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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Beagles & Holes

Growing up, I was far from an animal lover.  My dad got me a Saint Bernard when I was around five years old.  The dog was just a puppy, but it did not take long for the dog to outgrow and outweigh me.  She just wanted to play when she would put her paws on my shoulders, drive me to the ground, and not let me up.  Only so much screaming my mother could take before dad gave the dog away.  Or just ask my sister.  She will tell you.  Part of it was we had a dog that bit me.  I cannot blame the dog.  He thought I was hurting my sister while we were playing in the yard.  Part of it was I was just plain mean and most likely had it coming for a multitude of other reasons.

There are things that happen in life that give you a certain perspective.  Those that really know me, know my first wife and I lost a child.  It was a defining moment in my life.  It was a crossroads.  It was many things.  I could have let it break me or pick myself up and carry on.  Still I grieve, I do not deny that.  It will always be a part of who I am.  A part of me that is missing.

During the time shortly after losing Carly, Suzanne and I decided to get a dog.  Honestly I had my reservations.  My recollections of having a dog were not that rosy.  But we were both hurting after our loss.  One Sunday we went out to breakfast and decided we were going to the flea market and looking for a dog.  Not just any dog.  A beagle.  It was decided.

While at the flea market, I put off really getting a look at the dogs as long as I could.  I mean they had sugar gliders! How crazy was that!  I thought those were a myth.  Like a snipe.  Or a shikepoke.  Finally I started making the rounds to the dogs.  Sure enough, there were beagles.  It was late in the day and it was Sunday so the flea market was going to pack up soon that evening.  Suzanne and I must have picked up every beagle left.  Eventually we settled on one.  A female.  Dixie was to be her name.

Fast forward a bit.  Suzanne decided to pack up and leave.  She said every time she looked at me, she could only think about the daughter we had lost.  I could not dispel that image from her mind.  After all, I had similar  images in my own mind when I looked at her.  I understood in a way.  It was clear that Dixie would go with her.  At the time I was OK with this.  Dixie had chewed up about everything in the house that was not nailed down, and a few things that were.  I told myself I wouldn't care if the dog left too.  Good riddance!

About two months went by and I realized I was alone at home.  I was not used to that.  My life was missing something again.  While at work on my lunch hour I scoured the online classifieds and found a man who had several beagle pups for sale.  The ad was a few days old already, so I called him immediately.  He told me that only one pup remained and a lady had already called the day before me to claim him.  That lady had not come to pick him up, however, and if I would come get him that day he was mine.

I left work right on time that evening and drove as fast as I could to Hermitage to see this dog.  Upon my arrival, an older gentleman and his son met me in the driveway.  They were very friendly folks and seemed to be feeling me out as to what sort of dog owner I might be.  There were two pens nearby.  One on the right had two adult dogs in it.  One on the left had a single puppy.  The man opened the door on the pen and a small, black, furry butterball came rolling out onto the ground.  You could tell he was not accustomed to being out.  He looked cautious while sniffing at everything he came across.  Kneeling down in the grass about twenty feet from him, I called out.  This little fella came running at me as if he were shot out of a cannon.  Jumping and licking me all over, I knew it was a match.  A male.  Rocco was to be his name.

About a year later my grandmother passed away.  In so many ways we had been best friends.  I lived with her for a while helping to take care of her.  Being her only grandchild, she spoiled me.  A part of me was gone.

Rocco had been a great companion.  My roommate.  My partner.  My best friend.  Having another dog would be just double the fun!  Right?  Right!

During this time I met a wonderful woman, Kellye, who I would eventually marry and is currently my wife.  She went with me to pick out a new dog.  Another beagle.  I needed Kellye's stamp of approval.  Rocco stayed at home while we answered an ad from the Sunday paper for beagles for sale.  This man was an older fellow.  He bred beagles, but had not had a batch of puppies for sale in some time.  There were a few pens set up in his barn with several adult dogs, and one that was teeming with pups.  We handled about three, passing them back and forth between Kellye and myself.  Only one really appeared curious about us and seemed to have a special gleam in her eye.  She licked us all over and wanted to play.  She just felt like the right choice.  A female.  Gracie was to be her name.

Kellye's father passed away recently.  About two months ago.  Due to many reasons, it was bittersweet for her.  A part of her was gone.

A co-worker of Kellye's had a stray dog wander up onto their deck one evening while they were outside eating dinner.  It was just a puppy.  Without a tag or collar, but appeared to be clean and well taken care of. They called us to see if we were interested in taking the dog before taking it to the pound.  They thought of us first because it was a beagle.

We wound up taking the dog.  It was only three months old (so the vet told us).  This pup had spots all over her.  What to name it?  Lying on the bed that Saturday afternoon, with Gracie and Rocco around us, we played with this little bundle of energy.  I thought about all her spots...they looked like dots, but spot was not what I wanted to name the dog.  She was a female.  Dot was to be her name.

Three life events.  Three events that each left us a sense of loss and something missing.  Three beagles to fill those three holes.  They have done a remarkable job at doing just that.

Rocco is now six.

Gracie is now five.

Dot has some catching up to do.  She is about five months.

I love animals.  Probably because that mean little kid finally grew up.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Springtime Blues!

Man, I really should get into doing this.  Would be like therapy for me maybe.

So the lead guitarist leaves my favorite band.  Editors is the name.   I just have not been the same inside since.  For a group of four people who I have not met but stood within 6" of on the front row, they really touched something in me with their sound.  I am almost going through a grieving process really.  Uncertainty of what they will become.  How that sound that resonated with me might change.  How that spell might be broken.  It is tough.

Outside of that, I have been really emotional.  Partly I think it is due to not controlling my blood sugar as well as I should be at times.  It does make me prone to mood swings.  Craziness at work, bills, being a homeowner.  Just name it.  I'd rather just blame diabetes and be done with it.  It causes most of my other problems anyway.

But hey, its springtime right?  It's a time when people get sad after winter is over.  They expect things to get better after the cold weather breaks, but it doesn't.  Life just keeps on sucking for them.

I will make a real effort to keep posting.  I need it.  You do not realize it, but you need it too.

In honor of my favorite band, Editors, here is one of their best songs.  Racing Rats.  This video is live in San Francisco, February 2010 at The Warfield.  You will see the balding fellow in the striped shirt in the front row.  Well that's me.  It was indeed a magical evening.  One I will never forget.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Diabetes Technology - New Overpriced Gadget.. a Rant

Being an insulin dependent type 1 diabetic I am one of those who certainly hope for a cure one day.  Personally I think the drug companies make too much money off of us to really WANT to find a cure.  I use an insulin pump, which is great technology and I absolutely love it.  It is made by Medtronic, and I would recommend it to anyone considering going on the pump.  Also I have the continuous glucose monitor (CGM), which I have yet to start using but will soon.

Now Medtronic has a new device which is called mySentry that will speak wirelessly to your CGM and monitor your glucose levels while you sleep, during the day, and conveniently displays it on a small tabletop device.

For $3000.

That's right.  $3000.

Who is this made for?  Certainly not me.  I can't afford it.  The majority of families with children who are type 1 cannot afford that.  There are financing options you can do to get your payment down to as low as $50 with no interest.

With all the wireless technology available, I cannot fathom why this device would cost anywhere near $3000.  More along the lines of a high end cell phone, certainly less than the pump itself would cost.  I hope someone "gets it" because I don't.

I plan on going through my doctor to see exactly how much of this I can get insurance to cover if any.  I won't lie, I want one of these, so I am curious to see how much of that $3000 would come out of my pocket.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Unique Opportunities

I work for a great company, at least I think so.  Are there things I would change about it?  Absolutely.  Having said that, working at Dell has afforded me a certain lifestyle and given me the chance to meet many many interesting people...both customers and coworkers.  In my six years here, I have worked with some very well-known companies and organizations and it has been one of the highlights of my life to do so.

When my health took a precarious turn last Labor Day weekend with an attack of acute pancreatitis, I was not anticipating how that one week would shape my work life going forward.  Upon hearing that I may need to have my gall bladder removed (gall stones were my initial diagnosis in the hospital) my manager decided to relieve me of my customers and make me a "rover" for our 4th quarter.  This meant I had zero responsibility and would only be assisting other reps that were on vacation or out sick and needed coverage.  Surgery would have meant missed time at work during our busiest time and this was a preemptive strike to insure my accounts would still be buying.

Looking at this from afar, it may look like a total win.  For me early on, I was devastated!  Customers I had worked with for three years I would probably never speak with again.  A job I loved was just snatched away.  I felt neutered.  My peers were jealous to a degree, I was getting paid in full for literally doing nothing after all.  There was somewhat of a mourning period for me over what I had just lost.

As the weeks dragged on and I have had time to really reflect on things, I can look back and say it has been a godsend.  I've been able to really relax and catch my breath a bit.  Look at what opportunities lay ahead for me at Dell and plan my future with a more unclouded view.  Outside of work life has been very good.  Mostly as a result of not having the stress associated with high profile customers and carrying a quota.

Getting past my initial reaction, looking inward, and finding it within myself to accept my circumstances took some time.  It has been just another part of life's journey.  Another event that has helped to shape who I am as a person.  I am very big on life experiences shaping who you are.  Growing from it, and growing up are still things I am striving to do even at age 41.

I've also taken this time to read a book to help me do my job better.  Something I may not have considered before.  The Challenger Sale, by Brent Adamson

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Building this Blog

Will be more substance later, still wrestling with layout issues and how I want it to look moreso than what I type in this box for now.  I am pretty particular that way.  I want things just the way I want them.  Even if it something minimal and I may touch once and leave it leaning against the wall like an unplayed bass guitar, it will be leaning there just as I want it to lean. 

Wanted to do something like this for a long time.  Welcome!

Next entry will be why I chose this title, Echoes from the Abyss, and why I'm doing this blog.