, but the odds are about 50/50 that we won't make it to the door.

I guess I'll finish writing my article tomorrow. I don't think there's much else on the agenda. I'm going to try my best to go out for breakfast in the morning. I've had to skip my weekly breakfast outing for several weeks in a row due to bad weather or dog emergencies. A tasty meal and an hour or two of peace and quiet can make a big difference.

Two sisters are today's Dalmatians of the Day
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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Day 2564 - Winter Solstice

Today was the shortest day of the year, but it sure seemed long to me. I've just about given up hope of ever getting anything but the bare necessities done. I wonder sometimes when I ever had time to run a busy and successful company. I have to remember that the dogs were young and healthy then. Back in the day, I even had time to play in a rock band, compose and record songs in a home studio, and spend weekends building a fashion photography portfolio that would end up launching me on a whole new career. In those days I had no dogs at all. When I'm feeling sorry for myself, I sometimes miss the freedom I once had, but I wouldn't trade my life with Dalmatians for anything. Dot and Dash are my best friends. My purpose in life is to keep them as safe and healthy as I can. They don't know it, but their purpose in life has been to save me. Let's just say that life was kind of shallow before I was introduced to the joys and sorrows of sharing life with a dog.

The days will start getting longer now, but I don't think I'll notice anything for a while. If I remember correctly, sunsets will continue getting shorter for a while and daylight will slowly increase with an earlier sunrise. The only thing I like about the short days is that it's easy to capture some nice sunset shots. Dash hates walking in the dark though, so he's not happy. I have to walk Dot first, so she'll be tired and sleep when it's time to walk Dash. If I reverse the order of things, Dot tends to get anxious and there's a good chance she'll poop all over the place. I feel bad that Dash gets short changed sometimes, but what are you going to do? We're all doing the best we can.

I paid my property taxes today. I think that's the last big bill of the year, so I guess I survived 2016. I hate that expenses keep going up, while my income keeps going down. It kind of takes a lot of the fun out of getting old. My only hope for 2017 is that the stock market rally will continue. Events can easily change things, but there's a good chance that the rally could continue. I think lower tax rates and fewer regulations will help businesses of almost any size.

I think the bird that poops on my car every Winter has returned with several friends. There is more bird poop on the car in the mornings now than there ever was before. These birds don't seem to be frightened of my rubber snake either. There's not much you can do about pooping birds. You can't catch them. In the city, you can't shoot them. I don't think you can reason with them either. I'd build these guys a nice birdhouse if they'd just leave my car alone.

I may have to write my blog in the mornings while Janet is away for the holidays. Evenings are Dot's active time and she hates being left alone. Sometimes Janet sits next to her on the floor and watches movies on her iPad. Other times she walks her up and down the hall while I'm writing. Janet had to work real late tonight and it was kind of a preview of what's to come. Dot didn't like me being in another room and writing at all. We'll figure out a solution. There's always a solution.

At least it was warmer today. We didn't have to bother with all the cumbersome dog coats.

Willow is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Day 2563

I'm exhausted. My cold should be over by now, but it still persists. By Texas standards, the cold weather should be over by now too, but temperatures were still in the teens when we woke up this morning. I feel like I'm in some weird kind of boot camp. I get up early and go to bed late. In between, I clean up pee and poop, do laundry, and tend to the needs of a crippled dog who seems to have more energy than I do. It's very tiring.

I thought I'd try to write my remaining article right after breakfast, when Dot and Dash typically sleep. This was a good idea, but I guess I didn't write fast enough. Dot woke up before I finished and the last paragraph took longer to write than all of the preceding paragraphs combined. I didn't have a lot of luck with Dot today. She pooped while I was getting her food ready and was so excited to get to her bowl that she stepped in the poop and tracked it all over the kitchen. After I got this mess cleaned up, I thought she'd be safe for a while, but when I returned from walking Dash, I discovered that she'd pooped again.

I got a letter from Social Security informing me of my 2017 cost of living adjustment. I'm going to get an additional ten dollars a month. $10? What kind of cost of living adjustment is that? I don't know why they even bother. I'm almost certain that it cost the government more than $10 just to inform me of the news. I wish that Social Security didn't even matter, but it does. It matters to most people my age. As I grow older, I'm sure it will matter even more in the future.

I eventually did manage to finish my article and send it off to the client. I paid a few bills that were stacking up on my desk and that was it. The day was gone. I think I'm caught up now, so maybe tomorrow will be a little easier. I always think that tomorrow is going to be a little easier, but usually I'm wrong. I try my best to relax, but I'm not very good at relaxing. Today I thought I'd try some controlled breathing exercises while I was helping Dot wander around in the back yard. One channel of my brain was calm and serene, but there was still a back channel that was silently screaming "For the love of god, can you hurry up and pee. I'm freezing out here."

Tomorrow is the shortest day of the year. I guess that's why I've been taking so many sunset pictures lately. It's dark when we start on our morning walk and it's dark by the time I finish taking Dash on his evening walk. There was a pretty sunset tonight, but I liked the early morning picture of Dash in his Winter duds better. I suspect that I'll be taking more sunset pictures tomorrow evening. There really isn't enough light to photograph anything else.

I can't believe that Christmas is this weekend. I'm dreading Christmas this year. Janet leaves to visit her family soon and I'm still trying to figure out how to manage the dogs morning and evening routines myself. Janet has made me a labeled packet of the dog's pills for each day she is gone. That will help. I've been practicing walking Dot by myself. She's even slower without Dash to follow, but she is willing to walk by herself. That's good too. I'm already an expert at cleaning up poop. I guess we'll be fine.

Lexi is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, December 19, 2016

Day 2562

I feel like we're embarking on a journey to the South Pole each time we get ready for our morning walk. There are so many layers now to ward off the cold. Dash wears a snug black sweater under his red service dog harness. Dot wears a modified puffy coat over her Help ‘Em Up harness. Both dogs have fleece lined hats that actually fit properly on their heads, so they don't immediately shake them off. It's always easier to dress the dogs first. I wear a lightweight technical climbing jacket under a heaver goose down coat. I'm not sure what Janet wears, but she looks warm. I have to remember to pee before I pull on the compression pants that go under my regular pants. I hate that compression pants don't have a fly. My hiking boots go on last, so I won't track mud through the rest of the house. This all might seem a bit excessive, since the temperatures aren't below zero or anything, but you have to remember that we're Southerners.

I"ll be glad when warmer weather and a sense of sanity returns. I don't know about you, but I've had enough of this polar vortex. Everything seems to take longer when it's cold. There are so many leaves on the ground now that I have to drop brightly colored plastic markers when the dogs poop at night, so I can find the stuff the next morning. The outdoor faucets are frozen, so it's gotten a little harder to clean Dot up after she's made a mess. On a more positive note, there's hardly any condensation on the windows this year. The dehumidifier is really doing its job. The furnace is running constantly, so I think I made a good repair. Even though the thermostat says the temperature is normal inside the house, I still feel cold most of the day. I'm just not a Winter person.

I had a couple of articles to write today, but I only managed to finish one of them. Before Dot got sick, I could easily finish four articles in a single day when it was necessary. Those days are gone. When Dot wakes up from her morning nap, she tries to stay on her feet the rest of the day. Sometimes she barks when she needs help and other times I just find her stuck in a corner somewhere. I have to remember to gate her out of bathrooms with tile floors, because she'll immediately fall on the slick surface. For the most part, I try to walk behind her and hold her up while she meanders around the house. She likes her independence though, so when she's feeling strong, I still let her try to walk on her own. If I ignore her for even ten minutes, she's almost certain to poop or pee on something. It makes for a busy and somewhat stressful day.

After a multi-million dollar ad campaign featuring Hollywood celebrities, protests in major cities, and even death threats, only two electors failed to vote for Donald Trump. Meanwhile, seven electors tried to defect from Hillary Clinton. Jill Stein's expensive recount effort actually ended up netting Trump hundreds of additional votes in Wisconsin. I really don't understand why it is so hard for some people to be pragmatic and accept reality. You lost. Contrary to what some might think, the Electoral College wasn't created to prevent Donald trump from becoming president. It was created to prevent a few people in large population centers from imposing their will on the entire country. The Electoral College is a good thing. Without it, many states wouldn't have a voice at all. I'm happy that the people of Vermont, North Dakota, and Wyoming have a voice. We need this balance. Lord help us if the people of San Francisco ever started making the rules for everyone.

The election is over and I'm ready to move on. I'm also ready for this nagging cold to be over. When I was running errands today, a checkout clerk asked me if I wanted a printed or e-mail receipt and when I started to answer it triggered a horrible coughing fit instead. It was embarrassing to say the least. Since I couldn't speak, I just grabbed my bag and ran coughing from the store. Here's hoping that the weather will be warmer tomorrow and my sore throat, cough, and chest congestion will miraculously disappear.

Ranger is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Day 2561

This was easily the coldest day of the year. I think the temperature was only fifteen degrees when we woke up. Everyone wanted to stay under the covers except for Dot. She needed to pee. I threw on a coat, got her outside, and quickly realized that it was going to be a long day.

After feeding the dogs breakfast, we all bundled up in warm coats and hats and went on our regular morning walk. Dash wasn't very enthusiastic, but Dot seemed to love the cold. She had enough energy to make it all the way to a tennis court on the edge of the park, about a half mile away. The old girl is pretty amazing.

Several people suggested that I just take it easy today because of my cold, but I don't even understand the concept anymore. Chores, obligations, and a feeling that I've just got to keep moving have taken over me. I don't even feel like reading a book or going to a movie anymore. Dot always needs something. I'm always doing laundry, cleaning up poop, or walking Dot around with her special harness. It's a lot of work, but it's good to feel needed. There are not a lot of people who actually need me anymore, but I can tell that Dot appreciates having me around. Needless to say, I didn't relax and watch a movie this afternoon. I went to the gym like I always do.

There was a story on the news today about several people in a wedding party getting killed when a large tree fell on them at an outdoor reception. There are so many old trees the park, that I always worry that a tree will fall on me while I'm walking the dogs. Several years ago a tree actually did fall on a cyclist in the park and severely injured him. I have seen large limbs fall off old growth trees while we were walking, but luckily we were always out of harm's way. At least twice in the past ten years, large limbs have fallen off our own trees. One landed on our roof and the other narrowly missed falling on Petey, an earlier Dalmatian we had. I'm probably living on borrowed time.

Am I the only one who is really getting tired of hearing that everything is Russia's fault? If Russia is such a huge problem, why didn't you whiners bring it up before your candidate lost the election. I seem to remember that Hillary took a lot of pleasure in pressing that Russia reset button a few years ago. And didn't Obama whisper in Dmitry Medvedev's ear that "After my election I will have more flexibility." How quickly we forget. It's weird to hear anyone on Capitol Hill get bent out of shape because Russia allegedly meddled in our election. For years, the same CIA that broke this news has been one of the world's worst offenders at meddling in other people's elections. Ask Benjamin Netanyahu how how he feels about US interference in his own election campaign. The CIA has a long history of installing puppet governments all over the world. Karma is a bitch guys. The United States has been meddling in other people's elections for decades. Personally, I don't care whether the Wikileaks information originally came from the Russians or a DNC insider. These leaked e-mails were just about the only truth that was revealed during the entire election campaign. Almost everything else on both sides was fake news. To me it is a bit ironic to hear democrats whine that their candidate lost because some information that was completely true was leaked to the public.

I'm not a political person. I've had conservative friends, progressive friends, and friends who never bothered to vote. For the most part, I've always respected my progressive friends. It's getting harder now, because you guys are such irritating whiners. Get over it. Your candidate lost. If you want to win next time, you might try listening to what people actually want instead of always trying to force feed them what you in your infinite wisdom think they need. Moral superiority is not a winning proposition. Hey, what do I know though? I never voted until I was 40.

Alvin is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Day 2560

The weather couldn't have been weirder today. The temperature was warm and humid this morning. I even turned on the air conditioner for a while, because it was almost 80 degrees. Everything changed around 1 PM. After that point the temperature started to drop swiftly. I think it's been dropping at last five degrees an hour all afternoon. Add the wind chill effect from a really stiff wind and you've got some nasty conditions. It is supposed to get colder for the rest of the night, with single digit temperatures around sunrise.

Not surprisingly, the dogs don't like this weather at all. They enjoy cooler temperatures, but dealing with a polar vortex is another matter entirely. Dot dutifully walked to the end of our street, seemingly perplexed by the sudden change that had taken place. Dash wouldn't go outside at all. I don't blame the dogs for their reluctance, but it sure would have been nice if they'd both pooped. Now we've got to deal with taking them out in the back yard over and over again as the temperature drops even further.

I washed the car this morning while it was still warm. I don't know why a clean car is such a big deal to me. Maybe it's because it's one of the few things that is still under my control. A clean house is hopeless these days, but a clean car is still possible. I did change the sheets today and washed three rugs that Dot peed on this morning, but the house is far from clean. We're in the process of changing our rug configuration. In the future, all rugs will be small enough to fit in the washing machine. The really large area rugs are simply too hard to clean. In the Summer you could take these large rugs outside and hose them off. They would be dry again the same day. It's a different story now. If I tried to clean a rug outside now, it would remain damp for the rest of the Winter.

I wish I knew who was selling my cell phone number to telemarketers. My land line has been inundated with telemarketers for years, but until recently my cell phone has remained relatively immune from this nuisance. The older I get, the more telemarketing calls I get. I'm sure people think that once you reach a certain age, you will become senile enough to fall for their ridiculous sales pitch. I'm still sharp enough to realize that these people aren't my friends. I rarely answer my phone at all.

My cold is getting worse.Today I had a sore throat, chest congestion, coughing, and a runny nose. As colds go, this is pretty much the whole nine yards. Janet thinks I should start taking antihistamines like she is, but I don't think they help much. At best, antihistamines mask some of the symptoms, but they don't make the cold go away any quicker. Time is the only thing that cures a cold. I'm trying to be patient, but time seems to be moving pretty slowly. I'm ready to start feeling normal again.

Every time the weather gets bad, I start to worry that something is going to break. It would be a disaster if the washing machine broke and I needed to go to to the laundromat to clean Dot's bedding and a house full of rugs. I'm hoping that I did my furnace repair properly. I'd hate to wake up to a cold house tomorrow morning. I don't want the pipes to freeze either. I can't believe that I used to live up North. I don't think I could do it anymore.

Duke is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, December 16, 2016

Day 2559

Why do car problems always take place at the worst possible time? When I got in the car to go to breakfast this morning, I got a big surprise. I pressed the starter button and nothing happened. The engine didn't turn over at all. I immediately knew that this was going to be a bad day. Dot had an appointment with her oncologist today and it can take months to get an appointment with this woman. I definitely didn't want to cancel. There were several other appointments today as well, but Dot's visit to the cancer center was the big one.

When I talked with my service guy, he seemed fairly convinced that it was just a bad battery. He sent a technician over to the house to see if he could get the car started. If we could get the car moving, I could drive up to the dealer and get a new battery installed. I called the cancer center and they were nice enough to reschedule my appointment for later in the day. I rescheduled or canceled my other appointments as well and started to think that this day might have a happy ending anyway.

While I was at the Land Rover dealer, I got a call from UPS and they said they had found my package. This was good news too, but I wasn't sure if I'd have time to drive down to the service center today. Dot's appointments at the cancer center often take a very long time. Walk in emergencies at the dealership often take a long time too. It was a busy, hectic Friday and they had to work me in. Eventually, they discovered that the battery was the only real problem, so I bought a new battery and was on my way.

When I got home, I resumed cleaning the rugs that Dot had peed on when I was trying to get her out of the house this morning. Everything has to be just right if I have any chance of getting her outside without an accident. Last night she peed too early. She really needs to pee at 11 PM, and last night she seemed to think that 9 PM was a better time. I wish I could explain to her that she just can't hold it that long.

I thought I'd have time to run down to the UPS service center and pick up my package before taking Dot to her appointment, but a major accident along the way foiled my plan. I saw four fire trucks and two ambulances, although I wasn't close enough to see what actually happened. The road was blocked in both directions. After waiting about ten minutes, I gave up and drove over the median so I could exit the mess and get out of the traffic jam. This was a very bad wreck, but I didn't see much compassion on the faces of the other drivers. You could tell that like me, they just wished the fire trucks had pulled over to the side of the road.

I used my GPS to find an alternate route to the UPS service center and when I got back home again, I was only ten minutes late. I quickly packed Dot in the car and we were on our way. Dot doesn't travel well these days. I dread driving with her, because she often panics and tries to escape. Since she can't move very well, her struggles usually result in her getting stuck somewhere. I try to drive in the far right lane, so I can always get off the road quickly if necessary. I'm worried that someday she'll accidentally manage to unlock one of the car doors while we are moving.

There was good news and bad news at the exam. Dot has a new tumor in her liver, but like the other existing tumors, it appears to be growing very slowly. Her liver still functions normally. Most of her blood chemistry looked good, but the doctor was worried that the muscle atrophy in her left rear leg was getting worse. She said we need to keep Dot moving and encouraged me to continue our slow walks each day.

The day was very hectic, but I guess it wasn't that bad after all. My car works, Dot's oncologist said that Dot is good to go for at least another two months, I finally have my package, and all the soiled rugs are clean and back on the floor again. I still have a bad cold, but maybe I can get some rest this weekend.

Hannah is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Day 2558 - Blogiversary

Today didn't go well. It was cold when I woke up this morning and I quickly discovered that the furnace had gone out. Perfect timing, since the temperature is supposed to be in the low teens this weekend. It's really hard to get my HVAC guy to make a rush service call at this time of year, so I decided to try to fix the furnace myself. I always watch what the repair guys are doing when they come out to the house. I'm certainly no furnace expert, but I have learned a few things over the years. One of the most common reasons that a furnace goes out is a dirty flame sensor. I got out my tools and of course I couldn't find the right ones anymore. The utility room seemed a lot smaller than it did the last time I attempted a furnace repair. I felt too old to do this sort of thing anymore.

Eventually I got the cover off the furnace, but I didn't have the right tool to remove the sensor. The prospect of spending the day in a very cold house with two demanding dogs wasn't very appealing, so I tried to come up with a creative solution. After some experimentation I discovered that I was able to reach my left hand behind the panel where the flame sensor was attached and feel the sensor itself. I got a small piece of sandpaper and used it to polish the sensor probe. Although I couldn't see what I was doing, it felt right. After struggling in the small room for about forty minutes, I put the furnace back together and turned on the heat. The furnace lit like a charm and I saved $100. I wish I knew more about furnaces. There are hundreds of things that can go wrong, but I am only capable of fixing two of them.

UPS lost the package that I was supposed to pick up today. This is the third time this has happened this year. I redirect the packages to a convenient customer service center about four miles away so I won't have to wait for the UPS man all day. According to the UPS website, this process is foolproof, but the website lies. I'll get an e-mail saying my package is ready to pick up and then when I arrive at the will-call desk, the package isn't there. This drives me nuts, because the people at the service center are never in a hurry to find the package. I've never lost a shipment entirely, but sometimes it takes them days to track down the missing package. I've never received a good explanation for why this happens so often.

Janet had to leave for work really early this morning, so had to walk the dogs myself in the morning and then again in the afternoon. This takes a really long time, since Dot's walk is so slow. I could easily spend all day walking these dogs. Even though I took Dot outside again and again, she still managed to make a mess in the house. At least we still had running water so I could do laundry. There was a big water leak at the other end of our street and some of my neighbors have had their water turned off all day.

My cold is getting worse. I've added nasal congestion and laryngitis to the sore throat I had yesterday. Basically, when you add a bad cold to all the other problems I deal with on a daily basis, it makes for a pretty bad day. I had three articles to write today, but I only managed to finish one of them because the dogs were constantly interrupting me. There wasn't even the usual sleepy period this morning. They kept me busy all day long.

Tomorrow is probably going to be even busier than today. I still have two more articles to finish and I know I'm going to continue fretting about the lost package until I get an acceptable answer from UPS. Dot has a big exam at the cancer center too. We'll be doing an ultrasound scan, x-rays, and some additional blood work. I"m almost certain that Dot will poop in the car.

I hope I still have time to go out for breakfast tomorrow morning. I need a little time to myself and another Big Boy breakfast sandwich like I had last week sounds really good.

Jasper is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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