Nice to see you!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I honestly do not know how men and women ever manage to form any sort of coherent relationship, seeing as how we don't even speak the same language. I have a wonderful boyfriend, as sweet as the day is long, but there are times I wonder if we are from the same planet.

For example. I want to make soup. I send him an email and ask him to pick up celery and carrots. I tell him I don't want to put the noodles in until we make the soup because they get mushy when frozen. He sends me back an email. It says, "Ok, I will pick up onions and I won't make the noodles mushy." Huh? I had to go back and re-read my email thinking perhaps I'd had a bout of keyboard Tourettes. Nope. I said what I thought I said. He heard what he thought he heard.

The other day I didn't sleep well, and I told him that I looked like hell. He says to me "You could never look like hell, but if there were angels in hell, they would look just like you." All the girls go, "Awwwww....". On the outside, that sounds like a compliment, right? But here's what I heard - my boyfriend thinks I look like an angel from hell. Does that make me a Hell's Angel? What does that mean?! I KNOW he meant it in the nicest possible way, but that's not what I heard.

Maybe I need to read that Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus book. I think I'm missing something......

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My German Heritage

My father was born in Germany and immigrated to the US with his mother when he was a child. He grew up here, he doesn’t speak German - you would assume he was native born.

Then you get to know him.

I won’t say that my dad actually goose-steps out of bed in the morning (although I do glance at his heels occasionally when he’s being particularly Nazi-like). But from time to time he exhibits characteristics that make me think that there is a reason for stereo-typing.

Punctuality : God help the person that is late or makes him late. You want to go fishing? Then you had better be on that boat at 6am sharp. I have watched my father pace around sighing and huffing at camp as he tries to round up everyone (because it is now 6:01 am) and actually heard him yell “Hurry up and get on this boat so we can go enjoy ourselves! Now!” Yes, hurry up and have fun. That is the German way.

Why Hitler was scary: I don’t recall my father ever hitting me, or really even yelling too much. What he does is look at you. He has pretty, blue eyes. Unless he’s mad at you. Then he has scary, cold, ice blue eyes. And I swear to God they vibrate. He will stare at you, quietly, and then you see this red color creep up from his neck to his face, and then the vein in his temple starts to throb, and still he says nothing. Just looks at you. And then you crack. You will confess to things you never even did and that he could't possibly know about just so he'll stop looking at you. I think he did it periodically just to see what we'd been up to. I’m just saying, if Hitler had a look like that, it’s no wonder he commanded a lot of people.

Over achiever: My 6 year old nephew is one heck of a fisherman. He outcatches most of us. And he does it in spite of the fact that his loving grandfather keeps throwing his fish back. Did you reel in a 22 inch trout? No goot. Back in de vater! Because there’s a 24 inch trout out there. Unfortunately, my poor husband caught his first fish, in fact the only fish he ever caught in his life, while on a boat with my dad. It was a 21 inch trout, which my dad promptly threw back. The only other thing my husband caught that trip was the boat motor. It’s only fitting it was my dad that had to unwind the fishing line off of it.

Engineering – Germans make good engineers. You frequently hear the phrase “German engineering”. They are logical and precise with an eye for detail. My dad can fix anything. He can build anything (he actually is a real engineer). However, he also thinks that if he knows it, it must be common knowledge. He forgets that although he is brilliant, he spawned two daughters who cannot add without a calculator. He takes great pains to try to educate us when he’s fixing things for us. We smile and nod.

Taking the fun out of things : Germans are very good at this. Are you getting your drivers license? Fun! Before you can drive your car you must be able to recognize and label all parts of the engine, be able to change a tire, fix a hose, jump a battery, replace a fuse and recognize various engine noises. Again, very logical, very sensible, very responsible. I just thought driving would be more fun.

I will not wait: This goes hand in hand with the whole punctuality thing. I spent years watching my dad roll his eyes, sigh, and mutter various oaths under his breath while trying to park at stores, wind his way through crowds of people, or sitting in the doctors office. Waiting is not his strong suit.

I thought my father was just an impatient, unreasonable man until one day I was trying to park at WalMart and I couldn’t find a spot and these idiots kept walking in front of my car and some other morons were taking up multiple spaces and so help me if I had to circle this lot one more time… My mother and my stepmother were in the backseat of the car remarking on how like my father I am and snickering. I realized then what a burden he must have been carrying all these years having to live with these people that just don’t understand how difficult and annoying having to deal with the general population is. I never gave him enough credit for being the long suffering, intelligent, rational, reasonable man he is.

I must be German.

How to place an ad

I share with you the ad I placed to sell my camper. I placed this ad at 730am. By 3pm I had received 56 calls and emails and had my camper sold and hauled away within an hour of getting home from work. Feel free to modify to your specifications.

Divorce sale - He got the truck, I got the camper. Which cannot be towed by a sedan. Joke's on me, but my loss is your gain.

What I have is a beautiful Harvest gold and Avocado Green 1976, 18 foot Prowler. Very clean, lots of conveniences, lots of cupboard space, stove, oven, heater, plumbing and toilet all work very well. Fridge is a little temperamental. By temperamental I mean that, not possessing an engineering degree, I have not been able to get it to stay on for any length of time or figure out what's wrong. It may need to be replaced.

Have you outgrown the joys of sleeping on the cold ground with a rock in your back? Does your wife refuse to camp because of bugs/bears/tent peepers? Are you tired of wandering around in the dark with a flashlight at 3 in the morning to answer natures call? This is your dream come true!

Imagine not having to pack your gear every time you want to camp/hunt/fish - it's already waiting in your camper! Imagine eating something besides hot dogs on a stick - with a full kitchen you can have home cooked meals in the woods! Extend your camping/hunting season. Enjoy hours of entertainment watching your buddies huddle in their heatless tents during a freak snowstorm while you're elk hunting. The possibilities are endless.

Perhaps you have teenagers that are always threatening to move out - now you can accomodate their wishes! Move them into the camper, charge them rent, and teach them a life lesson. They'll thank you for it. Eventually. Also makes great mother in law quarters, or a convenient guest room for friends with annoying children that come to visit.

This dream on wheels can be yours for the low price of 800.00 o.b.o. All reasonable offers will be considered. Cash only. You will need at least a V6 to haul this badboy away. (Trust me, that's how we lost the 4 cylinder)


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Garden List

For the benefit of Jim dad, I list what is going into the garden this year, thanks to the miracle of square foot gardening.

The already established beds that will return to produce this year:

Strawberries - 2 beds
Cherries? Tree is probably still too young.
Mammoth Dill

What's going in:

Red Romaine
European Mesclun Salad Mix
Green leaf lettuce
Purple leaf lettuce

lemon cucumbers
Strait 8's

Sugar Snap Peas
Telephone Peas

Green Onions
Red Onions
Yellow onions
Garlic - harvest next year

Tigger Watermelon
Cream of Sascatchewan Watermelon
Sugar baby Watermelon
Oranglo (Asian melon)
Charentais (french melon)

2 Romas
1 Cherry
3 San Marzanos

Bell Peppers
Italian Peppercinis

Kentucky Wonder Green Beans
Purple Podded Pole Beans
Great Northern Beans
Anasazi Beans
Pinto Beans
Navy Beans
Peruano Beans
Asparagus Beans

Sweet dumpling pumpkins
Sugar Pie pumpkins
Spaghetti Squash

Misc Stuff:
Carrots - 2 types
Corn - Peaches and Cream
Tomatillos (volunteer)


Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it. Plus I'll be planting a variety of flowers in with the veggies. We'll see how it goes. I'm chomping at the bit to get seeds started and get the cold veggies into the ground with some covers.

The agony of irony

Continuing on my quest to be better to the world and myself, to lower my carbon footprint (whatever the hell that means) and to just be more self sufficient and more conscious of waste, I have run into a few things that are driving me crazy.

Choke a fish or kill a tree? Whatever happened to paper or plastic? Now, regardless of which one I choose, I am wrong and evil. I have tree hugging, dreadlock wearing, T-shirt slogan sporting teenage grocery baggers making me feel guilty about how I'm going to get my groceries home. Mind you, my groceries alone are already packaged in 20 lbs of processed, chemical enhanced, non-biodegradable plastics, not to mention all the additives and chemicals that are actually IN the food itself. We don't dwell on that. Baby steps. So I bought some reusable bags. Just so you know, when you go into a store with those bags, the cashiers HATE you. Unless you're shopping at one of the "environmental" stores. I have talked to a number of cashiers at various stores and nothing makes them cringe more than having to bag up someones groceries in those things. Here's the number one reason - people don't give them the bags until they've already started bagging. So, if you are going to use those bags, be sure to tell the cashier before they start. They will hate you less. Or shop at Winco where you bag your own stuff. Then you can do it however you want. My biggest problem seems to be remembering to take them with me.

My other dilemma is that I have found two websites that I love and are chock full of information but I do not want to spend my time at home sitting on the computer. First of all, I do that all day at work. Secondly, I am trying to reduce my energy consumption at home. On the other hand, ordering magazines just creates more paper. For the record if you're looking to do some Urban Homesteading check out Mother Earth News and Backwoods Homes. Both of them are fantastic. Jackie Clay is my modern day heroine. That woman has forgotten more about canning and self reliance than I will ever learn. I think I will probably still end up ordering the magazines. I'll call it part of my entertainment budget.

I am on my way to getting the garden started. I ordered my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and they just arrived. They are a fantastic company and they send you a package of free seeds with your order. Now, last year they sent me a package of Thai Yellow Eggplant. While I appreciated the thought, I live in Idaho and those seeds had other ideas about the type of climate they'd like to grow in. No go on the tropical eggplants, but this year they sent me Parisienne carrots. Yay! Those I can grow. I'll be putting up a list of what's going in the garden (mostly to make my step dad jealous, since he's not putting in a garden this year).

I have two other environmental goals to accomplish this year. Number one, I am starting my own compost pile in a spare garden bed. Compost is expensive! Much better to make your own. The other goal is to reduce my energy consumption, at least during the summer and fall, by putting in a clothesline. I remember as a little kid I used to love running around in the clothesline with the damp sheets hanging down. Ahh, nostalgia. I have no doubt that will fade the first time I go to make my bed and there's a wasp in my sheets.

I have spring fever so bad it's killing me. I've already starting buying the stuff to put in vertical beds and amend my soil. That accomplishes two things - it helps me feel like I'm moving in the right direction and spring is getting closer, and it also prevents having to put out a lump sum of money to get the garden in. Soon, very soon......

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Denver Story

Why My Mother Doesn’t Like Me To Travel Alone
Also known as
Why I love Xanax

I am an oddity. I am a travel agent who is hands down pee your pants terrified to fly. I have been deplaned more times than I can count (fortunately before 911. Now they would just as soon shoot me.) Bless the poor flight attendant who was trying to be discreet while advising the gate agent that I needed to get off the plane by telling her I didn’t feel well. In my panic to get off the pressurized death coffin I kept screeching at her that “I feel fine! I said I don’t fly well”. Oh well, hindsight being 20/20….

In any case, then I discovered Xanax. Hallelujah, Praise the Lord. Oh, don’t get me wrong – I’m still absolutely positive that I’m going to die. I just don’t care. I have got it timed to where I take exactly enough to be conscious and relatively inconspicuous long enough to pass security and walk onto the plane, but will fall asleep before that plane takes off. It’s an art. People long ago stopped traveling with me. I have one friend who will still travel with me and she pretty much ignores me. She gives me fun things like her DVD player or a coloring book to play with and that will pretty much keep me entertained for the long haul.

However, sometimes I do travel alone. My favorite Xanax-riddled memory of a trip involved a plane change in Denver. I was on my way to New York, and since I’m a travel agent and was traveling on something that used to exist, called free tickets, I was required to dress for it. This means a skirt and hose. I had a rather lengthy connection in Denver, but I knew there was a shorter connection that I could stand by for. So, upon arrival I proceeded immediately to the gate and got on the standby list. The gate agent told me to come back in 45 minutes. I tottered off to the ladies room, dragging my two bags behind me, and figure if I’m quick about it I have time to run to the upstairs bar at the other end of the terminal, which is the only place one can smoke. Off I go on the moving escalator, me and my bags as fast as we can, up the stairs and into the bar. There is nowhere at all to sit, so I stand at the bar, have a soft drink and a smoke, grab my bags and speed walk my way all the way back to the other end of the terminal where my connection awaits. A few yards from my destination a nice young lady walks up to me and says, “Excuse me Miss, but your skirt is tucked in the back of your pantyhose”. So I look back, and sure enough, she is absolutely correct. And for the record, my skirt is not tucked up “a little” in the back…my skirt is completely and entirely rolled up into the top of my pantyhose, and I have just spent 45 minutes parading my not inconsiderable backside up and down the entire United terminal at Denver International. Here’s where the Xanax comes in – I looked at that train wreck and went “Huh. So it is.” Made the appropriate adjustments and went on my way, with a complete lack of well deserved embarrassment. By the way, Denver, thanks for the heads up.

Working in Retail

As life goes on, I’ve found one has to be willing to make adjustments in their lifestyle in order to keep living the way they’ve become accustomed to. For example, when I got divorced I had to decide if I would like to be homeless, or if I would rather live in a house and eat. Since I’m rather fond of food and running water, I chose the latter. In order to accomplish this, I needed to take a second job.

Finding a job wasn’t hard. I chose a craft store because I do rather a lot of crafty sorts of things and I figured if I had to have a second job, it might as well be something I enjoy. By the by, I have now accumulated enough crafty-crap to open my own store. So, I started in the floral department and learned how to make bows, then I became a cashier, then a cashier supervisor and finally a closing manager within the first year that I worked there. High turnover is extremely helpful when one wants to move up the ladder.

Which brings me to the reason I am writing this. Why do retail stores have such high turnover rates? Part of it is pay, some of it is management, sometimes people just move on. However, the really good departures are brought on by the accumulation of customers and the things they do. I say really good departures because those are the ones where a cashier rips off their smock, throws it in the garbage, and tells everyone where to go, finishing with “I Quit!”.

So, if you’re a retail shopper and you really want to piss off the employees where you’re shopping, take a hint from some of the customers who have visited my store and see what kind of reactions you get. Just don’t be surprised if an employee leaps over the counter to strangle you.

1. Please talk on your phone the entire time I am ringing up your purchases. I like nothing better than to hear about your sisters hair-ball obstructed cat while I practice my miming skills of you swiping your card through the reader.

2. Please allow your children to dump the Beta fish into bowls together to watch them fight. We love picking the remains of our fish out of the bowls. If I see you again I’m calling PETA.

3. Do be sure to berate the single cashier who is trying to ring up the line of customers as fast as she can. Continue to complain loudly to the other customers about having to wait in line. I’m sure it was the cashier that decided we only needed one person during that time frame. Maybe that will teach her a lesson.

4. Play hide and seek with the merchandise. Be sure to gather up a bunch of items and drop them in various places throughout the store. If you don’t have time for that, just fill up your cart with things, preferably from as many different departments as possible, and then leave it in the middle of an aisle somewhere. Don’t worry – we’ll put it away for you.

5. When your child vomits all over the cart and the merchandise in it, whatever you do, don’t let anyone know about it. It’s much better that you put it back in with the carts. We’ll find out about it when the next customer grabs the cart and starts screeching and threatening to file complaints to the board of health.

6. One of my personal favorites – do your business in the middle of the bathroom floor. Perhaps the toilet was at an inconvenient height, or maybe you have a fear of snakes coming up through the hole in the bottom. Either way, we were greatly entertained by the pile in the middle of the floor. Thanks for having the decency to cover it up with a roll of toilet paper.

7. Piss your kids off right before you come to the checkout so we can experience the joy of your two year olds temper tantrum. While I yell your total over the ear-piercing shrieks of your ill-behaved monster, please tell it repeatedly about how you’re going to take it to get a nice new toy or an ice cream. That gives me hope for our future.

8. Thank you for leaving your half masticated Whopper wadded up in the seat of a cart. Same goes for the used Kleenex, empty soda bottles and used diapers. Really, it’s just what I always wanted.

9. We close at 9pm. Please show up promptly at 859 and 30 seconds and insist that you only need something “really quick”. Then wander around aimlessly, avoid the employees that are trying to assist you finding your item, and bring up your .99 purchase to the register at about a quarter after. If you’re going for bonus points, after she rings it up tell her you changed your mind.

10. Whatever you do, don’t tell the cashier if something doesn’t ring up right until after she’s closed out the transaction and charged your credit card. It’s much faster to go back and do a refund and a new transaction than it would have been to fix it from the beginning.

11. Rant at us about how you are a teacher/military personnel/senior citizen/cat lover, etc. We don’t actually offer a discount for these things, but if you hold up the line and keep yelling at us, we’ll probably knock off 10% just to get you out of the store. Hope that .50 was worth it.

12. We are aware that our cart return bins are located at least a mile from where you had to park and hike in. Therefore it is perfectly acceptable to just leave the carts wherever you like. Extra points if it's a particularly windy day. Everybody enjoys cart dents in their cars.

Those are just a few helpful hints to make your shopping experience a bit more productive. After all, think of how much you are helping people like me every time you drive another person to quit their job. Come to think of it, you’re actually helping everyone out here – the employee that quits will move on to something bigger and better giving a teenager a chance to get their first job, which starts to help out social security which will be taking care of you eventually. So the moral of the story is…..huh. This doesn’t really have a good moral. Looks like you win either way.


Fifteen years…..that is how long I have toiled in the trade of travel. I have good clients. I have bad clients. Overall, I have loved my job for a long time. However, if I hear “you people” one more time, so help me I will just come unglued. I have heard a lot of things over the years, and yet, travelers still never cease to amaze me. Here are some of my favorite conversations. And by the way, when you call your travel agent, don’t start the conversation by saying “I need….”. What about my needs?!

Basic things you need to know:

It is helpful if you know what your name is. No, really. What is your name? Your name is really Nacho? Yes, I know everyone calls you Nacho, but is that your legal name? It is? Okay, that's how your ticket will read. Oh, your drivers license says your name is Guillermo? Yes, that is different than Nacho.

You say you like an aisle seat in the bulkhead with extra leg room? What’s your frequent flyer number? Oh, you don’t have one. Well, now you like center seats. In the back. By the bathroom.

If you show up 20 minutes before your flight, your seat WILL be given away. I don’t make the rules, I’m just telling you how it is. Your itinerary says check in 1 – 1 ½ hours prior to your flight. Heed my advice.

No, I do not know which plane you left your Ipod on. No, no one will be calling me to tell me you left your Ipod on the plane. How would they even know who to call?

If your name is Visyantha Padahytham, do not be offended when I ask you to spell it. Every time you call.

No, I do not know if your flight 3 weeks from now is going to be cancelled due to bad weather/mechanical problems/acts of God.

Yes, I can tell the hotel you would like a room with no bugs. I’m pretty sure if I do they will go out and find some especially for you.

They are called flight attendants. Not Stewardess, Honey, Nurse, or Sky Hookers. They are responsible for keeping you safe. Behave yourself.

No, I cannot travel back in time and get you to Tokyo yesterday. I realize they are over the international date line. It doesn’t work that way.

Do not be offended that I do not know who you are or how important you are. Even though you insist (with a disgusted sigh) that you book with us “all the time”, realistically, you’ve booked travel once. Nine months ago. And it was a car rental. Which you cancelled.

No, I did not intentionally put you between the two fattest people on the plane.

No, I did not intentionally put you in the non-reclining middle seat in the last row next to the bathroom. (Actually, this is almost always a lie. Do you remember how you talked to me?)

I am not responsible for your lost luggage, the kid screaming behind you, or the BBQ chicken lump the airline tried to pass off as your lunch.

No, I do not know who you will be seated next to. No, I cannot guarantee that it won’t be next to a fat person, a person of xyz nationality, a person who snores, someone who ate onions for lunch, or someone who wants to talk you.

I also cannot promise to seat you next to a sexy, desperate, wealthy widow with a penchant for arrogant, paunchy, balding, obnoxious business men.

When you call to make your arrangements please know where you are going. It is also helpful if you know when. I can pick something, but I doubt you’ll be happy about it.

I realize you believe you can run from one end of the terminal to the other and make a 15 minute connection. You can’t.

Ben Wa balls will set off the metal detectors at airport security. Leave them at home. And for God’s sake, at the very least, take them out.

Hooked on Phonics is not for everyone. Case in point, the following conversation.

XYZ Travel, this is Andrea.
"Yes, I need to go to F*** it."
I’m sorry?
"F*** it."
Um…what state would that be sir?
Ok, could you spell that for me?
Oh. Of course.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Mouse-capade Continues

Enough with the stories - I'm still dealing with mice here. Good news - I got one!!! After rebaiting the traps, I successfully nabbed a rodent. My father will make a hunter of me yet. Now, I have to admit, I did have to get some advice on this one. I managed to set and bait the traps on my own, but Houdini was licking the bait off the traps and getting away scott-free. Taking advice isn't the same as not being self sufficient, is it? I mean, it's not like anyone came over and changed the bait on the traps for me. But I'm going to pay it forward here, and let you all know what I was told in case it can be of assistance to you in the future.

1. Scrap the creamy peanut butter and skip the Cheese Whiz. The little buggers will just lick it off.

2. Opt for a hard cheese or crunchy peanut butter. Cram it down into the hole in the bottom of the bait bar so that they can't just lick it - they're going to have to pull on it.

3. And when they do - SNAP! So long, Mickey!

4. If you're clever and not too tightly strung, you can also set the traps on what was described to me as a hair trigger. Basically you put the long skinny bar (the holding bar) on the very edgiest edge of the little U-shaped bar holder thingie. Now, this can be tricky - I set mine off twice when I put it down. So be sure to keep your fingers AWAY from the smashing end. It takes some practice, but when it works, it's a thing of beauty.

Now the gross part. Disposing of the corpse. Honestly, the traps are a buck for 4 of them, and I was all for tossing the full trap and getting a new one. HOWEVER, then I remembered that I'm trying to switch over to the "do it yourself, be frugal, waste not, want not, reuse, reduce, recycle" kind of mind frame.

Do it myself does not include touching the creepy dead mouse, as I am already sure that at any given second I am going to contract the Hanta virus. I'm not usually THAT girly, but in this case I'm going to make an exception. So I put on gloves and grabbed the BBQ tongs (now no one will come have BBQ at my house, I'm sure) and a paring knife and the dead-mouse-in-a-trap. I picked up the trap with the tongs, which was tricky because they are kind of lopsided, so the trap flipped over and then swung back and forth while I prayed for the mouse to not fall out of it. I then ran-walked to the garbage can out front and prepared to make the deposit. I thought I could just slide the paring knife between the U-bar and the wood trap, prop it open and the mouse would fall out. Great in planning, not so great in execution. Remember the crooked tongs? Well, I wedged in the paring knife, the tongs slipped, the trap swung, and my paring knife was ejected into the garbage can. Ewww.

Options. Throw trap away, become self sufficient and frugal tomorrow. Tempting, but no. Call boyfriend to empty trap. Not an option - he's more squeamish than I am. However, he WILL climb into the garbage can to retrieve my paring knife, so make a note to self to have him do that tomorrow. (yes, I know I should be getting it out myself, but this is different. It's not like I CAN'T get into the garbage can. I don't want to. Besides, it's dark and gross and in a minute there's going to be a dead mouse in there.) Or option number 3, suck it up, use my hands to open the trap and send mousey to his final resting place.

So gross. I kind of compromised. I held the trap with my fingers and then wedged the BBQ tongs into the trap (I don't care if they fall into the garbage - they're lopsided) and shook the trap until the mouse fell in. Yay. I felt strangely accomplished when I got back in the house, rebaited the trap, and scrubbed my hands til my skin came off. Mission accomplished. One mouse down.

Tomorrow is a brand new day.

Canine Adventures

People always write these heart warming, cuddly, sweet stories about their pets. I’m not sure those pets really exist. I think they are fantasies of what pet owners wish their dogs were. For example, the stories of pets running for help when the owner falls or has a heart attack. I’m pretty sure mine would stand around until I quit moving and then they would eat me. Thwarting a burglar? Not likely. Mine would roll over to have their bellies rubbed before hopping in the front seat of the criminals car to go for a ride.

That’s not to say my dogs aren’t loving, or even entertaining. Never mind that I adopt in order to do my small part to help out. Trust me, if they weren’t at least mildly amusing and gave back as much love as they get, I wouldn’t do it. I’m not that selfless. Over the years they have provided countless hours of entertainment, good story fodder, and generally made my life a happier, if hairier, thing to enjoy.

There was the time Truman, my Llasa Apso mix, somehow managed to squeeze through a loose board and get into the neighbors yard. The girls next door came to tell me about it. As I was trying to fish him out from under the lilacs, they told me they thought my other dog was trying to come through, too. So I look and sure enough, there is Fergus, also known as Pugzilla, crammed halfway through the fence. All I could see from this side was his head, with his cheeks pulled back and his eyes bulging out, and his two little tyrannosaurus pug legs wedged through underneath him. When I went back to my side of the fence, there was a great view of his back half, still stuck in the fence. To this day, I kick myself for not taking the time to grab my camera.

Then there was the beautiful summer day when I took the same two for a ride in the car and stopped to get gas. I finish filling up and go to hop back in the car. The door is locked. Huh. I don’t remember locking that. No worries. Reach in my pocket. Crap. There are the keys in the ignition. Great. Summer day, dogs locked in car, window barely cracked. My dogs are going to die and I’m going to jail. Determination wins out over embarrassment and I go into the convenience store to see if they have a hanger. Fortunately the girls there know me and they pillage the coat rack. I confidently start shaping the hanger, trying to make like I know what I’m doing, and go back to my car. This is when I found out that I should be a career criminal. With the dogs watching intently, I manage to slide the hanger through the crack in the window, grab the knob and pull it up, first try out.

Yes! I say to myself, grabbing the door handle. Thunk. What the hell? The door is locked again. Fine. I stick the hanger back in, pull up the knob and just start pulling the hanger out when Truman reaches up and gives the knob “five”. Thunk. Locked again. Are you kidding me?! The people next to me are taking notice. “Ha ha – look how cute they are. Isn’t that funny?” No, people, it is not funny. My dogs are going to start cooking here shortly if I don’t get this door open. “What kind of dog is it?” Yours if you want it, buddy. Eventually, I manage to pop the knob and open the door simultaneously, ending my dogs fun. He was very pleased with himself, and very happy about the strangers who wanted to pet him and tell him what a smart boy he is.

One morning I woke up with no toilet paper. When I went to bed, I had toilet paper. But at some time during the night, Izzy, my Chihuahua, decided my bed was not comfortable enough, and proceeded to shred 3 rolls of toilet paper into little, tiny pieces to make a nest. Have you ever had to do your business with a handful of toilet paper pieces? They stick to you.

I was gardening one day, and was planting some heirloom peas that I had special ordered. I got in about 25 and went to grab the package to get some more. Where’s the packet? Turn this way, turn that way, stand up, check pockets, nothing. I look up to see Izzy running through the yard with my packet of peas, flinging her head back and forth, while my peas fly all over the yard. One hundred peas, less the ones I had removed. I spent the afternoon trying to find as many as I could. The other day a pea started coming up in my asparagus bed. I didn’t put it there. And mine haven’t come up yet.

Same dog, different day. I catch her chewing on a gluestick. She’s eaten half of it. I call the vet – she’s fine. Ten minutes later, she’s eating something else. I take it away – it’s half of a battery operated light up piece of jewelry. The magnet is missing. Call the vet – she’s fine. As I’m on the phone with the vet, the dog comes running through the house with a latex party balloon of questionable design. Where is she getting this stuff???!! It’s not like I have things lying around willy nilly. So I watch her. She goes into my pugs crate, digs around under the mattress, and comes out with a hair clip. Huh. So I go into the crate and remove all the bedding. There underneath the floor padding was Izzy’s stash. It consisted of : a bag of chow mein noodles with a hole in it, 2 hairclips, a pen, a dishtowel, another balloon, a bolt, 3 Q-tips, 4 pieces of pot pourri, and the ear of a stuffed animal. Okay then. Apparently the trunk full of stuffed animals is not enough.

There are many, many things that my dogs have done that have been entertaining, annoying, frustrating or endearing, but not once have they done anything heroic. I think I’m going to have to settle for gross dog kisses any time I sit on the ground and knowing that they love me so much they’ll let me have their favorite toy.

Maybe that’s the moral here: Love someone enough to let them have your favorite toy.

Evil Izzy

I love dogs. I love my dogs, I love other peoples dogs - I really just like dogs in general. So about 10 years ago, I accidentally started adopting senior small breed dogs. Seniors are my favorite. All they do is sleep. Occasionally they will eat, or sit in your lap, or even grab a toy and run a couple of feet before collapsing from exhaustion. But mostly they sleep. The other good thing about seniors is that if you don’t bond with them, or they’re not exactly what you had in mind, it doesn’t really matter, because they’re not going to live that long anyway. I know that sounds horrible, but when you have a deaf, blind dog that ignores you and pees on the floor, it helps to know that it’s not going to last forever.

After burying 10 dogs in about that many years, my friends took pity on me and gave me a pug puppy. I thought if I raised my pug with seniors, then of course he would be calm, and easy going. My vet found that hysterical. After numerous calls to her about my pug destroying my shoes, eating questionable items, chewing a hole in the wall, and in general driving me and everyone else, canine and human, in the house crazy, she suggested I get him a puppy friend. As luck would have it, his father had just been bred to a llasa apso and a few months later, he had a brother. Now I had twice as many horrible, obnoxious creatures that bite my feet when I walk through the grass and pee with excitement when I come home. Great.

Somehow I survived the puppy stage (though numerous shoes did not) and I vowed I would never again have a puppy. My seniors continued to come and go, and my pups grew into halfway manageable, loveable dogs. I had a very bad year, in which 3 of my seniors died within a few weeks of each other. It was expected, since they were all between 15 and 17 years old and had been with me for several years. Right before the 3rd one died, I received a call from the folks I had gotten one of my toy poms from. They had a senior Chihuahua that had been lost and needed a home. Well, I had one lonely senior left, so I said what the heck, and went and got him to be her companion. Five days later, Lucy died and I was left with the Chihuahua.

I don’t like Chihuahuas. I firmly believe they are the epitome of all things evil. Dax, who I call Doodle, changed my mind. He is the sweetest, neediest little creature. He wants to be with me all the time, will lay down and take a nap with me anytime I want, and will joyfully frolic with a toy when I come home from work. He won’t eat unless I’m in the room with him, he tolerates me putting little sweaters on him, and his entire world revolves around me. He lulled me into a false sense of security and made me think Chihuahuas were nice little dogs.

So it’s not surprising that when the same folks called and told me they had a little 14 week old female Chihuahua who had a broken shoulder, worms and the mange, I somehow forgot that I dislike both puppies and Chihuahuas and said , sure, I will take her. Poor little thing.

What I inherited was a 5 pound whirling dervish of teeth and bad attitude. I would try to hug her or pet her or hold her and she would try to dismember me. Anytime I reached for her, she would peel her teeth back from her little puppy fangs and snarl. So, being clever, I bought a muzzle. What didn’t occur to me is that I would actually have to get in range of her mouth to put the muzzle on. What ensued was a 20 minute battle of gnashing teeth, bloodshed, a whole lot of cursing, and at the end of it I had a dog hiding behind the couch with a muzzle wrapped around her back leg. There weren’t enough band aids in the house to tape my hide back together. Then her big girl teeth came in, and her baby teeth didn’t fall out. Now I had a Chihuahua with the mouth of a shark. Of all the dogs that didn’t need a second row of teeth.

I took it to the vet on the pretense of getting its razor sharp talons clipped. What I really wanted to see was how they got a muzzle on her. So I told them she bites, they went and got the muzzle, and I prepared to take notes. I then enjoyed the antics of 2 attendants trying to hold her, with another attempting to muzzle her. In the end, they just got out an elbow length padded glove through which she attempted to ravage them while they clipped her nails. I felt better.

Not a day went by that I didn’t pick up the phone 3 times to call the people who had “gifted” me with Satans spawn to tell them to come and get her. But I am not a quitter. So we continued to hate each other. One night I was watching tv and noticed that at some point she had jumped into my lap and was curled up sound asleep. That was when I discovered I could pet her when she was sleepy. I also discovered that she would do virtually anything for a cookie and took to walking around with the things in my pockets.

Now, after months of bribery, I have a dog who is excited to see me when I come home, loves to sleep with me, only tries to bite me if I take her toy or chewie from her, and spends the evenings curled up in my lap. Admittedly, she torments the senior Chihuahua, takes the Pugs toys, takes everyones bones and hoards them in a pile which she guards ferociously, buries things in my garden, dines from the catbox, and escapes under the fence at every opportunity. She barks insanely at her reflection in the window, pulls all the stuffing out of her babies, shreds rolls of toilet paper, and can’t be trusted alone for 5 minutes. But I think it’s getting better.

Last week she only growled at the vet.

House Rules Through Dog Eyes

How to Get the Most out of Living Here

My dogs

1. Always look slightly desperate and anxious (especially easy if you’re a pug).It will ensure you get to spend as much time outside as possible.

2. If you want to get outside really fast, pretend you’re going to vomit. On the furniture.

3. Any time Mom walks near the cookie jar, run to your crate. She has to give you one then.

4. If Mom asks you if she brought you something delicious from the store, the answer is always yes. Try to act surprised.

5. If you rip the heads off of your stuffed animals, she will sew the holes shut and you’ll get TWO toys back.

6. The vet always gives you a cookie. Don’t let them fool you. It’s a diet cookie. Spit it out.

7. The groomer has better cookies. So do the banks, and the coffee shops. Try to be in the drivers seat with your head out the window before the car stops.

8. Chocolate is delicious! Eat it whenever you can. Then Mom will take you for a ride in the car.

9. Show her what a good guard dog you are by barking maniacally when you hear a doorbell on tv.

10. Stare ravenously at her while she’s eating. Maybe she’ll forget she already fed us.

11. Do the same to guests. They don’t know better.

12. The harness means you’re going somewhere. Run around the house frantically to show your joy until Mom tackles you and puts it on.

13. Act like a heathen whenever company shows up. Mom will give you a cookie and a toy and you get to take a nap in the off-limits bedroom.

14. Howl like you’re being dismembered as soon as you hear her car pull into the driveway. This lets her know how much you missed her and doesn’t disturb the neighbors at all.

15. Pull mom out of a dead sleep by barking hysterically at the cat at three in the morning. It’s fun to see her creep through the house with a baseball bat.

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Dear Marlboro Man,

Ours has been a long love affair. I started sneaking around with you when I was fourteen, because you were cool and intimidating and made my peers think I was an independent, grown up individual. My friends at the time all pretty much liked you, too, and those who didn’t I figured were just jealous, because they weren’t brave enough to hang out with you. You were so versatile – with your help I could express anger, frustration, sultriness, power or disappointment so much better. You helped me be strong and look tough in the face of adversity. You were always such a great support and I really thought you were the greatest thing to ever happen to me. My family didn’t approve of you, but we were young, and of course if they didn’t like you it was just because they didn’t want me to have any fun at all.

Through my early adult years, you were always there to help me through. Several relationships came and went, and they never minded that you were in the picture, always the other man. You stood by me even as they left me. I could always count on you to make me feel better if I was sad, or angry or anxious. If I had a rough day, you were there to pick me up. You helped me make new friends easily – I could always spot a crowd of people I knew I would fit in with because I could tell we already had something in common. You. You were so well connected – it’s amazing how many people know you. And you’re so well loved – we could always start a conversation about you. Imagine how just one common connection could unite so many people. And your friends were so loyal to you – if anyone ever said anything negative, we would always be right there to defend you and tell them what we thought of their opinions. They didn’t know you like we did.

But somehow, after 22 years, you’re starting to get on my nerves. I can’t get a moment alone without you. You have to tag along everywhere I go and if I try to leave home without you I end up running back because I feel you calling me. Urgently. Incessantly. You ruin my vacations – my family still doesn’t like you and I have to sneak away to spend time with you, but they always know where I’ve been and they try not to let me see their disappointment, but I know it’s there. Some of my friends don’t like you anymore and they don’t understand why I still hang around with you. Some of my friends do still like you, and they can’t understand why I’d want to get rid of you. I’m always defending you. You make me go outside with you in the summer when it’s too hot, and in the winter when it’s too cold.

You’re an evil, greedy, controlling son of a bitch. You take my money, you ruin my clothes, you smell bad and I smell bad by association. You commandeer my time; you make me follow your schedule, regardless of my plans. You interfere with my daily activities – you even interrupt me in the middle of movies, making me miss important plot lines because I’m thinking about you. Nothing is sacred to you. You even decreased the value of my car.

Worst of all, you’re a murdering bastard. I know this – everyone knows this. And yet you still walk free. People go with you willingly. You’re the worst sort of serial killer – your victims want to go with you, and even though they know you are going to kill them, they would rather die with you than without you.

I’m leaving you. Oh, make no mistake – I’m going to cry and yell and tell everyone it’s their fault that you’re gone. I’m going to be crabby and I’m going to think about you all the time, but if I got over the other men in my life, you can be damn sure I’ll get over you, too. I know I’m going to think about coming back to you, and while I’m walking out I might even run back for a hug or two, but eventually I’m going to slam that door, and buddy, don’t let it hit you in the ass on the way out.

Bette Davis

I know what you’re thinking. There is nothing funny about having a pet die. For the most part, I would agree with you. I’ve been doing rescue of small, senior dogs for the last 10 years and I have buried almost that many. One nice thing about adopting seniors, if you don’t like them that much, you don’t have to put up with them too long. I have had sweet dogs, crazy dogs, blind and deaf ones, have lost 4 to congestive heart failure – but I have never had a bad dog. Sometimes they don’t bond with you, especially the deaf ones, but seniors are always so grateful and just want to curl up with you. I’ve been fortunate to get to be the forever home for a number of dogs.

One in particular touched us deeply, though she was with us for a very short time. We actually got her from a private rescuer in Los Angeles and brought her back to Idaho. She was a 15 year old Papillon mix named Bette Davis and she was absolutely the sweetest little dog you could ever meet. And she was just as soft as a rabbit. We fell absolutely in love with her.

I tried to take her in to get her teeth worked on, and my vet said we absolutely could not put her under anesthesia. She said her heart was so bad she didn’t think she’d make it through. So we fed her soft food and gave her pain medication for her bad teeth.

Sure enough, within 3 months of coming to live with us, February 14th, 2006 this little angel succumbed to heart failure and we had to help her. At the vets office, they gave us a box to take her home in. We wrapped her in her blanket and put her in her box and tearfully took her home. While my husband dug a place for her in my flower bed, I wrote her name and message on her box, and then took her outside.

I handed the box to my husband, who suddenly started laughing. Frankly, I thought he had snapped. Finally, he was able to show me what he was laughing about. Our vet had given us a box that had held medication of some kind, and stamped across the side in big letters were the words, “BEST BEFORE FEB 2006”.

Of course I called my vet, because we thought it was hysterical. They were a bit mortified, and now they have special boxes to send peoples pets home in. But we will always remember Bette Davis, and how she truly was “Best Before Feb 2006.”

Women - A Tribute


Women are funny creatures. We are sweet and sassy, forgiving and vengeful – all the things you see that go around in all of the sentimental emails. But there is so much more than that. There is a hierarchy among women, an organized system that dictates who you go to when you need help, and for what. For example:

You’ve just been dumped by the love of your life. Who do you call?

Mom will say – He wasn’t good enough for you, these things happen
for a reason

Sister says – I’m sorry. I know you feel bad. It’ll get better with time.

Best Friend says – Do you want me to run the a-hole over with my car?

You call your best friend.

You call your sister or your best friend when you’re trying to give yourself a bikini wax and you chicken out about pulling off the strips and the wax hardens and you have to use the blow dryer to remelt it. We’ll laugh at you – make no mistake, we’ll laugh a lot. But if you really need help, we’ll be there. Laughing. And pointing.

You call your mom when your dog dies. Or your plant dies. Or anything dies. You also call her when you’re sick, you need a recipe, you need a frugal way to do or fix something, or you need to feel special. Or when you’re cranky. Because she has to forgive you – she’s your mother.

You call your best friend when you’re out bra shopping and you suddenly discover that instead of a 36 C, somehow you are now a 44 DD Long.

You call all of the above when, in the middle of the night, suffering from (whisper) vaginal itching, you go to the restroom to apply Vagisil, but it’s late and you don’t turn the lights on and when the burning doesn’t go away you realize with a fair amount of horror that you have applied BenGay instead, and oh dear God, don’t try using a cold washcloth because now it’s icy and burning and…..well, anyway, you tell all of them.

When I was younger, anyone over the age of 30 was a dinosaur. And these old women didn’t have sex, they certainly didn’t have senses of humor, or feelings . They were just old. Suddenly I find myself surrounded by all these wonderful women and they are hysterical. Getting older really is funny.

- As you get older, if you cough, laugh or sneeze you pee your pants. Hysterical.
- If you lay on your back, your breasts become armrests.
- Now that you’re comfortable with your body, no one wants to see it.
- You have to pay a GYN to get anyone to look at your naughty bits.
- Lunch lady bras win out over lace and underwires.

The best thing I ever did for myself was to take a job selling sex toys to women. I would go to their houses and visit and educate women of every age, size, and nationality. Married, single and gay. And it didn’t matter. We were all the same, we all had the same concerns, the same experiences (some of us more experienced than others) and we could all laugh about it. The best women at those parties were the older ones. I remember doing a bachelorette party for a gal in her early 20’s whose mother, mother-in-law to be and grandmother were all present. Throughout the night, regardless of the topic, the grandmother kept nodding and saying “Yep. That’s right. Don’t do it that way.” Both the mothers and daughter were equally horrified. She made my night. I can’t wait until I’m an old woman.

The Cougar Revolution - A commentary

I’m not sure who started this “Cougar” thing, but all I have to say is Hoo-rah! It’s about time. Putting aside all the feminist stuff about how men have been doing it for years, there’s a lot of reasons that this makes sense to me. While “dating” a much younger man may seem a bit distasteful, it’s not illegal. And since my moral compass doesn’t always point strictly north, I will point out why this works.

First of all I would like to say that if you’re a 30 something or older and are looking for someone to marry and have 2.5 kids with, this is not for you. Keep looking for prince charming. If you’ve already married prince charming (like me…a couple of times) and he keeps turning into a toad and you’ve decided to stay single, keep reading.

Nature herself says this is a good idea. Women blossom in their 30’s. We become comfortable with ourselves and our bodies. Our urges kick in. While our fires are being stoked, men our age are starting to bank the embers. Men in their late teens and early twenties, however, are coming into their own. Consider the following:

- Men in their 30’s and 40’s still talk a good game. Heck, some of them even still play a good game. But it usually includes a lot of false starts, foul plays and time outs.

- Ever wanted to have whipped cream licked off every inch of you? Men our age are watching their cholesterol. The 20 year old will be at your doorstep in 5 minutes with every ice cream topping ever invented.

- Do your breasts point south and you have more dimples on your rear than your face? Never fear. As one 18 year old said “If I’m lucky enough to get to see them and touch them, I’m sure not going to criticize them!”

- There’s a difference between stiff and rigor mortis. Guess which one you get when you mix Viagra and Nitro?

- You don’t have to cook for the younger man. Throw a pizza at him once in a while to keep his strength up. He also doesn’t care if your house is clean. Hell, you have a house. That’s impressive enough.

- A young man is grateful. For anything. You’ll find him taking out the trash, painting walls and mowing the lawn. Sometimes you don’t even have to ask. Don’t think of it as prostitution….it’s more like a reward system.

- Older women know stuff. More importantly, we’re willing to do that stuff.

Where to meet one:
You could go down to the local college, tie a bottle of beer to some fishing line, cast it out and see what you reel in. You may have to throw a few back before you find a keeper, and the authorities might frown on this approach. Or try Date A

There are few things to keep in mind when “dating” a younger man:

- Candlelight is your friend. Embrace it. Use it. We all look good in candlelight.

- Make sure he doesn’t live next door. With his parents. In fact, make sure that there is no chance you will ever actually have to look his mother in the eye.

- For Gods sake, do not fall in love with him. He’s going to move on eventually. You’re not going to get any younger, you know.

- Card him. You might want to see his birth certificate, too. And keep copies. How embarrassing to have to explain to the PTA board that you’re on the sexual predator list because your 20 year old fling turned out to be 17. Not to mention having to turn your lights off on Halloween.

- As much as you might like to, don’t take him around to show him off to your friends. That only works for Demi Moore.

This phenomenon is not isolated to women in their 30’s and 40’s. A few years after my grandfather passed away, this conversation took place between my mother and my 70 year old grandmother.

“So, Mom, have you thought about starting to date again?”

“No, not really. All the men my age are so old. I think I’m just going to be a coyote.”

“Do you mean a cougar, Mom?”

“Yes, that. I’m going to be a cougar.”

You go, Gran.

Take your Vitamins

I love my mother. I really do. But she has an unnatural obsession with vitamins. Are you having a bad day? Take your vitamins. Your hair won’t curl? Are you taking your vitamins? Chop your leg off with the lawnmower? Take your vitamins, you’ll be fine.

My mother’s goal in life is to make sure her children are not mineral deficient. You see, everything that is wrong with your life can be chalked up to being low on B or iron.

“How are you today, honey?”
“I’m fine. A little tired. I didn’t get home from work until 11pm and then I had to let the dogs play for awhile and then get back up at 4am for work.”
“Are you taking your vitamins?”
“No, Mom.”
“I bet that’s why you’re tired.”
“No, Mom, I’m pretty sure I’m tired because I only got 3 hours of sleep.”
“Take your vitamins anyway. You’re probably low on B. And iron.”
“Ok, Mom.”
“Are you going to take your vitamins?”
“Yes, Mom.”
“You promise?”
(this will go on for several repetitions)
“Ok, Mom, gotta go.”

Sometimes I lie. It’s easier. I suppose it wouldn’t be that hard to make my mother happy and just take the damn vitamins. But have you ever tasted B? Two hours later it still tastes like a cat peed in your mouth. And washing it down with something doesn’t help. It just ruins the flavor of whatever you drank.

In a desperate attempt to prevent my hair and teeth from falling out, my skin from peeling off, and my organs from shriveling up, my mother finally sent me a bottle of Flintstones chewables. Admittedly, I take them religiously, in spite of the vitamins they contain, because they remind me of being a kid.

After being put on a diuretic I was experiencing muscle fatigue, to the point that my tongue would get tired when I ate. Seriously. So I called my doctor and let her know. She asked if I was taking a multi-vitamin. I said I was. She asked what kind. I said Flintstones chewables. She was quiet for a moment. Then she says, I think it’s time you start taking a big girl vitamin. You need potassium, and I’m sure you’re low on B.”

My mother got to her, too.

The Vacuum

No one has ever disliked an inanimate object as much as I dislike my vacuum. I left for work one day, carefree and happy, knowing that I had a perfectly functioning, relatively new, light and manageable vacuum sitting in its special closet. I should have known that all was not right when I drove home that evening and saw the black clouds of doom hanging over my house.

Upon entering, I found my husband and his friend huddled around an unseen object, oohing and aahing. I’m not quite sure what I thought they were up to, but I was sure it wasn’t anything good. Then they noticed my presence and as they stepped away, I saw the item that was to become my nemesis and the bane of my existence. The Vacuum.

I call it Vlad. Like Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad the Destroyer. It may not have killed as many people as the original Vlad, but I’m convinced it’s not from a lack of desire. This monstrosity is made of steel. Steel, people! Who needs a vacuum made of steel?! It weighs at least 50lbs, and you cannot move it if it isn’t in “auto” mode – much like my lawnmower. It comes with no fewer than 127 attachments, requires two people to transport it from room to room in its off position, and sounds like a 747 is landing on my roof.

All of this is bad enough, but do you know how much this 50 lb dust-sucker cost? Twelve hundred dollars!!! That’s a dozen hundred dollars. I don’t care if it can suck skin cells out of upholstery or realign the gravitational pull of the moon – twelve hundred dollars! I was still paying for this thing 3 months after I divorced my husband (which didn’t have anything to do with the vacuum, but it didn’t help). To add insult to injury, the door to door machine peddlers took my poor unsuspecting $50 Walmart Special vacuum as an “exchange”. Heaven only knows what happened to her.

My husband assured me this was a dream machine. Look! It comes with a sanding attachment. Ok, so I can drag my vacuum to my backyard and sand the fence. Goody. Well, what about the massage attachment? Really? When was the last time you sat down to get a romantic vacuum massage from your spouse? For the record, I was willing to give that one a shot, but it never happened. But my absolute favorite was the dog grooming attachment.

Imagine setting your unsuspecting, trusting, sweet little pug up on a table, giving him a cookie, and then suddenly flipping the switch and lunging at him with what looks like a giant anaconda that is trying to suck his hair right out of its follicles while you’re screaming assurances at him over the sound of a turbine jet engine. He should have been able to hear me considering that the vacuum had sucked all of his face wrinkles and ears to the back of his head, but the terrified look in his bulging little eyes told me differently.

Pugs are not graceful creatures under the best of circumstances. Mine is a 36lb pug that looks like a manatee and has to take 3 running starts just to get on the recliner. Somehow, though, he did manage to scrabble frantically off the table and up to my shoulders using my shirt and a fair amount of my skin and muscle tissue as a ladder. Mind you, the vacuum was still stuck to the back of his head, giving him a hickey. Somehow I managed to kick off the vacuum and rescue my dog without further injury to either party. He and I both still bear the emotional and physical scars.

I’ve never tried it on another dog, and the Chihuahuas weren’t even present for the Incident, but I’m sure the pug told them. I will occasionally find all three of them sitting in front of Vlads closet, staring. Sometimes, just for fun, I will crack open the door of the closet just to let them see it. If you can’t handle the sound of Chihuahuas barking frantically for 20 minutes, this game is not for you.

Changing a tire

This particular incident occurred about a year ago and I had written it down at that time to entertain my fathers. Here is my ordeal for your reading pleasure.

So, I had fun yesterday. I got home from work and (thank goodness) went to drag the trash cans up from the curb (usually they sit there for a day or two, but it was raining and they left the can open). Well, as I'm walking back up I see my back tire is flat. As a pancake. Now, it must have happened near the house, because I would have heard it on the freeway or Meridian road. So, I run in, let the dogs out and call Craft to let them know I'll be late. Then I drag out the hydraulic jack. Huh. Up, down, up, down, nothing's happening, up, down, up, down, call Jim. Twist little black thingie, up, down, hey - something's happening. Right on. Crawl under car - jack won't fix under main support. Say bad word. Crawl back out from under car, crack head on car frame, say several bad words. Jim points out I've learned the finer points of car repair. Jim is not helpful. I would like to point out at this time that I had enough knowledge to get the spare (inflated, even) out of trunk, pull off tire cover and loosen the lug nuts before trying to jack up car and without calling my father. Get jack under side frame of car, pray it won't break off and start jacking. Up, down, up, down, hear a creak, say bad word, start praying, up, down, up, down, I think tire's off the ground. Nope, tire's not off the ground. Up, down, up, down. Now? Nope, still won't move. Insert bad word.
Up, down - I know this *%&#@! tire is not on the ground. Jim says kick it.
Nothing happens, but I feel better. Wiggle, wiggle, hand slips off tire, whack knuckles on wheel well, say bad word. Repeatedly. Kick tire again for good measure. Wearing wrong shoes for that. Another bad word. Tire mysteriously comes loose. Excellent. Rip it off car, chuck it into yard to show it who's boss. One lugnut, two lugnuts, three lugnuts....where the *$%@ is the other lugnut?! Sonofabitch, it was in the tire rim I just chucked into the yard. More bad words. Mothers usher their children into the house. Find 4th lugnut. Put doughnut on car. Happy. Crate dogs, wash hands, change shirt, run out of house, and haul ass at 30 miles an hour all the way to Meridian...... Definite plus, I got to hold up the school buses for a change. Make it to Schwabbies without anyone shooting me. Stagger in, tell the really cute guy at the counter I have a flat and need it fixed. Smile and bat eyes. He asks, did you change it yourself? I say (rather proud of myself) Why, yes I did. More smiling and eye batting.....moments pass...self doubt sets in....Why do you ask? I say. You might want to look in the mirror, he says. In bathroom, I gaze into the mirror at the 3 fingered black streak of tire grime that goes from my chin all the way up the side of my face to my forehead. And the smudge on the end of my nose.....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Challenge number one - Mice.

About a month ago my cat, Turtle, began a diligent watch at the heater register in my dining room. I immediately knew it must be a mouse. No biggie though, because obviously the cat was on the job. I have since decided my cat is useless.

Saw the mouse in the pantry one afternoon. Handled myself relatively well. Went to grab a box to catch it in, because I didn't want to kill the poor little scared thing. Got back to the pantry and discovered the mouse didn't wait around for me. For some reason it didn't occur to me that it would leave. Well, must have scared it off. Went and got some of those sticky traps that the mice are supposed to stick to, and then you just carry the tray out and throw it in the garbage. I didn't want to dwell too much on picking up the tray with a live mouse and carrying it out where it would starve to death in the garbage can. So I didn't.

A couple of weeks went by and no mouse signs. Thought it must have thought better of tangling with me and my glue traps. Then this last weekend I opened the pantry and lo and behold - mouse signs everywhere! Gross. I cleaned out the pantry, wiped everything down, threw away everything that was open. I would like to point out that there were perfect little mouse prints in the glue traps. While I did this my chihuahua was going nuts over a box on the bottom shelf. Aha! There must be mice in there. Who knew chihuahuas were better mousers than cats? This time, I'm going to be smart. I took the box outside and opened it. Sure enough a mouse leaps out and runs across the yard. So I start to remove the items from the box and ANOTHER mouse jumps out. Yikes. Please don't let there be babies.....No babies. Whew! Run free little mice!

I figured the mice were gone, all is well. Nevermind my boyfriend saying "Why didn't you take them out to the field and release them? They're just going to come back in." Notice I didn't see him catching the mice. Sure enough, much to my chagrin, I open the door to my clean pantry yesterday and the mice are back. Ugh. All right, I am sick and tired of removing everything and cleaning it, so these suckers need to die. Went out and got the snapping traps.

The directions say something like this "Place the bait on the bait bar, pull back the U bar and place the holding rod under the U shaped pin on the bait bar". WHAT?! Which end does the bait go on? Where are the pictures? Which one is the holding bar? How do I avoid smashing my fingers? My engineer father is cringing right now, I know. God bless EHOW. If you ever need to know something, check there. I realize that using the internet isn't exactly self reliant, but it's better than a phone call. Besides, I'm visual. I needed pictures.

Ta-Da! Set the trap. Actually, I set four of them, baited with peanut butter. And I didn't smash my fingers even once! I'm so proud. All night long I jumped at every little noise and ran for the pantry. Nothing. I tossed fitfully all night, imagining the carnage I was going to find in the morning. I jumped up at 6am, grabbed the trash can and gloves and flung open the pantry door. Trap number 1 - empty. Ditto traps 2 and 3. Trap number 4 was super empty - no mouse, no bait. Crap. I have Houdini the death-defying mouse in my pantry. And now he's snoozing somewhere with a belly full of my good peanut butter.

I can do it.....I think

There is nothing better than being able to entertain your friends and family by falling flat on your face. Maybe it's not the failing itself - I don't ALWAYS fail in my attempts. It's how you get there. My goal is to learn how to do things for myself. I have always had my father, my boyfriend, my husband, or the yellow pages to fix things for me. Every year, I save up all my "man chores" and put them on a Daddy-do list, so that when my poor unsuspecting fathers come to see me, I can make sure they are not bored while they visit. Of course, they are no longer unsuspecting....I think maybe that's why they're not coming to visit this summer.

Yes, I know that repairmen need work, boyfriends like to feel useful, and fathers will always come to the rescue, either in person or by phone. But once in a while I would like to be able to look around my home and say, "I built that. I fixed that. I grew that."

With that in mind and with spring rapidly approaching, I have decided to take on some challenges. This year I am expanding my garden and changing from row gardening to square foot gardening. I will need to create and build my own beds. I am also going to attempt (again) to grow some of my plants from seed. This has not turned out well in the past, but you know what they say about try, try again. Once my garden is producing its bounty, I am going to attempt canning and drying. Yes, I know I've been planning to do this for years, but I have an irrational fear of poisoning people. Actually, it's probably not that irrational. But supposedly people do this all the time and live to tell about it, and really, knowing how to raise and preserve your own food is a good idea. There are the practical, money saving, self reliant reasons, and my own personal reason - the jars look pretty in the pantry.

Mostly, as the title of my blog says, my heart longs for the country but my finances require an urban setting. Eventually, I would like a little place in the country. In order to do that, I need to learn how to fend for myself. If nothing else, I figure this should provide my family and friends with endless hours of entertainment.