Monday, December 26, 2011

December Review: It's all over except the indigestion.

I think I started my after holiday post something like this last year. If you feel like you're suffering from deja vu, you likely are because I am too. I stepped on the scale this morning and braced myself for the number. I was shocked to see I've managed to hover in the same 2-3 pound range this entire season of over-eating. Still I just feel like crap; too much sugar and junk food takes its toll.

A and I just returned home and settled in from our last family holiday celebration. It feels like it was just Thanksgiving and the past month has been nothing but a blur of activity. I'm not complaining though. It's been a good month. A and I have felt more in the spirit than many years past. Even through all the running here and there, we always manage to have a good time. I never have as much fun as when A is at my side...or goofing off in front of the camera.
We decorated both inside and outside the house. Gone are the horrid inflatable snowman and penguins of years past and A has been replacing  them with the retro plastic decorations. She finally added a snowman, but I think she's most proud of Santa in his sleigh.

Earlier this month our foster pup, Shecky, was adopted to a home in Illinois. He lived with us for 4 months.
As far as puppies go, he was pretty sedate and a great cuddlier but we were happy to see him move onto a forever home. That of course didn't stop me from crying most of the 5 hour drive to Madison, Wisconsin and back; questioning if I'm really cut out to be a foster and asking myself how many more times can I upset myself like this. By the time I got home, Shecky had arrived at his new home and I had an email waiting from his new mama. It was love at first sight and I know he's now spoiled beyond belief. That makes the tears worth it.

I spent 2 weekends as a volunteer for our rescue taking pet photos with Santa at PetSmart. A came along one day as Santa's dedicated Elf.
It's a great fund-raiser; they supply all the equipment and then give us 50% for every photo. I was really excited about it and had so much fun! There's no doubt that there is work involved and I have a lot of respect for the professionals who do it everyday...pets or kids. Overall most pet-parents were great (with the exception of one lady who thought it was her own personal photo shoot) and we successfully got a good picture of every pet we tried. We even had some chins show up that were adopted through our rescue.
A and I spent Christmas Eve with our dear friends, JK and Faye, eating a drinking entirely too much. Christmas morning we slept late and when the dogs finally convinced us to get up, we turned on the TV to the Yule Log and drank mimosas with breakfast.
Later we hosted dinner for my mom and then today it was a celebration with A's family. 
Since we were going to be so busy all weekend, it was easy to rationalize opening our gifts on the 23rd. This year A and I planned a low-key holiday but that usually doesn't apply when we're buying gifts for each other. I had my little list of things I would like to receive but A completely surprised my with 2 big gifts.
I have a love--weakness---addiction to purses. You can imagine how much I fell in love with these Kelly Moore bags at first sight. The amazing thing is that these are not purses but a line of camera bags designed by a photographer to NOT look like camera bags. There's a collection of different colors and styles but I just haven't been able to let myself spend the cash. I haven't mentioned or looked at these in months but A remembered and to my surprise picked out the exact bag in the exact color I wanted! It's that beautiful blue bag in the picture above. Then she surprised me again with a new camera lens. I feel truly grateful for having such a sweet and thoughtful person to share my life with...even if I did have to scold her a bit. I think she spoils me too much.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sickly trees, snow and decorating disasters...the season is upon us.

Free to good home: one sadly neglected ficus tree. I really think it could have a chance of survival living with someone who watered it regularly, rotated it to receive some better sunlight (and help it grow evenly), and I can't even remember the last time it was fertilized. Poor thing is probably root-bound in that pot. Included is the very stylish piece of cardboard to keep the dogs out of the dirt.

At this point, and in honor of the season, I think it may bear some resemblance to the famous Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Wow, I can't believe how long it's been since I've been around. I'm a terrible blogger and a terrible commenter to boot. I know a lot of people take a hiatus this time of year. I often have the urge to write but by the time I can sit down either I've forgotten what I want to say or I'm just too damn tired. Sometimes I feel I've lost my voice my writing sounds stiff and impersonal-not my real voice. Does that make sense? Well it is the early morning hours so just humor me if it doesn't. Okay I guess I will chat about what's going on around here.

A little over a week ago we had our first snow and I'm happy to report it was gone in a few days. It stuck around long enough to get my newest fosters out to experience it.
I know Shecky looks pathetic but it was the first snow of his life and within a few minutes he was running and rolling in the yard like a madman.
And Suzannah bucking and kicking in the snow...well what can I say about this wacky girl. 

Thanksgiving was a quiet and stress-free affair. As A and I prepared dinner for my mom and her boyfriend, I realized that this is the first time in I don't know how many years that I actually feel in the mood for the holiday season. 
But I guess if the Grinch's heart can grow 10xs, mine can expand just a little bit. 
I even went out shopping on Black Friday for the first time ever. Yes, I was a Black Friday virgin. I admit it was a short shopping excursion; drive to the store, straight to the items on my list, cashier and back to the car. It wasn't too crazy at the speciality store I went to and well worth the trip to save $80 on the one item that A really wanted. I wisely avoided the craziness of Target, Walmart or Best Buy.

This past Saturday is traditionally when A starts decorating for Christmas. Here she is using tree parts as antlers and chasing the dogs. What can I say but I pretty much let her do anything to keep herself entertained.
A couple years ago I had to suffer through those horrendous inflatable decorations in my yard but last year, A started buying the retro blow-mold decorations. She found several in antique stores and at the flea market but this year they are back in fashion and can be purchased everywhere. 
So meet Vernon the snowman.
Seat-belted in for safety on the way home from the store. I think he looks just a little psycho.
A proudly getting ready to put Vern out in the yard with Santa. 

I have to admit that we both spent our Sunday feeling blue. After putting the tree together, A started looking for the lights to put on it. They were not in any of the boxes she had here. We have a small house and rent a storage unit about a mile away. We don't store anything of much value there; it's just a place to put the summer stuff in the winter and vice versa. A went there to double check and nothing. That's when we realized we were missing an entire container of decorations not just lights. We remembered that last winter A had found the lock cut off our unit 3 times. Each time she had looked around inside and didn't notice anything missing. 

Who in the hell steals only a container with "X-Mas Decorations" written on it?! The heartbreaking part is that box contained sentimental, handmade and one of a kind ornaments; it was full of memories. Through our years together, A and I have given each other and collected ornaments when traveling or objects that symbolized special moments. There were ones I had an artist paint of the dogs and childhood ones that are simply irreplaceable. Every year we crack a bottle of wine, decorate the tree and reminisce. Not everything is gone since we had multiple containers but some of the most special items were in that box. For me this is devastating and even A shed a few angry tears. 

I realize it's really not the end of the world-a lot worse things could  happen, but it's hard for someone as sentimental as I am and I just had to spend a little time feeling sad. We did pick up a few new things when we were out shopping today and later this week when we finally decorate, we will crack a bottle of wine and toast to making some new memories. (Who am I trying to kid?  I'm still damn pissed!)

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I am a stress-induced emotional eater. I almost feel like I should be standing in front of a crowd. "Hello, my name is Mel. I have a stress eating problem". 

Food is comfort and I of course love, love, LOVE carbs-bread is my absolute weakness. I have been doing well the last few months but Monday morning I was triggered. I woke up to sick dogs, a mess in the house, a mess on my bed from a dirty dog butt, no working dryer and 5 dogs that needed baths because they were such a mess. Aghhh!

When things had finally settled down, I innocently opened the freezer to get some ice and spotted it; that box of candy my mom had given us last spring. Trying to be good, I had shoved it in the freezer without opening it and all these months it has sat hidden from view behind bags of veggies. Monday I ripped into it and down the rabbit hole I fell. The carbs/sugars are like crack and I'm the biggest addict. 

Lets see, 2 days home from work, multiple pots of coffee and gone one box of candy, a loaf of bread, frozen cookie dough, potato chips, animal crackers plus an unplanned trip to the grocery store to satisfy my craving for Pop-Tarts and chocolate-cherry ice cream. Now this is in addition to the wonderful cooking and "real" food that A cooks up around here. 

And sadly the holiday season is not truly here yet. I better go make another cup of tea and try to convince myself that I really don't want just one more bowl of ice cream. What am I saying? Fuck the bowl, just eat it straight from the tub.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's my Monday tomorrow, blah! The more time I have away from the work, the less I want to go back. Please tell me that I get to retire when A does. I wasn't even surprised today when people at the office started texting me about office drama---seriously people, I haven't been there for 4-1/2 days!

Several months ago A and I were invited to spend this past weekend with friends at Grand Casino. They come from the north and us from the south; it is a nice meet-in-the-middle location. We made reservations then I realized I had to spend that Saturday at the University of MN for a continuing education class. I felt guilty but couldn't cancel since work was paying and I'm in need of credits-oh the joy of procrastination! A wanted to cancel her weekend but I encouraged her to go, hang out and have fun. 

Saturday morning as I got ready to go into Minneapolis, I decided on a whim that after my class I would drive up and surprise A, have dinner and just spend a few hours. I mean it was only another hour north. I arrived in record time (thanks to my lead-foot) and texted her that I was in the parking lot-meet me in the hotel lobby. She was so surprised and excited. I just LOVE making her happy and it's really so simple to do. 

I'm really not into gambling but A was playing poker and I watched over her shoulder and consulted. Otherwise I visited and people watched. My original plan was to spend a few hours then make the 2 hour drive home. A and the other ladies insisted I stay the night (and I admit I packed an overnight bag just in case). I have to say it was nice to spend the night in that big bed without any dogs. After a huge breakfast Sunday morning with my new favorite food-wild rice bread-we came home.

I'm glad I had the last two days at home even if they did fly and I didn't accomplish much. Just getting the dogs out to run in the yard was a treat and I dread the weeks--months we will spend closed up in this house. The early darkness is already starting to feel oppressive but the weather is still holding unseasonably warm. The weather man keeps saying rain/snow then changing his mind. I'm happy when he's wrong even though I know we can't keep winter away forever. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Getting Life in Order

Well the Sears appliance repairman just left with a nice fat check from me. Parts are ordered and hopefully will arrive and be installed by the end of the week. Just as I thought, the dryer motor is dying. Yes, I did get laundry done this weekend. Luckily the laundromat is only 6 blocks away and A was right about one thing-she did have enough quarters. :))

All I can say is that things are just "off" in this household. My bad mood/irritation/pissed-off state persisted through Saturday. The thing is, it wasn't really the dryer that set things off. We've both just been "not-right" with each other the last few weeks; you know snappy and moody and intolerant. The thing is when you ask what's wrong, it's not one thing you can really put your finger on. I know for me, A may say something in a completely innocent way and I take it personally. By Sunday we had both calmed down and become reasonable enough to have a real conversation with each other. Bonus, nothing negative between us all day Sunday. 

Between all the crap I can say we did have a pretty nice and productive weekend. After sleeping on Betty's bed during my petsitting gig, I had completely fallen in love with the mattress, so last weekend I took A shopping. We were able to agree on one and it was delivered Friday evening. Can I say absolute heaven!  OMG, I could barely make it out of bed I was so comfy all weekend. I may have to consider moving the computer, TV and appliances in the bedroom so I don't have to get out of bed again. 

We arranged furniture, got our guest room in order, finished up the last of the fall yard work and finally (and with great sadness) put the RV in storage. The cold north wind was blowing and we had snow flurries while driving home. I shouldn't really complain about that though...just be thankful I'm not living on the east coast.
Happy Monday...and Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

This time A pissed me off...and I'm still irritated.

Tonight I walked out of the kitchen into the living room to hear a screeching-grinding-whistling sound coming from the laundry room.  A is just sitting there on the couch. "Do you hear that?" She just kind of nods and still just sits there. Now that irritated me and I muttered something like, "Do you think maybe you could check something like that out?" 

I went into the laundry area and find it's the dryer. It's still running but making a god-awful noise and smelling hot. I turn it off, do a quick check to make sure nothing is stuck inside, turn it back on-it's still making the noise. "Oh great! It's the dryer!" I yell to her. Still nothing from her as I bang around and struggle to pull the machine out so I can check the connection of the exhaust, etc. "Can you help me?" Nothing.

I come back into the living room telling her that the dryer isn't working and expressed how upset I am that I won't be able to get a repairman here at the earliest until Monday and things are so busy at work I'm not in the position to take a 1/2 day off to wait for the repairman, blah, blah, blah...still nothing from her. Now I'm getting irritated by her apathy and tell her well if you want clean clothes, I guess we will have to find time to go to the laundromat this weekend and she says, "I have quarters". 

I admit I flew into a nail-spitting rage. That was the last fucking smart-ass comment I wanted to hear. So I let it fly. I kind of feel I take that back, I don't feel bad at all. Really I love her, but she pisses me off like no one else can! I'm sure I'll be better in the morning-just needed to vent.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Fun, More Puppies and A Baptism

I don't know if I've mentioned before that Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday. It's no-stress, no family hassles and it is only as much fuss as you want. I just love this time of year and spend as much time as possible watching scary movies and cuddling close to my love. 

Saturday night my friend Kristine and I dragged our spouses off for a fun and fright-filled night at Scream Town. As I sit here tonight typing, my throat is still raw and scratchy from screaming. There were 5 different attractions but by far the scariest was the Circus Asylum. Clowns + pitch blackness + strobe lights = scared shitless!
Several times A said I actually picked her up. We learned Kristine is a sprinter when scared and at one point she practically ripped off my parka. Her husband (a big 6' 5" guy) was plowed over and pushed out the fire exit by 3 freaked out gals...well make that 2 freaked out gals and one gal being dragged/carried along. That time several of the actors actually lost character and burst out laughing themselves. I woke this morning feeling stiff and sore and I swear I dis-located a hip. 

It was a late night and then an early morning when I hobbled my crippled ass out of bed to put on heels and head to church. That's right, I suffered through mass to attend the baptism of the son/grandson of our close friends (and adopted family). Ahh, the things you do for the ones you love! We had a great meal and lots of visiting, laughter and hugs afterward. It was a happy occasion just to have everyone together. 

Even though I was tired it was a great way to end the weekend as I returned home again from a short petsitting/housesitting gig. This time it was a happier occasion since Betty just had a chance for a last minute getaway. She seems to be doing much better and I'm hopeful for her.  Anyway the bonus for me was getting to spend 5 days with these adorable little critters.
3.5 week old Chin puppies. OMG, I was in so much love!

I tried to resist holding them as much as possible since it made their little mama nervous.
But seriously, who can resist this face and they fit just perfectly in one of my hands. This little guy will never be a show dog since his markings aren't "breed standard" but his little mustache is so unique. I don't know if Betty has named them yet, but I called him Groucho Marx all week.
Happy Monday!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Final Camping Trip 2011: Whitewater State Park

One last chilly weekend camping trip for us and our crew. We left Friday afternoon and made a short drive to the bluffs of southeast MN. 

Our final camping of the summer was supposed to be the peak of the fall color.
This was all that was left of fall color...just a scatter here and there. Most of the trees were already bare.
I was surprised at just how many campers there were out this past weekend. I suppose they were out looking for color too since the people who are supposed to know these things had forecasted it. Looks like they are about a reliable as the weatherman.

The weather cooperated as best as we can expect this time of year. The sun was warm and it was in the 60s during the day but that damn north wind was plaguing us. It never lets us forget that winter is around the corner. 
Perfect weather though to build a big fire and sit around chatting...or not.
We had the crew outside with us as much as possible until their little feet started to chill from the cold damp ground.
The chilly nights in the 40s made me thankful for that little gas furnace in the RV. Add my down comforter and 7 furry little bodies snuggled in around me, and I was toasty warm. Too bad I woke so stiff and sore from not moving most of the night. 

This state park has miles of hiking trails through the river valley and up into the surrounding bluffs. Saturday we decided to take the trail up into the bluffs to Chimney Rock. The trail starts out pretty level along the river and leads to a beach/picnic area.  
There were several of these little waterfalls.
A being the mountain goat she always is just couldn't resist leaving the trail and climbing the sandstone cliffs. From the look of it, a lot of others like to climb up there too and carve their name or initials in the soft walls.
I should keep reminding her that she's not 20 anymore and breakable, but I doubt it would have much effect. 

Most of the trail to Chimney Rock was just a narrow dirt path long the edge of steep drops. Some of the steeper places had wooden stairs like these.

But I preferred the beautiful stone stairs that wound upward overlooking the Whitewater river. 
With all that cardio we did stop for a break on these perfectly placed benches.

We finally made it to the top and A stood out there to survey the world.
It's crazy to me that I can jump out of an airplane, but standing on the edge of that cliff makes me feel woozy. I had to lay down to look over the edge. A just couldn't resist climbing down a little further to freak me out and take this picture.

We were starving when we finally made our way back to camp but A had put meatball stew on in the crock pot that morning so we didn't have to wait long to eat.
Then it was nap-time but it's hard to get much rest when the crew all wants to nap with you.

I cut my not-really-a-nap short because A wanted to check out the Wildlife Center.
Nice wolfie...
...and a giant beaver...
...and A stalking a turkey. She does whatever she can to keep me entertained. 

As usual we had curious visitors to our campsite. Most people are friendly enough, but the asshole camping across from us pissed me off immediately. We had no longer unloaded the dogs (and they had not made a single noise) and he came over to ask us if we were going to be able to keep them quiet all weekend. Grrrrrr! Seriously, IF they are making noise you can complain, but don't come up to me and start complaining before anything has happened! 
We laughed at the idiot every morning as he did his wannabe Chuck Norris workout with bungee strap on the tree and picnic table. Click to see a close up. What a jackass!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

An Update and "The Dog Hoarder's Convention"

Around here life is settling back into normal routine. After spending 3.5 weeks at home, A returned to work Monday. It was nice to have her home, especially since we had extra furry house-guests for a couple weeks. I guess I've just been feeling quiet and last week I was swamped getting the silent auction together for our rescue's annual get-together (also called the Dog Hoarder's Convention by A's sister). This is the third year I've been in charge but got a late start so I was just happy to pull things together in time.

Saturday morning we woke to a cool, windy day. A had spent Friday getting the RV ready and packed for our trip. The plan was to drive it to the rescue event and then camp along the Redwood river that night. We were running usual...and after getting all the dogs loaded in to RV it wouldn't start. Seriously?! After working on it for over an hour, we just had to load the essential stuff and the dogs into two cars to go. We were both in pissed off moods but after we got there, it was hard to stay mad with all this cuteness running around...120 cute little dogs in attendance to be exact!

 The old man Gizzy looks down on the commoners from his stroller.
 How can you tell which one is yours?
 Love the teeth!
 Buddy had the best seat in the house.
This is what happens when you try to give one dog a treat.

We ate too much food, visited and spent all my money at the silent auction. Since I run it and bid for others who can't attend, I don't bid for myself. The last two years A has bid for me and I've come home with a load of stuff and an empty purse.
This is the first year we decided to pose for a group photo. Obviously, this isn't every volunteer in our group but there are people here from Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Iowa and even one person who planned their trip north from New Mexico to coincide with this event. 

This year my offer to the silent auction was a custom pet portrait by fellow blogger Rocket. I had her do one of our dog Gizzy to use as an example and the winner could then submit a photo of their own pet for a portrait. It was a big hit at the auction and I'm ecstatic it raised quite a bit of cash. I just LOVE this picture and she completely captured the Old Man. 
I have it framed and proudly displayed in my living room. THANK YOU ROCKET!

A and I had a lot of things planned for this fall but haven't accomplished much. Mostly I've just wanted to stay close to home and be with her. We were disappointed to not be able to camp this past weekend, but now the RV is up and running again (a bad battery is an easy fix) and we still have a weekend trip planned mid-October near the Mississippi river/Wisconsin before putting it away for the winter. We've had time to re-connect with each other and re-prioritize our lives. A seems to be in a better state if mind about her job and has decided to go back to school (online) to expand her degree. I'm so happy she has finally made that decision and I'm hoping it all works out. This coming weekend, I'm excited that my brother is bringing my nephews for a visit. I haven't seen them in over a year already!