Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday (Where did the other four days go?) Five

1. Tutoring: I’m a volunteer tutor two days a week at the middle school and a private tutor for an adult learning German in the evenings, once or twice a week, depending on when she can get away.

2. Housewifery: (snort) Of course. It’s fun being the fill-in-the-blank fairy, i.e. grocery shopping, toilet sanitizing, laundry, dry cleaning, stair mopping, dog training, dinner cooking, etc. Amazing how much time gets spent doing things other people find invisible.

3. Following up on “professionals” who ought to know better: School district employees. I think that’s self-explanatory.

4. Calling depressed people: I’m no Pollyanna; I just call up folks who missed group and find out why the hell they weren’t there because I’m nosy. Usually, they wind up admitting they didn’t go because they were too depressed, and, yes, they realize the irony, and then they promise to show up the following week and most of the time they do. I’ve bailed once or twice myself. Someone called me, too.

5. Getting ready to get ready, aka Productive Procrastination: I have a bunch of family accounting to do. It’s mounting. So, I’m neatly arranging and categorizing piles of paper, labeling files, organizing receipts, and…. Not doing it. I’ll get there. I just need to get really DANGEROUSLY ready. Urk.

Have a good weekend!

German Idiom for Friday

Was soll das heissen? : What's the meaning of this/that? (I've also heard it as, "Was soll das?" and akin to "what do you think you're doing?" or "What's THAT supposed to be?" in tone and intent.)

zB: Was soll das heissen? Warum bist du nicht in der Schule?

auf Englisch: What's the meaning of this? Why aren't you in school?

(from the guide to German Idioms by JP Lupson)

Oddball Word of the Day

splendiferous (splen-DIF-er-us) adj. magnificent; splendid

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Thursday, September 27, 2007


First off, I just finished a pair of anklets for my daughter from Zarina washable baby wool. It’s very, very soft. The ball band says to use size 4 needles, and my swatch was dead on gauge. The problem, however, was that that size needle led to a super stretchy fabric, which would have made the socks sloppily large. I went down to a size 2 needle, and, due to the stretch, was able to use the same number of cast on stitches for a tidy pair of anklets.

Then, I bit the bullet, so to speak. I’ve been desperately in need of putting my knitting tools in some kind of sane, predictable, adult order. Some time ago, my husband bought me a carpenter’s tool bag for a gift, since I had envied the stay-open top and multiple pockets. I knew I’d need further internal organization for the needles and such because having them flop around inside would not really solve the problem. I already had one fabric needle case for straights, but I didn’t like it – there weren’t nearly enough slots for all my needles, there certainly weren’t enough spaces for my dpns, and I couldn’t see inside of it. Also, being opaque, I was likely to open it upside down and then things would fall out and need to be size-checked and put back in – very often. Highly annoying.

So, I went on an online quest. I searched many, many online knitting suppliers and finally found what I was looking for at Elann. They carry Ashland Sky Knit Stick Sacks, which are made of very heavy duty frosted plastic with durable fabric trim, in a wide variety of styles and sizes. You can look at their wonderful offerings here .
(This is the circular needle sack, into which I just shoved the packs of circs to make sure I had enough space for them all)

I got my Stick Sacks two days ago and was so inspired by their high quality that I started sorting and loading my excessive hoard of knitting needles into them within 24 hours. I would not have believed it possible, because I really do have a LOT of needles, including numerous multiples of some sizes (which comes from buying stuff for a nickel at thrift shops/garage sales, and then spacing out on which ones I have when I go to a real yarn store, and buying more of the same), but I was able to fit every single need I own into the stick stacks. And I can see them without having to unfurl the sack. It’s wonderful!

One of the nicest features about the sacks is that they each have a deep flap which covers well past the exposed part of the needle while it’s in its compartment, so I could just about juggle with them and nothing would fall out. The slightly textured plastic holds them in place pretty well, too. I am extremely pleased with them and recommend them to anyone who has more than one set of needles – they have a “multipack” for fairly new knitters who may have only one or two of each type – single points, dpns, circs, etc. You can locate either an online store or a knit shop near you, which carries their goods at the link above. They also have sacks for crochet supplies.

It was a huge load off my mind to have all my needles in good order for once, and in one location, so I made good use of the carpenter’s bag, which is big enough for my folded up ball winder and swift, too. My worktable is now fairly clear, and I feel much easier about my supplies being protected from marauding children and baby dogs, and I can FIND things now, right away!

So, mind at peace, at least to some extent, I swatched the gorgeous Blue Heron beaded wool. The ball band says to use size 7 needles, so here’s the swatch on 7’s.

It was wonderful to work with – smooth on the fingers, and for a textured yarn, it knits up pretty evenly. Even the back looks nice!

(P.S. -- I am a sucky photographer, but I mean well)

I think I could easily go up at least one more needle size, if I wanted to, without it starting to look scrawny and overly gappy. I’m thinking of making a sweater for myself, especially since I picked up a copy of Big Girl Knits. Nice fitting tips and a couple of nice patterns in there for the fluffier amongst us. While I ponder the delights of a luxury sweater for myself, I’m swatching a pair of anklets for myself from Fleece Artists washable merino sock yarn in autumn tones. Oooh, it feels nice to spoil myself!

Knit on!

Oddball Word of the Day

nostrum (NOS-trehm) n. 1. a patent medicine, 2. a remedy, scheme, etc., intended to solve all problems; panacea

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Monday, September 24, 2007


I had one of those negative moments of enlightenment last week. I don’t like them much.

Some time ago, and completely without malice, one of my kids mentioned to a friend that I was a Mensan, and that kid mentioned it to their mom, and the mom became interested in being friends. I don’t like to make assumptions, and I don’t casually spurn offers of friendship, so we’ve met for cards or lunch from time to time and have a good time talking and so forth.

For the most part, I thought we were bonding over being in the same age range, having kids the same age who were friends, having similar interests, and all that other “friendship” stuff. I did know that I wished she didn’t know about my Mensan status because she brought it up several times in conversation, and it made me uncomfortable. I turned the conversation in other directions and mentally moved on.

Well, earlier this week, we were both in a group of people, and we were all talking about experiences with doctors. My friend mentioned her doctor, I asked what she liked about him, and the first thing out of her mouth was, “Well, he’s a Mensan, so, you know, we get along…” It was like she was saying he was a member of the right country club, or the right class, as if we shared a mutual bigotry.

Now, mind you, my friend is not a Mensan. I have no idea of whether or not she has checked into joining, or if she’s qualified or not. I’ll be honest, though, and say that I have my doubts and leave it, snottily, at that. And, basically, I don’t care because I don’t become, or stay, friends with people on that basis. It has never occurred to me to even consider whether or not friends are up to some intellectual benchmark, other than I may realize on some level that they are having trouble learning something I take for granted, or they occasionally poke fun at me for being a walking dictionary.

When she said that I was shocked, and then I was hurt, and then I was angry. I could feel myself withdrawing from her, too. I feel betrayed, too, and the suspicion is there that if I hadn’t “qualified”, she wouldn’t have given me the time of day. None of this means that I’m going to dump her, reject her friendship, or cut her out; friends are too rare and, by gum, I have plenty of my own flaws and quirks and subconscious white noise going on to take it THAT personally.

But I heard it, and it stuck, and it fit, and that makes it unforgettable, which is the hard part of the entire encounter. I also know now that we will never become the kind of friends we might have been had I not realized how important other people’s IQ qualifications are to her. I feel dirtied by implication. I have, unknowingly, lain down with fleas, as it were.

And, I’m going to have to explicitly set a boundary with her myself, which pisses me off. I’m going to have to tell her, just like I’ve told my family, that I consider it personal information that should not be disseminated without my express permission. I hate that she and her ego have put me in the position of having to do so.

Or, possibly, I am a big wienerhead.

Oddball Word of the Day

chary (CHAIR-ee) adj. cautious; careful; wary; timid; frugal or sparing

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Five Things I Could Have Done Without This Week

1. Monkeyshines with the school district: They had a total lapse of brain function with respect to proper procedure for Doodle’s 504 and handed out THEIR rough draft without ever giving me a copy and without letting me know they were doing so. Consequently, I was contacted by a couple of teachers asking about the particulars. I think the teachers were great – they were jumping right on to helping Doodle. Unfortunately, it felt a lot like sandbagging to me. I wrote an extremely polite email to the gun-jumpers about procedural safeguards. I later received a reasonably polite response and acknowledgement that I was right. It’s enough. Why do they always think they can do stuff like this and get away with it? (OK, that was 90% rhetorical.)

2. Hot weather: Hey! I thought we were done with that for the year! I was looking forward to long pants again!

3. A slow leak into the basement: One of the toilets needs a wax ring replaced. I hate knowing this much about plumbing.

4. A backed up kitchen sink: see no. 3 above. I should be grateful that my husband will jump into the breach and deal with the nasty bits, though.

5. Insomnia: always makes me feel like I’ve missed the next day. It happened twice this week. I did get to watch some interesting movies, but in a choice between REM sleep and movies from the 80’s, I vote for sleep.

Soldiering on…

German Idiom for Friday

Mir faellt ein Stein vom Herzen. : It's a load off my mind.

zB: Als der Lehrer mir sagte, dass ich nicht sitzenbleiben muesste, fiel mir ein Stein vom Herzen.

auf Englisch: When the teacher told me that I did not have to repeat the year, it was a load off my mind.

(from the guide to German Idioms by JP Lupson)

Oddball Word of the Day

derisible (dee-RIZ-ih-bul): adj. worthy of being mocked or derided

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Big Hocks

I have finished the “Big Hocks” socks for Doodle. I think one is ¼ inch longer in the leg portion than the other one, but also hope he won’t notice. I’m not going to tell him, and if you tell him, you get to fix it! Ha!

Also, notice how I have ostentatiously displayed them on top of luxury yarn from my last yarn waddle. I like to get all kinds of mileage out of my yarn purchases – pictures included!

Oddball Word of the Day

charily (CHAIR-eh-lee) adv. cautiously; carefully

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Oddball Word of the Day

agrypnia (eh-GRIP-nee-uh) n. sleeplessness; insomnia

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Beat the Rap

I’m the yarn manglah
A stone skein tanglah

Don’t matter if it’s costly
Or if the stuff was free
What’s jivin’ is how easy
It is to get to, see?

‘Cause I’m the yarn manglah
A stone skein tanglah.

I sneak up in the night
When the Momma’s outta sight
I slither and I slink
To get the wooly thingk.

‘Cause I’m the yarn manglah
A stone skein tanglah.

They gave me a Kong Wubba
It’s tougher than my Bubba.
The Hoover’s all wore out,
But the Wubba is still stout.

But I’m a yarn manglah
A stone skein tanglah.

I got my neck some bling
Love the sound of it, “Ching, ching”
But nuthin’ beats the string,
It’s the only, every thing.

‘Cause I’m the yarn manglah
A stone skein tanglah!


(whispered) “yarrrrrn MANGLAH!”

Oddball Word of the Day

snollygoster (SNAHL-ee-Gahs-ter) n. a clever, unprincipled person

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Day My Kids Grew Up

This morning I awoke to the sound of Bunny yelling, “BUS”. I ran to the kitchen to see her and Doodle lunging across the lawn and climbing onto the school bus. At my spot at the dining room table was a note, which read:

Mom –

Doodle and I got our lunch money and he took his pill. I decided to let you sleep – please don’t be mad. Love you.

- Bunny

When I read it, tears formed in my eyes because for the first time in the 20 years I’ve been a parent, someone else:

a) knew what needed to be done
b) did it
c) without being asked
d) got it right

For the first time in 20 years, I didn’t HAVE to be the officer on deck. Someone else picked up the reins, responsibly, and carried through. Only another mother can understand what that means. It means freedom.

Because there is a secret in the world of stay-at-home moms; the vast majority of us do it because we don’t have a choice. The reasons are varied – maybe our jobs didn’t pay enough to cover childcare and transportation to and fro. Maybe our spouses never did learn to pick up a 50% share of parenting without resentment and/or ineptitude. Maybe their jobs didn’t allow them to do so reliably. Maybe our kids have special needs that make extra time devoted to parenting and supervision and follow through necessary. Whatever the reason, few moms leave the security of a second income, pension, and paid health care on a whim; most of us have to leave.

And, we go back to work when and how we can – working from home, squeezing whatever income we can out between being in full charge of the children and home, working weekends when possible, working swing shift if husband’s hours are regular enough to let us do so; we know the consequences of being away from the work world for too long – lack of income, lack of financial security, lack of respect, loss of identity, etc.

I’ve made those choices myself. I am long past grieving the goodies of a full-time job and well entrenched in understanding the intangible rewards of being a stay-at-home mom. I’ve worked weekends, tutoring, small projects, doing what amounts to petty cash pick-up over the years with no reward other than the cash in my hand, a change in my routine, and a filthy kitchen and cranky family members to come home to. Sometimes it’s just not worth it, so I stop for a while.

But today, someone else stepped in where there was a need – I didn’t get to sleep until very late last night and consequently overslept. In the past, this usually meant that the kids didn’t wake up on time, didn’t get the essentials done on time, and I had to drive them to school or come in later with whatever they forgot.

If, in the past, I were sick, I needed to ask in advance for help—to ask my husband to get them up, medicated, fed, etc. He would do so, but there was always the underlying silent message that he hoped I wouldn’t thus inconvenience him for too long. Sometimes he’d even say, “why can’t they do that for themselves?” not being able to step outside of himself enough to notice that they’re children, not miniature, uncooperative adults, and they need supervision and leadership. On the rare occasions when I might have overslept, he’d blithely leave for work without waking me or the kids, and then I’d wind up in full ultra-panic mode when I did wake up. Sometimes, when he was at his least involved in the family, if I thought I might oversleep, I’d just bring my alarm clock downstairs and sleep on the couch, or stay up all night until I got the kids off to school, and then collapse with great guilt and sadness and sleep during the day. Fortunately, the worst of those days seem to be in the past.

For the last three years or so, I’ve given increasingly more serious consideration to going back to work. We have the financial need; the sticking point has been the potential stress/mishap level if I am not available to be the responsible parent when the kids need to leave for school and come home, and if I’m not here when homework needs to be monitored. I threw the suggestion out, told the family what would need to happen on their parts, and watched, as I work on getting myself more prepared for another major life transition. There are trade-offs to be weighed in terms of what can and cannot get done, the stress level I’m willing to accept for myself and the family, and compromises to be analyzed for short and long-term impact.

The results have been mixed; kids oversleeping, homework not being done promptly or without prompting, no one taking responsibility for feeding the pets, cleaning up after themselves, with some changes occurring -- helping out, working more as a team, dual grocery shopping, hubs helping to make dinner once a week and taking more of an interest in interacting with the children, the kids doing better at getting up with their alarms… Mixed, like I said.

Until today. This note is the first real ray of substantial light shining from the end of the s-a-h tunnel. There’s a chance that I could actually go back to work on a regular basis without the whole family crashing around me as a result. It’s being a surprisingly emotional moment for me, in a good way.

Oddball Word of the Day

autonomy (aw-TAWN-uh-mee) n. 1. self-government; independence. 2. a self-governing community

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Yarn Update

Ooh, naughty me! I went yarn shopping at FRINGE and didn't share the lovely yarn. Well, here we have, back left, some Blackberry Ridge Olive Tree worsted weight; going right, Cherry Tree Hill superwash worsted in "Life's a Beach", then a noname ball of mohair blend on top of a couple of skeins of Blue Heron beaded wool in colorway Copper (to die for, just to die for -- soft, smooth on the fingers, and a truly wonderful colorway). Bottom right is some UltraAlpaca in Teal Blue, which has a little violet in it that's hard to see.

Here's a better view of the UltraAlpaca on the left, with another view of the Olive Tree yarn at the top. Again the Blue Heron Copper yarn in the middle, and two skeins (the last two in the store, which got me STERN looks from my cohort in yarn shoppery!) of Mountain Colors Bearfoot, Sunburst and Indian Corn.

I now have five of the generous Bearfoot skeins, all in similar colorways, and I'm thinking....shawl in graduated tones? Hmmmmm. Meanwhile, I'm fondling the yarn.

This is going to have to be the end of large purchases for a while, though. I have plenty of new yarn to keep me busy through year end, and let's not even discuss the SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy) status. The hot summer really put me off pace for grinding through that. I'm finishing up Sock Two! The Sequel! to the Opal yarn socks for Doodle. I have to think of it that way to keep myself excited about doing the second sock, otherwise I might wind up the owner of a great many singleton socks.

Baby Gracie did get ahold of one of the Blackberry Ridge skeins of Olive Tree the other day. We had words. Some of them were "bad" and "dog" and "yarnmangling mammal". Others involved where dogs, no matter how little, might find themselves if they continue to mangle yarn. It wasn't as bad as it could have been; she didn't actually eat through the yarn, she just tangled it into a scary looking squirrel's nest. The hank ties were still in place, so I was able to finger comb about 70% of the tangles out, then I put it on the swift and hand wound it into a ball. It's fine, and the wee emergency back up dog and I are friends again.

Speaking of wee doggies, here she is, enjoying a warm spot on Bunny's bed. We gals all like the same things, regardless of age!

German Idiom for Friday

sich (dat.) kein Bein ausreissen : not to strain oneself

zB: Wenn Guenther im Garten arbeitet, reisst er sich kein Bein aus.

auf Englisch: When Gunther worsk in the garden, he doesn't strain himself.

(from the guide to German Idioms by JP Lupson)

Oddball Word of the Day

nabob (NAY-bahb) n. a man of great wealth, esp. one who has made his fortune in India or some other eastern country.

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Baby Gracie Plans a Trip

(One sandal, one slipper, one sneaker, one mitten, an umbrella, three squeaky toys, a sheet of notebook paper, a pencil stub, an ice bag, and a pamphlet from the University of Illinois)

…Meanwhile, over in the corner in the kitchen, Baby Gracie’s Mommy realizes she should have cleaned the fridge right after the power outage two weeks ago. BGM is going to use a LOT of Lysol today.

Oh, Kim and Aggie! Where are you when I need you?! Oh, woe and dismay. (Stop licking the stinky fridge, Gracie.)

Oddball Word of the Day

blowzy (BLOU-zee) adj. 1. having a coarse reddish-colored complexion, 2. untidy in appearance; unkempt, sluttish

(from the guide to MMMW by Laurence Urdang)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Frabjous Yarn

[One Popular Science Magazine, two pieces of graded homework, one ball of red yarn (Bad Dog!), one empty toilet paper roll, two cups of coffee, and one vitamin…]

Good Morning! I went on another yarn crawl yesterday with my nice friend from Chix who is kind enough to do all the driving and who has excellent taste in yarn, patterns, and, of course friends. We went to FRINGE where I bought way too much beautiful yarn, we ogled the gorgeous hand-dyed yarn the owners make, and then talked about Stitches Midwest.

Same good friend and I had gone to Stitches, but I hadn’t talked about it because… I wasn’t that excited. I didn’t go to any classes, and, while there is a world of stuff to be learned in knitting, after doing it for over 30 years, I’m really OK with my skills and preferences as they are. I have no interest and no time for getting involved in spinning or raising fiber creatures, and, most everything else I’ve either done or can figure out with a few good pictures and one reliable introductory pattern. I suppose I’m jaded.

Anyway, we did go to the yarn market. It was better than the best yarn store, however, there wasn’t anything this year that really grabbed my attention and made me want to set roots into the floor until I could claim it as mine. There were lots of hand-dyed yarns, many, many shop displays, and a nice little corner where I sat down and knitted on a square for a local group’s Project Linus blankets. I did do one thing that I’ve been wanting to do for many years – I got to see and touch qiviut yarn. (I just found out it’s pronounced KIV-EE-UTE, not kwivet, as I had previously seen and said. Love learning new stuff!)

Now, the legend dwelling in my head says that qiviut yarn is made from hand-plucked fibers from the undercoat of the Alaskan Musk Ox. Possibly wild musk oxen, but even my imagination has some limitations. I’m pretty sure it must be hand-plucked because building an apparatus for musk ox undercoat removal doesn’t seem like a big market to me, plus, just thinking about standing in front of a musk ox and saying, “Hey, pass the musk-ox-undercoat-plucking apparatus” makes my tongue dizzy. It’s reputed to be the most expensive yarn in the world. At $82 for a teeny tiny 2 oz. ball of superfine lace weight yarn, I’d have to say that sounds accurate. It was definitely $82 dollars worth of slobber-inducing softness, though, and I’m glad I got to finally fondle some.

Anyway, when I brought this up yesterday, the shopkeeper asked, “What would you make with it?” I couldn’t think of a single thing that I’d want to spend such an unspeakable amount of money per yard on, and the first thing that popped into my head was, “Nothing. I’d keep it in my pocket like a talisman to fondle, and on the last day of my life I’d swallow it and yell, ‘I’M TAKING IT WITH ME!’ before I check out.” After we all finished peeing in our pants, I bought enough lovely Blue Heron yarn to make Bunny a sweater, and we toddled homewards.

I have no idea what came over me, but it’s probably closer to the truth than I can easily admit to.

Oddball Word of the Day

san souci (sahn-sue-SEE) French. without care; carefree; unconcerned

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Life With Gracie

Monday: Ooh, isn’t she cute? She’s so little! Look at her tiny feet! Oh, she piddled in the house; she must be nervous, poor little thing. Oh, I guess a talking bird is a surprise to her. You’ll love it here, Gracie, we promise!

Tuesday: early - Why does my den smell like a cesspool? O-h-m-i-g-o-d. How can such a tiny dog produce that much crap? Holy sh*t. And the area rug is damp, too. Oh, my. Doodle, get me the window cleaner, a scrub brush, a roll of toilet paper and a roll of paper towels. Bunny, get me a bucket of warm water. Spawn, I’ll need you to amuse Gracie while I clean this up.

Tuesday: 30 minutes later – Have a great day, kids! Close the door! ALL THE WAY! HOLD IT, Gracie; I’m only in my robe! Gotcha. What’s that in your mouth? Paper? Where did you get… OK, trade you for this tiny treat. No, really, ooooooopen your mouth and give me the… COME BACK HERE!

Tuesday: after first cup of coffee drunk - 7 different shoes, one crossword puzzle book, two ball bearings, two (partially licked) school glue sticks, three dried up marker pens, countless bits of paper, some of which were thoroughly disgusting, later… Need to go outside, Gracie? (Vacuum entire first floor and close all possible doors while the dogs are out) Hey, did you guys have fun? HEY, didn’t you piddle OUTSIDE? Where’s the mop?

Tuesday: late afternoon after fourth aspirin for aching back – Hello, hubs? I need you to make stopping off for a crate for Gracie a priority. Trust me on this one. (falls asleep on couch at 8 pm)

Wednesday: 3 shoes, one magazine, one pencil, one pen, one marble, a sock, and one cup of coffee later – Let’s wake up the kids, doggies! Gracie, wake up Bunny! “AAAAGH, don’t lick me! Oh, it’s you. Hi, Gracie, I’m up now.” OK, let’s wake up the Doodle… “AAAAGH, stop smelling my armpits! No, don’t jump up here; I don’t want your slimy rawhide on my bed! I’m up, I’m up!”

Let’s play fetch, Gracie! Look at this great squeaky pig! FETCH! Bring it to Mommy! Good girl. Release. Release. Trade you this tiny treat for the… No, Hoover, it’s for Gracie. Let’s try this again. FETCH! Oh, thank you, Hoover. OK, leave my pocket alone, here’s a treat. HOLD ON, what’ve you got NOW, Gracie? Is that a plastic covered planner? I didn’t even know we had that. Thank you. Let’s try learning to sit. No, don’t lick my pants. Leave my shoe alone. OK, let’s watch TV.
Oh, yuck, I can’t believe you did that in your crate…and…chew your food better!

Thursday: two shoes, a worksheet packet on German nouns, a cup of coffee and a vitamin later – Right! Crate clean? Den clean? No obvious papers lying around? Garbage swept up from around the can? Okey dokey! Hey, why do you look like Father Christmas, Gracie? What is that? Is that a wad of Hoover’s shed hair? Where did you find that? No, don’t eat it…. Too late.

Oh, good, you guys are wrestling, tails are wagging, play posture in evidence, I can do laundry. Oh, wrestling in the basement? That’s OK, too. Tra la la, this is OK, I can even sit down now! Uh-oh, stop smelling his eyes, Gracie, he doesn’t like that. And don’t lick his mouth, he’s tired, you wore him out. Whoopsie, guess she’ll remember that little reminder from Hoover! Too bad I can’t praise him for that bark. That was bodacious. Nice to know he can do that.

Thursday, later: Oh, that’s cute, Gracie’s sitting on Hubs’ lap. That’s precious. “Hey, dear, grab the camera, you’ve got to see this!” Back to living room to find Hoover on Hubs’ lap and Gracie leaping along the back of the couch, smelling Hoover’s eyes again and trying to lick his tongue. I get a picture of the back of everyone’s head as Hoover buries his head in Hubs’ armpit.

Friday: two cloth napkins, two of Spawn’s bedroom slippers, a cup of coffee and a vitamin later – Gracie goes out, does her business, comes back in with Hoover, sits for a treat. She drinks her water, lies down on a throw rug and chews her rawhide while the kids get ready for school. They open the fridge, she runs over and licks the frame. OK, can’t solve everything in a week. No more poos or puddles in the house, we’ve stopped smelling everyone’s eyes and leaping on people, and we are learning how to behave acceptably. We have a little paper and ice cube fixation, but a nice steak bone from tonight’s dinner certainly seems to distract us from paper.

Saturday: one magazine insert, one shoe, one bedroom slipper, coffee, and a vitamin later - WALKIES! We love walkies! We ignore lots of things during walkies, except smells; we like smells. Sniff tour of backyard with Hoover, who knows where everyone and everything is and what they’re called. Rabbit used to be here, old dog to the west, two middle-aged dogs to the north, oooh, is that a bird? Outdoor wrestling is great!

Sunday: one bedroom slipper, one bobby pin, one sheet of homework instructions, one ball of yarn (Bad Dog!), two cups of coffee and one vitamin - Gracie meets the Bad Shaky Can because she jumped on a visitor. I refuse to feel guilty when she slinks away and eels under the coffee table in shame. The Hoover dog gives her a disgusted look after checking to make sure he hasn’t done anything bad enough to merit the sound of the shaky can. She is roundly snubbed by Hoover until she makes amends to the visitor by sitting at his feet and has a proper round of Fetch with Alpha Mom.

Life is great here after all, Gracie! Wrestling, couches, five people to scratch Baby Gracie and coo at her, a big back yard, walkies and fetchies and run till you drop if you want to! Whee! But no piddling in the house; that’s OK, she’s learning to go as soon as she goes out; the Hoover dog showed her the “zone”.

Breathe in, breathe out. Cuddle the puppy; she’s working hard, too.

Oddball Word of the Day

monteith (mon-TEETH) n. a punch bowl, usually of silver, with a notched rim on which punch cups can be hung

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Happy Doggy Day!

We have a new/slightly used 4-month-old black lab named Gracie. She and the Hoove have been having big fun in the back yard as he teaches her the finer points of playing fetch and smelling every corner of the yard to make sure she knows who and what has been there.

Gracie also got a big surprise in our kitchen. She noticed Hawthorne, and he noticed her. As she got closer and closer to smell better, he gave her a hearty “HELLO!” which startled her so much she backed three feet away from him in a nanosecond.

She’s a good learner – so far she’s working on the “release” part of playing fetch fairly successfully, and she has no problem being subordinate to Old Man Hoover, who is not all that bossy anyway. She’s social and shares well. We do have to stop a few of her bad habits, though. She jumps onto people and slobbers in their faces very enthusiastically, neither of which are really all that friendly, when you think about it. No problem – Hoover was the same way.

Puppies are good teachers, too! Today I learned that we have too much crap and most of it is on the floor! Good thing she’s made such headway on “bring it to Mommy” and “release!” We had a very zippy morning; so far we’re up to seven different shoes, one lost highlighter, a crossword puzzle book, three pieces of paper, and a large wad of Hoover hair I couldn’t get to with the broom.

She likes to be helpful. This morning she helped my sleepy children out of bed by first leaping on Bunny and slurping her face, “AAAAGH! Good morning to you, too, Gracie!” Then she assisted in rousting the Doodle by snorting in his armpit, and, when he lurched straight upward, hooting, “Noooo! Down!” she grabbed his shoe and dashed off.

Gracie made sure Spawn didn’t miss his early college class by sneaking into his room when he slouched off to the bathroom and stealing one of his aluminum cans. She then flung it repeatedly on the tile floor for that audio component of waking-up cheer. Like I said, good thing she’s getting better at “Release!”

I also learned that she needs to go out more often than anyone other than me is willing accommodate. We will be exploring her reactions to a vacuum cleaner and a mop shortly.

She likes a good game of tug with a knotted rope toy, and we had fun playing indoor fetch with a squeaky fabric pig. Rawhide helps the itchy, teething gums, and, like most puppies, when she’s tired, she falls over and sleeps like the dead for a half an hour to recharge her batteries. She’s a cuddler and a quick learner, both good things.

She’s just a busy, sweet, curious puppy who is very eager to learn how to be a good dog. I’m sure we’ll have lots of fun getting to know each other better.

Oddball Word of the Day

riant (RYE-ent) adj. laughing; smiling; cheerful

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)