Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bret Michaels, Renaissance man.

I'm sure you've heard the news, but this is how I told my husband.

Me: Have you heard about Bret Michaels' new show?

My Guy: Is it called "Slut Bus?"

Me: Noooo! It's "Slut RV" or something. Actually, it has nothing to do with sluts. Bret travels around the country, tricking out broken-down RVs.

My Guy: No sluts?

Me: No. Trust me, I'm disappointed, too.

And ... scene!

In other Bret Michaels news, I finally gave Lil' Frankfurter his heart's desire. And by "heart's desire," I of course mean "The Bret Michaels dog toy I bought on clearance after Christmas because it was so hilarious and then I forgot about because I'm a bad mom."

Lil' Frank wears a parka.
Bret Michaels wears a bandana.
Together? They make magic.
As you might imagine, Lil' Frank immediately removed all of Bret's stuffing.
That's why our favorite rocker's face is looking a bit ... deflated.
Bret and Lil' Frank are now inseparable.

Can we all just agree that you haven't "made it" until there's a dog toy in your likeness?

Also, is it any wonder that this little wiener gets away with murder? Look at that face. Oh!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The mileage is crappy, but who cares?

The treadmills at our gym face a busy street. And that street is lined with bars and restaurants. So, My Guy and I are the gym rats who are pitied by all the folks going out for pizza and beers. (If they only knew how un-gym-rat I am ...) However, we are also the smug people keeping our heart rates up while watching many a pub crawl attendee almost get hit by various and sundry SUVs.

It's a fairly balanced ecosystem.

There's a character that we see around 9 most weeknights. He attempts - rather unsuccessfully - to parallel park right in front of the gym. We always have a front-row view of his parking. Now, parallel parking is my Achilles' heel, so I'm not judging. But the extreme challenge of this particular parallel parking is probably due to the land yacht in question.
Yes. That would be a 1994 Cadillac DeVille.

My grandparents had this car in a shimmering emerald. We called it The Green Boat, and my grandpa would never tell what happened to the the passenger-side mirror. A man needs some secrets.

Now, the DeVille we see near the gym is not your grandparents' Caddy. This DeVille is a bit of a lowrider, and the windows are tinted. It has rather subtle but clearly custom pinstriping, including orange flames on each of the front doors.

There's a ying/yang symbol in place of the hood and trunk ornaments. And then, like all good tricked-out rides, it has cop-style search lights on both the driver's and passenger sides.

So, this guy plows this classic automobile on the curb every night. And every night, we are amazed to see him pull up, appear to try to park with some precision, and then still end up curbing it. And every night, we are amazed and delighted to see the driver emerge from this chariot.

It's a guy of undetermined age who is always wearing ultra-white tennis shoes and an unironic fedora. And he always goes into the very best dive bar, the one with the curved red vinyl booths. The bar where you'd secretly love to be a regular.

I'm afraid that based on our pal's grey skin and less-than-impeccable driving, he might have a problem hitting the bottle. Or no problem hitting the bottle, and that's the problem. You know.

But I prefer to believe that he drives that tricked-out hoopty and parks on the curb and wears a fedora and goes to the bar weeknights - but not weekends - because he simply does not give a shit.

That's a guy I admire.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who crafts personas for strangers. Who have you created in your mind?

Image courtesy of

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cha Cha: Ace investigator, household heroine.

Today, I've been Productive. Like, not messing around. I have gotten shit DONE.

I've written a bunch for some clients. I've vacuumed and changed beds. For the love of all that is holy, I even did some laundry. I am uh-MAY-zing!

I sometimes feel like taking care of the house is a full-time job. Miraculously enough, I found proof.

The 1940 census is online. You can look up any address and find its occupants ... along with personal info like age, race, occupation, income, and place of birth. It's pretty personal stuff, which is why the info is released 72 years after it's collected. It's a lifetime.

So, my house was built in 1938. And in 1940, Howard and Gladys lived here, along with their 8-year-old daughter, Shirley ... and their live-in housekeeper, Effie.


That little bedroom upstairs was Effie's room. She was a 50-year-old widow lady.

Now, God love Gladys. She worked for an insurance company and made almost as much as her husband! Lady made bank. I picture her like Rosalind Russell in "His Girl Friday," all sharp suits and witty comebacks, holding her own in a man's world.

But I hope she was nice to Effie.

Was 50 really old in 1940? I'm guessing that as a widow, Effie didn't have a lot of options. She was born in a rural Missouri county, but she completed 2 years of college, which would have been crazy amazing in 1910.

I wonder if Effie stuck to the housekeeping schedule I learned from my grandma. Wash on Monday, grocery on Friday, clean in between.

I can't find any record of Effie's marriage or her death. Mostly, I hope that she was happy in this little stone house, that she and little Shirley took a shine to each other.

I'm thankful, too, to have a sanity check, and the kind-of imaginary friends. I'm sure Effie got sick of washing these floors, too.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Grandmas, spring break, and The Sex.

I'm spending a few days at my parents' house. Much like the spring break days of old, I'm chillin' with the people who are required by law and by Jesus to hang out with me. It's no Cancun, but I'm pretty sure I'm not gonna get roofied. And we're having fun.

Tonight, the conversation wended its way back, as it does, to the time my great-grandma broke her ribs "roughhousing" with her boyfriend. My mom still contends that he just squeezed her too tight, but, well, it's not like my mama is actively searching for the truth on this one.

And when the conversation turns to grandmas and doin' it, of course I had to share a conversation I had with My Guy's grandma. I mean, just to contribute to the discourse.

See, My Guy's grandma has lost any filter she might have ever had. (See also: her obsession with diarrhea.) I love to get her talking because you just never know what's going to come out of her mouth. So, when she got to talking about marriage, well ... it was fantastic. She was off and running.

Grandma: Well, now, people back then didn't live together, but that didn't mean they didn't have sex. We had lots of sex, but I just didn't know what it was! I had no idea what Harold was doing down there, but then, well, I got pregnant and we had to get married.

It was at this point that I wanted to talk to her about how scary that must have been, and learn more about her experience. But there was no time for my silly queries - she was on a roll.

Grandma: I never much cared for sex. It was just what you had to do for your husband and to have babies. 

Interesting, but totally fitting with that time. But no time to talk about the evolution of women's sexuality because ...

Grandma: Now, Harold, he loved big titties. I never had 'em, but boy, he loved this girl in 4-H who had boobies like firm apples. She had some titties on her! He loved those titties, but, you know, he married me. 

It was about this time that my husband and my MIL completely lost control of themselves and quite forcefully changed the topic. Honestly, I was a little disappointed ... and a little inspired.

If I were old and completely without a filter, I'd probably a) cuss like a sailor at all times because it's fun; and b) stretch the truth and talk about my hedonistic college days and my quest to kiss a boy from every fraternity in my alma mater's large Greek system. (I didn't succeed, but in my filterless and truth-stretching golden years, the story will evolve so that I completed the challenge - twice - with only somewhat bruised lips and a reputation not as a hussy, but as a campus queen.)

What would you talk about with abandon if you had no filter?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

There's no new sheriff in town.

Thank you all for the most excellent, kind words about Lady Doodle. They have made a difference as we try to figure out our new normal.

The death of the canine alpha dog has lead to some crazy times as Big Doodle, Foxie Doxie, and Lil' Frankfurter all jockey for position. Also, they don't know what the hell they're doing.

So, in a normal day, this means that the backdoor is a revolving door. They want out! They want in! They must be next to me at all times! They want nothing to do with me and are plotting my demise!

It also means that Big Doodle really, really doesn't want to be alone. He misses his litter mate. When I take him for walks, he doesn't know where to walk or how fast to walk. He swerves around, sometimes walking fast, other times completely stopping in the middle of an intersection.

I don't know what the eff is going on.
When I leave the house without him, he feels lonely and abandoned. The only thing that tempers this is if I leave the dachshunds out of their kennels, so all 3 dogs can chill peaceably together.

Except sometimes they don't chill peaceably.

Friday, I was gone for exactly an hour. When I came home, I found the bathroom trashcan overturned, and a path of bathroom trashcan debris leading from the bathroom into the bedroom.


The path lead to the big dog bed. Evidently, Foxie Doxie, he of the inexplicable love of all things bathroom trash, could not resist Lady Time Bathroom Trash. So, he lounged on Big Doodle's big ol' bed, dining on used tampons and kleenexes. He left a huge pile of tiny little paper product pieces.
Yeah, I like to eat ladyproducts. What?

Oh, and he peed on the bed to claim it as his own.


It's like the freakin' wild west around here. And strangely, me stomping around bellowing, "I AM THE ALPHA" doesn't seem to have much of an impact.
In Doggie Heaven, laughing at all this shit.

We all miss our girl.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My cooking is what killed the dinosaurs.

Since I'm spending a great deal of time in my house, I've been fighting the temptation to be, like, a homemaker. You know, with a house that isn't a giant hairball and might actually be, like, homey.

Couple this with reading the most excellent Julia Child biography "Dearie," and you can understand why I've been cooking a lot. I have time! And inspiration! And a husband who loves to eat!

I make a pretty decent beef bourguignon, or as we call it 'round these parts, beef boing boing. Then there was the chicken country captain recipe from "House Beautiful," which produced what was truly the best meal I have ever prepared.

Then, there was the stir fry.

In what will go down in history as The Great Stir-Fry Debacle of 2013, I attempted a recipe from "Better Homes and Gardens." Easy! A mere 30 minutes! And who doesn't like stir fry?

The result was inspiring, if you were looking for reason to puke. Oh sweet Oprah, it was horrible. Who in their right mind microwaves cabbage? And a sauce made of stout beer, mustard, and caraway seeds? Seriously? What was I thinking?

Bless his heart, my sweet husband gamely tried it. He even praised me for trying yet another new recipe and for generally feeding him palatable food. And when we both gave up on eating the monstrosity, he made Kraft mac n' cheese, like a champ.

However, I couldn't get the smell of the stir fry out of my head. It was like gorilla fear scent, but worse. If I never smell caraway ever, ever again, that will be fine by me.

The Great Stir-Fry Debacle of 2013 overshadowed even the infamous Cha Cha's Blackened Tofu Surprise episode of 1999. What this most recent culinary catastrophe lacked in smoke and fire alarms, it made up for in general odiferousness. It was the type of meal that you'd like to forget, but the smell has permanently permeated your home.

Mustard and caraway. Holy shit.

Learn from my mistake and run far from this recipe. But as you sprint away, pray tell ... what's your personal worst all-time kitchen fiasco?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Gee, your hair smells terrific!

So, what do you do after you've had to put your dog down? And you've been holed up in your house, being listless and full of despair?

What you do is you take your nasty, yoga-pants wearing, skanky-hair-having self to T.J.Maxx.


And you spend  $145 on a dress, 2 workout shirts, a purse, 3 pillows, and a package of drink napkins (because a good hostess is always prepared and a smart girl never buys those full-price).

You realize that this trip to discount paradise is your first foray into the world in quite some time that hasn't been grocery- or veterinarian-related. You also realize that you have done nothing but care for, clean up after, and grieve your dog.
Your husband wasn't kidding when he repeatedly implored you to, "Get out of this god-forsaken house, fer chrissakes!"

So, the next day, you challenge yourself a bit more. You wash and dry your hair. You go to Target and the library. Expanding to more than 1 errand is exhausting. However, you must hedge your bets, hoping that if you run into someone you know, it will be on this clean-hair-having day. Plus, you wore a cute outfit.

The day after that, you have lunch with a friend. This is also exhausting, because being engaged is difficult when you have a hole in your chest. But the hole is different - bottomless, sure. But not quite as raw. Just different.

After lunch, you get your hair cut and colored. Because surely you will be leaving your house on the regular, and it's sort of a public service. Plus, your mama always made you wash your hair when you were a kid and under the weather. She said, "Clean hair can do miracles and make a girl feel so much better."

It was true for chronic tonsillitis, and it's true for all kinds of heartbreak, too.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Sitting in the car in the parking lot of the emergency vet ain't got nothin' on sitting in the car of the parking lot of the holistic vet. Especially after the holistic vet kindly yet firmly tells you that holistic treatments take a few weeks to kick in ... and your dog doesn't have a few weeks. In fact, your sweet pup is so dehydrated that she has maybe a week.

While I sat in the emergency vet parking lot and was all pensive? I sat in the holistic vet parking lot and sobbed. I was matching Lady Doodle in the mucus-production department.

It had been a while since I cried in my car. Much like folks who nose-pick with abandon while behind the wheel, I always feel like my car is a safety zone where no one can see me. But I'm sure lots of people saw me losing my shit. And I don't even care.

We had the option of taking Lady Doodle to the vet school 2 hours away and dropping her off. She'd get knocked out every day for radiation, and maybe some nice vet student would take her home at night. For 3 weeks. And maybe she'd go blind, and maybe she'd get an extra 10 months out of the deal.

Except that sounds horrible. And when you're dealing with a dog who hasn't eaten anything of substance in almost a week? It's time for a reality check.

We celebrated when she'd eat some ice chips.

She wouldn't or couldn't get off the bed. Until she did, and she was ready to do her favorite thing in the entire universe: play catch.

We were so lucky that she had some truly joyous moments in her last days.
Notice the 3-point stance. Girl had always been known for her speed off the line.
Ain't no mucus or fentanyl patch gonna slow this girl down. Look at that focus!
She couldn't stand to put anything in her mouth except for a gooey tennis ball. So we played. And prayed. And cried.

Friday morning, My Guy, Big Doodle, and I took our girl to the vet. She had her blanket, and we all laid on the floor around her. And she just drifted off.

I know she is free - free of pain, free to finally eat, free to play catch with abandon. We were blessed to have such a good bad dog. I mean, she ate yet another library book just last week. We were blessed that she wasn't sick for a long time, and strangely blessed that it all happened so fast.

We are heartbroken and shell-shocked. Blessing or not, she was diagnosed with cancer 5 days before she died. What the holy hell?

All of us - me, My Guy, Big Doodle, and the 2 dachshund terrors - are moping around the house, unsure of what to do. It's different now, and not quite right. We know it was the right thing, the only compassionate option. But we are heartbroken.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Honda as an escape pod.

If you're looking for a parking lot in which to sit pensively in your car, might I suggest the emergency vet?

That parking lot is filled with people sitting in their cars, looking rather shell-shocked. Some are trying to get their act together to go inside the clinic. Others are taking a brief respite from the clinic, making phone calls and surveying the normal world. And others, like me, are trying to decide whether to lose their shit, or just drive off into the sunset. Except they don't know where they would drive to. And they are probably too tired to turn on the ignition, anyway.

We were back at the emergency vet twice today. Lady Doodle needed more pain meds. She now has a lovely patch, like she's trying to quit smoking.

Except that it's evidently super hard-core and I had to sign a release promising that I wouldn't slap it on myself and that I would dispose of it properly and not, like, try to get a toddler to lick it.

So, that was the first trip. The second was for a look-see with a surgeon. The first surgeon said the tumor wasn't a good candidate for "debulking" - because at this point, we've all accepted that there's no clean removal. So, this look-see was with a second surgeon who wouldn't make a decision based on the films alone.

After a 3-minute eyeballing, the verdict was in. Surgery would require removing too much of her palate. It's a no-go.

So, for those keeping score at home ... there's no chemo for this type of cancer. Radiation so close to her eyes might make her go blind. And surgery would basically make her sinuses collapse and fall into her intestines.

Hence my sitting in the car in the emergency vet parking lot.

Now, we do have an appointment with the holistic vet who treated the Geriatric Poodle. Miraculously, this vet had a cancellation tomorrow, and we're in. So, that's positive. We have a plan!

I'm beyond exhausted. And the idea of justifying Reiki or acupuncture or Chinese herbs to my meat-and-potatoes husband makes me want to drink about 27 bottles of wine. Or beer, if that would be easier to relate to.

Instead, I have to come up with a way to explain that these are our options - our only options. And I need to find words that don't make either of our hearts explode.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Coping mechanisms. And vomit.

I'm here to share a very important message with you. And that message is this:

It's never to early for wine.

I came to this conclusion after days of trying to get Lady Labradoodle to eat. She hadn't eaten since Saturday morning. No food = No meds.

Yesterday, I took her to the emergency vet, where a very patient tech suctioned out my girl's nose and then shoved 2 pain pills down her throat. Literally. Lady Doodle was not having it, and she bit the pills, which are bitter. This then made her foam at the mouth and hyperventilate. In the waiting room. Like she had rabies.

A rather scary Daniel Day-Lewis lookalike watched the entire episode in abject horror. What? Do copious amounts of dog saliva not fit with your method-acting ways?

Three more valiant attempts from the tech and the pain meds were in the pissed-off doodle. I think this is the reason why I was able to trick her into eating this morning. When everybody got a treat for coming in the house, and she actually ate her treat? I just kept the treats coming. Psych! And by "treats," I mean "pieces of stale prescription kibble leftover from the Geriatric Poodle that I now pass off as treats because I can't waste them and really, we're talking about dogs anyway."

Lady Doodle ate the food! Yay!

Except by this afternoon, it was clearly time for another pain pill. But she wouldn't eat. And she wouldn't have anything to do with the pain pill. Which I learned when she put it in her mouth and promptly spat it across the room ... into Foxie Doxie's waiting maw.

My dachshund ate a painkiller designed for a dog that outweighs him by 65 pounds.

So, Foxie and I locked ourselves in the bathroom. I rolled up the rug and syringed hydrogen peroxide down his throat. Then, we waited.

Lady Doodle has chondrosarcoma, a cancer of the cartilage in her palate. She won't eat, she's a general mess, and we are just starting to investigate our options. My husband is a wreck. I am trying to hold it together. And sometimes, holding it together involves camping out in a bathroom, waiting for your dachshund to throw up.

It was then, sitting on the toilet that's always running because we live in an old house where everything is just a tiny bit shitty, that I had an epiphany.

Wine. Is good. Now. Right now.

And then Foxie ralphed up frothy, voluminous barf, and I cleaned it up. Then, I poured a glass of Riesling.