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

Hubby, a Bed, and Beauty Day

This post is long overdue. The bed part, anyway. Don’t worry… it’s not X-rated.

Our house has two bedrooms (master and guest) and two offices (Hubby’s and mine). If more than one person or couple visits, they’d either get stuck on the sofabed in the living room (no privacy) or in the basement on an air mattress. (The only problem with the basement, besides the air mattress, is having to walk through Hubby’s workshop to reach the bathroom.)

We though our guests would appreciate having a real bed, but we both need our offices. So Hubby decided to make a Murphy Bed.

Since not everyone is familiar with the Murphy Bed, and because I thought it was interesting, here’s a video for you that explains the history of the Murphy Bed.

As for our Murphy Bed, we decided it would go in Hubby’s office, because that’s a bigger space. I didn’t take a “before” picture, so you’ll just have to imagine a blank wall.

Keep in mind, Hubby buys rough, unplaned lumber. That’s REALLY starting from scratch. (If you don’t know the difference between rough, unplaned lumber and the stuff you buy ready-to-use, check out this past post of mine.)

For this project, Hubby chose Birch plywood and Cherry trim.

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Murphy Bed Frame

 

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Murphy Bed Mattress Platform

 

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With mattress in place.

 

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With mattress in place.

 

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Murphy Bed Cabinet

 

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Murphy Bed Cabinet

Pretty cool, eh? The bed was completed before Christmas (I told you this was overdue).

I always tell people that Hubby of mine is handy. He has a vast array of skills. Think of him as the king of DIY.

Guess what he did on Sunday afternoon. Heck, you’ll never guess, so I’ll just show you.

It was beauty day for the Bitches. Also long overdue…

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Hubby’s multi-purpose workbench comes in handy for all kinds of tasks.

 

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She looks thrilled, right?

 

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Belle “before,” dreading what she knew was coming.

 

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She also looks thrilled, doesn’t she?

 

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She enjoys this more than she’d have you believe.

 

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K and Belle both submit to grooming.

 

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Hi, Mama.

 

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K, after.

 

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Belle, after. Note Meg’s “don’t even think about it” look.

Meg is the most stubborn, head-strong dog I have ever met. She doesn’t like to be groomed. It takes two of us to give Meg a trim. And even then it’s a challenge. She fights it the whole way.

So she is still a bit shaggy. We may just leave her to the professionals.

Gotta love handy Hubbies, right?

Dual-purpose Road Trip

I finally finished painting the table and chairs I’ve been working on for my Dad. So yesterday, I decided to make a delivery.

Aunt Bertha and Dad
Aunt Bertha and Dad

He moved into a new home back in mid-June. The kitchen is not quite as large as his old kitchen, so he needed a smaller table. I told him he should let me find one for him. Knowing I have a knack for finding cool, old, bargain-priced furniture, he agreed.

Now, Dad can be sort of impatient. I told him it may take a couple of weeks, to hang on to the table that the former occupants had left behind. But a week or so ago he told me he’d gotten a temporary table. Aunt Bertha, who lives five houses down from Dad, told me that she hoped he would pass the temporary table on to her when he was finished. She said she was envious, that he always finds the coolest stuff. Neither of them would elaborate on where this table had come from.

Of course, the whole time I was working on his “new” dining set, I was worried that he might not like it. I mean, I do realize some people prefer plain wood as opposed to painted furniture. So I started worrying that the temporary table would be nicer than the one I was repurposing for him.

I was quite anxious to get the new set finished and see this mysterious replacement. After I arrived at his house, I told him I had to see the temporary table before I unloaded his “new” set.

This is what I saw…

Temporary Table and Chair
Temporary Table and Chair

They’d both been yanking my chain the whole time! It’s not often that folks can pull jokes off on me, so they were both quite tickled to have succeeded with the ruse. That’s why they’re still laughing in that picture shown above.

"New" Table and Chairs
“New” Table and Chairs

The table is the perfect size. And the leaves, when raised, will make it possible to seat six people.

Dad with his new dining set.
Dad with his new dining set.

Dad likes his new kitchen set. I’ll tell you more about the table in another post. I’m anxious to show y’all the transformation. But first, I have to explain the other goal for yesterday’s road trip.

We adopted K through the National Brittany Rescue and Adoption Network (NBRAN) in November 2009. She’d been living with a wonderful foster family in Lititz, Pennsylvania. It’s rare enough for adopters to keep former foster parents updated with pictures. Rarer still are actual visits. Since Lititz is less than 10 miles from Dad’s new place, I knew one day I’d take K for a visit. Yesterday just happened to present the perfect opportunity.

K is a very good car-rider. Unlike Meg who bounces all over the place, snorting, huffing, and puffing. And Belle, who is nervous in the car and pants constantly. K just curls up in her seat and rides along. She gets up every now and then to look out, but quickly settles right back down.

Are we there yet?
Are we there yet?

Before we left Dad’s house, I walked K over to meet the neighbors.

Moo!
Moo!

She wasn’t nearly as interested as I thought she would be.

K was only mildly interested in the cows.
K was only mildly interested in the cows.

I think the smells overwhelmed her. Not just the cow smells, the aromas in general. She doesn’t get to visit farmland often. In addition to the farm scents, there were road apples along the way, too, from all of the Amish buggies riding past. (None rode past while we were walking. I bet K’s reaction to that would have been interesting to see!)

Lovely Day
Lovely Day

The weather was absolutely gorgeous yesterday. During our visit with Dad, it was in the low to mid 70s and breezy.

I’d told Jenn I was stopping in for a visit, but I didn’t tell her I’d be bringing K. She and Matt, her husband, were happy to see K. As Matt explained, K’s pictures (I share lots) are nice, but she always looks grumpy. Or serious. Stoic is a word I’ve often used to describe her, too. You can see just how happy, loving, and sweet she is unless you see her in person.

Treats!
Treats! L-R, Maggie, Eli, Bella, Hannah, and K

Jenn and Matt have three dogs of their own (Bella, Hannah, and Maggie) plus a foster, Eli.

Jenn’s Mom, Ann, stopped over to see us, too.

They were kind enough to take K and I on a walking tour of Lititz. I’d driven through on previous visits to Jenn’s house, but had never stopped to look around.

It’s a cute town. Of course, I took a bunch of pics to share here…

Chocolate Factory
Chocolate Factory

 

Rolex Clock
Rolex Clock

 

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I think I embarrassed K.

 

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Giant Pretzel
Giant Pretzel

 

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Ann and Jenn with K
Ann and Jenn with K

 

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I just LOVE the name of that thrift shop.
Chapel at Linden Hall School
Chapel at Linden Hall School

 

Brew pub.
Brew pub.

 

Lovely Park
Lovely Park

In the heart of downtown Lititz is Lititz Springs Park. As you can see, a creek runs through the park. And the creek was full of ducks.

Mildly interested at first.
Mildly interested at first.

K was only a tad curious at first. I’m not sure if she’s ever seen ducks. I told her they were floating birds, but she didn’t seem to care.

A determined Jenn.
A determined Jenn.

Jenn was quite keen to get her into the water. And I really wanted to see her get excited about the ducks.

Our perseverance paid off.

Still just mildly intrigued.
Still just mildly intrigued.

I wish I’d had a video going when the ducks started quacking and flapping right in front of K. The look on her face was priceless.

Whoah!
Whoah!

We all had quite a laugh once she finally became interested in the ducks.

Definitely interested.
Definitely interested.

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She almost pulled Jenn into the water there.

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I’m not sure if K had more fun stalking the ducks or if we had more fun watching K. We laughed a lot!

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All in all, it was a lovely day.

Me and K
Me and K

It was really nice seeing Jenn, Matt, and Ann again. And Jenn, thanks for taking pictures of me. It’s rare to see a post with this many shots of me, since I’m almost always the one behind the lens.

We will definitely be back for another visit.

 

Surrogate Children

Having dogs really is like having kids.

Sit still in a room, and the dogs find a cozy spot to lay. Unless it’s close to meal time. Or time for a walk, snack, mail run, etc. They are creatures of habit, too. Meg has her routine down, and you’d better stick to it.

Weed the flower beds, and the dogs investigate the flowers, too.

Go into the bathroom, and God forbid, close the door, and the dogs wait anxiously for you to emerge. Don’t close the door and they join you, of course.

Make a phone call and the dogs suddenly become noisy and/or playful.

Relax on the porch, just sitting, watching the world go by, and the dogs do the same.

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Not that I am complaining. It’s just that the parallels humor me.

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.”
― Milan Kundera

I can’t imagine life without dogs. Really.

Seeing these images this morning, which were shot at the end of May, is what inspired this post. I’d gone out into the yard to capture some flower shots and, of course, the dogs followed. They apparently wanted to look at the flowers, too.

Meg (age 14)
Meg (age 14)

 

K (age 7)
K (age 7)

 

Belle (age 6)
Belle (age 6)

Meg, K, and Belle. “Old Girl,” “Middle Girl,” and “Little Girl.”

How odd it would be not to have them around.

Meg’s health is slowly failing. She’s deaf, has arthritis, some strange problem with her biliary tract, which we keep under control with a strict low-fat diet, and her muscles are weakening. She could be with us for years still. Or something catastrophic could happen and take her sooner. I hate to think of that day.

"What are you looking at, Mama?"
“What are you looking at, Mama?”

For now, I’ll just enjoy all of them with their silly little quirks. And continue to marvel at their insatiable curiosity…