Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Sunday, December 27, 2015

It is So Freaking Cold!

I managed to get over 50 miles on my feet this week, not all running, actually very little of it was running- only 3 days. But I got out and moved. Each day got progressively colder and the night of Christmas we got more snow.

Today it is the kind of cold that seeps into your bones and makes you not want to leave the house. It will be a bike day for sure. I feel like I had a successful week though, I did all my resistance training and stretching and all the extras. I will get there with the running, I don't need to get injured or sick like I did this fall. It's been such a long time since I've run much, I do need to start back carefully.

Somehow I will have to convince myself to start going up to Horsetooth as of next week, just once a week, to get the hills in. I'm hoping we'll be back to double digit temperatures in the mornings by then.

Spring is less than a week away.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Evolution of a Runner and Thoughts on Life and Death

Monday was solstice and I made a commitment to myself to get moving. So far this week I have been successful. Lifting, doing my abs and core work, my hip strengthening exercises, and running and walking. My neighbor has helped, she's been off work after hand and wrist surgery so she can't do her usual yoga, and we decided to walk while she is unable to do her routine, which helps me get out the door.

It's been cold and I haven't been running a lot, I did an hour on Monday and a little over a half hour each on Tuesday and today. I will try for an hour of running tomorrow even though it's supposed to be super cold. But Christmas and any big holiday have always been my favorite times to run because traffic tends to be light, people tend to be in a decent mood, at least less likely to run you over. I'm sure that will all change on the 26th when the shopping frenzy resumes.

I was thinking a bit about how I've evolved as a runner. For me it has never been a straight line, I have gone back and forth with being competitive and non-competitive, being highly driven and laid back. I love to run and I am thinking about finding some fun adventures to do in the coming year, though they won't be about racing or being competitive. I am ready to explore some trails and places I've been wanting to go but my specialized training for roads and my ankle problems never allowed me to put much effort into it. I have some new running partners who are also on-foot adventurers, and one of them is as much a photo freak as I am, and I find myself looking forward to their company.

Tomorrow is Christmas. We are taking it easy, having one friend over and that's it. I made tortilla soup and I got some stuff for quesadillas, and baked some cookies. After two tries on the cookies I finally did it right. I don't know why but cooking in the kitchen has been disastrous this week, I attribute it to the lack of a kitchen supervisor watching me. Isabelle took over Iris's position, and she was getting good at it. But now it's just me. Cooking is not nearly as much fun without Buffaloes.

We got Isabelle's ashes back last night. Dennis cried as he walked in the house with her, having picked her ashes up on his way home from work. A little turquoise box. It's almost an affront to fourteen years of companionship. But that's the way they do it, and now we have them both back.

It's so strange to receive the remains of your dog, the whole, wiggly, soft, furry, loving, interacting, communicating, responsive creature, in the form of a little cheesy-looking box in baby turquoise blue with a little pawprint charm attached to it, with some fake flowers to top it off. Now Iris and Isabelle are both home for Christmas, sitting together on top of the dresser, next to the hedgehog and bone pillow they each loved.

I remember how Iris and Isabelle used to run and could go forever, running circles around us, covering ten times the distance we did. Then they gradually slowed down, going from running Dennis's pace to my pace, to slower than me, then just walking, and in Isabelle's case, barely walking, until she could only go places being pushed in the cart.

I miss my girls, but I wouldn't have wanted to prolong either of their lives beyond where they both ended. I wouldn't have subjected Iris to being reliant on medications to prevent her from having seizures until she got so bad that she herniated, and I wouldn't have wanted Bella to keep losing her balance, falling, not being able to get up without help, losing bowel and bladder control, and living with the pain in her joints.

I know I'll keep moving as long as I can. I just hope that by the time I am unable to move forward on my own feet, that I or someone will be able to help me end my life when I feel like there's no reason to live. I hope by then we have more progressive laws that allow for that to happen for humans.

Death is a part of life and we're all going to die someday so we might as well accept our mortality and live each day the best that we can. If more people would not avoid thinking about and discussing death, and learn to face it as a normal part of what happens in our lives, and deal with the reality of it, we would be so much better off.

We would live our lives better, take better care of ourselves and each other, spend so much less on medical interventions, and we would finally expand palliative care to be a major part of medicine and health care. Instead of treating people as diseases, we could treat them as people who need help either healing or being made more comfortable.

The days are getting longer, and that means more daylight to enjoy each day. Only one more week until spring. Full speed ahead!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Obituary: Isabelle Leck

The Buffaloes have reunited.

Isabelle Leck was born July 5, 2001 in Mesa, Arizona. She came to live with her parents and sister Iris in Fountain Hills, Arizona on September 6, 2001. Isabelle was bred to be a show dog, but she was destined for a much better life.

Isabelle was the shy, quiet one of the two girls, but she was full of surprises. She could be sneaky, and her vicious bark belied her lifelong sweet puppy face. From the first day we met her, her favorite activity was lying down. She loved the cool feel of the tile on her soft pink belly.

Iris was her big sister, trainer, disciplinarian, and groomer. The girls started out as the Buffaloes, stampeding around the tiny house in Fountain Hills and exploring the desert. When the girls were five years old, they moved with their parents to Fort Collins, Colorado. Mom and dad promised them a house with a big yard, grass, trees, and squirrels, and they delivered.

Isabelle loved to fence fight with the neighbor dogs, leaping over anything in her path to be the first one snarling at the fence. She was an ace mouse chaser and bird catcher. At the same time, Isabelle was afraid of many things, particularly insects. Moths and flies were her nemesis, they were terrifying. She relied on her sister to catch them.

She also hated sprinklers, but her sister would protect her, biting the sprinklers to keep them away. She did not like four letter words. We had to watch our language carefully so we did not offend the Flying Nun.

Isabelle had many nicknames. She was the Hedgehog, Mouse, Flying Nun, Sister Bella, but most of the time, she was The Bella. "Don't scare The Bella" was our household mantra.

Isabelle loved to sing and dance, swim in the pool, and cool her belly on whatever surface was available. She loved blizzards, and would stay outside until the snow buried her, with only the tips of her black ears visible above the snow until she shook it off.

She loved to play in the mountains, visiting the shed and the cabin, chasing her sister through the tall grass, sniffing for doggie M & Ms that the deer and elk would leave behind, camping out under the trees and going for long trail runs.

Isabelle had a devious streak. When her sister wasn't looking, Isabelle would finish her own food, then nonchalantly move over and start working on her sister's bowl. She would let her sister do all the work of begging, but Isabelle was always rewarded. Food was Isabelle's comfort and raison d'etre, all the way to the end.

When her arthritis got so bad that she couldn't walk very far, dad would take her for a ride in the Rocket, a special cart her dad built, to get Starbucks pup cups, or for drives on summer evenings to Dairy Queen for cones filled with whipped cream. Isabelle thought Dad was the greatest creature on earth.
She is survived by her Mom Alene and Dad Dennis, grandparents, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

There are no words to capture the pure joy these two beautiful girls added to our lives. The Buffalo generation will be missed and remembered with many tears, smiles, and laughs for as long as we live. And the next generation, whenever we bring them into our lives, will surely hear endless stories of their predecessors' antics and legacy.

Now Isabelle joins her sister again on the other side, free to chase squirrels and run, or just lie down, whenever she wants to. The Buffaloes always belonged together, and they always will be.

Monday, December 14, 2015

With A Mohawk

I put 33 miles on my feet last week, mostly running. I feel like the blob. But I did stretch every day and did my weight workout, hip and abdominal exercises twice. That's a start.

I wish I had more to report. I've had more on my mind than my brain's capacity to remember, my life is ruled by little scraps of paper with miscellaneous lists everywhere.

There's so much I want to get done but everyone slows down around the holidays, so I'll take advantage of that and take a breather myself. Work is a process. RFM.

I was happy to sell another painting today. Out of the blue there's been a spike of interest in my artwork. Of all times. I'll take it. I'm not actively creating anything new, but the old favorites seem to keep selling. Cactus with a Mohawk and Peach on the Dashboard are the ones that sold.

Isabelle continues to hang in there. She sings and dances with me. Today I made an exercise video for a client who uses a walker, and as I was doing the exercise moves, Isabelle was singing. She gets excited whenever I move around like I'm dancing. The other day we sang O Holy Night together, as a duet. It was really good.

We had another squirrel visitor in the chimney, I thought Santa made an appearance two weeks early but it was the squirrel again. Dennis swears it's the same squirrel. At least this time it didn't jump in the toilet and track soot all over. I wondered if it was Iris, coming back to see her sister. The problem with old dogs is they can't tell you when they've had enough, and Isabelle doesn't seem ready to give up, most of the time. I don't want to torture her, keeping her around for our benefit, but she does still seem to enjoy our company and the few activities she can still do.

And the food. She loves the food. Dog food mixed with chicken or turkey broth and chopped up grilled salmon or baked chicken. And the pup cups, not as often now that it's so cold outside, but on a warm sunny morning we wrap her up in a blanket in the cart and go to Starbucks.

I had some good ideas for a blogpost this morning but I got so busy and the day got away from me, and I ended up forgetting my idea and riding the bike indoors because I only had a half hour. Maybe it will come back after I get through the rest of this busy week. Maybe.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

On Ice

I'm doing okay. It's been a stressful week.

The good news is that I've been consistent about stretching every morning this week, I've been doing a stretching routine and I can feel the difference just walking around afterwards. My hips feel better, my gait feels smooth, and I have an easier time walking around. I didn't realize how tight I've been. I'm also getting into the habit of doing my strength training and hip exercises, and my core routine. I'm putting a few more miles in than I was, still having a little trouble with motivation but I have been more consistent this week.

The stressful parts have been worrying about Isabelle, and then the incredibly frustrating experience of redoing my business website and all the other things that go along with that.

The other night Isabelle decided to try jumping off the bed by herself. Usually she waits for one of us to help her down, but she was unusually restless that day. She gets confused at times. She took a dive off the bed, landed on her shoulder and cried. We couldn't tell that any damage was done but she was uncomfortable for a while. She's also been having some issues with incontinence, and we've been putting towels under her and trying to get her on a schedule, but every once in while we find a surprise. Fortunately we have tile floors, easy to clean.

After her fall, we didn't sleep very well, we talked about whether it's time for her to go see Iris, but she bounced back and the past two days she's been herself, no issues, and the shoulder seems to be okay. She likes hanging out with us, and I just don't feel like it's time yet. It's coming, but not yet.

Other than getting scary bills from attorneys and the anguish of waiting for quotes from different vendors and getting all the compliance stuff set up, I feel like I'm fine, it's just been awfully hard to move forward on a lot of things. I feel like once I can get my website crap out of my lap and drop it someone else's, I'll have so much more energy to concentrate on the stuff I want to get to. It's okay though.

It could be much worse, I could be back in my nurse slavery days. And according to my former coworkers, it's even worse now than it was then.

When I think of where I was 3 years ago, the stress of this is a gift. I'm doing what I love to do, building something I believe in, and knowing that when it's up and running, it will be something that really moves people's lives in a good direction. And better yet, I've been able to be a stay at home dog mom at the end of the girls lives.

Just trying to get the work stuff together and move forward, and it takes time to go through the process.

Take deep breaths, and go for a run.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


No, not me.

It's my shoes. This is the longest lasting pair of running shoes I have ever owned, I've been using them since June of this year. They've seen me through a 50 miler in town on summer solstice, countless miles in Death Valley this summer, and everything I've done in between. Today they are being retired. I am ready to break out a new pair of running shoes and break 'em in.

I had another pathetic week with motivation again. I ran on Monday, then I did some ab work on Tuesday. And then nothing again until yesterday. I had an extremely frustrating work week, and I was exhausted by Friday. I know I would be better off running everyday, but I haven't done it yet.

It seems I have tried everything I can think of, other than hiring my own personal drill sergeant. I set my phone alarm for twice a day. I thought about signing up for a race I'd have to train for, but I knew that would be pointless. Plus maybe my own stupidity and ego would get in the way, because I still seem to think I could mentally tough it out through anything, even though my body would cave first. I can't take a marathon or short ultra seriously, because I know I can make myself do it.

So...what to do? I'll try the new shoes deal. I have new shoes, they always feel good. I ran a full hour yesterday and I struggled but I felt so much better afterward.
Today I went out on the trails at Coyote Ridge with Emma and I had such a hard time with my breath, I get winded so easily. We ended up going about 7 miles on trails but mostly walking. We took a lot of photographs though. I called it "Mullein Madness".

Tomorrow is Monday, another week.