Saying Goodbye to 2018

Upfront Matter: To quote the illustrious Sterling Archer, “2018 can eat a big bag of dicks.” Seriously, this year has been trying by many measures. As I look back, there are some nuggets of positives, sprinkled among the shit-sandwich that was the year 2018, but by and large, I am going to be glad to see it in the rear view mirror.

Dog Tales

Garrett, may he rest in peace

In January, we lost Garrett, our greyhound. He was 13, and his health was failing, so while we were prepared for it, we still grieved mightily. He was an amazing companion, calm, reserved, dignified.

That set the tone for the year.

His passing led us to sit a couple of local greyhounds while the couple was getting ready to sell their townhouse, and buy a house (much better for the dogs), and I knew that we needed a dog sooner rather than later.

In April, Lizzie came into our lives. She was a Kauai bred “pig dog”, a mix of breeds that are combined to hunt the wild pigs on the island. She had clearly been abused, and had horrible prior experiences in her life that left her with little trust, and a lot of fear of two-leggers. But, that first meeting in April, I saw that she needed a steady hand, and a permanent home.

Cerbie drops “Magnum”

In August, we added another Kauai refugee, Cerberus, to our pack to help Lizzie out. He has been amazing on her behavior. (You can check out more information about them on their own blog, Greytbros)

But in the interim, we had a couple of longish spells watching my sisters brood, as she faced obliteration by the wildfires that raged in the northern part of the state. One dog is too few, but four is too many, once we added Cerberus, it became a tight squeeze with the cousins visiting, but we managed, and everyone and property was safe.

Family

I have written before how my father is sliding into dementia, and while I don’t visit as often as I would like, I try to get to San Diego to visit when I can. I was there for his birthday in March, and again now for Christmas. It is depressing to see the progression of this cruel disease. We are fortunate that my brother was able to relocate to the San Diego area to be near to assist with managing the progression.

In September, my mother in-law passed away. SHe had been suffering from dementia for several years, and had really taken a turn for the worst lately. Not unexpected, but a sad footnote to a life well lived. She passed away peacefully in her sleep. Still, it brought much sadness.

My stepfather, who came into our lives in the late 1970’s, and was a father figure to me for over 40 years, teaching me a lot about life, mechanics (working on cars and motorcycles) how to diagnose and fix many – if not most – appliance issues had been sick for a long time. The diagnosis was congestive heart failure, a scary sounding condition, but one that is common and manageable with diet and medications. However, like alzheimers, it isn’t really reversible, and ultimately, it will catch up with you.

Don at the Black Bear Diner

I had seen Don (my stepfather) several times over the last couple of years, and his condition was not improving. Furthermore, he wasn’t great at following the low/no sodium diet (from the few times we went out to eat). In January, he spent about a week in the hospital with symptoms. At the time, I vaguely knew that I was the principal executor/trustee of his trust (that originally was drafted and executed with my mother in 1994) but had not ever seen it. The January event raised red flags, and I encouraged him to meet with the lawyer to update the will. Unfortunately, the original lawyer, who ws quite old in 1994, either has passed away, or had retired from practice in 2012 (at least that was when his licence to practice became inactive).

Fortunately, after the January illness, Don did find a new estate attorney, and revised the trust.

Then in November, what we knew was coming happened. Don became really sick, an infection or virus got in his lungs, and he had another hospital stay. This one was the beginning of the end, and he passed away on November 30, 2018.

Suddenly, I am thrust into the trustee role, and having to deal with the myriad responsibilities. It is a never ending ordeal, and will consume a lot of my spare time in 2019.

health

All is not bad here. I remain in good health (if a bit heaver than I would like to be), but all things considered, it isn’t too bad. However, the arthritis in my left hand seems to be getting worse, and for the last several weeks, my left knee has been giving me trouble. Pain nd soreness. Not sure if it was the high impact wrestling with Lizzie (she likes to billy-goat climb on me and furniture), or if it is just getting old.

I have had several bouts of Gout this year. Always in the left big toe, and it has caused me to eschew drinking beer. That has helped, but it is still awful to have gout.

My knee pain has made it difficult or impossible to really exercise. I was consistently getting 6 mile walks/hikes in 2 or 3 days a week. That has halted. The good news is the knee seems to be better. Hopefully, I can get back to some exercise.

I do want to start cycling again. Perhaps some easy road only mountainbike trips to exercise the knee before doing anything insane. We shall see.

Work

At least 2018 was a good year professionally. Work is well, and while I am stretched thin at times, I am doing important, rewarding work. I survive a restructuring, and while it is unclear how my responsibilities will change, I am flexible enough to make it work.

Hobbies

I am doing a lot less bicycling than I would like. Alas, time, weather, and other commitments to my time are the big culprits there.

Bread

I have begun making bread. It is remarkably relaxing to take four basic ingredients, and turn them into a loaf of bread. Flour, Water, Salt and yeast. It is fun, soothing, and rewarding.

I am also on a quest to make the best pizza. Far too many calories will be consumed on this journey.

I am playing less and less guitar. Alas, the arthritis in the thumb is still a limiting factor. Bummer.

I did divorce myself from Facebook in early July. They always had been skeevy and played fast and loose with privacy, but I had a lot of friends, and my way to keep in touch was via Facebook. Early in the year, with the Cambridge Analytica revelations, then other sketchy practices made me wary. Then in June when it came out that Facebook granted “hardware” partners unlimited access to their user data to get Facebook integrated into their devices, that was one straw too many. I deleted my account, dropped a static route to www.facebook.com to localhost, and went on my way.

After a few weeks, I found that I really didn’t miss that couple hours a day that I wasted there. Sure, I miss my friends, and acquaintances, but by and large, it was a big nothing-burger to drop it.

Since then, there have been many more revelations of their scummy behaviors, each one reinforcing my decision to part ways with them. Alas, I do keep one facebook property alive, Instagram where I share dog pictures.

In Summary

2018 was not an exemplary year. Losing Garrett started it off in the crapper, adding to that the early scare with Don in the hospital in January, and the final outcome in late November, losing some good friends at work in the restructuring, losing my mother in-law, and my father’s deteriorating health, this has been a rough one by any measure.

Here’s to hoping that 2019 is better!

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