Saturday, June 24, 2017

Day 2739

It rained all night. For once, I was glad to see the rain because it cooled down the oppressively high temperatures a bit. Dash didn't approve though. The thunder scared him during the night and he refused to go out and pee the next morning. Eventually, he gave up and got wet, but he is a very stubborn dog. I certainly couldn't have waited that long to pee.

The home nurse came earlier today. She is a retired RN who either wanted to keep working to have something to do, or maybe she needs the money. I am always pleased to see older people who have managed to carve out a niche for themselves. The nurse is very reassuring not only because she is nice, but because she has seen almost everything in her long career. So far, the prognosis looks good. The daily ritual of changing bandages and draining fluid tubes is starting to seem familiar. It's definitely not normal, but it's not as scary anymore either.

I ate a late breakfast after the nurse left and then got started on a long day full of errands. Janet and I have always tried to split the errands and chores as equally as possible. It's only when you become responsible for both sides of the equation that you realize that our life isn't quite as simple as it seems. Normally Janet buys the fresh stuff and I get the things you can buy in bulk. I don't know how two people and one dog manage to eat so much food. I need to remember that I don't really have to go to Central Market on Saturday afternoon. What a zoo. My schedule has always been pretty flexible. I think I'll start buying all the produce at 10:30 on Tuesday morning or something. It's much easier to shop when everybody else is at work.

The weather cleared up by mid-afternoon, so I was able to get Dash outside for a little exercise. He seems to know that Janet is sick and has become very protective. Most of the day, he just sits on the bed with her. He hasn't lost interest in eating though. If I rattle the container where we keep his food, he always comes running to the kitchen.

The spiders have already started returning and are in the process of building new webs to capture insects flying toward our living room windows. I was at Home Depot this afternoon, but completely forgot to look for some kind of spray to keep them away. We must have thousands of small spiders in our yard. I don't know where they come from, but they seem to love our windows.

I've still got one more website to update, but if things go smoothly tomorrow I'll probably have time to go to the gym. I'm not wild about exercise, but I need something to replace the marathon walks I used to take when Dot and Dash were healthy. I really miss those days. We keep getting cards from all the vets who treated Dot during her long life. It means a lot to know that she touched so many lives. Janet and I can't bring Dot back, but we can remember what she taught us about dealing with adversity.

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

Friday, June 23, 2017

Day 2738

Janet's home nurse didn't show up this morning. We thought we could just change the bandages ourselves, but quickly realized we were out of our depth. I couldn't even figure out how to open the bottle of sterile saline solution. The instructions the hospital left us with made such a huge deal out of germs and cleanliness that it left me wondering if my hands were still clean if I turned off the faucet after washing them. And what about cutting a bandage in half with a pair of scissors? Where do you draw the line?

It wasn't surprising to learn that the problem with the home nurse involved paperwork. Someone had failed to send the proper authorization forms to the right person. Basically very little happens in healthcare unless the provider knows they are going to get paid. The doctors and nurses are excellent. It's insurance that always screws things up. Janet called her regular doctor to see if they could help arrange something and by the end of the day we were back in business. I used to think the whole concept of concierge doctors was a waste of money, but Janet's doctor has made me a believer. You basically pay more to get treated decently, but if you need help, don't want to wait forever to get an appointment, and are having trouble navigating the insurance maze, the cost is well worth it. I've been going to the same doctor for a long time, but I'm thinking of switching to Janet's doctor. These guys have been amazing.

It was so hot today that Dash didn't want to walk at all. On the theory that dogs know more about the weather than I do, I didn't try to make him go outside. You hear so many stories about dogs getting heatstroke in the Summer that I've become very cautious about taking walks during a heat wave. You've got to remember that dogs can't sweat and can become overheated quite quickly.

I did get out and about myself, but I've got a good air conditioner in my car. I went out for breakfast, even though it was almost lunch time by the time all the home nurse confusion got straightened out. Today's errands included picking up more medical supplies at CVS and getting some tasty things for dinner that didn't require cooking.

I wonder how nurses deal with the stress. There are so many things that can go wrong. Patients often don't follow directions, and what works for one person sometimes doesn't work for the next. This isn't something I'd like to do for a living. I have a tremendous respect for doctors and nurses, but I don't think modern medicine would work at all if the body didn't have an amazing ability to heal itself. A healthy diet and a strong immune system are probably more important than any pill.

I had to update some more mobile websites today and grew increasingly frustrated at the need to use both my laptop and desktop computers to make the updates. What would have been a thirty minute job before my design application stopped supporting my desktop computer ended up taking two hours. I hate to spend a ton of money updating software on my desktop just so I can continue to use this application, but I may have to. It is taking way too much time to go back and forth between the two computers.

I guess tomorrow is Saturday although all days seem the same now. There are lots of errands to run and I can tell it's going to be a busy day already. I always forget how much Janet does to keep the house running smoothly until I try doing it myself for a while. Hopefully this new routine will become easier for both of us with a little practice.

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Day 2737

Janet is home again. They definitely don't keep you very long in the hospital anymore. As much as I hate hospitals, I'll have to admit that I was very impressed with the doctors and staff at Baylor. Not only were they very well trained and professional, they were nice. This isn't always the case at hospitals. So far, everything appears to be going smoothly. Janet's doctors are pleased with her progress and the nurses reassured me that all the tubes and bandages she went home with are completely normal.

Once of the head nurses gave me a short course in wound care this afternoon. For the first week or so there are drains that must be emptied several times a day. The fluid that collects in the reservoirs is supposed to diminish each day, and when it stops the tubes are removed. You have to keep a log and measure the amount of fluid you remove each time, making sure to keep everything completely clean during the entire process. There have never been this many antibacterial products in our home before. I'm sure they are necessary. The doctors didn't mince words about the dangers of infections. Most of the complications resulting from surgery don't happen during the surgery itself. They are usually caused by infections that happen later.

I'm careful and methodical, even though my hands aren't as steady as they once were. It's going to be a miracle if we make it through the entire week without spilling some of the fluid that is removed several times a day. Everybody calls it a pink fluid but they're not fooling me. It's blood.

Dash is being very good. He was our only real worry, since he's probably the dirtiest thing in the house. He has slept on our bed the entire time he has been a party of our family, so he's not going to change now. I make sure he doesn't get too near Janet when he's active and excited. Dinner time and food seem to excite him the most, so it is pretty easy to lure him to the kitchen and out of harm's way. Basically Dash is a very lazy dog. If he's on the bed, he's usually sleeping.

I spent most of the morning getting the bed ready. There were new sheets, new pillows, new pillow shams, a new comforter, and unfortunately a new mattress cover. The old mattress cover slid over the mattress like a fitted sheet. This new one had a zipper and you had to slide the entire mattress inside it and then zip it up. Our mattress is very heavy and this was not an easy job. I almost gave up at one point, but I finally got the thing on. I didn't think anything was wrong with the old mattress cover, but Janet reminded me that dogs have peed on it several times. Basically sterilizing a house with dogs is an exercise in futility. All things considered though, I think we've done pretty well.

Things will be quite different for a few weeks and then should gradually return to normal. I don't think we'll need the home nurse for very long. Changing dressings and emptying the tubes is actually easier than we'd thought it would be. There will be follow up visits with the surgeons and an oncologist. I think there's a physical therapist too. In many ways this all seems very similar to what Dot and Dash went through a few years ago.

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Day 2736

I spent most of the day at the hospital. Our dogs have had every conceivable type of surgery over the years, but none of this really prepares you for surgery in a large metropolitan hospital. There are mountains of forms to sign. You can easily get lost in the labyrinth of hallways leading to your destination. It can all be fairly intimidating. I noticed that Janet's blood pressure was higher than normal when they looked at her vital signs in the pre-op staging area. The nurse just laughed. "Everyone's blood pressure is high in this room," she said.

While we were waiting, I met the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, a nurse-patient liaison, and more operating room nurses than I can remember. There was actually a second surgeon, but he was busy in another operation, and didn't introduce himself. Everyone was extremely professional and did their best to put us at ease.

There is no way to be relaxed about major surgery though. Janet was scared and I was just hoping that my innate fear of doctors and hospitals wasn't showing. I didn't want to make things worse. The only comfort was that Janet had done her homework and found a superb surgeon. Everybody said that this guy was the very best. When the anesthesiologist came to prepare her for the operating room, I went home to feed and walk Dash while waiting for the call that everything was OK.

The surgery went quicker than I thought it would. The first surgeon called about an hour an a half after I got home and the second surgeon called an hour after that to say everything was completed. Surgeons are not very talkative, but both seemed pleased with the results and said there were no complications.

When I went to visit Janet this evening after she got out of the recovery room, she was all hooked up to tubes and looked very tired. She was hungry though and said she wished they had brought her a ham sandwich instead of Jello and chicken broth. There was probably good reason that the doctors didn't want her to eat solid food right away. It was hard enough to get her to drink a glass of water through a straw. Janet wanted me to text her family and friends and let them know she was OK. This took forever, since I'm terrible at texting. I don't see how anyone can do this quickly. I can barely see the tiny keyboard.

If all goes well tonight, Janet will be released from the hospital later tomorrow. There will be a nurse that comes to the house for a while and then I will take over most of the post-op care. Dot prepared me well for being a caregiver, so I think everything will be fine.

It's been a long day. Actually, it's been a very long year. I often wish that life would return to normal, but lately I've come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as normal. When you get to know people well, you realize that nobody's life is all that normal. We are all dealing with things we never expected.

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Day 2735 - Summer Solstice

Summer is officially here. I used to think that the Summer Solstice always occurs on June 21, but it moves around a bit for the same reason that we have leap year every four years. The year isn't exactly 365 days long. I didn't need a calendar to remind me that Summer arrived today. It was really hot outside. I waited until late in the day to take Dash on his evening walk, but it was still too hot for him. Dash doesn't do well in the heat. If it gets any warmer, we will have to curtail these evening walks entirely.

I got Dash's blood test results today and they were encouraging. His triglyceride levels went all the way from over 2000 to 168. This dramatic reduction amazed our vet, but I'm thinking that the lab just made a mistake on the first set of tests. It happens. I've had really screwy results on my own blood tests from time to time. It's a shame that insurance won't pay for more frequent lab work. There can be anomalies in any test and you really need to test frequently to see if there is a trend or pattern to the results. If you only get your blood tested once a year, you may be worried all year about something that isn't even a problem.

I did some more cleaning around the house today. I'd read that you could remove lime and scale off the inside of shower heads by tying a bag full of vinegar around the shower head and letting it soak for a few hours. I was skeptical but what did I have to lose. The water did seem to come out of the nozzle a little better after I was done, but it still wasn't anything like our old shower head. Somewhere along the line, manufacturers changed the design of faucets, toilets, shower heads, and other plumbing fixtures to save water. I hate these low volume fixtures because it just doesn't seem like there is enough water pressure anymore.

Things are probably as clean as they're going to get. We've just about run out of preparation time since Janet goes in for surgery tomorrow. Life is going to be different for a while. They move you out of the hospital so quickly now that a lot of her recovery will take place at home. Hopefully, I will be a good nurse. I learned a lot during the years I took care of Dot, but this will be more complicated. Once again it will be important to stay flexible, have a positive attitude, and take things one day at a time. I've read all the information the doctors have provided, but there are still a lot of questions.

I wonder if life will ever return to normal. When Janet recovers, probably something will go wrong with me. Dash is getting older too. I really hope he stays healthy and happy for a few more years. It would be nice to have a block of time where everyone was relaxed and healthy and all the stress just disappeared.

If normalcy ever does return, it would be nice to travel for a while. Living and working in a very old house for all these years has made me feel like the captain of a sinking ship. Right now, restaurant meals and having a maid make your bed every morning sounds pretty good.

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Day 2734 - My Birthday

The weather surprised me this morning. When I took Dash on his morning walk, we got caught in a downpour. I knew it was going to rain today, but when I looked at the weather radar when we got up, it appeared like there was plenty of time for a walk. The storm wasn't heading directly toward us either, so I thought I was safe. By the time we got home, Dash and I were both soaked. Dash just got a bath yesterday too, but that's the way it goes in life. You've got to be prepared for the unexpected.

I'm getting prepared for my role as Janet's nurse while she recovers from surgery. All I can do at this point is continue cleaning the house. The doctors keep stressing how important it is to avoid an infection. Our house is hardly a clean zone, but it's probably better than the hospital itself. Most people who get infections get them while they are actually in the hospital. Today I scrubbed the shower stall. I learned that soap scum is really hard to remove completely. It seems to get hard as enamel over time. Everything looks a lot better now, although it would have been better to just re-tile the entire bathroom.

Dash seems to be adjusting to our smaller family. He's starting to take normal walks again and now that Dot's exotic food is gone, he's stopped being a picky eater. I'm sure he's still lonely at times, but so am I. The best thing either of us can do is just continue living each day as normally as possible.

Today was certainly normal. It didn't seem like a birthday at all. If it weren't for all the birthday messages on Facebook, I might have forgotten that I am sixty-nine years old. A lot of things about Facebook still irritate me, but I kind of like these birthday messages. It's nice to know that people haven't completely forgotten about you.

We had a little birthday celebration after dinner tonight. Dash and I had a cupcake and Janet had some pineapple slices. Janet's new diet seems remarkably similar to what I was eating while I was being treated for Hepatitis C.  Doctors emphasize eating healthy almost as much as they emphasize avoiding infections. I lost a lot of weight while I was avoiding sugar like the plague. I had to give up bread as well, because it almost immediately converts to glucose in your body. I maintained the spartan diet for over two years, but I'm eating pancakes and desserts again. I'm still not sure whether cutting out sugar actually made me any healthier.

You'd think that each additional year would make me a little wiser, but I'm not feeling very wise tonight. I'm humbled by how much there is that I still don't know. I guess the goal now is to keep learning more than I forget. It's going to be an uphill battle because my mind is like a sieve. There are hundreds of books that line the walls of my office and I've already forgotten what's inside most of them. I guess I could re-read everything, but I probably won't. I'll definitely keep writing though. Reading is good, but writing is even better.

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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Day 2733 - Father's Day

Every Father's Day I see all these pictures on Facebook of people with their Dad. I can't recall any pictures of me and my Dad together. Even when I spent a lot of time with him toward the end of his life, we never took a picture together. To be fair, I can't recall any pictures of me and my Mom together either. I don't know what this means, but our family certainly didn't spend a lot of time recording family events.

Maybe this odd tradition continues. Janet and I have taken an enormous number of pictures of our dogs in every conceivable situation, but we have very few pictures of each other. I wouldn't read too much into this. Animals are just more fun to photograph.

I moved the pressure washer to another part of the house this afternoon and continued my quest to clean the exterior. There seems to be a fine line between removing spider webs and removing paint. The exterior paint is old and if I try too hard to remove a stubborn web, I can easily strip the paint away too. I'm going to have to go to a hardware store and see if there is some kind of spray I can apply to keep the spiders from returning. It would be a shame to have invested this much time cleaning the place, only to have all the spiders return in a few weeks.

I wish good house painters weren't so expensive. I've gotten bids several times and have always been appalled at the cost of professionally repainting the house. I repainted the interior myself about eight years ago and I think this might have been the origin of my shoulder problems. Painting the ceilings with a roller was a bitch. About halfway through the job, I discovered a power roller that made the job quicker, but holding a paint filled roller at the end of a long pole was still tiring. Maybe painting the exterior will be easier since there are no ceilings. The exterior walls are mostly brick, so a few wooden walls shouldn't be a huge problem. Oops. I forgot that the long back porch has a ceiling. That's were all the spiders congregate. This area needs some kind of special spider proof paint.

Janet took me out for a birthday dinner tonight, since she'll have to work late tomorrow. Sometimes my birthday falls on Father's Day and even when it doesn't, the two days are always close together. Mom used to say that I was her Father's Day gift to Dad. I think Dad would have preferred a new fishing rod or some wood carving tools. It was enjoyable to go out to dinner for a change. We haven't been out together since Dot got sick and couldn't be left alone. We didn't forget Dash though. We ate early, so there would still be time for an evening walk before it got dark.

The older I get, the less I look forward to birthdays. I'll be 69 tomorrow. Despite what some people say, 69 is not the new 49. The aches and pains are real. I feel old. I look old. I am old. My Mom didn't even live this long, so I really should look at each additional year as a gift. It would be beneficial to develop a positive attitude. Youth is very forgiving to negative people, but it's silly to be negative when you're old. You just don't have that many years left. I don't want to waste the time I've been allotted. There might not be a bucket list, but there is still a lot of stuff I'd like to do.

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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Day 2732

It seems pretty clear that there are no more rats in the atrium, so I decided to tackle the job I've been avoiding for years. Cleaning the atrium is difficult because it is basically an outside space that can only be accessed from the inside. Each time I use the pressure washer, I grow a little wiser. I don't point the nozzle at old paint anymore, because it will peel the paint away. I definitely don't point the nozzle at myself. I learned that the hard way. Today I wore a large hat with a brim to protect my head from falling spiders. I lined the inside of the sliding glass door with rags to soak up the water that I knew would leak into the living room. When we first bought the house, I used to do this job once a year, but when our first pressure washer broke I lost interest and convinced myself that the dust and dirt looked just fine. Originally, the atrium seemed like it would be a nice place to have dinner in the Spring or Fall, but we really weren't prepared for how brutal Texas weather can be. It didn't take us long to realize that eating inside with the air conditioner cranked up was much nicer.

As the pressure hose slowly peeled away layer after layer of dirt and grime, the atrium gradually began to look like it used to be. I tend to forget that this house is sometimes considered architecturally significant. All the other Glen Galloway houses have been featured in magazines. Ours has been destroyed by dogs. Architecture was still important to me when we bought the house. I used to be an architect at some point in the distant past and having a cool house seemed essential. Now, I realize that a house is just a place with a roof over your head that you share with dogs.

Although cleaning the atrium was a dirty job that took most of the afternoon, I'll have to admit that I did feel pretty good when I looked at the final results. The flagstone floors and exposed brick look like new. All I have to do now is put a coat of paint on the wood walls and I'll be done.

I had to move the emergency generator while I was cleaning the atrium and it seemed like a good time to fill it with gas and see if it still worked. The generator started easily and the engine seemed to run just fine but it wasn't producing any electricity. This didn't make sense. The generator was practically brand new. It should work perfectly. Since so many computer problems are solved by turning them off and back on again, I use this technique for everything now. I shut the generator down and then restarted it. Amazingly, that's all it took. I have no idea what the problem was, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had something to do with spiders.

Over half of the house still needs to be cleaned, but the pressure washer doesn't intimidate me anymore. Little by little, I'll get this job done. I'm going to wait a while to call the landscaper again because he likes to be paid in cash, but by the Fourth of July, the house and yard should be looking great.

I think I've done enough cleaning for one weekend. Tomorrow I'll either finish my website updates or go to the gym. I doubt if I'll do both. That seems too much like multi-tasking.

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

Friday, June 16, 2017

Day 2731

I had some websites that needed to be updated this morning and when I opened the design application I normally use, I was greeted with a message saying that my browser was out of date and that I needed to upgrade to the latest version before I could save my files. WTF? Everything worked fine yesterday. I tried to upgrade the browser and I was greeted by another message saying that newer versions were not supported by my current operating system. This was getting really irritating. I tried to change the website without using the expensive cloud-based design application, but it was hard to get everything to format correctly. This is why I hate cloud-based applications. You aren't in control anymore.

I had to get the website fixed today, so I upgraded the operating system on a laptop that didn't have anything important on it and then downloaded the new browser that my web application wanted. I was eventually able to fix the client's website, but I couldn't upload the new files because the FTP program I use was on the other computer. What a mess. By the time I got the website updated, many hours had passed and I knew I wasn't going to get anything else done. When I contacted customer support and asked them why they were making my life so difficult, they just said that hardly anyone was using OS 10.8.5 anymore and they decided to stop supporting it. Thanks for nothing guys.

At least I had a nice breakfast this morning. I haven't had Lox and Bagels for quite a while and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy them. This used to be my go-to travel breakfast when I was on business trips. Needless to say, it's been a while. It was nice to have an enjoyable meal completely unaware that the rest of my day was going to be filled with computer problems. If I knew what I was in store for, I probably wouldn't have eaten at all.

I think Dash had a good excuse for not wanting to walk today. It was so hot that I didn't want to go outside either. In Dallas we go straight from praying the furnace won't break to praying the air conditioner won't break. There only seems to be a few weeks of nice mild weather, and even then the air is so filled with pollen that my eyes are constantly watering. When it gets hot in Dallas I fantasize about living in Colorado or Wyoming. When I was a kid, our family spent summers near Crested Butte long before it became a ski area. We lived in a little cabin up near the timberline and the air always seemed so clean and fresh. Of course, the air was probably clean and fresh everywhere fifty years ago.

I'm sure the weekend will be busy. There's another website I need to update using the convoluted and time consuming two computer method I improvised today. There are a bunch of household chores that I'd planned on starting today that now have to wait until tomorrow. Everything will get done, but personally I'd rather sleep in late and do nothing at all.

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Day 2730

I tend to procrastinate. Usually I can find a good reason. I've been postponing getting my passport renewed because there's really no place I want to go. I've been postponing going to the doctor because I'm tired of hearing that most of my problems are the inevitable result of aging. I postpone cleaning as long as I can because it's just going to get dirty again.

I think I've postponed cleaning under and behind all the furniture as long as we've owned the house. My theory about dust is if you can't see it, it doesn't exist. Now that Janet's doctors have decreed that it is essential to have a clean house, I have to make up for lost time. I know I said that I cleaned under the bed the other day, but I really just cleaned around all the photo equipment that has been sitting under there for decades. Today, I pulled out all the dusty flight cases and canvas bags full of backdrops, tripods, strobe lights, and light stands. It was time for an honest cleaning job. Most of the canvas bags were coated with a thick layer of dog hair. All our dogs have slept on the bed and I think there was hair from every dog we've ever had. I vacuumed and scrubbed each bag, dusted each case, and then gave the carpet a complete cleaning. The dust from the small area under the bed filled the entire Dyson canister. I hope I don't have to do this again anytime soon. The low platform bed is too heavy to move and my aching joints aren't very nimble anymore. You really have to be a contortionist to clean under this bed.

I wish I'd left the guitars under the bed. When my photo gear began to accumulate, I move the guitars somewhere else many years ago and put my photo gear under the bed where it would be easier to access. Unfortunately, I put the guitars in a closet where the humidity was too high and ruined a rare Vox Mark VI from the 1960's. If only I'd known about dehumidifiers back then. Live and learn is my motto, but sometimes I don't learn quickly enough.

I don't know what to do about Dash. Yesterday he was fine. Today, he's back to being moody again and was reluctant to take a walk. He didn't even want to go outside this afternoon until Janet came home from work. When we both took a walk together with him, he was fine. The only thing Dash wants to do with me during the day is eat and nap. If I get on the bed with him, he will immediately curl up to me and seems happy. When I try to take him out in the yard to play or go on a walk, he has no interest. I'm sure this all has something to do with Dot being gone, but there is very little I can do about it.

I'm planning on going out to breakfast again tomorrow morning. There's no reason to stay home. If I was really industrious, I'd go down to the passport office when it first opens and beat the long lines. Like I said, there no place I want to go though, so this can wait a while. One thing that can't wait much longer is treating the yard for mosquitoes. I can't go outside for two minutes without getting bitten. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow. I'm determined to get one thing checked off my to-do list. Two things might be a little ambitious.

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Day 2729

I'm always amazed at how terrible morning traffic is when I have to drive somewhere during rush hour. This morning's early morning errand was taking Dash to the vet for his triglyceride test. When a dog has to fast for twelve hours, early morning is the way to go. I can't imagine waiting until noon to feed Dash. I'd rather face the traffic than listen to Dash barking in the kitchen all morning. Luckily, everything went smoothly at the vet and we were back home in time for breakfast. Dash was hardly inconvenienced at all. Hopefully, his triglyceride levels are back to normal. We've got a big problem if they aren't.

I forgot to pick up Dash's blood pressure and thyroid medication while I was at the vet, so I had to go back later in the day. When I got home, I thought I'd picked up the wrong meds, but after talking to the pharmacist, we determined that the prescription was correct but the label was wrong. I put the new pills in the old bottle with the correct label and everything was fine. You should always check your meds carefully before you take them. A lot of pills look alike and it's very easy to make a mistake.

As I listened to the news while I drank my fruit smoothie this morning, a felt sad about the level of hate in this country. This wasn't a middle eastern terrorist shooting at congressmen this morning. It was a Bernie Sanders campaign worker. Our politics have become tribal and we're really not that different from the Sunni and Shia anymore. I really never thought I'd see this happen in our country. I wish people would realize that politics isn't worth fighting about. Eight years of George Bush didn't change much. Eight years of Obama didn't change much either. I can't imagine that Trump is going to end up changing very much. Real change doesn't happen over election cycles. It takes generations. When the baby boomers are gone and the millennials take charge, it's not going to matter what political party you belong to. Things will definitely change when my generation is just a memory. They'll probably change a lot.

I was planning on doing some more house cleaning today, but my veterinary errands ended up taking more time than I thought. I'm really not good for more than one task a day anymore. Somehow, whenever I manage to check one thing off my list, the day is gone. There's always tomorrow though. With any luck, I'll accomplish one more thing tomorrow.

The more I read about the August solar eclipse, the more I'm thinking that driving to the totality zone might be a disaster. According to reports, most accommodations in the totality zone are already gone. Enterprising municipalities are now selling spots in high school parking lots for $100 a night. I think your $100 includes access to a porta potty, but maybe not. State highway departments are predicting total gridlock on eclipse day. They say that if you are not exactly where you want to be at least a day ahead of time, you are probably out of luck. I may have to rethink this trip. I hate crowds and one of my worst fears is having car trouble in heavy traffic.

If I can wait seven more years, there is going to be another total eclipse of the sun that comes straight through Dallas. Seven year is a long time when you're old though. I might not even be around by then. It would be nice to see the eclipse this summer. It's just not going to be as easy or trouble free as I thought.

Tomorrow, it will be two weeks since Dot passed away. I still find myself listening for her breathing when I wake up at night. It's weird to only fix one bowl of food for Dash at mealtimes. Life is different now. I'm going to miss that dog for a long, long time.

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Day 2728

I spent most of the day cleaning. Janet has to have surgery later this month and she wants the house spotless to reduce the risk of getting an infection when she returns. The chances of making our house spotless are about the same as you'd have of riding a unicorn to the moon, but I'm giving it my best shot anyway. Today I cleaned inside the air conditioning vents, which were full of dust and dead bugs and under the bed where I found an enormous accumulation of dog hair. I don't know how our house gets so dirty. We never open the windows and always use the best HEPA filters on the HVAC system. Dalmatians do shed a lot, but dog hair is only a small part of what I vacuum up every week. When I was a kid we lived across the street from a mechanical engineer who designed a special positive air pressure system for his house. When you opened the front door inside air flowed out, but outside air never flowed in. His house was always dust free. I wish I had something like that. I suspect that the engineer's custom made system was pretty expensive. I've never seen anything else like it.

Now that the envelope printer is working again, I finally managed to get my invoices in the mail. It's not like it matters much anymore. Every month I seem to bill out less than I did the previous month. The last time I saw my financial adviser, I asked him to run a projection to see what my odds were of outliving my money. I didn't like the results. I suppose I'll be just fine if I'm real frugal, but who wants to be frugal. I'll have to stay reasonably healthy too. That's always a problem.

I'm worried more about Dash's health now. I made an appointment to take him in for his triglyceride test early tomorrow morning. The last time we did blood work on Dash, his triglyceride levels were through the roof. I'm hoping that the last test results weren't accurate. Dash didn't fast for 12 hours before the previous blood tests and that can often skew the results. This time we'll do it right, even if it means that Dash will have to wait until later in the morning for his breakfast.

I'm having a hard time deciding what to do about the solar eclipse. Should I fly to Kansas City and rent a car? Should I take some camping gear and drive up from Dallas so I can stay flexible? I'd really like to go out to Wyoming where the chances of clear skies are better, but that's either a very long drive or a very expensive flight. I need to be more optimistic. Right now I keep thinking that whatever destination I choose will be the one place where it rains all day.

I was surprised to get a comment today from someone who used to read my posts on Usenet back in the early 90's. Am I the only one who misses Usenet and dial up modems? I liked the Internet a lot better when it was a quiet text-only place that only a few like minded nerds bothered to visit. It's like a ten lane freeway at rush hour now. I think we've become too connected. OK, I'll admit that I look at Facebook every day just like you do, but I think I could live without it.

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

Day 2727

I thought today might be a good day to renew my passport. It wasn't. Things have certainly changed a lot since the last time I renewed a passport. I was thinking that I would be in and out in ten minutes, but the line extended outside the building. Entire families appeared to be applying for passports. I quickly turned around and went home. If I joined that line, I would have been at the passport office for the rest of the day. I dread going back to that building, but it doesn't appear that I can renew online. You can renew a passport by mail, but I tried that once years ago and after weeks of waiting, they told me that the photo I sent wasn't the official size and they rejected my application. I'm not doing that again. It's weird that you can't renew online like you can with a driver's license, but I gave up trying to understand the government years ago. Sometime this Summer I'll have a day with absolutely nothing to do and I'll go see if the line is any shorter.

The trip to the passport office wasn't the only thing that didn't go smoothly today. Dash is reluctant to walk again. I finally convinced him to take a short walk this morning, but I couldn't get him to leave the yard this afternoon. I wish I knew what was going on in his head. Our walks in the park used to be his favorite part of the day.

It was time to send my June invoices out today, but when I turned on the envelope printer, it was out of ink. This printer is old, so a lot of places don't carry the ink anymore. Unfortunately, I can never figure out how to print envelopes properly on the other printers. I thought I was going to make my second wasted trip of the day, but amazingly, Fry's had the ink I needed. The fact that nobody shops at Fry's anymore probably worked in my favor. The boxes of ink were dusty and had probably sat on the shelf for years.

I was planning to take Dash to the vet tomorrow for his triglyceride test, but I couldn't find anyone to confirm whether he's waited long enough since his previous test. I know they told me at the time, but I forgot. I'll try to call the vet tomorrow and schedule something for Wednesday. Dash hates the fasting tests that force him to delay his breakfast. He doesn't even know that he dodged a bullet today.

I wonder when life is going to start feeling normal again. It still feels pretty empty. After three years of making Dot's special needs my only priority, a lot of stuff just doesn't seem to matter anymore. I suppose things will change, but I don't know when. For the time being, I'll just keep checking necessary chores off my list. It keeps me busy.

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

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Day 2726

I'm tired. I mowed the grass, I went to the gym, I did some laundry, and I took Dash on two walks; all on very little sleep. Basically, this was just a typical Sunday, except I substituted mowing the grass for vacuuming the house.

The rat is gone. It didn't end the way I wanted it to. In fact it ended horribly. I was awakened about 3 AM by an awful commotion in the atrium. Instead of heading for one of the two Havahart traps where he would have been completely safe, the rat activated the kill trap. Even though the packaging on this trap said "guaranteed to kill rats instantly," the rat was still alive. It was making a terrible sound and dragging the trap all around the atrium.

I guess this shows that you'd better be careful what you wish for. I wanted the rat gone, but not this way. I got dressed, found a large bucket in the greenhouse, and proceeded to catch the dying rat and put it in the bucket. I had to bring the rat inside the house to take it out the back door, because the only entrance to the atrium is a large sliding glass door in the living room. There was no way to comfort the injured animal. I just had to watch it die.

I had trouble going back to sleep. I felt like this was my fault. I had the best of intentions with the Havahart live traps, but once the rat managed to escape from the live trap that first evening, it would never go inside them again. I've had to deal with a large rat inside the house once before and I didn't want to face this challenge again. Once, a rat fell down a standpipe on the roof, swam through the plumbing and jumped out of the toilet. It scared the hell out of me. I had a hard time catching that rat, so you can understand why I wouldn't want another one in the house. At least I wasn't sitting on the toilet at the time.

I felt melancholy for most of the day. Nothing really happens the you expect it will. I've been surprised again and again. If you had asked me in my thirties what I would be doing at sixty-nine, my answer wouldn't have any relationship to what I am actually doing today. Sometimes I wonder if there is any point in planning at all. Like the poet Robert Burns said, "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

I definitely don't have a plan for tomorrow. There is certainly a long list of things that need to be done. I think it's time to test Dash's triglyceride levels again. I need to ask the vet whether he needs to fast for 12 hours or 24. I sure hope it's just 12. I need to make an appointment for my annual physical as well. I've been so busy taking dogs to the vet, that I've kind of been ignoring my own health. I need to call the landscapers again. They seem to have forgotten about us. So many things to do and I can't get excited about any of them. I'll make my coffee in the morning, drink my fruit smoothie, and we'll see what comes next.

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

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Day 2725

We thought we'd see if Dash would take a longer walk if we both walked him. That seemed to do the trick. Dash took a nice long walk without any hesitation. I'm not sure what this proves, but it isn't a very practical solution. It's rare that we have time to take a family walk. I know that Dash always preferred to walk with Dot. Hey buddy, I'd rather walk both dogs too, but that's not going to happen anymore. We're all going to have to adjust to Dot being gone. I wonder if Dash knows what happened? He saw us carry Dot out the door and she never returned. I wish I could tell him that everything is going to be OK.

Today I learned that the pressure washer is great for cleaning bricks and concrete, but it is terrible for removing spiderwebs. I tried to clean the windows on the back of the house this afternoon and ended up getting spiders all over me.  The webs were so sticky that I had trouble dislodging them with the water spray. Once again, nature wins. The water was powerful enough to penetrate the window frames and get inside the house, but the webs seemed impervious to damage. I also learned that it's not a good idea to use use the power washer nozzle to spray away a spider that landed on your leg. Ouch. It was just instinct, but I shouldn't have done that.

The windows eventually got cleaned, even though I had to resort to a bleach soaked wet rag to finish the job. The sad thing is that in two weeks, the spiders will all be back. They build web near the windows because it's a great place to catch bugs. Flying insects are attracted to the light from the windows at night and the industrious spiders ensnare them with their webs. Don't even get me started about the lizards. In a month from now, there will be lizards crawling on our windows at night as well.

I can live with most of these critters, but I draw the line at rats. I went to a pest control store and bought some attractant that is supposed to be much better than peanut butter or cheese as bait. I cleaned all the traps, moved them around to new locations, and baited them with the attractant gel. We'll see. I"d better have a rat in the morning.

I started doing a little research about viewing the eclipse this August. It became apparent very quickly that the big problem will be the weather. Once you've picked a location, you pretty much rule out all the other locations. I'm sure there will be people who decide to change locations at the last minute to increase their odds of clear skies, but all this is going to do is create monumental traffic jams. Based on prior history, there is about a 40% chance of cloudy weather at many of the best locations. Based on my own experience, you just can't predict the weather. We were supposed to have clear weather when my Dad and I traveled to see the Alaskan eclipse in 1963, but a cloud covered the sun at the last minute. When NASA invited me to Vandenberg Airforce Base to view a satellite launch a few years ago, everything was going perfectly until a few minutes before lift off. Once again, weather surprised us and the launch was scrubbed at the last minute. I guess if you want to see the eclipse, you've just got to pick a location and take your chances. Just like my experience with the spiders, mother nature is going to win this one too.

I got a lot done today. Hopefully, I will do the same tomorrow. I plan on going to the gym. Since the gym is indoors, there will be no rats or spiders to deal with. It's sad that it takes a rat to make the gym appealing to me, but if this gets me exercising, I guess it's a good thing.

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

Day 2724

I got up early this morning to take Janet down to Baylor for some tests. Every time I step inside a hospital, I realize why our health care system is so hard to change. Hospitals are the size of city blocks now. They employ thousands of people. Health care is the biggest industry we have these days. It's no surprise that almost all the young people moving into our neighborhood recently are doctors, dentists, and anesthesiologists. That's where the future is. I'm sure most of these people have a vested interest in keeping things the way they are. Truthfully, I can't blame them. Health care has a lot more job security than advertising.

While I was waiting for the call to come pick up Janet again, I fed Dash his breakfast and fixed myself some pancakes and sausages. I thought about going out to eat, but it was starting to rain and most of the restaurants I go to weren't even open yet. I'm starting to think that my own breakfasts are tastier than the ones I used to rave about at my favorite restaurants too.

Dash hates the rain and I couldn't even get him to go outside to pee. We waited and waited and eventually I saw a break in the rain on the radar and convinced Dash to go outside. I don't know how that dog can hold his bladder so long. Once the rain stopped and I got Dash to take his morning walk, I realized that this was a perfect day to take a camera down to the lake. I certainly didn't have anything better to do today.

I always take better pictures when I don't have a dog with me. Dot and Dash always used to scare all the animals away. I saw some Wood Ducks and Great Egrets today. I also saw a Red Tailed Hawk swoop down and grab a mouse with its claws, but I wasn't quick enough to capture a picture. It's relaxing to take pictures of wildlife. I should do this more often.

While I was checking on the rat traps last night, I noticed that there was also a large toad in the atrium. How are all these animals getting inside? Basically the atrium is a screened in porch enclosed on three sides by the house. There shouldn't be any critters getting inside. The rat has discovered how to remove the cheese from the two Havahart traps without setting them off. He stays away from the kill trap. I don't think I'm ever going to catch this rat.

It seemed more like Saturday than Friday. Janet couldn't go back to work until the anesthesia wore off, so she watched movies with Dash for most of the afternoon. I haven't had any work to do for several days. Maybe this is what retirement is going to be like. I'm still not comfortable with the whole idea of retirement. Where is the money going to come from to pay for all the gear I crave?

I hope the rain stops tomorrow. I've got a lot of errands to do and I'd prefer to be dry.

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Day 2723

I got a jury summons today. I've been hoping that they'd forget about me for one more year so I could finally be exempt from this chore forever. No such luck. I've sat in the jury pool many times, but have never been selected for a jury. I don't think I fit the profile that lawyers are typically looking for. I doubt that I'll be picked this time either, so it all seems like a giant waste of time. Maybe I'm not suited for jury duty because whenever I go to the courthouse, everyone seems guilty. People in the elevator seem guilty. Other jurors seem guilty. The lawyers always seem guilty of something. I've always been convinced that the defendant was guilty before anybody even opened their mouth. Instead of "innocent until proven guilty," I seem to think that people are guilty until proven innocent.

It's hard to avoid a jury summons. You can postpone things, but they'll keep bugging you again and again until you finally give up and go to the courthouse. The only good thing is that this is probably the last time I'll have to do this. They seldom call anyone more than once a year.

I don't think the pressure washer and I are going to be friends. It became apparent that Janet bought the pressure washer because she wants me to clean the exterior of the entire house. I got started today, because the sooner I start on this project, the sooner I'll finish. This is a messy job. Most of the wasp and mud dauber nests, spider webs, and dirt are located above my head. When I use the pressure wand to dislodge things, the debris falls on me. I definitely should have waited until after I used the pressure washer to take a shower today.

I cleaned the front porch and carport this afternoon. That was enough. I'll have to admit that the entrance does look a lot nicer. It will take a lot of time to clean the entire house, but I've got nothing but time these days. I'm hoping that I'll get some new website or writing projects soon. Legitimate paying jobs are always a good excuse to avoid doing things around the house.

I've got three different traps in the atrium now and the rat is ignoring all of them. I'm really kicking myself for not removing the rat immediately as soon as I noticed I had it trapped. Sure, it was raining at the time, but getting wet would have been a small price to pay for getting rid of the rat before it got wise to traps. I'm not sure what to do now. The rat is still there, but it appears to be smarter now. It could easily jump in the house if I open the sliding glass door. All I can say is that rats are almost as irritating as jury duty.

2017 appears to be a year of transition. I started the year with two dogs and will end it with one. I started the year believing I still had a viable business and will probably end it by finally acknowledging that I have retired. The world is always changing, but I'm not comfortable with these changes yet. I guess that is the challenge. Like it or not, I've got to keep moving forward.

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