Friday, December 28, 2012

Impulse Buy

The Chevrolet HHR has been a great vehicle for me. I really have to toot its horn a bit, and say that it handled everything I threw at it without question.  However, to be honest, it was a wee bit small for my needs. Sure, it could fit two Doberman-sized crates, but that left very little room for other luggage. We'd been casually looking at other vehicles, but hadn't planned on getting rid of the HHR for another year or so.

But then my friend Aryn's car ended up needing repairs... the kind that cost more than the car's actual worth.  And so starts the story of the weirdest impulse purchase I've ever made.

Yesterday, while I was toiling away at my job, Aryn instant-messaged me a link to a little European station wagon for sale up in Ames. She thought it was very pretty.  I agreed that it was indeed very pretty. I took a break from my work to peruse the dealership's other used inventory, and my eyes about popped out of their sockets when I saw a listing for a vehicle I'd wanted since high school - a Honda Element.

It didn't have super high mileage for a 2007 model, it was in great condition, it had four wheel drive, and the price was excellent... and it wasn't white. I refuse to buy white cars.  I messaged Aryn back, to see if maybe she wanted to drive up to Ames together, so we could look at both vehicles.  Aryn thought that was a fabulous idea, so we made it so.

In the end, it just made sense. The dealership gave me a great trade-in for the HHR... like insanely good. Apparently four days before the end of the year is a great time to buy a car, because they all want to get those last-minute sales on the books for year-end.  I ended up walking away with a a slightly older yet much more reliable and appropriate vehicle for my needs.  That, and unlimited free oil changes.  Seriously, I'm way too excited about those oil changes.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to take photos of a car... at night... during a snowstorm?  Blah!  Anyway, meet Zephyr.  Yes, I'm one of those nerds who names vehicles.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blizzard. Learned a few things.

My colleagues who work in the office got the day off. 
Since I work from home, it was business as usual. It was actually kind of fun. It was like being in the office by myself, except I was still at my desk at home.  I'm not sure that made sense.

Small towns are overrated.
We've lived here three years, and every year our cars get stuck in our ridiculous alley. The town refuses to plow alleys, yet requires all cars to be moved off the streets in the event of snowfall. Since we are the only house on the block without a driveway, we are required to drive through that alley to get to our garage. It falls on us to pay someone to plow the alley.  Of course, once it's plowed... one of our neighbors uses it.  She's not our favorite neighbor... can't stand that woman.  Anyway... only once have neighbors come out to help us, and they aren't longtime residents either.  They moved here from North Carolina.  My "hometown" - the second largest city in Iowa - had more neighborly goodwill than this stupid small town.  

Toe shoes are great and all, but sometimes you just need a pair of heavy-duty snow boots.
... because I can't imagine digging a Pontiac out of 2' snowdrifts in Lontras. 

When you're frozen to the bone, a hot shower really helps.
In case you were wondering what to do when, after more than two hours outside, you're still chilly and miserable.

I need a truck.
I'm not sure a Transit Connect will get through the alley.  So tempted to get a 4x4 truck or SUV next time, but not sure how I'll ever afford one.

The desert-dog loves snow.
Selma wouldn't come in, so I had to chase her around for about twenty minutes before she finally gave up. I'm sad she doesn't have a forever home for Christmas.

Here are the dogs, playing in the snow.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hodgepodge 12.0

Aw shoot, I missed out on an incredible opportunity!  I should have written this on 12-12-12.  Then it would have been Hodgepodge 12.0, 12-12-12.  Oh well, we can't always be perfect.

Puppy Chow
I made over 5lbs of puppy chow for the obedience club's holiday potluck tomorrow. Any leftovers will be donated to the wonderful folks at Village Veterinary Hospital. Village Vet staff, you have been warned.

Too Many Dogs
I have too many in the house right now.  Selma was so close to having a forever home, but now we're back to square one, yet again.  I will say this again... she's not staying. Yes, I like her - but I'm her foster mom - it's my job to like her. Regardless, she needs to be elsewhere by February.

Speaking of too many dogs...
I have a sixth dog here until Sunday.  She's a nine year old owner-turn-in, and thankfully her breeder is more than willing to take her back.  Say what you will about breeders, but the good ones do their part to ensure no life they've brought into the world ends up burdening rescue. It really says a lot for a breeder when they happily take back a senior dog with health issues instead of letting rescue pick up the pieces.  Anyway, her name is Princess.  She's kind of stiff in the rear end and needs to gain a fair amount of weight, but she sure is cute and sweet.  Yeah, I put her in monkey pajamas...

I hate high-definition films and TV.
I know it's the rage right now, but I hate it. Hate, hate, hate it. Here's the deal... movies ask the viewer for a suspension of disbelief, but HD doesn't honor that. It's so crisp and real, you can tell the characters are actors.  You can tell the scenes are sets.  Instead of watching a story, HD forces you to watch a bunch of actors play out a story.  It's so real that it's clearly fake, and that frustrates me.  On the other hand, Okami looks sick in HD!  Sick as in 'awesome' - not sick as in 'vomit-inducing.'

I sometimes tend to be over-dramatic, especially about my nerdier interests and hobbies.
On December 10th, I described my morning via Facebook as 'bad, as in earth shattering sadness and disappointment, followed up by shameful embarrassment.'  No, I'm really okay. Seriously. It wasn't actually that bad.  Basically, I discovered what appeared to be a paparazzi photo of my favorite actor holding what appeared to be an adorable, squishy little Doberman puppy.  I freaked out like a fangirl, and for more than an hour was really excited at the thought of said favorite actor and me sharing a common interest in Dobermans.  I was caught up in the fantasy of suddenly asserting myself as said actor's Best Friend Forever, and we'd take our Dobermans for walks and playdates and we would be best friends and it would be awesome.  In my search to learn more about the photo, I revealed my (platonic) love for this actor to a group of like-minded yet completely unknown individuals, and was curtly informed that the photo was an old one* and that the puppy wasn't his.  I was shattered.  I was so ridiculously sad. I should have known he wouldn't have gotten a puppy recently... I was such an idiot for thinking he'd have gotten a puppy! But at the same time, I couldn't stop laughing at myself and my pathetic nerdiness.  Four days later, and I'm still laughing at myself. (* I should have known... that was his 2010 haircut. Damn you, puppy, you distracted me into not seeing all the variables in the photo!)

Mysterious Packages
I received two Scentsy bars in the mail today.  They weren't marked, and I didn't recognize the return address or name.  Whoever sent them... thank you!  I love Scentsy!  If I ever find out who sent them and why, I'll be sure to post an update.

Boozin' It Up
Speaking of Scentsy.... I had a great time tonight at Aryn's Scentsy Party.  I think I spent too much, but that's pretty typical when I come in close contact with smelly wax. Aryn provided slushy wine from Prairie Berry and it was delicious. Tomorrow, it'll be rum and Cokes at the holiday potluck! Drinking twice in a row, that's got to be a record for me. (Shut up, I'm not a big drinker! Stop laughing!)

The Swanson Pyramid of Greatness
Why does it seem like my husband and I (and Julie C.) are the only people that love Parks and Recreation?  Seriously guys, it's a great show.  It's got the spark that made The Office so wonderful a few years ago, and yet I've only met a few other people that regularly watch it. Ron Swanson is my hero.  Netflix and Hulu have most of the episodes, so go watch Parks and Rec.  

Random Photo:  My kitty Jacques, wearing a holiday scarf.  The End.

Friday, December 7, 2012

552 Days

It's been 552 days, 17 hours, and 34 minutes since I lost the best dog in the entire world.

I've been thinking about Ronin a lot recently, and I don't know why now, of all the times to think about him, I keep coming back to him... and missing him more than I've ever missed anyone.  Tonight I was thinking about tattoo designs - which is a story for another time - but again, there he was... pushing his way into my thoughts.  I messaged a friend of mine (who also has a special red Doberman) to maybe help me find a way to articulate why Ronin keeps popping up in my mind.  Sometimes talking about things with a friend helps me organize my feelings.

I was always his best friend. Every breath he took, he took for me.  And every time he looked at me, I swear he he was secretly smiling at some sort of inside joke that only he and I shared.

To Kaylee, I'm a partner.  To Jayne, I'm a parent. To Ilsa, I was a servant. To Ronin, I was... everything.  I was the cosmos inside the mouth of Vishnu. (See? I knew I'd eventually find a use for that minor in Religious Studies!)

He was just like Jayne.... he needed so much help. Like Jayne, I was stupid to get him. His previous owners fucked him up. (And no, I will not apologize that f-bomb.) When I met him, Sandi had us all sit at the kitchen table with our hands in our laps and told us not to look at him or touch him.  He was stressed, running around the kitchen and panting, but eventually he stopped next to me and just... looked at me.  And I knew he needed to come home with me.

I wasn't sitting in that house to buy a 20 month old dog with issues.  I was there for a confident, happy, well adjusted, 12 week old red puppy from the Tyler x Fawnie litter.  When I finally worked up the courage to ask Sandi if I could have the crazy one instead, she looked at me like I was insane and said, "you don't want that dog."

But I did.   I don't know why, but I just did.

And I tried to show him, I really did, but he wasn't going to beat Breaker or Ranger or Bryce or any of the other nicer dogs that were always his competition. He was nice, but not nice enough for a completely novice owner handler to finish.

After a few years, I found myself at a show in Iowa City and Ranger won Best of Breed again, and Sandi pulled me aside and nicely told me that Ronin wasn't going to finish no matter how hard we tried, and that if I really wanted a show dog that would put me "on the map" in the breed, she would take Ronin back and give me Ranger.  (Side note: Ranger ended up being a Best in Show winner, and is the sire of my Kaylee.)

I said okay.  And I was excited, because I was finally going to have the champion I wanted so badly.

But on the drive home, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw Ronin looking at me like I was his own personal god, and I started bawling. I cried the whole way home. Then I called Sandi and told her I'd changed my mind about taking Ranger.  I knew that I could live without ever having a champion, but I couldn't live with myself if I turned my back on a dog who would never turn his back on me.

That was the last time I ever considered returning a dog because of what they couldn't do for me. And that lesson (and the guilt of knowing that for an hour or two, I was okay with shattering that dog's whole world for my own selfish desires) will be with me the rest of my life.  I don't think I could ever apologize enough to Ronin for what I almost did. 

So suffice to say, I think if there ever was a dog that I'd give up everything I have, just to have back for one day, it would be Ronin.  We'd go for a car ride, and go hiking offleash in The Pits, and dig holes in the dirt, and throw a tennis ball around, and share a pint of ice cream, and I'd hug him and tell him how much I love him.  And he'd roll around on his back, break a few windows, get mud all over my car, and he'd lick my face and fall asleep in my lap.  And it would be worth it.

When I think back to Ilsa, I'm ok. 
But when I think back to Ronin, I just want him back.

When he went into heart failure, we knew he wasn't going to get better. On a Friday, we scheduled his euthanasia for the next upcoming Wednesday. He was going downhill fast, and my friend Sam said she wanted to come see him one last time.  Sam had known him ever since he'd come to live with me.  We had traveled together to dog shows back in the day, so she'd gotten really attached to him and vice versa.  She'd since moved a few hours away, so I was glad that she was willing to make to trip down to say goodbye to an old friend.

Sam showed up late on a Saturday.  In the middle of the night, Ronin got up and went out to the living room to sleep next to Sam. Sunday morning, we had trouble getting him up.  I half-carried him to the backyard so he could potty.  Those were his last steps... his heart finally gave out for good and he died in the backyard. It's almost like he wanted to say goodbye to Sam too, and that he held on until he could see her.  It couldn't have been easy for him to get up and go sleep beside her, but he did it and I want to think that he knew that I wasn't the only one that needed him that night.

A few hours later, Sam and I picked him up, put him in the car, and took him to Lovingrest to be cremated. I didn't cry. It was a nice morning, sunny and cool, a light breeze and just a little bit humid. All I remember was feeling tired and frayed and kind of greasy since I hadn't thought to shower before leaving for the pet crematory... but I felt lighter, knowing that he wasn't suffering anymore.

But now, 552 days, 17 hours, and 34 minutes later, I just miss him. 

Then again... I just realized my face hurts because I've been smiling the whole time I've been adding photos to this post. He always could make me smile.  :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Office

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I have a pretty sweet deal in life... I work from home. Today I had to commute into Des Moines because my work team was having a holiday lunch, and I generally come in for those because I don't want my co-workers to forget that I exist. (Also, I always seem to need more Post-It notes.) Being in cube-world for 9 hours today has reminded me of a few things.

1. People eat donuts. I'd actually forgotten what donuts smell like... they smell terrible. Why do people eat donuts?

2. I talk to myself at home while I'm working. It's sort of a running commentary on what I happen to be working on at any given time. That isn't actually acceptable when I'm in the office, though it is on occasion hilarious.

3. My company buys really comfy chairs for its employees, holy Jesus. As a side note - I did not have such a high opinion of this chair when I worked in the office full time. Odd.

4. When working in the office, I seem to get this giddy sense of urgency and end up forgetting to take breaks and lunch, ultimately leading to me accomplishing way too much.  I need to knock that off.

5. My home internet sucks.

6. Sometimes, people clip their nails at work. That's kind of gross. Ew. Do that in the bathroom or out side.  Or even better, do it at home. *shudder*

7. 99.9% of Christmas movies are awful. The Grinch (the new one with Jim Carey) is really, really bad. Side note... wow, there are a lot of adult jokes in that movie. Do all "kid movies" have a ton of mature jokes in them now?  Have they always?  Not complaining, just puzzled.

8. I forgot how much the building shakes when airplanes fly over. It's unsettling.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sing for your Dinner

It's been a fun evening...

Aryn and I did a home visit in Clive, then went to Trader Joe's and bought kale, cauliflower, fruit and assorted meats. I stopped at the obedience club to print the newsletter* and then headed home.  It was about 9pm by the time I got back to Prairie City.

* I have what I call a "chronic inablity to say No" which has resulted in me being the newsletter editor for the obedience club.  Among other things.

The dogs usually eat earlier in the evening, so they had worked themselves into a tizzy by the time I had their food prepared.  On the menu tonight was beef, elk liver, and turkey feet.  Once the turkey feet came out, Jayne decided that desperate times called for desperate measures.  I blame protection training for this... now, when he wants something really bad, he barks.  Barking eventually earns him a bite, so he apparently thought  barking at his bowl would eventually lead to a bite of another kind!

You get that meat, Jayne!  You get it!  Tell it who's boss!

Kaylee knows the true secret of being fed though... cute DoberTongues get you fed a lot faster than angry barking.

VFF Addiction

I should probably be ashamed.

Komodosport, Komodosport, Bikila, Speed.
Treksport, KSO, Trek, Lontra.
Spyridon, KSO.

I never intended to get this many pairs of shoes, though I must admit that I only paid full price for one or two pairs. I wait until they go on sale... I'm not a moron.  I'm done now though - I don't need any more.  (Though  I wouldn't be upset if somehow I ended up with a pair of Jayas.  White, size 40.  SHOOT, they're on sale at REI for $58.93!  Argh!)  I should point out that I do use each style for different activities though:

I usually wear these in the summer. They're versatile, so I can easily wear them out hiking or out to the store. They do get a bit toasty on extremely hot pavement though.

These are the ultimate all-purpose VFF, and the style I recommend to everyone as their first pair. I wear them everywhere.  The soles are a tad bit thicker than KSO soles, so they don't get hot in the summertime and mask the feel of sharp gravel much better.

I wear these on short hikes, and occasionally to work when I happen to be wearing black pants. TO be honest, the thick lugs on the toes of Treksports sometimes give me sore spots, so I wear these as infrequently as possible.  I do like them when I have to spend an entire day on dirt for an agility trial though - they get excellent traction.

These are leather, and the only reason I bought them was because they are leather.  This means I can wear them to work.  These are probably the least comfortable, least attractive pair of VFFs I own.  I don't like them, but they're a necessary evil. It doesn't help that they have Treksport soles, blech.  These are discontinued - so if you want a pair, be prepared to do a lot of online hunting.

These are my dedicated running VFFs. The sole is quite aggressive and feels different than any other VFF sole I've tried. I love them for running, but I'd imagine wearing them to Whole Foods would be feel strange.

Speeds are my favorite "fun" all-rounders.  I don't think I'd wear Speeds out on a hike, but that's only because I have other models better suited to getting dirty and nasty. These are based on the Bikila platform so they do have a tiny amount of arch support, but they're flexible and thin so you do get a decent amount of ground feel.  I like wearing these when I want to wear fun shoes but not instantly get noticed for wearing "weird" shoes.

These will be my running shoes for times that I'm running on asphalt.  Spyridons can feel a bit lumpy on artificial (hard) surfaces, whereas the Bikilas feel smoother.  These are one of the more recent pairs I've bought, so I haven't had a chance to get to know them yet.
I'll pull these out when the weather gets really cold. They're designed for cold and wet weather, and are currently my only water-resistant pair of VFFs.  They're built on the Treksport platform (darn it!) but they do seem to fit well.  Of course, the temperature hasn't dropped below 50 degrees ever since I got them, so I haven't had a chance to test them out in arctic temperatures yet!

Anyway... yeah.  There's my spiel on one of my more ridiculous addictions.