Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kicking the Habit

Nope, not the smoking one, or the drinking one......the COMPUTER one. An addiction I didn't even know I had till about 4 weeks ago. Like all good addictions, it sort of crept up on me. (The smoking one I gave up long ago. The drinking one I'm still holding on to a little bit.)

Our computer crashed.....and I mean CRASHED AND BURNED.... in mid-September. I'd always heard people talk about this disaster, but it had never happened to me. Here's the one thing I've learned: get an external hard drive and save everything you might ever want again on it. Which I intend to do as soon as I can. Not that I know what one is, how to hook it up, or anything about it. But my computer savvy sister informs me it's what I need. I can't believe all the stuff that I've lost. Most of it was trivial or easily replaced. (Isn't almost everything we "file away"?) But some of it, I really, really wish I had gotten to keep. Alas, never to be recovered now.

In the last four weeks, I have paid many a visit to the library to use their computers. Mind you, only for one hour at the time. Then they kick you off and you have to wait another 30 minutes before they'll let you sign back on. I thought I could just go once a week and delete all the rubbish and sit on the rest till the computer came back from Computer Doc-in-the-Box. Not a chance. Every couple of days I was ITCHING to get over there and find out what was going on. (Except for last week when I had to have a little outpatient surgery. I didn't much care about anything except being still then.) Invariably, it was nothing, but I just felt so left out. The world was turning and I wasn't. I hated it.

Last weekend, we got our computer back. It's not back to "normal" yet. I'm still trying to get things back to the way they were. But at least I can check email. I can research stuff. I can SHOP. It was nice to take a little break from being so connected, but I was very definitely ready to get back to the World Wide Web/Universe.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It Is What It Is

And right now, what it is is BULLSHIT, plain and simple.

Forgive me, but there are times when frustration demands an outlet. And right now my blog is about to get the full venting my frustration level demands. Yesterday I received an email from the American Kennel Club, an entity that has made me more than a little uneasy over the last 3 years with it's apparent decline in ethics and integrity. This email was entitled "September Chairman's Report" and was an epistle from Ron Menaker. A gentleman that I've never met, but who must have his head right straight up his ass if this missive is any indication. I am sure this same report is on the AKC's web site should you care to read it.

For the past few years, all that's been heard from the AKC management is how poor they are; how they're losing so much money; how the organization is doomed if there's not more revenue. This from a nonprofit with over $60 million in their reserve fund. An organization that has its finger in every animal-related retail endeavor it can find. With the September report, Mr. Menaker has increased the level of AKC whining 1,000 percent.

"The American Kennel Club faces enormous challenges in reversing the continuing decline in registrations. Today, we are losing market share at an alarming rate, especially in the retail sector."

"Today there are at least 30 All-Breed registries in addition to the AKC, whose combined registration numbers exceed that of the AKC. If this trend is allowed to continue, if we don not stop the hemorrhaging of declining registrations, we will no longer be the premier registry in the world, let alone in our country."

Boy, have I got news for him. The AKC is not the "premier" registry NOW. And why is that? Because of the imbecilic behavior of a Board that has abandoned quality for quantity. The AKC has determined that it's more important to register anything that walks than it is to uphold its own mission. Mr. Menaker goes on to say, "Management has been directed by the Board to aggressively pursue all dogs eligible for AKC registration (emphasis mine)." He refers to the registered AKC puppy as the "gold standard". HUH? How can that be when just a few months ago the Board approved the "Administrative Pedigree Research Service" which will very probably include "puppy mill" dogs and/or pets specifically sold "without papers" by AKC breeders? Lord knows, the AKC has already registered THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of backyard bred dogs of marginal quality over the years. Somehow I don't think this is what those gentlemen in New York had in mind over a hundred years ago when the AKC was formed out of the Westminster Dog Club.

Back then, dog breeding and showing was the same as horse showing is still today: for the well-heeled who could afford to keep kennels, hire staff, oversee the quality of their dogs. As time went on, the sport became more democratic, but reputable breeders still went to great lengths to insure and safeguard the quality of their dogs. That still holds true today. Quality dogs come from quality breeders. The kind of breeders and owners that the AKC says is its core constituency. Ah, but we know better. We are now just window dressing to make the AKC look good to the general public. Behind the scenes they are going after anything canine to make sure the treasury stays full and black. And they are sacrificing the very people they purport to support while doing it.

Menaker spouts on with the party line: "Our Compliance Program allows us to educate breeders about puppy socialization, genetic health screening, grooming, exercise requirements and adherence to breed standards. This is the benchmark of excellence we expect of all AKC breeders whether under mandatory or random inspections." (Again, emphasis mine.) Ron, Ron, Ron, the crap that flows from your mouth could fill a dozen septic tanks. I really wish that this were true. But I have severe doubts that it is. This is why you guys are in such a panic now. Yes, in 1996, the Board did pass care and condition policies. It was great. But guess what? That's when the rats started jumping the AKC ship in droves; hightailing it to other registries that weren't so tight and didn't demand so much from them. Then, when the handwriting was on the wall (which by the way, didn't ANY of you see that coming?), instead of standing your ground to make sure the AKC brand actually stood for quality and integrity, what did you do? You got a yellow streak up your backs. You started looking at relaxing your standards. And here we are.

"We can and will be aggressive in pursuing all AKC-registrable dogs and do so while upholding our values and high standards." Nope, won't happen. In my opinion you can't have it both ways.

Let's face facts. The face of the dog fancy is changing. Registering any warm body you can find is not going to make those 30 other registries go away. The only way you can hope to be a viable entity in the future is to return to what the AKC used to stand for. Yes, dog show entries will have to go up. Yes, there will be lots of people who can't afford to participate. But when somebody says with pride, "Yes, she's registered and her parents were champions," it will MEAN something and be true. Does the AKC want to be "premier" or does it want to be just another Continental Kennel Club? A laughingstock?

One last thing: ditch New York. Those offices up there are costing major money. You and Dennis Sprung will just have to get used to a more genteel lifestyle in Raleigh.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Just Be Yourself

I've been dipping back in to the simplicity pool lately. Over a dozen years ago, I bought and read the book Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James. I liked it then..... a lot. I picked it back up a few days ago and started thumbing through. Yep, I've done that. Yep, I've done that. No, haven't gotten to that yet. It was surprising to me both the things that I have simplified and the ones that are still all in a wad. And yes, I still like the book.

One of the hundred ways Ms. St. James gives to simplify your life is to "Just Be Yourself". She gives an exercise whereby you go through all the major parts/areas of your life and decide if and how each one would be different if the only person you were trying to impress was YOU. Some of the questions to answer are:

  • would you drive a different car? HELL NO. I just got this one and I don't care if it guzzles gas, I'm not giving it up. I LIKE IT. IT'S BIG and HOLDS EVERYTHING. Granted, I can't DRIVE it as much because I can't pay for the gas, but when I do drive it, I LIKE IT.

  • would you have a different career? Well, seeing as how I never really had much of one in the first place, I guess I'd have to decide if I really want one at all at this stage of life. Unless of course you count "puttering" as a career. I'm a terrific putterer.

  • what kind of house would you live in? Something that looked like it came out of a fairy tale or the English countryside....whimsical, fun, strange, but WAY comfortable. I'd like to be "different" in the third act of my life. Take a little 50s ranch and turn it into........ WOW!WHAT KIND OF HOUSE IS THAT???

  • how would you dress? Basically, like I do right now. After my 20s, I pretty much have dressed for myself ever since. For the last year or so, I was really in to dresses. Still like 'em. But now, I'm going back to jeans, white shirts (see profile picture) and boots. Or Keds. Seems to just fit the lifestyle better. Hard to wrangle dogs with something flouncing around your knees all the time.

So, if you were only trying to impress yourself, what would you change? What would you keep? I'd like to think that since those Yuppie 80s, we've all kind of relaxed on that "keeping up with the Joneses" thing.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Ravelympics Afghan Does NOT Cross the Finish Line

So, as promised, here is the picture of my poor, pathetic little afghan. It tried to compete, to no avail. It's only about one-third done. At least I think I'll be able to have it finished by the time the Afghan for Afghan folks need them in order to be shipped.

I have a confession to make though. This afghan only saw the first few days of Olympic competition. I know. We were supposed to be WATCHING and knitting. And I did. In the beginning. But seeing all those buff, beautiful, young, supple, etc. etc. bodies on display all day and night got to be truly depressing. Except for the horses at the equestrian venue. Now, those I could have watched the entire two weeks.

Instead, I turned to my knitting standbys: movies. New ones, old ones; makes no difference. And yesterday I hit a bonanza. TNT was showing the complete Lord of the Rings trilogy. I sat down after lunch and just about never got up again. I love those movies. I loved the books.....several times. And they are just about perfect to knit by. No concentration required. Just look up to see Viggio Mortensen or Orlando Bloom every once in a while. And smile. Fingers keep moving. Brain goes on flight of fancy with the Middle Earth gang. Can't get much better than that. Now, if I'd had two weeks worth of those kinds of movies, who knows how big this afghan would be by now. Can you say "king-size bedspread"?

I have no idea what happened during the closing ceremonies at Beijing. I was sailing away with Frodo, Bilbo and Gandalf with a ship full of fairies in to the setting sun.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

No Ravelympics Medal for Me!

Okay, y'all. I'm out of the running for a medal. Not even a teeninsey one. I swear, I have worked on my little afghan religiously. Well, semi-religiously. But truly..... as much as I possibly could. And the Olympics are almost over and I've only got about 7" of the damn thing done. (But it looks pretty nice.) I will work feverishly up until the closing bell -- or whatever it is they're going to do to signal the end. And I will faithfully post a picture of whatever I've gotten done to that point. Maybe I can do some sprinting in these final days. ("My fingers get tired, " she whined and pouted.)

So, on to something else. Yes, I've been knitting, but at night when I crawl in to bed, I've been reading. And this is the book: The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook. It's really good. And not too terribly long....about 400 pages. One of the liner notes says "A mesmerizing novel about four generations of women bound to a mythical legacy in the American Southwest." Ms. Crook has a web site: So, you might want to go check it out over there. I give it a "couldn't put it down till I finished the last 40 pages" review. And that was a couple of mornings ago while waking up with my coffee. The start of my day got delayed because I had to see how it ended. You probably won't like all of the characters, but that's what makes it interesting.

I have to go knit now. (Do you think I could get a maid, cook and kennel help for the next few days? I could sit and knit till my fingers dropped off.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I'm in the Olympics!

Actually, that would be the "Ravelympics" over at What fun!

For those who don't know, this is a knitting/crocheting community with LOTS of members. To celebrate the Olympics, many of the knitting groups are participating in their very own knitting Olympics. Started with the opening ceremonies and will end when the flame gets moved or covered or whatever it is they do with it at the end.

My group is Afghans for Afghans, a charitable organization that knits for the mothers and children of Afghanistan. I'm not "Ravelry" competent, so there are issues with trying to get a picture of my chosen event up there: a small afghan. There's all these instructions about how to post through Flickr and a couple of other ways. Egads! Not that I couldn't figure it out, but shit. It's like EVERY website has its own different way of doing things; 3 dozen pages of instructions... etc. etc. etc. I get tired of trying to decipher all that junk. I've got at least 2 or 3 better things to do. Couldn't I just upload the picture from my computer like I do normally? NO...... So, I'm posting the picture of my yarn here. And when I get finished (which I hope will be at the closing bell, but I don't know..........fingers will only go so fast and I do have to do a couple of other things like feed dogs, myself & husband, sleep....), I'll put up the finished product here. THEN, if I feel like mucking around with the how-to's over at Ravelry, I'll put it up there.

So, here's the colorway (multi/blue/purple)...... wish me luck in my event!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

All Hail Rock and Roll!

In the September/October issue of the AARP magazine...............YES, I get it. Furthermore, I actually read it. There is an article entitled "50 Reasons to Love Being 50+". Number 18 on the list is "Because our music rocks!". It lists 5 songs that the magazine's music critic says folks will be listening to until hell freezes over. These 5 are The Beach Boys "God Only Knows"; Aretha Franklin "I Never Loved a Man (The Way That I Love You)"; Booker T. & the MGs "Time is Tight"; Merle Haggard "Mama Tried"; and, The Beatles "Strawberry Fields Forever". They ask for people's picks for best songs ever.

While I like the songs they picked -- except for the MGs' song; I don't remember it -- there were two that popped into my mind almost immediately. One was by The Animals: "House of the Rising Sun". I can't even begin to think of 60s music without that one. The other is "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers. I can think of lots more. Practically every song on the original soundtrack from the movie Dirty Dancing is a keeper. Especially that Solomon Burke number. Too hot.........

I admit it. When it comes to music, I say exactly the same sort of thing my parents used to say: "now THAT was music" or "they don't make music like THAT anymore". Stuff that I always swore I would never, ever say. But I don't care if it makes me sound 200 years old. They DON'T make music like THAT anymore. More's the pity. Because, yes indeed, our music ROCKS ON.

Think I'll go turn on my XM radio now.....60s on 6........70s on 7.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hot Time in the Summer Time

Air conditioning vents are wonderful!

Where are my lottery winnings when I need them?

There is something about summer that makes me long to be rich. Not for yachts, pools, trips and all that junk. NO. I want money to be able to run my air conditioner as low and long as I like. Expense be hanged! Barring that, I'll take a nice little storybook rental on the coast of Maine.....or maybe Nova Scotia for the summer months. Packing up books, knitting and dogs and hightailing it for the northern hinterlands in summer sounds like a sterling idea to me. Anywhere where the temperature does not exceed 80 during the day and the humidity has never seen 100%.

Living in the South is miserable this time of year. It saps all the energy and enthusiasm right out of your body. It's a chore just to breathe. No wonder all those belles of yesteryear took hours-long naps every afternoon. And sat around in rocking chairs fanning themselves to beat 60. The words "prostrate from the heat" are no mystery to me. Summer Hibernation is the only way to get through the months of July, August and September. And it is just damn boring, too.

I long for October and a high of 78!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Vivi Chronicles - Collar Crisis Averted

The mayhem has subsided. Finally.

For the past week, Miss Viv has been pushed to the edge and over by the dreaded puppy collar. It's hell having to wear jewelry that you didn't get to pick out yourself. Especially if you've never had any on to start with. You'd like to feel like you have SOME control over your life, eh?

We started out wearing our little hand-me-down collar left over from Blue's babyhood. It unleashed Vivi's wilder side immediately. The scrubbing on the floor; the running through the house like a mad thing; the statue imitation; the WHINING. So, it came off after a couple of hours. A day or so later, we tried again. Same exact thing.

Yesterday, after conferring with a couple of other doggie-type people, a brand new Vivi Collar was bought (a nice little pink & brown number) and affixed to said puppy's neck. Again, with the whole Drama Queen routine. But this time, it did no good. The collar stayed. She finally wore herself out and put herself to bed early and even slept through the night.

Eureka! It was all a bad dream. The nasty collar is gone this morning. She can walk. She can run. She can eat. She can play. LIBERATION! I smile a secret little smile and agree with her. This is one delusion I'll let her keep.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Nice Way to Start the Week

I got to visit with a friend of mine Monday night that I don't often get to see. Her name is Geri and we met through our love of our Airedales....oh, about 8 or 9 years ago. It's nice to sit down and catch up when you don't get to see each other but every few years.

Of course, I didn't have much to add to the conversation other than a Vivi report. No wonder new mothers don't seem to talk about anything but their babies. They don't have time to do anything else! (See that "haggard new mother" look on my face? YES....I'm tired.) But Geri was gracious; she looked at all my pictures. Then I returned the favor and looked at all of hers. We asked each other all the usual questions about mutual friends: have you seen ____? have you heard from ____? What's ___up to now? Although the crux of the night's conversation revolved around THE DOGS. And why not? They are the foundation of our friendship. As a matter of fact, as I reflect on it, most ALL of my friendships in the last 15 or so years have been because of my dogs. God bless them everyone.........

We did manage to discover that both of us have been knitting quite a bit lately. So, now we'll have another topic to explore. Probably be some variation on knitting for dogs...........

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Vivi Chronicles

Tomorrow will be two weeks since Vivi came to stay. Only two weeks? My God, it seems like YEARS. God was so good to me: He only gave me four-legged children to deal with. I'm not sure I could have handled the two-legged variety. As I think of this past week, I remember what a friend said when I was trying to find just the right name for her. My friend suggested "Cute-As-Shit-House-Wrecker". I think she must be some sort of seer or something.

But it's not the house. Oh sure, there have been peeing and pooping accidents. Trying to eat things one shouldn't. Typical puppy stuff. Those are expected and dealt with. Oh no. This is bigger than that. We're talking disruption of long-held beliefs in the Universe. Or, at least the Universe of Dosido Farm.

Dosi and Blue have come to believe that Vivi is the spawn of hell. Only here to make their lives miserable. The tension produced by this alteration in their cosmic world has been bordering on the cataclysmic. Just when I think integration of the newest satellite is on the horizon, another rip in the Terrier Space/Time Continuum erupts. Needless to say, as the Commander in Chief of this merry (??) little band, my nerves are frayed. Keeping peace amongst the Indians has proven to be more difficult than expected.

I just don't remember absorbing a new puppy in to the household being this hard. Ahh, but I was younger then. Dosi was younger then. Blue didn't think the world revolved around Himself yet. No wonder older women don't have babies. I wonder if there's a cutoff age for puppies, too?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Seismic Scottie Part 2

Well, Miss Vivi has been here one week and a day. In that time, she's had her head peed on twice: once by Dosi and once by Blue. Neither were intentional. She just had to figure out about which end does what.

Dosi has decided to babysit. Reluctantly and only once in a while, but at least she's not barking and/or growling at Vivi every time the poor thing barely touches her.

Blue tried to behead her 3 times earlier in the week. Since then, he's resorted to just growling and curling that upper lip so his oh-so impressive fangs show a little. He's cracking though. Every so often he forgets that he's supposed to hate her. Instead, he sniffs and does a little nose touch. It's just a matter of time; his fate is sealed.

Today, she got to visit the hair salon and be ooh'd and aah'd over. That trip would have been good except that she got carsick on the way home 3 times. We definitely will have to work on that as she will be a going Jesse once her show career starts.

Also, today she had a big shadowbox tump over on top of her. That was plenty scary. It's the first time I've really seen her afraid of anything. We'll revisit that spot several times over the next few days to prove that that particular corner isn't out to get her.

Puppy life.......never a dull moment.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Seismic Scottie

This past Monday a very small black Scottie created a very HUGE shift in the day-to-day existence of the dogs and humans alike living in the household. Her name is Darlen's Hot Child in the City (call name "Vivi"). She was 11 weeks old on that day...... going on 21. She has a mind of her own and isn't afraid to use it. She has already mastered the basic arts of Scottie Manipulation and is fast becoming more than capable in Airedale linguistics. To see her "talk back" to 12-year old Dosi with a bark that makes your fillings ring is a sight to behold. Dosi's head is bigger than she is, but no matter. Vivi is the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

Alas, she is not having quite as much success with her Scottie housemate, Blue. Blue is 4 and has ruled this roost from the time he arrived, also at 11 weeks old. He sees absolutely no need to give up his crown to this little smart aleck baby. There have been several instances of out and out warfare, as he is not prepared to give up without a fight. For his pains, he has been thoroughly chastised, but remains unyielding. (So much for me believing that I am the alpha bitch of this house!) Up until now, Blue has been the most mannerly, well-behaved Scottie you could ask for. He is now fast approaching the most stubborn. But I know something he doesn't: Vivi will get older. Vivi will turn in to a girl. Blue loves girls -- all of them, big or little. Where once he disdained all her efforts at friendship, when the recognition comes, she will be calling the shots. He only thinks his world has been rocked now. Give it a few months and it will turn inside out.

I wonder if we can all live that long?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

UMMMM....that leather smell!

A new car is a thing of beauty. And if it's yours, so much the more beautiful. I took possession of my new car on Friday. No, I haven't been in it every day, but almost. It took me most of one morning just to decide what to put back in it from the "stuff" that came out of the Montana van. The amount of debris, junk, trash and "why-do-I-have-this" items was incredible. Apparently over the years, I have considered that each car ride was the equivalent of a Girl Scout camp-out!

Knives, corkscrews, plastic eating utensils (some new, some used), rain hats/tarps/ponchos, flashlights (yes, plural), a roll of paper towels, plastic sheeting........oh, the list just goes on and on. A lot of it just got thrown away. Only about a quarter made it back to the pristine confines of my new Honda Pilot. I have taken a solemn oath to not junk this car up. We'll see how that goes.

Of course, this does not apply to anything necessary to the comfort, care or entertainment of the dogs. Who, by the way, have not enjoyed a ride yet. I'd like to revel in the new leather smell just a little bit longer. And not have to look out of windows fogged with Dog Art Snool. For now, I am enjoying riding along to the sound of XM radio without panting or snoring in the background.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Fly Away Home

Just a little update on the bird situation. Everybody must have gotten away safely, because the parents aren't swooping through the yard and I don't see any little bits bobbing around the grass. Whew! I'm thankful I didn't have to take some small feathered beastie out of another beastie's mouth. I'm also thankful that my fine feathered friends are living in another birdy condo because my gardenias are beginning to bloom and it will be nice to be able to cut some without disturbing a nest babbling with fledglings.

All the while I was stressing over the cardinal babies in the back, the little brown wren family on the front porch struck their tent for parts unknown as well. Yesterday morning when I went to check on them, they were gone.

Good luck y'all........Fly On! I'll keep the feeders filled for you!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

File a Flight Plan

For the last 10 days or so, I've been on baby bird watch. Right outside the back door, a mother cardinal built a nest and proceeded to hatch out 3 eggs. I can't imagine what she was thinking, as this is a highly traveled path from the house to the yard both by the human inhabitants and the canine ones. (Can you say, "Bird Brain?")

This morning as we all trooped out the door on our way to the kennel for breakfast, I stopped to take stock of the situation as I have every morning for days. Lo and behold, 2 baby cardinals were sitting on the edges of the nest. Baby #3 was nowhere to be seen. I'm telling myself he/she had already flown the coop, but I'm afraid that might be a lie. I'll know when I go out to trim the gardenia bushes where the nest resides. Then I noticed that Mom & Pop were flying from pillar to post, chirping their little hearts out. Surely, I thought, they can't be calling them out of the nest THIS early. They just hatched out a little over a week ago. Wrong. That's exactly what they were doing.

It's been hard to do anything much today for running to the windows every 20 minutes to see what's going on. First, babies were perching in gardenia limbs. Next thing I knew, there was one sitting in the chain link fence. A little while later, there was one flopping over in the hosta bed. Finally, about an hour ago, both of them were sitting somewhere off the ground at least: one each in the whiskey barrels sitting under the Bradford pear tree. (#3 is still MIA.) The parents were still zooming around every few minutes trying to get them to try those wings -- that, by the way, have hardly any feathers on them to speak of to my way of thinking.

Five minutes ago, I looked outside. Nothing. No parents. No babies. No chirping. I hope they've made it out of the backyard or at least up in the tree. Keeping two terriers in the dark about flopping baby birds is hard work. Tonight I'm taking the nest out of that gardenia. I'd rather not be on call again soon as the protector of fledgling flyers.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Oh, for the Gypsy Life!

I'm getting a new car soon. That may not be a big deal to many, but since I haven't had a truly "new" car since about 1978, it's a very big deal to me. And I'm truly conflicted about the whole entire thing. I want it..........I think.

First let me say that I adore the car I have right now. It's a big ole 2002 Pontiac Montana van (that they don't even make anymore) and it holds the WORLD. I know, because I've stuffed it full on many, many occasions. It holds all the dog paraphanalia you could ever hope to take to a show, a trial, an anything. Crates and tables and grooming supplies.....even a bag of clothes for moi. It rides like a dream; the sound system is wonderful; the seats are the most comfortable I've ever had in a car. I haven't had one second's worth of trouble out of it. So, why am I trading it in on a new Honda Pilot?

To tell the truth, I'm not sure. I guess because in the last six years, I've put over 112,000 miles on it...happy, happy miles for the most part. But I don't always have company on road trips and now there's just this little hint of questionable "trustworthiness" that rides with me. As long as I had my OnStar, I felt safe. But it's gone now (damn that digital stuff) and so lately I've begun to wonder. Plus, I've been thinking of downsizing the car a little bit to go along with downsizing the stuff that keeps threatening to take over my house. And wonder of wonders, guess what I've discovered today?

Yes, my car has turned in to a gypsy's caravan wagon. I didn't see it coming. I was blind to the RV condition it has acquired. I began cleaning out the car in preparation for the call that the new one is here. I can't begin to tell you the crap that has been quietly accumulating. No wonder I don't get better gas mileage. Granted, some of it is stuff I've continued to think of as necessary, even though I haven't had occasion for much of it in the last two years: an extra folding chair to sit in at dog shows, a sun tarp to put over an exercise pen, TWO rolls of paper towels, a whole collection of clamps to connect "stuff", a bag of dog water buckets, toys, extra leashes, etc. etc., an extra grooming smock, the golf umbrella, a small garbage can, dozens of CDs and even tapes (that I never listen to anymore), an old shower curtain (don't ask). There must have been 4 dozen 20% off coupons for Bed, Bath & Beyond stuck in the driver's door pocket. Plus, lists of books to check out at the library some day.

Yes, I have lived out of my car. Eat there, nap there, camp out of it, groom dogs in it, socialize in it. I'm in the car what feels like most of my life. I'm not going to be able to do all that with the new Pilot. No room at the inn. It's going to be a hard adjustment to make. My gypsy wandering ways are about to change. At least it won't be a Vespa.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Maid Comes on Mondays

Yes, today is "maid" day. I really like this one. She's been coming for quite some time now. She's not one of those "chatty Kathy" types; just does the work. Sings occasionally, but I like music. She keeps talking about retiring and every time she does, I think, "Oh my God, what WILL I do if she quits?" The house will be a wreck and I'll be cranky. Probably more than cranky. Probably just downright ILL. I just can not get along without her. How can I entice her to stay?

Okay, so the damn maid is me. And I've been maiding now for what seems like a small eternity..... not a big one, just a small one. Today as I was cleaning the commode for the fifty-eleventh time in my life, a thought popped up uninvited: some people DO STUFF....some people clean toilets. Now, I'll be the first one to admit that I like a decently clean house. At least one that visitors can't pick up any zootic diseases from while they're there. But there just has to be something in life other than a clean bathroom.

I do want to retire from domestic management. After 30 some odd years, I think I'm due a gold watch (and lots of other things besides). But since the job is ongoing and there doesn't seem to be anyone else standing in line to do it, I guess full retirement is out of the question. So, I'm now giving myself permission to go part-time. If things aren't as clean or as neat or as organized or as whatever it is I've always thought they should be, who cares? Not me..... I'm moving on to some other activities. Hmmmm. Let me see now. What exactly would those be? I'll think on it while I vacuum.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring Has Not Sprung

I hate to resort to talking about the weather of all things, but's damn cold outside! And it's raining and gray and the wind's blowing like crazy and it actually HAILED on me at lunchtime.

This is not my spring time of choice, I can tell you. I have things to DO, mostly of the outside variety. Emptying pots for new plants; cleaning out flower beds; putting down fresh mulch; pruning shrubs. All this really makes me sound like an avid gardner, doesn't it? WRONG WRONG WRONG. I'm not. My thumb's not black, but it definitely runs.... ummm.... beige-to-brown in most cases. But, I love the way everything looks after all the work is done. Green and fresh and growing. I just wish that winning lottery ticket would materialize so I could get somebody else to do the actual work/maintenance part of the equation. I'm much better at the admiring part. Oh, and the directing part, as in "could you put in some roses over here" and "those limbs need to be cut right there".

Ah well. I understand from the weather folks (whose guesses are about as good as mine) it's supposed to warm up by the weekend. Yard work can start in earnest. And by the following week, I should be in traction as I struggle valiantly to get it all done. In springtime, my thoughts don't turn to thoughts of love as much as to thoughts of aspirin and massage.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

And The Speedometer Turns

Ah yes. This Tin Lizzie has one more mile on her. Double nickles have now turned to 56 as of today. Baby Sister and Little Mama took me to lunch where I threw out all thoughts of calories and ate my fill. Baby Sister presented me with a perfect birthday gift (besides lunch, that is): one of her very own original paintings of a wonderfully whimsical dragonfly.

Now there is a story behind this dragonfly. At the beginning of the year, I gifted both of us with sterling silver dragonfly charms to mark this year as a "transforming" one for us. Dragonflies are identified with transformation and illusion. This is to be the year of "different", "new" and all those other words that mean different and new. And so far it has been. We're both doing "new and different" things.

Turning 56 is certainly different, if not exactly "new". Somehow it's not quite the thrill that turning 50 was though. 50 was actually pretty magical.... a half century....whew! Maybe I just felt better then. Or something. Because while I don't feel "old" today, I don't feel very "young" either. Oh.....yeah.....I guess that's called MIDDLE AGE, huh? But I'm ready to continue my 2008 transformation, dragonfly style. I just wonder what me will appear next?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dancing with the Stars

Okay, I admit it: I am a sucker for this TV show. I have watched every season except the first. It's the only "reality" show that I've actually picked up the phone and voted for someone. I was asked last night why I like it so much. My reply was that 1) not everybody is old enough to be my child, 2) the "old" people actually do well, and in some cases, surpass the teenybopper crowd, and 3) it's a positive experience for everybody concerned. Not much TV these days that can lay claim to all that. And besides, I like to dance!

As evidenced by the fact that a couple of months ago, I was persuaded to take some dance lessons. And not just your typical, run-of-the-mill, cha-cha/tango/waltz dance lessons. Oh no. These are CAJUN dance lessons. Get down....get lessons. Yes, really.....CAJUN. Bet y'all didn't know about those, did you? Me neither. But boy, are they fun!

So now, I'm out trying to find boots to fit my very slender, narrow feet. IMPOSSIBLE. I have a pair of Frye's that fit fairly well, but haven't come up with any others yet. And a girl has to have more than one pair of Dancing Boots if she wants to twirl with the best of them. Well, at this stage, I think it's safe to say that I am no threat to anyone when it comes to expertise. But you just wait. In a few months, I'll be zydeco-ing and swinging and waltzing.......and all that jazz!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Flashes or Pounds?

It's really not fair. You wait all your life to not have to put up with periods, cramps, and all the related folderol that goes with it. You finally get your wish. But nobody ever tells you what you get in addition.

This morning I got on my scales. I weighed..... a lot more than I want to. What's so depressing is not the weight gain itself, although God knows that's depressing enough. No, it's the CAUSE of the weight gain. Last August I began some hormone therapy. Now this was not a snap decision by any means. I had been sweating, melting and bitching for the previous two years. Oh yes -- and not sleeping, which for me is worse. I kept thinking it would go away. It didn't. So I hied myself to my doctor who immediately said, "I can fix this and you'll think I'm a miracle worker." He did and I did. What he didn't tell me is that over the next 6 months I would put on approximately 8-10 MORE pounds to go along with the 12 I already needed to lose. So, here I am today, 20 pounds overweight and feeling like a beached baby whale. To add insult to injury, my hot flashes and waking up at night have come back! YES! Can you believe it? Not only am I fat, but now I'm fat AND hot. And that "hot" is not in a good way at all. I can see right now that Dr. Miracle Worker and I are going to have to have a "sit down" about this. If I can't get the thermostat turned down by taking hormones, then I can at least shed a few of these pounds by not.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Gone to the Dogs

One of my passions happens to be dogs -- more specifically, MY dogs. But dogs in general, too. I've shown them, trained them, loved them, and yes, spoiled them -- but just a little bit, around the edges. I've done some rescue work and contributed to all kinds of dog causes. I've spent the last 15 years in this doggie world, or as dog people refer to it, "the dog fancy". Like every other hobby of the heart -- NASCAR, bass fishing, figure skating and lots of others -- it has its own culture.

A few days ago, I read a piece on that really brought out the terrier in me (my dogs and I are a lot alike in some respects). Entitled "Time for a Westmuttster dog show", it was written by one of the PETA Faithful Fanatical, Alisa Mullins. (For those of you unfamiliar, PETA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.) Basically, it was a put down of dog shows, show dogs, the owners, potential owners, the breeders, the handlers and the people who derive any enjoyment from watching said dog shows.

Now, I don't know Ms. Mullins from Adam's house cat, but it's apparent to me she doesn't know a damn thing about dogs, dog showing or the people involved in the sport. And I quote:

"Westminster and other dog shows are simply overblown beauty pageants -- nothing more, nothing less. So what if a dog wins. What does it mean? That she was having a really great hair day? How silly is that?"

Well, no sillier than sitting in a boat from dawn to dusk in a drizzly 40 degree day trying to catch a fish, I'd say. And, so what if it is a beauty pageant? It's a friendly competition; people are having fun; dogs are content. What it means is that folks are participating in what they consider to be a wonderful past-time. Back off, sweetie. You're treading on some constitutional rights here. You know. The ones about life, liberty and the pursuit......

According to Ms Mullins though, it is due to dog shows and the dog fancy that there are so many dogs in shelters. And to back up that claim, she throws out some almost-impressive numbers as follows:

"It is estimated that 6 to 8 million animals are abandoned at shelters every year and roughly half are euthanized. Most of thee animals are young, healthy and friendly (and approximately a third of them are purebreds.)"

Let's just take a little closer look at this. According to the latest figures from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there are approximately 72 million (yes ma'am, MILLION) dogs in the U.S. Taking Ms. Mullins' highest shelter figure of 8 million, that would mean that 11% of all dogs are abandoned (a figure still way too high, I agree). If half of those are euthanized, that is about 5%. And if one-third of those animals are purebred, that would be about 1,320,000 dogs, or .018%. Obviously, responsible breeders can't be fingered for filling animal shelters and are not "as culpable in the deaths of shelter dogs as if they had administered the lethal injections themselves". Understand that this comment is made by a senior writer for an animal organization who in 2006 killed 97% of the animals it took in for "adoption". (

Inflammatory pieces such as Alisa Mullins' take the focus away from the true roots of the problem of abandoned animals: shelters that don't do a good job of placing animals and irresponsible people who abdicate their responsibility to care for their animals. Dedicated dog people -- at least all the ones I know or have ever heard of -- actively work to make sure dogs are properly homed and cared for, their own and others as well.

15-20 years ago, animal numbers in shelters were stated as being in the neighborhood of 11-15 million. Numbers have steadily dropped primarily due to public education efforts regarding spay-neuter and responsible ownership. For example, in 1996, 494,998 dogs came in to the California shelter system. The numbers reached a peak of 521,300 in 2002. Since then, statewide shelter admissions have fallen dramatically: 292,531 dogs in 2006. And much of these efforts at public education have been supported, funded and endorsed by kennel clubs, dog performance clubs and breeder/owners across the country.

So, if you have a hankering to really support the WELFARE of dogs, do yourself and them a favor: support your local humane society, shelter, or rescue group with your time, talent and money. And if you have dogs of your own, be responsible in their care. Don't listen to pinheads like those at PETA (and their kissing cousins, HSUS and the Animal Liberation Front). Educate yourself. Animal welfare -- which we all support -- allows us the right to enjoy our animals. Animal rights does not.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?

Choices, choices, choices.........

There's a part of me that's just sick and tired of SO MANY. Just this morning on the Today show, they were discussing -- yet again -- how to create another career after 50. What if I don't want another career? What if I'm done with careers? Will making me feel guilty about not having one motivate me more to find one? I doubt it. I'll just feel guilty. I'd much rather just feel satisfied and content. Why can't they do a show on how to achieve THAT?

It takes a lot of energy, thought and time to filter through all the crap that swirls around to get to the "good stuff". And then, by the time you get there, more options have usually cropped up and the process starts all over again. It's enough to make you want to find the nearest version of Walden Farm and camp out for as long as you can.

Except for a couple of things that sounds like a good option. One, I'm definitely not the camping out type; I like LOTS of hot water and a really good mattress. And two, I'm positive that after several days of "simple silence", I would be bored out of my mind. I mean, you can only gaze at wildlife, knit sweaters, read books and think DEEP THOUGHTS for just so long. I don't know about the rest of you, but sooner or later I need a little more stimulation and one or two really nice single malt Scotches. I guess I could always take the Scotch with me to the wilds, but where would that lead me? An old drunk broad with lots of scarves.........

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Second Chance Adulthood

So, I was reading a definition of "midlife" today which says it's the midpoint of my total projected years on earth. Which means if I live to be 84 -- which I think is about what THEY are predicting for women these days -- and I'm 55 now, I've got about 29 more years to go. I'm slightly halfway to the finish line, as it were. Oh boy. Just what the hell is there to do to fill those almost 30 years? More to the point, if I find stuff to do, will I even feel like doing it? Maybe, maybe not. But like all good Baby Boomers, I'm going to give it my best shot because God forbid that we should actually AGE. I mean, already 50 is the new 30, or so I'm hearing. So, by the time I get to 84, I guess I'll really be just 62, right? (Try telling that to my already creaky body with a straight face.)

When you read about it, it always sounds so simple. Explore your options; have a 2nd, or a 3rd, or a 4th career; pick up long ago-dropped hobbies (and become a famous whatever...artist, writer, scrapbooker..... you name it); travel and see the world (on your somewhat wobbly knees); explore yourself, etc. etc., ad nauseum. Now I ask you: if it were that damn easy to do, wouldn't everybody already be doing it instead of LONGING to do it? Obviously, this dawning of a Second Chance Adulthood is just a tiny bit more complicated than anti-aging gurus would have us believe.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cruising Down Hiway 41

Way back in the late 70s...early 80s, there was such a thing as a "CB radio". I know, not because I had one, but because my father had one in his car. He traveled a lot and on one trip, I went along. This was also during the height of 55 mph speed limits on major highways and interstates due to high inflation, gas prices, etc. etc. Imagine my surprise as my father spoke to all these truckers up and down the highway as we traveled. And most of those conversations were about where "Smokie" (highway patrol) was to avoid tickets. But man......doing 55 was CRAWLING. Especially to a young speed demon like me who regularly drove 80 or better on the interstate. Going fast was F-U-N. (Actually surprised that I'm still alive and kicking due to all that F-U-N.) "Doing double nickels" was the term as I recall. And I just couldn't live with the thought of having to poke down the highway for the rest of my life.

And now, it's 2008. And I'm living the double nickel life for real........not just on the highways and byways. I still like to go fast, just not as often. And sometimes, not even as fast. Being 55, I"m finding, is sort of suited to going 55. Well, sort of. There are plenty of times the heart of that 22 year old beats loud and strong (usually on those flying trips to Atlanta) and the speedometer hovers right on 80. But lately, there are more and more times that 65 or heck, maybe even 60 is plenty fast enough. I consider those my "catching a breath" moments. And I find that now I need a few more of those than I did back then. But that's okay. I'm still cruising and that's what counts. And I'm not running on empty by a long shot.