Sunday, December 18, 2016

Lego Winter Village tableau

I put together a Christmas tableau on my dining room table.  It's made up of 6 kits of varying sizes, plus figures from 2 other kits.

If you move the train the Christmas tree on the flatbed car, revolves.  Very cool kit.

The horse in the sleigh kit can move his head.  Most Lego horses are stationary.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

My Lego ideas was Accepted!

I submitted my idea for Fun at Waterfront Park to Lego Ideas and it was accepted!

So I need people to support my project.

If I get 100 supporters in 60 days, I will then have a year to garner 10,000 votes.  Then maybe Lego will decide to make my kit!  

I've been a Lego fan since I was 8 so this is a big deal. 

So please vote. Sorry, you will need to register to vote. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bogie has not had a good year.

It's been a stressful month.  I never did find out what caused Bogie to have his toe amputated, despite the advanced fungal tests and even more x-rays. 

His foot has healed and mostly seems to not be bothering him.  A couple hours after we go for a walk, he starts to chew on it.  But pain medication stops that. 

Still, we've been to the vet 6 times in the last month. 

His Valley Fever numbers are down.  Yay!  But he kept having a loss of appetite, diarrhea, his coat got rough, and he was shedding up a storm.  Which he usually doesn't do. 

Add to that, he developed a wattle.  Suddenly instead of a smooth throat, he has a ruff.  Sometimes it shrinks almost back to normal, but mostly he looks saggy.  

Lots of test, including 2 days I had to leave him so they could do before he ate/after he ate comparison tests.  

I hate those days.  I have a hard time not feeding him in the morning.  And I won't feed Angel if Bogie can't eat.  Nor will I eat in front of them. 

Bogie goes into the car just before time to leave for the vet, I rush back into the house and feed Angel and gather my work stuff.  Then I eat after I've dropped him off.   

The upshot of all these test is that Bogie has been diagnosed with Addison's disease.  

Addison's is an adrenal disease where the glands fail to produce enough hormones for normal function.  Cortisol is the "bad" word in all those weight loss commercials, but it's necessary to prevent symptoms like weakness, dehydration, low blood pressure, depression, vomiting, blood in feces, and weight loss.

Yeah, those symptoms could be almost anything.  Add to that, Addison's waxes and wanes.  I'm convinced this recent flare-up was from the Valley Fever. 

I've even wondered if the people who abandoned him knew about his condition.  He's had diarrhea off and on ever since I got him.  If they knew, it would have saved me a bunch of money for the tests.

Initial treatment is steroid pills every morning.  Thankfully he's been taking his pills willingly.

Addison's is very rare in dogs. Even rarer in large, male dogs. With odds like these, I should win the lottery.

Bogie has not had a good year.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Bogie and the phantom disease

So I posted earlier that Bogie has Valley Fever.  First he developed a sensitivity to the medication and had to be cut back to half a dose.  Which means taking the fungicide for 5 or 6 months instead of 3. 

Then, his toe started to swell up. 

Took him to his regular vet and had x-rays taken.  The vet figured the swelling was inflammation and gave him antibiotics.  

This is not good news because he does not take pills willingly.  Well, he lets me shove them down his throat without fighting me, but he won't just take them. 

However, when the radiologist looked at the x-rays, it was determined to be more than an infection. 

The bone in his toe was disintegrating.  

So on August 23rd, he had his toe (his left "forefinger") removed.  Apparently, dogs mostly walk on their middle two toes so he should eventually be able to go for walks again. 

However, as of Thursday, he was still limping and sore.  The vets (specialist and regular) both expected him to be pain-free by now.  So he is still on pain pills and off walks. 

They biopsied the toe.  No signs of bacterial or fungal infections.  Or cancer. 

So what the fuck was it?  Do I need to worry about any more digits falling off?  
The lab is going to do an advanced fungal culture to see if anything shows up.  Both vets said the diseased tissue was completely excised and there should be no repercussions.  

I wish I was convinced of that.  

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Lego Homage to Sharknado

Decided to merge two of my favorite things - Legos and Sharknado. 

Happy day at Lego Beach - surfing, dining, playing frisbee, dog training.

Oh NO! Sharknado!

Park side view

Water side view
Fin Shepherd, our hero, with his trusty chain saw. Nova in foreground with rifle.
Horrified, and soon to be eaten, life guard
Heroics and terror
Closeup of Sharknado

Closeup of Sharknado

Interior of Sharknado

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fine! Go ahead.

Bogie is on medication for Valley Fever that seems to be affecting his appetite. 

This morning: 

Dog food bowls five feet apart as usual.  

 Angel finishes before Bogie. Not usual.  

 Bogie eats some. Takes a drink. Eats some. 

Walks around the room. Eats some. 

Steps 3 feet away and just stands there. 

Angel approaches the remaining food. 

Bogie looks at her. She stops dead in her tracks. Then backs up. 

He goes over to the food. Looks at it. Gets a drink of water. 

Then he goes 4 feet away, and lays on the floor with his back to his bowl as if to say, "Fine, you can have it." 

Angel cleans up his bowl.

Angel and Bogie

Sunday, July 17, 2016

What's done can't be undone

Beautiful canopy before the trimming

I was looking at the poor Palo Brea behind my gate. It breaks my heart. Technically not my tree since it is on community property, but I hate how the tree trimmers butchered it.

When the HOA Manager and I walked the basin with the landscaper, I told him not to bother with the Palo Brea, that I would take care of trimming it away from the wall.

He said they would trim it enough to lift the branches off the wall. Sure I said.

Worst decision I could have made.

No “lifting” was done. Instead the trimmers lopped off all of the north branches to distance it from the wall, putting the tree into shock.

And, as any physics student could have told you, because the counterweight from the north branches was gone, the tree started leaning southward down the slope. The only reason it is somewhat upright is that they left the south branches as is. Those are holding the tree up.

I didn’t bother to say anything because what was done can’t be undone.

But that’s the second time I’ve been screwed over by a tree trimmer. A landscaper who was removing a storm-damaged tree offered to trim frost damage off my jacaranda.

 The trimmer proceeded to remove the multiple trunks, which I had specifically chosen the tree for.

And left it looking unbalanced since the remaining trunk leaned east.

Again, what’s done can’t be undone.  In both cases, I've wondered what the trimmers could possibly be thinking? How could they think these were good ideas?

I will never trust a tree trimmer again. Ever. Ever. Every time I think about either tree, I get sad - and angry. 

After trimming

Saturday, July 16, 2016

An early morning walk

One leg of this morning's walk with Bogie:

We got scolded by a cactus wren for walking too close to its cactus.

We heard a bird that sounded like a cellphone, a dove coo and a gilded woodpecker chirp.

We saw a scrawny little chipmunk scamper into its hole

We saw one bunny stay sitting, knowing it was safe behind an iron fence (not shown)

A second bunny ran right in front of Bogie and he gave chase. (But stopped when I called him.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Territorial dispute

While out working in the yard, I saw hawks circling above my yard and the retention basin*, wafting on the air currents.  There were at least 5 of them.

Three dropped down behind the wall.  I hurried over to the east steps to see.  My view of the landing area was blocked, but one large bird was sitting on the ground in plain view. That’s when I realized it wasn’t one of the Harris hawks that nest behind me.  It was a turkey vulture.

I went to get the binoculars and got a close-up of the turkey vulture tearing apart a rabbit.  A hawk watched from a dead tree.  The sitting hawk screeched and launched itself at the turkey vulture.  The vulture flew away.  

But didn’t stay away. It landed again and started picking at the rabbit.  The hawk attacked again.  This happened twice more before they landed where I couldn’t see. 

A little later, the hawk landed on my block wall, looked right at me, and shrieked. I can only assume it was complaining about the interlopers.

*a retention basin is a large depression of dirt or concrete designed to hold the run-off from fast, hard monsoon rains. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Why option a story and then change it?

If you are watching Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries, or reading the books, there are spoilers ahead.  Although we're talking something that was new a year ago, so spoilers should be expected.

Netflix recommended Australia's Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries to me and I loved all three seasons of the series.  Smart, clever characters, great stories.  I was bereft when I ran out of episodes.

And would still love to see a season four, but it's been over a year, so I think that's not likely at this point.

Based on the series, I decided to read the books by Kerry Greenwood.  Equally smart, detailed characters and clever stories.

But very different from the TV series.

In the series there is a whole subplot about Phryne's murdered younger sister.  Didn't happen in the book.  There is also a subplot involving Phryne's ne'er do well father showing up on her doorstep.  Also, didn't happen in the book.

I understand there were 20 books and 34 TV episodes so some stories had to be created.  But why change a fundamental part of a book series that you obviously felt was worthy of being filmed?

I can understand the change of Detective Jack Robinson from compatriot to potential love interest from a production standpoint.  Keep that "will they won't they" tension building.

The loss of one servant (Mrs. Butler) and one adopted daughter (Ruth) can be explained by casting costs.  And maybe the expansion of the roles of Bert and Ces, Dr. Mac, and Hugh lessened the need for supplemental characters.

I still don't know why Aunt Prudence was added.  She is given only a passing mention in the books. Although she was a delightful character in her episodes.

Often the cause and the murderer differed drastically from book to series.

Why keep the title of the books and completely change the story?  I mean, the only thing they kept from Dead Man's Chest was the location and the rumor of pirate treasure.

In the book, the house was a rental and was empty when Phryne, her TWO daughters, and Dot arrived.  The servants were later to be discovered hiding from rum runners. It was a story about intimidation, aspiration, and courage.

In the episode, the servants were murdered. Phryne, Jane, Dot, and Aunt Prudence were to be guests at the home of a woman who, it was discovered, had a serious drinking problem. This one was a story about addiction, obsession, and desperation.

Both worthy stories, but why give the episode the same name as the book?  The culprits were different, the entire book subplot of the movie was abandoned as was Phryne's fake treasure hunt used to lure the villains.

Make new stories with the characters.  Don't remake the existing ones.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Lucky? Bunny

I was standing at the kitchen sink by the window when suddenly Bogie tore out of the doggy door.  He raced to the southeast corner of the yard.  In a flurry of dirt, he grabbed something and came trotting back towards the house. 
A bunny!
I ran outside in my bare feet and yelled at him.  He dropped it.  
The bunny raced off but came up against the block wall where Bogie grabbed him again.  The poor bunny.  How could he have known he wandered into a closed off area?
I yelled again.  In fact, I was yelling No, No, No, No at the top of my voice. 
Bogie dropped the bunny again.  This time the bunny tore off towards the front of the yard and almost made it to the front gate. 
I never realized before how fast Bogie can run.  
I ran back inside to get shoes.  When I came back out, Bogie was in the grass, standing over the bunny on the ground.
Bogie didn't stop me from grabbing the bunny off the ground.  But as I tried to move away with it, he came toward me.  
Before Bogie could grab it back, I ran and dropped the bunny over the wall into the retention basin.  That's at least a 6 foot drop.  
I didn't even know if it was alive.  There had been no time to check when I grabbed it out from under Bogie's nose. 
I went out into the retention basin to check whether it was dead or how badly it was hurt. 
Stunned, of course.  It lay there on the dirt looking broken. 
I carefully picked it up and straightened it up, stroking it, talking to it.
There was lots and lots of slobbery fur, but no blood. 
No apparent broken bones. There was no way to tell if there was any internal damage. 
It blinked at me.  I wished it could tell me if it was okay. 
I set it carefully in a shady pile of vegetation under a tree and hoped for the best. It was looking around when I walked away. 
The next morning I went back out to check on it.  The bunny was gone.  
There was no signs of a struggle like a coyote or hawk had gotten it.  
It just looked like the bunny had recovered from his trauma and hopped home to share his terrifying story.  
I hope so. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I rely on notes for everything

I rely on notes to remind me about everything.  Dentist appointment? On the calendar. Vet appointment?  On the calendar.

For this coming week?  Also on the dry-erase board.

Need to pick up mayo, bread, and chicken?  On the grocery list.

Don't want to forget to water the jacaranda today.  On the dry-erase board.

Need to weed the front yard?  On the weekend chore list.

Need to change the batteries in the smoke alarms?  Put it on the master chore list.

Rooms left to paint?  On the painting list.  This despite I can visibly see which rooms need to be painted.

I have lists for everything.  I like checking things off as they have been completed.

But I am wondering if it is affecting my ability to remember without them.

I've needed to trim down the stump of a dead tree for 6 months.  I see it every time I look out the kitchen window.

But when I think about the things I have to do for the day, that doesn't pop into my head.  It's not on any of my lists.

I guess I should have expected this.  It's a well known phenomenon to put all your contact phone numbers in your phone and promptly lose the ability to recite them.

Why should to-dos be any different?

I'm not sure whether this is a problem or not.  Does needing a reminder to weed have any negative affect on my brain's functions?

I hope not.

Monday, June 13, 2016

No, really, I don't remember

Conversation with my sister.

Sister: Do you remember ?

Me: No.

Sister:  Sure you do.  He was in the class behind you, tall, blond.

Me: No.

Sister:  He hanged around with .

Seriously?  Why does me saying I don't remember generate any further conversation?

Does she think I'm lying about not remembering?  Does she think that if she hits on the right keyword I will suddenly remember some random person who went to the same school in a town I lived in 30 years ago?

I generally end up saying "What about him?" just to derail the memory train.

It happened again this week with someone else.

Her:  Do you remember when you planted those trees at the old house?

Me: No. I don't remember any trees.

Her. In the front yard. Planted 2 small trees.

Again, why does me saying I don't remember generate any further conversation?

The past is the past.  My memories of the past are in deep storage, or off-loaded into a pensieve.

Prompting has never resulted in me remembering someone or something.

So when you ask me if I remember, and I say No, just say what you wanted to say in the first place.

I really don't remember.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Because it's always been that way

Recently I've been trying to evaluate what I am keeping, spending, and doing that may have worked once, but no longer does.

Step one was to realize that I didn't get any enjoyment out of the daily newspaper any longer. Reading the paper with my breakfast was becoming a depressing start to my day. I  found GoComics which is $12 a year for tons of color comics via email versus $82 for the newspaper.

The point wasn't to save money.  The point was to re-evaluate my choices.

Step two was to tackle the closets and cupboards.  If you don't even remember you have a curling iron, and you haven't used it in 5 years, do you really need to keep it?

No.  Better to give it to charity for someone that will use it.  This was the fate of a lot of clothes and household items.

Is my environment bare and minimalistic?  Not in the least, but my mind set has changed a little bit. Just because I have room to store something, doesn't mean I should store it.

Will I actually use it?  Will I remember I have it when I do need it?  If the answer is probably not, then out it goes.

Television is my current foray.  I was spending $100 a month on satellite TV and only watching maybe 7 channels.  Of course, the ones I liked were only in a higher tier.

I bought a digital antenna.  It gets 20+ channels that assuages my need for immediate, decision-free noise.

Then I tried a handful of subscription services and free services before settling on a combination that works for me.  Even if I decide to pay for a season of Doctor Who, I am financially ahead.

And because streaming services require a little more effort and forethought, my TV watching is more deliberate.  Less noise.  More content.

More bingeing.

I'm not sure what I will tackle next.  Part of me thinks I don't really need shelves and shelves of physical books.  Part of me can't part with a book series.

The goal isn't to get rid of everything.  The goal is to only do or keep something with good reason.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hmm, maybe I do understand why my electric bill is so high.

I prided myself on keeping my average electric bill under $100.  Which is a miracle in Phoenix, Arizona.

Then they changed out my meter.

Turns out, the meter was under-reporting my usage.  The charges are re-evaluated quarterly.  First it went up to $112, then $133. And this was before I even turned on the air conditioner.

I thought to myself, what the heck could be using all that electricity?  Nothing is running.

Well, let's define nothing. These items are on all-day, every day.

4 cordless telephones and an answering machine.
The clock on the stove.
The clock on the microwave.
The refrigerator.
An instant-on television.
A Chromecast.
An Amazon Fire Stick.
A Wi-Fi Extender
7 smoke alarms
A computer hosting my doggy cams
7 doggy cams
A modem/router
2 computer monitors I let sleep, but never turn off.
An electric water heater
A water recirc pump
An electric toothbrush charger
3 tool chargers

Plus items that are on daily, but not all day:
2 cellphone chargers
2 floor fans
3 ceiling fans

I think I'm lucky my bill isn't even higher.

And maybe I need a few less electronics.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Hoarding - the good kind

I grew up with a hoarder.  My dad had an office where he wrote that had stacks and stacks of books, magazines, and newspaper piled everywhere.  One summer I was even paid to go through a couple newspaper stacks and cut out articles on para-phenomena and throw the newspaper away.

At home, the clutter was restricted to the basement, and his home office.  So I really didn't realize how bad the problem was.

Until he and my mom divorced.

Without my mom's constant attendance, the clutter expanded.  When my brother came back from New York for a family reunion, he was so appalled that he paid to have my dad's place cleaned up.

But it didn't last.

When my dad died, every room in the house, the garage, and the basement, was full of stuff.  There was a path from the front door to the kitchen and to the bedroom.  He ate at a tiny corner of the dining room table.  The rest of it was piled high with papers.

So I was reluctant to admit that I am a bit of a hoarder myself.

I have gotten tired of finding a piece of clothing I like, have it wear out, and never, ever find it again.

So when I find the perfect bra, I buy several and store them away.  Socks that fit and are comfortable.  Buy a bunch of those.

The perfect jeans?  Well, those are kind of expensive, so I don't stockpile those.  But I'll buy one more pair than I need.

My biggest fear was that this behavior was leading me onto the path of the hoarder.

Then I discovered that my sister does this, too.  Now she comes from the same shaky family tree so that was only sort of comforting.

But when my best friend said that she does it too, I felt such a relief.

I'm not a hoarder.

I'm being proactive.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The 20-minute toy

My sister came over the other day so I could do her taxes.  She brought a toy for each of the dogs.  As I did the taxes, she watched Bogie destroy the hedge hog.  She was laughing and I think he was showing off.

She did help clean up the stuffing. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Attitude is all (or most)

So after my really bad day, the next day turned out to be even worse.

Let me just say I found myself car-less, after the rental car places were closed, and after a half mile walk, my sister didn't answer her door.

I had a mini-meltdown. Turns out she was home after all, but the doorbell doesn't work. She was able to give me a ride home.

During the drive, she wondered why all this was happening to me now. I off-handedly replied, "17-year-old car, 17-year-old house, 8-year-old dog."

But I wondered if maybe it was more involved than that?

I firmly believe that you get from the universe what you put into it. And I realized I have been floating a boatload of negativity towards the universe. Mostly because of my job.

It’s only reasonable that it would come back to me. And I resolved to stop looking at the negative in all the situations.

And almost immediately, problems became more manageable. I was able to sleep better. And I returned to my cheerful, former self.

And I swear my luck changed for the better.

The car was fixed and ready to be picked up the next day. Although I ended up taking it back twice more, they didn't charge me any additional money. I did have to rent a car for one more night, but I got that one from Hertz and they treated me much better.

The smoke alarms will take a little bit of work to replace, but that’s the cost of owning a home. Things need to be fixed or replaced periodically. Alarms are supposed to last 10 years. These were installed when the house was new, seventeen years ago.

And a co-worker had already done the research on good replacements. I have them now, waiting for me to get around to replacing them. Supposedly, they are easy to replace.

And Angel will get better with time. She is in a good humor, so not in a lot of pain.

And work bothers me less.  I even got an unexpected day off, with pay.

My attitude change has made it easier to deal with work and the various travails that life throws at me.

And I daresay, I'm more pleasant to be around now.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Today has to be better ...

Yesterday kind of sucked.  I surprised myself by being resigned instead of getting upset.  
My 17 year old car needs a new air conditioner compressor.  People think, well, just don't use the air conditioner.  It's not that simple.  This compressor is part of the serpentine belt that runs the car.  If the compressor stops, so does the car. 
I left work early to get to the garage at one in the hopes that they could fix it in one day.  My mechanic was confident that they could.  I sat in the waiting room for 3 hours, reading Scientific American and playing games on my phone. 
At 4, he came out and said they have to keep it.  The supplier sent the wrong compressor.
I called Enterprise rentals and arranged a car.  Yikes! Twice as expensive as the last time I rented one.  $85 a day – economy or compact car. Damn Cactus League. 
I arranged for them to pick me up.  They said it would be between 5 and 5:30.  An hour or more from when I called.  I considered walking, but the location was just far enough that I wouldn’t get there any sooner if they made the early pickup time. 
I had finished my magazine and the battery was very low on my phone.  I sat and waited, trying to meditate,and  keep my mind blank.  It worked.  For two minutes at a time.  
Enterprise closes at 6.  At 5:25, I called them again.  I got the distinct impression they had forgotten me, since he said someone would be on the way right away.  They were just over two miles from me.  It still took them 15 minutes to get me.  
The rental office is in a temporary location about ½ mile closer than the original one.  Had I known that, I would definitely have walked. 
It was 6 pm before I left the lot. I pulled into my home garage at 6:30.  Kept hearing beeping.  Thought something was wrong with the car.  
Opened up the door to the house.  Every smoke alarm I have, all 6, was screeching.  I don’t know how long the dogs had to put up with it.  Pulling the batteries from each would have meant listening to the cacophony for longer than I could stand. 
I went outside, hoping the circuit was clearly marked, and shut off the circuit breaker to the smoke alarms.  Blessed quiet.  Interrupted by sporadic beeps.  I pulled the batteries out of the beeping alarms.  Now there was truly quiet. 
And then I noticed that Angel was limping, badly.  She is on pain medication for inflammation.  I wonder if the medication made her feel better and she over did it.  Or did the smoke alarms startle her into escaping too quickly?


Friday, March 18, 2016

Not good customer service ...

I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon and I generally have good luck with them  
But I bought a birthday tie for Bogie from one of their third party vendors and didn't get it.  
Honestly, I'm not sure who is responsible if the Post Office says it was delivered, but the recipient didn't get it. 
I do know that a careless and condescending email is not the correct response. 
Their email infuriated me.
"Since the tracking information suggests the package was delivered, we would suggest one of the following based on our past experience -
- Check with your local post office
- Check with your neighbors if the package was delivered to the next door by mistake
- Check on your front porch, patio, or outside garage where the package may have been delivered"
Let's take these "suggestions" one at a time. 
1) I don’t think I should be the one contacting the post office.  I wasn’t the one that shipped it.  Besides, the post office said they put it in my box in the cluster mailboxes.   I assumed that for $4.95 to mail the tie, the shipper would have had insurance.  Which they have to claim. 

2) Yes, let me ask my neighbors if they got my mail by mistake and decided to keep it.  Might as well accuse them of thievery.  Good advice. 

3) The tracking slip said it was delivered to my mailbox.  Sure, let me check my front porch, patio, garage entry, and anywhere else it wasn't delivered to.  

The tie did end up on my front porch about 9 days later. 

But the communication left a lasting, sour aftertaste. 

P.S. I had never seen a cluster mailbox until we moved to Arizona.  This is what I mean, although ours has more cubicles;

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Job hunting is confusing.

I wasn't officially looking for work (yet), but I was offered a chance to interview for a job that seemed ideal.

Except -

I blew the phone interview.  Badly.  I got nervous and overly concerned about using proper terminology and blanked out on questions I knew the answers to.


I didn't get a follow-up in-person interview.  And I expected that I wouldn't get an offer.

I was grateful that they emailed me to tell me I wasn't getting the position, instead of leaving me hanging.

But I found the rejection email confusing.

It stated "We encourage you to follow us and see if there are other roles in the future that may be a good fit."  

Umm.  How would that work?  I applied for the job I thought I was qualified for.  You politely disagreed.  

If I were to apply again, it would be the same type of job.  

Would I magically be more qualified in the near future? 

I'm sure the text was just boilerplate that someone thought would be comforting.  

It wasn't. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Trying to be good.

Out walking the dogs in the afternoon.  Our usual route takes us behind the nearby grocery store.  As we were walking, the dogs heard someone coming up behind us.  
A man was walking a well-mannered boxer-type dog.  So, another large dog.  
Bogie and Angel kept turning around to look.  Especially Bogie. 
I wanted to stay ahead of the other dog so there would be no danger of a confrontation.  Honestly, I can't always hold Bogie if he wants to get away. 
Bogie turned and sat.  I pulled him forward.  
Bogie turned and sat.  I pulled him forward.  
This happened twice more before I realized that what he was saying was, "Mom, I want to be good.  I will sit here and watch the dog and I will be good."
So I let him sit on the opposite side of the driveway.  I had a good grip on the leash.  But he didn’t pull away even once.  

We watched the dog and man pass.  I let them get far ahead of us and around the building corner before starting out again with my dogs.  
Bogie was good the whole rest of the way home. 
I was so proud of him.  (Angel is always good.)



Tuesday, March 8, 2016

"All Natural" doesn't mean safe

Listened to a radio ad this morning touting some "all natural" weight loss product.  

The FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives.  Basically, if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances, it can be called "natural". 

So manufacturers can basically slap the label on a wide variety of products that aren't necessarily good for you. 

A quick search on Amazon lists deodorant, all-purpose cleaners, cookies, fruit snacks, dog treats, and vitamins. All bearing the marketing buzzword of "All Natural". 

I don't understand how and why "all natural" came to mean better, or safer. 

Salt is all natural. Too much isn't good for you.  

Hemlock is all natural. Not safe. 

Cyanide is all natural. Also not safe. 

Hemlock, belladonna, wolfsbane, oleander - you get the picture. All natural. NOT safe. 

For me, saying something is all natural is not a selling point.  

Tell me that you make it from pesticide free materials.  

Tell me that you didn't add any artificial flavors or colors.  

Tell me that no animals were harmed in the development of this product. 

Those are claims I can get behind.  

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Please leash your dog

It was a lovely morning for a walk. 
After about 3 1/2 miles, Bogie and I came around the corner on our home stretch. A truck in the driveway hid the fact that the second house had his bulldogs out.  
Off leash.  
He is a nice man and was standing with them in the front yard, holding his 2-year-old son.   
He said, "Don’t worry.  They’re all right.." as they toddled towards Bogie.  
He touched noses with the smaller one.  Then the bigger bulldog started growling and snapping at Bogie. 
Bogie, of course, growled and snarled back.  
I'm struggling to pull Bogie back, which is pointless because the bigger bulldog kept pushing forward. The smaller one backed away. 
The man quickly put his son down, who promptly started to wail. Loudly.  
He pulled the two dogs away from Bogie, And I pulled Bogie farther back.
But the man let go of the dogs.  The smaller bulldog toddled off to the house when commanded to do so.
Bogie and I started to move away.  
The bigger bulldog rushed at him and started fighting again.  The man yelled at and kicked at the bulldog to get him to stop.  Then grabbed him and held him as Bogie and I made our escape across the street. 
He apologized, grabbed his son, and pushed the bigger bulldog into the house. 
I checked Bogie over and there was a red indentation on his neck.  It could have been a tooth.  Or it could have been the prong collar as I tried to pull him away. 
He stayed close by my side for a block before starting to explore again.  
I don’t know if he thought I was mad at him, or if he was protecting me.  Which is what I think he was doing when he responded to the bulldog.

I really wish people would keep their dogs on a leash.  

Friday, February 26, 2016

Dogs choose to obey us

As I was pulling at Bogie and saying "Leave it!" so he wouldn't eat food off the ground that is probably rancid, I wondered, Why did he leave it?

It would have taken him only nano-seconds to scarf up whatever that was.  And he can certainly withstand any tugging I do on the leash.

But he didn't.  He left the tasty garbage and walked with me.

Other than the occasional mishap, Bogie does whatever I tell him.

Don't chase the birds.
Don't pull my arm off.
Wait for Angel to finish sniffing.
This way.
Stop barking.
Sit (and ignore the dog that is passing by)

Really, if he wanted to, he could ignore any of these commands.  He's bigger than I am.  He's stronger than I am.  I can't stop him if he insists on doing something.  And there are the teeth.

But he doesn't insist.

Dogs have agreed to do what we ask of them.  In fact, there are studies that say wolves domesticated themselves, becoming the dogs we (hopefully) love and care for.  (Dogs Domesticated themselves)

They get a benefit from living with us that is greater than the inconvenience of doing what we want them to do.

I, for one, am grateful they have chosen to be our companions.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Rocky highways

I've driven highways through each of the 48 contiguous states.

Arizona is the worst for highway rock strikes.

I've driven gravel roads in Iowa and Illinois where my car got hit by fewer rocks than it does on a daily basis during my commute.

Of course, the drivers on the gravel roads weren't going 70 miles per hour.

My 17-year-old car has numerous dings in the paint.  My windshield is held together by repair resin.  Why should I replace it when the very next day it will probably get cracked?

Yesterday, I was driving home, enjoying the music on the radio and the lovely weather.  I had the driver's side window down about halfway.

Which is odd, because I usually have it down all the way.

I hear a loud ping by my left ear, and turn my head just as a rock ricochets off the edge of the window and glances off my cheek.

No damage done, other than startling me.

But I wonder how hard that rock would have hit me, and where, if I had the window open all the way?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

I've moved more often than the average American

According to the Census Bureau, it is estimated that a person in the United States can expect to move 11.7 times in their lifetime. Link

Despite the fact that I hate to move, I have somehow managed to beat the average having lived in 15 places - so far. 
  • Three towns in Iowa while I was still a minor. 
  • Five places in and around Clinton between the ages of 18 and 25.  Two places used wood stoves for heat.  One had been used as a storage shed before being rented out.  I learned that getting dressed right next to the wood stove is only a good idea if you don't stumble.  I had a burn scar on my thigh for years.  I also learned that geese are mean. 
  • One place after my divorce, then back in with my parents. 
  • Rented an apartment in an old mansion cut up into apartments.  My new boyfriend moved in the day I moved in.  
  • Stored all our stuff at my in-laws for two years while we drove truck cross-country. So technically I guess that was an address.  
  • Bought a house in rural area north of Clinton. We had 3 acres and a house where we stayed when we weren't out driving truck.  Loved that house, except for the mouse infestation.  And the annual bat incursion.  One day I looked out of the kitchen window to see a large barn owl sitting in the tree staring back at me. Another day I looked up and saw a bald eagle at the top of one of my trees.  A possum hissed at me.  A garter snake chased me. 
  • When that marriage ended in a surprise divorce, I moved back to Clinton into a sweet little house with a flower garden. Most vivid memory was when the basements on either side of me flooded.  I checked on the older woman next door and her small freezer was floating in her basement. 
  • With little job prospects in Clinton, we followed my mother to Arizona.  First was a small condo with a single carport and a tiny, tiny patio. Then to a house on what was then the outskirts of town with more square footage, a garage, and a yard.  
This is where I have been for  the past 17.5 years. Good neighbors.  Room for my dogs.  Nice area to walk in. 

I'm hoping this is my last address, but I suspect at some point I will want or need a smaller place, or a single story.  

Friday, February 5, 2016

I've been feeling pretty good. So why am I worried?

I have frequent headaches. And a stiff neck.  

One or both could be related to my seriously bad posture from hunching over a computer keyboard for years. Which I am trying to fix.

Or allergy.

Or falling out of a second-story window when I was two years old.

In short, I don't know what causes either the headaches or the neck pain.

But this past week I have been gloriously pain-free.

Have I enjoyed it?

Well, yes. But I have also been puzzled. And worried.

Puzzled because I don't know why this week is any different than last week. While I appreciate the lack of pain, I want it to continue. Forever.

So what am I doing right this week that I was doing wrong last week?

And I worry about when the pain will return. It seems inevitable that it will.

I worry when I turn my head and feel a twinge. Is this when the neck pain returns?  I stretch my neck and the twinge subsides.

Head starts to ache, just a bit. I get up from my desk and stretch. So far so good.

I don't know anyone who isn't in some kind of pain, regardless of age. It seems to be an integral part of life.

But I would really like a nice, longer, span of pain-free days.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The fragile workplace

It takes so little to mess up an enjoyable workplace.  A work environment is a piquant blend of location, office, equipment, and co-workers.

I had a wonderful job a few years back.  Bright and airy environs.  Collaborative team mates.  Open and communicative management.

Then the upper management changed.  And the company moved to a new location.  The atmosphere became dark and oppressive.


The area I was assigned to was between two walls with no window access.  And the senior personnel decided that they wanted it dark.  So the blinds were always drawn.  And the lights were kept to a minimum.

I had to bring in a desk lamp to even see my paperwork.

And the collaborative nature of the company evaporated.  It became an Us versus Them attitude.

I left that job when I found myself crying in the car on the way to work.

Now I see issues in my current company.

Cost-cutting has left us short-handed but the schedule hasn't been adjusted to compensate.  Everyone is over-worked.  Joking and cheeriness is at an all time low.

The boss that had a talent for deescalating tensions was replaced by a less experienced manager with a knack for amping up the pressure.

He and a lateral manager disagree on almost everything.  I agree with each of them on different items.  It's like being in the middle of my parent's divorce all over again.

Everyone is trying their best, but the mood is hurried, dark, and frantic.

I'm not to the point of crying on my way to work.  Yet.

But I can no longer say I enjoy my job.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Tell my mind I'm not decrepit.

I was outside today weeding, bending over and reaching down to grab an errant clump of grass.  I stood back up and stumbled on the paver behind me.

The first thought that popped into my mind was, I hope I'm not losing my balance in my old age.


When did my mind automatically jump to decrepitude when anything untoward happens?

If I forget the word I want to write or say, I worry I am getting senile.

If I ache or groan when I stand up, I worry that I am becoming feeble.

If I leave my keys in my other coat when I change coats between dogs, I worry that I am losing my mental acuity.

I stumbled because the ground was uneven.

I forget the word I want to write or say because the hard drive is full, people. It takes longer to retrieve the perfect word when you know so many words.

I may groan when I stand up - sometimes.  But so do the young men I work with.  Muscle aches are a symptom of over-activity, not frailty.

The house keys I left in my other pocket because I was hurrying to change into a lighter coat while leashing Angel and trying not to get tangled in Bogie's leash.

All logical explanations that don't include being infirm or doddering.

So why was age my first thought?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Oddest refusal statement

Bogie and I do pet therapy volunteer work 2 or 3 times a month at the nearby hospital.  We visit for an hour or 90 minutes before he becomes "peopled" out, loses interest, and becomes inattentive.

He wears a neck tie and we walk around the wards visiting with staff, visitors, and patients.  People are impressed by his size and his calm demeanor.  And they are tickled by a dog wearing a neck tie.

Most people are thrilled to see him.  He's a welcome distraction in their day.  Others either don't like dogs or are intimidated by his size.  I can understand that and we move on to the next room.

Sometimes  patients are busy with their doctors and we don't interfere.  Generally, if there is a nurse or technician attending the patient, we are still welcomed with enthusiasm.  Whatever discussion or procedure was in progress is put on temporary hold while everyone gets some canine attention.

But the weirdest refusal I ever got was yesterday.

She was sitting in her bedside chair where she could see us pass.  She perked up as we passed so I offered to bring Bogie in. 

She said “Not right now. I’m putting on an expensive bracelet. But could you come back? I really want to see him."


The bracelet is so important that it couldn't wait until we leave?  

Did I need to know that it was expensive?  

I considered going back before we left the ward, but wasn't sure what room she had been in. And honestly, I didn't like being asked to come back for such a silly reason.   

Besides, we have a limited amount of time and there were other people to see who would appreciate our visit. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My favorite bloggers all swear

The Bloggess
Wil Wheaton
Rubber Shoes in Hell
Mark Manson

I'm not sure if it's a coincidence that my four favorite bloggers are not afraid to curse in their blogs. I've been told I swear too much.  I don't think I swear much at all.  I've recently come to the conclusion that I am okay with some people disapproving. .

But I find myself unable to swear in print.  I rarely even swear in my own journal.  I'm not sure why this is an issue for me. Maybe because of its permanence?

I mean, I know when to moderate my swearing.  I didn't swear in front of my mother.  She wouldn't have approved.  I swore less when I was married because my husband didn't think it was "ladylike".

Now I swear at home all the time when I am talking to mysel... the dogs.

And I swear at work.  It's that kind of office.  Except around one older guy who actually told me, "Language, little lady"!

The best part of that incident?  The guys I work with made an extra effort to swear in front of him to see whether he would criticize them.  (He didn't).

Not one of them thinks that saying "Fuck" is inappropriate.  There.  I wrote it down.  It's in print for all to see.

I've recently begun seeing articles and memes that state people who curse are smarter and more honest that those that don't.

I agree.  Do you?

People who curse a lot have better vocabularies
People Who Curse Are Smarter Than People Who Don't