Memorable Methow

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Our good friends Jenn & Bryan invited us to spend Memorial Day weekend with them at their awesome cabin in the Methow valley. I was excited to be able to combine some solid training with awesome company. Plus the inevitable delicious food/wine that this crew always seems to come up with. 🙂 And as a special bonus, Wally would have some dog friends to hang out with:

WallySaturday morning I headed out for a long bike ride. My goal was to ride from Twisp out to Winthrop, up my favorite climb that we’ve done in previous years and then back again. With rain clouds on the horizon, I basically decided that I’d ride until I got to the top of the hill or it started raining on me, which ever happened first. For most of the ride, I had blue skies above me and, of course, terrible scenery:

RideBryan had found a blast from the past that I saved as a top of the mountain treat:

ZotzThe first part of the ride was great. But on the way down the hill, the clouds moved in and the winds picked up. I was pretty pooped when I got back to Winthrop and checked in with T. But I rallied and finished out the last 10 miles as strong as I could. (And I completely lucked out, no rain the entire way.) Back at the cabin, we had a nice chill evening. There were delicious pork steaks for dinner accompanied by grilled veggies, an amazing salad, wonderful wine and for dessert – homemade macaroons:

Macaroons(I’m surprised proud to report that no fist-fights broke out over the fifth macaroon.)

As usual, life was pretty good for the dogs. Their biggest worry was figuring out who got to sleep in the dog bed vs. the couch:

ToddGreta PetBedsOn Sunday, while T was making bagels, I took Wally for a little pre-breakfast walk to get the blood flowing in my tired legs. The wildflowers were in bloom and it was gorgeous out:

WallyHikeThen it was off to Crown S Ranch for a tour/potluck lunch. It was such a cool experience. The ranch is a fully sustainable operation and is really impressive.

FarmMedleyThis little guy ran up to say hello to T and then scampered off:

GoatExitI particularly enjoyed taking pictures of the pigs. (Apparently.) They were so cute and it was impressive to watch them tilling up the soil:

Pigs4 Pigs3 Pigs Pigs5The chickens had it pretty good as well:

ChickensI love the chicken painted on the side of the hen house:

HenHouseInside, they had a nice set-up, with a little swinging perch for the more adventurous ones:

InsideHHAnd of course there were the cows:

CowsWe finished out the tour and hung out waiting for the potluck to start. There was a border collie puppy and a bunny to pet and some live music to enjoy. Jenn & Bryan went back to the sheep pasture and enjoyed some wacky hijinks:

DunkTank(I’m pleased to report that no wives were dunked in the water trough)

After a delicious lunch at the potluck, we headed back to the cabin for some downtime. There were naps and a nice run/hike for Jenn & I. (My legs were too tired for a straight up run, so that was just what the doctor ordered.) Then we went out to Sun Mountain Lodge for a little pre-dinner cocktail. The view was gorgeous and everyone was in a lovely mood:

ToddPhoto JBviewOn Monday, before we all headed home, we went out for one last adventure. Jenn and Bryan had recently acquired a stand-up paddleboard and we felt that the weekend would not be complete until we took it out for a spin. Here’s Bryan rocking the latest in Methow SUP fashion:

BryanFashionNeither T nor I had ever been on a paddleboard before, but Jenn & Bryan were excellent instructors. T managed to stand up on the board twice, but I was too chicken to stand all the way up.

SUPIt was really fun though and I look forward to giving it another go (preferably in warmer weather.) It was an awesome weekend with the perfect mix of work and play. So many thanks to our hosts Jenn & Bryan for having us.

 

 

 

 

 

Picking up the pieces

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It’s been a week and things are slowly moving toward normal (or at least some weird new version of it.) Poor Wally was a little confused for the first day or so, sniffing around the yard and seeming to be looking for Smokey Joe. This may be us projecting, but he did seem to be not quite himself. Then he realized that he could get a lot more attention as the only dog and was really playful and demanding of attention. Now he’s back to looking for someone to boss him around, which is currently taking the form of George. (I will try to get a picture or video, because a 90 lb dog kowtowing to an ancient 9 lb cat is awesome.)

To reward ourselves for getting through the week, T and I treated ourselves to some carbs and alcohol at Bravehorse. A few adult beverages and many calories were consumed, but we both felt slightly better. They don’t call it comfort food for nothing…

BravehorseI had a mini freakout about how soon Vineman is coming and how far behind I am in my training. So, in the midst of all of the sadness, I forced myself to get back out there. I did a long run on Thursday, running home from work for the first time this year. I also got a couple of longer swims in (finally) and a long solo ride on Sunday. I managed to get 70 miles in, despite not really wanting to leave the house. At one point in the ride, I bribed myself with a Krispy Kreme stop if I made it back to the bottom of Lake Sammamish.

MagicDonutI was hoping for the magic donut effect that I had last year, but alas, that donut sat in my stomach like a brick. But I got the work done (and actually averaged a better pace than expected, so that was nice.) I can’t say I’m feeling confident about Vineman, but my plan is to just put my head down and get as much work done between now and then as I can and let the day take care of itself.

The boy is doing great with his recovery. He met with the doctor on Thursday and now off the crutches. We had rented a pair of the fanciest crutches I’ve ever seen, so naturally I had to get a picture of them before they went back:

CrutchFreeBoyAnd finally, I would like to give a formal shout-out to all of the support we’ve received. So many people have reached out and been so lovely. It’s made a huge difference and I truly do appreciate it.

 

Goodbye, sweetest boy

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This morning, we had to put Smokey Joe to sleep. It was a difficult, but necessary thing to do. We got to say our good-byes and usher him out peacefully and I am so grateful for that.

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Smokey Joe was a very special dog. We adopted him from a really horrible shelter in Brooklyn, a high-kill place in an awful neighborhood. (Seriously, my sister and I were in tears as we walked around and looked at the dogs.) I was there to see two dogs, a chocolate lab puppy (because I thought I wanted a chocolate lab) and the dog who turned out to be Smokey Joe. The chocolate lab was sleeping in a cage with a note that said “Hyper”. Smokey Joe was chilling in the owners office. She’d had him fixed because she was determined to find him a home. I also remember that every employee that was there came out to say good-bye while we were filling out the paperwork. I wasn’t expecting to bring him home that night. T was on a business trip, so I called him from the shelter to tell him I was bringing home our dog. We had to stop at Target on the way home to buy a leash, food dish, etc.

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Our lives quickly started revolving around Smokey Joe. We took him to the off-leash hours at Prospect Park, where he frolicked with all sorts of other dogs and benefitted greatly from New Yorkers proclivity for littering. It was fun to be part of a community of fellow dog owners and we met a ton of great people. Because he was crazy smart, very food motivated and eager to please, it was easy to teach Smokey Joe tricks. He knew how to shake, “meet”, roll-over, stick ’em up/play dead, spin and balance a cookie on his nose. He would also improvise variations of these tricks, like “Put your hands in the air!” or “High five!”

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IMG_0205 IMG_0204One of his other notorious moves in the park was to crouch down like a cheetah and “stalk” another dog. Then he’d spring into action and race across the field to that dog. He did this in our Seattle yard with Wally and it was always amusing to watch Wally’s slow-witted response. (It usually resulted in Smokey Joe crashing right into him.) One day, he decided to try it with George. George sat there unflinching as Smokey Joe charged him, then poor Smokey Joe had to veer off in the face of George’s steely gaze. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard…

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I’m going to miss so many things about him. His shameless begging, the “huff huff huff” noise he used to make when he bounded after a ball, the way he’d watch out the window surveying the neighborhood. Even the naughty stuff he did that drove me crazy: barking like a maniac when either T or I came home, the way he’d strategically block Wally by laying across the hallway or threshold between rooms, the chasing of the kitties.

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I’m still struggling to believe he’s really gone. He was such a great dog and we loved him so very much. You’re going to be missed, sweet puppy.

Recipe for disaster

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Things have continued to be a roller coaster around here. T had his surgery and is recovering nicely, but poor Smokey Joe continues to be sick. Since the last post, he spent another night in the emergency room and a number of follow-up visits to the vet. Finally, we culminated his adventures with a trip to the doggie neurologist on Friday. I was trepidatious about this after all of our experiences with the emergency vets. I was sure they’d recommend another battery of tests we couldn’t afford and not find something we wouldn’t be able to fix. But the doctor was actually really great and helpful. He basically said that while there were other tests and procedures, they wouldn’t increase Smokey Joe’s quality of life and in some cases put him in danger of much worse side-effects.

It’s really hard, but we made the decision to bring him home for a few days and then have him put to sleep early next week. The doctor upped some of his pain medication so that he’d be comfortable and gave us some side effects to look for that would hasten our timeline. T and I are heartbroken, but we both agree that it’s the right decision.

I’d planned a trip to Prosser before all of this happened and in a bit of haze, I decided to keep my plans intact. T assured me that he didn’t mind watching over Smokey Joe by himself. It feels so selfish, but my training has been a disaster for the last two weeks and I felt like I needed to regroup. So, in a bright green tiny rental car, I hit the road to Prosser.

When one is in the midst of personal turmoil, it’s so good to have friends like Erin & David. They took such good care of me. Saturday morning, Erin & I had signed up for a duathlon. The temps were forecast to be in the mid-90’s and it was already pretty toasty at 8:30 in the morning. For those not familiar, a duathlon is a run/bike/run race. In this case, the run course was 3.1 evil, hilly, cross-country miles of pure evil. I went out with the pack much too fast and spent a miserable 35 minutes trying not to barf or crap myself interspersed with walk breaks. I finally made it onto the bike and set myself the goal of catching at least one person, and not letting the two women behind catch me. They came pretty close at one point, which finally motivated my legs to come to the party. It took a long time, but I finally did catch the girl in front of me. I’d been debating doing the second run, but between looking at all of the people death-marching the run course already and how lousy I already felt, it became a no-brainer.

Given the stresses of the previous two weeks, the haphazard amount of training and the not great sleep, the days outcome was hardly surprising. It was an excellent wake-up call that I need to get very serious about my training if Vineman isn’t going to go the same way. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and recovering and then went to trivia night at a great local place. It was a really fun diversion and our team came in second. Woo!

On Sunday, we went out for a hot, windy Webber Canyon ride. It’s my favorite route, even though it involves a long, windy climb. It was a good solid ride and I was pleased at how strong I felt, a much-needed ego boost on the athletic front, after the previous days debacle. Then it was time for a quick shower and a long drive home. I had a boy and an ailing puppy to get back to. It was a good weekend, but also really nice to get home to my boys. It’s going to be a hard week ahead, but I’m just going to put one foot in front of the other and do the best I can.

What a week!

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So, I was going to write this fun little blog post about the metric century I rode last weekend with my mother-in-law and her friend. It was the first time I’ve ever been faster than Susan and it was quite an ego trip (especially with dorky cyclists hitting on me, since I was riding sans-T.) Here’s a little collage of the fun:

MCcollageBut then poor Smokey Joe, who had been limping around with what the vet thought was a sprained elbow, got sick. He’s such a stoic dog, but when he woke us up at 2am to go outside and then went to lay under the bushes in the rain, refusing to come out and making T carry him back into the house, we got the memo that something was wrong.

I was working at home on Tuesday anyway, so I took him to the vet to have him checked out. She was immediately concerned about how pale his gums were and suspected internal bleeding. The look on her face said that this was really serious and made me wonder if I’d be putting Smokey Joe to sleep that day. They took some x-rays and ruled out the giant spleen tumor she was initially suspecting. The x-rays didn’t show any causes for the bleeding, so we were referred to the local emergency vet to do an ultrasound and quicker bloodwork. They also didn’t see anything, but suspected a bleeding ulcer – a side effect from the aspirin/meds he was on for the sprain. Poor Smokey Joe then spent two days there, having every test in the book, including a blood transfusion.

The transfusion made him feel a lot better, so we were able to pick him up this morning, but we’ll need to take him in for blood tests to make sure he is truly on the mend. Here’s the sweet boy, so sleepy and happy to be home:

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While we were dealing with getting Smokey Joe home and settled, T got a message that he had the opportunity to move his impending hip surgery up from early June to tomorrow morning. (Gulp!) He’s been really hoping to get the surgery moved up, so I’m happy for him on that front, but I’m not sure I can handle two invalids in the house!

So, gentle readers, send your healing thoughts to Smokey Joe and T. And if anyone has a lucky rabbits foot or a four-leaf clover, I could sure use the good juju! Lord knows we can use all of the help we can get…