Category Archives: vacation

Doggy vacation

The ending of 2014 and start of 2015 have been both amazing and bittersweet for the husBen and I. One thing that sticks out the most is Curie’s diagnosis of cancer. Curie and Voltaire, our two mini schnauzers, have been with us since June and September 2010. They’ve pretty much been the love and fluff of our lives, opening our unexperienced eyes to all sorts of adventures and “Oh god, is this what it’s like to have kids?!” kind of moments.

We noticed a change in Curie’s movement and energy back in November. Just to preface, she is without a doubt the most spunky and OUTSPOKEN dog I’ve ever met with an appetite that rivals my own. With this grandma policing the grounds, not a single rice kernel or Dorito chip gets dropped unnoticed. Curie’s nose always appears out of nowhere only to touch the spot and…just like a Dyson…it’s gone. Sometimes even her bowl of kibbles is not enough. Voltaire, our more submissive boy, is always happy to move aside and let his sister finish his bowl (a lot like how I jab my fork at Ben’s bowl of panang curry while he’s still eating…) Anyways, in November we noticed she was eating less and less. Her movements were getting slower and, in December, there was a scary fluctuation in her body where one second she seemed find and then all of a sudden she would be hobbling in pain, practically immobile. Her entire belly was large and tender and we could no longer touch it or pick her up without her yelping.

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We went to the vet many, MANY times. Once or twice a week. The first blood work came back to confirm she had pancreatitis (very common amongst schnauzers). So every time she was struck down with pain, we assumed it was that and switched her to a low-fat prescription diet. But the belly aches always returned, leaving even her gums and tongue so pale (nearly white) which the doctors said was a sign of dehydration and possibly a leakage of blood somewhere internally. In January, we finally took an Xray as well as an ultrasound. The Xray showed that her lungs were free of cancer cells which was a huge relief (because by the time those reach the lungs, it’s usually too late) but her ultrasound showed huge masses in her spleen that somehow went unnoticed in previous vet visits (probably because when it did get large she would do something like jump on a couch too quickly and tear the mass, causing it to bleed and disappear for a short time only to return).

Curie went into surgery immediately and had a splenectomy after they found three masses. After the biopsy, we were told that it was indeed cancer. The really bad kind. Frankly we were shocked and I couldn’t hold back the tears while the surgeon explained what would happen. Canine hemangiosarcoma is a tumor that lines the blood vessels (essentially a tumor of the blood) which makes it extremely tricky and destructive because it travels quickly and usually hits the lungs, liver, heart or brain first. 1 out of 5 Golden Retrievers will battle this during their lifetime, and “1.5 to 2.5 million out of 72 million dogs will get hemangiosarcoma and succumb to it”. The cancer cells in our baby Curie were going to spread in the next 3-4 months and she would pass a few weeks after that. That was the hard fact and I panicked inside because we were almost out of time. 3 or 4 months? That’s it. That would give us until April or May. June if we were lucky. Curie might see us in our silly costumes for Emerald City Comicon and excitedly bark at all the episodes of Game of Thrones season 5 (she loves watching those horses run on screen) but there’s no guarantee. She most likely won’t make it to her 13th birthday in June (we adopted her on June 4th, 2010) and we’ll have to feed her a delicious box of canine cookies early.

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(Did someone say TREAT?!!)

 

But even with the grave news, there were so many things to be grateful for after the surgery. For one, Curie was no longer in excruciating pain like she was back in December. It was a night and day difference and it made the surgery worth every penny. After a week of bed rest, she was relinquished from the cone of shame, bouncing around and barking like her usual self. She was munching down on her food like the little piggy that I know, though her belly was tremendously smaller than it was before since there was no longer a spleen or three tumors. But the most heart warming thing was what our amazing friend, Erin, did on Curie’s behalf. After I told my friends and co-workers what had happened and about the financial expense of the surgery, Erin took it upon herself to set up a Tilt account. Basically it’s a campaign site where you set up a page that describes a goal you want to reach, and then you start collecting donations from family, friends and even strangers who wish to contribute. You set a minimum “tilt” goal (so no one’s credit card is charged until you hit that number) and you continue raising money towards the goal after you tilt. When Ben and I found out what Erin had done, we were just overcome with gratification and what can only be compared to as the best heartburn. Wow. Just WOW!!!! Our amazing friends (even my boss!) had pitched in on behalf of our baby girl and raised a whopping $1,779!!! Holy schnauzer!!! I can only cry (some more) and thank each and every person who sent us their love. We were overwhelmed, truly.

 

With a few precious months left, we decided in early February that we’d go on as many adventures as possible and at least one memorable trip (which we did just this past weekend!) With our dear friends Kelsi, Ryan and their puppy Bourbon, we drove down to Oregon and rented a cute little house only a walk away from Cannon Beach. It was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever set eyes on (that line kind of upsets me because it’s definitely an understatement…everyone says that psh). William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition once described this beach as “…the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed, in front of a boundless Ocean…” back in 1806 (meh, basically what I just said). I’ve never seen the sky and giant rocks reflected in wet sand the way it is on the Oregon coast. Everything shines, and if you span the beach with your eyes, your left and right look misty and blue but the sunset in front of you is ablazed in pink and gold which makes the blue seem misplaced but hauntingly alluring. It’s what I imagine the coasts of England to look like.

 

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Those few days we spent frolicking in the sand, barking at other dogs, playing board games and just soaking in all the wonders around us.

 

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It was the most perfect trip and I think Curie had a blast :)

 

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The end and the beginning.

Sooo….my last post was in October. It is now March. Four and a half months have passed without a word from your blogess and a LOT has happened. The XXII Winter Olympics has come and gone (Russia has managed to get less likes than before), the brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman died a pointless death, Archer Season 4 is out on Netflix and I finally went to the dentist after one and a half years of sans-visits.

Here’s a quick vertical slide show of my life between October 2013 and March 2014. As the joker once said…here…we…go.
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We bought a lot of pumpkins. Like this.


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Then I dressed up as Hit Girl AND Kermit the Frog from the song Rainbow Connection cause Halloween fell on a lame weekday which means double the costumes. Like this.


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Then we went to Disneyland and did this.

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Then we went to Legoland and did this.

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Then we went to Leavenworth and did this with our feet.

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Then we won the Superbowl. By “we” I mean the city I live in – mother effen SEAHAWKS + the 12th man, pkawwww!!!

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Then we were on a boat.

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A few days ago, I felt like coloring my hair purple. So I did that too.

Fin (for now!)

The Tour

These past two and a half weeks have been unpredictable and crazy. My mom flew out from Hawaii to visit us on October 5 with the intention of leaving on October 13, but her plans to visit friends totally fell through. She is now staying with us until the 24th which means…

19 days total with mom. In one small house. With one small bathroom.

Since it would cost $300 to catch an early flight home, mom decided to go on a tour instead with me as her side kick (beats sitting around the house). “What kind of a tour?” you ask. The Korean kind where you sit on a bus with thirty other foreigners who don’t know a drop of English. This was gonna be one mega touristy ride. I could already smell the kimchee. Destination: New York City, Washington DC and Niagara Falls! WOO!

On the day of our arrival, we only stayed in Manhattan for one or two hours before heading out to New Jersey, but the buildings were spectacular. To be honest, the streets looked grubby and wet, but I liked the mix of neoclassical and modern architecture. It was like a city that had aged but didn’t. On this trip alone, we covered six different states (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virgina) before hitting up Canada.

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History! With exhibitions on dinosaurs, insects, osteology (human bones), crystals and…diamonds (my mom’s favorite part). We were lucky to catch a glimpse of the Hope Diamond, a deep blue diamond of 45.52 carats, which has passed through the hands of kings and queens on a 350-year journey. Notorious for being “cursed”, it’s traveled from India to France to England to the United States and is the second most viewed object after the Mona Lisa.

In memory of the American soldiers who fought in the Korean War, located just outside the Lincoln Memorial. Salute!

Seeing the Washington Monument made me think of one thing…”Jenny! FORREST!!!” Sadly, the reflecting pool was empty and under construction. And now, jumping right into…NIAGARA FALLS! There are two sides to this gigantic natural wonder, one located in the US and the other in Canada. We visited the Cave of the Winds first which lies directly opposite of Canada.

A statue of Nikola Tesla who “designed the first hydroelectric power plant at Niagara Falls, New York which started producing electrical power in 1895. This was the beginning of the electrification of the United States and the rest of the world. Today, Tesla’s AC electricity is lighting and powering the globe. Nikola Tesla is the genius who lit the world.” (http://www.teslasociety.com/victoria.htm) I have a lot of respect for this man. So glad David Bowie played him in The Prestige.

Now, I thought the Cave of the Winds was awesome, amazing, stupendous…until I saw THIS on the Canadian side.

This last picture is an aerial view from a helicopter. Yes, yours truly and mom went on a helicopter ride. It was like something out of a movie. I have pictures to prove that it happened but…I’m still not sure it did. The view – amazing. The ride – jerky and frightening. I thought we were going to die.

The next morning, we visited a winery before going on our Niagara Falls boat ride. I kid you not. This Ice wine, produced by Reif Estate Winery, is the best dang wine I have EVER tasted. Ever. It is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine, meaning that is has a sweet aftertaste. One bottle sells for $60 if you buy it at the winery, but try to buy it in Korea and it’ll cost you $200!

And now…the boat ride on the Maid of the Mist! They weren’t kidding about the mist. There’s a reason why we all wore silly-looking blue panchos. This waterfall is probably the most powerful thing I have ever witnessed and it was beautiful…double rainbow and all.

The drive back to Manhattan lasted seven hours. That was one long, uncomfortable ride. But on the upside, I watched a super touching movie called Hachi: A Dog’s Tale starring Richard Gere which is based on a true story. Let’s just say it ended with me discreetly wiping away tears in the corner of my seat. I watched the movie in silence (literally, the sound wasn’t working so I invented a sad musical score in my head and attempted to read lips). I WILL buy this movie.

The following morning, we went on another boat ride with three hundred or so other Asian people. Yes, that’s correct. Three to five hundred other Asian people all crammed into one boat like a pack of overly-excited sardines. The guide who spoke to us over the microphone asked us to raise our hands if we spoke English (I rose mine but she didn’t see me because I was on the top deck). I remember her saying “No one here can understand me anyways…I can say aaaaanything I want…”

And last but not least, we ended our five day tour with…The Empire State Building! Like the Washington Monument, all I could think of when walking into this building was that one episode of Doctor Who when the Daleks attack Manhattan. The most awesome part about this attraction was the Sky Ride, a virtual tour simulator where you sit in these seats that move, shake and jerk around in sync with an 18-foot high definition screen that takes you around New York City. But the best part is the narrator of this 30-minute adventure – Kevin Bacon :) Also hearing mom yelp and make sounds of excitement was pretty funny.

Sad part about this trip: We got to the top of the building (86th floor) and we couldn’t see a thing. The whole balcony was covered in mist, clouds and rain! Just when we thought it had been a waste, we went to the 80th floor and was able to see this outside the window. Just enough to say we saw something.

I’m so grateful that I got to spend this time with my mom and make memories. I realize that once I start to work again, I won’t have the liberty to just pick up and leave on a trip. So I end with this awesome quote by Iris Murdoc: “One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.” So true.

Motivational Monday / The Power Adventure

The last 5-6 days have been CRAZY! Just got back from our Florida vacation and now I get to do that thing Demetri Martin once said…look through my digital camera and reminisce instantly.

A quick download of what the hubby, our friend Peter and I embarked on:

– Cruised through Miami and soaked up the sun on South Beach
– Walked up and down the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk while picking up seashells (which, by the way, look just like the perfect and generic shells you see in movies or scrap books)
– Drove for 3 hours down to Key West, the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys, and went on the Sebago POWER ADVENTURE! You basically ride a 60’ Catamaran for a spectacular 6-hour excursion sailing the crystal blue waters off Key West (only 80 miles away from Cuba). We snorkeled the Living Coral Reef, road on a banana boat at high speed causing me to fall off three times (which was way more fun than I thought it would be), rode behind Ben on a jetski (kinda James Bond-ish), parasailed high above the waters, and ate a buffet breakfast and lunch!
– Went back to the Catamaran for a beautiful sunset sail
– Shopped at Duval Street (a big bar and restaurant district) and accepted the fact that I was a tourist
– Toured the South Florida Everglades on an air boat (a roofless boat with a giant fan at the end) in hopes of seeing alligators

Two beached whales.

The drive down to Key West. Florida has some of the most amazing clouds…so fluffy and white. Very Super Mario-ish.

I swam with multiple schools of fish. It was surreal! Even saw a glimpse of a Nerf Shark.

We got dropped three times and happily dipped our feet into the water. We could see everything above including a passing sting ray.

My one and only complaint about Florida is the deadly humidity. Since I’m from Maui, I figured I could handle it…right? Wrong. I felt like there was no point in ever taking a shower because as soon as you left the safety of your air conditioned hotel, the sticky hot atmosphere would cling to your skin and NEVER LET GO. I found it hard to breathe as my makeup dripped off and strands of hair uncomfortably clung to the sides of my face. Now I know what it feels like to pant like a dog. Utah, I will never take your dry heat for granted again!

But other than that, the trip was so beautiful and scenic. Glad we chose to do the Power Adventure rather than Disney World!