Friday, November 30, 2007

Random Bits

  • Why is it easier for me to rub my dog's belly while simultaneously patting her head than it is for me to do this on myself? Took no extra effort at all, beyond trying to keep the dog in place while I laughed like a loon.

  • Computer joke: Jesus and the Devil are having a computer competition, with God as the judge. Jesus and the Devil do everything using MS Office. They write Word documents, they calculate everything they can think of using Excel, and then they present their results in PowerPoint. God is about to call Time when the power goes out and the room goes black. After a few minutes the power comes back on and the computers boot up. The Devil calls for a do-over since his computer shows nothing. God looks over at him and says there is no need for a do-over because Jesus saves.

  • In my pet sitting, I see houses of all ages, with room size somewhat inversely proportional to house age. The modern master suite tends to be quite large (my house lacks a master bath and walk-in closet in the master suite. In fact, the master suite appears to be a decently large bedroom with a non-walk-in closet). What I don't understand is why the master bath and the walk-in closet are contiguous. Don't the clothes get damp or dampish if people take long, luxurious showers or soak in the jetted tub? I've lived in cities where the towels couldn't dry between showers without artificial air circulation, and those towels tended to smell a bit nasty by the end of the week.

  • Why do pet owners not understand the connection between good food and their pets' health? I have clients who dearly love their pets and pay fortunes for surgery for them and then turn around and feed them nasty (albeit well-advertised) grocery store brands or vet-supplied brands where the first ingredient is corn (a major source of allergies for dogs and not exactly what one thinks of carnivores as eating regularly). Makes me want to scream.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Living with a Mutant

Fluff is a mutant. Normally it's not a big deal as she is pretty healthy. Right now it's a problem. She needs to have a tooth (maybe more?) removed, which means she has to be anesthetized. Unfortunately, her mutant status means most of the commonly-used pre-anesthetics are off limits to her. They're neurotoxic to mutants, and I like my girl to have a functonal nervous system. We tried masking her down (clamping a mask with a connection to a safe anesthetic gas to her face) for a procedure years ago, but she's the world's shallowest breather and most-determined-not-to-be-anesthetized dog. She kicked, thrashed, and blew out her anal glands in that attempt so we'd rather avoid that approach.

Fluff is not alone in her mutancy. She is what they call an MDR1 mutant. MDR = Multiple Drug Resistance. It means she can't get rid of certain drugs in her body like a normal dog can, so they build up and can cause nervous system damage or destruction. She cannot take Acepromazine and she cannot take Ivermectin for heartworm prevention. There are a whole host of drugs that must be avoided by the owners of these dogs. This mutation is extremely common in collies, shelties, Australian shepherds, miniature Australian shepherds, Silken windhounds and long-haired whippets. It also is present in other breeds and mixes that trace back to an affected breed. If you look at breeder webpages, you may see notations like "MDR1-NN" or "MDR1-NM" or "MDR1-MM" which means the dog was tested for its MDR1 status. "NN" means "Normal-Normal" or dog is completely unaffected by the mutation. "NM" or "MN" means one copy of the gene is Normal and one is Mutant. "MM" means the dog carries two copies of the mutant gene. It's not completely clear yet if NM dogs are affected by the mutant gene or if it takes two copies to fully express the defect. I personally would err on the side of caution and assume my beloved friend needs to avoid certain drugs.
To find a list of affected breeds and information on how you can test your dog to see if it carries the mutation, see This site also mentions some of the drugs to avoid if you own a mutant dog. Another site with an extremely useful list of drugs to avoid is

Be aware, if you own a mutant, that vets are not always thinking about the MDR1 mutation or may not even be aware of it. Just yesterday my vet and I were discussing Fluff's upcoming dental surgery and how to anesthetize her. My vet knew we couldn't use ACE as the pre-anesthetic so she mentioned she'd probably use butorphanol instead. Oops, that is on the list, too, so now we're a bit stuck because she's going to have to use a different drug in a protocol that is unfamiliar to her to anesthetize a dog she knows darn well is my heart dog, my Best Girl. Yeah, we're a little nervous now! Get the information. Give it to your vet. Make sure it's in your dog's chart at the vet. If you have to give drugs or have your dog anesthetized, ask what the drugs or anesthesia are, and check the list! If they won't change their protocol for your dog, go to another vet.

The above has been a public service announcement from Fluff.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

So Soon!

Wow! So many people have their Christmas lights up and lit already! Seems to be mostly the people with extravagant displays who are lit up now. That may be a function of the weather: we've had over a week of clear, dry weather. A few days have been too windy to put stuff up, and it's been in the 40s (F) the last few days, but overall good light assembly weather.

I grew up with a much different model. We generally didn't decorate for Christmas until the weekend before the day (we kids were a bit bummed the years Christmas fell on Monday!) and lights were lit from decorating day through January 1. My mother was into understatement, so we only had the tripod "candles" (yellow-orange bulbs) in the front windows and a (plain white) spotlight on the door wreath. Our Christmas tree was in the family room in the back of the house, so it didn't affect our outdoor display.

Now I don't decorate at all. I wonder about the electric bills of the elaborate display houses. I know some of the most modern lights are cheap to run, but some of these big displays probably took years to acquire. I doubt they are all new-style lights.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Today I had the urge to see "Home for the Holidays," a Thanksgiving movie that delights with its dysfunctional family and still a happy ending. I don't own the DVD of this movie, and I don't watch TV at home, so I felt stuck.

Then I went to my last pet sit of the night and turned on the TV to have some quality cuddle time with the cat. Lo and behold, the TV is set to a channel that will be playing "Home for the Holidays" in 15 minutes! The 30 minute visit turned into 2 hours of snuggle time for the cat. Everybody's a winner on Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Joys of Pet Sitting

One house, 2 cats, 3 litter boxes. Taking care of all this in 30 minutes should be simple, right? I walked in to multiple hairballs on the entry rug. Fine, I have a project in mind, so I'll clean those up in a bit. These cats kick and track an unbelievable amount of litter around, which I need to sweep up to get to the project. Do that, then I scoop all 3 boxes. The project is to completely clean and refill the stinkiest box. That takes a while because I have to find an outside spigot, I can't find a scrubbrush, and the scoop also is filthy enough to need cleaning. Then I clean up the mess by the food dishes (looks like somebody decided to mark her territory by the dishes) and wash all the food and water bowls at the kitchen sink. Bowls refilled, I put down new paper towels under them.

Whew! I'm almost done! I go to locate the second cat (she hides under beds, but the other keeps me company while I work). I check in the master bedroom. She's not there, but I find puke on carpet and then puke on catbed. Must clean those up. Must clean up the mess on the entry rug. Go upstairs. Locate the second cat and decide to check on the carpet upstairs. Why, why, why do I do this???? Now I must clean up a spit spot in the hallway and three more in the bonus room. Sigh.

Now I'm really almost done. I go to the mailbox and bring the mail in. I write my note to the owner, then I glance into the dining room and find several more spots to clean. One week into this assignment and there are only 3 carpeted rooms in which the cats have not expressed themselves. I hope they are not saving those for Thanksgiving.

Seventyfive minutes after arriving, all known carpet spots are cleaned up, the boxes are clean, etc. I leave!

I get home and go in the side door because I forgot to put a pee pad by the front door. Sleek, for some reason known only to her, likes to lie on the vinyl floor when I'm not home. The good news is that the vinyl does not absorb urine. The bad news is that, with no pee pad, only Sleek's fur is available to absorb urine. This was a large puddle, since I was gone longer than expected, and Sleek's tail has been lying in it. Sleek comes running to the side door with her tail wagging happily. Another sigh. I scoot the dogs out the back door and clean up the spray.

Whose idea was it to let my life go to the animals?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sad Eyes

Oh boy, oh boy! She's feeding us good stuff for supper tonight! Ground raw turkey! Much better than the mostly broth stuff she's been giving us for supper lately.

Why does she take so long to put those supplements in? Heck, why does she bother at all?

You know. She says they're "good for us."

I wish she'd hurry. My ears are getting tired of being at full alert. My eyes, too. I'm an old dog and I don't have time to waste waiting when I could be eating!

They have a point. It does take a while to decapsulate or break up supplements, but only one will eat any of the supplements in capsule or pill form and both consider having the supplements poked down their throats somewhat insulting.

Those bright eyes, watching every move of my hand from bottle to bowl, then grasping the fork to mix the powders in, moving the bowls to add some hot water so the food will be warmer for old dog bellies. How alert, watchful, anticipating joy in the food.

So much waiting for just a few moments of eating. Then the crestfallen looks all around the bowl. Did I really eat it all already? Surely I knocked a morsel or two under the edge of the bowl? Hmm. Let's swap bowls. Maybe you left something in yours, for I surely did not in mine.

After a final potty break outside, we come in to one last bit of food as a reward for a good emptying of bladders. Dogs race for the back door in more joyous anticipation. Once again, the ears are up, eyes alert and missing no gesture toward a possible food source. Cookies distributed, they head for bed.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Christmas and Aging

You know you are aging when you think about whether you would rather have a new set of laundrable pee pads for the dog or Cool-Max socks for yourself as your Christmas gift to yourself. And both of these seem like a desirable options. Your previous thought for a Christmas gift to yourself was a new toilet. You know, one without mineral deposits that affect the flushing action. Thanks to spirited use of a bent dry-cleaner's hanger, enough mineral deposits have been removed (good exercise, too!) that the toilet no longer needs to be at the top of the list.

What things would you like for Christmas?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Facing Things

I'm not good at facing unpleasant things. I tend to put them off until I absolutely cannot figure another way to avoid facing them.

I'm also notoriously awful at asking for help.

I have a situation now where both Fluff and Sleek need surgeries for different things. Fluff needs to have a tooth removed, and Sleek has a lump in her groin that needs to be removed. Both dogs are geriatric. Both are from breeds that often have issues with anesthesia. Sleek has a serious heart murmur, making her even trickier to anesthetize. The pre-op bloodwork hasn't been done yet, so something else could crop up with that, too.

How do I face the fact that it is entirely possible that either dog could die on the table? This writing is actually the first time I'm acknowledging that Fluff could react badly on the table and die. Mostly I'm concentrating on how I don't know how to face this chance with Sleek because a) she has more things going against her in the anesthesia department; and b) because she is, frankly, my Next-Best Girl. Fluff is my Best Girl. Period, end of story. She has been my Best Girl since the day she came home from the shelter, and she will continue to be my Best Girl at least until the day she dies, may it be several years away, and probably will be my Best Girl even after her death.

I know death is only a transition. Only the body dies, not the soul. And I know my dogs have souls. It may be that they feel their work or play here is done and they are ready to move on. Fluff will stay in touch with me, and I think I'll see her in corporeal form again after the current corpus ceases to amuse her. Sleek may have other agendas to pursue beyond my happiness and education, so I may not see her again in my current lifetime.

But how do I work the current situation? How do I visualize them in perfect health and hold that image in my heart as they go into surgery when I also know I may be saying goodbye?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Favorite Things

Per Mrs. G. of Derfwad Manor, today is Favorite Things Friday. I'll post later because I'm off to one of my favorite things: a Watsu session!

This is the pool where I go for Watsu.

Watsu is heaven on earth if you like water and human touch. The name is a combination of "water" and "shiatsu" massage, so Watsu is massage done in a warm water pool. The therapist uses floats (various sizes, depending on size and body composition. My feet sink, my midsection does not, so I wear floats just below my knees) to get you to a pretty neutral balance. Then they swirl you around in the water and listen to signals from your body on what needs to be stretched or moved. It's great for releasing physical knots and often some emotional or physical ones, too. The water is warm. Today we had the pool at 97 degrees because I had said I thought I probably needed more of a stretching session. Sometimes I start moving a lot both face above the water and face below -- your therapist is prepared for this and makes sure you get your head above water when you need to breathe.

In some ways Watsu is more intimate than massage because the therapist may need to hold you close to her body in order to be able to stretch you without you floating away.

Watsu just lets me let go of a lot of the (self-imposed) tension I feel daily. I set the way the session runs -- if I want to be quiet and relax, great. If I want to thrash about and pretend I'm a dolphin leaping out of the water and back under, great. I love, love, love it!


I also love knitting. My mom tried numerous unsuccessful times to teach me while I was growing up, but a woman I worked with shortly after grad school was the one who finally taught me. My first project was a Lopi sweater similar to this:

They're easier than they look because they are knit in the round so you don't have to purl much. Also, traditional ones never have more than 2 colors per round, so keeping other colors from peeking through is easier.

My current project is this:

This will be my first experience felting something. Okay, my first time deliberately felting something. I have the first one knit up, except for the cuff. I have to knit the second one and see how much yarn I have left before I can figure out what color the cuffs will be, or even if they will be the same color. The felting idea is scary. It feels, now before the deed, like I will be deliberately ruining something because of decades of trying to avoid felting my sweaters into too-small, semi-rigid blocks of wool. On the other hand, it's something I haven't tried, so it's exciting, too!


Stumptown coffee. Go see, order some for yourself.


I love and need natural light indoors. I live in a 50-year old house because it had more windows and fewer CC&Rs than comparably priced current houses. And it has a basement! And only one bathroom to clean! In my last cube-factory job I bullied my way into a cube by the windows by informing my officemates: "I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. You want me to have the seat by the window!"


Four books (of many) I love:

Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape

Isn't the title awesome for a work of nonfiction? I love Barry Lopez's writing.

Bones Would Rain From the Sky by Suzanne Clothier. I told one of my sisters if she wanted to understand what I want my relationship with my dogs to be, she should read this book. I don't think she's read it, but I have, many times. When I grow up I want to be Suzanne. Failing that, I want the bed next to hers at the "Home for Little Old Dog Ladies" when we're retired.

Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. A mystical story of New York City in the early 20th century. What can I say, other than one of the main characters is a (non-talking) horse?

King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett. I love Dorothy's work and am sorry there will be no more of it. This is a fictional account of the life of the real MacBeth and a touching love story.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another Reason

Trader Joe's enlarged their place in my heart tonight. I dropped by tonight to pick up some stuff, including the Candy Cane Joe-Joe's cookies someone mentioned in another blog (I thought it was Mrs. G. of Derfwad Manor, so I was going to provide a link but I can't find the entry although I can apparently run this sentence on into the ground with stream of consciousness-type typing. Breathe!). I managed to space out and leave a bag of paid-for, mostly cold or frozen foods groceries there. Off I go to home where I dial my friend Sr while unloading the groceries. As Sr answers the phone, I realize I've left the bag at TJ's, but I can't hang up or disengage immediately because I feel guilty about not calling Sr sooner after she had an MRI last Thursday. So I have to hear about the MRI results (don't show any reason for the symptoms, but the symptoms have abated for now anyway although they could stay away, return, or return with a vengeance. It could rain or not rain any day of the week, too) and talk about a few other things before breaking free.

I zip back to TJ's and find the checkout people who helped me. They instantly recognize me and call the back-of-store folks to bring my bag up to me. The bag carrier checks on some of the frozen stuff (without prompting) and says it must be replaced with hard-frozen versions. Good customer service. kabbage likes that. It makes her happy.

(oh, and the candy cane Joe-Joe's are pretty good, too. I still like the Girl Scout Thin Mints the best, but these are good and have NO trans-fats and NO high-fructose corn syrup [not sure about the thin mints on either of those things])

Updated to say I found the original mention of the delightful Candy Cane Joe-Joe's at

Monday, November 12, 2007


The first of the winter winds came in today, from the coast. Not much rain, considering, but gusts close to 50mph in the valley. Fortunately, I did not need to cross the river today. My car is shaped like a box, and I really dislike involuntary lane changes.

A neighbor's slowly decaying shed is now down. The roof died a year or so ago, but the walls were still standing. I'm not completely sure if all the walls are down because if they are, there was another matching, butt-ugly, slowly decaying shed just beyond it. If there was wind-liftable debris involved, it doesn't seem to have made it as far as my yard, so I'm happy about that. The winds did startle me when I looked under my patio cover and the dog crate started moving. Usually stuff is pretty secure under the cover.

We had enough wind today that the airport re-routed incoming airplanes over my house. We're close enough to the airport that you can just about read the registration numbers, although not the "step here" markings for maintenance, on the planes because they're so low. During the house shopping and buying process, the planes had never been routed over my house while I was here. Shortly after I moved in they were. I thought there was an imminent crash with the first one and listened carefully for the crash. It never came, but more planes soon did. Today, for the first time in years, Fluff objected to the planes flying over. She did her dead-level best to send them packing and was entirely successful: not a single plane landed in our yard!

It's been a beautiful fall, but I'm okay with the rain starting. Rain for the year has been low, so it's time to get some winter rain and snow to set us up for a drought-free summer next year.

Friday, November 09, 2007


Words coming out of my mouth this morning:

"See? This shows how much I love you. If I had human children I would not feed them green tripe, no matter how much they begged for it!"

If you are not familiar with green tripe, it's tripe that is only cleaned to the extent of removing the big globs of semi-digested food left when the animal hosting the the tripe is killed. It's really good for the dogs, being loaded with enzymes and such, but it smells awful. Usually I try to buy it in single-serving containers which never come back into the house once emptied on the grass for canine gustatory delight but instead go directly to the garbage can. I also try to feed it half-frozen to reduce odor.

The dogs are happy, but there will be no doggy kisses accepted for hours!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Good Picture

I realized that none of the pictures I posted is particularly flattering, so here is an example of sisterly love:

Sleek & Fluff, November 8, 2007

I was shocked at how willing they were to be close to one another today. Long ago when we were forging our Pack of Three* they generally preferred to not touch one another. Then again, my biological family rarely touches one another. I have one picture from my cousin's wedding a dozen years or so ago where my 5 siblings and I, all over 30 years old, are standing or sitting 3 in front and 3 in the back. There is visible airspace between all of us.

Living as the sole human in our household can lead to some odd observations. Despite no biologic ties between us, or between them, I often see my own behaviors in my dogs. Was I attracted to them because of their mannerisms, or did I shape them into mirrors of me? I suspect it is a little of both.

*Pack of Three -- see Carolyn Knapp's thoughtful book "Pack of Two" for a description of her relationship with her dog Lucille.

End of Indian Summer

The rain is supposed to return tonight or tomorrow, so this is probably it for the glorious days of fall. The girls and I did a tour of county parks today, and I took some pictures.

This one shows why Sleek is sometimes known as Zippy the Pinhead.

Fluff, after a bit of digging in the sand at the water's edge.

By this time sitting for portraits has begun to lose its charm.

A different park, later in the day, and at least Fluff can smile for the camera.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Time Change

The evenings are much, much longer now. Thank heavens the weather has been beautiful this week so days are not truncated by clouds. Even with full blue sky it's pretty dang dark by 5:30pm. All of our stomachs are still not quite with the new program, so we want to eat early. I still need to adjust the living room light timer. It's now going off at 9:30, and that's too early for my taste.

I must get back to my knitting. I don't even know why I'm not knitting. I have one slipper pretty much knitted, except I want to change the cuff color. I'll have to rip back a bit to reclaim that yarn. I can't really finish slipper #1 until I do most of slipper #2 and figure out how much yarn I have of which colors. Even though I've never felted before, I felt the need to modify the pattern by dinking with the color scheme relative to the directions.

Knitting will also limit food intake. I use good yarn, usually wool, and don't want to get food crumbs or grease on it. I just made brownies with the old family recipe (which used to be on the Baker's Chocolate box forever) because the only chocolate in the house was unsweetened. Even now I felt the urge to lick the pan after melting the chocolate, but I'm growing up! I didn't do it! I guess the fifty thousand times I did it as a kid to much disappointment are finally teaching me something.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Filler Stuff -- Hidden

This is something I left on jo(e)'s blog a year and a half ago when she posted a writing exercise with the word "hidden."


The dog scratches. I part her black fur, seeking the flea I think is there. A sense of movement among the soft tangles. I pinch, miss. The flea errs, straying onto the lightly furred belly. I grab. Success! One less flea, surely one less itch.


Later we walk in twilight, my dogs and I. She with the white ruff remains visible. The other, tawny in daylight, becomes a shadow in the night. I feel her slip through the night, reliving the history of her kind, but I do not see her. I call, and her eyes shine green in the streetlight as she returns to me.


Soon my dogs will be hidden from my sight forever, for they are aging. Will I feel them still? One I think will remain. Or perhaps she will return in another body. Will I see her spirit there, or will it remain hidden? And the other? I sense her future lies in another direction, without me, hidden from me during the remainder of my body’s lifetime. We are friends, but we are not of the same soul-plane.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


I was going to write about being tired today after cleaning the house, washing dogs, cooking, and hosting the women's group meeting today, but then I started an unrelated preamble to capture a thought.

Even if I only participated in NaBloPoMo every year sans other blogging or journaling I would get an interesting way of checking in with myself over the course of the year. It would be similar to looking at the previous New Year's Resolutions at the end of the year in preparation for the new ones. Or taking stock at birthday time. What did I accomplish? What did I fail to accomplish and why? The failure might have been due to external factors that required a change of direction or focus, or I might have looked at the goal relative to other things that could be goals and decided to shift to a new focus. A month's worth of entries gives a slightly larger perspective because the time allows for wider diversity of thoughts and focuses. A month allows for less intense days or days focused on the weather or the trivial, not just the BIG THINGS IN LIFE.

From the reader's perspective, too, reading only 1 month of someone's life could be fascinating. I see potential here for fiction in either written or film form. If I read only the last 10 or so November entries from someone's diary or journal, how will that shape my view of that person? Would I form a different image than if I read, say, only the April entries? What if I read the entire journal? I think if I ended up reading the November entries of someone who mourns a lost beloved person in November plus has uncomfortable memories of childhood Thanksgivings and suffers from SAD while living in a rainy climate, I'd "know" a different person than the July person who lives for getting out on the boat with friends and family, even though the two share the same body. How about if I read the November entries, my friend reads the July ones, and both of us meet the author in April? Might one of us say the author is exactly what I pictured, while the other shakes her head in surprise? I think so, although it's possible that scenario is more likely if we meet the author in July or November.

If I'm the author of the journal, how do I react? Do I know these readers have only had 1 month of every year and that they had different months? If I met this readers in November, would I be pulled more toward the November reader or repelled because the privacy invasion might be more obvious?

I'm too tired to think about this any more, and my typing mistake rate is going way up.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Hostess with Mostess

I signed up to host our next women's group meeting because this month we are supposed to try something new, and hosting the group (or any group, really) at my house is feeling pretty new to me. Then in a fit of insanity, I also signed up to do the food for the meeting. The meeting is tomorrow. So far (late evening), I have scrubbed the kitchen floor and the toilet and one dog and started the cooking.

Food is tricky with this crew. We might as well be considered walking wounded in the digestive tracts. Some are lactose intolerant to greater or lesser degrees. Some are gluten-free. At times we've had vegan and/or ovo-intolerant members. Some are forever on diets so avoiding sugar and/or carbs. It's hard to find things everyone can eat. Add in the "will eat" thing, and it could get absolutely insane. Even though the restricted diet people are willing to be responsible for their own food, I think it adds a lot if we can all share something.

Dessert is in the oven. The chicken is boiled and refrigerated. I still don't know exactly what I'm doing with the chicken tomorrow. It will be some sort of soup. I can't decide if I want to go basic or for an Italian feel, Mexican feel, or Creole feel. Hate to rush these things. I can add tomatoes and still be undecided, which is intriguing.

Dessert is Pumpkin-Brown Rice Pudding. I started with a recipe, but I tweaked wildly. This is the test run. Okay, I used pumpkin and spices per the recipe. It called for a quart of milk. I wondered if coconut milk would work to replace some of the milk, so I tried that. You have to bring this pumpkin and milk mixture upto a boil and then take part of the mixture to add to beaten eggs. I'm whisking the mixture into the eggs which start to cook instantly because the pumpkin is just off the boil. The egg reminds me of the egg when making egg drop soup: thin strands floating in the liquid. This time, though, the liquid is opaque and very thick. I also removed all the sugar of the original recipe and added raisins instead. Now the stuff is baking for 90 minutes.

I wonder about my life had I had a different family of origin. Would I perhaps have developed into a cook or chef? I enjoy cooking for friends and can follow many recipes that only call for basic equipment. Now more than ever I find I can enjoy deviating from recipes to see what will happen. Taking notes so I can duplicate or build upon successes while avoiding previously made mistakes would be useful.

I'm off to vacuum. Time falls back tonight, and I'll need that extra hour!

Christmas Season

The good news about Christmas season starting so bloody early is that I have eggnog to use in my coffee now. Eggnog will probably be available through mid-January, so I'll have nearly 3 months of even happier coffee.

The bad news is that I saw the first Christmas ornaments for sale at Labor Day weekend and I just should not be dodging trick-or-treaters while hearing Christmas carols on the radio.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Food Sensitivities

My women's group will be meeting at my house on Sunday. Have I cleaned? No, although I dusted the hideous light fixture in the eating end of the living room. I think it's a bad sign that the plastic meant-to-be-candle-looking bits are starting to flake apart when I dust.

The tricky part is food. For some silly reason I thought it would be easier for me to supply the food as well as the house this time. I still think this is correct, but this group is challenging in the food department. Fortunately one or two of the most dietarily-limited can't be there this month. While I will miss them, I'm glad I don't feel obligated to try to come up with a vegetarian, ideally vegan, meal when I am essentially carnivorous. I'm lactose-intolerant, although I eat cheese and use milk in cooking. Another is gluten-intolerant. I don't think anyone is diabetic. Somebody was unable to handle eggs. Nearly all of us could afford to lose weight. Take away meat, eggs, wheat, and dairy, and things get tough for the noncreative cook.

Oh well, that part will somehow come out okay. I was bummed when I realized barley has gluten, negating my great plan to use a soup mix. I now have to look to see if all the interesting varieties of rice, including wild rice, are gluten-free.

Meanwhile, poor Sleek apparently has a fungal invasion of her liver and has to be on a zero carb/sugar diet to try to starve the fungus while she's also on strong liver cleansers/tonics. Ha. She essentially can eat meat and green leafy vegetables. Guess who doesn't care much for green leafies (she seems to take after me in this regard, species or nurture for the formative years being no obstacle to taking on my characteristics in nearly 9 years living together). Fine. She'll be eating close to 2 lbs of meat a day to keep her weight up. It has to be good quality meat since we're trying to help her liver, not do it in.

Fluff is not amused at the thought of Sleek getting more/better food than she is (Sleek is bigger and less efficient at converting food to dog). She does like the idea that she gets all the grain-containing dog biscuits, though.

Maybe I'll have to see if I can make blue pork again. That was pretty interesting visually. I never tried to see if it would work with chicken, either. Simple technique. Boil pork with purple kale, probably for an hour or more. Leave them together and refrigerate overnight. Although the pork was the usual grey of boiled pork the night before, it truly looked blue in the morning. If it works for chicken, I think it would be very cool for someone (I have no human children) to serve their kids blue chicken noodle soup for lunch sometime.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

33 Years Ago Today

My first dog was born. I was 13 years old and in the 8th grade. Only my little brother (then 11) and I were still home full-time, although all 3 of my sisters were home for college holidays. He came home 6-1/2 weeks later, what I now believe to be too young an age. He was the only dog of my parents' 51-year marriage. My older brother had allergies, and neither of my parents were particularly interested in dogs. I worked hard at breaking them down. I suspect they did because the thought of their daughter running around the neighborhood playing with the neighbors' dogs didn't gel with their idea of how a teenage girl should behave. At least this way I was running around with my own dog and probably less likely to be invited into someone's home for nefarious purposes.

He almost was named Trooper because he ran amok (and a-muck) through the house as a baby and ended up being nicknamed Pooper Trooper before I came up with his final name. The morning after he came home was the last time my father plugged in the coffee until I left for college. Poor man went down to plug in the coffee without turning on the lights. The puppy had gotten out of his box and left a few landmines on the kitchen floor. Did I mention my father was barefoot? He found at least one of the deposits the hard way and came upstairs to let me know I needed to take my goddamned puppy out and I might as well plug in the coffee on the way.

He was an odd little dog, not particularly affectionate in a breed that was usually thought of as affectionate. He also was indifferent to food although he loved, loved, loved his tennis ball. We almost killed him with that thing, not realizing that, no, all dogs are NOT smart enough to stop playing when they start to overheat. He always flipped the frisbee over so it wouldn't trip him while he brought it back. He had the best natural retrieve to hand of any dog I've ever seen, at least of his ball and frisbee. Many other things (e.g., sticks) were not worthy of retrieving. If I knew then what I know now, he might have been a darn good sport dog. I trained him to jump by turning picnic table benches on their side (he was only 14" tall at the shoulder, so a couple of picnic table benches worked well) and trained him to Novice Obedience standards by myself. No classes, nobody I knew that I could ask about competition, just some Blanche Saunders books. Agility didn't exist yet. Really, obedience and the conformation ring were our only options for competition.

Ah, competition and parents who really don't get it. With an allowance of $1 per week and entry fees that ran about $10 per class, I was dependent on my parents for shows. They were needed for getting to shows anyway. My dog was a sheltie, so hair and grooming were important and hard to learn from magazines and books. I remember my father telling me numerous times, "if you spent half the time on your own hair as you do on that goddamned dogs, you could be attractive." Thanks so much for that boost to the adolescent ego. I bought special shears to trim the dog's ear hair and around his feet. One time I came home from college to find my father had swiped those scissors. He said they were the best scissors he'd ever had for trimming his own nose hair. Uh, dad, I hope you cleaned those suckers well. They sometimes got used for cleaning up the nether portions of the dog's body after intestinal distress.

We never competed all that well. I knew we were in trouble when someone complimented my "pretty little puppy bitch" when I was standing there with a 3-year-old male. He was rather light-boned, and I wasn't good at starching the front leg hair to make his legs look thicker. He also did not grow a full, thick coat until after I left for college, so he always looked immature during his showing years. In obedience, I eventually found out that I have ring nerves. We failed at several trials, then I went to a match (practice show). We won High Score in Match with 195 out of 200 points. Entered a "real" trial, and failed again. Yep. My voice and body language changed under pressure, and he didn't know what I was asking him to do.

We did a lot of walking together, all around our (fairly large) subdivision, and sometimes beyond. We went up to the elementary school playground sometimes. He would go berserk in the sand, digging madly in one spot, then springing over to a new spot and digging there. He would herd his playground-type ball all over the backyard and was a ferocious 4-square player, although he wouldn't stay in his own square. He had to be put in the house for us to play basketball or soccer because those balls could really hurt a 15-lb dog when he went in for the block. He also had to be inside for badminton because he believed in destroying the birdie.

I feel kind of bad that I left him with my parents even after I finished college. He was only 8, but I didn't want to try to find an apartment where his barking wouldn't be a problem. I told my parents that they should let me know if he needed to be put down and they didn't feel they could stay with him to the end. I felt I owed him a debt for what he added to my adolescent life. A few days before my 29th birthday, my mother called. She said to the answering machine, "Happy birthday. I have to go into the hospital for some cancer tests. Oh, and you need to come home to do something about the dog." My then boyfriend added to the occasion by suggesting that I could go home that weekend to put the dog to sleep. Yeah, dirtbag, nothing like putting the dog down on my birthday. Wouldn't that be festive? Instead I went down the next weekend. My father had already dug the grave earlier in the week. He and my mother had been living in terror of the dog, now sight- and hearing-impaired, among other frailties, falling in the grave and hurting himself before I could get there to have him killed. My brother and I took him to the vet, and he tried to get us to play as we walked to the door. I almost lost it at that. The vet was very kind to the two of us as we held our little dog and sobbed. Even the vet ended up in tears listening to us cry. He fought the sedative shot, trying to stay awake. Some part of me so wanted him to stay awake, to stop his death. Another part said, no, this was for the best. He was largely incontinent in addition to the vision and hearing loss, and I still lived in an apartment in a busy city. We finished the deed and took him home for burial. He was 14 and a half years old. We buried him ourselves and then went inside to tell my parents he was gone. My father asked why we hadn't let them know we were home before burying him. I felt like asking if he'd wanted to see it because he wasn't sure we'd actually go through with the euthanasia or because he wanted to celebrate while we shoveled dirt onto my good dog. Instead I retreated to the time-honored, "I don't know. Guess we didn't know you were interested" in a mumbled, eyes-down way.

He was the smallest dog I've ever owned. He was the only male dog, and the only intact dog, I've owned. He was my first blue merle, my first show dog. He was the only dog I've owned where I met his parents (his face was nearly a mirror image, markings-wise, of his father's), although I've seen videos of Sleek's father. He was my first AKC-registered dog and the only dog whose AKC number I memorized (still know it to this day). Interestingly, my best girl Fluff has eyes that are colored almost exactly like his. Left eye is dark brown, right eye is dark brown with some gray flecks in it.

Thank you, Flint. You were a good dog.