Friday, November 30, 2007

dog couch

Oreo has really learned to love the "dog couch". Notice dog slobber all over window from barking at UPS guy and his big brown truck. Also notice only one lamp functioning - cord is chewed through on its match.

Oreo has assumed Munchkin's favorite position. Best view in the house - Oreo can keep an eye on outsiders and insiders. The torch has been passed.

Although, Oreo still uses his dog bed for play breaks and bone chewing.

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Twenty three days until Oreo's first birthday!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

slice it thin please

Have you ever noticed that food tastes better when someone else cooks it for you?

Jeff made me some microwave popcorn the other day, and I swear it tasted so much better than when I make it for myself. How can this be? He cooked it in the same microwave, for the same amount of time. Is the taste really different, or is it the fact that I didn't have to get off the couch? Well, the microwave may have been warmer than usual, because Jeff forgot to take the plastic wrap off the first bag, so he had to cook another.

My Nannie would cut a peach up into lovely slices and serve it to me in a pretty bowl. Those peaches tasted better than any other peach I have ever had. Was it the peach, or the presentation that made the difference?

My Dad would always take all the seeds out of the watermelon, and cut it into bite-sized chunks for me. I don't eat watermelon anymore. Too much work to eat around those pesky seeds.

My mom (and I suspect my Nannie) insists that Stock's pound cake must be sliced very thin in order to get the optimum taste. I always feel I'm getting gypped out of some good frosting, but am glad I don't have to eat a big hunk of cake just to get to the frosting. Luckily, Jeff prefers the cake to the frosting, so I get to eat his. I've never had a thick piece of Stock's pound cake, but I'm sure it's not as good as a thin slice.

I remember my Mom always asking for lunch meat to be sliced "thin please" at the deli counter. When I first started buying lunch meat for myself I ordered it that way too, although I had no idea why it needed to be thin. Still not quite sure. Mom also insists that each piece of lunch meat be put on a sandwich individually. You can't just slap a pile of meat on the bread. Jeff agrees that it does taste better that way. He pretty much agrees with anything my mom says, when it comes to food. Any sandwich that I don't have to make tastes better to me.

Friday, November 23, 2007

lesson from the dogs

Woke up a little later than usual today, must have been all that yummy food I ate last night.

The dogs were raring to go as soon as I sat up in bed. Oreo was jumping up in the air to go outside to go potty, more jumping for his breakfast, and even more jumping when I put his leash on to take him for a walk.

After our walk, the dogs always run straight to our closed bedroom door, plow it open, and put their paws on the bed to wake Jeff. It's as if they want to tell him about their fabulous morning, and say "You're missing out on all the fun, get up!" Then, more jumping ensues until Jeff gets to the kitchen and gives both dogs a handful of cheerios. After their cheerios, Jeff sings a song with Oreo, and Misty barks along. Finally, off to the yard for some playtime.

Double click to see the chase:

At this crazy pre-holiday time, we are inundated with advertisements and commercialism. I receive at last 8 catalogs a day at this time of year. It always amazes me how many different products we can choose from. Today, people went shopping at 4 AM just to save a few dollars on some object that won't really make a difference in their life. It seems as though we are just adding more stress, to our already stressful lives, in the search for the perfect gift at the perfect price.

This morning, I looked down at my dogs' smiling up me, tails wagging with happiness. All I had given them was an open door, some food, a little exercise, a quick belly rub and they were absolutely thrilled. What's even more amazing is that we do the same routine everyday, and the dogs' excitement never wanes. Simple creatures, simple lives. As the Shakers said, "tis a gift to be simple..."

We could all learn a thing or two from dogs. Although, I think we should skip that whole butt smelling thing.

Double click to see the catch:

Thursday, November 22, 2007


It's Thanksgiving, a time to give thanks for all the good things in your life. Yes, I'm thankful for all the things I should be thankful for - family, friends, health, etc. That's a given.

I am also thankful for:

  • my blog "regulars" , who read what I write on a semi daily basis

  • people sending me emails saying you liked what I wrote, how it made you laugh, or how you could relate to my story; those emails mean a lot

  • all you complete strangers who google, "why cant my dog jump", it makes me feel good to know I'm not the only person with dog jumping issues; sorry I couldn't help the person googling "what animal can jump over a house"

  • all the googlers with mole issues, glad to know I'm not alone in my quest to conquer the mole; I'm wondering if the person who googled "pictures of laughing lawn moles" ever found one, I'd like to see it

  • my dogs, students, and poor Jeff who provide endless material and help keep writer's block at bay

  • complete strangers who annoy me (it doesn't take much), thus providing me with additional material

  • my editor in chief, you know who you are, it's impossible to write well without your help; no one would guess I was an English major

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thanks Mom, for cooking the turkey and all the fixings! I wouldn't know where to begin, and I'm sure I would need several glasses of wine to get through the process without having a nervous breakdown (aka temper tantrum).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

the hunt is on

I've woken up to the sound of gun shots the past few mornings, a sure sign that deer hunting season has begun. Jeff told me not to wear tan clothes when I took the dogs out for a walk. Some people, on "the hunt", will shoot at almost anything that moves.

My first public school teaching job was in a rural community. On the first day of hunting season, the school was a virtual ghost town. Many students took the day off to go hunting. They didn't understand why school wasn't actually closed for the "holiday". Driving to work was a little scary during the first few days. Men would park their pick ups on the side of the road, sit in their truck with their gun pointed out the window, waiting to shoot a deer in the fields by the road. I'm sure this is illegal, but the cops either looked the other way or they were the ones doing the "hunting".

People who hunt are excited when they "get their deer", especially if it is a big one with antlers. This is a concept I just don't understand. I could fathom people killing an animal, if the person was starving and there was no other food source available. All the people I know who hunt have access to numerous grocery stores, so why hunt? An argument, I often hear, is the need to keep the deer population down.

Is deer overpopulation really causing us more problems than human overpopulation? I don't think so. Deer aren't contributing to global warming. If we stopped tearing down forests to build our mcmansions, the deer wouldn't be invading "our neighborhoods."

Some hunters say it's a "sport". Aiming a rifle at a huge animal, who has no defence, besides its 4 legs, doesn't seem like much of a sport to me. Deer are some of the most passive creatures on earth. I see deer up close all the time, and they just look at me for a while and then go back to what they were doing. I could kill all of them very easily, if I knew how to fire a gun. The only real threat to us is a good deal of damage to our car if we run into one on the road. Yes they eat our plants, but is that a reason to kill them?

My favorite hunting stories are the ones where a deer gets angry and charges at the hunter. I say, good for the deer.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

christmas presents

If anyone is still looking for a christmas present for me, I'd like two of these:

And one of these:

They are all Oreo's half siblings, so it's only fair that they all be together. They're family!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

if you're a dog

This is what happens when you leave a puppy unattended in the backyard for 10 minutes:

I'm not sure how this happened. I know he dug a hole, so maybe he tried to bury his head?

The mud didn't seem to faze Oreo. I think he prefers to stay dirty and play chase with Misty.

Here is Misty trying to shave off some time by going in front of the garden, while Oreo takes off behind the garden:
My old girl Misty is still able to catch the youngster, and bring him down for the tackle:

It doesn't get any better than this, if you're a dog that is.

Monday, November 12, 2007

oops, I forgot...

I went to Target this morning with a bunch of coupons. At the checkout, I made sure to put the coupons right near the register, so the cashier would see them. I also pointed them out to her.

I learned to do this from past experiences. Once the cashier hits "total" and it is sent off into cyber space for credit card approval, there is no changing anything. I once spent 10 minutes at the register, while the girl tried, unsuccessfully, to enter my gift card after hitting "total". Apparently, there is no "escape" or "undo" or "back" button. I had to wait until my next trip to Target to use the gift card. That time, I made sure to hand it to the cashier before she began ringing up my stuff.

There really should be a sign hanging to explain this. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has had this happen.

I thought I was ready this time and took all the necessary steps to make sure I got my discount.

After scanning all my items, the cashier hit "total", and then said, "Oops, I forgot your coupons." She began hitting buttons, to no avail. She called over the manager, who told her what to do to get the machine to give me my money back. The cashier said, "Oh, that's easy." The manager walked away.

Not so easy. She just couldn't figure it out. The cashier told me I would have to go to customer service, and they would give me cash for the coupons.

I glanced over at customer service, and saw a line. I told the cashier, "I'm not going over there to wait in a line, I already waited here."

Her response, "It will take the same amount of time for me to figure this out, as it will for you to walk over there and wait."

Hmmm. She may be right, but that's not the response I expected.

Frustrated, I walked over to customer service. After a short wait, I met with the manager again. She said, "Oh, she wasn't able to figure it out?" No, that's why I'm here. She asked,"Did she give you any cash back?" No, that's why I'm here.

After she pushed a bunch of buttons, I finally got my $5.05, but no apology, no "sorry for the mix up."

I try and be patient. There's a reason why these people work at Target. Its better for them to mess up at Target, than at a hospital. However, it shouldn't be this complicated to use a coupon.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I'll take it

Yesterday, a guy, "Jim", came over to look at Jeff's "just in case motorcycle". The bike is 10 years old, but has only 600 miles and is in showroom condition.

I could hear Jeff describing the bike to Jim. Jeff had his "salesman voice" on, which is a really amazing talent. Jim said he didn't really like the color scheme of the bike, a complaint I had shared. The colors are real "girly" - purple, yellow and even some pink. Jeff had already formulated a way around that hurdle. Jeff sold it as being the "in colors" of the early nineties, so it's practically vintage. Plus, the colors are really easy to change. Jeff went on and on, "selling" the bike. Jeff sold so hard, that Jim said, "Why would you sell such a great bike?"

Luckily, Jeff always has a way around that question - just look around the garage. All he has to say is "my wife says I need to get rid of some bikes." Not that I've ever said that, but I don't mind him using me as an excuse. It always makes the buyer feel like he is getting a great deal.

Jeff suggested that Jim take the bike on a test drive up the road. Jeff gave instructions to just go to the end of the road, and come back, otherwise he might end up lost. It gets rural real fast around here. Go half a mile up the road and there are cows, sheep and horses and not much else in the way of landmarks.

Jim drove off, beeping along the way. He was clearly excited to be on this great, showroom condition, nineties vintage bike.

Jeff had me come outside and sit in Jim's car - a Mini Cooper. I've been thinking about my next car and the mini is on my list. He said Jim would take me for a ride when he gets back from his test drive.

It was getting cold, so I went back in the house. I wrapped some Christmas presents. Sorted some laundry. Started making dinner.

Jim still wasn't back. I went down to the basement to suggest Jeff go look for him, but saw Jeff had already thought the same thing.

Eventually, Jeff came back. He too thought Jim had gotten lost, but had had no luck finding him. Jim didn't know our phone number, address, or even our last name to look it up in the phone book. It was getting dark and cold real fast. Jeff said, "Well, at least we have the Mini."

Finally, about an hour later, Jeff sees a bike coming up the road and it turned into our driveway. Jim takes his helmet off and says, "I'll take it!"

I could hear Jim describing how he got lost, and had to ask a cop for directions. He couldn't believe how desolate it was out here. Jeff noticed Jim leaning against the side of the bike in a strange way. Jeff gave the bike a second glance and noticed there was some damage. Jeff asked him, "Did you put the bike down?" He had. Luckily, he was not hurt, or at least didn't admit it.

Once Jim left, Jeff came up for dinner, and said, "He's buying it, whether he wants to or not. So much for my showroom condition bike."

After dinner, Jeff said that he was going to the basement for a few minutes. I know this usually means an hour or two. I heard lots of power tools turning on and off, and it didn't take me long to figure out what he was doing.

Jeff was fixing the damage on the bike. When he finally came back upstairs, I told him he shouldn't have done that. It's not his fault the guy put the bike down. No dealership would have done that. I thought he was being much too nice.

I must have forgotten who I was talking to. Jeff had called Jim, and told him he fixed the damage, but for a price. Of course Jim agreed to pay, and thanked him for making the bike look like new again.

So, Jeff ended up making a few extra bucks on the deal.


I never did get my ride in the mini.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

glove abyss

Gloves and mittens are much like socks, you often can find only one out of a pair.

Its getting cooler now, and I need gloves to wear on my morning walks. I have several pairs of gloves. Gloves for cool weather, gloves for wet weather, leather gloves, etc. I am missing one of my dog walking gloves and one of my shoveling gloves. I looked everywhere, and decided they are gone for good. Gone into the missing glove and sock abyss, only to be found when you have finally thrown out its match.

Instead of throwing out the single gloves, I gave one to Oreo - lover of all things made of fabric.

Oreo was very excited about his new "toy". He carried the glove around in his mouth for about 2 hours. I tried to get Oreo to play with his orbee outside, but he refused to put down the glove. Instead, he began roaming the yard with glove in mouth, and started digging some holes.

Since Oreo didn't want to play, I decided to pick up some leaves out of my gardens.

At one point, I was coming into the backyard and saw Oreo filling a hole. He was using his nose and paws to push dirt around. I noticed the glove was no where to be found. Oreo had buried it.

I have seen dogs bury bones in cartoons, but have never had a dog do it in real life. Oreo has put things in his holes, but I never witnessed him filling the hole back up with dirt.

Was the glove so special that he had to hide it? Will he ever dig it back up? Are my other gloves also in the dirt outside?

I am going to remember where Oreo hid this one. Just in case, when I'm planting some flowers next spring, I happen to dig up its match.

naptime on the "dog couch"

Thursday, November 8, 2007

who does that?

I was driving home from work today and saw a couple walking a golden retriever and a tiny chocolate lab puppy. The golden retriever kept looking at the puppy with a smile on his face, as if to say "Where have you been all my life? It is so great to have a buddy to walk with." The puppy was bouncing along, with typical Lab curiosity and dumbness. My heart just swelled up seeing two, completely happy dogs.

On an impulse, I stopped my car in the middle of the road, got out and went gaga over all that chocolaty sweetness. I just had to get my hands on the puppy. The dog walking couple just kept laughing. Either they thought it was funny, or I completely freaked them out and they were laughing out of nervousness.

Then, I began to notice there were some cars waiting behind my car. It's a narrow road, and between my car, myself, the couple and their 2 sweet dogs, I was causing a traffic jam. No one beeped their horn or did any rude hand gestures, they just waited patiently. All these people must have thought I was completely nuts.

I quickly got back in my car, and giggled the rest of the way home; thinking to myself what a weirdo I am. Who stops their car to interact with strangers' dogs?

I do.

I wonder if there is treatment available for the inability to control oneself in the presence of a puppy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

puppy milestones

A big milestone occurred for Oreo yesterday. He finally was able to jump on the bed! Twice! He had to get a running start, but he did it all on his own. His parents are so proud.

Perhaps an even bigger milestone happened today. Oreo was left home alone, out of his crate for a few hours. We try and keep most valuables out of reach, like remote controls and shoes. Dogs love to eat those, because our scent is all over them. Accidentally, a pair of Jeff's sneakers were left out on the floor, but there is not one chew mark! That is a huge milestone for a puppy.

Oreo is slowly maturing into a real dog, although he is still a bundle of energy.

After walking two miles, and running around the yard (and house) at top speed for half an hour, Oreo finally stopped to take a drink. He was so spent, he had to lay down to drink.

A tired dog, is a well behaved dog.

Monday, November 5, 2007

young whippersnapper

Today is Jeff's birthday. From now until March 29, he and I are one numerical year apart.

You see, he was born in 1971 and I was born in 1970. Jeff will always be a year younger than me. From March through November, we are 2 numerical years apart. For some reason, that 2 year difference really bothers me.

For example, right now, I am 37 and Jeff is 36. Not so bad. Once my birthday arrives, I will be 38, but Jeff will still be 36 until November. On paper it looks like I am 2 years older, but for the record it's really only 1 year and 7 months.

A few years ago, I was able to convince Jeff that he was actually a year older than he really was, so we were the same age for awhile. This was done through simple math and fast talking. Unfortunately, he eventually caught on and now pays more attention when I try and fool him into believing he's older than he is.

It is so frustrating to me that he will never catch up to my age. I will always be older.

My Babci once told me that I should marry a younger man. Her theory was women live longer, so if you want your husband around in your old age, you need a young whippersnapper.

Good advice, though hard for me to stomach sometimes.

Babci also said to marry someone who loves you more than you love him. Unfortunately, that's not as easy to gauge as the age factor.

I guess, when in doubt, go for the younger man.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

bathroom woes

Jeff and I were walking into Target today, and I decided to use their restroom before downing my Starbuck's latte. I walked in and was immediately struck by the sound of very loud, annoying music coming out of the speakers. First, is music really necessary in the bathroom? Second, why does it have to be so loud?

I actually asked these questions aloud, just in case someone from Target security was listening. Not that they'd be able to hear me over the obnoxious music.

I couldn't wait to get out of there, the noise level made me so uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, it was not a quick trip. The stall I chose had plenty of toilet paper. Two brand new, 12 inch diameter rolls. The two rolls were jammed so tightly in the dispenser that neither of them would move. I tried to tear away at both rolls to get them started, but ended up with a handful of shredded tissue. Neither roll would move a centimeter. It made me think of the Seinfeld episode with Elaine saying to the person in the stall next to her, "Could you spare a square?" Here, I had two warehouse sized rolls, and couldn't get one lousy square. I gave up and left.

I walked out and Jeff asked, "What is up with that loud music?" I told him it was the worst bathroom experience of my life.

OK, that was an exaggeration. I've had worse. In Russia, I had to go in a hole on a tile floor. The floor was wet, and I don't think it had been freshly washed. That was the worst.

At school, we have brand new bathrooms. Everything in them is automated. You don't have to flush. Theoretically, the toilet is supposed to sense when you are done, and then flush itself. The problem with the automatic flush system, is that it doesn't always flush at the right time. Almost every time, the toilet flushes prematurely, and there is no way to manually flush. Every time I walk into the bathroom, I have to check the stalls. There are always some surprises left in the bowl by previous bathroom users. I feel like I know a lot more than I want to know about my co-workers bodily functions.

If the toilet flushes prematurely, and you want to leave a clean toilet behind, you must pretend to "go" again to initiate a second flush. To do this, I hover over the toilet, wait, and then stand up. This doesn't always work. Sometimes, I have to actually leave the stall, go back in, and pretend again. This can waste a lot of time during my precious "student free periods".

Next up, the automatic sink. You put your hands under one faucet, and no water. Go to the next one, and wave your hands around. Nothing. Next.... It is so aggravating.

Luckily, the towel dispenser is not automated. Simply yank, and a towel comes out. Heaven.

Friday, November 2, 2007

monarchy or democracy?

Election day is looming. It is a big election year for my town. Our current Town supervisor is running on all the 4 major parties' ballots. He is endorsed by the democrats, republicans, liberals, and conservatives. Until a few weeks ago, he and a few friends have been running completely unopposed. In a time when huge rifts exist between the two major parties, how could 4 parties agree on the same candidate?

Simple. Money and pay offs. Its all about bringing big business (lots of ugly box stores) to our small, semi-rural town, and making sure certain people (including the chair of the conservative party) make lots of money. Millions.

They have the gall to call themselves a "bi-partisan" team.

It's a virtual monarchy. I feel like I'm living in the former Soviet Union where people got to vote, but only had one choice.

Fortunately, some brave people have formed a new party. So, I will vote for them. I really don't know much about them, except for the fact that they oppose the current office holders. That is a good enough reason for me.

How sad it is to have to vote for someone, simply to try and get rid of the bad guy. I just hope enough people feel the same way I do.

Read all about it here:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Jeff's photos

Its been a busy week - not much time for writing.

Jeff had his photo shoot yesterday - it was warm enough to ride the bike to the shoot! Crazy temperatures for Halloween. I remember always having to wear my winter coat over my costume. Plus, the kids had an extra hour of daylight to trick or treat since we have put off going back to standard time for an extra week. Good for the young kids, not sure how the older ones felt about it. We had no trick or treaters at our house. My mom had given us some chocolate she had bought as a fundraiser for us to hand out - just in case anyone made the trek up our driveway. Jeff had already eaten it all, so I guess it's (how's my grammar, editor in chief?) good no kids showed up.

I am anxious to change the clocks back, so I don't have to walk the dogs in the dark every morning. Oreo has a coat that lights up, but it was too warm this morning to put a coat on him!

Here's a photo from Jeff's latest shoot:

As usual, Dino did a fantastic job of showing the bike (and Jeff) off in all that perfect lighting. I think black bikes are probably the hardest to photograph. There's another photo on Jeff's site - just scroll down to the bottom part:

Dino submitted the photos to the magazine, so hopefully they get accepted. The other bike should be in next month's issue or the month after.