Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Five: New Year's Eve

Over at RevGalBlogPals, SingingOwl writes:

I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions, but it does seem a good time for some reflection and planning. For the last few days I keep thinking of Psalm 90:12: So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Among other things, that seems to say that reflection is in order if we want to learn and grow.

For some of us, this has been an incredibly difficult year; for others it has been a year of many joys. For all of us, there have been challenges and questions and there have been blessings and--maybe even an answer or two! As we say our goodbyes to 2010 and look towards 2011, share with us five blessings from 2010 along with five hopes or dreams for 2011.


Five blessings from 2010:
- Enjoying visits with several RevGals...many of them all at once in a late spring gathering.
- Being able to say "yes" to an exciting new job opportunity.
- My introduction to the world of animal rescue (always a mixed blessing; see my previous post for the latest).
- Witnessing Mid-Life Rookie's ordination.
- An amazing and adventurous vacation with The Alpha, with special guest appearances by Lovely Niece and Nephew-in-law.

Five hopes/dreams for 2011:
- A (really, really forever this time) home for Crystal -- again, see my previous post.
- Healthy babies for my two currently-expecting friends.
- That we will feel comfortable and ready to settle into a congregation here in our new city.
- That more people will gain a greater understanding of the concept of "enough" and will waste less and share more.
- Another awesome vacation to at least one National Park.

Re-rescue needed

So the day after I wrote my last post about all the happy rescue dogs, I learned that Crystal isn't working out in her adoptive home as well as first indicated. If any of my blog readers might know someone who would take her in, please contact me. It would be best if we could find her a home with no children, no cats, and either no dogs or one dog who should weigh at least 30 pounds.

Ugh. I so want her to find a happy home without complications. Please pray that it happens. I don't even live there anymore; I can't just go get her. And bringing her to where I live now isn't a good option, as there are breed restrictions here, and our own dogs have not yet completely adjusted.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Year in review

We've accomplished tons of stuff during this last week of 2010. (Some might even call us Responsibility Champions.) Both of us have the week off, and we have used it to do lots more unpacking, grout sealing, relative visiting, errand running, furniture and decor arranging, and the like.

One of the things I moved out of the garage today and into its proper place on the wall next to The Alpha's side of the bed was a shelf his dad made. It's a simple but elegant shelf, 16 inches wide -- perfect for mounting into two studs -- and the finish matches our bedroom furniture very well. At the old house, it held a piece of comic art, as well as three dog collars: Cub's puppy collar, Cub's grown-up collar, and Angus' baby collar (well, he was already a year old, but still -- after a few months he broke it and we got him a bigger one).

Moving is a great time to examine what you put where, and why. I figured that really, the comic book art was probably more suited to our office (i.e., third bedroom with no bed), so I grabbed a framed family photo to hang above the collar shelf. I'm not sure what year it was taken, but it was before Angus came along, so probably 2003. We were a family of three, with eight legs among us, instead of the six many humans would assume of a three-member family.

In this photo, Cub has barely any gray in her muzzle; only the kind that can be ascribed to her normal coloring, not to her age. Her right ear turns down at the tip, as it did for about the first half of her life, giving her a more distinctive (and endearing) look than a purebred dog would have. We are all smiling, all in the prime of life.

Just after I'd hung the shelf, The Alpha walked in, so I caught him up on my work in progress. He loved the idea of having that particular picture above the collars. He totally got it (one of many reasons why I love him so dang much).

So he drove the nail while I added a wire to the back of the frame. We hung up the portrait, and he arranged the collars with Cub's grown-up collar in the center, tags dangling off the front of the shelf. And I burst into tears.

Cub has been gone almost two years. It doesn't matter that she's a dog and not a human. She's family, and she's gone. And I will always miss her.

Which brings me to the year-in-review part of this post. At an appropriate point after my crying jag had ended, The Alpha and I reminded ourselves of what wonderful dogs we do have with us now. And he pointed out something very true: If Cub had still been around, we never could have taken in foster dogs. This time last year, I had jumped straight into the deep end of animal rescue and come up with Homer the Pit Bull, who was saved from being euthanized because I was able to pick him up at the shelter and hang onto him for a few days. He now lives in the Temple area.

Next came Foster (now Amos, making his home with a retired clergy couple in Dallas). After that, we had our smallest foster dog, a 20-pounder named Ralph, but who we called Little Bittle (he's now known as Teddy, and "good for absolutely nothing except being petted," according to his very pleased people).

And during the freaky Texas snowstorm, I braved bridges and overpasses to pick up Dustin (now Dusty -- adopted by my friend Cherrie, who officially designated me his fairy dogmother). Then there were the last two, Crystal and Poohbert. Crystal is still Crystal, but Poohbert, who lives by the lake, has become Puddles, so named for her love of water. Both are doing well; I've received emails from both of their families within the past week.

So, as dog years go, it was a pretty darn good one for us. Not an easy one, by any means, but a rewarding one. No, we couldn't have done it with Cub around, but you know what? We couldn't have done it without her, either. She made our household what it is.

Someday, we will be settled enough here in the new place that we will be able to help another dog or two. And Cub will still be one big reason why we can.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Early-morning irony

So I've set aside time to blog, and I can't remember what I was going to blog about.


O, irony.


I guess we'll go with some assorted updates:

- The church search continues (as we expect it to for several more months). We have become moderately involved in one community of faith, but we aren't sure that it's home. So we drop a fiver in the offering basket and keep tithing to the church we still miss, back in Texas.
- Since I last blogged, we had The Great Granite Countertop Debacle of 2010, which has now been solved, thanks to a second granite company and another chunk of cash. Such a piddly little first-world problem that took up way too much of our energy.
- The slate backsplash will go in this weekend, and the new fridge arrives tomorrow. After that, we just have to finish texturing and painting in there and our kitchen will be ready. When that's done, it's down to bedroom walls, master bathroom, and trim throughout the house.
- We haven't yet figured out the proper configuration for dog-bathing in this house, as it doesn't have an inescapable sliding shower door like the last house did. So today the dogs are off to the local Pet Palace, where they'll get the stink washed off of 'em.
- Found out that a friend of mine who was asked by his superiors to take a leave of absence from pastoring has pretty much been told they don't want him back, so he enrolled in truck-driving school. This is supposed to be the new era, where churches will need to change to meet the needs of the "mission field." I think this particular pastor may have gotten into trouble by pushing his churches (too hard for their tastes) to do just that. So he's told not to expect to be appointed anywhere. Again with the irony.
- Have barely begun shopping for Christmas gifts (because I'm sick of consumer Christmas and we are busy enough already). What we have bought is fair trade, and I believe we'll be spending a bunch of money on items from the Heifer Gift Catalog, too. I love Heifer. In November I got to visit both their ranch and their world headquarters. In fact, our little bit of Christmas shopping was done at the ranch gift shop.

Okay, time for breakfast, both human and canine varieties. 'Bye now.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

WorshipFAIL

We were in a church sanctuary for at least an hour this morning. We tried.

But we failed. Or, more accurately, I think the entire church may have failed to worship.

It started out okay enough. We parked in a clearly-marked visitor spot, entered the building, received a welcome, a recognition that we were visiting for the first time, and a bulletin. We walked into the sanctuary, sat down in the center of a pew about 3/4 of the way back, and got greeted by one more person (who I realized I'd talked to this week on the phone as part of my job, but we kept the introductions to first names for the more incognito visitor experience). She said, "I'll be right back," and did indeed return a few minutes later with a recent church newsletter and a visitors' packet containing brochures on all their ministries.

After that, it started to get weird. We opened our worship bulletins and found hymn selections that raised our eyebrows. You'd have thought it was Independence Day weekend from the first two hymns. We wondered about them for a bit, then decided it probably had something to do with Thanksgiving coming up this week, though we aren't accustomed to big displays of patriotism for Thanksgiving, especially in church.

So, we sang "America the Beautiful" for our "Hymn of Praise," -- yes, that was the label in the bulletin and over the PA system. The Alpha leaned over to me and asked, "Praise to whom?" Exactly what I was wondering. The hymn is clearly addressed to America, not to God.

Then the substitute associate pastor, a retired clergyman from another Conference, waxed all emotional about how great America is compared to other countries. We think he got a little verklempt. Meanwhile, I'm glancing over at some of the diversity in the pews near us, wondering if everyone in here is indeed a citizen of the U.S.

The next hymn was "My Country, 'Tis of Thee." Ohhhh, The Alpha noticed... it mentions pilgrims. That's why it's a Thanksgiving hymn, we supposed. Still, another hymn not directed to God. I like to limit those types of moves to one per service, myself. And even then, it's sketchy.

Scriptural basis for the sermon was Romans 12:1-2. The senior pastor explained to the congregation that John Wesley was hearing this very same passage when he had what is now referred to as his "Aldersgate experience." WRONG! I know better! And teh Intarwebs backs me up:

"In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans." --from The Journal of John Wesley, May 24, 1738

HaHAA! Luther's preface! Wesley wasn't listening to the Bible itself being read.

Then, later in the sermon, the pastor states, pretty much out of nowhere, that "Thanksgiving is our only 100 percent religious holiday."

That comment got badger-faced (Liz Lemon-style) by both The Alpha and me. Is any holiday 100 percent religious? If so, I don't think Thanksgiving wins that distinction. Plenty of people give thanks on Thanksgiving without involving God in it. They may thank their parents for not making them cook anything, or they thank their place of employment for not making them work (or for paying them extra if they do have to work). But I'm guessing we have a significant fraction of Americans whose primary celebration of Thanksgiving basically amounts to, "YAY! TURKEY!"

Crap. I just lost several paragraphs of this post. Intarwebs fail. I'll be hitting "save now" after every sentence from here on out.

This congregation also applauded. at. everything. I usually can forgive a congregation for applauding after the children's choir sings, even if I do believe it sends the wrong message (kiddoes, who are you singing for? The congregation? No! You're singing for God, not those people out there). But these folks also applauded after the big-people choral anthem, and they applauded again when the pastor did the "right arm" verse of the Hokey Pokey as part of his sermon. (God wants you to "put your whole self in," of course. But he left out my favorite part of this illustration: You aren't just supposed to put your backside in church. It's no fun without a butt reference.) Yes. They applauded the Hokey Pokey. And not after they had all successfully done it themselves, which I think is perhaps the only appropriate time to applaud the Hokey Pokey. And even then, not always.

At one point in the service, I decided I'd try to learn a little bit more about the place by skimming the newsletter given to us by the friendly lady. That's when I learned that apparently, the place is falling apart as far as staffing is concerned. They had to cut one position, and then two other people have resigned. Doesn't bode well.

We have visited four other churches here in the area, and while no church is perfect, nor do we expect it to be, we've felt at least okay with most of the worship experiences. This is the first time we haven't been able to get our worship groove on even a little.

And now I have to go. I've spent too long on this blog post when I should be busy fighting our house. We must beat it into submission.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Before and During

The following photos aren't that great, but for those who asked to see, they should give you the gist of what's currently going on at the new (to us) Manor.

First off, if you haven't seen this over on teh Facey Spaces, here's the first thing I removed from the house after I signed the papers and got the key:

It's still in the garage, because I kinda hope I get invited to a white elephant gift exchange this Christmas.

Okay, on to some more stuff.

Here's the back hallway, facing toward the front of the house. The door in front of you is the garage; the door in front of it is the open door of an oddly-placed closet. Oh, well, at least we have storage. To the left is the laundry closet (I wouldn't call it a room because you can't actually walk into it, but it's big enough for the washer and dryer and a couple more things). To the right is the master bedroom. Behind the camera is the bedroom we're using as the study/office/whatever. Guest room and hallway bath are around the corner to the left.

Here's the breakfast area. It's maybe halfway finished. No, I take that back. Only the floor is finished. But we still have to seal the grout, so technically, none of it is finished. We must also rid it of the rest of the wallpaper, paint it with the same tan and red we used in our old house, and replace the light fixture.
Here's the dining area (three walls and an open view of the living area, so not technically its own room). Two walls painted the same red as our old dining room. Third wall painted the same tan as our old kitchen and the lower part of our old dining room. Though it doesn't show up in the photo, the light fixture is the hard-wired oval paper lantern we had in the old house (new owners let us take it). The doorway you see leads to the breakfast area off the kitchen (pictured above).
More kitchen-in-progress. The cabinets have already been stripped and re-painted white, but the pinkish wallpaper has yet to go. The countertops left today. Granite countertop installation happens Friday. Dishwasher installation should happen before that; stove installation after; and a new, deeper sink at the same time as the granite.
Also, we discovered our fridge, the pretty one we bought last year during the Kitchen Remodel of Aught-Nine, is too wide for the space in this new kitchen. Craptastic! We have to buy a new fridge, and hopefully sell the year-old one at a decent return. Plus, we made a little money off the previous owners' fridge, which they didn't care to take with them. (We have sold a number of such things on that list, by that guy. You know the one.)
I'm feeling way over-consumed. We aren't going into debt to do any of this, but I don't like buying so much stuff.
Which is one of the reasons why we're going to endure the master bathroom's current condition a bit longer...

Yeah, let me give you a close-up of that wallpaper pattern. Notice the sheen of stripes? As if the other wasn't enough.

Impromptu contest: Leave a description of this wallpaper, or perhaps a story of the pattern's origin, in the comments. Best answer gets a prize. I'll figure out what the prize is while I'm unpacking. Which should happen some time before Christmas. Maybe.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Because I miss my blog.

And I miss reading other people's blogs, too. Between my work duties and our mad rush at home improvement since the move, blogging has fallen even further down the list of priorities. True, FB helps me keep up with many of the same people, but not in such a significant way as reading regular blog entries would. Most of us face similar situations these days, it seems.

So, a list. I do lists well.

- The kitchen cabinets are now nicely painted (instead of crappily painted like they were when we moved in), and the wood-look tile we loved having in our old house now makes up our living/dining/kitchen floors.
- We still haven't moved into those three rooms. We want to get some other stuff done first (like grout sealing, doing away with the kitchen wallpaper, installing countertops and appliances). Lots of stuff in the garage; cars don't fit.
- The dogs seem to be adjusting. The first week we were here, I actually splurged for 3 days of doggy day care because workmen were at the house all day and I didn't really know if the dogs understood that the backyard belongs to them. Now they seem to get it, though.
- We did get our guest room arranged, and have already hosted overnight guests: my sister, bro-in-law, and their two dogs.
- The Alpha is driving a 65-mile commute each way, three days a week. He's really hoping to back that down by a day or two within the next few months. His two work-from-home days per week are going well.
- Tonight I'm planning to texture the walls in the hallway bathroom. We have a to-do list a mile long, but we're chipping away at it, bit by bit.
- New flooring in the hallway should happen this weekend.
- Work we've had done: kitchen and hallway cabinets and fireplace mantel professionally painted with oil-base enamel; tile laid in three rooms; new HVAC system in the process of installation (furnace complete; a/c on Friday); burglar alarm installation.
- Work we've done ourselves: three ceiling fans installed; wallpaper stripped from hallway bath; blinds installed in living room; old stove and dishwasher removed and sold; dining room lighting from old house installed (brass chandelier taken down and donated to cool urban church plant -- they'll spray-paint it yellow to hang it in their space); and a number of other tiny things.
- And now it's time for me to leave for work. 'bye now.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Insomnia, my current muse.

So here I am in the wee hours of the morning, sitting on the floor, in front of a computer monitor that is also on the floor, in a house I no longer own but have arranged to keep possession of until Sunday.

The professional moving truck loaders The Alpha had over here yesterday afternoon worked some serious Truck Tetris (one of the many times The Alpha and I talked during loading, he called simply to say, "This truck is a friggin' TARDIS!") to get the vast majority of our earthly belongings co-located in the 26-foot cargo area of a Guess-Who-Hauls-It truck. I'm certain it wouldn't have all fit in there without the professionals doing the loading. Thank goodness we hired them, even if we're driving it ourselves.

I flew down this evening... er, yesterday evening. It's strange to be able to so plainly see that this house we've lived in for a decade isn't our home any longer. I found this statement over at Inner Dorothy. She was making an analogy to the church, but talking about her real childhood home in doing so:

"I had zero trouble walking away from that house. Because everything about it that mattered was etched permanently on my heart. It did not exist within those walls. It was time for someone else to create their own memories there. I was taking mine with me."

Sunday -- that is, technically, tomorrow -- I hope to be able to say and feel the same thing.

(And maybe it helps just a little that the same day I bought the new house, I also ordered the same tile we installed last year in the one we have now sold. Yes, aesthetics do matter.)

* * *

I'm a list-maker. I make one every morning when I begin my workday, or sometimes even start a new one at the end of the previous day. If I need to clear my head, I write a list of what's in there and have the satisfaction of being able to transfer the anxiety surrounding those items to the paper (or phone screen) upon which they're written.

But I want to get a jump on today's list, and it's just not possible. It's 3:30 in the morning. The places I need to go aren't open. It's nowhere close to time for the appointments I've made. The noise I might need to make to get other things done isn't acceptable when my husband is sleeping in the next room.

In 48 hours, I expect to have my family of four (four feet and eight paws) reunited in its own living space, and all four of us fast asleep. At least, I hope that's how it goes. I expected to be fast asleep right now, yet here I am.

It's been three months, this juggling phase of life. I'm ready to begin the new chapter in earnest. As much as I hate leaving where we are, I'm eager to get rooted somewhere again. Now that we know exactly where that somewhere is, and we have the keys to it, and are already receiving mail there, I'm hoping the roots we're returning to there will grow deep and healthy.

And that there will always be a nice big, sturdy branch, with roots to match, hanging over a good-sized portion of Texas.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Yikes at all the stuff happening.

- Our Texas house is under contract, with a closing date of October 21.
- We got the inspection report, and the buyers' requests aren't that bad. Still, I'd love if they were already resolved.
- We think we found a house in Capital City. We're so picky that we are making an offer on a cheaper house than what we could actually afford; one that will need immediate updating, so we can spend some money on updating right away.
- This house, if it is the house, is 400 square-feet smaller than our previous one. On purpose. All that talk at Heifer Ranch of how much is enough really got to The Alpha--and to me, too, even though I didn't actually get to go.
- And right now, this house has got some craptastic walls in the kitchen and bathrooms! I foresee more bouts with tendinitis, triggered by hours spent covering up very not-us wallpaper with Sheetrock mud and a putty knife.
- I wish I'd taken a picture of the Spongebob toilet seat. Another day, perhaps.
- Our backup options... well, we haven't agreed on a backup option. So I hope we don't need one.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dogstuff

Sitting at the airport waiting for my flight to training in MethoVaticanCity, so I thought I'd blog (hooray for free wi-fi at LIT terminal!). This morning was absolutely lovely, and I thought the dogs deserved some more time outside than just their hurry-up-run-and-pee-get-back-in-here-you-have-no-fence-no-don't-run-after-that-rooster-and-don't-eat-that-whatever-it-is-and-don't-even-PRETEND-to-go-toward-the-road experience that's currently their typical trip outdoors.

I gave them each separate trips outside so I only had to worry with watching one dog at a time.

Tuesday chose to waller in the cool grass under the shade tree:


Angus did his share of wallering, too, and then he and I had a nice play session with his bluebell (he's still great at attempting to fly after it as it sails through the air):

I love my dogs. The Alpha's parents are really great -- they take excellent care of the dogs whether I'm there or not, so I'll have no worries about them while I'm in MethoVaticanCity. But I'm praying for a house sale soon, so I can choose their next fenced backyard and be able to let them out without guarding their every move.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

If I had a house right now...

If that house were in Texas, and not for sale, it would have a 100-pound husky in it tonight.

And if that house were in Little Rock, it would've had a strange little puppy in it after lunch today.

Every week I get the email updates from the Suburbia city shelter. It's how Crystal and Poohbert came to be our foster dogs. They've had some pretty good weeks recently, with all animals getting adopted or rescued instead of euthanized. One week they didn't even have to put any at all on the urgent list. But it looks like this week the streak may end. The last email I got still included quite a few dogs and cats looking for homes. Among them: Diamond, a large Husky about 7 years old who was owner surrendered, adopted, and then returned because he didn't get along with the family's cat.

Like I said, if my Texas house weren't on the market, it would have a Husky in it by now. Instead, he will probably die tomorrow morning (they gave the animals an extra day because of the holiday weekend, but with the tropical storm, folks haven't been getting out in the rain to adopt).

And at lunch today, two of my co-workers introduced me to a place to procure a yummy milkshake. It's out of our way, and not in the best area. As we were getting out of the car to place our order at the walk-up window, one of my co-workers said, "That's a cute puppy."

"Where?" I asked, and he pointed behind the dumpster. Then the little black-and-tan somethingorother (part cocker spaniel, we think) came over to visit with all three of us. I wore sandals today, which meant I got a complimentary toe-licking with my puppy visit.

Puppy was a boy. No collar, and obviously no fence keeping him safe. I told my co-workers that if I had a house, I'd inquire with the lady at the window, and if she didn't know who Puppy belonged to (or if who he belonged to didn't plan on providing any better care than letting him wander) we'd be picking up the pup along with our milkshakes and dropping him off at my house before we went back to the office.

As it stands, though, I couldn't help. I hate not being able to help. At the same time, given the long-term fostering I did this spring, I realize I could easily get stuck with another dog or two for an indefinite amount of time.

But I still want to help.

---

UPDATE: Just got the final email for today. All dogs but one have been rescued, and we believe that one has a rescue group interested. Several cats still left, though... which is sad, but makes me powerless to help because of my allergy.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Five: Storms of Life Edition

Over at RevGalBlogPals, Martha writes...

I'm listening this morning for word of Hurricane Earl. Is he coming to visit, or will he bypass my part of Maine and move further Downeast, or veer toward Nova Scotia? Should I buy those bottles of water, just in case wind brings branches and power lines down? And how many times will the tracking map change today?

Herewith, a Friday Five about the storms of life:

1) What's the most common kind of storm in your neck of the woods?
Though I'm taking today off and hanging out in lightly-tornadic Texas today, I've spent the last month living back in my home state, a.k.a. Tornado Country. We can't claim to be the home of Dorothy Gale, but I can say about a mile of the drive between my in-laws' house and my office looks dramatically different than it did before the twister came through several years back.

2) When was the last time you dealt with a significant power outage?
Been a while. But the most recent one I was part of that lasted several days took place surrounding my sister-in-law's wedding, almost 10 years ago (thanks to an ice storm, not a tornado). The church had power, some relatives a mile or two away had power, but my in-laws' house did not. I remember helping my mom-in-law make punch by flashlight and sending gallon jugs of it over to spend the night in an aunt's freezer. The powdered ingredients floated in the flashlight beams, and the morning of the wedding, we awoke to a film of red punch dust covering every surface in the kitchen.

3) Are you prepared for the next one?
Not particularly. The Alpha usually keeps either a 24- or 72-hour pack in the hall closet, but the house is on the market. We've cleaned out a lot of stuff. His car does have an electrical outlet, though, so if we ever lose power in a widespread area, we can run some things as long as we conserve gas and batteries.

4) What's the weather forecast where you are this weekend?
"Today: Decreasing cloudiness and windy. High 87F. Winds NNE at 20 to 30 mph. Tonight: Partly cloudy skies. Low 61F [whoohoo!]. Winds NNE at 10 to 15 mph. Tomorrow: A mainly sunny day. High 89F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph."

5) How do you calm your personal storms?
Talking things out with trusted friends usually helps. Just telling the story of whatever storm it is to someone who understands can make an enormous difference.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Changes

Lots of changes lately. I've followed the dogs to their temporary digs; we're living with The Alpha's parents until further notice. New job seems to be off to a good start. The Alpha is all alone back in Texas, keeping our house up to show-quality status. I hope it doesn't take that much longer to sell. Seriously. Not having a timeline for getting settled is probably the worst thing about this whole transition.

And, so we could have some photographic evidence of change, I took the Tueser to be groomed. First time I've done that for any dog, but she was shedding something fierce, and in a house where she's a guest. Behold, The Summer Cut!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Five: Love the One You're With

For this week's RevGals Friday Five, Kathrynzj posted something quite timely for me:

"...name five things you like about where you are living now... and as your bonus - 1 thing you don't like."

Timely because tomorrow, I'm packing the car and officially beginning life back in our home state. My new job starts Monday. The Alpha and I will live apart until the house is sold and we find one there that suits us.

So the answers to this Friday Five would be very different if I played a day late. But, living in the present, here we go:

1) I like having The Alpha with me. I'm not happy about him hanging out here, with me hanging out there (albeit with the dogs, at his parents' house... it's some consolation). So I just added Billy Joel's "You're My Home" to my iSuperPhone's iThing, which should help me maintain the appropriate amount of melancholy during this temporary separation of unknown duration.

2) The congregation we've called home these past 10 years. Last Sunday I said goodbye to the band and choir. And yea, verily, that sucked, even though it went as well as it could've and it created great memories. I scheduled a Wednesday night diversion this week, the first week I wasn't supposed to be at practice. After I got home from the dinner, I received a text message from a fellow bandmate... "Leaving rehearsal- it's official: we miss you." *sigh...* I miss them, too.

3) Our house. We've worked pretty hard on it. We've made lots of changes in 10 years. It feels like ours now, even when it's all clean and neat for real estate showings and we have to hide the towels we actually use instead of drying our hands on the ones hanging up.

4) The convenience of living near a big city.

5) The friendships we've built here, and which we hope to preserve across the distance.

And, for the bonus... I think, in the interest of making the separation easier, I'll list more than one thing I don't like: The traffic. The shifting soil. The governor. The way developers keep bulldozing over unspoiled land to build strip malls, even though existing storefronts stand empty. The air pollution. I could go on.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Five: Decisions, decisions

After all the decisions I've been making lately, I was glad to see that Songbird was asking some which-do-you-like-better questions in this week's RevGals Friday Five, not anything more serious. So, here we go:

Since I've been in the midst of a discernment process, I've done a lot of reflecting on how we make decisions. But don't worry, I'm not going to ask you to reveal a dark story about a poor decision, or a self-flagellating story about an embarrassing one. Let's keep it simple and go with five word pairs. Tell us which word in the pair appeals to you most, and after you've done all five, give us the reason why for one of them.

Here they are:

1) Cake or Pie: Cake!
2) Train or Airplane: Um, depends on the situation!
3) Mac or PC: PC. Except that I saw my new office, and it has a Mac on the desk. So, in the interest of being adaptable, Mac. (It helps that I've used both in the past.)
4) Univocal or Equivocal: Equivocal.
5) Peter or Paul: Peter, Peter, Peter-man!

And now, the essay portion of this Friday Five:

I'll tackle 2) here. On our 2006 vacation, I fell in love with the Alaska Railroad. Taking the train from Anchorage to Seward, Seward to Denali, Denali to Talkeetna was one of the best decisions we made on that trip. The views were amazing, the seats were roomy, the ride was smooth, and we weren't in a hurry. Of course, I don't think I would've felt the same if we had tried taking a train to Alaska from Dallas! Flying in and out of Anchorage was definitely more practical, because we only had ten days of vacation time for the trip.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Jacuzzi Incident of 2010

It really doesn't begin with the Jacuzzi. It begins with my new job leading to a move across state lines, which led us to put our house on the market, which in turn led us to find a temporary place for these two:

FILE PHOTO


A sweet, sweet college friend and her family offered to keep them. Her daughter had fallen in love with them while visiting us last autumn. Between her offer to keep them and the actual arrival of said dogs at her house, life got a little more complicated. We won't go into it here, but it did factor into lowering the breaking point of the household.

I drove the dogs to my home state, spent one night with them at my friends' house, then came back to Texas. Here they are a few minutes after I left:

Because this household had never hosted dogs before, and the girl raised on the farm had in fact never had an indoor dog, we agreed it would probably be best for the humans' peace of mind if the dogs weren't allowed the run of the entire house in the absence of said humans.


So, when they left for work the next day, the spacious and lovely master bathroom it was.


We all figured I'd wind up doing some repair to door scratches by The Boy. Yes, indeed, I'll be sanding and staining their bathroom door at some point later this year. Not a huge deal. They said it already had some nicks anyway.


That evening, my dear college friend stepped out of the shower to discover a puddle of puke on her master bedroom carpet. She called, of course, because I'm far more wise in the ways of dog puke than she. After a thorough over-the-phone analysis, we determined it was probably The Boy, and was just nerves -- not totally unexpected, because The Boy has a Complex.


About an hour later, I received a text message: "I just settled in to fall asleep -- only to awaken to a very large barf from Angus."


The follow-up text: "Kevin just found pieces of soap in the pile of barf."


Subsequent texts included phrases such as, "I thought it WAS toddler-proof" and "I don't know where the frick he got the soap. It's almost like he climbed into the jacuzzi." Also, "Tuesday acts a bit ashamed of him..."


The next morning I called our veterinarian, who already knew about the move (we'd had one last checkup for Tuesday and took Angus along to say farewell, too). She prescribed some doggy downers and called it in to a pharmacy near my friends.


Before making the pharmacy run, though, my dear sweet college friend went straight home after work. It's a good thing she did, because getting there earlier conserved several gallons of water.


We will never know for certain exactly how a dog (or perhaps the combined efforts of two dogs) managed to turn on the Jacuzzi faucet.


What we do suspect, and what Dear Sweet College Friend later wished she'd photographed, is that based on the positioning of the bath towels that had been pulled off the rack and down onto the floor, they did try to build a dam after the Jacuzzi overflowed. (We are still finding that part astounding. If they could build a dam, why couldn't they have just turned the faucet back off instead?)


You see, Dear Sweet College Friend had tossed a couple of bathroom rugs into said Jacuzzi to keep them away from a certain anxiety-driven dog. So when the faucet got bumped, the water wasn't able to drain as efficiently as it would've in an empty tub. And the overflow drain just couldn't keep up. My friend discovered an abundance of water and wet fur, both freed from and attached to the dogs in question.


Two loads of laundry and one master bedroom carpet shampooing later, it turned out that the Jacuzzi Incident of 2010 did not actually cause any damage to the house. Or to our friendship.


But it did cause a rapid deployment of The Alpha's parents, who live 45 minutes away from Dear Sweet College Friend. They were there in just one hour to pick up their granddogs and all of their accompanying accessories.


Have I mentioned lately how awesome my in-laws are? Because they are.


Dear Sweet College Friend's daughter was distraught, of course. "But mama... I love those dogs!" "Mama, can I please take 'em out to pee one last time?" Oh, so sad. I'll have to take them back to visit her when I get up there.


The dogs are much calmer at the family homestead. They've stayed there with us many times, so the environment is far from foreign. And there is no Jacuzzi.


When we asked if they'd caused any damage without us there, my mother-in-law answered, "Well, they've about worn out the couch... from sleeping on it."


We saw them Sunday night and Monday morning, when we drove up for a quick house-hunting expedition. And before we left, I did give The Boy a doggy downer to cut the separation anxiety. But he hasn't needed them on a regular basis.


I move in with my in-laws at the end of the month, just before I start my new job. I'm kind of looking forward to being covered in dog fur again.


But I'm not too keen on looking for a house with a Jacuzzi.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Because it's been too long...

...I'm resorting to a random-highlights kind of blog entry.

- The real estate sign is in our yard. We're almost to the one-week mark, and we have only had one official showing. Didn't realize how much I had my hopes up until we got absolutely no action over the weekend.

- Our across-the-street neighbor died yesterday after a long decline. I'll most definitely be attending his service later this week.

- My last day at the office was Friday. It was lovely. I got all kinds of cool stuff, including my very own custom cover of our publication, framed and ready to hang in my new office. I'd try to explain the jokes, but most people wouldn't get 'em. The one that readers of this blog most definitely will understand: The article "Rescue ministry expands" mentions that I have to move out of state because I've already placed dogs with all of my friends in Texas, and I need a fresh crop of potential homes for more. (I suppose there's some truth to that.)

- Here's one of the other gifts I received. I think I'll carry it at Annual Conference -- and definitely at General Conference, if I wind up attending.

- Took the dogs to Arkansas on July 4. Left them there on July 5 so our new carpet could be installed and remain dander-free for potential new owners. Had to arrange a spur-of-the-moment relocation for them after The Jacuzzi Incident of 2010. Will blog that one later. Wish I had pictures.

- Saw the dogs Sunday and Monday during a trip to look at houses. Miss them. Will be moving in with them in less than 2 weeks, while The Alpha stays behind until the house sells or until we just can't take it anymore.

- Met our new niece in the same trip. Longest pinky toes I've ever seen.

- Regarding the other side of the family (mine), I'm having second thoughts about moving to Arkansas. Family Systems Theory suggests that proximity to family members really doesn't matter that much, but I'm starting to wonder.

- A very dear college friend is expecting. Being closer to her during this time will be a definite plus.

- Goals for today: Train new church secretary on website updates. Pack at least 4 boxes. Attend my last practice with the band. A few other things thrown in there, too. Maybe I'll find a moment to blog about The Jacuzzi Incident.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Another happy goodbye

This seems to be the week for parting. Again, it's a good thing:

These nice people welcomed Crystal the Foster Dog to her forever home this evening.


Early developments indicate that she's a daddy's girl.



She shows appropriate respect for/lack of interest in the toddler, too.


Everything I see and hear tells me that these are People Who Get It. The kind of people who understand that a dog can become a valuable part of the family, if you will only let her. And they are going to let her.

Thus far, The Boy and The Tueser seem to be enjoying getting back to a two-dog household. Just wait until this weekend, when I rock their world yet again by taking them to live with another family -- temporarily, while we put this house on the market. I'm going to miss them something fierce these next few weeks.

Dang goodbyes.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Last Song

This morning was hard, even though we'd seen the day approaching for years.

Today was the day that the band had to say goodbye to Mid-Life Rookie's husband, G&T.

When MLR started the ordination process, we all knew it would eventually take them both away from us. We are United Methodist; preachers move. Because of her appointment to the Conference office, they were able to stay longer than we'd even dared to imagine... but next Sunday, she preaches her first sermon in her own pulpit. It's really happened. She's ordained, and they're moving on. It's a wonderful thing. I'm elated for them, and fiercely proud of her, my dear friend.

Yet it's okay for me to be crying as I type these words. And if it weren't okay, that wouldn't matter; I'd still be letting these tears fall. Our two families' lives have become intertwined over the past decade, and change is hard.

For the band, after denial came acceptance, and after acceptance came planning. Because of that planning by this group of really generous and creative people, we were able to present G&T with four things today: an art-guitar with our signatures on the back, decoupaged on the front with photos of all of us, mixed in with several of his favorite more-famous musicians; a gift card to a store where we know he's spent thousands of dollars on music equipment over the years; our love; and our music.

Wednesday at practice, we put together the anthem G&T chose. It related to the scripture our guest preacher was using, of course. He's good at paying attention to that stuff. And it also happened to be a totally bad-ass song that we do rather well. (Can church be bad-ass? Why yes, yes it can.)

And Thursday night the band convened, minus G&T, for a super-secret rehearsal to prepare our farewell song to him, which we played in place of our usual benediction response.

Last Song
by Bill Mallonee and Julie Miller
May your peace be an anchor in stormy times;
May your hope run like a river that'll never run dry;

May your burdens grow light, may your worries subside:

This is our prayer for you.

May your soul grow deep; may your joy run wild;

May your heart know the face of Mercy has smiled;

May your faith come to let you believe like a child:

This is our prayer for you.


We divided the lyrics line by line between the two of us girls -- otherwise, we probably couldn't have gotten through it without crying. It wasn't my best vocal work, but I did sing every note and word I was supposed to sing, and I even managed to look at MLR and G&T for part of it.

Lots of other important and good things happened today: our annual conference lay member gave her report to the congregation; our Conference Lay Leader, a good friend of mine and an excellent preacher, delivered the (also bad-ass) message so our pastor could leave with the youth after the first service; and the youth, with The Alpha and our pastor among their leaders, left for their week-long mission trip.

I came in from the parking lot just before the mission trip vans left. It was time to robe up and sing in the choir for second service. It wasn't until the end of the service that I got teary-eyed again. Because here's what I finally noticed when we stood to sing the closing hymn:

You may not be able to tell what it is. The table is our church's altar, seen from the rear, where the band sets up and the choir is seated. In this photo you can see part of the green altar cloth, the open Bible, one of the candles, the foot of the wrought-iron cross...

...and a guitar pick.

After the first service, G&T left it upon the altar as an offering.

(It only hit me in the car afterward that of course, it was the appropriate liturgical color, too. This man has Jerry Garcia ties in all the colors of the church year. He is totally ready to be a "preacher's wife.")

Thank you, G&T, for your offering. For all the years of dedication, the outpouring of your giftedness in service to God in this place. We love you.

The catch-up post

- Looks like Crystal is going to her forever home tomorrow! The meeting on Saturday with her prospective family went very well.

- Packing, sorting, donating, trashing, recycling activities all continue. There's some painting still left, too, but it's minimal, touch-up stuff.

- Today was a big day in the life of the band. More on that in a separate post.

- Angus and Tuesday are going to live with a dear college friend and her family. But it's only temporary. We're only doing it because it's so much easier to sell a house without nose prints on the windows and dog fur on top of the brand-new carpet we're about to have installed. I'm going to be very impatient to get them back living with us, but in a new location.

- While I'm in Arkansas delivering them to their temporary digs, I'll also spend a few hours trying to find that new location for us to land. I'm going to look without having The Alpha there to give his opinion, which isn't typical of the way we normally operate. But that's what we're able to swing at this point, given our schedules.

- Might have to have a holy nap today. Two worship services and lunch with our guest preacher afterwards were things I was thrilled to be able to do, but dang, I'm tired.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I keep thinking, "I need to blog that."

...and now that I've allowed myself a moment, I can't think of what prompted that thought.

This new experience we're having, getting a house ready to list, is grueling at times. Lots of painting. Choosing colors and materials based on the guess that they'll offend the fewest number of viewers, and that they are of decent quality, "but not too expensive" (like the Shrubbery order from the Knights Who Say "Ni"). Going through junk you didn't remember you even had. Dividing it into stacks: Donate, sell, recycle, trash. Making an untold number of trips to the home improvement big-box stores, both orange and blue, because sometimes they really do have different materials stocked. I took a vacation day yesterday to handle several such tasks. It was totally worth it.

Last night we had a welcome break in such action. My dear supervisor and her husband came over with a delightful home-cooked meal. Good company, good food, good wine, bad movie. It was fantastic.

Still looking for a home for Crystal, who is doing quite well:


We really need to get her placed before we put the house on the market. And we really, really need to get her placed before we move. Several laws and regulations in our home state are not very friendly toward her breed, so finding a good forever home in Texas would be better for her.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Technical difficulties stream of consciousness

Hmmmm.

- I set up a new email address. I thought I changed everything over, but Blogger didn't want to start sending my comments to the new address. I finally got it to quit sending to my old address... but now I think they're going out into the ether somewhere instead of landing in any inbox of mine.

- The reason I set up a new email address is because we are moving.

- Holy crap, we are moving back to our home state.

- Seriously. Damn.

- I like it here. The Alpha likes it here. We like the life we've built here. The dogs like freeloading off the life we've built here. Why couldn't the incredible job opportunity like it here, too?

- The BAND, Elwood! ... the BAND!!!

- My KITCHEN!

- We still have one foster dog who needs adopting. Our home state allows BSLs (breed-specific laws) restricting where dogs who look like Crystal can live. We could take her with us if it comes to that--which is why we aren't looking in the suburb that has the outright ban on three breeds--but I don't think it would be a friendly environment for her.

- I am really digging this CD lately.

- Oh, great. My last two blog comments just arrived via the old address. No progress there.

- It's bedtime.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Farewell, Poohbert!

Ah, the Poohbert. She's such a cutie.


Which is why we were a little mystified as to why nobody had called about adopting her in the two months we'd had her. We did have some friends who admired her, but no serious inquiries... until last weekend, when Barb, a woman from a rural town north of here, called to see if Poohbert girl was still looking for her forever home.

Barb was already partway down to our 'burb running errands when she called, and she decided to go ahead and come have a look in-person. It went well -- Poohbert reminded Barb of her dear departed dog, but not too much -- and so the pre-adoption process began: checking out the veterinary history of the potential adopter, testing Poohbert around cats since she might be living with a couple, etc.

Yesterday morning, we had Poohbert jump on in the car for a ride northward. An hour later, from a dead-end road off a dead-end road, we turned into a driveway of a house near the lake.

Poohbert met Daisy the dog, who lives next door. She met Bob, Barb's husband. She also met neighbor dogs Honey and Trapper, and Shadow the Cat. She ran a few good laps around the yard and figured out Daisy can run faster than she can. She sniffed all around the house and figured out where the cats like to curl up and sun themselves.

We walked her down to the lake, and she had her first experience with waves chasing her on the shore. She wasn't really sure what to think about that. She watched Daisy dog swim around, though.

She drank lots of water, and left an equal amount splattered on the floor all around the indoor dish, and all around the bowl on the porch, too, as we had warned she would. Barb didn't mind.


Poohbert's new name: Puddles.

It's appropriate.

This morning, Puddles woke up her new mom at 4 a.m. because she had to be a good dog and go for a trip outside. And then at 6 a.m., she just wanted to get up and check out the lake a little more.

She sure looks like she's home to me.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Five: Friendship

Over at RevGalBlogPals, my friend Kathrynzj has this week's Friday Five... on friendship:

1) Do you remember your first best friend? What did you do together? Are they still in your life?
I can think of several early childhood friends that I called "best friend," none of whom are currently in my life. We played, went to school or church together, etc.

2) Did you ever have to move away or have your best friend move away from you?
In fourth grade, my friend Chrissy's father got transferred. I wrote her at her new address, and never heard back. (Dang, Kathryn, these first couple of questions are downers! On to brighter things now...)

3) Are there people in your life now that you can call 'friend'?
Yes, tons of them, from all kinds of places! In fact, there is one from Parts North in my guest bedroom right now, and we saw other friends last night and will see still more friends today!

4) What are some of your favorite things to do with your friends?
I really enjoy conversation with my close friends. We don't have to be doing anything; in fact, with some friends I don't see very often, cluttering the schedule with an activity of some sort is just a distraction to me. Put me at a dinner table or scattered around someone's living room with a circle of friends, and it's like a little piece of heaven.

5) What is a gift friendship has given you?
Too many gifts to name here... One I've used recently, though, is the ability to seek out friends who understand things in particular ways. I appreciate the different perspectives my friends bring to the same situation.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Five: What is there to smile about?

Over at RevGalBlogPals, Jan writes: With the end of RevGalBlogPals' third annual Big Event, I am wondering who went and what it was like. There must be a lot of smiling from the Big Event! Hopefully, the rest of us are not frowning either.

So let us know how your past week was for you.

Write five different aspects of the week
OR answer the following questions:

1. When were you smiling lately? When one of my foster dogs, Crystal, got a positive evaluation from the rescue group coordinator. I also smiled on Monday, when my friend Terry adopted Tildie, one of the dogs we had seen but hadn't been able to take the morning of our rescue transport run. Monday was the day Tildie had been scheduled to be euthanized; instead, she got a new loving home.

2. What happened unexpectedly to you this past week? Lots of stuff! Much of it unbloggable.

3. How was a catastrophe averted (or not)? I suppose the animal rescue world is just full of catastrophes, but I had one hit particularly hard this morning: I learned that one of the dogs I was supposed to help transport to foster care in another state last weekend, but who didn't get on that run and was supposed to come this week, has died from complications of her spay surgery. We can't save them all, but that doesn't mean I don't cry about the ones we lose.

4. What was the most delicious thing you ate? Yesterday my lunch included the last bit of a yummy block of Australian Cheddar that I picked up at Whole Paycheck.

5. Did you see any good movies or read any books or articles? We re-watched The Blues Brothers, just because we can. It's a feel-good classic that I will love forever.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Some dogs never leave you.

Two years ago yesterday, we said goodbye to Cub. We still miss her. Tears are welling up even now. Eight years was not enough life for her, but liver disease doesn't play fair. We did the best we could and cared for her in ways that not everyone would have bothered to do. She was -- she is -- my babydog.


So it felt right that yesterday I was able to honor her memory by helping other dogs. My friend Terry and I got up way. too. early. and picked up five dogs from a local shelter. We used The Alpha's car because it has more room for things like crates (he didn't even complain about the smell... which is still there, even though I wiped down the entire cargo area when we were done).

We drove Frankie, Charlie, Oso, Hudson, and Sally to Ardmore, where we met their next transporter, who drove them to Norman. The next leg took them into Kansas, where they stayed overnight, and this afternoon they are scheduled to arrive at the rescue group HQ in Minnesota. Those dogs are alive because we helped. We made a difference.

Oh, and yes, we still have the foster dogs. Here's a new Petfinder listing for Crystal.


When she and I met the pit bull rescue coordinator on Friday, I learned just how attached she is to me. Karla tried walking with Crystal across the parking lot of her office while I stood still, and Crystal kept stopping to look back at me. Karla recommended that I recruit other people to take Crystal for short walks while I stay home, to get her to worry less about where I am and learn to enjoy a walk more. We also will make regular trips out and about until she learns to relax a little more in unfamiliar situations. Her timidity is her biggest hurdle. She is definitely adoptable, though! I'm glad to have that assurance from someone more experienced at these types of things.

Oh, and Poohbert is still doing quite well, too.


Some dogs never leave you. In Cub's case, I'm very glad of that. In Crystal and Poohbert's cases, it's just not for us. We aren't their forever home. We will gladly keep them safe until they find it, though.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter foster dogs update

Our Easter celebration was great, but this post is about the fosters! Crystal and Pooh Bear (a.k.a. Poohbert) might get their own blog soon -- anything that'll help them find their home!

We've decided that Pooh Bear is actually Crystal's dog. It's our own weird little way of saying how bonded they are. It's like a sibling relationship. Crystal lets Pooh Bear clean her ears, gnaw on her paws and face, all kinds of things that other dogs couldn't get by with doing. They are really sweet together.

Pooh Bear got spayed last week, and she's spending a few more days yet in the Cone of Shame because we don't trust her not to pick at her stitches. They'll dissolve soon, though. Here's a happy little Cone of Shame shot from last night (where you can see some of the damage she and Crystal have inflicted upon the Cone):


And a pic of Crystal, taken last night, too:



For the record, here are their current standings:
- Both spayed
- Both vaccinated for rabies
- Both received their distemper/parvo booster shots (first shots were at the shelter)
- Both on HW preventive (Crystal is officially heartworm-free; no test on Poohbert yet)
- Both on flea/tick preventive
- Pooh Bear is microchipped
- Crystal is a young adult, weighing in at around 55 pounds; Pooh Bear is about 8 months old and weighed 32 pounds at her spay appointment.

Now, who has the home these dogs are supposed to be living in, and just doesn't know it yet?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Five: Redo, Refresh, Restore

Over at RevGalBlogPals, Songbird writes: Please share with us five ways you redo or refresh or restore your body, your space, your blog, anything in your life that needs perking up this week.

Here we go:

1) A massage does wonders to refresh me. I have a membership at a nearby massage place, and that base fee includes one massage per month. I have three unused ones stacked up. Time to make another appointment and do a better job of giving myself that time that I've already bought.

2) The Alpha got me started on working with 10-pound hand weights this week, in preparation for this and this, which are coming up in OH HOLY CRAP, LESS THAN TWO MONTHS. I'm such a leg-oriented person, though, that in working my upper body, I've actually made myself sore in the quad and hamstring areas because of the way I compensate for the motions I'm not used to doing. Time to restore my body to a previous level of fitness. It's been a while.

3) Last year we decided to finally redo the kitchen, and we are still enjoying the results very much. This year, at a minimum, we plan to use the remaining tile from that project to re-floor our smaller bathrooms.

4) Another way I need to refresh my living space is to get these foster dogs placed in their forever homes! I have a lead on a potential home for Pooh Bear; still waiting for someone to fall in love with sweet Crystal.

5) Something that's refreshing for my mind is to do some reading that has absolutely nothing to do with church or faith! Recently, the latest issue of The Oxford American has been satisfying that need.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hurried updates

I'm supposed to be on my way to the office already... but I had to share:

- We have been on two walks with all four dogs now. Pooh Bear is a typical puppy who has no idea what a walk is except fun! Crystal, though, seems to have been trained to heel, and to walk calmly. She shows up our dogs. It makes me wonder even more who let her go, and why.

- The two fosters have done pretty well in the back room the last couple of days. After a couple of destructive episodes, we made some modifications to their space, and it has worked well. (They get to watch PBS all day... I showed them Clifford before I left yesterday morning.)

- They are good dogs who really need forever homes. The city shelter sent out a message about an elderly dog who needs a home for 6 to 8 weeks until her owner finds a new place to live. The shelter can only keep her until Tuesday. We would love to help them out, but we have no room.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dog Couch happenings

It's a cold and lazy day here. Not much going on with the current occupants of The Dog Couch, but I thought I'd share anyway.



These two foster dogs were kenneled together at the shelter, and they get along very well. Last night Pooh Bear, the pup, was play-chewing all over Crystal, the pit. Crystal is so patient with this fuzzy baby. It's very sweet to see, but so far they haven't let me capture their playtime on video.

Still looking for loving adoptive homes for them. Maybe -- and I do realize I'm dreaming here -- one loving home would welcome both of them together.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stream of consciousness, business-travel style

I'm in a hotel room two states away from my husband. It's just for one night and wouldn't normally be that big of a deal... but... I left him alone with my hobby. Back home, he's outnumbered four to one. Our two dogs are fine with just one person in the house, but managing two foster dogs in addition to the regular residents... well, that's less than ideal.

A few days ago, I had it all planned out. Pooh Bear was going to go stay with someone who was thinking about adopting her. But then another decision in his life made it a bad idea to adopt a dog right now. "Oh, well," I thought. "That appointment to have Crystal spayed will include an overnight stay, so we can just do that the night I'm gone, and The Alpha will only have three dogs to wrangle instead of four."

Except that Crystal didn't stay overnight after all -- because the vet found a spay scar, which is good news that saved us some money, but which also meant she didn't need to stay overnight. So she's back home, and she's not as comfortable without me there (I think perhaps The Alpha reminds her of someone unfriendly in her past).

So, I've stranded my man with four dogs. And if I get a good night's sleep tonight, I'll just feel more guilty than I do now.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Foster dogs update

- Pooh Bear met a prospective adopter today. No clue on whether he will actually decide to give her a home. He's going to sleep on it for at least one night, which is good. And he would totally change her name, which is also good. ;-)

- Still keeping Pooh Bear and Crystal mostly separated from our dogs, even though we know that they've all been exposed to the contagious bacterial thing. Angus is showing signs of possibly needing another round of antibiotics. (Pooh Bear has improved drastically since starting antibiotics on Friday.) The other two seem to be okay... for now.

- Speaking of those other two girls, they got into a little tussle today while we were all having some backyard time. Nobody's hurt, but it's another reason to keep the Main Dogs and the Temporary Dogs apart much of the time.

- I'm back into an "I'm not sure I can do this again" phase. The trouble is, when my house is down to two dogs, that means there's room to help another one. It's not convenient, it's not easy, but it saves a life. And I know it's going to get harder to find homes for dogs once everybody I know who might want a dog has taken in one of the ones I've fostered. This is serious Crazy Dog Lady territory here.

*Sigh*

I saw something disturbing this morning.

I think I do a decent job of keeping my political preferences low on the radar. I don't hide them, but I also don't shove them in other people's faces. I don't list them on the social networking site referred to by many RevGals as Spacehook. I don't want my politics to be a barrier to relationship with those who don't share my opinions.

Which is why I found it especially disturbing that a bumper sticker reading, "Yes! I want [last name of the person inaugurated on January 20, 2009] to fail!" was on a vehicle in my church parking lot.

It's one thing to see something like that in traffic. It's in poor taste no matter where it is, and no matter who you voted for. But I saw this sticker where my community of faith gathers. That's what disappoints me. As if we don't have enough barriers to people understanding that our God is a god of love, we have a message that flat-out wishes ill on someone who is trying to do his job.

And, in my opinion, if that person fails at his or her job, the entire country fails along with him or her. So if you agree with that bumper sticker, you're also wishing for my failure and your own.

When someone I don't like is holding political office, I grumble, but I also pray for the person in leadership. The decisions they must make involve factors that I have no idea even exist. That job is difficult beyond belief.

So, am I supposed to say anything? The owner of that truck and I have a long history of seeing the world in different ways. Yet we've been members of the same church for nearly a decade now. It's seems like it's getting more difficult, though. He hasn't been coming to worship very much, and I suspect it's because he disagrees with some people in leadership. I refuse to shut myself off like that. It's a choice I make, and it's not always an easy one, but God created us to love others.

Even when others are behaving in ways that embarrass us.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Crazy Dog Lady strikes again: a one-two punch

This is a first for our household. I had always said just one dog at a time. But Wednesday I rescued two dogs at once.

They were both going to be euthanized. They were the only two left on the week's euth list. So they are with us now... thanks in large part to Karla! When the rescue group I had worked with on my last foster couldn't arrange to pull them, she connected me with her rescue group. A couple of hours later (pretty late into Tuesday night -- into Wednesday morning for them, because they are one time zone away), we had all the paperwork filed with the shelter and were good to do for the morning.

So... meet Crystal, an adult female:


And Pooh Bear, who is about 7 months old:


They are both good girls. If you know anyone who might fall in love with either of them, let me know in the comments!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Another week's assortment

- Went to bed last night before the Oscars were over. They got along just fine without me watching. Hooray, The Dude for picking up Best Actor. Might have to watch that movie of his some time.

- The next two weeks are looking busy. Am I being practical about this fact and trying earnestly to get manageable stuff out of the way ahead of time? No, not really.

- Wanted to give blood this weekend, but still doubted my ability to answer their first question, which goes something like, "Are you feeling well and healthy today?" There's a cough hanging on from that mess I had a couple of weeks ago, so I'm waiting another little while. Hope I don't have to delay it so long that it affects my quarterly church blood drive schedule.... I'm already a week behind on that.

- Change is happening. (It tends to do that, I've noticed over the last few decades.) Even if it's good change in the grand scheme of things, there's still some grief involved for that which is being lost.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Assorted reports from SFM

- If you've been to our house, you probably know what SFM stands for.

- Because of the illness Dustin the Foster Dog brought with him to SFM, The Boy is on antibiotics, and will be for about another week and a half. The worst side effect? He consumes even more water than usual, meaning he requires at least one trip outside in the middle of the night. Last night, the trips were 30 minutes apart. We figured he was just trying to be fair, making each family member who has mastered The Doorknob Principle get up once.

- Dustin/Dusty is scheduled to begin his heartworm evaluation and treatment a week from today (thanks, in part, to those who gave through the ChipIn page -- like RevAnne). I sure hope it goes smoothly! From what I hear, there are points in the next few months where it won't be any fun for him or his adoptive mom. But she's committed to seeing it through to the desired outcome, I know.

- I would normally be getting started on my commute right about now, but I have to report for jury duty at municipal court today. Whee, local government! I hope at least part of the experience is interesting. It's been a decade or so since I've been called, and that was for the county court. I'm really, really hoping to be dismissed since my job involves presenting at a conference later this week.

- We spiffed up the guest room and guest bath last night, because Gavin will be staying with us tomorrow through Friday (see, Gav? we clean because we care). He's helping out with a work thing; actually, he helps out with a lot of work things, because he's on our board of directors. But some of them require that he travel here from Tennessee.

- I'm hitting a higher level of frustration with my particular geographical tribe of Teh Church lately. Just sayin'. I'm sure that this, too, shall pass, but I'm not having a good time with it right now. And I keep wondering about perspective. For example, I might put the dogs somewhere they do not want to be, or do something they don't like or understand. But invariably, I do it because they will be safer and/or healthier in the long run. Is that what's happening here, with a slight role shift? I hope so, because if it doesn't turn out to make sense in the long run, I'll be pretty hacked off.

- We at SFM have given up foul language for Lent. I slipped yesterday... but it was the Sabbath, a feast day... which means technically, whatever I'm abstaining from is acceptable to do. Sure feels like a technicality to me, though.

- I'm losing count of how many times I've said of someone, "He's such a... something I can't say during Lent!"

- We are trying to firm up plans for our upcoming vacation. We already have plans for going up a mountain; now we need to decide the particulars of going down in a hole.

- And it is now time for me to head to the courts building.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The icky side of rescue.

I do not regret helping rescue dogs. Not one bit.

But it does get complicated sometimes.

Dustin went to his forever home late last week. Then this week, he went for a thorough checkup at his forever veterinarian's office. And he tested positive for heartworms.

Poor little sweetie boy.

That's not all that's wrong -- the vet also confirmed our suspicion that he has some kind of hip injury, and there are a couple of other things that may need attention, too. But right now, the priority is the heartworm treatment.

After I incurred some surprise veterinary expenses caring for him, a rescue coordinator recommended that I set up a ChipIn fund for Dustin. I'm not worried about recovering any of my investment, which is why I never publicized it here. My big concern is with helping him get healthy from this point forward. So I raised the target amount on the account. I know that a number of people were rooting for him to be rescued, and I'm putting this out there on the chance that they will still want to help.



Dusty, in his new backyard

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day off, but day on, too.

I took a day off work today, but I'm dressed as if I hadn't.

In less than an hour, Mid-Life Rookie is picking me up and we will make the drive to the retreat center where representatives from the Board of Ordained Ministry are conducting interviews. Her round begins at 1:30 and continues until 4:30. I'm her support person: prayer, logistics, whatever she needs of me. I'm honored to be called upon for this role, and I pray that I truly am a source of support today.

We will know before we come back home this evening whether she will be recommended for ordination in June. Prayers appreciated!

Another home found

Here's Dustin on Friday night, just before we sent him off to his new home:


He's much healthier than he was when he arrived here. I wouldn't be surprised if some other issues crop up, and his adoptive mom wouldn't be surprised either, but it's a risk she's willing to take.

After we let him out of quarantine, his love of snuggling became quite apparent:


I, for one, was glad to get him out of here, because it seemed like he had imprinted on me. ("Well, you saved his life, and you nursed him back to health," says The Alpha.) Having a dog who isn't yours follow you around like you belong to him can be a little uncomfortable, especially when you are certain that yours is a two-dog household, and both positions are already filled.

So it was especially nice that when Cherrie arrived to take him to his new home, he seemed to understand that he was going with her, and there was no sign of separation anxiety. It's also good to know that I remain his Fairy Dogmother and will get to see him from time to time. He readily settled into his new digs, and was having fun with his new Jack Russell Terrier brother -- a dog who didn't have the best start in life and who seems permanently scarred by it. He won't play with my dogs, but he will play with Dustin. Their pre-adoption get-acquainted session was the first time she had seen him act like a "normal" dog. There's hope for him yet. (Maybe he just needed an Assistance Dog of his own!)

Fostering certainly isn't all smiles and tail-wagging. I'm still not sure how much longer I can take the risk of exposing our dogs to the illnesses and afflictions that foster dogs may bring with them. It helps that we commit to keeping our dogs fully vaccinated and on preventives, and that we are willing to limit contact between our dogs and fosters, but we still have to watch them for symptoms of stuff they might catch.

And when you know you've saved one life and improved another, it does feel good.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

It was bound to happen eventually.


This is Dustin. As you can tell, he arrived during the Big Texas Snow of '10.

Dustin is yet another foster dog. He's not staying forever. But he's different -- he's the first foster dog who has arrived here sick.

He's currently quarantined in the empty bedroom. He's on a few medications, including antibiotics -- which, strangely, they didn't give him on the first trip to the vet. (WTF? I told you I have other dogs here and I'm worried that whatever it is could spread to them.... my fault, I guess, for assuming the prescription drug you gave him was indeed an antibiotic, but still, if you'd paid closer attention, especially when I called back to say he wasn't improving, I wouldn't have had to take him to the emergency clinic last night.)

So, for the people who pray for dogs: Please keep Dustin in your prayers.

* * * * *
Assorted other stuff:

- Yes, we had a lot of snow here. It was gorgeous. I took pictures. May post some eventually. People in Texas never get to make snow sculptures, but snow-families of five, snow dogs, snow bunnies, and snow forts started turning up in our neighbors' yards. I took some video of the dogs out in it, but they didn't go full-on Snow Poppy like a certain someone used to do when there was as little as half an inch on the ground.

- Heard about a new project involving 2/3 of my favorite trio of musicians. I pre-ordered the CD and have claimed my four free downloads.

- Had a lovely candlelight dinner at home with my sweetie tonight. We don't go in for all the Valentine hype. This morning, while we were shopping for the dinner ingredients, we walked by the greeting card aisle. "Crap, was I supposed to get you a card?" I said in the most romantic way possible. "Uh, I didn't get you one," he answered. My response: "Oh, good, we're fine, then." And that was the end of that subject. One of many reasons we make such a great couple.