Saturday, December 29, 2007

blood pressure, originally uploaded by Aquillo.

so, we checked it a few times last night, and it was pretty good... 110/something. this was a half-hour after jogging. before jogging it was 125/something.

soooo... i'm gonna fill the Rx (it's free 'til the end of the year) then keep monitoring my BP for the next week or so, regularly and throughout the day, before i go hopping onto a medication.

i want to wait until the 1st, though, when i can buy a nice, digital BP checker (for free - long story) so i can check it accurately by myself regularly. until then, i'm using the old analog-style one with a stethescope.. which is fine, but kind of a PITA.

so anyway, maybe it's not all that bad anyhow.. i guess we'll see.

Friday, December 28, 2007
  Well, this sucks.

maggie & oreo, originally uploaded by estacey.

Maggie went to her new home last night. The lady at Patty’s work who wanted a doggy met her and really liked her, so took her home… to their new house, which made getting a dog possible. I guess their five-year-old kid really, really wanted her. Patty’s a real nice girl so I trust that she knows this woman is a good person and will give Miss Maggie Moo a good home. That doesn’t stop this from sucking, however.

I LOVE Maggie. She’s been my bud. We’ve had to take turns putting she & Gretchey in crates and outside (usually with Buddy or Sebastian to keep them company), but whenever she HAS been inside with me, she has just been a perfect little dog. She’s even getting the housetraining thing down. She likes to cuddle. She never jumps or stands on me (ahem, other dogs). When I’m in the bathtub, she always stands on her little hind legs to see what’s going on or lick my wet hand. Whenever I’m in bed or on the couch and she’s in the room, she’s at my side. She does the funniest thing with treats – she puts them on the ground and then rubs her whole body on them before she eats or chews on them. She did the same thing with an apple slice once. I stayed in bed the whole Sunday after we got home from Costa Rica and she stayed with me THE WHOLE DAY. There’s NO WAY she was that tired. She’s just learning to do the leg-splay to get her belly rubbed. She just.. ahh, is such a great, sweet girl. A perfect little dog – MY DOG. And I had to give her away.

So last night, I cried. Chris put Sebastian on me. “Sebastian will cuddle with you,” he said. “He’s only staying with me because I’m petting his head,” I answered. I stopped rubbing Sebastian’s head and said, “Watch. I give him five minutes.” Sure enough, about 20 seconds later, Sebastian jumped off me to go find a chewy.

I’ll really miss her, but at least, when you think about it… At least she got out of the shelter. This whole thing worked out kinda shitty for Gretchey: all she got out of this was some scars. But Maggie got a new, good home. Let’s hope. They were told that, if they didn’t like her, they were welcome to bring her back. We’ll see how the weekend goes.

Since I didn’t get to say goodbye, I’d like to go visit her to do so this weekend. We’ll see what they say.

In other bad news, I had to go on blood pressure medicine today. I had started this whole process a few years back when the doctor was telling me my blood pressure was high. Every time I go to the doctor’s, it’s high. The other day at the Neuro, it was 138 or so over 90-something. Every time I check it at a BP monitor at the store, it’s high. Not OMG-I’m-dying high, but higher than it should be for a pretty healthy person of someone my age. (On some charts, it says ‘PREHYPERTENSION’ or ‘BORDERLINE HIGH’ which is just NOT acceptable for someone my age.) Last night my average was around like 128/88 of the number of times I took it, sometimes higher, sometimes lower. Today I was actually happy with my BP reading 138/something, since the something was in the 70s.. until my doc said, “For a 29-year-old? No.” Apparently 138 is much too high for a 29-year-old.. And then he explained today that it’s not anything I’m DOING… It very well could be related to my kidney condition. In any case, it’s something we have to control, as uncontrolled high BP has serious consequences, a point of which Chris has been driving home the past couple of days. So I’m on a new drug. Yay. And stepping up a cardio routine most likely is not going to allow me to come off it, says the doc; after all, it’s not because I’m being sedentary that I have high BP. It’s just that I’m me. But at least it’s getting controlled now, so I don’t have to worry about consequences of high blood pressure. ‘cause they be bad!

Anyway. It’s the weekend. This is good!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007
  Costa Rica! :)
And they’re up!

Costa Rica was absolutely fabulous.


I got, uh, no pictures here. Lots of dogs in this town. One really hungry cat, which I fed $3 worth of Pollo Crispi (leftovers went to the dogs). Chris overheard someone calling me a “chica loca.” Yeeeeah, that’s me. J

The town was alright, but the water and beach gorgeous. We went diving at the Catalina islands, which is 90 or so minutes offshore. On the boat ride out, we saw lots of jumping devil rays (we’re talking it looked like the water was boiling with them), a pair of mating sea turtles RIGHT off the boat, a pod of fishing dolphins, a sea snake… The islands all over were just gorgeous. I didn’t bring my camera since I didn’t know what the dive boat would be like since we took a dinghy out to it. Turns out it was really nice – a bathroom and everything. I missed out on a lot of great pictures, on the ride out and back, and the hour-long surface interval, but what can you do?

The dive was alright, but not great. Viz was pretty bad… The other group of divers had a great dive, saw mantas and all that, but we didn’t. We saw some nice fish, octopuses, lobster, stuff along those lines. You know, stuff we're used to.

We decided (as I had predicted before we even left since I knew I wanted to see the jungle) to thumb the planned 2nd day of diving. I'm glad we went, frozen face and all -- seriously, the one area we went it felt so cold it was like walking outside on a cold winter night. They tell me it was only 70 degrees, but maaaaan it felt ridiculous. Dark, no sun.. Just COLD. So it was an experience. And gorgeous scenery. And sea turtles, makin' loooove.


We drove the treacherous 2.5 hour drive – in the dark – up to Monteverde. The drive was an adventure... for which a sports bra is highly suggested. Once we got up there, we got into some warmer clothes, got ourselves a nice little cabin and had dinner in the cozy hotel restaurant. There was a mouse on the floor. Our room was, like, uh, 61 degrees or something. Thankfully, the shower water was REAL HOT. Chris started getting funny feeling from the altitude, but thankfully he was prepared.

The next day, we got up really early and went to the cloud forest and did the sky walkways. We heard and saw lots of birds, plants… There are lots of animals there, too, but you can’t SEE them. You just gotta knoooow they're there. It was really nice there. Green, wet, and lush.

We checked out the hummingbird feeders in another section of the forest, which was awesome. They’re like little helicopters, those guys. Love ‘em.

Then we began our descent, which was much prettier & quicker in the light. We got to the bottom and peeled off our clothes and started on the road to Manuel Antonio. We thought we’d have to stay over in Jaco, but decided to just go for it, even though it was dark.


We found a great hotel on the beach, the closest beachfront hotel to the park, a less-than-10-minute walk, so we didn’t have to drive at all once we got there aside from a grocery run to Quepos. We spent the next 3 days at Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, watching monkeys, lizards, sloths, birds, bats, and the like. It was my favorite part.

We did every single trail there, most of them multiple times. Chris, of course, knocked out the whole park with his buddies years ago in one day, but I reminded him (repeatedly) that he was seeing it much more thorougly this time with me. We did the Perezoso trail, um, probably five or six times. The second to last time, we heard a toucan. The last time, we saw one!

Also, it was BABY SLOTH SEASON. They have their babies in November & December, so the timing was great.

Oh, Chris got attacked by a monkey. A capuchin JUMPED ON HIS BAG he was carrying, RIPPED IT OPEN, stole our vanilla wafers, and then scampered off. Chris was just like, "Dude, those are mine!" Apparently monkeys really like plastic bags. They know that's where the goods are.

Ha ha ha – he assured me before we left that I would be bored by the sloths. Imagine his surprise when we saw one and I insisted on watching it. The one had a baby that scratched – scratched its butt, scratched its armpit, scratched its butt some more… It was really quite ridiculously cute.

We made our eggs and cereal for breakfast in the little kitchen, peanut butter & jellys for lunch to take along in the backpacks… We ate a couple of times in a little restaurant where we were the only patrons, where the service took less than 10 minutes. This was a grand improvement over the hour+ for a breakfast at the beach restaurant. Plus, the waiter was great and put out bananas for the birds and showed me the bats nestled up on the ceiling in the corner. He got an extra $1 tip sneaked onto the table for that.

Oh, yeah, we got to see crocs at the Rio Tarcoles TWICE - both on the way to MA and back. At dusk and in the sun. Lots of pics of those, but only a few made the cut...


As you see, I took a lot of pictures. I didn’t upload some 1000+ others… I missed some really great photo ops, like the entirety of the great little village of Santa Elena. He breadshop where I bought my breakfast of trenza con canela. The dogs everywhere. Puka, the emaciated German Shepherd in Alajuela who that very day found her guardian angel, shopkeeper Hazel. The kids playing soccer in the dark up in the hills on the way to Monteverde (too dark for a pic). Two young boys each walking a colt down the road with their grandpa on one of the back roads we took. We smiled and waved but didn’t stop for a picture. The run-down little shack adorned with Disney Christmas decorations.

Oh yeah, need I mention? BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER? (Chris heard this, many times.) This, in conjunction with the 70-300 lens Chris got me, or all the pics of monkeys/sloths would've been like, "Okay, so that looks like a blob, but it's a howler monkey, trust me." :) :)
Monday, December 24, 2007
  Three-toed sloth through a scope

Three-toed sloth through a scope, originally uploaded by estacey.

I took something like 1200 photos, so they'll be coming up slowly. This is one we got with the PowerShot through our guide's scope. What a cutie, eh?

Chris kept warning me that, although I was so excited to see a sloth, when I actually SAW one, I was going to be disappointed since they're real boring. Imagine his surprise when I insisted on camping out on the ground to sloth-watch when we found them. :D We found a couple with babies, so I got to watch the babies.. itching, mostly..

Great trip. GREAT. Lots of pics to come!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007
  dog whisperers
ok... the problem with shows and books out nowadays about dog behavior is that everyone fancies themselves a dog expert. and all of that is very interesting, i give you that. i have read up on it. i understand the concept behind dominance, behind alpha dogs and packs and all that. i have pinpointed what causes maggie to freak out - it's when things are excited. she attacks gretchey probably because she is the other female, she is the alpha.

we are not giving up on maggie. in fact, she is laying next to me as i type this, freshly bathed and happy as a clam. we are not bringing her back to the shelter or throwing her away or anything along those lines.

however, i would ask the anonymous commenters to think about being in our position. we have rushed our very beloved gretchen to the ER twice in the past two weeks, her shaking and bleeding. this isn't about US. it's selfish of anyone to say that that we should do this or that, acting as if we should use gretchen as our test case for figuring out doggy psychology.. in the end, we suffer a little emotionally, sure - but in the end, she is the one that suffers most. she is that ends up bleeding and on medication and crying in pain.

as for speaking to a behavioralist, do you think i haven't done that? i've talked to two. the one is the head one for the humane society. i've talked to her multiple times now, crying on the phone to her. we've talked about her coming on a private basis to our home to assess the situation, but she has been very realistic with me, and neither of us are very sure how good it would do us. she says learning obedience would be good for her as it is good for ANY dog, but whether or not it would help this very unpredictible, damaging behavior, she cannot reassure me in any way. with maggie growing up in the shelter, she never learned proper socialization, never learned to play bite, and it is impossible to turn back the clock. we can teach her how to behave, but even if we get her to stop doing it for now, there is nothing to say she won't do it in a month or a year. and she warned me about the fact that maggie is going for gretchey's legs - that's a sign of genuine aggression. she said she would be best off in a home without any other dogs... that even the sweetest doggy in the world can have issues with other dogs, so maybe she'd be best off as a people-only dog.

so basically, maggie could live her whole life in the crate while we're at work, because even if we get her to come around, we will never be able to trust her outside with gretchen alone. what if the pool guy comes and it excites her and she snaps? what if the fpl guy comes? what if something random happens? a neighbor's landscaper? even if things SEEM better, after this last time, it became obvious i can't take a CHANCE - taking a chance could mean the end of gretchen's life someday. how would i feel about my choice then? so yeah, she gets to spend her days in the crate rather than outside with the other dogs, unless we divide the back yard, which is pretty much impossible, and even then, there is only one air conditioned area for the dogs to come in during the summer.

OR... this other family that is interested in her, if it works out... maggie has free reign of their house. free reign of everything. no worries about her hurting someone there. no being crated all day for fear she'll hurt the other dog there.

what is better for MAGGIE here? option one? really? i don't think so...

i ain't giving up on her. we're still weighing the options. chris even pointed out again tonight that we could keep her if we just kept them separate, but doing so for the next decade seems like a really huge undertaking. but she's here until something better comes along. sadly, while she's here, someone is neglected. someone is in the crate, being protected or being restrained. tonight, she's sleeping in bed while gretchen is in with patty.. but what about the nights patty isn't here? someone gets stuck in a crate. during the day, someone will get stuck in a crate ALL DAY. and that's not what i intended when i added a dog to our pack.

does that make everyone feel better than i am doing right by this sweet little dog?
so tonight i go to test out my little photo vault thing... seems that some of the little prongs that the holes from the compactflash card go into are really flimsy. and longer than the others? so they bend immediately. collapse. just, like, four of them - but still. it makes a difference; it won't read the card.

also, because the one bends to the side, i was, like, wtf, and i am trying to get the card to go on the prongs. this scratches a couple of the holes on the compactflash. this makes the card unreadable in my camera, so now my pics are lost.. of gretchey, of all the christmas stuff i took pics of this weekend in home depot (ha!), and worst of all, of the cute tortoises walking around the house this weekend in a little single-file line. it was the cutest thing ever. now the pics are gone!

also, my $160 photo vault doesn't work and costa rica is on saturday and that was the whole point of buying it. we'll see what b&h does for me tomorrow, but i hope they're decent...

oh, ALSO now i have to buy a new 2G memory card! shite!
The weekend started out nicely enough.. Friday evening we went to Olive Garden (my choice) to celebrate the fact I had passed my math exam and therefore have earned my A.A. :) It was lovely, although Chris spent the whole time wondering what color our waiter's underwear were.

I also got an A in my other online class, and will probably get an A in my Tuesday night class, so am continuing along as I have been -- As in all classes aside from math ones (and the occasional science class).

Saturday we went shopping! Since we're going to Costa Rica this weekend, we had a LOT of stuff to do last weekend. We went to, let's see, pick up our CSA share; then to the pet store; then to get some ice to keep the CSA veggies cold in my freezer bag; then to Home Depot; then to the Wildlife Care Center to drop off the huge bag of stuff I had been gathering & buying for them to donate; Taco Bell for dinner (high class!); Whole Foods Market for gifts; Barnes & Noble for gift cards; Best Buy for gift cards; then blissfully HOME.

Then we took the little boat out to see what people had put up for Christmas lights so far.. The answer was NOT MUCH but it was a lovely night out anyhow.

Sunday was a problem. We had plans to go to the doggy park, get a Christmas tree, etc. I was sitting on the big-room couch, reading or something, when I heard Patty come out of her bedroom. All the dogs went apeshit. Then I heard the dog-fight noise. I ran in and Patty was holding Maggie up in the air. She had bitten Gretchey again. We tended to a few small bites on Gretchey's leg and had some sullen conversations with Chris about the fact they can't get along. Again, it was when things were EXCITED. But still - why must Maggie go after Gretchey?

Gretchey was sitting with me & Patty on the bed when Patty noticed blood on the bed. I said it was OK - I'd wash the sheets. We chalked it up to the owie we had noticed on her leg earlier and already had cleaned and neosporined. Gretchey kept licking the inside of her leg, so I reached over and opened her leg up to get a look. Patty and I both gasped -- she had a huge gash, bloody and awful looking, that neither of us had seen. I started to cry while Patty called Chris, who had just left for mass, so he could come back.

We took her into the ER, where they put her under and stitched her up. Three places this time, including the really big gash on her inner leg. The poor girl.

Maggie gets along FINE with the other two dogs, just fine. In fact, Patty says that when she buys a house, she would take Maggie to be friends with Buddy since they get along just fine. And, after all, Maggie is a VERY SWEET DOG. But for whatever reason, when she gets excited, she goes after Gretchey. And it's bad. And we can't have it.

Chris & I talked about Maggie last night. She's basically the perfect dog, except for this one fault. This one very big fault. She's sweet, yet a good guard dog (the pool guy told me this morning that she bit his ankles the whole time he was there last week), she likes to cuddle, is very affectionate, not needy... Just all-around very good. I love her. I sit and hold her at night now and just feel awful and worry about her future. Mostly because we can't keep living the way we have been -- keeping her totally separate from Gretchen. And not doing so wouldn't be fair to Gretchen, a totally innocent victim in all this.

I guess the whole thing is Maggie was never socialized properly at the shelter. Never socialized to other dogs to know how to treat them. And with most dogs, it's fine.. With another female dog, an alpha at that, it's not.

Patty knows a family who just bought a house who want a dog. They want to meet Maggie. If she gets a good home, that would be alright with me - it would be best for everyone. But, man, I'll miss her. She would be the perfect dog for us... ASIDE FROM THIS ONE THING. It's a bummer.

Anyway. We still got that Christmas tree Sunday night. I am still enjoying my time with Maggie, even though it's with the somber realization that it can't last, or we have to keep her and Gretchey separate for the rest of their lives or risk another gash, another ER visit, or something worse. Poor Gretchey is walking around with a cone on her head again, running into everything with it. Looking sad. Probably in pain. Having to take medication. Blah.

But we leave for Costa Rica on Saturday morning, which is good. A week away!

Also, I put in my one-month notice. I'm going to be a full-time student, starting in January. WOOHOO! :)
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
  Reason #6
I didn’t mention the bathtub.

The bathtub is great. I guess it was a couple of months ago that I started taking nightly baths. I’ve always taken a shower before, bed, but one night I was so tired that the prospect of standing up was just too much, so I filled up the bathtub instead. And it’s been a nightly bath instead ever since. Chris tries to tease me for being eco-unfriendly, but I point out that I probably use a lot less water in the tub than I would in my long shower, and he had to agree. It’s a really nice part of the day.. Relax, get clean, get warm… Usually there is a dog or two in the bathroom to keep me company and come lick water off my arm every few minutes.

If I’m REALLY into it, I can fill the water deep and turn the jets on. Yes, it’s a WHIRLPOOL bath. I don’t do this often, though, since the water has to be really deep and then I would feel guilty for using so much water. But, you know, sometimes the whirlpool bath is necessary… Although on those days, I usually just want to go to bed as soon as possible anyhow.

And the best part about le tub? It’s self-cleaning!
Hehe.. Not really. But Idalia does clean it regularly. And I do realize that having a nice, clean bathtub every night without ever having to clean it is just another way in which I am very lucky.

Maaaaaaaaaaan, am I ever tired. I had class last night until 8:30, then went to the Wal*Mart to pick up a bike for this charity thing at work, and tried to do some shopping at that hell-forsaken place… Didn’t get home until 10:30, didn’t go to bed until 2. I am WIPED OUT today. Tonight is a recharge kinda night.

My Chris had jury duty today. He got picked, but they settled the case so he got to go home really early today. I called him to say hi and he was taking a nap. I hung up with him and smiled, really happy for him – my baby was taking a nap! A nap! How uncharacteristic! And deserve-ed! I’m telling you, that boy is always running around, doing 10 things at a time.. For example, he can’t watch just watch the game – he has to run on the treadmill & lift weights at the same time. Seriously. I sing in the car; he takes care of bills and has a stack of other things to make sure he stays “productive” at stoplights and whatnot. It’s quite remarkable, actually. But I’m happy for him when he can just slow down a little and relax... and nap! And I’m happy we have this vacation coming up. So, so, so happy! He hasn't taken a full week in a couple of years! :) And we get to see SLOTHS! Hopefully!
Monday, December 03, 2007
  Oh my god, what relief!
This weekend, was, uh, not very exciting. At all.

The dogs got into a fight again when I got home on Friday night. It was all a blur. I went to let Maggie outside after she had been cooped up in the crate all day long, and the other dogs were waiting at the sliding glass door. The SECOND I opened the door, it was instant madness. I can’t say who started it, it was just an instant crazy fight. I kicked between Gretchey & Maggie to get them to quit fighting, to no avail. Then I grabbed Gretchey, lifting her out of the fight. Maggie JUMPED UP AND BIT AT HER LEG. Ay! And Gretchey kept barking at her, even as I held her. I didn’t know what to do, but I was basically holding a dog that still wanted to fight a dog that was at my feet that still wanted to fight, so I ran Gretchey over to the pool and threw her in.

That, well, put an end to things., except Buddy kept barking at Maggie... I wanted to look at Gretchey's leg without another fight breaking out (although Maggie has only ever fought with Gretchey, despite Buddy's attempts to provoke her). So he went in the pool, too. Once I determined Gretchey was fine, I called Chris and cried.

Uff. Da. And it still just makes NO SENSE TO ME. Maggie is honestly just the sweetest little dog. Chris said yesterday that he figured out her weakness for getting her to listen. With the other dogs, see, it’s treats. You want them to do something, you bribe them with treats. Wanna know what her weakness is? Affection. I can’t decide if that is sweet or sad, but I think it’s a little of both. She’ll be obedient if she thinks she’s getting a pet out of it, or you’ll let her lick your hand afterwards or something.

Also, when she’s inside and you let the other dogs in, she’s happy about it. Really happy! Her tail wags, she runs around all happy… Why would she go all nuts and fight Gretchey like that? There were no incidents the rest of the weekend, or even a hint of them… Just that very stressing, perplexing Friday night.

Saturday I picked up our CSA share. That’s the extent of what I did this weekend, besides study. Seriously. At least I multi-tasked and watched Law & Order while working on this big PowerPoint project I had to do, so it wasn’t a TOTAL wash.

But anyway, I woke up this morning when Chris went to give me a kiss goodbye and probably startled the shit out of him when I smiled and said, “GOOD MORNING!” It’s usually more like, “I don’t want to get up,” or, “Oh, god, it’s only Monday.” But today? Today I feel RELIEF. :)

Also, Costa Rica is in less than TWO WEEKS! I can’t believe it’s really almost HERE! It was so long ago before… and now…? Less than two weeks away! I gotta go home and look at some pictures later and bask in the two-weeks-awayness of it all.

Still waiting to see if I passed that final last night.. I think I did OK, but I don’t want to make any assumptions. And, of course, the grading is automatic. Every other test I’ve taken in the testing center has been graded INSTANTLY, but this dude is a hardass, so it still doesn’t show what I got. Grr. Waiting, waiting….

Let’s see, what else.. Oh, my student loan has been approved, so that’s all set.

Oh, and I have to do all my Christmas shopping, like, by next weekend.. Wait, no, next weekend is Costa Rica. So I have to do it all by THIS weekend. Oh, lord, this sucks. But in a good way. :)
Sunday, December 02, 2007
  Maths is...

Maths is..., originally uploaded by CaptiveInnocencePhotography.


Final is today. The question is.. can I do well enough to pass the class? I'm ---> <--- this close to my A.A. with nearly straight A's (except for my 2 math classes, 1 Astronomy, and 1 - gasp - French course... I got a B due to the fact I didn't do all my required lab hours), so the fact I'm worried about even earning a C in this class is really, really pathetic.

Anyway. I gotta get back to studying, but yeah, just had to share that I am in in homework hell. I also am having cramps from hell. Ahh, I love this!

I'm Stacey. I'm a 31(!)-year-old Wisconsin girl living in sunny South Florida. The highlights in my life are my lovely boyfriend, my aloof cats, my adorable/adoring stepdogs, my two lumbering tortoises, select family members, being outside, being underwater, taking pictures, yadda yadda. Stay tuned for lots of babbling!

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States


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Making a difference

A small boy lived by the ocean. He loved the creatures of the sea, especially the starfish, and he spent much of his time exploring the seashore.

One day the boy learned there would be a minus tide that would leave the starfish stranded on the sand.

When the tide went out, he went down to the beach, began picking up the stranded starfish, and tossing them back into the ocean.

An elderly man who lived next door came down to the beach to see what the boy was doing. Seeing the man's quizzical expression, the boy paused as he approached. "I'm saving the starfish!" the boy proudly declared.

When the neighbor saw all of the stranded starfish he shook his head and said: "I'm sorry to disappoint you, young man, but if you look down the beach, there are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see. And if you look up the beach the other way, it's the same. One little boy like you isn't going to make much of a difference."

The boy thought about this for a moment. Then he reached his small hand down to the sand, picked up another starfish, tossed it out into the ocean, and said: "Well, I sure made a difference for that one!"

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