Saturday, October 29, 2011

When you wish the vet lived next door

Call to vet:
Doctor, do I need to worry about my puppy's nutrition? I mean, I give her the recommended puppy chow. You approved it. Most of the time she eats it. But sometimes she doesn't.

What does she eat? Well, she gets a lot of fiber. Mostly, you know, from paper and cardboard. I worry about that. Seems to fill her up too much. Not enough vitamins. Well, and she eats pencils, and wallboard--not too much, you understand, but I imagine it is filling. And my rug has a hole in it.

Diarrhea? Constipation? Oh, no. No problem. She poops in the yard like usual. So long as the good Lord sends rain once in a while, she doesn't give me more work. I really don't need more work.

I never feed her from the table. Ever. But she keeps jumping up. Well, she's 6 months old now. If I keep saying no, won't she stop?

Does she need broccoli and squash? I mean, to counteract the book covers, you know, and the mail? She likes raw carrots, I know. When I make a salad, occasionally a slice falls on the floor.

Well, all the books she has chewed are new, so no lead poisoning there. As for human food, the other night I fixed green chile stew for supper with light toasted sourdough bread. She stole the bread. Twice. I never caught her. Is that too much carbohydrates?

And that time she ate the dark chocolate Dove bar? I always keep my purse zipped now, and it was only half a bar, honest. and she never got sick.

I'm sorry. I have to go now. She's beginning to chew on the wirin


Thursday, October 27, 2011

When you love the team, hate the game kinda

I remember being from New Mexico back in the 1960s and being startled my freshman year in college to find the World Series in baseball is played in October. Naturally, I didn't know who was playing.

Being a journalist, I tried to keep up with the facts thereafter, but I never did like baseball. Maybe it was too many jammed finger joints playing softball in phys ed, but nope, I never liked it.

When my sons were little, I let them play T-ball but gently guided them toward soccer later. If my sons played baseball, I would have to go to their games. Horror!
I never liked it.

Working as a journalist, I talked to a lot of sportswriters who told me it was the best of sports, intelligent, cerebral and requiring the most all-around athleticism. I watched a few innings and my eyes crossed. I never liked it.

I've been aware through the years that I had friends who loved the Texas Rangers. I was glad for their enthusiasm, didn't participate. I never liked the game.

Over the last decade, however, I have come to like the team, the staff, the owners.
They really are a team. All of them. It has been good to see. Or rather, the results have, because I still can't watch the game. The reason has changed.

What do they say about blind tedium interspaced with stark terror? Following the Texas Rangers has been like that lately. I've liked the Rangers, specially with Nolan Ryan as an owner and Ron Washington as the coach and a team that really seems to be a TEAM. Yeah. Just--still don't make me watch much.

Game Six tonight. Any number of Texans with the wherewithall have said what the hell and are in St. Louis. Nolan Ryan said we would win in six. Rained out last night. Tonight is six.

I've found all kinds of friends who are longtime fans. Years and years. When temps were in the 100s this summer, I know a couple who went seven times. And watch every game. And she refused to cook during the playoffs until they won. I know a retired English teacher who gets together with her friends in their Ranger t-shirts and caps for EVERY game and they have for 20 years. And many more folks.The Rangers don't lack longterm fans.

I'm astonished my younger son is staying home --if he doesn't join a watch party with some friends--to see who wins tonight. I mean, this is not a general sports fan, and unlike me, he will actually watch.

So many have followed the Rangers so long. There's hype, and there's winning and commercialism.

Somehow, tonight is full of expectations and hopes. I'm part of the fringe and it's still fun to watch. I understand the games have been particularly good.
I never really liked the game. But I've read the spots on these.

And I want them to win. I want them to win. I want them to win...

When I write this I don't know. When you read, you will.

These words are foreign to my tongue but--Go Rangers!

(If the Tai Chi instructor could say it this morning, I can only add my approbation.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Am I Overtly Sentimental Yet?

If Gracie survives puppydom, then dogs have guardian angels, too. I've always suspected it.

My granddaughters are of an age where "childproofing" the house is long behind me. In many ways, I'm safe there. Gracie is unlikely to stick her nose in a light socket--although chewing the cords that lead to them may be another matter.

My new computer has arrived, awaiting assembly in its box.

"Have you unpacked it?" elder son asked on the phone.

"Not till we assemble," I replied. "Gracie would eat all the wires before we could hook up."

"Oh, yeah,' he replied.

Maybe by nebulizer fell off the bedside table this week, but I doubt it. She is FULLY tall enough on her hind legs to reach...a great many things. I found her trying to chew on the case itself, fortunately strong enough to withstand her beginning chomps. The plastic top, however, is toast. I shudder to think what that medication could do to her. Periodically, I misplace something I fear could kill her, and find it later, often with teethmarks.

Since my rebuilt knee isn't up to kneeling yet, I am getting into a routine of asking youngest granddaughter to check under my bed every few days for missing books, mail, aerosol cans, you name it. ...I heard her munching just now and found she had half-devoured an old bill. Chewy paper? Tasty glue? I don't know.

Corgis are relentless chewers. Astonishing. She has not only gotten all the juice out of a large bag of rawhide pieces, she has digested half of them. Time to buy more.

She digs. My back yard looks as though small munitions have exploded all over. Footlong sticks litter the ground, except she is bringing them up, one by one, to stack by her water bowl--which, if she drinks it dry, she turns into a toy to carry around the now pockmarked lawn.

She has found two escape holes from my back yard, escaping once even after I thought I had erected a sturdy barricade. It wasn't. So far, she just runs around to the front yard, waits for me to discover she's gone, and looks for her treat without which she will NOT come in. There are cars, and big dogs, and other people out there, and I worry. Off leash, she doesn't obey commands, and sometimes finds the freedom more delicious than bits of chicken. She's only a six-month-old puppy. I have to remember that. And keep training.

She and TC, my tuxedo grandcat, are slowly becoming friends. Youngest granddaughter reported yesterday that the cat accidentally(?) stepped on one of Gracie's squeaky balls in the (now green) grass. It squeaked. Gracie grabbed it, tore off, ran back and dropped it in front of the cat.

"Do it again!" she begged, her whole rear end, sans tail, wagging.

But the insoucient cat simply sauntered off, leaving her alone with her toy. Aw.

As I write, she is stretched, chin on my foot, all four feet in the air. She just gave a deep sigh. I don't think it's contentment.

She's just marking time till she can inveigle me into the next invigorating round of fetch.

Oh yeah, I hope she survives her puppyhood, that I do, too.

Oh, the places we'll go!
The the things we will see,
Walking along,
Just Gracie and me!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Personal info about my underage dog

Training a dog, maybe particularly a smart herder animal, has changed me some, and I think it will change me more.

At class Tuesday, Gracie got many accolades, especially for her sit and stays, which she sometimes did better than the grown dogs. And she had only learned to let me back away 10 feet in class.

"Oh, she's sharp, that one."

"Very well. Oh, for a puppy, very well."

"She's coming along, yes, she is."

And one of my favorites, of course.

"You can tell you two have been practicing."

Which, actually, we have.

Last class next week, then Gracie and I will practice sit, stay, down, heel (sic), all the time. After the classes, comes the practice. It's a lifelong commitment to practicing good manners. (Help! I can no longer remember what the fork at the top of the plate is for!)

Gracie and I have practiced. She is always on my left except returning up the ramp past the unexplained threatening hedge on the left.She sits. She stays. Her eyes gleam when I put on my carpenter's apron, stuff the treats in a pocket, and clip on her leash. She gets to work. She gets to move. She gets treats. And really, she loves me.

(Lord, age-appropriate friends and I have shuddered over the full 1950s Sunday dinners after church with the Dreaded Wedge of Iceberg Lettuce with Thousand Island. And you couldn't use a knife. Failure was...wass....well, Gracie is just a puppy. Even as a dog she would never go through that.)

I will continue writing. We have a long way to go, Gracie and I. Training has made us both listen to each other better.

She was already teaching me, but training has made me relax and just enjoy, and maybe teach her a bit. I'm lazy. She gets the heavy teaching gig, usually.

The other night, after a busy day sans Gracie, I went out on the deck with Gracie and my cell. I eyed it, let it be. I thought about how her "yelling" is down to legitimate requests for attention when I have ignored her too long. Yep. And she gets off on hugs and belly rubs. All her toys were inside. I watched her play, eventually run up and eat her supper, come over for a belly rub. We shared the time. So peacefull. So sweet.

This morning, I awoke to hear her munching on the very book I set on the floor last night saying, "she's too old to eat this now." Tonight, as I was writing, I stopped to wrest away the ballpoint she had already chewed to pulp, found on a lower shelf I again thought was safe. Nothing under three feet is. I must learn this.

Neither my children nor grandchildren chewed so vociferously. On the other hand, they learned really fast. So does Gracie. She also can be redirected by rawhide. My kids and grandkids don't respond to it.

Actually, she is snuggly and loving. Her front legs are amazingly strong. She plays, and loves, with all her might.

Very sweet.

Just don't get in a tug of war with her rope.

She plays to win.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"My dear, you are simply blooming!"

You may have heard last week's news story of the new business two men have in Alabama.

It was a popular story in Texas and played big.

The men are taking orders--and cremains, if available already, and using them to make shotgun shells, rifle cartridges or handgun bullets. Or all three.

I already know a number of people who have expressed a wish for this in the past.
The Alabama partners say orders are pouring in.

Sorry, I don't know where in Alabama--but the name of the company is Holy Smoke.
I believe fully in the pursuit of happiness, including the right to have your remains lie right where some of your loved ones may visit most often, or at least for a ah, sendoff.

For myself, I want something else, probably harder to make happen.
I would like my cremains to be powdered, mixed with compost, peat, and potting soil, and sold by a company called "Pushing Up Daisies."

Well, it could happen. Makes me smile. That way, I could give back to the earth, a little.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Got Wet Yesterday, and I'm Thrilled

Back in the 1980s, I remember clearly, we had a spring full of wildflowers. The rains and sunshine came just right, and for weeks and weeks, the fields were covered with wildflowers that bloomed and bloomed and bloomed.

I remember telling someone at the time that at last I knew what great wealth felt like. Plenty, and plenty and more plenty coming. My eyes feasted on those flowers.

No, I didn't take pictures. I didn't need to. Those weeks of yarrow, Queen Anne's lace, Indian blankets, Black-eyed Susans, wild larkspur, bluebonnets, five kinds of daisies,fairy cups, primrose, honeysuckle, pink roses and so much more just fed my soul.

I like to think sometimes about the seeds that may still lie dormant and bloom again someday.

I once was very comfortable financially, That hasn't been true in decades, but I have been comfortable enough. But as I associated the extravagant spring with wealth, so the ongoing drought feels like poverty. Prices are going up--especially food, which now must come such long distances. My dollars don't go as far. Somehow the drought adds to it. The land, the very land around me, is in poverty.

A rain back in August didn't green the lawns but did partially green some of the pastures around my home. Native grasses jump to the opportunity to drink and grow. We've heard a lot this summer about how weeds are water hogs in tended beds, snatching the water from the thirsty roots of the plants we want to water.

This weekend we had rain that was overall, wonderful. I've heard totals some places of much less than an inch; we got at least three inches here. Further west, where the wildfires have been so bad, rainfall ranged from four to eight inches. The rain soaked rather than poured,and the ground was so thirsty, almost none ran off into rivers and lakes. I actually saw one puddle that lasted a couple of hours.

Weather experts say that's it for now. West Texas got the most of this and needed it. South Texas, which normally grows a lot of produce used instate, has been unable to deliver this year. About 20 percent of the trees across the state are dead or dying.

Rain was great. Dog Gracie got wet and muddy, prefering to stay outside for long periods to coming inside. I actually got WET running to the car! (I gave in to superstition recently when I saw a display of umbrellas and didn't buy one. Might jinx the rain.)

It was a wonderful respite.

I actually saw a few sprigs of green in the straw-like lawn this morning. The grass could green a bit for the first time in four months. That will make my granddaughter happy.She gets paid to mow for me, and she didn't mow, even once, all summer.

Maybe now's her chance.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Of Friends and Blogs and Water to Drink to That

I have no computer skills, basically. My "consultant" currently is not available to help me link to a couple of blogs I regularly read. (I need help putting that up, too.)

For my readers who have blogs, however, check out "What's In My Attic". Deb runs a great blog with magnificient pictures from the East Coast. Her latest warns of blog changes that may be coming. Info is from "Blogger Buzz.' Check it out.

Deb, between my computer and my tech ineptness, I haven't been able to leave several comments lately on your wonderful site. I'll figure it out AND get a better machine eventually. Meanwhile, I'll just comment here, if I can't there.

Claire writes "The Zees Go West", a New Englander's wonderful transplantation to a community just 70 miles from where I grew up. Hey, in New Mexico, that's considered close enough to drop over for lunch and return home. 'Course, sometimes you hit those traffic jams when you have wait while White Sands Missile Range shoots a rocket north, over the highway. At least, they used to.

Claire and family are just now completing their trip via Amtrak to Boston, where her own excellent photos and commentary gave a delightful feel for someplace I've never been. I almost feel I got to go, too, and it didn't cost me a dime. I just had to imagine their dinners of lobter, clams, etc., at America's Oldest Restaurant.
Claire, I said some of this in a comment to you after my last blog. The comment is there, but my computer doesn't count it. For some reason, my computer is undoing some of my typing errors I correct as well.

Definitely time for a new machine. Time for me to learn a little more to go with it.

Re Texas drought--Texas A&M University has announced Texas pretty much is going to stay in one, with maybe one or two years off, until 2020. Slowly, attitudes are starting to change. The biggest barrier seems to be the folks who figure they will just pay more, or pay fines, and have their water. The constant influx of more people into Texas strains the finite resources we already have.

I stumbled into an interview with the mayor of San Antonio on public radio recently, and will see if I can find a link. San Antonio was forced into conservation some decade or so ago and has learned to reduce their water usage significantly. They were forced into this by a blind little salamander whose habitat they were wiping out. They were furious. But they are now, the mayor said, so thankful. They even have fountains in use because they recycle the water. The mayor said Sea World Amusement Park has one the largest private water treatment facilities in use anywhere, and has reduced water usage monthly by several thousand gallons.

In extreme water curtailment, I am not sure commercial car washes are allowed to operate. Demand for swimming pools obviously will drop off, especially if you can't fill your pools. We are not there yet, but it may be coming. Forget watering restrictions. We are speculating if water use could become so stringent, bathing will be limited.

At least that might boost perfume sales.

Monday, October 3, 2011

And I thought walking the dog was a trick with yo-yos

Gracie and I will be going to class tomorrow night, and this time, I am ill prepared. I haven't been doing our homework.

Gracie no longer barks at the other dogs in class. (Especially when I am carrying shaved particles of steak as treats to get her attention.) She will sit and stay. It amazes me how 3 five-minute sessions a day can shape her behavior so quickly.

A Pembroke Welsh Corgi, she is much happier when she has a job to do, even if she doesn't like what I am teaching. We are interacting. I have HER full attention and she has mine. This is not a dog you should routinely leave alone in the back yard all day, even with a Kong toy full of peanut butter, which I haven't gotten yet. Maybe later. She's just five months old and craves company.

Sigh. maybe too much. I played tug and fetch with her this morning before getting on the computer. She then settled by my feet to play while I write. She just interrupted to "yell"--her loud bark that demands, "play with me." Or equally, "Pay attention to me." I told her no firmly and set her down (because she jumps up to do this.) After three such interchanges, she took her tug rope and went in search of another toy. Three times it took me. I can see trainers everywhere shaking their heads at my poor work with her. (Meanwhile, I am such an amateur I am just secretly pleased she eventually followed my order.)

I admit I don't have the detachment to be a good trainer. Yes, she's a dog. Yes, I did the alpha exercises, and she responded. She has so much vitality, so much intelligence and personality, however, that I play to her sensibilities. She does have them. Like all young things, she can also be sneaky. I have to be aware of that, too.

Last week they told me I shouldn't have fed her before coming to class, which ends about 8:30 pm. I ate a sandwich before training, and Gracie was right there, so I fed her a small meal of dry food. We ate together. She was totally responsive in class to her steak bits. I am not trying to train a competition obedience dog, and I see no sense in being austere. I am the novice, however, and almost everything they are teaching Gracie and me works well.

Spraying her in the face for barking or play-biting is one distinct failure. The bottle I found shoots more of a mist rather than a stream like a water pistol. The stream might work better. After I tried it, she backed away, barking furiously and would not let me near her. I haven't tried it since. Redirecting, or using "no" sparingly, seems slowly to be working. A snap of my fingers on her nose works well, but my blasted arthritis mostly prevents my being able to do so.

She seems to respond very slowly to hand commands and I believe I am consistent. I try to say certain words predictably before we do certain things. Right now I suspect she understands, all right--she's just waiting for the treat to appear first.

She will sit as I face her and remain sitting till I pivot forward and give her treat. Good. Then we walk and she is supposed to be heeling more stylishly. I haven't practiced near enough this week, and she hasn't improved much there.

I am supposed to say "down", making a down gesture with my hand, and get her on her tummy. She dodges my hand, knowing I am going to press her tummy down. She REALLY doesn't like this one but eventually will lie in tummy-scratching mode when I take my hand away and wait for her treat. I am not physically strong and it usually takes me two or three tries to accomplish this. So far, each success takes 2-3 tries, no improvement.

She's not mean, or even unfocused. She doesn't like it and will do so only after much effort. The trainer told me all that is required is that she go down--on her back, feet in the air is fine. It seems silly to me.

I thought surely corgis are so prized there would be no rescue groups, but there are, of course. Gracie was turning into a brat and still has her moments. They take a lot of work and interaction to become the wonderful family dogs they can be. I've been tempted twice by ads in the paper offiering free young corgi males to anyone who has the time foe them. Another dog would be company when I'm not here, and I'm not here a lot. BUT. I can keep up with her--barely. Two, I think, would be beyond me, plus I bet these dogs need some corrective training and I'm still bumbling along at fledgling grade.

We'll see how far we get. A nicely mannered dog I can take out in public is my goal. Gracie's goal has a lot to do with keeping busy and doing things with me. Let's see if we can do both.

I have a deadline--I am getting the second knee replaced before Christmas and I think it would be nice if Gracie didn't trip me up as I relearn using the left leg.

I do well with deadlines. I suspect Gracie will, too.