Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tour Talk!

Can you believe it's suddenly only SEVEN DAYS until the start of the 2015 Tour de France? Once again time has suddenly sped up on me, as I'm TOTALLY unprepared for this years race. I haven't seen diddly of racing this year, with the exception of the ONE stage of the Tour of California that came thru my town back in May. Other than that, zip. I really haven't even kept up on has been frantic to a degree I've not had before. The Giro went by almost unnoticed (by me) other than a cursory peek at Velo News now and then. All the Spring Classics....can't tell you who won what (I did try to follow some of them, but my pathetic short-term memory means I don't remember who won any of them).

Be that as it may, I think this years tour is going to be similar to the start of last years...the long awaited showdown we were/are all hoping for....a true cycling shootout on the roads of France. Only THIS year, we have four (IMHO) true contenders. Contador tops the list as he has shown great form in winning the Giro. However, can he hold/return to that form a month later? Time will tell.

Froome is back and hungry after his early depart last year. Can he stay upright and healthy this year? Will he show up with winning caliber form? I hope so.

You certainly can't count out Nibali....he was a surprise (for many) last year...nobody really had him as a true 'contender' until both Contador and Froome dropped out. However, he took last years race with a stamp of authority and has other Grand Tour he's definitely a TRUE contender.

And FINALLY...we have Nairo Quintana. If any of the contenders would be considered THE Dark Horse, I'd say it's Nairo. We know he's not a great Time Trialist....however it's like the organizers created this race to give him a shot, having only ONE short TT in the entire race! We know he's one of the ELITE mountain-goats. Contador used to be, but can he keep up with Nairo when it gets steep and long?

And how will their teams figure in? Obviously nobody wins the Tour alone....having a strong supporting team in every stage is key. You almost never WIN the Tour in any one stage, but you can certainly LOSE the tour in ANY one bad day. And also keep in mind that there are cobbles again this year. Only Nibbles will like that, as he has shown himself to be one of the strong-men on the Pave. IF the other three can survive (staying upright and limiting the time-damage) then we just might actually get the shootout we are hoping for. Can you IMAGINE a true 4-way fight for the podium all the way to Paris? FOUR riders w/in seconds of the lead? Possibly having the leaders jersey changing hands on a near daily basis?

However we all need to keep in mind that in recent years, the opening week has been nothing but carnage, and with top riders (no matter how carefully they plan and place themselves) end up hitting the deck. I just don't think that's avoidable these days. There's just too many teams with to many riders on too narrow of roads for it not to be a HUGE factor. There WILL be pile-ups. Many riders WILL be hurt and end up dropping out. How well will these four superstars protect themselves and their teams in the early stages will be KEY in having a shot at the final podium in Paris.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't bring up the unknown factor. WHO will rise from near anonymity this year to suddenly become a star? Every year there are some...whether it's long breakaway stage wins, or suddenly popping up showing they ARE a contender. What GREAT moments await us in these 23 awesome days in July? What incredible memories will survive even MY pathetic memory? Will we see a new Johnny Hoogerland, having been flung into a barb-wire fence by an insane team-car, race on despite dripping blood and flying bandages and unimaginable pain, only to stand on the podium for a day with tears of joy streaming down his face? Cycling is a sport for the tough. How will we see that play out this year? I can hardly wait!

All I know for sure is that it likely WILL be another FANTASTIC race, and IF these four guys can stay healthy (and keep most of their teams healthy), it could very well be one of the best Tours in ages. Keep your fingers crossed and get ready. It's TIME for le Tour!

Game ON!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Life with Sydney wrap up

This is the final part in my pictorial series of our wonderful life with Sydney. Without further adieu, here we go!

 It's 2013 now, and the babies pose in the park. Yep, they HATE each other!

 Another favorite shot...Syd (at the park) waltzing around in the flowers.

Me napping with the babies. We're all good nappers in this house!

Sometimes Syd would end up sleeping just like a person, under the blankets and her head on a pillow.

Jeannie on the couch with Sweet Pea and Syd. Not much room left over.

And suddenly it's Dec, 2013. This is the Christmas card photo.

  Quite a crowd on the couch...Syd can still get up high on the cushion, which is a coveted spot.

 Syd peeking out from under the blanket. Those ears are really something!

Where on earth was I sleeping? Good thing it's a king-size bed!

 Jeannie loved snuggling with Syd, and the feeling was obviously mutual!

 Syd cleaning up all the bowls after dinner. She would work her way behind the feeding station in case of any stray molecules of food lying about, but I'd have to lift her out as she no longer has a 'reverse' gear. This is one of my favorite shots of her. She was SO happy, especially when food is involved!

 August 2014, I finally made a wagon for Syd as she could no longer walk the block or so to the park. She could walk some, however she falls down all the time (as she can't really control the left side very well). She was a good wagon-rider though, and loved going to the park! She was always quite excited when I wheeled the wagon out!

 Getting her in the wagon.

 Here she's all loaded up ready to head to the park in the Furbaby Flyer! Notice I had to make 'seatbelts' (little ropes that attached to her harness so she couldn't try to get out while we were moving).

 Hooking up the rest of the troops.

And we're OFF!

 Here are the babies in the park, AFTER their running around. 
They are all quite tired here, but VERY happy!
 Halloween 2014. Syd may not be able to stand up, but she can still be AT the door greeting the kids...she LOVED the attention!

 Smashed in-between Jeannie and the couch. 

Me napping with my fur-baby-blanket!

 It was this shot that let me realize how white her face had turned. It was so gradual we never really noticed.

 December 2014, Syd with her new baby sister Sophie. You can really tell how white her face is in comparison with the brown on Sophie...Syd's face used to be about that brown.

 Going to Grandma's house for Christmas. We took Syd with us as she needed so much help and attention, we didn't want to leave her with any baby-sitter. She got lots of quality time with mommy and daddy!

Sleeping on the sofa bed at Grandma's. I had to lift her up and down as she had no chance of getting up there by herself. 

Back home on the sofa, sitting with a rawhide Christmas cane chew toy. 

Merry Christmas 2014 from the babies!

Jeannie making a full-on Holiday meal for New Years. The babies are ALWAYS wherever the food is!

 Syd with Sophie on her bed (we got the fancy bed for Syd as she can't get up on the couch anymore).

A brief moment of Syd walking. She was really having problems by this time (Feb, 2015) and we knew the end was sadly coming fast for her.

All ready for another trip to the park. 

April 2014, Sophie snuggling with Syd.

Syd was stone deaf for the last year or more, you could walk in the house and she didn't know it. But she could feel vibrations...she slept like a little angel though. I'm getting extremely sad posting these last few pictures, as I know the end was just days away now.

The last group photo of the babies. At this time we have already set-up the appointment with our Vet to come to our house and put her down, so just knowing the day and time of her passing is killing us, yet we strived to be happy and make sure her final days were the best.

 The very last picture of Syd snoozing  with me, in her usual position with her butt touching Jeannie, and her nose snuggled into my neck. Gosh I'm all teary just thinking about her...and can't even begin to tell you how much we miss her!

The day before....(I vowed NOT to take any pictures on her last day, rather to just enjoy her presence and make sure she knows how much she was loved). This is how we would find her when every time we come home lately...snoozing on the bed, sound asleep and oblivious that we are there. You had to touch the bed so she could 'feel' that we were home...and she would lift her head and just be SO happy!

My heart is breaking on this shot. It's her last day, and probably around 15 minutes or so before the vet arrived. We had BK Junior Whoppers for lunch (and I also cooked up the last steak for Syd, leftovers from last nights dinner steaks for all of us). I left work at noon to come home and spend a final few hours with her. We had been to the park earlier, and now we were just sitting outside in the grass, enjoying the sights and smells. Jeannie took this shot unbeknownst to me. This is the very last picture we have of Sydney.

Sydney's final resting place. My mom got us the stone, and I made a little stand for it. That's her cremains in the box, with a nice picture on top of it, and Jeannie brought in the rose. We both look at her every single day, thinking of the good times, and still so VERY sad she is no longer with us. But we know we did the best we could and gave her a wonderful life. But not as wonderful as the life she gave us. Sydney, we miss you SO VERY MUCH! 
OK, I can't type anymore thru the tears, so I guess I'm done. 
Goodbye Sydney-bear, you are SO missed...we will love you ALWAYS!