Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Shelly Stylin'

Late last week, the world's most annoying dachshund attacked the new boy in the mistaken belief that he had a dog treat and she didn't. In fact, he did not have a dog treat, but he thought that finally she wanted to play. They tangled, him joyfully play bowing and wrestling with her, her showing her teeth and screaming like a banshee. I pulled them apart, saw no signs of actual harm and forgot about it.

Sunday Bob noticed that she had a golf ball sized lump on the side of her neck. He had scraped her (there was barely a nick) but it had gotten infected and abscessed. So they shaved the side of her neck, put her under, opened it up, cleaned it out, stuck a tube in it to drain (which i have taken great pains not to get in the photo above because she looks like FrankenDachshund on the other side.)

Problem, she couldn't wear an e collar (one of those cone thingies they put on dogs and cats) because the surgery was in her neck, where the collar would sit. But she couldn't be allowed to scratch the tube out, either. So they suggested we put socks on her. Bob wrapped her back feet in bandages and voila, Shelly Sox. Monday she was groggy from surgery, but Tuesday morning she was feisty and quite irritated. She would take a step and sit down aggrieved and irritated. But by today, although she bites at them now and then, she is actually quite comfortable in her new footwear. And the tube, which is scheduled to come out tomorrow, is still in place.

I think it might catch on.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Jock

We are a distinctly non-jock family. Irony of ironies, Hudson is a total jock. Well, maybe not so ironic. Not many dogs are into the Internet and cult science fiction films. He and I walked two miles on Friday and I went out in the back yard in threw the tennis ball for awhile three different times and on Saturday, my arm was sore and Hudson was full of energy.

By today, he is pretty much beside himself. I had forgotten how much energy young dogs have.

All the walking is going to be good for me. But today I plan to paint the back bedroom. Which means I'm not going to be all gung ho about long walks and tennis ball sessions. Enter Jigsaw. Lawrence Persons also has a rescued Golden Retriever. Lawrence is the one who told me about the rescue. Jigsaw is a young, red, high energy male. And he's coming over today at two for a play date with Hudson. I hope they hit it off.

I hope they wear each other out.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My Sister, Instigator (Another Dog Post)

Years ago, when my nephew's boy (he starts college in the fall) was a toddler, my sister and I bought a Fisher Price lawn mower that made the horrendous popping noise. It was so annoying that his parent would let him play with it for awhile, and then would put it up because it was driving them crazy.

Yesterday UPS arrived with a package for Hudson Yeager. Inside were vitamins, Omega 3 oil for his coat, toys and A Ball. The Ball was an instant hit. It's softball-sized, too tough to chew through (he destroys tennis balls) and it's just too big and heavy for Shelly the World's Most Annoying Dachshund to want it.

Hudson loves his ball. Hudson tosses the ball to us. All the time. When Bob is on the computer. When we're watching TV. When I'm in the kitchen. I went to the bathroom and while I was there, the ball kept thumping against the door.

Auntie Pat has a lot to answer for.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oh To Be White, Rich & Thin

(My Wednesday post on Eat Our Brains)

Bob hates reality TV. What he really hates is the elimination at the end of so many reality shows, where someone is ritually exiled from the group, their torch is put out, the supermodel tells them they’re ‘out’, they are fired, or they are told to pack their knives and go. Which may explain part of the appeal of the show that has snagged Bob. Folding laundry one night, searching the TV for something to distract him, he came across The Real Housewives of Orange County. And now he’s a fan.

The Real Housewives follows six white, upper-class straight women who live in Orange County. They depict the Orange County lifestyle, which according to the show is gated communities of McMansions, Republicanism, rampant materialism and boob jobs. Cameras follow them around to catch them at their most entertaining worst. We are there when one of them goes to a consultation with a plastic surgeon to get her breast implants removed because her doctor says her DD’s are the cause of her back issues and her husband complains that he doesn’t want her to go too small.

Part of it is the unsparing but uninsightful eye of the camera. We see what the women do and what they say, but other than superficial commentary from the women themselves, we never get any real insight into why, for example, Vicki is so driven and controlling in her business and with her children, or why she drinks so hard at parties. (“They say I did a ‘woo-woo’ shot with the bartender,” she says, “but I don’t remember it.” A pause. “I don’t!” And then we see her on film, doing a shot with the bartender and shrieking ‘woo-woo!’ with him.) There is an old saying that people who marry for money earn every dime. The same might be said for these women, who may not have married for money, per se, but who certainly pay a price for their devotion to what they call ‘the OC lifestyle.’ Many have been married a couple of times, several have difficult issues with children, all of them have issues with their bodies.

Bob finds the show to be as compelling as a car wreck. He can’t stop being fascinated. At the same time he’s forever appalled by the fake hair, the botox, the excessive make-up, the clothes, the giant houses, the money, the waste of it all. Still, much as the camera works to catch them at their most stereotypical (Quinn, 52, dating a 26 year old or Tamra, who at 40 has just become a realtor, showing a house that comes with a Ferrari, Jeana, the ex Playmate, complaining that her husband only married her for her looks and the sex and when she gained weight, there was nothing holding their marriage together any more) and there are plenty of ‘do they realize what they look like’ moments, there are also moments when they become people it’s hard not to care about. Particularly in their dealings with their children, sometimes troubled, sometimes materialistic, sometimes touching, but usually as complex, flawed and human as any parent, anywhere.

There is a long strain in America of wanting to see evidence that the rich are not better, but that they are shallow, vain, materialistic and that we, the middle class, actually live more fulfilling lives. It’s a staple of movies and television. It’s part of our fixation with Brittany. We like to think that being rich means being out of balance. The Real Housewives of Orange County caters to that. It’s a cartoon of bleached hair and tans. It works to catch every shallow moment. There’s few moments of poignancy. It’s mostly fast food television, simplistic, superficial. It’s the opposite of The Sopranos, a fiction that dramatized the complexity of the emotional lives of people who could have been portrayed as just as tasteless and excessive. Of course, part of the problem is that The Real Housewives isn’t fiction. Heisenberg’s recognition that observation alters the object observed is really happening here. People are working for the camera and those moment of feeling probably happen off camera, in private, behind closed doors. Even if it sometimes seems as if these people have no shame, that they will say and do almost anything on TV, it’s true that their secret selves, mostly hidden even from them, are probably completely hidden from us.

The season ended last night. I suspect we’ll be there next season, watching to see if Vicki ends up at Hazelton.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Where Are You From, Hudson?

Hudson is doing great. Settling in. He's an easy, well-mannered boy. He shows signs of some training--he knows sit and down, he retrieves and drops what he has retrieved. He's a two year old male Golden with some training who had not been neutered. Who was found wandering a highway, skinny, no collar. The woman who found him posted flyers and called vets offices, and looked for any sign someone was looking for him, but after two months had to concede that no one appeared to be.

Is someone missing him? Who would take the time to train him but not look for him? I look at what I know. Training, especially on retrieve and drop, but not neutered. Was someone training him for hunting? He doesn't mind when Bob plays the drums, until Bob hits the high hat, which he clearly dislikes. He scuttles then, paws flying, to come back to me. Was he gunshy? Even so, did he get loose? Did someone dump him?

He's worth some money, even as just a pet. Hard to believe that someone just dropped him off.

I only know that he's afraid of being left again. He loves to go out in the yard. He's deadly fascinated by squirrels. But he wants Bob or me to go out with him, and he keeps looking back. Don't leave me. When we walk, he's skittish. He wants very badly to go, but sounds make him start a little.

Hard to believe someone is not missing him. Mourning him.

Sweet goober. What's your story?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Where Do You Sleep?

A post by Entelein on LiveJournal was so comfortable that it made me want to know where do you sleep?

Post a photo and put a link in the comments if you want. Except for Karen at Pen in Hand, who could, if she were so inclined, sketch where she sleeps.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Goober

When Tracey from rescue was first telling me about Hudson, she said, 'He's what we call a goober.' And, well, she was right. We went for a walk this morning--not far, the poor boy just had his balls lopped off on Friday. But this morning he was so full of energy, running around the house, skidding the rugs across the hardwood, that I figured if I didn't burn a little off, he'd drive everyone, including himself, crazy. So off we went.

Hudson is my first boy dog. So I am not yet accustomed to the need to pee on every tree, bush, sign post and upright unmoving object. He was dry long before he ran out of things to mark. He'd lunge ahead, coming up short on the leash, then halt and sniff, and sniff, and sniff. The neighborhood and world are utterly new. He starts at sounds, lifts his ears, wags his tail at people leaving their house to get into their cars. His tongue lolls. Like me! He says. Like me likemelimeme! Ilikeyou! Itsallsofun! I'msohappy!

But even at his most gooberish, he's got good manners. He will sit, although he can barely contain himself when he does. He doesn't surf counters. He doesn't bark. (He actually starts a little when Shelly erupts at something outside on the street. I told him it's okay, we've had her for years and we haven't gotten used to it, either.) He's a little prone to jumping on you when you come in the door, but is aware he isn't supposed to and can be quickly dissuaded. So then he just dances. He follows Bob and I from room to room and stands outside the bathroom patiently. He doesn't scratch. He's perfectly housebroken. And he prefers to walk on my right, which makes me think he's had some training.

The only problem so far is that he would really like something to chew on. We bought Nylabones--the super hard, good for dogs kind. But Shelly cannot bear that he actually have something. We bought two bones but of course, she wants the one he has. And when he has it, she suddenly attacks him. He drops down to play, but he's six times her size and she isn't playing. We pull him away, she keeps attacking until one of us picks her up.

Luckily, he just thinks she's playing. Likemelikemelikeme! But it means that all the toys are kept locked up, at least for now.

It's strange to have a new dog. He's adorable, my handsome new boy, but we aren't quite his and he's not quite ours. He doesn't know us yet. We don't know him, yet. He's a bit of a stranger in our midst, although a good-natured, well-meaning one. I plan to start obedience classes with him when I can. It will be good for both of us, I think.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

So Far So Good

Hudson has even charmed Shelly. So far. We're waiting to see what happens when she realizes that he isn't going anywhere.

Monday, January 14, 2008


This is Hudson. Hudson was found along a highway and after flyers were posted and ads placed in the paper and no one claimed him, he ended up in rescue.

We have been asked if we would foster with intention to adopt--it gives us all a chance to get to know each other. So on Friday (after going to the vet on Thursday to get 'snipped') Hudson comes here.

The rescue folks say Hudson is between a year and two years. They describe him as rambunctious, friendly, good with kids and babies (the woman who found him has an 18 month old.) He's a bit of a doofus. He loves tennis balls, walks in the park, and probably pina coladas.

Bob and I can't wait.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Restaurant As Amusement Park

(I posted this on Eat Our Brains this morning, got on an airplane, flew to LA, and when I checked Eat Our Brains it was not functioning. So it a fit of post airport frenzy--I mean, I went to the trouble of posting this morning before I left for LA so I would make my Wednesday deadline even though I was on the road--I am posting it here as well.)

There’s a commercial for a service that allegedly protects against identity theft. In it a guy sings about why he is wearing a pirate costume serving tourists in a restaurant. (It’s because he was bankrupted when his identity was stolen.) When I think of restaurants that set out to entertain, that’s the first image that comes to mind. The theme restaurant. Mariachi guys serenading over bad fajitas. Chuck E Cheese, where your kids will be distracted enough you might get a moment to just sit and watch them spend your money on games, or it’s adult incarnation, Damon’s, where you can play a quiz using the electronic quiz thingy on your table and play, not only against the other geniuses in your particular restaurant, but against people all over the country eating at Damon’s and ignoring their food just like you are. And although Damon’s food is not horrible, it isn’t exactly a crime to ignore it, either.

There’s been a kind of an upsurge of food as fun for people who might even like to eat. Probably the bottom feeder of this is The Melting Pot, which is fondue. Fondue is a license to officially play with your food. But it isn’t particularly great food. I mean, any time you let the customers cook for themselves, the point is really not cooking technique. I like fondue, but mostly I like it sitting around with friends, getting drunk and threatening each other with the little forks—in other words, I like fondue the way it was done in the fifties, when everyone got a fondue set as a wedding present. The idea of opening a restaurant where I let non-professionals anywhere near hot oil for cooking seems rather scary to me.

My kid, Adam, is a meat eater. He, like me, would really like to be a vegetarian. But the fact is, if we were vegetarians, we’d have to give up meat. I’ve tried. I’ve failed. Now I cook with duck fat and constrain myself to a kind of low level sniping at vegetarians who I resent because I consider them morally superior to me. Texas is a meat lovers paradise and Adam is a fan of BBQ. But I found a restaurant recently that pretty much nailed the food as amusement thing, the Brazilian Steakhouse. I’ve actually eaten steak in Brazil and it’s very good. Brazil happens to be geographically sitting next to Argentina, where cattle is king. But when I was in Brazil, I never ate at anything like Fogo de Chao. First of all, the entire wait staff is wearing gaucho attire—shirts, short pants, black shiny gaucho boots. I said to Adam that at least they weren’t wearing pirate costumes and he gave me a withering glance. He was right, this wasn’t exactly an improvement.

There are Brazilian gauchos, but gauchos and gaucho cuisine—beef roasted over a fire and a drink called mate—are really Argentinian. I don’t know why Fogo de Chao isn’t an Argentinian steakhouse. But I am quibbling. And Brazil is a big country with a number of different cuisines, including Bahian—which figures big in Jorge Amado’s luscious novel, Dona Flora and Her Two Husbands. Maybe in the south, where the jungle gives way pampas, there are Brazilian steakhouses.

The menu is meat. Fifteen kinds of meat. You are seated. They take your drink order (and they have an extensive wine list which, since the majority of the meat is beef, is probably better on reds than whites.) You go to the salad bar which has, in addition to lettuce and cucumber and tomatoes and stuff, thin slices of prosciutto type ham, cold asparagus, and fresh mozzarella balls. When you’ve had your salad, you have a little coaster sized cardboard sign on your table. It is red on one side and green on the other. You flip it to green.

The guys in the dorky pants instantly start appearing with huge skewers of prime rib, sirloin, filet mignon, sausage, pork loin, ribs, leg of lamb, lamb chops, bacon wrapped tenderloin, and for the faint of heart, chicken breasts. They put the point of the skewer on a plate at your table and start slicing meat. You grab the edge with your little tongs, they slice it off, and depart. In a minute and a half I had a lamb chop, a slice of medium rare leg of lamb, some tenderloin wrapped in bacon, and sliced prime rib. I flipped my card back to red. None of the slices or portions were large, but there were a lot of these guys flitting around in an anxiety of service and I could see how my plate would probably disappear under a mound of meat if I didn’t stop things. I ate through my samples, flipped the card over, and the gauchos descended.

It was amazing. And more importantly, the food was good. Was it profound food? Well, no. It was competently roasted meat. The sides—mashed potatoes, fried polenta, and fried bananas—we fine but not particularly interesting either in preparation or strangeness. They weren’t Brazilian. Or Argentinian. But real gauchos basically ate strips of beef that they dangled over a fire, they didn’t have sides. And I don’t usually have meals that devolve into an orgy of proteins. It wasn’t food as example of the chef’s skills, it was food as theater. Servers hovered. I took a sip of my wine, they refilled my glass. We took a couple of the light, buttery little rolls, the bread basket was whisked away and replaced with fresh rolls.

We had a great time.

I’m thinking that next I’d like to try even more theatrical experiences. There’s eating in the dark—that is, eating in pitch darkness where the servers are either blind or they wear night vision goggles. The idea is that without sight, you really taste and smell your food. Or maybe eating at wd-50 in Chicago, Wylie Defresne’s restaurant. Defresne is a molecular gastronomie guy who makes things like “Carrot-Coconut Sunny-side Up”. That’s what’s pictured below, and here’s a hint, it isn’t actually an egg. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Dog Rescue People Like Us

We had our dog rescue home visit today, and the dog rescue person was very pleased with us. Shelly only attacked Tripper twice and he was such a big sweetie of a Golden that he didn't really seem to mind. So she will forward our names to the dog-person matchmaking committee and in three to four weeks we'll probably get to meet a Golden or two.

Three to four weeks. (sigh)

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Gathering by Anne Enright

I'm reading The Gathering, by Anne Enright. It won the Man Booker Prize for 2007. It's described as 'bleak'. Lots of reviews say 'bleak.' In fact, every review seems to say bleak.

There is something wonderful about death, how everything shuts down, and all the ways you thought you were vital are not even vaguely important. Your husband can feed the kids, he can work the new oven, he can find the sausages in the fridge, after all. And his important meeting was not important, not in the slightest. And the girls will be picked up from school, and dropped off again in the morning. Your eldest daughter can remember her inhaler, and your youngest will take her gym kit with her, and it is just as you suspected -- most of the stuff you do is just stupid, really stupid, most of the stuff you do is just nagging and whining and picking up for people who are too lazy even to love you, even that, let alone find their own shoes under their own bed; people who turn and accuse you -- scream at you sometimes -- when they can find only one shoe.

Oh the pleasure of that, the pleasure of self-pity and the way it can give the illusion of release, that it is all right not to worry about the thousand tiny things of the day.

A good friend, a smart man, a writer, once told me that he had noticed that a lot of very smart women writers with apparently quite good lives wrote a kind of depressed fiction. This book is filled up to the brim with that. I am one of those women who write depressed fiction and I am actually trying to broaden my palate a little, and yet, what is it that made my friend feel that this was some sort of writerly pathology? Some sort of malady of the spirit that befell women?

I find that few books have fit me, have fit my psyche, my view of the world as well as The Gathering. Which isn't to say that it maps in well onto my life, either my day to day life or my inner life. The narrator of The Gathering, sleepless and grieving, is in the midst of dealing with her brother's death, and it has put her outside of her own life in a very precise way. But I find in this book a sensibility I resonate to. Sympathetic vibration, the way a struck tuning fork will set it's mate vibrating in sympathy.

I suppose there are people who find this sympathy, this vibration of voice with Dom Delillo, David Foster Wallace, or even Hunter S. Thompson. But much of literature has seemed to me admirable without feeling sympathetic. Not written to my frequency. There is a central conceit to The Gathering, that a single event can spiral outward through a whole life, shaping and more importantly, explaining everything, that I usually don't care for. Enright seems to be very smart about this. She compromises, and backsteps, and places doubts about the experience. But normally, that there even existed this central event would just put my teeth on edge--it's a hangover from Freud and the sort of pop culture belief that pathology arises out of childhood. Do childhood events sometimes damage? Yes but the whole experience of growing up is so chaotic that terrible events sometimes leave little scar, and the most apparently insignificant event can sometimes have devestating consequences. But I am so convinced by the voice that I do not care.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Rescue Me

A few weeks ago, I woke up and realized that I needed another dog. We have a dog--Shelly the World's Most Annoying Dog, a miniature dachshund who's bark has been metered at 129 decibels. Oh and it's a very shrill 129 decibels. Despite this, I felt strongly I needed another dog. A big dog. A thumpable dog. I thought a lot about what kind of dog I wanted. I didn't want to replace my late Golden Retriever because frankly some things are not replaceable. So maybe a different dog. I wanted a smart dog so I thought maybe a standard poodle. I looked at websites for standard poodles and tried to convince myself that if the dog's coat wasn't trimmed to look like topiary it would be okay. I looked at Labradoodles. I looked at lots and lots of dogs.

I finally admitted that I really like Golden Retrievers.

Lawrence Persons had recommended a local rescue group called Gold Ribbon Rescue. I went and filled out an application. I'm a pretty respectable kind of person. I figured it would be no big deal.

Now I have just the smallest sense of what people who adopt children go through.

The application was rather long. It asked what my work hours were. How long I was out of the house each day. If I owned my dwelling and if not, for information to contact my landlord. It asked if I had a vet and could they contact him. Did I have a fenced in yard. Does anyone in the house have asthma. How would I exercise the dog? Did I realize that Goldens are pretty big dogs? What pets did I already have?

Dog Breed rescues are all volunteer operations. They exist to place unwanted dogs with people who want them. They specialize. There are dachshund rescues, doberman rescues, poodle rescues, dalmatian rescues. They often have arrangements with the local animal shelters so that if a dog that looks like it's their breed--a labrador, a collie, or a shih tzu--shows up at a shelter, the shelter calls them and they come and get it. They evaluate the dog for health and temperament. They often have an arrangement with a vet to get services at a discount rate. They check for heartworm (and often find it and then treat for it, an expensive proposition). They foster it with a volunteer. And then they place it.

On December 30, 2007, Gold Ribbon Rescue had 33 dogs in foster care.

This, I figured, would be a slam dunk. I mean, they've got a lot of dogs. I'm a good pet owner. I'll have this dog in a couple of days. I actually applied several weeks ago. After a week, I got a phone call. It was my phone interview. I liked the woman who called me. She had a long list of questions--many of them the same ones that I had answered. But it was a little nerve wracking. Did we have a dog door? No, I said, but we were planning to have one put in. A dog door isn't a good thing. It won't disqualify you, but it does suggest that you don't pay close attention to when your dog goes in and out. She told me she would just put 'no' that I didn't have a dog door.

It turns out I have two things in my favor. 1. I work at home, at least most of the time. 2. We don't have small children. Most people don't work at home. And although small children will not disqualify you from getting a dog, it is assumed that you will pay more attention to your children than to the dog. Which as Adam can tell you, is not true of me.

I did pass my phone interview with flying colors. But next is the in house interview.

A volunteer comes to the house. They bring their Golden Retriever to see how we (and they stress all people and pets should be home) respond. I've heard people who are adopting children talk about when the social worker comes and now I think I understand. I'm worried that my dog food won't be good enough. I'm even more worried about Shelly. Shelly doesn't like other dogs. She liked Smith, the old dog, but that was because she was 4 months old when we brought her home and considered Smith to be her dog. In my mind I see the volunteer come with their perfectly socialized happy Golden. I see Shelly hunker under a chair, hair standing on end.

I imagine the volunteer eying Shelly while we make chipper small talk. I imagine Shelly eying the Golden with loathing. I imagine Bob and I desperately attempting to pretend everything is normal, rather like when your Uncle Oscar gets falling down drunk at a wedding and starts talking about his bitch of an ex-wife, while everyone smiles and hopes the groom doesn't punch him.

And then I imagine Shelly launching herself at the friendly, startled Golden.

Sunday. The house visit is on Sunday. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

15 Years

15 years ago today, the Mayor of Blue Ash said at ten minutes of 11:00, 'Are you expecting anyone else?' The wedding was scheduled for 11:00, but the handful of people we had invited were there, so by 11:00 we were married. I was terrified, unsure of what I had committed myself to, half convinced I had made an awful mistake.

I had not. Happy Anniversary, Bob! I love you, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.