Seven

Weston And Hedgie

Weston And Hedgie (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

Our boy turns seven today.  Seven years of love and snuggles and play and joy and laughter and smiles and exasperation and sweetness and tail wagging and pawing and cuddle-time and barks and bullies and deep soulful looks.  Happy birthday little man, we love you so.

Weston at Saturday Market

Weston and Hedgehog

Weston and Hedgehog (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

Sir Weston

Sir Weston (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

Weston

Weston (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

Weston in the creeper

Weston in the creeper (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

Weston

Weston (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

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Weston

Weston

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7:24 AM

7:24 AM

I wake up, suddenly.  I feel like someone is staring at me.  I turn over slowly and there he is, a small furry little fella with big brown eyes sitting over me looking down.  His eyes say everything he can’t speak.  I’m half awake and tell him no.  Gently at first… no buddy, lay down, lay down now.  He doesn’t take no for an answer and leans down and gives me a kiss on the cheek.  Again I say, no buddy, lay down.  He’s relentless.  I try to go a bit more firm with him, NO, Weston, lay down.  He ignores me.  We’re having a battle of wills.

I tell him I didn’t get to sleep until really late last night and in fact have only slept for about four or five hours.  He doesn’t seem to care.  I change tactics.  I ask if he needs to go outside.  Maybe that’s it.  I get up, he follows, and I think, OK, this is it.  I open the doggie door and he sticks his head out, then pulls it back in.  He sticks it out one more time, looks around, and again pulls it back in.  I don’t have time for these shenanigans.  I open the door, telling him it’s OK and that a little rain/freezing rain won’t hurt him and that I’ll stand right there in the door, in t-shirt and shorts, waiting for him.  It’s freezing cold outside and I’m cold waiting in the doorway.  He ventures out tentatively, makes it to the bottom of the steps, and immediately turns around and comes back in.  I shake my head and pad back toward the bedroom.  I need more sleep.

Of course, he follows me.  I get back in bed and look down.  He’s sitting on the floor next to the bed looking up at me, those big eyes doing their magic trick on me again.  Practically programmed I scoot back, making room for him.  I open up the covers and he jumps up effortlessly, laying down up against me with his head on my arm.  He demands to be petted for a while, continually nudging me with his nose until I get just the right spot on his tummy.  It’s nearly 8:00 AM now.  I still want to go back to sleep.

We stay in that place for what seems like a long while, me petting his tummy, him enjoying what we have come to call his morning cuddle time.  This is not the first time this scenario has happened.  He’s trained me well.

Finally, finally, I hear him snore.  This little sign tells me I can stop petting him and try to go to sleep.  I do.

9:15 AM

We both wake up.  Him still up against me, head on my arm.  I just spent over an hour spooning our boy.  I vow, as I get up, and he gets up reluctantly, that this won’t happen again.  It’s a vow I’ve made many times.  His soul filled eyes melt my heart, even when I’m irritated by him.  I remind myself he’s just a dog, but I love him so.

4:50 PM

He jumps up on the sofa next to me, stares at me with those eyes, and paws my hand.

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We Love Them

Weston is a guy of deep thoughts and feelings.  He has soul.

I looked up a moment ago and there he was sitting on the chair in the corner looking out the window.  He looked like a person, deep in thought, contemplating all of life’s ups and downs.  He looked introspective and philosophical.  He looked like Weston usually looks.

Six years ago we decided we wanted to get a dog and we decided on a Schnoodle because Karen’s daughter, Mary, had one and we loved him.  So cute, great personality, small, and to top it off they don’t shed and they have hair akin to human hair so they don’t have dander and don’t smell like a dog.  Ever.  In fact they sort of have a smell all their own, each in their own way, like humans do.  But I digress.

We went and looked at some dogs in East/Central Oregon and when one of the little guys came over and licked my toe it was all over.  He was the one.  Six weeks later, in April of 2007, we went and picked him up in Portland where we met with the woman who raised him.  We’d had a name picked out for him already, but when we saw him, looked in his eyes, we knew instantly the name didn’t work.  He looked too smart for the name.  Too studious.  Too deep.  So on the drive back home, with the little guy sitting on Karen’s lap in the brand new bed we’d gotten for him, we threw names around.  None fit until somehow one of us, I think it was Karen, mentioned the town of his birth, Weston.  Yes, he was born in Weston, Oregon in the Blue Mountains.  We looked at each other and that was it.  Somehow, some way, Weston seemed right.  It suited him.  The him of major thought and intense looks.

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Now, nearly six years later, he still has that same look.  That deep look.  He looks at you and into you at the same time.  He is a guy of passionate feelings and sincere real love.  He is incredibly smart, cunning, and curious.  He is our little man.

Riley is girl of deep feelings, but of a different sort.  She’s a little spitfire.

A year after we were lucky enough to get Weston we decided he needed a companion for those times we had to leave him at home.  We didn’t want him to be alone.  We wanted him to have a little pal, a buddy.  He got a sister, not a natural born sister, but a sister none the less, and they have a love hate relationship.  We had a name picked out for her too, and that one ended up sticking.  Somehow Riley fits her.  She’s full of energy, very vocal, and loves to put her head up against our heads and have a little pet.  She gets so excited she can hardly contain herself, and is a tad quirky, but we adore her.

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This morning when I looked over at Weston looking out the window a wave of love came over me, as it does so often with both of our little furry babes.  Karen and/or I say, at least once a day I think, “I love them”.  One of us always says it and the other one then always says, “I do too”.  And we do.  We love them.  We love how they love us.  How Weston always welcomes us home with a whole body wiggle and Riley always wants to lay in a lap.  We love Weston’s kisses and the little girlie’s insistent pawing for a pet.  We even love their more annoying habits, as you do with little beings you cherish.  We love the schnoods.  Like I loved how he was looking out the window this morning like a little person.  Just as I love how, right now, he’s laying in my lap snuggling, looking back at me with those eyes with those deep deep feelings, and Riley is all curled up in Karen’s lap snuggling in close to her.  We love them.

We love them.

Day Six… And Home

The drive on day six was awesome.  We went to Caffe Mela in Wenatchee before we started, as usual going to a local coffee place we’d found, and fueled up before heading to Leavenworth.  It’s a quick drive over to Leavenworth from Wenatchee and we were there in 30 minutes or so.  Not bad.  The four of us wandered the town, looking in windows, walking in the grass, taking a couple of photos with the phone.  Nice.  Then it was on the road for the drive to Salem, by way of Portland.

We were pretty happy as we entered Oregon near The Dalles.  I tried to take a photo of the entering Oregon sign, but Riley was on my lap and bumped my arm.  I got a fantastic shot of the side of the bridge.  The drive along 84, done so many times by both of us both separately and together, was gorgeous.  We passed Multnomah Falls, Karen driving, and I tried to lean over and take a photo as we whizzed by. I think I got a great photo of the dog bed and a tiny view of the falls.  Hilarious.  My photo taking abilities were definitely lacking yesterday.

We stopped in Portland to pick up a half a tray of lasagna from our favorite Italian place, Piazza Italia.  Yum.  We’d called and ordered in advance because my honey has been craving this lasagna for a year.  We had it for dinner.  It was yummy.

We arrived at Mom and Don’s last night about 6:00.  2584.1 miles, 8 states, 6 days and we finally were able to stop driving.  Yay!  Don’t get us wrong, we love road trips, but being able to stop and not have to drive the next day… lovely.  The dogs are liking it too, though we’re sure they thought they lived in the car after spending so much time there over the last several days.  They thought that was their life.  Good thing they adjust pretty well as long as they’re with us.  Kev was here to greet us, very nice.  Nothing like a Kev hug on arrival.

Next on the agenda… enjoy this fantastic Oregon weather.  It’s supposed to be low to mid 80’s very low humidity the next several days.  Lovely lovely.

Pronunciamento

I love words and this is a great one. Pronunciamento. Meaning… pro·nun·ci·a·men·to   [pruh-nuhn-see-uh-men-toh, -shee-uh-] noun, plural pro·nun·ci·a·men·tos. a proclamation; manifesto; edict.

I came across this one today as I was looking around the dictionary.  Or more precisely, in this new age, dictionary.com. It’s a wonderful word found in a wonderful place.  Dictionaries are exciting, to me anyway.  I’ve been reading them since I knew what one was and found one in our house.  Words.  Wonderful.

I used to play word games with some of my work mates.  Emails going around with sentences made up of words with the same letter.  Peter picked pickled peppers.  Like that.  We’d start with A and work our way to Z and back again, or we’d rhyme, or be cute some other way with wonderful wacky words.  Fun, to us anyway.  We’d stretch our minds, our vocabularies, and we’d laugh and laugh.  Words are good like that.

Today as I looked around I came across this great word.  Had never heard of it.  And now I love it.  I am also, I think, going to use it here.  Make a pronunciamento about things I’d like to do this summer… a proclamation of sorts.  Here, publicly, live and “in person”.  Maybe if I put some things down here I will do some of them… maybe I already have.  Maybe I would anyway.  No matter… it’s a fun exercise.

(Riley is playing with her Uncle Kevin right now… he’s rubbing her belly, she’s growling, barking, and jumping up to wiggle around and play bite at him.  She’s like popcorn. It’s cute.  They missed each other.)

Anyway… back to the pronunciamento.

100 things to do this summer… and in life.

  1. Be present.
  2. Act with grace.
  3. Ride my bike around town.
  4. Use the frisbee golf set I purchased.
  5. Play with Sebastian.
  6. Eat grapes.
  7. Get my photos better organized.
  8. See an opera again.
  9. Hold hands.
  10. Be patient with people.
  11. Listen.
  12. Walk.
  13. Sing loudly in moving vehicles.
  14. Eat more whole food, less processed food.
  15. Play guitar again.
  16. Travel to foreign places.
  17. Write.
  18. Be silly.
  19. Dance suddenly and randomly at home, and sometimes in public.
  20. Be child like.
  21. Hug my honey more than I already do.
  22. Use the library more than I do.
  23. Make pudding.
  24. Sleep outside.
  25. Be less afraid.
  26. Live more sustainably.
  27. Don’t buy anything for myself, including music, clothes, videos, etc. unless it’s second hand. (related to previous point)
  28. See a few movies in the park.
  29. Stop and listen to live music (street corners, festival bands, etc.)
  30. Paint something.
  31. Go to the drive in.
  32. Take photographs that inspire me.
  33. Continue to evolve.
  34. Give more than I get.
  35. Show respect to strangers.
  36. Buy meat from a farmer.
  37. Write and send actual letters.
  38. Study other cultures and ideas.
  39. Honor my ancestors.
  40. Swim in wild waters.
  41. Walk in Central Park in New York, eat lobster in Maine, watch hot air balloons in New Mexico.
  42. Use the crockpot to make dessert.
  43. Put my feet in lakes, oceans, rivers, puddles, tiny wading pools.
  44. Do another paring down of my clothes and shoes.
  45. Eat tomatoes from our tomato plant.
  46. Sit quietly outside in the wind and sunshine listening to the trees and not talk or play on the computer or phone or any other man made thing.
  47. Live responsibly.
  48. Worry less.
  49. Try new foods that scare me a little.
  50. Use hairbrushes and wooden spoons as microphones.
  51. Give the pups even more attention than they already get.
  52. Go snorkeling.
  53. Take random day long road trips with my honey to nowhere in particular with good music playing and great conversations.
  54. Embrace my dorky nature.
  55. Go to museums.
  56. Dinners with friends.
  57. Be in awe.
  58. Make people laugh on purpose.
  59. Learn.
  60. Make and eat pudgy pies.
  61. Talk to strangers.
  62. Laugh at myself and things that might irk me, but shouldn’t.
  63. Be the nicer version of me in taxing situations.
  64. Do things I love more than things I should do.
  65. Make and drink naturally flavored sun tea.
  66. Make a fort out of blankets.
  67. Smile often and only from the eyes.
  68. Camp in wild beautiful places.
  69. Put my toes in the sand.
  70. Color.
  71. Eat more fruit and less bread.
  72. Read at least two books a month.
  73. Make stuff.
  74. Take care of my honey like she deserves.
  75. Skip, hop, and jump.
  76. See the AFI top 100 films.
  77. Know what’s going on in the world.
  78. Read poetry again.
  79. Play games and cards.
  80. Volunteer my time.
  81. Be passionate in life.
  82. Always look people in the eye.
  83. Wear funky hats.
  84. Write random and unexpected emails to friends and family more often.
  85. Love.
  86. Get paid for being creative.
  87. Take the dogs to parks and on walks.
  88. Be an agent of positive change.
  89. Travel to new places.
  90. Take the train more often.
  91. Ride a bus to Chicago or maybe some other random place.
  92. Sit around our chiminea with good company.
  93. Make a s’more or two.
  94. Say what I mean and only that.
  95. Smell flowers.
  96. Live free.
  97. Eat handcrafted ice cream.
  98. Help out friends and family.
  99. Be kind to myself.
  100. And lastly, though I could go on, laugh laugh laugh at why WordPress has famous nuns and Saint Peter as recommended highlighted links down below this as I type.  Hmmmm….

Creatures of Habit

A noise outside wakes me up.  It wakes Weston as well.  He moves slightly, growls toward the window, and then stands up.  I know I’m in trouble.  Outside the wind tosses the branches against each other.  It’s a nice sound.  I can’t go back to sleep, but want to.  Thinking I’ll have a better chance I get up and head to the bathroom, Weston decides he needs to get up as well.  Padding in toward the dog door I open it so he can go out.  We both do our business and it’s time to head back to bed.  He won’t get in unless I let him go first, so he jumps up and then I get in behind him.  It’s time to spoon.  Yes, yes, I know.

Weston loves to cuddle.  He is one of the most affectionate dogs I’ve ever seen.  I don’t know what it is, but he’s always been like this.  Maybe it’s because he came into our lives when he was younger than he should have been.  Maybe he has always been, since that first day, treated like our child.  Maybe it’s just that he’s so emotional.  Whatever the reason, he loves a good cuddle.  His two favorite cuddling positions are one, laying on his back while I cradle him and pet his belly as we sit in a recliner.  And two… morning snuggle time.  He loves to spoon.  This is hilarious, but true.

Weston is, after all, a little creature of habit, just like his sister.  He’s also a smart one.  A pain in the ass to be sure, but that’s a post for another time.  I’m usually on my side with my arm out.  He lays right up against me, over my arm, puts his head on the pillow, and then wants me to put my other hand on his back.  He also likes it if he’s so close that my head sort of lays on him and the pillow at the same time.  It’s so funny.  And yes, I sometimes cuddle him.  He gets a couple of minutes of this and sometimes longer if I actually fall asleep in this position.  It cracks me up.  He would like this to happen every day, which it doesn’t, but he’d very much like it if it did.

His little sister has her thing too…

We get ready for bed and all get in.  Each dog in their little dog beds on our bed.  We all sort of relax and just when it gets quiet and mellow, Riley decides she needs to get back up.  She stands up, one of us says to her, OK… go get a drink.  She jumps down, goes to the water bowl, drinks really loudly for a tiny 10 pound dog, jumps back up, and lays back down.  Every night, same routine.

Bedtime.  9:30 rolls around and they both get surly and disgusted if we don’t go to bed.  If we are in the media room Riley is in a dog bed on a chair and Weston is usually asleep on the couch or laying on me.  One of us gets up to get a drink or something and they both sit up, on alert, waiting for us to say the magic words… time for bed.  They will even jump down, start to head upstairs in the hope that it’s time.  We have to say to them… not yet.  Not quite yet.  Being the little creatures of habit that they are it’s tough for them to alter their course.

Ah well… the wind is still blowing out there now.  The sun is up and so are we.  I’m sitting on the couch in the living room typing away around Riley, who is laying on my lap.  Yes, it’s hard to type with a dog in ones lap.  Weston is laying next to me, pressed up against my leg.  It’s time for breakast though and they are starting to let me know.  Riley has just jumped up and gotten in my face.  Weston keeps nudging me.  OK, OK… I get the message.  Loud and clear.  Don’t want to mess with the routine…

Meet Alfie

I walked out into the backyard this afternoon to throw the ball a little for the boy.  He’s been restless today.  Sometimes he gets like that.  Usually chewing on a bully (which I gave him) or throwing the ball a couple of times in the house (which I did), or letting him sit on my lap and petting him (also did) work to assuage his anxiousness.  Not today.  He is sort of a high strung anxious little guy sometimes.  So outside I went, in my lounge pants (AKA pajama bottoms) that I’m still wearing.  Yes, the advantages of Karen and I working from home is the ability to stay dressed down for the day.  Until we have to go out in public that is, but that’s a topic for another day.  Back to Alfie… or more accurately, Weston.  I was kind of desperate to have him quit bugging me.  I love him, but having him come up to me and nudge my hand, or bark at me, or whatever over and over today was getting on my nerves.  So out into the backyard, in my lounge pants, I went.  I threw the ball for him a few times.  Riley also got in on the action a little… in all ways actually.  She chewed on the bully, tugged on her brown thing (formerly a stuffed monkey, now just the brown thing), chased Weston’s ball in the house, and got her own lap sitting complete with a pet or two.  She was also in on the outside ball throwing action.  We also just took them for a short walk around a couple of blocks… not in our lounge pants (Karen had to get out of the house and off the phone for 30 minutes… it’s a bad one today for her)… but again, I digress.  So while we were outside, the dogs and I that is, in the backyard (me in my lounge pants), I noticed Alfie.  He was laying near the back steps.  Poor guy.  I picked him up and found, for the third or fourth time since he’s been a part of the family, that he was soaking wet.  Weston, who has taken a particular shine to Alfie, carries him around sometimes.  Sometimes that means he carries Alfie outside.  And sometimes he gets distracted by a squirrel, drops Alfie, and forgets to bring him back in the house.  If we notice Alfie out there at night, which we have in the past when we take the pups out for their last constitution before bed, we tell Weston to get Alfie and bring him in, which he does.  Pretty cute actually.  I say… “Weston, go get Alfie.  Get him. Good boy!” and he does.  He will go get him.  But today, Alfie’s fate was not of the warm and dry kind.  He was soaking.  Forgotten yesterday by Weston outside and left to weather the storm on his own.  Poor Alfie.

After I saw Alfie I brought him in, of course, and propped him up on the kitchen counter to dry.  It’s his normal drying spot.  Seems to work.  Weston will miss him until Alfie re-joins the fold, but it has to be done.

And speaking of Weston missing him… this is interesting.  Weston has never really taken any particular interest in any one toy.  He loves chasing and catching the ball the most and will occasionally carry around the Mailman or the Hedgehog.  Both of which have stayed in tact, a sure sign he likes them as he hasn’t chewed the stuffing out of them.  But that’s about it… he will carry one around for awhile and then put it down, forgotten for quite a long time until the next time he picks one up and carries it around.  Alfie is different.  We picked up Alfie, and his co-hort Squiggy, when we stopped at Praireland Feeds (where we buy the pup’s food) on my birthday weekend as we headed out of town.  I noticed this little bin of stuffed things and thought the pups needed a little treat for the trip so I picked up a red and green one.  The naming of them happened after we got home from the weekend.  Weston took a particular liking to red, later named Alfie.  He started carrying him around everywhere.  He brought him to bed with him, something he’s never done with anything other than a bully stick before (which we don’t let him have in bed by the way), carried him outside when he went out to do his business, brought him downstairs to the media room when we went down to watch TV at night, and had him with him when he took his naps.  He has never done this and it’s kind of cute.  He and Alfie have become fast fast friends.  Squiggy gets a tad bit of attention, but he’s usually a meager substitute for Alfie when Alfie is out of commission, like he is today.

Weston will be happy when Alfie dries off and is dropped back on the floor.  I’m sure he and his little buddy will be stuck like glue again, until the next time he’s left outside and gets showered on.

Meet Alfie…

What a Weekend… I’m Exhausted!

We had such a fantastic weekend.  So great that I’m tired today.  OK, maybe to be more accurate I should say that I’m partially tired from having to get up in the middle of the night to the let the dogs out.  For some reason, and this is a rare event, they both had to go out.  There’s the little girlie getting up for water and then not jumping back in the bed.  Bad sign.  I got up to find her and she was waiting in the hallway for me.  She ran over to the doggie door and then I heard Weston coming along as well.  I opened the door, they go out, and there I am peeking through the curtains over the sliders trying to see them out in the backyard at four in the morning.  Too funny.  So I could be tired from that.  But, the weekend was so busy, so much fun, and tiring in a totally good way as well.

It started Friday night with a Gal Up (a group we’ve found and joined) event at a local bar, the Esquire Lounge in downtown Champaign.  Drink, food, talk, pool playing, and good times had by all.  A great night with cool women.  Saturday we got up early to go watch Sebastian’s first swimming lesson here in the U.S.  He’s somewhat of a swimming lesson expert as he’s been in them since he was like three months old or something in the U.K.  But it’s been a little while since he’s been in the pool, so he was a tad cautious.  He had a big hold on Mary most of the time.  He didn’t cry, but he was unsure.  By the end though he was a champ, showing that now famous smile all over the place.  He’s going to be great and it was such a blast watching him, and watching Mary be such a fantastic Mom with him when he was unsure and scared and such.  Makes a person tear up watching the kid be so good with her kid.  Impressive.  After the swim lesson we took a jaunt over to Einstein Bagels with the kids to have a little bagel breakfast and then went over to their house for a bit to visit with Ashley, one of Mary’s friends and bridesmaids, who was visiting for the weekend from Indianapolis, where she’s living now.  It was really nice to see her.  Ashley recently got married, the wedding the kids went to over the weekend we did our overnight babysitting for the first time.   After we left the kid’s place we came home, picked up the pups, and headed out to Mahomet and a lovely new to us walking trail out there.  A great spot to walk them.  There are numerous trails to hit so it will be fun to go back out there and see what’s what with those.  On Saturday we only walked for about a mile, one way, because it was really sunny, with no shade, and Weston doesn’t much like the heat.  He was panting and kept trying to lay down in close to the tall grass.  We couldn’t keep going so we turned around, but they got a nice walk in anyway.  Afterward we came home and just enjoyed being here.  Watched some of the World Series, ate dinner followed by caramel corn, relaxed.  Nice.

Yesterday we had a nice mellow morning at home.  Brewed and drank some coffee, we each looked at our fantasy football teams and adjusted (we played each other this week), drank more coffee, pet on the pups a lot, and lounged in our living room.  Later we’d finally had enough of that lounging stuff and took the pups for a long walk.  We discovered a great area on campus only about a 15 minute walk from our house.  Fantastic.  It’s near the Arboretum, which includes the Idea Garden, and Japan House.  So great.  There’s an actual hill over there.  You can see out a ways.  We plan on going back to the garden with a camera to get some ideas.  It is the idea garden after all.  We also plan on taking the pups back over there again.  It’s so close to our house.  It’s so cool that we keep finding all these great places to take the dogs for walks.  We’re loving that.  After the walk we met up with Ann, one of our new friends here in Illinois, and drove out to Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch where we met other peeps and then all did the corn maze.  We ended up splitting into two groups and raced each other.  Texting the other group with things like… Number 5!  There were eight punch stations to get in the maze and we were racing to see which group could get them all first.  We were ahead most of the time, until the end, when they managed to squeak by us for the win.  Damn Dracula! Where were you?!?!  We also looked at the reindeer, the pumpkins, and watched the pumpkin cannon shoot a pumpkin out into a field.  The cannon was pretty impressive.  A fun time with great ladies.  After the Reindeer Ranch we headed home again, hung with the pups for a little bit, and then went over to the kid’s place for dinner.  We played with the grandson, ate some food, and watched the beginning of World Series game four with the kids before heading home where we loved on the pups and finished watching the game.

Whew.

A lot of stuff…. a busy weekend.  Fun.  Illinois is growing on us.  We love the adventure of discovering things in a new place.  We are loving… and let me say… L-O-V-I-N-G… the fall weather here.  Beautiful blue skies, gorgeous fall colors, and warmish (enough to be in t-shirts yesterday).  We are loving being close to the kids and getting to see Sebastian all the time, go to his little classes, hang out and play.  And we are finding some friends, getting to know some people, starting to make a life here.  We still miss everyone in Oregon tremendously, but we are starting to really settle in, and excited about all the new things we’ve yet to discover and do.  Everything is an adventure when you live in a new place.  It’s kinda cool….

A Few photos from the ol’ iPhone

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Color Fast

We went for  little walk today.  We needed to get the pups out and about, moving their little feet, so we took them over to Mahomet.  It’s a little burg 10 minutesWest of  here with a couple of great places to walk.  One, the Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens and the Lake of the Woods, and the other, still part of the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, but called Buffalo Trace Prairie.  We’d been to the Lake of the Woods and the Botanical Gardens so we tried the Buffalo Trace Prairie walk.  Lovely.  We had a fantastic walk, other than the fact that Weston seemed to not like the heat.  It was 30 degrees warmer today than it was two days ago.  Beautiful sunshine and we were back to wearing t-shirts.  Gotta love the rapidly changing weather of Central Illinois.

Tomorrow we head to Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch in nearby Rantoul with some new friends. Time to try our luck with the corn maze and maybe, if they have it (?), drink some cider.  I’m sure there will be photos galore, but for now these are some I took today during the walk.  Cheers.

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Patina Me

Karen, the pups, and I took a walk a couple of days ago at our favorite local park, Meadowbrook.  As we walked the path, looked at the natural prairie that’s been restored, and enjoyed the many sculptures and natural beauty along the way we had an epiphany…. this is big stuff people, so listen up.

We feel that as we age we should patina instead of wrinkle.  How cool would this be?  Instead of drying out and wrinkling up we would all slowly turn a lovely shade of green.  Women would get upset because men would probably turn green more quickly.  And since green would be the new “wrinkle free” this would be fodder for many a joke on the late night talk show circuit.  There would be creams developed to give that certain special shine to your patina.  But since we would patina and not wrinkle, we’d all look like we did when we were 21.  Granted, sadly this would do nothing for the whole sagging thing, but hey… we can only solve one serious world issue per walk.

That’s it… our big ah ha moment.  These are the conversations we have…

Enjoy some photos taken with our little Canon SD750 during the walk.  Notice the woman… this is the sculpture that inspired the whole revelation.

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A Cheese Festival, The Amish, Children’s Museum in Decatur, Barbecues, and a First Birthday

We have had a full week here in Illinois.  Loads of barbecuing at both our house and over at Mary and Martin’s, we went to a cheese festival in Arthur Illinois, which also happens to be in Amish Country so we saw loads of Amish (a first for both of us).  We even bought some Amish goods here at our Saturday Market at the Square this last Saturday when we finally made it over there (yummy cinnamon bread… so good).  We went to the Children’s museum in Decatur and made big bubbles and watched the little boy climb up and down the little slide and pull and pull the fake wooden garden vegetables out of the fake wooden garden.  I had another blow draw (numbers normal… yay!) and a shot this week.  Karen put together the spring thunder horse so Sebastian could ride on it the way Mary did when she was a wee sprout.  Karen saved it all this time just for this moment… when her daughter would have a child and he/she could ride it.  It brought tears to both of our eyes.  We took the dogs in for their first vet appointment to get them checked for heart worm (clear!) and get another round of heart worm meds for them.  We went on a few walks with the pups at Meadowbrook Park (our favorite in town), once with a couple of people we met through the UP Center (LGBT center in town).  And we celebrated Sebastian’s first birthday two days ago.  Who can believe he’s one… wow!  We will be celebrating again tomorrow when some friends of Martin and Mary arrive and Mary makes some delicious spiced cupcakes in the shape of trucks.  Presents have already been opened, but there’s always time to have another celebration… especially when cake is involved!  We had our handyman over and he took the first step in eliminating the spindles between our kitchen and dining room.  Spindles out… now the finish work is all that’s left to do.  He’s coming back on Monday to take care of that.  We have him working on an estimate to put in a garage door opener and then we will have him give us an estimate for putting crown molding throughout the upper floor of the house.

We are adjusting to life in Illinois.  The weather has turned nice.  Cooler… much much less humidity, and cool nights!   We are loving it.  It’s been in the mid to upper 70’s during the day, and in the upper 40’s to lower 50’s at night.  We are actually wearing sweatshirts (with our shorts and flip flops of course… and my honey’s boot… so fashionable) once in awhile now.  I actually had a blanket on my lap last night as we sat down in our media room watching the first NFL game of the season.  My honey scored a load of points on her men in the game… her fantasy football year is off to a great start!

Now… we are going to take the pups and walk downtown to the Common Ground Food Co-op.  Time to get some organics, some deodorant, and maybe a snack for the walk back.  We have to wear sweatshirts… and, it may just rain on us.  We are not complaining!

Better Late Than Not At All

What follows are some shots, mostly taken by Karen, during our road trip east.  It was a tiring four days, but we got er done… as they say.  We were so lucky to have Mom and Sandy along to help out.  They were amazing and true champs!  People say this all the time, but in our case we totally mean it… we couldn’t have done it without them!  Thank you guys, you were wonderful traveling companions, and true champs of the road!  We love you!

Seven states, 2300 miles, three nights in hotels with four adults and two dogs, road food, great conversation, some beautiful scenery, more gas money into a big ol’ truck and a car than two girls ever want to pay for again, and no real issues… it was a tiring, but good trip east.

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Surrounded By Dogs

I am cracking up!

The schnoodles are laying next to and on me, sleeping and not sleeping.  They try to sleep, want attention for awhile, demand attention for a little longer, then go back to sleep again.  They both want to be touching me.  It’s cute… lovely…. warm… and sometimes, admittedly, sort of annoying.  But, then I look at them, in their little eyes, and the fleeting millisecond of annoyance turns right back to adoration and love.

Weston just got up and wandered off… maybe he “heard” me talking about him.  Or maybe just maybe he is getting restless before his Uncle Kevin comes home.  He LOVES his Uncle Kevin and always gets restless when it’s about that time… time for Kev to come on in.  Weston wanders, looks out the window, barks and runs out when he thinks it might be Uncle Kevin.  It’s cute.

Combine that with the fact that his Mamma is gone right now getting our house in Illinois, and he’s even more of a mess.  I’m sure he’s looking for her too.  Riley does that as well.  So do I for that matter.  We are all missing her.  Until she comes home it will be like this… the pups stuck to me, a bit restless, looking out the window, barking when they hear a noise that might be, is it, maybe….  Wanting pets, wanting love, wanting to make sure that if they are sleeping they are touching me somehow.  Riley is asleep next to me right now and has all four of her little paws up against my leg.  Adorable.

I am surrounded… by boxes, by stuff to pack, and by dogs…. beautiful little lovable dogs.

Boxes to Fill and It’s Raining Outside

I’m sitting here at the computer not doing what I’m supposed to be doing, but then… exactly what am I supposed to be doing? Packing. Yes, I should be packing. Books into tubs to take, kitchen glasses, plates, etc. Those are my tasks. I need to get to them. Yet, I blog, I surf, I go into the ol’ flickr account and organize photos. I’m avoiding the packing. Five weeks to go. Five weeks on Thursday. Not many weekends left until the big Uhaul leaves the town of Scappoose and heads east toward our new home in Urbana, IL.

I’m excited for the future… for the change, the adventure, the new life moments created with our grandson and the kids, the pups, and each other. I’m very excited about all of that. I’m excited about living in and decorating a new house, about planting new flowers, about riding our bikes and walking around a new town. I’m excited for the friends we will make and the times we will have.

It’s just that I don’t want to pack… not right now. Not right now I don’t. It’s raining outside and dreary on this not so sunny Oregon summer day. The dogs are asleep on their beds here in the office. My honey is working away… hard and with purpose. In command of her job and what she does so well. I’m listening to her type and talk on the phone and be in charge. It’s impressive. Weston snores occasionally and the little girlie changes positions every now and then. They look up at us hopefully every so often thinking maybe if I look at you and then at my ball and then at you again I will get you to play with me. Will you? I say to them… later babies. I promise. And we will.

It’s a Tuesday…

For The Love of Dogs

I was sitting here this morning doing my usual routine… drink some tea, have a bagel, check my email, Facebook, Google Reader… and I heard it.  The tell tale sound of Weston opening the closet door and rummaging through the shred box.  By the time I responded, which was actually pretty quickly, with my usual…. Weston, NO, get out of there, he had a piece of paper and was making for the hills.  Or in his case, more accurately, I should say his chair.  He looked up at me and then, miraculously, dropped the paper. Riley, our little girlie, just stayed in her bed the whole time looking at both of us like we were lame idiots.  She doesn’t play those games.

It made me think about them… our little lovelies.  They are so different, in almost every way save one, they sort of look alike.  And even that likeness has diminished as Riley aged and became more silver than dark gray.  They are beauties.  But then… we love them. And love might not even be a strong enough word for it…. but it’s all I’ve got.

Weston…  He is the oldest, so he gets first billing.  He’s our poet.  Our feeling gent.  He is ruled by emotion, no matter what kind, and acts on it purposefully and sometimes impulsively… or compulsively.  He loves people and wants attention and love constantly.  Always looking at you with those deep feeling eyes full of soul and pawing or nosing for a quick pet.  He’s a bit of a two personality guy… taken away from his mother at too young an age (not our choice but the breeder’s, who was wanting to get out of the puppy business and did it too soon) he suffers from not enough discipline when he was young.  We tried, but we weren’t his mamma and though he is ultra smart (sometimes the bane of our existence) he is equally as stubborn.  He will look at you, know he’s being told no, and still do whatever it is he’s doing.  Which mostly consists of being a thief of the highest caliber.  We’ve tried every form of discipline we’ve researched and though he responds best to being ignored for a time (he loves us you see and doesn’t like to be left out), he still won’t give in.  Stubborn.  A stubborn, very very smart thief.  He’s magic at it.  He can get things off countertops… standing on his little hind legs, using his paw to reach up over where he can’t really see that well, pull something over to the edge, then grab it with his teeth.  He opens closets doors, drawers, tips over trash cans, and jumps up in any chair that’s left out.  It’s hilarious… and sometimes aggravating.  We don’t really care.  In the moment you get mad at him, but then you think about all the cunning and planning and skill and you have to laugh.  His best, yet worst, thieving experience was when he opened a pocked in a backpack that was fully zipped closed, got out a bag of chocolate, and ate it all.  This is always what we worry about the most… that he will thieve something bad for him.  He tends to eat what he steals so you can’t get it from him.  He’s swallowed ear plugs, numerous kleenex, napkins, food of all kinds, q-tips… the list goes on.  The chocolate was the worst.  We called the vet and had to pour (to his great displeasure) some hydrogen peroxide down him to get him to throw it all up.  We did… and he did… all over the bathroom floor.  Yuck… but we were happy because he was safe.  He’s incorrigible.  And his feelings run deep.  He looks at you, as he’s flipping over onto his back and opening up his legs to get a good pet, with eyes that speak volumes.  Not all dogs are like this… but he is.  He’s the most feeling dog I’ve ever seen.  It’s amazing, the soul that pours from his eyes to yours.  Very expressive.  Very sweet.  Very deep and full of love.  He’s our boy.  Our little mister.  Our Woodsy (as Karen calls him).

Riley… our little girl.  She is a spitfire.  Confident in every way save one.  She’s afraid of the oven.  It’s true.  The minute the oven goes on, she makes haste to the family room and the back of the sectional that’s furthest from the door up to the kitchen.  She hates the oven.  We know it’s because it used to (before we unplugged this particular one) set off the smoke alarm.  We have another nearby that isn’t as sensitive and has stayed plugged in…. have to be safe and all.  When the oven door used to be opened, no matter what we were cooking in there, it set off this particular smoke detector… and the girlie hated it.  That isn’t a strong enough word.  Her ears are very sensitive…. we think it’s because her vision isn’t good.  So even now, with the detector not going off every time, when the oven gets turned on she makes for the other room.  She’s smart too… knows what that oven going on could mean.  And she doesn’t like it.  It’s cute and sad at the same time as she lays out there, a tiny ball, quivering.  It’s the only time she seems afraid.  Otherwise she’s a little ball of confidence, all ten pounds of her.  She knows who she is and owns her space.  Her little strut, and I will call it a strut, is so cute.  Head held high, barking occasionally at anyone or anything she feels like, jumping up to put her front paws over her brother’s back to show she’s in charge.  Confident.  She’s sometimes loud, barking crazy-like whenever we get home, or someone comes over, or she thinks she hears someone outside.  But it’s her… loud, confident, and so very cute.  She’s chalk full of personality… playing like a cat likes to play, spinning around, hardly able to contain all the energy inside her little body.  Yes, she sometimes tries to jump up (and she’s a fantastic jumper… so high for the size of her little self) up onto the couch or a chair and misses… her eyes again, not working as well as they should for depth… but she doesn’t let it stop her.  Bouncing off the furniture only to immediately jump up again.  She has moxy.  She’s full of it.  If only the rest of us could have half the confidence she possesses in her little self… fantastic.

And that’s them… our little cuties.  So many nicknames… the boy, the girlie, riles, ri-ri, girlie cutie, wooser, woodsie, westenheimer, riley-roosey… it goes on and on.  Whatever we happen to call them they are a big part of the joy in our lives.  We love our little schnoodles.  We also spoil the crap out of them… they eat great for them food, which we mix up, they have special beds all over the place, we buy them bones and bullies and toys, we take them for walks when it’s sunny (they hate the rain), we built up a really nice dog run/area at the back of our house including their own little door for going in and out with a gate we lock when we leave so that no one can accidentally let them out, we play ball (for Weston) and tug (for Riley) in the house when we can’t take them out for walks, and we love on them… all the time.  It’s all so worth it because they are precious… they love us and bring us immense delight.

How could you not love these faces?

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Pictures of Early Us

These are photos I used on my blog between 2005 and 2007.  I blogged with Blogger for that time… until I switched to WordPress, where I’ve stayed.  I was just perusing these and enjoying them.  Thought I’d share.  Some of these were before I had the Canon Rebel even.  We were using point and shoot little digital cameras then.  Plus there are photos of Weston when we first got him… what a cutie.  Enjoy….

Tam’s Think Tank

Stopping For Bullies

On our way home from a family dinner at Mom and Don’s place. Stopped at the pet store on the way home for bully sticks for the pups. They love them.

Dinner was so good. Got to see family I haven’t seen in a long long time. Nice! Nothing like being in a room with a bunch of people I love and who love me. It’s what life is about.

Had my appointment with Dr. Bigler yesterday. I start maintenance this coming Wednesday. My numbers are holding steady. Not all quite in the normal range yet, but good enough. I do have to have another bone marrow biopsy… It’s looking like maybe November 3 for that. Then it’s just two years of the maintenance cycle and I will be done with the meds. Maintenance involves a weekly shot, a daily pill (or maybe two… We don’t know yet how much as they have to do a formula for it) and 15 days of ATRA every three months). I should be able to get into a pretty normal routine and back to a pretty normal life. Next Wednesday….. Here we go…..

Now, home to the pups with bullies. They will be so happy.

Astoria and Back

Sunday and a trip to the beach.  My honey decided that getting out of the house would be good for this girl, rightly so, and we headed to Astoria this morning.  She packed a picnic lunch, loaded up the pups, and off we all went down Hwy 30.  It was a great day for a drive.  It felt so good to be out of the house.  I’m just now starting to feel a bit better (not as tired and such) after my five day second consolidation in the hospital stay.  Was that a real sentence?  LOL

We got home late afternoon, early evening, and rented a free paper view movie (we got a couple free from DISH so we took advantage).  Now it’s just hanging at home on a Sunday night.  Dinner of leftover chicken with BBQ sauce, fake mashed potatoes with cottage cheese (I can’t have the real thing when I’m neutropenic… and we are starting to act as if I am), and some canned green beans.  I think Karen is skipping the cottage cheese (she doesn’t understand this particular delicacy that my mom has passed down to me… cottage cheese on potatoes… so tasty) and is going for some red beans with her chicken.  She always makes my dinner first if we are having a sort of left over night.  That way we both get what we want.

It’s been a nice weekend.  Too fast.  Much too fast… but a nice weekend.   I love hanging out with my honey.

Sunday at Home

It’s another scorcher out there today, so we are in.  Had breakfast, then lunch, took showers, and now we are both surfing the net on our laptops while watching King Arthur.  It’s slow.  We may have to put in the Netflix movie we still haven’t watched.  I got on the treadmill this morning.  Karen just got done on it.  I walk. She runs.  Since I can’t go out of the house right now, the treadmill has been great.  At least I get up and walk a bit.  20 minutes in the morning, 20 more in the evening.  It’s great for Karen as well these last couple of days since the shop is way too hot to go out and work out on the equipment in there.

The dogs are spending most of these hot days sleeping where the fan can blow on them.  Weston is a bit restless, but then finds another spot to lay down and he takes another little nap.  Riley is asleep on top of one of the cushions of the sectional right by Karen.

Laundry is in and later we have ribs, left over from last night’s dinner, that Karen made.  So good.  The highlights of my days are finding a good movie on TV and what we have for dinner.  LOL

Wednesday…

We took a little ride today.  Errands and such.  Had to go get dog food, bully sticks, and deposit a rent check. Very glamorous, but nice.  It was nice to ride over with my honey, chat, get a tea, chat some more.  Lovely really.

Now we’re back home, my honey is working, I’m watching Point Break, and Weston is asleep next to me on the sofa.  I think he’s drunk on bully stick.  He chewed on one for a bit and then it was nap time.

Dancing Bald

Last night I discovered something amazing… I dance better bald.  It’s true.  Granted I was sitting and dancing, but that just makes the head movement all that more important.  I’m sure it’s true though, so it can only mean one thing… hair creates resistance.  My head moves more freely naked.  A positive since we dance a lot around here.

Today has been a pretty good day.  Karen went into the Portland center to finally clean out her office there (she hasn’t used it, really, since she started working from home but still had stuff there.  This was the last of it for her and I’m sure makes her feel good about finally getting it done.

While Karen was gone Mom came over to hang with me.  It was great getting to see and spend time with her.  Mom is great company.  She also watered some plants outside and repotted a plant someone had brought as a gift for me.  Nice Mom… you rock!

Now there’s a lasagna baking in the oven and Karen and Kev (and Riley) are out in the shop working out.  I’m here in the house blogging, watching TV, petting Weston, and waiting to eat the food my honey has made.

Tuesday… Day 10

Went in for the blood draw today.  After that we sat in the waiting room of the oncology department for an hour waiting for an advice nurse.  She finally came out to tell me that the sore spot on my hand, the one with the lump in it that is where I had an IV during my last hospital stay, has phlebitis.  Apparently either the push was too fast for that vein or something.  Either way the vein got inflamed, which is why it’s sore.  The advice nurse told me if we got to it earlier it would’ve been easier to treat.  I asked her if it would go away and she said possibly/probably after a long time.  Yeah?!!  I’m hoping it does.  I’m going to try the treatment she said it needed initially and see if, a week later, it still helps.  Basically we’re talking ice and heat and tylenol.  I’ve already done the tylenol.  LOL  We’ll see what the ice and heat do for it.

As for the blood numbers…  They are down… the white blood cells and neutrophils down quite a bit.  I’m not neutropenic yet (and maybe won’t be), but we won’t really be able to tell which way my numbers are going until I get the draw on Thursday.  For now we are going to act as if I am neutropenic just in case they are going down.  They are close enough that precautions won’t hurt.  We know what to do.  No fresh fruits or veggies, no people with colds or people who have been around people with colds, no dirt, and no people who have cleaned the cat box (strange I know, and we don’t really know why, but this is a biggie).  Apparently being around the dogs is OK.  At least that’s what they told us before.  We are going with that.  And really… I’m not neutropenic yet, and again, may not even get there.

It was a long Monday.  Karen was/is exhausted.  My honey had to get up at 5:45 this morning for a meeting and then worked non-stop, meeting after meeting, until we left for the clinic at 2:15.  That all on top of not really sleeping that good.  She then drove me to the clinic, waited with me for over an hour in the waiting room like the trooper she is, drove home (with a stop at the store), made dinner, and then cleaned out the fridge of fresh fruit (she is sitting in front of a bowl of watermelon trying to eat it, with Kev’s help, so we can get the fruit out of here) and then cleaned the fridge where the fruit was.  I know I keep saying this… but, I love her.

The dogs just got a rare treat… a taste of watermelon.  They don’t normally get people food…. other than an occasional veggie mixed in with their food, but they are always happy when they get a little treat.  Like now….

Day 9

Sunday, day 9.  It’s been a similar day to yesterday… decent morning, slightly rocky afternoon… but not bad.  My honey went to the store today, cleaned the house, and has been outside washing cars and cleaning and weeding and playing in the shop.  She is a busy girl, and amazing.  The little girlie is out with her, the boy is laying next to me on the couch chewing on an old bully stick Karen found in the car under the seat.  He is a happy little man.

It’s beautiful out there again today…. a little hot (I was just outside for a couple of minutes) and a tad humid, though that could just be me and my bald head in the sun.  I wasn’t out for that long.  Now I’m here again, on the sectional in the family room, watching the third in the Librarian series on TNT.  These movies are so corny and not that good, but that sort of makes them good.  I can’t seem to stop watching them.

Tomorrow Karen is busy busy in the morning… she is still getting emails today about that work situation yesterday… and then, in the afternoon, we are going in for my first blood draw of this series.  We will see what my numbers are.  I think they are down, but I don’t feel that tired, so maybe not really.  It will be interesting to see what happens between tomorrow and Thursday, when I go in again.  Back to the bi-weekly blood draws.

Nothing much else going on here.  Kev is still camping, but coming back some time today.  I think I have another week of ATRA.  Will be nice to get a couple of weeks off from taking it when I get that chance.    I have a nice fan blowing on me right now. Seems my thought has become somewhat freeform, which probably means it’s time to wrap up this entry.

Saturday And The Livin’ Is… Slightly Queasy

So here we are, day 8 from the first day of this last chemo round.  All in all I’m not feeling too bad.  Woke up well, but have felt a tad queasy since lunch.  Took the temp and it’s all good, no temperature, and that’s the biggie.

Karen ended up having to work today for awhile.  Got a call from her boss asking her if she and some of her team could rectify a huge issue in another department.  Not even Karen’s department, but they fixed the problem.  Once again, she steps in and gets it done.  That’s my girl.  Pretty amazing.

Right now she and pups are on their way to the vet to get some more heart worm med for the dogs.  They went along to get a little adventure.  She’s going to score a chai while she’s gone.  She deserves one.  As for me, I’m sitting here drinking green tea and watching HGTV.  It’s not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  :-)  Later, a much needed bath….  LOL  I’m finally done sweating out the poison.  Not longer the toxic avenger this time around.  Sheets washed, Weston can once again sleep with his mamma, and Karen can once again, sleep in the same room as me with the dogs. Back on her air mattress.  Yes, she’s been sleeping on an air mattress on the floor next to the bed since I came home on July 1.  Safer for her when I’m sweating it all out, better rest right now for both of us.  It’s not ideal, at all, but it works.  She is so amazing.  That girl knows how to love and take care of me.