Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Day 2452

I hurt my back lifting Dot into the car today. I don't think I did any serious damage, but it was a reminder that I'm not getting any younger. Just about everybody I know has some sort of lower back problem. Some go to chiropractors. Others prefer massage. I tend to do nothing. Usually the problem goes away on its own in a day or two if I don't do anything further to make the problem worse. Lifting Dot is becoming problematic. She's fairly heavy and if I don't lift her just right, she whines and complains. I blame today's mishap on somebody parking too close to me at the vet. I couldn't get the door to open fully and had trouble getting the leverage to lift Dot properly. It's hell getting old. It's too bad I can't get a two for one deal and get the vet to give me acupuncture at the same time she's treating Dot.

Most of today's mishaps were caused by me. I was still half asleep when I got up to take Dot outside to pee. Instead of hurrying her right out the back door, I stopped to adjust her harness and she promptly peed on the living room rug. I should have remembered that she didn't pee before she went to bed last night and this was going to be one of those mornings where I had less than twenty seconds to get her outside. I'm still not sure what to do about the rug. This is one of the large rugs that is difficult to take outside and clean. Dot also pooped in her bed this afternoon, but that's hardly worth mentioning. It happens all the time.

Dash has decided to create his own set of problems. He won't take his long walk before breakfast anymore. This is the best time of day, because it is still cool outside. I can't convince him of that though. Our new routine is for me to finish my breakfast, feed him his banana, do the dishes, and then give him a walk. For some reason, it seems to take longer to do things this way. The temperature heats up quickly too. I was sweating when we finished our walk this morning.

The vet always asks whether I think Dot is getting better or worse when we go for our Wednesday therapy sessions. I honestly don't know anymore. Some days she genuinely seems to be improving. Other days it seems like the end is near. Often it seems like we were in exactly this same place last year at this time. She was already incontinent last August. She couldn't walk far without assistance. I guess the amazing thing is that despite her age and many injuries, Dot really hasn't gotten much worse during the past year. She is remarkably tenacious. On days like today, I think she is going to outlast me.

At least the marathon of vet appointments is over for a while. Tomorrow ought to be a quiet day. It's hard to believe it's September already. If the weather is nice I should go up on the roof and see how many pecans are up there. I hear them dropping on the roof from the big pecan tree all day long. I should have removed these nuts already, because they create a huge mess when it rains. The tannin in the pecan shells turns the standing water on the roof into a chocolate colored mess that quickly stains the white roof. This natural dye seems indelible, so each year the roof gets a little darker. I wouldn't be surprised if the brand new patched areas are already turning brown.

I hope my back feels better tomorrow. If it doesn't, I won't be going up on the roof at all.

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Day 2451

I wish we'd discovered something more definitive about Dash today. The vet agreed that he wasn't moving his rear legs normally, but couldn't pinpoint a cause. The problem could be caused by a compressed disc in his spine. It could be a very early sign that Dash has a disease like Degenerative Myelopathy. It could be nothing at all. The exam today eliminated some possibilities, but many other possibilities still remain. We took x-rays of his lower spine and hips earlier this month, but I'll need to get another radiograph of his upper spine to eliminate the possibility of a damaged or compressed disc. He definitely hasn't ruptured a disc like Dot did, or his condition would be much, much worse. The vet didn't recommend an MRI at this time, because she said if that Dash has a neurological problem, an MRI can sometimes make the condition worse. I'm not sure how much I actually learned today. Dash is still in pretty good shape for his age, but if there's something we can do to help him, I want to know about it.

Dash is not a good passenger in the car. He becomes agitated and barks incessantly. By the time we got to the vet, I felt like I was going deaf and Dash was wound up like a spring. The vet said that acupuncture might help Dash if I could figure out a way to get him to ride calmly in the car. The acupuncture session would be largely wasted if he arrived full of adrenaline and bouncing off the walls. It's sad that Dash doesn't ride well in the car anymore. He was terrified of car rides when we first adopted him. Gradually, after years of taking him to dog parks and training classes, he began to act normally. Before both dogs got cancer, they loved to ride in the car to go to their favorite dog park on Sunday morning. We don't travel much anymore for obvious reasons. It's just too difficult.

I really hope there's nothing seriously wrong with Dash. After over two years of dealing with serious medical problems, I'm exhausted. Life has changed dramatically for us after both dogs got cancer. When Dot's spinal injury compounded the problem, I pretty much became a 24x7 dog nurse. Dot is such a high maintenance dog at the moment that I really need for Dash to stay healthy for a while longer. The best case scenario is that Dash is just getting older. It is common for breeds like Dalmatians and German Shepards to develop problems with their rear legs as they age. Spot's legs began to give out toward the end of his life and so did Petey's. Dash probably has quite a few good years left, but I want to be careful. I've dealt with so many serious dog problems over the years that anything out of the ordinary makes me nervous now. One way or another, I'll figure out what is going on with Dash.

I had some minor website revisions to take care of today, but nothing to reverse the trend I've been experiencing lately. My workload seems to diminish with each passing month. I know what I need to do, but the effort seems pointless at times. You need to interact with people to get customers. I need to start having lunch with people again. I need to go to industry events. It wouldn't hurt to take a few classes either. The problem is that I don't want to do these things anymore. Enough is enough.

Tomorrow, it's Dot's day to go to the vet. She's been doing surprisingly well lately. She's sleeping better now and occasionally gets up on her own to walk around the house. It's not a dramatic rebound, but she seems to have more energy than she did last month. I don't really know why Dot has good days or Dash has bad days. I just try to keep them both as healthy and happy as I can.

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

Monday, August 29, 2016

Day 2450

Don't you hate it when a warning light comes on in the car and you're not in a position to do anything about it? You just keep driving and hope that nothing goes wrong. I was taking Dot to the vet this afternoon when the low tire light came on. Not good. The last thing I need is a flat tire with a sick dog in the car. I hate the low tire light, because I'm not really sure that I know how to change a tire on this car. It definitely wouldn't have been easy today, because the spare is located in a compartment directly under where Dot was sitting. The tire looked a little low when we got to the vet, but it didn't look alarming, so I decided not to worry about it.

Dot got her blood work done and we went home again without further incident. As soon as I got Dot situated in her bed, I drove up to the Land Rover dealer. Since the tires are filled with nitrogen instead of air, I couldn't just go to the gas station around the corner. There's always something that turns simple things into complicated things for me. The dealer checked the tires, refilled them all to the recommended pressure, and told me that nothing was wrong. My service guy informed me that I was lucky to have driven almost three years without the warning light coming on. Evidently nitrogen reduces tire pressure fluctuations, but doesn't eliminate them entirely. Since nitrogen is heavier than air, it's good stuff to put in your tires. Don't expect your local gas station to have any though.

With the warning light extinguished on the dash, I feel a little better about taking Dash for his neurological exam tomorrow. Dot poops in the car, but she's still a better passenger than Dash. I dread traveling with Dash, because he won't stay still and he barks nonstop. Dash barks so loud and becomes so agitated that I'm tempted to wear earplugs. I don't know if he's excited or scared, but he's definitely not a good traveling companion.

When I got my tire problems resolved, I paid a visit to the storage warehouse and renewed my lease for another year. I hate paying this much at one time, but if you pay twelve months in advance, you get an extra month for free. I've had the storage space for so long now, that I'm sure I've accumulated over a year of free rent by paying this way. Even with the extra month, I can't say that the storage warehouse is a bargain. They keep raising the rent on me every single year. The annual increase isn't that large, but over time it really adds up. You'd think they'd have some kind of loyalty program for long time customers like me, but I get the same rotten deal as the folks who pay month-to-month. Storage warehouse companies know that they've got a captive audience. It's so damn much trouble to move everything to another storage space, that they figure that you'll just pay the increased rent. Companies seem to be almost universally greedy these days. Hey, at least I don't need to carry an EpiPen around with me.

The rain returned today. I didn't think the weather was anything to get alarmed about, but Dash didn't seem to agree. I couldn't get him to leave the house this morning, so he didn't get a morning walk at all. The sun reappeared briefly around lunchtime and I was able to take him outside to pee. Then he heard some thunder off in the distance and became scared again. Dash's storm phobia seems to be getting worse. For the most part, all we had were gentle showers today, but Dash still spent quite a while hiding under my desk.

I'm tired of dealing with problems. I'd like an entire week with no problems whatsoever. That's very unlikely though. There are always problems.

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

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Day 2449

Sunday is when we try to restore some sense of order the the shambles that has taken over our house. Janet took up all Dot's traction rugs and scrubbed the floors while I mowed the grass and later tried to remove all the spider webs and insect debris from the back windows. It's a never ending battle to get rid of the spiders and frankly I think they have the upper hand. I had to take an abrasive brush and a bucket of bleach to remove all their droppings from the window sills. The worst part of removing the spiders is that the spiders don't like it and they end up crawling all over you. I guess our efforts were worth it. The house does look and smell better now. It's a temporary victory though. Nature always wins in the long run.

Although I got plenty of exercise doing housework, I went to the gym anyway. Some things you have to do whether you like it or not. The first twenty minutes I'm at the gym, I'm always on the verge of quitting and going home early. When the initial aches and pains have subsided, I get into a rhythm and realize that it's not that big a deal to go ahead and complete my workout. The most enjoyable part of my routine is shooting baskets on the court. This activity probably doesn't burn up that many calories, but it breaks up the monotony. The last twenty minutes are always the easiest, but there is no sense of euphoria. I never decide to stay longer. An hour and fifteen minutes is long enough.

We felt a little guilty about not giving Dot a proper party yesterday, so I went out and got each dog a skinless, boneless chicken breast and some Pupcakes from Sprinkles. Dot's favorite activity is eating, so I think she enjoyed our little celebration. She eats so slowly now that for the first time ever she didn't devour her cupcake in a single bite. She actually seemed to savor the treat, taking several minutes to consume it.

I need to go renew the lease on my storage warehouse tomorrow. Maybe this will be the year when I finally start to do some serious downsizing. I could start a museum with the stuff in this warehouse. It wouldn't be a very good museum, but there are definitely things you don't see everyday. I also need to take Dot back to the vet to get her blood work done. This was supposed to be done last Friday at the cancer center, but since Dot's oncologist is gone until October, our schedule is completely messed up there now. I'll need to get the tests done at another vet. I think it's going to be a busy week, but it's hard to tell sometimes. The difference between staying busy and doing nothing at all is often arbitrary and a bit fuzzy.

Where did this Summer go? It's almost Labor Day already. It won't be long before I start wondering whether the furnace still works and spend hours clearing bushels of pecans off the roof. I"m looking forward to Fall. Too bad it only lasts about two weeks.

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

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Day 2448 - Dot's Birthday

I feel bad about not doing more for Dot's birthday. We're all getting old and tired. I know Dot is at least 16 years old and may even be 17. It hard to know the exact age of a rescue dog. Usually their birthday is just the day you adopt them.

We used to have elaborate parties for all our dogs, but they seem like distant memories now. The few dog friendly restaurants that remain in town are too far away and I don't think Dot would enjoy being transported in the car anyway. Even if she wanted to go, I don't think we can get two dogs in the same car anymore. Dot needs a lot more room with her injuries and I don't know where we'd put Dash. There used to be two places in town that made beautiful birthday cakes for dogs, but they both went out of business. The cakes were expensive and a lot of people didn't want to pay that much to treat their dog. After trying to make similar cakes myself, I quickly realized that these cakes were a bargain. It's a shame that these businesses didn't succeed. That's all in the past though. Last year, we got them some dog cupcakes at Sprinkles but it wasn't much of a party. They both ate the little cupcakes in about two seconds.

I saw a snake in the back yard this morning, but I wasn't able to catch it before it slithered away. I was trying to lift it up with a stick and toss it over the back fence, but the snake was faster than I was. I didn't want to pick the snake up with my hands, because it looked a lot like a baby copperhead. I don't want to mess with those things. The venom is actually stronger in baby snakes. I don't know why. Hopefully, the snake continued it's journey and is somewhere in the park by now. I definitely don't want Dash to discover it.

We went to a concert tonight because one of Janet's friends was performing. We hear this group almost every year. They are a large a cappella chorus that performs all over the world. When we first started going to these concerts, I wasn't that wild about this barbershop style of singing, but either they've gotten better over the years, or I've grown to appreciate them. The concerts are quite good.

When I used the Scan and Go app at the grocery store today, I noticed that there was a new welcome screen that said "No purchases over $750." I'm never going to buy that many groceries, but I wonder what this message means. Apparently, even though the app has been around less than a month, someone has already figured out a way to scam it. I wish everyone was honest and played by the rules. If everyone were honest, I wouldn't even need passwords on all these apps.

It was really hot today and there were no Summer showers to cool things down. I don't know about you, but I'm ready for Winter.

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

Friday, August 26, 2016

Day 2447

Nothing went smoothly today. This morning, the cancer center called and canceled Dot's afternoon appointment. Oddly, they called me less than 24 hours ago to remind me about the appointment. Apparently, the Ultrasound technician didn't show up for work this morning. When I tried to reschedule, they told me that Dot's oncologist wouldn't be available again until mid-September. The oncologist was there today, but there wasn't much point in keeping our appointment, since there would be no scan for her to analyze. Last minute changes like this are frustrating since they happen so often. It just reinforces my feeling that the world doesn't work anymore.

This afternoon, our power was out for almost four hours. The power outage was surprising, since there wasn't really much of a storm. There were no high winds and the rain only lasted about 45 minutes. When I checked the power company website, I noticed that there were other outages all over our part of town. I think the traffic lights went out too, since traffic backed up in front of our house rather quickly. Luckily, the power was restored before it began to get dark.

The sudden rainstorm upset Dash, but Dot didn't even seem to notice. She's almost deaf now and I don't even think she heard the thunder. It's weird how many electronic items lose their settings when the power goes down. For some reason, whenever power is restored after an outage, the washer and dryer start running. It's always been this way. so I need to remember to unplug these appliances as soon as we lose power. When the electricity was restored today, the WiFi printer became scrambled and said that three ink cartridges needed to be replaced. The clock on the coffee maker always needs to be reset and automatic shutoff thresholds on the dehumidifier usually need to be reset as well. I have backup batteries on the office computers and phones so I can shut down these items gracefully, but I still think that power outages are way more complicated than they need to be.

At least breakfast was enjoyable this morning. I went back to the hipster restaurant and, as always, I was the only guy without lots of tattoos and a long beard. I noticed a small poster in the window saying that the restaurant had recently been selected "Best Breakfast in Dallas" by D Magazine. I guess the accolades are well deserved.  I've never had a problem with the food in this place. The food is delicious. What keeps me away is that they insist on serving everything on paper plates.  The ironic thing is that the owners are these environmentally conscious guys that put little signs on the tables telling patrons not to use too many napkins because it wastes paper and then they waste a ton of paper themselves by serving everything in disposable paper take away boxes.

The dogs probably didn't even realize that it was National Dog Day today. If they knew, they would  have been even more demanding than usual. Dash was moody today. He didn't want a morning walk at all, but after the thunderstorm was over, he decided to make up for lost time and took a very long afternoon walk. In between, he mostly just hid under my desk as the weather got worse. Dot was sweet and somewhat befuddled as always. I took her outside several times after I returned from breakfast, trying to get her to poop. I was very patient, but she just didn't seem to be in the mood. Five minutes after I gave up and took her back inside, she pooped in her bed.

I'm hoping for a calm weekend. I always hope for a calm weekend.

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

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Day 2446

I ran a bunch of small errands today. Nothing I did was absolutely necessary, but it gave me something to do. I got some astringent at the pharmacy, because after all these years, I still have oily skin. I stopped by the storage warehouse to see when my yearly rent was actually due. I got gas for the car, even though it only needed a few gallons. I picked up some more CoQ10 because my doctor thinks I need to take it. I stopped by the vegan take out place to see if the menu had changed yet. It hadn't. Basically, I was just kind of bored.

The weather has gotten really hot again. The cool, rainy days we had a few weeks ago seem like a fluke now. I wonder if I just imagined them. It's weird how the days seem to suddenly get shorter around this time of year. We're taking our early morning walk in the dark again now. Last year at this time, the walks were kind of interesting because there were lots of planets in the pre-dawn sky. Now, there appears to be nothing. I'll have to check a star atlas to see if there's anything to keep my eye on. I wonder why Daylight Saving Time doesn't end until November 6? This seems later than usual. Morning sunlight will return for a while after the time changes, but then it will be dark on our evening walks. You can't win.

Dash had a burst of energy this morning, so his walk was twice as long as it normally is. I watched him, looking for any signs of stumbling and didn't see any. Everything seemed fine. This was so different from yesterday that it seemed puzzling. Something is wrong with Dash, but I just can't figure out what it is. I did make an appointment for his neurological exam, so maybe I'll find some answers then. For the moment, it was nice to take a long walk again. It gave me a chance to see if anything had changed in the neighborhood. There were a few houses up for sale and a few more under construction. Dash was relaxed today because we didn't encounter many other dogs. We basically had the park to ourselves.

I keep getting e-mail messages from one of my doctors, urging me to sign up for their Patient Portal. I dutifully followed their instructions today and created an account. These electronic records systems are touted as being great for patients, but I'd really rather just have a piece of paper that I could put in a ring binder. A ring binder lets you keep all the information in one place and you don't need to remember any passwords. When I went to my new Patient Portal page, I was surprised to see that there was absolutely nothing in my file. What is the point of a record keeping system with no records?  I have three or four of these Patient Portal accounts with different doctors. I can't remember the password to most of them. Technology marches on, I guess.

I can't decide where to eat breakfast tomorrow. Sometimes when I'm in an indecisive mood, I check the Yelp reviews for restaurants in the neighborhood. I've noticed a general trend. It doesn't matter which restaurant you pick. The majority of the reviews tend to say things like "This place used to be a favorite of mine, but it has really declined lately." That's the way I feel and I'm surprised that so many other people tend to feel the same way. Has quality universally declined, or has everybody just gotten picky and judgemental? I don't know. I think the quality of life in general has gone downhill. Restaurants are just a small part of the problem.

Pinky is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Day 2445

Two vet visits down. One to go. Remind me to never schedule three vet visits in a single week again. Dot takes so long to get ready and no matter what I do, she usually poops in the car anyway. I spend a lot more time waiting in lobbies than I did several years ago. Traffic is much worse as well. If these excursions are my window into a larger world, the world isn't working as well as it should. All the people I deal with are very nice, but most of them seem just as tired as I am. How can so many people seem so burned out? It just shouldn't be this way.

I wasn't expecting Dot to do as well as she did today, because she seemed stressed out in the car. Her acupuncture session relaxed her and she did much better in the water than she did last week. The technician who helps with Dot's water therapy collects watches like I do and we talked about collecting today while Dot walked. Oddly, this seemed to help her walk more naturally. Maybe she doesn't like people staring at her the entire time and making comments about her performance. At any rate, she seemed sure footed and walked very well today, even though we weren't paying quite as much attention to her.

I think the reason I like to go out for breakfast on Friday's is that it gives me a chance to eat in peace. Breakfast is seldom peaceful the rest of the week. I keep Dot in a small pen near the breakfast table so I can keep an eye on her while I eat. Dash is hovering nearby, waiting for me to feed him the banana I've sliced up for him. Dot gets some banana too, but she is much better behaved about her treat. If I don't feed Dash a small slice of banana about every twenty seconds, he starts to bark. When Dash starts barking, it often gets Dot excited, which can cause her to poop. Today part of her pen was siting over an air conditioner floor vent and of course that's exactly where she pooped. I had to put my breakfast in the refrigerator and clean the vent out immediately before the AC system spread the smell all over the house. Never a dull moment.

I need to figure out how to get rid of some of the stuff in my storage warehouse. The storage space is huge and is getting more expensive every year. The space used to be extremely well organized, but now I'm not even sure what I'm storing. It's a mess. I usually don't even think about the place anymore until the rent comes due for another year, which coincidentally happens next week. Whenever I renew, I think "this is the year I"m going to get this thing under control," but it never happens. If I just sold one thing on eBay every week, I could probably make a good little supplemental income. The problem with selling things though is that you've got to deal with buyers. I can't stand dealing with buyers. I bet I'll be having this same discussion next year as the dust grows thicker in the storage space.

I had another vegetarian dinner tonight. I think I could do this. The meal was delicious. The weak link in this chain is that I'm not making these meals myself. Some very good cooks at the vegan store are making the meals for me. All I have to do is heat them up in the microwave. The trouble with vegetables is that they spoil quickly and when you're cooking for one, it's hard to keep enough variety on hand to keep things interesting. This store has the right idea. They can buy lots of fresh vegetables, use them to create delicious meals, and then then change the entire menu every week, so people like me don't get bored. The only problem is that it could get pretty expensive to eat this way permanently. I don't see how a place like this could stay in business if they charged less though. Vegan take out is not a high volume business in Dallas. I hope this idea makes it. Places I like usually go out of business quickly.

There is absolutely nothing on the agenda for tomorrow. I hope it stays that way. Today was kind of hectic.

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Day 2444

I can't honestly say that Dot got a clean bill of health today at her annual physical exam, but the vet was amazed that she's doing as well as she is. Very few Dalmatians make it this far on their journey through life. Dot has already lived two years longer than any other Dalmatian we've had and she hasn't given up yet. These exams aren't as dignified as they were during her younger years. When the nurse tried to weigh her, she peed on the scale. A little later when the same nurse took her temperature, she pooped. Dot's teeth are bad, she can't walk without assistance, and she tires very easily. It's not all bad news however. Her heart is still strong, her vision is good, and she is still very enthusiastic about eating. We skipped most of the normal vaccinations because she is so old and frail, but the vet still wanted to give her the Leptospirosis vaccine. Leptospirosis is becoming commonplace in Dallas, and it is so easy to catch since we frequently walk in the park.

Today's exam took a while, but I was very pleased with the results. Dot is old and has many serious problems, but she is amazingly resilient. She is a high maintenance girl who is becoming more stubborn by the day, but she definitely hasn't given up yet. There are days when I think Dot is going to outlast me.

Last week's cooler weather lulled me into believing that Fall had arrived early, but I got a reminder today that we're still in the middle of Summer. The sun came out this morning and almost instantly it was twenty degrees warmer. By afternoon, temperatures were in the high nineties again and Dash let me know pretty clearly that he wasn't all that interested in an afternoon walk.

I had some website updates to make today. These modifications aren't an everyday occurrence like they used to be, but apparently people haven't forgotten about their websites completely. Occasionally, a website will go offline and it will often take days before the client even notices. Things have changed. If something is wrong with Facebook, they all notice immediately.

The park is full of Rain Lily's today. These small flowers seem to appear overnight after a big rain and then disappear just as quickly when things dry up. Luckily, they were blooming today, because I couldn't find anything else to photograph. There aren't many flowers left. Pretty soon, I'll start seeing Fall leaves and as soon as the time changes, I'll be trying to capture pretty sunsets again.

We need to do something special for Dot's birthday this weekend. We used to take the dogs to dinner at Cafe Lago, but that dog friendly restaurant went out of business quite a few years ago. Janet and I also used to make beautiful little dog cakes, but I don't even remember how anymore. She would bake a small three layer cake made with apple sauce, eggs, and oat flour. I would decorate the cake with a cream cheese and yogurt frosting. I took a cake decorating class once, and even had one of those special turntables, so I could apply the frosting evenly. Distant memories. All I have the energy to do anymore is buy some pupcakes at Sprinkles.

Tomorrow, we have our second vet visit of the week. We do water therapy and acupuncture on Wednesdays and then on Friday she goes back to the cancer center for another ultrasound scan. It's going to be a busy week.

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

Monday, August 22, 2016

Day 2443

The weather seems more like October than August. The Fall rainy season usually coincides with the State Fair of Texas, but it seems like we got an early start this year. The temperatures have been unseasonably cool, and it has been very, very wet. I guess I should just relax and enjoy it. The water bill will be less this month and the grass is turning green again. The main problem with the rain is that it is difficult to find a good time to walk the dogs. We got wet today, but it could have been worse. At least it was a gentle rain.

I had a weird memory lapse recently. I've been wondering why I haven't gotten a bill to renew my homeowners insurance. It seems like I always renew my policy around this time of year.  I was kind of worried that the bill had gotten lost in the mail, so I called my insurance agent today. "When are you going to send my homeowners policy," I asked. "I haven't received a bill yet." "You paid your bill in June," the agent told me. Never mind. How could I have forgotten that?

I picked up a heat and serve meal at the new vegan store in the neighborhood. I wasn't really expecting much, but my dinner was delicious. The dish was called a Lime Cilantro Bowl and basically consisted of organic roasted corn and zucchini, Spanish rice, and black beans. The dish was very fresh, spicy enough for my taste, and quite filling. I didn't miss the absence of meat at all. I doubt that this meal will turn me into a vegetarian. If you remember, I had dinner at a steakhouse last night. What it proved was that a vegetarian dinner can actually taste good. Weaning myself away from meat will be a gradual process, but this is a start. The menu at this place rotates frequently, so every time I see a tasty looking curry or Thai dish, I'll give it a try.

Something is wrong with Dash. He stumbles a little too frequently for it to be purely accidental. He doesn't seem to have as much energy as he used to and I find him licking the area around his joints a lot. I worry that his cancer might have returned or that he has developed some neurological problem. The x-rays we took a few weeks ago were inconclusive, but I'm still convinced that there is something wrong. It would be so much easier if dogs could talk.

Dash wasn't the only one who had less energy today. Dot seemed tired too. Spending the day with two exhausted dogs makes me tired. I felt like taking a nap all day long. Maybe it's just the weather. It was so humid this morning that it felt like you could squeeze the air and wring water out of it like a sponge. I emptied the dehumidifier bucket twice today, but it still feels muggy. Lets hope that things improve tomorrow so Dot's trip to the vet goes smoothly.

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

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Day 2442

Janet's birthday dinner was a few days late, but it was still very nice. We went to Knife, a new steakhouse in the neighborhood that has received national attention recently. The place was started by John Tesar, who was once a Top Chef contestant, and according to D Magazine, it is this year's Best Steakhouse in Texas. I prefer to think of the place as the hotel restaurant in the pet friendly hotel where we always stay when the power goes out or a water leak floods the house. We didn't have the nerve or the money to try the signature 240 day dry aged rib-eye, but our meal was very good.

It's a good thing I went to the gym today, because I definitely ate more than I usually do on a Sunday evening. I noticed this afternoon that my workout is remarkably consistent. I'm usually done after about 62 minutes and seem to burn roughly the same number of calories every week. The only thing that seems to vary is how long it takes me to sink five baskets from the free throw line. Sometimes I do this almost immediately and other times it seems to take forever.

I came closer to meeting my sleep goal last night than I have for a long time. We didn't get up until almost 8 AM, which is almost unheard of in this house. It certainly helped that Dot and Dash didn't wake us up like they usually do. Dot made it all the way through the night again without pooping in her bed and Dash didn't make a loud, noisy spectacle out of changing position during the night like he usually does. We need more days like this. Getting enough sleep really makes a difference.

The rain appears to be over for a while. It was somewhat surprising to see blue sky for a change. I'm amazed at how crowded the park has become on a nice day. When we first moved to the neighborhood, we practically had the place to ourselves. It's like a amusement park on weekends now. Dash likes to crisscross from one side of the paths to the other, depending on which side smells the best. I have to really watch out for cyclists now. They appear out of nowhere going very fast, and they never slow down. Bicycles are fine, but I'm not a big fan of cyclists. Why do they all act like the roads and trails were created expressly for them? Today, when I was driving home from the gym, I encountered three cyclists riding side-by-side so they took up the entire road. This made it almost impossible to pass them and traffic was backing up. Did these guys care? Not in the least.

I got another two month free trial offer from SiriusXM radio. I wonder why they sent me this offer, because I didn't bother to sign up when they sent me the same offer last year. I'll probably take advantage of the free offer again, just like I did before. Two months is plenty of time to discover that the service isn't actually worth paying for.

Next week is going to be busy. Dot has three vet appointments scheduled, each at a different vet. The first is her annual wellness exam, the second is her physical therapy session, and the third is a cancer re-check. I don't know how I screwed up and scheduled these so close together. In my defense, the appointments were all made at different times. It's not easy to transport Dot anymore, so one appointment a week is plenty. We'll make it work though. I certainly don't have anything better to do.

Cookie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Day 2441

In an ideal world, I'd get up early on Saturday and have all my shopping done before 11 AM. It just makes sense to get your chores done before everyone else in town starts doing the same thing. Unfortunately, it also makes sense to sleep in when you don't have to get up. We got off to a late start this morning. I should have checked the weather radar as soon as I got up. It looked like there would be plenty of time to walk around the block before it started to rain again, but I was wrong. We only walked about 300 yards before the skies opened up and the deluge began. Oh, well. Dot needed a bath anyway. We were all soaking wet before we were able to retrace our steps and return home again.

Oddly, this ten minute downpour was the major rain of the day. If we'd just waited until after breakfast to walk the dogs, we would have stayed dry. It didn't start to rain again until I was on my way to the grocery store. I probably could have avoided this as well, but I'm getting sloppy. It's getting way too hard to do everything at the best possible time. I was trying not to leave the house this morning until Dot had pooped, but she wasn't very cooperative. Eventually, I just gave up and decided I'd take my chances on coming home to a big mess.

I love the new Scan and Go app on my phone. It makes grocery shopping so much easier.  I can't wait until all stores give you the option of bypassing the checkout lanes. The app is perfect for grocery stores, but it would be useful for clothing stores as well. I hate it when sales people hover nearby, trying to be helpful. I know my own size and am perfectly capable of selecting a pair of pants myself. Groceries are a good start to this brave new world of automated shopping. Maybe someday, I'll never have to stand in a checkout line again.

I couldn't figure out why the pump on the roof wasn't working and then I remembered that the roofers disconnected everything a few weeks ago when they applied the patch material. I went up on the roof to reconnect the pump and was pleasantly surprised that all the new patches had survived the recent rains. The roof was under about three inches of water, but other than reconnecting the sump pump, I didn't make much of an effort to dry things out. Why bother. It's just going to rain again tomorrow.

Maybe it's just a coincidence, but Dot isn't having quite as many problems with incontinence lately. She still poops in the house, but the intervals are less frequent. For the past three nights she's slept all the way through the night without making a mess. It would be great if she was actually improving, but I'm not going to get my hopes up. Neurological problems are weird. Things don't progress in a linear fashion. There are good days and bad days, and just when you think you've got things figured out, something completely surprising will happen.

I hope the weather improves tomorrow. I made dinner reservations again and I'd hate to have to cancel two times in a row. I've given up on keeping the car clean. I'm going to the gym tomorrow morning rain or shine.

Blackjack is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, August 19, 2016

Day 2440

I was going to take Janet out for a birthday dinner this evening, but there was a horrendous rainstorm and both dogs were freaking out. We canceled our dinner and huddled with the dogs until the storm blew over. You really don't have a lot of flexibility with storm phobic dogs. Dot and Dash get so upset that they could easily injure themselves. Since Dot is already injured, there isn't much margin for error. I learned my lesson about Dalmatians and thunderstorms with an earlier dog we had. We came home after a surprise thunderstorm to discover overturned furniture and a big hole in the bedroom carpet where Petey had apparently tried to dig an emergency storm shelter. He dug completely through the carpet, the carpet pad, and the plywood sub-floor. When the weather's bad, it's much easier to just stay home.

I felt bad about canceling dinner, since Janet thinks I never do anything fun anymore and seldom leave the house. Some things can't be helped though. We'll go out for a nice dinner when the sun returns. I wish Dot and Dash were a little calmer when it rains, but that's just the way it is. Back in the days when the roof used to leak, I was probably just as bad are they are.

With the exception of the bad weather, the day was pretty uneventful. When I went out for breakfast this morning, there were two huge trucks in the parking lot, apparently transferring sewage from one truck to another. I took a gamble that the restaurant's air condition system would filter out the smell and went inside for breakfast anyway. Throughout my meal, I kept thinking that the smell was seeping through the walls, but I was probably just imagining things. I still have no idea why the trucks were there or what their smelly cargo really contained.

It's been so wet lately that mushrooms are cropping up everywhere. They're in the yard and they're in the park. Some of the mushrooms are pretty, but I have no idea which ones are poisonous. I do my best to keep the dogs away room all of them. I have enough trouble keeping Dash from stepping on broken glass or getting stung by a bee. The last thing I need to worry about is whether he's been eating mushrooms.

My credit card bills were lower this month. It's a start. I've been trying to cut back on spending to compensate for my paltry income, but the exercise hasn't been easy. I'd still rather go buy something than read a book. I saw an article the other day about how important it was for older people to begin downsizing and simplifying their lives before they become senile. It was disheartening to realize they were talking about me.

Hopefully, the weather will improve this weekend. The dogs aren't calm on a normal day and it's even worse when they've got cabin fever.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Day 2439

I keep getting e-mail messages from companies trying to convince me to automate my house. Why? If I got one of those fancy WiFi door locks, it would only work a few months a year. The soil shifts a lot in Dallas and for much of the year doors and windows don't line up exactly, making them difficult to open. The front door is particularly difficult to open in August. It will be fine again in December. Elbow grease works fine for sticky doors. I'd be pretty irritated if I bought a WiFi door lock and had to wait until December for the deadbolt to line up perfectly with the door frame. I suppose I could turn the lights on and off with my phone, but I think the conveniently placed light switches on the wall are much easier to use than my balky WiFi network. I already have a WiFi thermostat that I can talk to. We seldom have conversations though. It's much easier to adjust the temperature manually on my way to the kitchen. My point is that all of these new automated home systems rely on your phone to function properly. I'm sorry to tell you this AT&T, but my phone is the least reliable piece of equipment in the house.

I paid a bunch of bills today and I feel poor again.  If I just had three or four new clients, I wouldn't have to deal with these monthly ups and downs. I think about this every month, but I'm not sure where the business is going to come from. Most of the marketing directors and brand managers I've worked with over the years have either retired or died. It's certainly not hopeless, but I think there's a better chance of me living on Mars than striking up a working relationship with the current batch of millennials who have taken my place in the ad industry. What I need to find are some really old people who think they need a website even though they actually don't.

The rainy weather continues. I haven't gotten sick of the rain yet, but that day is coming. If it's a rule that Dot only poops when I'm in the shower, it's a corollary to that rule that it starts to rain whenever I have to run an errand. For the past three days, it has started to rain as soon as I backed the car out of the driveway. It could be worse though. I'm dry in the car. What I really hate is when it starts to rain when I'm about a mile away from home walking Dash.

I'm having e-mail problems again. Messages are sent, but they are not received. I've almost concluded that it isn't worth the trouble to resolve these problems. They are usually temporary and they seldom have a plausible explanation. Even tech support sometimes says, "Just try it again in a few minutes." The first ten years I was online, I seldom had any problems. I miss those days. Dial-up modems and renting VHS movies at Blockbuster were just fine by me. I miss my old analog OKI 900 phone too. Those were the days.

Dot didn't have any accidents in the house today. Of course the day isn't over yet. I remembered to take the trash out to the curb too. Even though it was wet and rainy, it wasn't a bad day at all.

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Day 2438

There are many things I'd rather do than go to a vet appointment on a rainy day. For starters, the traffic is terrible when it rains in Dallas. Dash's storm phobia is getting worse and he hates to be left alone in the house. Dot doesn't like riding in the car in any kind of weather. It's not a good combination. I apologized for being late to my appointment, but apparently my absence wasn't even noticed. I'm not the only one who has problems with their dogs in bad weather, so everybody else was late to their appointments too. There was a backlog of dogs in the lobby and we ended up having to wait about an hour to start our therapy session. Actually, the wait was good, because it gave Dot a chance to calm down. By the time the vet was ready to see us, Dot was getting sleepy.

We had a good session today. The acupuncture relaxes Dot and hopefully relieves some discomfort. The water therapy is supposed to strengthen her rear legs and prevent further muscle atrophy. Dot was strong enough to exercise for the full fifteen minutes today and the rain was almost over by the time we made our way home. We spent most of the afternoon to get these fifteen minutes under our belt, but I suppose it was worth it.

I was going to pay bills and do some bookkeeping this afternoon, but I never got around to it. I never got around to going to the vegan take out place either. I ended up just having a can of soup for dinner. Maybe I'll get caught up tomorrow, but I kind of doubt it. It's supposed to rain tomorrow as well. It's actually supposed to rain for the rest of the week. I should be used to how time consuming the dogs can be on rainy days, but I still underestimate the difficulties.

Dot has added a new wrinkle to our daily routine. About the time everybody else is getting ready to go to sleep, Dot gets a second wind and becomes very restless. This would be a good time to give her a walk, if it weren't for the fact that it is 11 PM and pitch dark outside. I don't know what has caused this change, since she used to be ready to go to bed for the night as soon as she's had her evening meds. Now, I'll take her out in the back yard three or four times and hold up her legs as she wanders aimlessly around. I'll get her situated in her dog bed and then two minutes later, she's barking and wants to get up again. It's taking longer and longer to get her settled in for the night.

I wish tomorrow was Friday. I wouldn't mind getting rid of Thursday entirely. Six days in a week would be plenty for me. Unfortunately, I don't get to choose these things. I'll try to do something useful tomorrow, even though I find the day completely redundant. For now I'll just concentrate on getting Dot to go to sleep.

Toby is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Day 2437

I had to make some changes to one of the first mobile sites I designed last year and somewhat to my chagrin, I realized that I'd forgotten how to build these things. This happens a lot these days. It doesn't matter whether you're playing guitar or writing a novel, you have to keep your hand in the game if you want to keep your chops up. I'm not as good of a video editor as I used to be, because I don't spend much time editing anymore. I used to be more technically proficient as a photographer too. You really need to do something every single day if you expect to get good at it. It's a shame that I'm already forgetting how to create mobile websites, because I worked so hard to learn this skill. There wasn't as much demand as I'd hoped though. I'm getting a little rusty.

It took me an hour or so to figure out what I was doing and make the necessary changes. If somebody asks me to do the same thing tomorrow, I'm good. Getting rusty is just a fact of life as you get older. It's hard to stay on the cutting edge, since styles and technologies change so quickly. I don't think my writing has deteriorated as much as some of my other skills, but that's only because I still write everyday. It would probably take me a little longer to write an annual report for an oil and gas producer though. I haven't done one of those in over five years.

If practice makes perfect, I'm probably a world class poop collector. Cleaning up dog poop is definitely something I do everyday. As Dot's incontinence has gotten worse, I've discovered all sorts of little tricks to speed up the cleanup process and minimize any damage. When Dot poops in her sleep, I'm often able to get her cleaned up without even waking her up. These are not skills you'd put on a resume though. These are not even skills you'd brag about in public. People just don't want to hear about dog poop.

It remained cool and overcast today. I almost felt like I needed a light jacket on our morning walk. I'm not going to be lulled into thinking that Fall has arrived early though. I know better. September is often even hotter than August and I'm sure we've still got quite a few triple digit days ahead of us. For the moment, I'm just enjoying my good fortune. Cooler weather definitely makes a difference with Dot. She has more energy and a lot more interest in getting outdoors and moving around a bit.

We've got another physical therapy session tomorrow. I hope Dot does as well as she did last week. I'd love to see her get strong enough so that she could walk around the house without my assistance. I think it frustrates her that I'm always following her around, holding up her rear end with the harness. We'll see how it goes.

If I can find the time tomorrow, I'm going to pick up something for dinner at the new Vegan take out place in the neighborhood. The continually rotating menu seems interesting, and I'd love to see if I can wean myself away from meat. I think I could be a vegetarian if the food was spicy enough. Maybe there will be a nice curry I can take home and reheat in the microwave. If not, I'm sure there's still a few hot dogs in the refrigerator.

Pogo is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Day 2436

It felt like Fall today. Overcast skies and a slow, steady rain kept temperatures in the low 70's. I'm not typically a fan of dampness and drizzle, but the change of pace from our typical August heat was kind of nice. Dot seemed to enjoy the cooler temperatures, but Dash was having nothing to do with the rain. I couldn't even get him to go outside this morning.

A writing assignment gave me the perfect excuse to stay around the house all day. I'd write for a while and then take the dogs to the back door so they could see if the rain had stopped. Dot still seems to have more energy than she did last week. She kept me busy during the day, barking when she needed help to get up and check on things. I continue to see this restless behavior as a good thing. At least it's better than lying listless in her bed all day.

I had to wash some rubber backed rugs that Dot made a mess on yesterday. I need to make a mental note to never buy rubber backed rugs again. The rubber flakes off in the dryer and makes a huge mess, even when you dry the rugs on the lowest heat setting. I guess I could have taken the rugs outside and let them air dry, but it was a damp, rainy day and it would have taken forever. I needed them back on the floor again. Eventually, the little flecks of stray rubber backing will find their way to the dryer filter, but they'll probably attach themselves to the next load of towels first.

It took longer than it should have to finish my article, mostly because Dot and Dash were being needy and demanding. Dash was frustrated because he didn't want to walk in the rain and Dot was frustrated because she couldn't do much of anything. Eventually, the rain subsided to a light mist and I was able to take Dash for a long walk while Dot slept. There have been more peaceful days, but it really wasn't all that bad. Cooler temperatures and a self-imposed deadline to meet were all I needed to keep my glass half full today.

I think my good mood had more to do with getting a decent night's sleep than anything else. Dot had one of those rare nights when she slept through the night without pooping. It makes a big difference. We all woke somewhat refreshed, hoping that Dot would stay on schedule for another eight hours.

I completely missed the Perseid meteor shower this year. The pictures I kept seeing on Google looked spectacular, but it wasn't meant to be in Dallas. Our skies were overcast on Thursday and Friday, and even during clear weather, there is so much light pollution in the city that seeing something as faint as a meteor trail is almost impossible. Maybe someday I'll live in a place with clear, dark skies. I don't think I've seen the Milky Way in decades.

Who knows what I'll see tomorrow. The flowers are gradually being replaced by seed pods as Fall approaches. Pretty soon the first leaves will start to turn. Sometimes it is simply amazing how quickly a year goes by.

Freckles is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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