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 faucet....you 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

Helga

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.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Return of The Blog...


It was a dark and stormy night. Week. Okay, month and a half.

But I am happy to report that as of today, the blog is back. It was curled up on the doorstep when I woke up this morning, rather rusty, and looking a bit like a drowned rat, but there it was.


For the last six weeks I've felt a bit like this at work:



On top of being attacked by 52 different projects at the office, I've been assigned to write an article for "Dogs In Canada" magazine, for which they will actually pay me. That's a good thing, but it will take some time, of which I have none.

Besides having no time for the article or the blog, I also have a book that I've been trying to write for the past ten years or so.

So I'm following my White Rabbit. We'll see what adventure he takes me on. Twenty hours a week I'll still be Jenn and The City. The rest of the time I'll be trying to build up my freelance writing career, and writing Death At First Sight. I am probably crazy. But wish me luck anyway...

And check back tomorrow. I gotta tell you about the bats.


















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