Friday, February 28, 2014


Tomorrow is March. I guess this year that means there are only five more months of winter left before we start the next one.

We're in the process of ending yet another Polar Vortex, meaning that we can start the day well below zero and still totally mess up traffic with another snowfall. Some days it means we can last the whole day below zero as well, and still mess up traffic with ice, snow, and drivers with absolutely no learning curve.

Today I started off by doing a 270 on a corner where a 90 is all that's required. Go ahead, call me an overachiever. Also call me lucky in that the oncoming car stopped several yards away from me. I had taken the corner slowly, I'd thought, and only began to feel marginally better when everywhere I drove today the road ice seemed slicker than as recently as yesterday, with no discernible reason. After all, yesterday the high was 2, and by some major effort, that was above zero. There should have been nothing in that - like melting - which would have left ice slicker, but there it was. Everybody else thought so too. Road ice, walking ice, didn't matter. Dangerous, we agreed.

I caught a run out to Eau Claire late morning. Not only was it profitable, it also meant I was heading east and away from the approaching snowfall. Only, maybe not so much away from it as into it, as it turned out. Rather than doing the posted 65 on the freeway, I was doing 50 by the time I neared my destination. The roads went from dry, to dark (wet) parallel lines, to white in the middle of those lines, to finally just white by the time I started back.

In fact by then everything more than about 3 blocks away was white. I settled in for a solid 45 and white knuckles, resigning myself to keeping the cruise control off, not knowing what might be ahead needing a faster reaction that it would allow. I also resigned myself to being passed by everybody.

The only vehicle I passed was a grey one lying rubber side up in the median, engine still running, just a few miles east of Menomonie. It had probably passed me earlier. I noted two other things as I passed. There was no snow sitting on top of it, though it was coming down heavily. Must have been a recent event. I also noted not only was there nobody walking, sitting, or standing outside the vehicle, nor tracks of somebody who may have left the car, but there was also no trail I could spot of the car's path to that location. No tracks, no dent gouged out of the snow bank, nada. It may as well have well floated down with the snow under a parachute, except for the lack of an obvious parachute.

Have I mentioned the need for mental games to keep one's self alert on long halls in stressful conditions?

I decided to believe that visibility was so poor that I just hadn't seen - no, not a parachute, silly - any tracks. Heck, for all I know, there might have been three or four more vehicles like it that I'd passed but not seen for the snow.

Perhaps you wondered why I mentioned my 270 earlier in the day. I had cause to remember it at this point in my trip. It gave me pause to wonder if perhaps I make a habit of being too judgmental of my fellow drivers. While they pass me doing what I consider an unsafe speed (by definition, anything faster then me) I note them by anticipating their possible impending accidents and cursing those same accidents for requiring me to be hyper-alert avoiding what, it turns out, so very seldom actually happens. And I'd proved I can manage to send my own car in unexpected directions as well.

As I was musing this idea and white-knuckling back toward the metro as still the slowest car on the road, the radio hit the half hour mark and started listing a few spots with recent road closures. 35 in Lakeville had just reopened, after clearing a multi-car and multi-semi accident off the road. And they had just closed 94 in the Menomonie area after multiple accidents there.

Nope, let's not give those other drivers too much credit, eh?

Internet Shopper

I've gotten quite used to ordering things on the internet. EBay was the start, engaging me enough at times to set my alarm for a 3AM auction end to be there at the finish. That was only for some very special snuff bottles where the seller was in Australia and the strategy was to lie in the weeds and pop up with a last minute bid, faking out other unlucky bidders.

I don't do that any more. Oh, I still hit eBay when appropriate, but I don't lose sleep over it. became my next go-to site, and currently is where most of my purchases come from, if free Kindle books can be considered a purchase. I've also wandered here and there when I can't find the rare item at either of the first two sites.

Last night when checking the Phoenix weather forecast, I saw an ad that intrigued me. Nevermind for what exactly, except that it was a dietary supplement I'd never heard of before. It was time to do some research. If it did what it claimed, it would be well worth the price. After about an hour, I found out all sorts of contradictory things, research puporting to show results and opinions that it wouldn't work because nothing does. There were also studies about which formulations work and which don't, which are independently sampled to see if ingredients are as claimed, and whatever else might be written about the product.

The upshot is I decided to give it a try. The particular company offers a money back guarantee, and Consumer Reports said they tried it and got a hassle-free refund.

There was a form to fill out. Then there was a link to PayPal to pay, and I've used them a lot. Next I was sent back to the order page to finalize the order. This consisted of about six web pages of special offers, either a "don't you want more of this for a special price?" or a "Don't you also want this other similar thing?" kind of offer. They were so persistent that I started to wonder if I were ever going to get to bed. Eventually, though, I finished and got my email receipts from both the product company and PayPal.

This morning there was an interesting follow-up. I received a call from an area code I didn't recognize. To my surprise it wasn't a wrong number. At least not in the traditional sense. It was a call from the company I ordered from. The woman started by telling me that there was an error in the on-line order, meaning it was going to have to be finalized over the phone, and they were very sorry for it. To apologize to me for the bother, they were going to give me a free bottle. Of course this would be after I bought another one.

Now mind you, the reason I ordered the precise quantity I did last night is that I figured it would be enough to tell me if it worked or not. It was easy to turn down deals for additional bottles because I'd thought out how much I wanted before ordering.

Of course she was blathering on and on and I waited her out a bit. I figured she had to breathe in at some point, even though she was demonstrating enviable lung capacity, and finally, breathe she did. I interrupted her schpiel. "So, you're telling me that your website messed up and as a result you want me to buy two more bottles?"

I suspect there was a little hint of something in my tone to give her the hind that this was a not altogether welcomed idea. She asked me if I had gotten an online receipt. When I replied I had, both from them and from PayPal, she mumbled a quick couple of words about receiving my stuff in three to five business days and hung up.

Apparently my order was now magically finalized. Oh lucky me.

Time to go back to BookBub to see what the latest free e-book is.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Religion Getting In The Way 2

I knew I forgot one.

Uganda just passed new legislation resulting in prison terms just foe being homosexual. Defending it against widespread protest from other societies, it was claimed that the US had been meddling in their affairs, obviously unwelcomed. I, of course, dismissed that out of hand.

Until I heard otherwise. Our radical evangelicals have sent contingents over there trying to persuade Ugandans of the horrors of homosexuality, an obviously evil "lifestyle choice".  So why the reaction in favor of their desires simultaneously with actions favoring them? Because the opposite contingent has been at work lobbying their cause in Uganda too. Their combined efforts have left Uganda with this awful legislation and resentment of interference.

It occurs to me how odd it is that the aim of stopping homosexual activity is supposed to be met by long years of prison time, possibly even life sentences. After all, we all know that nothing like that ever happens to people segregated in single-sex populations behind bars, right?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Religion Getting In The Way

There have been several news stories recently which I've wanted to comment on. I finally took another look and discovered that they had something in common.

There was a Pentacostal clergyman who handled poisonous snakes as part of the service. He believed his faith would keep him safe even if he was bitten. He had survived bites before this. When a timber rattler bit him recently, parishioners called 911. He and his family declined treatment. Within a couple hours, he was dead.

Now just how do you tell the guy that a stupid snake just told him that by his own definition his faith wasn't good enough? And beyond the simple fact of his death, just what does that kind of message do to somebody?

Apparently, the message is not enough to keep his son from following in his daddy's footsteps. Not only is the son now handling those same snakes, including the timber rattler which killed Daddy, he also states he will refuse medical treatment if and when he gets bit.

I guess the message was a bit too subtle.

*    *    *    *    *    *

Arizona, lovely as it is, manages to elect some weird ones. The latest law garnering publicity allows those who are holding "sincerely religious beliefs" against homosexuality to refuse to serve them in their businesses. It's a broadly written law, allowing almost any kind of bigot to claim religious reasons to deny service.  If my particular brand of religion finds, say, women showing their hair in public to be grossly sinful, I can demand they cover up or leave. If I think somebody is promiscuous by whatever definition, I can deny service. If I think they fail to, say, honor their parents properly, I can deny service. If I judge them sinners for having the wrong kind of religion, or worshipping on the wrong day of the week, or eating the wrong foods, or using the wrong kind of birth control, or wearing the wrong kind of skin, or not expressing the right kind of humility in my presence... well, you get the picture.

I get to decide how sincerely held my own beliefs are, and use them to abuse others. It's entirely subjective, making it as nonsensical and dangerous as Florida's Stand Your Ground Law. That one says I get to decide how much of a threat that other (brown, doncha know) person is, and thus can justify killing them before they have a chance to... attack me with music? skittles? popcorn? a sidewalk?

The claim in favor of the Arizona law is that it provides religious freedom. Rather, it provides religious bullying. My ancestors came over here, in part, to get away from other folks telling them how to worship, what to believe. Your right to religious freedom stops at trying to coerce or punish me into following the same one. Just like your right to swing your fist ends just before my nose. Nothing about serving another person who wishes to use your business just like everybody else does is any form of denial of your religious beliefs. If you can't tolerate the Jew, gay, brown, Muslim, or whatever person at your lunch counter, go find another line of work. By all means, believe whatever you please. But go find another line of work.

And while you do, ask yourself, "Who would Jesus hate/bomb/shoot?" Or is that one too subtle for you too?

*   *    *    *   *    *

MPR has been doing a great job of sticking with, uncovering data, and reporting the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal locally, despite the continued obfuscations and downright lies by the archdioces. At every turn, something new has been heaped on the pile.

One offending priest has been "retired", and getting what amounts to extra payoffs each month to support him in a quite comfortable lifestyle. When forced by the courts to reveal a list of "credibly accused" priests, a small list was offered with lots of restrictions on it: they had to be still alive, in the state, etc. And of course there were no current offenders. After rumors surfaced that there was a list of 33 priests, completely denied by the archdioces, investigation revealed that there were multiple lists, totaling 70! One priest's internet searches for child porn has just been revealed.

Yesterday morning my radio alarm story kept me riveted in bed before details finally drove me out of it. (Well, that and my bladder too, but....) A mother who wished to remain anonymous told about what happened to her children. Yes, children. A good Catholic, she has a large family. While she was employed full time in the church office, over the years three of her sons were abused by the priest in a small trailer just outside the office she worked in. Two of her sons, in turn, turned around and abused their younger siblings. Her five-year-old daughters, which she described as "cuddle bugs", suddenly became very clingy. She described a scene where they begged to accompany her when she was just going to the store. She was trying to back the car out of the driveway while they were clinging to the door handles, until their older brother "helpfully" removed them and took them into the house.

Are you feeling sick yet?

Her family is now in therapy. The story became public because those bills are no longer being paid for by the church. The church made a statement that they are merely "behind", partly due to staffing problems.

Oh, did I mention that this employee-mother has had her hours cut to part time?

Her final comment in the report was a lament on how the church was spending more time and effort on protecting the business of the church rather than ministering to the flock. As the reports keep piling up, I have to marvel that there still is a flock to minister to.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Hours later, sitting at home after it was all over, once I'd had time to unwind, erasing the stress and, yes, fear from my mind, the one thing that popped into my mind from nowhere was the dog.

It had lived.

More accurately, I hadn't killed it.

Forecasters had been predicting the storm for days. Each time, even on the day, the prediction had gotten worse. A little snow became more snow, the timing changed, it started with rain/ice. After this winter you'd think they'd have gotten the forecast better. You'd think we'd have adapted.

By noon the first flakes started falling, tiny ones which turned to sleet briefly, then rain, and finally back to snow. Lots of snow. Eventually it dumped 11 inches here. But for me, it was a bit of a lark at first. I was heading east, out ahead of it, into rural Wisconsin, away from the crazy traffic jams it was sure to cause. It was another medical equipment run, heading out to Bloomer. Another place I'd never been. The drop before it put me near Stillwater, making 64 the logical route out.

The whole way out, I was in the leading edge. Everything falling was wet, but I still drove cautiously, never knowing when rain might become ice. It's been a tough winter and my inclination was to drive little-ol'-lady style. I already planned to exaggerate the road conditions on my way back in and call it a day rather than head back into the metro for more work, foolishly thinking I would be home early.

 I needn't have bothered.

I noted a few things on the way out. First, there was a whole lot of nowhere out there, long stretches between what might pass for towns once you pass New Richmond. It would be beautiful, once warmer weather took hold. I also noted the shoulders of the road: practically nonexistent. They were skinny, well sloped for drainage, or for dumping off a car, considering they were covered with old ice. No safe places to pull over.

By the time I dropped my package, hit a gas station to use the facilities, and hit a MacDonalds for my 3:00 carb hit, aka an ice cream cone, it was snowing. The storm had caught me. 50 mph quickly became 45, then 40. By the time I hit home, over three hours later, 25 was all the car could handle.

Usually I get a lot of vehicles passing me when I slow down to what I consider safe winter speeds. At the start, a tanker did pass, leaving tracks I couldn't use for my own path, as he had this annoying tendency to drive over the center line. I did find one turn lane to pull over onto for a pickup who'd been patient for several miles to get past. By then there was enough oncoming traffic and bad enough road conditions that unlike most Wisconsin drivers in my experience he hadn't tried passing.

When the dog popped out, roads had turned to ice covered with heavy slush. You had to drive for being unable to stop as well as just needing to stay on it. The dog didn't care. Coming around a corner, there it was on my left shoulder, heading my way. Medium sized, short haired, grey brindle with black patches. It turned to look at me and started angling diagonally across the road in front of my car, its worst possible choice. I slowed, started hitting the brakes cautiously. There was at least one car on my tail, hanging back sensibly. It also dropped back, likely seeing the dog also, and seeing as clearly as I the inevitable. The dog kept on its track, as did I, until it disappeared from my view in front of the car. Still trying to slow, I laid on the horn, hoping to spur the dog on.

The horn may have been what did the trick. There was no thump, and I finally saw it emerge on my right side. My follower was still well back, and I slowly picked up speed again to a hair over 30. There was plenty more rough driving ahead.

The first gas station, the first sane place to pull off the road, was two hours from leaving Bloomer. I stopped again in New Richmond, typed to dispatch that I gave up for the day, and logged out. It would have been impossible by then to do anything productive, and I still had about an hour of driving ahead before getting stuck in my own driveway, just past where the plow had left a ridge across it. I managed to get stuck just far enough in that when he passed on his second run, he didn't clip my car.

After a quick stop in the house, I grabbed a shovel and cleared what I could on both sides of my front tires, then spread a handful of salt next to them on both sides. A bit of rocking finally gave me traction, and I managed to make it to my usual parking spot. Calling Paul to warn him, I came in to try to unknot my back. I'd also been foolish enough to try to clear a bit of the snow bank by the street. About 8 shovelfuls dissuaded me from that attempt.

However, it had to be cleared that evening. Temperatures were holding enough that it hadn't frozen yet. Tomorrow it would be an ice barrier two feet high and six feet wide. Later falling snow would stay as snow, so though it would keep coming down, and continue being plowed across the driveway, there would be no urgency. In fact, Paul and I declared a "plowed in" day for Friday, avoided a lot of bad roads going nowhere, and did our best to relax.

That's when I finally remembered the dog.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Life Goal: Achieved

During his last two years, living at our house after Mom died, Daddy had two goals for his remaining days.  Occasionally he simply wanted to die. Had I any trust in his mental accuity, especially short term memory, we might have had a serious discussion about that, including refusal of medicines which were keeping him in the best health possible for his condition. However, I had no trust in his ability to make that kind of decision for himself.

Besides, it seemed more of an expression of his frustration with his growing limitations. Those seemed better treated with new strategies for coping.

There was also his other wish for himself, exactly contradictory to the first one. He wanted to live longer than any of his siblings, especially Edith. He had already become the only remaining one of the ten, partly by virtue of being one of the youngest, partly the result of excellent and ever-advancing medical care. But Edith had lived to be 97, plus some unknown amount of months. He felt competitive, wanting to live a longer life than she had. At the time he died, he'd made it to 97 1/2, to the exact day. We had no idea however of how that ranked in longevity.

This past weekend, Paul and I drove up to Bemidji and back, visiting my brother and his family. It's getting harder to find time to spend together, particularly as they no longer have our parents to visit down here. Our X-mas presents to them, meaning mostly Paul's homemade jellies, are difficult to mail. We wound up with two years' worth of jellies to deliver and decided to somehow make the time. Juggling schedules and weather, last weekend was it, and it was a great visit.

There was one unexpected bonus. GeorgeAnn keeps computer records of family geneology, and we spent some time going through it. I asked if she had exact birth and death dates for Aunt Edith. She had, and a little figuring revealed Edith had lived about 4 1/2 months past her 97th birthday.

Daddy had outlived her!

I wish we could have told him.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Luge: Origin?

The Olympics seem to always bring up questions about the Luge. Topics range from exploring the probable level of sanity of those competing in the event to speeds and position to its origin. The best theory I heard over the radio a couple days back. I can't properly attribute it, nor can I verify it. I just like it.

Two guys were standing on a hill. One says, "Here, hold my beer for me and watch this!"

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Valuing" Women

I heard something startling on MPR yesterday. As part of a story, a friend of the main character involved in the story was describing somebody's family, saying he had children, "an 18-year-old, a 16-year-old, and a daughter."

It felt like a slap in the face for the daughter, somehow not important enough for her age to be noted. The gender of the sons was assumed: they were countable, describable. Valued. She was just a cipher, a place-holder, nothing more than part of the count.

Does my reaction seem a bit harsh? Could he just have misspoken? Perhaps not been quite so close to the family and he just forgot her age? If I try to be generous, that almost flies, except for one thing. I immediately leap to the thought that it's a cultural thing. After all, the story itself was about the father who was believed to be a suicide bomber in Syria, and the speaker was using the family to describe his responsibilities at home, reasons why he shouldn't have been the accused bomber, why they didn't believe he could have been involved.

Ahah! Muslim. Already knowing that piece at the start of the story is the reason my mind skipped immediately to the devaluing of the female child. She would have been hidden away, covered head to toe aside from part of her face, not allowed out unescorted, somebody's addendum. What would be the point of knowing her age? Even knowing of her existence is probably an indication of the speaker's closeness to the family.

I don't place the value of the religion itself either as better or worse than any other main religion. All teach the same basic values, serve the same two basic societal purposes: worship our way, and behave in spociety. But I do criticize the culture - or any culture - which so devalues half its members. And don't try to feed me that hogwash about how "special" females are and how they need to be protected. How about simple respect?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Habit Forming

That's what a dog is. Of course they're great companions, entertaining, comforting, protective, affectionate, and sometimes expensive. But it's the habits you form around their lives and needs that drive home their absence.

Start with first thing in the morning. There's no fuzzy body parked outside the bedroom door to avoid stepping on if he's a little slow getting up, no paws landing on your knees while you sit on the throne first thing, no need to leave the bathroom to let him out before heading back to dole out the morning pills because it's cruel to make him wait another couple minutes. There's no waiting for his scratch at the door to be let back in, no checking the food dish while the water for coffee heats in the microwave, no emptying the remains of water from the work jug from yesterday into his water dish. Sure, the cat still uses the water dish, but she doesn't drink much.

There's no arranging the lap blanket before inviting him up into your lap to lay on your legs while you watch TV for morning news, traffic and weather while you drink your coffee, no shooing him off so there's room for the laptop, no getting up again because he's decided he needs to go out again to see if maybe there's another rabbit that needs running lessons.

After that morning shower, there's no inviting him up on the bed while you dress, no shooing him over a couple feet, off the clean clothes you've laid out in the order needed, no making sure he - and the cat - leave the room at the same time you do before you shut the door for the day.

When packing the day's breakfast and lunch, there's nobody guarding the floor against possible dangers of dropped food buildup, or barring that, taking a nugget of kibble from his dish, coming back to where he can see you before chomping it, then dashing back for the next nugget. There's nobody warming your chair for that last sit-down to put on your shoes before heading out, nobody accompanying you to the door to wish you a speedy return.

Seriously, speedy speedy: it's a long day holding it before somebody gets back some days. Now there's no need to push yourself to get back so he can be let out. And once you arrive, there's no furry dancer waiting for that word, that pet, and that run to and through the back door. Before you sit down after changing out of the uniform, there's no letting him back in. You can settle in with the lap blanket and the TV, not worrying about instantly putting the empty plate up out of his way, no need to keep the bedroom door closed until time to sleep, no needing to put used tissues out of reach. I can head for bed when I'm tired rather than spending ten minutes letting him out, letting him in, checking his food and water, arranging the blankets before allowing him up on the bed because it can't be done with a 30-pound anchor laying across the corner.

All those habits, all day long that I'm home, all those reminders as the impulse hits that this too is no longer necessary. Each is a reminder, an emptiness. And for some reason, not doing those things seems to be taking up more time in my routine than the doing did.  Maybe he was just my reason for getting it done now.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Will Work For...

You've seen the signs, held on street corners with stoplights to pause traffic long enough to garner a handout for the lucky, if that's a term that can be used for those driven to holding up such signs.

I happen to have a slightly different take on the phrase. My sign would read "Will Work For... Idiots, Apparently."

Don't get me wrong. The people I interact with at our local branch are great, unfailingly helpful, unfailingly friendly, unfailingly supportive. I'm referring to the corporate office. It's in Texas, which to my mind says a lot. I'm not quite Thelma-and-Louise about Texas, but mostly I prefer to avoid having to deal with them whenever possible. Perhaps it's just a personal prejudice, but if so, it's frequently informed by news reports detailing laws and attitudes, not to mention such prominent residents as Dubbya and Governor Oops. I am perfectly willing to admit that there may be a sane and rational person or two in the state. Somewhere. It is a large one, after all.

I'm just not sure that one of them works in our corporate headquarters.

Mostly they're just annoying, like when the single solitary person who could change my status allowing me to transfer from Minnesota to Arizona and later back again just happened each time to be out of the office for a few days, thus delaying my ability to go back on the job and start earning money again by nearly a week.  It delayed putting other needed new drivers on the road as well.

Sometimes they strike me as unreasonably greedy, such as when they cut back the percentage of commissions so that they could have more themselves, when it was the independent contractors, not the office staff, who were simultaneously taking the income hits from higher vehicle and fuel prices. Sure, they charged the customers a fuel surcharge, supposedly on our behalf, but tapped into that as well, claiming their extra expenses when all they had to do was have one person spend two minutes changing a weekly number in a software program.

This week they renewed my awareness of my ability to tolerate working for idiots - up to a point. It's tax time, and the 1099s were mailed out. (Nearly on time this year, for a change.) Our local branch had been requesting that each of us check that they had our current addresses. The pay report that gets mailed to us each pay period would be proof that they had it right, or wrong if it wasn't showing up where it was supposed to. Mine was correct.

Imagine my surprise when Steve called to let me know mine showed up in his mailbox in Sun City. I asked him to hold onto it while I tried to fix things from my end. If I could save him a stamp, I would. So I talked to the person here who was in charge of those details. She promised to contact Corporate, and called me back a few hours later with information. Corporate acknowledged their error and promised to send out my 1099 to Minnesota.

All solved, right? Hey, are you at the end of this blog post yet? What does that tell you?

The envelope arrived Thursday. Inside, the 1099 had my Arizona address on it. Now, in case you're hazy on the details, I moved back up here in early December of 2012. I have neither lived nor worked in Arizona for any of 2013. But the IRS will think I did. And so will Arizona, expecting their piece of income tax. And Minnesota will be wondering about state transfers when they get their filing.

You don't think that such a simple mistake can cause problems? Last year both of my 1099s arrived with the Arizona address on them. I ignored it, correcting the information on my Schedule Cs. Somehow, my IRS refund still hasn't been processed. Now, it's only $78 and change, but it's still my money. I want it. The "Where's My Refund?" site still says it's being processed. I can't help but think that a 1099 with bad information is at least part of the problem. And since I'm pretty sure I overpaid a bit again this year, I'm not looking forward to a repeat.

So, another call in to the local office. I took in the 1099 and added a personal note to try to explain the problem, in hopes that this time they'd do whatever was necessary to issue me a corrected form. I asked the front desk to fax it to the right person in Dallas. She made a copy, handing me the original back so that I could have the figures to fill out my tax forms. We joked a bit about Corporate having their heads up their... patoots. Yes, I refrained from using the word asses. I wondered aloud if it would help if I had put that on there, adding that I could have suggested that both their vision and posture would be improved by removing said heads from said patoots.

I try to be helpful. Sometimes.

Later in the afternoon, stopping by the office for another matter, one of the staff informed me that my note had been edited before being faxed off. I didn't think my suggestion that the Dallas person could have a good sip of coffee before trying to fix the problem was offensive. But who knows? At any rate, she actually knows somebody down there and called her to explain the problem, filling in the bit about it likely causing problems already on last year's return. She thought there was actually hope that this person would go to the financial person responsible for doing the 1099s.

She had no opinion as to whether it would ultimately garner me a corrected 1099.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Second Guessing

It's not that obvious if you don't know what you're looking for. It isn't as if he has severe arthritis and was barely able to move. On the contrary, he's still bouncy to an annoying level, the ditz, and the tail still wags as ferociously as ever. The coat is still shiny, the eyes barely indicating cataracts yet.

These are the things which makes it difficult. His final vet appointment is Saturday. After which, we will become a one-dog family.

It's not that I don't love him still, 12 years after us picking each other out in the pet store. He was one of three cocker spaniel puppies, the other two golden. He was the only black and white one I'd seen, mostly black with white polka dots on his belly and legs. My first ever pedigreed dog, I had him AKC registered and chipped. Since he had a "field coat", he wasn't considered desirable as a breeder, and got neutered at an appropriate age. His formal name is Kunshi Ta Koda, accents on the second syllables, a Dakota phrase roughly translating to "Grandma's Best Buddy", though Koda is a way more important relationship than a buddy. We call him Koda - accent on the first syllable - for short, though I have friends who insist his name is Dakota. He'll answer.

It's not that I'm allergic to him. I'm allergic to lots of stuff these days, mostly inescapable, and choosing medication rather than purging the environment of family pets. I have taken to keeping him out of the bedroom while I sleep, at least until lately. He guards the door, just like when I'm sitting in my chair to read or watch TV, when he parks in front of me facing out, guarding me.

It's that I can no longer bear his living in pain. He has gotten chronic ear infections, typical for his breed with his floppy ears. Mostly we've cleared them up, but this time it just keeps recurring after each time it clears up. You can tell two ways. First is the smell. I won't even try to describe it. Some of you may be eating. Second, he scratches at his ears, digging at them with his claws, never long enough to reach to where it'll do any good. Return vet visits garner him stronger and longer doses of antibiotics. Then it comes back after a week or two.

On top of that, there's his breath. No, halitosis is not a capitol offense, though this smells bad enough it might tempt someone to think so. It's a symptom. His teeth are rotting in his mouth. Despite a lifetime of dry food, milk bones, rawhides and dental chews, they're rotting away. This time I blame my dad. He spoiled Koda. I use the term "ruined". A morsel of food from Dad's plate gained him a companion for the years he lived with us, and he didn't follow house rules about how and when, or even whether, Koda could be fed. And yes, we let him, though I'm not sure we could have actually intervened. As a result, Koda got bad habits about helping himself to food. He also got rotting teeth.

I've had bad teeth. I remember the pain. You can watch Koda when he goes to one of the few rooms which still have carpeting. He will rub his muzzle against the carpet, as if to soothe the pain. He does the same outside. He'll settle for grass, but the snow seems to really help, as one would suspect it would. That has become such a priority for him that he has taken to watching rabbits in the yard. He's still capable of chasing them, formerly a favorite pastime. He's just no longer interested.

Yes, I know. We cold take him to a doggie dentist, have expensive diagnosis and removals performed. It might clear up the oral infections. But it won't help his ears. The load of microbes is something he's no longer able to cope with. It's time to quit asking him to.

But then I watch him as he greets me, see the bounce and the tail wags. And I keep second guessing my decision. Knowing all that's going on inside him renews my resolve, but part of me continues to protest. I could let him continue, and yet I can't.

It's going to be a long week.