Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

It's New Year's Eve.

I'm not out celebrating with friends.

Friends aren't here celebrating with me.

I'm not with family.

I'm Home Alone with Doggies, one crashed on the couch,

one bringing me a stripped naked tennis ball again and again.

At 9:00 pm, I just finished WORKING. And it's the best New Year's Eve I've spent in years, because I just solved a problem that has been kicking my butt since September.

Those that know me best know that I'm pretty darn happy when I'm reconciling a bank account. Well, corporate bank account reconciliation is the MOTHER of all bank recons. I can't say how many lines of data or how many digits, of course, but I finally found bank recons complex enough to keep me happy for hours and hours. No, I haven't been working on it since September, but start to finish, this one took me about 18 hours (that flew by like it was 5 minutes) in 3 uninterrupted sittings this weekend to do a 6 month recon. And I only got it done that fast because parts of it had been done by me and others in bits and pieces over the months.

On that happy note, I can say goodbye to a very successful 2012, and gaze into the future at what 2013 might bring.

To bring down the party (should I really do that in this post??), I fear it will bring me a blind dog, my own dear Sunny. (Yes, I should write this, because this is what I set out to write when I sat down - that stuff up there is just a warm-up.)

Dear diary, you missed the canine medical adventures we've had since July. As souvenirs from our journey, we have stacks and stacks of invoices from 3 vets (I know, I just sorted all the 2012 bills) and a big huge dent in the P&L statement for the year. So the accountant in me says good riddance to those money-pit eyes. In finance class, I learned that it's a sunk cost - not an investment - those expensive, glowing brown orbs, so expressive even after having lost sight completely in #1. At what cost to keep them? The meds keeping them happy since Thanksgiving are a temporary solution and will start being tapered this week.

A few weeks before Turkey Day, the inflammation was bad enough that I scheduled the surgery to put him out of my misery. This was about the same time I was dropping big bucks to find out that nobody could tell us why he was having bloody noses. But 2 weeks later, the "let's just try this for the bloody noses" medication had given so much relief to the eyes that doc wouldn't let me make him operate.

And 5 weeks later, a week after Christmas Eve, all is calm, all is bright.

But like I said, the moment of truth beckons. Please just let us get moved into the new house so I don't have to move a blind dog.

And now, the whole point of making this post. I had written something about all this back in November on the day when the surgery was cancelled, and I wanted to get it recorded here. So here goes:

The Dog That Will Go Blind, But Not Today

It's a roller coaster ride,
it is,
it is.

To commit
on the 7th day of November
To remove the right eyeball of one's dear dog
on the 20th of November.
Then to decide
on the 15th of November
That two operations constitutes cruelty to animals
Therefore one must sacrifice both orbs.
Then to learn that things have calmed down
and nothing should be done
during the month of November 2012.

But at the bottom of the dip
with a realization I was hit...

This is a death.

The dog that communicates with his eyes will be lost to us.
Odd, isn't it. Since dogs supposedly don't like to look us in the eye,
Yet they seem to know that we humans need this link.

So when faced with the loss of the soulful Lab eyes and the dog that
is defined thus,
We must take our turn to mourn, and then look ahead with anticipation
at the new dog who will blossom in his place.

Come On Mom - 2013 is waiting! 
We have lots of Reading Rovers and Agility to do. 
Let's Go!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy Holidays 2012

I really appreciate all my friends who still send Christmas cards, especially the photo ones. Well, I appreciate ALL my friends, but tonight I am looking at the small collection on display, and I am grateful that they are not ALL from doctors who got lots of my money this year and non-profits wanting anything that I might have left over. After Sunny's vet bills this year and buying a Master's degree in Accounting from Gonzaga University, there isn't much left, y'all.

I miss the days when my mailbox was full of 50+ incoming Christmas cards, almost as much as I miss sending 50+ outgoing cards, with personalized notes for everyone. I remember sitting in the San Francisco and Chicago airports during a foul-weather December business trip one year, so glad that I had brought all my cards along to work on during 24 hours of delayed flights. I never did get to the customer in North Carolina. Stuck in Chicago, I was grateful to find a room in the inn. Returning to the airport in the morning, I once again set up shop, sitting next to a window, watching the lovely snow come down. At some point, when the customer meeting had begun without me, I rebooked my ticket and returned to SFO. If I hadn't had a lovely snow storm to watch and 100 Christmas cards to write, it would have seemed a wasted 24 hours. What an odd Christmas memory to come back to me today.

Back in the days of Lily and Network, it was an annual tradition to set up a tree, wrap some gifts, get out the reindeer ears and Santa hat, and work on the annual card. This year, I stumbled on the old reindeer ears and Santa hat and tortured the new generation of Labs, so at least I can complete my electronic Christmas card.

And now for the summary of 2012. Judging by the paltry number of posts this year (8 - wow, better than I thought, but only 1 in the last 8 months), it musta been another crazy one!

It all started when I successfully executed on my goals for 2011, setting me up for a crazy 2012, which started with part 3 of the CPA exam on day 2 of the year. I had also just completed my first temp job and was finally calling myself an accountant. But I still had another year of classes to complete the master's degree, one more part of the CPA to tackle, and hopes that more work would come my way.

And they all happened right on schedule. After working one last time at the big Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, I got settled into the spring semester, told the temp agency I was ready for another assignment, and was back to work before I could get lazy. It was not a good place to work, very unhealthy (odd that a hospital isn't more aware of the health hazards of a stressful workplace). But I stuck it out long enough to get some good experience, leaving that temp job after 6 months since I was running out of time to take that last CPA exam and they had shown that they wouldn't respect the time I needed to study, despite promises made early on. I should get some kinda award for lasting that long - the guy who took my place lasted less than a month.

I enjoyed my summer break, such as it was - a week or two to finish studying and take CPA exam #4, a long weekend of agility at our big local competition, and then off to the races with the fall and final semester. As soon as I told the temp agency I was ready for work again in September, they delivered (well, I had to help them) and by day 13 on the job at FLSmidth, I was told I wouldn't be able to leave. On day 12, I had decided I didn't want to leave, so that was excellent and timely news. My permanent position became official on November 5th and I finished my degree 6 weeks later! I didn't get any rest as excess work immediately flooded in to fill the empty spaces, but the weekends are much more relaxing now that I don't start the weekend off on Thursday night by mapping out all the homework that I have to divide up between Friday night and all day Saturday and Sunday.

In the few hours left over at the end of the semester, I had started house hunting on-line. What a nice way that is to shop for a home - much less tiring than running all over town and getting the willies at the sordid selection. I still got the willies a few times, but I clicked to another web page without delay. December 9th was my last day of school, and on December 11th I visited the home that I had already chosen, and promptly made an offer. As of this writing, financing is still up in the air since the mortgage broker thinks he can do this without me having to sell my property in Idaho (did we learn nothing as a society by the recent housing crisis - you really want to sell me a house for a song??), but the new year will hopefully start off with my 14th move in 25 years. I've got the itch to either move again, or take a long road trip, but since new jobs don't allow long vacations in the first 6 months, it'll have to be a move! My apartment lease is up on 2/28 and my job is 20 miles away over very scenic terrain that is prone to doubling my commute time with winter weather, so I'm moving across town one way or t'other.

Somehow with all of the above going on, I still managed to hold down my volunteer position as Medical Intake Coordinator for Safe Harbor Lab Rescue in Colorado. I also sat on the boards for Pawsitive Works and Canine Angels Service Teams, but didn't give as much time as I wish I could have. All are worthy organizations and I proud to do what I can for them.

Somehow with all the above going on, I still managed to train every week and compete a few times in the crazy sport of Agility. Star and I had our AKC debut in February and rocked it, with a Double Q our first day and 3 out of 4 Qualifying runs for the weekend. We were running well together in March and were on top of the world after our local competition in May, earning our first title, lots of Qs and a couple Best in Class scores. Then I made a critical error, trying to cram an out of town competition into June, between work and summer school and CPA exam. I was just too stressed out and my partner Star didn't perform well under the circumstances. She in turn got so stressed that she started using the competition ring as her personal racetrack, and it only got worse as the summer wore on. After 2 days of this at our local August trials, I left her home the third day and had more fun working in the ring for the whole last day, earning my Novice Course Builder title, and the first leg of my Ring Steward title. For those not in the sport, these are fictitious titles that I invented to make myself feel like I wasn't a total failure after my performance with my dog in the ring. Star continued to be out of control at our weekly classes, but coincidence or not, her graduation gift to me was snapping out of it the minute I was done with school. I'm looking forward to getting back to competing in 2013, if the stress of moving doesn't push her over the edge again. She's such an awesome, athletic jumper, the sport has an amazing amount of analytical stuff to feed my insatiable need, I train with a coach who competes at the international level, constantly pushing the envelope for herself and us, and I live in an area where the Agility community is as strong as the country dance community in Sonoma County, which I REALLY REALLY miss, so I really hope we can live up to our potential.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes to All for Good Things in 2013!