Time Out For Charlie

We abdicated a good night’s sleep in our bed ten years ago when Mitch said, “If that’s the worst thing AJ does, I can live with him sleeping in bed with us.”  This was in response to AJ sneaking in bed with Mitch after I left for work in the mornings.  Now every night it’s a race to claim the best spot and still have the ability to move my legs during the night.  I’m a light restless sleeper, while Mitch sleeps like the dead.  In order for me to get some semblance of a good night’s sleep, we try to position the dogs thusly, Orso at Mitch’s feet because of his size and sleeping like the dead too.  Most nights AJ will opt for the sleep ball next to my side of the bed, unless it thunders, then he has to sleep against me, panting and shaking so bad it’s like sleeping in one of those vibrating beds.  Charlie starts off at the foot of the bed on my side until Mitch drags him closer to him, so that I have leg room.  Mitch is very thoughtful giving me more of the bed, I think this is to minimize me being cranky the next day.

Last night though Charlie decided he didn’t want to move from my feet.  Coaxing him wasn’t working for Mitch so he tried grabbing Charlie’s chest and pulling the dog toward him.  Charlie responded by growling at Mitch.  Big mistake.  In order to show who was alpha (with thumbs) and who wasn’t, Mitch made Charlie get off the bed.  Charlie defiant as ever walked around to my side of the bed jumped back up but as a conciliatory move he moved a bit closer to Mitch or he was planning to eat Mitch in his sleep, I’m not sure which.  Well once Mitch had set the bar, he couldn’t back down and let Charlie sleep on the bed, so Mitch got out of bed walked around to the end of the bed and grabbed his collar to pull him off the bed.  Charlie, defiant and psycho stupidly growled again, this time baring his teeth getting into the challenging behavior thinking he was going show Mitch who was who.  That display of defiance bought Charlie a time out in the bathroom with the door closed.

During the clash of wills, AJ slept in the sleep ball unconcerned, more dog food for him if Mitch killed Charlie and Orso laid in bed watching staying very still to avoid any fallout.  After about fifteen minutes Charlie whined, Mitch looked at me and I said, “You have to go get him not me, otherwise it will undo you establishing yourself as the alpha male.  Mitch let him out and made him lay down on the floor as punishment.  After an eternity for Charlie, 3 minutes, Mitch called him up in bed.  Charlie came and laid down in the middle of the bed close to Mitch and was very contrite.  I still think he wants to eat Mitch while he’s sleeping.

Redbud Lane

I went for a walk today with the dogs and my camera in tow to take some pictures of spring flowers.  It seemed that almost all of the trees were blooming and budding out  and the vast majority are redbuds.  I had forgotten the multitude of redbuds growing in our little burg.  In fact one of the roads is lined on both sides with redbuds.  I decided that we need to rename the road to Redbud Lane.  I’m not sure what the process is to change the name of an existing road, but I’m pretty sure it is a pain in the patooty.  So I’m taking it upon myself to rename the road to Redbud Lane for the spring.  It can revert back to the old name for summer, fall and winter.  I think that’s a fair trade, after all I’m only claiming one of the four seasons.  From now on, in the spring if someone asks the name of the road, I will truthfully say, Redbud Lane but come back later in the year and all bets are off.

My Birthday

Today is my birthday.  I’m not announcing this to get birthday wishes, even though birthday wishes are always on my top ten list of good things.  I’m just always a bit amazed at the people I know, my sons included, who pooh pooh birthdays as they get older.  Do they think that by denying a birthday is denying age.  Not me, I love birthdays, the more the better.  I would celebrate my birthday twice a year if I could.  Birthdays are not about getting older, but getting better.  Getting another chance to do something special.  A chance to make a difference in your life and other lives that you touch.  Birthdays are not just the day to celebrate the day you were born (even though it’s a great excuse for cake)  but a chance to begin a re-birth of sorts. 

Birthdays are like New Year’s Resolutions, they are great way to make changes in ourselves.  Opportunities to grow, to be more, to never stop learning and loving life.  I recently found a ring that says it all.  “Love Life” is inscribed on the outside and on the inside the words “Be Brave”.  I wear it on my left thumb and every time I look at it, I smile.  It reminds me that if the day is not going to way I want, I still love life and every minute in it counts.  I would also add “Be Bold”.   I want to go through each day strong facing every challenge and opportunity with my chin stuck out.

There are so many things I want to do, places to go and people to meet.  There are not enough birthdays out there for me to accomplish all that I want with the years that I have left.  There is no way I going pass up a birthday just because a number changes and gets higher. 

I am not going pass up a birthday for vanity’s sake.  The important milestones in age are old enough to start going to school, getting your driver’s license, getting to vote and old enough to know better.  I don’t think some people ever learn the last part.  I’m sure some would add old enough to drink, but after getting old enough to know better, drinking is for taste and not drinking to get drunk. Besides the longer I’m around the longer I get to really annoy certain people. 

So Happy Birthday to me, it’s going to be great.

Spring the Tantalizing Temptress is Almost Here

Officially Spring starts on Tuesday, March 20th, but it feels like Spring started almost a month ago.  We have had a very mild winter here in the Midwest.  I’m not complaining mind you, I wished for a mild winter this year after two cold snowy winters in a row and I got my wish.  Some flowers are in full bloom.  My Hyacinths have all popped and smell so fragrant.  My Peonies have sprouted, the Crocuses have already bloomed and withered.  Every day brings some new bud or bloom.  I want to play hooky so bad. 

Some friends don’t much care for Spring flowers.  They consider the blooming season too short.  The flowers don’t last long, usually only days for some.  But I look at Spring as an appetizer for Summer.  For a taste of more to come.  Teasing you with some warm days, new greening and hints of more color every day.  In the Spring you have to pay attention and look around to notice the subtle changes going on.  The smells are slight and intriguing.   As I walk the dogs in the early morning, I’ll catch the whiff of a spring bloom, floating in the air. 

Yesterday walking the dogs, I caught a glimpse of a small Forsythia blooming in the woods all alone.  I came back with a shovel and bucket in hand and dug him up then planted him in the yard.  Soon the Dutchman’s britches will be in bloom along the roadside and this year I’m bringing some home with me. 

I would have to say that now Spring is my favorite season, with the teasing tantalizing glimpses of what beauty Mother Nature has to offer.  You just have to stop and look around to find them peaking out under the Winter’s shadow.

The Most Dreaded Words A Man Will Ever Hear

I can utter a two word phrase that will send Mitch in a panic. “It’s dated.”  Whenever I speak those two simple  words together in a sentence, Mitch knows that another home improvement project is coming at him.  Some might argue that men fear hearing, “I think I’m pregnant,” more, and that may be true for younger single guys, but for a married man, my money is on, “It’s dated,” every time.

In the kitchen the conversation will start something like this.

“You know I think I’m going to paint the kitchen.”

Which causes Mitch to look around at the walls and say, “Why, what’s wrong with the color now?”

“It’s dated.  A fresh new color will make the room brighter.”

He’ll look at me and say, “Okay if you want to paint go ahead and paint, but I think the walls look fine.”

The next words out of my mouth will be something like this, “We really need to change the countertops too.  They are so old and faded, with stains and scratches.  And while we’re at it, we ought to think about new cabinets.”

Translation: he’ll be doing all of the heavy lifting, ripping out cabinets, installing new countertops and whatever else I decide to change.  After we spend days arguing over style, color and materials.  It must be true that opposites attract, because our personal styles are complete opposite.  Mitch has to have balance.  If you have a mantle and you place candlesticks one side of the mantle there has to be the same identical and number of candlesticks on the other side.  Asymmetrical design equates to total chaos to him.  While perfect balance and symmetrical design is boring to me.  I like chaos, it makes life and design interesting.

“What’s wrong with the cabinets?  Wait don’t say it, they’re dated, right?” 

“Now you’re in the spirit, maybe we’ll go darker,” I will answer, totally ignoring the sarcasm.

This will bring on the eye rolling and heavy sighs, but he knows he’s lost the battle, again.  Poor guy.

After the shopping, the arguing and the ultimate compromises on both sides, Mitch will then be called upon to do the hard labor.  I’m the idea person and he’s the implementer.

It’s Them or Me

It’s them or me, and my money is on me. I’m the one with the opposable thumbs. I have the power to reason through a problem. I have tenacity. I also have osteoporosis. I was diagnosed in the fall of last year. Me with osteoporosis, no way. I’ve taken calcium religiously for decades. I was devastated when I found out. I’ve always thought that I was unbreakable. No matter how many times the dogs knocked me down; (and they knocked me down a lot) I would get right back up with nothing more than a few bruise to show for it.  Well there was that one time I tripped over the dogs on a walk and tore the cartilage in my knee.  Mitch had to walk home get the El Camino then come back and get me sitting on the side of the road.  Not now.  I have 5% bone loss, which I was told is significant bone loss. So now I’m taking my weekly dose of Fosamax and have realized that I’m quite breakable.  I’m now afraid of falling and breaking something.  I don’t like feeling this way.  I don’t like fear. 

I’ve not taken the lunging or the yanking the dogs do while walking seriously until now.  It’s been a source of entertainment and fodder for my stories.  But now I’ve realized that together the three dogs are much bigger and stronger than me.  I was five foot two before osteoporosis and losing a half inch, which makes me a great boat anchor dragging behind the leashes, but little more than that if the three choose to charge after the object of their interest. 

Basically they’re good dogs, fairly well behaved, but tend to feed off of each other’s emotions.  If one gets excited about seeing someone, the other two join in and I can’t hold them back.  Not anymore.  So now the serious training begins.  I know labs are hardheaded and stubborn, Orso especially seems awfully thick at times, brilliant other times.  We call him “Box of Rocks”.  Charlie is just hardheaded and willful.  When it comes to a battle of the wills, he will not budge one iota.  The thought of violence is often considered with him.  AJ is soft and submissive, but when no one expects it, he will instigate trouble then stand back and let the other two get yelled at.  Sneaky.

Training three dogs at once is a challenge.  One at a time would be easier, but I don’t have the time to work with each dog individually.  So three at a time is our only option.  I’ve given Mitch the ultimatum, “It’s either they get trained to exhibit patience and not lunge or we can’t have the dogs”.  And I have no intention of not having the dogs.

So it’s them or me.  Bet on me.