Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A Beautiful Spring Day

Yesterday was the most beautiful day of the year so far.  It was clear and sunny and topped out at 75 degrees.  It was glorious.  I decided to take the girls up to the Salmon/Morgan Creek Natural Area after work.  I just love this unofficial park.  It's full of old growth trees, especially Western Red Cedars, ferns,  huge old trees and has a sweet little beach area down by Morgan Creek.  My cell phone takes pretty crappy pictures, but I managed to capture a few that show how beautiful it is.

The triliums were out and blooming all over the place.

 There are about a zillion types of trilliums.  I think these are the trillium ovatum or the white trillium. It's also called the white wake-robin (I like this one best) from a myth that its spring emergence wakes red-breasted birds into raptures of song.  I found a great article about them if you are interested.  I had heard something about picking them makes them not bloom again for 7 years, so I went and looked it up.  Here's what I found out:
While it is often said that the gathering of the flower stems results in the plant’s death--or delays the plant re-blooming for something like 7 years--such stories are not really true. However, picking the whole plant: flowers and leaves, besides denying others the enjoyment of the flower’s beauty, does rob the plant’s underground rhizome of needed, and ongoing accumulation of carbohydrates. Still if a particular Trillium is regularly picked early on, and over successive years, like anything else, its long term survival would be impaired.
 In reference to these fabled warnings against picking, but rather unexpectedly described in a technical botanical text Vascular Plants of the Pacific NW: “If the admonition was invented to discourage picking of the flowers, the statement should be that the picker, not the picked, will die--but justice rarely is so obvious.”

While this notion may seem a bit harsh, in fact some western Indian cultures did have such strict warnings. The Thompson Indians of British Columbia used Western Trillium medicinally, with informers telling researchers that Trillium ovatum “should never be touched except by those experienced in medicine.” Thompson native, Annie York stated that Trillium “is an extremely valuable plant and that should never be pulled or touched by someone who does not know what he is doing, or who is ‘just fooling around,’ or some harm would come to him.”
Good thing I just took some pictures, isn't it?

All that green you see in the pictures is from some kind of clover-type plant.  It has tiny pink flowers sometimes.  I know there is other stuff in there, but I have no idea what it is.  I'm bad with plants by trying to learn.  Maybe a plant guide would help.

Anyway, here are some more pictures of the park and Carmen and Ochenta.  It's hard to get a good picture of Ochenta with my cell phone as she is always in motion and won't hold still long enough for the shutter to close before she moves again.  I have a zillion blurry pictures of her and another zillion of her butt.  Carmen is a much better model.

Here's a fun video for you of the girls. I warn you in advance that I'm a terrible videographer and you'll get motion sick watching!  :-)


Thursday, February 06, 2014

Catch Up

Blah blah, haven't been keeping up my blog, I suck, blah, blah. I've said it all before, so I'm just going to skip that opening paragraph and move on to the good stuff.

So I finished the 13 weeks of core classes with Weight Loss for Life.  It wasn't easy, but I made it through all 13 weeks in the box.  I ended up losing 41.2 pounds.  Yay, me!  Greg did really well and lost almost 50 pounds.  He snuck in some kettle corn and a chocolate Santa during his time, but still managed to lose a lot of weight.  Lucky ducky.

Because it was getting expensive and we were putting the classes, doctor fees and food on a credit card, we decided to both take February off from the program. We are trying to continue a slower weight loss pace and incorporate better eating choices.  I'm hoping for 1 - 2 pounds a week.  I'm going to continue with the HMR shakes and incorporate veggies and at least 1 real food meal daily.  I don't want to lose my momentum, but at the same time, I don't want to eat their entrees.  I'm also giving myself 1 meal off a week and 1 full day off a week to enjoy what I want.  Hopefully that will help my lack of self control when it comes to eating.

I have a sheet somewhere that gives some stats of the changes I've made since we started WLFL in November.  As soon as I find it, I'll share here.

Let's see, what else?  Ochenta is still with us and doing well.  She came into heat 2 weeks ago, which has been a pain, but not as bad as I thought.  She will be getting the big snip as soon as I can afford it though.  Why do dogs have to be in heat for three weeks?  Why is THAT a good idea?  Isn't 5-7 days long enough to get the deed done?  Honestly.

I've been getting in some letterboxing which has been awesome.  I'm horrible about taking and/or posting pictures when I do.  Here's a couple from our Boxing Day trip.

More later!

Monday, December 23, 2013


After we lost Sophie, Carmen became really depressed.  She just wasn't herself.  I never thought that she and Sophie were great buddies but they were together all the time, so I'm sure it was an adjustment for her.  Greg and I decided that we would look for an adult whippet, preferably female, between 5 and 10 years old to add to the family.  I put in an application with Whippet Rescue and put the word out in the whippet community that we were looking.  

Several dogs came available in rescue during this time, but none of them fit our criteria.  Of course, we needed one that was at least willing to ignore the cats.  There are a lot of non-cat-safe whippets out there.

In November, Ramona Bradley, the breeder of both Carmen & Sophie, got in touch with me on Facebook and said she had a 8-year-old female that she'd like to re-home.  She said Ochenta was really sweet and needed more attention than she was getting with them.  She hadn't spent a lot of time living in the house (just in their dog room), so she needed to get used to being a house dog.  She hadn't spent time living with cats either, so we weren't sure how that would go. We agreed to give her a try.

November 24th, I brought Ochenta home.  It's always a challenge to bring in a new pet, but she did remarkably well.  She was very interested in the cats at first.  Mostly I think she wanted to get close enough to check them out, not eat them.  Neither cat thought much of this idea and would run off when she got too close.  That, naturally, made her want to chase them.  Cleo was mostly disdainful.  Zinger decided to make a stand and started putting himself in her path and puffing himself up to three times his normal size.  He could only make his stand for so long, though.  As soon as Ochenta got close enough to sniff him, his nerve would break and he'd run off.  They are still working on an acceptance of each other.  She tries not to chase him and he tries not to run.

Ochenta is 8 years old. Her registered name is Dreams Ochenta's Lady.  Her dam is one of Sophie's litter-mates, Cinder (more formally known as Dreams Burnin Down the House, RCh).  Her sire is Bravo (more formally known as Vitesse A Winter's Tale, RCh, SORC, CC, CM).  She looks a lot like her daddy.

Her name comes from the two black spots on her left side and the one black spot on her right side.  When you look down on her from above, it looks like she has an 80 on her.  Ochenta is Spanish for 80. We also call her Ted.  Based on this voice mail translation from Vonage (love how these voice things are translated sometimes): "Hello this is Cathy calling from ms.-tanya-on-the(?) Hospital. Just calling to remind you know Ted has an appointment tomorrow evening at five thirty. Come in for her preop blood work. If you have any questions feel free to give us a call. Our number here is 3608921500. Thank you." 

Ms.-Tanya-On-The(?) Hospital translates to East Padden Animal Hospital, just in case you wondered.

So we've had her just about a month now. She fits right in and I love her to pieces.  She's very sweet, wants to please, and is a hugger and a snuggler.  She is half again as large as Carmen, weighing in at 36 pounds.  She's taller, wider and heavier than Carmen and has no idea of her size.  She's like a bull in a china shop and runs over stuff all the time.  She is a very happy dog, too.  Always wagging her tail and smiling at you.

She came to us with very dirty teeth and horrible, horrible breath.  I took her in to have her teeth cleaned last week and she came out with 27 less teeth (they have 42) and a $2,000 vet bill.  Her teeth were in really bad shape and she had to have a bunch of them removed because they were rotting or the gum and bone were wearing away.

She's doing great now.  Seems to be back to normal as far as I can tell!

I'm sure there will be more posts about her in the future. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Greg just sent me these pictures of Sophie so I thought I'd post them for your enjoyment.  I sure miss my girl!

Our vet has a tradition of honoring the memories of pet patients that have passed during the year.  This year they invited us to create an ornament to put on their memory tree.  I'm using this last picture and put the following on it:

Dreams on the Sofa, Fch, JC, OTRM, SR
May 26, 2000
July 2, 2013

You will be forever in our hearts 

What do you think?  I couldn't come up with something terrific that said everything I wanted to say, but I think this gets to it.


So Greg and I are doing this diet for 3 months called Weight Loss for Life.  It is through a company called HMR and it is a medically supervised, super-low calorie diet.

Here's what the SW Washington Medical Center site says about it:

The name says it all. PeaceHealth Southwest's Weight Loss for Life (HMR®) program is a clinically proven, medical weight loss program that helps you take off the extra weight for good.

Weight Loss for Life's comprehensive programs provide:

   Weight loss results that exceed any other ongoing weight loss program
Options for everyone—from our clinic program with medical supervision to our do-it-yourself diet kits – all with superior results and program support
Delicious, nutritionally balanced foods
Affordable diets with meal costs lower than most people's food budgets
Support tools to make your diet easier and recipes to increase variety
An easy-to-follow, practical approach that teaches life-long skills for a healthy diet, physical activity, and overall health

PeaceHealth Southwest's Weight Loss for Life program is a licensed partnership with Health Management Resources® (HMR), the leader in clinically proven, medical weight loss programs. HMR's programs are based on extensive scientific research and are widely recognized for their successful outcomes. To date, more than 900,000 dieters have chosen HMR to lose weight and gain greater health. You can too.

We are now 6 weeks into the 13 week "quick start" part of the diet.  Greg has lost 31 pounds and I have lost 20.  Not bad for 5 weeks of work.  Don't get me wrong, it has been work!   We opted for the decision free diet where we can have a minimum of 2 entrees and 3 shakes a day.  The food is pretty good, but you can only eat their food - nothing else.  NOTHING else.  So far, we've managed, but I'm missing food in general.

More info to come as the weeks unfold. 
Keep Calm and HUG YOUR WHIPPET Poster

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wow. Almost December? Really?

Time is flying by!  I've neglected my little blog terribly this year.  I post pithy little comments on Facebook all the time, but completely ignore my special place.  Got to do better about that!

Here is a quick catch up on what we've been doing for the past 5 months.

1. As I posted before, we put Sophie to sleep on July 2nd.  It was a horrible, hard day, followed by very hard weeks.  We miss our girl terribly.  Carmen was very depressed for a long time.
2. Went to see Cats
3. Did PT on my knee
4. Did my annual mammogram
5. Went to a party to say good bye to Der Mad Stamper who is moving to Kansas.  Yes, on purpose!

1. Dad had heart surgery to repair a valve.  All went well, he was a model patient and was up and around in no time.  We are all very relieved it went well and nothing more needed to be done.
2. More PT
3. Had an MRI on my knee.  Determined I have a torn medial meniscus and arthritis in my knee.  They can do surgery to fix the tear, but said it most likely won't fix the pain because of the arthritis.  I have chosen to continue with exercise and weight loss to see if I can get it under control.  
5.Attended the Are We There Yet? letterboxing gathering.  Awesome! (and Der Mad Stamper was there.  Still hasn't moved as far as I know).
6. Saw Greater Tuna
7. My Auntie Jan, cousins Debbie, Doug and Susan and their various assorted friends came out to visit for a few days.  Had a lovely, but short, visit with them.

1. FMS/IT/BFP retreat.  Had last minute changes because of the weather, but we had fun.  Hmm, still need to finish that photo book.
2. Got a surprise invitation to see Chicago from Julie and a group of friends of friends of people with season tickets.  Woo hoo!
3. More PT
4. I joined LA Fitness and signed up for a personal trainer.  I know!  Who'da thought?
5. Ritha & I started going to aquafit classes every week.  We committed to each other that we would go once a week until the end of the year.  We've been doing pretty good, too!
6. G & I went up to Trout Lake to go camping at the ECETI (Enlightened Contact with Extraterrestrial Intelligence) homestead. Very interesting people there.  Horrible weather, didn't see any UFOs, but managed to have fun anyway.
7. Graduated from PT. 

1. Rinda had to have Raz put to sleep.
2. Saw Spamalot
3. Had a tooth filled - yay, no root canal needed!
4. Camped at Stubb Stewart State Park for the Night Boxing with Zombies letterboxing gathering.  Too much fun!  Great park.  I think we ended up with over 50 boxes that night in just a couple of hours. 
5. Renewed my notary license.
6. Spent a few hours searching for Tigger, the runaway whippet here in Gresham.
7. Had the annual eye appointment.  Had to up the power of the close vision part of my contest so I can actually read stuff without reading glasses again.  Sigh.  Getting old sucks.
8.  Went to the information class for Weight Loss for Life (more about that later).
9. Went cider pressing with Mom and Dad at  the Cedar Creek Grist Mill.
10. Got my hair cut.
11. Had a pumpkin carving contest at work. I'll post pictures later.
12. Workout with trainer and aquafit every week.

1. Silent auction at work.  Spent too much money, but it was for a good cause.  Won the basket for the dog goodies, some earrings, handmade cards, some beaded thingys that are barefoot decorations.
2. Started Weight Loss for Life.  Starting weight - 266.
3. Went to Ritha's house for a scrapping party.  Worked on my secret theater project.  Only got the stuff prepared, but that was a big step up from where I started, which was a stack of playbills a foot high.
4. Went to the Pretty Kitty Craft Bazaar.  Bought some fun stuff and won the dog basket in the silent auction.  Lots of goodies for $30!  Again, all for charity.  This time for House of Dreams, a shelter for abandoned and homeless cats.
5. Got surprise theater tickets to see American Idiot from another friend of a friend that has season tickets they couldn't use.  I need more of those friends!
6. Saw Inspecting Carol.
7. Picked up Ochenta for a trial run (more about that in a separate post).

Huh. If you asked me I would have said we haven't been doing much, but when you write it out, things look more interesting!

I promise to do better with my little blog.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Goodbye Sweet Girl

On July 2nd, we said goodbye to  Dreams on the Sofa, Fch, OTRM, SRM, SC.  It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

Sophie had been having tummy trouble more and more often in the last year.  She'd been to the vet several times for vomiting and the fact that she was losing weight.  We tried all kinds of food and finally found a raw food that she could keep down and liked, but she wasn't putting weight back on.  She had tests and x-rays, but nothing was coming back with anything that pointed to one diagnoses.  Dr. Tracy thought she might have pancreatitis, but nothing was significantly pointing that way with her blood work.

Finally, on June 18th, we took her to have an ultrasound done.  This was the assessment from the vet:

CLIENT INSTRUCTIONS:Sophie presented for abdominal ultrasound because of weight loss and on-going vomiting. Chest x-rays were taken and were clear.
Abdominal ultrasound showed an intestinal mass. This is relatively small, but it appears to be actually somewhat blocking the flow of food/fluid through the intestines. This is likely causing the vomiting and weight loss.
Sophie's left kidney is blocked, stretched and damaged. The ureter (the tube between thekidney and the bladder) appears blocked close to the kidney. I suspect that the inflammationand damage of the intestinal mass is impacting this tube and blocking the kidney.
There is a small amount of free fluid in the belly, this is likely secondary to one of the aboveissues.
Both of the above changes are felt to be extremely painful processes in humans with similarchanges.
Sophie is uncomfortable in her belly at least. In addition, she is in mild kidney failure and herpancreatic blood value is mildly elevated.
I have provided to options for Sophie;1) Surgical exploratory. See if we can get the mass out. See if the surgeon can relieve thepressure on the kidney and allow drainage. There are tubes we could potentially place to help hold open the ureter. However, scarring and long term damage are a concern. Removing the kidney is another possibility. Removing the kidney of a dog in renal failure carries a poorprognosis. This would be an aggressive and invasive surgery. This surgery would be relativelyexpensive (rough estimate $5-6,0000) with poor odds of survival and poor long termexpectations.
2) Humane euthanasia. We discussed quality of life and I gave some rough advice on things to monitor. I suspect that Sophie is painful but that she is hiding this pain, for the most part.Mr. Leibrand elected to take Sophie home, discuss with his wife and family.
 At this point she was still acting like her normal self, just skinnier.  She was still eating and eliminating, staying with us, poking her head into any bag we brought home, and all the other normal stuff she does.

We talked to our vet, who agreed with the other vet's assessment and advised us that we wouldn't have much more time with her.  We chose to bring her home and provide palliative care as long as her quality of life was good.

I had the last week of June off and was able to spend it with her.  As the days went by, she started to get weaker and pickier about what she was eating.  Pretty soon she wouldn't eat her expensive raw food, but was still eating the yummy tripe.  Then tripe wasn't doing it for her, but scramble egg was good.  On Saturday the 29th she hit a turning point.  She threw up in the late afternoon and didn't really bounce back.  We gave her some anti-nausea medicine and kept up with her pain pills.  She wasn't interested in eating much, though.

Things continued to go downhill for her the rest of the weekend.  By the time I got home from work on Monday, July 1, I knew the time had come.  She was very weak and not interested in eating.  She had no energy and the life had gone out of her dark eyes. She sat with me in my chair with her head on my shoulder just resting.  We made the appointment for 12:15.

She slept with me one last time on Monday night.  I think I was touching her all night, but she hardly moved.  I kept looking at the clock, knowing that I only had a few more hours with her.

Tuesday was really hard. Somehow knowing we had a time set to end her life seemed weird.  We left about 11:00 and took her up Morgan Creek Natural Area, which is one of my favorite spots to take the girls.  She walked around and sniffed, peed a little, and mostly just looked around and seemed to enjoy the sights.  She was too weak to walk far, so we didn't go down to Carmen's Beach, which is about 1/2 a mile in.  That was her favorite place there.  She always liked to stand in the creek and drink the water for some reason.

We got to the vet at 12:00.  Greg and I waited in the car, talking little.  I think I was already crying when we took her in to the vet.  The staff there was so great.  They lead us into a room right away and we were able to set her down on the futon couch.  Dr. Tracy came in and did a quick assessment of Sophie.  She agreed that it was time for us to put her to sleep.  She did more tending to Greg and I at that point and explained each step of the process.  I had to sign a release that said I was the owner and gave my permission to terminate her life.  Dr. Tracy gave us plenty of time to say goodbye.  We both cried and told Sophie that we were sorry we couldn't make her better and that we loved her.

We chose to have the vet give a sedative first, and then once Sophie was asleep she would inject something to stop her heart.

I was holding her the whole time across my lap with her head in the crook of my elbow.  She was so still and quiet and didn't even flinch when Dr. Tracy gave her the first injection.  That more than anything, helped me know that we were making the right choice for her. I kept my hand on her chest and was able to watch it move with the beat of her heart and every breath.  

She almost immediately was asleep after the injection and after about 5 minutes was breathing very slowly and her heart beat was slowing down.  Dr. Tracy came in and gave her another shot and I started to feel her heartbeat slow down.  After a couple of minutes, it just tapered off until I felt nothing.  Dr. Tracy listened with her stethoscope and told us she was gone.

It was all very peaceful and seemed very painless for Sophie.  Dr. Tracy was stroking her leg the whole time, Greg was petting her, and I had my hand on her chest and we were telling her that we loved her and would miss her.  It was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life.

The house seems so empty without her.  Carmen seems depressed.  I know I'm depressed and prone to bouts of sobbing for no apparent reason.  The cats are very solicitous   Whenever I start crying, Cleo comes up and makes me hold her and purrs.  She is such an empath.  If I'm somewhere where she can reach me, Carmen will lick my face and wag her tail.  Zinger has let me pet him a lot more  lately and we've played with his mousie.

We had her cremated.  Today we picked up the remains.  They had put them in a nice wooden box and gave us a paw print and some nice messages to go with them.  I couldn't even read that stuff.  I know I'll appreciate it later, but not yet.

I wanted to get this all down in my blog so that I would always remember how peaceful it was for her.    I've been crying most of the time I've been typing it, but it is a good thing to remember.

These are some of the last pictures I took of her.  I couldn't bring myself to take a picture that last day.  She was just so skinny.  These pictures are from late May, I think.  She's pretty skinny here, too.

Goodbye, sweet girl.  Mummy misses you.

Long Time No See

So did any of you notice that I haven't posted on here since my birthday?  I started a blog for the Iditarod and did a bunch of posting on there, but once that was over, things got complicated.  I'll try for a summary of the last few months here.

Boxing with Maiden in Wilsonville
Root canal (that's what I got for my birthday.  And was super glad to get it)
Got new fishy at work.  His name is Eragon.

Puzzling Christmas LB gathering
See Grand Hotel with Julie
Sophie's teeth cleaning
Finance Committee meeting
IAAP meeting
Beach boxing with the Mystery Machine Group
See The Great American Trail Park Musical with Leah
Game On! diet starts

Administrative Assistance conference
Game On diet ends - lose 12 pounds (248.8)
Finance Committee Meeting
Greg has kidney stone surgery
See Rumors with ulie

Lucky Box LB gathering
Pet and Companion Fair
Budget Committee meetings
Greg in hospital for infection for 5 days.

Spring Flinger LB gathering
Camping at Lewis & Clark State Park
Greg goes to the Centralia hospital via ambulance
Greg has second kidney stone surgery
See La Cage Aux Folles with Julie

Finance Committee meeting
See Somewhere in Time with Leah
The Big Goodbye LB gathering
Midsummer's Nights Dream LB gathering
To doctor for my knee
See Avenue Q with Julie and Melanie

So there are the highlights.  I'll talk about July in another post.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Birthday Wishes

Happy birthday to my dad and Greg (January 27) and ME (January 29)!

Isn't this the cutest graphic?  My friend Rita sent it to me.  So ADORABLE!