blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I could go on and on and on about the differences between Colorado living and Indiana living. The landscape, the diversity, the climate, the opportunities...

But I'm going to tell you about the deer.

Indiana has white-tailed deer. Colorado has mule deer. I could go on about differences in their mass and height, but the real difference is in attitude.

White-tailed deer are anxiety ridden things, truly.

If they're browsing at the side of the road and a car comes by, they panic and bolt. They often bolt in front of the car.

If they're browsing in a large field and see or hear something disturbing, they panic and bolt. They often bolt toward a road. Where cars are.

And if they're just moving from one field to another, they leap onto roads. When cars are passing.

If the deer is calmly crossing the road, and a car comes close, the deer will sometimes stand in place, or stutter-step back and forth before bounding off. But—and here's the crazy part—that deer will often trot out of the car's path... then change its mind and dash the opposite direction just in time to get hit by the car whose driver thought the deer was (reasonably) going to stay ten feet away.

I lived just outside the edge of town. I saw this a great deal.

Once upon a time, my late husband was driving on 465, the major highway that encircles Indianapolis. He didn't hit a deer. The deer hit him. Slammed right into the side of the car, buckling the rear door and shattering the window.

White-tailed deer are skittish and unpredictable.

Mule deer, on the other hand, don't give a fuck.

Mule deer browse on the side of the road. And when I say "side of the road," I mean they're right there. Two feet from the pavement. They really
don't care about the traffic. They might look up now and then, but it's passing curiosity and nothing more.

If they cross the road, they usually do it as a mosey, and they'll make eye contact as they do it. "Go ahead, hit me," the even stare says. "Just wait until you see what I can do to your car."

(I should mention mule deer look a damn sight more solid than white-tailed deer, too.)

And before they cross the road, I swear they look both ways.

I've come upon mule deer while driving, and they don't spook like white-tailed deer do. They just give me The Look, and keep on with their mosey.

My oddest mule deer moment came when I was driving home from Tai Chi, on a well-used road with development on one side and open hills on the other. I rolled up to a stop sign, and glanced both directions before moving forward.

And caught my breath.

Out the passenger window of my little Hyundai sedan, I could just see the chest and chin of a huge mule deer. I had to lean over to see his antlers. He was massive. And he was just standing there, close enough I could have touched his muzzle were I in the passenger seat (and dared to roll down the window), waiting for me to get the hell out of his way. Sure enough, as I rolled forward, he strolled across the road behind me as if he had all the time in the world. And he looked at my tail lights as if thinking, "Yeah, you better move along, bitch."

But the most unsettling mule deer moment came last fall, when I'd run away to a local campground for a couple nights. My little Tanner-pup spotted a collection of mule deer, ran to the end of her lead, and barked like crazy. The mule deer looked up from their browsing and advanced on usEven Tanner decided it was best to shut up and back down.

White-tailed deer were annoying and dangerous.

Mule deer... I don't want to mess with them at all.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

My sis and her family live on a military base, and I’m on and off the base a few times a week to help care for my nephews.  The road through the base swings around a field of about five or six acres near the family housing.

As I was pulling onto that road last week, I saw a boy walking, leash in hand, toward a beautiful and tall Husky sniffing around the side of the road.  Behind him, his parents were splitting up to close off escape routes.  I drove a little farther down the road, stopped my car beside a couple other cars, and joined a half dozen folks who had the same idea I did.

The Husky walked back to the boy, ducked his head… then tore off for the field with his tail up high.

For the next half hour, I was part of an impromptu mission to capture the pup.  Men and women — some in uniforms, some not — running back and forth in lines and arcs to keep the pup from bolting for the gates, and to gradually shrink his romping area.

And romping he was!  Head up, he pranced and sprinted and leapt all over that field.  Time and again, he bowed down in front of one of us, tail swinging, waiting for a single twitch to tell him where we were going to play next.

Everyone was laughing.  Sure, it was important we catch that pup, but it was so clear the pup was having the absolute time of his life!  And as orders and warnings were called (“HOLE!” was the most common, since the field was riddled with prairie dog dens), we humans played his game in the bright sun and cool breeze until the pup stopped, shook himself from nose to tail, and trotted over to the woman holding his leash.

More laughing, an exchange of waves, and we all piled into our respective cars and went on our way.  I passed that kid I’d first seen, now holding a leash with a tongue-lolling dog on the other end, and grinned all the way home.

As I was driving home, I thought, “This is one of those things that would happen to [ profile] asakiyume!”   Then, in the next moment, I thought, “No, her stories have changed the way I see things, and that’s an incredible thing.”

And then I thought I should tell her, and tell all of you, about the Husky and the military folks and the laughter and the sun, and the power of perspective to change a story and a life.

I might have gotten teary-eyed in there somewhere, too.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
On one hand, it feels so very soon after losing Ty to bring a new pup home.  On the other hand, it felt so very right.

So here is the newest member of our little pack -- Tanner!


More pics and storytelling below the cut!

Read more... )
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
This would be so much easier, in one sense, if Ty didn't have a tail that almost never stops wagging.

Ty's tail is a wonder in itself. So wonderful, in fact, it has its own set of nicknames. Kangaroo tail, tail of destruction, Great Destructo, thwap of joy.

When Dev competed at the State Fair, most other dogs would keep their tails still and down through their obedience trials and showmanship displays. But Ty? He'd stand in his showmanship pose, perfectly still except for the tail--which would speed up the moment the judge's attention turned his way. He'd go through his obedience exercises with the tail up and wagging. The only time it might stop was during the down-stay--the pups are required to lie down for a set period of time regardless of noise and distractions--when the day was warm enough Ty might doze off. Even the judges who saw Ty but once a year remembered him as the dog with the ever-wagging tail.

In our home, there is nothing breakable or spillable within 30 inches of the floor or a foot from a table or counter's edge. There are no stacks of paper, either. The tail of destruction trained us well. It can send a heavy coffee mug spinning with a single blow. It can scatter hundreds of manuscript pages with a merry sweep. We try to quickly train any new visitors by explaining their drink must stay in their hand, or be placed in the precise middle of the coffee table, but I've lost at least a dozen wine glasses over the last ten years. (And while his tail certainly can't reach as high as the breakfast bar, Ty was--until this last year--perfectly capable of helping himself to anything on the counters.)

If you stood at Ty's hip when he had a sudden fit of overwhelming joy, his tail would hit hard enough to hurt. There's a place on the kitchen doorway, near where Ty has stood for three years in anticipation of getting munchies and treats, that no longer has any paint on its edge.

That tail has operated as a rudder when he swam in rivers and ponds, visible just below the water's surface as it swayed lazily from side to side. We used to joke about Ty's ability to multitask. He could swim, drink water, and wag his tail all at the same time! Truly, one of my regrets is that it's too cold for us to give Ty a final opportunity to swim. He loves it so, so much.

And even now, when he's spending all but a few minutes every day resting and sleeping, that tail wags when someone makes eye contact, pets him, says his name (and any nicknames, and any mention of love), when Gambit sits beside him, when Gambit plays with his toys, when people-food comes near... Everything triggers the tail to wag.

Dev and I talked last night about whether we'd made the decision (our appointment is for Tuesday) was made too soon. We came to the conclusion we've reached the point that there will never, ever be a time that isn't "too soon" or "too late." As long as the tail wags, we'll wonder if it's too soon. But if the tail stopped, we'd know it was too late.

And we made an agreement that neither one of us needs to "be strong" for the other. (It's a habit we share, alas.)

So today, I'm writing while Ty sleeps on my foot. All I have to do is whisper, "Ty-baby Handsome," and the tail gives me half a dozen thumps.

I'm disabling comments here--not because I haven't appreciated the words of support y'all have offered, but because I simply can't respond to them right now while also continuing to function. Fortunately, I've pretty much purged from my life everyone who'd utter the phrase "just a dog" in my presence.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
It was February of this year when Ty the Wonderdog began having problems with his back legs and hips.  It's been up and down over the months since.  He has good days, when he wants to do a few minutes of play-fighting or take a short walk, and he has bad days, when he has trouble doing much more than lying around.

Now...  now we think his mind might not be all that sharp.

It's little things, really. He will go wander around the house sometimes. Yesterday he walked around the dining table twice, then just stood on its farthest side and stared at the chair until I called his name. At night, our normally snooze-happy pup prowls from the living room to my room and back again. Sometimes he just circles around the kitchen two or three times before deciding to find us again.

The other thing that's happening is both scary and funny at the same time.

Since moving here some years ago, we've successfully used electronic collars to keep our pups from leaving the yard. Ty has always tested the boundaries, and has on occasion traipsed past them for a few moments -- putting up with the mild electric shock to get what he wanted. But three times in the last week, he has wandered off completely.

Our dogs are primarily inside dogs. When we're home, they're free to go outside or come inside at will, and we've established ways to communicate their wishes. In most weather, they'll stay outside for quite awhile until "asking" to come back inside. Our first indication that something was wrong was when Gambit asked to come inside, and Ty was nowhere to be found.

The first time, when I found him sniffing my neighbor's front porch, I assumed the battery in his collar had died and changed it. The second time, when I found him exploring a nearby gully, I assumed the system needed to be checked and reset. I wandered our property perimeter with the collar pressed to the palm of my hand in order to ensure it worked at the borders we'd set. I found no problems or gaps.

I thought all was well. But today, after a mere few minutes, Gambit was jumping at the backdoor to come inside. Ty was gone. I threw on my shoes and coat and started looking and calling and whistling. Eventually I spotted him wandering in the field between my neighbor's home and the river. Mind you, he wasn't wandering very quickly, but he'd managed to go about a quarter mile.

When I called for him, he twitched his ears but kept heading toward the river. When I started jogging after him, he starting trotting as if he wanted to outrun me. And when I finally got close enough to take hold of his collar, he snorted at me but came along quietly. The entire time, his massive kangaroo tale never stopped wagging. And when we finally walked into the house, he headed for his water bowl first, then flopped down on his living room rug as if nothing had happened.

Honestly, what it reminded me of was the year or two between the onsite of my grandfather's dementia and the decline into anger and violence, the year or two when the stories about him were sad and funny rather than sad and painful. There I was, under doctor's orders not to jog or run, trying to hustle after my dog who can't really job or run but who is determined to outdistance me for kicks and giggles. We must have looked ridiculous.

I wonder if Ty is thinking he's still out on the farm, with more than a hundred riverfront acres to wander at will. I wonder if he's simply trying to regain that freedom. I wonder if I'm trying to impose some sense of logic on the actions of a pup who is obviously and unstoppably aging.

And at the same time, I have to smile. Ty has always been the sweetest of dogs, and also the most determined of dogs. He's a Lab who'd gladly swipe a roast from the counter, and take the scolding with a tail-wag because it was SO worth it. I can't help but wonder if his internal monologue is something like, "Piss off, Nice Human!" with a tail-wag. "I'm going to the river and you can't stop me! Neener-neener, catch me if you can! Woo-hoo!"

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

I wanted to post this the other day, but LJ had other plans, it seems...

Denver was spectacular.
Sure, there were annoying family-type things to deal with (primarily because, while I share basic beliefs about parenting with my sister and my own parents, our methods are wildly different), but the worst arguments crested and dissapaited quickly. We are the, "Oh, fuck it, who wants pie?" family in many ways.

But Denver! Whoo! I really enjoyed the downtown area—an important thing, considering how deeply I've fallen in love with Indy's downtown—and paid a repeat visit to Ali Baba's Grill. They have the second-best lamb kabobs I've ever had.* Their staff is smart and welcoming. I could eat there again and again and again...

The odd thing is... I fell in love with the prairie.

Really, that isn't odd. It's downright bizarre. All my life I've longed to live in the mountains and spent tons of time hiking mountains. Now when I have the chance to really live in the mountains, I find myself drawn to the land east of Denver, where you can see damned near forever. I could concoct some reasonable-sounding motivation for it—after all, my love of mountains does not extend to a love of winter driving in mountains, especially in areas that require tire chains—but the truth is my mother and I drove east to look at some property and the open expanse took my breath away.

But the most important thing is I left Indiana with a child and came home with an adult.

It didn't hit me until the day after Dev's eighteenth birthday. My folks live on Buckley Air Force Base outside Denver (and man, if I could live on base I would in a heartbeat!). Going on base requires guests be escorted by someone with a military ID at all times, but after 9pm, it also requires any guests to have their own base-issued pass that involves a brief background check for criminal history and the like. Since Dev and I wanted to take in a movie without fearing the 9pm cutoff, we applied for a three-day pass.

I got my pass, then stepped aside so Dev could get his pass. For the first time, Dev had an official document processed without needing a parent or guardian. There was no need for me to give permission, sign a paper, answer a question—nothing. And, yes, that's when I got a little teary-eyed.

We did go off to the Movie Tavern, a theater where every seat is a recliner with a personal table, the menu includes everything from standard popcorn and soda to mango habanero chicken tacos and Long Island iced tea, and the food and drink are brought to you at the press of a button. We saw Big Hero 6, which we both deemed wonderful (and you MUST stay through the credits).

But the best part was the Disney short that came before the movie. Feast, the story of one dog's experience of his human's love life through the sharing of food, had me and my eighteen-year-old son in tears within a couple minutes. I wish I could show you the whole thing right now.

"He's like Gambit!" Dev said, sniffling and smiling at the same time. "You have to make kibble special!" (And that makes perfect sense once you know Gambit, our rescue dog, will wait patiently by a full food bowl until something—anything!—is drizzled atop his food. Dev and I call this "making it special." When I went camping and forgot to bring most of my food, Gambit knocked his bowl over in the dirt because it was just plain pup food. The next day, when I sprinkled a tablespoon or two of coffee on his food to "make it special," he gobbled up the whole bowl.)

Our weeping might have been worse because we hadn't seen our dear pups in days and days. And mine might have been even worse because I kept thinking of my newly-adult son on his own, with his dog, and finding the love of his life.

Coming home this time wasn't as depression-inducing as last year, perhaps because we didn't come back to iced-over roads and painfully cold temperatures. Or, perhaps, because eventually joining our greater family seems finally to be within reach. Or perhaps, as Devin said, because we didn't attend a funeral for a close friend or family member this year. Whatever the reason, coming home felt better than last year, and we'll take that as a win.

And my son... Wow. A legal adult. How the hell did that happen so quickly?

Here's what I wrote on his birthday:

My son is eighteen today. He is compassionate. Strong. Intelligent. Gentle. Driven to see both mercy and justice. Amazing.

My son is eighteen today. He will sneak up on the world, step by quiet step, and join with others to see positive change come to pass.

My son is eighteen today. He and his peers will create a world we old folks will hardly recognize, and it will be good.

My son is eighteen today. Every day he spends with my changes my life. His gaze is set on tomorrow. I can't wait to see where he goes next.

*The best? Sameem in Saint Louis. When I again drive cross-country, I will plan it so I must stop in Saint Louis for the sole purpose of dining at Sameem again. No, I'm not joking. To say the Denver restaurant is second to them is no slight at all.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I am not religious, but celebrate the "big" holidays as if there were secular events.

But now that Dev is older, the rest of the family lives elsewhere. My single and non-religious friends -- the ones who usually shared holidays with us -- have likewise moved away. The majority of people I know in the area celebrate with their own family and strong religious traditions, and half of those folks believe their good churchgoing habits will eventually rub off on me and I'll be gratefully saved.

Considering all that, I didn't have much to do yesterday.

Dev, being a teenager with a day off, didn't want to do anything at all but hang out. So I put Gambit in the my car and the pup and I headed off to a nearby nature preserve I hadn't yet visited. After twenty minutes of walking in dappled sunshine along the creek, I realized I was grinning. Grinning and looking at everything. A few wildflowers, purple and violet, bloomed along the sunnier patches. Bare branches showed the tiniest of new green leaves. The sound of the creek and short falls covered almost every other sound. The only scent in the air was fresh.

And Gambit, who usually doesn't want to go first unless Ty is at his side, scouted up the trail with his little nubby tail held high. He even splashed into the creek shallows.

Pictures! )

Then I came home and made a huge dinner for Dev and I (and for the freezer), and essentially took the evening off.

So it ended up being a good day, though it felt all strange and transition-y. Next year will be different yet again, and the year after that likely different as well. My goal is to get better at planning since the past defaults are no longer there.

Aging Pup

Feb. 8th, 2014 11:58 pm
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Ty Handsome the Wonderdog is getting close to thirteen years old. His face and paws have been white for years, and he spends more time than ever just lounging around. He will still play Grizzly Bears with little Gambit, but his go-to techniques have shifted from hind-leg dancing to ground fighting. And he loves to prowl the yard and snuffle the trails rabbits leave around the bushes and trees, but it's been a long time since he's sprinted after anything. He will gladly hop up on the couch, but no longer jumps on the bed. He trots all over the place, still prances with excitement, and--of course--that kangaroo tail of his wags almost all the time. He even wags his tail in his sleep.

He's still happy, energetic for his age, and sweet as ever.


One of Ty's greatest joys was competing in 4H shows. No, really, his greatest joy was the single moment when the judge said, "Exercise finished," and Dev said, "Ty's okay!" Then Ty would jump high enough to plant his forepaws on Dev's shoulders and lick Dev's face. (It was an audience favorite, too.) But... Ty doesn't do that jump anymore.

But he still wants to! So Dev will sit on the couch and say, "Ty's okay!" and Ty will throw his chest onto Dev's lap so he can lick his face.

A couple days ago, something odd happened. Ty and Gambit were stalking my steps in the kitchen while I filled their bowls with chicken and eggs. Ty was so danged excited, he was dancing on all four paws. Then his right hind leg kinda slipped out, and his left slipped the other direction, and he ended up on his belly with his hind legs splayed out behind him. And he couldn't get himself back up.

Mind you, his tail never stopped wagging, and he wasn't in pain. (Ty has rarely in his life vocalized pain, but his facial expression of pain is quite clear.) Instead, he looked up at us with a doggy grin as if to say, "Hey, can I get a little help here, guys?" So Dev hooked his arm beneath Ty's waist and lifted him up. The dog gave himself a shake, then dug into his chicken. Dev fretted for the rest of the day. It was the first sign of a senior-dog issue that could actually impact quality of life.

We've had him on joint supplements for some time already, but I'm thinking of upping the amount a bit. I'll add some other anti-inflammatory if it seems discomfort is bothering him. This isn't a life-threatening issue, but something we will certainly need to watch.

And yeah, it makes me sad to think about it. Dev and Ty have grown up together. Ty has been his comfort and companion through so much, and it was Ty with whom Dev chose to shed his first tears on the night his Daddy died. That sweet pup is half of that's child's heart. Any sign that Ty won't always be around is enough to make me want to wrap my arms around him to keep him near.

As for Gambit... Well, the little dog is mostly oblivious to any of Ty's troubles, and Ty continues to be Gambit's big brother and protector. But I sometimes wonder. Yesterday, when Ty flopped down after a bout of tug of war, Gambit stretched out beside him and rested his muzzle on Ty's shoulder. Ty's tail went thump, thump, thump...
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
So one of the gifts I found for Dev is a Tardis alarm clock. It makes the wonderful Tardis sound while lights pulse. I thought it would be a good idea to set the time and all before wrapping it. That way, it would be ready to go out of the box. I even set up the alarm to sound at the time he'd need to wake up for work on Thursday. I wrapped it and the other presents, then set them under the tree.

Then I remembered he wouldn't be opening it until tomorrow morning, most likely AFTER the 7:00am alarm time I'd set.

I unwrapped it, reset the alarm, and wrapped it again. If Dev isn't up by 9:00 tomorrow morning, it'll sound as if a Tardis is arriving under the tree.

And now, the pictures!
Read more... )
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)


That's my outdoor solar lamp. (Frost is covering the little panel on top.) The citronella candle is hiding behind it.

The boy has taken himself off to work, packing Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner. The remaining leftovers are packaged and/or frozen for future meals. The turkey carcass is tucked in the freezer for future soup, and the dogs are mightily disappointed they weren't allowed to take it outside for themselves. (Raw bones are okay, but cooked bones are not.)

Now I'm settling in with warm cranberry wine, goat cheese and sourdough. I've a little noveling to do today.

Making the 50K NaNo goal isn't going to happen, but I did get 20K of first-draft fiction down. This is a big deal, since my fiction projects since Viable Paradise have been all about revising previous works that were salvageable. That 20K of this month is all brand-spanking-new and shiny. Yes, I stumbled around, wrote and deleted at least as much as I kept, and wandered down some research roads when I should have been pounding out words. But I am having fun, so screw the wordcount. :)

Besides, a bunch of other cool things happened this month, and I wouldn't have wanted a miss a single one of them.

(Okay, maybe I'd have wanted to tinker with some of the events, but not miss them altogether. Hee.)
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
The dogs started their raw food diet last week, chowing down on chicken quarters every morning. Yesterday they had rack of lamb as a treat. In the evening, they have a raw apple, carrots, or banana. They both believe this raw food thing is the bestest most wonderfulest idea ever.

Despite all the reading and research I've done on raw feeding over the last year-plus, I still couldn't shake my fear of feeding the dogs raw chicken bones. Thus I sat on the back porch as they ate, ready to intervene at the first sign of trouble.


Ty the Wonderdog had no trouble at all--expected, since he lived on the farm for years and dined on... whatever he and the other farm dog sniffed out in the woods. Seriously, there was a patch of meadow up the hill from our house we nicknamed The Bone Yard because it was the dogs' favorite place to stash their treasure when they could eat no more. I once found a... a thing that so grossed me out, I was determined to get rid of it. After a couple attempts the dogs foiled, I decided to dump it in the fast-moving river, figuring the coyotes that roamed in the woods down there would eventually grab it. That was not to be. Instead the dogs swam down the river to retrieve the thing and return it to The Bone Yard.

So yes, Ty is quite accustomed to raw food.

Gambit was another matter. He was absolutely certain he should love-love-love the chunk of raw meat in his mouth, but he couldn't figure out how to eat it. By the time Ty was licking his lips in satisfaction, Gambit was just starting to experiment with tearing off little nibbles. Ty looked on as Gambit went from nibbling to gnawing. I'm sure he would have pitched in to demonstrate technique, if I hadn't been watching. But in the end, Gambit succeeded in finishing his meal.

Seven raw meals later, it's obvious they're not having trouble with bones, or any other part of the meal. Gambit still takes longer to eat his portion than Ty, but danged near any creature would take longer to eat than Ty.

As for the miscellany:

I've been scolded about working my arm too much--a scolding brought about because I was stupid and re-injured it and am back to wearing a soft brace all the time.

Related to the above, I'm sitting on the Black Belt Review Board today--very excited to watch one of my students test, and excited/sad to watch three adults of my own cohort test because I was supposed to be testing with them.

We shall see how much progress I can make on Crossroads before the end of November. Yesterday was my day to believe everything I write is junk. Stupid junk. Stupid, derivative, incomprehensible, boring junk. But I've been here before and, just like my occasional certainty I'm a clumsy and substandard karateka, the feeling passes.

The above feeling was shown the door this morning, when I got a note from a friend that said his coworker liked my first book and wanted to know when the next one would be coming out.

And, in the most important news of all... DEV PASSED THE WRITTEN DRIVING TEST AND NOW HOLDS A REAL LICENSE. This means that, on Sunday, I can hand him the car keys, he can drive himself to and from work, and I can stay home.

It also means the beginning of fret-festivals every time he leaves the house on his own. I'm assuming the edges of that worry will dull over time, much the same way as every other fear.

Lastly, and least importantly, I've been feeling restless again. Truly, I should have figured out how to have a career as a travel writer. It's been months since I've traveled more than 50 miles from home. I'll be heading to Denver in December, but will be staying with family, so that doesn't really count.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
This is what it looks like when the pups decide I've been writing--and thus not paying attention to them--for too long.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Trying to explain what Gambit looks like is always interesting. A Staffy-Boxer-Rotty mix doesn't really look like any breed. Maybe a dog crossed with a hyena, with a head too small for the body.

Pictures under the cut: )
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Karate Camp is always a great--albeit exhausting--experience. But this year just seemed extra wonderful. I got to spend my time working with upcoming black belt candidates (my favorite group to teach) and being a pseudo counselor for the kids and junior counselors who were in the lodge rather than the main cabin this year.

The pattern for the kata Passai is now mine, so I can begin working on its lessons. Dev learned three new basic weapons katas that he has promised to pass along to me as well.

Best of all, I got to catch up with old friends, make a couple new ones, and see kids who'd never spent a night away from home find their confidence and evidence by the end of the week. I even spent about an hour with a fellow student and teacher who is interested in self-publishing his work.

Now, laundry is progress, the dogs aren't letting me out of their sight, and the work week starts all over on Monday.

And just for fun, here is Dev as The Doctor.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Today's post-prompt asks what sort of animal I would be.

First of all, I am an animal, using the broadest definition of the term.

I don't think I'd make a very good other-kind-of-animal, though. Wild pack animals are cool, but the whole groveling-for-alpha part doesn't appeal. The thought of being a marine animal creeps me out because I don't much like the open water. I'd never choose to be a little mammal because, you know, Food Chain. The longterm outlook for larger mammals seems to be not so great. We're not even going to touch the topic of reptiles; they're pretty cool, but I wouldn't want to live in one.

A horse? No, I don't want to live life fearing the Horse-Eating-Fill-In-The-Blank. Cat? Nope. Elephant! No, scratch that. Being a smart, emotional creature hounded by little animals that shout and carry guns would be awful. I'd end up going on a rampage.

Perhaps I'm overthinking this.

So... maybe a dog? Yes. A pack animal, but usually not in a canine pack. Something big but sweet with protective instincts and decent manners.

Aha. A Newfoundland. Also known as Nana in Peter Pan. That'll work.

I'll just ignore the drool issue.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Today the 30-day blog challenge is to describe a typical day from my life.

I do not have typical days.

The best and the worst thing about being self-employed in three different fields--karate, wellness, writing--while also homeschooling a teenager is that no two consecutive days will be alike. Toss in a sister who works as a flight attendant while parenting my little nephews, parents who love to spend time with extended family, and two crazy-sweet dogs, and it is guaranteed days will be interesting in the ancient proverb sense.

Let's take today, for instance.

Up at eight in the morn (because I suck at early rising) to get laundry rolling and hoe the garden before it gets to muggy. By nine, the garden has been weeded, laundry is well underway, breakfast has been eaten by human and canine residents, and I've settled in to answer wellness emails while Dev works through his assignments in algebra and economics. We talk about Doctor Who somewhere in there. At a few minutes after eleven, Dev and I head out the door, with Dev driving. (We're trying to figure out how to get the time for his driving test in before the end of the month.)

Dev sees his econ/algebra teacher for two hours. In that time, I run to the printing shop to pick up karate-related stuff, then see a karate student at his own factory to provide a private lesson on kata and kicks. We finish ten minutes late, which means I barely make it back to the teacher's office in time. But the teacher is also running late, so all's good. I return phone calls while I wait: a client looking for info on digestive enzymes, the mechanic trying to schedule what might be an all-day job for my car, someone seeking information on karate classes.

By the time we return home, it's a little after two. The dogs dance on their back legs as if we've been gone forever and threatened to never return. Fortunately, the Lab didn't find any unattended food items to devour, and the Bull-Boxer-Rotty didn't tear up anything in his crate, so their greetings were well-received. We indulge in many minutes of playing with the dogs because it makes the entire day better for all involved.

Then came the midday ninety minutes with Dev, when we make something quick and easy for lunch before sitting down to watch one of the nighttime shows we record to watch together. Today was the most recent episode of Falling Skies. I ate a Sloppy Joe and salad. Dev had the Moo Shu left over from last night and a banana.

After the show, we chatted for a bit before Dev had to start his government assignment and I had to be out the door. I reached the dojo just five minutes ahead of both my instructor and my sparring partner. Fifteen minutes of kata work and forty-five minutes of sparring followed. Less than five minutes after the end of practice, I bowed beginning students on the mat for the first class of the evening. Four hours later, around nine, I bowed my last students off the mat. In between, I taught some students a new kata, others a new throw, then worked as both teacher and uki for an hour of multiple-attacker self-defense.

Upon arriving home, a shower--quick and cold--was the second order of business. The first was to hug Dev. Since Dev is working on a Minecraft something or other video and chatting with his international friends, I am left to my own devices: more answering of email, petting the crazy sweet dogs, and writing this post. By eleven, I'll be settled enough to get some fiction in before my eyes begin to cross. By midnight, I'll curl up in bed with my yet-nameless Kindle, and read until I fall asleep somewhere around one in the morn.

And that's about as typical as it gets around here. Tomorrow I'll teach karate again in the evening, and Dev and I will still spend our midday time together, but everything else will be different.

That midday time is most precious to me. Because Dev and I often work evenings, we can't have dinner together very often. Instead, lunch is our time.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Ty Handsome the Wonderdog is a Labrador Retriever.  He retrieves.  I don't remember any of us really teaching him to do it, so if there was training involved it must have been pretty minimal.

Gambit II the Pocketdog is a mutt comprised almost completely of fighting breeds--Staffy, Rottie, Shar pei and Boxer.  He does not retrieve.  But he doesn't fight, either.  Anything that seems more serious than a mock grizzly bear fight with Ty--for which they usually use the back deck as their arena--will send Gambit sprinting for safety under a table.

I tell you all that to say this: Trying to play fetch with these dogs is extremely entertaining.  Ty always reaches the ball first.  While he works desperately to retrieve, Gambit works just as hard to prevent Ty from reaching us with the ball.  You can almost hear Ty shouting, "MUST!  RETRIEVE!  MUST!  RETRIEEEEEEEEEVE!" s he tries to outmaneuver Gambit. 

Mind you, Gambit doesn't want to retrieve the ball; he spits it out after a second or two of claiming it, then waits for Ty to try the retrieving thing again.  This goes on until Ty becomes good and sick of it, and forgets about the ball long enough to bark at Gambit and knock the little dog over.  Then Ty, tail wagging, brings the ball to my hand and waits for me to throw it again.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
This time, I'll be gone for a week--a few days in the mountains above Monterey, a couple days on the Central Coast, and a day on either end for travel.

That assumes, of course, I can get out of the state.  Last week's snow resulted in a day's worth of air traveler's bumped from their flights.  Today things are just caught up.  My flight leaves early tomorrow morning... by which time there will be a couple inches of NEW snow on the ground.  I'm planning to get up at 3:30am in expectation of messy roads.  Then, I'm planning to sleep on the plane after giving those seated near my permission to wake me if I start snoring.

Dev will be spending his first night at home, all night, alone.  He's pretty stoked.  I have made him lists of this and that, let a couple nearby friends know Dev is on his own, and reminded myself sixteen is plenty old enough to demonstrate independence.  I suspect he will eat just about anything in the house that resembles snack foods, stay up nearly all night to watch movies and play Xbox, and drag himself out of bed the next morn with barely enough time to get ready for work.

Alas, I would feel better (and so would he) if the dogs were here.  But since Dev won't be at the house all week, and there is no one else to take them to the kennel, the pups must head out this afternoon.  At least we know they're well-loved at the kennel.  They act just as excited to arrive there as they are to go home.

I haven't written a thing in days, and decided that was just fine.  It seems I have a difficult time settling in to write when I don't have the activity of karate.  Good to know.
blairmacg: (Gambit2011)

Y'all know about Gambit, the rescue dog we adopted last year.  The one that looks a bit like a hyena, but with a smaller head.  With a head that is not only smaller than a hyena's, but a bit smaller than would be proportional to his hyena body.  And a tongue that will, after Bit has sprinted to his heart's content, hang out the side of his mouth at a freakish length.


We've been trying to figure out his breeds for that entire year.
Read more... )

So there you have it.  We have a genuine mutt who cuddles like a cat.

blairmacg: (Default)

Gambit II, our rescue pup, has suddenly expressed interest in images on the television.  When Dev plays Skyrim, the Little Bit is absolutely transfixed.  A few nights ago, a show we were watching showed an injured dog, whining.  Bit jumped up and ran to Ty, who was peacefully sleeping by the couch, and pawed at the old dog until he got up.  I'm not sure of Bit thought Ty was whining, or that Ty should be alerted to the whining dog.

Today I cooked down five gallons of Roma tomatoes into about three gallons of tomato sauce.  Lots of garlic, onions, basil, oregano and bay leaves.  The house smells like an Italian restaurant.  That is a marvelous thing.

The attitude Dev brought home from his summer camps is still going strong, thank goodness.  He helped run our recent belt promotion, and took charge of the class with confidence and smiles.  He is managing his work hours around his school hours.  He is gearing up for the increased karate training that comes before his next test--this one for his adult Shodan.  He's hoping he will be given the title of sensei at that time as well.

Today I realized just how much my life could change if the new dojo location takes off.  In the space of a week, I've gone from running a very small community dojo to being in charge of a larger business launch.  Um...yikes?

Even with the dojo opening, September will be an "easy" month.  The big decisions have been made.  The schedule contains not a single out-of-state trip.  I have only two days of wellness client appointments (and I'm holding to that unless I fill every available slot of those days).  No dog shows, no karate seminars, no workshops or speaking engagements.  Whew!

Diatomaceous earth is awesome.  Last August and September, when the season turned a bit dry, we had a terrible time with ants coming in, searching for water.  And, this being Indiana, there are always crawly insects ready to make their home in yours.  Drought tends to make it worse.  But this year, I put down a barrier of diatomaceous earth all around the house.  No ants.  No beetles.  And I think I spied two spiders over the course of the summer.  Best of all, it isn't a toxic chemical.  It was, as I said, awesome.

Lastly, That Man continues to make me happy.  That should probably be firstly as well.




blairmacg: (Default)

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