Welcome to Life Through Bifocals

Life is not always clear and easy to figure out. So grab a cup of coffee and your bifocals and let's see what we can see.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

By now everyone should know how to play, so come join us as we answer Joyce's questions
1. Are you settling for something?

I don't like the term "settling" sounds like I can make up my mind between 2 foods on a menu so I settle on one over the other. No I don't belive that I am settling for anything. I am very happy with the choices I have made.

2.  It wasn't that long ago almost every store in the US locked doors and turned out lights on Thanksgiving Day. This year many will be open all day Thursday, giving shoppers a jump start on 'Black Friday'. In your opinion is this a good thing or a not so good thing? Will you be shopping on Thanksgiving Day?

I will not be shopping on Thanksgiving Day. I will be celebrating all I am thankful for.  I find it sad that people sit around the table thankful for something, then run out to the store to get more.....

3. Speaking of shopping... I saw a recent article on the twelve best shopping cities in the world. In order they are-
New York, Tokyo, London, Kuala Lumpur, Paris, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Vienna, Dubai, Madrid, Milan, and Seoul.
Ever shopped in any of the cities listed? In which city would you most like to pull out the plastic or cold hard cash?

Never shopped in any of these cities. If I needed to pick a spot to spend money, I'd pick Paris because ....it's Paris!

4.  When did you last dine by candlelight?

When did the power go out last time????That would be when I last dined by candle light.

5. What do you have too much of?

Bills-cold weather -and dog hair on our carpet - guess whose?

6. The Hunger Games...are you a fan?  Did you read the book(s)?  Will you/have you seen the movie?  Will you/have you seen Catching Fire?  No spoilers please!

I did not read the books and will not be watching the movie until it comes on tv for free.

7. Share your plans for Thanksgiving Day. The who, the where, the what...especially the what! As in what's for dinner?  If you're one of my International visitors, whose homeland doesn't celebrate American Thanksgiving (the whole world doesn't ya know!), then still tell us your plans for Thursday.

Our daughter, son-in-law and grand girls are coming at 11-ish for breakfast.  We will have bacon, eggs, fruit salad, vegan potatoes, almond muffins, pumpkin bread and sausage.  Yes, bacon and sausage.  We will play with the kids and be thankful for all we have.
Later in the evening we will have our own turkey with meat stuffing, yams and veggies. Pumpkin pie and Pecan pie will be our dessert. We will also continue to be thankful for all we have.  Our daughter and her family will be visiting her husbands side of the family and our daughter is a vegan (rest of us are not, so that is why the bacon AND sausage)

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
We are in REMISSON!! We are thankful for such great news and thankful for all the support we have received through this.  What a great word REMISSION is.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Agility Saturday Part 5 - Recovery

In the end we had entered 3 games and qualified (Q'd) in 2 of them.The more Q's we get the faster we can move up to Level 2.  He had held his own, even running with Paula. He had met new people and new dogs. He had showed more confidence than I ever saw before. He had done more than I had hoped for and way more than I expected.

At one point we took both dogs out for a walk and the Judge was out there, walking her own dog. she looked at me said "What a great dog, it's so much fun watching him run and we all can see just how much fun he is having."  I started to cry. She had no idea what it took to get us all to this day.  No idea how many classes - how many times we worked in the corner of a class, on not barking. No idea just how fearful he was in the past of the Wicket, the people, the other dogs. All she saw was a confident dog having a blast in a agility sport. I cried tears of joys, tears of relief, tears of pride.  It all hit me at once and she had no idea! 

 Sunday was a day of rest.

I use to do dog therapy with Becke, and had mentored others getting started in dog therapy and told them once the therapy session was over, go home and let the dog unwind.  I followed my advice this time as well.  Becke was tired, Hubby was tired, and I was beyond tired. We went home had our supper and was asleep on the couch by 6:30.  I had the good sense to put chicken in the cock pot so we came home to dinner waiting for us!  Added Mac and Cheese and we were ready with dinner in no time.

We spent the day relaxing.  We went to church and let the dogs sleep. Had a good lunch and all took a nap.  We needed the rest. Becke is 13 years 10  1/2 months old, recovery took longer for her than I had expected. her Saturday was longer than usual, her lunch was not the same and her nap was lost watching her little brother for the afternoon. August was just worn out and hubby and I just really needed down time.

In the end I learned that goals are important. Both for our pets and for ourselves.  As we move forwarded with Cancer treatments and with agility  training we reach higher and higher, digging deeper and deeper and in the end come out winners!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Agility Saturday Pt 4 -Wildcard

By time it was time for August's 3rd run it was after 4:30 and I was fading fast.  Remember we were there at 7:15 AM.  I was tired, my body hurt and this day was getting a lot longer than I anticipated. I knew that if I stopped moving in the ring, so would August. Time for the back up plan - or should  I say, the back up handler, Paula. 

Paula and August have worked together before in our classes. Chemo simply wears me out and there were classes that I just couldn't do and Paula took him to class.  He  knows her and loves her so she was my back up.

We had a plan to make the change.  I would go into my office with August and Paula would come take him from me.  We have tried to have me hand off August to Paula and leave and August thinks I've gone to the ladies room or something  and looks for me.  We didn't want that, so if Paula takes him away from me, he seemed to think I was staying behind and he would go off with her and do whatever. So we had it all planned out.  Remember, we are working with a not-so-confident dog so we plan a lot.

Paula took him and I snuck around to watch without him seeing me.

The game was "Wildcard."

The object is to successfully complete the course, including enough "wildcards" to qualify.  The wildcards are optional obstacles that you have to choose to take.  When the course is set out one obstacle will have an "A" while another will have a  "B". The wildcards are 2 obstacles placed parallel to each other.  For our level we needed to complete 2 "A" obstacles and 1 "B" obstacle.

Paula and I talked about our options, what obstacle to take and what to use as a back up in case he didn't want to do our plan.

Paula is a competitor in agility and has several agility dogs with titles.  I knew she could direct him to the correct obstacle to make his "wildcard".  She did.

Even though he was getting tired, she was able to redirect him, get him to shake off the stress of the day and the very long day and still make it fun for him.

In the end, he came in 2nd place for his level and again we got a ribbon (although we left as soon as he came off the ring, we were all so tired and I really needed to lay down - badly -so we never knew he got another ribbon until the next day)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Agility Saturday Part 3 -Standard

It was after 1:00 pm before we were ready to run again in another game called "Standard."

While waiting our turn, we (And by "we" I mean August) visited without barking, walked around outside, watched the other dogs run, and even took a nap on my lap!  He was polite, calm, even looked bored at one point.  No stress at all.

In this game, the object is to run a full course of numbered obstacles in order, going over the obstacles in the correct direction as well.  The handler gets to walk the course without the dog so that we can see where the obstacles are, what direction they go and to plan how to get the dog from 1 to 2 to 3 and so on in the shortest possible way at the fastest speed/shortest time that the handler and dog can do it in. Sounds easy right, not so much as I've learned. 

We had 13 obstacles. We made no errors (mistakes like knocking down a bar, going over time, or running the wrong direction - yes that happens.). We had fun. We didn't have barking, or freezing, but we did have a slow time as he would turn around and look at the onlookers watching him. We also had the final jump that he first ran past, then tried to jump over it going the wrong way!! I was able to slow him down, get him to come back to me and go over the jump in the correct direction.! Then I exhaled.

In the end, he did qualify and came in 4th place.  I was stunned as they handed me a ribbon!  Yes a real ribbon that says 4th place on it.  He did it!

My cheerleaders included Hubby and big sister Becke this time (Hubby had a meeting for church in the earlier run).   It was pure fun.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

We all love the Hodgepodge

I am temporarily interrupting the Agility blog this week to answer the Hodgepodge questions.  These questions have been around for 151 weeks so they have become tradition and it's bad luck to break a tradition. Want to join in? That's fine!

1. What lesson has failure taught you?
I don't like failure at all. I don't like to feel that I let anyone down, me or others and if I fail at something or fail someone, then I let them down. I hate that!  I do, however, forgive others for letting me down or for in some way failing to meet a deadline or complete a project.  So I've learned that I'm not perfect but I'm OK if no one else is either.

2. What decision are you glad you made?To marry Hubby! He asked me 3 times before I said YES and I'm sure glad he did.  This has been such a wonderful life.

3. I've been a little bit surprised to see fully lit and decorated Christmas trees popping up for the past several weeks in friend's Instagram feeds. So tell the truth-is your tree up and decorated, and if so when did that happen? If not, when will you be decking the halls?No, nothing is up yet. In fact the fall decorations are all still up. I like the colors of fall even if I don't like the weather.  Our Christmas decorations will go up soon after Thanksgiving but the tree will a be a few weeks before Christmas.  
Soon - very Soon
4. Solitaire-Poker-Rummy-Hearts-Go Fish-Old Maid...which game of cards would you most like to join? 
Old Maid is my call. Maybe Solitaire if I'm feeling blue.

5. This question comes to you courtesy of a Facebook friend, who once upon a time had a blog...When you're feeling stressed do you snack a lot or are you more the 'can't eat' type? Stress goes well with all sort of snacks don't you think?  Stress and chocolate. Stress and ice cream.  Hey! I've even had Stress and crackers. 

6.  Have you ever reviewed a product or service on line? Was your review favorable or less than favorable? 
I did review a product one time, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was. I once belonged to a garden club and I got something. Clearly, it was not favorable because I'm still not using it or even remember what it was.....Oh, by the way I'm not a member of the garden club anymore either!

7. What was the best conversation you had yesterday? 
I always enjoy my conversations with Becke. She is at my side so much that I have to choice but to talk to her.  She is a good listener and keeps most of her opinions to herself.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Monday the temps were in the low 60's and if felt like in the mid 60's. Tuesday it was 40!! Worst of it was that it felt like 30!  It hurt to breathe outside and the difference was just hard to take.  What is up with our NH weather???
My heart goes out to the midwest states that had such terrible tornado's and so much damage.  My prayers are with you all. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Agility Satuday Part 2 -Jackpot

Agility trials are designed to test both the handler and the dog. For CPE, each trail has been created as a game and each game has a name and rules.  Our first game was called "Jackpot."

Jackpot tests the course planning strategies of the handler and the dogs ability to work at a distance.

Jackpot is run as a two part course. A tape on the floor signifies where the two parts are.

The first part consists of the handler and dog working the course, attempting to accumulate at least the minimum number of points for their level in the stated amount of time. Each obstacle has been assigned a certain numbers of points. Some are 1 point while others are 3 points or even 5 points. The judge tells you the point value of the different obstacles.  In our case we needed 12 points, higher levels requires more points. The end of the accumulation time is signified by a whistle.  After you hear the whistle, the handler and dog then proceed to work through a series of  obstacles on the other side of the tape on the floor (called the gamble) within a time set by the judge. The handler must stay on one side of the tape on the floor while the dog works on the other side. The obstacles must be executed in the correct order without faults and cross the finish line to earn those points.

Since on Saturday they were running the game from tallest dog to shortest dog, and from highest level to lowest level, and the games started at 8 am, it took a very long time to get to August as he was jumping 8 inches, AND it turned out that there were over 400 dogs there! So it was 10:20 or so before we got into the ring.

Remember, we were there for measuring at 7:15AM! So we walked around, met up with other class- mates, walked outside, and finally put August in my office to sleep (yes, I work at this facility as the class coordinator and obedience instructor).  I watched the Pros do their thing, was surprised that I understood when either they or their dog made an error, and I asked a lot of questions.

A lot of questions.

The people get to walk the course without the dog to see where the obstacles are, which ones they want to do and which ones they will not do. They plan how to get the dog from one obstacle to the other, which directions the jumps go (yes, there is a correct direction on these things) and what end of the tunnels is the "enter here" side.

Finally, it was about our time so I took August out of my office, walked him again. and got him ready to run like the wind.

I had lots of people helping me, encouraging me and making sure I was where I needed to be when it was our turn. Having my cheering section with me was HUGE. Not only was August doing this for the first time, so was I, and as someone battling Cancer, my energy runs out fast so this was HUGE. Some were there for the day, another girl friend came in just to sit in the chair and watch and encourage me and August on our very first run.  Having her there, knowing she drove all the way from her house to this place just for us made me feel so loved.  Hubby couldn't be there for the first fun of the day, as he had a church business meeting that he needed to be at. As we came off the floor, some were laughing, some were clapping and some were crying, all were cheering. It felt so good!!

We began, we ran and we ended in under a minute.  We needed 12 points in the beginning, we got 29 points. We needed all 4 of the ending obstacle's, we got 2.  We ran out of time. We had a blast but we didn't qualify.  We did do something else however.

August gets uncomfortable and then barks and shuts down. He barks at new students that come to class, he barks at students that come to class late. He barks and freezes if he see something that is new and scary to him.  So here he is, in a large room with a woman in the middle of the room talking into a microphone, there are people sitting around the room that he doesn't know, there is a whistle going off, onlookers - lots of onlookers and dogs walking around - lots of dogs.  I was sure he would shut down and or bark like mad.  My goal for him was to have fun and we sure did.  He didn't bark, he didn't shut down and he stayed with me.  Here is our very first video of us. He sure did have fun, even if we didn't qualify.

Note to self: Why oh why did I wear white?? Note to self: NEVER again wear white!!! After 6 months of chemo and steroids, I've gained way too much weight and really need to do something about that. That aside, didn't August do great?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Agility Sautrday Part 1- Getting Started

Saturday, November 9th, August and I had entered our very first Agility Trial. It has taken us a year and a half to get to this point.  It's been a long road. August is our Powder Puff Chinese Crested and he is 11 inches tall and 10 pounds.  He's a small dog that is not very confident. When he faces things that he is unsure of, he can bark, back up, hide and shut down.

Agility can help build confidence in dogs and for him, it's been wonderful.
If you've ever watched Animal Planet then you've seen the obstacle course that dogs run and jump over, on, run through, or weave around.  It's a fun sport and I was looking forward to giving it a try but August just couldn't do it....Until November 9th.

There are many different agility organizations out there. We joined CPE (Canine Performance Events).  Why? Well frankly it was because the other students in my agility class were in CPE and I wanted the company.  They understood the rules. They understood the way they worked and their dogs would be in the same trial as me so I had a built in support system. I'm no fool!

Since we are "newbies" we start at Level 1 but many of the people at the trial were at much higher levels (5's and C's are the highest levels in CPE) so we have a very long way to go.

But before we get to run in the trial, August had to be measured - hence the photo above.

It's call the "Wicket" and the dog has to straddle the bottom bar while the top bar is lowered onto the dogs back to measure the dog from the shoulders.  The bar is pushed down on the shoulders just to make sure that the dog is getting measured and not all the hair that the dog has.  August has a lot of hair so he had to stand under this thing, while a strainge person pushed the top metal bar down on his shoulders to make sure he is short enough to jump 8 inches.

August hates the wicket!  I would take it out during class and he would walk around it but wanted nothing to do with walking under it!! As soon as I would lift that bar, he would run away!  So it took weeks and weeks of work getting him use to that device. Over time, he did get use to it as long as it was lightly placed on his shoulders.

On Saturday, they had the wicket on a table, so now August not only has to stand under it but he has to stand on a table under it while a strange woman measures him.  Measuring dogs was at 7:15am. The thought occurred to me that there would be nothing like ending the day before it begins because if he will not allow himself to measured, he cannot run in the trial. This may be one short day.

I knew we could use food for this so I had boiled chicken with me.  I got the food out and set him on the table. I told the judge that he was not very sure about this thing.  She was so kind and said "We'll go slow."  We started out with him facing her but he wasn't going to have any of that and turned around and put his butt in her face. I got him to straddle that bottom bar (praying "Don't have gas, don't have gas.) She then lowered the bar and pushed on his shoulders. My eyes grew as he began to lay down under the pressure and that is when I pulled out the chicken and held it over his face and he stood up to get the chicken.  She got his measurements, told me he was good to jump at 8 inches and let us go.

I finally exhaled. One challenge down and since he's over 2 years old he will not have to be measured again (CPE rules state that dogs need to be measured before their first trial run and if under 2 years old, need to be measured again once they are 2 years old).

He would not actually run in this first trial until 10:20am. We had a long time to do nothing.
More tomorrow because we didn't do just NOTHING, we did SOMETHING.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Thank you Joyce for this weeks questions. I hope you all join in on the fun.

1. Describe a typical Sunday from your childhood.
I grew up in the 50's-60's so our typical Sunday was Catholic Mass in the morning followed by either lunch at our Memes house where would meet up with the cousins for lunch and then play with each other, or a drive in the country and stopping at some cafe for lunch.  The rest of the day was spent home playing with my dolls, playing outside or resting. Sunday really was a day of rest as stores were not open so there was no place to go.

2. How comfortable are you with uncertainty? Explain.

Not very. I know that I don't know the future and I know who DOES knows the future and so I know that I'm good, but I'm also flesh and blood and this body would like to know the future.  I struggle with this a lot.  I'm getting better at trusting Him who holds my future in His hands.

3. What have you accomplished recently that might be described as crafty, as in 'arts and crafts' crafty?  If crafty doesn't work for you, how about handy? Or both?

I make cards to send to people who I want to let know that I'm thinking of them, praying for them, or in some other way, let them know that they are not alone.

4. Have you ever worked in a 'food place'? What did you take away from the experience?
I worked in a small restaurant that had mostly hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza. What I took away from that is I never want to be in a place where I'm dependent on the money from such a place and that those people work very hard. I was so glad when they fired me for not being very good.

5. Cold turkey, talk turkey, what a turkey...in recent days, which turkey phrase or idiom best applies to you and why? Click on the word turkey if you need to read more about the meaning behind each phrase. 
I'll go with "What a turkey!" I took our small dog to our very first agility trial and I just got the videos and boy do I run like a turkey. A really fat turkey!  Why oh why did I wear White? With 6 months of steroids I've gained a lot of weight and boy does it show on that video.  I really need black pants. So what a turkey!

6. If you could have any one guest join your Thanksgiving dinner table, who would it be?
I would love to have friends that have moved away.  We talk and email often and boy do those emails get long as we go back and forth. Having them at the dinner table, we would be talking all day and having a blast.

7. What is one thing you must accomplish today? 
I have videos to download and then figure out how to add them to my blog for next week.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Baby it's cold up here!! When I wake up it's only in the 20's and 30's and it's not getting much warmer as the day goes on.  I'm so grateful that we have a nice warm house with the furnace running and the pellet stove going as well.  No snow yet, but it feels like it will be here soon.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


1. My sister is celebrating a birthday today. Happy Birthday little sis! What's one way you're like your siblings?  If you don't have siblings how are you like your lifelong best friend or cousin?
I'm not anything like my only sister who is older. We don't look alike, talk alike, act alike, learn alike - nothing. I told my grammar school teachers that I was adopted when they would compare us. They bought it since we sure don't look alike!

2.  What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of yourself at age eighteen?
Getting married to my best friend. We were married 3 weeks after graduating high school, we were both 18 years old. It was a beautiful day, starting our lives together, walking the path we have been on for more than 41 years now.

3. Sculptor-actor-painter-dancer...if you could excel in one of these arts, which would you choose and why?
Dancer, I love to be active and it would be a great way to eat all the things I love, don't you think?

4. What's a scent that takes you back in time, and where does it take you?
The smell of real Christmas trees. It reminds me of the times we had a real tree and the whole house would smell wonderful.  Now we have a fake tree, not the same at all.

5. November is for Peanut Butter Lovers (National Peanut Butter Lovers Month).  Are you a lover or a hater?  What's your favorite dish/recipe that calls for peanut butter? 
Lover but it needs to be Jiff, because choosy mothers choose Jiff!  Love peanut butter cookies.

6. What do people thank you personally for most often?
I send cards to people who are in need of some TLC. They will come up to me in church and thank me for them. I not only send them, I make them.

7. What event this year are you most thankful for?
Our 41st anniversary.  Can you believe we have seen 41 years together?  We used to walk the mall when we were newlyweds and look at old couples walking the mall as well, still holding hands. We use to talk about wanting to become those old couples.  We did. We ARE THOSE OLD COUPLES NOW.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
As the title states, I'm resting and recovering from Chemo for a bit. On the 15th of this month I will have another Bone Marrow Biopsy test to see where I am. I'm praying to be in remission.

So now it's your turn. How would you answer these questions?