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April 21, 2011

It's a Hard-Knock Life

By all accounts, I should have an easy life and a clean house. After all, I'm single so I should only have to take care of me. I don't have children so the way I leave my house is the way it should look. I'm a working professional so I should have disposable income for small luxury items. My responsibilities are few and I can just focus on me. Wait...something is wrong here. Why are none of these true and why do I feel like a harried single mom? I decided to write out my day to see what I'm doing all day and try to figure out why I am always a day late and load of laundry behind; kind of like a "time budget."

5:45 am - It is getting bright outside so Oscar the Guard Beagle thinks we should be getting up. He knows he isn't allowed to actually get us all up so he starts making a lot of noise. He sighs, groans, licks his paws, shakes to rattle the tags on his collar, whines very quietly, and just generally walks about the bed making it impossible to sleep anymore. Any sign that I might be up and all bets are off so I try to stay still and breath heavy for as long as possible. If he catches me peeking or stretching he starts bounding around the bed licking me and walking all over me. Oscar the Guard Beagle is quite overweight so you don't want him walking on you at any time. Last night I dreamed I had a small elephant. That should tell you what it feels like to be stepped on by him.

6:02 am - Sweet Old Girl has an accident so I have to jump out of bed and get all the dogs outside quick to minimize the poo in the house. That is always the goal. Less poo in the house is a plus! I keep an eye on Sweet Old Girl for a minute to make sure she can walk around and squat OK today. Her back end is getting shaky. I have that moment of, "I don't want to lose Sweet Old Girl."

6:05 am - Run back into the bed room to gather up everything that got pooed on. This isn't unusual so basically my bedroom is draped in fleece blankets. This means I just have to gather up all the fleece blankets she walked across and take the cover off the bed. These all go into the washer immediately to minimize the smell in the house. This is our second goal. Stinky houses suck.

6:08 am - Go back down the hallway on my hands and knees with a wipe to get any droplets. Yeah, my life is glamorous. This is what I worry about instead of what martini bar I will hit tonight.

6:13 am - Run outside to hiss at Oscar the Guard Beagle to stop barking. He protects us from terrorist squirrels. I never have to worry about terrorist squirrels with him around.

6:14 am - Run back outside to hiss at Frankie to stop barking. Daisy does not want to play with him first thing in the morning. She is not a morning dog and he is being obnoxious.

6:14:30 am - Hiss at Frankie to stop barking at me. I do not want to play with him. No one wants to play with him. Shut. Up.

6:23 am - Herd the dogs back inside and make mental note not to eat any Christmas cookies from my neighbors. If I was them, I'd lace them with something to take me out.

6:24 am - Clean out the water bowl and food bowl and fill both. Go get Pepto tabs for Sweet Old Girl and pop them down her throat. Usually she gets a special breakfast of canned food to help her put on weight but after this morning, I think we'll give her tummy a break. Sweet Old Girl is very disappointed. She loves her special breakfasts. I live with the guilt that I have denied my Sweet Old Girl something and she is so old and decrepit she deserves whatever she wants.

6:25 am - Lay down clean blankets in Family Room to replace soiled blankets from yesterday. Open up house for the day.

6:27 am - Sit down to check email, Facebook, and Twitter. My time on these is limited at work so I like to get a peak before the whole day goes by.

6:45 am - I'm starving; breakfast.

7:00 am - Try to get a few things done before work. I have Mother's Day order confirmations, change Mom's Netflix address, researching ultrasonic mice repellers for Mom's beach house, I need to find some documents for the bank, etc.

8:05 am - Frankie lets me know I'm late to go get ready for work. I jump up and we all jog into the bedroom. For some reason the dogs love this routine. They don't get to do anything fun but they just love when we all go somewhere together even if it is just to the other end of the house.

8:32 am - Let the dogs out for final potty before I leave. Again, watch Sweet Old Girl to make sure she can walk and squat OK. This is a minute by minute thing folks. I also check my hanging baskets to see how dry they are. I've planted them with seeds. I try to do this every year to save money and I never get good results. I'm determined this year. I'm determined every year.

8:34 am - Hustle dogs inside, muzzle Frankie and Daisy (Never a good idea to close up two healthy, young dogs with an old dog without protecting that old dog. But these are greyhound racing muzzles so they are loose around the dogs snouts. They can eat and drink with them on. I also need to protect everything in the house from being chewed by the dynamic duo. I'm tired of replacing phones and remote controls). Put food up to prevent Oscar the Guard Beagle from eating his weight in kibble. Change TV to HGTV so the sounds coming out won't distress doggies with sirens or dogs and cats crying etc.

8:35 am - I'm running late! I baby gate the dogs into the family room. I check the no-slip rugs in the kitchen so Sweet Old Girl won't slip in there and be unable to get back up. Grab my bags and run out the door. As I walk out I notice the orchid buds are dying rather than opening up. Damn. So much for staging the dining room table to look charming when someone comes in.

9:00 am - In my seat at work. Phew! Just made it. The day proceeds with worky stuff. I get out of my chair too infrequently and am stiffening up. Ugh.

11:30 am - Run to the post office to mail something. Grab some food on the way back since I won't have time to grab something in the cafeteria. I'm mad at the cafeteria anyway for charging me $1.75 for a Diet Coke. Bastards.

12:30 pm - Back to worky stuff. I didn't have time to knit during lunch again. Shoot. I did have a few minutes to make my next play in my Scrabble-knock off game I play on my phone. I somehow craft a respectable word out of AAIYYVQ. Respectable, not great.

6:00 pm - The advantage of working a contract is that I'm hourly and must leave at a specific time. This is awfully nice after years of having my time abused by my former employer. I couldn't remember what a 40 hour work week looked like until I left there.

6:30 pm - Home! The dogs howl and bark in delight. I wade through them keeping an eye on Sweet Old Girl so that she doesn't get knocked about too much. She wants to be a part of the crew too and is leading the welcome with her high-pitched barks she does when she is happy. I get to the back door somehow and let them out. They all thunder out, even Sweet Old Girl. I keep an eye on her to make sure she can walk and squat OK. You get the picture.

6:31 pm - Yes, there has been an accident today. Not huge. The Pepto is working for Sweet Old Girl. I gather up the blankets and towels and take a cover off a dog bed. I move this morning's wash to the dryer and put in the new, poo-y load. Minimize that smell, remember?

6:33 pm - I finally get to go to the bathroom where I shed the worky clothes and put on sweats and put my hair back. It is all business at home.

6:35 pm - Run outside to shush Oscar the Guard Beagle. Tell him he doesn't need to bark like that while Frankie and Daisy play. Shoo Frankie away from Daisy who has clearly had enough of his shenanigans. Tell Sweet Old Girl to stop eating dirt. I'm starting to understand where the bad tummy has come from.

6:36 pm - Herd them all back inside because no one will stop barking or stop eating dirt.

6:37 pm - Put the food back down for everyone. Straighten up the beds and blankets that have gotten dragged about and shoved off the beds. Pick up and put away a few toys so I can walk through the room. Retrieve my shoes that Daisy has already fetched from the bedroom and brought to a bed in the family room.

6:40 pm - Check mail to make sure I don't have to do anything immediately. Put away stuff I dropped all along the way from the door to the dogs when I got home. I'm worse than a 16-year-old.

6:45 pm - Close up blinds and turn on lights for the night. It is still bright outside but I'm up so may as well do it now.

6:50 pm - Check email, Facebook, and Twitter for anything I need to do right away.

6:55 pm - Talk to Mom on the phone. I order Grandma's Mother's Day present online for her. I look up a few things for her and "fix" other things.

7:10 pm - Hang up with Mom and go back to catching up on all the social media I hear so much about from the youngsters these days.

7:15 pm - Talk to Grandma on the phone. Re-confirm our plans for Easter and promise to make reservations for what she wants to do on Mother's Day.

7:25 pm - Look up reservation phone number. Find out the business won't be open on Mother's Day. Dang, now I have to disappoint Grandma. Feel guilt because I love my Grandmother and she is old and deserves whatever she wants.

7:30 pm - Can I have dinner yet? Depending on how tired I am or how depleted the cupboards are, I make and eat a dinner.

8:00 pm - Change out laundry so I have clean towels for dog messes. If I'm lucky I actually get to do a load of my own clothes so that I have clean clothes to wear.

8:10 pm - Clean up kitchen and make a feeble attempt at cleaning something else in the house. A bathroom counter, my nightstand, take out the garbage, anything to keep some of the filth at bay (but I walk by a lot with a blind eye. We don't even want to discuss the tumble-fur accumulating along the baseboards). Straighten up the dog beds and blankets in my bedroom for tonight so I can walk around in the dark without tripping and killing myself.

8:30 pm - Sit down at my desk to get some work done. I have some resumes for friends and family that I've promised to polish up. I also need to write a blog post, gather documents for the bank, clean up some of the desk so I don't lose a bill (I'm always losing bills), do some development work for a non-profit I'm working for to help get my own consulting business off the ground, and do some research for a program I've developing. Make mental note that if I want to write a book like I've been planning I need to actually spend some time writing.

9:45 pm - Gasp at the time. Find someone has yakked on one of the blankets. Scoop it up, put it in the washer and replace it with one of the many other blankets I don't even bother putting away anymore. I just leave them folded in one of my family room chairs. Sit down and just veg.

10:00 pm - I'm done vegging. Get the dogs out for last potty. Watch Sweet Old Girl. Put away the shoes Daisy has stolen again. Close up the house for the night. Herd everyone back into the bedroom.

10:15 pm - Put away clothes flung about the bedroom from this morning. If I've managed to do a load of my own laundry this is when I fold it and put it away. Clean out and fill the dogs' water bowl. Make sure everyone is situated OK. Sweet Old Girl has a bed, she doesn't have her bad leg folded under her wonky, no squeaky toys (because there is nothing worse than being scared out of sleep by one of those being squeaked during the night). Make a half hearted pass at the bathroom mess from this morning.

10:34 pm - Fall into bed.

10:34:30 pm - Remember I didn't plug my phone in to charge (or give a dog medication, or turn on dishwasher, or hear washer bumping around from uneven load, just put something here) and have to get up quick to do it.

10:40 pm - Fall into bed. Try to read. Listen to Oscar the Guard Beagle snore contentedly next to you. Think about waking him up as revenge for this morning but reconsider because he is so darn cute.

11:00 pm - Finally pass out.

Good gravy, no wonder I never had time to get married and have kids. When does anyone else have time to do that? OK, so clearly we can see where all the time goes but I don't care. Totally worth it. Who wanted glamour anyway?

April 08, 2011


photo from here

I've been thinking a lot about the animals I've lived with over the years and remembering things that make me smile. I decided I wanted to capture some of those moments and I'll share some of them as I go.

I grew up with a siamese-mix named Kit. We actually stole Kit. Well, not so much steal as kitty-sat for my piano teacher and didn't give him back. I don't think we went quite so far as to refuse to give him back but when my piano teacher said they were thinking they couldn't keep him we took advantage. Kit was an outrageously funny (without intending to be as kitties often are) slightly twisted kitty. Most everyone that we grew up with has a Kit story and likely a Kit scar. One time, when I was at my piano lesson, he jumped into the piano and started playing about so that the keys were moving on their own. I was enchanted. At another piano lesson, we heard this thump thump thumping coming from the kitchen. My teacher went to investigate and discovered the noise was coming from the refrigerator. When she opened it, Kit jumped out.

Going after food like that is a characteristic of Kit that would continue through his life. He would jump up on the counter and grab the ham/chicken/roast that was our dinner and try to run off with it. I say try because frequently, his catch was larger then himself. Towards the end of his life when his poor teeth were falling out he grabbed a chicken breast from a plate on the table and dragged it under a chair to eat. When I went to grab him and the chicken he hunched his shoulders and growled. I picked him up but he kept hanging onto that chicken; even shaking his head a little like he needed to kill it. I absolutely adored him for that spirit in his old age. I hope I'm just as hungry and fierce through my life.

Much like a family dog, Kit would run around the yard with us kids as we ran shrieking and laughing. Sometimes Kit would hide in the bushes in the front yard and when someone would walk by he would run out at them, attack their calf and then run off. He must not have really hurt anyone or they were too embarrassed to admit they had a cat pounce on them (I like to think they all thought it was funny too) because no one ever complained. I thought it was hilarious and watched from the front window to see what would happen.

When I hear scientists talk about discovering animals' higher brain function I just roll my eyes. I can tell them that cats have complicated cognitive abilities. I've seen them pretend and even do things for a laugh. We had a pool (we lived in Arizona, it is necessary to have a pool for survival) and one afternoon we left in innertube next to the pool. Kit had more fun with that innertube. He jumped inside and peered at us just over the top of it. I think he thought he was spying on us. He laid his ears flat so we wouldn't see them (we did though, we could see the whole top of his head) and tilted his head back as he peaked over the edge of that tube watching my Mom do yardwork. I don't know what he was plotting or thinking but he skulked there for nearly an hour before he lost interest and walked off. He came back to that innertube frequently enough I believe he considered it his lair.

My absolute favorite memory of Kit was his wicked, slightly sadistic, sense of humor. It was well known in the house that Kit liked to be on the bed with you but liked having his own space. If you made the mistake of putting your feet too close to him, he would reach out bite your big toe. He wouldn't bite it in the traditional sense, he actually would just take your toe in his sharp canines and sit there looking at you with a deadly gaze. If you tried to pull your toe out of his grasp, he would ever so slightly bite harder. It was not uncommon to hear a family member laughing and hollering from their bedroom, "Ow ow ow ow! Help, come get Kit!" and someone would have to go to the rescue. It was also not uncommon that one of us would stand in the doorway, laugh, and walk off leaving them to their punishment. Kit would hold the toe until he thought you learned your lesson and then he would let go and I swear he would smile triumphantly as he looked away. He never broke the skin but to this day I can't help but curl my toes when I'm barefoot and near a cat.