Jet Lag

I’m going with jet lag, otherwise the alternative is more depressing. Last week I had to travel for work and spend five days at the main office. I travel alone frequently for work, but this time Mitch traveled with me. While I toiled away at the office, attending meetings and helping coworkers, Mitch slept late, ate a really nice buffet breakfast and hung out at the local tobacco shop smoking his pipe in peace. While we were out of town, we had the dogs kenneled, not our favorite option, but out here we don’t know anybody well enough that we could impose on to dog sit.

Flying home, we found out at the airport after we had checked our bags that our flight was delayed about an hour and a half. Yay, now not only we will feel like it is two hours later than it is, but now it will be two hours later when we get home. Talk about major energy drain. We finally landed and by the time I recovered the bags and Mitch retrieved our car it was almost nine o’clock. The drive home takes almost an hour, so tack that on, add in unpacking and getting settled in for the night, so you could say we were well past tired.

The next day we went to the kennel to get our dogs out of hock, who were very happy to see us. After we got home and parked the car, Mitch went around to the back of the station wagon, to let the dogs out. Instead of just opening the tailgate and releasing the hounds, Mitch decided to take off Royal’s harness. All well and good if he had just voiced any command, but no Mitch didn’t say anything to the dogs who were super excited to be home. Without waiting for the tailgate to be opened and the normal invitation to get out, Royal leaped out of the open section, then Orso followed landing badly. Keep in mind that both dogs are large, over a hundred pounds each, and old. Orso is almost twelve years old and Royal will be ten in April. When Orso landed I was for sure he had blown out his shoulder, then his hips collapsed, and I thought, “Oh no now what?” But like a true Labrador, he got up limped a bit, then was off sniffing everything he missed for a week. I looked and Mitch and told him he dodged a bullet and what was he thinking. Standing there and not saying anything with an open access sort of, was like an invitation to the dogs.

We decided to go on a walk to burn off some pent-up energy. We put on their leashes and our jackets and walked outside. I had both leashes in my hands and was showing Mitch some things I wanted to move in the front garden, when we heard a voice calling, “Rocky, no. Rocky stay, Rocky no.” I looked up at see a large black dog heading our way to check us out and say hi. I was standing there, trying hold back two hundred plus pounds of excited muscle mass, keep a strange dog at bay and hoping that everyone would play nice. All the while, Mitch was standing there with his hands in his jacket pockets and a goofy smile on his face saying, “Hi Rocky, hi Rocky, how’s it going?” Just like a ten-year-old boy.

I looked over at him and said, “Take a dog, what are you doing?” Royal was not as giddy about meeting Rocky as Orso was and all I could think of, was that this was going to leave a mark. I could not believe that after almost twelve years of Charlie, Mitch would forget how careful we needed to be when meeting unknown dogs.

I’m chalking it up to jet lag, because otherwise I’m stuck with the ten-year-old boy.

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How I Spent My Spring Vacation – Or At Least I Didn’t go to the Emergency Room

Mother Nature finally came through for us. The weather here has been so damp and dank, with rain and unseasonably chilly temperatures for so long, I was beginning to fear that summer would never come. Our vacation was rapidly approaching and we had not made any plans yet, no destination in mind, we just knew that we did not want to stick around here for more misery. As the first vacation day approached, the weather forecast started looking a bit more promising with temperatures ranging in the eighties and lots of sunshine, so in the end we decided to stay here and go exploring locally.

Our first day was a trip to Woodinville, for a day of wine tasting. Hey, I have my priorities. And yes, we tasted many nice wines and bought a few bottles. Our second day we included the dogs on our day trip. We drove over to Point Defiance on Puget Sound and let the dogs run around and play in the ocean. One day we did some yard work and finished our newly built and planted raised beds. We drove down to Olympia and went to Tumwater Falls Park. It was a bit of a disappointment, I was hoping for bigger falls and a longer hike, but that was not the reality. The falls were small and the trek around them was short, maybe a mile at most.

We took a longer day trip with the dogs to the Green River Nature Area O’Grady Trail and had a longer hike. The trail was partially a road access that could handle cars and trucks with offshoot trails that were dirt paths wide enough for a horse or single file hikers. The trails had nice carved wooden signs that not only showed where the trail went but also had a “you are here” notation on each so we could place ourselves on the trail and where in the area we wanted to go. We found a homemade Tic Tac Toe Board carved into a stump complete with rocks for markers. We hiked down to the Green River, saw how fast it was running and decided it was not a good idea to let the dogs go in. We would have to drive to Puget Sound to save them.

To finish off our vacation, we decided to go kayaking. The dilemma was where? We thought about Point Defiance Park and go kayaking in Puget Sound, but common sense won out. I had only been kayaking once before, on a nice calm lake where the boats had to have a motor no larger than fifteen horse power and Mitch has never been kayaking. Out here the sky is the limit, plus there is the tides to consider. We talked it out and decided a lake would be safer and a better first time experience. We checked on kayak rentals around Lake Washington and found one in Bellevue. We got there before the rental office opened, about thirty minutes early and found a line had already formed. We rented two single kayaks so we could each experience paddling and maneuvering our own kayak, plus I watched other people in double kayaks and most weren’t paddling in unison, one paddle would be up and one paddle would be down, the kayak going nowhere.

The water was still very chilly, around sixty degrees or so, but the sky was clear no clouds for as far as the eye could see. We set off heading north crossing under the I-90 bridge to run along the coast gawking at houses on the shore. Most were very large and new, but there were some older smaller homes tucked in between the larger estate homes. We watched the boats go up and down the main channel, a few smaller boats but most were larger vessels, suitable for the ocean and felt the wake of each one. I was glad we chose a lake to start on first. After about forty-five minutes we turned around and headed in the opposite direction to see what was on the other side of the bridge and farther south. We headed into the back of the cove and gawked at some more houses.

We decided to call it a day and head back to the boat launch. We talked about how much we enjoyed this and as I headed toward the launch I made a comment about shopping for a kayak online. I got no response, so I looked around and couldn’t find Mitch. He was right there and then he was gone. I slowed my kayak and turned around to look for him and saw in the water about three hundred feet or so, his kayak flipped upside down. I looked next to his kayak and there was his head bobbing beside it. I paddled as fast I could and as I got closer, I could see him hanging on, so at least he was conscious. As I got close enough to talk to him, I asked what he did. He answered he didn’t know, not that succinctly but with more descriptive adjectives and adverbs. I asked if he was okay, but was not sure how I could help get the kayak righted without rolling myself, and not being that selfless, I didn’t offer to help right it. That’s what you get when you’re dealing with amateurs, dumb and dumber. Two guys and a little girl in a canoe came and offered help, but Mitch declined, saying he could make it to the launch. Another couple came up and offered assistance and again Mitch declined, I don’t know what he was thinking, that maybe AAA was going to show, or maybe he was suffering hypothermia. Probably not, his teeth weren’t chattering.

Finally, a man paddled over on a paddleboard that knew what he was doing and grabbed Mitch’s kayak and pulled it up on his paddleboard to steady it, then righted it and held it still for Mitch to climb back into the seat. Just like the Lone Ranger, after saving the town he paddled off to save the next unlucky soul. I think all in all, Mitch was a bit embarrassed that he rolled it and I didn’t. I contained myself and followed him in to the launch, but the whole time I kept saying over and over, “It wasn’t me, I didn’t roll it, it wasn’t me. Woo Hoo!”

We had a great time and have decided to get our own kayaks, but I think some lessons might be prudent. How could you ask for a better vacation, wine, hiking, kayaking and watching someone else crash and burn and for once it wasn’t you?

Going Down the Rabbit Hole (Almost)

We almost brought another dog into our lives, almost. We were so close. Mitch saw an ad in the Saturday paper, “A lab/mastiff mix, 6 years old” and then the magic words, “FREE TO A GOOD HOME”. Mitch was hooked. Even though he knows, there is no such thing as free. Nothing is ever free. More importantly, Mitch has been the hold out, saying over and over, “Not another dog, yet.” But there it was, Mitch urging me to send an email, asking about the dog. I reminded him of our last experience with a “lab mix”. As much as I loved Charlie, he was always a bit off. We were “on guard” with him always, because he was animal aggressive and sometimes very explosive.

So, I called his bluff, I sent an email, asking how big he was, did he get along with other dogs, etc. The ad said he was good with cats and children, but didn’t mention dogs. I got a response, that yes, he was good with other dogs, they had three other dogs, four cats and four children. A very full house. He also weighed a hundred pounds, so a good size match for Orso. Now I was curious as to why if they had three other dogs, four cats and four children, why was this dog singled out to be kicked to the curb. Why not get rid of the cats? Four cats to one dog, seemed like a fair trade.

I sent the question back, “why are you trying to find a home for this dog?” I phrased it very diplomatically, instead of saying, “why are you getting rid of this one, as opposed to one of the others?” I wanted to know the real reason for the ad. What was wrong with him? Was he a biter, a fighter, what? Why was this one getting the boot? Because the answers would determine our next step. I was still very gun shy about getting back into a situation where Orso would be victimized ever again.

We were straddling the fence, not sure which side to fall on, dog or no dog. I almost called our best friends to ask what we should do, but I already knew their answer, “Get the dog.” They have three medium to large size dogs, and are not unbiased. By the time we went to bed, we had decided that no we would pass on the dog. No dog yet.

Her email response came in the morning. The answer was not what I expected at all. The owner had gotten the dog as a puppy and now after six years had to give him up because she had to move to an apartment wouldn’t take dogs, especially large dogs, so she took him to her friend, who promised to look for a great home for him. The friend had placed the ad, with three other dogs, four cats and four children already had a full house. After reading her email, I was ready to get in the car, drive to wherever he was and bring him home on the spot. Sanity returned and I waited for Mitch to wake up.

We talked some more, pros and cons, talking ourselves out of the dog, then back into the dog. I finally sent an email back asking if we could meet with Orso to see how they might interact. I got a response saying that was a great idea and when could we get there. I asked if noon would work and waited for her response. The reply came back letting us off the hook – sort-of. The owner was not handling the separation well and asked her friend if they would keep him for two weeks, until she either found another place or could win over her landlord. But could they keep our email, “just in case.”

My heart went out to the woman and her dog, because I know how I would feel if I were forced with the same decision. I answered back that of course, they could keep our email address, and that I understood completely. I even offered to “foster the dog” for the woman if she wanted to on a short or long term basis, if the need arose.

We almost fell down the rabbit hole, not quite, but we’re teetering.

Taking Stock

Christmas is just two weeks away and this year is so different from previous holidays. This year instead of planning and preparing dinner for one son, his wife and daughters on Christmas Eve and doing it again on Christmas Day for the other son, his wife, daughters and the rest of us. Christmas Eve was usually prime rib and Christmas Day was chicken parmesan with spaghetti and meatballs. Two whole days spent cooking and baking, cleaning and making sure everything was perfect. A bit obsessive, maybe but I love cooking and baking and creating food that people enjoy eating. This year will be a lot different from our past holiday dinners, this year Christmas dinner will be something quick and easy, maybe pizza, maybe leftovers, it will be just the two of us and Mitch will have to leave to go to work.

I have been feeling a bit off, a long way from everything known, routine and comfortable, not that I don’t love where I’m at now and what I’m doing, it’s just a lot different, out of my comfort zone. Since we are still in an apartment, the majority of our belongings are still in storage, most of my cookware, all of my Christmas decorations and cookbooks are not here to put up or use, so I feel like we’re living in an extended stay hotel. Not really home.

Up until now I hadn’t been lonely, even though I work from home and the regular outside contacts I have are my hairdresser I see once a month and our realtor who is patient beyond belief trying to help us find our dream house. Our friends that live here are wonderful, but with our crazy work schedules, social life doesn’t exist, not that we had much of a social life before. So I’m not missing out on that here.

At first I couldn’t put my finger on it, what my problem was, then it dawned on me, I have no problems. I have a husband that loves me, two dogs that make me crazy and would eat anyone that tried to hurt me, (I am the giver of food) and living in a beautiful wonderful place that I get to make new memories. We won’t have the hustle and hectic days of cooking and cleaning, but we will have each other, and that’s what really matters.

Yes, it’s been a very chaotic year with so much upheaval and change, but maybe that’s what you need sometimes, great change. Life, like water that doesn’t move grows stagnant and complacent, forgetting the truly important things in our world. Our family may be thousands of miles away and I won’t be there to cook for them, or watch them open their presents, but I can call and talk to them anytime, not just on Christmas.

The year is coming to an end and the New Year brings promises of hope and change, yes there must always be change, not all changes are good but all changes are not bad either. I embrace the future and all the changes to come.

Apartment Life

There should be a handbook on apartment living handed out to every renter as soon as they are given the keys to the apartment. Because it seems that in this day and age, people need to be told what the proper etiquette is for living in close quarters to other people. They have no concept of what is going on around them that there are other people in very close proximity to them. I have been living in an apartment here for almost a month now coming from living in single family dwellings, (houses) for almost all of my life. I had no one above or below me, no one on either side of me and no one in a building within ten feet of me. Granted I didn’t run around stark naked with the blinds open for the world to see, I had a neighbor that liked to run around outside in the wee hours of the morning naked, watering his plants. I had some sense of privacy, but not here.

I don’t know any of my close apartment neighbors personally, but I know a lot about a few of them. We should feel either very safe or very scared because I think the Abominable Snowman lives above us. I don’t have a clue what he or she looks like but whoever it is they have the heaviest footsteps. I always know what room he is in by the sound of the footsteps. That he hasn’t come through the ceiling is a testament to the construction of the floors. I just hope the snowman likes dogs, as friends, not food.

Then there is the couple in the next building one floor higher that our apartment. They either are hard of hearing or don’t like each other much. On more than one occasion we have had the “pleasure” of listening to their conversations. One night their very animated heated conversation woke me up. Their voices echoed down and in the windows of the bedroom and from the tone I waited for bullets to fly or the sound of plates smashing. I couldn’t tell what they were saying because it was in a different language, which sucks because here I was wide awake in the middle of the night listening in on a huge fight and had no idea what they were saying.

Lastly the woman who lives in the next building on the same floor as us likes to sit out on her patio and have conversations on her cell phone in speaker mode. The two patios are about fifteen feet apart with some bushes to give each some modicum of privacy. I can’t see her, but I know all about her mother and her mother’s relationship with a man. It seems the daughter doesn’t approve.

I just shake my head and wonder what goes through people’s heads at times. Do they not have a clue that they are not alone in the world? Or is it me? Am I the weird one because I am not a long time apartment dweller that these things bother me? Do people get de-sensitized to the close proximity of other people just like everyone seems to be de-sensitized to violence on television? I hope I’m not here long enough to find out.

Selling the House

I am learning so many things about selling a home, most of which I wish I didn’t have to learn. I don’t care if I have 80 amp service or 100 amp service. I only care that when I flip the switch the lights come on and when I push the “on” button on the remote the television turns on. I don’t care that the furnace is older than dirt, I am just really very happy that when it gets cold outside I can turn up the thermostat and voila! we have heat! I have a slow running drain in the bathroom, my sink, more than likely from hair, soap and make up. I know it and have been putting just about very chemical and/or home remedies and nothing works. It was just a bit humiliating to see a color photo on the buyers’ inspection report showing my slow draining sink. I thought great now the world knows I have a giant hair clog.

All of the steps that a seller goes through to get their house sold is mind boggling. I understand the buyers want to get the most for their money and the inspectors are there to make sure that a buyer doesn’t get ripped off, but some of the stuff on the report is nitpicky at best. I mean anyone looking at our house would know that there are going to be things that are not the latest and greatest. The original structure was built in 1928 what do they expect?

One of the things on the list that the buyers want corrected is that I have any tree limbs close to power lines cut back. I haven’t gotten any of the tree trimmers I have called to come out and even look at the house and property. The minute I mention power lines, they all say, “Nope don’t do that. Call the power company and have them come out.” Great, the power company doesn’t care about me.

I was telling my coworkers about the tree limbs and said in passing that I would have to cut any limbs I find myself. One of my coworkers suggested that I wear rubber gloves and maybe I wouldn’t get electrocuted. Another coworker said that I should take off all of my jewelry so I wouldn’t get electrocuted. I said I should put on all of my jewelry, wear rubber gloves, climb up on top of the camper shell of the truck with my Little Giant aluminum ladder with a really long limb cutter and cut back any limbs. I would have on rubber gloves and be wearing sneakers. What could possibly go wrong?

A third coworker was actually concerned for me and said the company I work for should pay someone to trim back any limbs so I wouldn’t get electrocuted. I think they were going to take up a collection, but I’m not so sure what the money was for. I think some were putting money in the pot for flowers for the funeral, you know just in case.

It Just Keeps Getting Better and Better

With the station wagon out of commission, it has been a week of no dog mobile so for each showing I put the leashes on the dogs and headed out for a really long walk. Tuesday we had two showings at the same time. I hoped I would come home to a house with no broken furniture. Luckily Tuesday was a bit cooler with cloudy skies and a chance of rain. As we headed out the door it started to rain (as is always my luck) so I grabbed the umbrella. You have no idea how much fun it is to walk two bratty undisciplined dogs and carry an umbrella at the same time. It is almost better to just get as wet as them, at least I don’t get yanked around and poke myself with the umbrella as one dog goes one way and one goes the other way.

We walked down to the dam and about half way there the rain really started to come down. It poured on us as we walked the last quarter mile to the dam. People coming home from work looked at us like we were nuts, especially me for taking those poor “babies” out in the miserable conditions. Yeah right. If they would have accepted the crates a little better then they would have stayed dry and I could have jumped in the truck and headed out to let potential buyers poke through my closets and drawers.

We sat under the canopy of the shelter house at the dam and watched the rain come down even harder. It looked like we would be sitting there for a while. At least it wasn’t ninety five degrees with the humidity in the “rain forest” zone; though it was raining like we were in the rain forest. After about thirty minutes the rain let up and I figured that maybe the house would be empty by the time we got there so we started back. As we topped the hill overlooking the house I could still see cars in the driveway, so I walked the dogs right past the house and turned to the right to circle around the block hoping they were close to finishing up. The dogs looked up at me like I had lost my mind. Here we are at the driveway, what’s up? They wanted to go in and get dried off, they were not happy that we were still walking. I circled the block and came back up to the top of the hill and saw the cars still there, so I turned around and heading back the way we came. As we came back around the cars were gone; as I turned into the driveway, I could have sworn I heard a big sigh from Charlie.

Wednesday it turned back hot with a vengeance. Working outside repairing some wood rot damage was miserable. The temperatures were again in the high nineties with high humidity and no breeze. The air was stifling and still, the only plus was that my son and I were working in the shade. I must be getting old, because I do not handle the heat very well this year.

Thursday night strong storms were forecasted and this time the weather forecasters got it right. Mother Nature hit us hard, straight line winds from seventy to eight miles an hour uprooted a neighbor’s large tree. It fell down blocking the road. The storm also knocked out our power at two am. I know because it woke me up when all of a sudden it got very dark and quiet in the house. Super. I had an inspection on the house scheduled at two pm. I hoped the power would be back on when I came home at lunch to pick up the dogs and take them to doggie day care.

No such luck, power was still out all day Friday. Friday night trying to sleep with no ventilation was a challenge at best. Saturday I woke up to no power still and thought great, there goes the food in the freezer and fridge. I jumped in the truck, ran up to the store and picked up three bags of ice hoping to salvage a few things. I wandered from room to room trying to decide what to do. No power, I can’t get on the computer, I can’t do laundry, vacuuming is out and no point in going out to the garage to clean it out. With no power the garage doors weren’t going to open and I had no lights, it was just a big dark space waiting for me to trip over all of the tools and boxes laying out there in wait.

I pulled a chair under the window and just sat there trying to stay cool with the slight breeze. That was when I realized how dependent I am on electricity. What a wimp.