Uncertainty

This new year has slithered in with an air of uncertainty. It seems to be hanging over me in a dark cloud. Decisions pending, some of which are life and death. Others may “only” be life-changing. Sigh.

I’m tired of adulting. Really.

But whining never helps anyone, does it?

There is some positive news. Sort of. K seems to be holding her own. It’s a real roller coaster, mentally. I know the worst is coming, I just don’t know when.

I’ve been taking the girls for walks, weather permitting. The other day it was 65 degrees! K is very excited to go, but walking tires her out. She’s never ready to head home until she’s REALLY tired. So, I could force her to turn around sooner, but she doesn’t want to stop.

She LOVES walking.

The way I look at it, we could keep her safely tucked away at home, making her rest and take it easy. Or, I could let her do the things she enjoys, taking one day at a time, until she absolutely cannot do those things anymore.

If I were K, I’d want to do what I love. So we walk.

It’s gut-wrenching.

L-R, K and Belle

For now, we will just continue taking things one day at a time.

Welcome to the New Year

If you’d asked me a couple of weeks ago whether or not I had plans for the new year, I would have said, yes. Like making 2018 a year of more two-wheeled adventures (sorely lacking in 2017). Seeing more of my family and my friends. Working less and playing more in general (my job was very demanding in 2017). Getting back to the hobbies I enjoy — reading and writing blog posts, quilting, crafting, furniture painting, photography, etc. — but am always too tired for.

The unpredictability of life has a way of changing things, though, doesn’t it?

I learned a few things over the holidays, and now my outlook has shifted a bit. I still have plans, just different priorities.

L-R, K and Belle

Let’s talk about happy stuff first.

All of our kids, their spouses, and grandchildren were together at our house for Christmas this year. The last time we were all together was April 2013, for our son Eric’s wedding. Why so long? Because we all live in different states, have busy jobs, our own interests and commitments, and rarely enough time and/or money to get together as often as we’d like.

It really was great having everyone together.  Hubby Mike drove to Maryland on December 20 to pick up his mom. Shannon and Chris flew in from San Diego on a Christmas Eve red-eye. They told us they’d be arriving the morning of December 26, but surprised us on Christmas morning. Amy, TJ, and the grand kids drove down from just outside of Indianapolis on December 26. Eric and Kelsey drove down from Maryland on December 28 and 29.  It was a happy time.

L-R, Eric, Amy, and Shannon

It’s hard having the kids spread so geographically far apart. We want them to live their own lives doing what they want, where they want to do it, but we do miss seeing them more often.

Everyone left on Saturday morning. Eric and Kelsey drove back to Maryland, Amy, TJ, and kids left for Indiana, and Hubby drove Mom to Maryland before dropping Shannon and Chris at the airport. Which meant I was left home alone with the dogs.

This is the scene in our driveway that greeted me on Saturday afternoon…

All Gone

Now for the not-at-all-happy stuff…

That image perfectly captures the happy chaos of Christmas week. It really was awesome having everyone together. Just imagine how quiet and empty the house felt after everyone left.

It was just me and the dogs. I hadn’t been able to think too hard about the dogs since the day after Christmas. In fact, I’d had to consciously push focused thoughts of the dogs to the back of my mind for that entire week.

Belle and K, some time during Christmas week.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas day, we noticed K was having a bit more difficulty than usual getting around. She was having trouble with her back legs. We don’t know exactly how old she is. We adopted her after she’d been pulled from a kill shelter, so we don’t know her history. They guessed her to be about three at the time we adopted her, which would make her 12 now, but I think she’s two or three years older than that. She no longer hears well. She’s had cataracts for a while now, so her vision has been getting progressively worse. She has a heart murmur. And she’s been slowing down.  She’s always been a loud breather, but that’s been getting louder, too. It’s not laryngeal paralysis, which seems to be common in Brittanys, but we hadn’t been able to figure out why it’s been getting worse. She’s had unusual head twitches and tremors for awhile, too, which are apparently not uncommon in older dogs, but can look like a dog has neurological problems.

Long story short, her health has clearly been declining with age, but her rear-end weakness was very concerning. So we went to see her vet the day after Christmas. After a very thorough exam, including full blood work and x-rays, the vet was surprised to discover that she has very severe arthritis in her hips, which explains the rear-end weakness. She’s apparently been hiding chronic pain for quite some time (instinctual in animals). Her spine looks great, though. Sadly, the vet was also very surprised to find a large mass in the front lobe of her right lung. There’s no evidence of cancer in her lab results, which means if it IS cancer, it’s not a blood malignancy and it is still encapsulated.

Removing the mass would require invasive and very painful thoracic surgery.  The anesthesia that would be required is very risky in dogs her age. Lung cancer is not very common in dogs, so there’s a good chance it’s some other sort of cancer that’s metastasized to her lung. We could have it biopsied to try and determine exactly what it is, but that would require anesthesia, too, and would be painful. Knowing what it is would not change anything. We don’t want to subject her to surgery or any other painful, invasive procedures. If it is cancer, we wouldn’t subject her to chemo and/or radiation at this age either. She’s just too frail.

My Sofa Buddy

We WANT her to live forever, as a healthy, happy dog. But we do not feel like it would be fair to subject her to pain, prolonging her life for our own sake. So we are doing what we can to manage the arthritis pain and make sure she is happy and enjoying life. That’s the status quo for now. Of course, we have no idea how long that will last, so we are struggling with this knowledge daily.

K, before her Christmas haircut.

She’s still got a strong appetite. She’s still able to get around okay and the meds seem to be managing the inflammation and pain. We are all trying to go on as usual, but are taking each day as it comes, hoping the inevitable is in the distant future, but preparing to handle the worst, but most humane thing for our Special K, whenever the time finally comes.

Taking Life One Day at a Time

A Very Quick Update

I still have not managed to overcome the image upload issue I have been having. I cleaned up my server (deleted lots of what I hope were unnecessary files), upgraded to the latest version of WordPress, and installed a new theme.

Still, I have issues. Next I will be uninstalling all of the plugins (extra functionality) I have added.

Things may start to look and work much differently.  Just thought I’d give y’all a heads-up.

“I’ll be back.”

I Fixed It, I Think

A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to make some changes to overcome an issue I’d been having uploading images.

The fix required me to change some file permissions on my host server. When I did that, I did something wrong and broke my blog. Then things got pretty busy and I simply did not have the time or mental energy to figure out a computer problem.

Today, on a whim, I tried something else.

And it worked! At least I think it did.

My blog can be properly viewed once more. Sadly, I still can’t upload images the way I should be able to.

I will fix that issue next.

Dendermonde, Belgium
Dendermonde, Belgium

 

 

 

Staying Put

Mike and I are home after a lovely week in Belgium. We went to visit Annelies and Yves, who moved into their newly renovated house after a three-year renovation. It’s not completely finished — they are doing most of the work themselves — but it is fabulous.

I didn’t take a bunch of pics of their house to share because there are still a lot of finishing touches needed. I’ll do that on our next visit.

For now, just a few pics. I hope to share more in future posts.

Final Dinner in Belgium
Final Dinner in Belgium (Chinese takeaway!)

The trip was all about visiting with our friends and seeing the new house, so we didn’t do much touristy stuff. And it was actually a really fun visit. We explored the local area a bit, helped do little things around the house, got to meet some of their family, which was awesome, and basically just hung out.

On Saturday morning, I accompanied Annelies to the nearby town of Lokeren, where she had a two-hour band practice followed by a one-hour private music lesson (she plays bass guitar and sings). The music school is on the outskirts of town near a nature preserve called The Molsbroak (Het Moelsbroek on the map), so I roamed around there for a couple of hours and then drove around a bit until she was finished.

molsbroek

I was really surprised to discover a large community of expats from Canada living there.

canucks_in_be
Canadian Expats

I saw several Great Blue Herons, too.

heron_in_be
Great Blue Heron

There were other birds, too, but I have to figure out what they were before I can share more pics.

And here’s a picture captured near the center of their town, Dendermonde, on Friday afternoon.

dendermonde_be
Dendermonde, Belgium

I’ll share more pics from the trip in future posts. For now, it’s time to get to work.

Fall Picnic at Camp Roosevelt

Hubby Mike and I went for a ride today. For me, it was the first ride in months! It’s been a weird year. I’ve been so busy doing other stuff, I haven’t been able to get out on two wheels much at all. So I REALLY enjoyed it. I even used The Spotwalla tracker just to make sure it still works. Maybe even so I can look back and remember that it even happened.

Rest Break

The leaves are starting to change, mostly at higher elevations, but the last several days have been quite warm. Right now it’s about 86 F (30 C). We leave for vacation on Thursday. We’re heading to Belgium to visit our friends, Annelies and Yves, who JUST moved into a house they’ve been renovating for a couple/few years. It’s supposedly been unseasonably cool there, so I hope that trend continues.

I mapped out a route for us before leaving. A simple loop that would take us to a nice picnic spot. The place I chose was Camp Roosevelt. It’s along one of our favorite putt-putt roads through a piece of the George Washington National Forest near Luray, Virginia. We’d passed the place numerour times, but had never stopped. I had no idea there was a picnic area or that it was the location of the very first Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) site in the nation.

Here are a few images captured during our picnic stop.

ride9

 

ride8

Aren’t we fancy? Plates, drink goblets, a little cutting board… there’s also a cheese knife, cutlery, a blanket, salt & pepper shakers, and even cloth napkins.

ride10

After we’d eaten, I snagged a few pics of some Fall color to share. The colors are most noticeable at higher elevations and in cooler spots, like creek-side riding through Fort Valley, one of my favorite local geographic oddities.

ride3

 

ride7

 

ride5

 

ride4

 

ride6

All in all, it was a lovely day.