Someone Talk Me off the Ledge

I am having a life crisis and need some guidance before I make a huge mistake. Orso is ten years old and our only dog now. He is calm and sedate for the most part, giving way to the eternal puppy inside occasionally, running around like a loon. Those displays of puppy idiocy are few and far between. Life is good, quiet and boring.

Because life is going so well, there are fewer moments in life that are out of control and as chaotic as in the past, when he was younger and we were three dogs strong, AJ, our counter surfer and pantry raider, Charlie, our split personality dog, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Walking them was always a challenge and I had many instances of being the boat anchor, getting dragged after some poor unsuspecting creature of the night. Worst of all I have less and less to write about. No one wants to hear about how loud Orso snores or how he runs in his sleep.

So in an act of idiocy I have started looking at animal shelter websites and rescue groups online for another dog. I am not sure I am ready for another dog, I don’t want to go through the last weeks of Charlie’s psychotic breakdown, bringing a new dog into our peaceful home. I am somewhat gun shy after that and I won’t put Orso through the terror of Charlie’s vicious episodes with a dog that might not be animal friendly. During my recent business trip to Kansas City, I went to a dock dog competition where the local humane society was parading adoptable dogs around. I saw a big boy, an Akita mix, that if I still lived in KC I probably would have taken him home. Then another friend showed me pictures of a litter of Mastiff puppies that are five weeks old. Thank god they are too young to separate from their mother or I might have taken one of them, even though I do not want to go through another puppy phase EVER AGAIN.

My quandary is that I am probably one of the most boring people in the world, so unless I take up some new sport, like rock climbing or trail riding, I don’t have much to write about anymore. We all know how well I would do at rock climbing or trail riding and I think that eventually even Aflac would cancel my policy. That brings me back to my present problem, taking the leap and getting another dog.

I need the voice of reason to slap me across the back of my head and tell me, “Are you out of your mind? What are you thinking? Take up knitting or something a lot tamer, dummy!”

Poor Mitch, he is in so much trouble and doesn’t know it yet.

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The Great Move (Otherwise Known as the Purge)

Everyone should have to pack up their stuff and move every five years. It should be a rule. No one should ever stay in one place for so long that they have more stuff than they know what to do with. We all accumulate “priceless treasures” over the years and in the end we look at all of it in utter shock and realize it’s just stuff and definitely not priceless. Now that Mitch has relocated to Seattle and is working full time there, it has been left up to me to pack up our belongs and clean out the house in order to put it on the market and get it sold.

It is and has been a daunting task, but I think it has been better that I’m doing the clearing out part without Mitch. I have discovered that he is a secret hoarder and left unchecked he would have covered every inch of open space with opened boxes of nuts and bolts, screws, the odd tool here and there and a large DSW shoe bag filled with old gloves (you never know when you might want to stick your hand in an old nasty glove). I even found a plastic container filled with empty shot gun shell boxes (because empty boxes two inches by three inches will come in handy sometime). I found a large spool of coaxial cable, probably enough to re-run our entire house twice over. These are all things I found in the basement and I haven’t even had a chance to look in the garage. That will require a very large dumpster.

I can’t say I’m much better about throwing things away, but I’m not quite as bad. We are the children of parents that grew up during The Great Depression where you saved every scrap you had because at some point in time you were going to need it and there was no money to go and buy a replacement. I grew up watching my mother wash used empty plastic bags, turn them inside out to dry to reuse them. She smoothed out used aluminum foil for reuse. Mitch’s father is way worse. He saves everything. Their garage is packed from the back of the garage to the front with extra furniture, boxes of things and overflow from the house. We are not that bad, but could easily be.

Sorry I digress. As I started sorting through the containers in the basement that stored old blankets and pillows I would set aside some for Goodwill and pack some. Then it dawned on me the reason these were in containers was that we didn’t use them. I didn’t even remember putting them in the containers and storing them. So out went all of old blankets for a full size bed, mind you we have a king size bed now.

My problem was that I was looking at all of the stuff and what we paid for each and every thing. I was putting an emotional value on stuff, not based on what it meant to me but what it cost me to acquire. I didn’t need it and wasn’t using it, had even forgotten I had it, but it was still in good condition so I was attaching a false need for it. As soon as I got over that hurdle, I have been able to make multiple trips to charities with a boat load of “stuff”. I am not a “garage sale” person. I have neither time nor patience to set all of my belongings in the driveway, sit around and wait for someone to come and haggle over pennies for stuff I don’t want.

I am getting to the end of the purge for the inside of the house, and after a ninety minute massage, pedicure and two bottles of wine, I hope to have my strength back and will tackle “The Garage”. If you don’t hear from me in a few days send in a search team.

A Short Story for Sunday

Monsters

Monsters are everywhere. Some are large and some are small. Some are mischievous and some are evil. Some monsters are tangible and some are not. Monsters can have great strength and tremendous power. But monsters can only do great damage if we let them. This is a short tale of a woman with a monster of her own. Below is one of her journal entries of her monster.

I am so tired of being in limbo. When will the monster free me? No matter what my head decides to do my heart sometimes is the stronger of the two. I have always thought of myself as pragmatic, but the monster, “Indecision”, won’t release its’ grip totally. I have moments when the monster is sleeping that I can accomplish many things in moving on, looking to the future. Then Indecision arises and I’m back where I started. Hoping and waiting for the impossible to happen.

I travel through the maze of my mind turning left then right trying to find the open door to the promise of the future. One turn looks promising and I can see the future through the veils of Indecision as he teases me by alternately lifting and lowering them. Asking me how much am I willing to give up to be able to move on? What is the right choice?

Sometimes the first step is the hardest. Indecision mires my way with leaden shoes and steep hills to climb with the faint glow of hope just out of reach. Indecision knows that until I quit asking the same questions over and over, he still has the sharp talons of fear deeply imbedded in my back. Talons tugging at my heart, never quite letting go. Indecision teases me by giving me moments of great inner strength and just when I think I can break my bonds and cross through the portal, he slams the door in my face.

I ask why, “Why can’t you let me go?” I rant and rave.

Indecision calmly answers, “You’re not ready to meet the promise of the future.”

So Many Choices

Oh what to do, what to do, so many choices. My fun options for the day, finish working on the tax return, clean out the closet or spend some quality time on my elliptical working out. I mean, these are some difficult choices to make. Which sounds like more fun, taxes or closet, closet or working up a sweat, I just can’t decide. How much fun can one person stand on a snowy cold Saturday? Any takers? No? Can’t say that I blame you, I even gave Mitch the choice of taxes or ironing and can you believe it, he would rather spend the afternoon ironing than work on the taxes.

I would make the dogs do the taxes, but they don’t have thumbs so they get out of it by default. They get to have all the fun. They lay around sleeping on our bed storing up energy to be able to eat, run around like lunatics and sleep some more. I shouldn’t complain, I have to do the taxes because we are lucky enough to have jobs to feed us and pay the bills. Sidebar to the jobs, I splurged and bought a Powerball ticket at the store so maybe next year we won’t have jobs. We’ll still have to fill out our tax return, but it will be more fun when I have a few extra zeroes and commas on the end.

And because of the jobs I have a closet full of clothes that I desperately need to clean out. I can also blame the jobs for me buying the elliptical to work out on at the odd hours of the day and night. Come to think of it, it’s all the jobs fault I have to make these choices. If we didn’t have jobs, I wouldn’t have to fill out a tax return (no earnings), clean out a closet (no clothes) or work out on the elliptical (no elliptical). We would starve and freeze to death, but that’s beside the point. I wouldn’t have to make a choice between the above options. I would have other more fun choices to make.

Choices, like which bridge to sleep under, which dumpster to go diving in for dinner, or searching for a job to be able to eat and stay warm. Okay, so I don’t have anything to really complain about, but it’s my Saturday, my day off from the grind, my day off to do something fun. I could be going hiking or shopping, something fun, but no I’m sitting here trying to decide between taxes, cleaning out the closet or working out. I would flip a coin, but then I would have to flip it twice and with my luck the coin would roll into the closet and I would have to clean it out to find out which choice won. I am such a drub.

Not for the Faint of Heart

The other day I shot my mouth off and said how much I love the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but that was before we went to Toys R Us. That store is only for the strong at heart, not amateurs like Mitch and me. The store was packed and the game of the day was avoiding being run down by mad shoppers pushing carts insanely about in search of the perfect toy. We were there to shop for our four granddaughters four years old down to one year old. I stood there looking very glassy eyed at all the options, while Mitch totally overloaded wandered off with a blank look on his face.

I walked down aisles and aisles of dolls, books and toys based on age looking very shell shocked. Did they already have this doll or was this toy too young or too old? I was in way over my head. I looked around for help from Mitch and he was gone. Off I went to try and find him, thinking maybe he had a stroke of brilliance and was getting the perfect gifts. I finally found him in the Star Wars section playing with light sabers and full size storm troopers. My nine year old boy had come out to play just when I needed adult help.

I reminded him that we were there for girl gifts and he wasn’t helping. I forced him to break away from the boy side of the store and tried to make our way back to the girl side fighting shoppers and their carts. Once again Mitch’s attention was drawn to a display of stick ball bats. I didn’t even know they made stick ball bats. He suggested that we buy one for each little girl and it could be “survival of the fittest”. I reminded him again that we were dealing with little girls and that the bats were taller than the girls.

After an hour of wandering up and down aisles, we finally came away with hopefully gifts that will get oohed and awed. I had no idea that Christmas shopping could be a full contact sport. Boy do I need a drink.

I am Tired of the Cold and it’s only December

I must be getting old. I’ve never been a super big fan of the cold, preferring to stay inside bundled up with about a hundred layers. I make the effort to take the dogs on their walks like a dedicated pet owner, but if there was a way to get them to hold it until say, March I wouldn’t complain. Of course that isn’t possible so I put on multiple layers and go tromping outside. But it is definitely not fun, since the temperatures have been bitterly cold the last few days with highs in the teens.

The up side is that both of the dogs are getting old too. Orso is now seven and Charlie is a senior citizen at nine. Neither one of them is too enamored with hanging outside too long. Charlie has short hair and gets cold quick and Orso is just a big sissy. This morning our first outing consisted of running outside after breakfast for a quick trot around the yard to do their business and a mad dash to get back inside where it was warm and carrots were waiting as treats. The second outing was later than usual around ten am, with us holding out hope for a heat wave, (didn’t happen), but at least the snow was very light by then. The temperature had warmed up to a sultry eighteen degrees Fahrenheit.

I had on a tee shirt, a flannel shirt, micro fleece jacket and a lined parka and that was just on the upper half of my body. The lower half I had on sweat pants and insulated wind pants, which work very well for keeping my legs warm and the wind out, I just swish when I walk. I even wore silk glove liners and down leather mittens. I am the bigger sissy here and I’m not afraid to admit it. I think it took longer to get dressed than it took for the walk. We did not dally on the walk, it was walk, get to the task at hand and get back home.

The third outing after they ate dinner was pretty much a repeat of the second outing, with me looking like a chunky monkey dressed in a gazillion layers with a drippy nose from the cold. Why couldn’t they have been litter trained like a cat? More importantly why don’t we live some place warmer?

Today is the First Day of the Rest of My Life

First I want to thank all of my readers and fellow bloggers that have hung in there with me for the past three and a half years. You’ve read my stories, laughed and cried with me and left me wonderful comments that have kept me writing all this time. I write because I love to write and would write with no audience, but because of you writing is more fun. You’ve kept me challenged to grow as a writer to try new ideas and travel down new roads in writing.

Recently I was diagnosed with breast cancer and last week underwent a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. Monday I received the pathology report on my follow up visit with my surgeon. The cancer was determined to be Stage 1 and there was nothing in my lymph nodes. The cancer was very small and with the mastectomy all of it was removed gone forever. (I hope) The surgeon told me that the survival rate was 95% for five years.

That was probably the best news I’ve ever received, so you can imagine how I felt. Me, who never gets excited over anything, was babbling pretty incoherently. Poor Mitch had to tie a rope around my waist just to keep me from floating six feet off the ground. I was walking around making plans, talking nonstop not letting Mitch get a word in edgewise.

Bottom line now I can move on and get back to the reason for this blog, to entertain you with stories about those spoiled rotten wretched dogs that love to use me as a boat anchor on their walks. Thank you so much for your continued support I promise I will not disappoint you.

PS. During my recovery time of lying around and healing, I decided to start another blog site, “Susan Uncorked”, this one dedicated to one of my other passions, wine. I love everything about wine, so it just seemed like a perfect match, I drink wine then I get to write about wine. When you have a moment, please check out http://susank456.wordpress.com/ and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you.

Skunk De-Skunker or A Public Service Announcement

Pheasant season is right around the corner and if your dogs are anything like ours, they get into a lot of thick tall grass searching for the elusive scent of a pheasant. Often other creatures pop out of the underbrush, such as rabbits, deer and on occasion, a skunk. That happened on one hunting trip. The dogs were hot on a pheasant that wanted to run through some prairie grass and would not break cover, when the dogs stopped short. As I caught up to Charlie and Orso I could make out something black sticking up in the grass and the dogs were barking at it. I just barely made out the shape and screamed, “Skunk! Leave it –leave it!”

I back pedaled as fast as I could to get out of range, but Charlie and Orso were not so lucky. As Charlie turned the skunk sprayed them catching Charlie on the right side of his face and shoulder, Orso got sprayed on his shoulder. As bad as the dead skunk stench smells when you are driving down the road and get a waft of the road kill aroma, a live skunk spray victim smells worse. It is a cloying sickening sweet, decaying smell that gets in your nostrils and won’t go away.

We took the dogs back to the hotel and first put Charlie in the tub and used all of the shampoo we had scrubbing, rinsing and repeating over and over until the stench was not as overwhelming as it first was. A trip to Walmart for more shampoo and it was Orso’s turn. Even though we were able to cut the stench down with the multiple baths, the stench was still there when you got close to their heads and shoulders. It took almost six months for the smell to completely go away.

After we got back from our fateful hunting trip, we decided to put together a skunk de-skunking kit. In the October 2008 issue of Gun Dog Magazine there was an article about skunks and dogs and it listed a de-skunking recipe. Below is the list of ingredients and instructions for anyone that takes their dogs hiking or hunting and just might need this.

16 ounce bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide (For best results, change out the any unused Hydrogen Peroxide on an annual basis. This is the keep it fresh and active in case you have to use it.)
1 pound box of Baking Soda (transferred to a waterproof container
Dawn Dish Soap
Latex, plastic or rubber gloves (several pair)
A plastic or metal two-quart or larger container to mixing the ingredients (we used a gallon ice cream pail)

Measure one or more cups of baking soda into large container. Add 1/2 cup or more hydrogen peroxide to form a paste. Expect mixture to foam somewhat. Squeeze one or more ounces of liquid soap and while wearing protective gloves, hand mix the ingredients until smooth and slightly runny.

Hand rub mixture into dog’s coat with a massaging motion concentrating on the region where most of the skunk oil is located. Leave mixture on dog for 10 minutes or more. Then rinse with ample fresh water. Avoid getting the mixture in the dog’s eyes. Flush well with fresh water if it does get in his eyes.

Rinse the dog with plenty of fresh water.

NOTE: Do Not mix the solution before it is needed. It is unsafe to store this mixture for any length of time, so mix only when needed, apply immediately and discard afterwards.

We haven’t had to use our kit yet and hope we never have to, but we take it with us on each hunting trip. Of course I probably should do that on our hiking treks too.

The Walk from Hell

I did not enjoy our walk this afternoon, no not at all. It started off so promising. Mitch was busy putting brakes on my car when I got home from work, so I fed the dogs and changed my clothes. I put their harnesses on them, grabbed my phone, stuffed a couple of poop bags in my pocket and grabbed the leashes off the coat rack. We walked outside, I leashed each one up and told Mitch we would be back shortly and would fix dinner then. It was a beautiful afternoon, mid-seventies and a light breeze, perfect for a dog walk.

Nobody else was around just the dogs and me; we were about halfway to the dam when Charlie stopped to sniff something in the ditch next to the road, took a step and jerked sideways and sort of jumped and limped to the road both at the same time. I looked at him and he was holding his left foot up as if he had stepped on something and cut his paw or had been bitten. I looked down at his elevated paw and saw something sticking out between two of his toes. It looked like a small stick sticking out of a dark brown rock wedged between his toes.

So being the loving caring pet owner I am, I reached down to pull it out. Imagine my surprise and disgust when I discovered it wasn’t a rock wedged between his toes, but instead it was dog poop. I now have dog poop on my left thumb. Gross! Charlie had stepped in some other dog’s feces and was as disgusted about it as I was when I touched it. I walked over and pulled a leaf off of a bush to try and wipe as much off of my thumb as possible. I didn’t have a Kleenex with me and if I did it would have been in my pocket and I certainly wasn’t going to stick my poopy thumb in my pocket to retrieve it.

After wiping as much as I could off of my thumb, I picked a bigger leaf to try and wipe the poop off of Charlie’s toes. Charlie was being his usual uncooperative self and jerked his paw away from me causing me to get dog poop on my right thumb. Now I have dog poop on both thumbs, I am thoroughly disgusted and feel super gross. I can’t touch anything with my thumbs because I don’t want to get the gross icky poop on anything else. I decided to turn around and walk back home. I held the leashes in each palm curling my fingers around them with my thumbs sticking straight out so I wouldn’t accidently touch anything with my thumbs.

Halfway home and so far so good, no other people or dogs show up and both dogs are behaving rather well, when all of a sudden now I have a goddam gnat flying at my face. There was nothing I could do, I couldn’t swat it, just wave my arms around like a crazy woman and jerk my head spasmodically to try and keep it away. I can only imagine what someone thought if anybody looked out of their window at me.

Where is a wet wipe when you need it?

Forgiveness

Can you ever forgive yourself? Is it even possible to really forgive one of your transgressions and fully move on? Forgiving yourself is harder than forgiving someone else. We can look at another person’s faults and misgivings, come up with a hundred reasons why they did what they did and forgive them for it. It may take a while to move on, but eventually we accept the misdeed or error in judgment by someone else and get on with our lives and relationships. So why is it so hard for us to forgive our own missteps? Do we have higher expectations of our selves than others or is it that we look at a lapse in judgment as an insurmountable failure?

I am not proud of my youth. I have done some really stupid things growing up. I made a lot of bad decisions born out of low self-esteem and when something jogs a memory I still cringe inwardly. I look back into the past with loathing for my actions. Granted I was a stupid teenager then and am well into my fifties now, but something about that time in my life still haunts me. There are so many regrets and a desire for a do over, knowing the outcome would probably still be the same, but that doesn’t stop the wishing.

I didn’t kill anybody or maliciously try to hurt others; my transgressions were all directed at me. I wish I had pushed myself more in school, gone to college, had some direction, instead of going along with the aimless mindset of a self-absorbed teenager. I thought that if a boy paid attention to me it meant he loved me. It took me a few years to figure out what real love was.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, my husband, children and my friends, but I wish I could have been better. I wish I had made smarter decisions and wiser choices, not the bonehead mistakes that I can’t seem to put in the past forever. I know I’m not the person I was then; I don’t need validation from anyone else now. The validation has to come from me and grant me the forgiveness of my past sins.

When I look back over the years of my adulthood there have been many great accomplishments. My husband who I love with all of my heart, my two sons, who are all grown up and have families of their own, a daughter that I didn’t give birth to, but love as much and a few truly special friends that I would walk through fire for. These are all the best part of me, the today me.

So what is it about those short seven years of my life that haunt me more than the thirty plus years since? How do I absolve myself, move on and truly face the future with hope and resolve? I can’t answer that, but I am working on it.