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.


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?


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!



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…

IMG_0740 IMG_0741

(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:



–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.


“hhhhhHo- hhhhHoh- hhHORK…”


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.



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.)

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


(The pseudonym was old, right?)


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Gentle Reader,

I have no idea where I have been for the last…MONTH???  I’m sure it involves television, and likely some shopping, and probably some food.  But let’s talk television, shall we???  We have new television, FINALLY, and it couldn’t have come a moment too soon.  Here’s what’s on the rotation here at the ranch:

(Wait.  I’m in a sweatshirt, for reasons unknown, and BURNING SLAP UP.  Hang tight.)

(There.  Back now.)

1.  Gotham-  This is, so far, the ONE new series I have added to the rotation this year.  It’s not earth-shattering, but it’s entertaining and I’m a sucker for a show with great sets and costuming.  I am not one who usually goes in for the super hero/comics-themed shows, but I like this one.

2.  American Horror Story, Freak Show-  So far, this one is the creepiest edition of the series.  Perhaps it is my already-established fear of clowns, or balloons, but I actually did dream about it after the premiere this season.  I like it.  A lot.  I’m willing to write the “Asylum” season off to a bad decision and aberration and forget that.  Appreciate it for everything it IS, not what it could be, and I think you have the secret to enjoying this show.  Subtlety isn’t one of his strengths.

3.  The Blacklist-  WHAM!  And we’re back to awesome.  Also-SWOON.  Also-really, REALLY appreciate the choice to get Lizzie out of that awful wig.

4.  The Goldbergs-  I still love this show with all my heart.  Each episode is like a hug, a twenty-minute hug with a great soundtrack.  I’m still humming The Bangles from last week’s show.  So far this season, I think, they are giving the mom (Bevvie) a more nuanced character.  Which is much appreciated because there are only so many cringe-worthy moments an audience can bear before it turns into “The Office” and Michael Scott, and we don’t need to go there again, do we?

5.  Modern Family-  Lily IS HILARIOUS.  I heart her.

And then this season I’ve broken up with one-and-a-half shows:

1.  Once Upon A Time-  It had to go.  For one thing, I’m still only about a third of the way in to LAST season, which should tell you everything you need to know about my level of interest in the show.  And I can’t really pinpoint a time for you, but somewhere along the way, a shark was jumped.  Maybe several sharks.  And perhaps because I’ve never seen the movie, this year’s “Frozen” tie-in held less than zero interest for me.  It just feels like an hour-long Disney For Grownups commercial.

2.  (The “and-a-half”, because I’m still on the fence.)  CSI-  The regular, original, Las Vegas edition.  I’ve never gotten into any of the others.  I watched the first ep of the season, and it was entertaining (because Zach Morris as a serial killer is kind of interesting) but I feel like the show has gone to such lengths to hint about DB’s past, and DB’s past with Finlay, but has never really given us any kind of answers or resolution on those issues.  Now it just feels like a cheap plot device.  I really liked it when Ted Danson joined the cast, his character was fun and different…now it seems like it’s just faded back into the “CSI routine”.  So I’m not sure if that will regain its spot in the regular rotation.

And then now that I’m finished with “Weeds”, my current “I missed it the first time around” show is “The Wire”.  It took me a few episodes to find my groove with this show, I began to question everybody who recommended the show to me (and there were a LOT of you, and I thought you were ALL a bit crazy) but then I finally figured it out, and that necessitated me going back to the beginning and watching again.  I was only on episode 5, so it wasn’t too bad to start over.  It makes a LOT more sense now, and I really like the show.  I’m told season 2 is when it really becomes appointment viewing, so I’m looking forward to it getting even better.

And I’m really excited about the “Twin Peaks” news from Showtime!  Thoughts on this important television news?  What new shows have I missed?  What shows have you added?  Broken-up with?



I Also Failed Crayons

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Gentle Reader,

So I mentioned on the FB the other day that I am re-taking an Old Testament class that I enrolled in last year (or year before?) and didn’t exactly finish.  (I think the fact that I can’t remember when the class actually WAS is fairly reflective of why it is that I didn’t, you know, complete the course.)  Anyway, since all of my worldly goods except my Apple products are in long-term storage (since I am supposed to be in Russia right now…), now that I have re-enrolled in the class, I have had to get new books for it (it’s a four-year study, so I can reuse them, it’s not a total loss…), including a new Bible.  Which is nice because my trusty “Catholic Study Bible” came out with a second edition in between last time I bought it and now.

And so I know there are some people who paid a lot of attention in Sunday School, and got a lot out of it as kids.  I salute you if that was your jam.  It was not mine, and so therefore I missed out on the song about the books of the Bible in order.  (At least, I’m guessing there was a song?  Probably a fun craft, too.  We’ve established my level of attention.)  So even as an adult, one who has taken religion classes, plural, and enjoys them, I still need the handy stick-on tabbies to have any hope of finding the book that I am looking for when I go to look for something in my Bible.  Because just opening it randomly, I have no clue if Tobit is before or after Joshua.  Plus, there are all those teeny tiny books in the Old Testament that drive me crazy.  Anyway, so whenever I get a new Bible I have to take time out and play with stickers.  Like I did yesterday.  See if you can spot my error, here:


I don’t know HOW I managed, but somehow, I managed to fail…AT STICKERS.

So now I have no idea what I’m going to do to try to tweeze John out of Luke, but I really do need to figure something out.  Surely I’m not the only person who has had this problem, right?  Please, humor me and tell me so.

Anyway, it’s been a rough week what with being SMOKED by Mrs. Hip Replacement 2014 in class, and now being flunked out of Remedial Stickers 101.

And now I have to go to the grocery store to procure food to eat, as apparently last night’s TV dinner was sub-par.



Sweatin’ With the Elderly

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Gentle Reader,

Today I want to discuss something near and dear to my heart.





Ha!  Hahahahaha!  Ha!

Okay, so it’s not near and dear to me, but my heart does need it (because apparently I hit the genetic jackpot and inherited heart disease from my Daddy’s side of the fam, and high blood pressure and stroke from Mama’s side) so I’m doing it.

Mama and I both realized at about the same time that life is short, and exercise will help us feel good for our short turn around this planet.  And since at least one of us has a pretty strong aversion to The Nature, walking around the neighborhood was out of the question.  So we began looking for a solution and we found our little local gym.  And I verified that they have water aerobics (one of us has a pretty strong aversion to sweat, too…) which I like because it’s intense without punishing your knees.  When I belonged to this gym,  they had lots of different options for water classes-deep water running, high intensity stuff–taken by people my age, or the stereotypical low-impact class taken by those whose replacement joints outnumber their natural joints.  So that’s kind of what I was anticipating when I got to the gym for the first class.  I’d put on a float-y belt and spend an hour running and emerge exhausted and take a dip in the hot tub as a little treat after the freezing pool water.


For starters, this facility, and really the town in general, is geared toward the retired set.  I bring down the average age in the class by a good three decades.  These ladies DO THEIR HAIR and put on makeup to come to class.  It is beyond precious and I love it.  If one of them would don a bathing cap, well I just don’t know that I could stand the adorable.

In news that shocks nobody, I can usually manage to get my suit on correctly and throw on some yoga pants for the walk between car and pool, have most of my hair corralled into a bun, and have brushed my teeth, all while sliding into class at the last possible second leaving me to hurry into the pool in one swift motion.  The freezing cold pool.  So my under-the-breath swear words usually get a good warmup while we’re stretching and getting ready to start the real portion of the class.

I’m pretty sure the ladies think I’m some kind of feral Aboriginal woman based on these factors alone.

And during the first class, I remember thinking, “This is like, 3 feet of water here.  I’m soooo too advanced for this class.  Maybe I should check and see if there is ANY other water class.”

This was right before we moved over to the side of the pool and did some kind of core torture thing that, I kid you not, EVERY SINGLE LADY could do but me.  They cheered me on and gave me helpful tips and modifications on the exercise.

Proud, PROUD moment, Gentle Reader.  You have not been humbled until you’ve been smoked by a lady with none of her original knees or hips.  I’m sure this is another opportunity for spiritual refinement or something.

Anyway, all that to say that we actually went to the gym four times last week, and this week we’re shooting for five.  I find I do better with a class because I get distracted easily.  Last week, for instance, on a non-class day, I got onto the treadmill.  And the television attached to it wasn’t working, which was dangerous because that allowed me to think instead of flip channels.  Approximately five minutes into my program, I began to make a mental list of what I needed to get done that day.  Six minutes in, I started thinking about the “Empty Mansions” book that I am presently reading and how I really wished I had this time to be able to read.  So I naturally tried to figure out a way to prop the book so I could walk while reading without injuring myself or others.  At approximately eight minutes in, I began contemplating lunch.  And here’s where the irony gets rich.  Wanting nothing more than to get off of the treadmill, I promised myself a french bread pizza if I made it the entire 30 minutes on there.  A beacon of health and healthy eating, I am.  So from that point on, I stared intently at the timer to make sure that the thing didn’t try to run long on me.

I’m pretty sure I am missing the point entirely with exercise, but like I said, I doubt that I will ever ENJOY exercise.  Mostly because the other things I love aren’t really compatible with it.  I mean, have you ever tried half an hour on the treadmill the morning after a bottle of wine?  It’s really a gift that keeps on giving.  But this exercise newbie is going to give this a whirl.  In the meantime, since the television situation is hit-or-miss, I need some suggestions for good workout music for the iPod.  My current list (judge me not) includes mucho Cyndi Lauper, Pet Shop Boys, and “One Night In Bangkok”.  I need some more to add to the rotation, thoughts?