Friday, February 23, 2018

Day 2983

Dash gave me a scare today. We had just gotten started on our morning walk when I noticed that something seemed wrong. Dash was unsteady on his feet and didn't want to move. I suspected that he was having a mild vestibular event and immediately tried to get him back home. Luckily, we had not gone very far, so he was able to wobble his way back to the house. When we got inside, Dash seemed very tired and almost immediately went to sleep. He had no interest in food. Sleep must have helped because he woke up feeling fairly normal around noon.

I always worry that Dash might have a vestibular seizure when we are away from home. In the Summer, the best thing to do would be to sit with him in the grass and let him rest until someone could come for us. This probably wouldn't work very well on a rainy day in the Winter though. If a seizure is severe, I need to get him to a vet immediately. For mild seizures it is best to just keep him calm and wait until the symptoms subside. Luckily, major seizures are very rare. Dash has had several, but the vet said he may never have one again. Of course, he could have a bad episode tomorrow. Vestibular disease never really goes away.

The rain wasn't as bad today. There was a storm when we got up this morning, but things got better as the day progressed. It never really quit raining, but for most of the day all we got were light showers. I was able to take Dash on a short mid-adfternoon walk and later in the afternoon I was even able to inspect the roof. I was hoping to find the source of the leak on the back porch, but finding a leak is hard when everything is underwater. I plugged in the sump pump and began sweeping away water. I knew I wasn't going to be able to clear away all the water. I just wanted to reduce the load on the roof. Dealing with the roof is very discouraging in the Winter. Mother Nature always wins.

When the rain subsided a bit, I went to the grocery store and got some food for the weekend. I hate a muddy car, but there is no way to avoid driving in the rain when the rain never quits. I have to remember that the rain will stop eventually. Maybe I can go to a carwash later this Spring. Maybe the roof will be dry enough for the roofers to fix things by Summer.

The post office needs to get its act together. Today's mail looked like it had been dropped in a puddle. Everything was so wet that the envelopes had all come unglued. Even though there was a big pile of soggy mail, it was mostly just catalogs and political flyers. Nothing of significance was ruined. One of the reasons that I always take letters directly to the post office is that I have no faith in our mail carrier. This certainly isn't the first time we've received a box full of soggy mail or letters addressed to our neighbors.

The house always seems cold in wet weather. According to the thermostat, the temperature is the same as it always is, but it sure doesn't feel that way. I wonder is it's psychological? I just can't get warm enough on day like this. I've got the little ceramic heater going in the office and I'm wearing my down booties, but I'm still cold. Maybe I've just got poor circulation. If I don't keep my feet really warm, I feel like no blood gets to my toes at all.

We've had far worse Winters in the past, but this this extended rainy spell has got me nostalgic for Summer. Sure, it gets too hot, but we've got air conditioning. Somehow, our air conditioner always seems to work a lot better than our furnace. Not to worry though. The weatherman says it's going to warm up this weekend. I hope he's right.

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

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Day 2982

Is it time to build an ark? This rain is starting to seem biblical. The wet weather is definitely wearing me down. It's not easy to get Dash to walk on a nice day. When there is a never ending line of thunderstorms passing through town, it is next to impossible. This morning it was foggy when I woke up. Janet and I got Dash suited up and ready to go. I was optimistic, since Dash actually wanted to walk this morning. We went outside and the rain started as soon as I unlocked the back gate. We didn't even make it out of the yard.

Dash didn't want to get wet any more than I did, but he hadn't done his business yet. I must have opened the back door for him ten times while I was eating breakfast. Each time he would go outside, get wet, and then come back inside without doing anything. The conditions have to be just right before he will poop or pee. I could tell Dash was frustrated, but as I've told him many times, I can't stop the rain.

We didn't get a break in the rain until just before noon. The ground was soggy and there was still a light mist, but this looked like as good as it was going to get. According to the weather radar, it looked like we had about an hour to complete our walk. Unfortunately, Dash took an hour and ten minutes and we got wet on the way home anyway. I feel like I've spent most of the day cleaning clothes and drying Dash off.

The leak on the back porch is growing bigger. There is nothing I can do unfortunately. It is dangerous to go up on the roof in weather like this. I doubt that I could find the source of the leak anyway. I'll just have to cross my fingers and hope that we don't get a leak inside the house. Eventually, things will dry out, but eventually seems a long way away right now.

The temperature in the refrigerator is perfect now. I don't know how long this will last. After I defrost the evaporator coil, the temperature is initially too cold. Then it slowly warms up until I have to defrost all over again. I wonder why things freeze up so fast? When I was growing up, my parents had a refrigerator that needed to be defrosted manually. We only had to do this every six or eight months though. I'm lucky if I can go two weeks with this refrigerator. There is no easy solution. The one refrigerator that will fit in our kitchen is on back order until the end of March. If I buy it, I have to pay for it right away even though I have to wait a month for delivery. That doesn't seem fair.

Nothing seems fair at this point. I try to keep my mouth shut because other people think my problems are trivial. Nobody wants to hear about a running toilet if they're having trouble getting health insurance. Nobody wants to hear about water on the roof if they're afraid of losing their job. I understand all this and yet it is still difficult for me to be upbeat and positive.

I think I'm a lot like Dash. We are both grumpy about everything and still remain amazingly resilient.  Whatever happens, we manage to make it through the day and are ready to start all over again the next day. I'm sure the glass will still be half empty tomorrow. There is a lot more rain in the forecast.

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

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Day 2981

The rain is relentless. I woke up several time last night thinking that I heard dripping water. I never sleep well when I'm worried about roof leaks. As it turned out, the dripping noises were all outside. So far, the house is still dry. I was hoping that Dash would go do his business when I was checking on things, but he had other ideas. I knew he needed to pee because he refused to go outside at bedtime. Dash is a stubborn dog though. He was determined to wait until it quit raining. When he finally gave up and decided he needed to go, Janet and I didn't wake up and he pooped in the house.

Today was almost an exact replica of yesterday. There were thunderstorms throughout the night, followed by a brief dry period around sunrise that allowed me to walk Dash. The rain resumed while I was fixing breakfast and continued for the rest of the day. While we were walking this morning, I noticed that the water level in the lake was really high. Most of the piers and boat docks were under water. If this weather continues the way the forecasters predict, we are going to have some serious flooding.

On days like this, the mail always arrives soggy. I almost wish that our mail carrier would just save the mail and deliver it on a dry day. Most of the mail is political flyers these days. I'll be glad when the March primaries are over. We get so many of these flyers that our kitchen trash basket fills up too fast. The candidates must be convinced that negative advertising works. A few of the ads are positive, but most of them just say that their opponent is a lying crook. Nobody has won me over so far.

I've noticed a small leak under the back porch. Since the porch is covered by the same roof that covers the rest of the house, this makes me nervous. Hopefully, this leak is localized and won't spread. There is no way to remove the standing water at this point. The rain is coming down much faster than my pump can remove it. I had a pump running on the carport all day long and it didn't begin to remove all the water. Mother Nature can make you feel powerless and ineffectual pretty quickly.

All this water is going to make it even harder for me to get the roofers to come back. There are plenty of people in Dallas with far worse problems than mine. I see their demolished houses every time I turn on the TV. I have a feeling that my maintenance won't be scheduled until Summer. The roofers are probably already looking at two months of emergency roof repairs before they can get to jobs like mine.

I had a few errands to run today and tried to wait for a break in the rain. I shouldn't have bothered. It was dry when I started the car, but another downpour started before I was out of the driveway. One benefit of a heavy rain is that your car doesn't get muddy. When I returned home today, my car looked like it had just been through a car wash.

If you wonder why I take so many pictures of Cormorants, it's because there isn't much else. The park can be pretty bleak in the Winter. I can always count on the Cormorants. Rain or shine, they always sit on the same rotting log. I wonder if they get bored?

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

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Day 2980

The rain was horrendous today. At least it was just rain. A nearby town south of us got hit by a tornado and several towns north of us are being warned about freezing rain overnight. There was widespread flooding across town, but luckily the roads were clear and above water during my short excursion to the post office and pharmacy. I really didn't want to leave the house at all, but Dash was getting low on Plavix and I had bills to pay.

Since the rain didn't start until around 9 AM, I was able to give Dash his morning walk. Who knows when we will be able to walk again. The rain is still pounding down on the roof and according to the weather forecast, the wet weather will continue for the rest of the week. Needless to say, this is not my favorite time of year. During our rainy season, we typically get a year's worth of rain in just a few months and then when Summer rolls around, it is bone dry. It would be nice if our allotment of water was divided more evenly, but that's not the way it works in Texas.

As you might expect, Dash wasn't very happy today. He hates rain almost as much as I do. This wasn't your garden variety rainy day either. There were intermittent high winds and plenty of thunder and lightning. On days like this, Dash's safe place is under my desk in the office. I wish I had a safe place. I spent the day wondering whether a gust of wind would knock over one of our Oak trees, or if the roof would spring a leak again. Everything is fine so far, but that doesn't keep me from fretting.

After paying this month's bills, I couldn't bring myself to buy a refrigerator. I felt broke. I can't postpone this decision much longer unfortunately. Something is obviously wrong with the temperature controls. After I defrost the coil, the refrigerator section is too cold. It doesn't matter if I turn the thermostat to the warmest setting; the temperature is still too cold. Then, as the evaporator coil gradually becomes covered with ice, the refrigerator slowly becomes warmer. Eventually it quits working. This process takes several weeks, but it shouldn't be happening at all. As soon as the rain stops, I'll buy a new refrigerator. I don't feel like buying anything on a rainy day.

On the way to the post office, I stopped at the tailor shop to get a new zipper put in an old fleece jacket. "Are you sure you want to do this," the tailor asked, indicating that the repair might cost more than the jacket was worth. I like the worn old jacket, so I told her to go ahead. "This jacket is at least fifteen years old," she told me, "because they don't make this fabric anymore." As if to prove this to me, the tailor went to the back of the store and returned with an equally worn fleece jacket. "I have one just like yours," she said.

I spent a lot of time watching the weather radar today. I kept thinking there would be a break in the rain, so I could take Dash on an afternoon walk, but the rain was relentless. Every time it looked like the skies might be clearing, a new storm cell would develop, keeping the rain falling. The ten day forecast doesn't look promising. I wonder how they can predict these things ten days in advance anyway. Today looked pretty random to me.

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

Monday, February 19, 2018

Day 2979

Part of the greenhouse roof blew off this morning. Jeez. I didn't even think it was a windy day. Apparently, it didn't take much. One minute the roof was fine and the next minute it was on the ground. As if I didn't have enough to fix already. I knew it was going to be a rainy day, so I hurriedly tried to get the roof section back in place. I managed to cover the hole, but a proper repair will have to come later.

The damaged greenhouse wasn't an auspicious way to begin the day, but is was a sign of things to come. We did manage to get Dash walked before the rain began, but while we were fixing breakfast, I noticed that there was a coating of ice on the back wall of the freezer again. It was time to defrost the evaporator coil. I had been overly optimistic. I was hoping that the refrigerator would operate normally for a few more weeks because things have been going well this month. Apparently, the coil freezes faster when the humidity is high. When I disassembled the freezer, I found that the coil was frozen solid. This process only took half as long as it did when the humidity was lower.

All bets are off. When the refrigerator was working well in January, I thought I knew exactly the part I needed to get things running reliably again. Now that the coil is freezing rapidly, I don't have a clue. I'm ready to give up. Maybe I'll go out and buy the new refrigerator I don't really want tomorrow.

I can't get the toilet to stop running either. It doesn't seem that cleaning the parts helped at all. Plumbers tell me that I should give up and buy a Toto toilet. Of course, it was a plumber who told me to buy the ridiculously complicated toilet I have now. Am I asking for trouble to go from a French toilet to a Japanese toilet? I should have just kept the old toilet that came with the house. It used a ton of water, but it was virtually indestructible.

Dash's eating habits are driving me crazy. At the end of the day he's usually eaten enough to satisfy his nutritional needs, but he doesn't eat consistently anymore. He'll eat a little and then turn up his nose at the rest. I'll have to put the food back in the refrigerator and try something else. Often he'll like something in the afternoon that he hated in the morning. This reluctance to eat seems to have something to do with his sense of smell. He carefully smells his food and even his water bowl before he eats or drinks. He didn't used to do this. If it doesn't smell exactly right, he won't touch it. Dash spends a lot more time smelling thing on his walks now too. It is as if he has developed a hyper sensitive nose. I know dogs can smell things a lot better than we can, but this is getting ridiculous.

I hope the weather forecast is wrong. It's going to be a very long week if it doesn't quit raining. There is no point to even examining the roof now. I know it is covered with standing water. I've just got to hope that the elastomer coating holds up. I've learned the hard way that the coating is very fragile when it's wet. I can do more damage by tramping around on the wet roof than the rain can.

It's hard not to get discouraged. This is not what I imagined retirement would be like at all.

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

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Day 2978

I need to find a better time to go to the gym. For the past two weeks there has been a full court game underway when I arrived, so I haven't been able to shoot baskets. This is disappointing, since my time on the basketball court is the only real fun I have at the gym. The rest of the time is just burning calories and trying to raise my heart rate.

Dash was listless today. He did take a walk, but wasn't very interested in eating. I had to try several different varieties of dog food before I could get him to eat anything. Usually, Dash's appetite returns after a walk, but not today. I don't know what was wrong. He didn't seem nauseous or  show the usual signs of a vestibular event. Dash just wasn't hungry. A Dalmatian who won't eat is always alarming. Typically, they are always hungry.

The rain continued today. There was only a light mist when we took our morning walk, but there were several downpours later in the day. Now that the rain has returned, the dehumidifier is struggling to keep the house dry. I have to empty the water reservoir twice as often as on a dry day. Rain seems to amplify all the other problems in the house. When I think about it, every single house issue is related to water.

There is standing water on the roof. There is a leak that allows water to accumulate under the shower tiles. One of the toilets runs and I can't find parts to fix it. Even the ailing refrigerator is basically a water problem. If the evaporator coil didn't freeze, everything would be fine. I wish the rain would quit so at least the air would feel dry. I'm losing my patience with water.

I could really tell that I had shoulder and knee problems while I was at the gym today. Maybe rain makes my arthritis worse. My shoulder still aches. I wonder how bad things need to get before I consider surgery? Lots of people I know have had knee replacements. Some recover completely and others don't. I've always been fearful of surgery. Most of the surgery the dogs have had was unavoidable, but they never made a full recovery. Surgery is very invasive. I had knee surgery back when I was in college and my knee continues to feel weird to this day. I had something called Slocum's Procedure, which has since fallen out of favor among orthopedic surgeons. It is amazing how many types of surgery have fallen out of favor over the years when doctors discovered that the proceedure basically didn't work.

Tomorrow is one of those holidays that doesn't really feel like a holiday. Janet gets a day off and we won't get any mail, but other than that, it's just a normal day. There aren't even any President's Day savings on the refrigerator I still need to buy. Washington's birthday is really on February 22, but in 1971 we decided that it was easier to give people the day off on a Monday, so a lot of minor holidays began being celebrated on Monday. It was also easier to just take away Lincoln's holiday and call combined birthday celebration President's Day. Not that is matters, but I remember when Washington and Lincoln each had their own holiday.

I have a ton of bills to pay tomorrow, but they will all have to wait until Tuesday. There is no mail delivery tomorrow. It would be nice if there was no rain as well.

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

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Day 2977

Dash didn't want to go outside when we woke up this morning. He shouldn't have been so indecisive. Ten minutes later it was pouring rain. The rain didn't last long, but there was plenty of time for Dash to get soaking wet. We dried him off and ate our breakfast. The morning walk could wait until later.

According to the weather forecast, this is the beginning of an entire week of wet weather. I'd better hurry up and find something I want to watch on Netflix. Without any deadlines to keep me busy, I'm going to have a severe case of cabin fever.

Dash did get his walk when the rain stopped and then I got started on my Saturday errands. I picked up some Phenobarbital for Dash and got Carvedilol for myself. For some reason the pharmacist wouldn't renew the Carvedilol prescription until today, even though I ran out of pills on Thursday. Medicare is very inflexible. It didn't matter that I didn't have any pills. What mattered is that they thought I should still have some. Once again, veterinary medicine is so much more straightforward.

I still haven't bought a new refrigerator. The big President's Day sales are a joke. Not a single refrigerator I've looked at during the past three months has seen a price reduction. They're all exactly the same price as they were before. I'm really tempted to buy a supply of spare parts and just attempt to repair my current refrigerator myself if it breaks again.

When I went to the grocery store today I noticed that strawberries have gone down in price. I wonder why fresh fruit prices fluctuate so wildly? There always seems to be a steady supply of strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries, but the price is always different.  Fruit that grows on vines seems to be available year round, but fruit that grows on trees is very seasonal. I'll be glad when peaches are available again. My morning smoothies always taste better with peaches.

I should have cleaned the house this afternoon, but I didn't feel like it. I must not have felt like doing much, because very little was accomplished today. Some days are like this. At the end of the day you wonder if anything happened at all. At least Dash got a nice afternoon walk before the weather turned cold again.

I finally got the nerve to look at my brokerage account. I'm still down quite a bit, but last week's mini-rebound certainly helped. I've learned over the years that's it's best to ignore a sell off. When you panic, you always end up selling too late and then buying again too soon. I'm hoping that sanity will return to the market soon. The economy is still good.

The United States doesn't seem to be doing so well in the Olympics. I may be wrong, but didn't we used to win more medals?  The Japanese own figure skating now. I watched Yuzuru Hanyu win the gold while I was going to sleep last night and he was amazing. I guess it's been a long time since Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding.

It's time to go the the gym again tomorrow. I've really got to start going twice a week.

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

Friday, February 16, 2018

Day 2976

I hate waiting for repair people. They never arrive when they say they will. You can wait and wait, but it never makes any difference. It's only when you give up and decide to take a shower or walk your dog that the service technician knocks on your door. I guess I shouldn't be critical. I'm always late myself. I can't even get to a simple meeting on time. The AT&T guy was three hours late today, but at least he showed up. My fiber optic installation is now finished.

I wish they'd told me ahead of time that the technician wouldn't need to come inside the house. This could have saved a lot of waiting. I still managed to get everything done. I got my grocery shopping finished early this morning before the technician was scheduled to arrive. Instead of going out for breakfast, I tried the breakfast buffet they had at the grocery store. I'd never tried this before because it didn't look very good. Surprisingly, the taste of the scrambled eggs, bacon, and biscuits and gravy I picked out tasted much better than they looked.

The refrigerator repair guy called me back today. After talking with him for a few minutes I realized that I now know just as much about repairing refrigerators as he does. The guy agreed that changing out all three thermistors might be a good idea. He also said that the temperature control for the fan might have gone bad. There were no guarantees though. Apparently the way appliance repair works is you just keep replacing parts until the problem stops. I don't know why I'm so surprised. This appears to be the way most car repairs work too.

I wish there weren't so many people walking their dogs during the middle of the day. Dash and I used to have the park to ourselves during the week, but now it's crowded all the time. The dogs on a leash are fine, but almost every day we run into someone who is letting their dogs run loose. I could tell that Dash really wanted a walk this afternoon, but as soon as he saw two dogs running off leash, he refused to go any further. It is so frustrating to have to abort a good walk. These people with their loose dogs have no idea how long it takes me to get Dash suited up in his protective gear and ready to go. I tried again just before sunset and this time there was no danger.

The news was all about Russia today. I don't know why the Russians went to all that trouble to get us fighting among ourselves. We do a pretty good job of that on our own. I think a lot of the outrage about this is bogus. The United States and Russia have been meddling in each other's affairs since the beginning of the cold war. It's not like we don't don't do the same thing to them. Personally, I think that if the FBI hadn't been so obsessed with Russian Twitter accounts, they might have had time to follow up on that Florida school shooters disturbing online profile.

Dash was a picky eater again today.  He'd enthusiastically start to eat something and then ten minutes later he would spit the same thing out. On any given day, I have no idea what is going to appeal to him.  I think Dash takes living in the moment to extremes. One minute he wants a walk. The next minute he refuses to leave the yard. Feeding him is so difficult now. I fed him half a can of dog food around 3 PM. He rapidly ate and then we took a walk. When we returned, I gave him the rest of the can and he wouldn't touch it. This inconsistency tests my patience almost as much as repair people.

It is supposed to rain all next week. I hope the forecast is wrong. You know how I feel about rain.

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