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.