I could use some sunshine

I’m going to stick to my theme of inanity, which I’m sure won’t surprise anyone, but it means I may need another day off. I’m in an airport again, writing this on my phone (which is going surprisingly well). Traffic sucked getting here, so we had that stress on top of last night’s disappointment.  The weather is gloomy to match our moods. I’ll be looking for puppies and kittens, real or virtual, to make me feel better. Actually, that’s been backfiring lately, too. Puppies and kittens make me think of Roxy and Riley, and that’s STILL too raw.

Were you looking for depressing inanity today? Glad I could help.

Again, I learned the dog’s name, not the owner’s

I looked out the window after doing the dishes tonight and saw a large dog sitting in our yard.  He was facing the street and was on a leash attached to a woman who was just standing there staring at her phone.  My first instinct was to be annoyed.  Her dog is in our yard.  At least he’s just sitting there, but still.  Who does that?  And she’s not paying attention at all.  She’s not taking his picture…maybe there’s a pokemon in our yard?  Nah.

So I went outside to say hello (and find out what was going on, which was not much). The dog’s name is Neko, and apparently he just really likes our yard.  She said every time they walk down the street, he goes up our first step, walks into the yard, and sits down, I guess to survey the neighborhood.  He was very polite about it.  Good thing, too, because he looks like a wolf.  He let me pet him a little, so they’re both forgiven.

I’m the weird neighbor

Our neighbors have a dog.  He’s a 6-year-old Great Dane named Merlin, and he has a great bark.  I met him the other day in their driveway.

I recognize the dog.  I know his name.  I know his breed, and I know his age.  It’s been a couple of days since his owners, our neighbors, told me that information.

I’ve talked to the neighbors at least five or six times, including the day I met their dog.  The first two times, I got their names.

I do not remember their names.  I do not remember where they lived before they moved here.  I do not remember what they do for a living.  I’m positive we talked about those things.

The next time I see them, I’m going to have to tell them that I’m that guy.  “I’m sorry.  I’m the person who remembers dog’s names, but not people’s names, and I feel terrible about it, and what are your names again?  I’ll write them down this time.

Oh, and we work from home every day, so if you ever want someone to let Merlin out or take him for a walk, we’d be happy to do it.”

I actually did say that last part when I met the dog.  I think they were genuinely interested.  John thinks they think I’m crazy, and why would they let their new neighbor (who they don’t know at all and whose name they probably don’t remember, either) into their house?

Happy dogs, happy me

May 4th, Star Wars Day (“May the Fourth be with you”), is not a great day for us.  It’s the anniversary of Roxy’s death (three years this year), and that just sucks (and ruins what could otherwise be a fun, geeky day).  But it’s not all sadness and tears.  Yesterday, we were biking along the path, and we passed a couple walking what must have been the happiest dog alive.  How do I know this dog is the happiest dog alive?  He was soaking wet and carrying a very large stick in his mouth.

dogwithstick

(Not this dog, but you get the idea.)  Google “dogs carrying big sticks”.  It’s awfully cute.  Puppy pictures make everything better.

Dog fix needed

Our bike ride this afternoon took us past the dog park.  It’s a really big dog park, and there were a lot of dogs playing and looking happy.  We watched for a few minutes, trying not to be those weirdos who lurk outside dog parks without dogs.  I missed our puppies, but was mostly happy to watch all those dogs play.  I’ve toyed with the idea of volunteering at an animal shelter before, and I’m toying with it now.  I’m not Mom – I can be trusted not to come home with a new pet.  But will it make me feel better, knowing I’m helping out homeless animals, giving them love and attention and helping them get adopted?  Or will it make me feel worse to come home every time, NOT having adopted a new pet (a new dog, let’s be honest here), knowing I’m not rescuing them and giving them all a loving home?  Because really – now is not the time for us to get a dog.  We’re not ready emotionally.  We’re a week away from three years since Roxy’s death, and about a year and a half from Riley’s. We both have dreams about one or both of them fairly regularly, which is kind of nice.  They’re not sad dreams – they’re matter of fact (we’re doing something and oh hey, one of the dogs is with us), and it’s kind of like saying hello.  For me, crying about them is not a thing of the past.  On top of that, our travel plans make it complicated, so it’s not an option.

But anyway, volunteering at an animal shelter – good thing for me?  Bad thing?  I should probably try it and see.

Mauled

Jess goes home at lunchtime to take her dogs out and play with them, so I ran her way one day this week.  It’s so nice to be able to get outside and STAY outside (and it’s so nice that her new apartment is well within running distance).  My run was…not good, but I got to Jess’s place and joined her and the dogs in the dog park.

And then I was attacked.

That sounds bad.

I was attacked in a friendly way by her two giant boxers who have forgotten their manners.  It’s just as well I was sweaty and wearing running clothes because I ended up with dirt all over from muddy paws and slobbery faces.  Ick.  Got a couple of claw marks on my arms that faded quickly.  I am not used to that anymore.  Howdy and Daisy are far too old for playing rough, Lilly won’t come near me, and if Ginger wants to fight me, I’ll just sit on her.  Roxy and Riley hadn’t played rough for YEARS before they died, and I don’t really know any other dogs.  I certainly wasn’t hurt, and I definitely wasn’t scared (they’re big friendly beasts who just want to play, and 30 seconds later, they want to curl up in my lap and snore), but it was unexpected.  And then I felt weird about being thrown by it.

I miss my puppies.

Not nostalgic

We spent last weekend in Norfolk visiting Brian and his family (Hi, Brian and family!).  It was really nice to see them and hang out (they make Norfolk FUN!), but I found on the drive in and the way out that I’m REALLY not nostalgic for that area.  We lived and worked there for two years.  We bought our first house there.  We adopted Roxy and Riley into that house.  I got out of the Navy there.  I got my first post-Navy job there.  There’s all that history, but when we drove around and through, my feelings were mostly of the I’m-glad-we-don’t-live-here-anymore variety.  There’s nothing WRONG with it.  It’s a perfectly nice place to live.  But.  I don’t think back on my Navy years with fondness (neither does John), and down there, where nearly EVERYONE is in the Navy or has a tie to it, it’s pretty much impossible to ignore.

The dogs are the one thing I AM nostalgic about, of course.  I miss them terribly, and it was nice to drive by our old house and remember them playing in the yard, but they spent most of their lives in the Ashburn house, so even that is somewhat overshadowed by the Navy presence.

We moved away 10 and a half years ago.  I’ve been out of the Navy officially for nearly 11 years.  My Navy phobia hasn’t waned.  Okay, “phobia” is too strong.  Discomfort.  Not going back there.

But the house – the house was good to us.  It appears to have lost ALL character in the last ten years (along with the bushes that used to be in front and flowered practically year-round), but let’s blame the owners for that.  Also, winter and brown grass and no leaves.

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I thought she was only afraid of thunder

I got very little sleep Sunday night because of a certain scaredy-cat cocker spaniel who was spooked by the wind. It was certainly very windy all night, and the wind was howling past the open window and doing its best to knock things over, but it’s wind!  Not solid, not harmful.  Daisy spent the first half of the night half on my chest, panting in my direction (her breath is AWFUL), shivering uncontrollably, and making her piggy snort noises as a break from the panting once every couple of minutes.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried, but I have found that it is hard to sleep with a noisy vibrating dog lying on your chest.  I moved her to my side at some point (she resisted being that far from my face, but I couldn’t breathe), but that didn’t help much because she was still shaking and snorting.  Then, around 3am, the scary wind monster rattled everything in the room.  She stood up, practically blurry with vibrations, jumped off the bed, hid herself between the dresser and the wall, and then crawled UNDER the dresser.  I pulled her out and put her back on the bed with me, but she jumped right back off and went back under.  I left her there the rest of the night.  When I woke up around 7, she was sleeping under there with her nose sticking out.

It’s still windy today, so she’s been glued to my side, hanging out in the basement with me while I worked all morning.  Ridiculous dog.  It’s a good thing she’s cute.

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Gluten-free baking and other disasters

Saturday morning, I made about 4 dozen gluten-free chocolate cookies, and they came out great.  Not great-for-gluten-free cookies.  Straight-up great.  This was one of the new things I tried, and I’m pretty darn happy with the results.  (I’m also typing this without my contacts in, so all the text is blurry and I’m relying on the inline spellcheck to catch all the mistakes.  Might not be happy with the results of this post.)  No disasters occurred during the making of those cookies. The bit about the house burning down might have been a bit prescient, though.  John kept me updated throughout the afternoon about the fire at the Annapolis Yacht Club.  Here’s an article in the local newspaper.  It mentions dozens of pedestrians watching the firefighting activity – John was one of those dozens!  (Does that technically mean he was one dozen?  John contains multitudes.)

Anyway, I also mentioned dogs eating dough.  Gaby and I made regular chocolate chip cookies for dinner, and Ginger (one of Mel’s dogs – the counter-surfer) licked three of them.  I usually under-cook my cookies, but these were a little less cooked than usual, so I think it counts as dough.  Prescient again? Or self-fulfilling prophecy, somehow?

Howling at…the moon? Howling at something

(John and I split a bottle of wine at dinner tonight (Today is his birthday!), so please forgive any typos.  Or rambling.  Or nonsensical rants.  But I’m sure there won’t be any of those.)

It’s easy to forget that our neighbor has a dog.  He’s just so quiet most of the time.  Every once in a while, we’ll hear him scrabbling across the floor (maybe playing with a ball?), but he doesn’t bark and we rarely see him outside.  (That could be because we’re rarely outside.)

We heard him all day today, though.  I don’t know what was going on over there, but this poor dog HOWLED all day.  It was adorable at first, and it inspired me to howl back.  That resulted in a minute or so of silence, when I imagined this dog staring at the wall that connects our houses with his head cocked to one side.  “Did I really hear that?  Is someone talking to me?  I didn’t quite understand it – maybe they’re from another country.”  Then he’d howl again.  And really, I’m not sure why.  Some days we have emergency vehicles rushing down the street all the time, but not today.  No ambulances, no fire engines, no police cars, no sirens of any kind.  It passed adorable (although it circled back to adorable once an hour or so) and became lonely around midday.  Why is this dog howling?  Does he miss his owners?  What makes today different?

We’re about ready to volunteer ourselves as dogsitters.  Maybe not volunteer, but we’d offer a competitive rate.

I don’t know how to say this

It’s hard to write posts like this (she says, having only written one other one ever – hey, it was hard that time, too).  I’ve been avoiding it, although you probably couldn’t tell because it looked a lot like not posting and I’ve been doing a LOT of that lately.  So much so that I wouldn’t be surprised if no one reads this.  Which would be okay, I guess.  And only fair.

Riley is no longer with us.  We said goodbye last Saturday morning (the 18th).

The house is much quieter now.

Good start

Today is going to be a good day.  It’s nice and cool, perfect weather for running.  I ran three miles, listening to Welcome to Night Vale for most of it.  When the episode ended, I switched to music since I don’t have the next Night Vale yet, and one of the last songs I heard as I pushed to the end was “Waiting for a Star to Fall” by Boy Meets Girl, which I LOVE.  Always have.  So yay happy song, right?  I got home, put Riley’s collar on (making him a happy dog – yay for a walk), and as we left the house, “Mr. Blue Sky” came on.  Super yay happy song!  So I was singing along as we headed up the hill, and Riley seemed to be doing well, and really, how could the morning be better?  The answer, apparently, is to follow ELO with some Queen, since “Hammer to Fall” came on next.  Now I’m home, stretching (and typing), all smiles, and today is going to be okay.

Speaking of music, we saw Guardians of the Galaxy Saturday night (liked it a lot) – the soundtrack is fantastic.

“Waiting for a Star to Fall” , Boy Meets Girl

“Mr. Blue Sky”, ELO

“Hammer to Fall”, Queen

Leftovers

Riley ate like a king today.  Leftover Chinese food, pizza crusts, and frozen custard.  He’s very happy with his meals.  Of course, he also knocked over his water bowl, tripped over my shoe (while I was wearing it), and peed on his leash.  So we count getting him excited about eating as a win.

Riley swears it was a beaver

After more than two months of trying to sell our house on our own, with only the two low offers right at the beginning, John and I decided to hand the work over to someone else.  We signed with an agent last Sunday, so now he’s in charge of marketing our house and following up with the people who come to see it.  He’s the guy who put us on the MLS for a small fee, and he’s been super helpful these months, answering all kinds of questions and providing advice, so we figured if anyone was going to get a commission from us, it should be this guy.  He hosted an open house for us today, freeing us up on a Sunday afternoon for the first time in a while, and our fingers are crossed that he’ll get our house sold.

We’re anxious to get moving, and not just because the life we have planned is going to be so cool.  We need to get out of this house before Riley destroys it.  He’s never been a chewer.  Really, never.  That was Roxy, and she was only destructive when she was a puppy.  Riley was never interested in chew toys, even, unless he was taking them away from her, and then he didn’t bother to eat them.  He just kept them away from Roxy.  So imagine our surprise (and horror) when we came home last Saturday morning to find this:

And this:

And this:

We were only gone for TWO HOURS.  And, of course, we had an open house planned for the next day.  We spent the whole rest of that Saturday fixing the house.  It’s all better now – no sign of the rampage Riley must have begun the second we got in the car.  He took a chunk out of another wall (similar to the last picture) a couple of days later, but he hasn’t done anything else like it since then.  We brought in a couple of sticks from the yard, and he seems to be focusing on those.  During the open house today, we took him to a pet store and he picked out a couple of chewy things (which was also kind of jaw-dropping – he’s never paid any attention to what’s going on in the bins in pet stores).  We don’t want to have to crate him all day, so hopefully the chew toys will work.

Open House #2

Lots happened last week, everyone.  We had our open house last Sunday (from noon to 5), and we had a whopping TWO people come by the whole time.  We were a little disappointed, but the second person stayed for a while, asked a ton of questions, and seemed fairly serious about it.  (Also, I kind of know her through the gym.)  That night we got a call from her realtor – boom.  An offer.  Her realtor was god-awful and terribly rude to us (we’re doing a FSBO for a reason – we’re willing to give 1% to the buyer’s agent, not 3), but the offer came in anyway.  It was a little low, but dude!  An offer!  So we panicked.  Kind of.  We were SO not prepared for that.  We had planned on using a real estate attorney to help us with closing, but we hadn’t even begun to find one.  Also, the buyer only gave us 18 hours to respond (the offer came in at 9pm Sunday – she gave us until 3pm Monday), so we spent Monday morning frantically trying to a) find a lawyer and/or b) figure out how we should counter.  Because we wanted to counter.  It was a reasonable, very fair counter.  Anyway, I found a real estate lawyer (through my gym again) who gave us great advice, and then at 2:45 (because that’s when I heard back from our new lawyer) I printed out the offer, made our changes, initialled and signed everything, scanned in the signed copy, emailed it to John, who printed, initialled and signed, scanned it in, and emailed the whole thing back to the agent.  At 2:50, I emailed her to let her know it was coming.  She got it by 3:15.  We gave them until 5pm Tuesday (a whole 26 hours) to get back to us.

Silence.  Just nothing.  No response.  Wednesday morning, I emailed the agent to confirm that their lack of response meant they weren’t interested in countering or accepting.  She replied quickly to tell me that was correct, and that was the end of that.  Except that we plan to email the buyer directly (because we have her information and I kind of know her) just to check in and be friendly.  There’s really no reason we haven’t done it yet.  Anyway, even though it didn’t pan out, it was exciting, and we feel good about it.  We do NOT regret not taking her initial offer.

Tuesday night we showed the house to a guy who seemed positive but is in no hurry whatsoever.  We made a deal with an agent we really like (he’s given us all kinds of advice on how to sell on our own, how to deal with buyer’s agents and the whole commission thing, and lots of other things) to have him list our house on the MLS for a flat fee, so we’re out there for agents to find us.  We’re having an open house right now (and clearly so overrun with people that I don’t have any time to write….oh, wait a minute), from noon to 3, with a showing between 3 and 3:30 and a guy who’s going to come by around 1.

It’s been busy.  We’re still homeowners, Riley is in a slow decline (his x-rays Monday morning were not positive), work sucks and is about to get suckier, and it’s the one-year anniversary of Roxy’s death, but hey – I had a milkshake for dinner last night and the weather is beautiful.  It’s not all bad.

Riley has no concern for our feelings

The other night, Riley did everything he could to make sure he was going to get kicked out of our room.  He went to bed quietly enough (on the dog bed on the floor on my side of the bed), but then he spent what felt like several hours making weird slobbery lip-smacking noises with pauses for low groaning.  (He’s been making these annoyed groaning noises a lot – that used to be Roxy’s thing.  Just one more habit of hers he’s picked up.)  Then at 2:30, he decided it was time to get up.  I found this out when he dropped his giant head on my shoulder and stuck his cold wet nose in my ear.  So I got up to let him out (and not let him back upstairs after).  I put him in the backyard.  Usually in the middle of the night, he goes out, pees, and comes right back in.  Was he going to do that that particular night?  Of course not.  I waited a few minutes, and then opened the door again to call him in.  No sign of him.  My eyes eventually adjusted a little, and I could just make him out as a slightly darker shadow along the back fence.  And I could hear him sniffing and snuffling at something.  Ignoring me.  I clapped, and I called, and I rattled the treat box – nothing.  I went out on the deck, barely dressed and barefoot.  Sometimes me on the deck gets his attention.  Nothing.  I was going to have to go out in the yard.  So I went back upstairs, got my shoes, got my coat, and headed out into the yard.  The dog let me get into the very middle of the yard before he sprinted for the deck, giving me a wide berth.  Then he had the nerve to be annoyed when I wouldn’t let him back upstairs.  So 10 minutes of chasing the dog around the very cold backyard in the middle of the night made the next day a little difficult, but I still made it out of the house on time the next morning.  Sleepy, but on time.  But that wasn’t the end of it.  Even though I took Riley for a short walk that morning, then let him upstairs while I showered and got ready for work, and then took him back downstairs to let him out before I left while John got ready for work, he still peed in the dining room after I left and before John came down.  Why?  Why not?

The Riley Report

Five weeks ago, Riley had his first x-ray after finishing chemo.  His last x-ray was on Halloween, and it showed clear lungs.  This one was not clean.  They took three pictures, and on one of them, they could see a shadow that they were pretty sure but maybe not but probably is a lesion.  So Riley’s cancer metastasized.  When we got his diagnosis at the end of last summer, they told us that with the amputation and chemo, his odds were 50/50 that he’d be cancer free in year.  Looks like Riley fell into the wrong 50.  They couldn’t tell us anything else (like how bad, how fast, how much longer) without a second x-ray, so that brings us to today.  His second x-ray was this afternoon, and while there’s still only the one spot, it has grown by 38%.  That only brought it to 2cm, so it shouldn’t be affecting him yet.  The vet says it probably won’t bother him until it gets to 5-7cm or unless more appear.  We started the metronomic chemo (low doses by pill) yesterday, in the hopes that it will slow the growth.  Our next x-ray is in 7 weeks.

John is upstairs trying to make an L-shaped cut into a porcelain tile with a hacksaw, I just finished cooking Riley some chicken, and he’s hanging out on his dog bed looking at me.  (I feel judged – I’m not being entertaining enough.  Or I’m in trouble for not giving him the chicken yet. It’s too hot, buddy!)

He’s still okay for now.  We are, too.

Relax, dude

Riley is getting jumpy and nervous in his old age.  Since the weather was so nice today, I tried to take him on a pleasant outing to a nearby park.  I was sitting on a bench, he was on the leash – usually, he’ll settle down and people-watch.  Not today.  I gave up after about 20 minutes of whining, pacing, and nervous drooling.  We came home and settled on the deck, still in the sun, still enjoying the weather, but no strange people or animals.  Or so I thought.  He settled down immediately, but was startled out of a nap and onto his feet by a trio of geese who decided to announce their presence directly overhead with some very loud honking.  He looked completely freaked out.  Poor little guy.

 

The news

Item 1: Riley slept through the night (possibly because we did), so there are no incidents to report. Yay for sleep and yay for not having to clean anything up!

Item 2: We finished Breaking Bad last night. Good ending, but I have to admit to feeling a little disappointed. Too much build-up, I think. I’ll probably feel better about it with time.

That’s all the news there is to report.