Saturday, December 27, 2008

Surviving the Duct Tape Wars

My father is a marine biologist. I should have liked to study biology or veterinary sciences, but my negative relationship with numbers precluded me from even getting through Algebra 101 in college. I simply lack the disciplined, methodical thought process required. Thoughts in my brain flit about like hummingbirds, whirling along at top speed from one bright, shiny idea to another. They never pause to rest or consider the merits of proceeding in an orderly fashion.

While I’m quite fond of my hummingbird brain, its limitations transcend career choices. Wrapping Christmas presents, for example. Regardless of shape or size, my father can wrap gifts with striking precision, never using an inch too much paper, lining up the patterns with straight seams that would be the envy of a master tailor. On a good day, I can manage to get enough paper to overlap itself several times, using half a roll of scotch tape to control the jagged edges. 3M stock goes through the roof when I wrap presents. Recipients of said gifts find it charming that I’ve allowed a small child to assist in the wrapping process. When I smile and announce that no, I’ve bungled it up all on my own, I’m greeted with looks of horrified despair.

Really bad wrapping and horrified despair took on new meaning last year when I started celebrating the holidays with Saint Rob and his relatives. Here, tradition demands that the frustrations of familial dysfunction revenge themselves via gift wrap hell. If you are still miffed that Uncle Rob forgot your birthday, it is entirely acceptable to place the DVD of “Get Smart” that you bought him for Christmas into a shoe box, swathe the box completely in duct tape, then wrap it with “Merry Christmas” paper. Uncle Rob must then spend half an hour trying to free said DVD without benefit of a box knife or scissors. Meanwhile, the entire family alternately cheers or provides a snide commentary to the unwrapping process. Each year the creativity used in gift wrapping with duct tape aspires to a higher level.

Somehow I find that not only did I fail math, I also failed to acquire the duct tape gene. I can’t even find the duct tape department at Wal-Mart without help. The scene wherein I gamely attempted to participate in the tape-wrap battle ended rather badly indeed, Curiousity didn’t kill Stan, but it did get him semi-permanently affixed to Nick’s present.

So here is my salute to the gift bag. Thank you 3M.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Arts and Sciences

I have at least a masters degree in Thanksgiving. Granted I've only played hostess twice, but I love this holiday. If I'm at home and in charge, it is one of my favorites.

Food, football, and family. And a moment in time when it isn't mushy or weird to actually be grateful for things we should be grateful for, but usually we're too busy spiraling through life at warp speed to stop and think.

Thanksgiving dinner here is both an art and a science. I adore the challenge of getting a full meal on the table without effort, and finding time to watch football as well.

I do cheat a little. My mother brings salad and my step-father makes pie. This is good, because making pie would a) give me hives and b) my step-father makes the world's BEST pie.

Along with salad and pie, we'll have ham and turkey, two kinds of stuffing, and homemade cranberry sauce and homemade dinner rolls. And mashed potatoes and yams. It is Rob's birthday too, so there will Angel Food cake with Very Expensive Fresh Raspberries and whipped cream. (Rob really needed an August birthday...)

I am not obsessive-compulsive, but for Thanksgiving I keep notes and directions. I attack it in true Business Analyst fashion, there's a project plan, and lessons learned each year. I record the number of people fed, the size of the turkey, progress notes on how it cooked, and whether the oven was gas or electric (depending on where I lived).

So I have no stress over this holiday. No pressure from Hallmark or Macy's. This holiday is a game to be played, a challenge to meet, and a chance to be unabashedly thankful.

And I am thankful for all that I have.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Today on Fourth Avenue

Commuting shouldn't be so complex. It should just be about getting to and from work. But, in true Jenn And The City fashion, I can make a cluge (new word, must use) out of my commuting options.

Normally, I take the train into downtown. It's convenient, clean, comfortable, the people are boring and the scenery is unparalleled. I can get wifi and actually do work while the Sounder whistles and clangs past the whitecaps and herons along Puget Sound.

Pffffui. Enough of the suburban, don't make eye-contact with your neighbor BS. Such is the world of the train.

However, I have a love/hate relationship with the bus. The bus is noisy and bumpy. One has questionable seatmates. The woman this morning couldn't stop fidgeting. Another fellow, obviously drunk, lost control of bodily functions. The juvenile with the skull cap and skateboard yesterday was a model passenger. Taking the bus means I get to hang out on Fourth Avenue. Mind you, taking the train means hanging out near Pioneer Square and Jackson Street, supposedly the "seedier" part of town. By the mission, and homeless shelters and gangs. But they've got nothing on Fourth Avenue bus stops.

Today on Fourth Avenue, the Po-Lice were kindly evicting a woman from the "W" Hotel bar. I like the "W" Hotel bar. It's a high class establishment, normally without law enforcement, and they have great wasabi peas and make a mean Manhattan. This is Mercedes and Maserati country. The European cars have a mandatory exit before they get as far south as Jackson.

So I was waiting for the bus as the po-lice were quietly removing Stephanie from the "W" bar. I was there before they went in, and I overheard the highly classified po-lice discussion that they expected Stephanie to be no trouble.

Ha. Stephanie decided to create a Scene.

This is Fourth Avenue! Stephanie turned out to be one of "us". Right down to her designer boots and her Cosmo magazine. When one of "us" decides to make the po-lice miserable, the homeless and drug-addled have no chance to even weigh in on the scale.

As a front-row ticket-holder to the Scene, I am now aware that Stephanie feels that the cops are a bunch of motherf^$%)*rs. She seems to have the same opinion of her cheatin' son of a b!tch husband. I got to be front row because Stephanie stopped right next to me on her way out of the bar and chose to have her dialog with the po-lice while standing right next to me. I don't dare move. Stephanie's not a threat to me, but she's enough on the edge that I don't want to distract Officer Friendly confronting her.

So here we are, me waiting for the bus on Fourth Avenue, Stephanie, who just wants the world to go away and leave her alone, the cops, who are just trying to do their job, and passersby, staring in wonderment at the daily spectacle.

And then the bus arrived. Stephanie went to Harborview for a mental evaluation, the po-lice handled the situation with dignity and grace, the "W" bar welcomed its normal happy hour crowd of VIPs and business sorts, and I went home.

Just another day on Fourth Avenue. The train got nothin' on this cluge.

Monday, November 10, 2008

B.W.I. The Tragic Results....

Apple Oatmeal Bread this weekend after consuming a few glasses of Pinot Grigio:

Yes, that's the whole loaf, with the top slice cut off. I.Think.I.Forgot.The.Flour......

The sober version. Some improvement, and I know I remembered the flour. Martha will not be calling soon....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Christmas Comes But Once a Year....

....starting right around mid-October, and lasting until January. Or so the Big Three Conspiracy (Hallmark, Target, and Macy's) would have us believe.

I'm a hold-out. I steadfastly eschew all thing Christmas until the proper time of the season, right around the 23rd of December. If I hear a Christmas Carol before Thanksgiving (particularly Carol of the Bells, which I love - AT CHRISTMASTIME - take that, Garmin) I will hold my hands over my ears and sing the theme song to The Flintstones to drown it out.

But today, at my local beloved supermarket, I found something that even a Grinch like me could love. Right next to the Bad Elf Lager and the Lump of Coal Stout, I found a holiday beer I had to buy. A great white porter. Called:

That's right. "Santa's Butt". Gotta have it.

Sunday Scenes About Town...

At a housing development called "The Falls". While I'm sure the dish soap isn't environmentally friendly, it does bring a much needed sense of humor to suburbia.

This photo didn't turn out so well. But if you look closely, this tree has about 20 pairs of shoes stewn throughout its branches on the left side. It's a shoe tree!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Word of the Day: Whippet (for Amelia Bedelia)

Sometimes, Jenn And The City refers to whippets. For our non-dog speaking readers, I'll attempt to describe a whippet.

Whip-pet: any of a breed of small swift slender dogs used for coursing small game and racing

That's according to Mr. Webster. Very unsatisfactory, really. I must speak to those people. To Do List #3,428.67 - write letter to Merriam-Webster on-line. Right.

Let us try the American Whippet Club breed standard.

A medium size sighthound giving the appearance of elegance and fitness, denoting great speed, power and balance without coarseness.
Well, yes.

That's true.

I think maybe a JATC description might be in order.

Dog resembling a small greyhound, unable to resist anything soft and fuzzy.

Particularly if it moves:

(No worries, that's not a real "bunny")

Capable of bursts of energy,

and highly successful counter raids.

But their best skill......

Anytime, anywhere....

is sleeping.

(hope that answers your question, Amy.)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Strike F7 to Continue...

Yes, it's true, I've been neglecting the blog. It's tired of eating reheated Domino's meat lovers for dinner, and it really wants it's litter box changed. It's going barefoot because it has no clean socks, and

......"hey, there's a speed limit in the living room, you guys"........

Part of the problem is that a whippet chased a cat across my laptop, resulting in the loss of several keys. I managed to surgically re-attach everything the but the F7, and F8's looking a little crooked.

Also, since going back to work full time for the month of November, I just don't have the energy to address to the blog. The creative side to my brain shuts down after 12 hours of trying to help keep a health insurance company from generally imploding. But that is really just an excuse.

And then yesterday I had the stomach flu. Now there's a good time. I've decided, though, that the worst part of being sick is "the morning after". Just like my "real" job, everything at home is also just like I left it when I first got sick, only with additional crap piled on top. The kitchen is scary, and the laundry room even scarier. We have no clean bowls or spoons.

My family is missing its F7 key. Better get to it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

For The Daily Blonde - Tips for living with teen-age boys

Cheryl at The Daily Blonde is celebrating Zach's thirteenth birthday and wondering what life with a teen-age boy will be like. This happens to be the only "kid" subject about which Jenn And The City has any particular authority. My tips:

1. Food. Yes, they eat everything in sight, and sometimes stuff that is questionably called food. EXCEPT. When your local supermarket puts their favorite cereal on sale and you buy five boxes of Cap'n Crunch, they will come home that night and announce that they've decided to eat healthy, and could we get some granola....

2. Skateboarding. Wait till they trade that in on a quad and a jet ski. The same tricks that give you heart failure with the skateboard take on aneurism proportions when you add a motor.

3. Skateboarding Part II. Driving. You think you have trouble sleeping now...

4. Sleeping. This doesn't change, it only gets more aggravating. Nick can sleep with cat on his head and whippet feet crammed into the small of his back. He doesn't even wake up to let Nike under the covers.

5. Hair. At 16 it's evolved back to the buzz cut. The good part about that is that I can do it at home for free. (Tip #236 - the front porch is the perfect spot for buzz cuts. Easy to clean up all the fuzz bunnies.)

6. Music. See Driving. It only gets louder.

7. Maple syrup. Get a dog. They love the stuff, and will clean it up anywhere, including the plate that's been petrifying in the bedroom for three weeks.

8. Hugs. Fortunately, they don't seem to out-grow this one. And they do get less self-conscious about it.

Happy Birthday to Zach.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Good Morning, Blogland!

Happy Sunday Morning from Station Jenn And The City - it's 7:42 and it's shaping up to be a lovely day. We'll have news, sports, and weather right after these messages from our sponsor:

Well hell. JATC doesn't have a sponsor. So the good news is, no commercial interruptions!

Your JATC weather this morning is a tad on the nippy side - the frost is definitely on the pumpkins, and we'll have to break out our Barnes and Noble cards to scrape the windows on the ole MDX if we want to go somewhere before noon.

Next in JATC traffic, the route from the bedroom to the kitchen is generally clear. The usual slowdown at the living room corner due to dog toys littering the floor isn't too bad today. Your kitchen to family room with a cup of coffee trip will see some minor slowdowns as the cats are out in full force trying to trip you.

In local news this morning, I'm surprised to report that Nike is actually up and out of bed before 8 a.m. And, once again, Tara declined to eat her whole breakfast.

In other news, my article for Dogs in Canada is nearly finished, which is a damn good thing because I have to work full time for the month of November. Special project, needs my help, blah, blah, blah.

JATC Sports is brought to you by oh that's right, I forgot, we don't have a sponsor.
Anyway, in sports today, we'll be cheering for...........

Breaking news, Tara is raiding the bathroom garbage, so we'll have to interrupt this broadcast to pry q-tips out of her mouth......good thing we don't have a sponsor, they'd be pissed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

And If Harry Wasn't Enough...

There is No Crying in Baseball, and there is no Eating Cheetos In Bed.....

Apologies to Harry Chapin...

To the tune of "Cat's In The Cradle"

And the Cat's In The Sink watching the bird-feeder....

The Tee Pee Fairy came to visit today....

When someone's comin' home, yeah, I don't know when....

But we'll have a good time then, yeah....

You know we'll have a good time then...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Where's Roald Amundsen When I Need Him....

Periodically, I find it necessary to plot an expedition through Maytag 2008 side-by-side refrigerator/freezer. Along with moss, lichen, algae and the occasional Emporer Penguin, there are almost always new and unusual treasures to be discovered.

The Jenn And The City family is prone to constant loss and rediscovery in the cold appliance continent. We currently have four or five containers of ranch dip. Not to be confused with two bottles of ranch dressing. They are almost outnumbered by the barbeque sauce. St. Rob just bought a new jar of sugar-free jelly yesterday, to accompany the two that are already in residence.

The crisper drawer is the coldest and loneliest portion of the desert. Most of the time four or five onions can be found thriving alongaside produce bags of unidentifiable green mush. I can identify the black mush, that's the remains of a long-forgotten avocado half.

Half-finished bottles of Gatorade G2 dot the landscape. I'm not sure where these come from or when they leave. I've never seen anyone actually get a used bottle out of the fridge. Protocol says that no matter how many opened bottles occupy the fridge, one must get a new one out of the island cabinet. (The empties seem to all find their way to Nick's bedroom).

Leftovers always promptly migrate to the back of the fridge, where they can hide, camouflaged and forgotten until their odor gives them away. "What IS that smell"? It's just spaghetti, circa 1999.

So, every week or so, Jenn And The City breaks out her GPS, a Hefty Bag and a team of Malamutes and endeavors to conquer the Maytag continent. Wish me luck. I do not want to suffer the fate of the Scott Expedition.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Today on Fourth Avenue

Okay, city driving morons. The big truck with the lights and the sirens and the noisy horn? Move OVER when it comes up behind you. Fourth is a one-way street, pulling to the side of the road isn't that complicated - there isn't even a double yellow line to fuss about.

And pedestrians. For God's sake, if you hear a siren and see a big flashy truck bearing down on you, it DOESN'T matter whether the little walking man is lit up or not. You do NOT have the right-of-way in this situation.

Some judgment here peeps!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Fish Called Ringo

For those who believe John and Barack are the only U.S. presidential election options, allow Cheryl, from The Daily Blonde to introduce you to Bud, the Maverick Drunken Fish. Bud has mounted a ferocious and competitive presidential campaign, funded primarily by donations from fabulous bloggistas with lip gloss and really great pedicures. Move over, hockey moms.

Always looking for a good cause to support, Jenn And The City nominated Ringo the Lonely Goldfish for the post of Bud's Press Secretary. Ringo has forsaken the private sector to establish a name for himself in the national political arena. Ringo's well qualified. He's the sole remaining survivor of a famous and highly successful quintet. He lost his brother Paul in the infamous "fish-fry incident" shortly after the de-regulation of aquarium heaters. Brothers John and George died soon after from unknown, but suspicious causes. Ringo and his remaining brother, Barney, were constant companions until Barney's suicidal leap across the kitchen floor earlier this year.

At any rate, Ringo's nabbed himself the Press Secretary job. He'll be releasing a statement soon. If you have any questions for Bud regarding his political platform, kindly leave a comment on Bud's site. Don't forget to vote for VP while you are there, and maybe give Cheryl some love about her knee.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I'd Like to Buy a Vowel...

Someone needs to take the Seattle School District back to kindergarten. It came to my attention this morning that there is no longer an "F" grade. A few years back, for whatever socio-political correct reason, the "F" grade was abolished in favor of an "E" grade.

While this makes sense from an alphabetical perspective, does it really matter what letter comes after D?

Turns out the "E" grade also was abolished soon after its inception in favor of an "N" grade. Recently, the "N" was found to be a violation of district policy, so they're bringing back the "E".

In this case, why give a grade at all. Leave it blank. Blank can just mean, "you sucked at Language Arts, better find a career where you don't need tu no how tu spel".

Would you like a vowel with your Big Mac?

Friday, October 10, 2008


I like to be funny. Cheerful, light-hearted. Plays in mud puddles, you know. Poignant is not my thing. Unless I can laugh about it too.

My friend D is in the hospital. The food sucks, but she's doing the Sleeping Beauty coma thing, so she doesn't care. She ought not still be in the hospital, but that's what happens when you go for routine surgery and there are "difficulties" with the anesthesia. I'm sorry, but "difficulties" with the anesthesia to me means that I need two shots of Novacain, not that I will still be in the f*cking hospital three weeks later in a coma.

I do not like this. In fact, it makes me downright grumpy. And sad, angry, frightened, pissed off, sick to my stomach, and anxious. I cannot begin to imagine how D's family feels. Especially her daughter. Who must be, I think, 12 or 13.

You are too young to die, D. We'd like to have your 40th birthday party so I can make YOU run around with the stupid black "over the hill" balloon tied to your wrist.

Wake up, sweetie. Please.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


So, as mentioned previously, I've been tagged by Cheryl at The Daily Blonde, to reveal the contents of my handbag.

The rules are this:

Find a safe quiet place free of significant others, nosey meme makers, priests, nuns, all things religious and men in general. (If you're a guy just reverse this process to male and tell us about your wallet, tool box, briefcase or metro sexual accessory.)
1. Dump the contents of your handbag in a pile
2. Take a photo of your handbag and the contents
3. Be brave and explain to your fellow bloggers what lurks inside the handbag.
4. Tag others who might want to embarrass themselves
5. Answer these questions:
Describe the contents of your handbag.
What's the most important thing in your handbag?
What's the most embarrassing thing in your handbag?
What's the smallest thing in your handbag?Is there anything illegal in your handbag?

Well, allrighty then.

Welcome to my Tumi laptop carrying case. Purchased simply because everything but the kitchen sink fit in it, and still it looked relatively chic.

Clockwise from the left are:

  1. Receipts from my last work trip to Bend, Oregon

  2. The fabulous Paolo Jenn And The City Shoes worn to work today. I hate them. My feet may never be the same.

  3. My never-part-with snake skin wallet; and on top of that....

  4. Simply to spite Cheryl - my debit card.

  5. purespring Vanilla Cream hand cream, don't leave home without it. It also takes the frizzies right out of your naturally curly hair....

  6. My Starbucks spring-themed personal travel coffee thingy. What do you call those anyway? It's not a mug. It isn't a cup. It's a travel.....container for hot beverages.

  7. A baggie. What can I say. I have dogs. Baggies are as much a part of my world as Huggies are for a Mommy.....

  8. My blue silk scarf, purchased at a little boutique on Marion Street. Fashionista accessory and protection against the elements all in one.

  9. US Weekly Magazine, cleverly hidden beneath the New Yorker. Who says you gotta choose? My note pad for writing ideas is on top.

  10. Dell Latitude D630. My friend the laptop. Still having serious error issues, but functional all the same. You are my rock, my friend.

  11. My Blackberry, my Dell travel mouse, a barette, and a pink Breast Cancer Awareness pin.

  12. A first-aid kit. Don't leave home alone.

  13. My little travelling camera, for those impromptu moments.

  14. My bus pass and security badge. Part of the cards were chewed off by Tara.

  15. An inhaler. In case I try to die of asthma sometime in the work-day. Now, there's a thought....

  16. Lip-gloss (Neutrogena "Tickled"), lip-balm (Blistex Silk n Shine) and a carabiner. Lips are high maintenance. No telling what the carabiner is for.

  17. A multi-ink pen, with choices of green, black, red, and blue ink. Handy for marking dog show catalogs. Not much else.

  18. A handful of loose change I didn't know I had. Now why isn't there a $20 in there when you want it.

What is normally in my handbag, and missing from above, is this:

My keys are in the freezer on the Dreyers Capuccino Chip again. Not sure I can get my car out tomorrow, and tonight is soccer night.

The most important thing is clearly Dell Latitude D630. Can't live without my laptop.

The most embarrasing thing is.....a toss up - US Weekly? The baggie? Screw it, I'm not apologizing for anything.

The smallest thing is the breast cancer pin. That's a bit sad, isn't it.

Click on the breast cancer link on my page to support mammograms.

I tag:

Patience (when she returns from her fabulous trip)

Amelia (who's also on sabbatical, she'll get over it)

Just A Girl (because I'm dying to know what's in her bag....)

That'll do, for now. Cheryl, better send everyone back, since this took so danged long. It wasn't my fault, honest - damn clients wanting me to work all day.....




I've been tagged by Cheryl at "The Daily Blonde" to expose the contents of my handbag for the world to see.

Since I'm working this week, I toss my wallet into my computer bag, so I guess I'll have to do the contents of it. Not fair, since it's twice the size of my purse!

Stay tuned for the photo and explanation later today after my work crisis du jour, or tonight if the the cdj lasts all day.

Thanks a bunch Cheryl....

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dogma. That I Have.

We're already familiar with my lack of Car-ma. In fact, on my way home from Canada tonight, my friendly local U.S. Customs and Immigration Official made a point of asking me what I hit to cause the rust colored scrapes on the side of my car. I refrained from my "oh some guy with a cane that wouldn't get out of my way" answer (cleverly dreamed up for me by some of my friends).

Instead, I sat at the border and explained my lack of Car-ma to the agent on duty. He needed some comic relief, and in spite of the fact that I'd just spent an hour waiting while he grilled everyone ahead of me, I did my civic duty and provided him with his laugh for the day.

That's just me, anything I can do to make your day. Including making myself a laughingstock.

Still in reasonably good humor, I chose to take the Long and Winding Road home from Canada. 75 miles on the back roads instead of hitting the freeway. It's a pleasant country road, I don't have to work tomorrow, and it was something different to do. No particular reason for making this choice other than that. By the time I got close to home though, I was getting a bit tired and a little brain-dead. Dang me and my great ideas!

About five miles from home I found myself at another fork in the road. Stay on Main Long and Winding Road, or take Winding Road Around The Lake. For some reason I'll never know, I chose the Lake option.

It's still a busy road, with a county speed limit. I zipped around a corner and slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting a German Short-haired Pointer bitch cavorting along down the middle of my lane. She looked up at me, and then proceeded off into the ditch to hunt whatever she happened to smell next.

We live in the country. Loose dogs abound. But even though I was tired and hazy, something didn't add up with this one. I pulled over, put on my flashers to warn the on-coming traffic and got out to go get her. She did have a collar, but I couldn't catch her. She thought about coming to me, and then spooked off to a nearby house. I followed her up hoping she was going home, but she stood on the porch and barked at me. I didn't want to go to the door and scare her more, so I stood in the driveway talking to her. Looking to the backyard, I could see that it was enclosed with six foot chain link fence. If this was her house, she clearly wasn't supposed to be walkabout on the road.

The woman who came out turned white as a sheet when I explained what had happened. The front door was left ajar by accident. She hadn't realized the dog was gone until she heard the barking on the porch. Isn't it funny how sometimes you're just in the right place at the right time?

So I got in two good deeds today. Hopefully that make up for the car-ma.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Blog Botox

My apologies for the plain jane version of Jenn And The City. I'm working on some formatting upgrades. Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Welcome to my one-hundredth blog post. I think that calls for a celebration of some sort.

I'd like to have cake, but in spite of Helga I really can't afford the indulgence.

There's not going to be a bunch of party games. Party games strike me as fundamentally evil - how did whacking the effigy of an innocent animal or stabbing an ass in the ass with a thumb tack come to be considered celebratory?

Guess that leaves champagne. Except I don't happen to have any Dom Perignon kicking around. And my tummy's still a little queasy.

So lets all toast blog number one-hundred with a nice glass of fine Canada Dry ginger ale. And a big thank you to all five of my loyal readers! Loves ya!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Who Needs Ice Cubes...?

My view of life lies somewhere where Holly Golightly meets Alice in Wonderland scented with a whiff of Harriet the Spy. Believing six impossible things before breakfast at Tiffany's while watching the world go by perched in a tree with binoculars.

I do have a point here. My car keys are in the freezer. Like Audrey and her shoe, "keys in freezer" makes perfect sense to me. I put them there. Deliberately and with purpose.

If you were to ask me why my keys are in the freezer, I would explain "because it is Wednesday". Except I've got flannel p.j.'s and a laptop sitting in bed instead of a gorgeous sheath dress and amazing hat on my way to Sing Sing. Life just never manages to imitate art the way you want it to.

At any rate, here's the Jenn And The City logic behind the frozen rabbit's foot. Remember my lack of Car-ma story. I have issues with getting my car out of the driveway without hitting the fence. So I need help with that bit. And Thursdays I need to leave early. On Wednesday nights, Rob has soccer. He won't be home until I'm asleep. So when he comes home, he'll go for his Dreyer's Yogurt-blend Cappucino Chip, and find my car keys there. Then I'll get my car turned round.

See, simple.

Except life down the rabbit hole never quite works out that way. Holly didn't have a non-driving 16-year old with a job at the corn maze. One who needs a ride home at 9 p.m. Necessitating her to reverse her own damn car out the driveway.

And I didn't hit anything either.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Nice Compliment

I just got a note from my boss letting me know I've been promoted.

I work part-time. How do I get promoted? I've really let go of stressing about my "real" job because I'm not there enough to worry about it. I do what I see needs to be done, and on Thursday I walk away until Tuesday. Then I pick it up again and do what needs to be done and walk away again.

Hmmm. Maybe there's something to that.

Jenn And The City
Consulting Business Analyst

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?

Emma and I are home sick today. Well, I have a sore throat and the icky, yucky body aches, so I'm working from home. Emma has the chicken pox. Well, she has little red bumps all over her body for the third time in her life. Apparently, when one has little red bumps all over ones body the school system denies you entry, regardless of how one actually feels. Either that's different now or my mother never got that memo. If I didn't have a fever, I went to school. I could have had leprosy, but if I didn't have a fever, I'd have had to go to school.

Emma is Nick's sister. She is nine. Her mom and dad are at an appointment, and Rob is working so she and I are hanging out. We're watching Fairly Odd-Parents on Nickelodeon. And Sponge- Bob. And some sort of Disney program. I'm not sure if the programming is more bewildering or the commercials. They make video games where you can draw your own characters. Who knew? And Bratz? Whose wretched idea was this?

Clearly I am getting old. Or maybe I have a fever.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Extreme Makeover, Jenn Edition

Dear Modular Home on Beautiful Riverfront Half Acre:

Your carpets are cleaned. Your plumbing has been completely replaced. Your kitchen was gutted and re-built. One bedroom has new carpeting, and one bathroom has all new everything except a bathtub. The damage caused to the electrical wiring during the installation of the new fence was repaired this week.

You have a new deck. The old deck is under repair. And you have a very nice hot tub, with a gazebo. So the gazebo roof needs some help. Okay, it fell apart and we need a new one. GIVE US A BREAK. I'm sorry about the landscaping, BUT THERE WASN'T TIME this year. Please see above paragraph. You have new interior paint in four rooms. I don't give a rat's hiney if you don't like orange.

And while I'm at it, I'm pissed off about the stove burners. Left Front means Left Front, not Left Rear. When I turn on the Left Front burner, I expect it to get hot. Instead, nothing happens to the Left Front, but I can boil water in 30 seconds on the Left Rear. I could perhaps live with reciprocity, but when I turn on the Left Rear, I get just about enough heat in the Left Front to wilt lettuce. If it's summertime.


I'm not saying it again. There are houses out there who would love a family like us to treat them with care and respect. If you don't start behaving, I'm going to move you to the other side of the tracks and replace you with a condo.

So there. Pthhhhhttttt.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Greetings from Central Oregon. I'm tired and crabby and I want to go home. I miss my family and my dogs.

I hate traveling for work. Too much food, too much work, not enough exercise.

Plus, apparently there is Trouble with the Electricity. Not in Bend. At home. Since there was nothing left to go wrong with the plumbing, the furnace, lights and outlets decided it was their turn to strike.

Maybe I don't want to go home. At least there's heat here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I've Found An Ass

And I'm SO excited. I think.

I have spent a lifetime with a, er, FLAT derriere. I did okay in the boob department, but I was absent the day great a$$es were handed out. There just hasn't been much call in the booty area. So I have broad shoulders to hold up the boobs, and not much below that.

The fashion mags do not have a section for "V-Shape". Trying to find a good bathing suit is a lost cause. At 40, I finally figured out that my broad shoulders and C-cups allowed me to carry more weight than most girls without it being obvious. Whoop-de-freakin-do. (Actually, at 40 +, I've learned to appreciate that particular fact. Why the hell does is take 25 years to get decent body image?)

I've spent the last six weeks being tortured by Helga. I was prepared for some changes in my body shape thanks to Helga, but I wasn't prepared for reality.

Reality. I've lost three and 1/2 pounds of fat. Pure fat. The white icky stuff you cut off your steak or drain out of the chicken or burger. The same stuff that makes cheesecake so yummy.

Reality. I've gained a pound of muscle. The part of the cow you actually eat.

Reality. My measurements, in actual dimension, remain much the same.

Reality. My fat measurements (the Special K pinch, for those who remember) have gone down significantly.

Reality. I'm built (per Helga) like an athlete. I carry a lot of muscle. By working out, I'm going to get bigger. And tighter. And less flabby. And I will weigh more, in scale weight.

So now my Lucky Jeans don't fit again. But it's not because I'm gaining weight, per se. It's because I now have a tush, where there was no tushy before. And I can see this.

Ass muscles. Who knew?

J-Lo eat your heart out. J-Hu is here!

Bride Revisited

See previous post.

Super Snake and Mr. Hack Saw were defeated by the Evil Kitchen Sink Drain. Reinforcements from Home Depot have been summoned. Fortunately, plumbing is unable to pursue us out of the driveway!

Rob will be home soon with Super Snake's cousin, Power Snake.

Hopefully the war will be over before the 1pm game.

Bride of the Flood

Our plumbing has been watching too many horror movies. You know, as if Chucky or Nightmare on Elm Street or Saw wasn't bad enough, one has to sit through the sequels and three-quels.

We suffered through the original flood (starring The Dishwasher) in February. Son of the Flood debuted the Evil Hot-Water Heater last month (no chance for a repeat there, we killed the tank and sent it to live on the an appliance farm).

But we've not quite even recovered from the negative critical reviews of the sequel when the third flood movie unleashed it's fury yesterday. Like most three-quels, Bride of the Flood has lost most of its allure and originality. Bride features a lame new starlet too, known familiarly to most as The Kitchen Sink Drain.

Since we were home during the initial attack, Rob fought back with the Super Snake. But even Super Snake was no match for The Kitchen Sink Drain. When our plumbing goes to the dark side, it really goes.

So today poor Rob is not sitting on his fanny relaxing over the Bengals/Giants game. He's stuck in the middle of Bride of the Flood, under the house fighting The Kitchen Sink Drain with his friends Mr. Hack Saw and Super Snake.

Don't look over your shoulder, Saint Rob, the bathtub just opened one eye and glanced furtively in your direction....

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Random Saturday Thought

I have chocolate fudge brownie ice cream in my hair. This is not how to start your weekend.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thank You Patience

Patience passed on a blog award today. This is Jenn And The City's first blog award, so I'm really excited about it. Thank you Patience!

Some 'Splaining To Do

Linda and I travel together. A lot. Sometimes to dog shows, sometimes on vacation. We have the logistics of travel via air or auto down to a fine art form. We even used to keep a financial ledger to track joint expenses, until we figured out that it always ended up balancing out anyway.

Part of the logistics of air travel is airport parking. We were very fortunate, for awhile, to have a friend who lived near SeaTac who allowed us to leave our car at her home. But Deb moved. In lieu of "Deb's Pet and Parking Place", we have the Jet Motel. Cheap airport parking with a free shuttle, even if you don't stay there. We do much the same thing with a motel in Vancouver when we're flying from Canada.

That's just what we do. We don't think a thing about it. When we went to Philly, Linda drove, and I paid for parking. It all comes out in the wash.

Except yesterday while cleaning our bedroom, Rob found my credit card receipt for the Jet Motel, dated 9/1/08 for $56.00. Poor Rob is new enough to our life to not know the Jet Motel routine. And he's just a bit confused by this receipt. In a role reversal, I'd have been a bit confused too.

Except I can't quit laughing long enough to 'splain myself.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bad Step-Monster

Okay, if you were looking for a role model, go check out Rima or Cheryl. No freaking role models here. I am NOT the mommy. I didn't know I was supposed to come home on Wednesdays - Nick goes to his REAL mother that night. Yes, it's Rob's soccer night, which is why it is a terrific time for me to have Wednesday's at the W.

That's right, Wednesday is supposed to be the Girl's Night Out. At the W bar. We have a drink, we b1tch about work, family, whatever, and We Do Not Get Calls From The Family.

Tonight my friend C makes comments about my independence. She doesn't see me as an attached female. No Mrs. Lovey Howell here.

Until the Blackberry starts to sing...Rob calling....

"Are you home"?


"Oh. Nick's there"


Nick: "It's Nick. Tara is throwing up. White, spitty stuff"

Me: "Nick, it's okay. Give her a cookie. I'll be home soon."


Nick: "It's Nick. Do you want me to feed the dogs?"

Me: (over the noise of the W bar) "Yes. Please."


Nick: "It's Nick. Where are you?"

Me: "I'm on my way home. Have you had dinner?"

Nick: "No, I'm okay."

Me: (Not such a dumbs&%& after all). "How about if I stop for teriyaki?"

Nick: Cool!!!!! Can I get the chicken and onion? I'm hungry!

Me: "Yes, of course". After I burn in hell for not feeding my child....

Sigh. No role models here. Get me another Manhattan.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Definite Lack of Car-ma

Sigh. So you remember the Second Flood right? We've been sleeping in the motorhome in the driveway since Flood II. It's really not that big of a deal, a minor inconvenience from a sleeping perspective.


Trying to maneuver a car, an SUV, a truck and a trailer with jet skis around a 28' motorhome requires navigational skill.

I have no navigational skill.

I've already scratched the MDX on the fence. Okay, it was more like a scrape. Okay, the MDX is wearing a fence-colored stripe down the side panel over the wheel well.

Today, I had to drive the truck because yesterday the MDX got in a fight with the lawn mower and lost. Evil Lawn Mower picked up a rock and hurled it through the passenger window of the MDX. Poor MDX is indisposed, awaiting the arrival of a new window from Tacoma.

Anyway, truck. Is.Stuck.In.Driveway. 1/4" from the fence. I'm afraid to try to maneuver it again. It's going to sit there until someone with navigational skills arrives to move it. So I'm here without a vehicle I can move.

Except the motorhome. That I can move. All I have to do is run over the truck.

PS. I just realized I locked the keys in the truck...

Color: Immaterial

This weekend I painted the spare bedroom orange. Not a mild, pale tangerine shade, but a vibrant hue described by Dutch Boy as tropical mango. As a point of reference, dog folks would know tropical mango as red. If I wanted to paint black vertical stripes, I'd have a brindle room. The glow when the sun shines casts an almost pink shade onto the walls in the plain-vanilla hallway.

Eventually, once the sub-floor and carpeting are re-laid, this will be my writing room. Of course, I'll be sharing it with several soccer balls, ATV equipment, skis, a remote controled car, and possibly some power tools. My contribution to the decor will consist of a small library of books, a couple dog beds (occupied), a computer, and perhaps a houseplant or two barely clinging to life.

Rob likes the tropical mango. Nick looked at it and said "it's very orange". Our neighbor, observing the paint roller in my hand when I answered the door, said "you're kidding".

It occurred to me this morning that tropical mango is not so very different from my recovering blonde hair color. Hey, I could save a fortune by simply painting my hair. In all reality, Dutch Boy tropcial mango probably shares most of the same chemical composition as Aveda Jenn And The City red hair dye.

Imagine the possibilities! Should I become disillusioned with my mango hair, I can select from a ginormous color pallette with charming and witty names such as sun hat. That would be yellow, for those not conversant in Glidden or Behr. I might also choose popcorn, unaccountably a shade of blue.

On the other hand, I've also just learned that paint, unlike hair dye, washes out of hair pretty easily. I learned this because Tara, who is technically considered popcorn brindle, excuse me, blue brindle, got a smudge of tropical mango on her head. Now I know that the breed standard says that for a whippet color is immaterial, but I do not think tropical mango or popcorn was on the minds of the breed's fore-fathers.

Or-ange you glad you checked the blog today?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Jenn And The NFL

Bears/Panthers - This could be a good game. I pick Carolina, just cuz I'm a Green Bay fan.
Titans/Bengals - Tennessee
Packers/Lions - Go Pack Go!
Bills/Jags - Buffalo
Raiders/Chiefs - Chiefs should win. I like Oakland, but jeez, what a mess.
Colts/Vikings - Pick one. I'm going with Indy, due to the GB factor.
Giants/Rams - Could be a good game. Giants will probably win.
Saints/Redskins - N'orleans.
49ers/Seahawks - I have to support Seattle!
Falcons/Bucs - Atlanta easy.
Dolphins/Cardinals - Arizona all the way
Chargers/Broncos - Denver
Patriots/Jets - Another really interesting game. Favre vs. Not Tom Brady. I'm secretly hoping for a Jets win, just cuz.
Steelers/Browns - Pittsburgh (right J?)
Eagles/Cowboys - Sorry Rob, but Dallas will win.

How'd I do Janet?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I Hate It When She Does That...

Patience, at Patience-please, has posted about Giacomino. Giacomino is a 14-year old whippet that she calls "very old dog". My Carson is also 14, and is also, a very old dog.

I laugh, and I tell my ex, who has custody, to pay special attention to this and that. It doesn't matter what food you are feeding, I tell him. If Carson likes it, and eats well, then we are good. If Carson is struggling with his joints, I say that the unusually wet August may be bothering him.

I first met Patience at the AWC National in Pittsburgh. Patience was dealing with an injured whippet, Fat Charlie, who at that National suffered a similar injury to my Kevyn-whippet. Fat Charlie survived. Kevyn did not. Neither my ex or I forget that loss.

But Carson is our first whippet, and even if he does not live with me, I am not ready to say good-bye. And I am not ready for Patience's post. I do not have that ability, to state so poignantly the reality of saying good-bye to a "very old dog".

I applaud Patience in these moments. She speaks for us all.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pssst Victoria's Secret...I-5 wears a "C" cup

So its a writing day today. I'm still emotionally wrestling with my fictional villain, along with making some turkey loaf for the dogs, grocery shopping, working out, and wondering why there was a bra on the side of I-5 yesterday morning. Fortunately the bra was unoccupied and simply resting awkwardly on the shoulder. :-) (I so crack myself up sometimes).

I've learned to recognize that my head is constantly processing my surroundings and pondering how my environment fits into the stories in my mind. Now that I'm relaxing and and have time to actually recognize and embrace that processing, I find that I have more in common with my friend from Second Avenue in January. I could be completely obsessed with a plastic bag. Or a mangled tape measure, or an abandoned bra. When you stop and process, the ordinary easily becomes extraordinary.

I built myself a bouquet in my mind riding the bike home from Helga today. Queen Anne's Lace, horsetails, bracken fern, morning glories, and wild daisies. More commonly known to northwest horticulturists as weedus obnoxiousus.

Who else could take you from a lonely bra to horsetails?

Back to Friday Afternoon in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Monday, September 8, 2008

On-line Shopping

Today I learned one can pay traffic fines on-line.

I learned this not as a research result, but out of unfortunate necessity. A few weeks ago, I was having a "Monday". My "Monday" included oversleeping, missing my bus, and an encounter with a very nice county deputy hiding behind blackberry bushes with his radar gun.

Since I have only received two speeding tickets in my life, and my normal auto speed is somewhere between Jeff Gordon and bat-out-of-hell, I consider this justice karma.

I kind of forgot about the little green slip of paper in my wallet until Rob walked in with one of his own this weekend, not for speeding, but for failure to wear his seatbelt. That's not really justice karma, Rob does wear his seatbelt, but like me, he doesn't put it on until he's done backing out of his parking space. Getting busted for not putting your seatbelt on until after you're done backing out of your parking space signifies that Friday was a slow day in law-law land.

Anyway, point being, it says right on the tickets that they must be paid within 15 days. Hmmm. Better check out my ticket. Don't want any bored cops deciding to hunt me down for being a scofflaw like my mother. Uh oh. My ticket needs to be paid today.

While frantically trying to get driving instructions to the Court, I found that they conveniently accept on-line payments. Very cool, because I was going to be late for Helga if I had to drive down there.

I even got the polite little email confirmation message when I was done "thank you for your purchase". Purchase? What the hell? I didn't "purchase" anything. Trust me, I could've "purchased" a bottle of perfume and a pair of shoes with that fine. That's the kind of "purchase" I appreciate being thanked for.

At least I didn't have to fasten my seatbelt to get my fine paid.

Imaginary Friends

I'm back-

I see one of my fictional characters took over the blog while I was at the lake this weekend. She's named Nat (gnat) for a reason!

I live with an entire cast of characters in my head. Little personalities, constantly badgering me. I'm sure its probably bad form to admit that one hears voices, but they've been around in some shape or another since I was about four years old, and they haven't sent me on a crime spree yet.

Until now. I'm getting ready to kill one of them. Fictionally, of course, not literally. Can you literally kill a fictional character? Hang on, I've just managed to confuse the heck out of myself.

Anyway. In order to write the book, somebody's gotta go. Maybe a couple of somebodies. Imaginary friends will disappear. That part is actually okay. They've come and gone since I was a kid. But I don't think that I have any murderers conveniently lurking in the shadows of my mind. The cast doesn't currently include a handy-dandy psychopath.

So I have to create one. You'd think, that with almost forty years of experience creating characters it wouldn't be that hard. Then I have to get to know that person. Get inside their head. Grow them up from childhood to understand their motivations. All of a sudden I have a lot more respect for Thomas Harris.

What are YOU doing this week?

Saturday, September 6, 2008



I’m Natalie McDuffy, and I’m taking over Jenn And The City today. I’m “Nat” to my friends, and “Duff “ to people who haven’t learned any better yet.

Since I graduated culinary school, I’ve lived and worked in Southern California. If you watch the Epicurious network on cable at all, you’ve probably seen my show “Vegetarian Victuals”. When I’m not shooting VV, I work at the world famous restaurant Maximillan’s By The Sea in L.A. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good steak as well as the next girl, but the vegetarian gig was the only programming slot available, and I needed the job. Now it’s the most-watched program on the network. Wouldn’t you know?

So now I’m a closet carnivore, living with my two dogs in Venice Beach.

Make that “was” living in Venice Beach.

Last night I got one of those middle of the night phone calls. You know, the ones that make you sit bolt upright in bed, trying to catch your breath, your heart hammering in your chest, and adrenaline surging through your fingers because you know something must be terribly wrong? Problem was, I couldn’t sit bolt upright in bed because Dandy the dog was lying across my chest. Under the covers. His sister Fine was on top of the covers, curled up in a little ball on my feet. Between the two of them, I couldn’t have sat upright if the apartment had been on fire.

Fortunately, my cell phone was within reach. And I recognized the ring tone. Certain people in your life, for various reasons, warrant their own ring tone. My twin sister was one of them.

This had better be good.

“Nic. What’s wrong?”

My sister’s voice sounded fragile and shaky, although that was normal when she called my Horizon cell phone. She still lives in the official Middle of No-where on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, and the small town where we grew up finally got a stop-light last year. Cable t.v. and cell phone reception haven’t made it yet.

“Nat?” Crackle, fzzzz, staticky sounds

“Yes, Nic what’s wrong?”

Fzzzttt “Jake” crackle, crackle “waitress” crack fzzzzzzt “alone” fzzzzzzttttt “kids” sssssstttttt “need help up here”.

“Nic, I can’t hear you. Is something wrong with Jake or the kids?”

Fzzzzzttttttt “Jake’s a stupid bastard and the kids are fine”

“Nic, stop right where you are, I can hear you now. What’s going on?”

Crackle, ffffzzzzttt, crackle.

I sighed and tried to heave 65 pounds of sleeping whippet off my body so I could get up and see if the reception was any better in the living room. The apartment’s pretty small, but it’s not that small, and it has a great view of the ocean if you stick your head out the bathroom window. With the success of VV, I could probably afford better now, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. Too busy.

It wasn’t until I got to the kitchen that Nic’s voice came through clearly enough for me to understand her issue.

“Nat, Jake’s gone. He ran off with one of the waitresses, and left me here with the kids to manage this place alone. I need help.”

Some twins know what the other is thinking and feeling without having to exchange words. Not so Nic and I. We actually need modern conveniences, such as Horizon Wireless, to communicate.

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t close, and if one of us needs help, the other is always just a phone call and some static away.

Which is why it’s now 3 a.m. and I’m driving up I-5 in my SUV with a hastily packed suitcase, and two very confused, sleepy whippets.

I'll log on again when I get there.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Rest of My Life: Day 1

Today is the Big Day. My first official part-time day. Here I sit, at my computer, with my coffee, trying to decide what writing project to tackle first. I can:

a) plot book
b) outline Dogs In Canada article
c) do some marketing
d) do laundry

I have to remember that I'm technically not "off work". I'm simply self-employed. That lets out laundry - no one's ever going to pay me for doing laundry. :-)

I really should work on the Dogs article.

But I don't wanna. I like the book better. It's more fun, more frivolous, more creative. More me.

And it's all about me these days.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

I had planned to update the blog each day from our trip to Pennsylvania, but the “best laid plans” are just that. Plans. Nice theories. Looks good on paper, not so much in real life.

First of all, who knew it would be difficult to get cel phone service 45 minutes from the Philadelphia airport? Limited cel phone means I can’t use the blackberry as a modem, so that means I’m offline unless I can find Wi-Fi. In Amish country.

Frankly, the entire long weekend zipped by at whippet speed. What do I remember?

  • Detroit has an ugly airport
  • Karen is a lovely hostess and a wonderful cook.
  • Eastern Pennsylvania is BEAUTIFUL. I was constantly captivated by all the local flora and fauna.
  • Old cemeteries hold the same fascination as dog pedigrees and maps. We walked Karen’s dogs to the old cemetery next door to her house and spent a nostalgic hour visiting half-buried grave markers and re-creating their history.
  • Foxes don’t smell nice.
  • The Amish have their own romance novels.
  • Four women who’ve had a bit of wine and are up WAY past their bed-time putting trophies together can get very silly indeed.
  • Be careful what you wish for; asking your Northwest guests to “please bring some rain” because the race-track is dry guarantees that your match show participants will drown.
  • There is nothing quite like getting a chance to visit with good friends you rarely get to see.
  • There is also nothing quite like making new friends and getting to know better people that you’ve only had passing acquaintance with.
  • Catchers at East Coast race meets call their dogs all through the race.
  • West Coast line judges find this odd.
  • Spending an entire day outside in a humid climate does weird things to your hair and leaves YOU not smelling nice.
  • Sometimes a cold shower is a GREAT thing.
  • Groin pulls hurt really badly.
  • Little, tiny flying ants/gnats are NOT in danger of extinction.
  • Neither are cicadas
  • Tiercel Whippet from Washington got three ARX points at Sunday’s race. Yay Tiercel!
  • Tiercel and his mom and sister had to fly home via Houston with Hurricane Gustav on Monday. We are very glad that they had a safe and uneventful flight.
  • If you miss the sign that says “Delaware Welcomes You”, you will not know you’re in another state.
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul has a great airport.
  • There is no place like home!

    Many thanks to everyone (especially Karen and her family) for making us feel so welcome. We had a wonderful time!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Talking in my Sleep

For those of you patiently waiting for a blog update, please just bear with me.

I'm the girl who doesn't even do daylight savings time very well, and the time difference from East to West coast puts me into a tailspin. On top of that, I've had to drag my butt out of bed and go into the office yesterday and today.

We had great fun, and I'm sure there's a great blog coming out of it, but until my brain adjusts it's not going to make it here.

And tonight I have Helga. Things could get ugly.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Am Happy To Report..

...that there is no cat puke in the Detroit airport at 3:12 a.m.

Oh, excuse me. It's 6:12 a.m. And I have my coffee!

We've made it this far, more later.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

If A Cat Throws Up In The Airport, Can I Still Have My Coffee?

It is now 5:33 a.m., for the record.

The alarm went off at 4:45 (Rob has an early day).

At 5:00 a.m., two dogs and two adults trekked from the motor home to the house.

5:00 a.m. feed dogs.

5:02 a.m. feed cats

5:03 a.m. Nike finishes eating. Put Nike out for morning "outsides"

5:04 a.m Let Nike back in.

5:07 a.m. Tara finishes eating. Put Tara out for morning "outsides"

5:08 a.m. Plug in computer, check phone, add to packing pile for trip etc.

5:10 a.m. Remember Tara is outside. Tara is happily throwing an apple from the tree into the air and chasing it. Remind Tara that is still dark and wet and wouldn't she rather come inside?

5:11 a.m. Tara declines offer.

5:12 a.m. Go get coffee cup, Tara bangs on door to come in. Let her in.

5:13 a.m. Remember need to use bathroom

5:14 a.m. Find LJ peeing on carpet in hallway (LJ suffering from urinary tract infection, we know this)

5:15 a.m. Take LJ to litter box, clean up cat pee

5:17 a.m. Remember still need to use bathroom. Get to bedroom to find LJ has thrown up all over carpet.

5:18 a.m. Assist Rob clean up cat puke.

5:19 a.m. Finally get to bathroom

5:20 a.m. Come out of bathroom, LJ is puking by front door, Tara is eating cat puke. Clean up cat puke.

5:21 a.m. Lock both cats in laundry room. Discuss LJ's health issues with Rob.

5:23 a.m. Finally get coffee.

5:24 a.m. Shannon comes to house, accidentally lets both cats OUT of laundry room, and both dogs go IN laundry room (with litter box and cat food). Chaos ensues.

5:30 a.m. Finally have everyone back where they're supposed to be. Reboot stupid laptop.

5:33 a.m. Update blog. Need nap already.

How's your day starting?

Stay tuned for the CWA National Tails. Linda and I are on a red-eye tonight, with a 3:00 a.m. layover in Detroit. I hope to God there are no puking cats in the Detroit airport.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Girl, Interrupted

We're shaping up to have a serious Mars/Venus conflict in the Jenn And The City household.

Nothing to do with Rob and I. We're fine.

Nothing to do with the addition of another female (Shannon) to the family.

Nothing to do with Nick and his love life. As far as I can tell, Nick thinks girls are "expensive". That's good. Nick, you are so right about that - having a girlfriend will seriously impede your ability to obtain a new paintball gun, or put gas in the truck. Also, they will expect you to STOP playing "Gears of War" or "Call of Duty" to text them back. And get pissed off if you don't. Girls = bad news to 16 year-old boys.

No, our conflict stems from my upcoming visit to the CWA Nationals in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia Freedom). It appears that my long-awaited and much-anticipated trip to see some great whippet racing and meet up with good friends may coincide with Tara's first, errr, hormonal episode. My experience with whippets to date has always been with males. They don't have "hormonal episodes". (Excepting when they encounter a female with aforementioned episode). This leaves Rob (newbie) to cope alone with 1) a female whippet having the equivalent of a menstrual cycle, and a raging desire to seduce the nearest male, and 2) a neutered male whippet who doesn't know he's uhhh, well, let's just say Viagra won't help.

Mars and Venus doesn't cover this topic. I've checked, and even Dr. Phil has no advice for how to leave boyfriend with this sort of chaos. Rob insists on trying to make me feel guilty - "she's going to need her mother".

I've ordered the requisite bitches britches to deal with the physical side of things. They won't be here before I leave. I've pointed out to Rob that he has raised a human child, and he's perfectly capable of purchasing some Huggies Pull-ups and cutting out a tail hole in the case of an absolute emergency.

Rob considers this the equivalent of being asked to purchase Tampax Pearls. His response was much the same as my response to the second flood. "You've got to be f&^$%#g kidding me".

Rob has no idea, and I've no plan to tell him, that the bigger issue is going to be Nike's hormonal reaction. I have no sympathy. Rob's a GUY for God's sake. That's a Mars thing, he ought to be able to at least comprehend Nike's reaction.

Philadelphia Freedom takes on a whole new meaning. I am so smirking behind my laptop. Of course, I may find myself, my dogs, and everything I own living in the motorhome when I return. Linda, could you possibly bring down an emergency set of doggy panties for me before we leave?

At least Shannon will be here - maybe we can send her out for some pantiliners.

My next bestseller will be "Mars and Venus in the Doghouse"

Aquarius I am NOT

WE HAVE WATER! And it's appropriately situated in the sinks, tubs, and heaters it belongs in. We do still have the industrial strength driers, but being able to flush a loo is a luxury that more than makes up for the noise and inconvenience of having furniture piled in every room of the house and a decibel level that rivals a NASCAR race.

Having not had enough water in our lives, we went to the open swim at the community pool last night. Nick and Rob attempted to teach me to dive. See Look Out Michael Phelps. While I'm still convinced that going head first without looking where you're going is a Bad Idea, I did manage two beautiful one and a half double twist half-pikes off the high board. Not. I actually did kneel on the side of the pool and fall in head first twice. That's enough for now. And they kicked my ass in water basketball. I finally quit playing and headed for the deep end to try to get some lap swimming done for cardio, which is really tough when you have to dodge 8-year olds who really can do one and half double twist half-pikes off the high board and swim underwater longer than an Orca.

The only thing I can do well in the water is hold my breath. I won the breath-holding contest at 45 seconds. I've had lots of practice lately - I hold my breath every time I flush a toilet or turn on a never know what might happen.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The "You've Got To Be F*^$%#g Kidding Me" Edition

The new hot water heater came disconnected and reflooded all three bedrooms and the bathroom tonight. Once again, we have no water. I stepped on an exposed carpet staple that stuck to my foot while trying to sop up water with towels and now I'm probably going to die of tetanus.

We're going to spend a third (and probably fourth, fifth and sixth) night in the motor home because the industrial strength driers are going to have to live here permanently.

Rob, who is always Mr. Cheerful, is beside himself. I would actually be fine if it weren't for the fact that having a stressed out partner completely puts me over the edge. Spent too many years having to try to maintain a perfect world for the last guy I lived with. Thirteen to be exact.

But this will all be fine. Rob has good coping skills. And I know this time I don't have to save the world. I only need to keep my own chin up. And hope I don't get lock-jaw.

The Friendly Skies

Before I had to stop and build an Ark (see last post), the Phildadelphia Freedom blog explained that the shortest route between two points is a straight line. A very simple mathematical concept, I believe postulated by Euclid around 300 BC. Euclid didn't fly Delta.

Linda says I have to tell this story because no one believes her. But I was there, and I can vouch for it.

I don't remember the flight from Seattle to Memphis. I do remember the Memphis airport, characterized not by brain surgery advertisements, but rather by alternating Elvis memorials and Fed Ex logos. I also remember sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off for about the same amount of time it would have taken to rent a car and drive across Arkansas.

The flight, once it finally got off the ground, was uneventful until we began our descent into DFW. I had the window seat, and I commented to Linda that I'd never flown close enough to the control tower to wave at the air traffic guys.

Then, instead of landing, we proceeded to fly around East Texas for about half an hour. While we find this odd, no one is panicking. Yet.

Finally, our Captain comes on the intercom with an explanation. Now, to fully appreciate his announcement, you have to appreciate his stutter. I don't know if he normally suffered from a speech impediment, or if it was simply the circumstances. And I certainly mean no disrespect to him whatsoever. The announcement went like this:

"Ladies and uh, uh, uh, Gentlemen, this is the Captain from the uh, uh, uh, flight deck. You may have noticed, uh, uh, uh, that we did not land in Dallas - Ft. Worth as scheduled. That's because we've discovered a problem with the, uh, uh, uh problem with the uh, uh, uh, landing gear. We cannot determine if it is in the uh, uh, uh, down and locked position. We attempted to have the ground crew get a visual but they were unable to make a positive evaluation. So we're going to continue to circle while the uh, uh, uh, co-pilot comes through the cabin and attempts to visually confirm the status of the landing gear."

I remember that our reaction collectively was something like, "you've got to be kidding me". I also remember thinking that I was really just not in the mood to deal with dying today. That thought surprised me - when faced with a true emergency, my feelings about possibly having to crash in an airplane were pretty much the same as when I get a flat tire or get stuck in the elevator. It's annoying, and I really don't have time for this kind of crap.

So, presently, a uniformed gentleman emerges from the cockpit. Now this is where it gets really weird. He's carrying what appears to be the "737's for Dummies" manual, and he proceeds down the aisle to the over-wing area. He lays down in the aisle and removes a hatch cover from the floor of the airplane. And then he sticks his head and shoulders down the hole and lays there, looking at whatever is down there, and consulting the manual. For about 15 minutes. The entire plane full of passengers is rubber-necking trying to see what he's doing.

Finally, he gets up and heads back up to the cockpit. As he goes by, Linda and I are trying to read his facial expression. Does he appear calm? Or is he saying bad words or the Lord's Prayer? We really can't tell.

We continue to circle East Texas for about another 20 minutes. Then our darling pilot comes on the intercom. "Ladies and uh, uh, uh, gentlemen, the co-pilot has confirmed that the landing gear appears to be uh, uh, uh, in the locked position. We'll be circling for a little longer while we, uh, uh, uh dump our excess fuel, and then we will attempt to land at Dallas-Ft. Worth. Thank you for your uh, uh, uh, patience."

Collective sigh of relief from some passengers. Some of us are not quite so confidence-inspired. Only one reason to dump the excess fuel. We continue to fly for what seems like another hour. Finally, we come in for our attempted landing.

I'm looking out the window during landing. I think maybe we were supposed to be in crash position, I don't really remember, but I was looking out the window. Funny. We're on a runway a looonnnggg way from the terminal. And look, there's a security vehicle on the tarmac with flashing lights. Hey, there's a fire truck. Lookeee, another fire truck. And a whole fleet full of ambulances, emergency response vehicles and airport officials, all with lights and sirens, lining the runway from one end to the other.

It was actually one of the smoother landings I can remember. Apparently, the landing gear was in the down and locked position.

"Ladies and uh, uh, uh gentlemen, we apologize for the delay, and thank you for flying Delta. Welcome to Dallas - Ft. Worth. We hope you enjoy your uh, uh, uh stay in Texas. Local time is 7:20 pm"

Since we were supposed to land at about 5:00, we were only a little bit late, and just a titch rattled.

And it's a GREAT story. Except I don' much care for landings anymore. They always make me just a little nervous now. I'm pretty sure Sir Isaac Newton wouldn't want to fly Delta either.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again....

Remember back in February? When the dishwasher attacked on Super Bowl Sunday? We got a lovely kitchen remodel out of that deal, but we also camped out in our house for a month with no water in the kitchen, and most of the appliances living in the dining room with the weight equipment and treadmill.

Apparently there is a relationship between major sporting events and our plumbing. First Michael Phelps win enough gold to plate Nelly's teeth, and then the US Men's Gymnastic team pulls out the Bronze when they weren't even slated for the finals. Unable to bear the excitement and pressure surging across the Pacific, our water heater explodes.

The water heater happens to be inconveniently located back in Shannon's bedroom closet. She's supposed to be arriving today. The subsequent flood took out all the carpet and some of the sheetrock in her room, Nick's closet, the hallway, Nick and Shannon's bathroom, and part of our bedroom. We are once again inundated by large noisy driers. All the furniture in those three rooms is piled in corners. Rob and I slept in the motor home last night. Shannon has been delayed until Sunday. I need to go down to the gym to take a shower.

By my calculations, the World Series is coming up next. My vote is that we shut off the water at the meter until it's safely over.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Philadelphia Freedom...

So, in just over a week, my good friend Linda and I will attempt to fly to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she is judging the Continental Whippet Alliance National Match show. The trip equates to a Big Adventure. Linda and I have had lots of Big Adventures since my inaugural trip to the American Whippet Club National Specialty show in 2000, which oddly enough, was also in Pennsylvania.

Since 2000, we’ve flown together to Denver, Phoenix, Boston, North Carolina, Chicago, and Dallas. All Big Adventures. Sending Linda and I off together is a bit like crossing Thelma and Louise with Laurel and Hardy.

Our first secret to a successful trip is - pack EVERYTHING you own, because you never know what you might need. Our travels have taught us to never leave home without Mentos, a corkscrew, a flashlight, and some duct tape. Little Mayonnaise packets from the deli are handy too. The duct tape is a necessity, because should you need to tape together some folding chairs for the flight home and you are, let’s say, in a Wal-Mart in Toronto, you won’t be able to find any. Without asking a GUY where the duct tape is. And that is embarrassing.

Second tip – ALWAYS make sure you have your boarding pass. You can’t get on the plane without it. This actually happened during the second leg of a trip through Cincinnati. We were supposed to get our boarding pass at the gate, and instead got chatting with the pilot about flying with dogs and completely forgot to check in. In our defense, Cincinnati is the airport with posters advertising brain surgery at the local hospital. I think there’s something in the water there.

Third tip – Always pick up your luggage on the luggage carousel when you arrive at your destination. It will not jump off the merry-go-round on its own. No matter how long you sit and watch it go by, happily talking about something else, it doesn’t have the same owner attachment as your dog, and it will not leap off the conveyor belt in its delight to see you again.

Fourth tip – Beware of flights that take you to a layover point that is not between your point of origin and your destination. It makes no sense to fly from Vancouver to Ottawa to Toronto, nor does it make sense to fly from Seattle to Memphis to Dallas.

But that Memphis to Dallas trip deserves a blog of its own…

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A New Addition...

Today I am formally introducing Shannon. Shannon is Rob's daughter who has lived her whole life in Virginia with her mom. Various circumstances bring her to us now. We welcome her whole-heartedly and with open arms as she begins a new life in Washington.

Shannon came to give us a test-drive visit a few weeks ago and unfortunately had to return to Virginia unexpectedly due to a family emergency. This Thursday she returns permanently.

Shannon is much loved by all of us, but particularly the dogs and cats. It isn't unusual for her to wake up with all four creatures piled on her bed. That doesn't happen to anyone else here. She did draw the line at Ringo the fish - he's not her type.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Look Out Michael Phelps....

Sorry to be silent over the weekend, but we were camping. I’d like to justify my lack of on-line activity by explaining that we hiked uphill ten miles with our sleeping bags, a two-man pup tent, freeze-dried rations, and fishing poles for survival, but the sad fact is that we took the motor home to a lake about 20 miles from home and forgot the cable hookup for the t.v. and laptop. The way I was raised, that is NOT camping.

But camping the old fashioned way is no longer an option for me. The problem is the two-man pup tent. Whoever named the dang thing a “pup” tent didn’t have whippets. In fact, I’m pretty darn certain that Tara and Nike take up enough bed space between them that they wouldn’t fit in the “pup” tent.

We had a great time though. We even borrowed a friend’s boat and toodled around the lake for a bit. (Note to self, need to purchase PWC for summer lake adventures). The lake cruise was a delightful way to spend a 90 degree Saturday. Until the motor quit.

Now, granted, we were only about 15 yards from the dock when the motor quit. And we had an oar. That we couldn’t get unhooked. Since I have been working out with Helga for three weeks now, and I am the fearless saver of lives in bat attacks, I selflessly volunteer myself up to dive off the bow and swim, towing said boat, to the dock.

Firstly, I don’t dive. Period. I do not go head first anywhere I can’t see where I’m going. That’s just plain dumb. Like eating mushrooms, it’s just one of those things you cannot convince me is a good idea. Mushrooms are poisonous, and diving head first without looking where you are going has got to be unhealthy. I’m a careful weigher of risk, and these are just two things that my cerebral actuary says “nope”, “nada”, “not going there”.

So, in reality, I gingerly slid feet first off the bow clinging to the bowline. I got the boat turned around and swam to the dock, arriving not quite half-drowned. While I cling to the dock gasping for air, Saint Rob, in the boat, points out a slight problem. The boat moors on the other side of the dock and there are too many other boats in the way for him to tow it by walking on the dock. So bowline in teeth, I strike out again around the dock, trying not to get run over by the boat, shoved under the dock, and also trying not to run the boat into any of the other boats bobbing cheerfully in their moorings.

We did finally make it in. I have a bruise on my knee from being run over by the boat, but no other real damage. I got my cardio for the day. Helga will be proud.

Next dog is gonna be a Lab. First, they can swim and pull the damn boat. Second, they probably fit in a pup-tent.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Have I ever mentioned that Saint Rob does the cooking? I, who love to cook, have darn near forgotten how. We get banana pancakes for breakfast, and all sorts of yummy concoctions for dinner. He is the king of the barbeque, and even better at creating a three course meal from the dregs of the fridge. Where I see Tabasco sauce, pickle relish, and a lonely pita pocket, he somehow makes quesadillas and a salad.

While this is a fabulous skill, much appreciated by me generally, it is not so appreciated by my skinny jeans. While I’ve been eating, my skinny jeans have simultaneously been embracing Adkins, South Beach, Nutrisystem, and Jenny Craig.

What began as a minor difference of opinion between my tummy and the snap on the skinny jeans post-dryer, has become over the summer, an all out war between my favorite Lucky Brands and my hips, thighs and posterior region.

About three weeks ago, with the battle raging out of hand, I decided to call for back-up. Enter Helga. The fitness center about five miles from our house retains the services of a personal trainer who specializes in working with out of shape, middle-aged blobs. Helga is a Nordic looking blue-eyed blond who could almost be called cute except she weighs about as much as my pinkie, and bench presses her jeep Wrangler for warm-ups.

So, three times per week I go spend an hour with Helga. At the beginning of the hour, I like Helga. She’s the perfect trainer, very knowledgeable, always changing the exercises, explaining that soon, if I work hard, I will be able to bench press my bicycle. By the end of the hour, I find that Helga is not so cute, and I wanna see her do 45 seconds of Desert Lizards across the gym floor after first doing medicine ball lunges for two minutes. For the fourth time.

I hadn’t really noticed much change yet. The scale hasn’t really budged. But I must say that in my recent overwhelmed, stressed out state, I DO feel better mentally after my hour with Helga. So if nothing else, exercise does help depression and anxiety. Make me the poster child for the gym! The before picture can show me in my post-work coma. The after picture can show me with sweat trickling into my eyes sucking on a G2 and doubled over panting, too busy trying to breathe to worry about any other paltry inconveniences.

And then, today, the Lucky Brands went on without argument. Snug, yes, but no need for the Pants Dance to get them buttoned! Hooray!

Helga’s real name is Kim. Guess I’m going to have to start being nicer.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Dark Night

I am an experienced whippet owner. Fourteen years of life with efficient killing machines capable of decapitating a plastic bag at 35 miles per hour without a second thought. They’ve dug to china for a mole, climbed fruit trees to get squirrels, one actually jumped out of a boat to get a frog, and the close encounters with possums and bunnies are too numerous to mention. The frenzied game of “Hey, Lets Kill Kitty” a few years ago left two dogs, the cat AND me all in emergency clinics. The only dog unscathed in that fiasco was the one wearing a funnel collar due to injuries sustained in a round of “Lets Get The Border Collie” the previous week.

Most of these incidents that call on my carcass removal skills and the occasional need to manually assist Thumper to a better place have been, mercifully, outside. Travis did try to bring a live possum in through the dog door one night in Bellingham, but it was, thankfully, too big and he couldn’t make it fit sideways.

So I actually laughed at Rob when he wanted to keep the dog door closed at night so “creatures” can’t come in. The dog door, I condescendingly pointed out, leads to a chain link kennel. With a cover. Nothing is coming in the dog door besides our dogs and our cats. Besides, I’ve lived for almost 13 ½ years with a dog door without any kind of wildlife raiding the fridge for beer, or tuning in to HBO at 3a.m. (I conveniently left out the bit about the possum. No sense borrowing trouble). Besides, closing the dog door at night defeated half the purpose for the dog door in the first place – Nike’s getting to be an old guy, and he likes to make a 2am trip out to inspect the fence. I conveyed politely to Rob that we could close the dog door at night only if HE wanted to supervise fence inspecting. If I’m living in a house with a dog door, I ain’t getting up with the dogs.

So, the dog door has stayed open at night without incident until a few weeks ago. Frankly, I think the whole affair was a publicity stunt, timed with the release of the new movie.

3:36 a.m. – All is quiet. Not a creature is stirring, except the cats are making quite racket running around the living room. This is not particularly unusual. But it does wake me up.
3:38 a.m. – “Dad” I wasn’t sure I really heard Nick, so I didn’t wake up Rob and waited to see if I heard him again.
3:39 a.m. – “Dad” Nick is now outside the bedroom door. “Dad, there’s a bat in my room.” “What?” Rob is somewhat awake. “There’s a bat in my room. The cats are chasing it around.” Nick bails for the bathroom.
3:40 a.m. “How does Nick know there’s a bat in the house, he’s supposed to be in bed asleep.” I am sitting up in bed waiting to see how the crisis will be handled. Clearly with all this testosterone in the house I am surely exempt from dealing with garbage, light bulbs, and fruit bats.
3:45 a.m. – Nick and Rob continue to argue about the presence of the bat. Rob settles on denial as the best defense “There’s no bat, so shut your door and go sleep on the couch” Nick continues to argue that he’s not, er, batty. The cat scuffling is getting more frantic.
3:47a.m. – Apparently my gender exemption ends at light bulbs. I put on my Joker make-up and my bathrobe and get up to help Nick. Rob is clearly useless. I poke my head in Nick’s room and watch the poor bat flutter helplessly against the wall. WHOOSH – I duck as the bat nearly dive bombs me heading for the living room.

“Get the cats and lock them in your room.” I tell Nick. We finally corral the cats so I can open the front door. Note that Nike hasn’t even bothered to get out of bed. Rob ventures out just once to witness a fly-by and half-pikes back into the bedroom slamming the door behind him.

3:55a.m. – The badly confused and frightened bat makes several laps of the house. The skylight is somehow particularly confusing. Finally, he lucks out and finds the open door and escapes into the night.

The discussion about how the bat got in is brief. One of the cats had to have caught him and brought him in through the dog door. The whippets, I point out, have no interest in bats. Nike never got out of bed, remember? The only other possibility is that we have a whole attic full of bats.

We’ll never know, because Rob won’t look, and I don’t climb ladders. That’s too much like changing a light bulb.
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