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Saturday, September 07, 2019

Dennis the Menace, High Fever Season and #Gardengeeking


First, for those of my buddies in Atlantic Canada - stay safe - don't take chances, Dorian is nothing to mess around with. Ping us to keep us updated on facebook if you can.

For those of you not in it's path and who want to help, you can donate to help those in the Bahamas by searching for 'Bahamas-help' and sticking to websites ending in .org or .gov. (Like https://donate.unicefusa.org)

And...on to my regularly scheduled blog...

I heard a quiet sort of gnawing sound coming from the leg of my kitchen table that’s been in the family for about a hundred years. I look past my salmon and rice and broccoli and see Duke, AKA Dennis the Menace, CHEWING my table leg.

I have no words.

Why is he doing this now? Why the table leg? What could he possibly get out of chewing varnished wood? Why is he staring at me while he chews? Does he WANT me to scream at him? WHAT IS THIS DOG’S PROBLEM!?!?

I have mostly resolved his other favorite game, you know, that complicated ‘Terrorize Toby’ game where he chases my poor old man around the house and nips at his back legs. So, thank you water bottle. I don’t even have to spray him anymore, I just wave it in front of him and he backs off.

Anyway, we’re all managing and Toby’s done his cold laser therapy so, there’s that silver lining.

My two and a half year old was sick this week, and I got to call in sick to my second day of work at my new job, which I was reluctant to do. He had a mild fever, around 100 when I picked him up from school on Thursday and it stayed around a 100 in the morning. I scheduled a doctor appointment just in case and it’s good I did because the doctor confirmed an ear infection and that night he spiked a fever of 105. I kid you not.

One. Hundred. And. Five. My five year old was crying because I wasn’t staying with her until she fell asleep and my two year old is burning up with a fever so high I have concerns, valid concerns, about his brain overheating.

I stripped the sheets from him to cool him down, Tylenol, Advil, cold compresses and prayers and 45 minutes later he was down to 101. Scariest 45 minutes of my life, at least since the last time he had a high fever/ran into a parking lot/banged his head on the window/tripped over a toy and bumped his head/stuck his fingers in a strange dog’s mouth…I digress. 

Little guy is down to a 98.6 all day today and acting like his normal self. He bounces back so quick it could give you whiplash, thank goodness.

And now to the point of this whole blog…getting the garden ready for fall!

In Texas our seasons are reversed and NOW is the time to clean out what has died during our drought of a summer and plan for the new year!

Oh the wonderful feeling of a fresh, clean garden with new topsoil mixed lovingly with compost, all my drip lines arranged and buried, ahhh what satisfaction! #gardengeek. 

Weirdly my Basil is propagating and loving the heat - way past their expiration date - other than that and some roses and blueberry bushes and of course my old-man Oregano patch that's been there since we moved here, the garden is bare and waiting to be filled! We’re planting radishes and beets in a week, then lima beans and peas. It. Is. Going. To. Be. Awesome!



My daughter and I planted pumpkin seeds today, and she asked me, “Am I gardening!?”

And I laughed and said, “Yes!”

She grinned, and I grinned, and I realized another wonderful plus to being a gardener, your kids get to play in the dirt with you. How fun is that?

Hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. Alfred Austin 



Wednesday, August 28, 2019

THIS IS MY LIFE NOW! Or, Change Your Life, Change the World.


Welcome to the first installment of ‘this is my life now’!

I’ll run this whenever I stop and realize my life is once again a rollicking comedy of errors. So, at least once a month.

This month I’ve been training for a new job, working at a church preschool. The hours are perfect; I’m at work while Ellie is at school. All our days off will be the same and no need to worry about summer care. I'm living the dream folks.

Alright and I just have to say, I am really enjoying all the adulting. I show up twenty minutes early as per my usual overachiever routine and it takes me that long to get to the classroom because I stop to talk to everyone I see on the way in. 

Those. Poor. People. They are so, so sweet. (At least to my face ha ha)

I just gab and gab and GAB. It’s like all the words I haven’t said in the last five years home alone with the kids have been stored away in my jawbone somewhere and it has all just come spewing out like hot lava from a raging volcano. 

Again, condolences to my new co-workers…

But oh, the BLISS of a conversation that doesn’t involve why we shouldn’t eat our own boogers and why it isn’t okay to pick up the dogs poop with our bare hands. 

So nice!

I've been decorating the classroom, filling the ‘manipulatives’ bin, putting up the ‘Mat Man’ – learning a whole new vernacular, FUN, FUN, FUN!

Not to mention playing with the toys while I clean and organize them. I cleared out a twelve-foot tall cabinet crammed full of books going every which way yesterday. I took them all out and organized them by author, theme, and size. Oh my little ‘ole heart was SO FULL IT ALMOST BURST! So satisfying.

Do I feel immense and inconsolable guilt about leaving Benji in someone else’s care all day while he’s still so little? Yes. Did he walk into the classroom and forget to say goodbye today because he’s totally fine and loving it? Yes. 

Did I get offered a second part time job at their school too? Yes. Did I take it? 

I get paid to hang out with babies and my own kids all day? Where’s the dotted line to sign, lady!?

So, we all know I just adopted a shelter dog a few weeks ago, add to that two new part time jobs (plus the kids yoga classes on Sunday mornings) and the following was bound to happen:

I took out salmon to eat last night for dinner but it didn’t thaw in time (thank you only getting home at 3pm because of Toby’s laser therapy). 

Oh yes. Toby’s herniated disks. Let’s throw that into the mix plus two new medications to give him to keep track of. (We're having fun now my friends).

Back to the salmon. It did not thaw in two hours, surprise, surprise. I could risk it but there’s no rice because I haven’t had time to get more. I switch to leftover chicken and potatoes, proud of my multitasking, resourceful ways. I open the Tupperware of chicken and potatoes and Benji calls from the bathroom. Mommy...mooooommmmyyyy!

He’s done number two and needs help. (Wheee).

As I go into the bathroom he drops his flashlight into the poopy toilet water. I have plastic gloves nearby, something I’m proud I remembered to do last time I was cleaning. So I quickly snap on the gloves, fish out the flashlight and put it in the garbage (no amount of bleach on earth is going to save that thing now). 

I clean up Benji, console him (He’s in hysterics over the lost flashlight and wants to go get another one RIGHT NOW.) Once he realizes I’m not going to the store RIGHT NOW, he calms down and we go into the living room in time to see Duke, on top of the kitchen counter island, lapping up the chicken.

“DUKE! DOWN RIGHT NOW!” 

Duke whips his little Chihuahua head up so fast and the look on his face is so surprised I burst out laughing. He leaps gracefully like a hundred tigers are in his genome and lands softly on the floor. Then he gives me the 'what?' look and nonchalantly licks his paw.

I’m agape. And out of supper options.

I order in sushi and call it a day. I’m not proud anymore about having it all together but…we’re fed and clean and everyone has poo'd and what more can a mom ask?

I changed my life by going back to work and mostly I love the crunch, the speed, the need to organize suppers and lunches and clothes in advance. I needed this. We needed this. And who knows, maybe I'll spark a love of learning in those little hearts that last a lifetime. You can't put a price tag on that.  

If your life changes, we can change the world, too. Yoko Ono


Thursday, August 08, 2019

That Chihuahua Lady or, Apologizing to Twelve Year Old Me



That Chihuahua Lady. This is what I will henceforth be known as. 

When you have one Chihuahua mix you can say, well, he was small and I was in an apartment and people go, oh, okay, well that makes sense. (Because what kind of wimp in their right mind WANTS a shivering little cat-dog?) But when you have two…the gig is up.

How did this happen you may ask. Recently I signed up to do short term fostering with the Montgomery County Animal Shelter. Duke was my first foster. I don’t know if it was the worried look in my eye (how big will the dog be?) or the two tiny toddlers I had behind me, sniffling and clutching my thighs in an effort to keep me as close to them as possible.  Maybe it was the crazy short hair or the ‘BETO’ t-shirt I was wearing.

Whatever it was, the young woman showing me the short term fosters cocked her head to the side and veered away from the door we were going to go through and down the hall to the ‘new intake’ room. A few seconds later she came out with the most pathetic looking ball of tan fur I’d ever laid eyes on. He was all brown eyes and tiny cat paws and shaking all over.

Inside I was like…another tiny, timid little dog, just what I need. But outside I was like..’ohmygosh he’s so sweet yes, we’ll foster this guy!’ Sometimes I’m a mystery even to myself.

So the next day we go back to get the little guy, to foster, you understand, and as soon as I got him in my hands he sighed, leaned up against my chest and laid his head around the curve of my neck, just like Toby did eleven years ago.

Guys, I didn’t even make it to the van and I turned around and snagged the nearest worker and said, no. No, he’s mine, and he’s coming home with me forever. Today. Now.

And they said…no.

Inside I cried like a baby girl but you know I’m a big girl on the outside so after pleading and begging like a full grown TODDLER I relented. We came back the next day and the rest is history.

Two things happened when we got him home. One – during a full out tantrum where Benji is kicking and screaming way too close to the hot stove where I’m cooking spaghetti, Duke, just with us for twelve hours at this point, walked right over and sat next to him and let him pet him in that rough, I-can’t-watch way a two year old does.

And then he laid down on Benji’s tummy and Benji calmed down instantly. 

Two - he's only two but his favorite thing to do is hang out on the couch and watch movies with us, or hang out on the patio watching the 'bigger dogs '- my two kids - run around on their new ATV's like crazy people in 100 degree heat. Sigh. He's perfect. So. I’m going to man up and admit what I am…That Chihuahua Lady. 

Da, forgive me. Twelve year old me who imagined a house full of tame wolves and Huskies and Great Danes and Golden Retrievers, to you most of all I offer my humblest and sincerest apologies. But hey we still eat ice cream for dinner sometimes so...there's that.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Magnum 357's and Other Things I Talk about Now


“Does the gun bother you? Really?”
Asks my incredulous UBER driver about the 357 magnum she has in the driver’s console. I stare at the hard gray plastic, envisioning the gun resting inside.
Safety on? Maybe. Loaded? Definitely.
I look back up at her, age indeterminate but based on the amount of gray in her hair and the desert sand cracks in her face I’m guessing she’s a hard living fifty-five.
“That depends,” I say. “How often do you practice?”
“Practice?”
“Yeah, at the gun range. How often do you practice?”
“Well I’ll tell you the last few times I went I shot, you know, not right at the head per say but the guy there told me he’d be dead for sure. Ah, not that, I mean, I’m a good Christian woman I wouldn’t want to kill anyone.”
“So, you’ve been at the range in the last month?”
Silence.
“The last two or three months?”
“If I want to hit the target I will,” she says with that steely defiance of a woman with her guard up. She won’t meet my eyes in the rearview mirror anymore.
Based on the rainbow band on her sun visor holding in the tickets to an old Lady Ga Ga concert ticket, and based on the length of her hair, shorter than my father who is bald, I’m assuming she’s gay. She confirms it later when she talks about her partner, Doris. Being gay in Texas, that earns some respect. It takes guts to be gay in Texas.
I soften my approach.
“Here’s my only problem,” I say, and I launch into my ‘I-grew-up-with-guns’ speech that always puts gun carriers at ease and lets them know I’m not judging.
“My only problem is that people carry around these loaded guns and never practice. And never practice the way police practice in the academy, simulating real-world situations where your adrenaline is going at least a little. If you’re going to carry a gun, you should be at the range at least once a month. And certainly not…never.”
She nods. She sees my point. We move to safer ground, the pros and cons of UBER verses Lyft.
            So, to her question, did I feel unsafe? No, not really. If she really needed that gun she probably wouldn’t have time to open the console to get it, and even if she did, she’s more likely to shoot herself in the foot than anyone around her. Not that she didn’t seem capable, but if you aren’t practicing it, and you never know what it’s like to have to fire when your nervous system is in panic mode, odds are you’re going to be wildly ineffective.
            The problem isn’t nice old gay ladies with magnum 357’s who drive strangers around town for a living. The problem is the culture that tries to sell her safety lies in the barrel of a gun. It doesn’t. Period. 
            In any case we spent the rest of the time having a lively and hilarious discussion about a question brought up by a book I just read ‘What do we need men for?’ by E. Jean Carroll. After all, I’ve always found what links us together far more fun then what divides us, eh? That isn’t just the Canadian in me, that’s the human in me. I gave her a good tip and jumped out at my destination, a steakhouse in Hughes Landing. What a semi-vegetarian is doing at an expensive Texas steakhouse is for another time okay? No one has time to read more than four hundred words at a time.