Saturday, January 31, 2009

The One with Unagi

Happy Super Bowl Eve! Go CARDINALS!

Mom was out running errands today, including picking up some wings for the game. Having wings on Super Bowl Sunday is another food-based tradition around here. This day always brings me back to a couple of weeks after Phoenix came to live with us, mom was preparing for the Super Bowl and left the room for a minute. The problem was she left a chair pushed back from the table. She came back minutes later to see our new addition standing on her chair with her front paws on the table, eating wings. Super Bowl always reminds her of that shock. I knew from that moment I loved this gutsy sister of mine, even though I knew she'd never get away with it.

Today mom came home with a sweater for Big G and a nice heating pad for her bed. She also came home with this:

She thinks it will distract me from the actual Spy Squirrel outside.

video

I think it will serve nicely as a practice tool to help train my pack to work together. Those of you familiar with the Friends episode "The One with the Unagi" will recall that Unagi is a state of total awareness. Unfortunately, my nemesis seems to train under this principle as well. To combat this, I repeatedly try to teach Cali and Phoenix to work with me and maintain awareness but they... well, Unagi does not come naturally to them. :: sigh :: I have been working with them this afternoon. Cali is especially interested.


In the meantime, I will continue my quest. I just want to ask him a few questions: what is the view like from the tree tops, where does he find the best snacks, can we special order cheek enhancements to store food, etc.

Here you can see me practicing in the background and Ginger in her new sweater hoodie in the foreground. So far she seems to love it! She sends her thanks to the AZ family for the suggestion. She's always worn a coat outside but the inside sweater will help keep her stiff joints warm in this cold weather.

It certainly helps my tiny cousins stay warm!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The One with Michael's Birthday

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Well, faithful blog followers, we have another birthday to celebrate! These two-leggers like to clump as many birthdays as they can together into one month it seems! Mom's dad gets his birthday in under the wire here at the end of January.

A great big happy birthday shout out to him since he's... well, cool as beans! Or something like that.

I met him once a couple of summers ago. I was shy, of course, but I quickly realized he couldn't accept that I was timid around him, which resulted in many, many treats. I think we each gained about five pounds while he was trying to win me over during that week or two. In truth, he managed to win me over very quickly but I kept up the ruse every morning to score some loot. Speaking of loot, he knows that Ginger LOVES pizza crust so he will send her crust via special delivery. There's always a note that she can share with her posse - that's us.

He's a big man whom many fear but as you can see he has a real soft spot for those he loves. We're blessed that he includes us in his circle.

Some of mom's earlier memories of her dad are when they lived in NY. Vague memories of helping paint the walls but extending the job to the radiator and radio and so on. I think that may have been the same house in which her bedroom window faced the street and she would watch her dad out the window in the mornings and time how long it took him to walk to the corner store. There are more vivid memories of causing quite a ruckus the first weeks of school. There's the time he had to drive from the city out to the Island to retrieve a doll she forgot. Though she didn't remember it until they were almost home, she HAD to have it. They rode all the way out and retrieved the doll. Maybe five or six seconds of joy and then doll sat in the back seat unnoticed for the rest of the long ride back home. Then there is the infamous story her trip to the dump (one of mom's favorite places to this day) where she emptied the ash tray as instructed but tossed the entire tray in... the fun part was he dangled her in to rescue it. Soon they moved to Arizona. I imagine dangling their daughters by the ankles into dumpsters was not their ideal way to raise children.

Mom was lucky to have her dad be available to pick her up from school everyday. I'm sure he remembers asking her what she did in school and mom, the consummate list maker, would religiously pull out a LIST of what she did in each period to recite to him. Mom chuckles now when she thinks back to his reaction to that first list.

She remembers one day in junior high vividly. The previous summer mom and her dad played basketball to seemingly no end with the goal of joining the team during the school year. Mom had little to no interest in joining the team but loved practicing and shooting hoops each day. So, the school year rolls around and her dad's sails are quickly deflated when she declines to try out. Then one afternoon, she asks to be picked up late so she can watch the basketball game. With what I surmise was a resurgence of hope, he came just a little bit early to see the end of the game. Mom was staying for the game but not so much for the sport but to chit chat with a boy and was slightly mortified when her dad walked into the gym to see what's up. I'm sure her dad was equally deflated realizing, again, that basketball was not in her future. He never arrived unannounced after that.

Time sped by and soon mom was driving, working and getting into various sticky situations. Many calls to his office began with, "Dad, are you busy?" That was the universal signal and he always responded, "Nope, let me close my door, I'll be right back." He still gets those calls albeit less but I bet when that office phone rings at 4 or 5 in the morning, when she knows all is quiet in the office, the thought crosses his mind.

He really should have gone into a field where he could utilize his psychology skills on a larger scale. He's taught mom many valuable lessons without her even realizing she was being taught. And that's not because mom was oblivious. He's just that good at persuasion and negotiating! Mom's picked up a few of his tricks and I think it's a little bit like magic because she's sworn to secrecy!

I can tell you that he is a master of mind-over-matter. Those lessons began early. Probably from birth but mom's most vivid memories are during the many, many drives to and from the orthodontist. Mom didn't know it at the time but her dad was going through some health issues during that period and she often wonders now if his guidance on how to overcome the discomfort the braces caused coincided well with what he was dealing with.

Despite so many car rides alone together over the years, on her wedding day, mom was nervous about the long limo ride to the church alone with her dad. You see, her makeup was "just so" and she was already a little emotional on this big day. She doesn't remember exactly what they discussed but she remembers that he knew to keep the conversation light and humorous. It was the perfect beginning to the magical day.

When it was time to move east, he was, as always, very supportive. Even, reluctantly, admitting that these two newlyweds moving to a place without friends or family would be a good thing. She and papa would have to depend on each other. He was right. I don't think he loved the idea and I don't think he expected the move to be so long term but he never wavered and he's supported them 100%. He even gave mom a gift very special to him before moving day. She still carries that dime around in a locket daily - nine years later.

He is selfless when it comes to his family and mom hopes to grow up to be like him someday. He's one the strongest men - he's slayed not only cancer but all of her dragons!

(The scary thing is that the hair in this picture isn't TOO far off what his hair looked like years ago.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The One with the Snow Days

Snow Day Number 2! Yesterday was our first day of accumulating snow. While mom was shoveling and using the tractor to plow the driveway, us pups were helping by eating as much of it as we could. To be honest, we were moving about as fast as mom was with the shovel. I think that's why she took out the tractor!

Cali is a snow puppy at heart so she loves it! The cold snow turns Phoenix's toes pink within minutes so she and Ginger spend most of the time inside. Mom talks about getting her booties. One of these days it will take Phoenix longer to dress to go outside than it does for mom! Staying inside is just as well. Ginger has been getting lost in the yard and ping-ponging around the house more than usual. So someone always supervises her. Poor G.

Today the remaining snow is coated with ice so it makes it a little treacherous out there. But I still love it! Hopefully papa doesn't have trouble getting home from work since he is off tomorrow!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The One with the Jogger

It's Sunday night. The end of another weekend. :: sigh ::

Saturday was a busy day. Papa resumed work in the downstairs bathroom. It's really coming along. I'll post pictures this week.

Meanwhile, mom did some work on the office budget for 09-10, which then motivated her to balance our personal budget. Ginger helped. (Don't worry, papa, I blocked out all the personal
info in the picture. I just couldn't resist posting how helpful Big G is!) In mom's defense, she did have everything in neat little piles before Ginger offered to help. Maybe next time mom will work at the table instead of the floor!


Today mom shut down the laptops. She's been having some interesting eye problems so decided to take a hiatus from the computers for 24 hours or so. She did some chores around the house and ran errands with papa. We played in the yard a bit but it has again become COLD.

Snow is expected this week. I love it. Especially because that means snow days and mom will be home! Phoenix is dreading the snow. She hates to be cold. Though, despite the frigid temperature this morning, she chased a jogger down the street. She made the poor woman screech in fear. Scared of this face?!?


Phoenix thought she was just playing chase and wasn't sure what to make of the screams! Mom was right behind her though so the "situation" was diffused quickly. Mom was hoping the jogger didn't recognize her. The lady jogger works in mom's field and once offered her a job locally whenever she was ready to quit the commute.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The One Where Papa Returns

Papa is back! He came bearing gifts... mom ate the macaroons in the time it took me to get the camera. Sheesh! They were shaped like cupcakes, complete with tiny cupcake wrappers.

The treats she's still working on are rolled fig newtons and asiago cheese puffs. (Correction: puffs are now gone too.) There are also two lolly-pops from the hotel and a tiny sandal key chain. Papa came home and said she could randomly choose one gift and the rest he'd save until her birthday in November. So, she did and it turned out to be this cool bracelet. It has a free form style and is very unique - perfect for mom's jewelery style!

Then some time passed and he decided to give her one more. The ring you see is hand made and really pretty. It was hard to get a picture showing the colors completely.

I won't be surprised if those other two gifts make an appearance before November. He has a hard time waiting!


Gifts aside, it's good to have papa home! He's promised lots of playtime tomorrow since the weather seems to have warmed up a little bit from the recent teens and twenties!

Gotta get some rest!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The One with all the Pizza


Today was a wonderful day! We had pizza crust for dessert last night AND mom gave us each a little on her way to work this morning as a predawn snack. Does it get better than that?



It does! Papa will get home tomorrow morning just after sunrise. He's been in Brazil since Tuesday. It's been really boring around here without him. I think mom misses him too. She tinkered with the fish tank and the pond yesterday. And then moved his tractor and fiddled with the Explorer when she got home today. And she had a dream about hunting last night. Before you know it she'll be watching Sunrise Earth. I can't wait for him to get home either. It's been days since a good game of hide and seek. Plus he really warms up the bed. These last few nights it's been an all night project trying to warm up the cold spots on the bed.

AND, the best news, Ginger has had a GREAT day. I bet Cali read my blog to her and she realized how worried we were about her. I'm trying to convince mom that her good day was because of the pizza! No focals from what we can tell. And she's been sure of herself in the yard. Whew!

I just checked the weather. It's been really cold. The pond is still frozen.


It should thaw tomorrow. It will be a balmy 53! Then it will drop again. There is even a chance for snow on Saturday. We had fun in Monday's light snow shower.

video

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The One Where Heckles Dies

Our second anemone has croaked. I think we will name him, belatedly, Mr. Heckles II. Simply because keeping anemones alive seems to be difficult and that is an easy Friends episode to use as a blog title! Mom will likely give it a third try. She said she wouldn't but the two Sebae Clownfish sleep in the anemone each night and seem to be distraught with Mr. Heckles no longer in the tank.

RIP Mr. Heckles II

RIP Mr. Heckles, Sr.
I should also take this time to acknowledge the passing of our Fire Angelfish. This happened several weeks ago.

RIP Fire Angel


More upbeat posts to follow. I can promise this because mom just ordered pizza!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The One with the Prayers

Today was bittersweet. It was Inauguration Day. I say bittersweet because, well, we all know who Ginger voted for in November! But it went very smoothly and seemingly without incident. I am grateful for that! I will pray for an equally smooth term.

Also bittersweet today: Rodger went in for his procedure. Unfortunately, they were unable to place the stents from what I gather. I'm not sure what the next step is but I did overhear that he will have more medicine to take. The good news his he is doing well and will go home tomorrow. I will pray the medicine is helpful and gives him some relief!

Speaking of more medicine, Ginger has started the extra seizure medication. So far she's a little disoriented in the yard and the incontinence has returned. (Thankfully mom got a big box of Chux to get us through the accidents. They are real carpet savers!) The focal activity is still several times a day, in fact I would say it's increased since the last grand mal. We're all hoping these are just side effects of the new medication or the last seizure and she'll level out again. For the most part she's the same old Ginger and that's what we all want. I'm not sure what the next step is for her either. I will pray she continues to have more good days than bad days.

In addition, I found out today that the Crazy Cat Lady had a car accident yesterday during our snowy weather. Ironically she was coming back from having her achy knee looked at by a doctor. Now she has numerous aches and pains. But, despite cars being totaled, she and the passengers in the other vehicle are all doing fine and without major injury. I will say a prayer of thanks! And a quick prayer that insurance helps and that they find a good deal on a new car!


Monday, January 19, 2009

The One Where the Squirrel Doesn't Like Dogs

Word on Cousin Mesa's blog is that she got in trouble today. Haha.. with her cute face how could she possibly get in trouble?? Speaking of trouble, guess who is back?

My nemisis. Sorry for the short post. Gotta run!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The One with Rodger's Birthday

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Happy birthday, Rodger!!

Well, another birthday is here! I love birthdays!! The two-leggers were going to be in NJ to spend Rodger's birthday with him but that blasted snow storm changed their plans.

I don't know Rodger that well but I've met him a few times. Everyone is always surprised that I'm not my over-the-top cautious self with him. I'm a good judge of character. Plus I've heard lots of stories about him. For example, he's a master craftsman. Apparently, there is nothing he can't build or design! That's how my papa has learned to be so crafty. Papa is always calling Rodger for advice on his 101 projects.

There are the countless stories about the summer weekends spent at their PA house. One that comes to mind is when Rodger and papa rebuilt an old lawn mower engine to work in one of papa's ride on motor toys. And I've heard about all of the baths in the neighborhood pond while they were building the house and Rodger was in charge of papa for the weekend. (Sure, they do that and it's okay, I put a toe in our pond and it's unacceptable.)

During the school year, they lived in NJ. Papa had to walk uphill both ways from the bus stop to the house they lived in while papa was in grammar school. I guess to make up for the trouble he built papa a pool at that house. Most parents would put in a little kiddie pool but not Rodger! It was an in-ground pool complete with pumps and filters! And people say I'm spoiled.

After they moved to their current house, summer soon became working summers so papa could save money during college. Rodger would hire papa during long weekends and over the summer to help on the various contracting jobs. Papa learned a lot while working with Rodger over the years, much to our benefit now!

They would take long hunting trips, often by boat, and would tire themselves out by lugging around all of their cargo. You know how this family likes to travel in comfort, imagine fitting all of that into a row boat! They'd be so sleepy, they'd take naps in the sun using boulders for beds. I bet neither of them could imagine doing that these days.

Rodger and papa still go hunting together on Thanksgiving morning. Well, by "hunting" I mean getting up VERY early, putting on dozens of layers, driving to the woods, doing a little walking, some sight seeing, maybe shooting a few rounds... and then the main event: a long breakfast in a warm diner. Eggs and Taylor Ham. Funny how some things are easy for me to remember.

Mom remembers one Thanksgiving when they returned with a couple of pheasants. Mom does not come from a hunting family and isn't crazy about anything dead being brought to her after a kill. Ask Phoenix - she's brought mom lots of birds and rabbits. Mom is never pleased. I digress. Newly married, and not thinking it through, papa teased mom and paraded the bird around her a bit. Rodger very discretely suggested that papa - well - not do that. Mom will always be grateful to Rodger for that lesson.

In fact, papa is always learning from Rodger. I guess that's what dad's are for!

So, happy birthday, Rodger! And thanks for all of your invaluable life lessons.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

The One with Our Cousin

GREAT news! My cousin Mesa has taken over my Aunt's blog. Aunt Katie is just too busy to keep up with it so Mesa has stepped up to the keyboard. Blogging can be tiring work, as you can see.

I can't post that picture without commenting on the hair cut. She is a dog not a rat, papa. And she is a Westie/Maltese not a Schnauzer, mom. I will concede that Mesa and Molly occasionally have some unfortunate haircuts. But when they have them in the winter, their cute sweaters cover up the short hair!

When Mesa was still a puppy and here to visit us for the first time, I quickly taught her how to take her sweater off, much to my mom and Aunt Katie's dismay. You can see a bit of the sweater here...


And gone..

Friday, January 16, 2009

The One with Phoenix's Heater

It was FIVE degrees and windy when we woke up this morning. That's too cold for even Cali-bear! The stream leading to the pond is freezing as water pours down the falls.




We've been staying toasty warm snuggled inside today. Well, except once when I ALMOST had Mr. Squirrel cornered. I need to talk to papa about taking all of the trees down so he can't escape.

Phoenix has been sneaking downstairs to the heat box. Here she seems to be trying to ask mom why it's not working..


Ahh.. the heat box is cranked up...



We can't keep her out of that room. She's mesmerized!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The One with the Bullies

Dear Townspeople,

I assume you are all familiar with the commercial that has a parrot who repeats what his owner says everyday when he comes home from work? "Squawk.. not another day... squawk..." Well if I were that parrot I would have to constantly repeat, "What is the deal? Are the speed limit signs only for me in this town?!"

Due to your driving behavior, my mom has come to the conclusion that the 25 MPH speed limit signs within the town limits are misprinted. She would like to request that the signs all be corrected to read, "Jill's Speed Limit." This is evident in that fact the every single time she leaves the house, you do your best to push her down the road. When the signs are corrected, she will politely move to the shoulder and let everyone pass.

Until then, please obey the existing signs. The number on the sign is not a suggestion as mom found out last spring. She was ticketed for doing 32 in a 30 (not a typo). She is not trying to aggravate you by obeying the laws of the road. Well... usually. She is doing the exact speed limit lest Ms. Officer Not-a-Morning-Person pulls her over again. She will continue to follow the law exactly until the ticket drops off of her record so stop tailgating her! Please. I'm tired of hearing the same old gripes.

Signed,
Monkey "Z"


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The One with the Anticipated Ride Along

After many, many days of thinking, talking and dreaming of nothing else, papa has found a travel trailer for us! We anticipate many road trips with the two-leggers: Skyline Drive camping trips, OBX beach weeks, ski trips, Airstream rallies, balloon festivals... I think that's all they've come up with so far.

Cali and Ginger are very excited. They had been travelers for years before I came along. Then they had to stay home. NOW, we can all go! I'm excited. I'm also a little nervous but I will love having my own home base and will be thrilled to be with mom and papa. Phoenix... let's just say we'll have to work on her ability to ride in the car for more than 15 minutes without losing her breakfast before the first trip.

They will have to drive some distance to pick it up so they will do that later in the month. At first mom was grumbling about having to drive so far and then realized, "I'm complaining about driving to pick up a trailer so that I can take more driving trips."

Here are some pictures. Oh, and Papa Michael? My papa wanted me to tell you the gauntlet has been thrown. Your turn!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The One with the Firearm Class

Good morning! It's been a few days since my last post. We've had a busy few days! Sunday started off quietly enough. Papa continued his search for a travel trailer online. Then he and mom left with A LOT of stuff to go to the crazy cat lady's house. When mom came home a little while later, she showed me some pictures. Papa was teaching his first civilian class! This was a class on firearm safety and concealed carry permit laws. It seemed to well! I saw a few of the display boards and power point slides as he was preparing the course. He did a great job! Very clear, even mom could follow it. Shh...

Mom was slightly disappointed because the kitties were banished to other rooms during the course. This is Kismet trying to use telekinesis to open the kitty door, which would free him from the basement.

That was unsuccessful so Kibbles uses a more active approach.

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I'm not sure why they wanted to get out to visit with PEOPLE when they have a real live BEAVER down there. The cat lady is running a sort of beaver sanctuary! Take a look at Paddy....

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The baby sounds Paddy makes are certainly curious noises to Phoenix and Ginger, though you can't see much of Ginger here.

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Speaking of my big sister, she had another seizure Sunday night. Just as mom and papa were settling in for bed, she had a grand mal in her bed. Poor thing. It had been four months and five days since her last one. Not her longest stretch but not bad. Mom is debating whether to add the second anti-convulsant to her drug regimine or wait it out and see if the thyroid levels stabilize. On the plus side, Ginger recovered quickly and didn't seem to worry too much about it, unlike the rest of us! As you can see, everything is back to normal.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

The One with the Tiny T-Shirt

All of this birthday talk has reminded me of our birthdays. Look how we've changed!

Ginger at 3 months:
How cute she was! It's hard to imagine Ginger being a puppy! But now I can see why mom's mom was hoping for the name Ruffles. Look at those wrinkles!



And then at adolescence, after filling in some of those wrinkles:




Cali at 4 weeks, holding her very first toy:



And then slightly older:
She still gives the two-leggers those puppy eyes to get what she wants - and it works!



ME at 11 weeks, my first day home:




My adolescence wasn't as kind to me as Ginger's. What was the deal with my ears?!?



I've always been into computers:


After my ears settled down a bit, I went in to be spayed. Mom thought it was brilliant to put me in various tiny t-shirts to keep me away from the sutures. How mortifying.



Lucky for Phoenix she was too tiny for the tiniest t-shirt, even though she was almost six months when she found us. Mom and papa call her the perpetual puppy because she still has the same puppy face now at two and a half as she did here at six months. Cute, huh? This was during the first week she was living with us. Really made herself at home in papa's old chair, didn't she?


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