Friday, November 30, 2007

Missing: One Chihuahua Terrorist

It's been odd these past few mornings, waking up without Bobby wrapped around my neck and leaping from bed in a single bound in order to start his doggy day. It was strange coming home these past few evenings without the chihuahua greeting me with such excitement that he would nip me in the butt if I didn't pet him RIGHT NOW.

This morning Duke was attached to me, following me around the kitchen and watching my every move. I don't know if he misses Bobby, but he is moping around and very subdued since Bobby died. Augie and Seamus are the same way, although neither one of them bothered to get up with me this morning, only Duke.

Sometimes I wonder when people tell me they don't have dogs for just this reason - they don't want to hurt when they die. This makes me consider again the old saying about loving and losing or not loving at all. As bad as it hurt to lose Kody, Max, and now Bobby, I have to say I am richer for having had them in my life.

I love all animals and always have - even though I was never allowed many as a child. Only one cat - Tabatha.

I cried over my first animal story when I was around 8 or 9 and my dad gave me his copy of My Friend Flicka. I remember wailing in abject sorrow when I thought Flicka was dead and my dad yelled from the other room to "just keep reading!"

I read Where the Red Fern GrowsAFTER my 6th grade teacher read it aloud to us. I was in agony and wept bitterly when Big Dan and Little Ann died - and haven't been able to read the story since.

Dogs and cats love you absolutely, without any agenda. They are so guileless and so devoted - how can you not fall completely in love with them and want to give them a happy life?

I had Bobby for such a short time but he was loved enough for a lifetime, I think. I pray that "the cutest puppy in town" knew he was loved and that he mattered in a world where people abandon devoted pets as if they were nothing more than old tires or food wrappers.

I miss Bobby and pray there is a heaven so I can wake up some morning and find him wrapped around my neck, ready to leap off the bed and begin his doggy day.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Ratly Visitor

Here I am on a Thursday night, minding my own beeswax sitting at the computer checking my eMail.

I hear scuffling and clawing in the kitchen. I am used to this, so I don't think too much about it. Dogs will be dogs. They scuffle and claw around in the kitchen.

Then, I hear the barstool moving, as if one of the dogs is trying to climb up. This IS a bit odd, since they prefer the couch.

The barstool continues to move and at least one of the dogs starts barking. Now I am really suspicious and I get up from the computer.

The kitchen light is off when I climb over the baby gate to see what the ruckus is about. I can see that the outlines of all four dogs, attempting to climb on the barstool, which is being moved around the tile floor. The cat is crouched right near the edge of the kitchen island - he is growling. The last time I heard Otis growling was around 1995. So my curiosity is piqued.

I switch on the light.

Dear GAWD in heaven as I sit here typing, perched ON TOP of the barstool back support, balancing on about 1/2 inch slick surface, is a large gray rat.

The dogs are going nuts and the cat is licking his chops, certain that God is Good and cat prayers ARE answered.

Sensing that danger is eminent, the rat is frantically looking for safety. His back is wet - the telltale sign of dog slobber. His tail is mere centimeters away from Augie's jaws and Augie is NOT giving up lightly. The cat is giving Augie the evil eye as he crouches low and begins swishing his tail. He may like Augie most of the time but I think Otis will go to battle for a chance at RAT.

Instinctively, I put my hand out to cup the rat, who scurries up my arm and rests on my shoulder. I reach up and cup him in my hands. I get the sense that he is somebody's pet because he is very docile - frightened but not aggressive.

I am not sure how he got in - I have a feeling one of the dogs got a hold of him. He must have been in the back yard, but how did he get there? Is he somebody's pet? Are they aware he's gone? Since he lacks a collar and tag, it's anybody's guess.

I put him in one of the extra snake enclosures with some water and dry dog and cat food. (I don't know what he prefers.)

Right now, the dogs are on point and burning calories. The cat is languidly spread out on the top of the enclosure - just biding his time. He is none too pleased that Nirvana is less than a foot away. So near and yet so far. (Patience, thy name is CAT.)

The rat is surveying, twitching his whiskers. He has very dark eyes and a very long tail. I think he wants to keep them.

I am going to compose a sign for the local mailboxes:

Missing a Rat?

Do I post a picture or ask the owner to call and describe?

And I STILL haven't checked all my eMail yet.

Bob and the Tomatoes

It is obviously very important that Little Bob not be left unsupervised when I am busy doing other things. As the official "Puppy of the House," he has certain obligations to create as much mischief as one puppy can do in a specific amount of time.

Seamus was nice enough to introduce Bobby to the wonders of the compost heap. This the brown dog did without compensation - just for the love of sharing. Now Little Bob loves the compost heap and visits it often, looking for new treasures.

Yesterday, I brought a vegetable tray for a potluck at school. This morning, I tranferred the leftovers to a plastic bag, except the baby tomatoes.

I do not like tomatoes. I never have. It has caused unending consternation for other people throughout my life and they have always felt compelled - no - obligated to comment upon this aversion. My dad used to offer me money to eat the tomato bits that ended up in my salad. I always declined. (He also offered me money to try escargot a few years back. I also declined.) Whenever I pick them out of anything or order something sans tomatoes, the comments begin. It seems most people have no qualms about voicing opinions in this matter.

So, knowing I would not eat these leftover tomatoes, I took them to the compost heap, where they basked in colorful splendor upon last week's lawn clippings. Then I proceeded to do other things, out of puppy range.

At some point during the next 20 minutes or so, Little Bob got lots of exercise, bringing each and every little tomato back into the house, where he placed them on the family room floor before running back outside for more. I walked into the family room and was greeted with a colorful sight - baby tomatoes in various stages of doggy testing and tasting, as each of the dachshunds gave them a sniff, a small bite, and then moved on to the newest sample Bobby was dutifully providing.

None of the dogs actually wanted to EAT the tomatoes. But the fact that they didn't care for THIS one doesn't mean that they might not care for THAT one - so each one had chew marks. For Little Bob, these were nothing more than little red balls - and Bobby LOVES balls of all shapes and sizes.

Grumbling, I retrieved all the mangled bits of tomato flesh and returned them to the compost pile. I admonished Bobby to "leave them alone" and stood guard until I was sure he was off to another puppy adventure.

But no. Bobby revved up his heartbeat again, retrieving the tomato pieces ONE by ONE. When I caught on to his shenanigans, I stomped into the room. He dutifully ran upstairs with the one currently in his chops, while I retrieved the tomatoes AGAIN. This time I put them into the trash can.

I am unable to locate the one Bobby was hoarding during the last confiscation. The idea of finding it, someday, is less appealing than finding the lizard corpse that I know will be uncovered during some housecleaning binge in the near future.

I wonder if I can offer Dustin money to go look for it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Brownie Scarf

After looking at Paulie's Blog and seeing pictures of the scarves she knitted, I remembered the one and only scarf I ever knitted.

I loved Brownies and was so excited to be in a Brownie troop. My troop number was "44" and I recall it was quite large. I don't know how the troop leaders did it. Girls, girls, everywhere.

My mom gave me 15 cents for my dues and I walked to Karen DeRossett's house after school for the first meeting. Karen was the leader's daughter, but I didn't figure that out right away because my mother told me to give the money to a "Mrs. Dee Rosette." Her instructions were very explicit and woe unto me if I messed them up.

Now, my mom has always had difficulty pronouncing things. To this day, she can't say my last name correctly and I have been married to Dan almost 30 years. But I was 8 years old when I started Brownies and didn't realize yet that mom couldn't pronounce things.

So, I listened politely when this Mrs. DeRossett (DeROSSett)did troop leader things and then asked for the dues. I didn't turn over my 15 cents right away because I had been under strict instructions to give it to Mrs. Dee Rosette. In fact, I think I got in trouble for hoarding the 15 cents. I couldn't win. I didn't realize that Mrs. DeROSSett and Mrs. Dee Rosette were the same person for at least a few years. In fact, I think we were Cadet Girl Scouts when I figured it out. I just silently wondered what happened to the "real" troop leader and at which point did Karen's mother step in?

One of our first projects was knitting. My knitting needles were gold and the yarn I was given was this putrid color of washed out blue/green, a pallid turquoise with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. But everyone else had the same yarn so I didn't whine out loud. We were to knit until we had a "square." Then this Mrs. DeROSSett lady would "cast off" and add our "square" to the other squares and make a blanket for the convalescent hospital. (This was the place we had to go and sing at Christmas time. It was scary and smelled bad. I didn't see the knitted blanket anywhere.)

I took to knitting like a cat takes to yarn and just knitted away, night and day. I loved the way the knitting needles tapped together and how each little row made the "square" bigger and bigger. I loved it SO much that I just kept knitting. And knitting. That "square" got longer and longer and longer.

Then I managed to get a hold of some really nice looking burgundy yarn. I am not sure where I found it but I did. I think it was in my gramma's sewing cupboard. I thought it was beautiful. The fact that it didn't match the putrid stuff did not matter at all. Plus, I was almost out of the putrid stuff so I just tied the burgundy stuff onto the putrid stuff and kept knitting. And knitting.

The troop leader asked me for my "square" and I told her that I needed more yarn. This should have clued her in that all was not right with Kim's knitting project, but all she did was hand me another ball of the putrid color. Since there wasn't much of the burgundy yarn left, I just tied another knot and added the putrid color to the burgundy and kept knitting. And knitting. Then I tried purling. Knit one, purl one. Knit one purl... what? Or just keep purling for awhile. Then knit. Then purl.

What emerged from my needles on the day I brought it to be "cast off" was a scarf-looking creation with a fat patch of burgundy towards the end. Some rows were longer than other rows and the leftover yarn from my knots was sticking out like a couple of cowlicks.

To her credit, the Mrs. DeROSSett lady "cast off" my contribution while muttering something to the assistant troop leader, who kept glancing over at me with a sorrowful look. I can hear the click of her knitting needles as I watched my knitting fall away from the gold needles. I can't remember the explanation I got but my "square" was not added to the big blanket that was going to the stinky convalescent home.

I brought the creation home with me and at some point wrapped it up with tissue paper and gave it to my dad. He did NOT look at me sorrowfully at all. He clearly loved the scarf, despite the putrid color, the burgundy patch, and the cowlick knots. He proudly put it on.

Over the years, my father wore that scarf during cold weather, wrapped tightly around his neck, not caring that it was a fashion catastrophe made by a Brownie Girl Scout who, somehow, managed to have the wrong troop leader.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

San Diego to Disneyland...

To say the least, my little Diego has a few "issues." He was diagnosed a couple years ago with Pervasive Development Disorder, which means he MIGHT be autistic but whoever diagnosed him doesn't want to commit. So the umbrella term was used.

Diego is very bright and very funny and has absolutely no impulse control. He just says what he thinks as loudly as possible in a very high pitched voiced designed to grate away on the very last nerve I possess.

Yesterday he was annoyed, as usual, when the music came on and he had to clean up and get ready for our day. He was not mad enough to go scream in the bathroom about it, but he did announce, in no uncertain terms, that he "quit."

When I didn't respond, he added that not only did he "quit," but he "hates school" and "doesn't care."

As soon as I explained our group time activities, he rescinded his resignation from Kindergarten and reevaluated his "I hate school" proclamation. Such is the way of San Diego - who keeps me humble and on my teacherly toes all day long.

Today, Diego came in and very seriously announced to me that he had to talk to me. I said okay, and leaned down to hear him better. "You take me to Disseyland?" he asked, quite earnestly, as if this thought had been brewing around for quite awhile.

To say Diego loves Disneyland is an understatement, like Kobe Bryant "throws a few hoops now and again." Disneyland is the BE ALL END ALL for Diego and he talks about it often. It is his favorite writing topic, especially the "luca luca car," which is a mystery to most of us but we presume it is a ride at Diego's favorite place on Earth.

"Well, Diego... I think that is a family trip," I replied very seriously. "You have to talk to your Papi about that."

He raised his voice and looked surprised. "You can drive Papi's car! You can! You can take me to Dissyland!"

"I'm sorry, Diego - I can't. You should talk to your Papi about this. I am sure he will take you again."

"No, no!" Diego protested. "You can drive Papi's car! You talk to him! You can DO IT! You can DO IT!"

When he excitedly reassures me that, yes, I "can do it!" he sounds eerily like a Lamaze coach.

Knowing I had to get him off this topic and soon, I tried to reassure Diego that I would talk to his father about Disneyland and warn the man that Diego is being a bit liberal with the car keys.

Throughout the morning, Diego returned to the subject of Disneyland and his insistence that I not only take HIM, but the entire class.

"Who wants to go to Disseyland? Who wants to go on the luca luca car," he shouted with the zest and zeal of a Texas cheerleader.

"I do! I do!" the class would respond each and every time he offered. As if he had the power to offer such a thing. But such is the mind of a Kindergarten child.

During rug time, Diego resumed the Disneyland discussion, to show me that the whole class really wants to go so the LEAST I could do is take them - in Papi's car.

"Diego," I said steadily, "it is story time. I need to read this story. You need to be quiet now. And sit down."

"But I want to go to Disseyland!"

"Yes, Diego, I know you do. But we have to go to school today. Not Disneyland. Please sit down and listen."

He looks deflated and huffs out a long sorry breath. Then he sits down. Then he bings back up and throws both his arms up in the air and shouts, "Who wants to ride the luca luca car?"

This time most of the class is quiet, except Raymond who seems to think Diego can get them all OFF the rug, into Papi's car, and POOF! Instantly to Disneyland. It doesn't matter how many times I've reiterated that we are NOT going - Raymond looks ready to go pack up.

"Diego. Honey. We are not going to Disneyland. Sit down now. Sit down and listen. Listen to me. I am going to read."

Again, he deflates and sits down. His disappointment is palpable and he starts rubbing his fingers on the carpet, humming under his breath.

I hold up the book and begin to read.

From Diego's corner of the rug comes a softer version of his voice: "The luca luca car?"

I put the book down. I take a deep breath. I say the Hail Mary even though I am not Catholic.

"Diego. Let. me. read."


He puts his head down between his knees. The injustices of the world are falling all around him. This is not what he signed up for. Maybe he is thinking he should "quit" again. But he is quiet and I hold up the book again.

I start to read. I make it past the very first word.

Diego's head shoots up from between his knees and he doesn't miss a beat.

"Once upon a time," Diego says loudly...."WE WENT TO DISNEYLAND!!"