Saturday, October 31, 2009

happy halloween

It's Halloween, so naturally we dressed up our children. They heard Halloween was all about treats, and they're ready to do their tricks. Just bring on the treats.

P.S. Don't forget to check out the new recipe in honor of Halloween--Cinncinnati Chili.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

just one dog

So at our house, we have this same conversation, with small variations, from time to time:

daughter: Mom! So did you know we have two dogs?
mom: What?! When did this happen?
daughter: I don't know. I just noticed it today.
mom: Why would anyone need two dogs? That's ridiculous.
daughter: Seriously! But Mom! We have two dogs!

Sometimes we switch dialog parts. Sometimes the conversation takes place in bouncing text messages, but the conversation just seems to keep repeating itself.

There was a time when we had a dog, a cat, a frog, three birds, and a fish or two. Whenever we went on vacation, we had to hire a regular zookeeper to come look after our domain, with a pamphlet designating who to feed what, where, and when. That really seemed ridiculous to have so many pets, but who would have ever thought we'd cave in to having two dogs?

We're not supposed to have two dogs. I got Miley for my daughter living far away who needed some company. It was supposed to be a birthday present, and I was keeping her until I could give her to her for her birthday. As it turned out, Miley immediately bonded to me; I sort of fell in love with her; and the next thing we knew she was staying instead of merely lodging here for a short stint.

I'd like to say, however, that in some ways they're just one dog. See Chamine was and is such a bad barker that we had her voice box removed. Sad day for our family. My children still have not forgiven me for this. They're certain I'm going to spend my eternities rotting in a very deep, dark place for this black deed. Her bark was deep and ferocious and actually really beautiful. Also really annoying to next door neighbors. So Chamine still attempts a barking frenzy, and she thinks she's all tough and warding off the world's most horrifying predators, but she sounds mostly like a dog squeak toy. However, Miley fills in where Chamine can't quite be up to snuff in the barking zone. Miley can bark, and let me tell you, it's a sharp little annoying sound too. Chamine is big enough to see out the front window and therefore sound the alert that there is something going on in the front yard. Usually a butterfly flew by or a blade of grass moved. Who knows? It's even possible that a grasshopper hopped! Miley picks up the alert and dutifully passes it on even though she has no clue what she is freaking out about.

Then let's talk about bite. Well, Miley's just plain too scared of her own shadow to bite someone else's, much less to bite an actual living being. Then there's Chamine. She's not afraid to bite, and she will if she thinks that she or anyone in her territory has been threatened. I feel safe with her around, but let's face it, it's not cool when she bites the guy who came to paint your new door for you, or the guy who just arrived to work in your yard. Really. Not cool. So as it turns out, Miley has the bark and Chamine has the bite.

Let's talk about fear. Fear is a realm where Chamine does not, has not lived. She's fearless. She's afraid of nothing, and is quite ferocious if she feels threatened. However, with us, she's as sweet as a little baby puppy. Now on the other hand, Miley lives in that realm. Fearful is her domicile. Her address is 1234 I'm Scared of Everything, Don't Hurt Me USA. She runs from all large objects. And when you're roughly less than a foot tall and less than ten pounds, pretty much EVERYTHING is LARGE. Sticks any larger than a chew stick are the worst. Loud things? Well, she's out the doggy door when the vacuum turns on.

Now here's an interesting phenomenon. If you call one dog: "Here Chamine, C'mere, c'mon." It doesn't matter what your pitch is or how sweetly you call, that one dog whether it is Chamine or Miley will likely look at you with indignance, "What? You calling me? How dare you!" While the other dog comes running lickety-split. Now it's not that they don't know their names. They do. That's been proven with the "Do you wanna treat, Chamine?" multiple times. No, here's what I figure. When they hear their own name being called, they just don't want to move. "Seriously? Are you bugging me right now?" But when they hear the other name, they want to be stinking sure that they're not missing out on something that the other one is getting. Pretty sure that's what's going on here.

So, soon after we got Miley, we got a doggy door. That little thing was crying to go out and then turning around and crying to come back in so much that I was going crazy. The doggy door is a lifesaver. It was quite the challenge to get Miley to go through in the beginning however, but Chamine just pushed on through. "Oh, you want me to do what? You want me to go where? That little hole? Sure, no problem." (See the paragraph on fearful and fearless for an explanation of these behaviors.) It took some serious prompting, pleading, and bribing to get Miley through. We had to use some serious treats, and none of that doggy treat stuff. We had to resort to people food to get her through the door. It took awhile, but Life cereal finally did the trick. One day when we were practicing this new found skill, we called to Miley to come through the doggy door, displaying the awesome treat waiting for her on the other side. Not to be left out of this treat giving frenzy, Chamine headed straight for the door. Miley ducked under her body, and they came through together--same time! And dude, it's not a very big doggy door!

So as you can very well see, these two dogs are quite a complement to each other in so many ways that really they function quite nicely as one.

Who said we have two dogs? That's utterly ridiculous.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

the princess and the pea as never before

Once upon a time there was a kingdom. This kingdom was in search of an imperial princess. Now this princess needed to be pretty and sweet and loyal. This princess needed to be small and fluffy and, well, needy. Oh, and ever so sensitive. Yes, the sensitive in this story is very important. So the queen in the kingdom came up with a delightful plan. She decided to invite some candidates to her palace to spend the night. Now what these candidates did not know is that when they went to bed at night, there would be a pea under their mattresses. Whichever candidate could feel this pea would be the princess of the kingdom for she possessed all the attributes the queen was in search of. The candidates began to arrive. Among them was a delightful chocolate colored beauty named Miley.

So the night began. There was dog chow to go around in abundance. The water dishes were constantly full of delicious, cool spring water. Servants stood nearby to pet these candidates and shower them with love. And of course the treats were busting from the cornucopia. The program for the evening's entertainment included chew toys of plastic, of rope, of every desirable kind, and then a long, happy stroll around the palace grounds.

Finally, the evening drew to an end, and the candidates were escorted to their quarters. Miley was delighted to find that her mattress was high, soft, and cushy. But what was that? There was something . . . something . . . sniff, sniff, sniff. Yes, there was something. Miley jumped from her throne of cush and dug beneath all the beautiful fluff to find what? A pea. Gladly she gobbled it up. How lovely to be provided a bedtime treat. These accommodations were certainly royal indeed. The regal queen hadn't neglected a single detail in entertaining her guests.

The following morning the queen went from bedchamber to bedchamber, asking her guests how they had fared the night. Each and every one yawned prettily, patting their lips ever so daintily. "Oh, so lovely."

Finally in great discouragement, the queen came to the last bedchamber. "So Miley, my dear, how did you sleep?"

"Well, quite lovely actually."

The queen's countenance fell. Was there not a princess to be found for her kingdom?

"Except one thing," Miley added.

The queen smiled and straightened up. "Yes, what is it? Were you not comfortable in the berth provided for you?"

"Oh, no, my lady." Miley said, "I was quite comfortable. Comfortable, in deed. In fact the lovely after dinner treat you left for me under the mattress was so much appreciated."

"Then you felt it!" exclaimed the queen.

"Oh no, not at all. Certainly not. Under all that mattress? Are you kidding? I sniffed it out of course. I was just wondering where I could get some more. That was an awesome treat, and I'm pretty sure I'm hungry again."

In despair, the queen called for her servant. "Escort them all out. Every one of them. The kingdom will have to do without a princess."

This is a mountain of pillows and a comforter piled up in the corner for the night. Miley scaled it and plopped down as if to say, "Thank you very much for this fine bed." The story, well, it just needed to be told.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

go away

What I said:
"Here . . . take this stick and go away so I can exercise on my step."
What she apparently heard:
"Here . . . take this stick and go lay on my exercise step."

What I said:
"Here . . . take this stick and go be cute like Chamine and lay on my exercise step."

What she apparently heard:
"Here . . . take this stick and run away from that scary exercise step as fast as possible."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

take a rest

I laid down to take a little rest.

Apparently, my leg looked like a pillow.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

the hiding place

I just finished reading "The Hiding Place" by Corrie ten Boom. I felt as if I should say something about it, or rather I should shout on the rooftops about it or something. And I think what I might shout is, "How can things like that happen? How can human beings be so inhumane?" and then maybe this: "Why can't we all just get along?"

I take so much for granted in my world. I know this, but I realize it even more blatantly when I read something like this. I take a nice warm shower every day . . . with soap! I sleep in a nice comfy bed in a climate controlled room. I whine and complain about how bored I am of my clothes. "I need more," but I have a closet full to choose from every day, and they're all clean. I have plenty to eat every single day, in fact more than plenty. I whine and complain about losing that last ten pounds all the time. Those I love no longer all live with me, but they are all healthy, living in good situations, having happy lives, and I can visit them as I please. My most serious suffering this year was when I had no Internet! Pity! Horror! Terrible Life!

I've seen documentaries on the Holocaust, I've read about it. I've been to a Holocaust museum. Just the same, every time I read or see more, I am so aghast. How do people turn into monsters? It makes me feel so vulnerable. I feel like I live in a safe neighborhood. I live in a country where there are laws and consequences for breaking laws. I know it's not a perfect system, but I feel relatively safe in my little world. Is there going to be another world war? History would probably point to "yes." It seems that somehow on this ball we live on we can't seem to learn from the horrors of the past, that cycles just keep repeating themselves.

So as I read this book, I began to think "what if." What if the world goes crazy again? What if the war action takes place in my safe little world? What if I become a Corrie ten Boom? And then the thought occurred to me: What if this happens to my children? And then I could no longer bear it. I can almost bear the thought of having to live through horror and suffering myself, but my babies? My grandbaby? My heart breaks with the very thought of this suffering being thrust upon those I love. And as those thoughts took root in my brain, I began to read so much the faster. This book had to be finished. I couldn't bear their pain any longer. I couldn't bear the thought of this pain to those I love, and I raced to the end.

But by the time the race was over, and I had finally crossed the finish line, I realized that there was so much more in that small volume than a mere recounting of the horrors of the Holocaust. They were well documented, yes, but the story of hope, the story of faith and kindness and goodness, even in the face of cruelty, were the triumph in this story. The message of its story is clear. From the pages of the book itself, " . . . there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still."

My sweet daddy used to say, "I'm a lover, not a fighter, so c'mere and let me give you a love." Then he'd wrap me up in his big, strong daddy arms, and I was trapped there until he was done squeezing all the air right out of my lungs. So why can't all human beings be so loving?

I know how simplistic this is, but we are all God's children. Why can't we all just get along?

Monday, October 5, 2009

pavlov's dogs

You know about Pavlov's dogs, right? Well, just in case you didn't have the same psych class as I did in college, I'll give you a brief description of it. Why, you ask? Because I said so. I'm a mother. It is a mother's right to use this phrase when they really just don't have a decent answer.

Pavlov was a Russian scientist who discovered/coined the term "conditioned reflex." He experimented with dogs at meal time. He rang a bell just before feeding them. The dogs learned that the bell meant food and after a period of time, the ringing bell--which meant the prospect of food--would make them salivate even if it wasn't feeding time and there was no food in sight. If I've just whetted your appetite and you really just want to know more, or perhaps become a pysch major because of my titillating description, go to the Internet to learn about
Pavlov's Dogs in more detail.

I know you're wondering how this is pertinent to anything. See, here's what happened. I was sitting at my computer working away. As I recall, I was inputting recipes for my website. I was troubling with something that had gone awry, and when this happens I just can't get it out of my head until I get the problem fixed. I had started the dishwasher before I sat down to this task, and I was there long enough for the dishwasher to finish. When my dishwasher finishes, a little bell sounds. This is annoying, but no one has had the gumption to go read the manual to figure out how to turn it off. Manual? Who reads manuals anyway?

Bell? Yes, you see somehow this is going to relate to Pavlov's dogs. But how? As that bell rang, I realized that I was really thirsty. However, in my bullheaded determination to fix whatever the issue was on my site, I couldn't seem to rise from my seat to get a drink. Step two of annoying dishwasher is that it continues to ring every few minutes until you go tell it to shut up. Telling it to shut up involves pushing a button while muttering under your breath how stupid a ringing dishwasher is.

The dishwasher continued to ring every few minutes, and every time it did, I realized I was really thirsty. It took several cycles of this before I realized what was happening. I had just become one of Pavlov's dogs! So did that make me jump up and go get a drink of water? Sure. Actually, nope, I just kept right on working until I fixed my site issue, thus solidifying this conditioned response. I'm pretty sure I came within about an inch of dying of dehydration before I finally crawled to the dog dish to have a sip. And now I have to wonder. Was this conditioning permanent?

Excuse me. I've gotta go. The dishwasher bell just rang. I'm suddenly feeling extremely thirsty.