Monthly Archives: May 2013

An unexpected guest

I haven’t been getting much sleep lately for a variety of reasons, some of them unknown even to me. I had a plan, though: Gabe was away, I was going to go home, do my chores, then relax and get to sleep early. That’s how I came to be sitting in bed at 9:30 on a Tuesday night, reading a book and winding down for the day when something flew up the stairs, into my room, past my head, followed closely by two speeding cats. I looked over to see Toki and Evie attentively staring at the window next to me. I followed their Serious gazes to a wild bird that was perched on the sill, watching me, looking worried.

It was like this. I'm reading, thing whizzes by, cats follow.

It was like this. I’m reading, thing whizzes by, cats follow.

WTH?

Sighing, I crept out of bed, told the cats their game was over, then calmly walked to the laundry basket, dumped out the dirty clothes and tried to trap the bird. It sort of worked but I couldn’t get a seal around both the window frame and the blinds so the bird squirmed out and flew to the shelves.

This is not as easy as I'd hoped.

This is not as easy as I’d hoped.

The cats, their eyes still large and psychotic, leapt to the bed and watched our feathered new friend with malice-aforethought. I quickly got the basket around the bird again and slid it from the shelf to the wall but didn’t have anything big enough to create a sixth side for this make-do cage. I could, however, get the bird to the bathroom door, which I did via more soft sliding.

Scooooootching the bird to the bathroom door.

Scooooootching the bird to the bathroom door.

I opened the door, kicked at the cats to keep them out, then did this amazing magic trick that resulted with me-n-the-bird in the bathroom (it’s like “Clue” only I’m no General Mustard) and the cats stuck in the bedroom.
T&E were yowling and reaching under the door, begging for their toy back, the one they’d undoubtedly brought in sometime during the afternoon and left for dead which actually means it was Evie because Toki would have eaten its brains. I planned to use Door #2 to make our escape but, first, I had to catch the bird.

Now...to just catch the bird again. *sigh*

Now…to just catch the bird again. *sigh*

Situation: I’ve got a outdoor bird flying around the bathroom at 9:45 pm. 

It fluttered around for awhile then landed on top of the linen closet. Of course. Because that’s what birds do. That meant I needed to fetch the stepstool and even that didn’t help because I couldn’t really see up there, but I could point my camera, which I’d also retrieved.

Meet Towhee. Towhee likes to hang out with the birds which are sometimes rubber duckies. Also, Towhee likes to pose for the camera because he’s kind of a ham.

The camera is shiny and the bird was intrigued so started hamming it up. Seriously, bird? You’re beat-up and tail-busted and you’re posing for pictures? This is how you’re going to spend your evening in captivity?

Towhee on rubber duck

Wow. Towhee’s got a good sense of humor. This is actually pretty funny.
And, yes, I know it’s dusty up there. That’s 6+ feet off the ground. I can’t reach up there and I don’t care if it’s clean or not. Don’t judge me or, if you do, come over and clean it for me and then shut up about it.

I shooed it off the linen closet and it fluttered to the ground then ran to the corner between the door and the tub and BAM! There’s Toki’s little paw, groping and hoping. I smacked his hand, put the laundry basket gently over the fugitive and urged it onto the rug, then slowly turned the basket right side up so that the bird had to walk from the rug to the basket side to the basket bottom and the rug became a lid.

Problem solved. Except for Toki who is trying to grab the rug and pull Towhee back out under the door to play with. And eat.

Towhee is not worried…much.

Once the bird was secure, I opened Door #2, ran downstairs to open the back door then ran back upstairs and grabbed the basket and we all – the bird in the basket,  Daisy, and I – walked out into the night. I uncovered the basket and the bird…it did nothing. It wasn’t stunned any more but it also wasn’t leaving. It just sat in my laundry basket, staring at me. I said kind things to it, told it I hope it had learned a valuable lesson, gently encouraged it to try its wings and then finally gave the basket a small shake and yelled, “GO, ALREADY!” The bird hopped, skipped, and flew away from me and out into the night air where it promptly smacked into the side of the shed then slid down into the raspberry canes. I rolled my eyes, hoped the skunk wasn’t around, and watched it hop around the side of the shed, climb a tree and sit there. I bid it farewell, wished it luck, and went back inside.
Poor bird.
Poor me.
Poor cats.
Daisy thought it was all good fun, though.

All's well that ends well. Or so says that dead English dude.

All’s well that ends well. Or so says that dead English dude.

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Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, My Dearly Beloveds

House of the Dying Dog

Gabe never got to have a pet as a kid because he was abused. Obviously.  As a result, he’s always wanted dogs, lots of big dogs. After we bought our house, we decided it was time to add to our family. We started out small with Toki and Evie but after awhile, he started making noise about getting a dog and his need for a canine companion was made greater when the neighbors got a ridiculously cute and fluffy Great Pyrenees puppy, the runt of the litter. Her name was Cassidy Jasmine. I called her CJ. Gabe tried to steal her and she obliged by regularly digging under the fence and squeezing through the hole to play at our house.

When Cassidy was almost 2-years-old, sad things happened to our neighbors and they had to move away. The worst part was that they couldn’t take Cassidy with so asked if she could live with us since she had grown up next door and it wouldn’t be a big change in her life.  We were pretty sure we could afford her so we accepted. Gabe re-named her Kassidy (because the K is far more impressive than a C) and we had a dog of our own! Kassidy did well with us as long as she was at home or in the car. We found out quickly, though, that she didn’t like to go on walks; she was shy and unsure of other people, other dogs, new situations. We took her to Pet Smart once and found out that she didn’t walk on slippery floors, no tile, no laminate, not even wood. It was carpet or earth for her.

Kassidy enjoying a lovely summer afternoon far away from hard, slippy surfaces.

Kassidy enjoying a lovely summer afternoon far away from hard, slippy surfaces.

One night, she got sprayed between the eyes, point-blank, by a skunk and that is why we found out she was sick. She started pooping blood and vomiting shortly thereafter so we took her to the vet who thought she’d contracted leptospirosis from said skunk. Guess what? It’s highly contagious and can be spread to humans so Kass was quarantined at the vet’s which was awful since she hated being away from home. They ran tests and found it wasn’t leptospirosis; it was Addison’s disease. Her adrenal glands had never been up to par and slowly fell apart each time we took her on a new adventure. We were killing our dog by doing things people do with dogs. Of course, we felt terrible and had many realizations in hindsight. Getting sprayed had simply been the last stressful straw and her kidneys that had been taking the brunt of her adrenal failure, failed, themselves.

This is how we kill dogs.

This is how we kill dogs.

More killing of the dog. At least she had fun while we were inadvertently murdering her.

More killing of the dog. At least she had fun while we were inadvertently murdering her.

She lasted only a few months after that. She had to visit the vet three more times and each time, the vet told us to say our goodbyes but twice, she called us the next day and told us to come get her; she’d survived the night and could go home. The girl had fighting spirit; she just wanted to be with her family. That third time, though, she didn’t come back to us. Toki was devastated, they’d always been close, and Gabe said he couldn’t face having another dog. In my pragmatic way, I felt we weren’t suited for another dog, anyhow. Gabe had lost his job plus he’d been awful at keeping the dog poop picked up. We needed to mature a bit before we would be able to do that again.

This was after the second trip back from the vet. She was so small and weak but she really REALLY wanted to be home so she lived through the night and came back home with us.

This was after the second trip back from the vet. She was so small and weak but she really REALLY wanted to be home so she lived through the night and came back home with us.

Fast forward to last year. One of our big-hearted couple-friends had lost two dogs in a relatively short time span. They still had two dogs left – Daisy and Abby, both rescue dogs who hated each other – but decided to try to fill the hole by getting a puppy. While he’s an adorable little monster and was able to rearrange the remaining pack to his liking, Daisy was miserable. She already hated Abby and now there was this new punk on the block. She grew despondent and spent most of her time sullenly guarding her food bowl.

Because our friends are good, caring people, they realized something had to give. They also remembered that we freaking LOVED Daisy so they told us that if we were interested, they would let us give her the single-dog home she wanted. She was good with cats, she’s on the medium-small side so would fit in the house with no problems and she’s cuter than anything. While we couldn’t really afford a dog, it killed us to think of her suffering, miserable and full of emotional trauma because her food bowl might be attacked at any minute. We said we wanted her and she came to live with us last September.

"Please, sir, may I have more?"

“Please, sir, may I have more?”

Daisy May is a sweetheart and I am awfully glad she became part of our family. She and Evie are best buds, they have their girl time together, but otherwise, she’s sort of shy and is ridiculously submissive. Her first week with us was hard; she jumped at everything and her tail was always between her legs. She eventually became more confident and comfortable and that’s when we decided it was time for her first vet visit. The vet told us her shyness, submissive attitude, and unsure behavior may be a result of having been neglected as a puppy and that it was a lucky thing that our friends had rescued her. While none of us had any real information on her, we’d figured she was about 7-years-old but the vet said she was an older dog, probably 10+ based on her teeth and blood and whatever else the vet was looking at. Then she told us that Daisy was in renal failure and her kidneys were more than 75% shut down. My first response was, “Are you KIDDING me? What are we, dog killers?” It turns out we’re not, we just find the dying dogs somehow.

This probably isn't good for her, all the nature and hiking and stress. We know that...NOW.

This probably isn’t good for her, all the nature and hiking and stress. We know that…NOW.

Daisy’s on specially medicated dog food that smells like dirty, sweaty, old testicles. It’s pretty gross. We have to watch what we feed her; she can’t have too much protein or salt so no fancy food or table scraps. We have to fill her saddlebags with kidney juice every 10 days which means we’ve got a bag o’ liquid medicine that we inject under the skin around her hips or shoulders 3 times a month. She hates it but it’s supposed to help her body do all the things that her kidneys can’t. If we’re lucky and she continues to react well to all this treatment, we could have her for another year and a half which would have been her expected lifespan anyhow. The kidney juice really does help, too; she gets lethargic around day 8 and her appetite fades but for several days after the injection, she’s bright-eyed, happy to go for walks and she eats well. She has many more good days than bad on this regimen and we’re doing as much as we can to make her life fun and full of love. We learned with Kassidy that there’s no use in getting frustrated or sad or pissed off over vet bills. The important thing is that Daisy has the best end of her life as possible.

As long as there are treats, she'll stick around.

As long as there are treats, she’ll stick around.

It’s a hard and horrible thing, being the House of the Dying Dog, but there are so many friends out there who need just that, a place to finish out their days and even though we swear our next dog will be the picture of health, I suspect that won’t be the case. Everyone has a calling and I think we have found ours. It’s a painful job but it’s also a good job.

This post is in memory of Kassidy who died on May 19th, 2010, and is dedicated to Daisy May who makes us laugh with her funny little faces and her bouncy ways. We love you little monsters! And a big shout out to Kathleen who held our hands and sent care packages when Kass was on her way out.

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Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, My Dearly Beloveds

Hoops and Leeks, Springtime Edition

My hoophouse worked! The leeks survived the winter AND there are seedlings inside so take that, Chris, you naysayer. You can say me nay no more!
Ok, he can and will but not about my hoophouse because I was right and it really worked! Part of the credit goes to my favorite garden center, McCord’s; they told me that I could keep it just above freezing in there if I strung a strand of Christmas lights under the plastic, which I did and it looked lovely glowing from beneath the snow on winter evenings. Also, it was awesome because not only were the plants not dying but I was being charmed, as well. Win-Win.

Macy over at the garden center told me that putting a string of lights into the hoophouse would help keep it from freezing. Apparently, it worked. I still have leeks. In addition, I have baby sproutlings. I just don't remember what they are.

Macy over at the garden center told me that putting a string of lights into the hoophouse would help keep it from freezing. Apparently, it worked. I still have leeks. In addition, I have baby sproutlings. I just don’t remember what they are.

The hoophouse survived all sorts of weather between November and May!

The hoophouse survived all sorts of weather between November and May!

I wish I weren’t so lazy. I’d have one of those gardens that look like something from Pinterest by now if I just put forth a little more effort. Sadly, I don’t care enough to unlazy myself so what I’ve got will have to do. But the exciting news is that what I’ve got is pretty great!
In January, or maybe it was February, I planted some seeds in the hoophouse, cold-tolerant things, hoping they’d come up in March. They did and I started opening one side of the little tent during the day so that the leeks wouldn’t get too hot. One night, I forgot to re-pin all the corners before bedtime and a giant storm rolled in, blew the plastic off, froze all the seedlings and then had the audacity to dump icy snow on top of everything. I was heartbroken and I felt stupid (and lazy) for forgetting to tuck my sproutlings in and accidentally letting them all die. The leeks survived, though, and as they had been the original reason for the hoophouse, the plan was still working.
A couple of weeks ago when I was getting the carrots, onions, and spring peas in the ground, I figured I’d put a row of radishes in the hoophousestrawbale garden since all that extra space was suddenly available what with the murder of seedlings, and all. But the most amazing thing had happened, which I found as I peeled back the plastic: there were things sprouting. Some chard, some something else and cilantro of all things! I went ahead and planted the radishes, removed all the extra mulch and let the sun shine down on my new babies for part of the day. I have since remembered to cover them up again each night.

See how big the leeks are?

See how big the leeks are?

The little bushy thing off to the right is the cilantro. I don't know what the other seedlings are, though. All my signs erased themselves over the past 5 months.

The little bushy thing off to the right is the cilantro. I don’t know what the other seedlings are, though. All my signs erased themselves over the past 5 months.

In the foreground, there's an onion and some Swiss chard. Behind them are radishes, or as they say in Korea, "Ladeeshes" I'm not being mean, they really do say that.

In the foreground, there’s an onion and some Swiss chard. Behind them are radishes, or as they say in Korea, “Ladeeshes” I’m not being mean, they really do say that.

See? One little strand of Christmas lights lit the whole thing up and kept it warm throughout the winter.

See? One little strand of Christmas lights lit the whole thing up and kept it warm throughout the winter.

We’ve had a difficult spring. It was dry and warmish through February and into March but then the cold came. April followed with weekly storms and below-freezing temperatures. I thought gardening time would never come and didn’t even bother to start seeds inside; I figured they’d be too far along by the time I could plant them outdoors and wouldn’t make it.  Thankfully, I don’t have to solely rely on seeds. The perennials and bulbs are all busy getting their grow on with the garlic going gangbusters -I think we’ve got 50+ plants out there? The strawberries are back, gleeful and “Yay! This year we’re gonna be BIG!” The herb garden has been greening up since March; we’ve already harvested oregano and Egyptian onions. The mint is ready for picking so mojito season will be early (hooray!) and then there are the flowers. The daffodils made it through the tumult that was April and are sunshiney yellow; there’s even a rogue tulip next door, blooming among the trash and dead trees.

Here's our garlic patch. It's doing quite well.

Here’s our garlic patch. It’s doing quite well.

Bedot came over a few weekends back and we finished the bottle border. Now I just need all the flowers to grow!

Bedot came over a few weekends back and we finished the bottle border. Now I just need all the flowers to grow!

In the bottle garden, the gnome stealers are active. BTW - Evie hatched that daffodil all by herself.

In the bottle garden, the gnome stealers are active. BTW – Evie hatched that daffodil all by herself.

There's one lone tulip in the trashpit next door. I want to rescue it so badly.

There’s one lone tulip in the trashpit next door. I want to rescue it so badly.

Still, the most important thing this season that my hoophouse worked and I get to tell Chris how amazing I am. Ha ha ha.

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Filed under Adventures, In my backyard

Writers, come to me

I have this great plan that will involve lots of help from friends as well as copious amounts of moolah. See, there’s a mansion in my town that’s up for sale, complete with acreage, about a town-block’s worth, and views. It’s lovely, all nestled up against the mountains and it’s only like a million and a half dollars! I am going to win the lottery/get a giant inheritance from an unknown benefactor/go gangbusters on Kickstarter or something equally unlikely that will provide me with piles of cash, then I’m going to buy this mansion and turn it into a writer’s retreat! As in a place for writers to retreat, not a place that teaches writing classes, though, come to think of it, that could be an option as well.

Here’s the mansion that will become my writer’s retreat. It’s so popular that even those evil deer who mug poor townsfolk for their birdseed hang out here.

This is a great idea for several reasons.

Reason 1: I know a lot of authors. They often need help finishing their stories and help could easily come in the form of a quiet room with no distractions and I would totally be able to provide that with my writers retreat.

Reason 2: I stalk many other authors and once the authors I know started telling their author friends about the fabulous place they stayed and all the inspiration they received and the wonderfulness of the quiet mansion in the mountains, said stalked authors would be intrigued enough to want to try it out themselves. In essence, they would PAY me to stalk them! How perfect is that?

Reason 3: Something useful needs to be done with that mansion and making it available to artists would not only bolster my town’s economy somehow but it would also make people care about the mansion and they’d want to help with its upkeep. I don’t really know how that one works but in my mind it does so we’ll go with it.

The mansion would not be open all year, though. Oh no no. It would close to the public from October 1st through January 1st. In October, I’d hire (because I’m rich, remember) costumey and theatery people from the local colleges to decorate the house and grounds for Halloween and then we’d have a ginormous party the night thereof. The whole town would be invited. It probably wouldn’t be very safe because that is not my first priority, but it would be extremely fun.

In November, I’d invite all my friends and family over for Thanksgiving and the cool thing is that I’d have plenty of room for everyone to stay a few days.

In December, we’d have wintertime parties GALORE! I’m pretty sure there’s a festivity for almost every day of that month. We would  celebrate them all, every one. Again, the entire town would be invited. There would be lights and fireplaces and hot spiced cider and a constant supply of freshly-baked cookies. It would be the highlight of everyone’s end-of-year.

See? This is what wintery festiveness will look like.

Seriously. EVERYONE in town will be invited.

I’ve got some of the staff hired already, too. Pam, one of the instigators of this blog, is going to be the overall manager and her son can be the chef. She doesn’t know that yet…well, actually, she does if she just read this. Noelle is going to be the entertainment director and will be in charge of arranging pick-ups and drop-offs of authors at the airport in addition to any fun things they want to do while they’re in town. Gabe can be one of the drivers because it means he can have a nice, new car. Bedot is going to be the hiking tour guide. My favorite nursery will be in charge of the grounds and my mom will be in charge of the indoor plants. I’ve got a lawyer, I’ve got a CPA…I think I’m set. If you want in on this, now is totally the time to sign up either as a guest or as an employee. Let me know your preferences below.

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Filed under My journey to writerhood, My Phenomenal Fake Life

The Wonderful World of Being Bipolar!

I want to share Gabe’s post from today. I think it explains some of why we are the couple we are…you know, evil.

Gabriel's House of Fun!

Something special today!

The Clown Auditorium

Note – I am not a doctor and I am stating my opinion of what I have.  This should not be taken as hard fact nor should you Web MD it.  Talk to an actual physician or psychiatrist if you would like to know more – End note.

Seven years ago I was diagnosed Bipolar type II.  This is the lighter more manageable version.
Instead of manic depression I get manic, then depressed, and occasionally both.  I do not however have the worst thing about type I which is suicide although it can happen to type II’s.
A horrible thing about Bipolar? It’s different for everyone affected so it’s very hard to treat.  After seven years I’m still not that far out the gate of getting better.

Friends and family have asked so what is it like so let me tell you…  It sucks!  There is good…

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