Almost Silent

Orso will be twelve years old in August, a true senior citizen in dog years. Not only is he old by dog standards, (seven people years for each dog year), but he also weighs ninety-nine pounds, making him ancient, almost a living fossil. He has started to slow down; his hips are weaker, and he often has a sway to them. He also has a mystery limp in his right front leg. We’ll be walking along, then all of a sudden, he stumbles and limps for a few steps. I’ve checked his paw for any cuts or foreign object, I’ve felt his bones and soft tissue up and down, massaging his leg up to the shoulder and nothing. No cuts, no injury to his leg or paw. Then almost as if it’s a miracle, he takes off trotting along without a care and no limp.

We noticed that this winter, he started breathing heavier and louder on our walks. There was no sneaking up on anyone with him around. He sounded like a little old man with emphysema. As winter became spring, the wheezing got louder and longer. At times there was a bit of a whistle to the wheeze, making me wonder if he had something stuck in his throat. His annual check-up came and as soon as the vet walked in the room, she commented on the wheezing and said she suspected he had laryngeal paralysis. Of course, the only way to diagnose laryngeal paralysis is with throat surgery.

The surgeon goes in and checks the larynx for paralysis. If the dog had laryngeal paralysis, then there are two options, one is to cut one side off which is also called de-barking and hope that allows enough air flow for the dog to breathe and to keep cool. The other option, which is very expensive and done by a specialist, is to go in and tie back one or both sides of the larynx to open the airway. One of the biggest concerns with laryngeal paralysis is heat stroke, because the dog is basically breathing through a straw and cannot get enough air in and out to cool off.

With summer almost here and the days getting warmer, we made an appointment for Orso to undergo the surgery, after talking to the vet, decided the best option was option one, but we would combine the diagnosis and surgery in one. The vet would check and if he had laryngeal paralysis, the vet would cut one side off.

The day of the surgery Orso was definitely not happy with me, nothing to eat, he stood there and watched Royal chow down, looked at me, then back at Royal, and back at me. Definitely not happy. And he had to suffer through a walk, on an empty stomach, life was not fair.

The vet called me after the surgery and said Orso had laryngeal paralysis on both sides, he wasn’t getting much air at all, so he cut off one side as a start. He didn’t want to cut both sides, for fear of too much scar tissue forming causing as bad a problem as before the surgery. So we’re trying one side and seeing how well Orso can breathe and get through the summer.

Orso still pants heavily, but the little old man wheeze is gone at least for the time being and we’ll almost silent.

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Road Trip

The rainy season is over and summer is nipping at the heels of spring. This year I’m hoping to get more traveling in and do some exploring. For our spring vacation, we took a trip to the San Juan Islands, staying at Friday Harbor, to go whale watching. For this vacation there was a lot of pre-planning involved months before our actual trip. We found out last year that during the summer months here everyone is traveling around experiencing all this state has to offer and almost every vacation spot is booked up months and even up to a year in advance.

I had to book the hotel, dog kennel stay and whale watching boat in January for a May trip. Then as it got closer to our trip, a month out, I had to make reservations for the hour-long ferry ride to the island. So much pre-planning and time scheduling was stressful. We had to be in the line for the ferry forty-five minutes to one hour prior to sailing in order to ensure a spot on the boat. Couple that with the traffic here going north through Seattle, we had to be on the road about six hours early just to drop off the dogs, fight commuter traffic and drive the hundred nineteen miles to the ferry terminal. Not our normal vacation style of heading out then stopping when and where we want.

Anyway, the trip was amazing. The weather was just perfect, sunny with highs in the high sixties and low seventies. We couldn’t believe our good fortune. Our hotel was a mile away from the harbor and decided that instead of driving down and looking for parking each time, we would walk down to the docks on each trip out.

The company we went with for the whale watching was Maya’s Legacy and we couldn’t have been given a better experience. The crew, captain and two mates, was wonderful, informative and very helpful. We were a small group, thirteen of us plus the crew, so we were given much more personal attention than other boats we saw that had over thirty people on the decks. Every time the captain or one of the crew saw something of interest we would stop for sufficient gawking and photos.

We saw bald eagles perched on the tops of trees scanning for lunch. We turned north and headed toward Canada looking for Orcas. We found a pod with four whales and as one of our crew pointed out, we were having a National Geographic moment, watching the whales feeding. What I was surprised to see was that all of the boats talked to each other and let others know where to find the whales, in order to provide a great experience for everyone out on the water. After watching them for a while, I figured we would head back, but no, our captain said we were on the search for another pod that consisted of a mother, her son and daughter. We found them farther north and again, we were all in awe of the beauty and magnificence of the animals. The male Orca had a dorsal fin that was over six feet high. I could hear the water being expelled from their blow holes each time they broke water.

After we had been on the water for over two hours, we turned around and headed back. On the trip back we came upon a group of harbor seals feeding on fish and a group of sea gulls flying around them trying to steal a bite or two.

Definitely a trip that was well worth the pre-planning, one that we won’t forget for some time.

Breathe

Inhale deeply, close your eyes. Think of a place you want to be. Slowly let the breath escape. Open your eyes. Where are you? If you’re like me, same place before your inhaled. If not, and you are in the place you want to be, I am so jealous. Because you have special powers and I am a mere mortal. A boring mere mortal.

Not that I don’t want to be here, because here is pretty good. It’s spring and there is so much color exploding from all the plants, bushes and trees. Oh, and the grass is growing. And growing and growing. I was out of town for ten days on business and came home to a yard with grass that was a foot tall. I even mowed before I left town, just to be on the safe side. It took me three mowings and raking to get the yard looking like we lived in a neighborhood and not in a hay field. Maybe next year I won’t put that fertilizer down.

The weather is turning around and getting warmer. Rain chances are fewer and fewer and spaced farther apart. After all June is a month away and then the rain will stop almost completely for a couple of months. I have my tomato plants to get in the ground in a week and this year after learning my lesson from last year’s garden, I bought three zucchini and two squash plants, instead of seed packets. I didn’t think I would ever stop eating zucchini.

Now there are more opportunities to get out and go hiking, taking my camera along capturing as many sights as I can, because this is truly a beautiful state, with the ocean on the left, the mountains on the right and just over the hill, wine country. What more could I ask for?

Jet Lag

I’m going with jet lag, otherwise the alternative is more depressing. Last week I had to travel for work and spend five days at the main office. I travel alone frequently for work, but this time Mitch traveled with me. While I toiled away at the office, attending meetings and helping coworkers, Mitch slept late, ate a really nice buffet breakfast and hung out at the local tobacco shop smoking his pipe in peace. While we were out of town, we had the dogs kenneled, not our favorite option, but out here we don’t know anybody well enough that we could impose on to dog sit.

Flying home, we found out at the airport after we had checked our bags that our flight was delayed about an hour and a half. Yay, now not only we will feel like it is two hours later than it is, but now it will be two hours later when we get home. Talk about major energy drain. We finally landed and by the time I recovered the bags and Mitch retrieved our car it was almost nine o’clock. The drive home takes almost an hour, so tack that on, add in unpacking and getting settled in for the night, so you could say we were well past tired.

The next day we went to the kennel to get our dogs out of hock, who were very happy to see us. After we got home and parked the car, Mitch went around to the back of the station wagon, to let the dogs out. Instead of just opening the tailgate and releasing the hounds, Mitch decided to take off Royal’s harness. All well and good if he had just voiced any command, but no Mitch didn’t say anything to the dogs who were super excited to be home. Without waiting for the tailgate to be opened and the normal invitation to get out, Royal leaped out of the open section, then Orso followed landing badly. Keep in mind that both dogs are large, over a hundred pounds each, and old. Orso is almost twelve years old and Royal will be ten in April. When Orso landed I was for sure he had blown out his shoulder, then his hips collapsed, and I thought, “Oh no now what?” But like a true Labrador, he got up limped a bit, then was off sniffing everything he missed for a week. I looked and Mitch and told him he dodged a bullet and what was he thinking. Standing there and not saying anything with an open access sort of, was like an invitation to the dogs.

We decided to go on a walk to burn off some pent-up energy. We put on their leashes and our jackets and walked outside. I had both leashes in my hands and was showing Mitch some things I wanted to move in the front garden, when we heard a voice calling, “Rocky, no. Rocky stay, Rocky no.” I looked up at see a large black dog heading our way to check us out and say hi. I was standing there, trying hold back two hundred plus pounds of excited muscle mass, keep a strange dog at bay and hoping that everyone would play nice. All the while, Mitch was standing there with his hands in his jacket pockets and a goofy smile on his face saying, “Hi Rocky, hi Rocky, how’s it going?” Just like a ten-year-old boy.

I looked over at him and said, “Take a dog, what are you doing?” Royal was not as giddy about meeting Rocky as Orso was and all I could think of, was that this was going to leave a mark. I could not believe that after almost twelve years of Charlie, Mitch would forget how careful we needed to be when meeting unknown dogs.

I’m chalking it up to jet lag, because otherwise I’m stuck with the ten-year-old boy.

Let’s Not Do It Again and Say We Did

I had the dubious honor of receiving a summons to report for jury duty. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the judicial system, and I would have loved to get to be on a jury back in my old state. In fact, I was never called for jury duty in Missouri for the fifty plus voting years I lived there. I move here and in less than three years, they find me. It’s just that here I don’t know where anything is and how to get there. I have gotten to be a real hermit, more than happy to stay home and order most everything online. Yeah, I know, not the healthiest attitude.

On Sunday before my first day of jury duty, we took a road trip checking out the best route for me to get to the Superior Courthouse. My summons also warned me to be early because parking was limited and only a few free parking spaces are available for the jury pool. We scoured the area and found the allotted free parking lot and the closer lot that charges fifteen dollars a day. Of course, Mitch said, that for ease of finding a parking space I should just park in the closer lot. I added up fifteen dollars times five days and decided that I was too cheap for that.

I was to report Monday morning at eight am, and based on our road trip, the trip should take about a half hour, nothing is fast around here. So to be on the safe side, get there by eight and still get a free parking spot, I left the house at six thirty in the morning. Shaking your head now right? So was I, but I was so nervous about driving in morning rush hour traffic, getting there on time and finding free parking, I left fifteen minutes earlier than I had planned. My stomach was in a knot and my head was hammering away.

I found my free parking lot, along with other early birds who were also afraid of not getting a parking space. I parked the car, put my jury pass in the window and headed down the hill to the courthouse. I was one of the first to get there and walked up to the door. The door was locked and the lettering on the door said the doors would not open to the potential jury pool until seven thirty, twenty minutes to stand there in the cold with my nose running and coughing from the dregs of my cold. Woohoo. A line formed behind me with others. As soon as I coughed or blew my nose, everyone took a step back. Perfect, now everyone thinks I have leprosy, oh well, maybe I’ll get excused.

When the doors finally opened a man came out and addressed the group telling us what we needed to get in the door and what we couldn’t take in the building. After going through the metal detectors and getting scanned, we headed off to the jury assembly room. There were between two hundred and three hundred other potential jurors called in to maybe be assigned to a court. Lucky me, I was selected to go with the first group, a total of fifty in our group. Another group had fifty-five and a third group had sixty potential jurors in it. We were ushered into a courtroom to watch a video about what to expect and what was expected of us.

After the video, we were ushered back out into the hallway to wait. There wasn’t enough seating so we stood, for days. We couldn’t leave, had to stay on the first floor, couldn’t sit in any of the courtrooms, smokers had to go outside to smoke and come back through security. Makes me glad I don’t smoke. Afternoon came, and we were told to return our color coded badge and go home. We were to call or check the website after five pm for instructions on our group for Tuesday. Tuesday was a go to work day for our group, do not go to court, we were directed to check in again that evening for Wednesday. Wednesday was also another go to work day and not go to court day for our group. This was totally wreaking havoc on my psyche, not being able to plan my week.

Wednesday evening came and the words of doom on the website greeted me. Be at the courthouse by eight-thirty on Thursday morning. Eight-thirty meant I had to leave the house by six forty-five in order to get one of few coveted free parking places. Eight-thirty meant I had to stand in the cold for twenty minutes waiting for the doors to open so I could go through the metal detector. Eight-thirty meant that after I got through the screening process I would wait for another half hour in the hall outside of the jury assembly room until someone showed up and to unlock the door to the jury room. And lastly, eight-thirty meant my stomach would be in a knot until I was either attached to a trial or released, whichever came first.

Thursday morning once settled in the jury assembly room, waiting for everyone to get checked in I did what I love to do, people watch. One thing I can say about the jury selection process, is that all different demographics were called in. Some I wondered if they had mirrors in their homes and even bothered to look before walking out the door. Others came that were clearly put out about the whole ordeal, you could tell that they were much too important to be bothered by due process. One man sat in the room with his back turned to the room and talked on his cell phone the entire time, during our videos and even when our coordinator was explaining how the jury pool selections would be made. She finally had to ask him to leave the room until his conversation was done. Another man walked into the room, right passed our coordinator who kept addressing him, wandered around then turned and walked out of the room, ignoring her repeated attempts to talk to him.

Again, I was selected for the first group. We were told that we had enough time to go to the bathroom before we would be escorted up to the courtroom for a trial. Oh yay, that meant if I was selected then next week or longer I would be ensconced in a trial. We were told that we could take our belongings with us, but no food or gum was allowed in the courtroom. No coffee cups, cans or cold drink glasses, the only thing we were allowed to take with us was a clear bottle of water. After going to the bathroom, I stopped at the way overpriced coffee bar and bought a very expensive bottle of water.

This time though, there were seats available in the hallway, so I was able to sit and wait to be led to court. After sitting in the hall for another half hour, our group was called back in the jury assembly room and told that the attorneys for our trial had asked for a continuance, so we were to turn in our badges and go home. I raised my hand and asked if that meant we were done-done and did not have to come back. Jury duty here is for one week or one trial, whichever comes first and there is no jury on Fridays. Fridays are for motions. Our coordinator repeated my question to the room and asked the room what they wanted to do. Of course everyone said done and she concurred. We turned in our badges and almost all sprinted toward the door, just incase someone said, no wait.

Walking back to the car I noticed others walking so fast, it might have been a timed race, there even some that could barely walk in the courthouse damn near running toward the parking lot. I wanted to tell them all that they should thank me for their good fortune. If I hadn’t paid for the overpriced bottle of water, we would be stuck in a trial. Karma.

Winter Blahs

I need a vacation. I need to win the lottery, so I can take a vacation. First I need to buy a ticket. That would be a good starting point. It’s January and I’m deep in the winter doldrums for some reason this year. It’s been cold and dreary, a typical Pacific Northwest winter and I long for white sandy beaches, aquamarine water and endless wine. I know, what a whiner, right?

I feel scattered, unsettled, kind of lost. I’m not depressed or anything, I just need a change, though I’m not sure what kind of change. I need a new focus, something that keeps me intrigued, something demanding of total focus and energy. A new challenge that is attainable, not such a challenge I would give up and accept defeat. That means rock climbing and skydiving are out, totally afraid of heights. Ballet is also out, no grace and that is not something I will ever learn. I guess walking on a high wire would be out too, (no grace and fear of heights) a double whammy.

So, what can I do and what are my interests? Wine, dogs, photography, gardening, hiking, to name a few. Writing, but of late I’ve not been writing either. I’ve been avoiding even looking at my blog sites. I’ve haven’t even done a mediocre job of reading other blogs that I follow. For that I apologize. My fellow bloggers give me many reasons to smile, and I haven’t been giving you your due.

But I decided to sit down and write a somewhat rambling piece that though is far from my best work, it has been a bit cathartic. It hasn’t cured my doldrums or given me any epiphanies, it’s something of a journal I guess, but at least I’m writing again. Maybe I just need an adventure to get me writing again. Or a really great bottle of wine to drink, then take the dogs on a walk.

We Really Need to get out More

I’ve never been one to go out and wander the shopping malls, even before moving to the Pacific Northwest. Now I venture out even less, not being very familiar with the area. Plus, traffic sucks, no matter what time of day or day of the week. Amazon is my new best friend for almost everything. I still go to the grocery store, but I don’t just go out for a day of shopping. Sad, huh?

Today I needed to go to a certain store for some Christmas shopping, can’t say where because it’s Christmas, but I will say it is in a mall. Mitch and I drove over to the closest mall and through google on my phone, I located the approximate location of the specific store, but not being very familiar with the layout of the mall, we weren’t sure where to park. We drove around looking for a likely entrance. Being creatures of habit, we parked by one of the Macy’s entrances and walked into the store.

We wandered through Macy’s looking for the exit out into the mall, but couldn’t find any exit. We walked the entire circumference of the store and there was no exit. We didn’t dare ask for help and look like total morons, so we kept walking and looking in every corner for a way out. We finally decided to take the escalator down a floor in hopes of a way out into the mall on that level. One floor down and we started circling the lower level, reading the signs hanging from the ceiling and finally found the sign that said, “exit to mall”.

I was never so glad to leave a store in my life. I thought for sure, we had been teleported to the “Bermuda Triangle” of Shopping Malls. Once out in the mall, we started walking toward the middle of the mall, (we hoped). At one point, Mitch said he was ready to read the mall store finder to see where we needed to go. And I answered, “Sure, but I haven’t seen one of those signs, yet either.” We turned to the left for fun and wonder of wonders, the store we were in search of was up ahead on the left.

We laughed so hard at ourselves, and decided that we really do need to get out more.