Friday Randomness (on Saturday)

image

Maybe I should say something about the election that’s coming up, but I can’t.  I’m sick of the whole thing.  I wish that Clinton had a more worthy adversary.  I want her to win, but I’d rather it be on her own merits, not because her opponent is such an asshole.

We went to Portland a couple of weeks ago for a ‘drive by visit’.  Maya is in school, Ted and I don’t have a lot of vacation time saved up, so we flew up Friday night, spent Saturday with family, flew home Sunday morning.  My sister got married back in March, a VERY small ceremony, and this was the party to celebrate.  It was so lovely to see everyone, but again it reminded us that we are living far from my family, and the kids are growing up without our frequently getting to see them.

image

Back when I worked in a cubicle farm, I had a clock radio/iPod docking station, because I wanted to listen to my iPod at work.   When I started working from home, I brought it home and put it next to my bed.  The clock sucked for being next to my bed.  I hated the backlit display, SO bright, and it was hard to read the numbers at night.  At some point along the way, the volume stopped working well.  It was hard to get it to a decent volume.  Too loud, or too quiet.  I had no idea how to set the alarm on the thing.  For some reason, inertia mostly, I kept it for years.  Finally, I decided that I had had enough, and I went to the drug store and bought myself a new clock radio to keep by my bed.  It’s not the best ever, but it has a dark face with red numbers, very easy to read at night.  It was still a bit more bright than I wanted, so I bought an interesting product to dim it.  It’s black film that clings to the front of the clock.  You can’t even see the numbers during the day, but I don’t care about that.  What I like is that it’s dark in our room at night, and I can easily read the numbers.  I haven’t tried setting the alarm yet, so we’ll have to see how that works.

Monday was Canadian Thanksgiving.  Since Ted was born in Canada (though they came to the U.S. when he was just over a year old), I like to make Thanksgiving dinner for the three of us.  Often I make a turkey breast, but this year I wanted leftovers, so I made a small turkey, about 10lbs.  There was enough that Monday night we had Thanksgiving dinner, Tuesday we had turkey chili, Wednesday we had leftovers, Thursday we had turkey pot pie. Friday I was looking in the fridge, and we still have yams, cranberry sauce, and gravy, but no more turkey.  So I decided to buy a turkey breast, and we would have Thanksgiving dinner part 2.  When I told Ted, he said he would rather have pizza, he’s a little tired of turkey.  So pizza it was.  I’d already bought the turkey breast, so we will be having that along with the yams and so on, probably tonight.

Are you a fan of the Gilmore Girls?  I’m a fan, and I’ve been watching the series again on Netflix in anticipation of the new season coming out after Thanksgiving.  If you’ve not been paying attention, it’s going to be 4 episodes, I believe 90 minutes each.  Each episode will be a different season, so they will take place over the course of one year.  There’s been a lot of speculation as to what has changed over the almost 10 years since the series ended.  One change is that the actor who played the father, Ed Hermann, has died in the interim, so there will be no Richard Gilmore.  I’m sad about that.  I loved him and Emily best for the whole show.

He loves to sleep like this. Don't know why.

He loves to sleep like this. Don’t know why.

Puppy Boy was super sick last week.  We have to assume that he ate something he shouldn’t have, or licked up something nasty off the ground, but we don’t know exactly.  He has a habit of barfing.  Not sure why, but he does. Maybe he has an acid prone stomach.  Generally we give him a Pepcid AC every morning, and that takes care of it.  But last week, he started barfing and couldn’t stop.  He threw up all over the house, with us following close behind with the carpet cleaner, until it had been a couple of hours and he was just puking foam.  We decided enough was enough, and took him to the vet.  He threw up in the car on the way there, and at the vet’s as well.  The vet said it could be that he ate something dangerous, or it could be obstructed bowels, or who knows.  Blood work and x-rays were next, followed by an IV of liquids and anti-nausea meds.  He stopped barfing.  The vet said to take him home, and if he was OK in the morning, no need to come back.  If he threw up again in the morning, we had to bring him in again.  There was something on the x-Ray that was PROBABLY nothing, but if he was still barfing the next morning, we should check into it.  Morning came, he drank some water, and barfed it up.  Back to the vet for us.  More x-rays.  More IV.  More meds.  The x-Ray was again inconclusive, but the spot that the vet worried about was gone.  We brought him home, and then the diarrhea started.  That went on much of Friday, thankfully all in the yard, none at home.  Saturday he was a little better.  Sunday he seemed almost back to his regular self, and every day got a little better until now he’s fine.  The only thing that’s bothering him at all now is that while he was sick, he was eating chicken and rice, and now it’s all gone and it’s back to kibble.  So, we never found out exactly what was wrong, except that the blood work didn’t show anything like poison, and the x-rays didn’t show anything too crazy.  Our puppy boy is fine.  Our bank account is not.

Throwback Thursday

image

Not much of a throwback, admittedly. This is Mulder on Christmas Eve, trying to be a good boy and waiting for Santa.

We live in a townhouse, and have a teeny tiny living room, so this is the tree that fits.  It’s built for an entryway, is very small and thin.   It’s perfect for us.  Though maybe we need a new one next year, as some of the pre-set lights are out.  Or maybe we’ll just get some new lights.  I tried at the after Christmas sales, but I couldn’t find any.

Happy New Year – Friday Randomness

image
Hey There Party People, what’s shakin’? December was a good combination of busy and lazy, and somehow in amongst the lazy I did not post even once. That’s pathetic.

In line with catching you up a bit, life here has been good, not crazy, not too different than it was before. We’ve had another month with dog-boy, Mulder, and he’s settling in so very well. We all adore him so much. He’s playful and loving and wonderful. He’s learning a bit of manners, learning to walk better on a leash, etc. He doesn’t jump on the furniture as much anymore. He doesn’t bark nearly as much anymore. He’s only vomited twice. He did wake us up barking Christmas Eve morning, maybe 1 A.M. Not good. But it turned out he was barking at the police officers who were here, because our neighbor’s house had been broken into. He didn’t bark during the actual burglery, but based on the layout of our houses, I doubt he even heard it. So he’s a good guard dog. And so darned darling.

Sometimes Ted and I get each other similar gifts, without knowing that would happen. One year it was cozy bathrobes. This year it was art for our walls, at least sort of. I say sort of, because while he bought me a photograph/print to frame and hang, I bought him a set of frames to hang record albums. This is big for us, because we have such different taste in art, we have a lot of trouble finding anything to hang on our walls. He likes abstract art, geometrical with contrasting colors. I like flowers and more girly type things. I have a theory that he likes the contrasting colors because he’s somewhat color blind, and I like flowers and portraits because I’m girly.  See the beautiful picture of San Francisco and the cloudy sky up there?  That’s the picture he bought me.  I love it. I think it’s contrasting enough for him and pretty enough for me, is why it works.  It was taken by a friend of his, who does great work you can find here, if you’re so inclined.

image
I love Jacques Pepin and enjoy watching his cooking shows on PBS. He has a new one now, ‘Heart and Soul’ that I’m enjoying enough that Ted gave me the cookbook for Christmas. Yay! One of the recipes was this one, which is a deconstructed sushi. I decided to give it a try the other day, and it was delishious. Our favorite grocery store has a sushi counter (don’t they all?) and they sell the spicy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger, so I bought those to add. It was really good, but I think the trout roe that I bought was a bit too fishy for me, so maybe I’d save myself a bit of money and not use that next time. But overall it was good.

image
What else…well, I turned 50. Ted threw me a lovely party with family and friends, and we feasted on delicious lamb curry, curried pumpkin, and roti. So so so good. My friend Marilee was in Canada and couldn’t make it to my party, but she sent me the most gorgeous bouquet of flowers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen orchids this way before, but aren’t they amazing? I love them. Here we are a week later, and they’re still stunning.

What else…We’re enjoying Downton Abbey, and I’m looking forward to getting the DVD in a couple of weeks so we can forge ahead and binge watch. It’s how I started watching D.A., and really my preferred method.

We’ll see if I end up posting here more than I did last year. I certainly HOPE that I do, but I’m not going to make it a resolution or anything like that. Happy New Year, everyone.

Puppy Love

Mulder the day we met him. So sweet, a bit shy and overwhelmed.

Mulder the day we met him. So sweet, a bit shy and overwhelmed.

I am most happy to introduce you to our new teen-puppy, Mulder!

Mulder is 7 1/2 months old Keeshond teen-puppy.  Teen-puppy is my term for his age, because he’s almost fully grown (30ish lbs now), but still a puppy in so many ways. Our sweet girl Genevieve was 1/2 kees/1/2 Sheltie. We got her from a local Keeshonden rescue back in 2002, when she was 4. She was such a good dog, and when she died in early 2012 (can you believe it’s been that long?), we were heartbroken. As time went by, we eventually decided we were ready to open our hearts and our home to another dog. We thought we’d like to get another Kees from the same rescue, so last December, we put in our application. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. About 6 weeks after putting in our application, having heard NOTHING, I emailed the rescue and asked if there was something wrong with our application. The reply came back, no, nothing wrong, but for better or for worse, NO DOGS are currently available for adoption. She said in her 20 years, they had never had such a long dry spell. I follow the rescue on Facebook, so I had seen several lovely dogs come and go in the last year, and indeed, there had been nothing in the last few months. So we tried to be patient. Every once in awhile we’d get an email…we have a dog…but we were hoping for a young dog, maybe 4 years or younger, and at least mostly healthy, so we wouldn’t be starting off with an old sick dog. We know that part is in the future with any pet, but we didn’t have the fortitude to start out that way. So we continued to wait.

Mulder on Sunday, looking very mature and calm.

Mulder on Sunday, looking very mature and calm.

When we thought maybe we weren’t going to get a Keeshond, we went to the local animal shelter a few times. There were some sweet dogs, but none that we fell in love with. We went to another rescue, for a husky, but that dog was a bit too much for my arthritic hands to manage. A sled dog is perhaps not what you want if you don’t want to be pulled. Perhaps we could have trained her out of that habit, but she was SO high energy, and not so much what we were looking for. So we tried some more to be patient.
image

And obviously, our patience eventually paid off. Late in October, the rescue contacted us to say they have a dog! Younger than we were wanting, almost 7 months old, but very sweet, healthy, and would we like to meet him? So off we went to meet him, and we fell in love right away. He had to stay at his foster home for a few weeks, so he could see the vet, be fully evaluated, and then neutered. Then we could bring him home. Last Saturday was the day, so we’ve had him for just over a week now. He is certainly a puppy, and he has to learn our confusing and weird rules, such as, no dogs on the beds. No dogs on the sofa. No dogs on the recliner. Very strange for him, as he was allowed full access to the furniture at the foster home, and perhaps at his last home before that as well. He has to learn that sometimes we leave the house, but that we will come back. He has to learn to rest in his crate when we’re gone, because we’re not thrilled with the idea of him chewing up our house while we’re not here to supervise. He has to learn to walk nicely on the leash. He has to learn to not bark at EVERYTHING. He’s learning pretty well. His barking has decreased substantially, he rarely tries to get on the furniture now, and he likes his crate (as long as he’s not locked in…that he doesn’t care for). He’s in his crate right now, playing with one of his toys, though the door is open. We’ll close it at some point so he can get more used to that. He’s playful and sweet and SUCH a good boy. We’re really enjoying having him in our home. So please, say hello and welcome to Mulder.

In other news: Today is my 10 year blogiversary. I had several real-life friends and family with blogs early on, and I met many new friends through blogging. I have enjoyed coming here, and coming to your blogs, and seeing the world though a bit of a different lens, over these last 10 years. My involvement has certainly waned as of late, but that’s OK. Maybe I’ll get more into a daily blogging groove again someday, maybe not. But I’m happy to be here, happy to share this part of my life with you, happy to have these friendships. Happy blogiversary to me.  P.S. My spell-check knows how to spell ‘blogiversary’.

Dog in a Dress


This is Samantha, my sweet puppy, lurking through the window of our house in Fairbanks, Alaska. She used to sit on top of her dog house and try to guilt us into letting her in the house, which didn’t happen on too regular of a basis, as she was an outdoor dog, and if you keep your dog in the house in Alaska, they don’t grow all of the fat and fur that they need to survive in sub-zero weather. If it were today, I would do it differently. I think dogs are happier in the den with the pack, and I think the pack is happier with the dog inside as well. But, as we all know, we can’t change the past, can we?

Anyway, the point of all of this is to tell you a humorous story about Samantha. See, Nance was discussing the special hell that is for people who dress their pets in costumes; or at least, if said pets have any say in the matter. Which reminded me of my so, so very patient baby dog, Samantha. She would let me do anything. She let me climb in her dog house with her when she was giving birth. She would have done absolutely anything for me. One of the things I used to like to do was to dress her up in my clothing. I was mostly a tomboy, but my mom would generally buy me one long prairie girl looking dress a year. Once I outgrew them, they were perfect for putting on the dog. So one day, we’re in front of the house, with the gate open, and I’m admiring how pretty she looks in my floor length dress. Look at that picture up there…see how we lived on a corner? Well, there was a stop sign right in front of the house, at the corner. So along comes this big green truck, with a big dog in the back, and it stops at the corner. In jumps Samantha. Off drives the truck. It was like a horror movie, one of those things where you absolutely cannot believe what is happening. My sweet baby dog is in the back of the truck, and the truck is driving away, and here I am, maybe 8 years old, completely unprepared to handle the situation. So I go running into the house, crying and yelling, “MY DOG! MY DOG! MY DOGGY IS GONE!!!” So we hopped into the car, and went off in search of Samantha.

Fairbanks was a tiny little town back then, and I’m not sure it’s all that big now. One the one hand, that’s a good thing, because there’s not that many places that she could go. On the other hand, it’s a bad thing, because if they were to leave the center of town, who knows how long it would be before we found her.

She turned up, of course, a few blocks away in the co-op parking lot. Sitting there, looking like a girl who had maybe been out partying with the band all night. Dress torn, hanging off one shoulder, mascara all running down her face. I was so crazy relieved, and I was (mostly) much better at keeping her on her leash after that.

Later, my mom had a really good laugh, wishing she could have seen the look on the face of the guy driving the truck when he looked in his rear view mirror and saw a pretty black lab mix in a frilly swirly patterned dress. Priceless.

Día de los Muertos

Today is The Day of the Dead, otherwise known as Día de los Muertos.  It is a day to remember and pray for beloved family and friends who have died.  I thought maybe I’d slow down and reflect on some loved ones who are gone.

First, of course, is my mom.  It’s been 4 1/2 years since she died, and of course, I still miss her every day.  I miss our long conversations, and I wish she were still here.  I don’t miss her being sick, and all of the stress that that gave me.  Mostly, I think about all of the things that she’s missing by not being here.  Pomegranates and persimmons are in season right now, and she loved them both.  Thanksgiving is coming up soon, and for several years, she worked for Catholic Community Services in Juneau, working to help people keep their children, when they were at risk of losing them due to child abuse.  She would train them in better ways of managing stress and anger, and give them parenting skills.  It was a job that she loved, but which was SO exhausting and often depressing for her.  While at that job, she had a lot of vacation time, and she would take off a month this time of year and come to California.  She would spend a week with my Grandma and Great Aunt, a week with me, a week with her friend Kate, and then another week with my Grandma and Great Aunt.  It seems strange to me for it to be Autumn, with the days shortening, and not have her visit to look forward to.  Gosh, I wish she could see how popular ‘The Big Bang Theory” has gotten.  She <i>loved</i> that show from the very beginning.  I miss you, mom.  If you were wrong, and there is a life after death, I hope you’re happy and healthy and well.  If you were right, and there isn’t, then at least I’m glad you’re not sick and suffering any more, and you live forever in my heart.  Sigh.

Next is my Grandpa.  He died in the spring of ’88, and I still miss him quite often.  He was a difficult man to like, but sometimes easy to love.  He used to make me chocolate cake, and we’d watch horse races together.

Then there’s Ted’s father, Pops.  He died in November of ’93, which is SO long ago now, but it feels like yesterday.  Ted and I were newlyweds, and that was the first big deal thing we had to deal with as a couple.  He was ill for a while before he died…not bedridden by any means, but he was slowing down mightily.  It was very difficult for him, because he was a man who loved to be busy.  Ted and I were talking about him yesterday, and how he loved his job, loved working, so much, that when he finally retired (after having a stroke left him unable to perform surgery), he had about 2 YEARS worth of vacation time banked.  So he basically went on vacation for 2 years, and THEN retired.  Crazy, huh?  I have a fond memory of him teaching me to calypso dance, and the many parties that we had at his house.

My Great-Grandma, my Mom’s Grandmother, was the first big loss I suffered.  She was such a loving and sweet woman.  She died in November of ’87, just after her 88th birthday.  I remember going to visit her and my Great Aunt (Aunt Flo, who now lives with my Grandma) in Modesto as a kid.  She was always busy with crocheting.  Actually, not crochet, but some kind of needlework that I don’t remember, where you pull the yarn through a pattern, and make a pretty wall hanging or maybe rug.  I’m not a crafty person, never have been, but I always admired her dedication and her love of the craft.

My other Grandfather, who I never met.  I met my father when I was 21, my sisters when I was 22, and my father was going to take me to meet my grandparents soon, when my Grandfather died.  I met my Grandmother for the first time at her husband’s funeral.  My dad had told them about me, though, and I was welcomed into the family with open arms.  I do wish I had been able to meet him…he seemed like a great guy.  I wish my only memory of him weren’t him in his coffin.

Last, of course, I have to remember my sweet dogs, Genevieve and Samantha.  Genevieve, I miss her so much every day.  I still cry quite often, thinking of her.  She was such a sweet funny girl, and we often talk about funny things she did, and how she made our lives richer by being here.   Going for long walks with me, spinning and digging and laughing when she was excited.  How delicate and pretty she looked after being groomed.  How ruffian and scruffy she looked after sleeping in the mud.  How bad her breath smelled sometimes.  How she would follow me from room to room, even after she went blind.  How she unplugged my computer from the monitor, causing me to think maybe I was going blind as well.  Samantha, who was my childhood dog.  I got her when she was just a puppy, and had her until she was 16.  She grew up with me, moved to California with me, kept me company when we would move YET AGAIN and I would have to go out and make new friends.  Easier done with a faithful dog by your side.  She died in 1988, the same spring that my Grandfathers both died.  It was a difficult time.

I’m thinking of all of you today, remembering good times that we had together.  I miss you terribly, but as long as I live, you will always be in my heart.

Dreaded Day


The dreaded day came and went this week. Gen’s medical conditions got the better of her, and we decided that we didn’t want to keep fixing one thing to just have another pop up. So we put her to sleep on Monday afternoon. We miss her sweet face SO MUCH. She was such a good girl, and we love her so much, and we’re so sad. But we know that she’s not suffering now, and that making sure she didn’t suffer was our responsibility. Damn it.

I keep thinking, I want my dog back. But when I think that, I don’t mean the dog that paced the house for hours at a time, unable to settle down. Not the dog that couldn’t see and spent her time bonking into things. Not the dog who was losing her fur and had a big bump on her back from injections. Not the dog who was beginning to suffer from seizures. I want the dog back in that picture up there. The dog with the big smile on her face who used to run down the stairs to greet us when we came home. The dog who would lick our toes when we went barefoot. Who would spin around and around and dig up the condo complex dirt when she was excited. The dog who went for long walks with me and slept by our beds. That’s the dog I want back. Goodbye sweet baby girl. We miss you horribly.

(Ted wrote a lovely post, with a nice picture montage that shows what a pretty girl she was, here.)

Loving Your Aging Dog

DSCF2303
There’s no two ways about it…Genevieve is an old lady. She takes 8 pills a day to keep her from having diarrhea, which sometimes works. She take 1 pill a day to help keep her from peeing uncontrollably. She takes 1 pill a day to help her appetite and cognitive function. She’s blind. She doesn’t leave the house anymore, except to go in the back yard to do her business. We take her out front sometimes, but after 2 1/2 years of being blind, I think it’s scary for her. I can’t leave her in the back yard, because she might get stuck behind the air conditioner unit or tangled up in the rose bushes.

I’ll admit, I miss my walking buddy. I miss the days when she was thrilled to go for a 3 to 4 mile walk with me, trotting the whole way, happy to be home to her water and a nap. I miss the days when she would follow me around during the day, especially after I came home to work. She stopped coming upstairs about 6 months ago, after almost falling down the stairs a couple of times. I think up is fine, down is dangerous.

But now we’re in this new time, a time when we have to watch her and make sure she’s not suffering, make sure she’s content and comfortable. Sometimes difficult when a previously piggish pooch suddenly becomes a presently picky pooch, turning her nose up at many of my attempts to get her to eat. Sometimes she’ll go on a strike and not eat for 2 or 3 days. Once this happened, and we made an appointment to have her put to sleep the following Monday. But then she rallied and started eating over the weekend, and the vet said it was up to us, there was no immediate need to put her down. Ugh. What a horrid decision. Do we put her to sleep now, to avoid any future suffering? Or do we wait, promise ourselves that we’ll watch and do our best, but try to enjoy our last days with her. We decided we weren’t ready to let her go, as she was still comfortable and content. But we’re on alert, watching for that time when she won’t be OK anymore. We’ve talked to Maya, who says she’s not happy about it, but she understands. Ugh.

We love our baby dog. We try to give her all of the attention and love we can, though like an old person, she’s not always interested or engaged. At least she’s not grumpy. For now, it’s about trying to get her to eat. Trying to get all of those damn pills down her throat. Trying to keep perspective, and know that we don’t want her to suffer, but at the same time, we don’t need to let her go before her time. Not easy.

Friday Randomness

Nothing earth shattering today, so we’ll dive on in, OK?  Just a bunch of randomness that’s been swimming through my brain a bit.

Happy Gen.jpgWe’re trying Genevieve on a new drug.  She had stopped eating, which had us really concerned.  Or, to be more accurate, her eating was very sporadic and unpredictable.  She didn’t want her kibble, so I started making her some homemade food.  She liked that for awhile, but then seemed to tire of it.  We’d try to hand feed her, and she’d just turn her head away.  She was always happy to eat dog treats, cheerios with milk, that kind of thing, but not regular dog food.  She has been pacing a lot lately, and gets stuck in corners, circles a LOT before laying down, and has been kind of distant and not as engaged with us.  And she’s losing her beautiful coat.  So we took her to the vet, fearing the worst.  I have a pretty flexible schedule, and the vet is very close to home, so usually I take her on my own.  This time Ted and Maya wanted to be there, just in case the vet said she was in pain and needed to be put down.  They wanted to say their goodbyes.  The good news is that she doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable or suffering.  The vet said she has a form of canine dementia, and there’s a drug that’s proven pretty helpful for that.  It takes about 30 days to really get in their system, and we’re 1 week in, so it’s too soon to tell if it’s helping or not.  We gave up on the homemade food, though, and started giving her 1/2 kibble mixed with canned dog food, which she LOVES.  So that’s a relief.  Hopefully before she tires of it, the drugs will have worked to stimulate her appetite and all will be well again.

Speaking of food, this coming Tuesday is the second annual Bay Area Dine Out for Meals on Wheels, which is a fundraiser where you go to a participating restaurant on a certain day, have a delicious meal, and they give a portion of their proceeds to Meals on Wheels.  Well, I’m a  huge fan of the organization, and I deliver meals for them once a week, so I’ve been planning on going.  Then last week, I saw an episode of Check Please Bay Area, where they talked up a restaurant in a neighboring town, The Peasant and the Pear.  The food looked really good to me, and as I’ve complained before about restaurants on our side of the tunnel, and how many of them are just so-so, I was eager to try it.

Next thing you know, The Peasant and the Pear showed up on the list of restaurants participating in Dine Out for Meals on Wheels, and suddenly it felt like kismit.  So we’re going to go give it a try.  I’m thinking fondue and salad, a glass of wine, and a pear tart for dessert.  YUM.

Speaking of Meals on Wheels, this last week when I was delivering food to a couple on my route, their son came out to get the food.  He’s a nice enough guy, and the parents are very friendly as well.  I asked him how he’s doing, and he said, “Tired.  Tired of Living.”  Wow.  I patted him on the shoulder and told him to hang in there, it will surely get better.  Then he said, “Well, I’m an addict, and the whole thing is a cycle.  I use for awhile, and it’s horrible, and I get tired of living.  Then I muster the strength to quit, and I’m off for years at a time.  Last time it was 15 years.  Then I start up again.”  I said, “Wow, that’s a terrible burden to have to carry.”  And he said, “Yes, but it will be a lighter burden once I stop using.  I just have to get there.”  I’ve thought this many times in my life, and more often in the last few years stopping at people’s houses to deliver them meals…it’s amazing the different lives people lead behind closed doors, isn’t it?  And amazing that he was so burdened that he felt like he needed to tell SOMEONE what he was going through, even a complete stranger.  Poor man.  I wish him success, that he can quit for good this time, and find peace in his heart.

GambleI recently read a new mystery, Gamble, by Felix Francis.  Felix Francis is the son of the late Dick Francis, the former-jockey-turned-mystery-writer, who managed to keep racing and horses as a theme in all of his books.  Dick and his wife had a lovely life of it, traveling the world together researching his books, and after she passed away, Felix stepped in and helped his father, first with research, and then with writing.  They wrote a few books together, and now that Dick has passed away, this is the first book to be authored solely by Felix, though confusingly enough, the title seems to be “Dick Francis’s Gamble”, which made me wonder if Dick were somehow a character in the book.  He’s not, so I guess it’s just a way to make sure people know of the connection.  I have to say, he did a very good job, and the transition to writing on his own was fairly seamless.  Yes, the voice is different, as it should be, from his father’s.  But it was a fun, fast read, and I was HOOKED, as always with a good Francis mystery.  I’ll be looking forward to more from him in the future.  One bonus is that my aunt is also hooked, and she pays attention and puts the book on hold at the library.  She then reads it so quickly, there’s plenty of time for me to read it before it’s due.  So I don’t have to do anything but live my life, secure that Auntie will get the next book to me when it’s ready.

Speaking of family, I’m going to Rutherford tomorrow evening to a fancy wine and appetizer reception with my beloved Mother In Law (heretofore shortened to MIL).  Really kids, remember that when you marry, you marry the whole family, so be careful.  Happily, I married very well, and I love Ted’s family and feel very close to them.  So my MIL invited me to this lovely evening, and I’m looking forward to getting a bit dressed up, having a nice drive up through wine country together, and enjoying the winery.  It’s supposed to be very pretty, and it’s my MIL’s favorite.
HATE
Lastly, I know this makes me an old fogey, but I am not happy about the current trends in shoes.  I have a cute pair of short boots that I like to wear with nice slacks.  But they are dying, and I need a new pair.  So I went to two stores today, to try to find a replacement pair in time for the semi-fancy reception tomorrow, with absolutely no luck.  I’d see a pair that I thought was cute, but then I got close, and they have a horrid wedge heel.  Or a super skinny spiky heel that will kill me within 20 minutes.  Or that platform thing on the bottom of the shoe, combined with the heel.  I know, Lady Ga Ga and all of the young hip people in the know LOVE the look.  Some of my most stylish friends LOVE the look.  Me?  I think it makes your feet look heavy and gloppy, and I’m not going to do it.  So I’m either going to have to go look for a new pair at different stores tomorrow, or wear my old pair, and hope no one notices that they’ve seen far better days.  At least it won’t rain, because they leak.

Friday Randomness

Tacky wineI don’t have a lot to say, but I feel like I should say something…I mean, I like blogging, so I need to blog, right?  OK.  Here are a few random thoughts coming through my head right now.

Is anyone else exhausted by the coverage of the anniversary of the attacks on September 11th?  I know I am.  That day will never be forgotten…it was a horrid horrid day, and it was captured on video, played over and over again for all to see.  I don’t want to see those buildings falling, or people jumping to their deaths, or people covered in ashes, or the desperate ‘have you seen this person’ signs that surrounded the World Trade Center in the days and weeks following.

I don’t mean to suggest that we should forget, or ignore, or somehow diminish those who lost their lives on that day, or those who have lost their lives in the years since, fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It’s just that it’s exhausting.  The pain is still raw, and I honestly don’t want to be reminded every time I turn around of what happened.   Every single channel seems to be determined to spend the day talking about it, about what it means, what it did to us, what we’ve learned, what we haven’t learned, what we should have learned, what we shouldn’t have learned, from those attacks.  And maybe that’s important to some.  I’m just exhausted by it, and to be honest, I haven’t even been watching much at all.  And this wine gives me the heebies.  And, by the way, Liz at Mom 101 said this better than I did…and she has the double whammy of being a New Yorker, and September 11 being her birthday.

Ahem.  Um, I started a new book the other day, The Forgotten Garden.  So far, I’m totally sucked in.  I’ll give you a full report when I finish, as always.  Along the line of books, when I picked up The Forgotten Garden from the library, it meant I had to put aside Gone With The Wind, which I was re-reading for the elevety billionth time.  This time, though, I had decided to go back and start at the beginning, and read it all of the way through.  I’m a bit of a cheater when it comes to re-reading, especially books I’ve read as many times as I’ve read GWTW.  But that’s cheating, and you really do miss things.  And since I’ve not read it this way in probably a few decades, I have a different perspective on some things.  Yes, I still adore Scarlett for her strength and stubbornness, and I still want to slap her to sleep for mooning about over Ashley when he’s perfect for Melly, and she’s perfect for Rhett.  It’s annoying.  And I’m still horrified by the racism, and glad to put those days of slavery further behind us with every passing day.  But I feel like I understand the parents a bit more, and some of the side characters seem a bit more real to me now.  Kind of interesting.  Almost like I’m reading it for the first time, though obviously I’m not, and I know what’s going to happen and all of that.  Still.

It’s been hot here.  Mid 90s, which is hot to me.  But it’s not a heat wave, up over 100, and it’s a dry heat, and it’s been cooling off at night, so I won’t complain.  Much.

Genevieve isn’t doing very well.  There are a few conditions that she may have, but I don’t really want to spend the money to have her tested, because we’ve decided not to treat her for them.  The treatments aren’t easy, and for one possible condition, I think the treatment would probably kill her.  So we are just watching our sweet baby get a bit more confused, and lose her beautiful fur, and sometimes turn her nose up at her food.  Very unlike her up to this point.  And she has good days and bad days.  And we’re wondering, how do we know when it’s time?  How do we know that she’d be better off gone?  I need to make an appointment to talk to the vet, I think, to at least have that crappy discussion.  I trust her vet, and I don’t think we’re at that point yet, but I’d be surprised if she makes it to see 14, and none of us want to watch her suffer.  Sigh.

School has started for Maya.  No cheer this year.  She’s concentrating on school, which is smart, because she’s got a hard load.  She’s taking an AP European History class, which I never knew was different than an honors class, but it is.  It’s also a LOT of work.  Plus Chemistry, Algebra II, French III, and Sophomore English.  So it’s a heavy load.  Thank goodness for PE and Art to break up the day a bit, huh?  Anyway, that means a lot more homework for her.  Sigh.

Ted’s teaching a radio broadcasting class at a local community college this semester.  The challenges thus far seem to be completely different than the challenges he faced teaching more academic classes like Political Science.  I’m not sure he’s loving it.  As a matter of fact, I’m sure he’s not. But it’s still early in the semester, so I’m hoping it will get better.

Sunday is my Father-in-Law’s birthday party (today’s the actual birthday…Happy Birthday Danny!).  We’re having an ice cream social, where everyone brings their favorite flavor, and we all share and enjoy.  I’m wondering if I should make some toppings.  Or buy some, if I know what brands are good.  Also, I’m torn between coffee ice cream, which I love, and cherries jubilee, which I also love.  Decisions, decisions.  At this moment I’m leaning towards coffee ice cream, with some heath bar chopped up and mixed in, and then some chocolate sauce and nuts on top.  Mmmm.

My friend Cherry brought me some tomatoes the other day, and I made some delicious marinara sauce, which I then put over some pretty gourmet seeming raviolis that I got at Whole Foods.  It was delicious.  I roasted the tomatoes on the grill, which gave them a real smokey flavor.  I’ll probably post that recipe soon, too.  Just seems like my blog has turned into recipes and book reviews, and while that’s fine, I feel like it’s not enough.  Sigh.

Oh, I went to Stockton last weekend to see my Grandma and my Great Aunt, and along the way I stopped for coffee with a couple of friends from High School.  Sandy was a good friend, and I haven’t seen him in about 18 years, at my brother’s wedding.  He’s the guy who would take me to donate blood.  I fainted on him once, and he thought I was kidding around, and pushed me.  I hit the floor.  The nurse was HORRIFIED.  Poor Sandy.  He looks so different, and yet still exactly the same.  He’s a sweet guy, with a lovely wife and two beautiful kids, though it’s shocking to me that other people’s kids are getting older, too.  Anne, the other friend I met, lives around the corner from Sandy, and they are very good friends.  I remember her from High School, but not that well.  We didn’t hang out together.  I know her more because she dated my brother for a few months.  She was a great girlfriend, and I’m glad he dated her.  She reminds me of his wife, in some ways.  I’m glad he married Kathy, but I think Anne was the first girl friend he had who was really nice to him.  We all get a few frogs along the way, right?  He had his.  I’m glad he also had a few princesses.  Anyway, she’s all grown up now too, and married with a 17 year old son.  Wow.  Again with the kids growing up thing.  Between that and the gray hair, it’s getting more difficult to pretend we’re all still 18.

Grandma and Aunt Flo are both well.  It was great to see them, and they enjoyed the Baked Scampi that I made for them, and the yummy bread from Boudin Bakery (who knew Stockton would get a Boudin?  AND a Peets?  Crazy.  I wonder if it’s all those Bay Area transplants…).  I tried to get them drunk on wine, but they only had about 1/2 glass each.  Oh well, maybe next time.  I’m just so fortunate to have them both, and to be able to visit them and hear stories of the old days, and what distant cousins are doing, all of that.  My grandma…I love her so much.  She’s 88, and I know she won’t live forever.  Damn it.  I just want to enjoy her while she’s here.

Have a good weekend folks.  Commemorate September 11th in your own way.  My thoughts will go to those who have died, especially Mr. Abad.  My thoughts will go (thankfully) to those who didn’t die that day, but who could have.   I’ll put my flag outside.  And I’ll be eating ice cream.

Update from Genevieve

Genevieve's Corner

Hi Everyone, this is Genevieve! Guess what I figured out? After all of these years with my pack, eating that stupid kibble they give me, being grateful for every day, I finally decided I had had enough. I just couldn’t take it anymore! I mean, they make all of this delicious smelling shash (J’s note…Gen calls food ‘shash’), and the best I can hope for is to smell it, and once in awhile I get a bite, and one scoop of stupid kibble in my dish. Not fair! So I went on a hunger strike. Oh my goodness, did I scare the bosses! They would coax and beg me to eat. Big boss would hand feed me, which sometimes worked. I felt sorry for him. But then I’d remember my plan, and spit out the kibble. Smart, huh? Then they would put a little bit of chicken juice or milk in my food, to tempt me. I wasn’t falling for it. No way! Stupid kibble. Then they said, “blah blah blah, afraid to change her diet, blah blah blah, sensitive tummy, blah blah blah, carpet cleaner, poop, mess, blah blah.” I’ll tell you, they talked about it a LOT. Whatever. I don’t want that stupid kibble any more! This went on for a few weeks. I would have to give in and eat once in awhile, because I was really hungry! But for the most part, I got good at not eating. Sure, I was tired. I was weak. I didn’t have any energy. HA! That scared them.

And you know what? My hunger strike paid off! Medium boss mixed me up some food that tastes a lot like what they eat! Maybe they’ve finally accepted me as one of the pack! All I can say is, it’s about time! I have a very sensitive nose (we dogs are known for that), and I smell (and taste!) chicken, rice, chicken juice (J’s note, I cooked the rice with low sodium chicken broth), carrots, and cottage cheese in the new food! Medium boss mixes it with my stupid kibble, and you know what? My stupid kibble tastes kind of good with all of that mixed in! The only part I don’t like is that they mix in something bitter tasting at the last minute. It tastes like the milk from Mommy’s last boo boo, which as everyone knows, is not the best milk. Medium boss says something like, “eat the medicine, blah blah blah, no poop in the house, blah blah blah, carpet cleaner, blah blah”. Whatever. I wish I had thought of this YEARS ago! I could have been eating people shash all of this time, if only I had gone on strike sooner! Pay attention, doggy friends! You too can have a home cooked meal, rather than that stupid kibble!

In other news, I’m a baby! Really, I’m the cutest dog that ever was or will be. The only thing cuter than me is me as a puppy. Can you imagine what a cute little ball of fluff I was? Sometimes I like to lie there, napping, and think about how cute I am, and how cute I was as a puppy. Let me tell you, it’s pretty cute, and I have good dreams.

Other news, Medium Boss has started making me wear stupid scarfs around my neck. I’m not sure I like them. I mean, I can’t see them, because it’s still dark here (is it dark where you are?), but I can feel them. She said something like, “blah blah blah, thyroid issue, hair loss, blah blah blah, cover it up, blah blah”. Whatever. Hey, if it makes her happy, I guess it’s OK. Sometimes you have to throw the bosses a bone, you know? Remember that. Those are words of wisdom from my Mommy to me, and I’m passing them on to you.

Talk to you soon I hope! Bye! Remember, no more stupid kibble!

Happy Birthday, Genevieive!

Genevieve's Corner

Hi Everyone, it’s Genevieve! Guess what? Today’s my birthday! I’m 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13 today! Medium Boss keeps saying I’m 13, and that I’m no longer a tween and had better start acting my age, but that just goes to show that she doesn’t understand dog time AT ALL.

Last week, Medium Boss took me to a new place to have a bath. It was kind of scary, and I’m sorry to say that I dug in my heels a bit and didn’t let her guide me to the car. But it was kind of loud! And there were so many interesting smells! And you know, since the lights went out and the world got dark, I’m a lot more careful. My mommy always said, “If it’s dark, Genevieve, you have to be careful, or you might start bonking into things and you might hurt your pretty face!” My mommy is the smartest, nicest dog ever. I wish you could meet her. I wish I could see her…it’s been almost 13 years since I’ve seen her, and that’s not fair! Anyway, I try to be very careful wherever I go, even in my own den, but still, I bonk my pretty face on things, and I don’t like it. So of course when she took me to the bath place, with all of those busy loud sounds, it was scary! And then do you know what happened? I smelled my neighbor, Barbara, come out of another place near the dog wash! What’s Barbara doing there? Was my nose lying to me? That would be HORRIBLE. I trust my nose. But then I heard her voice, and she was petting me, and I knew my nose was telling the truth. Whew.

So then the day after that was a party for Little Boss’s birthday. Hey, how come I don’t have a party? What? So it was loud and crowded and there was my friend dog, Piper, who came over too. I like the noise and busy, though, because among all of those feet and voices, someone always drops something on the floor for me to eat. Yummy!

Then a few days after that, Medium Boss was giving me my pee pill, which she wraps in meat because otherwise I’ll spit it out, she accidentally gave me one of Little Boss’s vitamins! It tasted funny, but mostly like meat, so I swallowed it. Then Medium Boss realized what she had done (she was still in her groggy morning mode), and she said “Oh NO!” She called the vet and the vet said one vitamin probably wouldn’t hurt me, so she relaxed a bit. She watched me all day, and I felt a little funny, but mostly it was OK.

I still like going for walks, but sometimes I get scared!  It’s so dark outside, and it makes me worry.  So my bosses have been taking me for very short walks, maybe 10 minutes at the most.  I miss walking with Medium Boss for 3 or 4 miles, but crappicola, there’s no way I’m going that far now!  You have no idea what might be out there waiting for you.

On the poop front, I’ve been a very good girl.  I only poop in the den once every week or two!  Good girl Genevieve.  The thing is, I always feel very guilty for pooping in the den.  I know I’m not supposed to.  Medium boss just makes disappointed sounds and cleans it up.  Which is worse, getting your nose rubbed in it, or disappointed tsk tsk?  I’m not sure.  Either way, I don’t like it.  So I try to hold it in.  But hello!  I’m 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13!  I’m no longer a tween!  What do you expect?

Anyway, if you’re thinking of getting me a gift, what I want for my birthday is real au jus!  And meat!  Chicken, beef, or lamb, please!  Maybe a nice bowl of milk would be nice to wash it down.  Please?  Happy my birthday, everyone!

Friday Randomness

chew chew

Happy Friday everyone. I went to the grocery store today and got Gen a HUGE chewie thing, which you can see her enjoying in this picture. Had to snap a shot, since she looked so funny with her butt up in the air and her face down on the ground. She loved it. Hope we don’t pay for it later. She has a very sensitive tummy.

Tomorrow I’m going with Maya’s scout troop to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a place I’ll take over Disneyland any day of the week. The rides aren’t as good maybe, but it’s not NEARLY as crowded, it’s tons cheaper, it’s right there on the beach, and you don’t get that feeling of being surrounded by people in weird costumes. I don’t know.  The whole vibe is just so much more relaxed, not so desperate to be having fun against all odds, which is what I feel with Disneyland.   Anyway, I love Santa Cruz, and I have many happy memories of my childhood and teen years there, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

We had a lovely Mother’s Day. On Saturday, I went to see my Grandma and my Great Aunt in Stockton. They’re sisters, 16 months apart, and they’re both widowed. They live together and have a pretty good time of it. I’ve learned over the years that when I go to visit, I should just take them wherever they want to go for lunch. A couple of times, I took them somewhere that I remembered as being nice, and it never worked out very well. Now, if they want Quiznos, we go to Quiznos. This time, what they wanted was Marie Callender’s fresh strawberry pie, with whipped cream AND ice cream, and a cup of coffee. So that’s where we went. They are smart enough to know that if they eat lunch first, they’ll be too full for pie, so they skipped the sandwich and went straight for pie for lunch. It’s good to know where I learned my sense of priorities.

On Sunday, Ted and Maya made me waffles for breakfast (YUM!), and then later we went to see Babies. Remembering the wisdom of my elders, I skipped lunch and dined on popcorn. We enjoyed the movie, and had a lovely, relaxing day.

Then on Wednesday, I took half a day off from work and went to the movies with Ted’s mom. That was a lovely way to break up the week. We went to see Please Give, which is a little independent film, and looks it. What I mean is, it’s got some great acting, and the story is somewhat interesting, but I wasn’t completely sure how they got from the beginning to the end, and I didn’t really LIKE most of the characters. They were too neurotic or just assholes. But it was fun, I ate more popcorn, and I did genuinely enjoy the movie.

I thought about writing about that kid who did an amazing cover of Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi for a school performance, and though I’m totally impressed by his talent, I decided I don’t care enough about it to write any more than that. Good for him. Yawn.

I just got an email from the principal at my daughter’s school, telling us that some teachers and students smelled natural gas today, and were evacuated, and experts were brought in but couldn’t find anything. He said to call him if I had any questions. I’ll admit, I’m tempted to call him in an annoying/hysterical voice and yell, “IS MY DAUGHTER SAFE??? HOW CAN YOU BE SURE MY DAUGHTER IS SAFE?? OH MY GOD, WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF THE CHILDREN????” But then I decided he might not find that as amusing as I do, so I’ll just tell you all about it instead.

What else….anything remotely interesting? Looks like we’re getting some new neighbors soon. The woman who died and I briefly inherited her bike (turned out her brother wanted it for his wife, so I gave it back) lived right next door in our condo complex, and a new family is moving in. I met the dad today, and he said that he has a wife and a 2 year old son, so that will be fun. This is an AWESOME complex to live in if you happen to be 2. We have 4 other kids that are turning 2 this summer, though one of them is moving away, the only girl. I wish it had been like this when Maya was 2. There aren’t any other girls her age, and she’s not playing with boys right now (which is mostly ok, if you know what I mean). There is a lot of babysitting potential, though, so it’s probably good for her that there’s another pre-schooler moving in.

Sorry, I think that’s all I have today. Have a great weekend!

Friday Randomness

Hookworm
(This is a lovely hookworm…want this in your intestines?  The answer…perhaps.  Find out more, below.)

I’m behind on this whole blogging thing. I’m behind on my book review, having finished ‘The Night Listener‘ and ‘This World We Live In‘, but I haven’t reviewed them. I’m halfway through ‘Three Cups of Tea‘, but I left it at cheer-leading tryouts last week, and it’s lost, so I went to get another copy from the library. Now I’m finishing up ‘The Bride’s Farewell‘, and then I’ll get back to ‘Three Cups of Tea‘. So I guess you’re going to see a lot of book reviews around here in the near future.

I have a recipe mash-up that I want to post here. A recipe or two, mashed together, and how that turned out. Can’t wait, can you? I know.

Genevieve has been having tummy issues as of late. We bought her a different brand of dog food on New Years Day, since the specialty dog food store was closed. She hasn’t been the same since, even since we switched her back to her regular brand. So the vet tested her stool to see if there was some kind of parasite or something. Nope. So the vet put her on a medication to help, some mild antibiotic, which seems to help, but when we take her off, her problem returns. So then they put her on an antibiotic/pro-biotic combination, and she flipped out. She was acting like a puppy again, running around all frisky, galloping about like no blind dog should do, playful and puppyish. Nice, right Sure, it was great during the day. But at night, when she couldn’t sleep, when all she could do is pace the house, and keep us all awake with her pacing and crying, it wasn’t great. Then there was the day we woke up to clean poop in Maya’s room, then ended the day cleaning poop in the living room, that she then stepped in and spread around the house. Fun. So now she’s off of the meds, and seems to be feeling much better. Hoping the problems have ceased.

This American Life had a freaky as hell story the other day, about a guy who found a strange and effective cure for his allergies and asthma. He read that people in some parts of the world do not suffer from allergies the way we do, and that it was because of hookworms in their intestines. So he called around to try to find a place that would sell him some hookworms. He couldn’t find any, so he flew to Africa and spent a couple of weeks walking barefoot through village latrines, hoping to be infected by the buggers. It worked. He became infected, and his allergies went away. So he decided to make some money selling hookworms to help others with their health issues. So he farmed the hookworms from his own fecal matter, cleaned it up and shipped it out, until the FDA shut him down. UGH. Freaky as hell, right? Excuse me for a minute, I need a Claritin.

Maya’s on Spring Break this week. I decided to take Wednesday off and spend the day with her, so we went into San Francisco, to the Academy of Sciences. We were hoping to see the new temporary exhibit, Extreme Mammals, but it turns out you need tickets for that, and they were all out by the time we got there, four hours before museum closing. Sigh. We did get to see the planetarium show, and our favorite part, the aquarium. My favorites are the Sea Dragons. They’re gorgeous and strange and alien, relatives of the Sea Horse. I also love the sea turtles. It was a lovely day. We then went to dinner at an old SF favorite, the Clement Street Bar and Grill, which is housed in an historic building, over 100 years old, which is old for California. The restaurant has been in its current form for the last 28 years, and we’ve been going there for about 23 of those years. It’s kind of old faithful, with food that is always delicious, at reasonable prices. Today, Ted took the day off, and he and Maya have gone to have a hike and a picnic on Angel Island, otherwise known as the ‘Ellis Island of the West’. I love vacations, even when they’re just a day or two.