Thursday, April 30, 2015

Wern-in-natin' the countryside

Ask anyone around these parts why we got a dog last year and most if not all of them would say “we have no idea.  Both Tiff and Biff have stated bluntly that they were never going to get another dog because cats are so much easier and they can just leave for longer periods of time and gallivant and frolic and such without having to worry about some dumb ol’ canine needing to be walked and fed and loved and stuff.

And it would be true.  Every single syllable.  Once Skeeter Thee Dog passed on, we were freed up significantly to do whatever we wanted to, when we wanted to, for periods of up to 3 whole days at a time without having to call in the kitty-sitter to come refill the food bowls and check for carcasses.  We were footloose and fancy-free, and it was great.  GREAT!!  No dog hair to sweep up, no toys to throw and throw and throw, no schedule to be aware of, just loosey-goosey life, livin’ la vida lazy!

I didn’t realize how good we had it, until we got a puppy.

The most unexpected puppy ever, a puppy that really probably ought to be living with someone else right now.  Someone else who understands dogs, who forgives them their stupidity and messes, who adores their goofy flabbergasting ways.  Who might be able to make sense of what happened yesterday afternoon in the 5 hours or so he was home alone.  Picture it:

I walk in the door at about 4:15, greeted as usual by Wern, who is standing on the couch in the usual position, happy as all get–out to see me, or so it would have appeared if I was utterly blind and had no sense of touch or smell.

The happiness was not FOR me, though, it was for the ‘work’ he’d been up to while on his own.  Work that included jumping ON the kitchen table (he’s never done that before) and eating 2 packets of ketchup, 15-20 Hershey’s kisses (wrapped in festive pastel foil, which I expect to start seeing again any day now), a tube of lip gloss, a tub of tuning slide grease, a (small) bottle of rotor oil, 2 ziploc bags, and a work glove.  In the carnage, he managed to dislodge 10+ CDs from the Ziploc they had been stored in and scatter them all over the floor, knock the (small) pile of mail to the floor, possibly eat some of the mail (can’t be sure, it’s either that or he snacked on some cash-register receipts), and knock a box of sewing pins all.over.the.floor (and carpet, and couch, and under the recliners).

It looked, quite literally, like someone had chucked a lit stick of dynamite into just the right spot to maximize ‘stuff spread’ on the BOOM.

I didn’t react well.

To put it mildly.

Oh sure, I put him outdoors (after slamming the door in his face and without checking his feet or mouth for PINS) so he wouldn’t get in my way (‘stay safe’) while I was cleaning up, and once done cleaning up I called the vet to get their recommendation on what to do (they said ‘go to the emergency room’ and I laughed and laughed).  Sure, I made sure he was safe and secured the incident zone, sure I did, and then I called Biff and asked him where the shotgun was.

I did.

Because #1 – I’d had it with this wild beast and #2 - I do not have, at this time, any money to give to ER vets for our dog.  Not even for an X-ray, because here’s why: there was some mix-up in the HR system at work and mysteriously my withholding allowances went from 0-80 (sort of) sometime in the latter third of the year and as such I owed several thousands of dollars to the Feds which I THOUGHT I was going to use to buy siding for the house after we get the foundation work done in May.  Put it another way: foundation work + tax payout (the former siding!) = almost my entire savings account, with purt’ near no room left over for stupid dog tricks like maybe SWALLOWING PINS and having to pay out mucho dollars to assess the situation.

Well, calling Biff was the right thing to do, because he couldn’t put his fingers right smack on where the shells were for the shotgun.  Not only was he totally non-helpful in my bloodlust, Biff talked me back off the ledge from which I was planning to jumpstart my murderous career and suggested I call our buddy Jen, who knows Things About Animals and is good about putting the tops of upset people’s heads back on when their idiot pets caused it to nearly blow right off.  So, I texted Jen, and Jen said ‘call me,’ so I called, and she talked me down from the radiator next to the ledge back to a reasonably comfortable wing chair in the parlor, advising us to take a path that sounded sensible and level-headed and cheap.  Gosh Jen, I’m glad we crossed paths at a company that shall not be named many years ago – and not only for your ‘don’t be daft about the dog’ attitude.

So, Wern was fed well throughout the evening.  We watched for signs of distress but none came.  No GI effects throughout the night.  This morning he was pacing a bit but I think that’s because I was up at 4:30 a.m. for NO REASON AT ALL and he didn’t get his customary lie-in until 8 a.m. with me and was confused about how to be in the morning, in the dark.  I asked Mason to take him out at lunchtime, and I’m leaving soon to go check on him/let him out/feed him some more/ensure he’s not eaten through the back door and into the garden like some canine Lawnmower Man. 

Because even though he was in mega-jerk dog mode yesterday afternoon and evening, I’d still hate for the big galoot to feel sad or sick or ‘off’ without someone there to help him through what ails him.

Which does NOT mean I’m a ‘dog person,’ yet, but I think it’s one more step down the road to crazytown.

Tiff out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lacking temper-ance

The harsh truth is that all too frequently, boredom can be mistaken for contentment, and the urge to move on with can life can be mistaken for complacency.  It is possible to be content and satisfied with what makes up life as you might know it, but not be happy in it or challenged at all by it.  

Take the person who gets in their 8 hours a day at work but never really has anything to say about it.  They go, day in and out, and do what they do, content that they have something to do that doesn't challenge them too awfully much, and come home to the paper and slippers and a hot dinner bubbling in the crock.  They are complacent, content, bland as typing paper. Let them lose their position, and oh my, watch the fireworks start.  At once they are consumed with a fire to find something new, better, bigger, more FUN, perhaps, more of 'something' and much much less of what they had been doing that they thought they were happy with.  This is a dangerous person, for to take away the dulling blankets of contentment and complacency, they can now see the brightness of the world and want to burn in it.  Brilliant opportunities lie scattered all around where once there were nothing but dead ends and a beige sitting room at the end of the day.  Too see what is possible enrages and enchants them, pulls at them until finding their passion becomes the One True Thing, and many will lament at the long years spent believing that chasing after their dreams a folly and a lie.

The barmaid at the Lemon and Stick was such a person.  Only she was different from the blanketed dullard who requires a life shakeup to see clearly.  No, she saw plenty clearly enough what she was missing.  Excitement, for one.  New prospects, for a second.  Someone to listen to her crazy dreams, for a significant third.  The barmaid's current problem was that she was employed in the same small town in which she'd grown up, had never left, and where, it appeared, she would die and moulder.  Once upon a time she had confided in her cousin that she longed to leave Banner Bank, but was nearly instantly rebuffed as a fool to want such a thing as to leave paradise on Earth itself.  Why would she do a thing like that? her cousin asked, as though she's just said she'd wanted to kill her infant brother.  It's so fine here, so perfect, no war, no hate, no fears!  Ugh, and no challenges either, the young barmaid (though she wasn't so at the time, a barmaid that is) had replied, and challenge is what I want.  Some people are just like that, keeping challenge in heart and mind even when circumstances don't permit such a thing.

Years had passed since that conversation, and since that time the barmaid had learned to keep such things to herself.   Nobody wanted to buy a pint from a crazy dreamer, this much is true, and because she needed to earn her own keep now, pulling pints for the folk in town was the best way to at least be close to a chance that she might encounter a stranger who would come and drink at the tavern, or might overhear fishermen had talk of an odd new beast they'd pulled from the sea, or that possibly she'd serve an Escort, if they really existed.

Challenge or not, it was time to open.  She had stocked the clean glasses, checked the kegs, sliced the bread and cubed the cheese, then lastly ran to the kitchen to fetch the cider from the inglenook, where it was almost always cool this time of year.  In a rush, she bumped the table on which the small cow sat (though he knew he was an Ox, with a name besides that!), and rattled it good.

"Sorry," she said to the cow, though naturally she didn't think it would reply.  "I nearly got you that time, did not I?" then ran back to the front, where her regular customers were already assembling.

'Indeed you did, though not nearly enough to unseat me fully.' thought the ox. 'Didn't even wake me up, though that sunbeam certainly done.'  Sunbeams are notorious for awakening slumbering oxen.  Sunbeams are one of the few really good reasons an ox has to wake up, really, so he had to assess blame where it was, in this case, due. 

Despite his reply, though, she couldn't hear him.  Hardly anyone can hear such an ox as him.  She'd need insight and a few more years of training to do that.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Breathe deep the gathering bloom

In North Carolina, there is a fifth season.  It is the shortest of all seasons, but it has significant impact on each and every person within the central and eastern regions in particular.

This, is pollen season.  Pine pollen, to be precise.  And it’s happening right now.

The first time I experienced it was right after I moved to NC (10 YEARS AGO!).  I was just staring out a window at the office and noticed that the air seemed…thick.  Translucent, even.  As though there was a pall of smoke drifting, perhaps a small forest fire was happening, but no, this was different.  And why was my car green at the end of the day rather than its usual white?  That was pollen, all pollen.  Amazing.

Today, as I was driving in to work, I saw an AMAZING manifestation of just how hot for it the pine trees are right now.  The tree circled in the below pic was the hottest of them all, for as I passed it a puff of wind caught its branches and a thick CLOUD of pollen was released into the wild.  It was really very impressive, and I’m sure the sticky tips of all nearby cones are ripening with new life even as I type this.  Just that one outburst alone could likely have populated hundreds of acres of pines if it had been more precisely applied!

Nature is messy.

I now regret leaving the house windows open this morning. 


We finally waved the green flag at a foundation company to come shore up the underpinnings of our saggy ol’ house.  Apparently, foundation business is really great right now, as the earliest they could get us on the schedule is 11 May.

One more month of fun-house bouncy floors!  Whee!!


I think that because I came in late today I should leave early, don’t you?  There are bad storms coming into the area and I’d like to be home before they start.  A man was killed last night when a storm front came through.  He was struck by lightning in the parking lot of a Michael’s craft store and died later at the hospital.  Scary stuff.  Nobody ever really expects to get struck by lightning and killed, you know?

Also what nobody really expects, but  I saw yesterday:  a car wreck that tore the front off one car and completely bashed in the side of another, in a WALMART PARKING LOT.

Parking. Lot.

How recklessly do you have to drive to get into THAT kind of an accident in a PARKING LOT?

So yes, two things to not expect, both of which can kill you nearly dead (or, all the way, as the unfortunate young man at Michael’s discovered (or didn’t, depending on his state of consciousness.)).  PLENTY of reason for me to go home and hunker down with some HP Lovecraft, wouldn’t you agree?

Tiff out.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Escape artist

This is  a story about a dog.

OUR dog, Wernstrom.

Yay!  A Wern story!

Gather ‘round kiddies, and learn about freedom and what one dog would trade it for.


This morning, as I was getting ready to leave for work, I put Wern the dog out in the backyard to get some fresh air and make his last biological deposits to the yard for the morning.  Because our backyard is fenced (and doubly fenced on the side he knows he can jump over!), I didn’t feel it was necessary to watch over him while he was doing his ablutional activities.  The worst he could do would be to chase some birds and maybe dig a(nother) hole.

I had things to do, people!

After putting on the ol’ war paint and combing my hair, I went to fetch the puppy from the yard, having fully expected to hear him pounding at the back door as he does when he realizes he’s outside, alone.  But no pounding had occurred and I was proud of him for being such a big boy and not a big ol’ ‘fraidy cat as has been his MOA forever.

Opened the back door, stepped out onto the deck.  This usually brings him running like a deer, quick like a bunny.  But….no Wern.

“Oh crap, he’s learned to jump the OTHER side of the fence,” thought I.

But he was not in the lot next door.

He must have been gone a while by this point.  Several minutes at least!  He could be anywhere!  A mild panic began to sneak through the OPEN GATE to the driveway!!  Gah!  No jumpy, just a little stroll through the freaking open gate that I didn’t check before I put him out.

Now he SERIOUSLY could be anywhere.  So I  put on my shoes and prepared to take a quick stroll through the neighborhood with a treat in hand to tempt him back home.

It was a really quick walk, as he was nosing around in the front garden, sniffing at the weird-smelling dirt in The World Out Front.  I called his name, he looked at me.  I called more encouragingly, he looked up the street, as if to bolt.

Then I said the magic words:

“Come on in, Wern, let’s get a cookie!”

And like a black bolt of lightning, he raced in the door, a dog with a mission.  His momentary freedom squandered, all for a dried pig’s ear.

Pretty sure he thinks it was a good trade.


Tiff out.