Saturday, September 5, 2015

2015 -- Year to Date

I planned to add a 2015 mid-year review to this blog. But due to lack of time related to my full-time job, and various stressful things that have happened this year, the year is (thankfully?) now more than 2/3rd over. Since I'm now at the beginning of the welcomed 3-day Labor Day weekend, I felt this would be an ideal time to write this 2015 update.

The stress of 2015 actually began about a week before Christmas, 2014. I came home from work, saw that my hubby was home from work (which is not often the case that early in the evening), walked in the side door as usual to unwind for the evening -- and here was hubby sitting in my chair, holding on to a pretty Great Pyrenees dog I did not recognize. I said, "Who is this?" and approached the pretty dog (who bore a striking physical resemblance to our dearly departed Heidi) -- who started to go into attack mode. Needless to say, considering the size of the dog, that was a shock. Hubby proceeded to explain that Titus was two years old, that his owner, a single man, had suddenly died of a heart attack, and that he (hubby) was the only person he took to, so he wanted to see if things would work out for us to adopt him. Considering my initial encounter with the dog and the fact we already had 3 good-sized indoor dogs (including two seniors) and our surviving outdoor "secret love" collie, Bella, I was naturally apprehensive, but said we could see what happens....

A couple of weeks later, "Ty" went into attack mode on me again, simply because I tried to take a butter wrapper away from him that he'd retrieved from our trash can. Not long after that, he and our almost 12-year-old Jesse got into a scary fight; it took hubby some time to pull them apart. At that point, I insisted we could not keep Ty, and hubby identified a couple who wanted to meet him. (He never did fight with Archie, but Susie has always seemed irritated by him and growls at him.) Shortly before that meeting was to take place, I decided that despite everything, I had become attached to the goofball and felt we should try to work with him, and that it should be OK as long as we kept him and Jesse separated. We've had Ty over 8 months now, and though his behavior has improved a little, we still have issues with him. Hubby plans to take him to the vet soon to have him neutered (which should help his aggressive tendencies) and see if he has any type of chemical imbalance that can be treated. He does live outside more often than not, but I'm hoping that if we can find out and help his behavior, that he can eventually become an indoor companion for me. To be continued! (The photos posted here of Ty were taken last Dec. 21, a few days after hubby brought him home.)

Despite the stress caused by coping with Ty, I was determined that 2015 would be my best year ever. Maybe I could finally begin losing at least some of my 60 or so excess pounds. But as I am about to relate, weight loss is again on the back burner after handling the events of this year. The evening of my first workday following the holidays (Jan. 5th), pulling out of the dark parking lot after having literally no sleep the night before, I got too close to the car next to me and scraped against its driver door with my passenger door. I waited and exchanged info with the driver. His car was only dented, but my right passenger window no longer worked and the entire door had to be replaced. The following week, the health of our surviving outdoor collie, Bella, age 9, seemed to be going downhill. So, with the damp and chilly January weather not helping matters, we brought her inside to live during the second week of the month. She and the other collies were never housebroken by their former owners, but it was worth cleaning up a few messes to have her near us and comfortable. Then on about Jan. 24th, her back end stopped working. She could no longer move from her spot near my chair in our great room. The mobile vet came over on the 27th and said nothing could be done; her organs were shutting down. So the last of our sweet "secret love" outdoor collies, who had been part of our lives since New Year's Eve 2009, was gone....

So, though my year had not gotten off to a good start, I was looking forward to the business trip I convinced my boss to include me on, along with our office manager and another program coordinator -- a trip to San Diego for the Association for Continuing Legal Education's conference from Jan. 31 - Feb. 3. I must admit I was much more interested in seeing San Diego for the first time (and escaping the cold January dampness here) than attending the conference, though I wasn't about to tell him that! Our plane was delayed several hours due to the fog -- so that took away the sightseeing time we hoped to have that first day before the opening session. So that was disappointing, to say the least! I still got to see a little of the city the next few days, but not nearly as much as I'd hoped. However, a huge highlight of this trip, and of my year, was seeing the Super Bowl with my coworkers between the Seahawks and Patriots at a great sports bar on the San Diego waterfront. The atmosphere and food couldn't have been better -- and though the last play of the game was a crushing blow for the Hawks and their fans, it was still a fabulous experience.

In my last blog post, I mentioned checking off two "bucket list" items this April. So I looked forward to that with great anticipation. Prior to that, I realized I had not heard anything, or seen any recent Facebook posts, from my cousin's daughter in Chicago for some time. She had found me on Facebook a couple of years before and we had exchanged many long letters and kept up with each other's lives on Facebook. Though I was bothered by the profanity she tended to use in her posts, I generally kept that to myself since I was fond of her. Now I wondered if something was wrong, having heard or seen nothing for some time. So I sent her a message. I was stunned by her cold reply that she had blocked me from seeing her posts since I had made a "feminist" remark to one of her posts. Whaaaat? I replied I had no idea what remark she was referring to. Turns out, I had teased her by saying "watch your phraseology, young woman" on one of her profanity-laden posts. (Everyone over 40 knows that phrase is from "The Music Man" -- don't they?) Though I didn't like her language and knew that it grieved God (she's Catholic), I had commented in a teasing manner, assuming she would get the message and try to tone it down. Instead, she decided to exclude me from her life, without ever saying why till I asked. I explained I was only teasing. but to no avail. I always thought that if you care for someone, if something they say bothers you, you discuss it and try to make things right. So I guess she never really did care after all.

This also made me three for three in my relationships with people from my past who found me on Facebook via my maiden name. My best friend from 7th and 8th grade was offended that I did not have a photographic memory about everything we had done 40+ years earlier. My long-time penpal out East was offended when all I did was ask her tactfully why (as a Christian) she seemed joyful over the 2012 Presidential election results. And now this. After the fallout with my cousin, I thought that maybe, just MAYBE, enough time had gone by that I could try again with my long-time penpal. I had not seen any posts on her Facebook lately either, so I Googled her name. I learned she had died of cancer two months earlier -- 13 days short of her 60th birthday. So.... my cousin hates me just because I teased her, my childhood best friend turned out to be a lost cause, and I can't try again to reconcile with my penpal and let her know what a big part of my life she was. I decided at that point I'd had enough pain related to Facebook and deleted my account. I don't want anyone else from my past finding me, seeming like they care for me, then throwing me away over nothing.

So for the most part, except for seeing the Super Bowl in San Diego, the first quarter of 2015 had not been good. But my much-anticipated trip was coming up, so things were definitely looking up! I was about to not only finally see the Dallas-Fort Worth area but to see my first Nascar race in person. Then...right before Good Friday (a week before I was to leave), I began developing a bad cough. Last time I had this symptom, it was bronchitis that hung on for several weeks. Noooooo.....this CAN'T be happening!! But it was. I took two sick days from work right before the trip in the desperate hope it would go away. But I knew that wouldn't be nearly enough and that my trip (which I would go ahead with rather than lose hundreds of dollars) would be pretty much ruined. I tried to do as much sightseeing as I could, but I was weak and constantly coughing. The race was OK, though Jimmie Johnson won AGAIN, and I realized I actually prefer watching the races in the comfort of my home anyway. So....I did finally get to see a little of Dallas and Fort Worth, and I finally got to attend a Nascar race. But I've decided that when it comes to vacations that are longer than day trips, I'm going to make the arrangements much closer to the departure date to keep this from happening again.

I was still having the coughing symptoms in mid-May when the same thing happened to our sweet boy Jesse as happened to Bella and most of our other big dogs. His back end stopped functioning and he could no longer work. So on May 19, for the second time this year, the mobile vet came over and determined nothing could be done. At the age of 12 years, 3 months and 7 days, we said goodbye to our boy who we adopted in '04 at the age of 14 months. I hope Jesse was a happier dog than he appeared to be. He didn't have the easygoing disposition most of our dogs have had. And I hadn't taken photos of him after his left eye was removed due to cancer in '09, since he was a little scary looking after that. But he was a good boy and we miss him terribly.

Though Archie was more than a year older than Jesse, hubby called him the "Energizer Bunny", since it appeared he would keep going and going. He was truly a gentle giant and even got along with Ty. We could tell when he sat down that his joints were getting stiff. Still, he went on long daily walks and seemed to be thriving. But as we have learned so often, there tends to not be much warning when a beloved dog's system decides to shut down. I never imagined we would lose Archie just a little over 2 months after Jesse. But once again, one evening in July, he sat down and couldn't get up. Over the next couple of days, he did manage to get up twice and relocate to another room. But the third time, he could no longer move out of the living room. So for the third time, the mobile vet paid us an unwelcome visit on July 24, and this time I was able to be home to say goodbye in person. The vet and her assistant were very compassionate young women and walked us through each step. It was quite peaceful as that type of thing goes. But I was in shock, having lost Bella, Jesse and now Archie in a span of 6 months. (The photos posted here of Archie were taken last Dec, 21st -- 10 days after his 13th birthday.)

So...let's summarize the year so far. I had a car accident that was my fault, lost 3 beloved dogs, didn't get to see much of San Diego, my cousin disowned me, my long-time friend died, and I was sick on my entire trip to Dallas. Nothing else can go wrong, can it? Well...yes, it could. A week after losing Archie, I had a scheduled day off work and drove to my friend Dianne's home. Still under stress over Archie, I pulled too close to her gate and caught my side mirror on the rim of the gate box. When I backed up, the entire mirror popped off and the gate box bent. The maintenance man at Dianne's complex was able to reattach my mirror, and despite the screws being bent and not usable, the mirror has still stayed on. We prayed the gate box could simply be bent back into shape, but the repairman determined it had to be replaced, and I paid for its replacement rather than involving my insurance company for the second time this year.

At that point, I told Dianne, OK, it's July 31. Tomorrow is a new month. The last 5 months of this year HAVE to be better. And August went pretty well -- except that about two weeks ago, I was shocked to discover that my beautiful long-standing web site The Evergreen Refuge had been offline for anywhere from two weeks to two months -- I never did find out for sure how long -- since the web host I'd switched to last October changed servers and didn't bother to tell me. They claimed they notified all their customers, but I never got any notice. I only found out when I tried to access my account to update the info about Archie and Jesse, and could not. I'd changed hosts to what I thought was an equally reliable Christian company to save a few bucks, but found that was a mistake. Thankfully, my former host, Hosting Truth, allowed me to come back at my former yearly rate, though their prices had gone up. Though I have not updated my site much since 2012 (except for updates about our pets), I'd put my heart and soul into that site since 1998 and I want it to remain online for others to visit and hopefully enjoy. When I pay a web host to keep my site online 99%+ of the time, I expect them to do that, or to notify me if there is a problem. I've never had a problem with Hosting Truth and their customer service is exceptional, so I recommend them highly. It didn't take too long to move my site and it went smoothly, but was just one more unexpected development in what has turned out to be a bumpy year.

Since the web site hassle, things have been uneventful, which is good! I have a few days off work next week and had originally planned to go to Portland for three days. But I cancelled the trip, realizing I not only need the money, but the quiet time at home. My birthday is tomorrow, and I hinted to hubby about eating out at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Other than that, I'll just unwind at home and do some crocheting. Lastly, for the umpteenth time since '09, I am again in a state of indecision about what church to go to. I have things narrowed down in my mind and hope that the next time I add an update to this blog, I will have made the right decision and find the place where God would have me worship and serve Him. Here's to an "uneventful" last four months of 2015...