Gandalf the Brave

Gandalf was the bravest dog I knew.

Once in my old house I heard a noise outside, probably deer or foxes or some other animal, and I opened the front door to peek. Gandalf charged past me and leapt off the porch into the darkness. There was no hesitation on his part and I stood there, stunned. I have a forever picture in my mind of his furry back end in mid-air, launching into the night.

He disappeared into the darkness and didn’t return.

“Gandalf…..?” No answer.

I closed the door and went back inside.

Fifteen minutes later I heard him on the porch and opened the door. He bustled past me into the house, all business and quite proud of himself. Thinking of the grin on his face still makes me smile.

He. Was. Fearless.

Three months ago, the clicking of Gandalf’s toenails as he paced woke me up in the middle of the night. I let him out into the dark yard and he stared at the back fence where I could hear the neighbor’s broken sprinkler head hissing. He made a loop around the yard, came in and we went back to sleep.

The following day started off normally but by lunchtime his pacing had resumed. Pippin stuck close to home and we all raked leaves in the bright autumn sun. I noticed Gandalf looking at our yard like he was trying to understand where he was. The first niggles of worry sprouted as the day wound down.

Bedtime arrived and as was my habit, I was reading in bed before I dozed off. The mattress bounced and I put my book down to see this: Gandalf had joined Pippin and me. The last time he had slept on the bed was the night I moved into my own apartment. The worry niggles that had sprouted earlier burst into bloom.

Damn.

All of us on the bed

We dozed off and all night I could feel Gandalf restless in his sleep. Occasionally he woke and paced on the bed, stepping on Pippin and waking me up, too. Then he would jump down, only to jump back up several minutes later. Doze, pace, down, up, repeat.

At 4 am I abandoned trying to sleep, got up and made a pot of coffee.

We settled in the living room; me on the carpet in front of the couch and Pippin curled up on the cushion at my shoulder. Gandalf sat beside me and I scratched his ears (his favorite spot) in between his bouts of pacing.

The knowledge that today was the day I would do the last best thing for my friend seeped into my brain and heart and leaked back out in a flood of tears. I cried until dawn.

Our vet’s office opened and we got an appointment at 11. I called the kids to tell them what had happened and William sent good thoughts from the east coast. Sarah changed her plans for the day, saying “I’m not leaving you alone to put your dog down” and Rebecca hopped the bus to my house.

Gandalf and I went for our last walk alone as Pippin had retreated to his cat perch, for once declining to accompany us. Some illogical part of my brain (or maybe it was my hoping heart) thought that being outside in the sun might restore Gandalf to himself.

He went to the end of the flexi-leash and stayed there as we headed to the open space, and he paced and searched for something familiar in this place where he knew every tree, bush and blade of grass. I had been dreading the arrival of the 11 o’clock appointment but now it couldn’t come soon enough. He was so clearly uncomfortable; his body was no longer his friend.

The Universe heard my prayer and when we arrived home, the girls were there waiting for us. Amidst tears and goodbyes we helped Gandalf into the car for the longest-shortest trip ever.

I love our vet. The clinic was ready for us and a sedative allowed Gandalf to finally stop pacing. The girls and I cried our love and thankfulness for him being in our lives, and his great soul was set free.

Rebecca, Sarah and I returned to our homes. I am not quite sure what I did for the remainder of the day. Pippin’s solution was to sleep. He had known Gandalf his entire life and they were great buds.

Gandalf and Pippin napping together

My sleep was marginal at best the first night without my pup. Listless and sad and tired I got up the next morning and sat on the couch with my coffee. Pippin was still in a coma in his cat perch. The house was so quiet.

Without much enthusiasm I flipped open my iPad to look at Words With Friends and the board burbled to life.

I put my coffee cup down and stared, dumbfounded, at the word that had been played for me during the night:

Words with Friends play spelling out "Be Brave"

Tears streamed down my face, and I looked up from the iPad to Gandalf’s photo beaming down at me from the china closet.

Gandalf the Brave

 

Yes, Gandalf.

Until we meet again, I will be brave.

How could I be otherwise with your paw prints on my heart?

After The Election You Still Have A Choice

Thank God this debacle is over.

The gutter brawl between the parties threatened to spill into my front room and had become so, so tiresome.

Now we know and I am not wasting any more energy on this election. There are people to be taken care of, runs to be run, tests to be taken, dogs to be petted and choices to be made.

We have the choice to be better or bitter. There is no staying the same.

We can choose to live with courage and heart here and now.

We can choose to be a source of calm and strength and honor in whatever happens next. For every person you see gloating or wringing their hands or just being a twit about this state of affairs, do something kind.

Choose to be goodness in the world.

The people in Washington won’t notice, but our families and friends and neighbors will. That’s what makes these choices so much more important than the ones we made on November 8.

 

Clouds and sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paleo, Paleo, wherefore art thou, my Paleo?

Holy cats it seems like I’ve been gone from here for forever!

I had my website hardened to keep all of us safe from the bad guys on the web (Danny Dawes at SiteLock rocks!) and when I resumed writing it just wasn’t coming together nicely. Or at all, for that matter. I finally slowed down enough to hear the Muse whispering in my ear; she said I was screwing it up and to start over.

Detail of painting The Muses Urania and Calliope by Simon Vouet.

Back in August, after a disastrous expedition into Vegan-ism (I know, I know, there are people who do fine with a Vegan diet…..we are not those people), my son William and his wife Kate began buying real meats, veggies, fruits and fats (as opposed to “un-real” ie; cheezwhiz) and whipping them into some very tasty meals. Grains, dairy and alcohol were generally avoided and of course this was coupled with a cardio & strength exercise program. What has been the result of William and Kate’s adventure with what is commonly called The Paleo Diet?

Kate:
Down approx 20 lbs
17% from 55% body fat
Lost 5-6 inches on waist
Stronger
PRT (military fitness) scores significantly improved

William:
Down approx 30 lbs
17% from 56% body fat
Lost 6-8 inches on waist
Shirt size went from XXL to L.
Stronger
Significant muscle definition

Endurance has improved for both resulting in each of us running three half-marathons last year and William running at least one road race every month in 2012. We sleep better and have more energy for our dogs Chewy and Crown, our friends and each other. We are more aware of where our food comes from and what we are eating. 

And what is happening to cholesterol and triglycerides on this eating plan, you ask? Well, dear reader, here are Kate’s lipids; William’s to follow when they are drawn next week.

Cholesterol: 257 (target 199), Triglycerides: 54 (<149), HDL: 86 (40-60), LDL: 160 (target 125), CRP: <0.1 (<1.0), Ratio 3:1 (<5:1). This was Kate’s first lipid panel so there are no numbers to compare.  Insert sad face here.

William and Kate introduced Sarah and Jared to Paleo and we all started trading recipes. Rebecca often spends a couple of days with me each week so she was able to sample them and we would make extra to send home with her. I have a couple of favorite websites now; PaleOMG (I pre-ordered her cookbook), and for the science part of this plus more culinary delights; Loren Cordain, PhD and Robb Wolf. Yes, there are even more but I am just getting started so will add to this list as I test drive them. Cooking is fun again!

Society has been on the low fat/no fat band wagon for quite a few years now and the “obesity epidemic” is worse than ever. The cereal aisle is bigger than the produce section in some stores and there are more drugs on the market for diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol than there were a few years ago. Plus all these 5 hour energy/monster/high octane drinks so we can say awake to function….really, people?

Somethin’ just ain’t right here.

Rebecca and I are doing decently with exercise. However, I could stand to lose ten pounds and my lunch-lady arms (no offense to lunch ladies but I do not want to channel Mrs. Hofstedder from the third grade) and I would like to finish my eighteen hour days in a less ragged fashion. Rebecca needs to lose some weight, too, and an energy boost for her would be bonus. More about that in the next installment.

Therefore….the Wholam Paleo Diet Clinical Trial with an “n of 2″ commences! We have nothing to lose but weight, inches and fatigue!

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