Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Home Again

We arrived home this morning, after traveling on about four hours of sleep. So catching up there was the first order of business. We got in too late to pick up Chewy at the kennel, so had to wait until 5:00 pm. He seemed pleased to see us, but in that way where I'm not really sure he noticed we were gone until he saw us again. Which is good. That's what I wanted. He stank like a mo fo, though, so he got a bath as soon as we got home. He's been pretty chill tonight. We're reminding him of the household manners he forgot while we were gone.

Austin was awesome. Awesome Austin. Lots of family, food, fun, and baby time. I've got permission to post a pic of my nephew, so I will as soon as his mom is able to send me some. She's considering a blog herself, but would like to get on the beta version. Ouiser, die Frau, and I had no problem with this, but she doesn't seem to have the option, even though she has a blogger account. Is it invite only? Anyone have any tips for her?

Ooh, by the way, there was a hawk sitting in the tree in our front yard when we got home. Very cool. We reached for the camera before pulling into the driveway, but he flew away. Then we saw a huge gray cat rounding the corner. His flight may have been more about that than us. At any rate, it was a nice welcome home.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Sorry I've been gone so long. I'm not quite back yet. The holidays overtook me and I am woefully overdue on blogging. I'll be home on the 27th and will aim for a real entry then. Happy Holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Treeless in Tucson

I got the lights up. All roughly 1,800 of them. And, while I'm not afraid of heights, per se, I do tend to be afraid of things that will kill me. Like falling off a ladder. So I bought this pole that was supposed to be specifically for clipping lights to shingles without having to get on a ladder, but it was useless. The clips were too weak. So I ended up borrowing a ladder from a neighbor and got all the lights up without loss of limb.

I also go the Thanksgiving decorations put away and the few indoor Christmas decorations we have out. I have all kinds of ornaments that I've never yet used because we've never had a tree. This year we have a house, so we have room, but I'm too worried about the puppy. I also have a lot of large pinecones I'm not sure what to do with. Ideas?

I made this jingle bell wreath. In case anyone else wants to try it, it took 75 bells. I used 16 gauge wire, but would recommend something even sturdier. Apart from the fact that those bells are a lot heavier than they look, it was easy.
And here's a gratuitous Chewy pic, from his first trip to the dog park.
Got some time on your hands? Let it snow...
(And thank domesticali for the fun.)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Light It Up

Say what you want about the suburbs, but they're a great place to walk your dog at night this time of year if you're a Christmas lights fan. I love it. In fact, we have tentative plans to see the Winterhaven Festival of Lights in Tucson this weekend. Our own lights are still in a sorry state. This is the first time ever that I've had a house to decorate. We currently have 5 snowflakes on stakes near our front door. A couple of strings of icicle lights will be added this weekend, along with a jingle bell wreath. And maybe 5 more snowflakes. And I think we may have some red LED lights that the husband's aunt gave us a few years ago...I'll have to hunt those down, too. Oh, and I just realized that we'd better celebrate my birthday this weekend as I work the weekend after my birthday...better get on that.

By the way, everyone saw this last year, right? Worth an annual look, I think. I wonder if he's got new choreography this year?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Holy Holidays, Batman!

Is December always this busy? This is ridiculous! I don't remember this. Well, the last three years were this busy because December meant the end of the semester, which always came with lots of papers, presentations, and exams (not to mention report writing with indecisive clinical supervisors..."Change it to this; no, I mean this; never mind, change it back the way you had it; and did I mention it's due yesterday?"). But before I went back to school, was December always this way? I think when we were fresh out of college we didn't do much of anything because we were always headed home for the holidays. When the husband and I were in Philly working for the publisher, December always meant lots of fruit baskets and cookie tins and two-hour lunches. Now I'm working in a hospital where things seem to have just kicked into overdrive, I'm doing ten-hour days, and told not to expect a let up until May.

I can't believe tomorrow is December 1. I wanted to have pictures taken for a Christmas card by now. I wanted a two-ft tree to fit in the strange little cubby in our living room, too high for Chewy to reach. I wanted a Christmas wreath. I wanted a plan for what to do with all those pine cones I collected on Mt. Lemmon. I wanted to have sewn Christmas presents for everyone (or at least every woman; men are hard to sew for). I wanted to make a Christmas bandanna for Chewy. I wanted to make beds for the cats for Christmas. My shopping is on time, but that's because most gifts are a mouse click away. But I wanted to be well on my way to hanging lights and baking cookies by now. How did you do all that, Mom? I just need to not have to work. Problem is, I still want to at this point.

Anyway, aside from the seasonal mayhem, Chewy had his first trip to the dog park last weekend. I have mixed feelings about those places. So many stories about dog fights there ending with someone's throat ripped open. On the other hand, this dog park was much nicer than I imagined. Lovely people, great dogs. There was one pit bull when we first got there that was being nerve rackingly aggressive with Chewy at first, despite the fact that he was plastered to the ground on his back being the epitome of submissive. But the pit bull left and Chewy had the time of his life with a whole slew of dogs. I've just got to start him in the next level of classes at Petsmart and let him get his socialization that way. It's safer.

I'm desperately trying to clean up the house a bit tonight before our friend house/dog/cat sits for us tomorrow night. I'll be in Mesa at a Logemann workshop for MBSs. The husband is making a quick trip to CA for his auntie's 60th birthday, which is apparently being enthusiastically celebrated by the fam. In fact, I think I'm the only nephew/niece/in-law not attending. A little sad, but I'll see most of them at Christmas. My first Texan Christmas. I wonder if the tree will be in the shape of Texas, like a giant Texan topiary. Or maybe it will be topped with longhorns. I'm sure they'll think of something.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Graduation!

Chewy graduated from puppy kindergarten tonight! It wasn't that hard. Not even a real test. A little anticlimactic actually. Although, he did win the puppy push-up contest. That's how many times he can go from a sit to a down to a sit, etc., in 30 seconds. In practice we'd only gotten up to 10, but when it counted he made it to 18. All the other dogs had scores like 2 or 4. He's a pressure player. And he won the Heisman squeaky ball. Now he's going to Disney World. He also accidentally bit through the husband's ear this morning while wrestling (no stitches needed). Yup, a real pro athlete.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Carrot Top

Believe it or not, I have been crafty lately, but I can't post any of it because the holidays are upon us...the craftiness is intended for others, whom I'd like to surprise. I'll take pics and save them for January.

Chewy's graduation from puppy kindergarten is next week. Wish us luck. He has to pass a series of tests to prove that he's actually learned something. They kind of stack the deck against the dogs though. Chewy does almost all his commands perfectly at home, but when we're in class and I ask him to do something, he looks at me like, "Seriously, Mom? Do we have to do this now? Can't you see that I'm in the middle of sniffing Willie Nelson's butt?" (please note, this is Willie Nelson the lhasa apso, not Willie Nelson the human singer).

I learned this week that Chewy loves carrots. Who knew? We had several pounds purchased back when we were trying to do the raw food diet thing. We gave that up partly because our vet advised us to, partly because it was taking an hour to feed him at each meal because we had to grind up the bones and he couldn't eat them unless we hand-fed them to him so he could break them up even smaller with his little puppy teeth. Anyway, we had all these carrots so I was making carrot bread (which did not turn out well) and carrot soup (which did turn out well) and offered Chewy a piece of carrot peel. Five pieces later, I finally gave him a whole carrot. He was obsessed. I didn't dare give him more, fearing that I was inviting GI disaster. But he stares fixedly at me as I eat the soup, waiting for his chance to lick out the bowl. And it's a spicy soup. Odd dog.

We have had one setback this week: Chewy has had three episodes of peeing with excitement upon greeting people. The first was a friend he hadn't seen in a few weeks. That kind of made sense. The second was the vet, and it was definitely excitement not fear. Wacko. Who gets that excited to see someone who sticks thermometers up his butt and sticks him with needles? The third was an employee at Petsmart who is a huge Chewy fan. Or was. He may have lost one there. Anyway, anyone have any tips for nipping this in the bud? One person told me their dog went through that phase and grew out of it. Another said to tell people not to get him excited, but people already don't listen when we ask them not to let him jump on them. Any tips would be welcome.

Last in Chewy news, we bought him one of those cow hooves for chewing on. Holy dead cow foot, those things reek! Chewy looooooooves it. He hasn't been this focused on anything since his first pig's ear. It's fine if he's across the room, but believe me, you do not want a noseful. Thank goodness there are no holiday get-togethers at our house this year. I'd have to fumigate.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What I Think About While Trying to Sleep at Night

From last night's nocturnal musings...

  1. How many other people out there are willing to tolerate the razor sharp knives attached to their cat's feet digging into their arms while they're trying to fall asleep so that the cat will stay there and purr on them? And how many of those feel that it's their own fault for being negligent in keeping up their kitty's manicures?
  2. I then thought about what my dad would say if he thought I was actually giving my cats manicures. My dad is a good ol' dog, scruff up the fur, rough and tumble play kind of a guy, whom I think would say that cathood should involve predominantly sitting in the garden in the sun, or, if a favored black cat, sitting spookily next to a carved and lit pumpkin after dark around Halloween. Curling up on your lap, knives sheathed, and staying put in front of the woodstove during the winter. I can't find much fault with this interpretation. Although I think my cats would beg to differ. The dog would not.
  3. Then moving back to the manicures, I thought, it wouldn't be so bad if they weren't such lousy tippers. And they keep running up a tab with no sign of payment in sight. So I wondered what my cats would use for currency. Dead lizards. Twist ties. The plastic tabs from gallon-jugs of milk. In fact, in hindsight, I wonder if that's what Lita was trying to do all those years we kept finding all her milk tabs collected in Dylan's right shoe every morning when we lived in Hamilton, and sometimes in Philly. Always the right shoe. Never the left. She was trying to pay her debt to our little society and we just laughed at her. Does that make the cabinet under which I found 27 milk tabs when we moved from Philly her bank?
  4. Moving right along, how can you work in a medical setting with people dying of lung cancer and remain a smoker? Then, in my equivocal way, I wondered if I would be able to give up chocolate/carbs/sugars if proved to be life threatening. In all seriousness, I do feel I have some level of psychological addiction. There's obesity, of course. But I'm not remotely obese and I exercise, so that's not exactly an imminent threat. And smoking is harmful to everyone. Not everyone struggles with their weight and keeping food in moderation. Some people handle it just fine and make it harder for the rest of us who watch everyone else eating the foods we're trying to avoid. So you'd think that would make quitting smoking easier. But you also have to consider that even a little bit of smoking can be a huge downfall for someone trying to quit. A little bit of chocolate never hurt anyone. But what if it did? What if it were like poison? "If only she hadn't indulged in that one square, she would have lived." One of the best compliments I've ever received from my best friend was when she said she admired how I always look at both sides of something and try to see things from the other's point-of-view. Which puts me in mind of something my boss said a few weeks ago and which I've since been thinking about constantly: our biggest strengths are our biggest weaknesses and vice versa. Hence my rambling.
  5. I've noticed that dogs are usually portrayed in media as "talking" with one-word/phrase vocabularies. For instance, in Over the Hedge the dog says only "Play!"; in a movie several years ago (was it Dr. Dolittle maybe?), the dog had a monologue that went something like, "Give me the ball! I want the ball! Throw the ball! The ball, the ball, the ball!!!" And I recently read a magazine article in which a woman imagined how an interview would go with her dog, could he talk. His consistent and somewhat existential answer was always: squirrel (What do you dream about? Squirrel. What's the meaning of life? Squirrel. What could we humans do that would really make you happy? Squirrel.--You get the picture.). I fell asleep imagining what Chewy's inner monologue consists of and settled on something like, "Out! Okay, no, in. Oh, but out! Hmmm, I think I meant in. No, okay, this time, really, out. Oh, but now you're in. But the cat's out! And my food is in. Out to pee, please. And in. Out, need fresh air. How I love in! Same old, better go out. Property's secure, let me in." He could go on. I dreamt of doggy doors.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What's an Eight-Letter Word for a Reese Witherspoon Movie?

After leaving the northeast where I was spoiled by all the clean bar air (wow, never thought those words would be in a sentence about cleaner bar air?), it was tough readjusting to black lungs when we went out in Tucson. But no more! The smoking ban in public places, including bars, was passed in Tucson last night and I, as a nonsmoker, couldn't be happier. We also managed to hold off the man/woman marriage restriction. It was a good day in the Old Pueblo.

In other news, today I did my first modified barium swallow study at work. (Non-SLPs may choose to stop reading here and skip to someone's blog who doesn't insist in talking about obscure work-related nonsense.) It was actually kind of boring because the man's swallow looked completely functional, which threw me for a second. But I did strongly recommend an ENT consult: six months post-colon cancer, with new onset of increased vocal hoarseness, lifetime smoker and drinker...painting you SLPs any pictures? And I had the one, shall we say difficult, radiologist, which was intimidating, but he was perfectly pleasant for once, so it could have been much worse. Getting excited for my MBS conference with Jeri Logemann in Mesa in a couple weeks!

Now I'm off to look up a reference someone gave me for research from 1997 showing that a swallow delay with thins of three seconds in the pyriforms is normal. Suspicious, no? I'll let you know what I find.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Happy Voting!

The day after Halloween is All Souls' Day (Dia de los Muertos), and around Tucson it's celebrated the following Sunday with the All Souls' Procession. This is a huge celebration in Tucson, what with it's Mexican heritage, and we missed it the past two years (grad school, I hate you!). But this year, a friend who lives downtown, walking distance from the procession route, invited us over to watch, eat, and drink.

It was amazing. It's basically an all human-powered parade of people dressed as their own interpretation of the holiday. People get ridiculously creative and elaborate. If we still live here at this time next year, we'll have four costumes to make instead of two. Because that's one of the coolest things: anyone can join in the procession anywhere along the route.

It all ends at a big cauldron of fire after about a two-mile walk. The cauldron burns all the offerings people have made ahead of time representing their hopes and wishes for dead loved ones.

Chewy went with us and behaved beautifully. There are all kinds of musical instruments played throughout the mobs of people. Including huge, loud, deep, vibrate-your-soul drums. Chewy was alert, but didn't seem nervous. We carried him when the crowd got to thick. It was pretty intense at the cauldron. I think he was too exhausted by that time to care about the people/noise/fire/etc.
Look here for some much better pictures than mine.
There were lots of funny political groups, too. And a couple who decorated their kids' wagon as a casket and was pulling the kids around in it. The whole family dressed as skeletons, zombies, and what have you, of course. I thought it was really funny, but I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that I thought it was funny. ;)
Anyway, it was great. I wish every town had this tradition.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lazy Sunday

Follow this link to Angry Chicken who posted a link to a hysterical SNL skit. I missed this one until now, so had to share.

Live Free or Die

What do you do when your puppy gets big enough to knock down his puppy gate? And he's not even 16 weeks old yet?

I came home last night to find the house trashed. I actually got scared at first because I realized he was out but couldn't find him in the house...I got worried he'd swallowed something dangerous and that was why he wasn't coming to me. Then I found him in our walk-in closet. I couldn't tell if he had gotten trapped in there (the door was shut, though not latched) or just fallen asleep. Anyway, he was fine, and once the damage was assessed, it turned out that his short puppy attention span had saved us. He didn't gnaw on anything long enough to cause total destruction. "Chew, chew, okay, what's next!?!?"

Note the reverse side of the reversible Halloween bandanna

And on the bright side, he was shockingly mellow last night. Exhausted by his reign of terror, I suppose. I actually got through a whole phone call with Sanders with the puppy on the floor next to me. I don't think that's happened since the first day we got him! We'll be looking into the occasional doggy day care splurge once he's 16 weeks and old enough to go. Just to give ourselves a break in the evening once in a while. Usually he sleeps all day while we're gone so his batteries are fully charged just as ours are petering out.

I wasn't even angry about him getting out. Really, that's our fault. But I did get a bit miffed when I realized we've hit puppy adolescence. I thought it was pretty gracious and understanding of me not to be upset about his anarchy, but he took total advantage. When I called him to his crate for dinner, he looked at me, turned around, and started drinking water from his bowl. Fine, I thought, he just wants a drink before he eats. I called him again. He looked at me, then laid down on the floor. I walked over, picked him up and set him on his four feet, stepped back, and called him again. He walked away. I could have killed him. Luckily he's still small enough to pick up so he still ended up in his crate with his dinner. He didn't eat anything. Probably had a stomach full of kitty litter and fireplace soot. His favorite snacks.

On a totally unrelated note, anyone else not have their Halloween candy or pumpkins yet? Running a little late this year...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Larger Than Life

Celebrated Halloween last night. Was working on the costume right up until the cab showed up. I was pretty happy with it in the end. I ended up calling myself Frost. There were a group of us superheroes, one villain, and DH, who went as a "cereal killer." It was fun.
We went to a release party then were at Club Congress, a bar downtown. Earlier in the night, my friend had mentioned that Kate Walsh was in town and at Club Congress that afternoon for some kind of Planned Parenthood fundraiser. Then when we were standing in line to get in that same bar, I just saw her walk by. I've never seen a celebrity in real life before. I really don't tend to get starstruck at all, but that was new for me, so it was cool. I was the only one who spotted her though, so I just kept saying progressively louder, "That's Addison. That's Addison! That's Addison!!" until my friends heard me. Then one of them took off at a run after her (she was in the parking lot across the street at that point) and I followed. I don't think we were obnoxious at all. Just said we really enjoyed her show, nice to meet you, have a nice night. That's part of her job anyway.

It was strange. I kept thinking I expected her to be bigger. Not heavier. She was quite thin, as one would expect. But bigger. Which is a dumb thing to say because she's 5'10", same as me, pretty tall. I'm guessing on some level I just had this metaphorical concept that because she's a celebrity she should be big. Important? I don't know.

Interestingly (probably to my Colgate peeps only), the increasing excitement of my "That's Addison" alert was nearly an exact replica of Ouiser's DH about 8 or 9 years ago when my DH's coat caught on fire from a candle at a party in college. Ouiser's DH was the only one who noticed and kept saying "D____'s coat's on fire. D____'s coat's on fire! D____'s coat's on fire!!" with increasing panic until somebody heard him. Guess we should learn to speak up the first time.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Runaway Juror

After three escapes from jury duty in the past ten years, all due to my following the higher calling of pursuing an overeducated brain, today my number was finally up. I had my first jury duty experience and narrowly escaped a four-day trial, managing to get out after just four hours instead. I was called to a criminal case, something about firearms possession by someone on probation, and watched juror after juror be excused for various reasons. Pretty much, when the judge asks if the members of the jury have had any experience in their lives that in any way relate to the case (i.e., to guns), that's going to register as positive for an awful lot of Americans. It seemed like just about everybody had either been on a previous jury for a crime involving guns, or they had a brother who was also arrested for illegal possession, or their house had been shot up, or they were against guns in general, etc.

So they eventually called me in from the reserves, but I wiggled out of it immediately. One of the questions they ask you is essentially whether your absence from work is going to cause some kind of major catastrophe. I explained that if I was absent, there are other people who could be called to fill in for me, but as per diem employees they were in no way obligated to do so. Therefore, it is potentially possible that patients needing swallow evaluations would not be seen and end up either not eating until they are evaluated, which could be days, or eating when/what they shouldn't be, placing them at risk for aspiration pneumonia. This is a stretch because I know that what would really happen is that my type A coworkers would work 12-hour days if they had to in order to make sure all patients were seen. But technically they're only required to work eight-hour days, so that was no guarantee either. It was all about spin. I was careful not to tell the judge that this was what would happen, but that it might, which was true. So he let me go.

After a lot of initial resentment leading up to my fulfillment of my civic responsibility (as they reminded us over and over was what they were choosing to call this purgatory), it ended up being pretty interesting. I still maintain that they should pay for our parking and minimum wage on an hourly basis (instead you get mileage and $12/day if assigned to a trial). And I about had a heart attack talking to the judge in front of the whole courtroom. Part performance anxiety, part anxiety over trying to prevent myself from being a classic SLP and over-explaining the bit about my job, part that random impulse anxiety people get that they're going to do the worst possible thing (like people who stand looking at the view from atop some tall building obsessed with the thought that they might suddenly lose their head completely and jump--my fear was that I'd lose my head completely and purger myself).

But the judge was really nice and did a great job of explaining everything. If I were a salaried employee and not per diem, meaning my income would not be affected by the trial, I might have actually been interested in staying on the jury. I'm sure my chance will come again someday.

In other news, after our puppy class today we stuck around for the Petsmart "Howl-o-ween" party, which was nice. Chewy was exhausted by the end. Their were treats for humans and pets alike. Mostly dogs in attendance, although there were three ferrets and two cats. I don't know what kind of cats those were to tolerate a roomful of canines. They must have been sedated. Chewy was sporting the brand new reversible Halloween bandanna I made him. He was by far underdressed compared to the other pooches, but (a) I'm not into elaborate costumes on my dog, (b) he's 14 weeks old. He would have ripped any costume to shreds. I felt the bandanna was more our speed. He looked very handsome and now I have something to do with my novelty fabrics. I bought so many long ago when I first started sewing and couldn't help myself. I had that stashing impulse (hence the blog moniker). But then you realize there's really nothing you can do with farm animal fabric when you don't have kids. Hey, the dog won't care! He's relatively tolerant and an ardent supporter of agriculture.

I don't usually include photos of myself here, but I wanted to show this for size reference. Can you guys tell how huge he's getting in this picture? And a lot more growing coming up! He was up to 15 lbs last week at the vet.

Anyway, there was a pet parade around the store with trick-or-treating for things like a frisbee, a bandanna, dog biscuits, etc. Then the trainers taught them all to spin. Chewy spun from a reclined position on the floor as he was wiped out by this point (we'd been there two hours, counting class time). Then they were planning to take pictures and give awards for best costumes. We weren't going to win, so poor sports that we are, we went home.

Here you can view the skeleton side of his fancy new duds. You'll have to wait until next week for the flip side. I know, the suspense.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Chilled to the Bone

Ouch. Eleven days since my last post. Sorry, dear readers. That's a new low for me. Busy with the usual: work, pup, etc.DH has been working sixty- to eighty-hour weeks, plus school, for about a month now. This past weekend was the first weekend we've had in a long time together and we spent pretty much two days straight hanging out together, which was fabulous. Friday night we, Chewy included, went to a friend's house for take-out Italian and Lucky Number Slevin, which was weird. I fell asleep at the end, but was liking it up until then. It was late, I was confused. I need to try to watch it again. DH loved it.On Saturday we tried to go to Oktoberfest on Mt. Lemmon, but they wouldn't let Chewy in so we just walked around a bit. I remember why I moved out of the northeast. It was 48 degrees up there (high 80s down in Tucson)! I always know it will be cold when we go up there, and I always pack warm clothes, but I still always manage to underestimate the bracing nature of that cold once your blood has thinned out over a long Tucson summer. We about froze to death. Notice in the pics I'm rocking the skirt and jeans look. I don't do that look. I like it occasionally when I see it, but it's just not my personal thing. My plan had been to change into jeans once we got up there, but I couldn't bear to take a single article of clothing off, I was so cold. So the skirt stayed on.Because we could only stand the cold for about an hour and a half, we then headed back to Tucson to the Tucson Meet Yourself festival, which was fun, but stressful with a puppy. It was too crowded and dirty to easily manage Chewy there. He was underfoot, trying to eat all kinds of garbage. It was easier mostly to just carry him. He hasn't had all his shots yet so we probably shouldn't have had him there anyway, but I want him to get comfortable with that kind of chaos.We went to the vet today for his third round of shots and it was good timing because he started limping about 20 minutes before we had to leave for the appointment. I'm still not sure what he did, but he somehow hurt a toe on his front left foot. He never made a peep, but was really favoring that paw. We felt all up and down with no reaction from him, but finally the vet located the toe in question. Then of course he needed xrays, but it wasn't broken. Nevertheless, I kept him home from puppy class tonight to rest it. We can make it up tomorrow.It's feeling as much like fall as it will get around here for a while. Low 80s. Everyone's in long pants and sweaters. I bought a ton of those crazy, lumpy mini-gourds they sell this time of year. I love those things, how each one is so different. I have plans to hit the pumpkin patch this weekend. I'm trying to put a costume together. Some friends want to dress as superheroes, but I don't have a name yet. I'm going with a blue color scheme, so my power should probably be something to do with ice or wind. Any ideas?
And I joined the gym that opened about half a mile from our house. Unfortunately, no classes. It's just equipment. But it's better than nothing and I've been ridiculously lazy. DH wants to start riding his new bike for exercise, but he gets home so late he'll have to go in the morning. So the current plan is that he will try to work out in the morning while I take care of Chewy and I'll go at night, while he dog-sits. This is doomed to fail as he is the night person and I the morning person (well, I can do either one, but lately I've been a morning person, and am definitely a morning person when it comes to exercise), but we have to give it a shot. Wish us luck.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Don't Stop 'Til You See the Whites of Their Eyes

So it doesn't take long to get on the bad side of a homeowners' association, does it? DH and I are sooooo not HA kind of people and hope that when we buy a house we can find one we love in a non-HA neighborhood, but from what I understand that is increasingly hard to do in many areas. The front yard of all the houses in our neighborhood are xeriscaped, but weeds abound and it's been impossible to keep up with them. So, we got a nasty letter from the HA that we must bend to their will by the end of the weekend and rid our front yard of all life forms. It's back-breaking work. I don't know how my mother does it in her own huge, beautiful, much more elaborately-landscaped yard.

Contrarily, the backyard is suddenly sprouting mushrooms everywhere. Unfortunately, Chewy seems to always notice before me. Do you know what happens to mushrooms when you try to pry them out of a dog's mouth? They disintegrate into mushroom powder. It's impossible stuff. I don't think they're poisonous. They look like the generic white mushroom kind. Spoken like someone truly ignorant of mushroom species. I should take a picture to show you guys, but that means finding one before Chewy does. But why are mushrooms sprouting up in my supposedly desert backyard anyway? Methinks the irrigation system must be over-hydrating some areas.

On a completely unrelated note, I'm already losing faith in my Petsmart dog trainer. We went to our second puppy class on Tuesday and I expressed to her my concerns with the "watch" command we were supposed to teach the dogs over the previous week. Am I the only one whose heard of the concept that animals don't like direct eye contact? That it's a form of aggression and an animal who wants to avoid a conflict will look away if stared in the eyes by another animal? I swear I've read this in all my dog training books. That's why you're not supposed to make eye contact if you meet an aggressive dog who you think might be about to attack you. The girl teaching my class wanted the dogs to hold this command for 30 seconds. Now, beside the fact that my 11-week-old puppy doesn't really have the attention span for that, it also goes against his instinct to look his pack leader in the eye (sorry, Dad, so far you're wrong. I seem to be the pack leader. Mainly, I think, because DH has been working twelve- to sixteen-hour days since early September.).

I tried to very politely and privately ask her what she thought about this. She looked at me like I was crazy, then made a point to do the command with my dog and prove me wrong. Not meanly, but she was definitely trying to show me just how wrong I was. I didn't want to get into it with her so I didn't bother pointing out that the only reason she was able to get him to hold the "watch" was because she was bent over towards him (another no-no according to my books) and letting him jump up on her while "watching." He's not allowed to jump up on people. Whatever. The girl is still an undergrad, so I don't know what I was expecting. We go more for the socialization anyway.

Monday, October 02, 2006

You Can't Go Home Again

No pics today. DH is still in Austin with the camera. I got home late last night after a huge, ridiculous fiasco. Standing in baggage claim, I realized that my cell phone, cash, and keys were all missing. Searched through everything three times. Called DH from a pay phone with my credit card. Of course, got his voicemail. Twice. Decided to call a cab, even though I knew it would probably cost $50 to get home (I was right). The woman who answered the phone said yes, they take Visa, just go stand out on the curb. A cab arrived shortly, told me they did not take Visa, only cash, and the first tear flowed. But luckily he got on the phone with his dispatcher and said they would take my money after all (big surprise).

So he drove me all the way home, while I prayed that the housesitter would still be there, and feigned interest in his inflamed gall bladder story and tales of the filth at Kino Hospital. She wasn't there. I tried every window, crawled under DH's car from three different angles because I remembered at one time he kept a key on a magnet in there. He kindly lent me his cell phone, which I used to call DH, who answered but hadn't yet heard my messages. His main concerns were how much money I lost and where I thought my cell phone was. My main concern was how the bloody hell I was going to get in the house that night and to work the next day. He agreed to call the cavalry, which consisted of two friends who might rescue me and the friend who referred the housesitter (her phone number was missing, too). The cavalry was to be sent to Starbucks to fetch me. The cabbie dropped me off there where I read for about an hour before I begged to use their phone to call DH again. G was on her way to pick me up. He gave me the number of our leasing office to call the emergency guy to let me in. He was downright rude and said he wouldn't come. He told me to call a locksmith. I didn't.

Finally, G arrived, my rescue squad of one. We decided to drive back the house and see if the housesitter had left the keys under the doormat. She had. And I found a spare key to DH's car in a drawer, so I got to work, minus air conditioning. DH will pick up my car from the airport when he returns on Tuesday. My cell phone turned out to be at the hotel in Austin. The money wasn't enough to worry about. No idea what could have happened to the keys though.

Austin was great. The wedding was beautiful. Outside the art museum, on the water. I got to see just enough of my dear friend Z, the groom, to realize how much I miss him. Some of us went out downtown afterward, where J, who lived in Austin for a few years, brought us to the perfect laidback pub. The next day we met up with the fam at an arts fair just down the block from our hotel. I was not ready to leave.

Chewy has visibly grown in the days since I left. He's also starting to recognize words like "No!" and "Ow!" I found every single one of his toys piled in his crate (which was open, in the bathroom in which he was locked) when I came home from work today, so I guess he's nesting and giving it a homey feel. He's also taking to a preference for sprawling across my lap while playing with a toy, which is sweet for now, though I question the comfort of this when he weighs 65 pounds. And he's newly fond of running pell mell around the backyard, with or without a toy. Headlong at nothing. This has allowed me time to finish rereading Animal Dreams and start rereading Life of Pi.

Still no sewing. If I blog, there's no time to sew, and so far I seem to be putting this ahead.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

First Day of School

I've received a request for more Chewy pictures and am only too happy to oblige. He had his first bath on Saturday. He's taken to digging up the drip irrigation and we were heading over to a friend's house for dinner and bringing Chewy with us to socialize with their lab/rottweiler, Sadie. I didn't think they'd appreciate his muddy paws in their house. The dogs got along famously. The other dog was even more hyper than Chewy and she's four years-old! And Chewy was in love with their two-year-old daughter. It's been really cool to see how instinctively gentle he is with the children he's met. Not so lucky, us adults, as my bitten/scratched up hands and arms demonstrate.

Today I got my CPR certification, finally. Everyone in a hospital is required to be certified, right down to the kitchen staff. It's one of those things I always wanted to do, but it took a job requirement to make me finally get off my arse and follow through on. It was fun.

This weekend DH and I head to Austin for a dear friend's wedding. The icing on the cake is that we'll get to see our brother- and sister-in-law and baby J, who is now about seven months-old. It will be DH's first time meeting him! I'll also get to see another friend from grad school, so all in all, it will be a very efficient trip. This is my first time flying since the liquid restrictions; although, I heard today that we're now allowed three-ounce containers. Not sure that will do me any good, but I guess it's a godsend for those with medications, baby formula/milk, etc.

We got way lucky this week when we finally found a house-/puppy-sitter for the weekend. When we first reserved Chewy from his litter, before he was even born, we knew about this wedding, but just assumed we could kennel him for the weekend. We had no idea until a couple weeks ago when we tried to make the reservation that he had to be 16 weeks old before they'd take him. Otherwise, he could get sick or get other dogs sick because he wouldn't have had all his shots yet. Getting a housesitter in a university town shouldn't be hard, but when your puppy's not housetrained yet and is bound to wake people up in the middle of the night, there are fewer takers. Luckily, a friend offered up her babysitter, whom she's known since the girl was a child. She came highly recommended, so I think it'll work out. She's coming over tonight to meet the zoo and get the lay of the land.

Chewy and I are off to our first puppy class, where he'll socialize and we'll learn some commands and get some housetraining tips. He already knows his name, sit, down, and off, and can walk on a leash. My books tell me this puts him ahead of the class. But he's not yet mastered housetraining, so he better not get too big for his britches. If he does, I'll just show him the bath picture. That should take his pride down a notch. :)

Oh, and someday this blog will return to being at least a little bit crafty. We're getting there with the crate training and I think that will help a lot.

Wish us luck at class.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Welcome to Parenthood

I knew, but I really had no idea, how much this was going to feel like parenthood. Chewy has to be watched every second he's awake, which is a lot given that he sleeps all day when we're gone at work. I now have a deeper understanding of that feeling of relief parents get when their baby finally falls asleep and they can get something done around the house. It's all I can do to feed myself dinner, pay a bill, feed the cats, and get the laundry in the dryer before he's up again!

At least the feeding is going better. I didn't have to hand feed him a bite tonight. He's becoming much more competent with the bones. And no accidents today. And I have a lead on a proper crate we might be able to borrow for him so we can start crate training, which would make life easier.

Yesterday afternoon we tried to go for a walk, but Chewy was really stubborn and wouldn't budge past the neighbor's house. I thought it was just not understanding the "walk" and "leash" concepts, but when we got back inside he immediately put his feet in the water dish, then tipped some water out of the bowl onto the floor, then laid in the puddle. It all sounds so obvious now that I lay out the observations like that, but at the time it took me a few minutes to put it all together and realize his feet were hot.

This morning we tried again. DH and I went together and he had to carry Chewy part of the way to the mailbox at the end of the street. On the way back, though, something clicked and suddenly he was running right along next to us and kept it up the whole way home.

Anyway, I have nothing else to blog about because my life right now is just work and taking care of the puppy. Oh and to the real parents of real human babies out there: I know it's not the same. I know. But it is surprising how much more like parenting this seems than like not having a puppy, if that makes any sense. It's all a spectrum.

An old trick of Ouiser's: Ice + Linoleum = Busy Puppy

Duncan, Clara, and their human, who came to play.

All three puppies together, and human friend feeling overwhelmed.

Bobbers, who is taking the new puppy change the hardest.

Gratuitous picture of cutie-pie Lita, who is taking the puppy adjustment best.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


It's been over a week and I've been dying to blog, but just hadn't been able to find time until now. Last night, especially, I wanted to blog, but I was as exhausted as the new puppy! We've named him Chewy, both because that's all he seems to want to do and because he kind of looks like Chewbacca, in a good way, and much smaller (for now).
I almost had a heart attack picking him up from the airport. We had to go to the cargo area, which is a whole separate building from the terminal...and they didn't have him. And they didn't know where he was. We called the breeder--no answer. DH calls the airline and had to sit through literally about 8 minutes of recording before a live person would talk to him. Meanwhile I'm panicking that either we were scammed out of our money and there is no puppy, or he's been mistaken for baggage and is dying of heat stroke as we sit there, or he was left behind and never made it on the flight. Turned out to be that last worry. He missed his connection in Houston. Air travel's not easy these days for any of us.
They got him on the next flight. We went and had lunch, came back about an hour later and he was there! Of course, he's the most precious thing I've ever seen in my life. I was in love with him before I even met him, but those first moments sealed the deal. He was really quiet and still at first--I'm not sure if the breeder drugged him for the flight or if he was just in shock. We took him out of his air crate, put his collar on immediately, then set him in a cardboard box with some towels and a Nylabone for the ride home. The second he set paw in the box he was all over that bone like white on rice. Not a peep out of him the whole way home, just gnawing on the bone, the box, the towel, back to the bone, etc.
He already seems to know to go to the door when he wants to go out, though that doesn't always mean he wants to go do his business. But at least he's learning that if he stands there, we'll let him out. He had one accident when he first got here, then another while I stood there saying, "I wonder if I should take him out right now?" Yup. Should have. And then two more that were also not his fault, but a result of DH hesitating a moment too long. But we're all getting there. I'm attaching some bells to a ribbon to hang on the door. Supposedly you can train them to ring the bells when they need to go outside. Then you just need to teach only to ring when they need to go, not just because they want to go.
Some friends are coming over tonight for barbecue, and one is bringing her two puppies, so we're starting the socialization right off the bat.
I had a moment last night that reminded me of Ouiser's "Is this really my life?" post. Earlier in the day, we could tell Chewy was hungry, and we'd bought raw chicken wings for him, per the breeder's instructions. They were dethawed. I put three in his bowl, exactly as the breeder had instructed us, showed it to him, and he wouldn't go near them! He acted like he was afraid of them and kept backing away. With encouragement, he licked them, so we knew he liked something about them, but we couldn't figure out what the problem was, so we gave him some kibble, which he ate promptly.
Then later that night, he was hungry again, so we tried again with the chicken wings. Same reaction. Then I remembered that the books I read on raw food diets said sometimes dogs don't know what to do with the bones. I didn't think of this at first because the breeder said he's already been eating chicken wings with no problem. Anyway, one of the solutions is supposed to be to hand feed it to them. So we cut up the bones, stripped some of the meat off, sat on the floor with Chewy, DH holding pieces up one at a time for him to work on. That did the trick! The dog immediately turned into a ravenous carnivore. It was a bit terrifying for both of us watching him swallow actual bones, having grown up with dogs and being taught over and over by our parents how deadly bones are for a dog. The trick is, those are cooked bones. Raw bones are apparently safe because they're more pliable. And the calcium in the bone and all the nutrients inthe marrow are supposed to be very good for him. And Chewy didn't try to gulp any, true to his name he worked forever on those things until you'd finally hear it crunch and down it would go. You could almost hear his jaw muscles getting stronger.
Anyway, he ate three wings in total last night. I offered him kibble this morning for breakfast while DH was still sleeping, and he wouldn't eat it. Since the raw food thing is currently a 2-person job, he still hasn't eaten yet today (DH had a meeting for school) and it's almost noon. But he's been offered kibble repeatedly, so the boy's not starving. Anyway, I guess he's into this raw food thing, so we'll give it a whirl.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

WIP Thursday

The latest romper in progress from the 2006 J line.

This is the new flannel "wall" in my sewing room. For my non-sewing readers, whom I know are in the majority, quilters like to have a big piece of flannel fabric to use as a design wall. The cotton fabric pieces one uses to quilt with can be placed on the flannel in various combinations until the desired design is achieved. The cotton sticks to the flannel, so you can stand back and look at it from a distance for perspective. I didn't have a lot of wall space I wanted to give up, so DH had the brilliant idea of manufacturing a temporary one. I backed a giant piece of flannel with a polyester lining fabric with a sleeve at the top and bottom for a wooden dowel. When in use, it hangs from the dowel in front of the closet. When not in use, or when I need to get in the closet, it rolls up to be tied out of the way with lovely pink ribbons. Ingenious, no?

Bob demands being included weekly in my blogging. She calls this one: Bob in Basket.

And this is the result of an obscenely expensive puppy supply shopping trip. It actually looks like so little for what we paid. It's all but the food though. Including a collar to grow into. We didn't buy food yet because I'm looking into the raw food diet. My parents have been feeding their dog some special, gourmet dog food for years in an effort, not to be fancy, but to avoid all the by-products and give her the healthiest diet they could. The breeder is currently feeding our puppy the BARF diet one meal a day and fancy kibble for the second. I need to learn more about this raw food program though. I'm concerned about how to keep the bacteria under control. I ordered a book from Amazon. My answer to every question in life, after a Google search. By the way, for anyone looking for an excellent puppy/dog training book (you, Daddy-o?), I highly recommend this one. Not even so much for the training info as for the animal behaviorism; fascinating stuff.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Snakes on a Bridge

Thank you domesticali for the suggestion! DH's response was a reference to the giant gingerbread man from Shrek 2. Which I took as a "thank you, but not quite right for our pup." So please, can we have some more submissions to the Name That Puppy contest, inspired by Farmgirl Fare's Name That Sheep contest of 2005? We would love to read any and all suggestions! But you won't win any puppies.

In other news, DH and I enjoyed a lovely spa day last Saturday. Well, he enjoyed a spa 90 minutes of Thai massage. He could have done more, but didn't want to. Silly boy. I had a haircut (I was waaaay overdue for a trim), facial, pedicure, and deep tissue massage. The facial was amazing, loved every minute and actually saw a noticable difference that I didn't see after the only other facial I've ever had, over three years ago. The pedicure was probably not worth it. I've learned that pedicures up to a certain monetary value are worth the money. Apparently there's only so much they can do to the feet after that. The massage was probably worth it, but not enjoyable. That was my first deep tissue massage and it really hurt. I had some huge knots in my back, presumably from the abuse it took during the move, and she could not break them all up. One in particular is actually visible, accoding to DH. Is that gross? Sorry. I may be hanging out with too many PTs lately. Anyway, all financed by various gifts we'd saved up over the years. A rare treat and much enjoyed.

That night we had a lovely evening of walking our friends' dogs (practice, practice!) and ice skating, which I hadn't done in years. I seem to be gaining a lot of fear as I age. I grew up in the land of ice and snow, after all. You'd think I'd be right at home. I think the knee surgeries I had and the doomsday diagnosis about having the cartilage of someone in late middle age when I was only 23 kind of shook my confidence in my body. But I persevered and progressed and didn't fall. Needs more practice.

Monday and Tuesday were uneventful work days. Wednesday I finished the copy editing job from hell. However, on the way to the Starbucks at which it was finished, via bicycle, I was nearly killed by a snake. Maybe a little exaggeration on the "almost killed," but no exaggeration on the "snake." The Starbucks is about two and a half miles from our house. Getting there requires crossing a bridge over the Santa Cruz River wash. Crossing the bridge, I didn't see this snake until I was almost on top of it. It was just to the right of the bike lane, and it was huge. I don't know what kind it was (brown, if that's a kind), if it was poisonous, or what, but it was huge. And did I mention huge. I can't guesstimate tonnage, you'll just have to take my word for it. DH's response: "Why didn't you help it back into the wash?" Oh yeah, why didn't I? And for that matter, why didn't I throw myself into oncoming traffic? Or off the bridge itself? Or drink a gallon of bleach? Why haven't I attempted to kill myself in any of a myriad of ways? Where has my head been? Men. Anyway, I wasn't the only one startled. I swear the snake jumped upon hearing my sharp inhalation of breath. As I crossed the bridge, recovering, and proud of myself for actually not swerving into traffic, I noticed anew the huge construction site on that same side of the road, and now I think the poor snake was probably sans home. Then I felt bad. But not bad enough to go back and commit hari kari via snake bite.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's a Boy!

Well, we already knew that. But now we know which boy! And we're officially taking suggestions for names. This is turning out to be much harder than naming the cats was. Probably because I keep picturing myself yelling it across a park in front of large numbers of people. So post some comments with male puppy names, please! We just might use one. These are all him:

I have lots more to blog, but I also have to go to bed. More to come, asap.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Snow Days

This morning came with a very sudden and welcome turnaround from the direction it had been taking toward The-Most-Stressed-I-Had-Been-Since-Grad-School, a cold and dark
wasteland from which I just barely escaped once, never mind a second go around. I finished one copy editing job last night, only to open another one and find thick stacks of about 250 pages of papers, many single-spaced, due in about ten days. This figured out to approximately an obscene number of pages that I must complete each day to reach the deadline (and I was just recently late with a deadline, something that's happened only a handful of times in the three years I've been doing this). The problem is that I copy edit articles for academic journals, and most of those journals are quarterlies, which means I get dumptrucked on quarterly. And I have not been my hyperorganized, on-top-of-everything self lately. There's a huge stack of bills and filing, I'm missing birthdays, the house is a disaster, my sewing room is still nowhere near complete, too many errands for my comfort are pending, etc. It's hard for your garden variety type A to deal with.

Then two things happened: First, I learned I would not have to go in to work today at all. Ah, the magic of working PRN! "Snow days" come more frequently here in the desert than they ever did when I was growing up in the 'burgh, north of the Adirondacks, if you can imagine such a concept. Of course the reality of a snow day is a little different in that there is now no actual involvement of said snow, but there is still the unexpected thrill of waking up expecting to face another day, put another "x" on the calendar, only to get the phone call from heaven that, in fact, I have the day off! And there's the downside of not getting paid. On the other hand, this meant I could spend the whole day copy editing, for which I do get paid, and thus carve a nice chunk out of the work I had expected to be tethered to all weekend.

Second, I checked my email and found more puppy pictures!

The breeder will be doing temperament testing this weekend and allocate the puppies to their families on Monday. The two girls are apparently already reserved, so now we also know that we'll be getting a boy. She sent a dozen pictures of only nine puppies, so obviously some are dupes, but Lord help me, I can't tell them apart. Some look more reddish than others, but that could also just be the lighting. They're all just darn cute (as all juvenile animals are meant to be) piles of fluff. She also asked for preferences regarding ship date, and I learned that he could come home as early as the ninth, but I don't have a set date yet. Time to make a list of the 10,000 things that need to be done before he gets here and get cracking. Or get DH cracking while my butt is glued to the couch with my hand glued to my red copy editing pen.

I also learned three interesting things today (interesting to me anyway):
  • My old standby technique for copy editing, whereby all unknown or unfamiliar words and terms are replaced by such ubiquities as "whosit" and "whatsit" thus making the sentence comprehensible for grammar checks, does not, in fact, work for all academic fields. Specifically, I have stumbled upon a segment of academia so baffling to me that there are more whosits and whatsits in the sentence than anything else, making it instead less comprehensible than it was before. Case in point: "The spread of whatsits such as thingamajig, doodad, and whatsitsname has greatly contributed to the rapid dissemination of whosits among several thingies of human and verterinary importance." And that's a tame one. I just don't have the time to find the wild ones hiding in the bush for your reading excitement.

  • Despite the fact that I live in a so-called desert, one's lawn can apparently turn into a veritable jungle within a matter of three weeks during monsoon season. And further despite the fact that the real estate agent specifically told us she thought all the grass was going to die. It didn't. In fact, DH and I somehow failed to reckon with the fact, until days after we had moved in, that it was actually our responsibility to now care for this lawn. Lawn? Who said anything about a lawn? Wait a minute, lawncare requires a lawnmower! No sir, we did not sign up for that. Who has a lawn in the desert? Actually, far too many people, if you ask me, but we never intended to be one of them. We just never put two and two together and now we have to buy a lawn mower. This seems as overwhelming and daunting a task as buying a new car. In theory, DH is on it.

  • It turns out that fat really does weigh less than muscle. I am now suspiciously close to my wedding weight (according to the MD's scale at my recent check-up), which, for those of you who didn't know me then, was my fighting weight, my I-can-pretty-much-wear-whatever-I-want-without-thinking-twice weight (periods that have come fleetingly in my life). That should sound like a great thing, but I feel like I have the same amount of flab on me I had 16 pounds ago. Could I have really lost that much muscle? DH seems to have no trouble believing it, but he's a boy and that much muscle is nothing to them. Women don't put it on so easy. I recently figured out my supposed "ideal weight," not the fashion magazine kind, but the Women's Health kind with all the very complicated calculations that registered dieticians use for actual optimum health, as close as any calculation can figure it. Now I'm starting to see how that low, low number I figured is actually possible. With the same amount of muscle that most of my girlfriends have on them (i.e., very, very little), that would actually be a reasonable weight for me. Not unhealthy at all. I think being a rower in college just skewed my idea of what normal muscle mass was for a woman; although, I was never by any means any kind of hulking warrior princess. Looking in the mirror, I see the back muscles I've carried for the past ten years are gone. But when I think about the kind of effort it took to keep all that muscle, way way more than the average fitness plan, I start to question whether it's worth trying to rebuild to the same degree. Out of my early 20s, I'm not so insecure about how I look. Other things are more important now. Frankly, I'm busy. I don't have the same drive to excel at fitness so much as to just meet the status quo. But am I really willing to surrender to the fact that I've probably peaked, in that totally vain, shallow, physical way (note me noting that none of this really matters; feel no need to scaffold my self-esteem, sweet as any such intentions would absolutely be)? This is a tough fact to come to terms with for me. Kids are not too, too far in the future and I think I still see that as the beginning of the end, for my body anyway. Well, I'm not going to reach a decision this moment, so I'll just revel in the uncommonly low (for me) numbers on the scale, and ignore the rest for now!

  • Now really, this can't be comfortable.