Thursday, December 1, 2016

G'Night, Gretchie-Goo


We lost our Gretchie girl today. She had been sick for a while and we just couldn't bear to let it go on any longer. By the time she died, she hadn't eaten in days and just looked miserable. I bought her a fluffy new pillow from Costco a couple weeks ago and she had scarcely left the pillow for days.

When we adopted Gretchen nearly eight years ago, she was skin and bones. She had been abandoned in a house and had not had a proper meal in a long time. Determined to make up for lost time, she promptly got chubby. We affectionately called her Fat Gretchen and sang, "Whoa fat Gretchen, bam-a-lam" to the tune of "Black Betty." Later, she slimmed down a bit but the nickname mostly stuck.

Gretchen was around two when we adopted her, and I had high hopes of competing in obedience and agility with her. I took her to lots of classes and her main response was: "No." She just wasn't having it. She did earn a CGC (Canine Good Citizen) certificate, but only by the skin of her teeth. The tester was a friend of mine so she may have even thrown us a figurative bone on that one.

Gretchen was technically my daughter's dog, so I know my baby will be hurting for a while. She sent me a heartbreaking text from school earlier: "Is she already gone?" Fortunately, my daughter is old enough to understand that we simply could not let Gretchen suffer any longer. As far as what took our sassy brindle Boxer down, we are assuming it was cancer (and the vet agrees that this is a likely scenario). She was tentatively diagnosed with pancreatitis and we did treat her for that, spending hundreds of dollars and trying to make her eat prescription food. After a while, my husband and I recognized the futility of it. We knew it was something more ominous than pancreatitis. Just getting the meds into her started to feel like an act of violence. I had to force them down her throat - and this was a dog who happily ate ANYthing, including poop. It struck me today how she had come full circle, in a sad and terrible way. She was, once again, skin and bones. I like to think that the years in between were good ones, though.  We sure loved her. She had the "fastest nub wag in the midwest" and even this afternoon, her nub still vibrated when I looked into her eyes and said, "You were a good girl, Gretchie-goo."

Our Fetchin' Gretchen was feisty but sweet. She threatened every dog in our neighborhood with physical violence, but she was always a devoted companion to her people. I think she was the only Boxer we've had so far that didn't have some degree of separation anxiety. She would happily follow a treat into her crate and not cause a ruckus once she was in there. I have so many good memories of her . . . like the time I stupidly took her to the dog park and she pinned a beagle within seconds of our arrival. Okay, maybe that's not a "good" memory but it was just how she rolled. She loved our annual trip to the cabin, a place where she was allowed to lay on the couch and got to spend long, lazy days with her people. It won't be the same without her.

I hope you are well and whole again, Gretchie. We miss you already.

She barely got to wear her new holiday collar. :-(

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving

I'm so full that I can barely find room for the vodka-cranberry that's sitting in front of me. Where there's a will, there's a way, though.

We had a quiet Thanksgiving with just the three of us. The kid and I took Grover to a Turkey Trot this morning. We signed up for the two-mile "Dog Jog." (They also had a five-mile run.) He pulled on his leash like some deranged Husky on the Iditarod, but I think it helped to wear him out a bit. Later, my husband took him out for a run. I think Grover laughs at our futile attempts to wear him out.

As far me, I cooked all day once I got home from having my arms pulled out of the sockets. I generally enjoy cooking, so I didn't mind. I got a little over-zealous with my menu, but I did manage to make everything on my list:
  • Tofurky
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Cashew mac & cheese
  • Green bean casserole
  • Cornbread dressing
  • Yeast rolls
  • Two different desserts

Everything was vegan, of course.  My husband is not vegan so I did pick up a few slices of turkey for him. The kid mostly just ate the rolls. She seemed to like the dressing at least somewhat. Her dad said "No electronics at the dinner table" so she watched a show on her iPad while playing a game on her phone. She's a good listener. He's a good disciplinarian.

I am going to do a little bit of Black Friday shopping in the morning. Gretchen is sick (pancreatitis) . . . to the tune of $236.00 and counting. So, I can't get too crazy.  I bought a newspaper so that I could check out the ads. I may order some stuff on Amazon, too. I emailed one of my nephews about a week ago to ask him what he wants for Christmas. He didn't respond, so I told my sister to tell him that he's getting socks and underwear since he didn't have a preference. 30 seconds later, I received an email: "I want a nerf gun."  Easy enough! If a boy needs to shoot his brothers at close range with a foam bullet, who am I to stand in the way?

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your people!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Star is Born

Most of my friends have heard this story about 50 times, but I still like to tell it. When the kid was two or three, I pulled her to our neighborhood park in her wagon one sunny afternoon. It's about a 15-minute walk. As we rounded the corner for the final stretch towards the park, my daughter spotted some people on the playground.

"Oh, good," she said. "People will see me."

When we attended one of her show choir concerts last week, I was struck by how comfortable she looked on stage (and keep in mind that show choir involves singing and dancing). The auditorium was packed, as it was a choir invitational with lots of groups performing. As I watched her singing her heart out and executing the dance moves with confidence, I thought, "Oh good, people can see her."

I have noticed how much her confidence has grown after a year in the city choir and a season in show choir. She even helped to lead a hymn at church last week!

She was a nervous wreck while awaiting the results of the Aladdin audition, however. I know she really wanted the part of Jasmine or Genie. However, she also knew that she was competing against 7th and 8th graders with more experience. I mean, there's a big difference between an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old.  I reminded her that she should be glad to get any part and that being in a play would be a great learning experience for her. 80+ kids auditioned so the competition was pretty tough.

The results were posted Friday morning. She sent me a text right away: "I'm in Genie's Chorus!"  She sent me a screen shot of her name on the cast list. I was so relieved.  Later, I learned that her part is actually a little bigger than she realized initially. She's a Harem Girl, in the chorus, and is an "Attendant."  I do not know what some of this means, but I am currently sorting through the 16-page document that the director sent. It looks like my kid will be on stage a lot. So yeah, people will see her.

If you're starting to think, "Is this blog post just one big brag about her kid?" Um . . . maybe? Anyway, if you need me for the next three months, I'll be driving someone back and forth to rehearsals.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Good, The Bad, and The Whatever

See this knucklehead?  The one who's chewing on the lid of his toy box? He got kicked out of doggie fun camp yesterday.


Yep, kicked out. Or, more accurately, not allowed in. I had this big idea to start taking him to doggie daycare so that he can run around with other canines and wear his ass out. You see, now that it's dark when I get home from work, I'm much less inclined to walk him than I was during the summer months. Meanwhile, Grover's trotting around the house, scanning every surface for shit he can get into. He's started pushing open the garbage can lid and fishing out whatever he can find. He was pretty disappointed this morning when his big prize was an empty bag of frozen vegetables. Joke's on you, sucka!

Anyway, he's just a handful at this age so I thought it would be good idea to get his ya-ya's out. I mean, even if I could walk him at night, I'd have to walk him to clear to Israel before he'd be even a tiny bit worn out. So, I thought doggie fun camp was the answer. I made an appointment to bring him on Tuesday. I knew he had to pass a test first, and I was 100% confident he would pass. The test was an evaluation of how he would behave with other dogs.

My friend (who works at the joint) called me at work later that morning and told me that Grovie did not pass. He went after four other dogs. I know she really tried because she knows Grover and wanted to give him every chance. I guess it was just too many dogs for him. Honestly, I don't know what I could have done differently. I have taken him to classes since we brought him home as a pup (three rounds of training classes thus far), I have taken him to Petco to socialize him with strangers and dogs. I have taken him to the dog park, where I took great care to make sure that all of his dog-to-dog interactions there were positive. So, if he's a dick . . . it's on him.

I called my mom to tell her that her grandson got kicked out of doggie daycare. "Oh, can he go back?" she asked.

"Nope, he's done. Not welcome back."  So much shame he has brought upon our family!

In other news, the kid had her Aladdin audition on Monday. I left work early to drive her and one of her friends to the school. When it was my daughter's turn, I crept up to the closed door and leaned in. I wasn't sure if such a thing was obnoxious or what. I could hear my girl singing, though, and I think she rocked it! Callbacks are tomorrow and then I guess we'll find out who's in the cast sometime thereafter. A's friend also has a nice voice so I'm hoping both girls get in. I also have a Christmas surprise for my songbird. My bestie from New Jersey is sending me a guitar she's not using. I signed the kid up for guitar lessons starting in January. I just hope the first song she learns is not Hot Cross Buns. God knows I had more than enough of that when she was learning to play the recorder.

Last weekend, we went to a mother-daughter weekend with a friend and her daughter. It was so nice to get away and not have ANYTHING I had to do. I even colored in my grown-up coloring book. I did fit in one small errand, which was a consultation for a tattoo.  P thinks I've lost my mind and maybe I have. I think it's going to be amazeballs, though. I probably won't book the session until sometime after the first of the year. I'm not sure if this is one that can be done in one session. It might take a couple.

I think that's about all the news I have to share at the moment. I'm currently planning our Thanksgiving meal. I love digging through recipes and finding new stuff to make. It will be just the three of us for dinner, but if you're reading this, live nearby, and need a place to go, c'mon over. Needless to say, I won't be serving murdered things, so do keep that in mind if eating murdered things is important to you.

Finally, I want to say that while I've gotten over the shock of the election, it is not lost on me that many are devastated on levels that I can't ever know or experience.  After Trump won, I scanned my Facebook feed with a feeling of true dread. I have a few transgender friends. While it did seem like my friends were putting on a brave face, what struck me more is the fear I saw in the posts from their friends. I saw at least one mention of suicide. This shit is scary, people.

You know, I've never been able to decide which is worse: a bigot who hides it or a bigot who doesn't. I still can't decide. I think it probably preferable, though, if we all agree to foster an environment in which such creatures are fully aware that their viewpoint is not accepted by the majority. Now, it seems that they are emboldened, encouraged by the election of a man who spouts crap like, "Look at my African-American over here!" Oh, and let's not forget, "I love Hispanics!" (Because they make kick-ass taco bowls or whatever.)

Just remember: not everyone wants to "get over" the election. For those of you who think we should . . . you're not the boss of us.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Grrrr

Last night, after work, I went to the gym and hit the elliptical. When I came home, I took a shower and watched Netflix. I did not want to see the election results - at all. I peeked at CNN once, saw that Trump was winning, and went to bed. When I woke up this morning, I picked up my phone and checked CNN. "Fuck."

You won't be surprised to know that I voted for Clinton. Was she my first choice? Nope. I was a Bernie supporter. I had actually hoped that Elizabeth Warren would run - I thinks she's amazing. I would have voted for her in a heartbeat.

As is the case with many Americans, my religion does factor into my politics. As a Unitarian Universalist, I affirm (and do my best to adhere to) the Seven Principles, some of which are:
  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person.
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations.
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
Social justice is very important in my religion. UUs fight for prison reform, support the Black Lives Matter movement, go to bat for immigrants, and support the LGBT community with our own "Standing on the Side of Love" campaign. Simply put, a lot of people that I care about, very deeply, would have been safer under Clinton's watch.

In about a half hour, my daughter's alarm clock will go off. She'll ignore it, because that's how she rolls, but when she does get up, I'll have to inform her that a man who says things like "Grab 'em by the pussy" now holds the highest office in the land. A man who hates women and minorities. You know, as a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, I was not a fan of President Bush (I did like Laura, though, in case I get any points for that). But, even though I disagreed with his politics and most of his decisions, I never felt like he was an inherently evil person.  I felt like he was just another rich white dude in office.

Yes, it is not lost on me that I am affirming a belief in the "worth and dignity of every person" while failing to extend that sentiment to Donald Trump. I am trying. I really am. At this point, all I can do is to hope the has some sensible handlers around him that will keep him from doing too much damage over the next four years.

I have not met one single person in my entire life whose job has been lost to an illegal immigrant. Not one. The irony of a nation of immigrants wanting to kick out immigrants - aaaaaaah, it makes my brain hurt. Make America great again? How far back are we going here? Maybe back 20 years so that I can make less money than my husband and raise my daughter with far fewer opportunities? Let's roll back the advances the LGBT community has made, too, I guess. We're already locking up people of color in outrageous numbers, so we can't really push those folks back any farther than they already are.

Needless to say, I am heartbroken. The hate-speak that was tossed around at Trump rallies makes me lose all faith in America. I mean, the KKK's official newspaper endorsed Trump. Come on!

If you voted for Trump, please don't say "He's just like us." He's not like you and he's not like me. "He is not a politician - he says what's on his mind." What's on his mind is some horrible mix of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and other fancy words that I can't think of at 5:00 in the morning. I took a quick peek at my Facebook feed this morning and while many of my friends are horrified, I can see the especially keen fear in my friends who are gay or transgender as well as those who fall into any of the groups that have battled disenfranchisement their whole lives. To them I say, "I'm sorry."

I need to go dig out my mourning dress now.




Friday, November 4, 2016

Late October (bonus: no mention of the election)


Many apologies for the lack of blog posts recently. You know how I hate to keep my reader waiting.

My stad visited last week. He flew in from DC and we had a great time. I was eager to show him around town (he hadn't been here before) so I dragged him all over the place: a hockey game, a stadium tour, and an improv festival. Oh, and Red Robin. He was a good sport about the flurry of activity, and even agreed to carve a pumpkin for Halloween. He's flown back home now, but he's got lots of bruises to remind him of the trip. Every time I turned around, Gretchen and Grover were wrestling IN his lap as they fought for a spot.  My stad's visit was the most exciting thing to happen to my dogs in eons.

Let's see . . . what else is new? I had some Weight Watchers momentum going for a couple of weeks and then I lost it. I tried teaming up with another member so that we could encourage each other, but it hasn't worked out as well as I'd hoped. Maybe neither of us is really ready. I am still trying to count points as much as I can. I only made it to the gym once last week, so that's not good. On Halloween, I went to yoga in the dark.  They handed out glow bracelets and necklaces and played Halloween music. It was a lot of fun. I should make it a point always to do yoga in the dark - I felt a lot less self-conscious than I usually do.

Speaking of feeling self-conscious . . . I have a crown in my mouth and it recently decided that we should part ways. I could feel it coming loose and quickly shoved it back into place because I did not want to behold whatever sort of horror might be under that thing. I have to tell you a quick back-story.  I have been using the same dentist for many years now. I have had no complaints. However, he seems to have turned into a ghost. When the kid and I had our six-month cleanings over a year ago, I wanted to talk to the dentist about one of A's teeth. This particular tooth is attached directly to the bone. The term is ankylosis, I believe. Anyway, her orthodontist wanted us to look into having this tooth pulled, so I wanted to ask the dentist about it. At that cleaning appointment, he wasn't in. I just thought, "Okay, no biggie. I'll wait until our next appointment in six months and ask again." Six months later we were back. No dentist. By now, I was pretty annoyed. I mean, I don't begrudge the man a vacation, but geez. The dental hygienist looked at the calendar for our next appointments (I usually try to get simultaneous appointments for me and my daughter). She noted that the dentist would be out the week before our next appointment but that he should be in the office when we are there.

After going home and thinking about it some more, I posed the question on Facebook: is it common for a dentist not to examine one's teeth for over a year? I was assured that this is not common practice. So, I'm not sure if my dentist is inching towards retirement or why he is constantly AWOL, but I decided to choose a new dentist. I chose a new practice with several dentists so that, in theory, if "our" dentist is out, another one is there in case I have a question. I have invested a lot of money in my child's teeth and I just want to make sure that nothing happens on my watch. So, I contacted the old dental clinic and advised them that I was leaving and that I would need to transfer our records.

Shortly thereafter, my crown decided to head for greener pastures. Well, shit. I didn't yet have things set up with the new clinic and didn't really want to go back to the old one ("Yeah, I know I kinda just said that I need to break up with you, but could you have a look-see anyway?") I scrambled to get xrays and such sent to the new clinic and filled out the mountain of paperwork they sent me. I was able to get an appointment for the following week. I have to say, I really like the new dentist. I dug him right away. "Hi, I'm Pat," he said. He extended his hand and then crushed my fingers into dust. I got good news from Dr. Pat: the cement had just come loose and all he needed to do was sandblast the crown (to remove old cement) and then glue that mofo right back in my mouth.  All is well. 

On the #choirmom front, A's show choir season is just about over.  She has a big concert next week and then she's done (until next year), I assume. Meanwhile, rehearsals for the touring choir will start increasing as the December concert approaches. My mom is flying in for that. A's next focus will be on the big musical at school.  Auditions are coming up in a couple of weeks.  She's really excited but nervous. I told her that she may not get a big part, but this will be a good learning experience for her.

The musical is Aladdin. Of the bajillion Disney DVDs I bought for her when she was a toddler, I swear to you that Aladdin is the only one we don't have. So, I quickly ordered a copy from ebay and handed it over to the kid for study. She has to sing two songs and run through a bunch of lines. I assume I'll have "A Whole New World" stuck in my head for the next few days (or months if she does get a part).  If she doesn't get a part, she will do stage crew.

I think that's all I have to share at the moment.

Over, sideways, and under, on a magic carpet ride . . . .

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Grandma, what big eyes you have!

My mom made this year's Halloween costume. Grover is playing the wolf/grandma. I bought him a granny wig but the jerk won't wear it.  It took about 43,000 treats just to get these photos.

Happy Halloween, ya'll.