Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I have a confession to make.

I wear furry socks. Which is better than the furry underwear I used to wear.

It was a compromise. I gave Spike my sock drawer in exchange for my underwear drawer. I leave it open all the time and if I forget, he knocks everything he can off the top of my dresser to remind me. I don't mind, since the winters are cold and the extra fur helps keep my feet warm. I do seldom wear socks when the weather gets nice, it doesn't matter. But the furry panties were itchy.

On the other hand, every couple of days I have to crawl under the bed and retrieve all the dirty socks that Isis has dug out of the laundry basket and hidden under there. She loves dirty socks, although occasionally she steals clean one too. If a sock gets a hole in it, we give it to her and she adds it to her collection. She meets people at the door with one in her mouth and has been known to bark without dropping it. I think she now has more socks than we do. I use the dog carrier with a board over the top and a cloth on it as an end table so I have somewhere to throw her toys when I clean them up. Like I said before, this is an animal friendly home. Humans optional.

Max has been trying to wrest the Alpha Male position from my husband. While it is funny to watch, he really needs to make sure he knows who the boss is. Max I mean. Hubby just can't seem to take it seriously, even when he won't let him into bed at night when I am already there. Or near me in the kitchen. He stands guard over me. I pity anyone who every tried to break into this house.

There is another addition to the family I failed to mention. His youngest son, Tex's "dad", got a new dog earlier this year. Blue. He is part Border Collie, like Carlos was and part Australian Cattle Dog. He likes to herd the other dogs. Well, he tries anyway. He and Max spent a good part of the evening playing tug of war with an old glove. Whenever he puts down something he has been playing with, Max sneaks over and steals it. Then it's game on. By the time he goes home at night there is usually a pile of socks, ropes, bowls, bones and anything else Blue has played with under and around Max.

As I finish this up, they are all in their usual napping spots- Max under the desk, on his pillow by my feet. Isis on her pillow (which was Charlie's but she stole it and he let her keep it), Blue on the pillows on one end of the couch and Charlie on the other end.

Wonder why I spend so much time on the computer? They leave us no where to sit.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Now to the other half of my zoo.

There are three cats running this household and the humans and dogs in it. Don't let them tell you otherwise, although I don't think there will be much argument.

All of our cats are of Siamese mixes, so they are personality multiplied. The oldest is Tex, who actually belongs to my husband's youngest son. When we married, he got his own place, but when he would be out of town he would bring his dog (Carlos, at the time. I miss him) and Tex. He started bringing Tex over because he would be lonely. Then when he would come home, Tex would become harder to find with each visit. He didn't want to leave. When Bill would come to get him, he would hide and this is a big house to hide in. So finally, he stayed. He is used to having company and at 16 who is going to argue with him. He is all shades of gray and black with purple (sometimes) eyes. Once upon a time he was a big as a small moose, but running around her and keeping the others in line has thinned him down. The Dr. thinks he might be going into renal failure. He has quit using the litterbox, and instead is marking. After watching him, I don't think so. I think he is just establishing himself in the hirearchy with the other cats. He uses puppy pads instead. I never said they were normal. He's mad right now since it is still too cold for him to go out and wander in the backyard and lay in the sun.

Then there is Rascal. She is black with green eyes and there are some people in this family who have never even seen her. She is very anti-social with the non-members of the household and hates the short and stubbies with a passion, but loves the big dog. Go figure. She hisses and growls at Isis and Max. Isis barks back, poor Max just wants to be friends.

Then there is Spike and yes he is named for our favorite vampire- he is white blonde with big blue eyes and fangs. He thinks he is a dog. He sleeps with us and the little dogs. Gives them baths and doesn't take any crap from them. Shows up when it is treat time for the dogs. Lease trained. Will curl up in the puppy pile when they are all snuggled together.

Like my dogs, the cats are rescues (except Tex). Rascal I found at the vets when I was there picking up the ashes from my daughter's cat Midnight. There were 3 kittens and I let our cat Shadow pick which one we would be bringing home. We had just lost her twin Flame and then Midnigh, so he was lonely. You know you spend too much time at the vet, when instead of going through all the paperwork the require to see if you would make a good home for the pet, the vet just says, "Oh, it's Evelyn? Don't worry about." I can hear hubby hitting his head on a wall every time I go there.

Spike we got from an adotion clinic at PetSmart. Daughter and I had stopped in to get food- I saw the signs out and spent five minutes going NONONONONONONONONONONONONO. I should have saved my breath. There were all these cages in the middle of the store, nice quiet cats, just sitting there watching people watch them. (I have a hard time even looking cause I want to take them all home.) As we walked by Spike put his paw out, aiming for my daughter. I quit. He came home with us.

I have had a host of pets over the years. From my first dog, Dundee, a Scottish Terrier, to so many cats I can't count them, (but can name them) to Guinea Pigs, a Rabbit (Sebastian who was litterbox trained too- better than some of my cats have been) to our current menagerie.

I can't ever imagine my life without pets in it. We are thinking of putting on a front porch and making it so the cats can just wander out there in the good weather. I can put the big assed scratching post/tree out there. Put the Christmas tree out there in the winter so I don't have to anchor it to the ceiling to keep Spike from pulling it down. Again. I have removed carpeting because it was more pet friendly to have tile. Gotten new doors so that they can't climb through the screen. Gates to keep them out of the litterboxes and to give the cats some peace and quiet. Very attractive look-not.

Pet hair is a condiment in this house. If you don't like furry, don't visit. They were here first.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My animals are enough to drive you crazy. Even me and I have been told it's a very short trip.

My day usually starts between 5 and 6am with one or more of the dogs whining to go out and a cat trying to eat my necklace so I will get up and feed them.

Let me introduce my zoo. In the dog category, there is Charlie. I rescued him in January of 2001 when I found him wandering around by our Elks Lodge. He was only about a year old. The temps were in the negatives. I knew someone in the trailer park owned him but no one was making sure he was taken care of. We fed him at the Lodge and I came and took him home when it was apparent he had been sleeping outside. He had tapeworm, frost bit on his paws and was the most lovable lab mix ever. He went to live next door with my friends whose young son wanted a dog and loved to come and play with Charlie. Then they had 2 more kids, bought a house and when they moved I took him back. They just had too much on their hands and I didn't feel that Charlie would get the warm, loving home he was entitled to.

Now he lives the life of Riley. He is the absolute best dog I have ever, or will ever have. Right now he is standing by my side, waiting for me to lean over and rub him when I have to stop and think about what I am going to write. He looks at me with such adoration and love that it makes me want to cry sometimes when I think about what he went through. He gets along with everyone- human, dog and cat. That is his very patriotic picture in the blog- he went with my husband's granddaughter and her softball team in the parade one year. He loves to patrol the backyard for squirrels and does his best to keep us safe from them. At 90 lbs. he thinks he is a lapdog and he loves to cuddle and get his belly rubbed. But god help the person who tries to hurt anyone who lives here. I think he would tear them apart.

Charlie plays at the level of who ever he is playing with, never more than they can handle. Which brings me to the Daschunds, Isis and Max. Hubby has had doxies before, my experience with them was not good. My Aunt Francias had one that was mean. My step daughter had one, Conan who was a sweet heart though and that swayed me. So he went hunting on the Daschund rescue sites to find a wire hair. There are 3 types- the smooth, the long haired and the wire haired. I refer to the wire-haired as the Ellen DeGeneres of the dog world. They are comedians pure and simple. With hair like that you would have to be. If you don't keep them trimmed up, the come inside after a snowy day outside with little snowballs attached every where, then you have to thaw them out.

So he found Isis, who is 12 now. Her owner had died and she was placed in foster care in South Carolina. After all the hoop jumping, which I didn't mind, someone heading up to NYC brought her and another foster and we met them in Manhattan to pick her up. Charlie went along for the r-i-d-e. (You have to spell that word, I bet he can read it too). She's a good girl and I think her previous owner must have been in a wheel chair. We used to take them to see my dad at the nursing home when he was dying and then another friend and she never shied away from them but would walk right next to the chairs. We live across from a nursing home and they wander over there when we are out walking all the time to visit the guys who are outside.

Then last summer he found Max. Max was one of many rescued from a puppy mill in N. Carolina. There were 24 and when they went up for adoption here, they all found new homes in 2 days. He was 2 and 1/2 when he was rescued and weighed only 8 1/2 pounds. He looked like a bobble head doll. Now he is around 20 and full of piss and vinegar. He still has problems with going outside. You literally have to carry him out into the backyard, once you can catch him. He is very skittish sometimes, at others he just cuddles right up or jumps on your lap. But if you go to scratch him, he runs off. Other times he just rolls over to have his belly rubbed.

Right now they are playing tug of war with a blanket on the couch and Charlie is refereeing. Max didn't know how to go up and down stairs or play with toys. Now he runs them like he is in a marathon. I have them gated so once he is downstairs and I can get to it first, he can't get back up. Not that we don't accommodate our house for our animals. I had the carpeting upstairs removed and the floors tiled because they found a spot to use instead of the puppy pads. A roof over the back door in case it starts to rain and they are outside. Buying stock in Wet Jet and Bounty and Walmart Puppy Pads. And those aren't just for the dogs.

I think the cats are even stranger. But I will save that for another day.

Suffice to say, that there is no lack of love in this household for the furry members. They have all found a safe, loving home where their needs come first. Sick? They go to the vet long before I think about going to the Dr. Hungry? A secret snack is not out of the question, although Isis is getting fat again. Time to cut her food intake a little. Right now they are eating breakfast. Mas does a happy dance, in circles on his hind legs, until I put his bowl down. Charlie finishes his then waits until everyone else is done and they all go licking each others bowls. Everyone has their own spot and no one tries to eat the others food. Max has learned to play with toys- or at least steal everyone elses and hide them when they aren't looking. He has this pile under the computer desk beneath his pillow that he lays on.

Mind you, the doxies are supposed to be hubby's dogs. Ha. Ha. Isis will divide her time between us, but Max has been tyring to take over the Male Alpaha position from hubby. I find it amusing.

I know that they will cuddle up with me tonight while I watch the Oscars. Of course, it may have to do with the popcorn I will be eating.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I have been so busy I haven't had a chance to write anything. Good thing someone gave me a poke about it.

Earlier this week was my 49th birthday. Ouch. I can't believe I am that old. I don't normally feel it, or even look it. Sometimes though, my creaky bones and short memory span remind me of it.

On the other hand, I have finally quit celebrating the anniversary of my 29th birthday. Which will make my 24 year old daughter happy.

I think that next year I will celebrate my 50th doing something that I want to do- whether it is taking a trip alone (like I am doing next month) or going to a spa. Something that is meaningful to me. This year reminded me that I am responsible for my own happiness and not to rely on anyone else, including my family, to make me happy. Does that make sense? I don't know, but it does to me.

I did spend a lot of the last few days helping my 87 year old neighbor out. He's a riot. Legally blind in his right eye and totally blind in his left but he refuses to move out of his house to his daughter's which just drives the poor woman crazy. She is in WV so dropping everything isn't easy for her when he needs help. So I do what I can. Take him shopping, dr's appts, go through the mail, fix his tv remote when he messes it up, lawn work in the summer and shoveling in the winter. But most importantly, just spending time with him. We can argue, disagree and basically bitch about anything to each other. Call and tell his daughter, who has become a good friend, how crazy he is driving me and then just laugh about it. She has her own health issues and hopefully this helps her a bit too. I went with him to NYC on the train yesterday to see his eye specialist, one of a very few who does the kind of surgery he needed to save his good eye. That's always fun. He complains the entire time about how long it takes and I spend it telling him to behave himself. Then we get back on the train, fall asleep, get home and go out to dinner. In return, I use his garage for some storage. Nice exchange. But knowing he is still happy and has someone to keep an eye on him is what is most important. While I am gone, he will be having another eye surgery but his daugther will be here so I won't have to worry either. Good timing on our parts.

My neighbor on the other side is 88 and never slows down. That woman makes me tired just watching her. She still does the driving for her friends who are too old to drive or just don't see too well anymore. She still has all her own teeth, wears glasses to read with (her Dr. thinks she is an alien), doesn't take any drugs and just has a creaky knee. I want to be her when I grow up.
Although her Catholic Church has always been a big part of her life, and she is very involved with it, it is one of many around her closing shortly. I don't know what she will do without that activity. She is also on the local hospital board so hopefully that will keep her going. So far she has outlived her husband and two of her daughters, and my husband's first wife. I love that I can go over there, sit down and have a beer and just relax and talk. We have talked about taking the train into the city to see a matinee and I will need to plan that for when I get home from my trip.

Both of them wear me out and I am almost half their ages.

Today my husband is supposed to take me out to buy my birthday present. I won't remind him of it and we shall see what happens.

I have about 100 pages left on Suz Brockmann's Dark of Night. I fell asleep on the train and didn't get to finish it yesterday, so I may just go do that right now.

I have a lot of updates to do on my ipod for the trip. I am loading it up with all my favorite bands and songs- anything I can sing to. Loudly. No one will be there to hear how off key I am. So I have been downloading like crazy. Any one have any suggestions??

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My route is basically set. And, might I add, pretty ambitious for someone travelling across the country alone. Most of my driving time is a 6-8 hours a day, not counting pit stops, food breaks and camera opportunities.

Day 1- Albany, NY to Salisbury, MD. I want to cross the Bay Bridge-Tunnel in the daylight, so I am waiting until morning. This should be fun. I hate heights and closed in places, but want to experience it and stop and take pictures when I can. Should be amusing. No one there to witness my success or terror.

Day 2- From Salisbury, I am heading to NC to visit with my friends Judy and Roger. Now, we have never met but we have been on line in the Anne McCaffrey chats for so long, I can't even remember how far back it goes. About time we got to meet up face-to-face, and I am staying the night with them in their new home. Poor Roger.

Day 3- Since the trip on day 2 is short, I will be heading out to Knoxville, TN.

Day 4 brings me to Little Rock, AR. Somewhere in there I will be stopping for lunch and am using Food TV's Diner, Drive Ins and Dives to help me plan where. Just depends on where I am around lunch or dinner I guess. They have lots of bar-b-que and it would be a shame not to hit somewhere on the list. If I am making good enough time, I might even be able to stop in Memphis for awhile. I would love to spend time in Nashville, but since I spent my honeymoon there, Memphis it is.

Day 5- I am off to Oklahoma City to visit with Silver and spend a day there and resting (haha). I want to be sure to see the memorial. Both she and my husband worked that disaster, so I know she will have memories of it too. I am looking forward to seeing it through her eyes.

Day 7 takes me to Alburquerque, NM. I plan on spending an extra day there. I have always wanted to visit there area and check out the history. I love the southwest and would consider moving out there someday.

Day 9 is going to take me Phoenix, AZ. I can only call Luke AFB 3 days prior to arrival to see if they have space available, so I need to find a hotel that is not too expensive just in case. HA! I have found one, but am not sure of it's location. I will keep looking. This is where I spent the first few years of my life and I remember almost nothing of the area other than that where we were is what is now the barrio. Then is was a conglomeration of every nationality- the common factor is that we were all working poor.

Day 10 takes me the 5 hour drive to San Diego. I know I can go straight up to LA where the Daughter is, but I want to visit there. I have to call the Navy Base 30 days ahead for a room, but that is better than 3. I have always wanted to visit the San Diego Zoo and Sea World and will make sure I do that if nothing else. I am planning on spending a couple of days there before heading to LA on the 26th. We head home to NY on the 28th.

I am hoping the weather is good for the trip. I am a bit nervous about the desert section of it but I figure if I leave early that day I won't hit the really hot weather. If my calculations are right anyway.

I got all this done while Smart Bitches was off line for 2 days. I think they should do that once a week and maybe we could all get something accomplished. Nah.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Packing (ha!)

I would rather refer to it as "Let's see how much of her stuff I can pack in the car and get out of my house!!".

There will be no reason her to buy bath, personal, powders, shampoos, face or a myriad of other items for awhile. I even packed them in some of my plastic bins so all she has to do it put them on the upper shelf until she needs to "go shopping".

Sadly, I know that I am no where near done finding all the stuff she has stacked, stored and hidden around. I can't believe how much money I have spent on stuff that hasn't even been opened. Packrat syndrome I guess. But, I have managed to regain some of my premium shelf space in the bathroom. I might even be able to use it now for things like towels and seasonal stuff. How strange that will be.

I know when she comes home that I will need her to spend some of her precious time going through stuff so I can put it in storage or send it out to her. I want to redecorate the room, but not loose all her things that are in there either. She has some great stuff I don't want to just stuff in storage nor is it going out to her dorm. Things like her Angel and Spike puppets and her Nightmare and Pirates collections. And our combined comic book collection. That has gotten rather large.

And her books. I am sure I will be packing as many of them in the car as I can. I'm glad we got her one with lots of room in it- a Chevy HHR. Great car and tons of room especially with the seats down. And fantastic gas mileage.

Note to self: Put new tires and breaks on the car before I hit the road! Pack books and guitars.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

41 Days and counting!

The planning has started for my trip. So far everyone has been very supportive- none of the "you can't do that alone, you're a woman" crap.

I have a couple of friends I am going to visit on the way- internet ones that I have known quite awhile but never had the opportunity to meet face to face. So I will be plotting my route with a little bouncing around- not exactly a direct one.

From here in NY, I am heading to WV (another story in itself), then to NC to visit with Jude and Roger then hanging a right and heading to OK to visit with Silver.

I have decided that if I get pulled over at any point the first thing I am going to do is call hubby and keep my speaker phone open- not paranoid much, am I? Wish I could take one of my doxies with me, but I can't fly back with them, so no go on that. So firece looking, aren't they? They would chew your ankle off in a minute. Unless you gave them a treat. Typical. (Isis is the fuzzy one, and Max is the bobble head. All of our animals are rescues, and we had just picked Max up from a rescue organization in this picture. Everyone came with us that day to welcome him to his new home.)

If this trip goes well, I am thinking I just might make it an annual trek. Not coast to coast but picking an area of the country and finding what it has to offer. Take a plane and head somewhere and rent a car and just explore. Or just head out from home and drive. Between AAA, my GPS and the internet, there is no reason I can't find somewhere to explore no matter what my time limit might be.

Then maybe I will be ready to expand my explorations to the world. Scotland and Australia are at the top of my list.

When I usually pack for a trip, I tend to do it in a color scheme. After all these years and trips together, my husband has never noticed this before. So I hit the winter sales (lots of them!) and am packing in black, gray, pink and purple. Even order a couple of pair of new shoes to coordinate.

Yes, I am slightly obsessive/compulsive. My daughter is more than willing to tell that to anyone who asks. Or doesn't.

I will probably start packing soon- putting things aside as I find them so I don't forget them.

I wonder if it is too early to start packing her car with all the stuff I need to bring with me???