holding pattern

Keppo just wants to be held.

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Zzzzzz…

Sometimes he tries to eat his feet:

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ANG NYANG NYANG

Sometimes he likes to perch up high and creep on the neighbors:

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“12:30pm. Nothing to report.”

Sometimes he likes a good belly rub:

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“Never stop doing this, ever.”

But mostly, he just wants to be held:

The thing about Keppo is, if he wants to be held and for whatever reason you CAN’T hold him right that second (like, say, if you’re trying to work on the laptop, or you’re eating a sandwich), he doesn’t give a fuck. Your needs are irrelevant to Keppo. If he can’t force you to hold him, he will proceed to find a way to wedge himself up against your body, likely in the most awkward and uncomfortable way, and will have himself the nap he was planning to have before you tried to ruin it by doing human stuff.

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“Oh, you’re busy right now? It’s fine, I’ll just curl up here and look sad.”

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“Why work when we could be making out?”

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It took him a full five minutes of huffing, grunting and repositioning himself dramatically behind my head and shoulder before he finally settled here.

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I had to lean forward. He slid, and instead of going to sit somewhere else, he doubled down. It’s been 20 minutes and he’s still wedged in there.

 

Keppo’s name comes from a character in Legend of the Five Rings, a card game my husband and a lot of our friends play. In the game, Keppo was a resourceful little goblin who liked to steal things. He had a hoard of treasures in a cave, and always seemed to have a special something hidden away that could save his ass when he was in a jam. The Keppo character became a mascot for our playgroup – we’ve even had art pieces commissioned for T-shirts that include the goblin Keppo’s likeness. When Mark and I were trying to come up with names for the puppy, we wanted something suitably nerdy, but also something easy. The shelter had named him Cupid because he was surrendered on Valentine’s Day. The name Keppo had the distinct advantage of sounding kind of like the name the shelter had been using for the pup for the last six weeks. Plus, most puppies are at least a little bit thieving goblin, aren’t they? So far, our Keppo mostly just likes to steal personal space.

not today, Satan

This morning when I logged on to WordPress to catch up on reading some blogs, I noticed something odd. The display name next to my avatar was no longer showing as “Rhubarb Swank”, but rather “sexy.jvhrt.ru”.

Cue mild panic.

Not that I have years of irreplaceable material here, and not that the whole thing probably doesn’t deserve to be put to rest in a giant dumpster fire, of course…but I do pay for this domain, so my credit card info is squirreled away in the depths of my account somewhere. I don’t need some hacker slurping that up and selling it on, thank you very much!

After a few minutes of clicking around I managed to restore my display name, update my password and tweak a few other settings that will hopefully keep things more secure going forward.

Hopefully no one is gleefully dildo shopping with my credit card. Actually, scratch that. If they DID end up stealing it, I hope they DO use it for dildo shopping. Just so long as the bank doesn’t make me pay for it.

Anyway, that’s what I get for using crap-ass passwords and not updating them regularly.

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES. Unless you like buying other people dildos. In which case, you’re probably doing the world a service, really.

Now please enjoy this picture of our new dog Keppo:

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He’s the one with the whiskers. Apparently I had remembered to shave mine that day.

He came home with us from the shelter almost two weeks ago and we are, frankly, fucking exhausted. We were 8 years younger the last time we had a puppy and I think we both forgot just how much work it is. Worth it, certainly…but holy hell.

a month and a day

It’s been a month and a day since we lost Junior.

This morning on the way out the door to head to work, I almost turned to Mark and asked him to check if Junie’s water dish was full. The dish hasn’t been in its spot for a month and a day.

I don’t hear him anymore, at least. For the first few days, I’d swear I could hear him snuffling in the living room or at the foot of the bed at night. I think my brain just automatically knew what sounds he’d be making when, and was filling them in of its own accord. My brain only wants to be helpful with remembering things when it comes to me being haunted, I guess. Go figure.

We still have all of his stuff. His bowls got washed and tucked away in the cupboard almost as soon as we got home. His harness and leash are still on the back seat of the car, which seems perfectly fitting as going for rides was just about his favorite activity. Most of his toys are still piled up in the same place we always returned them to on the rare occasion we bothered to tidy them. A few of his special toys got put aside in other places – his little stuffed bantha sits atop the carved wooden box his ashes are in on the table-cum-altar in the living room. LeRoy, the wee squeaky giraffe whose squeaker gave out but who Junie still often picked up and tried to make squeak, now resides on the bookshelf with some other mementos. L’Alligator the stuffed alligator whose head I once had to surgically reattach due to Junie’s frequent, enthusiastic attentions, sits on the desk upstairs in our bedroom. He’s a far quieter night sentry than Junior ever was, but we do feel like he’s getting the job done OK so far.

His beds are still there, all four of them (one for each bedroom and two in the living room), though Mark moved the one from the foot of our bed into the spare bedroom, and I tucked the favorite living room bed under the other, deeply hated living room bed (he took after me and had a complicated relationship with beds), so that we wouldn’t have to see them empty. We really should get rid of at least two of the beds. One belonged to our old dog Buttons and predated Junior by several years. The faux sheepskin atop the other one bears the scars of much scuffing, as Maltese tend to like to scratch up their bedding into a suitable nest before settling down to nap. We should go through the dozens of toys and donate some of them to the local shelter as well…but we’re not there yet.

It’s only been a month and a day, after all.

 

 

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L’Alligator and Junior

the boss of me

Scene: My living room, Thanksgiving eve. I’m sitting on the couch and Mark is sitting in the chair. Junior is on the floor between us.

Junior: *exasperated huff*

Mark: What’s wrong, buddy?

Me: It’s like 7:30. He probably wants a walk.

Mark: You want a walk, buddy? I can take you for a walk. Let me get some music going on my phone first.

Mark stands up and starts fiddling with his phone.

Mark: Pandora is trying to give me turkey recipes and dinner party music. Fuck you, Pandora. You’re not the boss of me! I’M not even the boss of me, so YOU don’t get to be the boss of me.

Me, in a supportive tone: You can be the boss of you!

Distracted by his phone, Mark slowly rounds the corner to go up the stairs and hits his leg on the baby gate set up across the bottom of the stairs. The gate makes a loud clunk.

Mark: Raaauuuuggggh!

Me: Maybe you shouldn’t be the boss of you, actually.

Mark: It may be for the best…

Mark disappears up the stairs while I laugh. Junior sits near the doorway to the kitchen, wondering how he ended up stuck with us.

-Fin-

*********

Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving holiday was filled with delicious food, time spent with loved ones, a lack of family drama / fights over politics, and zero mentions of Pilgrims / forefathers / founders of this country.

And if you’re not American, then I hope your Thursday and Friday last week were everything you wanted, and I hope all us silly Muricans taking over social media with our public displays of #thankfulness (which seems a lot different than actual gratitude, at least for many) didn’t annoy you too much.

catching my breath

August was a rough one, friends.

Yes, I realize that it’s already almost mid-September and I’m just getting round to telling you about August. That should be a pretty good clue as to how my August went.

My mom had a stroke at the tail end of July. We were very lucky as it could have been far worse, but it still left her with no use of her left hand, heavily slurred speech and trouble swallowing due to weakness along the left side of her mouth and throat. We were also very lucky that it happened one evening while she and my dad were sitting up visiting with my aunt and uncle. Had it happened while my mom was home alone, or even worse, driving…yeah. It’s not fodder for pleasant contemplation.

Anyway – there was a lot of driving back and forth between home and hospital, then home and rehab facility, for about a week and a half. I was also trying to keep an eye on my dad, as he has a habit of running himself pretty ragged when my mom is unwell (which we know from experience the last few years with her being in and out of hospital so much). It was busy, full of stress and worry, and just all around not a great time.

And then things really took a nose dive into the deep end of the shit whirlpool.

Our beloved Maltese, Junior, had been having some problems keeping his balance for a couple weeks prior to all this. It started out as just a little bit of wavering when he’d cock his leg to pee, and the occasional stumble while going up the stairs. When it got so that he was almost tipping over when he squatted to poop, was losing his back legs out from under him while just walking across the floor, and when he stopped even trying to go up the stairs at all, I knew something was wrong.

Two days after my mom’s stroke, I took Junie to the vet to be checked out. The vet hemmed and hawed and decided it was probably arthritis in his trick knee. She sent us home with a bag of joint supplement chews and orders to not jump up on stuff or tear around crazily for a while. We dutifully administered the chews and kept things to a dull roar for a week but things kept getting worse. Junie would get up on the couch next to me and basically not move for hours, which was very unlike him. I kept trying to convince myself that it would just take some time for the joint supplements to kick in and then he’s start feeling better, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more going on.

Instinct finally won and I made him another vet appointment. We saw a different doctor than our normal vet that day. He had me put Junior down on the floor so he could observe Junior walking around…or skittering and face-planting, as it turned out. He watched him quietly for a couple minutes, then shook his head and told me that he was pretty sure it wasn’t his legs but rather his spine that was causing the problem. Tight-lipped, the vet referred us to a doggie neurologist and told us to get there as soon as possible.

The next day, the neurologist looked him all over, did some x-rays, and determined that it was either granulomatous meningoencephalitis (GME for short), or lymphoma. The treatment would be the same either way: steroids and chemo. In order to confirm it was one of these things and not a brain tumor, Junior needed an MRI. In order to have the MRI, he needed to be put under anesthesia. In order to have the anesthesia, he needed to have an ultrasound to make sure it was safe, because he has a congenital heart defect that has been getting progressively worse. Junior just turned eight at the end of August, by the way. He’s not an old dog by any means.

We brought him back to the specialist the next day for the ultrasound. They cleared him for the MRI, with the caveat that we sign a waiver saying we understood that there was up to a 20% chance that the anesthesia may kill him. We signed the waiver and sent him off with the doctors to be prepped for the MRI. Mark and I then proceeded to spend the rest of the day floating in our own private banks of fog. We went to get food, we went for a scenic drive, we went to see Wonder Woman…all so that we could try and distract ourselves from the very real chance that we might get a call saying our dog had died. Not our most enjoyable day ever.

We were at McDonalds forcing ourselves to eat when Mark’s phone finally rang. He stood up and walked away from the table to answer it, and I had to sit on my hands to keep them from shaking while I strained to hear any words at all from the other end of the call. I distinctly remember thinking, “well he hasn’t burst into tears yet, so hopefully things aren’t TOO bad”.

And they weren’t, at least not entirely. Junior had survived the MRI and there was no brain tumor, but there was a lesion or tumor on his spinal cord. Now he needed a spinal tap to try and determine whether it was GME or lymphoma we were dealing with. The spinal tap ended up being inconclusive, but the doctor was leaning toward lymphoma over GME. We got sent home with a whole bunch of meds and a boatload of anxiety.

The problem, you see, is that it doesn’t actually matter if it’s GME or lymphoma, because neither one is curable. If it was lymphoma in some of his actual lymph nodes, it may have been possible to do an operation to remove them or radiation to shrink them. But the lymphoma is in / on his spinal cord…it’s called CNS (central nervous system) lymphoma. We can’t even do a biopsy of the lesion because it would probably kill him or paralyze him. Also, while the steroids have helped him to be able to walk again, they’re very hard on his already faulty heart. And the chemo that we have to give him every 3 weeks to try and shrink the lesion? Very hard on the heart. As if this all wasn’t enough, we also found out from some tests last week that it’s very possible Junior also has a liver shunt. Quick physiology lesson: your liver cleans your blood, and metabolizes many of the medications you may take. A liver shunt is where some or all of the arteries that are supposed to feed your blood into your liver for cleaning aren’t actually in the right place and are instead diverting some or all of your blood around your liver rather than through it. When stuff doesn’t get cleaned out of your blood by your liver, it just keeps recirculating through your body and eventually build up to toxic levels. So it’s possible (and currently looking probable) that all the heavy duty steroids and chemo Junior has been getting are building up in his system rather than getting cleaned out of his blood. This even further limits our treatment options. Best case scenario, the remission we hope for is being measured in weeks at this point, not months or years.

Rather than dwell on feeling sad and angry and guilty and who knows what else, I’m trying like hell to find ways to learn from this experience. I’m getting a crash course in sitting with my own discomfort, for one. My M.O. is to fix things but there is no fix to this thing, and that makes me very uncomfortable. I don’t know how to accept helplessness as a valid state of being. I’m also getting a refresher on the fundamental impermanence of life. Just because you’re not old and frail doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a lot more time. To paraphrase Xzibit: yo dawg, I heard you like feeling helpless so I put some more helpless in your pile of helplessness. And lastly, I’m finding a whole new motivation for trying to be more present, for acknowledging and appreciating what each moment holds, rather than dwelling on the inevitable.

My mom’s doing well now, by the way. She’s got quite a lot of use of her hand back, her speech is much better and she’s having a much easier time swallowing. She still has a lot of serious health issues but if I let myself start to worry about those on top of everything else going on, I’m pretty much guaranteed to go the way of Artax and get sucked down into the Swamp of Sorrows…and that doesn’t do me or anyone I love a bit of good.

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“I got 99 problems and you not rubbing my belly is relatively high on the list.”

creature of habit

The bathroom door isn’t allowed to be closed in our home. Not because there’s anything wrong with the door that prevents it from closing. Not because either of us harbor some kind of potty fetish. No, the bathroom door actually gets shut every time one of us goes in there…but then Junior comes along and kicks it open.

Why? Because he doesn’t want it closed. Plain and simple.

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“Mahm, do you ever feel, you know, not-so-fresh?”

At first we thought it was a separation thing. Like, “aww, Junie missed me so he came running into the bathroom to see me”. Except, he usually doesn’t. He’ll just come up the stairs, cuff the bathroom door until it swings open, and then walk away. He’ll do it to guests with an equal measure of nonchalance. He gives no fucks who’s IN there. He just doesn’t want that door closed.

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“HEY. HEY DO MY PARENTS KNOW YOU’RE IN HERE? DO YOU HAVE A PERMIT TO USE OUR TERLIT? I NEED TO SEE YOUR PAPERS RIGHT NOW MISTER.”

The bedroom door gets much the same treatment. If I go to bed earlier than Mark does, I’ll often shut the bedroom door like 90% so that I can’t see the light from the TV reflecting out in the hallway (it’s a small apartment and I’m a special snowflake when it comes to sleeping conditions). I always try to get Junior to come in and get on the bed while I’m changing into my pajamas or whatever, but he’ll often just mill around in the hallway or the spare bedroom looking offended. After a few minutes I give up, shutting the curtain and turning on the white noise machine, then crawling into bed. Just about the time my head hits the pillow, BAM. Junior cuffs the door and it swings open wide. He stands there in the doorway, a tiny white tyrant bathed in the somewhat eerie glow of the orange bulb in our bedside lamp, triumphant and unyielding. I can almost hear him declaring, Gandalf-like, “YOU. SHALL. NOT. CLOSE”.  Then I have to get back out of bed, go over to the door and try to find a balance between closing it enough that the light doesn’t bother me, but having it open enough to avoid further insult to His Royal Highness. While I’m doing this, by the way, that little fucker will sashay in, jump up on the bed and nest down in the covers I’ve thrown off while getting up. This in turn causes at least one round of tense blanket negotiations, several canine sighs that drip with disappointment, and the eventual Great Resettling, before I can shut the light off.

Closing the doors all the way (as in, until they latch) doesn’t do any good either, because when Junior can’t cuff a door open, he gets upset. “Let him fuss, he’ll eventually self-soothe and calm down”, you say, rolling your eyes. Oh no, dear reader. This dog does not self-soothe and calm down. THIS dog will whine, and when whining doesn’t work, he’ll bark. When barking at the problem door doesn’t work, he’ll go downstairs and start barking by the living room windows or the kitchen door, both of which are adjacent to close neighbors. He knows we’ll do just about anything to shut him up from barking where it’s going to bother the neighbors, so that’s his trump card, and he’s not afraid to play it.

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“She’s made of lies, everyone. I am a sweet tiny unicorn angel who does no wrong. Leave me now and let me rest. I must prepare for a long night of guarding my beloved parents from the terrors of the dark.”

your Danzig is drooping…

Walking the dog is usually a business-like affair for me. I want to get it done and over with as quickly as possible so that I can get back to whatever it was I was doing (aka: sitting on the couch). Preparation is minimal: I put Junior’s harness on him, I step into whatever shoes require the least amount of effort to wear, and if it’s especially cold I’ll put a coat on. We probably average about 90 seconds between “come on, it’s walkies time” to stepping out the door, and a good 45 of that is trying to get Junie to hold still so that I can harness him up.

My husband, on the other hand, has a rather involved process which centers chiefly on picking what music he’s going to listen to. He’ll tell the dog it’s time to go out, then pick up his phone and spend five minutes scrolling through Pandora looking for inspiration. The funny part is that he almost invariably ends up picking one of like five songs. I know this because he always starts singing along as soon as the music starts. He walks around singing while he’s looking for his hat, gloves, coat, boots, harness. He then finds the dog, puts the harness on him and away they go, singing all the while.
Last night’s walkies selection happened to be ‘Mother’ by Danzig. Mark started out humming the opening guitar riff, then broke into the first verse:

     “Mother…Tell your children not to walk my way / Tell your children not to hear my words/ What they mean / What they say / Mother…”

I tend to sing along to whatever he’s singing, except that I sing along in my default silly voice, which is an exaggerated version of Droopy Dog. Junior happened to be on my lap when this whole thing started, so I grabbed his front legs and started waving them around, forcing him to do interpretive dance accompaniment to my Droopy Dog cover of Danzig. Mark was around the corner in the kitchen and couldn’t see or hear any of this, mind you. Junior eventually got fed up of my puppet-master act and broke free. He ran out to the kitchen to be harnessed and walked while I was reduced to a helpless giggle fit over the Droopy Dog version of “…and if you wanna find hell with me / I can show you what it’s like / til you’re bleeding”.
I’m pretty sure Glenn Danzig would NOT approve.
Also, side-note: I totally thought Glenn Danzig was dead until this morning when I Googled him. That is in fact WHY I Googled him. I was like “how long has he been dead, anyway?” TRICK QUESTION, apparently. Sorry, Glenn Danzig! For…well, everything really.
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Delivery Day

Yesterday I worked from home because I had to be around to sign for the new washing machine that was being delivered.

As an aside, my old washing machine committed one of the ultimate washing machine sins: it died during a load of post-vacation laundry. At the time, I may have actually kicked it and yelled, “YOUR TIMING COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE WORSE, YOU BIG METAL ASSHOLE“. I’ll give credit where it’s due, though: it at least had the good grace to finish the cycle and drain all the water out of the tub first. It’s not like I was left having to bail water out of the washer with a coffee cup. I would have yelled something a lot fucking worse if that had happened, trust me.

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, working from home.

When I work from home, I usually sit at the kitchen table with the laptop. It’s near a window, it’s near the fridge, I can see out the front living room windows and hide in plenty of time before anyone gets to the front door…it’s an all-around good locale. The only downside to working at the kitchen table is that it’s about the farthest point away from the bathroom in our entire apartment. Which, granted, it’s a pretty small apartment so it’s not like it’s THAT far away…but still. Sometimes seconds count, especially when you have to traverse a staircase.

The delivery guys were supposed to show up sometime between 10:30 and 12:30. I wanted to be super extra adulty and ready to meet them out front so that I could direct them where to park the truck, so I tried to make sure I had everything personal done and squared away by 10:30.  The creepy cobwebs around the laundry room door had been knocked down (which was a traumatic fucking experience in and of itself because you know how I feel about spiders), I had consolidated all the empty wine and beer bottles (aka: ‘the recycling’, but let’s be real. It’s all bottles.) into a plastic bag, and I walked Junior not once but TWICE just to make sure I wasn’t halfway across the lawn watching him do his patented ‘four crab-walk circles of varying widths before I finally shit’ dance when the truck showed up.

I was totally prepared.

10:30 came and went. No truck. Unperturbed, I drank my coffee and dug in to my computer work.

11:30 – still no truck. ‘That’s fine‘, I thought magnanimously, ‘I’m surely not the only delivery they’ve got scheduled today. Besides, I have plenty here to keep me busy‘. I drank a bunch of water (I believe in aggressive hydration, partially to make up for my converse habit of occasional aggressive inebriation), ate a big apple, and did some more work.

Noon – no truck. Again, not that big of a deal. Except…

…coffee makes me need to poop. Apples also make me need to poop. Drinking a liter of water doesn’t specifically make me need to poop, but what goes in must come out, and…yeah.

My guts gurgled somewhat forlornly.

I looked at the clock.

I looked out the front windows for any sign of a truck coming down our road.

I looked at Junior.

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“I’m so disappointed in you, Mahm.” – Junior, every day of his life for the last 6.5 years

His beady little eyes seemed to be saying to me, “Just go. You’ve got plenty of time. Plus, you know I’ll bark like the world is ending as soon as I hear anyone pull up. Go on, you got this.”

With as close to a blessing as I’m ever likely to get from the dog, I made my way upstairs to the bathroom to care of business. I won’t get into the graphic details, but suffice to say it was not merely a tinkle-and-dash situation. It took a few minutes.

Roughly four minutes into the proceedings, the worst case scenario became real: the dog started barking his fool head off.

“Of COURSE the delivery truck is here. OF FUCKING COURSE IT IS,” I muttered to myself, finishing up as quickly as I could.

I got downstairs and looked out the front window. No truck. ‘Balls, that means they’re already backed up to the breezeway, unloading the washer! They probably knocked and I didn’t even hear them! UGH. I AM A FAILURE AS AN ADULT.

The dog kept barking and barking, jumping against my leg so I couldn’t move quickly lest I kick him. It took me a full minute to get from the bottom of the stairs out to the kitchen where I could look out the front door to see…

…nothing. No truck, no delivery men. Nada. There wasn’t even a god damned neighbor cat around that would have set the dog off. I’M PRETTY SURE HE WAS JUST BARKING TO GET ME TO COME BACK DOWNSTAIRS, YOU GUYS.

We had a quiet discussion after that.

Phrases like “poopus interruptus” and “payback’s a bitch” may have been bandied about. We eventually came to the understanding that I as the human, provider of kibble and meat, purveyor of walkies and scritches, actually had zero rights in the household and that if he, as the dog wanted to bark bloody murder until I came running to see what the matter was, that was entirely his prerogative. Further to that, I should probably be thanking him for the privilege.

At least we’re all on the same page now.

Epilogue:

The delivery truck showed up at 12:15, at which point Junior had an even MORE frenzied barking fit. They took away the traitorous old washer, hooked up the shiny mystical new one, and were gone by 12:30. Junior was the beneficiary of several more walks after that, during NONE of which did I interrupt his crapping in any way. Because some of us have MANNERS.

party pooper

I usually take my mom out for breakfast on Mother’s Day. Most of the local diners and restaurants around here run Mother’s Day specials and are usually super busy because of it. Neither my mom nor I are big fans of loud, busy places with lots of people, so I figured I’d scout around and find somewhere less populated to take her this year. There’s a very pretty little seasonal place not terribly far from where we live – they do local produce, farm to table, all that hippie jazz that I love. I saw a post on the local ListServ that they’d be open for Mother’s Day brunch this year so I pitched it to mom. She liked the idea so I made us a reservation and we spent the next week or so talking about what we might order when we got there (because that’s what we do. We’re menu-holics).

We got to the place and were apparently the first party of the day because there were no other cars around. We were greeted at the door and led to our table by a young woman with very impressive calves – the kind of calves that made me want to ask her what kind of exercises she does. I’m pretty sure she could have cracked walnuts with her calves, is what I’m saying. They were serious business calves.

Anyway.

We sat down at our little table and admired the decor: barn-board floors, funky little pieces of art hung on the walls, wee little green glass vases with two bright yellow daffodils in them at each table. The room we were in had windows along two sides and the third side had French doors that opened out onto a lovely little terrace. We finally tore our eyes away from the rolling sweep of acres of lush green field outside and starter perusing the menu (which, let’s be honest, we already has memorized). Ms. Impressive Calves led another party in and sat them at a table across the room…and that’s when I saw it.

There, not four feet away from us on the tastefully patterned area rug…

…was a dog turd.

I actually did a double-take because I literally didn’t believe what I was seeing. The idea that there was a dog turd on the floor next to us in this fancy restaurant was so preposterous that for about fifteen seconds I fully believed that I was, in fact, hallucinating. I looked across at my mom, who was blithely nattering on about the virtues of sangria versus mimosas. Feeling the weight of my stare, she looked up at me and raised her eyebrows.

“What?”

I leaned in and whispered:

“There’s shit on the rug.”

She glanced at the rug directly next to her and shook her head slightly.

“Whaaaat? I don’t see anything.”

“It’s right there, LOOK. It’s definitely a dog turd.”  I pointed urgently with the corner of my menu, down at the aisle between my seat and the table in the center of the room. She leaned over a little and looked again.

“Ohhh my godddd…” she hissed, her eyes widening as she looked back at me. We both started giggling hysterically.

“What do we DO? Do we say something? I don’t think we should say anything. Oh my god, how embarrassing…”, I wheezed between fits of giggling.

“We HAVE to tell them. What if someone steps in it?!”

Just then our server rounded the corner. A tall, broad and solidly built woman with high cheekbones, a snub nose and smiling eyes, she looked for all the world like she could have been my cousin. She had an assortment of interesting tattoos on her arms and wore chunky Dansko clogs.  She asked for my drink order and to my horror, all I could picture was her stepping back a couple inches and landing her heel in the dog turd. I looked back down at the menu and stuttered that I’d like a sangria. My mom ordered the same and then, just as cool as a cucumber, she leaned in toward the server and dropped her voice a bit.

“Hon, does someone around here have a small dog?”

The server looked slightly perplexed.

“Yes, the owners do. Why? Oh no, are you allergic?”  Her eyes went wide. My mom smiled charmingly.

“Oh no, not allergic. But, ummm…”  She used her menu to gesture at the floor behind the server. The server tilted her head, clearly thinking my mom was daft as fuck, only to then turn around and see the petite ordure perilously close to her shoe.

“Ohmygod NO. Oh, I’m so, SO sorry. I’ll get that taken care of right away.”

Mom and I both assured her repeatedly as she picked up the poop and spot-cleaned the carpet that it was totally not a big deal to us, that we both had small dogs ourselves and had seen our fair share of poop, etc. The server was clearly mortified but our continued commiserations seemed to settle her, and by the time our entrees came out she was able to laugh about it with us. She insisted that she comp us a dessert despite our protestations (not that we sent the flourless chocolate cake back to the kitchen once it showed up, mind you), and when she brought our check she said she’d comped one of our drinks as well. She really didn’t have to do that – the laughs we got were well worth the price of admission in our opinion.

Needless to say, it was a Mother’s Day that at least the three of us won’t be forgetting any time soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

steve

We have this neighbor named Steve.

Well, Steve might not actually BE his name, but that’s what we call him.

He also technically might be a “her” rather than a “him”. It’s hard to tell, honestly…

…because Steve is a chipmunk.

The Steve Saga started back last summer. Our actual human neighbor, Gary, has his mailbox affixed to this antique standing scale. One day last summer I was walking Junior, Professional Harsher of Mellows, down our road. As we rounded the corner by Gary’s mailbox, a chipmunk came barreling out of the underbrush growing along the edge of the lawn and dove straight under the platform part of the scale that the mailbox is attached to.

Ever since then, Junior has been OBSESSED with the platform. He let up over the winter while the chipmunk was hibernating, but this spring when things started thawing out, Junie was right back at it – sniffing, digging and making tiny angry Wookie noises every time he got near the platform.

Mark decided the chipmunk needed a name a few weeks back, so he started referring to him as Steve.

It wouldn’t have been a problem if not for the fact that I have this terrible habit of talking to the dog while I walk him. Not just general guidance like “good boy” and “no, don’t eat poop”, but often fairly extensive one-sided conversations.

I mean, Junie never actually answers me BACK, so that’s a step in the right direction, but it’s still probably somewhat disconcerting for the neighbors to look out their windows at 7am and see me wandering around mumbling in a sing-songy voice about how Steve’s not home and can’t take your call right now but if you leave your name and a brief message…

…yeah.

chip2

“Do veef nuff mek mah mouf wook faf?” – Steve the chipmunk