Saturday, August 18, 2018

20 Questions: Part 1

One: Who am I?

As I'm forcing myself to find reasons to get up in the morning, I am looking for the things in my environment that have spoken to me in the past. I'm trying to remember what about them said something, and what it was I heard. I'm trying to remember why I stopped listening. Today, it was my backgrounds.

I don't think about them much, I'm not sure any of us really do. They are just the things that keep my screens from being painful to look at (no really). But, some of them are really beautiful pieces of art that express parts of me that I never talk about. In fact, I don't think about them if I can help it.

I'm going to share them here, and I hope that if the artist recognizes their work, they will let me know so I can fully express my appreciation. Until then, I have done my best to make sure they get credit.

I found these two images accidentally while following one of the many rabbit holes I go down in any given day. Who knows what I was thinking about at the time or if it was even related to why I saved these two over any others, but here we are.

This is what I do remember:

On my private Tablet and Computer. Please note the signature in the lower right hand corner.
The little person with the kitten is the only thing I have ever wanted for myself in this life. I have called it many names over the years, but it started long before I knew what a lifetime could be.

Before I got sick, I guess I was known for it. All the broken and lost knew me by name.
All I ever wanted was to hold up those that I love most. Up as far as I could get so they could see how much farther they could go. There is no high like seeing the success of those you have helped. Over the years, I have seen this in others and felt pain because... how could I ever work magic like that?

This image reminds me every time I look at it that “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future” ~Gandalf "Fellowship of the Ring" JRR Tolkein

On my personal phone. Please note the web address in the lower left hand corner.
The little boy in the attic is who I think I can be. You see, I was raised on a steady dose of reading and self reliance. The combination has resulted in an adult who wants to know all the things just to know them, even if I never have a use for the information (although, the older I get the more I find that information is always useful). I refer to this as #RandomShitStuckInMyBrain. But I'm no longer content to just read the stories. I need to experience it with all my being. 

I have had this image as the background of my phone for years now. I'm only just taking action on it.


I did leave everything I knew and loved to see if I could hold up the world that one time

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Plan

You know how everyone in your life tries to make you have a plan for the full 80-some years of your total life by the time you're 15? Yeah, that. And don't give in! Tell them you have no idea and you have no intention of planning for things you couldn't in any way predict.

This is why:

From left to right: Dad, Gram (my name sake), Trixie, Me, Soon to be Chrissy, and Mom. I'm about 4 in this picture and already knew far too much about how the world worked
By the time I left high school, I had every detail of my life worked out to the moment. I knew the degree programs I was going to study (wrong), when I was going to graduate (nope), what my career was going to be (not even close), who I was going to marry (could not have been more wrong if I tried), where we would honeymoon (hiking the ADK, which is another way off from reality thing in my life), when we would buy our first home (never happened), when we would have our first baby (I can't even have kids), what vacations we would go on (I can count on one hand the number of times I've been out of the tri-state region), I was going to be strong and healthy all my life just like my dad (not even touching this one for so many reasons), eat right and workout everyday (STOP LAUGING!)... in short, I had a very solid plan for my life.

Life was good
And then, life happened

There was no single thing, or some cosmic event. Life just was life, and piece by piece, all of the people, ideas, hope, expectations, and yes, plans, were stripped away until there was nothing left of who I thought I was, and what I thought life would be like for me.

That's not to say it was all bad. But I did feel like I had lost something in the process. Some part of me that felt as if it was all of me.

Over the years I'm realizing that some of the reason I have felt like I was completely broken is because in comparison to the person I had planned on being, I am. But even there I'm saying that it's not actually me, just the planned out me. The person that I was beaten into creating so those around me felt like I was doing something important with my life and not just "wasting" it. No one ever bothered (including me) to find out if that's who I really was. If that's what would really be best for me.

I mean, it certainly didn't look like me in my life anymore
So here I am again, looking at the shattered pieces of the life I was trying to squeeze myself into (and being more successful than I care to admit), and wondering what the ever loving fuck I did wrong.

I think the answer is I gave up too easily on me.

Which is sad, because I think I might be a pretty ok person if a little upside down
Whelp, so now what?

In the most fucked up twist, another plan. But this time, my plan, my way, in my time, with lots of room for wrong turns.

Which is good since I expect I'll make a lot of them.
My idea is to take a road trip for as long and as far as I can. I want to actually experience all the things I've read about. I want to hug the people who have loved and supported me through so much with my own physical arms. I want to go to that place that I saw a picture of that one time and it just looked SO amazing. I want to hide in the woods and scream at a concert and cry at the wonder of it all. I want to feel like I'm doing more than just existing so I'm not dead.

I've wanted to do something like this my whole life, but for millions of excuses, I never have. Now, I have no excuses, only speed bumps. The plan is how to get over them.

1) I have to increase my available monthly income. To that end, I have found a job that I have reason to believe won't make my life worse. The hours are when I can as long as I meet the deadline. The actual work is something I already do for free. All I need to do the job are things I already have and actively use. I think this will be a success. If I'm correct, it will let me pay debts off that consume a large portion of my current monthly income. The combination should give me enough to...

2) Buy a home on wheels. I've been looking at used RVs for years now, and I think if I'm careful, I can buy one for about what my last car cost me. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I can afford to buy one and pay rent, so I think I'll have to find someplace to park it for at least a year so I can...

3) Start even a small savings account for those "OHGOD! WTF NOW?!" situations. I also will need time to learn what repairs I can do on my own and what ones will need pros. Figure out how I can see doctors, and other professionals when I need to. Get an idea of how I'm going to eat on the trip. WTF am I going to do with Book?! (he's coming with me if I can help it) It couldn't hurt to spend some time making sure I've kicked some of the bugs out of my plan before I'm in Hell's Canyon with no help and no way to get help. Speaking of...

4) Having a vague idea of where I want to go, and in what order I'm going to go there, would help people I want to see plan for my visit, and make getting help easier if I ever need it. Also, it's probably a good safety measure having people know where I am and when. With that in mind...

5) How do I want to keep in touch with everyone? I'm crap with phone calls when I'm not trying to drive, so that's not happening. Texting will be just flat out dangerous. How do I feel about a vlog? What would I need to do one? How much time would I have to spend editing? If that's not an option, could I keep up my blog well enough for people to keep track of me that way? (going by my track record, no) And even though I won't use it to make calls often, I will need my cell for other things, so who should I sign up with for my phone and data? 

I really need to get things worked out before I leave.

As much as I would love to pretend not having my girl's isn't going to effect my plan, it's already had a dramatic effect on my life, and Kaylee has only been gone a few days. They have been my most consistent partners, and after 14 years, I really don't know how to function without them. I need to figure out how to address this, or the plan will be over before I even start.

It has been horrible not having them to watch over me

The moral to my story? It's only over when you give up.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Service Dog who Wasn't

(Photo by April Taylor)

How To Kaylee

By Catherine Morgan and Friends

Kaylee’s Story

I have had the pleasure of working with Kaylee for most of the last year training her to be my service dog. But as the year has gone on, it has become clear that while Kaylee is the best dog a woman could ask for, she is the worst service dog. There is no way to explain how heartbroken I am about this. But, I have to rehome her. Thankfully, with the help of dear friends, Kaylee will be going home with you!

Kaylee (6 months old) spent some time with a friend before I was able to get her (Photo by Mary Zeman)
Kaylee came to the Morgan family via Craigslist, and some very determined friends. She was being sold by a family that thought she was “cute” only to find out that Huskies aren’t just pretty pictures. Originally, Kaylee was a pet store dog, meaning odds are good she also a puppy mill dog. When she came to live with me, she had ear infections in both ears, a UTI that had backed up into her kidneys, and no training at all. She was just 6 months old. Kaylee was not in good shape, but in true husky form, she was not going to be held back!

(Photo by Mary Zeman)
Those first months were hard for all of us. Mya, Kaylee’s predecessor, was very sick and dying. Kaylee was very sick and a puppy. And the whole family was packing up to move to someplace we had never seen before. But Kaylee faced it all with the courage only puppies know, and after months of vet visits, and lots of love, we all settled into a new routine. Kaylee’s training was coming along beautifully, and we all thought it would be smooth sailing until forever. And then it was time to walk Mya to the Rainbow bridge.

The loss of Mya so soon after the move was hard for all of us, but I think it hit Kaylee the hardest. For weeks she had trouble getting to sleep, she would track Mya’s smell looking for her, and Kaylee’s mentor was no longer there to explain to her how things worked for me. There was a lot of crying and yelling on all of our parts for the first month after Mya left us. But as winter turned into spring, we all got our smiles back, and Kaylee and I were able to start her service dog training in ernest. 

At a time when I couldn't feel comfortable anywhere, with anyone (even myself), or in any situation, I could connect and feel comforted by Kaylee. She is an absolutely magnificent animal, radiating such love, ease of being, and joy that it is almost palpable. ~Mandy Caughey (Kaylee’s best human friend) (Photo by April Taylor)
I don’t think Kaylee has a serious bone in her body. No, really. Given the choice between being a dignified service dog, and a goofy husky, Kaylee is always a husky first. It is this more than anything else that I love about her. Kaylee helps me smile no matter how low I am, and can pull me out of depressive states like none of her predecessors could. 

However, it is this exact same trait that is making her service dog training fail. You see, Kaylee wants to run and jump and play. But all of those things cause me great pain. I have been working with friends for months attempting to get her the activity she needs, but I’ve been failing her in this regard. The result has had tragic ends for several other creatures in my care, and it is breaking Kaylee. I can no longer pretend that I can give her the home she needs.

Because Kaylee has been passed around so much in the first year of her life, I know this change is going to be hard on her. So here are somethings you should know about Kaylee that will make life easier for everyone…

Kaylee’s Need To Know

Kaylee has all sorts of digestive issues, and gets diarrhea easily. A few tablespoons of yogurt a week makes her all better. Make sure you change her food very slowly. She is currently eating Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, and Wet Canned both in the lamb and oatmeal flavors. For treats we've tried everything you can imagine (from meats and cheeses to fruits and veggies, and every store made treat ever) and she likes just about everything. As long as she doesn't eat too many a day she's fine. 

She has MAJOR separation anxiety. She will chew everything she can get her mouth on if you leave her alone. She has a script for Xanax given by vet if you'd like to have it filled. 

“good girl” = general release. “lay down” = prone. “down” = get off of that thing you're on. “hup” = general jump term, WARNING! this is also used as a service dog term for pull hard. “bone down” = drop whatever you just put in your mouth. 

Kaylee takes her meds all by herself if they are put in spray cheese.

Kaylee thinks she a lap dog. You have been warned.

She passionately loves the water. Except when it dumps from the sky into her ears...but who can blame her.

She LOVES squeakers, but only because she can chew the squeaker out. I suggest the spiky balls and shapes if you want it to last more than 10 seconds. I'm sending her with what's left of her toys. May the force be with you.

She overheats easily, so easily in fact that it's uncomfortable for her to have beds or blankets in her crate. This works out well since if you leave blankets or beds in her crate, she shreds them the first time you leave her alone. So far though, she’s never eaten the pieces.

She will nap with you during the day, but is happiest sleeping in her crate at night. “Bedtime” tells her to go to her crate, and wait for a couple treats.

I have never had any problems with Kaylee and other dogs. In fact, she has made friends with several dogs in the neighborhood, at the dog park, and with my friends dogs

Kaylee and her very best friend in the whole world, Sirius. Believe it or not, these two pictures were taken 6 months apart. (Bottom Photo by Courtney Benjamin)
KAYLEE IS NOT GOOD WITH CATS OR SMALL DOGS. I cannot state this strongly enough. She will kill them if given half a chance, so don’t EVER leave her alone with them. She will actively try to tell you that it’s ok this time just for this couple minutes, it’s not. Don’t do it.

I call this, the stand off.

One Last Thing

My service dogs are the center of my Universe. Everything I am able to do is because I have them in my life. So having to let Kaylee go is to intentionally make myself non-functional. If I had any choices that would let me keep her, I would be taking them. For this reason, if you find that for whatever reason you can’t keep Kaylee, please contact me. There will be no questions, and no judgement. I only want what’s best for her.

Thank you so much for taking in my baby. I hope she brings you all the joy she has given me. ~Catherine Morgan

Bright eyed, bushy tailed, tongue lolling. Seriously, have you seen that tongue? This should be a car window decal for the new family. Kaylee loves life and is ready for anything and everything. And the next several things after that. She is the epitome of a husky with her eagerness, intelligence, and independence. "Love her but leave her wild". ~April Taylor (Picture by April Taylor)