Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


Coming clean

It rained last night.  A lot.  Sometimes there was thunder which is something that always gets little Katie going.  Where Bonnie (the sister sheltie Katie never met) would tremble and cry, then curl up in the smallest possible ball and wait a storm out, Katie takes it on.   She squares her shoulders, plants her feet and barks hysterically at the ceiling or the window, wherever she feels the danger might be coming from because she’s got a family to protect!  Nobody in this family got a lot of sleep last night.

This morning Katie and I did a bit of walking around the yard.  We got completely drenched.  Katie’s fur does the prettiest thing when it gets wet.  It gets curly! (click on the picture to make it bigger so you can see her curly fur!)  This is the closest she wants to get to a bath!

But what I really wanted to talk about was a different kind of ‘coming clean.’  The one where you’re honest about what’s really happening.  I need to tell you how it’s going with two commitments I’ve made; one is to do 30 minutes of exercise for 30 days, and the other is to write at least one letter a week every week from sometime in March (I can’t remember the exact date) until Memorial Day.

I’m happy to say the letter writing campaign is still going, though it’s become more difficult to find people to write to as the weeks go by.  I still have some ideas though and should be able to finish this challenge.  If I get a letter out today that is.  I made Wednesdays my letter writing days…but recently it’s suddenly been Saturday and I realize I have to write to someone RIGHT NOW!  Still it’s been fun.  And I’ve been using some lovely cards that Bree at “Wipe Your Paws” made for me.  They are one of a kind and I’m sure people love to receive them!

The 30 minutes for 30 days commitment?  Not going as well.  For the first 10 days I managed to get myself outside to walk at lunch or weekend mornings.  Then the world seemed to get in the way.  Horrible weather, crazy work days, lack of motivation seemed to overwhelm me.  I missed one day, and committed to adding an additional day on the back of the 30 days.  Then I missed another day.  I tell myself there are no excuses.

Now I’m working on convincing myself that a day lost should not sink the entire program.  Just like a diet, when you fall off the wagon the worst thing you can do is give up completely.  So maybe I need to make that goal a bit smaller, so that I can achieve something and not beat myself up so much.  I remind myself that in dog training we set tasks simple enough so that the dog can be rewarded.  We try not to set the dog up to fail.  That positive reinforcement works better than negative talking.  What works for my dog should work for me, right?

So I need to figure out a way to get myself into the habit of daily exercise with smaller, baby step tasks, so that I gradually make exercise a priority in my sometimes hectic life.  Any suggestions?  I welcome all ideas!

Meanwhile, soggy Katie and I are going to make time for an adventure this Easter weekend.  We hope all of you  have time for adventures too!



How do you see the future when you're 95?

A couple of weeks ago I spent a day with husband’s 95 year old aunt.  She needed to go grocery shopping, she needed to find a pair of slacks to replace some she’s had since the 50’s and mostly she needed to get out in the fresh air after weeks of being cooped up in her apartment through a most difficult winter.

Though she’s in amazing shape for someone her age I can see that she gets worn out faster than she did just a year ago.  This time she allowed me to go back over to the other side of the large grocery store to pick up something we had forgotten.  Last summer we would have walked over there together.  She actually waited in the car while I ran into another store to pick up birdseed for her parakeet.  She never would have done that last summer.  And she leaned heavily on the cart at a clothing store, then sat in the dressing room while I went back and forth with items for her to try on.

Back in her apartment she was talking about people in her building that have moved into assisted living facilities.  There were three from her floor recently.  The reality of  aging is beginning to effect her, both physically and mentally.

Generally she’s a pretty upbeat person, but more and more when I call she’s having a “bad day” and doesn’t want to do anything, or even have a visitor.  I don’t recall her ever turning down an invite before.

All of this has me thinking about what it must be like to be 95.  To realize that there aren’t going to be years and years ahead of you.  To realize that you can’t do much of anything that you used to love to do….that you’re lonely but don’t really want to socialize.  That you’re bored but can’t see enough to do much of anything, even to really see the TV.

How does a person in this situation stay motivated to actively engage in life?  How can I introduce more variety to her life, keep her active in a safe way, challenge her mind?

Last week she asked me if the assisted living places let you bring your own furniture.  I realize I need to research these places so that when the time comes, and it may be sooner rather than later, I can help make the transition as easy as it can be.

Meanwhile I’m already missing my partner in adventure.  We used to just head out and see where we ended up.  Not so much now.  A combination of me working a lot, her having bad days, and nasty weather has really cut into our adventure time. But I’m hoping we have a couple more adventures in our future.

Before she has to make that big move.



Good news! Really!

I had a call from Reilly the Cow Spot Dog’s dad today.  You can check out Reilly’s blog here…but his Mom’s been really sick since last Christmas.  Today Reilly’s Dad called me and told me that Bree had surgery a few weeks ago and has been in ICU, but is now out and most everything is fixed.  She has a long way to go to get her strength back..but there is definitely hope that finally things are moving in the right direction!

She hasn’t been able to talk, what with tubes going down her throat…but today she whispered to her husband to call me because I’d be worried.  I have been worried.  I’ve been worried sick, and it was such a relief to hear she was hanging in there strong.

So for those of you out there that know her…know that’s she’s fighting and getting better!


Knee strategy

I’m going into my fourth week of knee issues now.   It seems to be getting better as I rest it, ice it, compress it, elevate it.  You know…the mantra of any sporting person….RICE.  I called my doctor’s office last Friday to see if I could get an appointment this week.  Turns out he’s busy all week, and all they could offer me was to have me call at 8:30 this morning and see if I could get in.  I couldn’t even get past the busy signal.

Meanwhile this morning the knee feels almost 100%.  I even took Katie out for a bit of a walk around the neighborhood to see if I could get it to hurt again.  Nada.  So I went back online to see what I could figure out.  Perhaps I have tendinitis, an overuse injury that just takes time and care to heal.  That makes sense as I can’t pin my knee pain to a specific event, as people with tears in their MCL or meniscus usually can.  If it really is just tendinitis I’m already doing everything there is to do to make it better.  And it is getting better.

So, though I haven’t reached my doctor yet I’m feeling a bit better about the prospects of being able to walk around a grocery store without ending up with ice on the knee.  Maybe someday I’ll even be able to take a walk that is longer than six blocks.  If I’m careful.

I’m registered to do a half marathon in October.  I guess that isn’t going to happen as I’m unable to train, and should already be up to running 10 miles or so.  I can’t even walk one at the moment.

Maybe I’ll just go and cheer everyone else on.



Bad news everywhere

I started reading blogs this morning, stopping at Jane’s blog where she lamented that the bad news in the world came up free on the newspaper sites, but the good news was only available with a paid subscription.  I laughed at that and continued on.

Poor Faith had to go to the vet because she has an ouchy spot on her tummy and we are hoping it’s nothing serious.  Then Miley who is having laser and ultrasound therapy appears to be getting worse.  And Misty who is just the sweetest thing ever isn’t happy anymore and seems to be in pain, so she’s on her way to the vet too.  And the guys down in the Florida Keys are mourning the loss of their Grand-Paw and have posted a moving tribute to their Dog-Dad’s father.  Riley’s Mom who has been ill since last December is having even more surgery this week.    Mika, who’s Mama has already endured too much heartache was hit by a car today and is at the vet with crushed legs.  And to top it off last night I stopped at Huskee & Hershey’s site and saw a picture and story about a dog that was killed on the streets of Singapore by it’s owner…and no one stopped the man.  No sleeping for me last night with the image of that poor pup sliding in and out of my dreams.

After all that I just stopped reading.  Way too many dogs and people suffering today.  I’m giving thanks because I’m lucky that right now there are no calamities going on in my life.  And I will keep all those worried parents and furkids in my thoughts, sending them cyber hugs and healing thoughts.

Hope you will too.


What 8.5 miles sounds like

This morning I went out for my long walk in preparation for the 10 mile race coming up in a couple of weeks.  The plan was to do 8 miles; my favorite hilly 4 mile loop and then a less hilly 4 mile out and back.  The plan changed during the first mile when I had to pass a recently squished groundhog.  To avoid having to pass that groundhog three times I decided to do the first 3 miles of my favorite hilly 4 mile loop, then turn around and do 2 of those miles in the other direction, add a different 2.5 out and back and then head for home, holding my breath when I passed said deceased groundhog while looking studiously the other way.  Good plan.

Since I wasn’t going to carry a camera I thought I’d share my walk with you through the sounds I heard along the way.  Think of this as an audio nature report.  You get to add the visual through your own imagination.  You’re welcome to come along:

Early in the walk I am amused by the sounds of brown squirrels barking angrily at me from high up in massive old oaks and tall hickory trees.  Then, while I am focusing on the trees, trying to find the squirrels, there comes a startling rustle from the tall grass near the edge of the road.   About 6 inches from my left foot!   A very much alive groundhog hustles for safety under cover of the grass to his drain pipe underneath a driveway.  And before I can recover from that a loud swooshing noise makes me literally jump as hundreds of blackbirds sweep up and out of the trees overhead, then swarm around and land, only to sweep up into the sky over and over.  The sound is amazing and indescribable.

Chugging up a hill I tried to keep my steps and even my breathing silent as I creep past a house that has three dogs in the yard.  They have never actually come out into the road, but they bark a lot, and it was such a peaceful morning that I don’t want to incite them.  Success!  On beyond the dogs’ house I head downhill and approach a tight corner.  I’m on the inside where cars coming up the hill and rounding the corner can’t see me.   I hear a car coming up behind me so I can’t cross to the other side of the road.  I remind myself that one car’s noise can often cover up a second car’s approach so I slow down.   Sure enough just as the first car passed me another, undetected, came toward me from around the corner.  As I hopped up the bank to give the car room I make up a saying:  “A  wise country walker is vigilant at all times.”

Moving down the hill, coming out of the woods and heading across the wetlands a young male cardinal chirps at me from the underbrush along the road and later bright yellow and green goldfinches chatter happily as they hop among the grasses of the marsh.  As I approach the backside of town I listen to the rumble of a train coming and the hum of air conditioning units straining under the rising heat of another summer day.

I turn around in town, the end of mile 3, and walk back toward the marsh this time moving on the other side of the road.  A bit of water gurgles down the drainage ditch, widening and getting deeper as it gets closer to a stream.  At the bottom of the hill small frogs plop from the sides of the ditch landing splat into the water.  A chickadee goes through his litany of calls, then hops out to the end of a branch to watch me go by.

Back up into the cool dark woods I climb, the hum of the frogs in the swamp replaced by the higher pitched hum of bugs accented by what I think of as the “futuristic bug,” the one with the high pitched electronic sound that starts and stops, gaining in volume then cutting out.  I creep by the dogs’ house again and sigh in relief as I make the edge of their property without hearing their excited barking.  I’m further along the road, under the canopy of trees and hidden by the brush when I hear:  “DON’T GO THERE! DON’T GO THERE!”  I stop…consider…and wait to hear what’s next.  Then I hear:  “GOOD DOG!”  I laugh -and mosey on.

Now I’m five miles into my walk and I’m begin to have trouble with my IT band.  That’s a muscle or ligament or something that holds your kneecap in place.  I think.  Anyway the inside of my right knee is starting to get sore, and it is distracting me from the sights and sounds of walking in the woods.  It’s making me watch where I place my feet and not the scenery.  I began to hear nothing except the argument in my head.  Should I head for home and just do 6 miles?  Or continue on and risk injury?  A lawn mower sputters to life somewhere nearby.  The argument continues.  But just before the corner where I must make a decision I begin to walk on pavement after miles of walking on uneven dirt roads.  The knee feels much better now.  It’s still a beautiful day.  I had committed to 8 miles.  Heck I still have water left in my bottle so I continue on.

Now the sound of the freeway dominates my walk.  But along the way a chipmunk scurries into the underbrush sounding like something much larger.  A blue-jay cries.  Mourning doves coo.  I notice the sun is beating down and there are no woods to hide in.  The booming of a radio alerts me to a car coming up from behind and I step onto the shoulder.

Mile 7 and my knee is no longer having a good time.  Soon I’m not hearing any sounds other than my knee shouting at me and my mind berating my bad decision.  By mile 8 I’m considering hitch hiking.  Then with half a mile to go I’m just watching my feet and slowly slogging away.  One more hill, one more corner.  I stand in my neighbor’s sprinkler to rest.  I wonder about this whole 10 mile walk thing which is coming up in two weeks as I hobble home.

Now I’m sitting with the leg up, ice on the knee.  Katie is licking the salty slime off the rest of me.  Silly girl.  They say what doesn’t kill you makes you strong.

Here’s hoping that’s true.


A new day

Trees 1536 I’ve been staying with Aunt V these past few days.  She’s not steady enough on her feet to be alone.   But today I had jury duty, and had to be in “business attire” at the court by 8:30 in the morning.  I didn’t think I could get ready at her apartment without disturbing her routine, so my husband stayed with her last night, and I got to hug  Katie at home all night.  I’m not sure Katie really appreciated that, but she will when she’s older!

This morning as Katie and I emerged, trying to get her jobs done before I had to leave the sky was alive with fluffy clouds, the undersides of them gray, the tops tinged with pink as the sun came up.  I was sad that I was going to spend it in a jury room.  But I was also glad for the bit of freedom I had from the overly heated apartment I’ve been cooped up in since Sunday.  It’s funny how a tiny hour of freedom has so much more value when you’ve had none for a few days.

I have to give credit to those of you out there that are care givers full time, and have been for years, or face years of it in the future.  It’s a hard job.  Not to mention terribly boring!  I’m reading a good book, “Seven Types of Ambiguity” by Elliot Perlman,  recommended by another blogger, but it takes some concentration, and  it seems just when I’m getting my head back into the plot the Aunt needs something.  And of course she comes first.

She reminds me that it’s heck getting older.  Years ago when I lived in the Upper Peninsula I sometimes drove down to visit my own grandmother who was in her 90’s.  She’d outlived most of her friends and quite a bit of her family.  The last time I saw her she was walking with a walker and still living in her own home on the family farm.  She told me not to live to be her age and I wondered, in all the wisdom of a 20 something young person, what she was talking about.  Now I see it again with our Aunt.  Though she’s  smart as a tack she too has outlived her friends and much of her family.  Yesterday she started listing people, counting on her fingers over and over again, people she cared about who are gone now.  I had no appropriate response.  And it’s sad to witness.

Today’s jury duty went well.  All the cases before the two judges were settled, so they let us all go!  And today is going to be a beautiful day, high in the 80’s with sunshine.  I think perhaps Katie girl and I will have to go for a walk in the park before I head back over to the apartment to relieve my husband.  We did get some play in already, Katie and I, out in the yard.  She had a wonderful time.  Me too.

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Katie 2530

And on a totally unrelated topic, I found a baby turtle in the driveway just a bit ago and took it over to the edge of the pond.

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He is about the size of a nickle and was warm in my palm as I carried him over to the pond.  I set him on a leaf just at the edge of the water.  I hope he makes it.

Newborn and elderly, all in the same day, with a bit of sunshine thrown in.  It’s a new day

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Come take a mall walk with me

funky art 055 Almost every morning I’ve been going up to the mall to walk.  It’s mostly me and a bunch of old people –  at least that’s the way it seemed when I first started walking.  But lately I’ve been noticing individual “regulars” that are walking  just about every day.  It’s somewhat like it used to be when I ran at a local park every Saturday morning.  You’d see a lot of the same people and it got so you’d raise a hand in greeting and mutter a quick “Morning!” to them as you passed each other.

At the mall there’s not so much greeting going on, but today there were a few people that locked eyes and nodded, and even a couple that uttered morning back when I offered it.  So maybe I’ve become a regular too.  As long as I’m not one of the old ones, that’s OK.

Most mornings I get to the mall early enough to get 2 or 3 miles (laps) in before all the stores open.  I mark my progress by passing the Rain Forest Cafe which has water falls, monkeys, elephants and butterflies moving in animation along the outside walls when it’s open.  Most mornings I get 2 or 3 of my 4 laps finished before they start moving.  Today I arrive a bit early and my goal is to get all 4 of my laps done before the crocodile begins to roar and the waterfalls start sending up their morning fog.

So here’s some of the people I see up there nearly every morning:

A tiny Asian woman with her walker.  Always dressed beautifully, her oxygen tank sitting on the seat of her walker, she wheels around the 1 mile loop surprisingly quickly, head held high.  No discernible limp mars her gait.  Without the oxygen tank to slow her down I bet she’d be a speed demon with that walker.

A couple that always walks hand in hand; he wears a leather Indiana Jones hat and a long white beard.  They don’t saunter exactly but they’re in no hurry either.  They’re probably my age, so they’re not old.  But  also not so young.  It’s nice to see the affection between them.

The older man with the obvious side effects of having had a stroke; one leg swings wide and slowly, one arm dangles uselessly at his side.  He isn’t moving fast.  But he’s moving.  He doesn’t look at anyone, but he makes it around the “track.”  More than once.  Every day.

The middle aged black man that walks quickly holding a phone to his ear the entire time, conducting an animated conversation all the way around…and around…and around.  Every single morning he’s on that phone and I wonder if it’s the same person each day…I wonder if  it’s some sort of illicit affair that causes him to only be able to talk when he’s away from home on his walk.  I realize I’m starting to write whole stories about these people that I see every day but have never met.

A couple of women, probably my age, maybe slightly older.  One is heavier, the other is very slim.  They always walk just a bit faster than me.  Sometime during the morning they will pass me and I am never able to catch up to them again.  They talk nonstop about family and relationships and other people.  Interesting conversation to listen to.  In road races I used to run behind pairs of people talking and shamelessly eavesdrop to take my mind off of the pain of running.  I’d do the same at the mall but I can’t keep up!

The younger woman in shorts and a Tshirt wearing an Ipod even though there is great walking music playing overhead.  She is swinging her arms and moving right along.  If I were jogging I would still be slower than her.  She is in great shape and I remember evaluating female runners in the same manner I’m watching her now.  Wondering if she got this way by walking, or is just naturally lucky.  Wondering if I should move along a bit faster.

The pairs of young mothers pushing baby carriages with their youngsters asleep.  The mothers are talking and walking quickly, as if they need to get as much adult conversation in as quickly as possible before they head back to their children filled days.  The mothers all look so young, pony tails swept up, no makeup, big wedding/engagement rings on their hands.  Women of  leisure in the sense they aren’t working, but women in reality who have no leisure time at all.

The young man in a wheelchair going around and around, listening to his own Ipod.  Working out his shoulders and arms I suppose.  He doesn’t have one of those modern efficient wheelchairs and it looks a lot like work.  But then, my own feet are hurting by mile 3 so I guess if we do it right, we’re all doing a lot of work.  He smiles at me each time we meet, one of the few that acknowledges me.

So that’s a quick picture of my walk at the mall.  I’ve got to speed up now,  I want to finish before that crocodile wakes up.


Going to the library can result in a flu shot. Really.

Actually I have two stories about going to the library and getting a flu shot.  Imagine that!  The first was earlier in the fall when I planned on stopping at the county health department to get my flu shot while heading over to a library to drop off an employment application.  I found the health department after much driving around the huge county complex while muttering to myself about the lack of directional signs.  I traipsed up to the door only to find a sign that said “Sorry, no flu shots today, please check our website for next available flu shot dates.”  This really ticked me off because I had checked their website about an hour before I left the house.

So anyway.  I continued my trip out to the library to drop off the resume, employment application, cover letter and all.  And guess what?  There in the library’s community room was a lonely nurse giving  flu shots!  She had 15 more minutes till the end of  the program and nothing to do.  So I dropped off the employment paperwork and got my flu shot all at the same location!  Go figure.

Today, husband and I were somewhat bored.  So I suggested we go to our local library.  He sat there reading the paper and I looked for books.  When we were ready to go he said that he had read the county health department was doing the H1N1 shots for FREE and they were open today till 8!  Well!  We drove right over there and were the only ones in line.  Success!

Just goes to show what an integral part of community life public libraries really are!  I sure hope I get to work in one again soon.

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