The Alarming Truth About Mornings

PebbleBacklight

My new Pebble Time Round – backlit.

Four out of five mornings last week started out on a less-than-great note, all because I have to get up quite a bit earlier than my husband so we can both be ready for work on time. I typically get up between 5:30 and 6am, and he gets up around 8 (though he has me wake him up at 7 in case he feels like working out).

I used to use a really loud, annoying alarm in the bathroom (which is across the hall from our bedroom) to ensure I’d get up and out of bed on time. We’re both night people, which means mornings are painful for us anyways, and I can’t tell you how much I hated that alarm. But it did get me out of bed quickly…until one morning it didn’t. And then it didn’t again, even after I replaced the batteries. And I had to find something else to use.

I started using my cell (left in the bathroom so I’d have to get up)…but sometimes after a particularly late night I wouldn’t hear it. Sometimes hubby would though, and it would drive him nuts that I didn’t get up and shut it off right away. So I started using the clock radio alarm by the bed (the beeping one…the radio wouldn’t get me up), and setting the cell as a backup (in case I hit the snooze button or worse, turned off the bedroom alarm and went back to sleep). That worked fine for awhile too, but I still don’t get up as quickly as hubby would like most mornings, so he’s stuck listening to the alarm that early.

Last week, one morning I didn’t hear it, one morning I got up early (dog got me up) and forgot to turn off the alarm by the bed so it woke hubby up (and he couldn’t figure out how to turn it off), another morning I just didn’t move fast enough…you get the drift. There was only one morning the whole week that actually started off in a peaceful manner. The rest sucked, and when your morning starts off all angsty, the rest of the day doesn’t have much of a chance.

Needless to say, I’d had enough after the third morning, and that night, I decided to try one more thing before converting my office into a bedroom and just sleeping in there during the week. I ordered a smart watch – the smallest, most basic model with good reviews that I thought would work as a vibrating wrist alarm. I thought the “smart alarm” feature sounded neat, so I picked on that would work for that as well. My new Pebble Time Round was delivered Friday, and I tried it out right away for Saturday morning.

PebbleEPaper

Epaper background – easy to see in sunlight, but a bit dim inside…

The “smart” alarm really isn’t smart at all…it runs through a third party phone app, and both Sat. and Sun. mornings it went off later than the “last possible time” I’d picked. Supposedly it can sense when you’re in deep sleep vs. light (based on your movements), but it’s not supposed to go past the time you pick as the last possible. So Sunday when I went back to bed after feeding the dogs, I just set the standard alarm on the Pebble itself, and it worked pretty well to wake me up around 10am.

So I’m going to try that this week – setting the pebble alarm to go off first, and then my cell alarm as a backup. If all goes well, hubby shouldn’t hear one alarm this week. If not…well, I may be shopping for a bed in the near future, as I’m kind of out of options. Fingers crossed – I’d really prefer not to convert the office. I suppose I could go back to the super-loud annoying alarm again, but that makes my mornings stressful too.

For those morning people out there wondering why I don’t just go to bed earlier…I prefer the night, always have. And late nights are the only time it’s quiet enough around here to get any writing done. To have a chance at “just waking up”, I’d have to go to bed (sleep) around 11:30pm, or even 10pm. Which would leave me absolutely no time at all for writing…or anything in the evenings, really. Just not happening.

Speaking of which, my “get ready for bed” alarm just went off, so I need to get this posted and head to bed so I can read for half an hour and then be asleep by 1am. Here’s hoping the vibrating alarm works well from here on out!

Gone to the Dogs: Girly Stuff?

MurphyBone

Mica sez: Hey Murph, that’s a snazzy new legging J made for ya. Makes you look like you’re headed for the tundra or something. How’s it working for ya?

Murphy sez: It is pretty cool, isn’t it? Except the bows. They’re kinda girly. J should rethink that part of the design. Get me some velcro or buttons or something. But it’s comfy, and it doesn’t stick to my sore leg, and it’s got lots of little holes to let air in. I like it, except it’s not as much fun to lick on account of I get all those yarn thingies on my tongue. And it’s loose in the main part, so I can’t get good trak-shun when I need to itch that sore. This is just the pro-toe-type though. I think she’s gonna make more. Maybe she’ll make the next one tighter? She said she might make me a shoulder strap to hold it up. Not sure how *that* will work…

MurphyCrochetedSock

Mica sez: I wouldn’t count on it, dude. I think the not-licking thing is important, considering how many times she tells me to stop licking my legs. Geez. But I hear you’re getting a new cone too, on account of your old one is getting worn out. And some kind of silver spray – are you gonna go gray?

Murphy sez: I’m kinda worried about the new cone – it might be too long. But J says there won’t be any plastic thingies to poke my neck, and there’s padding on the top and bottom, so it might be more comfortable. We’ll see. I don’t know nothin’ about the silver spray. Sounds kind of scary though. J says it might help my sore leg, but we’ll see. Doesn’t seem like putting metal on it will help. Except chain mail might be fun. We could go medieval on those bunnies…

Mica sez: Somehow I don’t think J would appreciate that much. Though she has been taking us on longer walks lately. Maybe we’re in training to take over the city or something. That could be fun. We could ban all cats.

Murphy sez: And vacuum cleaners. Weren’t we going to talk about evil machines today, Mica? Except I haven’t done any research lately. J was too busy to vacuum last week, and the week before I think I was outside. Hmm. I’ll have to find out where the big yellow beast hides. I’ve only seen it once, but it was ferocious and I wanted to kill it.

Mica sez: I remember. You were getting a little too excited about that, and I thought I might have to take you down. And J didn’t like that, so we both got put in time out. Over a vacuum cleaner. That doesn’t seem fair, does it? These humans and their need to clean is confusing. And what’s with the grooming wipes, speaking of that? I mean…I don’t think we smell bad…

Murphy sez: Me neither, but J keeps talking about taking me to get a bath. My former foster mom is a groomer, and it’ll be fun to see her again, but I’m kind of liking this whole no bathing thing. It’s good to be a dog. It’s good to smell like a dog. And we can always bathe in the rain…we shoulda done that Wednesday when we couldn’t go walking ‘cause of all the water comin’ down.

MicaEars

Mica sez: I don’t like baths. I hate getting my feet wet. And I hate getting my nails trimmed, and J says I have to go to the vet for that one of these days, because my nails are so long. Her nails are long. Why do I have to cut mine? They’re good traction, I tell ya! Sheesh. She’s been threatening to clip them herself, and I don’t like that either, but I really don’t like that buzzy-sander thing…

Murphy sez: Aw, it’s not so bad once you get used to it. Ya gotta keep your nails short so your toes don’t hurt. And you can sneak around then too – no one can hear you coming. It’s fun.

Mica sez: I don’t know about all this bathing/nail cutting thing…it’s not very dogly. Are you sure we can’t get out of it? Maybe if we both go roll in the dirt afterwards or something.

Murphy sez: Yeah, we could do that. ‘Cept I prefer to roll on the carpet like I do every night. It just feels so good to be free of the cone that I go a little nutty. Makes J & B laugh.

Mica sez: You’re such a clown. So next week we’re gettin’ all gussied up then, eh? I suppose one bath won’t kill me. But the nail trim might. If I don’t come back, I want you to…

Murphy sez: Oh stop. I’m the dramatic one, remember? Suck it up, buster. But not like a vacuum…

DogBacks


Tune in next week for more Murphy & Mica! Or subscribe to get us in your inbox – use the subscription link in the right sidebar and pick “Gone to the Dogs”. Like these posts? Consider a donation to our favorite charities – the shelters that helped us when we needed it most! 

Murphy’s shelter: Donate to The Rimrock Humane Society
Mica’s shelter: Donate to Help for Homeless Pets

Fauna, Flora, & Priorities

I made a decision last week that feels much bigger than it really is. I decided to turn my now-empty goldfish tank into a terrarium rather than restocking with more fish. For many people, this sort of decision is like picking out which photo to hang on a wall – something to put some thought into, but nothing to agonize over. Alas…I am not one of those people.

I love fancy goldfish…and I’ve been keeping them since shortly after I bought my first house (so…15 yrs now?). At one time I had a 45 gallon tank stocked with four beautiful (and huge) goldies. Then I lost one in the move when I got married, and over the years the large tanks gave way to smaller as fish died, and this last one was 29 gallons with just two fancies (still slightly overstocked, so over-filtered to compensate). They’re beautiful fish – I love their tails and coloring and the way they beg for breakfast every morning like little wet dogs.

They’re also part of my little ultra-local eco-system…the water from the aquarium goes to the upkeep of my house and garden plants, for a completely natural fertilizer you can’t get anywhere else. I love houseplants, and I love roses in the garden (no cut flowers, please). Fish-water fertilizer is something all plants love, and it’s been my “secret” to beautiful plants for a long time.

In any case, I felt horrible when I lost these last two, and for awhile I thought I’d turn that tank into a community freshwater tank (because it really isn’t big enough for goldies, and any space I had for larger tanks before has long since been re-purposed). But I don’t really *want* a community tank. And being perfectly honest with myself, I have other things I’d rather prioritize on the weekends than aquarium maintenance at this point in my life.

So yesterday, I drained the tank, left the gravel in the bottom for drainage, bought some potting soil and ordered some charcoal. I also bought myself a new Rex begonia for following through with the “no more goldies” decision – I don’t think my husband thought I would (he reminded me that last time I said I was done with fish, we had two within the next month or so). I have a China Doll plant and a curly-leaf arelea that both want more humidity than my house currently has, so those three will be the main plants in the tank, and I’ll create a park for some of my Smurfs with the rest of the space.

29GalStart

The difficult thing will be keeping myself from adding something “living” later on (as if the plants weren’t alive enough…). I love little critters – toads, frogs, lizards, etc…and it’s hard for me to have a terrarium without wanting to turn it into a vivarium. A little slice of the world right in my own home…but that would defeat the purpose of scaling back and turning my priorities elsewhere.

I do still have a 10 gallon tank with four cory catfish in it, and I’ll keep them until they die. Then that aquarium too is probably destined for terrarium-container-ship. It’s just…time, even though it’s kind of depressing, and I’m not really sure I want that part of my life to end. I feel like it needs to, though – a small, but significant difference.

In any case, I won’t wallow for long – I never do. The charcoal for the terrarium (between the drainage & soil layers as a filter) should be here by Wednesday, and when my husband is off playing pool that night, I’ll start working on the landscaping and planting. By next weekend, it should be a lovely little park for some Smurfs to play in, and where my humidity-loving plants can thrive.

And I’ll have an excellent excuse to visit the miniatures store again…

Gone to the Dogs: This & That

If the perfect bone exists, it's gotta be in this basket...

If the perfect bone exists, it’s gotta be in this basket…

 

Murphy sez: Hey – it’s Friday again! And we made it a whole week without fighting. That’s pretty cool, isn’t it Mica?

Mica sez: Sure is. Not that you could tell by the way you tore into your own leg the other night. What was that all about, anyways?

Murphy sez: I don’t know what came over me! One minute B let me lay outside in the sun and I was soaking it up after being housebound for two days ‘cause of the rain, and the next minute, J got home and I ran inside to see her and she was not amused by the blood. She bandaged me up though, and told B where to find the leggings so he could give me a thicker one when he gets home before her. I don’t normally chew through the thick ones, just those thin ones she was using for the daytime when I’m in my cone.

Mica sez: That’s some nasty habit you got there, Murph. Hopefully you can kick it someday. I mean, that kinda hurts, I bet. It was kind of a busy week though – maybe that’s why you got all chewy with your bad self. What with meeting J’s parents last weekend, and then the whole putting recycling out last Tuesday night…not to mention three late nights in a row where our routine was busted due to J’s lack of planning. No wonder you were kinda on edge.

So good I can't be still long enough for a picture.

So good I can’t be still long enough for a picture.

Murphy sez: You know it. J’s parents seem pretty nice though, and they’re calm, so that was a fun meeting. J should plan better, so we have her to ourselves late nights during the week. I mean, we’re usually sleeping while she’s writing her stories, but still. Routines are good. They make me feel all warm & fuzzy.

Mica sez: I think that’s the blankets you keep tunneling under at night. I don’t know how you stand it – it’s gotta be like five million degrees under there, and you’re snoozin’ away like it’s nothing. I bet you like that J’s been having to turn the air conditioning on in the afternoons lately, eh?

Murphy sez: You’re just jealous ‘cause I’m such a hot dog. Get it? Hot dog! And funny, too. Hey Mica, do you think that bunny we almost caught the other day will be out by that one house later tonight? He was only like two inches from my nose when he bolted in front of us. I think J should let us walk out at the end of the leashes so we can catch dinner. We’d be good hunters, don’t you think? And she’s mixing some raw food in with our kibble now anyways – we can contribute!

Less TV, more walkies, please!

Less TV, more walkies, please!

 

Mica sez: I don’t know about funny, but you’re definitely silly. And apparently you weren’t listening – J wasn’t real happy about the prospect of walking a couple of bloody dogs home if we get to unstuff one of those live stuffies. I’m thinking she’s not gonna give us much wiggle room on the leads. It would sure be more fun if J wasn’t such a control freak. Except that’s what gets you your routines, I s’pose.

Murphy sez: Yeah, I guess. I still think we could catch our own rabbit and squirrels. Those pesky squirrels are so smug, runnin’ up in their trees and watching us walk past like they own the world. Kinda like that Marvin-dog we met last Saturday through the neighbor’s fence. He’s kind of an odd-looking little dude…like a cross between a German Shepherd and a Dachshund or something. I tried to pee on him through the fence, but he was too quick. I’ll get him next time.

Mica sez: Yeah, I would’ve taken him on without the fence between us. That guy was asking for trouble, if you ask me. I don’t know why you were so calm about the whole thing, but I was willing to go along until the lady with him started yelling. I don’t even think she was mad, just loud, but man…it was kinda trippy. Probably a good thing J made me go inside so I couldn’t start something. Coulda been fun though.

Murphy sez: Nah…people are the only ones worth fighting over. Although we managed to contain ourselves the other night when the neighbor and his friend were out smokin’. Barely.

Mica sez: Just wait until this summer – he has parties almost every week. Lots of people to bark at – it’s good exercise, and the best part is, he doesn’t even care if we make noise. Although the other neighbors kinda might, on account of their kids. And J doesn’t care much for barking unless we’re actually trying to tell her something. I tell her all the time about people passing by outside, but she doesn’t seem interested in that either. Just people who knock on our door, and now we have that sign…

Murphy sez: You are kinda loud, dude. Maybe you should be quieter like me. I only bark when I want something – like when J’s mixing up our food, or when I need to go out. Or at the vacuum. Vacuums are evil.

Mica sez: You could write a whole post about evil vacuums, Murph. This post is getting kind of long though, and I think it’s time for you to go crawl into one of those blanket forts. We can talk about vacuums next week.

Murphy sez: Fine – if you say so. But I think we should share something useful. Like how to kill vacuums. Then we could be heroes! I need to think up a superhero name…

Bellies up!

Bellies up!


Tune in next week for more Murphy & Mica! Or subscribe to get us in your inbox – use the subscription link in the right sidebar and pick “Gone to the Dogs”. Like these posts? Consider a donation to our favorite charities – the shelters that helped us when we needed it most! 

Murphy’s shelter: Donate to The Rimrock Humane Society
Mica’s shelter: Donate to Help for Homeless Pets

Captain America, Miniatures, & Personal Libraries

My Geek Fuel box came on Saturday, and nestled among all the other geeky goodness was a sticker of Captain America’s shield. There was also a civil war (Avengers, not actual history) t-shirt (very cool, incidentally), which made me pause before I put the sticker on my laptop (yes, I’ve become one of “those” people).

I mean, I haven’t actually seen Civil War yet, so how do I know I’d be on Captain America’s side instead of Iron Man’s side? Then again, Captain America *is* Captain America after all, which is like…the ultimate boy scout, so of *course* I’m going to side with him over the hothead genius, right? Well…um…uh…

I finally did put the sticker on my laptop, but I kind of feel the need to balance it out with an Iron Man sticker now. Because while patriotic boy scouts are hot, I have to admit a definite affinity for hothead geniuses too. Call me fickle. Or maybe just well-rounded…

In other news, I had some time to kill between mailing stuff and getting my hair cut on Saturday, so I stopped into a place I’ve always wanted to visit that’s conveniently right around the corner from the post office. It’s called On a Smaller Scale, and it’s a miniatures & dollhouse store! I didn’t find what I was looking for (some stone-like lotuses for a book I’ll be working on very soon), but I did find a gift for someone, and by the time I left, my mind was swimming with ideas. Also, now I really want one of those big, cool dollhouses to decorate… *sigh*

So many adorably tiny little things, and tiny furniture and food and garden stuff and…well, I could have spent all afternoon there, easily. As it is, I’ve been trying to rearrange my office in my head to accommodate both a Victorian-style dollhouse, and a re-purposed aquarium turned on its side and divided into “rooms” for a “plot box” to use with miniatures when I’m plotting out certain scenes in my books. Wouldn’t that be fun?

I’ll be going back soon, that’s for sure. I want to create some scenes for displaying my Smurfs, and a lot of the smaller dollhouse stuff will work perfectly for that. It was a fun half hour or so, browsing the store and chatting with the owner.

Naturally, when I started trying to figure out where I’d fit more stuff, I started thinking about stuff I could get rid of. I have so many books, and I always think that I should offload the ones I haven’t touched in forever, but I just…can’t. I mean, what if someday down the road my tastes swing back to those sweet romances? Or what if something does happen to civilization as we know it? Would those seriously outdated World Book Encyclopedias come in handy? I’m certainly not getting rid of my antique books. but there are so very many I haven’t looked at in well over ten years, and probably won’t look at in the next ten either, but…I just cannot bring myself to get rid of books. I mean…they’re books. I need them. Collectively, they contain the world (even fiction), and how can I possibly just get rid of that?

Yes, I realize I have a slight problem in this regard. It’s just stuff, everything’s digital now, and odds aren’t that great on the grid blowing up anytime soon. Sure, there are certainly books on my shelves I could live without, but taking the time to weed through just seems…well, like a waste, when I could be doing other things. It’s gonna have to happen some time, because we keep buying new books and our space isn’t unlimited. But not just yet.

Speaking of which, I think I need to make a trip to Hastings soon…

Gone to the Dogs: Behold the Gates of Hell

Innocent1

Murphy sez: I had no idea that the entrance to the underworld was right at our front door, but last Sunday, this guy I’d never met before walked right in (J let him!), and the next thing I know, Mica and me were squaring off over who got to get petted first. At least I think that’s what we were fighting over. Hard to say, since I was so excited and all.

Mica sez: That human is really fun. He loves us dogs, and he’s got a loud voice, and he’s mine. I don’t know why you had to horn in on my fun. I mean, he always makes me sit, but it’s okay, ‘cuz I like him. You were all hoppy and excited, I was jumpy and excited, the entryway is kinda small…

Murphy sez: Yeah, but I’m top dog around here – we already agreed about that. We don’t fight about anything else, so this is stupid. Also, I like humans. And treats. We could share, I guess. But I get to be the greeting committee. It’s my job.

Mica sez: Yeah, well, doesn’t look like either of us is gonna get to do that for awhile, since we had to go another round on Wednesday. It’s not like we knew the mailman was just dropping off a package – he knocked, I thought he was coming in. And greeting should be my job, dang it. It’s been my job for years. Why do you gotta ruin everything?

J sez: Simmer down, boys. You’re both done being hooligans. You’ll either learn to behave when someone knocks, or you’ll learn to kennel up. I’d prefer the whole behaving like civil dogs option myself, but I’m not above crating if need be. Either way, you’ve both got a weekend of intense training ahead. Murphy needs to meet my parents, since they take care of you guys when we’re gone.

I can just about reach 'em...

The infamous gate. And new bowl of treats. I can just about reach ’em…

Murphy sez: Well that sounds ominous. We’ll be good, right Mica? I like meeting new people. Or it seems like fun, anyways. Unless we’re walking. I don’t much care for people interrupting our walks. Can’t they see we’re busy patrolling? It’s serious business.

Mica sez: I’ll consider behaving. The flower stuff J gave me for “calming” kind has me way mellow right now. I think she overdid it. That, or all these sore muscles from rumblin’ with you. I’m not a youngster anymore, Murph. Dang it.

Murphy sez: Me neither, but I have good joint supplements. J should get you some without fish, so you can have some too. That ter-mer-ik seems to be helping though. Good thing she gave you extra last night. She gave me some new flower stuff too – I kinda like it, but too soon to tell if it’s gonna help me with weird noises or not like it’s supposed to. Whatever. It tastes good, anyways.

Mica sez: It’s kind of ironic that we got into a fight when the mailman brought us calm-down stuff. He was probably glad J didn’t get a chance to open the door until he was gone. I don’t think the guy from Sunday will be back anytime soon either. B said we sort of traumatized him with all our yelling. If he does come back, I think he should give us treats.

Murphy sez: I do love treats – yum! I wonder if I could knock that new treat bowl off the shelf by the front gate. I know J put it there to reward us for being nice when we’re in that area together, but it’s not really *that* high up…

Mica sez: Hey Murph – do you realize you’ve been here three weeks now? I kinda thought you were just here for a visit. But seems like you’ll be staying, eh?

Murphy sez: Yeah, I think I live here now. Maybe that’s why we’re both a bit on edge with the door thing. I mean, everyone’s polite while they’re just visiting (or entertaining guests) right? Decide to move in together, and pretty soon you’re wandering around without your socks and chewing each other’s raw bones. Don’t even get me started on bedhead…

Mica sez: *sigh* Neither of us have enough hair for bedhead, Murphy. You’re getting loopy….

CozySnoozin


Tune in next week for more Murphy & Mica! Or subscribe to get us in your inbox – use the subscription link in the right sidebar and pick “Gone to the Dogs”. Like these posts? Consider a donation to Murphy & Mica’s favorite charities – the shelters that helped them when they needed it most! 

Murphy’s shelter: Donate to The Rimrock Humane Society
Mica’s shelter: Donate to Help for Homeless Pets

On Mold, Health & Charity

So I went to taste my new jars of sauerkraut last Wednesday and…they smelled like mold. Dammit. I knew it was a risk, because I was using cabbage that had been in the fridge for a few weeks, but I had hoped I’d gotten to it soon enough. Not so, apparently. I tossed those jars out, and bought a couple more heads of cabbage, and will try again one night this week.

No, I’m not giving up. Homemade sauerkraut is good stuff, and good for you – it’s got a lot of great vitamins & probiotics. I also bought carrots and fresh garlic – the very first batch I made included both, and was really fabulous (though the hubby wasn’t fond of the garlic). I plan to start two jars again – one with carrots/garlic, and one just plain. Fingers crossed…

Ironically enough, as I sit here typing late Sunday night, I’m not sipping my normal cup of green tea to go with my standard late-night yogurt/granola/maple syrup snack. No, tonight I have a glass of grape soda at my side, and I’m savoring every sip. Made with cane sugar, of course – because I’d like to breathe when I go to sleep tonight, and corn syrup does really bad things to my sinuses anymore. I used to be able to handle it just fine, but the healthier my diet’s become, the more I pay for the decision to have a standard glass of pop while I’m out and about (I buy Mexican Coke for that occasional at-home craving…made with cane sugar, so no allergy issues).

Truth be told, I really don’t even crave soda much anymore. I’ve been substituting with tea and water and the occasional pineapple juice for so long that one glass of pop will kill the craving for weeks before I want another “hit”. Which is pretty good considering I started drinking pop several times a day before I even hit high school, and kept that habit up until a good year or so after I graduated college.

Thing is, I’m highly motivated to avoid change and inconvenience – both for myself and to avoid creating it for other people. So the cancer avoidance thing is big with me. Obviously.

Last weekend I started making something called “Golden Paste” (seriously – they couldn’t just call it “Turmeric Paste”?) for the dogs. Murphy has a big open wound under the legging he wears most of the time, and I wanted to see if giving him turmeric with his meals would help that to heal faster. Turmeric needs oil and black pepper to be bioavailable, so golden paste is basically just turmeric cooked to a paste in water, and then blended with oil (I use coconut, because – healthy!) and black pepper. I started giving it to the dogs morning and night, and they both seem to be doing really well on it. Murphy’s wound seems to be healing faster – though I’ve tried several other things that I think might be helping to speed that along. I even put turmeric paste right on the wound for a night. It looked much better after that – and a honey/turmeric paste treatment this weekend seemed to hurry the healing up a bit as well.

In any case, turmeric is supposed to be good for a variety of healthy things for humans as well, and one common way to use golden paste for humans is to make “golden milk” (which sounds even worse, I know – seriously, what is *wrong* with just saying “turmeric”?!). Basically, a little golden paste mixed with warm milk and honey. I find it very tasty, and have been drinking just a small cup before bed. I have no idea if it’s doing anything good or not, but I enjoy that little treat while I’m reading before bed, and if it is doing anything good for my insides, all the better.

And that just got me thinking about which mugs I use, which makes me think about my teacups, and how I’m planning to do a post on the meaning of cups soon. Memo to self…

I did manage to get the taxes done this weekend too, and when Turbo Tax asked me about charitable contributions, it made me stop and think for a good long minute. I used to be good about donating here and there as money allowed, but I’ve been pretty tight with things lately. Maybe it’s time to loosen the purse strings a bit, and reinstate that zoo membership, and buy an art museum membership, and set up that ongoing contribution to our local PBS station. I’ll be paying off our second mortgage in another couple of months, so no reason not to put a little cash back into the community, eh?

In that same vein, I’m going to set up some donation links on the Friday Gone to the Dogs posts. People who like the posts and feel like doing so can toss a tip to the charity of either Mica or Murphy’s choice – the shelters that helped them both out when they needed a safe place to stay. Maybe we can give back a little that way too.

Now it’s time to go make my turmeric milk, crawl into bed, and continue reading The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver. Interesting stuff. Especially for those of us who are tattooed…

Gone to the Dogs: Rabble Rousin’

MurphyLookUp

Murphy sez: I’m free! Of the office, I mean. J and B said Mica & me did so well over the weekend at getting along that I could try staying out with him on Monday, as long as I still wore my cone. J kept the front blind closed so Mica couldn’t bark and get all worked up about stuff outside like he tends to, but we mostly just slept all morning. So she let us stay out in the afternoon too, and since there were no injuries and we didn’t look “stressed” (whatever that means), that was that. No more tiny office during the day. I do still have to wear my legging though – J’s worried that the cone bumps it too much during the day, and makes it more tender. She’s gonna make me some spongy leggings with yarn that have bigger holes for air, but will stop the cone from bumping my sore. Whatever – I don’t mind. I’m used to the legging, so I don’t even notice.

Mica sez: I wish that leg of yours would hurry up and heal. I wanna play, but J says we can’t, ’cause I always go for the legs first when I play fight. She’s not sure we should wrestle anyways on account of the size difference, but I think it would be good…bonding. Like football.

Murphy sez: You know I could take ya, Mica. Anyways, my leg seems to be healing a lot faster, because it’s itching way more than it was. J put some yellow stuff on it – that ter-mer-ik paste we get with our meals, and I really wanted to just eat it, so I kept licking at the legging. Why waste good food on skin?! But she said it looked lots better the day after, and maybe she’ll do it again this weekend. She’s gotta find something to stop the itching first though. Or just fix the spray thingy on the liquid bandaid that seems to work for that.

MicaLookUp

Mica sez: Oils and bandaids and pastes and socks…you’re kind of a high-maintenance dog, Murph, and you always smell sort of girly with that lavender stuff. If I didn’t know you, I’d think you were a pansy. But the way you chased the squirrel up the wood pile yesterday…that was gnarly, dude. I thought J was gonna have a heart attack when she had to climb up after you in her work clothes. It’s a pretty good trick to climb a wood pile in those clicky heeled shoes.

Murphy sez: That squirrel should have been second breakfast, dang it. I almost had him, too. And then I was trying to decide whether to go up the neighbor’s tree beside the fence after him, or team up with that big guy in the next yard when J grabbed my tail to stop me and made me get down. I don’t know what the big deal was. I think I heard “treat” before she grabbed me, but a squirrel is worth like 50 treats, right? She sure was anxious about me going over the fence though. Said I wouldn’t have survived the 10-12 foot drop on the other side with my legs like they are, and that I should never, ever scare her like that again. Pshaw. I’m rubber-ball-bouncy. I could do it.

MurphWoodpile

The wood pile – now blockaded with various items to discourage climbing (like…a rake? Really?).

She also said I’m not a cat, so no climbing trees. Of course I’m not a cat – cats are for eating. Why would I want to be a cat? Silly J. I never actually promised her I wouldn’t go up there again, so she piled a bunch of slippery stuff all around the wood so it’s harder to find a foothold. I’m a good boy – I’ll stay down. You know. Unless there’s another squirrel. Or a cat. Or maybe one of those fat black birds with the red chests…

Mica sez: You might not be bouncy enough for that particular drop, Tigger – especially considering the way you’re gimping around today. And then there’s the mastiff on the other side – I don’t know if he’s too friendly. But I’m impressed you remembered that lecture, considering J had to tell you to get out of the garden like ten times in the last week. I know you’re just trying to help weed by eating the grass, but she doesn’t appreciate stuff like that. Maybe we’ll try helping her and B dig out the perimeter of the yard next week. They did say something about digging up all the dirt before they get new grass…

Murphy sez: You mean like when you buried both of the bones she gave us last weekend, and then let her find mine, but kept yours hidden? That wasn’t cool, man. She tossed mine out because you didn’t have yours. I can’t believe you dug it up two days later for a midnight snack! But it was pretty funny when she threw it out because it was raw and you left it buried for two days. You should have seen your face!

Mica sez: Hey Murph – how many times did J have to tell you “No lickies!” today?

Murphy sez: Bite me, dude. Woof!

MMSleeping


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The New Normal, Creativity & Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut - fermentin'  away.

Sauerkraut – fermentin’ away.

I know…the Monday post has been all about dogs lately, because I tend to hyper-focus on whatever happens to be top billing in my life at the moment. And dogs have been such an important part of my everyday life since I was…12 or so, that losing one or adopting one is a pretty major life event. I can’t really move on from losing one until I adopt another one – I prefer to always have two dogs for a variety of reasons. And then there’s a new family dynamic to work out when another, different personality moves in.

But now we’ve more or less reached the new “normal”, so these posts will more often feature non-dog topics again, and you can find the weekly dog updates on Friday in the new “Gone to the Dogs” feature, as told by Murphy & Mica. Kind of a fun way for people who want to keep up with the dogs to do so, and a great creative writing exercise for me. Win-win! I’ll get the “Friday Only” subscription put up again by Friday, for those who might prefer to only hear from the dogs (hey, I understand!).

Speaking of creativity, I’ve been struggling with writing much of anything since early last December (maybe even late November). I don’t deal with long term stress or change all that well (which is something I should work on). But in the last week or so, since Murphy’s been settling in and we’ve been maintaining the status quo, I’ve finally been getting some of that writing “spark” back. The habit is still dead, unfortunately, but I’m working on that too. If you’re interested in how, there are more details on my writing blog.

It’s not just my writing that’s been affected – it’s all areas of my life, and as I sit here mulling it over, I’m kind of amazed at just how much I sort of “shut down” when dealing with core life changes so I can keep up with what I *have* to while I wait for everything to settle back down. I have a crochet project that should/could have been done weeks ago, I just haven’t had the motivation or energy to finish it (it will be done and out the door this week). There’s a jigsaw puzzle on my dining room table with barely any progress – it’s been there for a good month now. I’m behind on my postcard swaps (way behind), and my comic book reading (again)…it’s actually a bit crazy how much stuff I automatically just drop in times of stress or change. It’s just my personality, but it’s a little unsettling, because…life is change.

Needless to say, I’m relieved that my head is clearing up enough for me to pursue those “extra-curricular-activities” again. I’m a very logical, rational person at my core and that’s the part that takes over in times of stress, because that’s what I’m best at. But I really need those creative activities and hobbies to keep myself rounded and give myself an emotional outlet that I can’t really get any other way. We all need creative outlets, I think…a way to express ourselves that doesn’t require naked vulnerability.

Another creative outlet I’m getting back to is some weekend food prep – stuff I wouldn’t normally mess with during the week due to time constraints. Like making sauerkraut. I was getting into it several months ago and made a few nice batches, and then bought a crock, and…every batch I’ve tried to make using the crock has failed miserably. So this past Saturday, I got out a couple of glass jars and started some plain sauerkraut that already looks far better than anything I tried in the crock did (hence the picture – red and green cabbage make pink sauerkraut, by the way). I can’t tell you how pleased I was to see the liquid come up above the cabbage (like it’s supposed to) and bubbles forming on top…it’s gonna be really good.

My year got off to a really bad start, but between Murphy settling in here with far less trouble than expected, the creative part of my brain kicking back in, and now my sauerkraut looking good…I think the rest of the year has some really great things in store.

Of course, I still have to do our taxes…

Gone to the Dogs: New Kid in Town

Cruisin' the salad bar out back of my new digs...

    Cruisin’ the salad bar out back of my new digs…

Murphy sez: So I moved into a new place about a week ago, and I have to say, Keeper J runs a pretty tight ship. I mean, the first thing we had to do when I arrived (after my foster mom moved all my stuff) was go for a walk with my new housemate, Mica.

In the wind and rain. With no sidewalks. Uphill. For what felt like six miles.

The foster folks had disappeared by the time I got back to the new place. I looked for them a little bit, but there was so much to sniff and play with that I kind of got sidetracked. And then after I got my fancy new collar, I fell asleep early on a cozy bed I found in the living room. Had a nice soft blanket too, but man, these people keep their house warm, so I scooted out of it pretty quick.

Mica seems to like having me around most of the time, but if I get in his space when he’s not expectin’ it, he grumbles a little. I don’t really care – I just ignore him mostly. He’s kind of jumpy, but most of the time he’s pretty easy to get along with. I beat him up one time, so he’s respectful. We’ve had one other loud “discussion” since, but hey, two big bad dudes like us gotta work things out, ya know? Then we have a treat and chew some bones, maybe take a nap.

Mica sez: I am not grumpy. I just don’t like anyone in my space. Do you really have to shake those toys so hard? I thought that was my job! What am I supposed to do now? And seriously…rolling around on your back like some floozy? You’re weird, kid…but I like you. Mostly.

Murphy Sez: Shush – I’m talking here. What was I talking about? Oh right. That’s what I was talking about – tight ship. J has everything on a tight schedule around here, so it was pretty easy to figure out what happens when. I get super-excited about food, especially, so she says we have to work on the whole “waiting patiently and not barking” thing. I don’t know why. I mean, I’m just telling her I’m excited. Well, and to hurry up. ‘Cause that patience thing isn’t one of my virtues, or so she tells me. What’s a virtue, anyways? Can I eat it?

Kids these days, I swear...

                            Not grumpy!

Mica sez: Only if J says so. I eat random things, I get sick for a good twelve hours. But if it smells good…

Murphy sez: I had to spend most of the weekdays in J’s office, on account of she didn’t want Mica and me to fight while she was at work. I have two beds in there though, and some bones and toys, and the radio playing, so it’s…cozy. I’m kinda getting tired of it though, and told her so. Loudly. She says we’ll work on it this weekend. She did let me stay out with Mica while she went and got a pizza, but I still had to wear that stupid cone around my neck. J says it’s gonna be longer before I can ditch that thing. But she thinks I will, eventually.

Mica sez: That thing is weird, dude. You’d better work yourself out of it soon. It looks ridiculous! But it’s a good way to keep a personal buffer. Maybe I need one of those, come to think about it. Or a bubble. Bubbles are fun. But kinda scary.

Murphy sez: I even had to go to the doctor this week, just to meet the new doc, and have her look at my leg. She and J talked for way too long after I was ready to get home, but I got lots of pets and loves, and some new tags for my collar, and then we went home. So it was okay, I guess. I loved the people, but the waiting and prodding and poking? Not so much.

Mica sez: I can’t believe you got to go for a ride and I didn’t. So. Not. Fair. But I’m glad you came back.

Murphy sez: Me too! It’s been a really busy week with lots of new stuff going on, but I’m doing good, and I have warm blankies at night and bunny patrol with Mica through the neighborhood every day (when it’s not raining). I even have squirrels to watch in the neighbor’s trees! I’m gonna catch one of those fuzz-buckets some day…

Mica sez: Mmm…small fuzzy things. We should definitely team up for that. And barking at the window too. But you gotta watch the couch dismount, Murph.

MurphyBedtime


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