Monday, June 13, 2016

For Orlando

Thoughts and prayers for the victims of this senseless massacre, and for their loved ones.

Why can't we end hate in this world?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Purple Rain

Not to make light of the situation, but ironically, it seems Prince may have let the elevator break him down after all. That lyric has been stuck in my head all day.

The world is a less colorful place without Prince. I'll miss his incomparable musicology.

Let the doves cry.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Tiny Little Dream Come True....

When I was 14 years old, my older punk rock-ish brother had a friend who dyed the underneath of her hair bright blue. I thought it looked really cool. And some of his other friends had interesting hair as well. It was about that time that I decided I wanted to put purple streaks in my hair. Purple is one of my favorite colors.

Unfortunately, my mom did not approve, and I didn't have the disposable income at age 14 to be able to afford to pay for it myself at the salon. Sure, I could have done the dye-your-hair-with-KoolAid thing, but I didn't want to risk having to walk around with badly colored hair if I screwed it up. I felt it was something best left to a pro. Back then, you couldn't just go to Target or CVS and find the temporary stuff like you can now. Funky, bright hair colors were mostly just a punk rock/new wave thing. It wasn't as common as you see these days. Kind of like tattoos used to be.

As I got older, I still wanted to put purple streaks in my hair, but from the time I was age 15 or 16, I've always had a job (or been looking for one), even when I was in college which is where most young people do wild things like dye their hair purple. My early-to-mid-20s, when I was in a band or two, would have been a great time for purple hair. But alas, I always had a day job, with bosses that frowned upon such frivolity as violet tresses. So I never did get the purple highlights that I always wanted.

But recently, it occurred to me that I no longer have a boss. I am self employed! I can put whatever damn color I want in my hair! It was a revelation. I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner, other than I've been preoccupied the past three years making sure I keep my clients happy so I can keep paying the bills. I love my clients, and I'm fortunate to have a few steady ones that know me well and wouldn't think twice if they saw me with purple highlights.

So last week, my long-time hair stylist (20+ years, so I trust him with ANYTHING hair related) put purple streaks in my hair. (It was his first time doing purple too!) I had spoken to him a few weeks ago about doing it, so he said he'd get some purple dye next time he went to the supply store. He also gave a lot of thought to how and where to apply the color.

Coincidentally,  he suggested we put the highlights below the top layer.... so the underneath of my hair would have the purples streaks. Kinda full circle back to my brother's blue-haired friend!

The pictures here show how it looked at the salon, when my stylist had blown it out, and then put the cool braid in. I will never be able to get it to look that pretty. I suck at blow-drying my hair and doing anything other than the simplest of braids. But I still love my purple streaks! Since the color is mostly underneath, I can keep it pretty subtle for things like new biz meetings and the like. But I can also pull it up and let my freak flag fly if I want it to show more than just a little peek-a-boo.

Here's how it looks with just my natural waves, although there was a breeze so more of the purple showed for a bit.

I love love LOVE it! And it only took 30-some years to make this tiny little dream of mine come true. It's a pretty small thing in the grand scheme of life, but it has made me immensely happy to finally be able to do it.

Unexpected bonus: I got carded the other day buying beer at the grocery store for the first time in years! Sweet. My inner child is definitely showing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Remarkable Monkey Does the Whole30

Yes,  yes... I've been super lax about posting. And yes, totally blew another New Year's Resolution to post at least once a month. Here it is March 1st already. Yikes!

Anyway, I did a Whole30 in August/September last year, and since lots of folks have asked me about it, I've been meaning to write about how it went for a while. Right now, I'm smack in the middle of doing a second Whole30, so figured I'd stop procrastinating and do it now.

If you're not familiar with the Whole30, it's sort of a nutritional reset program, meant to break some bad food habits, create some good ones, clear a lot of junk out of your system and figure out if any of the foods you regularly eat may be causing any issues. You can learn all about it from the official website,  In short, it's basically no sugar or other sweeteners, no dairy, no grains, no legumes and no alcohol for 30 days.

"Oh my God!", my mom and Mr. Remarkable Monkey both said. "What CAN you eat??" Well that's simple... lots and lots of vegetables, some lean protein, a little fruit, a little nuts, healthy plant-based oils. What else do ya need?

So, why did I decide to do the Whole30, and what did I get out of it? For me, although I was eating pretty well and getting regular exercise, I was really struggling to lose weight. I was not outrageously heavy, but could definitely stand to drop 15 or 20 pounds. It used to be fairly easy for me to drop a few pounds by watching what I ate and making sure I exercised a few times a week. But suddenly, nothing was making much difference. Even though my calories were within the healthy range (1200-1500 per day) that used to precipitate fairly steady weight loss, it just wasn't coming off. I guess that's what "middle age" will do for ya. So I thought maybe I should look more closely at WHAT I was eating instead of just the calories... that maybe some combination of foods was affecting my metabolism or whatever. 

That's when a friend recommended the book "It Starts With Food". I had already heard of the Whole30 but hadn't realized the book was connected.

Dallas and Melissa Hartwig created the Whole30 program, and they wrote the book "It Starts With Food". It's chock full of info about why and how this "nutritional cleanse" works. You don't have to read it to do a Whole30, but I found it useful, helpful and motivating.  

So how did it go, you ask? It went just fine. A lot of people find it hard to do the Whole30, but aside from all the kitchen prep and cooking, and label reading, I didn't find it all that difficult. I never felt deprived and the few occasional cravings I had really weren't that strong. But my eating habits weren't that bad to start with (not much fast food, not tons of sugar), and I eased into it by leaning toward compliance for a while before my start date. Lots of people binge on non-compliant foods before starting, but I would think that would make it harder once you do start. Your mileage may vary.

For me, the most difficult part really was just all the meal prep and reading every single label to make sure any products were compliant. It really helped that I'm self employed and work at home... I had time to make breakfast and lunch in addition to dinner. Breakfast was usually a couple soft-boiled eggs over sauteed spinach with a little fruit on the side, and some flavored herbal tea. (I've found that it keeps me satisfied all the way to lunch, so that's actually STILL my usual breakfast!) Lunch was usually a big salad with leftover turkey or chicken, or maybe I'd sautee some shrimp to put on it. And dinner was often sauteed vegetables (onions and peppers with various combos of squash, zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes... whatever we had fresh in the fridge), along with some form of sweet or white potato (oven fries, hashbrowns, roasted) and some kind of protein... sauteed or roasted chicken breast, turkey tenderloins, maybe a hamburger patty, or maybe zucchini spaghetti with Coleman organic chicken florentine sausage (my favorite discovery during my Whole30). Most days I kept it pretty simple, but even so, on really busy days it would have been SO much easier to just slap a sandwich together. THAT was the difficulty for me, and it wasn't that hard... just kind of a drudge some days, having to spend so much time in the kitchen.

And what did I get out the experience? I DID lose a few pounds... only about four, but that was still more than I'd been able to lose in a month for a while. And really, the point of the Whole30 isn't to lose weight, although most people apparently do lose some. I also learned that I don't really have any issues with any of the individual food groups, but sugar makes me feel like crap when consumed in anything more than very moderate amounts. Not a big surprise in and of itself, but enlightening regarding just how much impact it has. And kids, if you start reading labels like you have to on the Whole30, you'll find out just how much sugar is lurking in so many foods! It's in things you'd never expect it to be in, and in greater amounts than you might think. 

And that's kinda what led me to embark on this current second Whole30. I haven't been eating too poorly, but I did enjoy the holidays and all the food and drink that come with it. I gained back most of the four pounds previously lost, and was feeling a bit sluggish. I have a birthday coming up later this month, and it's the last one before I hit a milestone with a zero on the end next year (yikes!). After struggling with a persistent shoulder issue that required physical therapy last year (and still isn't 100%), I've decided that I want to be in the best shape possible when I hit that milestone birthday next year. It's a big one, and I want to head into it strong and lean. What better way to kickstart that effort than with a Whole30? Get the junk out of my system, further instill those healthy food habits, and start working on more complete fitness.

If you're thinking of trying a Whole30 yourself, you should really read as much as you can on the site about the program before you start. It will help you prepare and plan, and know what to expect. Go through the whole "What is the Whole 30" section step by step. This is a good place to start:

There is a ton of info available there, and some helpful links to other sites with great info. You don't have to sign up or anything, although if you do sign up, I believe they'll send you email news and a pdf booklet or something. I did not sign up... I'm more of a lurker and not a joiner. But you might feel differently.

This timeline is interesting, and a lot of people feel it's pretty accurate as far as what to expect....

For me, not so much... I didn't really have the "hangover" or the "kill all the things", and I never really found it very difficult to stick to it (aside from all the cooking and food prep and label reading). They talk about feeling the "tiger blood"... I never really felt boundless energy, but one day when I was on the treadmill after having not been on it in a couple weeks, I WAS able to jog a whole 5k without stopping, which surprised me since I hadn't done that in a few weeks. Tiger blood? Maybe. Regardless, I DID feel better overall on the Whole30... slept better like a lot of participants do, and had a bit less of the intermittent joint pain I sometimes have. Woohoo!

There's lots to explore on the Whole30 site. Here are a few links I found helpful:

Shopping lists, approved products, meal templates, etc., all in handy pdf format...

They have a recipe section,, but I also found a lot of recipes just by Googling "whole30 compliant recipe"

Googling also turned up some good lists of Whole30 compliant stuff available at Costco, Trader Joe's and WholeFoods:

You can find more in the forums on the Whole30 site. Just go to the sourcing good food section and search Trader Joe's or Costco or wherever you want to shop:

Seriously... if you want to dig deep or are just looking for other Whole30 tips, recipes, etc., just Googling "Whole30" or "Whole30 compliant" will turn up gobs and gobs of sites.

Also, there are tons of recipes out there for homemade mayo. They're all pretty similar, so find one you like. The one I made used extra light olive oil, a bit of water, a bit of mustard powder along with the eggs. (Yes, if you want mayo, you'll have to make it yourself.... good luck finding any at the store that doesn't have soybean oil in it.) 
Oh... and everyone on the Whole30 message boards raves about TessaMae's ranch dressing, which is Whole30 compliant... I made a special trip to WholeFoods to get some, but I did not like that dressing! If you like dill a LOT, you might... it was very very VERY dilly, and tasted a bit harsh to me. To each his own. I'll stick with homemade vinaigrette. But the trip to WholeFoods wasn't a waste... I did get some
Pederson's sugar free bacon which is compliant and delicious!

So if you're taking the plunge and doing the Whole30 yourself, good luck, and feel free to let me know it goes for you! Me? I'll be done with my second in time to enjoy some birthday cake and a cocktail! (And then I'll probably feel like crap from all the sugar. Ha!)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Let Me Be Brave...

Quick update on the Mini Doctor Who and Halloween.... we had a total of FOUR trick-or-treaters, and the Doctor was not among them, so we're guessing he was off on other adventures. Maybe we'll see him next year.

In another Doctor Who related post, if you're a fan and you watched this past Saturday, you know that Clara Oswald was killed off. We all knew it was coming... the character's death was confirmed earlier this season when they shot the episode that just aired. So no surprise that it happened.

But is just me, or is it kinda lame that Clara was killed off on a technicality? I mean really... just because of some contract paperwork with the "Quantum Shade" involving the transfer of the countdown death tattoo from Rigsy to her? I'm calln' BS.

Seems an exception could have been made in light of the fact that no murder had ever occurred to warrant a death penalty on Rigsy in the first place. Wouldn't the lack of the actual offense make the death penalty contract null and void, whether it had been passed on or not? Plus, the ever bratty Ashildr, aka Me, aka Mayor Me, guaranteed the safety of Clara Oswald earlier in the episode. So that ticks me off. (If you don't watch the show, I know you probably have no idea what the heck I'm talking about. And yes, apparently I have become a Whovian nerd.)

That being said, we also know from reports that Clara Oswald will make a return appearance "in some form" in the series, according to showrunner Steven Moffat. So... maybe her death isn't permanent. After all, she and Missy were both "killed" by daleks earlier this season. And what about Orson Pink, the great-grandson of Clara and Danny Pink, who we met in an episode last season? How could he exist if Clara is permanently dead now? And was she already pregnant with Danny Pink's child before he was killed last season, or is there some kind of undead afterlife that she will meet him in now?  So many wormholes one could go down, eh?

All that aside, I thought Clara handled the situation with grace and dignity. She took ownership of her reckless action that put her in the situation, and did her best to absolve Rigsy of any guilt. She also made the Doctor promise not to seek revenge against Ashildr... though I'm hoping he doesn't keep that promise. Then she stepped out to meet the Raven on her own.

Her final words seem to be a perfect metaphor or mantra for all of us as we meet our own "ravens" and other challenges throughout our lives.... "Let me be brave.... let me be brave."

Well done, Clara Oswald. We'll miss you.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Night I Met The Doctor

The following is a guest post, written by the fantastic Mr. Remarkable Monkey and reposted here with his permission. (Names have been changed and faces in photos are partially hidden to protect privacy.)

The Night I Met the Doctor 
So this weekend is Halloween. Fall has always been my favorite season and Halloween my favorite holiday. Though we don't really have seasons here in Florida, the air is a bit  cooler and Hobey was always peppier on his walks to the park this time of year. 
Over the years we've had a few Halloween parties. Some wild and some not so much. Several good and a few fuzzy memories to go along with them. But I think my favorite, for two very good reasons, was last year’s party. I wasn't particularly excited about hosting it but Mrs. RM wanted to do it as one of our friends’ birthdays falls on October 31st. It was a smaller party attended by a few new and a few old friends. Not an outlandish event but nonetheless quite enjoyable. Mrs. RM was dressed in one of her "cleverly thought out" costumes which I never understand. She had on a runner's outfit on with tiny bottles of rum stuck all over it. A "Rum Runner" Siiiiiiiiiiiiiggggghhhh. I, of course, being over the top with excitement about the newest Doctor Who was decked out in my new 12th Doctor costume.
"Coach" Hobey & K9 Mike
(Identity protected)
As it turned out, it was our baby's last Halloween with us and that is the first thing that makes it special. I'll never forget the image of our friend Mike in his doggy costume laying on the floor with our Hobey. Priceless.
The second thing? ....
I got to meet The Doctor. 
I was fortunate to have spent my formative years in England. My father was in the military and we were stationed a little less than 100 miles northeast of London. I guess it stuck with me. I love British humor and the accent. If I thought I could pull it off without looking too much a Wally, I'd still talk with one I left there with. I love fish n' chips and the proper sort of football. (it's the one with the circular ball played with your feet) (COYS!) 
And..... I love Doctor Who. 
What do I Love about Doctor Who? A super genius alien that regenerates instead of expiring, traveling through time and space in a craft disguised as an old police call box that's bigger on the inside, with one or more companions!?! It's silly and it’s serious. Outlandish and introspective. Over the top and subtle. Incredibly stupid and extremely clever. But mostly, to me it's British, it's my childhood.
The party was going well. Good food and drink, conversation and laughter, Hobey doing his best to grab attention and treats as frequently as possible. Occasional interruptions by trick or treaters at the front door. In years past, Mrs. RM handled the trick or treaters while I held Hobey as he was large dog who loved greeting anyone at the door and could be a bit frightening to the wee ones. But as he was very much into his senior years and mobility was no longer his strong suit, he couldn't get the door very quickly. So we were sharing the duties of passing out candy that night. A knock at the door brought Mrs. RM (who happened to be closest at the time) to greet the tots, candy bowl in hand, fawning over them and commenting about or trying to guess their costumes and so forth, which is what adults do I guess. I overheard Mrs. RM asking something about Pee Wee Herman so I turned my head to see what the costume was and that's when I saw it… A bow tie. The wee lad was all of four foot five in his little jacket and bow tie, trousers that were too big and rolled up a tad, looking every bit of Matt Smith's doctor number eleven. I retrieved my sonic screwdriver from my coat pocket, flashing the bright red lining all at once announcing to him "I know that face! I know who you are!" His eyes were as big as saucers as he reached into his coat for his sonic. He was so excited he began dancing around flashing his sonic and talking a zillion miles an hour about Doctor Who this and that. He was speaking so fast all I could make out was that he REALLY liked Doctor Who. 
Mr. RM as the 12th Doctor.
(Identity protected)
 A thought about Dr Who fans... about those of us that like Doctor Who, sci-fi and comics and other "nerdy" stuff… Maybe we're a bit off the main line. A little shy, a little bit socially awkward, a little bit insecure. Secret extroverts buried deep inside an outward introvert. Always on the lookout for others who might be a little like ourselves so we can feel as though we belong. That we're part of a larger whole. That we're not that strange or different. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe that's just me, or maybe that's the way we all feel inside sometimes. I don't know, just a thought. 
As the mini Doctor's talking and dancing continued, I glanced up to see his parents clearly enjoying the spectacle from the end of the driveway. Another quick flash of the sonic followed by handfuls of candy being dropped into his bag with a "Happy Halloween!". Then the door closed and he was off to the next house. And that was it. Well, not entirely. Actually, it was the rarest of things. A smile. Not just a smile on my face but a smile in my heart. Deep down where it really counts. It was a connection. Sharing a bit of yourself with a like-minded soul. It was like reliving all the wonderful bits of childhood in a flash. 
Or maybe I'm reading too much into it. Deep down I suppose I'm nothing more than, as Claude Raines so eloquently put it in Casablanca, "a rank sentimentalist"
But that was it. That was the night I met The Doctor. No, it wasn't Capaldi or Smith or Tenant or (I would have just died) Tom Baker, or any of the others. But it was The Doctor. 
And so the calendar has brought us through another October. We're well into the second series with the 12th Doctor. I've updated my costume a bit with  tartan trousers, a hoodie and even a pair of knock off Ray Bans to double as the much maligned "wearable technology". (I'll still keep my sonic close at hand in the coat pocket.) 
No party this year. Haven't even put up any decorations yet. No Hobey here to dress up and help greet the trick or treaters. But I did manage to talk Mrs. RM into getting the full size candy bars to hand out this year which to me is very exciting. She knows my heart. Knows I'm hoping he shows up trick or treating again this year. She tells me not to get my hopes up. Kids can be fickle. Maybe he's not even into Doctor Who any more. People move house all the time. Maybe his family moved away. Who knows? 
But me, I'll put out a few decorations, dress up in my Doctor Who outfit, fill up the bowl with treats and hope.
After all, it's fall. It's a bit cooler outside, and I miss my dog! And my heart could use a good smile. I guess it's a bit like the TARDIS... bigger on the inside.

Mr. RM.... I'm proud to be your companion!
Where shall we go next?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Best. Dog. EVER! (We'll miss you, friend!)

So.... I realize that it's March April May June already (dammit, I WILL post this before July), and my renewed resolution to post to this blog at least once a month has already reached epic fail status, but it HAS been a little.... well... sad here, for lack of a better word. (Hence, the occasional over-indulgence as noted in the previous post.... some days are really hard.)  ..... Also, this post was extremely difficult to get through writing. Yes, it's long... it was also difficult to try and edit down. Bear with me.

You see, we lost our beloved Hobey Baker on February 10th. If you've read much of this blog, you know how much our 4-legged furry son meant to us. He was the light of our lives, and was a special dog to EVERYONE who met him.

We adopted Hobey from the Humane Society when he was just eight weeks old. That was in early October of 2000. We had been looking for a dog since we closed on our house (a.k.a. the LoveShack) earlier that year, but no dog ever felt like the right fit. We frequently visited our area shelters, looking for a dog that was about a year old and already housebroken, who needed a good home. There were a few "almost rights", but we didn't think it was fair to any dog to settle one that was not quite right for us.

Then one day at the Humane Society, there were three puppies in one of the pens. Two of them were jumping up and down in the front, begging for attention and affection, and the third was sleeping soundly in the back of the pen. Mr. Remarkable Monkey said to me "Oh let's get one of these puppies! They're so cute! They're so fun!" "No... we're really looking for one a little older who's already housebroken. They're awfully cute, but I don't think we can handle a puppy right now," I reminded him.

"But look how fun they are! And I'm home enough to potty train a puppy," Mr. RM said. He continued to cajole and sweet talk me, and the two puppies up front were SO dang cute, that I gave in. We even considered taking BOTH of the active little imps that were performing so adoringly for us at the front of the pen. So we asked one of the volunteers about their availability for adoption.

"Hmmm..." he said as he looked at the forms in the packet attached to the pen. "Well, these two are already spoken for and are on hold for adoption. But THAT one is still available" he said, referring to the third pup, who was still just solidly sleeping in the back of the pen.

"Aawwww... " Mr. RM and I said to each other... "He's no fun! All he does is sleep. He must be the dud of the litter."

But for some reason, we decided to at least meet him. So the volunteer worker escorted us to one of the pet "meeting" rooms and we waited there while he went to fetch the "leftover" third puppy. I asked Mr. RM if he was sure he wanted a puppy that young... they were only eight weeks old after all, and would require a LOT of training and housebreaking. Mr. RM had a field tech job at the time, and was home off and on during the day, so he said he could take on the housebreaking and some of the training. I was still dubious about adopting such a young puppy.

After a few minutes, the shelter volunteer brought in the pup. I was sitting on the floor at the back of the "meet n' greet" room. He put the puppy down, who then proceed to yawn, stretch, pee on the floor, and then scamper over toward me. He climbed up on my lap and kept climbing. I lifted his little eight pound fuzzy body to my shoulder where he was trying to go, and there he started chewing on my hair and sniffing my face.
Hobey Baker at eight weeks old,
the day we brought him home.

"Oh... this dog is going home with us right now!" I said. And that was it. The puppy had essentially chosen us. We took him home that day, after a stop at PetSmart to get some necessities and a few toys for our new family member. He was just the cutest, sweetest thing! And despite our initial impression that he was the dud of the litter because he was just sleeping and not participating in the front-of-pen antics with his siblings, he actually turned out to be the best one. I am sure of that.

I don't mean he was the best one of the litter... I mean he was the best dog EVER. Now, admittedly, we're quite partial to him, but almost EVERYONE that ever met our beautiful boy said he was a special dog. Even one of our vets said he was "one of those once-in-a-lifetime dogs". He grew up to be a big boy... Akita/Lab mix, and his average healthy weight was about 76-80 lbs. (which was 20-40 pounds bigger than the Humane Society thought he'd be), but he had such a loving, gentle and sweet disposition. He loved everybody he met, and everyone loved him. We named him Hobey Baker after the hockey legend.

Hobey Baker at approx.
10 weeks old. How could
your heart NOT melt?
The first couple of nights we had him, we tried to crate train him. Epic fail! He hated his crate! The first night, we had the crate in another room, and Hobey cried and cried...LOUDLY. Nobody was getting any sleep. So I moved the crate into our bedroom. He still cried. I put the crate on the nightstand right beside the bed. And STILL he cried! Finally, I stuck my fingers through the mesh on the front of the crate. Hobey leaned up against them, and his cries quieted to a soft whimper until we both fell asleep.

That was the only thing that worked, and that's how it stayed for a couple weeks until he got big enough to snuggle in the bed with us. (Spoiled much?) It didn't take long for him to wrangle control of the bed, either. He'd climb up on the pillow, and sprawl out on the top of it above my head or Mr. RM's head, and eventually he'd stretch and kick until he had claimed the entire pillow for himself! (Yes, he was pretty much the king of the LoveShack.) When he was little bigger, he migrated to the bottom half of the bed. Well, actually, just my half of the bottom of the bed. Mr. RM had his half, Hobey had the bottom half of my half, and I got whatever space was left.... scrunched up on 1/4 of the bed by the time he became a full grown 80 lb. dog. But Hobey would always jump down after a while and go to sleep in his own bed on the floor in our room.

Hobey at about 4 months old, with his first bed
when it was new...  aaahhh, young love!
(Confidentially, he had torrid love affair with his first bed... so much so that we kept it when we got him a new bed a few years later. Bless his heart, once he was about a year old, he never humped anything else, but he really had a thing for that bed! Hey... better he do that with his old bed than peoples' legs, right?)

Our boy was super smart too. He was pretty much housebroken within two weeks. And he knew all his toys by name. His favorite was Red Ball. Almost every night after dinner, until he got old and started having mobility issues, I would have to sit on the step leading from the living room to the den and throw Red Ball down the hall. Hobey would run after it and bring it back over and over. Sometimes he'd stop for romantic break with "Old Bed". And sometimes we'd hear him back in the bedroom, chomping on a squeaky toy. Eventually he'd always come back with Red Ball though.

Our beautiful boy at the beach.
He loved to swim!

But before play time, he'd insist on helping with the dinner dishes. Well, not so much the dishes, but the leftovers. Seriously... if I didn't get up after dinner to put away the leftovers in a timely fashion, Hobey would let me know it! He'd go into the kitchen and sniff around for a while, and maybe eat a little kibble from his bowl. But if I didn't come in there soon, he'd stand in the kitchen and poke his head around into the hall toward the den where he could see us. And he'd bark once. And then again if we didn't heed his command. He was basically telling us that somebody better hurry up and come into the kitchen to put the leftovers away NOW so that he could have a bite. (I have no idea how he got so spoiled... **wink**!)

Hobey was a beautiful dog. People used to stop us on the street and comment on how beautiful he was. And he really WAS a pretty boy. But he was also beautiful on the inside. I don't know if I'll ever meet another creature with a soul as sweet and Hobey's.

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know about Hobey's Cushing's diagnosis and the start of his mobility issues. Since late spring of 2012, he'd been on Vetoryl for the Cushing's, and was doing really well. His test results at every check-up and follow-up came back well within normal range. We had wanted to get him stem-cell therapy for his mobility issues when our vet started offering it, but that was at the same time he was diagnosed with the Cushing's, and so we couldn't do it due to the risk that it would stimulate the tumor that caused his Cushing's and make it grow larger. So we managed his arthritis and mobility issues as best we could with medication, exercise and supplements. But as he got older his mobility issues slowly got worse. We were able to keep them fairly well in control with increased carprofen, and later with the addition of gabapentin for neurological pain and methocarbamol at night to help relax his muscles. We also took him in for monthly injections of Adequan to keep his arthritis symptoms in check, and even added a hyaluronic acid supplement as well. All of this kept him mobile, pain-free and happy for a good long time.

Hobey at the park in June of 2014
But starting last summer, he stopped wanting to go for his afternoon walks. He was nearly 14 by then, and I figured the Florida heat was probably too much for him. But he was still eager to go for his morning walks, and would pester me if I was running late for them! By autumn, he had begun to fall down or unintentionally sit down every once in a while during our morning walks and play time in the park. Little by little, this got worse, and he lost more and more muscle mass in his back end. He slowly developed a bit of fecal incontinence too. But he was still happy and healthy, and we figured that as long as he wanted to keep going we'd do whatever we needed to in order to keep him mobile and pain free. When the time came, I would get him one of those doggy carts with wheels so he could keep on rollin'. By the time the holidays rolled around, his age was really showing. He slept a lot more, and didn't play as much. (He still insisted on going to the park every morning though!) His fecal incontinence was a little worse, and he often peed a little when he got up from lying down. No worries... puppy pads helped save us some cleanup. Again, as long as Hobey was happy and healthy, we'd do whatever we needed to. What's a little pee and poop between friends? He was still interested and engaged, eating well and content. But we figured it was probably our last holiday with him, and that we'd be lucky if we got another six months. Fourteen is pretty old for a big dog after all.

January came and I took him in for his semi-annual checkup and periodic Cushing's follow-up testing. All the bloodwork came back great. A few days later, the head vet called me. He said he'd been at a conference and had spoken with a vet from UF about Hobey's case and stem cell therapy. Hobey had been on his mind because he'd seen our boy struggling to walk while at his checkup (the ceramic tile floors there didn't help!), and also had another patient who came in for stem cell therapy but was diagnosed with Cushing's during his preliminary bloodwork. The UF vet said that if they only injected the stem cells into the joints and didn't do them intravenously (standard procedure is to do both), that any tumors and cancers shouldn't be affected. So our vet thought Hobey would be a good candidate for the procedure.

Well, that would have been GREAT two years when he was only 12 and a half, but now he was 14 and a half! I was concerned about putting him through the surgery, even though it's relatively minor and not a very invasive procedure. So we took Hobey in to talk about it some more with the vet. Given his otherwise good health and great bloodwork, our vet thought that Hobey could live another year or two or longer, and still believed he was good candidate and would get some benefit from the stem cell therapy. Mr. RM and I thought about it, and decided that if it would help Hobey's mobility, it would be worth it. Even if we only had him for another few months, we wanted him to be as comfortable and mobile as possible. So we made an appointment for couple weeks later on February 9th.

Due to Hobey's age, the plan was to have chest x-rays and an ultrasound done on Monday to make sure his heart wasn't enlarged and everything looked good. Then if all was clear, he'd have the stem cell procedure done on Tuesday, and would come home Tuesday night. I wasn't crazy about leaving him there overnight... he didn't like to be away from home... but we were at the vet's office at least every two weeks over the last year or so, whether it was just to pick up meds or get a shot, or some other appointment. And we'd been going to the same vet practice since his very first vet visit at eight weeks old, so he was familiar with the place and the people, and everyone there loved him.

Because it can contribute to bleeding during surgery, we had to take Hobey off the Carprofen (doggy ibuprofen) for 10 days prior to the surgery. We could keep him on his other pain meds though, and could also give him Tramadol to help control the pain. Hobey hated Tramadol though.... it made him loopy, and caused him to fall down even more, so I tried at first to just give him enough to keep him comfortable. But the longer he was off the Carprofen, the more miserable our poor boy became. So whether he liked it or not I ended up giving him the full dose he was allowed. The last few of those 10 days, he avoided walking much at all. He was clearly uncomfortable and suffering. If that had been his normal, I would have put him down. He was miserable and it broke my heart to see him hurting. I hated to see him struggling without his Carprofen, and just tried to focus on getting through to Monday. If the stem cell procedure didn't work for him, he'd go back on the Carprofen, which had obviously been working well for him, and we'd get him some doggy wheels. At least then he'd be comfortable for the rest of whatever time he had left.

Finally, Monday came. I packed up some food and treats, all of Hobey's meds, one of his favorite toys that always went to the vet with him whenever he had to stay there for a few hours, and a t-shirt that I'd worn to sleep in the night before so he'd have something with him that smelled like home. Then I loaded Hobey into the car for the ride to the vet. He always liked going for rides, and loved to "go see the ladies" at the vet. As we often did, we stopped at Dunkin' Donuts on the way to pick up some Munchkins for the vet's staff. Of course I almost always slipped one to Hobey before we went in, and I made sure he got one that day. Once we got to the vet's office, I had a difficult time getting him inside. He was really having a hard time walking. I was helping with a sling lift harness we'd been using, but he was still close to 70 pounds, and still stubborn enough to insist on going where HE wanted to go, which meant meandering around the grounds around the parking lot sniffing all the bushes and peeing on everything interesting. I let him roam around as long as I could, and on the way in we even met the parents of the other Cushing's dog who, coincidentally, was having the same stem cell procedure that day! They had just dropped their baby off and were their way out.
Hobey on his way to "see the ladies"
at the vet's in October 2014

We finally went inside and after a challenging attempt to get an accurate weight on the scales, we went into one of the exam rooms. One of the techs came in to get some quick prelim info, took Hobey's temperature, listened to his heart, etc., and then it was time to leave him there. I gave him a big hug and lots of kisses, and said, "I love you, Baby. Be a good boy! I'll come and get you tomorrow."

And then I went home and tried to focus on work. It was always too quiet in the house on the occasions when Hobey had to be at the vet for a few hours anyway, and I knew it was going to be really rough leaving him there overnight. But one thing at a time... today (that Monday) was just ultrasound and x-rays, and seeing if they showed anything abnormal, which the vet didn't think they would. Later in the afternoon, the vet (Dr. H) called. He said the x-rays showed a mass in Hobey's abdomen. He said it was possibly a tumor, but could just be inflammation, and he was having a radiologist look at it and would call me when he heard from him. Finally at about 6:00, he called back and said that it was definitely his adrenal gland, but felt reasonably sure that it WAS just inflammation. However, they needed to test it before they could do the stem cell procedure to make sure Hobey's blood would clot, or something like that, and that they'd do that testing at about 10:00 in the morning. If the clotting test was good, they'd move forward with the stem cell procedure.

I asked if Hobey was okay there, or if I should come and get him and just bring him back in the morning. The vet said that he was doing fine, but that I could come and get him if I wanted to. I asked what he thought would be better for Hobey... leave him or bring him home. It was a bit stormy that evening, and he said that we might as well leave Hobey there rather than subject him to the hassle of going back and forth. I didn't mind the hassle, but having seen how uncomfortable he was the last couple nights at home, I thought they'd probably be better able to manage his pain there than I could if he was here. At least at the vet he'd be in a kennel and more likely to just rest, and they'd be able to adjust his pain meds as needed.

Hobey was the best assistant
I could have asked for!
Still, I had second thoughts. So I called at about 8:30 Monday night to check on how he was doing. I spoke the night shift vet, who used to be the vet we usually saw at the practice when Hobey was younger. (She had gone to another clinic for a few years to work on emergency veterinary medicine, and was now back at the practice.) She's the one who had said that Hobey was a once-in-a-lifetime dog so many years ago. So I knew she loved him too, and she'd take good care of him. She told me he was doing okay. Said he was vocalizing a little which could be due to discomfort. I told her it was about the time I usually gave him his nighttime meds. She said she'd make sure he got them, and even agreed to give him a little sedation if he seemed anxious enough to need it. She said he was okay and not to worry about keeping him there, they were taking good care of him. And so I didn't go and get him. (I'll always wonder if I should have.)
But he sucked at filing!

The next morning (Tuesday), again I just tried to focus on work, and not the fact that my furry "assistant" wasn't here. Mr. RM texted me at 9:00 to see if I'd heard from the vet yet. I said "no... they were gonna do the clotting test around 10:00." He texted again at 11:15. Nothing yet... figured no news is good news. Then the phone rang just after 11:30. It was one of the techs. He asked if I had a few minutes to talk to Dr. H. I said "of course!" and hoped it was good news about the test results. When Dr. H got on the phone, he said that he had planned to do the test earlier but that they'd had another dog come in for emergency surgery. Once that settled down, he had sent a tech to draw Hobey's blood for the test. He said that when the tech got to Hobey's kennel, "I'm very sorry to tell you, your baby is gone.  We think probably that he had a cardiac event."

He said that Hobey had been fine earlier that morning... he'd eaten a little food, they took him outside and he did his pees and poops, and that he had been back in his kennel resting comfortably. When the tech went to draw his blood, she thought he was asleep, but he was already gone. He must have been sleeping and his heart just gave out. They said we could come and see him, and they wouldn't move him until we got there. I texted Mr. RM to come home. He rushed home from work, and I had to break the news. We composed ourselves and headed to the vet's office, where they took us into the clinic area to see our boy.

There he was, in his kennel, lying with his head on one paw as if he was napping. I'd seen him lay like that million times in a sunny spot on the patio or in the back yard. He looked peaceful. He was still warm... they had called us right after they found him that way, which was apparently right after it happened, and we got there within 30 minutes. I'm glad they didn't move him before we got there... it really did help to see how peaceful he looked.

They gave us a few minutes with him there at the kennel area, and then carried him into one of the exam rooms, brought us some tissues and left us alone with him to say goodbye. They told us to take all the time we needed. All the long-time staff who knew him well were sad and teary too. We gave him tummy rubs and nose kisses and ear scratchies, held his little hands (paws), smoothed his fur. We stayed with him in the exam room for... I don't know how long. Maybe half an hour? It was long enough that the warmth was starting to leave his little (big) body. Somehow it started to feel like he wasn't there anymore. And so we felt like it was time for us to go, as difficult as it was to leave him. Again.

There's a Hobey-shaped hold in our hearts, just
like the spot on the patio where he had been lying
when it started to drizzle a few days before we lost him.
It's been hard to forgive ourselves for not going to get him that Monday night. Part of us feels like we broke his heart, and that's why it gave out on Tuesday morning. Maybe he thought we weren't coming back for him. Another part of us feels like maybe he was just ready to go, and maybe he knew that if he let go there it would be easier on us. Mr. RM says he always felt like Hobey would never make us have to make the choice to put him to sleep. And although I'd rather have had him at home when he slipped away, we know that he was in a place where people loved him and cared about him when he went. (The vet and staff even sent us flowers... never heard of that! That's how special Hobey was!)

I still wonder if taking him off the Carprofen hastened his death... he was really struggling and increasingly uncomfortable without it for those 10 days. Did that contribute to his heart giving out? Should we have left well enough alone and not tried to do the stem cell therapy? His mobility issues would have continued to increase, but he had been content. Old, yes, and definitely having age-related difficulty, but not unhappy, and didn't seem to be terribly uncomfortable before we took him off the Carprofen prior to the planned surgery. Would we make the same choice again? I don't know... we were trying to help him. We had hoped with stem cell therapy that he'd be able to walk with less difficulty so he'd be better able to enjoy his last months or years. If only we had been able to do it when we first wanted to three years ago... but it was a new procedure then and they didn't know at that time that it would have been okay with the Cushing's if done in the joints only.

We also know that 14 and a half is pretty long life for a big dog like Hobey. And the vets always said that we were taking great care of him. Well of course we were... he was the light of our lives. His soul was pure joy, and he gave that love and joy to almost everyone he met. We were lucky to have had him in our lives at all, and even luckier that we had him for so long.

Goodbye, beautiful boy.
Thanks for coming to live with us.
We'll love and miss you forever.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Coping Mechanism?

How many calories are in a bottle of pinot grigio?

Just wondering... more on why I've over-indulged tonight later.
And yes, I realize this is in violation of the "no posting when drinking" rule......

Heartache is a bitch.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Question of Character?

Is it just me, or is Bill Cosby really starting to look like Fred Sanford these days?

I don't know if the recent accusations about Mr. Cosby are true, but if they are, it would seem Fred Sanford had better character. Just sayin'.

"You big dummy." -- Fred Sanford

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gobble Gobble!

Is it just me, or is Thanksgiving the best holiday of the year?

I think it's MY favorite holiday anyway. It's a bit like Christmas without all the pressure... just good food and (if you're lucky) good company. It really is a day to take stock, count your blessings, and be mindful of all the things in your life that you're thankful for.

Sure, cooking Thanksgiving Day dinner can be a lot of work, but I find it can be pretty festive with some good music and a little wine, plus a helping hand or two. For me, the hardest part is trying to bring all the side dishes to a finish at close to the same time. That's when it gets crazy in the kitchen.

Because my mom lives a few states away, most years we go to my in-laws for Thanksgiving. This  year, because it's likely the last Thanksgiving that our beloved old dog will be around to enjoy, we wanted to have it at home. At one point, there was a possibility that we'd have nine of us total for dinner (though really only a probable seven). Mr. Remarkable Monkey insisted on a 20 lb turkey and a 10 lb bag of potatoes. That was fine by me... I love leftovers! By the time Wednesday night rolled around, due to some folks changing their plans and my in-laws bowing out due to temporary health issues, we were down to just three! No big deal... just meant a quieter day, and it was actually probably more relaxing that way. Plus my brother-in-law got a ton of leftovers to take home, and we had a ton of leftovers here to deal with.
I am thankful that this bird came to our house for dinner.
He was delicious!

I have had turkey at every meal since Thursday evening... Mr. RM is in the kitchen right now concocting a delicious-smelling turkey pot pie with most of what's left. And as much as I love turkey, I'm almost ready for something else. Mr. RM had the last two slices of Wednesday night's pizza for dinner last night, and it was smelling really good!

I forced myself not to work on Friday. Decided to take full advantage of the long holiday weekend and just relaxed, catching up on DVRd TV that I haven't had time to watch. Black Friday shopping? No. Not for me. I'm also among those who think it's ridiculous for stores to be open on Thanksgiving Day. I mean, I guess it's their right to open on whatever day they choose, but, having a friend in retail management, I also see the side of the employees who are forced to work on the holiday. (And not only work, but deal with sale-crazy crowds.) They don't get to fully enjoy the special day that I personally look forward to all year, all due to Corporate America's chase for the almighty dollar. But that's another blog post.

December starts tomorrow, bringing with it more of the commercial Christmas clamor that started even before Black Friday. Maybe by tomorrow I'll be ready to start easing into the holiday spirit. But not just yet. Right now, it's time to go have some turkey pot pie and then later, I'll savor the last slice of pumpkin pie.

Hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!