Conversations With Dogs

Sometimes, it occurs to me that if anyone could hear me speaking to my dogs, they would think I’m insane. For the record, I’m fully aware of how crazy I sound while I’m doing it, but I do it anyway.

I have two dogs, both golden retrievers, Molly and Buttercup. Molly is a super happy, adorable puppy. She’s less than two years old, full of energy and always ready for adventure. Tonight, we discussed how I was not going to play fetch. I was busy reading my book and did not want to play. I said all of this, then declared she was unreasonably cute and therefore deserved to play for just a few minutes.

Buttercup, while still adorable at twelve years old, is no longer happy and full of energy. Basically, she’s a grumpy old woman – and she doesn’t give a shit what you think. She’s decided she can no longer eat her food if it isn’t covered in barbeque sauce. Totally my fault. Because she’s old and her appetite is waning and she was losing weight, I wanted to encourage her to eat more. It worked, but now she refuses to eat unenhanced food.

Also, you are no longer allowed to give her unsolicited love. If she feels like receiving affection, she will let you know by not so gently nudging your hand until you pet her. However, if she’s lying in her spot on the floor and you try to pet her as you walk by, she growls and gives you the stink eye. It’s not an ‘I’m going to bite you.’ growl, more like a ‘Did I invite you to touch me?’ growl.

My favorite, though, is that she now decides when you will take her for a ride and if the ride has been long enough. This leads me to the conversation I had with her the other night – a conversation sure to give my kids the ammo they need to have me committed. The kids and I took the dogs with us to my nephew’s birthday party. The dogs spent the afternoon happily chasing sticks and stealing food from small, unsuspecting children. Sufficiently tired out and ready to go home, we piled into our minivan for the forty-five-minute drive home. Upon arriving at home, everyone hopped out of the vehicle. Everyone except Buttercup. She refused, absolutely refused, to get out, growling each time someone reached for her collar. Now, I have a large, irritable dog giving me shit.

I realize this makes her sound mean and scary. She’s not even close to mean or scary. Had I just grabbed her collar and pulled her out, she would have gone without much of a fuss. But, being the mush that I am, I left the van door open and let her decide when to get out and come inside. (We live in a rural enough of an area that we can do this.)

Nearly three hours later, she is still stubbornly clinging to her desire for a longer car ride and I’m standing in the driveway arguing with her.

Me: Buttercup, you can’t stay out here all night. We aren’t going anywhere else.

Her: (Gives me the stink eye and turns her back to me.)

Me: This is ridiculous. Let’s go.

Her: Growl.

Me: Come on. Game of Thrones is on in ten minutes.

Her: (No response)

Me: Alright, fine. One more quick ride, then you have to come inside. (Goes inside to get the keys.)

Her: (Happily bounces around the backseat for the next seven minutes.)

Me: Ok, we’re back. Now let’s go inside.

Her: (Growls and flops down dramatically.)

Me: Seriously? Whatever. I’m going to watch Game of Thrones.

Yup, folks, this is my life.

 

Graduation Avoidance

At the risk of making myself sound like a heartless human being, I’m going to let you in on a little secret – I don’t like graduation ceremonies. Let me explain why, then we’ll get to the point of this writing. Keep reading, I promise I’m less jerky at the end.

*On a side note, if I went to your graduation ceremony, don’t get offended. This isn’t about your ceremony. It’s about someone else’s. I loved yours. *

We’ll start with my high school graduation twenty something years ago. I suffered under the blazing sun, in oppressive heat and humidity, wearing a heat trapping polyester tent-like monstrosity. It was brutal. Four years later, I decided to skip out on my college graduation. I opted instead to participate only in the smaller, air conditioned ceremony for my nursing class, thus depriving my family of the joy of sitting through a three-hour affair during which they would see me parade across the stage for thirty seconds. In my defense, I was seven months pregnant at the time, the parading would have been more like waddling and we were having record high temperatures. If I had participated in the full college outdoor ceremony, there is a good chance I would have died. Alright, maybe not literally died, but I would have been very uncomfortable, which to an overheated woman in her third trimester, is essentially the same thing.

Over the years, I have avoided more graduations than I have attended. I’m kind of a jerk like that. The few I have attended were brimming with dissertations crafted from The Big Book of Graduation Speech Clichés. You know what I mean.

“Today we embark on the first day of the rest of our lives…As we close this chapter and open the next…The future is ours… blah, blah, blah.” You get the point.

Any speech not following the stereotypical formula was even worse – filled with political grandstanding. I don’t care what your political leanings are, a graduation ceremony is no place for your soapbox. Such an event should be a celebration of the accomplishments of the students involved. Speeches should be uniquely tailored and inspiring to the fertile young minds hanging on to every word. The air should be filled with excitement and optimism, the graduates blissfully unaware of the myriad of devious plot twists life has in store.

Alright, now that I’ve explained my usual abhorrence for this rite of passage, I’ll get to the point. Last week, for the first time ever, I willingly and excitedly sat through a high school graduation.

My daughter, Hunter, on the first day of the rest of her life, closed one chapter, but opened another because the future is hers.

Just kidding. Her graduation ceremony was refreshing and inspiring, full of heartfelt and thoughtful speeches – none of which was consumed with political posturing or overused adages. The class president spoke of success not measured in money or prestige, but in hard work and kind deeds. The class advisor told of how each student is unique and special to him, how he assigns each one a theme song based on their personalities or physical traits. The guest speaker, a former politician, spoke of how a life well lived, healthy and happy with friends and family is the true marker of success. He encouraged the graduates to be outgoing, to seek out opportunities to meet new people and to have new experiences, but to always stay connected to their roots. All of it good stuff. Impressive stuff. I can honestly say I enjoyed every moment.

But, even if the speeches had been filled with lame rhetoric, I still would have celebrated the accomplishments of all the kids I’ve watched grow from baby-faced kindergartners to confident young adults. I still would have been proud of Billy when he sang The Star Spangled Banner. I still would have rejoiced at Jess’s beautiful smile and laughed at Erica’s goofiness. And, I still would have cried when my baby girl walked across the stage, marking her last moments in high school.

Mostly, though, it was special because it drove home how in awe I am of the strong, confident, intelligent, kind and beautiful woman Hunter has grown into. I am thankful to know someone as warm and entertaining as she is. Her whit and sense of humor are rivaled only by her outgoing personality and love of adventure. She’s always up for a new experience and is always begging for another puppy. Her zest for life knows no bounds and her generous heart has no room for unkindness. My greatest wish is for her to always remain as positive and excited about life as she is right now.

Congratulations, baby. I’m so proud of all that you are.

Radioactive Catfish?

Not too long ago, I wrote a post about which superpowers I’d like. I still haven’t figured out how to procure said powers, but I haven’t given up. This week’s post also involves superpowers, only I’m going to talk about which ones I don’t want. Bear with me for a few minutes before you lose interest, I promise it gets better.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were out fishing for stripers. For those of you who don’t know, every April and May striped bass swim up the Hudson River, sometimes as far as Albany, to spawn and to snack on the delicious herring. Normally, people around here don’t eat fish out of the Hudson on account of the massive amounts of PCB’s dumped into the Hudson in the 1970’s. However, because the striped bass do not live in the Hudson most of the year, it is generally considered safe to eat them.

But, I digress. On this particular day, we weren’t having any luck catching stripers. We were, however, excellent at catching eels (so gross) and catfish. I personally caught three large, tasty looking catfish. Had these yummy little morsels come from any other waters, they would have spent their evening wearing a crispy coat of seasoned batter and lounging on a bed of French fries. Unfortunately, for the reasons listed above, we released the potentially radioactive little mutants back into their pollutant infested waters, free to swim and frolic with their three-eyed buddies.

Alright, perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit. I’m pretty sure PCB’s don’t make animals radioactive and I’ve never personally seen a fish with three eyes, but it did get me thinking about which radioactive animal I wouldn’t mind obtaining superpowers from. You know, like Spiderman.

I am positive I do NOT want to be Catfish Woman. I won’t even begin to examine the many levels of gross the name implies, so let’s just leave it alone.

What animal would I want to be a superhero version of? Cats of any kind are cool, with their agility and sharp claws, but it’s been done. Batgirl? Aquaman? Done and done. I hate frogs and have no desire to live underwater, anything aquatic or amphibious is out. While we’re at it, let’s cross reptiles off the list, too. I’d like my skin to remain smooth and supple. An eagle would be awesome. I’d be able to fly and my costume could have lots of pretty feathers on it, maybe a nice headdress. Hmm. I’d need to be careful not to cross into Big Bird territory, though. And, I certainly don’t want to look like I should be holding a sign advertising fried chicken. The eagle idea is officially on hold while I consider my options.

A porcupine? My hair would be a cool spiky Mohawk and I’d love to be able to shoot sharp quills at those who annoy me, but what would I be called? Porcupine Girl? It would take approximately five minutes for my sisters to shorten that name to Porky Girl. No thanks.

Dogs are by far my favorite animals, but what superpowers could I hope to attain? I wouldn’t be able to defeat my enemies by licking their faces or by barking at every squirrel I see. I mean, I guess if I harnessed the bite pressure of the stronger breeds, I could tear my foes limb from limb, but there are many of other animals with more powerful bites. Gorillas, for example, can exert 1300 psi of pressure – nearly three times that of the strongest canine. Too bad I’d spend all my time shaving and eating bananas.

I give up. Eagle is leading the way for now, but I’d love to hear what you think. Which animal would you choose?

 

Why I’m Crazy

My children think I’m crazy. This is not new information. They’ve been harboring these feelings for years, probably since before they could speak, and they don’t even try to hide it. They roll their eyes at my unreasonable demands to perform insane tasks such as ‘Put your clean laundry away’ or ‘Take out the garbage before the Leaning Tower of Rubbish falls over and kills the dog’ or, my favorite, ‘Don’t stuff your dirty socks in the couch cushions’.

Unfortunately, they’re right. I am crazy – but, it’s their fault. Before I had children, I lived a predictable, orderly life. I knew if I cleaned the house before I went to work, I’d come home to a clean house. I knew if I left ice cream in the freezer or bought a bag of chips, they would be patiently waiting for me to eat them whenever I felt like snacking. I like order. Order and I are old friends who haven’t seen nearly enough of each other lately.

Here’s a little background information to go along with this rant – my children are close in age, currently 17, 16, and 14. When they were small, I kept up with the housework by sacrificing a couple of hours of me time each day. I was busy, but I didn’t mind. After all, everyone assured me that as the kids got older, they would be able to help out more, giving me a break. “Don’t worry,” they said, “In a few years, they’ll be cleaning their own rooms and helping out with the household chores. It’ll be great. You’ll see.”

Lies! All lies! Oh sure, some things have gotten easier. I often leave a list of chores for my children to do while I’m at work, and – amazingly – they almost always complete this list as asked. This is mainly because they know what threshold of my crazy they can handle and have no desire to exceed that threshold. Sounds terrific, right? Where’s the lie?

The lie is one of omission and the root cause of my insanity. No one told me my little darlings wouldn’t see the path of disorder and destruction they’ve left in their wake – the giant pile of shoes in the living room, the backpack in the middle of the floor or the dresser drawers in such disarray they appear to have been a holding tank for demons who were forced to claw their way to freedom. No one told me they would ignore the dishwasher full of clean dishes patiently waiting to be put away, instead opting to pile their dirty dishes sky-high in the sink. No one told me teenagers won’t notice the trail of popcorn, toast crumbs and cereal they’ve distributed throughout the kitchen and living room. No one told me that all of these messes remain invisible until I’ve lost my shit and gone on a tirade of epic proportions.

Don’t worry, though. My crazy has a built in, self-limiting, anti-explosive mechanism – Mommy Guilt. Powerful stuff. My children aren’t bad kids. In fact, they’re great. We have lots of fun together. They are seldom disrespectful and rarely get into trouble – unless you count missing homework assignments. (*Cough* Nick *Cough*) So, as soon as my tirade is finished, the eye rolling has stopped and the cleaning begun, I feel terrible for snapping because, in the grand scheme of things, a messy house isn’t the end of the world.

What my children don’t know, though, is that because they’ve contributed to and are largely responsible for my insanity, I’m constantly on the lookout for new ways to bring order and stability to my life. My only requirement is for these new methods of organization to somehow annoy and irritate the minors in my household. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a detailed chore chart to create…

Superpowers

My son is one of those kids who likes to ask random questions.  He makes inquiries such as, ‘Would you rather be eaten by sharks or fall into a volcano?’, or ‘If you could be any animal, real or mythical, which one would you be and why?’.

My personal favorite hypothetical query to ponder is, by far, ‘If you could have any superpower, which one would it be?’.

Alright, folks, pull up your crazy pants and tighten the chin strap on your tin foil helmet.  You are about to embark on a tour through the inner workings of my mind.  Of the many superpowers available to choose from, I’ve narrowed it down to the two I most desperately desire.  I desire these superpowers so much, in fact, there is a small chance I would sell one or more of my children in order to acquire them.

I hunger for the ability to teleport myself anywhere in the world, with the person or object of my choosing.  Full disclosure – I would use this power for ridiculously mundane and practical reasons.  I live in upstate New York, in a truly rural area.  There is one small Mom & Pop store, approximately a mile and a half from my house, which is open six days per week until five or six pm, depending on the day and the weather.  Otherwise, getting to the nearest store requires driving down at least eight miles of twisty mountain road.  Teleportation would come in handy.  Forgot something at the grocery store?  No problem, I’ll just pop right over and pick it up.  Messy winter commute?  No snow or ice can stop me.  The pizza is cold by the time we get it home?  Not anymore!  Mom’s superpowers to the rescue.  Everything – literally everything – is a twenty to thirty-minute drive from my humble abode.  Teleportation would be a huge timesaver.  When I have a break at work, I could blip home and throw in a load of laundry.  My multitasking game would be at level expert.  Pathetic, I know.  The other superheroes would surely post “Kick Me” signs on my back.

But wait!  I shall redeem myself with the unveiling of the second superpower I covet.  Wait for it…  I yearn to shoot lightning bolts from my hands.  I spend much of my time out in the world.  There are people out in the world and, frankly, sometimes I wish I could shoot some of those people with lightning bolts.  Whoa there, calm down.  Don’t get your panties in a bunch.  I’m not a sociopath.  I don’t want to shoot them with catastrophic, exploding bolts of raw electricity – ok, maybe just a few of them.  Mostly, though, I would like to give them just enough of jolt to knock them on their asses, depending on the severity of my annoyance*, of course.  The power level could be adjusted, set low to light a candle or a campfire, or maxed out in the event of a zombie apocalypse.   My enemies would cower in fear with the simple raising of my hand.  I could work in the demolition industry, leveling buildings.  I could finally take my rightful place as Queen of The World!  The possibilities are endless.  Please ignore the sound of my maniacal laugh and the sinister rubbing of my hands.

I’ve said enough.  I’d hate for the word premeditation to start getting thrown around.  I do hope you’ve enjoyed your stroll through the cavernous halls of my slightly demented mind, and if anyone knows how or where I might acquire these superpowers, drop me a line.  I promise you will hold a lucrative position in my Queendom.

 

*Or my hunger level.  See Hangry blog for more info.

 

Hangry – The Stealer of Peace

Tonight, I would like to talk about a condition near and dear to my heart.  A condition several of my friends suffer from.  A condition I suffer from.  That condition is – Hangry.  For those of you who don’t know about Hangry, just wait.  I’ll explain.

What is Hangry?  Hangry is the overwhelming irritability and rage one feels during a time of famine.  And by time of famine, I mean the few hours between meals.  As a nurse, I assure you irritability is a side effect of hypoglycemia, so my condition has scientific merit.  It is not a made up excuse for me to act like a raging hosebeast when I’m hungry.

Hangry has several levels.  If you don’t know the symptoms, it is easy to miss the early warning signs.  It is imperative, I repeat, imperative to recognize the condition early to prevent a DEFCON 1 situation.  As a matter of fact, I shall use the DEFCON system to explain the five stages.

DEFCON 5 – The lowest state of readiness.

Here you will find the subject engaging in normal activities in a normal fashion.  There will be laughter and probably no mention of food.  You are safe.  This is a happy place.

DEFCON 4 – Increased intelligence watch and increased security measures.

Nothing scary or terrible going on here.  Maybe an innocent comment like, “Hmm.  I’m getting a little hungry.”  Or, in my case, “I ran this morning and didn’t eat much.  How much longer until lunch?”  At this point, even the subject may not realize what is happening.  Tread lightly, but no need to head for the bomb shelter just yet.

DEFCON 3 – Increase in force readiness above that required for normal readiness.

Now is the time to start worrying.  Did the subject snap at you for no reason?  Maybe seems a little grumpier than usual?  Perhaps they have suddenly begun cursing like a sailor because someone had the nerve to greet them in a casual and courteous manner?  Now is not the time to panic, people!  Remain calm.  Politely, and in a non-accusatory manner, offer a snack.  Nothing dumb like a salad or a cracker.  Offer something delicious.  Remember, you have the power to prevent nuclear fallout at this point.  Don’t blow it.

DEFCON 2 – Next step to nuclear war.

Things are getting scary now.  This is the point when the subject is losing control.  Trust me, inside the head of a hangry person is not a fun place.  The subject will answer all questions in an unreasonably aggressive and angry tone, but they are trying really hard to be nice.  They know what is happening and are trying to maintain the pretense of civility.  Below is an actual exchange during a stage four incident. *Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.

Husband:  Where do you want to eat?

Wife: (Inside her head):  Are you f*ing kidding me?  Now?  Now you care about feeding me?  Ok, get it together.  It’s an innocent question.  Here’s what we’re going to say, ‘I don’t care, honey.  But, I do need to eat soon.’  Ok, ready?  Let’s say it nicely.

(What comes out of my, I mean her, mouth):  I don’t f*ing care!  I need to eat right now.  Why is everyone so god damn stupid today?  Son of a bitch!

At this point, crisis may still be averted.  Feed the subject immediately.  Absolutely, under no circumstances, should you take away the promise of food.  The subject is maintaining control by a thin, dry rotted thread.  If you have told the subject they will be fed at four o’clock, feed them at four o’clock.  Not four-o-one.  I don’t care if you have to swing through a drive through on your way to dinner.  Do it!

DEFCON 1 – Nuclear war is imminent

There’s no turning back now.  Lay down your weapon and surrender peacefully.  Do not try to reason with the subject.  Do not try to negotiate a peace treaty.  Do not get angry.  Anything from this point on is beyond their control.  They didn’t mean to call you those nasty names or to insinuate your mother is anything other than the lovely person we know she is.  Your only hope at this point is to hide.

Recovery Phase – (Not part of the DEFCON system.  I made this part up.)

The subject has been fed and is now their normal, happy self.  Your main responsibility is to pretend nothing happened.  Don’t hold a grudge.  Graciously accept any apology you are given and learn from your mistakes.  Begin preparing for next time by stockpiling snacks like you’re on an episode of Doomsday Preppers.

Now that you are well versed on the condition of Hangry, you can help spread the word of this most unfortunate affliction.  Learn the warning signs and tell your friends before it’s too late.  Remember, Hangry hurts everyone.  There are no winners here.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Twelve years ago today, I went on a first date with the man who would become the love of my life.  There was a snow storm that night, but neither of us wanted to cancel, so we met for drinks and he brought me a box of Godiva chocolates.  (They were delicious, by the way.)

Over the last twelve years, we have had our ups and downs just like anyone else.  We are very different people with very different outlooks on life.  Opposites attract, but they don’t always mesh well.  Sometimes we drive each other crazy, although we do have an unspoken rule that only one of us can be unreasonable at a time.  I would be lying if I didn’t admit to taking more than my fair share of turns on the irrational merry-go-round.

But, I was lucky enough to fall in love with a man who is willing to forgive my shortcomings.  A man who met a younger woman with three small children and not only accepted them as a package deal, but has loved those children as his own.  A man who has always encouraged any crazy idea I get into my head, never stifling my dreams, no matter what.  A man who understands I am not responsible for anything I say or do when I’m hungry.  A man who has loved me through the most difficult times and celebrated with me in the most joyous.  A man I am proud to call my husband.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Doug.  You are my great love.

All 4 Love Indie Romance Sale

Hello Fellow Romance Lovers!

I want to let everyone know about a great event going on February 11 &12.  It’s called the All 4 Love Indie Romance Sale.  There’s a whole group of really great authors who’ve teamed up to offer an array of romance novels super cheap or free!

There’s something for everyone!  Contemporary, historical, LGBT, paranormal, etc.

You can see the author list now by Clicking Here.

Check it out!

Backup Oreos

While I was cooking dinner tonight, my children were scavenging for snacks, because it would be cruel and unusual punishment for them to wait twenty minutes.  I’m not paying much attention to the horde of ravenous teenagers descending on the snack cabinet like locusts – until I hear the phrase “Backup Oreos”.

Let me give you the context.

Dougie, the man child:  Did you guys eat all those Oreos?

Haleigh:  Sorry, those Cinnamon Bun Oreos were delicious.

(She’s right.  They were delicious.)

Dougie:  Dang it! (Then quieter) Hey, Hunter.  Where are those backup Oreos?

Hunter:  Which ones?  The ones you bought last week or my stash?

(Which ones?!  Why do we have ANY, let alone multiple packs of backup Oreos?)

Dougie:  I don’t care, any ones.

Hunter:  They’re hidden in my room.  You can go get some.

I stopped listening after that.  There are some things a mother doesn’t need to know. 

For the record, my children are active and a healthy weight.  I feed them regularly, and although I don’t buy a ton of junk food, they do have some treats.  There is no good reason for food hording to be a thing in my house – except, of course, for the fact that there is a flock of vultures masquerading as my children.  It’s every man for himself when it comes to snacks.

Does stuff like this go on in other people’s houses?  Or are my children crazy?  Don’t answer that.  They’re crazy. I know it. They know it.  I can only pray that there is never a zombie apocalypse.  I shudder to imagine what would happen if the backup Oreos ran out.