So long, dear pup!

This past Saturday we had to say goodbye to Teddy Bear, my pup who almost made it to age 17. Wow – can you believe he lived that long? He’d been having health problems for a while, but in the end I think it was the arthritis in his back and hind legs that got him – he apparently slipped and injured his legs and yelped every time he tried to sit down. I feel confident that it was the right time for him, and I’m so grateful that my mom, Nik, and Uncle Danny were there with him to the end. I’m sad that I could not be there. So, just for the Tedster, here’s a little poem to send him on his way:

Ode to Teddy Bear

O’ Teddy Bear, my geriatric pup
When we first met you were quite a hiccup
For my life was simple with two easy cats
Then you came along with your high maintenance combats
You whined and you followed and begged and were rude
All in the hopes of a morsel of my own human food.
But I realized soon that you just needed care,
So I walked you, fed you, and groomed your shaggy hair.
It was not long before you were my dog
Or I was your person (who remembers in this fog?)
You were ten years old when I brought you along
With me to SoCal – I didn’t think you were so strong
That you would survive all these several last years
But you did it, you lived through the blood, sweat and tears.
Sometimes I resented having you but now I’m glad
That I gave you more than you would’ve otherwise had.
I wish I could’ve given you a fuller life
Because you deserved better than days of dull strife.
My saddest moment came when I left you with Mom
But it was also the best because she helped you along
And she gave you attention, walks and love
And treated you with the softest kid gloves.
I hope you enjoyed your last several months
In doggy retirement, on all relative fronts.
I hope that your final journey was peaceful in pass –
And that your soul is sunny, playing in grass.
I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you in the end
But you’re in my heart, my short, furry, doe-eyed, devoted dear friend.

Can You Believe Teddy Will Be 16 Tomorrow?

Who would have thought – sixteen years old! When I took this dog in, I thought he’d maybe have a couple of years left in him, but he keeps on ticking. He’s doing pretty well – still whiny, loves to eat. I put him on a diet and he lost about five pounds, which I estimate will add at least another year to his life. On second thought, maybe I’d better fatten him back up…oh, I’m sorry, was that mean? Teddy knows I love him, even though sometimes he’s a pain in the ass. Such a geriatric pup…but cute (this picture was taken last year, but it’s the most recent I have, and he looks pretty much the same, except for the full-body mohawk I’ve given him).

Also, a couple weekends ago, Mom, Nik and I went to the Escondido Renaissance Faire. Nik and I dressed up – go ahead and take a look at the pictures (there’s a slide show link at right). Yes, I know I’m a dork.

Better Late Than Never, Right?

I know it has been a terribly long time since I’ve posted anything, and I know that most of my posts start off with this slightly guilt-ridden statement. Honestly, I don’t know why you people bother to keep checking my blog, since everything I post is pretty boring anyhow. But today, I have a couple of items to share: first, I’m now blogging on a very nice new computer, an HP 17″ laptop that I’m loving (so far). I had a few issues last weekend, but those problems seem to have resolved themselves…so my new computer appears to be self-healing as well, bonus.

Second, I went on a vacation that I have yet to tell you about. Actually, the pictures from my road trip to Portland (which happened about a month ago, ahem) have been posted to the right for a few weeks now, so I don’t feel too bad about not posting until now. But I’ll give you a brief rundown of my trip:

Saturday – I dropped Teddy Bear at Beth’s house, then started driving north. I had a great drive just being by myself, breaking in my new Garmin nuvi GPS, and catching up on listening to all my podcasts. I arrived at Gramma Koski’s house in Paradise at about 5 in the afternoon. We enjoyed a quiet evening chatting and eating.

Sunday – I spent the day with Gramma, who barely let me go an hour without insisting I eat something. We went to Red Lobster for a late lunch, where I finally got cell phone coverage and a report from Beth indicating that Teddy had been barking until 3 a.m. Sigh.

Monday – I start on the next leg of my trip north, which was quickly and briefly delayed by another call from Beth saying that Teddy Bear peed on her couch the previous night. I called my mom to pick him up and put him in a kennel – dang! But the rest of my drive was good – Mount Shasta was beautiful, and there was snow in the mountains just south of Ashland. I got to Corvallis to stay with my friends Jeremy and Dana and their daughter Autumn just in time to take them out to dinner at a tasty Indian place downtown. Yummy!

Tuesday – Jeremy and Dana took me to breakfast before I drove about an hour and a half north to Portland. By the time I got to my brother’s house, I was certain that I needed to take my car in because of a grinding noise that, I was hoping, would simply require a half-turn of a Phillips head screwdriver and cost me about $5.50 to repair. Anne got a referral for me to Vu’s Car Care, where they diagnosed the sound as coming from my dying transmission, which would take two days to replace and cost $925. This vacation is turning out to be a bit more expensive than I was anticipating! But the yummy pad thai Anne and Paul made for dinner, as well as Adelaide’s shenanigans, almost made up for it.

Wednesday – I woke up from a night of snuggling with a surrogate cat (Bosco) and kicked around the house with Anne and Adelaide. We went to lunch at the Laughing Planet, and surprise surprise, my car repairs were fixed by 6 pm. Yay!

Thursday – Paul, Anne, and I drove up to Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge and hiked up to the top. Adelaide contributed to the serenity of the falls by crying when Paul stopped walking. But the falls were incredible, and we had a nice snack at the restaurant below. That afternoon I stopped by the Portland FWS field office to introduce myself and prove how awkward I am at networking. But I took Anne and Paul out for a Moroccan dinner down town, which was lots of fun (although the belly dancer was rather blonde and caucasian…).

Friday – Me and my newly quiet car began our reluctant journey south towards home. I stopped in Medford to meet up with Jack Williams, who treated me to a burrito for lunch. After that, it was back on the road until I got to Gramma’s. More eating.

Saturday – The end of my vacation was in sight. I spent one last day driving, enjoying the thoughts I had to myself, and my music and podcasts. I was stuck in LA traffic for about an hour, but managed to get home in one piece. Mom picked up Teddy from the kennel for me, so when I got home he was there waiting. Yup, my vacation was definitely over.

Nope, Nothing New Here…

Just wanted to write a quick post to let you know I’m alive. Bored, but alive. You see, nothing of interest has happened over the past month, so I haven’t wanted to subject you to any tedious details (of which there are none). It is raining now – it seems like rain has been frequent during the past few weekends – which I like.

Zoe is not doing well. I think we’re nearing the end of the line for her – a few more weeks maybe. Surprisingly, it is not her cancer that is the problem, but our inability to regulate her diabetes. She has lost so much weight, but for now, still seems happy. I’m trying to be aware of the day when she gives me that look…and will try not to ignore it out of my own sadness and need to keep her around longer. My poor kitty.

Teddy continues to be a pain in the ass. We had been doing really well with not peeing in the house, but starting on Friday, he has gotten it in his head that it is ok to both pee and shit inside. At least a couple of times each day. I’m thinking his days are numbered too…but for different reasons…and he *is* almost 16.

Jesse, of course, is fat and happy. Oblivious, aloof. Ah, the typical cat.

I hope you are all well, staying warm in February, whever you are. I’m enjoying today’s holiday, staying in bed and catching up on my blogging. I just wish I had more interesting things to share…oh, and if you haven’t joined facebook yet, maybe you should. I’m a bit more active there than here lately!

Dad and Mom’s Visit to San Diego, Days 4-5

Like I said previously, my dad and stepmom timed their trip to San Diego perfectly. Just after the rainy season and before the heat, that is! It’s a perfect time to head out to the desert, so that’s what we did. We even took Teddy Bear, who loves the desert, but who does not like riding in cars because it makes him nervous (where are we going? the vet? the groomer? oh no…whine whine whine…). We made a big loop going north and east on 76 out to Anza Borrego Desert State Park, where we toured the visitor’s center and had lunch at Borrego Springs’ only Western BBQ / Chinese restaurant. I had sesame chicken, and the folks had burgers (I think). After that, we drove out to see the wildflowers, which were spectacular, north of town and then south in Little Surprise Canyon. Click HERE to see all of my desert pictures. We had to go back to town to pick up some guide books that I put down on a bench and forgot, but I was lucky that they were still there when I remembered about them. Either the people in Borrego Springs are nice honest people, or they have no interest in San Diego native plants and southwestern dragonflies. I think it’s probably the former. Anyway, we drove back through Julian on 78, stopping by the Julian Apple Pie Company for warm apple pie and ice cream. Yum!

To make things easy, I ordered a pizza for dinner, and we spent the evening chowing our pie and watching Aliens in a pooped-out daze. The next day, I had to take the parents to the airport, but we drove to Old Town San Diego (near the Presidio) for brunch at a really nice little Mexican place, El Fandango. I ordered the huevos rancheros, but I think Dad won with the chorizo. Fresh tortillas! Home-made salsa! Champagne! Dad asked for mimosas, but I don’t think the waiter understood, so he brought us a separate glass of fresh-squeezed oj, which mostly ended up spilled all over the table. Honestly, I can’t take these guys anywhere!

But really, I had a very good time and was so happy that Dad and Mom came to visit me. It was nice to spend one-on-one time with them, and I hope that we got to know each other a little more. I think they enjoyed their visit too, and returning home to flooding in St. Louis probably was not too fun, compared to the warm sunshine of SoCal. Man, I really am getting spoiled here, I guess.

My first night outside since…???

Last weekend Mark and I drove out to Anza Borrego Desert State Park, which is only about an hour and a half to the west. It was so nice out there! The weather was perfect, and getting out to the desert made me remember how much I miss it. When I was in grad school in Colorado, I usually went backpacking or camping in the Utah or New Mexico desert during spring break. Anza Borrego has spectacular wildflower blooms in the spring, but we were a few weeks early for the wildflowers. Everything was pretty green (as far as a desert can be), and we even got a rare glimpse of some desert bighorn sheep as we were driving through the mountains. We car-camped at the Tamarisk campground, which seemed to be sandwiched between two busy roads. It was fairly quiet though, except for the boy scout troop that was camped a couple sites down from ours (“Joel, get out of my sleeping bag!” and “My patrol, we’re washing all the dishes NOW!” were phrases heard several times).

Anyway, we just stayed the one night, but it was good because it has honestly been probably three or four years since I’ve spent the night outdoors. How sad. But I get to reset that clock; hopefully it won’t be too long until the next time!

Here are some pictures, but you can click on the photo album to the right to see more of my pictures of Anza Borrego.

Teddy Bear demonstrates Teddy Bear (the dog) and Teddy Bear (the cactus). We only lost one turkey burger to the campfire gods (and another to Teddy Bear).

I forgot that it gets sunny early when you sleep outside.

A nice view of the valley.