Thursday, January 5, 2017

Why dogs can't be trusted but you also shouldn't cross them because they are organized.

If you're like me, you ate your weight in sugar over the last month. And, it's safe to say that your pants don't fit. And you generally get in trouble for going out in public not wearing pants. So you resolve to stop eating sugar straight from the bag. And you resolve to start moving your body again in ways that aren't merely moving food from a plate into your gaping maw.

If you're not like me, now is not the time to talk about how you actually lost weight over the holidays or how much you love CrossFit. Go sit in the corner.

So, it is time to get more exercise. And I've tried. I really have. But in the midst of a modest workout, I uncovered a vast conspiracy, one that extends well past my corner of the world. An especially shady syndicate, if you will.

I'm talking about The Canine Yoga Cartel.

Here's the deal. I have written before about how my dogs lose their minds when I attempt to do yoga at home. I get stepped on.
And stood over.
And barked at for not throwing the Kong.
And, because the winter air is especially dry and Lil' Frankfurter's skin is especially delicate? I've been surrounded by blood from his cracked lil' paws.

(No photo of this - and you're welcome. The latest bloody paw incident left our rec room looking like a crime scene. For such a tiny dog, he really bleeds a lot.)

So, as I was prone on the floor, being barked at and surrounded by blood, I thought, "It's almost like they don't want me to do yoga."

How had it taken me so long to realize this?

Big Doodle and Lil' Frank are clearly trying to disrupt my Zen and discourage me from doing yoga in our home. It's almost like they want me to do yoga ... elsewhere.

And then it all clicked!

This is Olive.
She is a connoisseur of large sticks.
If it's less than four feet long, get the eff out.
Olive also governs my neighborhood yoga studio with an iron paw.

Sure, in theory her mom Patti has the studio. But we all know who runs the show. I mean, look at these sticks. Olive means business.
You can't tell me that Lil' Frank, Big Doodle, Olive, and all the other dogs aren't in cahoots. Clearly, this Canine Yoga Cartel is working to increase visits to Olive's yoga studio. I'm guessing Olive collects sticks on her daily walks so she can use them to pay off members of the syndicate who send their humans to her studio.

My dogs probably get kickbacks in the form of tennis balls, since they aren't really into sticks.

But whatever arrangement these pooches have, it's working. I'm a strong woman, but I'm no match for a canine cartel. And I'm pretty sure that even if I put up a baby gate and do yoga on one side with the dogs on the other, Lil' Frank will still bark his head off and leave me an assortment of bodily fluids to clean up.

I will go to the yoga studio and I will practice with my like-minded peeps. We will work on our ujjayi breath and try to focus while our minds invariably wander. We'll think about our dogs and their strange yoga-related behaviors. We won't mention them to anyone else, lest we look like bad parents who didn't train their pups properly. But we'll all be in the same boat, adrift with a vague unease that something is amiss. It's almost like those dogs are ... planning something ...

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Patience and grace and remodeling.

Don't ever pray for patience.

If you do, God will laugh at you and somehow convince you that it's a good idea - nay, a necessity - to remodel your kitchen. And then you will learn about patience.

This is what patience looks like.
Why would you pray for this?

Now, to be fair, the kitchen hasn't looked like that for a few weeks. It's been a series of exciting gains, like when the cabinets were delivered to the living room.
And then when they were installed in the actual kitchen.
And why yes, yes I did shoot a photo documentary of our new refrigerator being delivered.
For those playing along at home, never fear - the old fridge is still right next to our front door. Because we're klassy like that.

And so the cabinets are in and the countertop is on and, as of about 20 minutes ago, the tile is installed but waiting grout.

I put plates in the cabinets because I just couldn't stand it any more. They will all need to be washed and the cabinets will need to be dusted again, sure. But having plates makes me think that I might be a real, live grown-up in a real, functional home.

This might be the worst part of the whole remodel, the most "the night before Christmas," sick-to-my-stomach, can't-hardly-wait part. We're so close. So close!

Also? To the ladies at the two different tile shops who tried to convince me that I didn't want the backsplash I wanted? Who were sure I would be happier with something beige-y and cream? And especially to the one lady who couldn't find a tile to match my paint swatch and so actually suggested that I repaint all the trim in my entire house?
SUCK. IT.

This backsplash is kick-ass and you just wish you were half the design visionary that I am. SUCK. IT.

I have been patiently waiting to tell you this since July. You're welcome.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Let's hear it for the boy!

I have a bit of a problem with stalking. As in, I do it.

Long-time readers know that I am mildly obsessed with one of the check-out guys at my grocery store. When he started a few years ago, he wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone. He didn’t interact. He was very focused on bagging, and it seemed to be a real challenge.

A little while after that? Well, I noticed him smiling broadly while restocking carts. His teeth were gorgeous – big, lovely pearls. Like, movie star teeth. And when he got picked up at the end of his shift? Well, he opened the car door, let out a whoop, and hopped inside.

I swear, I’m not just loitering about the grocery parking lot. I’m just there a lot because my husband is ridiculous and seems to think he needs to eat every single day. Completely irrational, I know.

So, on my many trips to the grocery, I always make a point to thank My Bagger Boyfriend for sacking my supplies. I’m used to him looking down and, at most, acknowledging me with a barely perceptible nod. It’s cool.

But this week? This week, he sacked my udon noodles and bag of salad because kitchen remodeling has shocked any meal planning skills right outta my system. And then? Before I could thank him for said bagging? My Bagger Boyfriend looked in my general direction and said, “Have a good day.”

Now, it is nothing short of a miracle that I didn’t permanently scar this poor guy by immediately grabbing him in my arms and proclaiming my love and pride. But because I’m all emotionally strong and shit, I acted chill. No big deal. Nothing to see here.

But really? It was the highlight of my week. And this is coming from someone who got a new refrigerator this week. More on that later.

It’s a privilege to watch this young man blossom, to watch his story unfold.

It makes me hope that we all have secret cheering societies, our own little pep squads of which we are completely oblivious. The other day, when you managed to pump gas without dribbling it all over your shoes? That gas station attendant who wears sandals year-round saw you, and he was full of stoic pride. And you don’t know it, but he will report it proudly at the weekly pep rally in which your fans cheer you on and revel in your successes big and small.

There will be confetti.

Friday, November 18, 2016

In which my husband saves the day yet again.

I'm sorry to say that I'm not feeling funny. I'm sad and everything is terrible. People are hating each other and it makes me sad. My 12-year-old labradoodle is having trouble walking and has stopped sleeping through the night and it makes me sad and very, very tired. The oak mites are still dropping from the sky and biting poor, innocent people and it makes me sad and itchy and welty.

So, to combat this, I'm delving into a deep well of joy. Obviously, I'm talking about the notes I've scribbled hither and yon, based on conversations with my husband. My Guy pretends to be a mild-mannered software architect, but really? Really, he's the funniest human alive. Here are a few of his direct quotes.

"I'm sorry to say we no longer eat on Thursdays."

"I ain't refurbishing no damned IHOPs."

"He has curry sweat."

"My jokes are varied and rich."

"You don't know shit about beach towels, but I do!"

Sometimes, you have to find joy in the small things, the one-off comments, the way the light of the super moon reflects off your geriatric dog when he decides he needs to sit on the patio at 2 a.m. This is one of those times.

What's keeping you afloat? And can I have some?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Use the "good" soaps and the fancy "guest" towels.

I know it's not appropriate to stomp your feet and yell, "No, no, no" upon reading the obituary of a 92-year-old woman. But that didn't stop me.

My mom sent me the obit for our family friend Bea. The Cliffs Notes version is that Bea lived life to the fullest and 92 years is a good, good run. We should be celebrating her life.

And I am. But there's more to it.

Back in the day, Bea finally got me to try online dating. First of all, she wanted to set me up with her ENT doctor. That didn't quite work out - something about him being not-quite-divorced and the dad of, like, 17 kids. But Bea led by example ... and met a man when she was in her 80s. Her exact words were, "I'm just over the moon! We don't have a lot of time, and I don't want to waste any of it!"

Bea's son walked her down the aisle. And I figured if Bea could find joy, I could, too. So I got off my couch and started interacting with the world again after a long hiatus.

My memories of Bea are of lipstick and laughter and being involved. She was on a committee with my mom. She helped out at the church with my grandma. She made my dad laugh with her funny stories.

Today, reading her obituary? I learned that Bea's mother died when she was just 4 years old. She was eventually sent to live with a cousin. But what could have been a heartbreaking situation was a house filled with love, a home where Bea was welcomed as a sibling and as a daughter, not as a stranger. I'm so thankful. They helped fill her tank for a lifetime of loving everyone she met.

I can't help but think of the Erma Bombeck column, "If I had my life to live over." Bea burned the fancy candles and used the "good" soaps. And I feel like that's the best way to honor her. Live it up. Use it up.

I always found it comforting to know that Bea was in the world. I think now the task is to be the Bea. If you need me, I'll be out with the girls, enjoying fou-fou cocktails and wearing an outfit that's a little too fancy because, well, why not?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Three people who change my life every day.*

My dachshund attempted to eat the tennis balls off of an older lady's walker while my giant labradoodle made sweet, sweet love to his human girlfriend.

Let me back up.

The dogs and I walk every day. If it's actively precipitating and we can't go, there is great unrest in the pack. We walk! That's what we do!

Maybe 18 months ago, we made a new friend on our jaunt around the neighborhood. There's a family-owned barbershop a block over, and the mom of the owner does nails. She was sitting outside on a bench in the sun when we came by.

Big Doodle basically attacked her with slobber and love. He just knew she was his person. Their love was mutual and immediate.

Since then, the barbershop has become a can't-miss destination. When Big Doodle hurt his leg at the beginning of the year, our goal was for him to be able to walk to the barbershop. It was necessary for his emotional well being. They are his pack.

The pack has expanded to include the owner of the shop and the lovely woman who does hair. They let us come in and shed all over. They then ply the pups with dog treats and popcorn.

Yes. They save day-old popcorn and bring in treats just for Big Doodle and Lil' Frankfurter.

At first, Lil' Frank was scared and did his usual cowering routine. But now? Now, he feels completely safe and will get a little pushy about wanting - nay, requiring - his recommended dose of popcorn.

So, Lil' Frank lets folks pet him, and Big Doodle makes the rounds, gooing on whoever will talk sweet to him and offer a few pets. It's clearly the highlight of their days - mine, too.

Today, an older lady was getting her hair set when we stopped by. Her walker was standing next to the barber chair. No big deal.

The dogs enjoyed their popcorn and their pets. And then? Lil' Frank noticed the walker. It had split tennis balls on the bottom of the legs so that it would glide easier.

Tennis balls! Lil' Frank lost his mind. He was so excited! He then attempted to remove the balls from the walker.

Meanwhile, everyone laughed and Big Doodle slobbered on his girlfriend and she cooed, "Oh, Doodle, I just love you so much!"

Is it any wonder that when we walk by on Sundays, we must all stand forlorn at the door, pouting?**
I'm thankful for these kind people who welcome our ragtag crew.

*Except on Sundays.
**One Sunday we were pouting and the owner pulled up right then and there, as if on a mighty white steed. He let us in and of course provided popcorn. Now, Big Doodle thinks that if he just pouts long enough, this should happen each time.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

What's your breaking point?

I found mine.

We are in the midst of a kitchen remodel, so our house is filled with dust and the basement is now our primary living area. I work from home, so I basically never leave our basement. If you need me, you can find me underground, attempting to work and simultaneously comfort our sweet geriatric Big Doodle, who is very unsettled by all the traffic and noise in our house. Lil' Frankfurter isn't as emotionally invested, but barks about every two minutes, just to cover his bases.

There's a lot of panting.

But one of the calming activities for our pack is our daily walk. Combine that with our usual afternoon session of TENNIS BALL MADNESS in the backyard, and you have a couple of pooches who just might be too tired to freak out at full-force. Or at least that's the idea.

It's autumn. The days are lovely. Walks are pleasant. Except ... my fair city is in the midst of an oak mite infestation of epic proportions. These microscopic bugs drop from oaks and bite whatever they land on. You can't see them, and they are immune to bug spray.

Every street in my neighborhood is lined with trees. Oak trees. Big, huge oak trees.

You can see where this is going.

I have oak mite bites all over my neck and d├ęcolletage. I know they are oak mite bites because my book club got real personal the other night and we all compared bites. Everyone has them, so I'm not a total leper.

However, as we have seen this summer, I tend to have crazy reactions to bug bites. Or, as my brother so aptly put it, "Ugh, you have a weird relationship with insects. Weird and potentially fraught with inflammation."

Needless to say, my neck and lady d├ęcolletage aren't just covered with oak mite bites, but with giant, welty bites that hurt. I must say that I'm pretty proud of how I fashioned what appears to be a scarf ...
... but is actually a dishtowel wrapped around an ice pack. Because a) I was able to find a clean dishtowel amongst the kitchen remodel madness; and b) I finally bought a real ice pack for $2.69 instead of just using a bag of frozen peas. I have passed some sort of adulting milestone. Also? The ice pack can also be microwaved and become a heat pack. I had no idea such a thing existed! This technology is amazing!

So, I've been trying to keep it together, me and my neurotic dogs and painful oak mite bites and fashionable neck accessories and dust-filled house with no kitchen. I was pretty successful.

Then, my husband called me. He has to travel for business in about a week and wanted to know if I'd like to tag along. This was sweet of him, and is a perk of working from home. But leaving in the midst of a remodel and abandoning our neurotic dogs who can't be boarded didn't seem like a smart move. I pointed this out.

My darling husband considered for a moment and then said, "Oh. I forgot about the kitchen."

I clutched my ice pack and surveyed my basement lair. He forgot. He forgot because he gets to leave every day. He forgot.

I got gracious because when there's a homicide, they always investigate the spouse and I'm a bad liar. We both agreed it wasn't a good time for both of us to be gone. Fine. We moved on and I only held the tiniest of grudges.

Later that night, I realized that at some point, some worker had removed the light fixture from the ceiling of our kitchen. The fixture that we were still going to use in the kitchen. It was nowhere to be found.

I had a bad feeling. I emailed the contractor, whom I like very much. His response was basically, "Hmm. Well, if you don't see it laying around, it probably got thrown out. Were you going to use it somewhere?"

Yes. We were going to use it RIGHT WHERE IT WAS.

You wanna know what my breaking point is? My breaking point is when people remove my light fixture from the ceiling of my house and then throw it away. That is my breaking point.

And to add insult to injury? If you weren't sure, you could have asked me. Because I never leave the house. Because I'm in the basement with a freaking-out dog and a freakin' ice pack. Man up, look past the welts, and ASK. Ask before you remove pieces of my house and throw them away.

Words were said.

Thank God My Guy and I take turns freaking out, because he was calm and nonplussed. "I'm sure it was an honest mistake. We can get another fixture," he soothed. Eventually, I believed him. But not before gaining some valuable self-awareness.

This. This is my breaking point. Good to know.