And now for a change…

It has been a while since Deb, the official photographer of the Swamp and the Swamp Rats has taken pictures. She got some absolutely fabulous shots at Golden Ears today. I have also included some pictures of those who don’t go to the park. Enjoy

Pipes at the park
The Punk!
Zoe the Beautiful
A fabulous shot of our beautiful Zoe who is doing so well
The 'Little Man'
The 'Big Man'
She is such a tiny dog
The ever gorgeous Bella
One of the last great pictures of Madison

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘stinky septic’ edition

  • I had hoped that the drainage work would help with our stinky septic in the winter. My theory was that the water would move on out to the back of the property. It doesn’t seem to have worked that way. At least I have figured out why the entire house stinks. The furnace is in the laundry room which is very close to the septic. Air fresheners in the laundry room seemed to have solved the problem. Now, if anyone has any idea what to do with a stinky septic I would love to know!
  • Since Madison’s passing everyone has been doing really well. I have to say that having the dogs there when she died has meant that no one is wandering around, lost. We certainly saw this when Kirby passed away. The dogs are ok, the humans not so much.
  • My mother is making me mental already and we are not even there yet. She seems to think that us wrapping our Christmas presents there is going to cause us to not be with her for a lengthy period of time. Today she sent me the following in an email: “I understand you can put wrapped packages in the suitcases that go in the hold.  Do you agree?  I don’t have any wrapping paper but lots of the other stuff – bows, etc. Well of course, it turns out, that CATSA recommends that presents not be wrapped. I am sure the next volley will be interesting!
  • Since my last visit my gastroenterologist I am doing a bit better. Not great, but better. I would be able to handle all of this if it were not for the fatigue. The pain and everything else would be tolerable if I just wasn’t so freaking tired. I literally need to sleep 12 hours a night. It really gets in the way of what I want to do in life. Part of it is low hemoglobin and the other part is just the fatigue that goes with the disease.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘grief edition’

  • It has been quiet here. Things are very different without Madison’s presence. She was the matriarch of our dog family. Almost all of the dogs had a relationship with her. Piper and Sawyer were like her babies. She would make sure they were clean and that they behaved. Sienna loved Maddie but Madison would growl at her after a while. Molly and Clio loved to cuddle with her. Kiefer is probably the only one who didn’t have a relationship with Madison. Unlike the other dogs we have lost in the last 13 months (Mackenzie, Tucker, Gemma, Kirby), Madison died at home. The other dogs watched and seemed more able to process what had happened. This was an altogether different situation.
  • I got approval for a crap load of dental work I need. Three root canals and more crowns. After that we will look at some cosmetic work and a partial plate for the top 4 molars I am missing. At least this work will be done under conscious sedation. I really like the dentist who is going to do the work. She was able to give me freezing and I really did not find it all that bad. Normally when I am given locals for dental work I cry as a matter of course. This time I did not. I was amazed.
  • My hemoglobin is way down again. I am very tired and I really feel like I am struggling. Clearly I am having difficulty taking enough iron again. My ulcerative colitis flare has calmed down a fair bit which is good and it means I will be losing less blood.
  • Have any other Mac users noticed that Safari has been incredibly slow for the last couple of days? I thought it was just my computers until I noticed it on my work computer too. I am switching back to Google Chrome until it is fixed.
  • Oh and this post is the last for the month of November. I have successfully completed NaBloPoMo! I will finish the year out too. I may try again to do a whole year. I think I only missed 3 days in 2010.


Madison has been slowly deteriorating over the last couple of weeks. Slowly, her ability to get around was getting more and more limited. The other day I noticed that she had no control over her back leg. It was like she couldn’t get it to go where she wanted.

It was clear when we got up this morning that Madison was actively dying. We opted not to take her to vet clinic and just let it happen naturally at home, where she was comfortable and surrounded by those who loved her. Madison died at 1:15 pm this afternoon. I will write more but this is all I can manage now.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I am being stared at’ Edition

  • First, an update on Madison. She has gone from not weight-bearing on her right rear leg yesterday to going down the stairs by herself this morning. She is able to walk the length of the house now without stopping to lay down and rest on the way. To say that we are relieved would be an understatement. We lost 4 dogs last year and we are not ready to lose Madison. Besides, clearly Madison is not ready. Even when she was clearly in agony, she so desperately wanted to be with us that she would get up and try to come over.
  • Shihtzus have an amazing capacity to be singularly focused on what they want. Take Mabel, that dog once stood in front of the stove barking at a ham for over 90 minutes. Zoe has been staring at me for over an hour, without a break. She occasionally would paw my stomach, which was agony due to the cellulitis. I have to say that I really admire that level of perseverance. It seems to be a standard breed characteristic.
  • The best part of hiring staff is when you interview someone and you know, in the first 5 minutes that you have found the right person. What is even better is when the person you are interviewing with feels exactly the same way.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘Winter has arrived’ edition

  • The announcement of Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton will no doubt set off a media frenzy. There will be wall-to-wall coverage everywhere. All we can hope for is that they set the date quickly so we are not as inundated as we might otherwise be. I guess every generation must suffer a Royal Wedding.
  • Winter has definitely arrived here on the Wet Coast. It was absolutely pouring today bordering on snow in some locations. It seems that with all the modifications to the highway it would seem that they forgot about drainage. There were several huge puddles which could have caused a lot of problems while driving.
  • We are concerned about Madison. She hurt one of her back legs the other day and is having trouble getting around. We are hoping that with pain meds and meloxicam it will heal quickly. If not, we will have to talk to the vet about alternatives. We do not want to euthanize her if her leg is going to heal. Such a conundrum for an 18-year-old dog.
  • In other news, I have developed cellulitis, again, in the scar my pyoderma gangrenosum left a couple of years ago.  I had this last year and it took a long time for it to heal. It is very painful. My stomach swells and is very painful to the touch. I just can’t win.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘twice in one weekend’ edition

  • The aftermath from the dentist has hit me today. All of my muscles hurt from the anxiety of sitting in that chair for 2.5 hours. I hate it. I am not sure how I am going to get through the hours of dental work I have coming up.
  • Even though I have had dogs for most of life it never ceases to amaze me the effect they have on my life. I have not been feeling well for the last couple of days and Piper has not left my side. She is always lying by me or leaning on me. It is very comforting to say the least. Dogs are incredibly healing, they lower blood pressure and make us feel better.
  • We had a friend and her children over for dinner tonight. We had ham, scalloped potatoes, cauliflower and cheese sauce and green beans with garlic and ginger. It was a fabulous dinner and great company.
  • I am so tired. My hemoglobin is low and I think it has gone lower since last week. Low hemoglobin makes everything so much more difficult. Walking or climbing stairs is very difficult because my legs become oxygen starved. I also have difficulty eating. I have very little appetite. The stress of everything makes me nauseous and I have trouble keeping food down. Back to taking iron again, as much as I can stand.
  • Madison is slowly losing it. Her advanced age is making her dementia much worse. She is in ok physical health except for her arthritis and accompanying pain. She is deaf and going blind. Sometimes she seems confused and tries to go to places that don’t really make sense. Otherwise, she still has light in her eyes and at 18 she is not ready to be done.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the Hell has Frozen over Edition

Oh my god! My mother is freaking out because Calgary has elected a Muslim mayor, Naheed Nenshi! When we talked him she did not really know anything about his platform. Her main concerns were that he was Muslim and not married. She went on to say that he got everyone in NE Calgary (code for visible minorities) to vote for him. She also blamed students because he used social media. My mother and I spar a lot over politics mostly she pushes my buttons and I correct her racist language.

Our drainage work is back on. They are laying the drain pipes, filling it in with gravel and putting the dirt back on top. I am really looking forward to it all being done. I hope we have a better winter. It already is less damp in the old part of the house.

I had a major grant application to finish this week. I really don’t know why I don’t just do it all early rather than working steadily and getting it done. Oh well, perhaps it is just human nature. I finished it today and will send it in tomorrow. There is always another grant application to try to not procrastinate.

We are a little worried about the dogs being left alone 3 days a week for several hours. They have been very spoiled for the last couple of years as they were rarely alone. Madison is our real concern as she is getting increasingly anxious because of her dementia. She gets upset when gates are closed and tries to destroy them so we have to leave them all open. So far, so good.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the Beef Stew Edition

You know it is autumn around here when I start making stew. Personally, I am not a big stew fan because I do not like all the root veggies that Deb does. I hate turnip and parsnips in particular. Plus she likes it really thick which I do not. Anyway, I do make good stew. We picked some blade roast at Hopcott as it was on sale for $3.99 a pound. Their beef is so tender, it does not seem to matter the cut. The beef is melt in your mouth good. The best part is that it is local, no antibiotics and humanely raised.

I made a video (I hate how I look on camera!) for the ‘It gets better’ campaign started by Dan Savage. The hope is that LGTB adults will make videos letting queer teens know it does get better. The purpose of the project is to talk to teens about what they are going through and letting them know there is help out there and hope for the future. Please spread the word.

Our yard is continuing to dry out. We are very hopeful about this process. Our contractor ensures us that we will have a useable lawn once he is done. We have decided not to hog fuel the yard when he is done. All of this is very hopeful!

I thought I was coming down with a cold. I had a really bad 7 or so hours and then it seemed to get better. However, my face is all broken out no doubt as a result of the virus. If you watch my video you will see what I am talking about.

I have to say that the last couple of days have been horrific pain wise. I am not sure why this is happening but I need it to end soon.

The dogs are all good. Madison has been getting a little more anxious lately. She pretty much needs to be with someone all the time. Closed gates really upset her and she takes it out on the drywall. Sawyer is continuing to mature and he is turning into a lovely little dog. Mollie is doing well. The cough medicine worked for her. Bella is also much improved. She seems to be back to her normal self. She is eating like a horse so I am hopeful she will put some weight back on and hopefully re-build her muscle mass. She is not giving Deb or Angelina any grief when they pill her. I got her some grain-free wet food as she was allergic to the other stuff.

Update for the Swamp – the Pond Edition

Today our drainage work started. It has been a long time coming. When we bought the house we knew that there was water in the crawl space under the house. What we didn’t know was that the place was a swamp. We bought the house after about 3 months of sun. It had been very dry so what we saw was a lovely carpet of green grass and everything was nice. The crawl space was mostly dry but you could see that there was mud. The housing inspector told us that we would have to address the drainage issues. Our neighbour, two houses over, has a similar property to ours with large built up homes on either side and had similar drainage issues. He has effectively drained his yard. He is an engineer so he really had a good plan. Apparently as soon as they dug the pond for the front and dug a path for the water to flow the pond filled up completely. There is another pond in the backyard which will drain further to the back. So now we will have a property with 2 water features!

In other news, Wally Oppal has been appointed to head an inquiry into the Missing Women crimes. There have been many naysayers about his appointment but I could not be happier. I think Wally Oppal has distinguished himself as both a judge and a cabinet minister. I never get the sense that he is trying to feed people propaganda when he is interviewed. Perhaps if the provincial government had consulted Aboriginal and Womens’ groups there could have been a different choice or consensus on Oppal. I do think he will do an excellent job at getting to the core issues that led to so many women went missing on the Downtown East Side. Hopefully, this will lead to real and substantial change.

The dogs are good. I have been reveling in how cute they are. Sawyer with his big ears, Zoe getting the fuzzies, Piper’s big eyes and gorgeous face, and Madison’s beauty. Maddie is becoming more and more beautiful the older she gets. I love the feeling I get when we are all snuggled together in bed. Everyone is so quiet, peaceful and contented.

So far the new TV season has been a bust. Tonight we are watching ‘No Ordinary Family,’ wish us luck! Woo hoo! 10 minutes in and it doesn’t suck!!