Saturday, April 30, 2011


Keeper is waiting.  She had to drop out of her NoseWork class because I haven't been able to walk very well, much less drive.  And because she pulls on the leash - hard - when she's excited about going to work.  She is required to approach the NoseWork area on leash.  So...there you have it.  Keeper is waiting for me to get better.  ....   ....   ....   We'll get back to it, Keeps.   Soon! 

I ♥ Keeper!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Road Trip!


A few folks from the old Actors Theatre / SRT days are plotting to travel south
in early September,
to witness the West Coast Premiere of

A new play - the first play - written by our friend, the fantabulous KPoe.  She and her family moved to New York about eight years ago.  We miss her!  LOVE SICK will already have had its East Coast Premiere in New York City by then.  We look forward to seeing her!

Giving It A Try

Had a visit with my new Physical Therapist yesterday. 
David brought out a plastic spine and twisted it around a bit, to show me "what's going on"....
He said the L3-4 disc is bulging into the nerves, which is "like having a finger poked into your eye."  So "No more bending over, or leaning over, or resting on your right side."  "No more resting on your couch, if it's too soft.  Gravity keeps that disc bulging."   "Standing up straight is the best position, for now."  "Try not to sit in chairs.  Slumping in chairs is the worst."  "Posture?  Keep it str-r-r-raight.  Open up those disc spaces (put your shoulders back, and try tucking your navel up under your ribs...yeah, that's it!)"  He showed me a couple of self-traction techniques, to help the bulge get away from the nerve. He treated the pain with an electronic gizmo, and ice.  "Don't even lean over the sink to brush your teeth."   "Sleep flat on your back, a pillow under your knees."  "Try to take walks, but only on flat ground."  "Ice the back.  Heat the leg."  "Be careful.  Don't push it.  Take your pain pills."  "See you next week."   

And I'm trying.  Really trying.  Already it feels like way too many rules, and I want to break them.  I live on a hill.  My backyard is not flat.  And how can you own a couple of border collies and never lean over?  It's impossible!  How many times a day does the average person, even those without dogs, lean over?  A million!!  So I lean over sometimes.  I can't help it.  Nothing would get done!  (I'd squat, like he showed me, but my knees are shot.)  And I sit in chairs. But I'm sitting very straight.  I have an ice pack strapped to my back while I type this.  Good for me!  Ever onward....!

This morning I noticed that a couple of the Iris flowers I brought in a few days ago are DONE.  And that they dripped on the kitchen counter.  Purple flowers...purple drips.  Were they weeping?  Is this a messy "good-bye spurt" of some sort?  I'd never noticed that about irises before.   It feels sad, somehow.   
 This is my new recumbent exercise bike. 
"Stay OFF the bike!"  (Sigh......)   "You can use it later, maybe in a few weeks, but NOT NOW." 

So....let's think about dogs for a while.  Here is a great picture of the NEW PUPPY! one of my friends just brought home.  This is "HIGH FIVE" and her big sister "POPPY"....aren't they having fun??! 
I can hardly wait to meet Five.

And here are a couple of photos of Riff, from the HAUTE TRACS trial.  I like them because they give you a good idea of how Riff jumps.  Big.   


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thank You, LP!

Jeff drove us out to LeapDog again this afternoon, so Riff could play with LP.  We decided to stick to Practice Time, because Class Time is too busy for Lauri.  The Riffle had so much fun. 



Getting out to the field was fun for me, too, even though I mostly sat in a chair.  Laying about in the house, nursing this silly back, has become mighty tiresome.  Even the backyard seems tiny.  This morning I had a serious case of the restless boogeries....but my back quickly squelched them.  I keep telling myself that something good will come of all this.  Perhaps I'm meant to learn something.  Some kind of Life Lesson?  Something about Patience?  Arrrgh!  ( the very least, I'm getting a few books read.)

BEST OF LUCK to everyone headed for PRUNEDALE this weekend.  Have fun!  Post photos, make videos....but most of all - share a few good stories.  ♥♥♥   And have a beer for me.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Beautiful Day

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.  A bunch of loud wild turkeys are gobble-gobbling near the creek out back.  (As long as the darn things don't get into our backyard, all is well.)  The dogs are playing nicely with their toys, the husband is working, and the sun is shining through scattered stacks of clouds.  The flora is going wild - budding, blooming, bursting with life.  Simply must get to King's Nursery, to buy mulch (is it too late for mulch?) some good dirt, and as many annuals as I can.  But first, the raking....

Can I get any raking done today?  I might try.  The leg pain isn't overwhelming (thankyou, Rx).  And the future looks good. 

Xray results (summary):
Radiographic findings of degenerative disk disease of the lumbar spine
MRI results (the only part you need to know):
At L4-5 and there is broad-based disc protrusion with moderate effacement of the lateral recesses bilaterally. There is no significant canal stenosis or neuroforaminal narrowing at this level, however.
At L3-4 there is apparent lateral disc protrusion with mild right neuroforaminal narrowing.

There is S-shaped curvature of the lumbar spine which is dextroconvex inferiorly.

Which means I have your average-American aging back.  Except for L3-4, which is a bit buggery right now - the "narrowing" point at which nerves are being pinched.  "Mild" (thanks to being on that Big Bad magic anti-inflammatory called Prednisone).  Jeez, I hate to think what Moderate or Severe narrowing must be like.  Holy cow!   My heart goes out to anyone who suffers back pain without medical intervention.  God bless you all - you must be as strong and  brave as the mountains are high. 

THE PLAN:  Physical Therapy.  A good exercise program - strengthening, fitness, building up protective muscles, ensuring flexibility, etc etc etc.   (Can you picture a recumbent exercise bike in my living room?)   The doc offered to give me an epidural shot this week, which would more quickly squelch the pain, but I'm thinking I might need a bit of pain (moderated with appropriate drugs, of course) to remind me not to over-do it.  "Over-doing it" during four days in Dixon was what got me here in the first place.  It's not that I'm scared of the shot.  Really.  Honest.  Ummmmmm.   Anyway.  She said I can always change my mind and get the shot.  Which I would do - in a flash - if I were going to World Team Try-outs.  (Like we're anywhere near.  Heh heh heh.)

Perhaps not this exact model, although I especially like the basket under the seat.  You never know when you might need something...

Our Easter Sunday was lovely.  Went to the Annual Boice BBQ.  Got to wear the old Easter bonnet again.  Hope you had a good one, too.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Riff's Easter Present

For Riffle's Easter present, we took him to LeapDog to play with Lauri P.  He had fun!!!

We're delighted because LP agreed to run him during class time on Tuesday, if I can get him there.  (She had fun, too!)  Riff will be happy. 

There's nothing quite like watching someone else run your dog.  You feel like a proud mama, which is incredibly nice. might feel a bit of jealousy.  And for sure your feet will get really itchy. 

Wishing you all a wonderful Easter tomorrow.  Many Q's!!!

On Caves and Claustrophobia

When I was a bipster there was an incident involving a closet, and it led to a life-long avoidance of elevators.  Windowless, small, indoor elevators.  I've climbed a lot of stairs.  (However, I do love the glass-walled kind of elevator that speeds up and down the outside of a very tall building.) 

And I'm not a big fan of caves.  I've only been in one - Lehman Caves, at the Great Basin National Park in Nevada.  (No, the Tom Sawyer Island cave at Disneyland doesn't count.)  Lehman is a fabulous cave, they say it is one of the best.  And it was spectacular - colorful, beautiful, bold and cold.  But I broke into a total sweat about half-way through the tour - shortly after this photo was taken. 
I had trouble breathing calmly.  Couldn't hear what the guide was saying.  Sweat trickled down my back, and into my eyes.  I had to hang onto my husband's arm just to stay put.  I was shaking.  I wanted OUT.  Someone asked the guide how caves die.  With a smirk, he said "Well, they collapse, of course.  All caves die, eventually.  So!  We're now over 200 feet below the ground surface, and this is the room in which Mr Lehman and his friends used to hold dances..."   He swung his flashlight around the cavern, not bothering to pause at the big wooden posts that were shoring up the edges of the "ceiling"....and I lost contact with the lecture.  Gone. 
"O-U-T."  That's all I could think of.  

So I was nervous about getting an MRI this morning.   When they asked me if I was claustrophobic I said "A little," as calmly as I could.  I'd taken a couple of Percocet - pl-l-l-enty of relaxation for this particular medical event.  "It's an adventure!"  I told myself.  "It's another one of life's adventures!" 
Hahahaha.  And they told us to go to the elevator, and take it to the Lower Level. 

Of course.  The MRI machine is UNDERGROUND.  But, hey.  That's cool.  Right?   And absolutely no one was around.  Not a soul.  But today is Saturday, so that's to be expected.  This is the day that doctors and technicians try to squeeze in extra appointments, so patients don't have to wait too many weeks for a procedure.  Right?  It wasn't that 'everyone-else-was-smart-enough-to-stay-the-hell-out-of-the-basement.' 

The MRI machine was a bit intimidating, but the technician was very nice.  He let me take a photo, although I couldn't take my cellphone past the doorway.  Even there - do you notice those odd vertical lines on the picture?  Perhaps caused by the pulsing M-a-g-n-e-t-i-c F-i-e-l-d???  Ooooh.  The phone seemed to tremble in my hand...    Then I couldn't procrastinate any more.  I settled in, stuck in some earplugs, he raised that little bed up and BAM...there I was.  Down the rabbit hole.  So to speak. 

Couldn't slow my breathing down at first (gasping!), and I thought my heart was going to pump right out of my chest.  But Manuel's voice came over the little speaker, "You're doing fine, we're going to start with just 30 seconds..."  and it was reassuring.  I tried to close my eyes.  (NOTE:  if you ever get an MRI, say "yes" to the eye-mask-thingy.)  But I couldn't - they wouldn't stay shut.  I could only stare at the gray wall a few inches from my eyes. 

So I decided to pretend I was an astronaut, in one of those close-fitting, life-saving suits. 
My astronaut was floating in a beautiful night sky.

And she was a part-time drummer, so she really got into all the odd noises the MRI machine was making.  (The earplugs only muffle it a bit.)

Once my little fantasy settled in (and my astronaut knew she had to lay Perfectly Still), my breathing slowed down, and my heart got back into its normal rhythm. 

And we got through it. 

On the way home, I asked my husband if that wasn't the fastest MRI ever taken.  It seemed to last only about five minutes!  He said, "No, were in there for almost half-an-hour." 


Maybe I'm not claustrophobic after all.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

To all my SMART friends...

On your way to the SMART trial in Prunedale tomorrow?
I just had a dream that Riff found a handful of stars, and when we threw them up into the sky, they scattered beautifully.  We hope they find you during your agility runs this weekend.  And next!
with love and hugs....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

And the beat goes on....

Generally speaking, I'm healthy as a horse.  [Yeehaw!] 

Well, sure, I have little widget-wodgets, here and there, but nothing to write home about.  This last week or so has been a real eye-opener.  Doctors and waiting rooms and pharmacy lines, oh my!  I'd rather have lions and tigers and bears, any day.

But it's all "for the greater good"....or so we like to think.  The pain in my leg is still there...and the darn leg has been getting weaker.  I try to keep walking - gently moving around - getting a few chores done, playing games with the dogs, making sure they get some exercise, etc.  (Once heard an interview with a woman who'd just turned 105.  She said the secret to a long life was "Keep moving.")  But then my knee turned into a noodle a few times and darn-near threw me down.  (Hmmmm..  Can a noodle actually throw a woman down....?  Do you think there might be a wrestler named NOODLE?  note:  Googled it, and there is!  She is an Anime character...)

And the pain.  It is relentless, it is wearing me out. My regular doctor sent me to yet another doctor.  The new MD is all about "Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation" and she's very nice.  She looked at the x-rays, did a couple of "push here" and "move this way" tests and declared that the problem isn't my hip at all.  She says something is wrong with a disk in my back and it's pinching a nerve and wreaking all this havoc.  She bumped the Prednisone up to the maximum dose for a longer time, said to continue the Percocet, gave me a new medicine that is "good for nerve pain," (although it says 'anti-seizure' on the label!) and scheduled an MRI for Saturday.  Jeez, these people are pill happy.  She told me not to drive (as I got my car keys out, ready to go home, and said "Oh.  Right.  Of course.  Heh heh...Heh heh heh...") and to use a cane.  She said "Find a pool and tread water, it's the best possible traction."  "But I usually sink," I said, to which she replied "Use a noodle!"  There it is again - NOODLE.  Can noodle be some kind of an omen? 
So, yeah.  Like that.  Balderdash and Dagnabit.   
Okay okay, I won't drive for a while - at least not until the NEW BIGGER dose of that bad boy Prednisone FIXES the whole thing in JUST A COUPLE OF DAYS!!!  (Click click...treat!)

The Riffster is doing his best to be patient.  What a sweetie.  And he seems to be extra careful when he's running up to me.  How do dogs know to be like that?  ♥♥♥   
We're excited because Lauri P agreed to play with Riff on Friday, out at the agility field.  It'll be the first time he's run sequences with someone else.  We're really looking forward to it. 

In the meantime - take care of yourselves. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Missing agility

Sometimes it gets pretty boring around here when mom is laid up.  We play little games around the house. 
(Yeah, I can still wave...)
It's not as much fun as agility, though.  I miss agility!!  (So does mom.  She's been feeling sad.)
And there's something else missing from my life, as of this afternoon.
Can you see what it is?

She trimmed the extra long fluffy fur off my ears. 
Do you have any idea how long it took me to grow that fur?  I was trying for the Lincecum look.
It's cool, though.  I like the cut.  That long fur tickled.  And without a Giants hat it looked dweeby.   

Now, if you don't mind....I want to get back to the baseball game.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


By Sunday late afternoon we'd unpacked everything from Dixon.  Woo boy, were we ever happy to be home, especially after being stuck in a traffic jam for an extra hour.  So-o-o-o tired!  We finally sat down to relax, have a beer, and get ready to watch a little Giants baseball.  (Riff likes baseball too...)

But it was difficult to get back up out of the chair.  Wow!  I couldn't figure out what was going on.  The front of my leg hurt.  Oh, well.  It'll go away.   Jeff served me a lovely little dinner, and I limped off to bed, nice and early....

But the pain never went away.  It just got steadily worse.  Pretty soon I could hardly walk.  Could hardly stand up straight.  Couldn't sleep.  It's amazing how quickly life can change.  I tried to be all "Everything is normal," and "I'm okay!  I'm okay!"  I even got the HT videos online.  But it was difficult.  Jeff finally talked me into seeing my Kaiser doctor on Thursday.  (I'm not much of a doctor person.)  Keeper and I missed our NoseWork class.  Riff and I were missing our lessons and practice sessions...and we had an AKC show coming up....

They took x-rays (even though I reassured them that I didn't fall, and that nothing was broken).  I haven't seen the report, but the doctor said it showed some arthritis in both hips and in my lower back.  Okay, well....whatever.  Still no big thing, at my age.  But the pain in my leg has been pretty bad.  The vicodin and muscle relaxant they prescribed didn't help at all.  Another sleepless night.  I'm okay if I stay perfectly still...but when I move "Y'ouch!"  So my doctor called another doctor - this one is a "sports medicine" guy.  That sounds pretty good, doesn't it?  He suggested Percocet and Prednisone.  I'd rather just know what's wrong and try to fix it - maybe with a nice massage?  Or...??  But beggars can't be choosers, and I was  a beggar by last night.  I tried the Percocet first (didn't help), because I've heard some weird things about Prednisone.  Like it makes you HUNGRY.  I'm on the Agility Diet Plan - I don't want to be hungry!  It can make you EUPHORIC.  Hmmmmm.  Is that so bad?  I think it can be....unless you're stuck on the couch, looking at a People magazine. I think "euphoric" may be the best way to read People. (My husband brought it home on a whim, because it has a feature about weddings.  Sigh. )  And Prednisone can make your face look like a MOON.  Well, what the heck.  The moon is kind of pretty, isn't it?  (Unless they're talking about the craters...)  Plus - I'm sure all of those side-effects would accompany a major dose, taken over a period of many weeks.  I'm just going to take a baby dose, for five days.  Because it can also reduce swelling.  And if this pain is some kind of nerve being pinched because of swelling, well then.  I'll just have to try it out.  

We missed our AKC show.  Sad like a bassett hound. 

But we've got a Big Bad Boy fighting for us now.  We'll get back to the agility field SOOOON!!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

5 videos and a list

from HauteTracs. 

Riff earned his SG (Starter's Gamblers title) and has only two Starter's Standard Q's to go before he is eligible to compete at the Advanced level. 

Things to work on:
...StartLine (in 5 other classes he broke SL and we left the ring)
...Weave entries
...Figure out why he's cutting in on so many jumps, and fix it
      a)  Handler's feet not facing the correct direction? 
      b)  Handler's feet not staying in motion long enough?
      c)  Handler's attention not fully on the jump?
...Clarity and timing
...Run faster!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One of Life's Little Miracles

This is the lovely lamp on my husband's side of the bed.

And this is what's left of the matching lamp on my side of the bed. 

At 1:30 this morning, due to a mishap that involved moving an extra pillow, this poor old lamp bit the dust. 

The 'little miracle':   When the lamp crashed and this piece landed right on my head, it was circle-down around my ear, with the sharp jagged bits up in the air.

I was half asleep, and didn't know what was happening.  I froze - afraid to move! - while Jeff turned on the light.  The lamp made such an impressive exploding sound when it hit that the dogs were long gone.  They high-tailed it immediately, which was a good thing, since shards of glass littered the floor and the bed covers.  Luckily everyone escaped injury. 

Life is full of little miracles! 
I am filled with gratitude - for whoever invented the vaccuum, certainly....but most especially for my guardian angel - whoever it may have been last night.  Nice job, flipping that piece of the lamp.  And protecting all of us.  Thank you! 

Bedside Lamp:  RIP
You were a good lamp, and a great comfort, for many years. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Riff is a watchful young fellow (ie: "border collie intense") when it comes to agility.  Obsessive?  Well, you might call it that.  He's pretty calm when I'm around (and he has his binky), but he can get barky and reactive on his own, so I had to cover up his x-pen when I was away.   We were set up too close to the action.  So-o-o-o.....I spent a lot of time at our canopy this weekend (or out playing in the field with Riff, or walking him around).   I worked as a pole setter for only one class.  

I can get pretty obsessed with watching agility, too. 

The first day of the four-day trial was Team Day.  Riff was on a DAM [dog agility masters] team named "Release the Krakens!" along with Charter and Maiya.  None of us had a burning desire to qualify - we just wanted to have fun.  And we did.  I was very proud of youngster Riff because he did pretty DAM well on those tough masters-level courses.  Good dog!  The other dogs were gr-r-r-eat.  And the weather at the field was great - except for the freezing threat of snow/hail/thunder-and-lightning.  It never did actually hit.  The storm clouds seemed to split and travel in a circle around the edges of the fairgrounds.  It was amazing.    I sent my husband a photo of the storm, and he sent me a photo from Napa, where he was working.  See the dog in the clouds? 

The other three days in Dixon were beautiful (and chilly).

Riff and I spent three days in this Starter's ring.  I had to walk him out of five (5!) classes because he was breaking his startline.  It made me feel sad and frustrated, as I was doing my best to solve the issue in the practice rings (after his "time out") and it didn't seem to help.  Nancy G saw me walk him out of two classes in a row (Scoop was in his class).  She came over to me and said "Meet me here for a few minutes before our next class - I can help you."  I did, and she did.  She was incredibly nice.  It was back to basics, and it was like taking a magic pill.  For the rest of the trial I worked with him just as she taught me, and the improvement was fantastic.  Riff earned 5 Starter Q's!  Two more Standard Q's and he'll be eligible to move up to Advanced.
Riff enjoyed the frosty morning. 

Tara, Lee and Jenn strategized while they waited for a walk-through.

Hangin' out at the canopy with wonderful friends.

Channan and Riff's bro Rampage, at the startline.   

Riff with his BFF, wittle Wit.  

Ear-r-r-rly mornings.

One of two Master's rings.  

This is what Riff was like, our first night in the motel...

..and the last night.

We are exhausted.  He was a good, good puppy - strong and brave, every day.  Always willing.  It was a lot to put him through.  Too much, actually, but he seems fine.  He liked his massage this evening. 
He slept like a log for two hours while we drove home (he usually wakes up in traffic jams - but not a peep), and then he wanted to play with Keeper!  Not for long, though.  We'll be resting for a while.
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