Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: dogs (Page 2 of 3)

Bustle, bustle!

Yep, it’s bizzy ’round here. Big client meeting yesterday. Off to NYC tomorrow, back home on Thursday, then keep dog-paddling because there’s a big meeting/presentation next week to boot. woo-hoo! In the midst of all that, got to keep getting the ‘regular’ work done, and then handle the curve balls on top of it all. Because boy howdy, there was a curve ball, and I seriously wanted to remove heads from bodies with a croquet mallet. Yes, I was channeling my inner Red Queen, and all I can say is, good thing I read the emails at  home so I had time to explode and then calm the hell down by the time I could actually address it. GAH! Life is hard enough, when things are going well, it’s in everyone’s interests to make! things! work!

OMG Tripper is going to start marketing his weapons-grade gas to the government. That’ll help pay the dog food bills ’round here. He is seriously, seriously toxic with his farts. I keep a bottle of Febreze ‘Air Effects’ right by my chair, and it’s almost comical – he gets royally offended when I counter-attack with one puff of “Linens-n-Sky”. Sometimes he even gets up and moves. It’s the only weapon I have, and I have to use it!

Speaking of crazy dog stories – last Saturday night I met up with some of the LSG folks on Ravelry, which was great fun – and when James got home from his banquet duties (MWA banquet in Oregon, MO), I headed for bed & left him to take care of the dogs for the night. Good thing. Polly apparently dashed in the door, and he only caught a glimpse out of the corner of his eye, and knew she had something in her mouth. Uh, yeah. “Something” turned out to be an enormous full-grown rabbit that was in dire straits. At least I have a husband who can calmly handle these things, humanely. I’d just shriek and run into doors.  Just a regular Mutual of Omaha around here, I tell ya…..

Speaking of wild kingdoms, the seed-planting is well underway, as the gardener of the house starts getting excited for planting and gardens and spring. Since he’d gotten me a Christmas present when we’d agreed not to exchange gifts, I decided Valentine’s Day would be my turn to surprise-treat. I took the rest of the money I’d left in my PayPal account from my Loopy Ewe DPN holders, and with just a smidge extra, I bought him a set of Texas Tomato Cages. After all, tomatoes are the “Love Apple”….and he grows them so extraordinarily well, with all kinds of fantastic varieties, knowing how much I love love love fresh tomatoes. Apparently these things are THE support system for growing tomatoes, so we’re just going to start investing in them and add to the pile as we go.

Let’s see… working furiously on some more knits, including a couple of fun projects for classes I’ll be teaching, and really, just trying to not let too much slip through the cracks.  It feels kind of crazy that tomorrow is already Ash Wednesday, that next week is -yikes- March! and pretty soon we’ll see Spring really settling in, bursting through the ground and in the trees, welcoming us to a new season and another chapter. Despite being agitated about dunderheads, and feeling like I’m burning the candle at both ends, I’m really excited about what’s on the horizon this year – both with work and my life outside of work. (For instance? The Wo and I are going to take a vacation! YES! Where? Dunno! But it’s going to happen, and that’s all there is to it. The pool will be there for later in the summer, yes, but staycation be damned!)  And yes, eventually I’ll be able to throw all the nice facts up about the zombie, proving once and for all, the dead truly can live comfortably in California.

My Brain Is on Simmer….

I’m grateful I took the opportunity last Friday and this Monday to organize and clean up my desk, because the past couple of days have brought a LOT of new things to think about, to work on, to accomplish and do.

I was talking to a former sales guy who said he’d had a great career in sales, he’d been successful and was extremely good at his job. He also said the past 15 years had been the same year, over and over again, until he hit 15 and decided he just couldn’t live that same year again. That really hit me, because sometimes you do feel that way, like, wow, is this it? Have I reached capacity (fill in the blank – in this job, in this industry, at this place, with these people – whatever)? But really, with the luxury of hindsight, I can see that the past 4 years have not been the same – personal life aside! Which for someone like me, with my inquisitive, creative & easily-bored personality, that’s a good thing. Some people love their work routine, and I’m more the homebody who loves her home routine. At work, pelt away. Chaos and puzzles and problem solving await around the corner? I can’t get there fast enough. Sure, I may bitch about it and even get snappy from the stress, but that kind of percolation is so invigorating.

Right now, I’ve got a couple huge project pots on the stove, and my brain is mulling and simmering as I contemplate what they can and will become, along with what I need to learn and do for that to happen. (Yes! Learn! Without learning, it all just becomes atrophy.) The excitement and fear are also there – when you haven’t done something 10,000 times, there’s a lot more room to trip and fall. But the exhilaration to be had is 10,000 times greater, too.  I apologized to my husband last night for being such a zombie – I just needed to zone out between some Facebook Mafia Wars and the movie (couldn’t even knit!), and let my brain absorb everything at its own pace.

Dogs? They don’t worry about these things, unless it means something might fall off the stove and then, man, they’re ALL. OVER. IT. I had fixed James’ lunch the other morning, and the peanut butter jar was empty (as far as we’re concerned – the spatula had gotten what it was gonna git.) I thought I’d see what the dogs thought of an empty p.b. jar:

Polly. Delicately Enjoying PB

This would be Polly. Polly does almost everything delicately, despite her high-strung-ness. She will quiver with energy at the mere notion you’ll pet her, but she is always full of grace and swiftness.

Mmmm, Delightful, Ma'am, Thank you ever so much.

Now. We can’t really say the same thing about Tripper.


He’s got such a long nose, and he has no problem crossing his eyes if the object he’s focusing on is right at the end of said schnozzle.



He was making me laugh so hard, I think it worked out in his favor.

Now, don’t worry. Suzy got her turn as well. She actually exhibited the most brains in her approach – she took the jar right out of my hands – while I kept laughing – and went in to curl up on her pillow with it. (I took it away from her, because this is the same dog who ate a clean Rubbermaid container!)

Dog’s life, indeed. I’ll be back tomorrow with knitting updates, promise!

Meet The New Year….

….Same As The Old Year….to paraphrase The Who, singing about something we ALL wish for ourselves, not to be fooled (again).

I rang in the new year by calming down three extremely pissed-off, barking black labs, who were certain we were under siege from The Enemy, as fireworks and god-knows-what-else exploded near and far from our house. I also was tending to the largest batch of crack Chex Mix I’ve ever made. Actually, the only batch I’ve ever made, but since the Wo was eating it for breakfast this morning when I stumbled out, and immediately asked me what in the hell I put in it to make it so full of WIN, I can only say, hey, I rocked in the New Year’s Chex Mix, baby. (The “secret”? Uh, half-again as much Worcestershire sauce as the traditional recipe calls for. We love us the nummeh brown winegar sauce.)

I followed up that winning first act with a breakfast of homemade Prune Cake from the Pioneer Woman, and do not let the name fool you. You will get on your knees and pray you’ll get another piece after you try the first one.  I served it with a tall glass o’ milk, and a shot of Reddi-whip on the side. Startin’ the New Year off RIGHT!

Then I threw together a batch of slow-cooker black-eyed peas, and that recipe lied to me about using dried beans. I thought I was in good shape, but 13 hours later, those suckers still have some crunch to ’em, so that’s going to be dinner tomorrow. Fortunately, we weren’t particularly hungry, because we got together with the Wo’s immediate family & ate at Ted’s Montana Grill. Deeeelish.  My brother-in-law got the Kitchen Sink Bison Burger, and good lord, that was the craziest damn sammich I’ve ever seen. It had ..well, yeah, everything on it, including a slice of ham and a fried egg! He loved it.

Before the Wo crashed last night, we spent some time playing our newest Wii game, Lego Indiana Jones and the something or other. Oh mah god, it’s pretty damned fun for a two-person game. We have to work co-operatively, though initial observations showed we were utterly incapable of it, as he would whip me into pieces, and I, once rebuilt, would attack him with my shovel. I noticed, playing the role of sidekick, that I got stuck with a lot more grunt work. Mostly because I had the shovel. Which is quite effective on enormous spiders, too. Anyway, we laughed our heads off, which was the goal.

End the year laughing, begin the next one with Chex Mix and Prune Cake.

We rock.

Happy New Year. Actually, I’m pretty sure this one will be a lot better than the last one.

Pardon My Twang….

…But I keep hearing an old-timey version of a Ralph Stanley song running through my head, specifically the refrain, “The darkest hour is just before dawn”.

Now, those who know me, and even those who don’t, yet come here for all the sparkling Grief Blogging might worry that I’m in a depression. Fear not. Well, I am, a little, but really, anyone over the age of 14 is bound to get the blues this time of year, what with all the manufactured joy and pre-packaged expectations that come with “The Holidays”. Nope. I’m in the darkest hour because I am cleaning and reorganizing all the kitchen accoutrements. Holy shitballs, Mabel, this is a Task and A Half! And basically, with most un-cluttering and organizational projects, you have to explode the whole thing before you can put it in order. Right now, Houston, we have esplosions.

This morning, I moseyed down to Index, a restaurant supply store in the River Market, and boy, it’s easy to drop your whole wallet there. It gets hypnotizing, as you walk around looking at all these…things… you start to think, “Well of COURSE I could use a dozen of those little stainless cups they serve ketchup in at McCoy’s,” and you catch yourself mentally visualizing and measuring your oven, just in case this enormous cookie sheet could fit in it. And of course you’d need the matching Silpat. I caught myself eyeballing a sugar pourer. It was only $1.50. I was certain that would be useful. I could throw the old one away. Update the sugar pouring aspect of my life.  You wouldn’t believe the siren songs I hear in my head in that store.  Anyhoo, I did NOT buy anything off my list, my goal was to get some large foodservice-grade containers to put baking supplies in (flour, sugar) and then at least one more big one for rice. This is the downside of the CostCo shopping – enormous bags of flour and rice, and where in the hell do you put them? Shove ’em in the back room off the kitchen, that’s where. Alongside last winter’s birdseed, which, upon unearthing, I later caught Tripper EATING. He is such a motherfucking black lab it makes me crazy. Birdseed. To him, it must have been some gourmet trail mix. (That is going out to the greenhouse. I did not buy a tub for it.)

So now my fantastic birthday-present-to-myself from this summer, the KitchenAid 6, sits on top of a chrome cart, and stacked in glorious organization under it are the flour, sugar, powdered sugar and on the bottom shelf, rice. I will be able to just pull the cart in to the main kitchen area & use the mixer on the cart, instead of having to lift and move the beast onto the countertop (because it’s so tall, it blocks the cabinet doors. Yep.)  And this one beacon of organization and containment is in the middle of the dining room, and its strangeness is making Suzy crazy, so she’s been lying here GROWLING at it the whole time I’ve been typing. Dogs. Thank god they can’t drive, they’d lose their minds.

OH, but see, there’s more. There’s a huge big ol’ reason all of this is happening, besides the fact I’m on vacation, and alternating between lolling about & knitting and being productive. I got a really kickass Christmas present. Two, in fact. One from my MIL (Momma Linda) and one from my husband. We draw names in his family, and she got mine. And she has heard me bitch and pick fights with said husband over …wait for it…. a french fry cutter. He has refused to buy it for me because it is…impractical. A unitasker. No. I am not married to Alton Brown, but sometimes it sounds that way! I wanted one because the cheapy one I  had broke, and I wanted a solid, restaurant-quality, never-gonna-break sort of french fry cutter. DO NOT ASK ME how many times a year I make french fries. Because that is not the point. Here was something I genuinely wanted. For years. It started to take on a lifeblood all its own.  James would complain about how hard I am to buy for, and I would always look at him and say, “French fry cutter.” Yet he refused to get it. (There were arguments made about our walls and the fact it has to be mounted to one, blah blah blah DETAILS, people. Trivial details.) So, since my MIL and I are not unlike each other, she went and ordered me the mac-daddy french-fry cutter to beat the band. Doesn’t have to be mounted on a wall, either. And when she informed my husband of this gift, he knew his goose was cooked. Or tater was sizzlin’, whichever metaphor you prefer. Because in the past – and as recently as last week – others had offered to pool resources, to go around him, to buy it for me. I refused. I purposefully never told my father, because he would have had it shipped express the next day to make a point.  This was my lynchpin. My sand in his Vaseline.  So the Wo knew he had to do something. And he ordered a twin deep-fat fryer from CostCo. Yes. That clanging noise was everyone’s arteries slamming the doors on crazy. CRAZY. But he had to get with the program or have it forever held against him, and it has made me laugh repeatedly since Christmas day, because it’s partly an O’Henry short story, partly a clash of personalities and priorities, and through it all, completely filled with love.

Anyway, now, all this stuff has to go somewhere, and some things need to be removed, since they are ever-so-rarely used. And I’m taking FULL advantage of the no-limit-on-trash-bags opportunity this week, going a little crazy with the tossing, but it feels good.  With the bonus that now I can have my very own State Fair in the kitchen anytime I want.


The sun is slowly sinkin’
The day’s almost gone
Still darkness falls around us
And we must journey on
The darkest hour is just before dawn
The narrow way leads home
Lay down your soul at jesus’ feet
The darkest hour is just before dawn

Like a shepherd out on the mountain
A-watchin’ the sheep down below
He’s coming back to claim us
Will you be ready to go
The darkest hour is just before dawn

The narrow way leads home
Lay down your soul
Let jesus in
The darkest hour is just before dawn
The darkest hour is just before dawn

For everyone who found their heart aching over the holidays, just remember…. you are not alone.

Oh Pretty Polly….

The Wo finally had a good duck hunting day yesterday. I’ve been telling him, despite every weekend sucking badly, that it would turn around once the weather finally changed.

Hey, has anyone noticed if the weather’s a little different? FUCK. It’s really, really cold! I always bitch & moan about how winters here in KC are lame, compared to my childhood winters in NE Iowa and then my post-college years in Minneapolis, where we waded through snow and braved sub-arctic wind chills every year. I still miss snow, and I still miss the capability of the drivers, and I really hate the fact we’re in the “Ice Band”. But I am grateful for daffodils in early spring, and not being hunched over for four months in a futile attempt to preserve body heat.

However, the weather to the north has pushed down the waterfowl, and while he wisely stayed home today, he and Polly had a very good morning yesterday. My dog… is a bit driven. Her personality is to always be ready to go, always alert, even when sleeping. She’s fearless, she throws herself into retrieving with gusto, and yesterday was no different. James thought she’d have broken her legs, the force with which she hurled herself at the ice yesterday. She just….goes. And when she returns, she’s ready to go again. He took a picture at the end of the day, and I think you can see from her face just how much she loves (and lives) to go hunting.


ETA: Note those folded paws. She does this all the time, and when she gives you “hugs” – it’s so cute, to not put her paws directly on you, and makes her seem even more delicate and proper. Proper pretty Polly….

Whoah Nelly.

Today has begun at a full-on gallop, and I don’t expect it to subside any time soon.

I would be remiss if I didn’t start at the beginning, though – JWo’s birthday was on Saturday. We made plans to go down to Truman Lake, and do some fishing. We planned to find a motel or cabin, spend the night, fish Sunday morning, and then get home mid-afternoon. Didn’t quite work out that way, but we still had an enjoyable day. It was more…boating. And trolling, and attempting to catch fish, and bait, but really, all we ended up catching was a drum and two channel catfish. Over 8 hours. Lemme tell you, my butt was SORE. We did go ashore around lunch, and just anchored the boat while we fixed sandwiches & ate Twizzlers – in the water, mind you. Swimming was lovely, the day was bright & there was a breeze. I have the faintest of pink on me, because I slathered myself in 50 SPF sunscreen and wore a hat (hey! Check out the big brain on Jen!). But we just could not succeed in the fishing department. (Many fisherman blame the full moon, fwiw.)

We did, however, see some really awesome wildlife, since there’s a state park on the water; we saw oodles of deer, and lots of wild turkeys, and loads of buzzards. (I was not enamored with the buzzards, as I associate buzzards with death, they’re hideous, and in general, they just kinda freak me out.) At one point, I looked at the bank and squinted, asking James, “What IS that over there?” He looked (in a different direction) and said “Buzzards.” I said, “With a WHITE HEAD?” Nope! Turned out to be a bald eagle with an immature bald eagle, most likely a momma guiding her baby around the coves and teaching the finer points of fishing. So that was really nifty, and I must say, bald eagles walking are about the same height as small children. They’re huge!  I definitely would not want one diving in at me every day & ripping out my liver.

I like to work in my highly under-utilized knowledge of Greek Mythology whenever I can. It’s really a service we provide here at PlazaJen Enterprises.

In other news, I’m jetting back to NYC to meet with the folks at CR, and I am finally, really, truly, bona-fide excited about it. I realized last week that I was caught in the undertow of grief, all of which can be intellectually understood, but, unfortunately, not reasoned out of by logic. Because winning the Consumer Reports account is a huge, huge personal and professional accomplishment – and the one person whose approval I worked for all my life, the one person who would have been really impressed, would finally have something awesome to tell people about his kid who works in advertising – well, that person is gone. Broke my fucking heart. Brings tears to my eyes now just to acknowledge it so openly. But hey. I imagine parents who have kids and watch the milestones pass after their parents are gone have a similar row to hoe.  I’m not special or alone in this quagmire, and the mantra of time always comes back around to haunt. At least enough time has passed already.

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Leader of the Pack….

I know I can’t type those words together without hearing the earworm, so I apologize if it’s been passed on to you as well.

We’re having a pack re-org right now, not that the order is actually changing – but we’re reinforcing the order as it should be.  In the past 24 hours, Tripper has tried to disrupt the order of things, and challenged Suzy – both times happening when we’re not present.  Since it would have been easier to control if he’d tried it in front of us, we’re enacting more stringent measures.  And, I don’t think I can handle another dog fight, because Tripper is not coming out on the winning end of this proposition, and the first time was nothing compared to the second.

The first “conflict resolution” happened outside, and Tripper came in with some gouges on the left side of his face. They were still bleeding a little bit, and I treated him as if he were an 8-year old: rubbing alcohol to clean it, and neosporin. He was not a fan of either, as you can imagine!  And this sort of thing happened with Polly, too – not quite as gougy or bloody, but she carried some scars/war wounds herself and it seemed par for the course.  We thought that would be the end of it, but then later that evening, Tripper finished his food first & attempted to get some from Suzy’s bowl. WWIII commenced. I had already left to meet up with some friends, and James was in the other room – suddenly, in came Tripper, trailing blood everywhere, because now he had some new gashes on his face and muzzle. James said it was a good thing I wasn’t home, because I would have freaked the hell out, and from his description of the scene, he’s right.

So, we have instituted Extreme Pack Order. Suzy got fed first tonight, then Polly, then Tripper. When we’re letting them in or out the back door, the same order applies. We are the pack leaders, and because James is the hard-ass, he’s the top dog, and as much as I love to pet and love on the pups, I am being a hard-ass about it as well, because Tripper’s in his teenage years and we need to nip this effectively and quickly. It’s a lot more challenging with three dogs, because we’re outnumbered, and (from the Omega’s perspective), there’s more combinations of ways to climb the pack ladder. Tripper’s constantly challenging and nipping at Polly, and she tolerates it in the house, but outside puts him in his place. We’ll be intervening more on that from now on, too.  We hadn’t seen much more than play with Suzy, so it seemed more puppy behavior vs. assertive or aggression; now that he’s been foolish enough to really take on the big dog, we aren’t allowing any other feedback or structure that gives him more foolish ideas.  The last altercation came pretty close to Tripper’s eye, and seriously, I am NOT knitting him little eye patches. Pirate Tripper. He’d look very rakish, especially with all these scars, but even though he may not have accepted it yet, he’s on the bottom of the pack and staying there.

Lotsa Pics!

OK, first off, I’m going to show you the cake I made last weekend for Momma Linda’s birthday:
Gnome Guards the Cake

It’s a Peach Upside-Down Cake, from AllRecipes (I love that site). The cake is from scratch and it’s deeee-licious!

Momma Linda's B'day Cake

I love to garnish.

Now, here’s how Tripper looks when I’m giving all the dogs some treats. I realize it’s blurry, but you get the tractor-beam stare, nonetheless.
Tripper Wants A Treat

We give them treats in order of pack status, so we say their names, and then toss them whatever they’re getting. (It goes, “Suzy!”, “Polly!” “Tripper!”) What’s funny is that the other two dogs sit and remain utterly fixated, watching your hand. Tripper, however, does this in-place bouncing, keeping his back legs grounded, but lifting his front paws off the floor in this sort of horse-rearing-back motion. He does it quite enthusiastically (to each dog’s name), and it usually results in his ears flopping completely inside-out, but he continues to perk them up. And it makes me laugh, and laugh, and laugh! I had to stage these ear pics, but you get the idea.

Ear Flippage
I like that his lips look a little caught, too. Doofus.
Lady, This Is Embarassing.
OK OK, you’ve had your fun….. now knock it off, Lady.

Last, but not least…
Grammar Update!

So, it really is good to know someone. And I used to work with the guy who’s now a designer at one Ace Hardware’s agencies. I didn’t want him to get thrown under the bus, in case it was his work, so I sent him the photo of the egregious shelf-talker. Turns out it was done corporately – and nationwide. And he reassured me that they’d have to reprint them all. (He’s on a one-man mission to eliminate bad letter kerning. He understands.) And, the Wendy’s boards have been fixed! To say I had a triumphant week in the war on bad grammar and spelling would be an understatement. Never underestimate your own power to change the world!!!

The List, It Is Growing.

We’ve established a few things that really set Tripper off. Turns out, the list is growing. Daily.

1. Cowboys. We know it’s either cowboys, or Josh Brolin. Fortunately, we don’t get a lot of cowboys through our south siiiide neighborhood, nor do we watch a lot of westerns. And as far as I know, Josh Brolin doesn’t cruise by regularly.

2. Stranger Danger. This is not unusual, and all three dogs have this trigger.

3. Spacial Distance of One Single Story. If Tripper’s in his crate, and I have to run upstairs or go downstairs to the basement? He, simply put, loses his shit. Bizzonkers with barking. No matter how much I yell at him or return to provide negative stimulus. He used to be afraid of stairs, and now he’s just beside himself with crazy if he can’t go with you.

4. Large Yellow Trash Bags. Specifically, large yellow trash bags, full of trash, put out the night before. Normally, we put our trash out in the morning (“we” is “JWo”) because otherwise you might end up with critters strewing it all over the yard. But if there’s no food stuffs or scraps in the bags, James will put them out the night before – and he’d done a fair amount of cleaning up outside, and we had several bags of trash that he put out front. Tripper? DOES NOT APPROVE. He barked at them every time he saw them through the breezeway door.

5. This last one – and surely, it will not BE the last, but it’s the last one for today – is Tripper himself. After James left for work, I was getting ready to put on my makeup, and in a bold and sudden move, Tripper put his paws up on the bathroom counter and stood up, right next to me. My mouth was open in shock, and before I had a moment to react (and yell, and push him down), he caught sight of himself in the large mirror. Oh. Mah. God. He was SO PISSED. And I couldn’t stop laughing, and so we had this crazy mix of bad behavior not getting corrected and of course, after I shooed him down, I let him do it again just for the laughs (though I took his paws off the counter and put them on my arm, like I used to do with my dog when I was a kid.) And then he showed an inordinate interest in my makeup, so perhaps he wants to be a little drag queen. He was barking because he wanted to be pretty!

Tripper Has No Clue….

….But this week, his balls are coming off.

We’ve planned to neuter Tripper since we decided we were his forever home, and just haven’t gotten around to doing it. It seemed to drop on the to-do list once he stopped attempting to hump Polly or Suzy, and it’s just sort of been “out there” on my radar of things I need to get to.

And then Saturday happened. James was running an errand, and I was bustling around the house, engaged in one of those never-ending unfolding projects where you start with cleaning off and organizing one small section and then that leads to X….and Y….and the small section still isn’t done so you circle around and then you see, oh, hey, the counter is still cluttered with the 12 cans of sliced beets James bought for you to pickle, and so you start mentally calculating that project into your day, and you go back to the bedroom to ….wha? There’s something wet on the floor. But not much. It seems to be right by the Pillow of Power, and that seems to be a little wet, but again, we’ve had accidents in the house and this looked like a little slosh, not an outright – ooooooooh fuck, as my eyes went UPWARD on the side of the bed and saw a large circle of wetness on my comforter hanging off the end of the bed. There’s only two mammals in the house who can aim their pee, and one of them wasn’t home. That left only one culprit, and I cursed his furry ball sacs as I stomped down to the washing machine.

And that is how Tripper’s Balls moved to the top of my to-do list. The appointment has been made.

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