Friday, June 30, 2017

Day 2745

Today was busy. I started things out by going someplace new for breakfast. The food was good, but a bit weird. I thought when I ordered biscuits and gravy. scrambled eggs, bacon, and hash browns, they would all come separately on a big plate. Nope. Everything was served mashed together in a bowl and covered with melted cheese. I guess this was some sort of ultimate Texas gutbuster of a meal. To my credit, I finished everything, but I don't think I'll be back for a while. This was too strange for me.

I took Janet to see one of her doctors this afternoon and she got good news. The pathology report came back and apparently the surgeon had good margins on the malignant mass that was removed and it appears there will be no need for additional chemo or radiation treatments. The oncologist will have the final say on this, but everything is looking good at this point.

Since Janet is getting cabin fever sitting at home, I took her shopping after she finished her doctors appointment. The tubes actually hide pretty well under loose clothing. Unlike me, Janet actually likes to shop for groceries. We went to several stores where she picked out a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. As a reward for being her chauffeur for the day, she bought me some barbecued ribs at one of the city's better barbecue joints on the way home.

Dash wasn't happy at being left alone for so long, but he perked up quickly when I started fixing his dinner as soon as we returned. It was good that he got a short walk this morning, because it was way too hot for him this afternoon. I tried to take him down to the park around sunset, but he wasn't interested. Dash knows best. I never try to force a dog to walk in the summer. They probably have a much better instinct for what can cause heatstroke than I do.

Today was the day I upgraded all my computers to the Sierra operating system. The slow upgrade process went on for most of the day while I was away. It's a good thing I wasn't around to see the progress bar on the screen say "thirty minutes remaining" for at least three hours. The download and install were successful and only five applications turned out to be incompatible. That's actually pretty good for an Apple system upgrade. I installed the new accounting software I got yesterday, deleted the incompatible applications, and I'm back in business. Supposedly I can talk to Siri on my computer now and share files with my phone and iPad. Knowing me, I'll probably never use any of these new features. I was happy enough with the computer I was using fifteen years ago.

Although it has seemed like Saturday all week, tomorrow really is Saturday. There will be more errands to run and several chores that can't be ignored much longer. It's time to mow the grass again and I really need to see how much standing water still remains on the roof. When it's hot, the water evaporates fairly quickly, so hopefully I won't need to do a lot of sweeping.

I know some of you would like to see my gutbuster breakfast, but I think I'll show you a tiny bunny instead. There are lots of rabbits in the park this summer. Maybe this means the coyotes have moved on to greener pastures.

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

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Day 2744

I decided to bite the bullet and upgrade my accounting software today. This somewhat ancient software is what is preventing me from upgrading my desktop computer's operating system, which would allow me to upgrade everything else. I'm very reluctant to touch accounting software, because if something goes wrong, years of records go down the drain. To play it safe, I decided to install the new software on my laptop first. If everything worked there, I could then proceed to upgrading the operating system on my desktop computer and install the accounting software again. Since a lot of single user licenses only allow you to install software on one computer, I had to call customer support to make sure my plan was even possible. The lady I talked to didn't seen to know very much, but eventually she told me to go ahead. I clicked the download button on my laptop and went to walk Dash. When I returned, my session had timed out and my download was only partially complete. No wonder I don't do this kind of thing very often. Another call to customer support got the download started again and I had something I could experiment with.

Everything seems to work, so I'll upgrade the main computer tomorrow. Hey, what could possibly go wrong? Every time I do a major system upgrade I am faced with a problem I never expected. There are hundreds of applications on the main computer and I can almost guarantee that five of them won't work anymore after I upgrade the operating system. Like it or not, you are forced to upgrade every once in a while. I'm doing this mainly so I can use my web design software again. Over time, everything will work out fine, but sometime tomorrow I'm going to think I made a big mistake.

I knew software upgrades would be complicated, but I thought grocery shopping on weekdays would simplify things. Until Janet recovers, I'm doing all the shopping, but there's no reason I need to do it on Saturday. I thought the stores would be empty on Thursday afternoon. Much to my surprise, they were just as busy today as they are on the weekends.  Oh, well. It seemed like a good plan. Maybe things are always busy in Dallas. I really didn't accomplish much, because I'm going to have to go back to the store this weekend anyway to pick up the fresh produce.

I was going to call the landscaper today, wash my car, and order more ink for the large format printer. I didn't do any of these things because I got completely sidetracked by the complicated software upgrade process. At least I remembered it was Thursday and took out the trash. Tomorrow, I'll drive Janet down to Baylor for another doctor's appointment. Maybe I'll go out to breakfast, but I kind of feel like fixing French Toast at home instead. Either way, I'll need to walk Dash very early. It's getting so hot that I don't feel comfortable walking a dog in the middle of the day. Staying inside doesn't bother Dash at all. He seems to enjoy his new role as Janet's bedside companion.

Maybe when I get all the computers upgraded, I'll become more productive. It's not very likely, but it could happen. I'm probably just going to be mad when my old software starts crashing.

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Day 2743

I've completely lost track of what day it is. I woke up this morning thinking it was Saturday, but it's really just Wednesday. Most of the things that imposed a structure on my life are gone. When I was taking care of Dot toward the end of her life there was always something that needed to be done. Practically every minute needed to be accounted for. When work was busy, a host of deadlines imposed their own structure. Even Janet driving off to work every morning made the week seem orderly. Now it doesn't really matter what day it is. Maybe this is what retirement is like.

I'm not sure what comes next for me, but I can tell that Janet doesn't want to sit around the house all day. She can't wait until her doctors give her the OK to drive again. After today's visit to see the surgeon, we're one step closer to that goal. The doctors seem pleased at her progress and one of the drainage tubes was removed. When the drainage in the other tube decreases to 30 milliliters per day, it can be removed as well. The good news is that there is no sign of infection anywhere.

I can't decide whether Dash needs the canine flu immunization. Our vet would probably say yes, but I've read of several instances where dogs who got the shots ended up having seizures afterwards. Since Dash has problems with both epilepsy and idiopathic vestibular disease, I don't want to do anything that would give him another seizure. Dogs who participate in dog shows or go to dog parks frequently have the highest risk of influenza, but there is no guarantee that your dog is completely free from danger  even if you just stay at home. It's a tough choice, since the canine flu is pretty serious. I never get flu shots myself. The one time I did, I actually caught the flu. My solution for avoiding the flu is just to stay away from children.

Canine flu shots aren't the only think I'm having trouble making a decision about. Should I go see the August eclipse or not? When I first started reading about the upcoming eclipse, it was presented as a must see, once in a lifetime event. Lately, the tone of the articles I've been reading is changing. Eclipse day is projected to be a traffic nightmare of epic proportions with millions of people converging on the totality zone without much of a plan. Now, people are being told to bring extra food and even extra gasoline. Expect to be stranded on the highway if you aren't in place several days ahead of time, they say. This doesn't sound like fun at all. Totality is only two minutes long. I'm not sure being stranded on a crowded freeway for hours is worth those two minutes. There's a 40% chance it's going to be cloudy anyway. All this being said, I'd still love to see a total eclipse.

There's still time to decide. I'll ask Dash's vet about the immunization shots and I'll keep checking airfares to the eclipse zone. In the mean time, there are more mundane things that need to be done. I still need to get my passport renewed and the back yard desperately needs new St. Augustine grass. One of my writing clients said they'd have some more assignments soon, but I'm not counting on much work these days. That ship has sailed.

It's weird to have so much time on my hands. When I have lots of time, I have no money and when I have lots of money, I have no time. That's life, I guess. At least Janet is getting better. That's the important thing right now.

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

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Day 2742

Another rainy day. The yard is still muddy and I have to clean Dash's paws with a wet rag before he comes inside. The first thing Dash does when he comes inside is jump on the bed. If the rainy season continues much longer, Janet may wish she hadn't picked out a white comforter and pillows for the bed. When you've got large dogs, mud brown usually turns out to be the best color for everything.

I really need to start pestering the landscaper to come out and take care of the yard. He was supposed to come a month ago. Usually we put in new grass in March but there's been way too much going on this Spring. The yard really hasn't been a priority. A friend who uses the same guy told us the landscaper isn't very interested in us since we only call him once a year. Hey, once a year is plenty. He ought to be glad to have our business since he gets to put in the same grass over and over again. I don't know why the grass won't grow. The lawn gets enough water and the soil is good. Maybe there just isn't enough direct sunlight. At any rate, it doesn't really matter how long the grass lasts. Right now the back yard is basically a big mud pit.

I wrote another letter to my sister this afternoon. Letter writing is always a good thing to do on a rainy day. I wish my sister would just read the blog, since I end up repeating most of the things I've already written here. Pen and paper is how she communicates and I doubt that anything is going to change. We're both set in our ways. My Dad was the same way. He was a brilliant scientist, but he never owned a computer. He had no interest in computers at all.

Maybe I'm the odd duck in the family. I don't know what I'd do without my computers. Without computers, I'd never have been able to operate a successful business out of my house for all these years. When I first started the company, I was constantly driving from one client to the next. It seemed like I was always in meetings. What a revelation to discover that I didn't really need to see these people at all. The Internet changed everything for me. To this day there are still clients who I have never met in person. I get my assignments via e-mail and I send the completed projects back via e-mail. It works for me.

I'm surprised that Dash has turned out to be a really good therapy dog. Janet and I were a little nervous when she first came home from the hospital, since Dash has a tendency to be wild. He's been very gentle and attentive though. He follows Janet around the house wherever she goes and just sits by her side. So far, there have been no problems at all. I suspect that Dash has wanted both of us home for a long time. For most of his life, Janet has left for work early and come home pretty late. Now Dash has both of us.

Tomorrow I take Janet to visit two different doctors. We're hoping that they are both pleased with her progress. Surgery is always so invasive and recovery is so messy that it is hard to know what to expect. I remember when I first saw my Dad after open heart surgery I was horrified. The cardiologist reassured me that everything was normal but it sure didn't look normal. Dad recovered and so will Janet. There just aren't any shortcuts. I've learned that when a surgeon explains a procedure to you, they usually aren't telling you the entire story. Maybe it's for the best. If I knew everything, I would never have the nerve to have surgery.

It's hard to believe the year is almost half over. This is one year I don't feel like repeating. When Janet recovers, I hope we all stay healthy for a long, long time.

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

Monday, June 26, 2017

Day 2741

I'm trying to get organized. I made an appointment to take my car in for service. I went up to my doctor and tried to schedule my annual physical. I paid the remaining June bills sitting on my desk and I did some laundry. I don't think it mattered that I postponed some of these things. The first appointment I could get at the Land Rover dealer was three weeks from now and there was an equally lengthy wait at my doctor's office. At least I've taken care of these things now. They're on my calendar and I don't have to think about them anymore.

It didn't seem like Monday. Janet has always been a workaholic and is typically out of the house before I'm even fully awake. We get started much later now. Janet needs to rest and Dash and I have never had any strong desire to get out of bed. We didn't finish our morning routine until almost noon today. I do most of the chores these days, but it's not like I have anything better to do. I'm probably a pretty good person to have around as a nurse. I've got all the time in the world.

I'm still debating whether to go and see the eclipse this August. Janet should be a lot better by then. I'd like to go to Wyoming where crowds are expected to be small. It's much less expensive to go someplace like Kansas City though, where crowds will probably be huge. I started to look at airfares and quickly realized that major airlines are already raising fares to popular destination cities on the days immediately before and after the eclipse. It's probably all computerized. When demand for flights goes up, fares probably immediately go up as well. I don't even want to think about driving. From what I'm reading, the traffic on eclipse day will be like twenty Woodstocks happening at once.

We really like the home nurse. It's comforting to have someone who knows what they're doing reassure us that everything is going OK. The hospital went to great lengths to instill a fear of infections and now just about everything seems like it could be the beginning of an infection. Most of the changes that occur each day are just the body's normal response to surgery. Even though nothing has gone wrong, it's still important to be careful.

I learned how to make banana bread tonight. Sometimes there are left over bananas at the end of the week from my morning smoothies and they get used for banana bread. The whole process seemed pretty straightforward and the bread came out great, but I don't think I'm going to become a baker anytime soon. As soon as Janet recovers, the kitchen is all hers. I have a real aversion to cooking. One of the reason I am thin is that if food is difficult to fix, I just don't eat. Lots of people I know love to cook. I'd probably rather eat something I dislike than cook something I love.

Janet got one of those adult coloring books as a get-well gift. She seems to enjoy it. I don't think I could ever do one of those things. I'd lose interest within five minutes. I don't need an adult coloring book anyway. This blog is my adult coloring book. I'm just filling in the days.

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

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Day 2740

The last of our original neighbors died last week. These were the people who built the houses on our street in the 1940's and 50's. One by one, they've been slowly disappearing for the last thirty years. I'm pretty sure that Ben was the last. When we moved here, we were the youngest couple on the street. Now, we're one of the oldest. It feels like the end of an era. I liked our older neighbors. They all knew each other well and would sometimes have large block parties. It's rare if I ever get to know the newcomers. We'll say hello if I pass them while walking the dogs, but I really don't know who they are. Most arrived from out of state and are much younger than me. Many of the original houses in the neighborhood are being torn down now. There is nothing wrong with these houses. They just aren't big enough or fancy enough for today's buyers. I hope our house doesn't get torn down someday, but it probably will. That's the thing about change. You just can't stop it.

There are still a few things that don't seem to change. There seems to be a tradition of bringing over food when you're sick. Janet's friends have been generous and we've got enough food to feed an army now. Maybe people don't realize how little the two of us eat. Everything is appreciated and will get eaten, but we've got to figure out how to freeze some of the stuff. Dash seems to be telling us to let him help with the stash. He can always tell when there's lots of food in the house. Sorry little buddy. I know you'd like a big plate of lasagna, but you've got a sensitive stomach and are on a strict diet.

It's a good thing that I went to the gym, since I definitely needed to burn off a few extra calories today. Once I finished my workout, I came home and took a long nap. I've been really tired lately, but I was still surprised at how quickly I went to sleep during the middle of the day. I'm getting more sleep now that Dot is gone, but I'm still not getting enough. Maybe someday. I'm really glad that the home nurse comes over once a day. It makes a big difference.

The time is passing quickly. Next Wednesday Janet has her first re-check with the surgeon. If all goes well, some or maybe even all of the drain tubes can come out. I'm sure she will be happy to have this major hurdle behind her. You really can't do much with tubes coming out of your body. Years ago, when Dash was attacked by an aggressive dog in the park, he had to have drainage tubes inserted after surgery. Dash's tubes had to stay in place for almost a month. They weren't nearly as sophisticated as Janet's and every time Dash would shake his head vigorously, blood would fly out of the tubes. The house was a mess.

I'm not very organized about grocery shopping. I had to go back to the store today even though the house is full of food and I just went shopping yesterday. The one thing we really need is always the one thing I forget. Oddly, I'm not that hungry. What I'd really like to do is just go to sleep for a month.

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

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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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