Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Day 2633

I tried to get organized today. I contacted the roofer and urged him to come out as soon as possible. There is a stain in the kitchen ceiling that looks like a slow leak might already be developing. Next, I called the tree guy and urged him to come out as soon as possible too. Every time I look skyward, I see another dead limb that looks like it could fall at any time. I need to call the landscaper and ask him to come out and plant new grass in the back yard. We do this every year. The yard can probably wait until late March though. It's hard to feel a sense of urgency about the yard when I know that the grass is just going to die again anyway.

I'm having trouble telling whether Dot is getting better or worse. She's been more active lately, but I don't know what it means. Sometimes I'm convinced that she has more energy and is getting better. Other times, I feel like the activity is just agitation caused by pain. I don't want her to feel painful and I don't want to sedate her with too many drugs. It would be so much easier if Dot could talk.

I've got a dental appointment next week that I think I'm going to have to reschedule. For years I've scheduled all my appointments for early in the afternoon to allow plenty of time for breakfast and avoid rush hour traffic. I can't do that anymore. Dot still likes to sleep after her morning walk but she needs a lot of attention in the afternoon. She usually wakes up around 1 PM and then wants me to walk her around for the rest of the afternoon. If I'm not nearby to help her up, she becomes very frustrated. Sometimes when she struggles to get up by herself she overexerts herself and starts panting rapidly. I hate to leave her alone at times like these, because she could easily injure herself. It's looks like I'm going to have to schedule my appointments for right after breakfast now. It's funny. I thought that Dot was a high maintenance dog last year, but I really had no idea what was coming.

We never got any rain today at all. I don't know what I was so worried about last night. I continue to see Spring flowers blooming way before they are due. At this rate I'm going to have to start mowing the grass soon. Is this global warming at work, or just quirky Texas weather? I do remember a lot more snow and ice when I first moved here. I actually like the warmer weather with one major exception. The bugs are going to be terrible this Summer.

A quick glance at my Facebook feed reveals that the president's address to congress this evening changed nothing. Conservative pundits are calling this one of the best presidential speeches in recent history. MSNBC and CNN are still ridiculing Trump and calling him a racist. Most of my Facebook friends have moved on and are posting cat pictures again, but the haters are still full of vitriol. I don't think anything is going to change.

Maybe I'll get some sleep tonight. So far, both dogs are quiet and content. I don't have any plans for tomorrow, but this usually means that a last minute website update request will catch me by surprise.

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

Monday, February 27, 2017

Day 2632

I tried the bank again on my way to pick up some prescription this morning. This time there were only two people sitting in the lobby, so I added my name to the sign up sheet and sat down to wait it out. I can't imagine how long people had to wait when the lobby was full, because it still took me over half an hour to see a banker. The guy wasn't immediately sure why I had received the letter about my safe deposit box, but said he'd investigate. It turned out that my signature card listed me as the owner of the box and the bank's account records listed my company as the owner. I didn't care who was the owner as long as I didn't have to wait a long time.

The banker said it would be easier if the company was listed as the owner, but that I had to show some proof that the company was mine. Keep in mind that I've had this box for a long, long time. "Don't you already have something in your records," I asked. Nope. They had nothing. "There's probably something inside the box," I said. I found an old DBA certificate and asked if that would work. Problem solved, but I still don't know why it was a problem in the first place. I was surprised to see that I had registered the name Sealander & Company in 1980. Wow. That was a long time ago. I must have been doing some free-lance work while I was still working for an ad agency, because I didn't officially start the company until 1990.

As I prepared to leave, the banker thanked me for being patient and not getting angry. "I imagine that people don't like to wait a long time," I said. There were six customer service offices at this bank, and the banker who helped me was using the only one occupied. No wonder there were always long lines of angry people in the lobby. This is so typical of business today. I'm sure all the offices were occupied at some point. There are 44 checkout aisles at the big Fry's Electronics superstore where I used to shop a lot. Now, when I visit this store, only three or four of these checkout stations are staffed. The rest are empty. When I make a deposit at my local bank branch, there is usually only one teller working. Nobody wants to hire anyone anymore. They just keep experimenting to see if their customers will tolerate even less service than they are currently receiving. It didn't used to be this way. I think companies would still make a tidy profit if they were fully staffed. They just might not make quite as much. Personally, I think the world would be a better place if companies were happy with a modest profit and more people had jobs. We really need to make the world less efficient. Maximizing efficiency is ruining everything.

The dogs did well today. Dash has regained his appetite and continues to hold down food even though he has finished taking the Cerenia pills. He hasn't experienced any more seizures either. I think we've found the right balance in the pain medication Dot is taking. She appears comfortable now, without seeming lethargic or sedated. There were no bad accidents in the house today. The dogs still required a lot of attention, but all in all, it wasn't a bad day.

The tree guy promised that he'd have my trees trimmed by the end of February. I doubt that I'll see him out here tomorrow, so I'll have to give him another call. I need to call the roofer again too. Now, is the perfect time to patch the roof. It's clean and dry. If he waits another month, the oak trees will start to bud and the roof will be covered with catkins. Technically, catkins are flowers, but to me they're just a nuisance. They clog the gutters, cause allergies, and coat the roof of my car with a sticky yellow powder. Once the catkins start falling on the roof, it's going to be a lot more difficult to make those patches.

It's supposed to rain tomorrow morning. I hope the forecast is wrong. The day goes much more smoothly when the dogs get their morning walk on schedule. There's not much I can do about the rain. There's not much I can do about anything actually.

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

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Day 2631

When I got up at 5 AM this morning I thought about waking Dot up and taking her outside to pee. Everybody was sleeping so peacefully that I decided not to disrupt things and went back to bed myself. It was a mistake. Three hours later Dot woke up in a puddle of pee. Dot's bladder can no longer cope with a weekend schedule. I got her up and took her outside while she leaked all the way to the back door. I think we set a new record for number of rugs washed in a single day.

I didn't sleep well last night at all. Just before I went to bed around midnight, I discovered that the furnace wasn't working. I knew it was going to be a cold night, so I was determined to fix the thing before I went to sleep. Easier said than done. Several years ago my HVAC guy taught me how to fix several common furnace problems myself. I think he took pity on me since I was calling them so often. The repair didn't get off to a great start. I couldn't find the special tool I use to get the cover off the furnace. I couldn't find any fine grit sandpaper either.

The flame sensor on our furnace gets dirty a lot. This is always the first thing I look for. When the sensor is dirty it can't detect the pilot light flame and shuts the gas off. It's basically a safety device. There is an enormous amount of dust in the utility room, since we are constantly doing laundry. A normal flame sensor will stay clean for years at a time. Ours goes bad every six months. The fix is easy enough. You carefully remove the flame sensor and clean it with an emery board or a piece of fine grit sandpaper. Too bad the sensor is located in such an awkward place or this repair would be a piece of cake. Eventually, I got the balky cover off the furnace and removed the flame sensor. I didn't have any sandpaper last night, but figured that one of those abrasive kitchen sponges would do. I cut a small piece off the sponge and carefully scraped the dirty coating off the sensor. An hour later, I turned the furnace back on and fired it up. It worked.

I must be a glutton for punishment, because this morning I decided to remove all the accumulated soap scum from the shower stall. For some reason soap scum becomes hard as a rock on the glass shower doors. It's almost impossible to remove. Janet bought some sort of motorized scrub brush that she saw on TV recently and I thought I'd give it a try. Even though the commercial said that this thing could clean dirty tiles in seconds, it wasn't up to the task. I had to use the same abrasive sponge I used to clean the flame sensor and a lot of elbow grease. The shower stall still isn't sparkling clean, but it looks a lot better.

By the time I finished my housecleaning chores I was too tired to go to the gym. I went anyway because it was Sunday. I always go to the gym on Sunday. The hour I spent cleaning the soap scum off the shower doors was much more strenuous than the hour I spent at the gym, but I'm sure my workout did me some good anyway. I've become a believer in going to the gym on Sunday. Hey, it's not like I have anything important to do on Sunday anyway and it's always relaxing to shoot the basketball.

I hope we don't have another hard freeze before Winter is officially over. Everything is growing so nicely now that it would be a shame if freezing weather caused all the wildflowers to die. The redbud and dogwood trees are in full bloom and I've already seen several wildflowers that don't usually appear until late March. So far, this is the earliest Spring I can remember. 

I didn't even watch the Oscars tonight. Janet usually likes to watch these awards shows, but she didn't watch either. I used to love the world of movies and movie making. Janet and I would go see a new film almost every weekend. I don't know if movies have changed or if we have changed. I do know I'll never see La La Land. No interest whatsoever. I still enjoy science and science fiction, so I'd probably enjoy Arrival and Hidden Figures. I'll never see these films in a theater. Someday when things are exceptionally slow, I'll probably rent them on iTunes and watch them on my computer. The big screen has lost its magic.

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

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Day 2630

We're definitely having an early Spring. It's not surprising, since temperatures have already topped 80 degrees several times this month. It's weird to see trees turning green and wildflowers starting to bloom in February, but that's what's happening. It's a shame that Texas weather is so unpredictable. Probably just as soon as everything is in full bloom, there will be a big ice storm and all the flowers will freeze. It has happened before. Actually, this happens just about every Winter. Texas plants must be pretty resilient.

I wonder how many coyotes we have in the neighborhood. Just about every morning I'll run into someone walking their dog who asks me if I've seen the coyotes. We've all seen the coyotes by now. One neighbor told me that his dog ran out the front door last week and went to play with the coyotes. "I thought Daisy was a goner," he told me. I was expecting to hear a sad story, but fifteen minutes later, his dog came home unharmed. There are also bobcats in the neighborhood. I'd be more worried about the bobcats than the coyotes.

Dash continues to improve. He seems just about back to normal now, which if you knew Dash, isn't very normal at all. Now comes the hard part. We've got to convince him to start eating dry dog food again. He loves the canned food we've been feeding him while he recovers and he's pretty stubborn to begin with. It's going to be hell convincing him to eat kibble again. Dash has a tendency to get crystals in his urine, so we put a lot of research into finding a diet that was healthy and would prevent crystals and kidney stones. The diet works, so one way or another, we've got to get him eating it again.

I stopped by the bank again on the way to the grocery store to try and resolve my safe deposit box issue. This time there were even more people waiting in the lobby than there were yesterday. Why do all these people need to talk with a banker? I didn't have the patience to join the queue, so once again I'll have to come back later. Maybe all the people in the lobby got the same letter I did. It's always a possibility. If I was smart I would wait a month or two before returning to this bank. Eventually, all these other people will get their problems solved.

The app that allows me to bypass the checkout line at the grocery store was working again this week. All my purchases from last week were still there though. I had to manually erase each of them before I could start putting groceries in my cart. I love bypassing the checkout line, but this experience is a reminder that technology is only a time-saver when it works.

Dot's new pain pills seem to be keeping her more comfortable. Unfortunately, they aren't making her any stronger. What this means is that she wants to be more active, but still stumbles around and falls over without my assistance. I spent most of the afternoon holding up her rear legs while she walked around the house and smelled things in the back yard. I always try to encourage her to move around when she feels like it. It takes a lot of time, but I probably need the exercise too.

I had some website updates to complete this morning. There isn't a lot of difference between weekdays and weekends anymore. We sleep a little later in the morning on weekends, but that's about it. This client was very nice and just told me to make the updates when I had some extra time. Even though there was no rush, I still felt compelled to do the job right away. I guess I'll always be this way.

I"m going to try and go to the gym early tomorrow. Maybe this way I can complete my workout while Dot is still asleep. I keep trying to construct a predictable world, but it just isn't going to happen.

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

Day 2629

The restaurant was crowded this morning. There were all these noisy overlapping conversations that were somewhat distracting and made me realize that most of the clichés you hear about people are based in truth. Even though this was my morning out, I couldn't wait to get back to my dogs.

When I got home, I immediately realized that peace and quiet are pretty illusive wherever you are. When the dogs actually are quiet, I worry that one of them might have died. When they're full of life and moving around, I'm continually cleaning up poop and retrieving Dot from corners were she has fallen or gotten herself stuck. I've got to try to keep Dash from getting too excited as well, because when he gets agitated, the risk of another seizure increases. It's a delicate balance.

I had a surprising amount of work to complete today. I don't think I've had any writing jobs this month, but the website modifications continue to keep me busy. Nobody seems to want a brand new website anymore. I guess everyone already has one. Instead of creating new designs, I spend my time adding new product lines, updating employee rosters, and correcting typos. There are an amazing number of typos, since a lot of clients write their own copy these days. I don't change anything anymore. I just cut and paste. I used to try to edit the text I received but quickly discovered that the awkward syntax that was bothering me was exactly what the client wanted to say.

Dash is acting real strange lately. I've had increasing difficulty getting him to leave the backyard in the afternoon. At first I thought he was experiencing vertigo or dizziness, but now I'm not so sure. As an experiment I tried to lure him out the back gate with a dog treat, so we could take our afternoon walk. It took us over five minutes to get down the alley. I would move to the end of his leash and then hold the cookie where he could see it. When he started to walk toward the cookie, I would move forward and we would repeat the whole process all over again. As soon as we reached the end of the alley and walked down a small hill into the park, he forgot all about the cookie and started walking normally. We finished the rest of our walk without incident. I have no explanation for this odd behavior, but it sure makes taking a walk more difficult.

Part of the problem is that the dogs still don't understand why they can't walk together like they used to. It is simply impossible for one person to walk both dogs under current conditions. It takes both hands and a lot of coordination to keep Dot upright. I walk her like a marionette in a puppet show. Dash is still strong and likes to walk fast. Even if I could manage to hold on to both dogs, Dash would start tugging and probably knock Dot and I over before we'd gone thirty feet. It's kind of sad, because I know that they would still prefer to walk together.

I've been so concerned about Dash's vestibular disease that it took me a while to realize that I had an upset stomach and was feeling a little dizzy myself. Maybe it was something I ate. At any rate, the best part about today was when I managed to convince both dogs to take a nap with me and we all curled up together for a few hours. The rest seemed to help. I'm feeling better now.

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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Day 2628

Today was an improvement. Both dogs slept all the way through the night without any disasters or medical emergencies. Dash held down his food today, even though he seemed a little tired and disoriented. Getting him eating again is the most important thing now. We'll worry about the residual effects of his vestibular disease when we get him stabilized. Dot seemed more comfortable today as well. I've been trying to fine tune her pain meds so that her discomfort is controlled without turning her into a vegetable. So far, giving her the regular dose of Gabapentin at bedtime and cutting the dose in half at breakfast and lunch seems to be working. The pills won't make her stronger, but they do seem to make her less agitated and allow her to sleep peacefully. These are all little things, but I think we made some progress today.

To celebrate today's progress, I thought I'd reward myself with a nice bowl of Pho. There is a new Vietnamese restaurant in the neighborhood and I've been meaning to try their noodle soup ever since they opened. There is something about Pho that is very satisfying. It's a simple dish made with broth, rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat. Basically, it's just soup, but it is so flavorful if it is made correctly. I wasn't disappointed today. I picked up my take-out order on the way home from the post office and enjoyed an early dinner as soon as I got home. The portion sizes on all the take-out meals I order always seem huge. After I ate what seemed like a gigantic, steaming bowl of Pho, there was still enough left over to make another meal tomorrow.

Yesterday, I got a letter from my bank saying that I needed to stop by my branch and confirm some contact information on my safe deposit box. This seemed strange, since I've never changed or modified any information since I opened the account. At any rate, I stopped by the bank on the way to the post office, thinking I could take care of this problem in a matter of minutes. A banker told me that I would have to wait in line behind a lobby full of old people. I'm an old person too, but I wasn't like these people. These were the kind of people who drive ancient Lincoln town cars and wear socks with their sandals. I have no idea what these people were waiting for, but just by looking at them, I knew that their questions were going to take a long time to answer. I asked the banker if there was a time when there weren't any people in the lobby and he just rolled his eyes at me. I think I'll try this again later.

I got a request today to remove a page from a website that I'm almost certain that I removed five years ago. I checked, and sure enough the page was still on the server. Oops. Occasionally, when a hosting company does maintenance on their servers, they will restore a site from a back-up copy. I suspect that this is what happened. They must have restored something that I erased a long time ago. I bet there are a lot of other ghost pages out there. I mostly work with a local copy of the sites I manage and rarely look to see what is actually on the server. I'm kind of superstitious about erasing things on the server. I used to use the server as a convenient archive for all versions of the sites I design, but I can't do that anymore. Google can still find the unlinked pages I've discarded and clients get mad when people click on links to this outdated information. It was easy enough to remove the offending unlinked page, but I still miss the days when the Internet was simple and fun.

It's going to be hard to convince Dash to eat dry food again. He's really liking the canned Hills Prescription ID I'm feeding him to settle his stomach. Dot must like this food too, because when Dash is finished eating, she will come over and lick his bowl. I guess we'll take this one day at a time. Dash still seems to have vertigo and appears dizzy at times. Until he is stable, he can eat anything he wants.

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Day 2627

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. I've mentioned that Dash was becoming a finicky eater. Well, last night he threw up his dinner and this morning he refused to eat at all. We walked the dogs to see if this would settle Dash's stomach and then tried to feed him again. He still wasn't interested. We got him to eat a small amount of canned dog food so he could take his morning meds and then an hour later, he threw this up as well. This was not good. I called his oncologist as well as his regular vet and arranged to take him in so they could give him an injection of Cerenia to stop the vomiting. After waiting an hour, I had to give him a second phenobarbital pill, because he threw up the first one we gave him this morning. The other pills can wait, but the phenobarbital is essential.

Dash's vet thought that he was still experiencing symptoms from vestibular disease and when the oncologist contacted me later in the morning, he agreed. They both said that it could take from two weeks to three months to fully recover from a bout of old dog vestibular disease. So, here we are. I've got two sick dogs with very different needs. Both need a lot of attention and it's hard to deal with one without something happening to the other.

Dash seemed out of it for most of the day, but when I eventually fed him some bland food the vet gave me for a sensitive stomach, he held it down. Since Dash is still feeling some vertigo or motion sickness as a result of his vestibular seizures, we may have to put him back on an anti-nausea drug. Hopefully the Cerenia will stabilize him, since it is pretty mild and has few side effects.

I took Dash on a short walk later in the afternoon. Although he walked slowly and seemed a bit tentative, he showed no signs of another vestibular event. This was good. I walked very slowly and let him relax. When we returned to the house, I immediately noticed that Dot had knocked over her protective fence and was sitting in a pile of poop. Like I said, I've got two sick dogs with very different needs.

I hope we can get Dash stabilized quickly. While I was cleaning up vomit on the carpet last night, Dot decided to poop in her bed. It was hard to decide which mess needed my attention first. Needless to say, it was a hectic day. A continual barrage of poop, pee, and vomit can generate a lot of laundry and even more worry.

To cap off the day, I heard a giant thud on the roof as I was preparing dinner this evening. I went out to investigate and discovered that one of the dead limbs I've been waiting for the tree trimmers to remove had fallen. The wood was rotten and the tree limb broke apart when it fell, so there was no damage to the roof. I'm really glad the limb fell on the roof instead of in the back yard. It was large enough that it would have injured me or the dogs if we were underneath when it fell. Now, there is an added urgency to get the trees trimmed quickly, but getting anyone's attention lately has been difficult.

Stress eats away at you slowly. I wonder if I'll even recognize when I'm completely burned out. Maybe I'm there already. The past two years have definitely been a challenge. I know I complain too much and that there are many people with far more serious problems than I have. Nevertheless, it would sure be nice to have two healthy dogs and a little peace and tranquility.

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Day 2626

Either my Spring allergies arrived early this year, or I've got a cold that just won't go away. I've had a runny nose and itching eyes for at least three weeks now. I have to remember to stuff my pockets with paper towels when I walk the dogs or leave the house, because my nose continually drips. I'm starting to look like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I've never been able to blow my nose silently and often end up waking the dogs, which is the last thing I want to do. It's frustrating. I suspect that I'm having allergy problems, because a cold would never last this long.

The cancer center finally returned my call about Dot's Gabapentin pills. It would be a lot easier if you could just talk to the doctor directly, instead of receiving relayed information from a nurse. I know that doctors and veterinarians hate to take phone calls though, because if they did they would spend their entire day talking with people looking for free medical advice. It took a while to explain Dot's situation. The pills were working great at night when Dot was sleeping, but seemed to impair her limited ability to walk during the day. All I wanted to know was whether it was OK to just administer the nighttime dose and forget the pills she was supposed to take during the day. The nurse kept suggesting that I discontinue Dot's Tramadol pills instead. "But she's been taking Tramadol for almost three months now and these pills aren't causing a problem," I kept saying. I thought this would be an easy conversation, since Google listed the three most common side effects of Gabapentin as drowsiness, weakness, and feeling tired. Finally, I think we got on the same page. "It's a pain pill," the nurse said. "If Dot's uncomfortable, give her a little more. If the pills make her weak, give her a little less." I guess I'll just continue doing what I've been doing.

I got a long awaited check from a client today, but it still wasn't enough to offset Dash's rather large vet bill. Looks like I'll have to transfer some money from savings. I don't know why it bothers me to do this, since it's just moving money from one pile to another, but I always feel defeated when I have to dip into savings. I guess I'd better get used to the idea. It won't be all that long before retirement becomes a reality and I'm faced with the prospect of living on social security.

I went to make an appointment for a bone density scan at my doctor's office and discovered that you don't need an appointment for this sort of thing. This just gives me an excuse to postpone the test a little longer. I've started taking calcium supplements to increase my bone density, but I don't know if I've been taking them long enough. I hate to take a test if I know I'm going to get a bad result. This desire to fudge test results has even got me experimenting with my new WiFi scale. I've learned that you weigh the least when you first wake up, but that your heart rate might be better later in the day. I can't seem to find the right time of day when all the things this high tech scale measures are optimal. Food is a lot heavier than I thought though. I guess the best way to diet would be to just quit eating.

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

Monday, February 20, 2017

Day 2625 - President's Day

Holidays that move around from year to year confuse me. I'm old enough to remember when Washington's birthday was celebrated on February 22, which happened to be the day he was actually born. Now, in an effort to give people more three day weekends, this birthday is celebrated on the third Monday in February. We don't call it Washington's birthday anymore though, because Lincoln's birthday and Washington's have been rolled into a single postal holiday, simply called President's Day. If it weren't for the fact that we didn't get any mail today, I would never have realized that today was a holiday at all.

I definitely realized that we were having a thunderstorm last night. The thunder and lightning woke up Dot and Dash but I think it was the wind that woke me up. I checked the weather radar and quickly realized that it was going to be a long night. Dot calmed down when I closed a door that gave her a view of the storm. After I covered Dash with a blanket, he seemed to relax as well. I think the dogs weathered the storm better than I did. I was nervous until the wind subsided because I was afraid that one of our trees would come crashing down. I stayed on the floor with Dot until she went back to sleep, which was probably a mistake, since I woke up with a sore shoulder. By morning, the storm was largely over, but I was very tired.

The storm wasn't the only strange thing that happened last night. When I woke up this morning I noticed what looked like a pile of dirt on the bathroom floor. Where did this come from? On closer inspection, the dirt turned out to be a small ant hill, populated with hundreds of tiny sweet ants crawling around. Apparently the ants invaded the house through a small crack in the tile floor. I found some bug spray, killed the ants , and cleaned up the mess. Hopefully, they won't come back. I have a feeling that last night's torrential rains flooded the ants home and forced them inside. Either that, or the ants were already in the house and just waiting for the right time to cause havoc.

There isn't much to do on a rainy day, so after making a few minor website updates, I was faced with vacuuming the house. Why not? I knew I couldn't avoid this unpleasant task forever, so I got to work. The canister filled with dirt quickly and the house still looked dirty. Cleaning things would be much more satisfying if they actually looked clean when you were finished. I was temped to leave the vacuum cleaner running in the bathroom in hopes of sucking up all the remaining ants, but I knew the ants would outsmart me anyway. They're probably already plotting their next move.

Janet brought home burgers tonight. They were delicious, but I'm always surprised that what would have seemed a normal sized meal ten years ago, now leaves me stuffed. I need to start ordering children's meals. I don't know if it's natural for your appetite to decrease as you age, but mine certainly has. I should have cut the burger in half and had the other half for tomorrow's dinner.

I'm sure Dash wishes we were feeding him cheeseburgers. He was still finicky with his food today. I have no idea what is going on. Janet bought a different brand today to see if he liked that. He ate the new food just fine, but we now have four different brands of food for Dash. It's getting confusing. Dot will still eat anything, even if it takes her all day to chew her meal. The food goes in one end and comes out the other. That's how I spend my day.

I think the weather is supposed to clear up tomorrow. If it does, I may actually get something done.

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

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Day 2624

I usually check the dogs on the baby monitor before I start my workout at the gym. Typically they're just sleeping, but today I heard Dot yelping like she was in pain and saw Dash looking around with a worried look. I turned around and went back home again, wishing it wasn't a fifteen minute drive. The house was quiet when I arrived home, but Dot was resting in an awkward position on her dog bed. She must have tried to get up while I was gone and twisted one of her rear legs. On a good day, Dot can still get up on her own. On a bad day she can't. It used to be pretty safe to leave the house for a few hours when the dogs were taking their morning nap. They both sleep soundly and would typically still be snoring on their beds when I returned. That's all changed in the past month or so. Dot is a lot more restless now and doesn't sleep as soundly. Since the oncologist thought that the restless might be caused by discomfort, I was hoping that the Gabapentin might help. If the drug makes her as limp as a wet washrag though, it only makes matters worse.

When I got the dogs up, everything seemed fine. Dot was able to walk and both dogs were eager for me to feed them their lunch. I think Dot's yelping was more of a panic attack than an injury. She has grown very dependent on me and doesn't like to wake up and find me gone. I took the dogs outside to pee, fed them their lunch, and then cleaned up after Dot when she decided to poop while she was eating. After lunch we walked around for a while until Dot got tired and then they were both ready to take a nap again. After making sure that Dot was relaxed and resting in a comfortable position, I got in the car and went back to the gym. This time the trip was a success. It's always a balancing act to care for Dot while still finding a little time for myself. I'm almost always nearby when Dot needs me, but I do need to occasionally get out of the house.

The rain that was supposed to arrive today got delayed. Now, we're supposed to get some severe weather starting at about 1 AM this morning. I wish the tree guys had already come out to trim our trees. One of the main reasons I wanted to remove the dead limbs is that I'm always afraid that they're going to fall in a strong wind. Maybe the storm won't be a bad as the weatherman on TV is predicting. Sometimes I think they make things sound alarming to get more viewers. Of course, Texas weather actually is alarming, so I never ignore what the weatherman says.

I don't know what to do about Dash. He has gotten finicky about his food again. This is nothing new. It has been going on for years. We'll find a healthy diet that Dash likes and after enthusiastically eating it for months and months, he'll abruptly stop and refuse to touch the stuff. We look for a new diet and the whole process starts all over again. I've asked every vet I know what causes this behavior but have never really received a satisfactory answer. Sometimes Dash will refuse to eat something in the morning and then enthusiastically scarf the same food down in the afternoon. Nothing is simple at our house.

I didn't even bother with vacuuming this weekend. Every time I thought about getting out the vacuum cleaner, the dogs were sleeping peacefully and I didn't want to disrupt things. Sleeping peacefully is the Holy Grail around here. When the dogs are asleep, maybe I've got time to take a nap myself, or even get something productive done. Actually, Dot is asleep right now, so maybe this is my opportunity.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Day 2623

I'm not so sure about the Gabapentin. Dot slept soundly last night after her first dose, but within an hour after receiving her second dose this morning, her entire body seemed to go limp and she could hardly stand up. Later in the day when the drug started to wear off she started to return to normal. There is no room for error with Dot. If the side effect of a drug is to make a dog sleepy, it will probably knock Dot out cold. The doctor did say that the Gabapentin might make Dot a bit lethargic. She didn't say it would turn her into a wet washrag. I don't want Dot to be in an pain, but she does need to be able to walk. Maybe we'll just give Dot the Gabapentin before bedtime. I'll call the oncologist on Monday, but I suspect that she'll just say that Dot needs time to get used to the drug. That's what doctors always say.

The app that lets me bypass the checkout line at the grocery store crashed while I was shopping today. So much for technology. I had to check out the old fashioned way and I'm still wondering whether the purchases I made before the app crashed are floating around in the cloud somewhere. Before the app crashed I noticed that there had recently been a software update. Why do people keep "improving" things that already work perfectly. This happens again and again with software and apps on my phone. I'll have an app that I really like and then an automatic software upgrade will ruin it.

I think we're having an early Spring. It's only the middle of February and the temperature is getting close to 80 degrees. Judging from the number of people in the park today, this unusually warm Winter is pretty popular. I'm not sure the dogs agree. They both like the cold weather and days like this make them uncomfortable. I had to run the air conditioner today to keep Dot from panting. The sweet spot for Dot is very small. The weather has to be just right. She can't overexert herself, but she still needs to keep moving to prevent further muscle atrophy. Too many drugs knock her out and too few leave her painful. It's a delicate balance.

My new WiFi scale that measures everything indicates that my stress levels are continuing to rise. I don't know what to do. I feel responsible for the dogs and almost every day there is a new surprise. My diet is deteriorating too. That doesn't help. When everything is going well it's easy to eat Quinoa and Kale. When I'm under stress I gravitate toward comfort foods like ice cream and waffles.

I definitely need to go to the gym tomorrow, but the weather forecast says there are going to be thunderstorms. If it rains, I seldom go anywhere. I don't like to drive in the rain and I worry that my two storm phobic dogs are going to freak out. I suspect that my sweet spot is even smaller than Dot's. I can function well in almost any circumstance, but everything needs to be perfect before I'm happy.

Dash wouldn't eat his breakfast this morning, but then took a long, energetic walk. This evening he enthusiastically ate the same food he refused this morning, but refused to leave the back yard when it was time for his evening walk. I don't know what is going on. I keep thinking that the doctors might have missed something important when he was sick, but than again this odd behavior might just be Dash's normal personality.

Maybe the weather forecast is wrong. I'm hoping that it doesn't rain. The roof is clean and dry and the dogs are happy. Rain will spoil everything.

Bailey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, February 17, 2017

Day 2622

I'd hate to be in the restaurant business. Customers are fickle. Reviews are seldom fair. And employee turnover is unbelievable. I ate breakfast this morning at a place I haven't visited for several months and there wasn't a single familiar face. The entire staff was new. The food had actually improved, so maybe the staff changes were a good thing. Like I say, I don't understand the restaurant business at all.

Most of the day was spent taking Dot to her appointment at the cancer center. Janet was able to take some time off work today to help me transport Dot. Having two people in the car seemed to help. Janet sat in the back with Dot and was able to calm her down when she became agitated and tried to move around. Dot arrived for her exam a lot calmer than she usually does, but her blood pressure was still a little high.

We got some more bad news today. Her cancer is progressing and there are now four tumors growing in her liver. There were only three the last time we checked. The oncologist told us that Dot's liver and kidneys are still functioning normally and that even though the cancer was growing, it was growing slowly. She is starting to feel some discomfort though, so we added Gabapentin to her growing list of meds. The oncologist also wants to go back to testing Dot once a month, since the cancer could always start growing faster at any time.

While we were at the hospital we saw a family who had to make the decision to put their dog down. It was sad to watch them say their goodbyes. The dog actually looked in better shape than Dot, but I'm sure there was more to the story than we were seeing. They always tell you that your dog will let you know when it's time to go, but sometimes they don't. It's a big responsibility when you have to make that decision for them. I dread the day when we are faced with making this decision. Hopefully, Dot will make her wishes very clear. Right now it is obvious that Dot still loves life and wants to keep on going. As the cancer continues to grow, things will inevitably become more confusing.

When we got home today Janet asked me if I knew that Dot's oncologist was deaf. "What makes you think she is deaf," I asked. "Well, she was reading your lips," Janet told me. Have I ever mentioned that I'm not very observant. I could tell you exactly what shade of brown Dot's poop was today and I would notice instantly if you moved any of the books on my bookshelf, but I'm not very good at reading faces. Chances are if I met you on the street, I wouldn't even recognize you. I can never tell when people are happy or sad either. I guess it's a good thing that I'm seldom aware when people are mad at me.

We've got a long weekend coming up. I hope this means that everybody will get a little more sleep. The oncologist wants me to watch Dot closely this weekend to make sure that the Gabapentin doesn't make Dot lethargic and lose energy. "But how can I tell," I asked? "She doesn't have any energy right now." I think all Dot's doctors are amazed that she's still alive.

Lexi is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Day 2621

I need sleep. Dot gets frustrated now when she can't get up and circle around to find a new sleep position at night. All dogs do this, and Dot keeps trying even though it is difficult for her to move. Usually, I wake up before she has twisted herself into an awkward position. I help her do the little twirling motion that Dash does effortlessly five times a night and then we all go back to sleep. Lately, I've discovered that if Dot becomes agitated at night it is wise to take her outside to pee. If it's clear outside, I try to identify constellations in the night sky as she slowly walks around the yard, looking for the right spot. By the time I've gotten her settled into her bed again, I'm usually wide awake. Probably people with small babies find their sleep disrupted like this all the time, but it's a new experience for me.

Dash is acting weird again. We discontinued his anti-nausea medication a few days ago, so maybe he's feeling dizzy again. He didn't want to walk this morning and this afternoon he refused to leave the back yard. Sometimes it's hard to tell if Dash is sick or just being stubborn. I tried a second time to give Dash an evening walk after I'd had my own dinner and this time he was eager to go. He wasn't unsteady and nothing seemed abnormal at all. Go figure. I still think that the hesitation to move or walk might have something to do with his seizures, but I'm not a vet. Now I've got one more question to ask the doctors when I take Dot to the cancer center for her ultrasound scan tomorrow.

I wasn't really busy today and I thought seriously about taking a long nap to catch up on sleep, but Dot had other ideas. She's restless now during the day and frequently wants me to take her outside. Since she's incontinent, I don't want to ignore her, since it just causes her to pee or poop in the house. In and out we go, over and over again. When Dot is outside, she just wanders around aimlessly, smelling all the leaves on the ground. It takes a lot of patience to be her rear legs.

I wonder if life will ever return to normal again. Probably not. I feel lucky that I am still healthy enough to help the dogs during their senior years. Many of my friends have already had serious medical problems and would have difficulty lifting a Dalmatian. When I was a kid, my parents were healthy, but they both started falling apart when they were about my age. I wonder how many more good years I've got? Helping Dot walk is actually great exercise. Too bad the stress I'm experiencing probably negates most of the benefits of this strenuous physical activity.

I'm thinking of going somewhere new for breakfast tomorrow. I've been eating the same thing for several months now and even though it's delicious, I'm getting bored. I'm not even sure what I'm hungry for anymore. Maybe the food doesn't even matter. The whole idea of going out was just to have something to look forward to. A pleasant ritual that I can repeat on a weekly basis is much more important than the food.

I hope that Dot's cancer re-check goes well tomorrow. There have been some significant changes since her last exam and none of them are encouraging.

Joshua is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Day 2620

Today was the opposite of yesterday. The sky was clear and there was hardly any wind at all. Even though Dot seemed weak when she woke up, she enjoyed her walk this morning. As far as I can tell, Dash seems back to normal. The only reminder of his scary seizure episode is a huge vet bill.

Since the weather was so nice today, I went up on the roof to assess the situation. It's much easier to remove the standing water now that all the leaves are gone. It didn't take long to figure out why my pump wasn't working yesterday. It had gotten tipped over and was just pumping air. After I removed the water, I noticed a few new areas where the elastomer coating had peeled away. It looks like I'm going to have this problem forever. It's time to call the roofer again.

It's time to call the tree guy too. He promised to have my trees trimmed this month and the month is already halfway over. Hey, maybe he's planning on getting started tomorrow. I just don't have a lot of faith in work crews. A big chunk of my life is spent reminding people about things they forgot. In fairness, people spend a lot of time reminding me of thing I've forgotten too. Life has just become too complicated to remember everything.

Yesterday I sent out invoices. Today I paid bills. I wish the money coming in equaled the money going out, but it never does. This month was even worse than usual because my car insurance was due and Dash ran up a big bill at the cancer center. At least the stock market is still going up. I hope investors don't become discouraged and sell everything when the tax cuts they are anticipating don't materialize as quickly as they hoped. I'd like to think that the market sees prosperity ahead, but I'm cynical enough to realize that traders are probably just taking advantage of a short term opportunity. This rally kind of feels like a bubble that's about to burst.

I spent more time than usual cleaning up poop today.  It's much easier to clean up the mess when Dot is asleep. You just quietly slide out the disposable puppy training pad she's sleeping on, roll it up, and put it in a plastic bag. Usually I can lift her hips a bit and slide in a new pad without even waking her up. When Dot's awake, it's a whole different story. She panics and tries to get up, typically smearing the poop all over the place. We had two accidents today when Dot was waking up. I spent a lot of time doing laundry.

I picked up some Thai food on the way back from the post office today, but forgot we still had a pork roast in the refrigerator. I wish I was organized enough to label all the leftovers. I hate for food to go to waste, but I often forget about stuff that gets pushed to the back. I also sometimes forget to eat the oldest food first. I need a few big Tupperware containers with the day of the week on them. If there was something in the refrigerator that said Thursday on it, I would eat it tomorrow. I wouldn't care what was in the container.

Maybe we'll get two clear days in a row. The dogs are always easier to deal with on a clear, sunny day. I'm easier to deal with too. If I can't see my shadow, it's not a good day.

Lucky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Day 2619 - Valentine's Day

We woke up this morning to the sound of rain on the roof. It was raining quite hard, so walking the dogs was out of the question. Apparently, Dot and Dash thought going out in the yard was out of the question too. Dot peed on the porch and Dash wouldn't go outside at all. I don't blame them. It was wet and very cold.

I was hoping that the rain would quit before I made my annual trip to Sprinkles to get Valentine's cupcakes, but it never did. Actually, the rain turned out to be a good thing this year, because there wasn't a line. There is almost always a long line at this place. I can't even remember how long Valentine's Day cupcakes have been a tradition at our house, but it's been a long time. On the way home I stopped at Central Market and got an orchid in a pot. I joined a long line of tired looking men holding flowers and chocolates. The men were from all walks of life, but they all had that slightly confused look in their eye that told me they weren't sure if they got the right thing. Of course we did the right thing. We didn't forget.

Sick dogs and an all day rain aren't a good combination. Dot seemed totally unaware of the rain and took just as long looking for the right place to pee as she does on a warm sunny day. I just about froze taking her outside today. Dash did his business quickly, but always managed to find the muddiest part of the yard before he came inside again. I was constantly cleaning dogs, floors, and rugs today. This weather certainly isn't doing me any favors. My cold seems to be getting worse.

Work continues to be slow, but I did manage to get my February invoices in the mail today. It occurred to me this weekend that I'd be a lot busier if I actually started looking for work. Like that's ever going to happen. I hate cold calling. Most of my friends and contemporaries have retired. And millennials irritate me. I don't think websites really matter anymore either. When everybody has one, they just become a contemporary version of a Yellow Pages ad. People are spending all their time on Facebook anyway. I mostly visit websites to find an address or a phone number these days. The design of the website doesn't matter nearly as much as how easy it is to navigate. Like it or not, what I do has become a commodity.

The stock market hit another all time high today. I hope this rally continues, but I suspect that it won't. It's always hard to know when to sell. You want to ride a rally as long as you can, but you don't want to be the last one to leave a sinking ship. My opinion changes from day to day. Tax cuts and deregulation will definitely be good for business, but chaos isn't good for anyone. Maybe I should sell a few things just in case.

I sure hope it warms up tomorrow. The combination of dark gray skies, wet dogs, and a bitterly cold wind do nothing to improve my mood. The cupcakes sure were delicious though, and I think Janet liked the flower.

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, February 13, 2017

Day 2618

I don't know why I even bother to get Dash's blood pressure tested. He gets so agitated riding in the car that his blood pressure is almost always elevated by the time we arrive at our destination. Today, he was even worse than usual, whining and barking in my ear all the way to the cancer center. He didn't even calm down once we arrived. Needless to say, his blood pressure was high. The only times I've ever been able to get an accurate reading on Dash is when he's already in the hospital for an extended stay.

Dash eventually calmed down a little, but by then the nurses had already moved on to their next patients. While I sat in a room waiting for the doctor to arrive with his evaluation, Dash fixated on a jar full of dog treats sitting on a counter and started barking all over again. He was basically just a bad dog today, but the doctor did say that his condition had dramatically improved. Nobody seemed terribly worried that Dash's blood pressure was high, which made me wonder why I was spending my afternoon taking Dash to the vet. I did have to admit that Dash appeared healthy though. I wish there was a way to test Dash's blood pressure at home when he actually was relaxed, but human blood pressure monitors don't work on dogs, and veterinary monitors are very expensive and hard to use. For the time being, I think we're all going to assume that Dash's medications are working.

I took the images that I shot yesterday over to the client, but we had a hard time transferring them to the office server. Fewer and fewer computers seem to have an SDHC card slot anymore. Even Apple has dropped the SD card slot on their latest laptops. This makes no sense to me at all. You've got to have a way to conveniently move pictures from the camera to the computer. I doubt that computer makers care much about professional photographers these days. They've all realized that the vast majority of their customers take pictures with their phones. Eventually, we found an older computer in the back of the building that still had a card slot and transferred the images. I apologized for how big the file folder was, but the art director wanted RAW files. Hey, at least all the images got transferred before somebody accidentally erased them.

I wish I could think of a way to help Dot grow stronger. It would be nice if there was something that kept her mentally alert too. With each passing week she seems to become a little weaker. There really isn't much I can do at this point. Dot still enjoys her meals and we take our slow daily walk to the end of the street, but she spends a lot more of her time sleeping these days. She just doesn't have the energy anymore. This year feels like a long goodbye. I just hope I can make the transition as pleasant and pain free as possible. This Friday we go back to the cancer center for another ultrasound scan. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that her cancer had advanced significantly. It feels that way.

I still can't tell whether I've got a cold or allergies. It seems like my eyes have been watering and I've been sneezing for weeks now. It's a bit early for Spring allergies, but I don't have all the usual symptoms of a cold either. At any rate, I wish the red nose and itchy eyes would go away. I'm probably just run down. A week with eight hours of sleep every night would probably cure everything.

Tessa is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Day 2617

Today was busy. A local fashion designer was introducing his new clothing line and we photographed the designer and a model wearing various items from the line while walking or holding a dog or cat. I think the photo shoot went smoothly and everyone seemed happy, but I'd forgotten that it often takes longer to do hair and makeup than it does to take the photos. While the models were getting ready, I amused myself by feeding the photo dogs cheese. All dogs seem to love cheese.

When I left the pre-light check on Friday, I told everyone I could find not to move anything. I must have missed telling the night janitor, because he straightened the room up, unplugging everything and moving the carefully placed lights. I tried to remember where everything was on Friday and I think I came pretty close. It was actually a good thing that it took a while to do the model's hair because I ended up having to recreate the lighting setup. There was even enough time to play around with operating the camera by remote control. This was the first time I tried this on a job and it actually worked pretty well. You can wander around the set and snap pictures using an app on your iPhone. By using the app to monitor and control the camera I was able to get closer to the pets and keep an eye on their expressions. I kind of liked working this way and I'm sure I'll use the app again.

I used to do a lot of fashion photography, but it's been a while. The last time I spent much time thinking about fashion, today's model wasn't even born yet. A lot has changed over the years, but even more hasn't. Success still depends on a good make-up artist, nice soft lighting, and the ability to work fast. Most of the good photos occur near the beginning of the shoot, before everyone gets tired. When you get tired, it shows. There is often one good photo right at the end of the shoot too. Sometimes this final photo is accidental good luck, but it allows everyone to say "we got it" so they can pack up and go home.

It was a luxury not to have to bring my lights today. Instead of spending hours loading the car with heavy equipment, I just showed up with my camera. If I was younger, I would have made an effort to get some work from the fashion designer. He was a nice guy and if his line is successful, he will be using a lot of photographers in the future. I don't think I have the time for this sort of thing anymore, unfortunately. If Janet hadn't been able to spend the day watching the dogs, I wouldn't have been able to do this. When I was a fashion photographer for a large studio many years ago, we worked very long hours.

Today was kind of a trip down memory lane. It was a simple shoot as these things go, but all the elements were there. There were hair stylists and makeup artists. There was a craft service table with lots of tasty things to nibble on. There were lots of clothes on racks and many costume changes. Hard to believe I used to do this everyday.

Tomorrow, everything will be back to normal. Dash has a trip to the vet scheduled. I need to get my February invoices out. I'm already looking forward to my strawberry and banana smoothie.

Lucy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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