If You Are My Grandmother, Quit Reading Now

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Gentle Reader,

I feel like I can be honest with you.  Can I?  I mean, I’ve blogged about my teeth, so clearly either we are close or I have no shame.  Also-my entire existence right now revolves around monitoring the business end of two Labradors.  I’ve gotten a little bit weird.  (Side note:  WHEN DO THEY FIGURE OUT WHERE TO TINKLE????)

Anyway-yesterday mama kept the puppies so I could drive my cousin S back to the airport so she could go back home and to the lucrative life of a grad student.  After dropping her off, I went over to my friend Candace’s house.  They are getting ready to move somewhere that IS NOT HERE.  And frankly I’m a little crabby about this.  So I needed to say goodbye and have one more session of talking about inappropriate things and then fixing all of the world’s problems.  We took the boys to the pool and had a good wallow (to borrow a Jen Lancaster term…) and then went to lunch where two of us ate and two of us negotiated how much to eat and then drank lemonade and played some kind of game involving sharks and forgot to eat.  (I’ll let you guess to which group I belonged…)

On the “totally inappropriate things” front, we were discussing my recent summer reading.  And because I have no desire for my blog to come up in anybody’s search results for this book, I’ll go with rhyming here.  The series’ name rhymes with “Nifty Grades of May”.  (I am hip, edgy, and obviously au courant as evidenced by the fact that I am just now reading the salacious material of three summers ago.)

I should back up here and explain that this entire foray into the lower (lowest) echelons of literary merit is my cousin Laura’s fault:  Late last week, I had finished with the latest Jen Lancaster and was about to get back into a nonfiction read (I alternate–one funny/fiction and then one serious/important read)–this time I was going to read a history of the eradication of smallpox, and I just wasn’t in the mood.  I had just seen a (totally unflattering) review of…to borrow my rhyming scheme again…”Fray”, the apparently-much anticipated sequel to the series.  Remembering that Laura had read the original series, and knowing that Laura is every bit as cultured and educated as I, I thought I’d check out the original series and then read the sequel to see if it is as bad as the reviewer thought.  (SPOILER ALERT:  Yes.)

I downloaded them onto the Kindle, and off I went.  (I have more time for reading right now, since I spend a lot of time outside with puppies in order to try to spare the floors inside the house.)  It is with no small amount of shame that I admit that I have read all of the original trilogy.  And am now working on the follow-up.  In my defense, they aren’t exactly intellectual readings replete with abundant original source material.  They are fast reads.

Here’s where it gets confusing.  I HAD to finish these things.  They aren’t good.  But I HAD to know what happened next.  I don’t feel they are as scandalous and sinful as some folks seem to think, but this does not good literature make.  The male character resides in that dead-zone between realistic and completely fantastical (a 27 year-old billionaire who has time to drop everything and pursue a 22 year-old twit for three books worth of material?) (I use that term loosely here.).  But whatever.  I really could not put this junk down.  I am completely baffled myself.

I’m not at all worried/concerned/upset/bothered by any social problems or ramifications in the book.  The books aren’t good enough to further depress social mores.  (I promise.)  My main problems with the books are twofold.  One:  Unsupervised thesaurus-ing is a DANGEROUS thing.  I’m not totally convinced that she didn’t take a One L student and hand him the manuscript and a thesaurus and have him do a find and replace for a few key words.  (I LOVED my damn thesaurus my One L year.  My LRW professor HATED my damn thesaurus.)  Part B to this problem is that she DIDN’T use her thesaurus for a few other key words.  Good grief it got old.  And my second problem:  If we’re being generous, there are only three books worth of material here.  The fourth book is merely a retelling of the first book from the male character’s perspective.  As such it has all of the same richness and nuance and thesaurus-ing of the first book with the added benefit of changed narration.  And that narrator makes me wonder if this author has ever met a male.  Any male.  (Apparently this author has children which would lead to the probable assumption, but believe me, this latest oeuvre brings that fully into question.)

And I guess I lied-my problems are threefold.  Because my third problem is that I’m really waiting for the fifth and sixth iterations of this bubblegum to come out.  It’s terrible.  Awful.  I read it and KNOW that it’s awful.  It’s a train wreck, and like a puppy to a pile of freshly folded laundry, I am drawn.  It is Bravo, in book form.  But less intellectual.

Sigh.  I’ll just go ahead and pack up my degrees and mail them back now.

Goodnight,

Lauren

This Is A List. It Has Some Items.

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Gentle Reader,

So here’s a brief recap of what’s been going on here this Fathers’ Day Weekend…

1. That BLINDING light you saw today in the southeast? It was my legs. In a swimsuit. Because I was in a swimming pool. It had to be done because there are important things in the near future for which I cannot resemble snow. But still, my apologies for any permanent vision impairment.

2. DID YOU KNOW YOU COULD PUT EGGS ON PIZZA????? Madness! Delicious madness!

3. In addition to her raw-infused, locally-made, grain-free, gluten-free, nutritionally-balanced kibble, Brix decided tonight that she would dine on a raw sweet potato (filched from the pantry, her Happiest Place On Earth), a dirty washcloth, and a disposable razor.

4. She (and let’s face it, Backus, because he does everything she does) is not our first dog to eat a disposable razor. (HOW DO THEY GET THEM???? IT’S NOT LIKE WE LEAVE THEM HANGING OUT AT DOG-HEIGHT!) Sigh.

5. Which makes the fact that I finally got their AKC registrations taken care of today all the more poignant. Because a dog that eats used toiletries OBVIOUSLY needs a classy name like, “The Sir’s High Degrees Brix”. And her brother, who just chewed on some silk ficus tree leaves for an hour, needs a name like, “Lauren’s Backus Vertical Tasting”.

6. Because we’re TOTALLY going to show these specimens of their breed. Just as soon as they stop eating used kleenex and chewing on my flip-flops.

7. I’d make some kind of joke about breeding them, too, but honestly that wouldn’t even be funny at this point. If Brix shows up pregnant, we’re going to drink. Tequila. Heavily.

8. And while I wait for the Benadryl that I may or may not have slipped into their Night Cheese to take effect, I’ve started watching “New Girl”, season one, again. Glorious.

Happy Fathers’ Day to all the dads. Hug your baby bears tight, and open the best bottle of wine first!!!
Goodnight,
Lauren

It’s Gotten Very Hipster Around Here

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Gentle Reader,

Just a quick update today. My cousin S is visiting us from South Georgia, so we’re cooking and playing (and, in the case of certain members of our party, biting and leaking) with her!

I mentioned a little bit ago about needing to get more kibble. And since I didn’t think that their current kibble really agreed with their system, I wanted to change the puppies to a different kind of food. So I went to the internets.

I don’t know how real parents do it.

(Side note: I’ve said this before, no? I am not the puppies’ “parent”. They are dogs, I am a person. When I have tiny humans, I will be a parent. Until then, I am the puppies’ person. This is A Thing for me. The puppies’ parents are a lovely chocolate Lab named “Kahlua” and a stunning black Lab creature named “Kentucky”.)

Anyway, the GUILT!!!!

To sum up the non-loony internet advice on pet food: “All commercial pet food is certified to be nutritionally balanced. Find the one that works best for you.”

To sum up what I heard when I read said internet advice: “Sure, Dog Food You Can Buy At Walmart won’t KILL your dog, but don’t you want better? I mean, this dog is TRUSTING you to feed it good stuff. It can’t voice an opinion or choice to you. You have to look deep into the soul of your dog and interpret what they are saying. Are you SURE that Dog Food With Important Social Conscience is TOO expensive? You have three favorite types of triple-creme cheese, depending on your mood. You know when various winemakers release their various wines so you don’t miss any. You have strong opinions on ACCEPTABLE BRANDS OF MAYONNAISE, WOMAN. BUY THE EXPENSIVE DOG FOOD.”

And I only have what? 20 different kinds of kibble over which to angst? PARENTS HAVE AN ENTIRE GROCERY STORE!!!! PLUS RESTAURANTS!

Anyway, after much “research” (read: “dithering, messaging friend who is about to be a stunning vet, giving up and pouring another glass of wine, and finally returning to dithering”) I determined that Merrick was probably a good food to try.

The good news is that so far, it is working. Things that were…unsettled…before, are much better now. They are much calmer while eating. They aren’t eating as much (which, for a Lab, is HUGE). We’re SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT (TWICE! IN A ROW!) (THERE WAS A NIGHT. AND WE SLEPT THROUGH IT. AND THEN ANOTHER NIGHT. AND WE SLEPT THROUGH THAT TOO!!!!!!)

The somewhat more embarrassing news is that the package of kibble proudly proclaims that I am now feeding my dogs a “Grain-Free!”, “Gluten-Free!”, “RAW INFUSED!”, “Locally Made, In Texas!” diet.

If they start advertising that it is “Paleo”, I’m switching to Ol’ Roy and buying more wine.

And if Brix starts home-pickling and Backus starts buying skinny jeans, I’m sending them back to Kahlua and Kentucky for an ass-kicking.

Goodnight,
Lauren

PS-Merrick people, we love your food. And you don’t know us or anything but we really do. This was a totally unsolicited review/commercial for your product. Feel free to send us more, or let these two gorgeous creatures be cover models for you. They eat ALL THE DAMN TIME. They’ll work for kibble.

Brix and Backus, In Conversation

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Gentle Reader,

In order to tell you a little bit more about the two newest members of our little nuclear unit, I recently sat down and interviewed the puppies.  Below are excerpts:

Interviewer:  Hi gang!  How are you guys doing?  Settling in okay?

Brix:  We’re pretty good, we’re getting settled in.  It’s a bit disappointing that these people seem intent on starving us, and the way they monitor the toilet paper is nothing short of fascist, but I suppose there are worse situations.

Backus:  Aren’t I handsome?

Int.:  Those are some really unusual names, do you have any idea where your person got those?

Br.:  I’m named after the unit of measurement of the sugar content in different things.  Apparently it’s important to wine. Which is something that I hear a LOT about around here, though I’m not allowed in the wine cellar by myself.  Fascists.

Ba.:  I have no clue, but aren’t I handsome?  (Ed. Note:  He is named after this vineyard.  Also, this bottle of wine.  One of daddy’s and my favorite bottles, ever.  It should also be noted that now that I have three Labradors, I can no longer afford to purchase current release wine from this vineyard, let alone a library wine.)  (Or a can of store-brand corn, for that matter.)

Int.:  What’s your favorite thing to do?

Br.:  Play with my new BFF, Cody.  He loves it when I chew on his ears, but his most favorite thing is when I take his rawhide away from him.  His growls make the floor reverberate with friendship.

Ba.:  I like to fight the cat.

Int.:  What’s your favorite thing to eat?

Both:  TOILET PAPER!!!

Br.:  And geraniums.  And mud.

Ba.:  And sticks.  And patio furniture.

Int.:  Where do you sleep?

Ba.:  We sleep in a crate in our person’s room.  It’s awesome.  We go in and we get treats.  (Like, for reals.  We walk into the crate, and this idiot goes bananas and tells us how awesome we are and GIVES US EXTRA TREATS.  Clearly her degrees are from correspondence colleges.)  There are blankets and she leaves toys and chews in there for us, but the best part is that she put these cardboard moving boxes in there for us.  We take turns climbing them and shredding them while our person sleeps.  She finds the noise soothing.  (Ed. Note:  No, she does not.)

Int.:  Tell me what a typical day is like for you.

Br.:  We’ve been waking up around 3 or sometimes 4.  It was pretty sweet at first because we got breakfast then and played and climbed and chewed on our person as she tried to sleep on the patio table.  But she was getting pretty crabby by the end of the day so eventually she caught wise to our game.  Now we get up at 3 or 4, and we go outside to “transact business” and also kind of check in with her and make sure nothing interesting is going on (Ed. Note:  NOTHING IS, QUIT IT.) and then we go back to bed.

Ba.:  But we get up at 6 or so to have breakfast.  And then we play outside while our person checks her email and does some writing and then watches some TV.

Br.:  Then we go in, and we hang out in her office while she attempts to do “real” work.  We help her by chewing on the printer/copier (I xeroxed my ear the other day!) and then opening the office door and running around in the rest of the house.  She gets her exercise that way.

Ba.:  Until lunch and more playtime outside.

Br.:  Then we take a nap.  I assume our person plans more fun activities for us while we do that.  After that, we play until the best part of the day–the golf cart ride.

Ba.:  I get snuggled on that!

Br.:  I get to see animals!

Br.:  And then we get dinner.  And before bed, the people do something called “television”.  It bores me silly.  So I race around the bedroom trying to stay awake.

Ba.:  I love it!  Except so sleepy!

Br.:  He’s an idiot.  Everybody knows the object of the game is to NOT SLEEP EVER.

Ed. Note:  At this point, both of them usually crash.  Followed shortly by me.  3 or 4 in the morning comes early, yo.

I hope that gives you a better perspective into the Wee Beasties.  Back tomorrow!

Goodnight,

Lauren

A Labrador Walks Into a Vet’s Office

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Gentle Reader,

Sorry that I didn’t post yesterday, but we had a little Labrador Health Situation…

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(The patient, clearly flirting with death…)

Yesterday, we had our Ten Week Booster Shot appointment (side note:  I LOVE our vet clinic…they do four rounds of puppy shots…just to be on the safe side…IT’S LIKE THEY UNDERSTAND NEUROTIC PET OWNERS…) scheduled for the afternoon.  I was looking forward to seeing how much they weigh, and asking the vet my list of very important questions:

–Digging.  WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT THE DIGGING???

–Leaking.  WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT ALL THE LEAKING???

–The litter box and other sources of delectable treats.  WHYYYYYY????????

(Note:  Yes, these are my sixth and seventh dogs.  They are, however, only the second generation of diggers, and the first generation of…erm…treasure hunters.  I have forgotten much.)  (And by “much”, I mean “everything”.)

Anyway, at about 4:00 yesterday morning (3:59, because I now look at the clock as if my seething internal rage at being awakened will somehow incentivize the puppies to be quiet until 6…just 6…) I awoke to a particularly dreaded sound.

“….hhhhhhHORK….”

“hhhhhHo- hhhhHoh- hhHORK…”

“HORK HORK HORK”

After only my third attempt, pants were donned, glasses located, only a little bit of water spilled, and lamp turned on. I opened the crate, and two puppies and I began our run to the back door (like Pamplona, only with more tinkle)–this daily event requires me to be even perkier than I already am to keep the two puppies focused on the end goal: making it to the back yard before transacting our morning business. (And, this particular morning, before ralphing up whatever inedible delicacy had been ingested.)

All before I have Diet Dr. Pepper.

Anyway, we made it with only a couple of random detours.  But I noticed that instead of going over to say hello to the frog that has taken up residence in our stock watering pan (yes, it’s come to this…) and tinkling on the porch (we’re working on it, but in the meantime I promise we hose the whole thing down at least twice a day…), Brix is sitting there by the table, wheezing and trying to cough.  Not hurling up a geranium like I had expected.

I reacted calmly and with no trace of emotion, as is my custom.

Mom came out, and brought a much needed voice of reason and medical experience to the situation.  After she gained full consciousness.  We decided a temporary “wait and see” approach was a good idea.  She had sauntered over to the water dish in the meantime, so…

After she had managed to take care of all of her morning chores, Brix continued to demonstrate just how ill she was by loudly requesting breakfast.  And since homegirl managed to snorf down her share of breakfast in an amount of time only measurable by highly scientific instruments, I was persuaded to wait until the vet’s office opened to call and see if perhaps we could get in earlier.

Our girl kept wheezing and coughing intermittently until I called the office at 7.  I explained what was going on and was told (here’s where it gets pretty funny) to just “try to keep her quiet” because the vet was in surgery all morning and the earliest possible time they could see us was our scheduled appointment.

And so Brix lay down and slept quietly until lunchtime.  The end.

Except the opposite.  At about 7:30, the wheezing was getting worse, and Brix was starting to get pretty worried herself about it.  (Which, again, didn’t affect me at all.  Rationalist that I am.)  So I called back, because really.  It sounded like a drunk goose was stumbling around on my desk, which, there kinda was.  And finally, the lady at the vet’s office heard the racket emanating from my dog and managed to work us in right then.

So off we went, bringing Backus along for the ride because apparently we’re a herd now.  Of course when we got into the exam room, Brix felt just fine and didn’t wheeze or “HORK” at all.  Sigh.  And at the vet we learned a few things:

1.  Brix has some kind of respiratory irritation.  I call it a cold, but I’m not sure that’s an entirely accurate assessment (my vet degree is still in the mail).  Whatever, all I know is that she’s on steroids now, so there goes any hope I had of an Olympic career for her.

2.  Apparently there are no good answers to any of my very important questions re: the digging and the leaking and the gross things-eating.

and 3.  Brix has essentially DOUBLED IN SIZE IN TWO WEEKS.  10 pounds 4 ounces to 20 pounds 5 ounces.  (Backus only went from 10 lbs, 1 ounce, to 18 pounds, 5 ounces, so clearly he has an eating disorder.)

Seriously people, we already HAVE to buy more kibble tomorrow.  (Not like, “It would be good to get some because we’ll have it when we need it…”, it’s at the “It will get REALLY noisy around here tomorrow evening if we don’t pick up a bag while we’re out tomorrow.” stage.)

We.  Are.  Screwed.

And that was our day yesterday.

Goodnight,

Lauren

Woo hoo! Back in Business!

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Gentle Reader,

It’s tough, getting back into the swing of writing. When last we left, I was talking about television. (And would you believe that now, I have been THREE DAYS without television? More on this in a moment.)

Anyway, if you recall last year was kind of an epic fail, and last fall wasn’t just my best time ever. Sure there was wine and animals and whatnot, but deep down, I was dealing with Some Stuff. Apparently, Grief didn’t get the message that I WAS DONE WITH IT, and I had to work through it and honestly the thought of a blog post EXHAUSTED me. And if more self-analysis exhausted me, good Lord it would have made you lose your will to live.

Last year shook my faith down to its core. For the first time EVER, I wondered if there was a God, and began to think about what it might look like if there wasn’t and then what does it all mean, and blah blah blah we all listened to REM back in the 90s, I think we’re done here. And then the fact that I was even asking these questions made me feel horrible, and so I talked to some amazing people who listened. They didn’t react by judging or condemning, they didn’t try to “pray me back into the fold”. They let me talk (which, shockingly, is how I think…) and they told me hard things. They listened to hard things I had to say. Without flinching. And I am so exceptionally grateful. (And I don’t mean “hard things” in the sense that they were judgments or ultimatums, just that they were things that while undoubtedly true, are hard things to say.) And I thought, and I cried, and I prayed, and I let myself be numb, and I let myself not think about this, and in the end, what my friend M said made so much sense. And it explained so much. He told me that “faith, any faith, involves risk, Lauren”. I had to be willing to take a risk if I wanted faith.

(Side note: Because I’m me, I asked M for a plan, steps I could take to get my faith back–the way it was before. I wanted it, I NEEDED it back. Give me a checklist and some steps, let’s light this candle. Firmly in the category of “hard things to say” was his answer of, “I don’t think it comes back, Lauren. I think, wherever you end up, this changes you.” At the time, it devastated me. I thought that meant that I wouldn’t be able to get God back. That I could never believe again. But sometimes we have to hear hard things, devastating things, to get to the other side of a struggle.) (Which sounds like a total Blog Platitude, trademark pending, but I really mean that. I’d unpack it a bit more for you, but lord this is already long and gauzy enough, isn’t it?)

Anyway, thinking about last year, how so much was taken from me so suddenly, it shouldn’t surprise that things involving risk? Well I went the opposite way from them. I’m getting better. I still worry and think and pre-plan for so many things that “could” happen, “might” happen. When I call mom’s name and I don’t hear an answer, I still run to her, heart in my knees, KNOWING… (Which is a totally healthy and normal response so I’m not working on that AT ALL…) But I’m willing to risk again.

And I think where I ended up was that faith cannot become complacent. At least mine. Mine will always be contouring itself. When I think about Things Larger Than Myself, WHAT I believe may not change, but the way it looks in my mind may very well do so. And I cannot possibly be so bold as to say that my mind’s eye is any more correct than yours. And that’s as much as I’ve got. So M was right-my faith doesn’t come back the way it was before. It is changed. And I am no longer devastated by that.

I go through all of the above exercise not only to prove, yet again, my manifold neuroses. But also to tell you what I went through. Grief and loss are HELL. They are lonely. They settle into the folds of your brain and hang out there, for a LONG time. And they do weird things. Different things, to everybody. And I hope should you find yourself in their company at some time, you will be gentle with yourself. Give yourself much grace. And no. No they are not temporary. They are shadows that will be with you for the duration. But I promise that they do get lighter.

Anyway, in case you hadn’t seen them, I’ll close with a pic of Brix and Backus (aka, “The Reason I Haven’t Seen TV In Three Days”).

(Good grief, these are the most recent pictures I’ve uploaded onto my computer. The rest are still trapped in my camera and on my phone. At any rate-these are my very first pictures of them, taken when they were one day old. They are now over 10 weeks old, and obviously huge.)

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(Let’s not try to understand what my chin is doing here…)

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Goodnight,
Lauren
(The pseudonym was old, right?)