Status Update — Mid-Year 2008

Status Update — Mid-Year 2008


The last time I wrote anything of length, it was to announce that I was going on Prozac. Several of you have written to ask how that was going, along with questions of how well our training of Coco is going.

Like most people who take SSRIs or other anti-depressants who aren’t chronically depressed, I’ve wondered if now that I’m feeling better (the meds made a huge difference as the winter dragged on and on and on) maybe I can taper down and eventually stop. This is always tied to the inevitable: what if I always need to be on this medication? Not that being on meds would be bad, just don’t know if I need to try to get off them eventually or just take them and shut up. Since I’m not diagnosed as being chronically depressed, I just don’t know. I’ll consult my doctor at my next visit.

The meds worked great for me. I had an adjustment period where I was very tired and slept harder than I’ve ever slept before. That seems to have worn off. I can’t decide if the sleeping was my body’s reaction to a gray winter or to the meds or a combination. I do know that with spring, I have a renewed energy I haven’t felt in a long time. Which is nice.


She appears to have finally gotten the memo about where to relieve herself. We had her spayed and some people feel that helps with training. I can’t be certain. We just needed time. She did take far longer than Chuck to get the notion that we don’t pee and poop wherever we feel like it, unless we’re outside and in an approved bladder relief zone. She enjoys the occasional coprophagic moment from time to time and upon our return from vacation we’ll try some other tactics. The best advice so far: Pineapple.

She is starting to listen to training and be able to sit still for treats. During the many visits to our home involving camera crews, we seem to have hit a place where Coco can pose for pictures. She still can’t hold a candle to Chuck, who is the most incredible dog ever when it comes to holding a pose for the camera. If we don’t work with him in the morning, he gets all mopey. But sit him down in a dress with treats coming on a regular basis and he will be entirely focused. We weren’t sure Coco would ever figure this out, but we’ve turned up the training and the treats and a few days ago, she sat still for about 15 minutes while we worked on shots for a crew. She really did an amazing job. I think we are still some time away from balancing stuff on her head, but wearing ridiculous clothes? Hell yes.

She’s much more dog-like than Chuck and she can be a snuggle bear when she wants some lovin’. Chuck would rather crash in another room, but he comes up to get us when he feels it’s time for us to go to bed.

Coco stays with us all the time. She might visit Chuck in the basement, but if we call her, she comes running and loves to be around us.

She’s started putting herself to bed, giving us some looks and then getting in her crate when she’s done for the day. It’s really incredible to watch. Chuck only did that a few times during his 18 month stay in the crate. I think Coco may be more permanent with the crate than Chuck was.

Waking up now is a treat. We’ll let Coco out, but she is more excited just to be up than having an actual waste elimination need. We’ll leave her out to do her business and when she comes back in, whoever is in our bed gets a cranked up puppy jumping in bed and nose diving into their neck with a quick series of licks and sniffs and some mild talking from Coco about how glad she is we are still alive. It’s really a joy to wake up to this after the months of 3am journeys in the back yard while dressed in full winter gear waiting for Coco to find the EXACT spot she need to take care of business.

Coco’s relationship with Leta is getting better as well. Coco knows that if Leta is screaming, that is not a good time to play. But if Leta doesn’t want to go to bed, that is the perfect time to start licking Leta and trying to play. Leta LOVES this, but it doesn’t happen every day. It appears to be happening more regularly, so there is hope on that front. There is still screaming from Leta about Coco looking at her toys or books or screaming about just looks in general at anything Leta doesn’t approve.

Personal goals.

A couple of years ago, when I left my day job, I wanted to start selling prints. I delayed for a few reasons, most of them sound, in retrospect. We needed to get our business sorted out and figure out how to work from home. Once the budget allowed, we got a better camera and I began to amass a body of work that I’d be comfortable selling. I got a machine that would handle image processing better than my laptop. Printing and paper finally became more affordable (and our business able to absorb start up and shipping costs) And finally, Etsy came into being and allowed an easier way to sell stuff. I needed all this to be in place so I could start selling my work in a way that meant I have time to focus on the work and not the admin stuff.

I can’t thank those of you who have purchased my work enough. That people are willing to plonk down their money is hugely gratifying. It’s less about the money than it is about feeling like people are connecting to your work. I’ll keep adding photos you want to purchase if you’ll just let me know: photos [at] blurbomat [dot] com.

I’m trying not to let stresses and my temper get the best of me. We’ve traveled a lot this year and will continue to do so. Airports are not good for stress.

I feel like my role in our business has expanded and that Heather and I have worked out a pretty good way to work together. Sure, we still disagree and argue, but I can’t imagine doing it any other way and I can’t imagine even trying this with anybody else.


The fours are better than the threes. By a huge margin. Leta’s personality is astounding and beautiful. To watch her develop this year has been remarkable. This is what people talk about when they talk positively about having children. Sure, she’s grumpy sometimes. She’s a super picky eater. But she’s funny as hell and full of personality. When she’s excited about something, I’ve never seen a child more into that something than her. I’m starting to make up all kinds of stories at bedtime and she’s starting to respond and make up her own stories. I relish the sweet time we have together to share like this.

Leta is starting to read. It’s very slow going, and I don’t want to push too hard. As a parent, you always have to push. The secret at this stage, for me, is to determine when and how much. I have varying degrees of success with this. Leta, if you are reading this, I tried. I will always try.


I have watched Heather bloom as a professional. This is something I’ve always known about her, but has been wonderful to see come out. In the most unusual and difficult and public circumstances, I continue to learn about grace and in particular, grace under pressure. Heather is inspiring. Even to me.

I am the luckiest man alive.

Final Observations.

One of the things that has struck me ever since I left for England 20 plus years ago is that I have never seemed to do well with normal, even while craving it at times. This past year has been anything but normal, which I love. But it hasn’t been easy to figure out some things.

Working from home is a dream come true. But there is still work to be done. I’ve learned more about business in the past two years than I have in my entire life. If you think balancing your checkbook is grueling, try doing payroll (even for one person) and balancing multiple accounts while paying taxes and making sure a website that is your bread and butter stays up and functional. It’s not that any one of these things is particularly difficult. It’s that combined, they take up large portions of time. I’ve had to work harder than ever to be a better time manager. Given this past winter, that has meant making some tough purchases (while I love the snowthrower, that was tough for me to accept that a purchase like that would make my life so much better) and letting go of some of my uptightedness.

The immediate future doesn’t look to be any more normal. In fact, it looks a lot more chaotic and frenetic. But I’m in a much better place, with some time during the day to do a few things I love and that adds some tangible value to our house.

I think most of this is something that anybody who stays home has dealt with, but traditionally, it has been from a feminine perspective. As more dads stay home, I would expect that some of the issues I’ve dealt with about personal worth, worth to the family and to any other endeavors would come up. They haven’t come up for me in the ways that might appear on a late 1980s television dramedy, but I could see them start to arise. Once we had the funds to let me get some tools, I can’t tell you the difference it has made for me. Sitting on top of a sweet machine, editing a photo and then sharing that work, even encouraging people to spend money on that work, has made an enormous difference in my life and I’ve only been selling prints for less than a month. I can’t imagine what I’ll feel like in another six months or six years. I just know that what I’ve been through this year has allowed me to see more clearly the fragility of life and the need to seize it and run.

I know. Super schmoopy. I’m in Florida now and loving the humidity, the heat and the warm ocean water. Time for sunscreen and splashing.