Category Archives: My Joy

It Wasn’t Until Last Night That I Knew

Ubi_Face

By now, if you have read my earlier postings, you have met Ubi, and you know that he is a Cavachon.  You also know that a Cavachon is the lucky offspring of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and a Bichon Frise.  I say lucky because, well, just look at him.  Look into his eyes.  My neighbor gets credit for this picture.  She dropped her keys and he started to eat them, but she got him to look up at her long enough to capture one of the best photos of him to date.  Every time I look at it, and look at those eyes, tears come to mine.

I am so blessed to have this guy in my life.  He is teaching me so much about patience, tolerance and understanding.  So far he has gone through several USB chargers for my phone, and two power supplies for my Microsoft Surface Pro 4 at $80 a piece.  He has destroyed several of his toys in an explosion of fluff.  He has peed and pooped all over the area rug and hardwood floor in my living room, but that’s ok.  I purchased the rug just for him.  It’s made of polypropylene.  And yes, I can’t find half of my socks.  I’m sure they will turn up somewhere one I find his hiding place.

I tried letting him sleep in bed with me, and at first that worked out just fine.  But then he decided it was more fun to kiss me than go to sleep.  I don’t mind him kissing me, but not when I’m trying to fall asleep.  So now I’m putting him in his crate by my bed until he is a little older and learns that when the lights go out it’s time for bed.

As you know, Ubi broke his leg.  He healed spectacularly.  To watch him run is a wonderful sight.  He is so fast.  We are in puppy class right now, and he is the smallest puppy in the room by far, but he doesn’t care.  During play time he plays with the bigger boys and girls and loves it when he can get them to chase him.

So what is it that I didn’t know until last night?  Well another neighbor was over with her dog, and Ubi was playing with her and the other dog, and me.  Ubi is so friendly to everyone.  He loves it when people visit.  He runs up to them with so much enthusiasm.  He is just so irresistible.  I’m very happy about this.  I want a dog that people don’t have to be afraid of when the come in to my home.  I really hope he stays this way.  But there’s also a part of me that wants him to be attached to me more so than others.  I want him to know that I am his caretaker, and that I am, well, his Daddy.  But I figured, if he is friendly with everyone, I guess that’s good enough.  At least I don’t have to worry about him biting anyone.

But last night something happened and I knew.  While we were playing, with my neighbor there, and the other dog there, and new bully sticks that the dogs were chewing on, I had to go upstairs to make sure the doors were closed, so the dogs didn’t get into anything up there.  So I go upstairs, and I’m closing the doors, and I turn around, and there was Ubi.  No bully stick, neighbor and other dog downstairs, but there he was, looking up at me, seemingly with relief that I didn’t leave the house through some hidden exit in my bedroom.  What did I know?  I think you know what I knew.

New Beginnings

After my 52 lb mutt passed on Dec 09, 2015, I was very sad for several weeks.  Being single with no children, I found myself to be very lonely, with nothing to come home to.  I’ve always had this strong desire to take care of something, and when Jamaica died, a part of me died inside as well.

I knew I’d be getting another dog, but I thought I’d wait for a little while.  Taking care of Jamaica toward the end became expensive because of all of the medications she was on, and because of the many trips to the vet.  Plus, I was still getting out of bed, looking down to make sure I didn’t step on her as she would always sleep on blankets right next to my bed, every night.

So I thought I would save a little money, and although I missed her terribly, I figured I’d take advantage of the new freedom I had.  I no longer had to worry about how late I stayed at work.  I no longer had to worry about taking her for walks, even in the coldest or wettest weather.  I no longer had to worry about whether or not the dog walker was doing his job and taking her for the full, 20 minute walks she was supposed to be getting every day while I was at work.

But the result of all of this is that I wasn’t doing much of anything.  I would come home from work, sit in front of the TV for a few hours, and fall asleep on the couch watching TV.  I was sinking deeper and deeper into depression, but I was bound and determined not to get another dog until the Spring.

Needless to say, if you have looked at my pictures above, this is not the way things worked out.  For a long time before Jamaica died, I had been researching what type of dog I’d want next.  Don’t get me wrong.  Jamaica was a wonderful dog, but I took a big chance with her.  I got her from a no kill shelter and just assumed that love could conquer all.  For the most part, it did.  Jamaica was a loyal, loving pet.  But there were some traits about her that I knew I’d want to be different in any other dog that I chose to raise as a pet.

Instead of speaking negatively about Jamaica though, I’d rather just state what I was looking for, and which I could only get by getting a dog which was bred to have these traits.  I wanted a dog that didn’t shed.  I wanted a dog that was hypo-allergenic.  I wanted a smaller dog for which exercising in my condo, plus a couple of good walks a day would be enough.  I wanted a dog that would be friendly with other animals and friendly with people, especially people that were guests in my home.  I wanted a dog that was smart, easily trainable, and obedient.

After doing some research, and asking around, I came up with the Cavachon.  A Cavachon if you didn’t already know is a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Bichon Frise.  A true Cavachon is first generation only, and thus they are rare.  So once I decided on this breed, it was a challenge to find a reputable breeder.  After checking a few out, Lynne Kaiser of “Smooch My Pups” was highly recommended to me.  The problem was, she is up in Michigan, and I live in Northern Virginia.  This turned out not to be a problem.  Lynne sells Cavachons to remote buyers all the time.  She sent me several pictures, and I had one picked out pretty quickly because he was about the cutest thing I’d every seen.

Then Lynne sent me some videos of him playing, and I knew I had made the right choice.  I had already picked out his name before I’d even met him.  I am a Linux Systems Administrator, and Ubuntu is a Linux Operating System.  So that would be his name, Ubuntu.  I knew nobody would call him that, so I shortened it to Ubi (pronounced oobee).

On Tuesday, Jan 26, I picked Ubi up from the airport, and held him in my arms for the first time.  He and his carrier were both covered in poop and pee, so when I got him home I immediately gave him a bath.  The poor guy was so cold.  I dried him off and held his 3 lb body tightly against me wrapped in blankets until he stopped shaking.  He briefly fell asleep against my chest.

After he was dry, I let him down, and the fun began.  I had a ton of toys, hand me downs from Jamaica.  They were all bigger than Ubi.  He played with them anyway.  He ran around my condo like he had always lived here.  He was happy and having fun.

So after one week of playing, pooping on the floor, peeing on the floor, but doing both outside most of the time, learning fetch in 3 minutes, learning sit in 10 minutes, running around at dog playcare like he owns the place, following me around the house like I am his daddy and best friend, being friendly to house guests, and having an extra long vet appointment because the vet techs didn’t want to stop playing with him, all I can say is I’m exhausted.  Well, that’s not all.  I am so in love with this little guy, that I would do absolutely anything for him.

Ubi has brought joy back into my home.  Although some days I go to work with my eyes half open, it’s all worth it.  To watch him play, to hold him in my arms while I’m watching TV, as he falls asleep on my lap.  I can’t tell you the beauty of this.

I love you Ubi!

The Lake By My Home

It’s not like I forgot about the Lake.  I knew it was there.  I just hadn’t thought to visit it in a while.  I used to walk the dog by it several times a week.  I remember feeling better then.  Emotionally, physically, better.  It’s not a long walk.  In fact, if I walk to the path that is adjacent to the lake on two sides, and then walk this path, past the “Logan’s Road House”, past the Hampton Inn, it’s about a mile.  Not a really long walk by any stretch, unless you don’t have any legs, or they don’t function for you the way they used to.  Mine do.  I can walk.  There are a few people in my life who can’t say this.  Some of these people are rather close to me.  But I can walk, and so I did this morning.  Something to be grateful for today.

The dog was grateful too.  Although she was huffing and panting along the way, she turned to me, squinting in the sun, with her tongue hanging out and I could see that all too familiar smile on her face.  “Thanks Daddy!”, that smile was saying.  I smiled back and said, “You’re welcome!”  She’s an old dog, my Jamaica.  She’s in fairly good health for her age.  Sometimes she falls when we are walking, but she gets right back up and continues to walk like nothing happened.  I can learn a lesson from that.

When we get back to the house and walk inside, it’s nice to feel the cool, dry air hit my face.  It’s warm outside, and humid.  This is as it should be in late May in the Washington, DC area.  Not quite hot yet, but warm enough and moist enough to bring about a mild sweat, even with a mild  walk.  When we do these walks during the mid-summer months, I am dripping by the time we get back.  The dog walks over to the water fountain (Yes, I said fountain.  Just a little gift I gave to her and to the cats a while ago to keep the water fresh and clean for them).  She laps up 5 or 6 tongue fulls of water, as I reach into the refrigerator and pull out a can of sparkling, lemon-flavored water for myself.  Nice, and cold, with a little bit of a bite.  This would be a perfect start to a weekend day, except that it’s not the weekend.  It’s the Tuesday after Memorial Day, and at the moment I don’t have a job to go to. 

I should be grateful, and I am for the fact that for the time being I’m still receiving a pay check, and my company is searching for another position for me.  I am grateful, both for this, and for the ability just for now to appreciate the time I had this morning to take the dog for a walk near the lake.  We need to do this more often whether or not I’m working.  I need to make the time to do this with her, for both ours sakes.

We really only have today.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring.  I need to make the most of each moment that I have, and not waste the moments feeling sorry for myself, or wallowing in self-pity or fear.  But the only way to push the fear away is to fill my life with other things.  Good things, like a walk by the lake, and the gratitude that I’m able to take this walk with my old dog, and add some joy and contentment to her life if only for 1 mile at a time.  Maybe we’ll walk a little further tomorrow.  Or maybe tomorrow I will have a job to go to.  No matter what, I still need to make the time to take these walks with her, for both our sakes.

Do I Look Like I Have Boobs In This Shirt?

Just writing this blog posting and sharing it with the world proves how brave I am.  It proves that I’m not a woosy boy, or a girly man, or feminine in any sort of way.  Just remember that when you are reading this.  Just remember what kind of person would put themselves out there and admit to this before you make judgements, or poke fun, or reply with the inevitable, “This explains a lot Larry!”  Just remember that only a true man would put this story out there for the world to see.  Only a true manly, man.

A while ago as I was complaining about my back pain recommended that I go to see a holistic doctor that he took an old girlfriend to see.  He spoke very highly of the practice, and said that even though they may not be able to help me with my back pain directly, they may be able to help me with my overall health.  I figured, what the heck.  It couldn’t hurt.

So I’m speaking to this doctor, and she’s asking me all kinds of questions about this and that, and sends me away with a bunch of supplements, and an order for some blood work to check some things that a normal doctor doesn’t generally check for.  One of these things was my testosterone level.  Now, before I go any further, I want you to know that my actual testosterone level has nothing at all to do with the outcome of this story, and why I decided to publish it for all the world to see.  My testosterone level is normal, or as normal as it’s going to be given the pain I fight on a daily basis, and some other things going on in my body.  All in all though, it’s perfectly fine.

I got the test results back, and I’m going through them, and I get to testosterone.  What was odd was that I didn’t see it being in a normal range.  I saw it being several times the highest level that is considered normal.  A few of the other numbers were slightly off, but my testosterone was off the charts on the positive end.  “Oh my God!”, I thought.  “I’m really, really sick!  What the heck is wrong with me?”  I was going back and forth between thinking that my parents forgot to tell me that I’m actually from the planet Krypton, to feeling very proud to be a man, and feeling sorry for all of the women out there that were missing out on my obviously ultra human abilities.  But in all honesty, I was extremely worried.  It would be one thing if it was slightly high.  But it wasn’t.  It was about 7 times the highest level in the normal range.

Thankfully I read the rest of the chart very carefully, and discovered the clerical error.  Apparenly, (and this is just a guess as to how it happened), someone saw my first name, which is really Laurence, and only saw the Lauren part.  That’s right.  According to this chart I am a woman, and all of the ranges on the chart were for that of a woman.

Ok, so now that I’m back to reality feeling a mix between disappointment and relief (I figured it would be something to brag about to both men and women), I needed to figure out what to do about it.  So what I did was to go to my coworker who referred me to this doctor and squeeze my “breasts” and ask him if I looked like I had boobs in this shirt.  I told him that apparently this wonderful doctor that he referred me to was somehow so confused that she read the results of my test, made comments on it, mailed it to me, and never once made any mention of the fact that my testosterone levels were way outside of the normal range, or that the results indicated that I was a woman which was why the testosterone levels were so outside of the normal range.  So when I saw her today, I had to play it up.  I asked each of the nurses and clerical people in the reception area (who all knew already what had happened), if they thought I looked like I had boobs in the shirt I was wearing, and had them all in tears as I explained to them that it was a relief to finally know what my problem was.  Walking around all of these years thinking I’m a man when I’m actually a woman can have severe psychological effects on a guy, ummm…  I mean….  ummm…  whatever I am. 

I also told the doctor that if I was going to accept the fact that I was a woman, I should probably start taking estrogen because I didn’t think my boobs were big enough, and I wanted to not have to shave anymore.  Then I had her in tears as I spurted out lines (no perverts I wasn’t spurting anything else because I can’t now that I’m a woman) from the old Saturday Night Live skit “Pat, the androgenous heterosexual”.  Remember that skit.  “Hey everyone, I have a date tonight!  Really Pat, what’s your date’s name?  Terry!  Hey everyone, it’s that time of the month again.  Really Pat, what time is that?  Bills!”

Yes today was fun.  Maybe a little bit too fun.  I do love to poke fun at myself and this was just too easy.  Luckily the lab that took my blood was able to correct the results, and I now have lab results with the correct ranges on them.  I’ve asked everyone with a copy of the bad lab results to please destroy them, but I think I’m going to keep my copy just because of the comical effect it will have when I show it to friends and relatives in the future.

So there you have it friends, family and complete strangers.  Go ahead, laugh at me, make your comments, and poke fun if you must.  Just please, don’t poke my breasts.  They are very tender right now and I’ll have to punch you if you try to touch them anyway.  Hands off!

Day by Day, Hour by Hour, Minute by Minute

Over the past 3 weeks or so I’ve been trying to write another blog entry about my struggle with pain.  I was going to write about how a second surgeon, this time from the premier spine center in the country told me that surgery would not be the best option for me right now because of my age, and the risk, and the likelyhood of little improvement.  Such a complicated back I have.  I just couldn’t find the motivation to write out the whole, drawn out story though, so that’s about all I’ll write about that.  Instead, I found some motivation to write today from an entirely different source.

I have a new job, and I’ve been struggling to overcome a hurdle where I feel comfortable with what I’m doing.  I’ve been doing pretty much the same thing for a number of years now, and this job, although somewhat related to the direction my career has been going, is really a whole new direction.  Finally, over the past couple of days I’ve been finding a comfort zone.  I’ve been starting to understand the process flow, where the work is coming from, and what to do with the work when I find it.  And then fate decided that it had different plans for me today.

A few days ago my team was told that we were absorbing some new responsibility from a different team, due to the downsizing of that team.  We were getting a new person on our team, and he was to crosstrain with us, as well as members of my team crosstraining with him.  Yesterday our new team member said he had something he wanted to show us, and asked us if we wanted to come over and take a look at what he was doing.  There were only two of us in the room at the time, and I was the only one who went over to take a look.  While over there I remarked about how nice the guy’s view was.  His cube was against the window, and outside the window was a lake where there were Geese and some other birds.  We discussed logistics, about how we were going to crosstrain when there really wasn’t any more room in our office, and there was only one open cube next to this guy, which was vacated by the person who was fired, which was why his team (or him because he was now on his own) was merging our team.  We couldn’t come up with a solution as to how the crosstraining would easily take place amongst all team members.

Well, today it became clear that what our manager really meant was that I was going to be crosstraining with this new team member and his responsibilities and this didn’t really include the rest of my team.  Not only that, but I was going to be moving into the cube next to this guy.  Now here’s something else I haven’t mentioned yet.  The office I’m in is closing shortly.  The other office is in downtown DC, which I am not excited about traveling to and from every day.  But our manager assured us that when this move happens, our team would be work exclusively from home.  So no worrying about having to travel downtown.  Well, now with these changes taking place, was that still going to be the case?

So how did I feel about all of this?  Well, I was at first a bit frustrated.  I had just started to get comfortable and suddenly the rug was pulled out from under me and I was now taking on completely different responsibilities.  I then started to worry that this happened because I wasn’t cutting it in my current position, and they saw that, and decided to move me to something else, maybe even to just give me busy work to do until I became the next downsizing victim.  The I started worrying about the working from home thing.  I’ve recently been looking for a new home, maybe a little further away from the city because I’ll have more space and it will be cheaper.  Would this sudden change mean that I’d have to be slogging it downtown every morning and I’d have to put my plans to move on hold?

I took everything off of my desk and stuffed it into a bag, and moved over to the cube next to my new teammate.  I looked at the cube, and noticed that I now had some privacy.  The walls of the cube were really high.  I then turned around, and remembered the window, which I was also right next to.  There were the geese, swimming in the lake.  Suddenly my fear just lifted.  Sometimes I try so hard to focus on the negative of a situation when that negative is completely imaginary because I had not bothered to substantiate one bit of my fear.  Maybe I’ll have the same deal with being able to work from home.  Maybe I’ll love this new job, and I’ll love the new responsibilities.  The thing is, I was living in the wreckage of the future, which many wise people in my life have cautioned me against, and I have in turned cautioned others against. 

Who knows what will happen tomorrow.  Today I have a nice cube with a view of a lake and geese.  So for this day, and this hour, and this minute, things are pretty good, and I’m going with that.

What’s he thinking?

This is Bene.

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Sometimes I wonder what he’s thinking.
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Is he thinking, “Daddy don’t stopping rubbing my belly please!”

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Is he thinking, “Daddy’s leg is soft.”

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Is he pointing at a fly on the ceiling thinking, “Daddy Can I eat that for dinner?

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Is he thinking,  “Daddy, why are you such a big, funny looking cat?”

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Is he thinking, “This is the life!  My sister Seri, and my big retarded sister Jamaica who drools and pants a lot, and my Daddy and me.  Things couldn’t get much better!”

Then I stop wondering what he is thinking, and I stop thinking, and just enjoy the moment, because I realize that is what he is doing.  He’s just living in the moment, and for all of us, right in this moment, things are pretty good. 

So I thought I’d share this special moment with whomever is reading this.  I wish you many special moments in your life, today and every day.  When you notice one, stop what you are doing, stop thinking, and do what Bene does.  Just be!