Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A place to pour time right down the drain

Thanks to my buddy Pat, I am now aware of a perilous place called Etsy, which whispers oh-so-wholesomely while it ravages large pieces from one's life... Before, I only had (1) no money and (2) no talent for creativity. Now I have (3) no self-esteem and (4) no end to the envy of what people can (1) do and (2) make money at.

Project Rrfff-way

Maddie's task at puppy kindergarten was to learn to be handled all over, so the teacher had everyone dress their dogs. Maddie was workin' it!

Back on the horse

I've been out of commission on computer stuff other than a little email for the last week with this neck injury. I'd intended to spend the four-day Thanksgiving weekend working hard on FOP projects - we have critical year-end stuff to produce - but it just hurt too much. I'm healing and at this point the panic of missed deadlines is overcoming the pain in my neck so I'm back in the slog. Working on catch-up posts next.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Buried treasure

Last Wednesday evening, I stopped by the veterinary clinic that does most of our paid boarding (we don't have enough foster homes in rescue), to bring home a dog for the four-day weekend. Just a taste of home life for a few days. I chose Emma (not 'our' Emma), a cute 45-poundish long-haired blackdog that looks a little like a newf/retriever mix. She's gotten along well with the other dogs in care, so I was surprised when her arrival at home was most inauspicious. I let her meet Hunter for a few minutes through the glass door, and when I brought them together, she went after him ferociously. He was respectful and didn't respond, and even stood there wagging his tail slowly like "Hey, can't we be friends?" And even when put in the airline kennel her snarling was intense. Very uncharacteristic of her.

I wasn't sure how to keep them apart all weekend and achieve the goal of a nice weekend for her and for all, so very regretfully high-tailed her back to the clinic before they closed at 7, thinking to pick up some other lucky customer. Michele met me there with a Shih Tzu that's just come into rescue. At Animal Care & Control, it appeared to be one of those cases of an 8, 10, or 12-year-old dog that's never had any care - a horrid huge mass of tangles and mats, pinching the skin out in obvious tents - just awful. She'd taken shears and quickly cut off about a wastebasket full of hair. Enough to make an amazing discovery - this was a puppy barely six months old. I don't know how it even had time to have become such a rotten mess of tangles, or why in the world the clinic didn't shave him while he was knocked out for his neuter - that would have been the humane way to approach it. But there wasn't any Thanksgiving prep work at home that night (we were going out with friends for the holiday dinner, then making all our own turkey and trimmings on Friday), so I entrenched us both for four painstaking hours of clipping and scissoring and being bitten a dozen or so times, taking breaks and going at it again. He was incredibly tolerant, all things considered. This is what lay beneath. We named him Giblet.

And that was before I spent another two hours on him the next morning. He looks like an actual puppy now.

When I returned him tonight to go back into boarding care, I admit that I cried. It's not the right dog or the right time, but it's been forever since I had a baby in the house. And since my neck and back were killing me, it didn't feel like as much of a wasted weekend on the couch, alternating ice and heat packs, when I could hold this little guy. He had his playful moments but for the most part surveyed everything most implacably, with a calm Buddha countenance. Settled in every night next to my pillow. Hunter was just beautiful with him - never raised a lip or said anything to put him in line. Giblet is also a toe-hog extraordinaire and would set himself most assiduously at either Nana or me, and nearly swooned at the chance to do that straight out of the shower. Silly pup.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Menu reconsiderations

Despite its culinary ambition and appeal, I still can't fathom why anyone would want to name a holiday dish 'turducken' or anything that starts with "turd." I propose a name change - at least 'kenductur' sounds vaguely like the promise of a jolly ride on a steam train.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


So last night I'm trying to tackle some of the house chores that didn't get done over the weekend, and it turns into moving some furniture around. I moved the piano deliberately, slowly, taking care to really use good body mechanics and not hurt myself. But apparently I hurt myself - either with the piano or the tables or the entertainment center or the couch, or something. My neck started to hurt badly. Nothing else hurt, so I didn't associate it with the lifting. I thought I had a bad cramp in my neck. Put heat on it and things felt worse and worse. Went to bed in a fair amount of misery and lay there in pain almost all night. Well, if you don't count the eight times I got up because I hurt so much in any position.

In desperation around 4:30 am it occurs to me that this is not a cramp. This has got to be a sprain. Nothing else hurts this much. Which means all these hours of heat were A Bad Idea. It also finally occurs to me that there are excellent prescription drugs in the house courtesy of a friend who passed off a bottle of pain meds to me once they were no longer needed. (This is the Peg version of a health insurance plan.) But since I need to get up around 6:30, I know a pain pill is a bad idea. So I go find them, cut one in half and then start icing my neck instead to bring down the inflammation, and I did get an hour and a half of something more resembling sleep.

Up and at 'em all day but feeling quite out of it. Kari (my secondary insurer) gave me one of her migraine pills because they don't make you sleepy, and that got me through the work day until around 3pm when I conceded defeat and headed on home. Do piano movers frequently sprain their necks? I sprained mine once years before, in the shower rinsing my hair, and ended up in the emergency room. Weird.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mulligan's long sleep

Our sweet old Mully went to the Rainbow Bridge tonight. This picture is literally the last moment I saw him, on August 21 as I headed out the door to hop a plane back home to Anchorage. I kissed him several times and I said what I knew were the last goodbyes, and he was asleep in front of the floor fan before we even opened the door to leave. He was 13 1/2 years old and a dear big lug.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Movie: The Queen

Okay, so I had no idea that this movie was primarily around the events of Princess Diana's death, thereby answering the question I had all along which was "Who in the world (besides me) will spend movie money on a commercial film about Queen Elizabeth II?" So I'm a little out of touch. I also didn't find this movie as spellbinding as its reviewers have. Helen Mirren is amazing (of course), the production values were great (of course), the scenery is stunning (of course) but the mixture of drama with news footage made me think this film was made for the small screen a la The History Channel. Where it would have been a great movie. On the big screen, well, eh. I saw this film as a string of really great scenes that together didn't make a great movie.

For me the best part was seeing it through Michael Sheen's portrayal of Tony Blair, the young modernist against the timeless institution, whose human compassion wins out against the blithe sarcasm of his own contingent seeking to make sweeping change. (This actually plays a little differently from facts as I remember them when Blair came to power, but I viewed the discrepancies rather benignly.) When he eventually snaps, passionately defending Elizabeth's vulnerability during the public relations fiasco around Diana's death, he sounds like a defector from his own proposals, but only for a moment - that's when you realize much more fully that he's embraced the challenge of leadership from conviction, a deep love of country which includes a love for his queen.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Social call

We went over to Pat's this afternoon to visit with little Raina (and Pat and Skye of course). I'm amazed at how much better she's doing. Of course she is still very fragile but she's there. When we arrived, she was in the sunshine on her warm fuzzy bed alongside a unique hot water bottle - a tinted bag of Ringer's upon which all of the vets and techs had signed autographs. Nana so enjoyed holding Raina, sort of a loaner cat since she can't have her own and still have a breathing, functional daughter.

Pat also gave me a luscious treat of several dark chocolate Dagoba bars, including the Xocolatl flavor which I haven't yet experienced - dark chocolate with chilies, cacao nibs, maca, nutmeg and vanilla. She also found their brand of unsweetened dark hot chocolate mix. I'm thinking of just converting my spare closet into a shrine where I can be alone. Luckily Pat is the sort of friend who completely understood when I told her I was really trying to concentrate on her end of the conversation, but I was beginning to swoon with distraction with such riches in my hands. Check out their line of apothecary chocolate - these are people who Really Get It.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm out of Post-it's

That's all the backlog I have time for right now, so the catch-up posts are:

Nov 14 – Googleblog
Nov 14 – Raina’s rally
Nov 12 – Revolving door
Nov 09 – Growth trend
Nov 04 – My odometer turned
Oct 29 – First REAL snow of the season
Oct 27 – Bull market

Reasons not to go to work, chapter 19

"Today - mostly sunny. Highs 5 to 15 above. North wind 15 to 25 mph gusting to 40 mph. Wind chill readings 20 below to 35 below zero in the morning."

As in THIS morning. One of the few real godsends during the week that Kari was away and Peg was holding the world on her shoulders was that it didn't snow any more after that last weekend in October. If I'd had to shovel at both houses on top of everything else, I might have just sought a sturdy ice floe and made my graceful exit. But it was single-digit cold and it's been that way every day since - 17 straight days, which is wearing. And now the wind has kicked up over the last two days. Often that means somewhat warmer temps for us but this is a straight north wind and it's just cold. Damn cold. Hunter goes out in the snow to potty and doesn't last more than 90 seconds before he's picking up his feet from the painful cold. I bundle up for scoop duty and the one bright thing about it is that freeze-desiccated poop is so easy to manage. Up on the mountain I could take a golf club and tee them off, well clear into the high woods.

But the car starts right up with its engine heater, and this past weekend I got the studded snow tires on too. And this morning I finally reached up to the top shelf for the oatmeal, the Official Breakfast of Those Who Admit It Is Winter, so I'm fairly started up too. Nothing for it now but to get out there and get swept away.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Raina's rally

While Raina's mom Pat was out of town, I was supposed to stop by the house this last Tuesday afternoon to give Ra her fluids. I left work early to take my mom to the polls for her first election as an Alaskan voter (in the gubernatorial, she walked past the incumbent Republican lite gov in the poll lobby and voted for a Democrat - either the chill air or my steady brainwashing has gotten to her, though actually I voted for the Independent candidate).

After a couple of other errands, we were headed to stick Raina, when Pat called from Arizona to say that Ra had been quite ill for a few days prior, and was hospitalized. After my mom's own doctor appointment that afternoon, I headed over to the clinic where the kind staff accommodated me in visiting our sweet old girl. I just felt pretty helpless, as I always do when a very old animal seems to be drifting beyond reach. I held her and talked to her quietly; she didn't respond much other than a little bit of a motor rumble. I couldn't see anything in her eyes. Her physicality had become somehow transparent, though clearly not in any distress or discomfort. But, oh, what a time for Pat to be thousands of miles away. Both of being women 'of an age,' practical and accepting of the way of all living things, we agreed that only because it's Raina would it come as a surprise that a cat of 21 years would decline. She's been in the world forever. As I went home solemn and worried, later that night I held a squirmy, silly puppy and was so struck by that sense of immersion in the full river of life. I thought by the next day, Raina would likely be released.

But 24 hours later I was holding a remarkably different cat - aggressive treatment had brought her infection around, though she still had lots to overcome. By Saturday she was home and by early Monday morning Pat was home too. I'm looking forward to a visit with them this weekend, but meanwhile, I am just so grateful that this one small precious thing hasn't slipped our grasp just yet.


No, it isn't a troll under a bridge somewhere, it's just me trying to begin once again on catching up the blog. When you see what I've been up to (or up against) you'll understand why the blog continues to be last on the list, but meanwhile I'm posting a small something to see what Fantastic New Features are available in the Googled version of blogspot.

Okay, I'm still waiting.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Revolving door

One of the reasons that I had to get back to my own house even though Kari and Dirk weren't back from vacation was that another round of guests was starting at my own place. Emma was here a couple of weeks ago, and on Saturday, the lovely miss Abbey came to stay the weekend. She's a former FOP rescue and a Dog Tired client. To quote Steve Irwin, isn't she gorgeous? Normally at daycare she zonks out in the quiet room or with the little dogs or in her own bed behind the DT front counter, because her dad has taken her on a long run ahead of time and she's just there to chill, not socialize. This weekend I've learned a lot more about her silly side. She's a great bed cuddler too except for the slamming her paw into the middle of your face when it's time to get up. I had no idea about her more feisty nature when she hasn't just run 7 or 8 miles, so that's been lots of fun. She and Hunter both woke up around 3am on Sunday morning (but heck, by then I was entirely used to that) and had a snow romp in the bright moonlight.

Next up on Monday was a late night call from Michele, managing their large crew alone while Chuck was out of town - we'd gotten a call from the women's crisis shelter and needed to give Safe Haven to a puppy in a domestic violence situation so she came here rather than advance the ranks at Michele's. A delicate but energetic little brindle girl, the general size and shape of a fox terrier or whippet (not the lab mix as advertised). Dropped her off at the vet's Tuesday morning for shots and boarding. Got some really adorable photos of her and Hunter, who was by turns accommodating and, um, instructive toward the little skink. He's a good trainer and especially so with puppies and small dogs.

Tuesday night, Michele was running late so Kramer, a FOP rescue who'd been a guest at daycare that day, came home with me. He's a sweet little beagle boy found in our bitter weather, wandering on the hillside above Anchorage. Emaciated to 9 lbs only a week and a half ago, he's up to 15 lbs now. Cuddly and well mannered. We kept him a couple of nights. It was clear from the start that he had a hitch in his gitalong (besides a tail that from the base turns 90 degrees one direction and then 270 degrees the other direction in the first couple inches), and his assessment has revealed severe hip dysplasia (probably the tail deformity is also part of that).

By the weekend it seemed like the guest kennel was too empty so I went yesterday morning and picked up the puppy so she'd have a home life for the weekend, but had barely gotten her home when the call came that her mom was out of the crisis shelter and in a place where she could have her dog back. With a little sadness but with hope that what this tender little spirit has known in her short life is all behind her now, we sent her on her way. Loving them 120% while they're with you and releasing them fully (okay, maybe 90%) to an unknown future is both the challenge and the reward.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Growth trend

Maddie is around five months old now, I think, and over half as big as Emma (who isn't a big Golden, for that matter). Emma herself is transforming - she's lost a ton of weight in all the play and hijinks. She'd gotten truly worn out, actually, and a few weeks ago while Nancy and John were away and she stayed with us, she didn't eat or interact or anything but sleep for two whole days. Her level of exhaustion was concerning, and they are taking more care now to give her additional breaks from the constant onslaught. She seems much better now, and the two are wonderful playmates. I snapped this through the door of my corner worksspace.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My odometer turned

(backdated entry)

Kari and Dirk went out of town this past week to see Cassi, who's playing for the Toronto Rattlers this year until March, when she'll come back home to graduate with her high school class. It all sounds so simple when you put it in a sentence like that, doesn't it? What this meant for me was:

Monday - come home from work, get Hunter and Nana squared away, pack my things and head to Kari's house to petsit for Abby, Maddie, Tobe, and Oliver (the dog they are petsitting), as well as the Major Beefcat Rascals, and Pennies the Petite.

From then on, the week became a blur. Partly because while ALL of these dogs are bed cuddlers, something about the disruption in routine (Tobe is attached to Kari and hadn't ever really been separated from her before) made it such that I went through the week with almost no sleep. The general routine that I've almost managed to block from my memory was to get up around 5 am having slept maybe 2 hours total through the night, get Kari's animals through their morning routine, head to the shop by 6:30 to get things opened, stay there until 8:30 when other staff arrive so that I can now go to my regular job, work all day, swing by the shop on the way home, run by my own house to make sure Nana and Hunter are okay, back to Kari's to get the critters through their evening routine, and then run forth and back between houses, FOP, the shop, errands, and whatever else, fall into bed around 10pm and not sleep for the night until it started over again at 5 the next morning. (Well, it was only the very last morning that we finally got it to be 5 am, and not 3 or 4. My naivete was such that I actually was worried I might oversleep and not open the shop on time every morning, so I brought both of my own alarm clocks thinking my ear would be tuned to them. My only need for an alarm clock all week was to lob it at the Catahoula dropping tennis balls on my head at 3 am.)
Don't they look innocent? Doesn't that huge bed look inviting? Sure - that's how they get you.

However, these two little guys were pretty darned adorable. Oliver (left) is the pug currently on loan, Tobe is the pug/beagle mix that Kari adopted this summer. I didn't know Oliver very well since I'm usually with the large dogs at daycare, but he decided that I was an acceptable port in this storm, and every night these two guys cuddled fervently against me all night long. I was so looking forward to easing my continued back pain by luxuriating in Dirk and Kari's new TempurPedic bed; however, I soon learned that being pinned by a pack of beasts does not allow for any comfort whatsoever, no matter the vast real estate of the bed nor its cost. They need lessons from Michele & Chuck's crew, where six of the 12 resident dogs can pile easily into your one small bed and remain comfortably close but adjust with every move you make without any evidence at all. My theory is that they actually levitate whenever I toss or turn.
Sleeping in my own bed tonight but since Dirk & Kari were delayed on their return, I still have to be over at their place at 6am for the breakfast routine. But somehow in all this I covered both the houses (Nana was a huge help with caring for Hunter and keeping things going at my house), covered both jobs, covered the combined FOP duties, etc.... but if my life were measured by miles I'd be about 240 years old by now. I sure feel it.