Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Happy Happy

SUMMARY: I'm still likin' this no-agility thing.

This weekend is my club's--The Bay Team's--CPE trial in Santa Rosa. About 2 hours from here. Would've meant another friday gone (packing, going to bed early), getting up at 4 a.m., competing all day, staying overnight--you know the drill.

Well, for one thing, I'm glad I had already decided not to go, because I've been so sick this week that I'd have had to cancel at the last minute and lost my entry fees.

But, well, it's a custom-made gorgeous spring day out there. Other than the fact that I might have an ear infection on top of everything (off to the doctor's office shortly--why this week?! why everything?!--), it is SO nice to just hang around, comb the dogs a bit, practice some tricks and some handling (of the dog's bodies), mow the lawn a little at a time (still a little tired), catch up on the computer, read the paper, take a leisurely shower--

--well, like, have a life! I am really liking this; it's taken several weekends off from agility for me to start relaxing into my weekends. And I'm not regretting being at the trial in any way at all. Sorry I had to tell them at almost the last minute (well, maybe 2 weeks ago) that I wouldn't be the score table czar after all. Once again, though, better 2 weeks ago than last night!

Lazing around. Getting backlogs of chores done. Doing some extra things that otherwise would be too-low-priority. Not really doing anything strenuous or ambitious while I'm still recovering.

Liking, liking, liking. And after this weekend, still 3 more weekends off. Then--the 4-day Haute TRACS, followed immediately by two weekends from my own two clubs, Bay Team and SMART. I dunno. I really don't want to skip those, but I find some little collection of synapses clicking out "oh, yes, you do!"

Ah, me. Just enjoying this beautiful weather, eating jello; renter is making vegetable soup for us for later. Happy happy happy.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Some Things You Just Don't Take Photos Of

SUMMARY: Not the best health week ever.
One tries to do what one can to live a healthier life, given that one has exceeded half a century on this earth (could it be?! doesn't seem possible in those terms).

Plan A: Vacation

So, for example, one might go down to Carmel for a couple of days of wonderful long multi-mile walks in the perfect weather. Despite a sore throat waking one up during the night a couple of nights in a row, because surely that's just the change in the weather, maybe allergies.

Plan A1: Beach

Then after one day there, the next morning finding that one's body has no interest in getting out of bed, not very hungry for breakfast. One almost bags it and goes home right away, but no, it's beautiful down there and dammit one is going to follow one's plan and dammit go to the beach again and go hiking again.

So one goes to the beach and discovers that one doesn't have the energy or enthusiasm to go to the other end of the beach after all.

Plan A2: Hiking

So again one almost bags it and goes home, but figures, what the heck, now that one and one's beasts are in MUTT MVR, one might as well at least drop by the hiking park again for a tiny stroll in the sunshine.

So one does that. One finds that sitting down on every available bench has tremendous appeal. One's dogs are a little impatient. One ends up covering maybe a mile and a half, on the level, slowly, before discovering that one is suddenly very grateful for there being a restroom not too far from the chosen path. Perhaps something one ate the night before?

Plan B: Sleep sleep sleep

So one DOES bag it and head for home, an hour's drive, and despite a long night's sleep, one is dyin' for bed, crashes at home and sleeps for 2-3 hours before dragging one's self out of bed to try to do something useful with one's evening. Brain dead tired.

Plan C?: Common Cold

One wakes up still exhausted the next day and the nose has gone into full-time exercise (yes, running), and one is now pretty sure it's a cold, not just allergies. One sleeps a lot despite it being a work day. (So much for that Personal Time Off that one has finally accrued by doing less agility and more work--wasting it on sick days! When one works at home! That's pathetic.)

Making an effort on Wednesday

The next day, one crawls out of bed, still tired, still with a marathon nose, but puts in a full-time day to try to get the clients' deadlines met. Something, er, intestinal is telling one that perhaps one did have something that disagreed with one back in Carmel. Not too bad, just enough to notice.

Plan T: Thursday already, so on with the Chard

And that fatigue, the cold, the iffy digestive system keep one mostly in bed the next day, too, but by the middle of the afternoon, one showers (steam feels good!), washes hands thoroughly, bops into the grocery store for milk and bread and fresh garlic so one can finally cook that Swiss Chard.

Because, yes, in an effort to be healthy, one signed up for a local "CSE" (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery of fresh fruit & vegetables every 2 weeks, and the first box arrived last Friday. Fruits have been good but time to cook that Chard! If one has never cooked Chard before, or even eaten it as far as one knows, and one's renter has never eaten Chard before, one follows the farm's recipe for cooking it. Pretty easy and very tasty! And it's supposed to be very healthy. Even the renter, who's not much into "oddball" vegetables, seems to like it, and one discusses with one's renter how to use the next batch in salads or soups.

Plan ugh: Not what one had expected

Except halfway through, one's intestinal portions give a mighty alarm and now it's really serious. One hasn't been eating much all day, but still, not a happy system. But back to the Chard, finish it (very tasty, a little garlic & a little cayenne & a little olive oil).

And then--one spends the rest of the evening essentially in close personal communication with the white porcelain fixture in the Reading Room. One can't even sit at the computer long enough to read a paragraph. One finally discovers that lying down eases nature's call somewhat, at least longer between porcelain visits, so one gives up and crawls into bed.

Then one and one's renter, also, it turns out, spend the evening and most of the night in turns hurrying to each own's Reading Room, over and over, and then one hears the flushing of the facility, and on and on and on. One catches half an hour of sleep here or there but not much.

Look, now it's Friday

So then it's Friday. One is thirsty. One drinks a bit of water but it is still rejected. Later a little toast; maybe a little better received. Banana eaten slowly over a period of an hour mostly seems to be accepted. Around noon, one makes a bowl of jello that one and one's renter consume cautiously but mostly seems to be a safe thing to eat.

One crawls back into bed after that and sleeps for maybe 4 hours or so, so hooray, one's system seems to be cautiously optimistic about functioning a bit more normally.

So, more toast, more jello, a bit more water, then one has the energy to play fetch with the dogs for a bit out in the yard for the first time in several days.

By 8 p.m., one has successfully consumed two diet soft drinks and several handfuls of pretzels as well, plus a slice of very lightly buttered toast. Who knew how good such simple foods can taste when one is very hungry and very thirsty!

Who knew?

So: Apparently Swiss Chard has all kinds of useful nutrients. Which, when eaten in large quantities in particular to ones who aren't accustomed to it, can cause awful intestinal & stomach upset. (Many web sites, incidentally, point out not to give it to your rabbits, goats, or dogs, as it can cause severe diarrhea. Most human web sites point out how many healthy nutrients it has; only a few point out that it can cause issues. So one thinks that perhaps it's inherent in the Chard itself, not some infection--and one has taken it off the list of things to be delivered to one's house in the future.

Ah, isn't it lovely to live such a healthier life?!

Gratuitous nature photos to expunge mental images of intestinal distress

So, let one leave one with a few wildflowers from Monday, now that one has the energy to sit at the computer for an hour.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Recap and What's Next

SUMMARY: Who's anal, who ate too much of the wrong things, who needs a camera, who's doing some real hikey-climbey thing.

Who ate too much of the wrong things (at Vicon)

Spent Friday through Sunday at the 25th annual Vicon (VIsalia CONvention, although it's not a convention and this year wasn't even in Visalia, so some people are calling it Sarcon because it was in Saratoga this year). It's a giant 3-day sleepover party for a bunch of college friends who have somehow turned into programmers, tech writers, parents of teenagers, VPs of engineering, PHDs in psychology, executive administrators, retired Captains, and other sorts of things that you wouldn't expect to see at a sleepover party.

Except this year, because it was closer to home, most of the weenies showed up only for Saturday afternoon and evening. Only half a dozen of us slept over, even though it was only 20 minutes from our assorted houses. It's the spirit of the thing, really. Felt kinda lonely Saturday and Sunday morning from the usual 20 people for breakfast. But it was still fun and something like 34 people (including half a dozen small children) made an appearance at least briefly sometime during the weekend, so it was pretty successful anyway. I woke up to a stunning swath of bougainvillea both mornings. What could be better? (I slept on a lawn chair; one guy slept in a tent.)

No dogs at all--TMH Merle Girls stayed home with Renter--but coming out of the kitchen on Saturday, trying to negotiate the small children's toyfield, I almost tripped over this:

The hard part was eating healthy. We had robust healthy breakfasts.

Vegetarian lunches.

Hamburgers and thickly mayoed potato salad for dinners. Plus handy snacks.

And dessert. The cakes arrived with no phrasing, so I was volunteered to add appropriate messages.


After a weekend spent mostly trying to take photos in difficult lighting situations of mostly moving objects with a basic point-and-shoot that doesn't like difficult lighting or moving objects, I really really miss having a real camera. Took my borrowed one for a few photos, but battery is getting low. The difference in photos was obvious in most cases. Sighhhh. So what to do about... [ominous fwahhhh]...the Glacier Point hike?


It's T minus 5 days. Less. In 5 days at this time I should be on the trail going up. To some AWE. SOME. VIEWS. Need camera. Will figure out something.

This weekend, to prepare for the hike, in addition to my healthy diet regimen, I walked for 2.5 miles around the neighborhood--no hills, but inclined streets--on Saturday, another 1.5 on Sunday, and hauled tons and tons of heavy gear from my house to my car (kinda like dog agility, only not as furry) and in to the party site and helped set up and rearrange and so on all weekend, for a total of about 6 miles worth of steps saturday and not sure how much Sunday, since my pedometer somehow reset itself.

The neighborhood is fancier than my neighborhood. Neo-plantation homes, fancy shrubberies, huge lawns, like that.

This 3-bedroom, 2-bath house is for sale. How much do you think they want?Did you guess $1.7 million? (Details here.) THIS is a depressed housing market? Sure, because it says that average listing price is $2.2M! Life's rough.

Here is some cool information about the trail to Glacier Point, with some photos and a link (at beginning of article) to a topo map of the trail and more photos; thanks, Dad, for the link.

That anal thing

Got home yesterday evening. Middle of the night, Tika starts licking her under-tail vicinities vehemently. Crap--could it be anal gland again? Have been trying to keep an eye on it. Will have to wait till after sleep and breakfast. By then, however, Tika had popped it open by dragging the afflicted vicinity across the hard soil. Very muddy. Bloody. Gross, actually. So I cleaned it up, applied warm compresses, applied ointment. Will repeat 2-3 times daily for a week. Plus MORE PRUNES!

OK, fans, that's all the excitement I can handle for today. And I am just not in the mood for rotating those photos because Blogger's upload is not behaving itself and I just don't have the time or patience. Turn your head sideways. I'm sure they'll work just fine that way.

I have many many photos to post for the weekend; will do later. Maybe much later.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Yes! I'm Going!

SUMMARY: I'm off to Turlock for a day and a bit of agility.

I had enough energy to clean and load the van and not be wiped out by it; nose has stopped running (although still congested), and I think I'm good to go. Plus dogs need to do SOMETHING after 3 days of nothing.

There are 2 classes tonight, 5 tomorrow, and then we're coming home. Sunday is Team and I just wasn't in the mood to sign up for that. That does mean that if either dog Qs in Steeplechase, we'll miss the money run. Ah, well. Tika won last time in Performance and came home with a check for a whole $32 or so.

See you-all readers Sunday or so.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bleahhhhhhh Part 2

SUMMARY: Cold? Flu? Aardvarks? And who is that other person in my bed?

By late yesterday afternoon, I felt a bit like I was floating somewhere behind my body and looking out through my eyes from several feet back. Whole body felt odd, numb but not actually numb, just in an achey, removed way. If one of the dogs shifted position, I'd jump in complete surprise, forgetting there were actually dogs in the house. Trying to work on an interesting project for work and I kept thinking it was something else (not entirely sure what).

Dogs were going nuts all day because I had no energy all day to even throw the toy for them. Neither are good about bringing it back--that's all a long story and i keep meaning to videotape it for everyone's entertainment so you can all think "Ha! At least my dog brings the toy for me to throw!"--and when I finally gave in midday to the incessant pissing and moaning, I ended up yelling at both of them for not doing what I wanted and sort of realized that wasn't normal behavior on my part so gave up even trying.

Dogs really got pissy and annoying as the early evening wore on and my patience was pretty much nonexistent; eventually realized that I hadn't given them dinner. Poor dogs with Human Mom's mind not functioning on all pistons.

Finally occurred to me to take my temperature, and sure enough, running a low-grade fever (not over 100, but my normal is in the 97.6 range). I haven't had a fever in so long I hardly remember what it's like. Don't remember feeling halfway hallucinatory ever, though. My mom says that my dad used to start having hallucinations if his temperature went up by just a degree or two. So I crawled up to bed way early and lay there, sort of wide awake but couldn't concentrate even on reading, and I love reading. Although I was able to do a couple of "difficult" sudokus eventually, in record time, go figure.

I'll tell ya, though, I was very careful every time of the many times I half woke up all night to cough or blow my nose not to disturb my sister who was sleeping on the other side of my bed. I kept hoping I wasn't keeping her awake; it must be miserable sleeping with a sickie, not to mention possibly contagious. When I had to get up to visit the loo, I realized with a shock that I hadn't closed the door even though there was someone else in the room, even though it was dark and she was probably still asleep, and then I couldn't remember whether it was Ann or Linda sleeping there, and then finally I realized that I was still feverish and it was only the dogs on the other side of the bed.

Very very odd experience.

Thermometer said no fever this morning but I still feel almost the same, though not quite so disconnected. Nose still running around like a nutcase. Dogs are very unhappy with me. Apparently I can type and string sentences together at the moment (by late yesterday afternoon that wasn't happening very well).

But I'm thinkin' no agility class tonight.

And I'm wondering about tomorrow--the Turlock USDAA trial starts Friday at 5 p.m. (or 6?) and I'm scheduled for score table and I'd have to load everything into the car in the morning, leave by 1 probably to avoid goshawful traffic-- Not feeling confident about ability to do that at the moment. Certainly couldn't do it today.

I can't remember that I've ever missed an agility trial due to my own illness since I started in 1996--210 trials or so-- And I hate to lose the entry fees or cert's.

OK, feeding the dogs (yay! I'm remembering), crawling back to bleaaaahhhh bed.

P.S. I must point out that not only have I not ever to my recollection slept in the same bed with any of my sisters, I also haven't slept in the same room since 1966 and not even in the same building since 1977 or so, with only occasional shared hotel rooms with significant others (and separate beds). In case you were wondering.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009


SUMMARY: By dose is all stuffed up.

I thick I wore byself out so thoroughly this weekedd that by resistetce wet wayyy dowd ad dow I have ad awful code id by head. Bleahhh. The dogs still wat to play id the yard. Bleaaahhh. I am so tired. By braid is so dub. Dub. Dagdabbit I'b tryig to say "dub" oh dabbit.

Dogs will dot be happy today. Huban bob doeset have edergy to eved throw the ball. Hubad bob also will dot be goig hikig todite. Baybe we will be doig a lot of dappig id by cosy bed upstairs. Baybe we will have to go buy bore kleenex.

I will try to stick with words that are usable with a stuffy head. This is hard to do. Especially with a stuffy head. Avoid ebs & eds. Bleahhhh. Agility hiatus is the phrase for today. Possibly thursday, too. Hope it's better quickly, because friday/saturday is USDAA agility at Turlock. Will require health. Bleaahhhhhhhhhh.

Dabbed ems ad eds.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Best News On Food Labeling

SUMMARY: Completely unrelated to dogs, but I think that the "Nuval" (Overall Nutritional Value Index) is the best nutritional aid to come along in a long time.

Nuval rates every food on a scale from 1 to 100 for its nutritional value. Developed at Yale, it's based on a variety of nutrients, grains, vitamins, sugar, salt, impact on blood pressure, and a bunch of other things. I first read about it in a brief article in the Sept 2008 National Geographic.

Think how handy it would be to compare an orange at 100 or a tangerines at 93 with canned sweetened mandarin oranges (haven't found a score for them yet, but I'm betting it's quite a bit lower). Or to compare your Wheatena at 91 with Wheaties at 28. Or Captain Crunch at 10. (Not that I'm admitting to eating it regularly.)

Sure, some of this you could kind of guess on your own. But this really makes it easy to compare. They're trying to get grocery stores everywhere to use it. I would love to see this implemented.

You can read scores for quite a few things already at

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Health Myths Debunked Here

SUMMARY: A public service announcement with an agility slant.

While we bate our breaths in anticipation of tomorrow morning's appointment at the car repair facility--whereat I will also receive probably a RAV4 as a rental car for hauling dogs around in--I bring to you some useful agility news from Consumer Reports on Health.

This month's (March 2009) issue's cover story is "Accepted medical advice that misses the mark." Try these on for size, you dog-agility readerships out there.

1)You need to drink the eight 8-ounce cups of water a day. Fah! False! CROH says "that erroneous advice seems to have originated some 70 years ago from a misreading of government recommendations for total fluid intake from beverages and food, not just water." (The emphasis is the mine.) (Several people seem to be using the the recently, so I'm going with it.) Even the Weight Watchers (with whom I am intimately familiar, thank you very much) have embraced the revised information and clarified that that liquid comes from ANY source--e.g., that orange you had from the free breakfast at the agility trial, that latte that you drank to wake you up for that 7:30 start-line lead-out (but tsk tsk no more than 1 caffeinated drink can count, because as we all know, caffeine is also a diuretic--just it's not as bad as the Conventional Wisdom has led us to believe).

2) Everyone gets enough Vitamin D. Way false!
While all you clever agility people are wearing big floppy hats and long pants and long sleeves and slathering on the sun lotion so that you can avoid the skin cancer so that you can keep doing the dog agility, you may also be cleverly depriving your bodies of Vitamin D. CROH says "Even in the sunniest climes, there's now evidence of widespread vitamin D deficiency [as a result of avoiding sun on the skin]." They (the infamous "they") have linked "a host of illnesses and conditions" to lack of de D. Including depression, cancer, osteoporosis. So, many people will need supplements. To avoid the depression that makes you think you'll never be a good agility handler and you might as well give your dogs away to any random person because they're likely to be better than your pathetic self is. Which none of us ever think, really. Am I right?

3) Stretching prevents injured or sore muscles. False also! It is now an old wives' tale, assuming that the wives are teaching aerobics and basketball and such, that has been debunked. It prevents neither. But stretching IS good for you for the limberness, the coordination, the range of motion, balance, and posture, all of which we know are critical for being the best agility handlers that we can be, although I'm not sure about posture (except how about you hunched-over little dog handlers, though?). So DO stretch, but do it AFTER exercising when your muscles are warmed up. 'Struth!

4) Arthroscopic surgery eases knee pain. False oh falso! You may all have read, as I did, about the recent study where they TOLD people that they were doing the arthroscopic knee surgery and put a little incision in the knee but didn't ACTUALLY do it, and the people got exactly the same relief as when they did the real "clean out the joint and repair the torn cartilage" thang. Now how stupid do I feel about having had arthroscopic surgery and then my knee got (mostly) better? Was I one of the test cases and they didn't tell me? And how about all those dozens of other agility people who've done the same thing? You know who you are--I talked to you all after I had my surgery and we had a whole big reunion thing there next to the agility ring. So I'm thinking, gee, maybe what fixed my knee wasn't the surgery--it was the enforced rest, the super antiinflamatories, the ice machine icing my knee constantly day and night (yes really!) for a week or more that really did the trick. So you might want to consider that instead of surgery if that's what you think you're facing to be able to keep doing the agility.

OK, the article also talks about angioplasty, flu treatment, cough syrump, dental x-rays, blood pressure, and antioxidant pills. But the agility link is not so clear there. So you'll have to go read the article yourself. Be informed!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Working On Keeping Spirits Up

SUMMARY: Because those spirits sometimes sink more than one would like.


Spent the day Thursday with mom in the hospital. She looks and sounds fine, but there are critical medical issues occurring. We were hoping that she might be home today, but I've not heard anything today at all. Thank goodness for another sister who spent Wednesday and probably most of today there.

Boost and bars and serpentines

Last night in class, we had a bunch of serpentine exercises. Boost got through most of the ones that I did with her, but that last one, grr. During the evening, I'm guessing that she knocked 2 or 3 bars per run, and these are sequences of no more than 14 obstacles. Not promising for getting that jumpers qualifier this weekend.

And the last serpentine was one at a very shallow angle, so the dog is taking the jumps almost parallel to her body. These are of the type that Boost always wants to run by. Well, for fun, we were timing this particular sequence because there were two ways to handle the ending--not even involving these two jumps.

Well, Boost first went past the 2nd jump a couple of times. Then she went into her alternative mode for Me No Jump, Me Run kinds of jumps: Run almost past it, then swoop in with a couple of little steps and hop over it facing almost in the opposite direction. Was driving me nuts. I tried being further behind her, further ahead of her, yelling my lungs off, telling her to Hup Hup Hup!, with assorted advice from instructor and classmates. Every. Bloody. Time. You'd think that after all those repetitions she'd figure out where we were going and adjust her path. But no.

I took a break, let some other dogs run, tried again. Same thing. Finally I said screw it, she's just going to do it the way she wants to do it and I'm going to try to finish the run to get the time on the last part. Well, I tried so hard to get to where I wanted to be and get her over the jump also, that I crashed backwards through the side of a heavy wood-winged jump with the built-in metal ground bar, and somehow my hand ended up beneath me.

Nothing broken, near as I could tell (jump or bodily parts), but the thumb hurt enough that all I wanted to do was to get home and ice it. Put the dogs in the car, downed some NSAIDs, and headed home. Turns out that ice on my thumb was more painful than the injury. Don't know why it helps so much on a sore knee but not the thumb--not enough flesh to absorb the cold?

Waking up today, I'm also thoroughly bruised on my opposite arm, although I don't even exactly remember hitting anything with that arm.

I hope things go better tomorrow in Santa Rosa...


...Oh, the snow level's now supposed to be down around 1,000 feet "in snow country"; Santa Rosa isn't, really, but it's at about 350 feet. Could we have a White Agilitymas? That would be cool. I mean...really really really cool... like, guess I should pack my long down coat.


Spent two hours today trying to solve the issue of why I could send email up until 9:25 this morning but not after that. An hour and a quarter with AT&T (service provider), 5 different people, and they said it's not their problem and I finally believed them and hung up. Except that they basically run their service through yahoo (I'm not entirely clear on the concept), and it's apparently yahoo's AT&T servers that are giving me the problem, and their online help covers a lot of ground but not the ground in which my problem is growing roots. (OK, give me a break, I'm coming up with metaphors in a rush here.) Problem is not solved. Have to copy and paste everything I want to send into a rudimentary web email facility to get it to go out. Well, at least I can *get* email. Or... I was, before I started fixing things. Hmm, nothing has arrived in several hours. AM I getting email still?

I hate computers.


I'm a Christmaholic. Usually can't get enough of it. I have tens of thousands of lights in boxes in my garage that are not going up this year. I have a couple dozen boxes of Christmas ornaments and gewgaws and decor in my attic, only some of which will make an appearance this year. I have an entire 60-disk CD case that is filled to overflowing (as in, maybe should get another one) with Christmas music. Love it love it love it. Have more Christmas CDs than all other kinds of music put together. I will listen to all of them, sometimes multiple times. Deck us all with dogs and dog hair, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-laaaaa-laaaaaaaah!

I turned it on about half an hour into my journey through AT&T's support system to try to remind me to keep the holiday spirit. Not sure it helped. Made it harder to understand what they were saying, sometimes, which was maybe not a bad thing.

Dogs pretty much ignore the music, unless I sing along, which disturbs them greatly. At least, having all girl dogs these days, I don't have to worry about what alternative uses they might conceive of for my lovely Christmas tree, whose twinkling lights I can see above my computer monitor. Yay Christmas!

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Weight Just A Minute

SUMMARY: Everyone's now on a diet.

Went to look up how much my dogs weighed most recently. Huh. Haven't weighed them in almost a year, since before last Scottsdale. Weird. Used to weigh them at least once a month. Wonder how I've not managed to remember to do it for 10 months? I often stick my fingers into the fur to feel the ribs and backbone, and I always THINK it feels OK.

But, look! Tika is 4 pounds heavier than her normal weight for years! That would be like me putting on 15 pounds! (Speaking of which--I'm *almost* back down to where I was last November after a couple of bad months in December and February.) No wonder she's slowing down. Poor girlie. OK, no extra quarter-cup of food in the morning for HER.

And Boost is up about 2 pounds. That would be akin to 7 pounds on my petite girlish figure.

My petite girlish figure. Wait! What's that on my neck?! Where's that smooth girlish neck I had yesterday?

Tika's petite girlish figure. Does this dog look rotund to you?

Of course you can't tell by looking! Because her fur is really dense and about 3 feet deep!

Boost's petite girlish figure. At least one of her sisters is about 10 pounds lighter, but I think this dog would dry up and blow away at that weight!

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Sunday, November 18, 2007


SUMMARY: Global warming! Fer shure!

My lawn has mostly died this year. I don't know why. I think I've watered it the same as I always do. The parts that have survived, even thrived, are the parts that I majorly resodded in the summer of 2005. The rest has simply been working at withering away with the faintest of grassy sighs.

It's November 18, and I still haven't turned on the furnace. I can't remember any year where I wasn't feeling chilled through to the bone in the mornings by the end of October and so turned on the switch that began funnelling my funds directly to Pacific Gas & Electric. Very odd.

Of course, I haven't had any other year where hot flashes have run rampant through my body. Thought they were gone, for a couple of months there, but now it's Return of the Hot Flash, or perhaps Son of Hot Flashes, or, at times, Hot Flash Meets Godzilla. Lately, I spend half the bits and pieces...curled in a fetal position under a doubled-up down comforter (excuse me--duvet--), praying that my feet will warm up so I can get to sleep, and the remaining bits and pieces with only a token corner of the duvet pulled over my nether region (to maintain a semblance of decency in case the dogs look my way) while my sweaty arms and legs dangle outwards in random directions, hoping for a cool breeze.

It sounds awful, don'it? but in fact I don't for the most part find it as infuriating as other people seem to. I may talk to my MD about it the next time I go in, as it can be a might disruptive at times, but mostly it's just something that goes on in the background of the rest of my life and I deal with it sans conscious effort. In some ways, it's like having a standard transmission: At first, every start and shift is a challenge to manage, but gradually you get to where you just do it without even thinking about it.

And, if that's what allows me to keep the furnace turned off and more cash in my pockets, well, heck, yeah!

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

No, Me Go!

SUMMARY: In which Boost won't take a treat but nearly takes my hand off.

Last Thursday's class found Boost almost over the top, after no class for the preceding two weeks and no agility trials (just the Fun Match) to really take the edge off.

When she did her first Aframe, and it was a really nice 2o/2o contact, I ducked in to hand her a nummy treat, and she just ignored me, staring straight ahead. Nancy calls this the "No, me go!" behavior, which makes me laugh. Me have brain, me use brain simple thoughts, me Border Collie, me no eat--me go! So I have to insist, "No, you take treat!"--that she take the reward I'm offering to emphasize that (a) I'm scripting the show (b) it is a reward, dammit. Then she takes it realllllllly slowly, barely moving her head, eyes fixated straight ahead. I have no idea whether she's swallowed it.

She will, however, always take a toy reward. (Such as playing tug-o-war while holding her rear feet on the contact.) She LOVES her toy reward. She will go NUTS for a toy reward. I need to go back to rewarding her (with a toy & play) for taking treat rewards, since I need the option of using either in different situations.

(In the early part of that class, she panicked about something. We never did figure out what it was. Lasted about 10 minutes. Eventually calmed down and went back to work.)

Fast forward to last night. After Tika's class, I was beat and my knee was acting up, but Puppy had been in her crate for almost 2 hours and as usual I try to get her out just to do a couple of tunnels and weaves before Lights Out on Power Paws field and we head home for another half hour in the car. She was, once again, over the top. (She puts up quite a fuss in the car at times during Tika's class. I keep trying to leave the door open but eventually have to close it to shut her up or at least mute the noise.)

I did a wee bit of warm up, then led out and put her through a chute to practice calling her into a sharp turn after coming through the fabric. She went wide, but did come in to my right side and I rewarded her with the Riot Tug from my right hand. Don't remember whether I kept the toy in my hand or threw it, but I think I threw it. Now, repeat, with the intention this time of continuing to the weaves. She blasts out of the chute, turns sharply to come in towards my right side, and I step forward with right arm and leg (toy clenched in right hand) towards the weaves, and she came past at 90 miles an hour and snapped onto my hand. The pain--was tremendous--

She didn't keep holding--in fact I think I heard her teeth snap shut as she landed about 5 feet beyond me, but I was way too overwhelmed to really think about it. A couple of classmates came running over--from the far side of the field, they had heard a snap and thought it was my knee again. I thought maybe she'd broken my hand, but then realized I could move it fine, and in fact had barely even broken the skin in one spot. But it still really hurt. A little bump raised just under the skin, so I thought she'd broken a blood vessel.

They thought I should ice my hand; were afraid that I had broken it anyway and not realized it, but by the time I left a few minutes later, I could use my Monty Python voice to assure them it was only a flesh wound.

But this morning there's almost no pain at all, and just a little lump, right on top of the tendon going to my middle finger. I'm thinking that she must have hit directly on a nerve for it to hurt so much at the time and yet have so little to show for it the next day.

Dang toy-motivated dogs. Well, it IS darker on the field than she's used to, and she probably couldn't see very clearly...and she LOVES her toy reward...

Anyway, class today, we'll see how she does with everything.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Of Mice and Women

SUMMARY: Boost finds a mouse but we can't catch it. Plums are pretty much gone and I'm glad. In a barely related story, menopause is now hip.

Three evenings ago, while I was (as usual) at the computer, Boost started her "Alert! Something is weird and out of place!" bark, except this time it was in the kitchen, not the yard, and she was staring at the microwave. I couldn't figure out what it might be. There was nothing out of place--the cover was off the toaster, but it often is; there was a loaf of bread on the counter but it had been there for a week; the lid was off the teakettle but I doubted that she could even see that.

So I went back to work and, a couple of minutes later, the alarm-barker went off again. I walked along the counter, touching stuff, to see whether she seemed particularly interested in anything, but nooo--as soon as I came into the room, she just went into "Hi, mom!" mode instead of helping me figure out what her britches were in a bunch about, which is what she usually does on an alarm-bark.

Back to the computer. Another alarm-bark. This time I picked her up and walked her along next to the counter so that she could see what was there. She seemed intrigued at the idea of being able to see what was there and felt inclined for a real close look, but nothing along the lines of cautious worry that she exhibits for other causes of alarm.

So I put her down, and she's looking at me cheerily, and Tika is buzzing around noisily at all the commotion, and I'm standing there, leaning on the counter, asking The Booster what on earth she's going on about, when of a sudden I think I hear something in the cabinet next to me. Just the tiniest of whispery sounds, and gone again. I managed to get the dogs into down-stays so that their jangling and toenails didn't interfere, and stood there and listened. After a minute, there it was again, a teeny whisper. Mouse in the wall? With all the rodents we've had around lately, it could be. And then came the distinct (but very quiet) sound of tiny toothers chewing cellophane.

I stepped to the front of the cabinet (the one over the microwave, which on the counter) and yanked open the door. Silence. I scanned the shelves. There was a package of spaghetti on the bottom shelf, in cellophane. I reached in and started to move it, and Zam Zoom! A little furry body plunged past me out of the cabinet, across the microwave, onto the counter, across the stove, and down the gap next to the fridge, all in the time I was still trying to form the thought "Eek!" and coming down out of the air.

Now, I am not an eeky person and I am not afraid of rodents. But from a still, silent cabinet, having a creature launch itself at you abruptly is more than startling.

Meanwhile, the dogs are watching me curiously (my body having hidden the cabinet from their view and the rest of the activity up out of their sight). I told Boost she was a good girl and went exploring. Sure enough, mouse droppings under the sink. (There seems to be some unwritten mousey law that, when invading a kitchen, you must deposit droppings beneath the sink.) I cleaned all that out and put mousetraps there and between the fridge and the stove. To no avail, apparently.

Which brings us to plums.

It has been plum season for about the last 3 weeks.I've harvested and eaten as many as I could, gave quite a few away, made two separate batches of plum sorbet (mmmMMM! but it still uses only a handful of plums), and picked up zillions from the ground day after day and tossed their squashed bodies into the compost bins.

This, however, is where I keenly feel Jake's absence. He was a profligate plum eater, and as you might imagine, this worked wonders for loosening up his intestinal fortitude. And he had the most luxurious petticoats on his back legs and long silky hair on his tail, and in plum season I spent a prodigious amount of time hosing him down and letting him out in the middle of night to answer the call of the bowels.

This year, there's no Jake, and the current dogs seem far less enamoured of the purple fruit. Except that in the last few days, Boost seems to have discovered the joys of decaying plummage. So now I've been letting *her* out in the middle of the night.

Last night, it was twice, and the second time, I couldn't get back to sleep. Lying there comfortably, thinking about nothing in particular, but wide awake. (With the occasional hot flash to keep me entertained kicking off the sheets and pulling them back up again.) I finally got up and went downstairs to settle at my favorite putting-my-brain-to-sleep station at the kitchen table. Made myself a nice hot chocolate and started a crossword puzzle. The dogs, of course, had gone back upstairs to bed and by all accounts were quite comfy there.

Then, out of my peripheral vision, I detected motion. Glanced to one side just fast enough to see a mouse vanish under the fridge. I cursed silently and went back to my crossword. A few minutes later, the dang thing skittered from the fridge to under the stove. A few minutes later, it skittered from there back along the wall.

OK, this was NOT relaxing. And why wasn't the dang thing kindly throwing himself upon the mercy of the mousetraps? And what could I do about it in the meantime? I debated getting the dogs and trying to chase the mouse out from under something, but who knows where he'd be by the time I came downstairs, and even if I could convince the dogs to take part and I could flush him out, I figured that my renter/housemate might not appreciate my efforts at 3 in the morning. So, unrelaxed, I returned to bed.

I did, eventually, fall asleep, along about dawn. The dogs let me sleep til 9, which is very late for me (but there's the warped benefit of letting them out in the middle of the night--they were prepared to hold anything further until much later in the day). At which point I got up, enjoyed a liesurely breakfast while reading the paper, and was amused to see (just a few days after posting my Cold Flashes blog) an article saying that it's now apparently the cool factor to be in menopause and suffering from hot flashes. And how, even 5 years ago, no one ever talked about them in public (well, I know that's not strictly true), but now women yak about them to anyone and turn them into social clubs, so that nonmenopausal women feel left out in the cold (so to speak). And, perish the thought, hot flashing women even BLOG PUBLICLY about these previously very personal issues! The nerve!

But, if those left-out-feeling women are looking for something else to do with their time while us in the In crowd are putting on our fleece sweater, taking it off, putting it on, taking it off, they're welcome to come by and clean up old rotting plums from my garden and herd the mice out of my kitchen so I can have a good night's sleep.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Things They Don't Tell You #57: Cold Flashes

SUMMARY: Menopause mysteries

And now another digression from dogs per se.

I know that I've been having hot flashes lately (or "warming trends" or "torsal warming" or other euphemisms). On the other hand--the weather has been warming up and, with temps often into the 80s, it's sometimes hard to say whether I'm indeed having a hot flash or have merely exerted myself just enough, somehow, to break into a sweat and start tearing clothing off left, right, up, and down. But sometimes it's very obvious that it's a hot flash.

I've heard about hot flashes for many years. I've expected them.

But, now, here are some anomalies:
  • We've been out hiking on a warm day and my metabolism (of recent years with more activity, anyway) generally keeps my body temperature at a reasonable level. We go into a restaurant for lunch. I am suddenly so cold that I think the air conditioning must be on full blast, and I go back out to the car to get my fleece sweater, put it on (it's still hot outside), and return to the table. Within minutes, I'm no longer cold, I remove the sweater, and I'm good for the rest of the meal's hour.
  • I'm in agility class. We're running (literally) around in our Hawaiian shirts, it's so warm, plus it's Jimmy Buffet night. It's warm. I gradually realize that I'm so cold that my fingers have become numb enough that I can't really handle small dog treats comfortably. I complain about it cooling off, and they look at me like I'm nuts. I hold up my fingers for a friend to feel, and she's floored at how cold they are. Five minutes later, I'm fine and comfortable in shirt sleeves like the rest of them.
  • At night, I'm lying comfortably in bed. Then it becomes very, very cold. I've got the down comforter pulled up around me and I still can't get warm. Twenty minutes later, I'm fine again.
  • Many assorted episodes like this, and I jokingly comment that I'm not really experiencing hot flashes--I'm xperiencing cold flashes and the rest of the time just FEELS like hot flashes in comparison.
  • So here it is, a pretty warm day. I've been pretty active off and on all day, often in the sun. Sometimes I'm really hot for no apparent reason--then just merely warm (that would be a hot flash). But about 20 minutes ago, I started feeling so cold that I went upstairs to put on my sweater, thinking, "good, it's cooling down this evening." I walk past a thermometer: It's 80 degrees in my house. Five minutes later, I peel off the sweater.

SOOOO it occurs to me to google "cold flashes". Sure enough! The web is filled with people saying, "thank the gods, it's not just me, I'd never heard of cold flashes before, but now I see that other people are experiencing it, too!"

So there ya go, ladies (and interested gentlemen): it could be cold flashes along with the hot. What joy! What entertainment! Maybe I just never listened to friends and relatives when they told me they were having cold flashes? Dunno. Anyway--there you have it.


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Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Booster

SUMMARY: Weaves, Jumping, and Weight.

I've been concentrating--CONCENTRATING, I tell you!--on weave entries and staying in the weaves. She's been doing great for the last week and a half at home. That one session in class on the 10th (where the instructor made the whole set of weaves vanish except for 3 poles and then she finally figured out that they had vanished and then on the next try made the entry) seems to have taken her back to Weaving Brain Land, and she's doing some fabulous work. Then--we had NO weaving opportunities in class this week!

However--we proved in class that we can't do rear crosses worth beans, we can't do serpentines worth beans, we can't do pinwheels worth beans--although I blame the last on the fact that the 1-2 of the pinwheel put her facing right into the weaves, and since we've been practicing those so much...

So I'm supposed to be setting up jumping sequences here at home. But that pretty much means moving everything out of the way, and that's a real chore, so I haven't. But tomorrow, I promise.

Meanwhile, The Booster got her annual checkup this week. The vet, all of his own accord, suggested that she could take 2-4 pounds off. The vet! You KNOW she's too heavy when the vet suggests it. (Although he did comment that her rear legs are packed with awesome muscles (or words to that effect).) I think there are enough of us doing agility now to have trained him into what we think an agility dog in peak form needs to feel like. In the old days, I think she'd have been so slim compared so most of the pet dogs he usually sees that he might never have said a thing.

Remember I had asked a couple of people to check her a couple of months ago because I felt that she had an extra layer of flesh where there shouldn't be any, and they agreed? I've cut her meal portions back a couple of times--more each time--since then. It doesn't seem to be making any difference. Dang. With Tika, if I cut back a quarter cup, I see the difference very quickly. I'm pondering what else to do...

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Poo Dog, Poor Dog, Pooped Mom, and Weekend

SUMMARY: Boost's habit of rolling in smelly stuff; Tika's anal glands; my hip & knee; more USDAA coming right up.

Poo Dog

Boost's only major flaw is her propensity for rolling in what some, more particular, people might refer to as "poo". Tika's in most particular. The first couple of times she did it, I was properly horrified, rushed her carefully upstairs into the shower, and gave her a nice bath with warm water and gentle shampoo and all that. The next three thousand times--ferget it. It's the hose in the back yard, with the nozzle set to "shower." Even though she loves to play with the hose spray when it's play time, she's not so keen on the hose dominating the interaction for however long it takes to remove the noisome globs of offensive material.

The other evening, I spent 3 hours down at city hall to try to ensure that dogs like her can continue to be born--San Jose is considering adopting a new animal ordinance that includes limiting litters to one per female per lifetime unless you're a Commercial Kennel, in which case all kinds of inspections and regulations and licensing fees and restrictions such as "must not occur within 250 feet of another dwelling" apply. Since Boost is from her mom's second litter, she might not have been born if such an ordinance had existed. (Maybe more on that topic some other time.) However, sometimes I wonder--

When I got home--late--long council meeting--she greeted me very briefly albeit enthusiastically at the door and then vanished. I didn't think about it while I had a soft drink and talked to my housemate and scritched Tika a bunch, but then realized that Boost had not been around. I went looking to see where she was, and she was lying in the cubby under my desk. Huh, thought I, that's really weird; why is she hiding? "Booster," said I, "why are you hiding under my desk?" She put her ears back, tipped her tail briefly, and scootched back into the dark recesses among the computer cables as far as she could.

My fatigued mind began to make connections. "Oh, you didn't--" I reached under and put my hand in her collar, and felt--something--on her face that shouldn't have been there. I started to withdraw my hand and I didn't have to take it very far before the odor confirmed my dawning suspicion.

I had thought for quite a while that it was my tone of voice or body language when I saw that she had enpooed herself that would make her turn and run, but in this case I had had no clue until after she had already turned, and run, and hid. So she has clearly made the association between being covered with poo and getting hosed off. And yet--and yet--she cannot help herself! It's like the worst kinds of addictions! You rue it after you're done, but the next time the temptation occurs, whammo! there you are indulging once again.

Poor Dog

Over the last 3 or 4 weeks, Tika has been licking more and more insistently at her anal area. Not all the time, but when she begins, she doesn't want to stop. I thought it might be her anal glands, but since I've never had to deal with them before (only one of my 6 dogs ever needed help emptying them, and then the vet had to do it), I really didn't know what I was looking for. Plus she's extremely sensitive about being touched anywhere except in a petting sort of mode (which makes going to the vet a major source of traumatic stress disorder right on the spot). Plus she can lock her little remaining tailbone down over her netherlands so tightly that a hydraulic jack couldn't lift it. Plus all that thick, thick fur.

I finally decided that something had to be done since it was obviously bothering her. So I took her to the vet, along with a clicker and a huge bag of cut-up goodies. Did a lot of tricks and lying down and settling and stuff in the waiting room, and every time I'd go for another handful of goodies, she'd throw herself against the exit door, desperately trying to escape. Her respiration rate doubles or triples--and for Tika the always-over-the-top-dog anyway, that's an accomplishment. Fortuately she's very food motivated, so as long as I had a piece in my hand, she'd hang in there. But so agitated that any attempts to get her to take it gently (read: leave fingers attached to hands) were unsuccessful.

The vet has never, ever, heard her normal heartrate. They always say it's quite elevated. But they can also see that she's about to hyperventilate and then explode from the stress. She was really very good for a dog who normally shrieks when the vet tries to look in her ears. She's never shown signs of trying to nip at anyone during this kind of ritual torture, but she is by far the most-stressed vet-visting dog I've ever had.

Anyway--her anal glands are infected. So I need to try to get some ointment under the locked-down tail twice a day, and give her an antibiotic pill twice a day, for about a week, and then take her back in two weeks for another stimulating visit.

Pooped Mom

My knee has been bothering me a bit. I try to walk normally, not favoring it. But my opposite hip has been flaring up for the last week, off and on. Feels more like something's out of alignment (my thumb sometimes does that, and if I kind of twist and yank it, then instantly it's better--but I haven't found a way to twist and yank my own hip) than merely sore. Feel like I need a chiropractor, not a doctor. Last night, by bedtime, it was so bad that I had trouble falling to sleep, and then it woke me constantly, probably every time I moved in my sleep, all night. I might have gotten 3 hours of sleep.

When I finally dragged myself downstairs around 9 a.m., it hurt with every step and I really was using the handrail to drag myself to the computer to try to find more info about chiropractic care on the Kaiser Medical web site. I sat at the computer for about half an hour, and apparently it rearranged itself during that time, because I was then able to walk, and shower, and dress, and even go to Boost's class, with only minor discomfort.

I haven't been to a chirpractor in many years--hmm, last time my hip was bothering me, in fact. Went to a new one recommended by my renter. Doctor seems nice, and competent, too. Also has 2 dogs and knows what dog agility is, which in my book is always a plus. But he didn't want to do any twisting and pulling until he had done xrays, and it was the end of the day and he was already staying late to see me, so he'll have the xrays processed over the weekend and I'll see him again Monday morning.

But meanwhile that leaves me with ice and antiinflammatories to get me through the weekend. What a pathetic body!

This weekend

Which brings me to this weekend: More USDAA. And a very rare trial in which there is not a single Tournament (national qualifier) class. Just double everything except Relay.

I've managed to work on Boost's weaves only once so far this week. Who knows what the weekend will bring. The scary thought is that she *could* get 2 more standard, or 2 more Snooker, or one more gamblers, this weekend, and move up to Masters in any of those. We are SO not ready. Her AAD (intermediate title--Advanced Agility Dog) requires just 2 Standard, a jumpers, and a relay. We are so so SO not ready for masters. But if she keeps failing to do weaves, the standards aren't likely to come any time soon. On the other hand, if she has fits of perfect weavage like she did this past weekend, we could conceivable finish that title this weekend.

Nope, don't even think about it.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Dog-related Medical/ Bereavement Web Sites

SUMMARY: Assorted useful dog-related URLs.

These are the URLs that I found in a magazine in the waiting room the first night that Jake was in the emergency room.
  • Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement
  • The magazine said that this is the ASPCA's pet medical care site, but I don't see "ASPCA" on the site anywhere. Still, looks like lots of useful info on care and health. The only bad thing is that I don't see a search function (at least not in Netscape on the Mac).
  • Dog Age calculator; apparently you have to register to use the calculator, which I haven't done.
  • care info: This site seems to have a lot of helpful articles on care and medical issues.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Health Milestones

SUMMARY: Things is lookin' good.

I realized today that, sometime in the last week, I crossed the threshold where I can now stoop or kneel to get at things in low cabinets, without pain, and get back up again (there's been the rub!) without hardly even noticing my knee. This is excellent, and it's been just 2 months and a not quite 2 weeks since my surgery.

The flu thing I think is mostly past, although the cough lingers. Today's the first day all week that I haven't still been very droopy and low-energy and needing to nap or at least lie down and rest for a while. And I think last night was the first night in at least 2 weeks that coughing wasn't an issue during the night. Huzzah!

Now if only I'd keep up on that exercycle work I keep promising I'd do--

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