30 May 2013

Will He or Won't He?

To run, or not to run: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The blisters and shin splits of outrageous mileage,
Or to take arms against a sea of sore legs and sweaty bodies,
And by opposing end them?  To sleep in late, to walk the dogs. 

It may seem like a long way off right now, but I just got pinged by Marathon committee that registration has opened up for the 2014 Houston Marathon.  Earlier this month they opened early and/or guaranteed registration for “early qualifiers”.  People who have:

· Qualifying times: Marathon 4:00:00 Half Marathon 1:52:55 10k 0:51:08 -or-
· 2013 Deferment (you got a deferment from last year)                -or-
· Marathon Veteran (10+ times)                -or-
· You have run the Marathon 5-9 times                -or-
· 3rd Time’s the Charm (in the lottery for 3 consecutive years and never picked)

Seeing how I don’t make any of those qualifying requirements, looks like if I really want to sign up for the 2014 run, I’ll either have to do take my chances in the lottery or sign up for the Run For A Reason program once again.  One path, you trust to luck and the lottery gods to get picked.  The other path you agree to raise a certain amount of $$$ for your charity.  This past year I signed up to collect money for the Epilepsy Foundation.

Now the question you have to ask yourself is:  Do I go for number 6?  My time is not all that impressive (slower than molasses on a Minneapolis winter morning), I don’t train as much as I should, the knees are complaining more, and I am getting too old and too fat for this crap.  There are so many better things I can spend my money and time on.  Let the younger crowd take the torch.  Give someone else a slot.  Oh, sure, sitting here in the middle of spring with the temps hovering in the 80s, it sounds all shiny and exciting now.  But, 233 days from now, it will be hard to muster up that same level of enthusiasm come  January standing out on the cold, dark streets of Houston with 25,000 other really insane people.  

I know better than to ask everyone's opinions.  Been down that road before.  I ask my friends for advice/encouragement and I get all sorts of uplifting, inspirational, motivational support:  You can do it!  I know you will conquer the course!  6th time's a charm!  Sort of like having your friends encourage you to get another tattoo.  I keep looking for that sober friend to slap some sense in me and tell me to grow up.  Ultimately, it is up to me.  I gotta decide if I am going to go for one more lap on this merry-go-round.  The good news is, with 5 under my belt, I pretty much know what to expect.  The bad news is that I am woefully out of shape.  With all the turmoil of late, I really haven't been running very much.  I think I have only done a handful of runs in the last 6 weeks.  Maybe that's why I feel so cranky.  I could give you all sorts of excuses for why I haven't run, but, in reality, I haven't been serious enough.  Like any exercise regime, you have to have the discipline to stick with it - Make it a habit and it will stick.  I look at the half as being 6 months away and I can start prepping for it over the summer, but, in reality, I always find some excuse (too hot, too tired, to busy) for not training.  

I've been out running at lunch the past few weeks and the lack of running shows.  I have signed up for my annual Dad's Day 5k in 2 weeks.  It is a charity 5k run downtown for Prostate Cancer awareness.  Got dialed into it two years ago.  I know - 5k is barely a warm up run, but, it does force me out of my rut and gets me out on the roads.  Of course, running 5k on flat pavement in the middle of a warm, muggy June morning is not much of comparison to a 25k run in January, but it is better that sitting on my can.     

29 May 2013

Catching up

Sorry for the lack of posts of late.  Given Dave's passing last weekend, being short handed at the office, and the normal holiday shenanigans, things have been somewhat disjointed and, quite frankly, I just haven't been in the blogging frame of mine.  I had hoped to play catch up over the past weekend and make the rounds to everyone's blogs, but got busy in the yard and spending time with the kids and family.  I took a small break from the computer this weekend.   

First of all, thanks everyone for your kind words and prayers.  Many of you have been down the same path and have dealt with the same issues.  Things have settled down somewhat, but it was still a tough pill to swallow.  My wife has been handling his passing fairly well, but her sister has been taking it bit harder.  Being a doctor, she knew this was inevitable and did everything she could to make him comfortable, but it still didn't make it any easier.  The last few months have been somewhat chaotic for everyone - I feel that Dave would not have wanted to be that way.  The daughters are focused upon their mom and her care.  I don't think they have told her of Dave's passing.  They are concerned how it would affect her health and, frankly, we're not sure if she would remember.  Not sure if I agree, but that is their call and I have no vote in that matter.  My fear is that she is not doing well and may not survive the year as well.  In the interim, they had Dave cremated.   Their plans are that, when Anne passes, we will take both their parents back to their home town in Arkansas to be buried with their parents/family.  It is getting harder to deal with aging parents.   

Speaking of aging parents, my mother (the road warrior) has to go the ER last week because of shortness of breath and lack of energy.  Her cardiologist indicated that her pacemaker (been in for 9 years) is starting to give up the ghost and would need to be replaced soon.  She was hoping it could wait until the fall when they get back from their summer travels, but the doc kindly insisted to have it done BEFORE they left.  Kind of a sudden deal, but they were trying not to make a big deal about it.  Given my background with a pacemaker company, I would agree but, still, it did give me a few more grey hairs.    I've personally attended two implants and have a pretty good idea on how the procedures goes.  Not as complicated as I had assumed.  Installing a replacement pacer nowadays is almost considered "out patient" unless there are complications.  The plan was to go in early on Tuesday, have it done and be home by that evening.  They were the first to arrive at the hospital at 0530 and by 0800, the waiting room was full.  They did not roll her into surgery until 1000 (I would have been peeved at the wait) and by 1130, she was done.  Pretty routine surgery (according to the doctor) and no complications issues.  Got a couple hospital visitors to see the nonagenarian lady getting a new device.  She even got to keep her old device as a souvenir   She was out and resting back home by late afternoon.  Doc said she should feel better almost immediately and should be able to travel by next week.  None of the drama like when they first put it in 9 years ago.  They still planning to head north for their annual gathering of the Airstream tribes in South Dakota.  Honestly, if it hadn't been for that small, annoying little procedure, they'd already be halfway to Sioux Falls, by now (her words).  Hard to keep up with those kids.  

19 May 2013

The final chapter

It has been a long and emotional week.  My wife's father finally succumbed and passed away this afternoon.  Thursday they placed him on "active dying" status and 24 hour hospice care.  I had never heard of active dying but essentially it means that death was eminent.    My wife and her sister were with him for most of last few days.  He passed away quietly this afternoon.  David has been suffering form Alzheimer's for several years and it has been very painful/sad to see him slip away.  They've known this was coming for some time and were prepared for the inevitable, but it is still hard to say goodbye and emotions are very raw right now.  On one hand, the daughters are saddened that their daddy is no longer with them, but on the on the other hand, there is some mixed relief that he is no longer suffering and is in a better place.    

Death is the last chapter in time, but the first chapter in eternity.

14 May 2013

More cars and dogs

Few more shots from the art car parade on Saturday....

Add caption

Along with a few videos of the action...

And Grayson is doing better.  We took him back to vet yesterday and they pulled the rest of the staples and checked out the spots on his neck.  The vet declared him ok but he has developed a hot spot that we need to keep an eye on.  Unfortunately for Gray, that means another few days back in the horse collar.  At least they did not have to restaple him.  No dog park for another week or so.  

13 May 2013

Mother's Day, strange cars and dog stuff

Had an good Mother's Day.  Spend a few hours over with my mom and dad at their house before going to my brother's place for burgers.  Of course, I took the furry kids with me just to keep them from getting bored and get them out of the house.  They made the rounds mooching off of everyone, getting more a few handouts and generally enjoying being the center of attention.  Claire, being the consummate mooch, was just soaking up the extra attention.   

Saturday the annual Art Car parade.  It is the annual celebration of the creative & kooky side of Houston where the canvas comes with wheels.  Lots of cars with all sorts of unique  and interesting themes.  This show has been going on for a while (this year is the 26th Annual parade).  I've known of the parade for a few years but only attended the parade for the first time last year and made a mental note to attend this year.  Got to see lots of different cars/displays.  Some of the old favorites were there, many new ones.  Not sure what the rules are and what you can or cannot do, but I think the primary requirement is for it to be mobile.  

I was considering taking the dogs as they would enjoy the outdoors and sights & sounds, but the parade posting said to leave Fido home.  Turned out that nobody paid any attention to those instructions as I saw lots of furry critters along the parade route.  May take my two next year.  

And speaking of dogs, an update on the dog front.  Grayson has been pretty patient with his whole procedure and post op care.  Not exactly happy with the horse collar he has to wear, but way happier than the cone of shame.  He did pretty well all week and didn't have any problems, although the collar does generate a bit more sympathy (aka attention) than normal.  The biopsies came back on Thursday negative - so no cancer or other issues to worry about (thanks for all the prayers and blog juju).  I took him in on Saturday to get his staples pulled and get checked out.  He seemed much happier and glad to lose the collar, but later in the day, when I checked him out, I notice that they had not pulled all the staples.  Several were still in place on his back and side.  Did they just miss those?  And the incisions on his neck are still oozing a bit.  The technician said to just put some neosporin on the wounds but I ain't happy with the way they look so I am headed back to the vet today to get him checked out.  So far, this hasn't slowed Grayson down a bit, but I am concerned with the neck wounds and how they are healing.  

12 May 2013

¡Feliz día de la madre!

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers out there!

Through the mounds of diapers/pampers, formula, late night changing, sleepless nights, clothes permanently stained with spit up, scrapes, banged up knees, fender benders, arguments, grey hairs, wrinkles, and lost vacations, you've always been there for us.  They say it takes a special person to be a mom.  Someone with the patience of Job, someone with the wisdom of Solomon, someone to mend hurt and make everything alright again.   

Mom, I may get my mechanic skills and the ability to cuss from dad, but I owe my brains, my sense of humor and good looks to you.  You taught me right from wrong, when to say yes, when to say no, when to turn the other cheek, when to not run, when to laugh, when to cry.  Not every mom is June Cleaver, and I might be slightly biased, but I think I got the best.  Thanks for all of your love and guidance over these many, many years.  And thanks for the butter scotch pies.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

04 May 2013

In stitches

Better day.  Grayson is almost back to his goofy antics.  Took both for a walk this morning and he is back to galloping around the park like normal.  I've wanted to avoid the "cone of shame" because none of them like it, but this morning I caught him scratching himself under the chin and he pulled out a few staples.  Quick run back to the vet and a quick staple job and he is back at home moping with his new fashion statement.  

Cone of shame

Direct TV dog
 Felt sorry for him, so I ran out to pet store and got an inflatable collar.  He's much happier, even if it looks like he is sporting a life preserver.  

Haute couture
Claire, on the other hand, was pretty much happy just to not have to wear any new collar.   
The south Texas Claire shrub
Still holding out hope for a quiet weekend.  Seems like it is the time of year for nuptials.  First, ShadowRun celebrated their 22nd anniversary, then Terri marked the big 25, and then Lotta Joy turned 12.  I reckon that everyone had the same general time of year in mind when it comes to love.  Today marks our 33rd trip around the merry-go-round.  It seems like it was just a few years ago we were a pair of newlyweds starting out in life without a clue.  Around the time when we got married, Carter was still in office, Mount St Helens would erupt two weeks later, and The Empire Strikes Back opened.  A lot of things have changed over the last 3 decades.  

03 May 2013

Ruff day

I’m in the dog house.  Grayson ain’t happy with me.

I took him in a few weeks back to get the annual round of shots and checkup (translation: $$$).  Being a Golden and a perpetual hair machine, I am always on the watch for things that change.  I play with the dogs all the time so I tend to spot if anything new shows up.  When out roaming the field and bayous, they tend to pick up all sorts of stuff along the trail.  One of my biggest paranoia is with ticks.  I am always feeling up my dogs to see if they have any new bumps/lumps.  Of course, any extra attention they get is fine by them.  Goldens (as well as other big dogs) have a tendency to get skin tag/lumps (technical term:  sebaceous cyst) as they grow older and Shadow had accumulated several lumps over the years.  I asked the vet if this was something we should worry about or get checked out, but he didn't seem to see it as a cause for concern.   Grayson is still pretty young (5-6) but a few have popped up on him over the past year or so.  Most are skin tags or knots, but I have occasionally picked off a tick or two.  Somewhere along the way, one big one showed up on his side that looked like a big pimple.  Kinda gross.  I asked his first vet, Dr Stanley, if we should be worried and he assured me it was a simple cyst and nothing to sweat over (but looked ugly to me).  Dr Stanley left the office and moved north so we bounced to other vets.  Finally got Grayson into see one of the primary vets, Dr Puksta to check him out stem to stern.  Dr Puksta is a bit more proactive that other vets and she was concerned over two of the newer lumps and wanted to remove them and do a pathology (not words I wanted to hear).  She didn't see any problem outright but wanted to make sure.  And the big ugly knot on his side was just that – a big cyst (dog wart).  Goldens are prone to get cancer.  One of our GBGRR group had her dog (4) diagnosed with cancer recently and undergoing chemo.  I tend to worry about this stuff for the wife, for the kids (two and four footed) more than I do myself.  

Really didn't want to put Gray through the wringer, but I tended to agree with the doc and we booked a slot for Thursday for day surgery.  Dropped him off in the am early and eager (but unfed).  They called back in the afternoon that he came through with flying colors and was ready to come home.  I picked him up after work and you could tell he had just about enough of that place.  Poor guy.  Tail tucked, saved down in several spots, five small ugly scars, still woozy from anesthesia.  Not a happy camper.  I took him home let him rest.  Even this morning he wasn't up to his normal level.  Doc said it might take a few days to get his groove back.  No dog park for 10 days until the staples come out.  He is a bit more clingy and guilty looking (What did I do?) and I feel bad for him.  Even on a short walk, Claire was pulling point with Grayson bringing up the rear.  Hoping to give him a chance to recover this weekend.  We should hear something on pathology tests next week but I am not sure I want to hear the news.    

Doing surgery on a dog (or cat) can have bad side effects.  I kept thinking about Bella and wondered if this was the right thing to do.  Claire has way more lumps on her that Grayson had, but at her age, I am not sure she would survive the surgery.  Last year we did teeth cleaning on her and she was pretty much checked out for 3 days.  At 10+ years old, I am not sure I could do to do that to her.   Looking forward to a quiet weekend to celebrate our anniversary.