Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Miss Molly had a minor vet visit today. Time to install the 'if found lost or strayed please return...' chip. She had an itchy unhappy patch on her belly, time to nip that in the bud. And a little doggy spa time- nails and ears. I wanted to discuss Molly's growth and diet with her vet- 70.9 pounds of bouncy, glossy energy, does she still need to be on puppy food? Ecetera.

The lead kennel tech was excited to see us come in. I almost hated to let her down by saying Molly wasn't there to board. Our vet was being shadowed by a 4th year vet student, who made much over the dog.

Results: Vet agrees that we can take her off puppy food any time now, so long as we go to a decent quality food. Possibly something with fewer possible allergens, since she tends to be a little itchy. Vet took digital photos of the itchy unhappy patch of skin 'so we have something concrete to compare to during followup'. She'd a bit on an ear infection, a known hazard in the soft floppy eared breeds, so a tech-level cleaning was in order. The ID chip would be the work of a moment (and pays for itself in peace of mind, IMO)

Overall- happy healthy dog with some minor easily addressed issues. The vet laughed about how high energy she is and remarked on her good temper. 'Classic Golden, never met a stranger' our vet told the student 'Just a goofy lovebug.' She also mentioned Clancy, in passing but with real fondness.

I'd taken along her bag with a couple of toys in it so we could keep her occupied while we waited. Given the list we decided to leave her there for the afternoon and let them clean her ears, chip her, give her her first dose of antibiotics and ear drops, and what the heck, see if her nails need a clip. Molly, naturally, didn't even look back as she was lead away, because she knows the practice and loves them all.

We picked her up when Himself got done with work. On the way out Molly tried to make friends with a pair of orange tabby kittens in a carrier. Kittens and owner were bemused. Had a perfectly ordinary evening at home, us and the little dog.

Followed, after the puppy was put to bed, by a brief flurry of tearfulness I couldn't really understand at first. Then, oh. Right. We took the dog to the vet for something other than an annual physical, the dog has a couple of little fixable things going on and in due time we brought the dog home. No bad news, no waiting for test results, no dread. Oh brain, at least you aren't boring. Finished up by laughing at myself.

Right, that's sorted.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

But I didn't mean to!

We all screw up. Seriously, it's practically the hallmark of being human to screw up.

We all screw up where other people can see it. See above. Or see any one of several current messes on LJ and the Internets. Sadly, pulling the cat thing of 'I meant to do that' and sauntering off to hide behind the sofa doesn't work any more often for people than it does for cats.

Sometimes we screw up in ways that only damage our own dignity. If you want, you can try the cat sauntering trick and maybe you'll be one of the rare folks who pulls it off. If you want you can laugh at yourself first, and others will join in or (blessings on their generous spirit) assure they know just how you feel.

That is not what I am here to talk about.

We all screw up, and sometimes we do that in ways that damage someone else. We hurt their feelings. We tread on their toes. (Or tomato plants. Obscure reference, nothing to see here, move along)

And when we tread on someone else's toes, an impulse that seems rooted in the very human soul is to say 'But I didn't mean to!'. I understand. You feel bad, and you don't want the other person to think you are a bad person. I've heard this reaction from kids as young as three.

Don't do it. Don't be that kid. Don't make discussion of your mistake and its effect on someone else about your intent. Because your intent is not more important than the fact you are standing on someone else's foot. And please jeebus don't stand on their foot and insist they tell you its okay because it was an accident as a condition of your stepping off.

Little kids go through this phase where they believe in magic words. If they say please they should get what they are asking for no matter what. If they say they didn't mean to they can keep on standing on your foot. If they say I'm sorry they can keep on kicking their baby brother. Clearly, that's absurd.

First thing to do if you find yourself kicking your baby brother is to knock it the hell off. Then you say you're sorry. Then you figure out if he needs a bandaid or an ice cube in a washcloth for the knot you raised. Then you admit that you would not like it if your baby brother kicked you because being kicked hurts. Then, after your baby brother has been seen to, it might be worth discussing that you were just kind of swinging your foot around and not actually at your baby brother and next time you'll look to make sure first.

Let's change examples here.

When you're learning to drive a car one of the hardest things to get the hang of is checking your blind spots. You're managing half a dozen processes at once tootling down the road and along with everything else that's going on you have to be aware that other people are using the road and you might not be able to see them. It could be an artifact of your car's design. It could be that visibility is not so great and you're mostly thinking about whether or not you remembered the notes for your meeting.

The fact remains that you have to check your blind spots. I'd be willing to bet one of the commonest things traffic cops hear at accident scenes is 'I didn't see him!'. You only meant to change lanes, you didn't mean to hit the sub-compact, right?

Life is like that. We all have blind spots. We all say stuff without realizing that we're not even considering someone else's experiences in the world. I do it, and when I catch it I feel like crap. When I don't catch it until someone says 'uh, you're standing on my foot/ignoring my life' I feel even worse. What I try really hard to do at that point is take a deep breath and remind myself that my intent and my feelings are not more important or real than the person I just hurt. It isn't about 'I didn't mean to!'. It's about what I did.

True story. I was working security at a con many years ago. A fan who couldn't afford membership plus a hotel room decided to attend. He'd been sleeping in the video room, feeding himself off the free snacks in the hospitality suite, that kind of thing. And although he couldn't afford a room or buying meals, he could afford to buy a couple of six packs of beer.

In what I think was a misguided attempt to not be a total mooch he hauled his beer into the con hotel and stored it in the ice machine on the third floor near the room parties. Every now and then he'd go fetch himself a beer. From the public ice machine.

To phrase this as neutrally as I can, the hotel was not happy. People from the nearby room parties who found glass bottles in a cardboard carrier in the ice they wanted to use for their parties were not happy. And I, who had to go find this guy, get him to admit it was his beer and (at the con and hotel's joint request) get him to surrender his con badge and leave the con, I was not happy at all.

He was livid. He kept pointing out he hadn't meant any harm. And no matter how often I repeated that it wasn't a good idea to put foreign objects (Glass? Cardboard of uncertain cleanliness?) in a public ice machine he just wouldn't hear it. He left the con, went straight to the local comic and game store and spent the next several months telling all and sundry what an irrational bitch I was. Blind spot the size of Jupiter.

Meanwhile, back at the con, the hotel has to close down that ice machine, empty it and clean it because the ice could be contaminated. An entire floor of room parties now has to fetch ice from other floors and the other machines are taking an extra load. The stairwells and elevators are taking more traffic just for ice runs. The con committee is dealing with a hotel manager who is annoyed at the con goers and is now watching with eagle eyes for further infractions. The con was a little less of a happy place than it had been.

But he didn't mean to!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

It's a pretty quiet night here at the old homestead. From what I hear, downtown was fair crawling with costumed children happily trick or treating their way from store to store, but out here on this edge of town we hadn't seen any goblins.

Until a few minutes ago, when I heard a rapid fire prattle of Spanish in high excited voices followed by a knock (rather low down on the face of the front door). I grabbed the big bowl of treats and went to see who it was.

Five costumed children, under the age of nine, trailed by two women. One had a baby bundled up in her arms.

'TRICK OR TREAT!' came the chorus. So, I handed out candy and remarked approvingly on all costumes. They were practically vibrating with glee but every one said thank you without prompting. I only had to give Spiderman a little bit of a look to get him to lower his decorated brown paper grocery bag long enough for me to give candy to the two rather small princesses. To his credit, he looked sheepish about it.

As they turned to go, one of the women spoke quietly. And they all turned back around and said as one 'Happy Halloween! Thank you!' before they started to leave. The woman with the baby in her arms looked a little frazzled and tired so I held out two more of the candy bars.

'For you and your friend. It's hard work taking that many children out to go trick or treating.'

She smiled and replied 'Muchas gracias.'

'De nada.' I even made the little hand twitch that so often accompanied the phrase in San Antonio. I had also just used up about one tenth of my rusty Spanish.

She stopped. She thought for a moment and then spoke carefully but clearly.

'Thank you very much. Happy Halloween.'

'You're very welcome. Have a good night.'

Monday, October 22, 2007

Settling In

And after a long blogging break, we're back on the air.

Y'all, moving is a pain in the ass. Seriously. My rule of thumb based on a childhood as a military brat is that four moves equal one house fire.

Very little got broken, all hail the helpful friends who lifted and hauled. In fact, less got broken this time with me packing and Himself and friends loading the truck than got broken on our previous move. Our previous professionally packed and loaded at no small cost move, that would be.

Also, no animals were lost in this move. Oh, the cats were traumatized and refused to come out of the carrier at the new house for over six hours, but that's just cats. And now the cats and the goofy dog are all happy in the new place. Clancy has his very own corner of the living room and two crates in different rooms for his napping and lounging needs.

The month not blogged has been spent slowly unloading boxes and finding that things already unpacked are not in their best places and shifting things around. It's slowly coming together though. We've also been slowly getting artwork on the walls which always makes things feel more homey.

In fact, for me, the art on the walls and the books on the shelves are practically my defintion of homey.

Meanwhile November is bearing down on me like a runaway dray cart. November is Thanksgiving and this year Himself will not be at work or on call so we are off to see the family. Therefore we get to drive the Columbia River Gorge, which I love beyond all reason, and then on to see his folks at their little place in the woods. Since I have The Best InLaws Ever I'm really looking forward to this.

Plus, well, turkey and fixin's is a good thing.

November is also National Novel Writing Month, aka NanoWriMo. nanowrimo.orghas all the gorey details.

Nanowrimo is, for the non-link-clicking among you, the zany idea that writing a novel in a month is a good idea made even better by doing so in the company of thousands of other writers from around the world. This is my sixth year of doing Nano and I always find it enlightening. By enlightening I mean amusing, annoying, exhausting and exhilerating in about equal parts.

Kind of like life its ownself, really.

Friday, September 21, 2007

To say nothing of the dog

Well, yesterday we got an errand out of the way and returned home, intending to grab a couple of items, walk the dog and go grab a bite to eat.

Um. Yes. About the dog. The elderly, stressed by the boxes and confusion dog.

The dog I put into his crate before we left to run the errand because he's stressed and clingy and crate=den=good in dog tribe parlance.

The dog who apparently had soothed himself at some point yesterday by eating a wodge of my LUSH brand handmade soap.

I will leave the details to your entirely too vivid imaginations, but suffice it to say by the time we had cleaned things up and reassured the unhappy dog neither of us felt up to going out to eat.

So the dog, he got no supper last night and I got no sleep as someone needed to be within earshot in the event of further disaster. The dog he got Peptobismol, but Do. Not. Want. So he got cuddled and apologised to and then had a tricksy mean TwoLegs shove a baby medication syringe in his mouth and force the issue.

And the dog, he got no breakfast. And more Pepto. And he was very sad. Plus, the boxes and the confusion are still around.


This evening, since symptoms had been under control for almost 24 hours, the dog he got plain cooked white rice. Jest a leetle bit, you know, and some careful watching. And then-

And then the dog he got plain cooked white rice and canned PUMPKIN. Which dogs thought was pretty damn fine.

He's mostly back to normal, and the bland diet will continue for a few days just in case.

But, CANNED PUMPKIN, yay, says the dog. Tomorrow there will be rice and pumpkin and some plain canned chicken. He will think he's in heaven. Despite the boxes and the confusion and stuff.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why Doesn't She Just Leave?

Whenever the subject of domestic abuse is under discussion, eventually the pnrase 'why didn't she just leave?' will get tossed into the mix.

Not helpful. Seriously not helpful. If you haven't enough life experience or empathy to figure the answer out on your own, let me repeat here something I said in comments over on Feministe. (You are reading Feministe, right?) (Note to self: blog roll.)

I have a simple response to the ‘why didn’t she just leave?’ crowd.

Imagine, as an exercise, that someone is going to walk in here right now and put a gun to your head and tell you that in one month you have to be living in a completely new life. You must accomplish this with no extra funds beyond what you have to hand right this minute.

You can tell anyone you like what you are doing and ask for help. But, if the guy with the gun finds out about it, he will come and shoot you.

You can continue to go to work, but at any time for the rest of your life, if the guy with the gun decides to, he will come and shoot you. Likewise, if you have kids, they can continue to attend their present schools and sports and social activities- unless and until the guy with the gun decides to come and shoot you.

Church? Same deal. Your family and friends? Same deal.

If at any time while you are getting ready to go the guy with the gun can tell you are planning to leave or see any evidence of your actually doing anything towards leaving- bang.

Now, by nefarious means, it seems the guy with the gun has managed to get his name on your bank account. Your credit cards. He has, in fact, complete and free access to your entire life. He’s going to be coming and going from your home with impunity.

Call the cops? Okay. Maybe they’ll believe you. But unless they take him away to jail and keep him there- well, you know where this is going by now.

Now, let’s twist this around. Maybe the guy with the gun says he won’t hurt you- if you don’t leave. Or make him mad. Maybe he says he wasn’t serious, maybe he says he was just so upset, maybe he says he’s sorry and he really loves you and it won’t happen again.

And maybe, just maybe, the guy is in fact someone you loved and trusted and he isn’t like that all the time. Maybe he’s usually charming and maybe everyone you know and love and trust think he’s a good guy. Maybe when you try to talk about this little problem they ask you what else was going on, is he stressed at work, are you keeping the house clean and the kids quiet, are you sure you didn’t do or say something that made him angry? Maybe your mother thinks he’s great. Maybe your kids love him.

Maybe she doesn’t leave because she doesn’t know how. Maybe there isn’t anywhere to go, maybe she doesn’t have a support network, maybe her pastor and her boss aren’t as all-fired understanding as the ‘just leave’ crowd suggests. Maybe she can’t afford rent and child care and car upkeep on what she can make alone.

Maybe completely uprooting and re-arranging your life isn’t all that easy after all.

It's easy to armchair quarterback this issue when you don't have a dog in the fight. When it's not someone you love and trust and maybe even made a child or two with, when it's not your family and friends who are asking questions (or not asking questions, like 'what happened to your face?'). When it's not your child who has to be snatched out of the house under cover of darkness and doesn't understand why we can't go home, when it's not you sitting in a rotten chair in a busy police station to explain to a desk cop why you need to file a report- yeah, 'just leave' sounds easy.

It isn't easy to admit that the person you love is hurting you. It isn't easy to accept the idea that there's nothing you can do to make the person you love stop hurting you. It isn't easy to walk away from your entire life. But it would be a hell of a lot easier if people didn't ask questions like 'why doesn't she just leave?' and then not seem to want to actually hear the answers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Move is a four letter word

For perfectly understandable reasons, our landlady wants to move.

Into the house we are living in.

Cue the six stages of moving; shock, denial, searching, panicking, bargaining, and acceptance (also known as a numb resignation which saps the very life from one's already weary limbs).

We have two adult cats, who I love in the 'what the hell possesses you to do that, you damned feline?' way familiar to cat people everywhere. And we have an elderly, loving, beloved not-precisely-small dog. Clancy the WonderGoof is a twelve year old Golden, so not so much with the 'dogs under twenty pounds with agent's approval'.

Renting with pets is a bit like inviting strangers to casually rifle through your wallet. Deposits or flat out non-refundable fees are the order of the day. I can understand the property owners' side of this and I sympathise. Nobody wants their property torn up.

On the other hand telling me it's five hundred dollars non-refundable per pet and then renting your property to three college boys from Boise is a trifle mind-boggling. I promise you, my cats don't smoke pot and my dog has yet to throw a kegger for eighty seven of his closest friends. And none of my pets has ever had to have the police called on them, gotten into a fistfight over a football game on tv or dropped out and moved back to Boise to live with Mom and Dad. It's a trade off.

After three and a half days, nearly one hundred phone calls and a lot of driving around with a very patient friend, we found a place. Now, she said with a hollow laugh, all we have to do is pack and haul everything we own to the next town over.


I moved a lot as a military brat and later as a military wife. I've started over from scratch at least three times in my life, where from scratch is something like two kids under four years old, three suitcases and thirty dollars cash. By any standard I can think of, this is an easy move. I have plenty of time, plenty of help and enough money for all the fees, deposits and general costs.

Yeah, I'm whining about having to do it any way. Our last move involved packers and drivers paid for by the company and still managed to be hellaciously miserable in some fairly major ways.

The rule of thumb I learned at my mother's knee: Four moves equal one house fire. Things will get broken, lost, not fit in the truck, not fit through the new house's door, the list goes on. Moving is putting your life in boxes. It's like triage for your choices on everything from art work to coffee mugs. Everything you own has to be picked up and examined and mentally justified.

One approach is just say to hell with it and take everything. That way madness lies. Trust the woman who once helped move a friend only to discover some of the boxes we were hauling down very steep and narrow stairs had been packed for a previous move- three apartments and two cities ago. Out of kindness to our helpers and our now middle-aged backs we have decided to forego this approach in favor of something a little more measured.

So I am taking the time to go through the shelves and cupboards and pulling out the things I am more or less sure one of us cares enough about to actually bother packing, loading, un-loading and un-packing. I'm pretending we won't have any help and the things we'd move even if we were doing it on our own are going to make the grade. The once amusing coffee mugs? The copies of books bought in airports and never re-read? The supplies for crafts I no longer pursue? They can be donated elsewhere and go to someone who will find them useful.

(As a public service announcement, if you are advertising a property for rent- put pertinent information in the freakin' ad. Answer your phone and return your messages. It should not take prospective renters four phone calls to learn you absolutely will not take pets or that the place was rented out a week ago. And five hundred dollars per pet, non-refundable, on top of first and last months rent, a cleaning fee and a deposit? Plus an application fee for background checks, a credit report and contacting our last three landlords? Good grief. Getting a top secret clearance takes less paperwork.)