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Archive for the ‘The Hounds’ Category

The reason I didn’t want to take both dogs AND the Snapper at the same time was because of some vague, imagined something that might “happen” that I wouldn’t be able to handle with all three.  But then I realized that that something would be just as unmanageable with just one dog and the Snapper.  As I am prepared to let a dog fight go on without my intervention while I dial 911 and keep my child at a safe distance, as painful as it would be to watch one or both of my dogs attacked, I decided that walking both at once is worth this remotest of possibilities to save me some time and hassle.  So this morning I tried it and they were champs!  We steered clear of other dogs because they are a bit excitable, but even so they mainly did a little interested jumping and were brought quickly into line by the leash coupler which knocks them together when I pull on the leash.  They even did OK with the occasional squirrel or rabbit.  They both did all their business and so I let them wander around the apartment while I got the Snapper ready for breakfast.  He didn’t mind waiting because he was having so much fun watching them have their drink and investigate their new surroundings.

The other reason I’m tired is that yesterday I did SIX GARBAGE BAGS, 30 GALLON, of what we are calling “flood laundry,” which is all the stuff that was in the upstairs of our old house and didn’t get wet but got very stinky.  I did it at the laundromat in two and a half hours, which I think is some kind of a record, and when I got home I was beat.

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Growing Pains

Or are they adjustment pains?

At any rate, the dogs are home from their spa vacation in America’s dairyland (where they were cared for by my brother and his wife for the past week and a half) and the crazy new schedule begins.  I wasn’t going to let on that Attic Man is interning out of town but then I felt the need to explain why the Snapper and I had a place to stay after the flood.  Now that things are back to normal–the new normal–I am back to caring for the babe and the dogs on my own during the week.

Now, entertaining a crazy-active toddler and corralling two dogs is enough of a challenge when one has a fenced-in backyard at the end of a fairly quiet street (we are not counting the constant roar of Quaker Oats). But put us in what would be the perfect apartment were in not for lack of fencing, and you have the makings of an insane schedule.  Tonight was my first go and I was a sweating mess.  Note to self: the sling is not a good choice for these activities.  Fully un-escapable backpack works better.  Don’t even think about the stroller.

a.m.  Wake, nurse the Snap.  Change same’s diaper, keeping PJ’s on.  Put own shoes on and if deemed necessary, pants.  Give Dog A breakfast in crate.  While Dog A eats, put the Snapper in the backpack.  Suit up Dog A and take for short walk around yard.  Give Dog A a drink and return to crate.  With Snapper still in backpack, grab tiny, round-the-shoulderable purse, check for keys and cellphone and fill treat pouch with Dog B’s breakfast.  Suit up Dog B and take for longer walk to park and back (total of a mile), using dog food to reinforce either bravery (Lenny) or not pulling (Heidi).  Lenny will probably be Dog B most of the time as he is scardy and the neighborhood is most quiet in the morning.  Return Dog B to crate after watering.  Ideally both dogs would get some out-of-crate time at this point if they had both done their business, but they must be carefully supervised until they are re-housetrained for an apartment without a fenced yard and I have to give the babe his breakfast next.  Do that.  Try to get my own hurried breakfast and empty the dishwasher (I am LOVING the dishwasher!).  Clean Snapper, clean kitchen (I am trying to keep up with things this time around…).  Shower with the Snapper in the bathroom climbing the toilet to get at the sink so he can throw things in it and unroll the toilet paper even though I’ve taken it off the roll and put it up high so he can’t and vow that tomorrow I will just take a shower at night and let my hair be damned because after all it’s only for a few weeks and when Attic Man comes back full time he will be doing a lot of dog and kid stuff.

At this point it’s been 2 1/2 to 3 hours since wake time.  Take Snapper to daycare (T, Th) or to the park.

Lunch, blah, blah, dissertation now that I am unpacked (not much to unpack!) on daycare days, blah, blah.

p.m.  Repeat above after the Snapper and I have had dinner, switching Short Walk Dog to Long Walk Dog and vice versa.  I am becoming less enamored of this plan since we have to walk by the playground on Dog A’s walk, and there is nothing the Snapper loves more than playing with other children.  There are rarely other kids there when we go in the morning but there are always tons in the evening.  I think I may try taking the p.m. big walk after the Snapper’s nap (on days he’s here; on T, Th I can take them both for a big walk on the leash coupler which they both love).  Then I can take them both out for a yard walk after the Snapper goes to bed.  That may work.

But ugh, so exhausting.  I can’t wait for us to be a full-time family again.

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The two-year move

Attic Man and I will have been married for eight years this June. It’s an even-numbered year, so unfortunately that means it’s time to move.

It’s not like we planned it this way. It’s just that every two years an opportunity for something better comes along: a move to Pittsburgh for grad school, a move across Pittsburgh for a bigger, nicer place nearer to school, a move halfway across the country for midwest living (and now, law school). Now we’re looking at places in Iowa City. We’re both tired of Attic Man’s commute (45 min each way, and with nasty weather as much as 90 min) and I’m beginning to tire of Cedar Rapids. It has its charms, true, but IC has some things I really miss, like a food co-op, ethnic restaurants, and a university. When we visit there I always feel more natural, like I can put down my guard. I don’t have to explain why I am enrolled in a Pittsburgh school but live in Iowa, or what a dissertation is. I don’t mind explaining these things, and I don’t look down on people who need them to be explained. I am just tired of feeling like a…I don’t know…like an impostor, like I am always holding back.

The depressing part of it (aside from the hell of relocation) is that IC is a hell of a lot more expensive than CR. We will save a bundle on gas (and parking, if we can find something close enough to the law school) but it does depend on the individual situation whether or not we break even on the prospect. We WILL come out ahead in terms of time, and that would be a huge quality-of-life bump. But all this means that we are looking at apartment buildings instead of houses. I am no snob, but we have two big dogs who are accustomed in their lavatory habits to a fenced-in-yard. It was so nice to move to this house and have that after living with no yard in Pittsburgh. The good news is that the places we’ve scoped out are on cul-de-sacs near woodsy/meadowy areas so the dogs wouldn’t have to deal with city streets. Lenny is TERRIFIED of city streets and at this point we can’t train it out of him. There is one house in our price range but I am skeptical about it being in our price range. We’re not going to have a lot of money next year. I work for a few dollars over minimum wage and Attic Man is in school full time. I can’t afford to be picky, but dammit, I am kicking and whining about this one. And coin-op laundry? After having it in-home for four years? After remembering what a pain in the ass it is to take laundry off-site? With a toddler? No thank you.

Through dumb luck we’ve always lived in houses or duplexes. We would have gladly moved into an apartment before we had dogs but the duplex was what came open in Pittsburgh, and then we wanted a house so we could have a dog and at that point we could afford to rent one. So I guess I’m spoiled. But whine! Remember, I’m obsessed with being 30. I don’t want to be 30 and living in a run-down, cramped apartment with two dogs and a kid and carting my laundry up and down stairs or to laundromat. What’s that? I AM being a snob? Lots of people who are over 30 live in cramped, run-down apartments? Hurrumph. I still hate it.

Privilege. Makes you feel entitled to all kinda shit.

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Merry Woofmas!

I’m well aware of the controversy surrounding these books, but THIS is one I think we can all (sniff) get (the) behind (of).

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My kind of haunted house

OK, so I missed a day of NaMoPoBloMe. I had every intention of posting last night and then feel-like-crap-edness smacked me in the face and I went straight to bed. I’m feeling really squeezed these days.

Right now we’re battling our latest rodent visitor. She’s getting bold, nibbling on the crumbs Sam leaves on the dining room floor in plain sight. The dogs are having a ball hunting her down (trying, anyway–they’re kind of stupid, so we’ll see the mouse’s tail under a sweatshirt while they sniff vigorously at the spot she was five minutes before) but I suspect it’s less that they’re born hunters and more that she’s competition for the most coveted resource in the house, the droppings from the Snapper’s high chair. Lenny and Heidi are not allowed to be in the room while the Snap dines and will crouch like loaded springs on the threshold waiting for the moment they hear the harness snap open so they can finish off the Cheerios he leaves in the corners of his chair. The mouse is clearly dipping into their stash.

The other day Attic Man said to me, rather innocently, “we really need to catch up on the laundry. I’m out of everything.” I felt my hackles rise and went into defense mode when he reminded me that he had said WE. Aha. It is OUR laundry. If it isn’t done it’s OUR fault and WE have to fix it. So much to unlearn.

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May have time to get this all out before naptime is over. Since the Snapper runs the show round here, it’s always a gamble.

Whattayaknow? just heard some fusses. Let’s see if they go away.

Hum. He’s awake.

Post soon on motherhood and saving bunnies.

Wait. It’s quiet again. (don’t you love this blogging in real time?)

Motherhood has changed me in all sorts of surprising ways, from strengthening traits I was weak on (patience, ability to multitask, efficiency and productivity, and necessarily, humor) to supressing those I can no longer afford to indulge (selfishness, tendency to sleep in till noon, love for television and eating while food is still hot). Mainly, though, I’ve found that it has made me more me, amplified. For instance, we’re starting solids this week, and of course I went to the library to check out every book they had on feeding infants and of course I’ve chosen the incredible, encyclopedic “Super Baby Food” full of whole grain and vegetabley homemade goodness to guide the Snapper’s diet. I can’t afford to jump on and off the health train anymore; the child needs consistency, so I’m going to have to pretend I’m good at sticking with it.

Anyway. I’ve always been partial to Life issues, which for me run the gamut from abortion to animal treatment and hit poverty on a fairly regular basis. I don’t have a very complex or nuanced sense of the need to protect life. It’s probably the only thing in my world I can say that about. Survival is the most fundamental drive we have, and the obligation to allow others to do the same is crucial. The decision to let one another live (and prosper, not just hang on gauntly) is the only thing that keeps us from degenerating into war, violence, and cruelty. Of course we, as individuals, communities, nations, etc. haven’t done a very good job of it, ever. It’s a sad irony that while we all have the innate drive for survival on an individual basis we seem to have a death-drive as a species (why else would we be destroying our air and water?).

When I got pregnant I didn’t get a lick of morning sickness but I did get physically ill at even the mention of violence on television. Fictional stuff was bad enough, but when it came to real-life violence on the news and such I was done. I had to leave the house for Attic Man to watch Deadwood (which was a pity; great show) or The Shield. I couldn’t stand to hear about Iraq. I did, of course; I felt an obligation to know, and to see, so that I would never get comfortable with it.

Then the babe came and fictional violence was easier, but now anything real-world sends my heart to the basement. Because now, everyone is someone’s baby. It was intellectually true for me before, but now I feel it in a visceral place, in a way that makes me feel inextricably connected to the fabric of everything and everyone else. Watching someone, anyone suffer or die, or even hearing about it, is watching my own child suffer or die. There’s an empathy there now that knocks me over. It’s a bit like the contractions that I thought might lift me right up off the floor. It’s possession via motherhood.

Most days I’m good at keeping those emotions in check so that I can function, do my work, take care of my kid. I try to avoid images that will send me wallowing (because what good is feeling bad about it? it’s what we do with those feelings that matter…I will not collapse into pity) and I check myself before I picture the same happening to my baby.

But then there’s the little baby rabbit under the grill, and it’s squealing desperately in the mouth of my dog. And I am yelling at my dog to drop the tiny, struggling ball of fur, and then yelling at the other dog who has picked it up after the other has dropped it. Miraculously, he is dropping it and I am holding them by their collars, watching the small body rise and fall on the walkway, trying to figure out what to do with it, the dogs, and the Snapper. After putting the dogs in the other side of the yard and barracading it, putting on gloves (all with the baby in his seat in the yard, watching wide-eyed and open-mouthed), and grabbing a piece of newspaper, I am carrying the body, with wide eyes and a mouth that is searching for its mother’s teat, across the street, where I am hollowing out a place in the mulch under a bush so that it can die in peace and not in the jaws of another animal.

It makes me wonder why I am so OK with killing animals for food when there are other ways to eat that are actually better for our bodies anyway, and how easily I don’t eat meat (except for fish) but don’t press on the cruelty issues. It’s partly a matter of that overwhelmed feeling I get when I take on too many social issues at once, but really, when I’m holding the warm body of an infant rabbit in my palm it’s hard to say, “let someone else take care of it.”

The rabbit probably faced death anyway–there we no other rabbits under the grill (you bet I checked) and its mother was nowhere in sight. Still, I didn’t want to watch it die being pulled apart by two dogs (who routinely lick my own baby’s face).

I’m blown away by my reaction and wondering what it means for how I choose to live from now on. Will I give up fish, too? Will I try to insist that Attic Man only eat kosher/free range/ organic meat (or will I decide that my gastronomical ethics are my own?)? The universe is trying to tell me something, I’m sure…

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Those People

It’s official: Heidi and Lenny are going to be Batman and Robin, respectively, for Halloween. We purchased costumes for our dogs this evening.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

In our defense, although our first reaction to the costumes several weeks ago was “cute!” and then, “no way are we going to be ‘those people!,” the reason we decided to get them is that they bark at people who walk by and look pretty scary. We thought it might be a little easier on the kids if they were in costume. As a bonus, we get to chortle over how absolutely ridiculous they look. And they do. And it’s funny. So we’re kind of ‘those people’ anyway.

Yes, we took pictures.

No, we still haven’t found the cable for the camera. As soon as we do, I promise we’ll post pictures of one dog saying, “what is this f***ing thing?” and the other saying “what costume?”

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