Monday, December 17, 2012

I ❤ My Town

My town is seriously the cutest place.  It's a lot like Gilmore Girls' Stars Hollow, but a little creepier.  The people are unique, like the characters in Stars Hollow, but mostly they celebrate EVERYTHING!

There are parades for many occasions (but probably not as many as there were when I lived in LV, NM and had to plan my comings and goings around parades so that I didn't get blocked out of (or in) the drive way).  Most recently was the Christmas parade, but I didn't make it out to see that parade--parades were much easier to catch when I just had to look out of my living room window :)

They also decorate for everything.  The really big celebration is the Grape Jamboree, and they hang baskets of purple flowers that look like grape bunches all up and down the road in downtown.  Around Halloween, they put scarecrows made by various businesses and organization on all of the light posts for a ghoul fest of some sort.  The last couple winters they have had wooden snowmen also decorated by various groups.

They also have fantastic decorations for Christmas.  There are the standard garlands and wreaths on the light posts.  One of the banks downtown also has a speaker attached to the light post in front of it; I'm not sure if that is the bank's doing or the city's, but it blares Christmas music throughout downtown.  You can hear it for blocks.  This makes cold walks with Barley much cheerier.  There are Christmas carolers made out of lights.  The clock in the middle of the town has a Santa hat (it used to also have a mouse on a ladder, which reminded me of the old Night Before Christmas movie where the young mouse has to fix the clock to summon Santa, but that's not out this year, which makes me sad).
This is the clock tower last year.  The mouse was there, but it's hiding behind a peppermint.
They also have some little wooden decorations.  Today, I made Barley go take a few pictures with them.
Will Barley's stocking have anything fun in it this year? 
Skate faster, Timmy! It's Dogzilla!
Seriously, how cute is my town??

I went to the library to get a library card today--I figured that since I have an iPad now, I could check out books from the comfort of my bed!  When I walked into the library, I found another reason to love my town.

THEY HAVE A LIBRARY CAT!  His name is Crash and he's orange and I'm partial to orange kitties.  You can read his story here.  Crash met me at the door and sat there looking rather stately.  I was giddy.  I read Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World over the summer (Soth was getting upset by all of the dog books, so I decided to make an exception to my no cat books rule) and I've been obsessed with the idea of a library cat ever since.  The bookstore I loved in my town in NM had a bookstore cat, which I also loved (and the fabric store had a fabric store dog--why don't more shops have pets?!), so I was really excited to have a library cat in town!  He seems like a popular fellow.  When I left the library, he was sitting outside and an older man walked by and said, "Hi cat. Whatcha doing?"  Even though I got the card to get ebooks, Crash might be a good reason to go get regular books, too.  

Side note: When I went into the library, a man behind the front desk read my Queens hoodie and said, "Queens University?  My daughter used to live down the block from there."  Such a small world.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Christmas Miracle

Today was Santa pictures to benefit Barley's mothership, the Ashtabula County APL.  For $5, you get a picture and the money goes to the APL.  The pictures are taken at a vet's office close to our house, so I thought if we got ready to go a little early and walked down there a few minutes before pictures started then there wouldn't be too many dogs.

I was wrong.  There were many, many dogs inside the vet's office when we first got there.  I was nervous because people don't always keep their dogs under control.  A lot of times, they just let their dogs walk up to Barley and sniff her, which never ever goes well.

I came prepared with a pocketful of treats and had Barley sit beside me.  Any time she started to look at anything, I told her to watch and fed her a treat.  We were in a good place in line.  Ahead of us were two American Eskimos, whose mothers had to carry them into the building because they were afraid to go into the vet.  Behind us was a MinPin in a red dress, and when its mother saw me keeping Barley focused said, "Oh, is she in training? She's doing great!" and held her dog.  Only one dog sniffed Barley and she looked to me for a treat instead.

It was a big test for her, and she did great!  I think the effort wore her out, though.  She's been napping ever since.

Our picture isn't the best picture ever--the photographer didn't really give us any instructions to move or look at a certain time, so we're missing half of Santa and my awesome "Do You Herd What I Herd?" shirt isn't very visible and I was in mid-laugh at Barley, but whatever :)  The biggest success was that Barley didn't eat anyone.

I think she might have even been good enough for Santa Paws to have forgotten that she tried to eat her aunt Lindsey's Christmas present yesterday.

Now Soth just needs to find a way to make up for the snowman ornament he plucked off the tree and tried to kill and Santa Paws might be able to make an appearance soon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I ❤ My Dog

I love my pets.  I really do.

Anyone who comes into my office can tell I'm a little obsessed.  I have an "I love my dog" collage on my bulletin board (which also contains many pictures of my little man cat).

There are a few family pictures in the top right, a few NYer cartoons, my syllabi and assignment sheets, and the rest is pets.
I also have several picture frames on my shelves (and more on my desk) that have pictures of my pets.
There are equal numbers of family pictures and pet pictures on my shelves.
I genuinely enjoy spending time with my pets (except when I'm cleaning up cat pee).  Walking with Barley is my favorite part of the day.  Without Barley, I never would have discovered so many cool places.  Without Barley, I would literally hibernate from October until May, with the exception of going to work; I'd stay on the couch in sweat pants or under a blanket (have I mentioned that this southern-born girl hates cold?).  And Soth, when he's not destroying things out of hunger or peeing on things, makes me laugh countless times a day (and he's the BEST napping buddying).

Ok, so they are both good napping buddies.
Yesterday, I was at lunch with a few co-workers and one of them mentioned that she was considering getting a dog for her husband for Christmas because he loves them even though she's more of a cat person.  We were telling her that the right dog would probably grow on her.  My friend, who I walk with regularly, mentioned that she couldn't mention her life without her dogs.  When I said I could, she looked at me like I had just admitted to some horrendous crime.  All I said was, "Sometimes, I think my life would be easier without pets."  I didn't say better.  I didn't say I wanted it to be a life without pets.  My life without pets would suck (Cue Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You").

But honestly, in some regards, life would be easier without my pets.  My carpets would be cleaner.  I wouldn't have to detour by my parents' to drop pets off if I wanted to visit my sister for a long weekend (or impose on my parents by dropping the pets off).  I wouldn't have to rush home, spending more time in the car than at home, at lunch on days I have to stay at work late.  I would have SIGNIFICANTLY more money without all of the vet bills, treats, pee cleaners, toys, training classes.  Having a pet is work.  Having a pet means making sacrifices, and they are worth it.  But I recognize that I sometimes I have to make choices between going on trips and being a responsible pet owner, buying an iPad and paying vet bills, having a normal and relatively calm day at work and having to rush home at lunch.  I don't regret the decision to have pets.  I love them and want them, but I think anyone who has pets and can't admit that they don't make life more complicated is in some serious denial.

When my friend looked at me that way, I felt like one of those working mothers that write books on the work-family balance and talk about the way non-working mothers look at them when they say they enjoy work.  Maybe a book on the pet-life balance will be my break through book (and my key to getting on Dancing with the Stars?).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Cat From Hell (or a post where I say pee a lot)

I am so very tired of cleaning up cat pee.

Jackson Galaxy from Animal Planet's My Cat From Hell says that cats are not spiteful pee-ers.  I say he hasn't met my cat.  I know that part of Soth's pee problem is his FLUTD; there's enough evidence of crystals and blood to convince me that he is sick.   But you can't watch him and tell me that he isn't also peeing out of spite.
Tell me this isn't the face of a spiteful pee-er.
When that cat is hungry and I don't feed him quickly enough, he pees.  And not just in his litter box.  Yesterday, I found a secret pee lair under my desk (which I don't actually use--laptops are made for couches, right?).  He had knocked several old receipts and a pair of sunglasses off the desk who knows how long ago and has been peeing on them under the desk for what appears to be a very long time.  He's also taken a liking to peeing on my printer (let's hope Santa comes through with a wireless printer that can be shut in the closet! otherwise, that will be my first purchase of 2013!).  So, I have been unable to print things for months.  He doesn't just pee on the top of it; he squats right over the paper feed, so it's gotten all up in the printer.  His favorite spot when he's hungry, though, is to pee on the mail or other important papers.  Yesterday, I caught him squatting over a pile of mail on MY DINING ROOM TABLE!  Luckily, I chased him away and into his box before anything happened.  And I'll be honest, sometimes bills make me really cranky, too, but that's no excuse for peeing on them, right?

I love my little cat.  I mean, who wouldn't love this face?
He can be the sweetest little pet in the world, but he's exhausting.  I know this crystal-pee life isn't all rainbows and sunshine for him, either, which just makes me feel worse.  It's hard not to be mad when your printer is no longer functional, but it's also hard to be mad when I know he's in pain.

After we get back from our holiday travels (for some reason, he does less spiteful peeing at my parents' house), I think we'll make another vet appointment.  Our wonderful vet, who puts up with all of my hypochondria and all of our real issues, suggested considering culturing his urine to make sure there's not some sort of infection going on.  Since his vomiting has gotten better and he's been maintaining a healthy weight, I thought we should put it off.  He seemed like he was doing better; then this month I have done nothing but follow him around with the pee cleaner again.  Plus, I hate needles and culturing his urine requires a sterile sample--and the only way to get that is to insert a needle directly into his bladder, so it just makes me a little nervous to do something that awful to my baby boy cat.  

So, we'll have a nice Christmas and he can play with his new toys (even though I already broke down and gave him one!), and then we'll ring in the new year with a visit to the vet.
A little hand-knit Spider-Man toy
Cuddling with Spidey--again, tell me this isn't the face of a spiteful pee-er.
What the heck is this?! We were at the mercy of the company as to which toys we got; this one goes to my parents' cat for Christmas.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Nurse Barley

Remember Nana from Peter Pan?  Barley's not quite as good at pouring medicine into spoons, but she's been an excellent nurse today.

For the last year, I've been not feeling quite myself and finally I decided to go to the doctor.  I've been having back (and other joints) pain; on the worst days, I can't roll over in my sleep, so I end up waking up all night long, and I can't bend over to put Barley's leash on her, so she has to hop up on the bed for me to do it.  Luckily, it's been about 6 months since I've had one of those days.  But it's still enough that the only time I really feel good is when I'm out walking Barley--and there are only so many hours in the day (and only so many miles my legs can take!).  I've also been more tired than usual (my regular 30 minute naps have become 2 hour naps), even in the summer when I wasn't teaching and rarely had to set an alarm.  When I started thinking back on when this all started, it was right around the time my Barley girl was diagnosed with lyme disease.  Even though I never found one of the disgusting tick-bite targets on myself (check google images if you are unclear what they look like), I do have some of the symptoms--and since I never found a tick on Barley, either, I decided it wouldn't hurt to get tested.

So---11 months later, I finally got around to calling a doctor and making an appointment.  Today, I had to go in and get blood work done.  In addition to the lyme test, the doctor ordered like a billion other things to rule out everything else under the sun.  She also wanted to check my cholesterol--apparently you're supposed to start doing that when you're 18.  Who knew?  That meant that I had to fast for 12 hours before the test!  Luckily, the lab didn't need appointments, so I ate until I didn't want to eat any more last night and then started the 12 hour count (most of which was spent sleeping).  Anyone who knows me knows that I live to eat.  Once, my sister and I were reliving our youth and watching episodes of Gummy Bears.  One of the bears said, "It's been 30 minutes! I'm starving!"  I often feel this way, and 30 minutes after the fast started I was hungry again.  Somehow, I made it, though.  Luckily, I had very few interactions with people before I was able to eat.

Anyone who knows me also knows that I tend to faint when I have blood taken.  Last time, I felt fine until I got to my car, then I felt really dizzy and had to nap in the backseat in the parking lot for 30 minutes.  This time was better, but I was so excited to eat that I rushed around the kitchen gobbling up everything in sight.  Then I didn't feel so well.  My sweet Bar spent all day snuggling in bed with me (Soth made a few appearances throughout the day, too).  She was so good and didn't even get up to chase Soth when he started knocking books off the dresser to tell me it was his lunch time.  It always amazes me how calm Barley can be when she needs to be.  For a dog who can walk 5 miles without feeling tired, she can also be the best snuggle bug ever.

After a full day of napping and reading and pet snuggling, I'm feeling much better, so hopefully the weather cooperates and I can make it up to her with an awesome walk tomorrow.  Wednesday, I get the results of today's tests, so let's all keep our fingers crossed that I'm not like my pets and that weird, obscure things don't show up every time I have a test done.

In other news, the pets and I are ready for the holidays! I started with a quick trip to visit my sister and see my best friend who was in DC for the weekend last week.  We ate, drank, and were merry.  It was a fabulous trip!
Besties with Lincoln!
Gingerbread habitats at Zoo Lights in DC!
With my other bestie at the Flying Dog Brewery tour

Big dog, tiny tree
It doesn't smell real, but Soth doesn't care.

Last night, my friends and I made a tragic gingerbread barn--it looked nothing like the picture on the box--we had skylights and tilting walls, but if you look at the barns around here, many of them look like that, so we figured ours was more authentic.  The pictures are on my friends' phones, or I'd post one for your entertainment.

I just have to make it through this next week of finals and then I can spend the rest of the month lounging and watching all of the fabulous holiday specials on tv!