Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I think I might actually be a snowbird at heart.

Even though we aren’t ski racing this winter, I’m still getting all the ski race training updates (once you are on the email list, I think you are on for life). And while Utah is getting pounded with snow (have I mentioned yet that I am getting snow reports from our friends, and I don’t miss the snow AT ALL?), Park City Mountain Resort has not yet opened up the race arena. Which would be where all the racers train. So, they’ve got the first races of the season this weekend (the 3-4th), and the only gate training people will get is two days from 7:30-9am (before the resort opens) on a hill that will be shared with 5 other teams. Which translates to sheer and utter mayhem at best, and often dangerous conditions.

Did I mention that I don’t miss the ski racing thing at all? And the standing around in a lycra suit in sub freezing temperatures not counting wind chill part of things? Not missing that part, either!

It’s supposed to be 75 today. With the wind, it won’t feel that warm, and maybe it won’t even get up into the 70s – maybe it’ll only be in the mid 60s. But we’ve got clear blue skies, and if you’re in the sun, it is downright toasty. This is EXACTLY what I was hoping for when we moved down here. I could pass on the wind; cycling in the wind = not so much fun, but beyond that I’m happy as a clam.

And on that note, I’m going to go sit on the couch in the sun with the puppy.

Oh , and my 10-word New Year’s Resolutions? Walk the dog every day and sometimes fold the laundy. *grin.

Happy New Year’s everyone!

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm a running fool. Or something.

I’ve taken up running. Well, let’s be fair and call it jogging. Or lets be really honest and call it “something slightly faster than a slow walk”.

Why, you ask? Especially when I hate it?, it’s hard on the joints, I don’t particularly enjoy it, and I’ve got a couple of fancy-schmancy bicycles just begging to be ridden?

Well, see, we’ve got this puppy. And said puppy is now about 5 months old, and, how shall we say, rambunctious. And while our motorhome is larger than some apartments/dorm rooms I’ve lived in, it’s not quite big enough for a growing puppy to wear herself out. Yes, we walk her, but that’s walking; she’s learning to walk on a leash, and kind of learning how to behave around other people and dogs. And we throw things for her to chase around the motorhome, but there’s not a fenced off area at the RV park to let her loose (we are working on an electronic fence system, but that’s not fool-proof), and while she’s getting better with voice commands, there’s enough traffic around that I wouldn’t risk it.

So, the puppy needs to get out and gambol. And since one of my goals for this winter was to start to get back in shape (let’s just say that I didn’t exercise as much as I should have in the last year, and I’m (as my doctor calls it) “my larger self” (as opposed to being fat, but I think she’s just being politically correct)), I’ve started taking the puppy on jogs.

We’ve got a closed road that goes for about a mile along the Colorado River (as the road goes north, toward the dam, it is, well uphill…). So yesterday, Fi and I jogged to the end of the road and back. Yes, two whole miles. The good news is that it did wear her out. The not-so-good news is that it wore me out; too. I’ve been doing strength training and core exercises in my makeshift home gym (which actually works fairly well; and I just got in the mail a couple of books that have pilates and strength-training exercises that work specifically with an exercise ball), and some bicycling.

But bicycling isn’t running (or jogging, or doing some exercise that involves moving one’s feet at a pace that elevates one’s heart rate, and increases one’s breathing). And by the time I got done with my two whole miles, I felt like my legs were going to fall off. Seriously. So I did some stretching, and some other exercises in the hopes of being able to walk today.

And, in all fairness, I could walk today. But I was stiff (and walking up and down the stairs was kind of fun…). And it's not like it is a case of 'having parts that hurt that I didn't even know I had'; I knew I had those parts - they're just squishier than I'd like. So it's good that these parts are sore. But wow, I didn't realize quite how squishy those parts are...

So after cleaning the motorhome (it’s Monday, so it’s time to vacuum, dust, do laundry, change the sheets – oh, wait, that activity was prompted by the cat tracking kitty litter into the bed – and wash blankets – oh wait, that activity was prompted by the cat puking on one of the blankets last night), Fi and I went out again. It’s in the low 60’s but there’s a bit of a breeze (and by that I mean a steady 10mph from the north) so I got dressed and off we went.

I have no idea how fast we go. Based on how I feel, and what I remember from the treadmill, I’m probably plodding along at 4 mph. And given that Fiona wants to go about 10 mph, it’s quite entertaining. Actually, that’s not true. Once she settles down (it takes her about 200 yards to realize that we really are moving slightly fast than a walk, and that it’s okay to put her nose into the wind and go), she actually ‘jogs’ pretty well. She’s moving at no faster than a trot for her, but, frankly, it’s as fast as I can go right now. I keep assuring her that as I get in better shape, she’ll be able to go faster. As it is right now, she keeps looking at me, like “Mom, why won’t you let me run And why am I dragging this 140ish (haven’t stepped on a scale in months, and won’t for many more months) lump behind me? I could go SOO MUCH FASTER if you’d drop the leash”.

Anyway, because this is good for Fi (and me), this is going to be a daily routine. I’ve got new running shoes coming in (my heels were KILLING me yesterday evening… old shoes = no good) tomorrow, and I’m hoping that in another week or so, we’ll be able to up the distance (we can go about another mile in the other direction without having too many traffic issues) – although I don’t ever see jogging more than 4-5 miles at a time. Right now, the 2 is killing me.

But anything for the puppy, right?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa's New Towing Vehicle

It is a widely known fact that I’m crazy. Or at least was probably dropped on my head a few times as a child.

Because I decided that I’d rather go to the grocery store today than on Friday.

Okay, so people forget things, and sometimes you have to go to the grocery store the day before Christmas. You just grit your teeth and do it. Me? If you take as a given that I hate this grocery store with the intensity of ten-thousand fire ants discovering lunch, I can honestly say that I enjoyed the trip to the store today.

Yeah. That’s why I mentioned having been dropped on the head one or more times.

But really. In a store that is always crowded, and where I can never find anything, at least today the store was filled with people who (for the most part) weren’t surly, but were actually polite. People apologized when then ran into me with their carts, tried to make room for 3 carts in a clearly-2-cart-aisle, and actually smiled at me when we were playing chicken near the meat coolers. People were cheery. I guess it’s like what hell would be like if you were with a bunch of strangers who knew that it would only last for 45 minutes, and you’d never see these people again.


Really, it wasn’t bad.

And the best part? For some reason, I have a really tough time finding where I’ve parked my car. I blame this on my mother. I have a psychiatrist, so therefore I can blame things on my mother. Not being able to locate a car in a parking lot is clearly a trait I’ve inherited from my mother. But today? No worries.

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By drliz

I just had to look for the antlers!

(No, the antlers weren't on my car; my car is the front fender you see in the lower right hand section of the picture. This truck pulled in right after I did, and I was REALLY hoping that she'd stay until I left (so I could find the car....)...)


Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Glad Solstice to all! I’m off to wrap presents (my family doesn’t do the whole-family-minus-Gary-and-Liz-who-are-too-far-away-and-couldn’t-handle-all-the-little-kids-anyway Christmas thing until January, so I’ve got plenty of time!) and see about dinner.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The home gym gets put to the test, Day One.

Today was Day 1 with the ‘home gym’ (all sort of relative, given that the home is a motorhome, and the gym is a couple of resistance bands, an exercise ball, a set of weights (3, 5 and 8 lbs), a 10lb medicine ball and 2 ‘poofy things’ (small half balls that are called something clever, but I have always referred to as ‘poofy things’). The exercise ball goes without saying; a zillion different variations on crunches, core strengthening and balance stuff. The weights tie in, as I use weight on the ball, and the resistance bands are mostly for lower body stuff (the weights being upper body stuff, and the poofy things being more balance stuff while doing weights…).

I haven’t really used resistance bands before, and I’m not sure what I think of them yet. My legs were tired when I was done doing various exercises, and my right leg (the leg that had knee surgery years after the injury, and is thus forever just-so-barely permanently atrophied) is certainly weaker than the left. After 1000 miles of cycling, it’s hard to tell a difference (not just visually, which it’s hard to tell anyway, but strength-wise). Looking at my Garmin, I’ve got about 893 miles to go. Unfortunately, it’s raining, and is supposed to rain for the next 3 days, so I don’t think I’ll be making a dent in the 1000 miles…. Which gets us back to the home gym….

It’s a bit of a trick finding room in the motorhome to actually find space to workout. I have decided, however, on the space in the kitchen. If you are standing where I workout, this is what the front of the motorhome looks like:
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By drliz

Did I mention that I’m not much of a housekeeper? Yeah…. Well. With a little reorganization (mostly moving dog beds), I’ve managed to eek out a space where I can stretch out (although I do have to position myself on the vertical or horizontal axis, based on the exercise…). Unfortunately, I often find myself in Prime Puppy-Face-Licking Position. Try motivating yourself to do crunches when you’ve got a 37lb. beast trying to lick your face off.

So there’s a lot of stopping and starting. Between the puppy, the sick husband requesting tea (we rode yesterday morning, early, so he wouldn’t miss his football games, and he didn’t dress for the fact that it was 55 degrees out…. Now he’s coughing and hacking….. at least he KNOWS he’s a dumbass…. Still, he’d better get healthy by the time the rain lets up), and the old doggie trying new and varying assault tactics on the ‘cat house’(a cupboard under the kitchen sink, where the cat’s food and water are, and his ‘fortress’) it’s not a truly ‘focused’ environment, but on the other hand, I don’t feel the inherent guilt of avoiding my family when I work out. So…. I guess the puppy-licks and requests for tea are a fair trade off.

And tomorrow, we’ll see if I feel the new exercises. Given that I’m starting basically from scratch (i.e. no muscle tone whatsoever…. *sigh), I should feel SOMETHING. If not, I’ll try some other exercises and see if that works. Still, I’m sure that I’ll feel better than just sitting around, watching the rain, reading, and watching Law and Order re-runs….

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Ticket to the Moon"

Heh. I really do amuse myself easily.

I think.

The husband has been working away on his guitar practice (we’ve got a small-scale, but full-blown recording studio in the motorhome, and he can hook his electric guitar, or base, or whatever into the ‘stuff’ (he’s got some high-tech equipment…. Don’t ask me…) and all I hear is the twanging of the string, while through his headphones he hears the fully amplified sound. Meaning I don’t hear the full electric guitar. Which is good, as 42’ is a bit small to share with an electric guitar being played 5+ hours a day.

However, the twanging of the strings is still a bit much when you’re trying to wrestle time travel into fiction. Simple solution? I listen to music. Hell, I wrote my entire dissertation while listening to the Gladiator soundtrack (and lemme tell ya, I think Hans Zimmer is mighty lucky that copyrights only last for so long, because if I was Holst, I’d be finding myself an intellectual property attorney….). Fine. Unfortunately, the computer that held the last 3 years of my music suffered catastrophic failure this spring, and I lost all of my 80’s classic, the Gladiator soundtrack, and much of the showtune music that I’ve managed to collect. The plus is that some of it can be replaced by tracking down the CD’s and reinstalling them on iTunes. The non-plus side is that the rest of the music is on iTunes, and they are a bit cranky about retrieving purchased music.

So, I’ve used this as an excuse to add new music. (Or old music, as the case may; I seem to have pretty much lost touch with music after about 1991…..) And I’ve re-found a few old favorites. Include (yes, it’s true), the ELO album, ‘Time’. I was listening to bits of it, and commented to the husband that I used to listen to this in the early 80s, as I sat in the back bedroom, playing pinball on our Apple II computer. He immediately disputed my sense of time, certain that the Apple II (+, actually) came out much later than that, and that IBM had come out with their PC first.

After a Google/Wikipedia search (which defines truth these days, right?!?), I was able to prove to him that I was playing David’s Midnight Magic on our Apple II + in 1982, and that the ‘portable’ Compaq didn’t come out until 1983. *so there!*

Gah. I’m old. I played Pong. I mean, I actually remember PLAYING pong. Competitively.

And so I won the argument. Neener, neener. But, gah. I’m OLD. I don’t even know how to make my Sims behave. I’m old.

All that said, I’ve got some music I can listen to that will drown out background noise, and let me fouse on attempting to write. (Although if this is all I’ve got to, maybe I should go back to building databases for fun and profit…. But mostly fun… Which is even more sad. “My name is Dr. Liz, and I am a nerd.” (And I mean no disrespect to anyone by that. Srsly.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

I can SEE why they sell liquor at the pharmacy,

Okay, it’s time that I face facts: I’m a snob. Hush, those of you who have known me for years. This isn’t a revelation to me, I’m just more of aware of it sometimes than others. Today just happened to be one of those days….

I was at The Pharmacy of Death ™ this afternoon, and in walks this couple.

Wait, I should back up a few. After a really awful summer, with Awful Things happening, the husband and I decided to take a winter off, and move the RV, the cat, the dogs and ourselves to Arizona for the winter. We had been looking at a variety of ‘snowbird’ destinations in California and Arizona when Gary’s aunt told us that we HAD to go to Fox’s Pierpoint in Parker, Arizona. She and her husband had been going there for literally decades until he passed away last year. So, going on nothing other than the aunt’s recommendation, I made a few phone calls, got a season-long reservation, and we officially became snowbirds. (Except for the fact that neither of us has grey hair, plays bingo, or owns our own golf cart, that is.)

Anyhoo,I made some calls to make sure that we are not ending up in some half-horse town like we did this summer (Stanley, ID, which, I might add, is a place we are going to return to, hopefully every summer, for at least a few weeks, because the place is breathtakingly gorgeous; it’s about a mile down the road from The Middle of Nowhere. The town has a bunch of river rafting/kayaking shops, one grocery store, 3 bars, and an odd little shop that seemed to be a general store of sorts, but always had really fresh lettuce – surprising, particularly in comparison to the rest of the produce. Anyway, no pharmacy, no hospital, no vet; if you needed help you could drive to Sun Valley (40 miles away), or, in case of drastic emergency, get life-flighted out of there. In spite of all of that, it is a gorgeous place, with fantastic mountain biking.) I determined that Parker had a ‘real’ grocery store (I say that now with regret and dismay; I hate Safeway with the intensity of a thousand suns), a ‘real’ pharmacy (to henceforth be known as The Pharmacy of Death ™, for reasons that will be explained shortly), and a vet. It all sounded good; all of our requirements were met, and we were golden.

And believe me, I was feeling all smug-like; not only had I found us season-long site (they were getting scarce in November), but I had located all the important amenities. I had even figured out how to get everything that we couldn’t get there shipped to us. We were so set, and this was going to be the most stress-free trip ever.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes those companies put more in the herbal tea than they are letting on? Or maybe that’s just me…. *ahem.

I’ll leave all the fun of actually getting here, finding our spot, and not having phone service or internet service for another time. Because I really need to meander my way back to The Pharmacy of Death™.

So after we’ve been in Parker for a day, I decide to go into town and drop off the, oh, let’s round down, and say 30 prescriptions that my husband has at the local ‘full service’ pharmacy. This is a big chain pharmacy, and they sell everything from nail polish to liquor. No, really. Apparently, in Arizona, pretty much anyone can sell liquor…. Seriously, I think the lady selling tamales outside of Safeway probably has a liquor license. Okay, maybe she doesn’t, but, well, I digress. I go to the counter of the actual pharmacy, and stand in line while the 2 people ahead of me (actually 3, because one of them had taken a seat – understandably, as I was to later see), are waited on. Much like the Post Office, there are 3 ‘Prescription Drop-Off’ counters , 8 people working behind the counter, and only one person actually serving customers. Cool.

I can’t really bitch about the amount of time that the people ahead of me spent at the counter, as the lady behind me probably plucked a piece of hair from my shirt and went home to her Do-It-Yourself Voodoo Doll Kit and has been plotting her revenge ever since. Because unlike a normal pharmacy, where you can just drop off your prescriptions, have them make a copy of your insurance card and pick up the prescriptions later, this place has the one employee hand-enter Every. Single. Prescription, while you stand there. You would think that there would be a plus to this, though. You would think. I mean, if I am standing there, explaining to the over-worked, under-paid employee, what the insurance will cover on every prescription, and when they can be filled, that the pharmacy staff would get it right. You would think.

Well, you would think wrong.

Having observed the equal level of efficiency on the “Prescription Pick-up” side of the counter, I decided to let the pharmacy take their time (since they had ALL the pertinent information), and I would waltz in, and pick up the prescriptions the next day, avoiding the interminable wait of the poor suckers who had dropped prescriptions off, and then honestly hoped to have them filled within some reasonable period of time, and were actually waiting for them. I was beginning to see why the waiting area of the pharmacy has A. Lot. Of chairs. But again, I digress.

With the woman who had been behind me in line muttering curses at me (at one point, I turned around and cheerfully pointed out that if I were her, I’d hate me; she didn’t find this funny), I left after the hour ordeal at the Prescription Drop-off counter. (Really, it was an hour. Gary has a copy of the text messages that I sent him, that start off with: “This looks like it could take a while”, then move on to: “This is death” and finally end with “I think I may scoop my eyeballs out with the Infant Medication Measuring Spoon” .)

The next day, I returned , full of confidence that I would not be one of the people doomed to the outer ring of the fifth circle of hell (devoted to those customers who have lost patience, and have finally begun hurling invectives – and Infant Medication Measuring Spoons – at the pharmacy employees), also known as the Everlasting Hell Fires of CVS).

Alas, it was not to be so. When I did get to the counter, the technician came back with a handful of paperbags. And started to ring them up; $25.00, $328.06, $197.57…. woah. I stopped her and asked her what the huge charges were for. “Well, the insurance didn’t cover these…” I sighed. No shit. The hour long discussion the day before was designed, I had hoped, to prevent this. Clearly not. So, I had to go back through the list, and explain what I needed to pick up, and what the insurance would cover.

Cool. We got it all sorted out. Except that when I left the store, I didn’t get the two prescriptions that I had explained I needed to pick up, but wouldn’t be fully covered by the insurance. Of course, being the on-top-of-it kind of person that I am, I didn’t actually notice this until I had made the 11 mile drive home. And had to deal with yet another pharmacy employee on the phone, to explain what it was that I really needed. I drove back. And in one shining moment, I actually had what I needed.

Okay. Cool. I assumed I had the system figured out; I just need to call in advance, tell them exactly what I needed, and what the insurance would/wouldn’t cover, and my life would be back to the peace and harmony that I had been hoping for.


*ahem. Clearly, I am a dumbass. Or just insane. (Isn’t the definition of insanity something like doing the same actions over and over again and expecting different results? Yeah….)

Now being an all-on-top-of-it kind of chick, I called the pharmacy yesterday, a day before I was going to pick up two prescriptions, one of which is never fully covered by the insurance (the prescription is for 30 pills/30 days; the insurance coves 14 pills for 22 days…), and explained the insurance issues. I also explained that while my husband had two prescriptions for one medication, they were actually different dosage levels, and while I had picked up the one dosage level a week ago, I wanted to pick up the other dosage level. The technician kept saying “yes, I understand”. Which is a fatal flaw in my reasoning. I SHOULD have remembered from the days in Saudi Arabia that “yes I understand” simply means “I understand you are speaking English, and I have heard these words before.” It does NOT mean “I actually understand what you want to do, and I have the ability to competently complete this task”. Again, did I mention that I’m a bit of a dumbass?

I get to the pharmacy, march confidently up to the “Pick-up” window, and am told that they have to run the prescription through the insurance, and it will be “a while.” I feel the River Styx licking at my toes. But I have grocery shopping to do (which is why I stop at the pharmacy first), so that’s fine. But since she said “the prescription” – as in singular – I remind her that I have another one. And that the insurance is only going to cover part of it, and I only want what the insurance will cover. “Okay. It will be a while.” Again… “Okay” = “I heard you. I’m not going to do anything about it, but I heard you.” Like a dumbass, I go grocery shopping.

And 45 minutes later (the grocery store is ANOTHER story…. And a first for me; the cashier rung/rang/??? (Why didn’t I pay more attention to conjugating?) up the groceries of the person behind me in line with mine. Fixing that problem was another adventure. I actually tried to just ‘give’ the lady behind me her groceries so I wouldn’t have to stand in a customer service line to get a refund, but she wouldn’t let me impart a little Christmas kindness. $31.07? Would have been worth avoiding the aggravation, but it did it kill some time. I guess. Still, I wouldn't have been crushed at avoiding that entertainment. Again, another story for another time) I go back to the Pharmacy of Death. Maybe I should rename it to Dante’s Pharmacy…. Hmm…

I wait in line, and hey! They actually have the prescription for me. Like a popped balloon, my elation whooses out of me. The. Prescription. I ask her about the other prescription. “They didn’t quite get to that yet. It’ll be a little while, still.”

And so I sit down, joining the other Damned Souls, and wait. And wait. And wait. Literally, 23 minutes later (I timed it, as, like the other lost souls, it was that, or read the tabloids; I was actually almost starting to care why Brittney was on a ‘dangerous diet’), I got the other prescription. Both of them. Woo-hoo!

*whew. And after that, I don’t have the energy to tell you about the other damned souls, and why I’m such a snob. I’ll save that for later. Time to go shoot the cat (with insulin) and see about rustling up some dinner.

All of that said, I can see why they sell liquor at the pharmacy. I'm beginning to think mainlining Wild Turkey might be the only way to survive the experience...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Eating my words.... or music, or something...

Just last night I was telling my parents what a Good Dog Fiona was, and for a puppy, she really just chews on her chew toys, I discovered this note from my husband this morning....


I spoke too soon. $150 worth of headphones down the drain (so to speak, especially as the 'missing' earpiece, uh, came out the other end of the drain this afternoon).... We're thinking of selling her to the gypsies, but if the gypsies see how much she eats, I think we'll have a hard sell.

Good thing she's a cutie!

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By drliz

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

People are strange...

Heh. I love Facebook. In the last 4 months, I’ve run into 7 people that I haven’t heard from/seen in 20+ years. One I haven’t seen since I was a freshman in highschool (maybe sometime after that? Maybe? Eh…. The brain is foggy…), and am thrilled to have found. (And no matter how vicious and unrepentant you may be, you’re still only a year older than me, so you CAN’T be ‘OLD’. Neener.)

Two, who was a best friend in high school (gods, we shared clothes for 3 years), has said hello, only to fall off the face of the planet again…. I guess you can’t go home again.

The third? Married with 2 little kids. She’s thrilled, so I’m happy for her, but really, I can’t help but cringe. Kids? Eeeesh. The dogs and cat are more than I can realistically handle. And since she pretty much documents the screaming/tantrum events of the whole child-rearing thing, well, I feel much less upset about the 37lb puppy who wants to play (and subsequently squash) with the 17-year-old, 18 lb miniature poodle; where there is much barking, baring of teeth, and moves of canine agility.

Persons number 4, 5, and 6? We were never super close friends, and so the conversation is light and in passing. i.e.

Me: “Oh? You’re having a kid. Cool. Boy or girl?”
Response: “Blah, blah, blah, blue, but yellow is good too, blah, blah, Baby Einstein, blah, blah, pre-natal,blah,blah,blah”
Me: Charlie Brown’s blank-eyed blink.

And person number 7. Not my best friend in the world, but not a passing acquaintance. Not married, and a person of a faith that requests (rather strongly) marriage sooner rather than later. She’s actually waiting to marry someone that she feels she’s got a deep personal connection with (*gee* what a concept! Not knocking her, just the predominant culture in which she lives), and not just the next returned missionary.

The funny thing, is I like getting updates from everyone, even the baby-oriented ones. I guess I like feeling like my life is more diverse than just two dogs and a cat in a motorhome. (On the other hand, I’m not so sure that there is anything wrong with a life that JUST includes two dogs a cat and a husband in a motorhome for the winter!)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Goodbye, Buddy

Personal Entry Here; just my musings.

We put Ben to sleep yesterday afternoon, and while it was painful as hell, it was the best thing we could have done for him. As I walked today, I realized that I wasn't questioning the decision AT ALL - which makes it clear to me that it was the right time, and the right decision, for us, and for him. I miss him, but I'm glad he didn't suffer.

I can honestly say, I didn’t know how I was going to deal with the actual act of putting Ben down. I had talked with David McDonald, our main vet in Park City, the day before, and he went through the process, and told me that he felt that it was probably the best way to go, to the extent that if he had incurable cancer and had lost all quality of life, he’d call his partner at the vet clinic and have him put him under. Maybe an exaggeration (maybe not!), but between that, and Gary’s comment that if we could put Ben down at a point where he was comfortable, not in excruciating pain, and not to the point that he had lost control of his bodily functions, I felt equipped to make the decision.

Actually, it was sort of tough. We didn’t know, when I took Ben in yesterday, if it was a joint pain thing, and he could get a cortisone shot, or if it was just the cancer winner. About 3am that morning, when I had carried Ben outside, I had a pretty good idea that it was the end, and I talked with him (Ben) about it. Ben seemed like he was done, though. He just seemed so tired. The guy fought the good fight, but ultimately, the cancer won.

I’m just glad that he was able to go with dignity. I always hoped that he’d be able to die without diapers on (it just doesn’t seem all that ‘manly’ – or even just dignified), and given the fact that we couldn’t get his right size diapers in, and we were making our own (not that this factored in to anything), it was easiest to take his diapers off to be examined. And he didn’t have diapers on when he was put down. It’s a little thing, but Ben With Diapers wasn’t TRULY who Ben was. He didn’t mind them, but he was so much more of a dog than what he was in the last few months. I guess for me, it was symbolic that he was his former self. The last few months were, but they weren’t HIM.

And while my beliefs of the afterlife are scattered across various faiths, and absences of faiths, I am 100% certain that Ben has been reunited with Billy, and he’s trying to reform Billy (with little faith that Billy can be reformed; if anything, he’s been storing up tricks to teach Ben). Regardless, I am certain that Ben and Billy are together again, playing like puppies. And if St. Francis is hanging around anywhere, I’m sure he’s trying to get the two of them to stop being so sneaky! *grin.

Ben holds a special spot in my heart, for many reasons. I’m so sorry that he’s gone, but I’m glad that he went with dignity. And I’m glad that he showed me that I can deal with this; I don’t have to fear old age with pets; it sucks, but the trade-off is worth it. I didn’t know Ben that long, but I can safely say that there is no way I’d pass on the pain on losing him, if it meant not having the joy of knowing him.

Requiescat in pace, amici. (And no, that probably isn’t conjugated right, but I can guarantee you that Ben isn’t going to worry about it!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Clutch Killer

Yep, it's true the Saturn needs a new clutch. Pressure plates, actually, I think. (Although I don't really know what they are, so I'm just going with a new clutch.) Pluth. This time, I don't really think that it is my fault; the clutch has been questionable for a while in this car; it was just a matter of time.

So, the local Chevy dealer has the car and will do the work on it, and we'll get it back on Friday, or Saturday, or something. Eh, it is what it is. With everything that is going on, this is not catastrophic.

Other than that we can't load the bikes into the rented Cobalt that I've got, and all of the good (i.e. safe) riding is about 20 miles away. So, we won't be doing any serious riding until this weekend. In the meantime, I'm going to ride up and down 'Death Canyon'. It's not really called that; it's a section of road just past the RV park that has been closed to motorized vehicles because the rock side of the road keeps crumbling into the road, and the state was obviously sick of dealing with it. So it's a nice mile of car-less riding (you just need to wear a pith helmet! *grin. Gary doesn't like it because he's certain that I'm going to get nailed by a rock, but I like it because I can ride in the afternoon without worrying about people coming back from the bars after a few too many...). If I do laps on it (it's got a nice little climb at the top, and then a nice down hill on the way back), I can get in some miles without being too far away, and without having to dodge traffic.

Still, I'm looking forward to some of the other riding; apparently there are some ghost towns around here (within 50 miles or so) that are on accessible dirt roads. There are also some nice un-trafficked roads that will be good for 30-50 miles on the road bike. All of which I am looking forward to.

That said, I'll get some pictures of 'Death Canyon', as it is rather pretty.

And I guess I'll use the Cobalt to scope out some of the other rides.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Finally, Broadband!

Finally got broadband internet here; the free wi-fi at the RV park seems to be on the blink 99% of the time, and that, coupled with really sketchy cell phone service prompted us to get our own internet. We got it hooked up this afternoon, and it seems to be working well. (Other than that once we got it Gary tried to upgrade the OS for his iPhone, in the hopes that he would have better cell phone coverage, and the iPhone is not responding properly. Or at all. I’d call AT&T, but, well, limited cell phone service….) The phone thing is still hit or miss. We are going to try the MagicJack, and see if it works, but if not, we’ll get a VOIP set-up next Tuesday.

In the meantime, it is really nice to actually be able to upload pictures, download books, and just generally check in on the world. Speaking of which, I’ve got some pictures to upload, but I’ll do that tomorrow, as today was spent cleaning the motorhome, and I’m beat!

We did go on a bike ride today; Gary somehow managed to not eat anything before we left, so he turned back after 2 miles, while I rode out about 6, and discovered some short but very steep hills. We’ve got to do quite a bit more investigating before we get our riding routes sorted out. Before we can do too much of that, though, we’ve got to get the car looked at. It seems like there is something wrong with the hydraulics with the clutch; when I first start the car there is a ton of play in the clutch and it won’t shift gears, but after it warms up for about 5-8 minutes, the clutch is tight-ish (it’s a Saturn Vue – not exactly a race clutch here – and yes, I’m beginning to learn to feel the difference!), and it shifts fine. Still, I’d hate to have a catastrophic failure when I’m in any of the small towns around here that have limited services. So, we’ve got to find someplace to take it in. The only problem? Limited services…. Hmmm…

In sadder news, it looks like Ben is getting weaker. His eyes are still bright, and he’s alert; he’s just getting weaker, and is definitely losing weight. We’ve known for quite some time that it was just matter of time, but I think that time is getting near. Although maybe he’ll surprise us. He’s been a trouper, but eventually the inevitable happens. For now, though, he’s still comfortable, and he can still walk, just not very far, and he can make it up the stairs of the motorhome (although he’s got to be carried down…), so we aren’t writing him off just yet.

Anyway, time to finish up the laundry and kick back before the final round of getting the dogs out before bed.