Saturday, September 22, 2007

Stuff (musings, really)

Posts have been erratic these past days and probably will be for the next week as well. And The Daily Bear is also woefully behind.

There have been photos taken of Bear. I have not had a chance to sift through them. There aren't many though. I've been having scattered difficulties with the computer this past week and running the resource-hog Photoshop hasn't seemed like a great idea.

We've also been battling time issues as well as big viruses. So everything has been a supreme effort.

This next week Mensa Boy goes out of town and I'll be counting down the final days to the Fall into Fun Festival here in our community. The event benefits the new library and, as the library board rep for our area, I have had to be involved in the planning.

So there are all my excuses. Huh.

The Bear has definitely been a joy and a pain. Mostly a joy. (Actually, I guess not even a pain on the dark moments as much as he provides for us a moments of reflection on our failings as a pack, that we are unable to keep track of him closely enough to keep him from depositing gifts on our music and dining room carpets.)

And so today I bought baby gates. Did I buy baby gates! Three of them to go with the one we already have. The layout of our house is such that it is not possible to contain the dog on just the tile floor. We did go into this knowing full well that we needed new carpeting throughout the house and that it might happen next year. Still and all, we'd like to keep the spots down a bit.

And so we've cut off all his access to the entire upstairs, the foyer, music room (if we were truly sophisticated it would be our formal living room, but we aren't formal, so we've just stuffed lots of guitars and amps and a piano and a trombone into that room and declared it our music room which, now that I think about it sounds even more pretentious than formal living room. hmph), and dining room (even that is really a misnomer for this family. There is no real dining room furniture in there. I mean, there is a table and chairs and they are, I guess, for all intents and purposes, for dining. But they aren't much to look at. And so the table is piled with MB's youth group projects and the guy's school books and stuff and on many of the chairs on any a given day or hour there are dirty socks. I don't know why. I rail about it periodically...the socks...only to be soothed for a few days and then back to dirty socks, which of course don't get washed on time and then we have the whole "I have to go to school and I have no socks" thing.)

Where was I? Oh yeah. The gates and the sequestering. And so Bear has access to the family room, kitchen, office and bathroom (because we can't shut the door, otherwise we will always think someone is in there, which would mean having to go upstairs to one of the other biffys, leaving Bear down here unattended. And no. We can't just learn anything new like to lock the door when we are in there, or tap on it when it is closed.)

So this is our new plan and someone is always down here with Bear and we are all teaching ourselves to always know where he is.

Bear is definitely a "pack" dog. Not really a "prey" dog. He just likes hanging with his peeps. He figures I'm the leader and all the guys are his brothers. Including MB. (That reminds me of a funny story: my friend Chris has a 4-year old daughter, Sammy. She keeps talking about my "brothers." I have one brother and I try to answer her questions about him, but I've never understood why she's had this fixation about my brother! Until the other day when she was here and she pointed up the back stairs to the bonus room and asked if my brothers were up there! Yup. She thought my boys were my brothers. Funny.)

Back to Bear. He's learning about going outside. He also does "Sit" pretty well. And he's quite good at "Come." (If he's not distracted by something else BIG. Like mockingbirds. He really is disturbed by our mockingbird. I don't blame him. So am I.) He also will do "Down" if we are on carpet. But not on pavement or the tile. Soya would never do that then, either. I should find out if we are to expect dogs to do "down" on hard surfaces. I imagine we are. And today I took him around the block with his VERA BRADLEY leash on (a gift from his doting Aunt Tambri) and we worked on "heel." We'll do that a lot. I'd like to have him know he can roam with the extendable leash attached to the "dead" ring on his collar. And heel with the short leash attached to his "live" ring on his collar. Soya did that.

So he's pretty smart. Kind of. I'm not going to brag on him, though. I don't want to be one of THOSE people. He is a dog. Not a person.

We've got him not begging at the table. We just shoved him away for the first few meals and he gave up and laid down. Now he doesn't even try. And he does not cry in his kennel at night. He was starting up the yipping if he heard a toilet flush upstairs, (causing us to tiptoe around in the middle of the night, nearly dying of thirst and not flushing toilets for fear of waking him up) but he'd settle down after a few minutes. Now in the last couple of nights I've been flushing away. I still don't have the nerve to come down and get a drink though. Maybe soon.

He does have a funny kennel yip. He doesn't bark. It sounds exactly like the squeak you get when you hit the gym floor with your tennis shoes. He will bark, though. At the mockingbirds. That's it. Not a lot. He doesn't react to the doorbell at all. I hope he doesn't start.

I am still expecting him to start with the terrible stuff. So far he's eaten the comb off my doorstop chicken, but nothing else. I have a photo of it. But posting that will have to wait.

Well, I think I've prattled on long enough. I've basically been just trying to stay awake until 10 so that hopefully I'll sleep all night.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Bit Whiny, I'm Afraid

Well...the terrorist is starting to come out. Yesterday Bear had some severe gastro-intestinal issues due to all the little things in the yard he's been finding to eat. Including bark from the landscaping.

This morning he ate the comb off my doorstop chicken.

Just now he drank out of my water glass.

I still like Bear. Very much. But Mensa Boy and I are both jammed up with work and projects right now, which leaves the guys to the puppy training in the evenings. They are not so good at it. And today I wasn't so good at it either, as I'm struggling with this virus I have and trying to get work done.

But...I knew this would happen and we'll gut it out.

I'm mad at work on this darn library festival again this year. Involved when I didn't want to be. But it will take place next weekend and then all will be over.

I'm realizing this is not really an enjoyable read. Some blog posts go that way, I guess. Sometimes I stick stuff up here because I know people will ask if a few days go by. Don't want anyone thinking I'm dying or anything!

Today Taylor said, "Everything is so hard." He's got a sore back, lots of hard work in 7th grade, and the puppy responsibilities. Tomorrow we'll take him to see our chiropractor extraordinaire. I've been thinking it would be good for him to go anyway. He has kind of a flat-footed gait and is sort of hunched over a lot. Since we've met out family deductible for the year, it makes sense to get him going now. Buddy Nannette and I will try to take him out to dinner Sunday. He's been wanting to go to a sushi bar.

That's it for now. Tomorrow I hope to spend a small amount of time at Art on Main in Fort Mill. Buddy Jenny's husband, The Naked Woodturner, will be there with his wares.

Here's some Total Momsense

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ready to Run Away with my Little Dog

[begin rant]My dear friend Chris is moving to Nashville

I have a very bad, sinus-y cold

The dog threw up in my car

I went to the credit union to deposit checks and found it closed. A quaint custom they have of closing on Wednesday afternoons. I hadn't even remembered that it was Wednesday!

My caller ID box is stuck on Spanish. It says I have "1 nuevas." Earlier today I had a call from "Fuera De Area."

[end rant]

Wherein My Pending Demise is Greatly Exaggerated

Last night my friend Cassie called me.
"What is WRONG with you?" she began the conversation.
"Uh. I have a cold. Other than that I'm fine," I replied.

She then told me that prayers had been offered on my behalf in church on Sunday (for some reason Mensa Boy forgot to tell me that), and then she proceeded to enumerate the number of things I have NOT been to in the last week.

It is true that I have been somewhat of a serial church skipper this past year. As I struggle with "this menopause crap," as my friends call it, it's been difficult to have the energy just about every other weekend. Sometimes I just go anyway, but other times I think about how there is basically just a scrolling screen saver across my brain that says "I want to be home. I want to home."

I do feel much better than I did last summer and winter. But I still have low-energy days, and they seem to happen most on weekends. Probably because I run around as much as possible during the week to get work done.

However, I have also been absent from church as I cover the new ones that are opening up here in our community. I am the de facto "church correspondent" for our paper, and so I cover quite a few church events and some of them happen on Sundays. Last Sunday I went to a service for a new church called "The Community Life Church of the Carolinas." The week before I went to the service now offered in our community by St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Fort Mill. In a couple of weeks I'll be going to the Presbyterians.

I've never been much for attending multiple services in a week. And especially not twice in one day.

So I've been gone from church a bit. It's noticed in a little church like ours, because we only have about 90 people in our services. And of course our family sits right in the front row.

Cassie also is breaking my back about Jazzercise. We opened a new location here and I just haven't gotten to it. I've been going, but my schedule as a freelancer is very flexible, so I still end up going to the other location, which has daytime classes, pretty much all the time.

But what really concerned her were the prayers on my behalf. "Do you think they are praying for my soul?" I asked.

"I don't know," Cassie said.

And then all became clear when I asked Mensa Boy about it.

"Oh yeah!" he said. "They think you have breast cancer!"


I guess someone misunderstood my Komen donation letter...where I mention the testing I had last spring. My point was how cool it is that we have all the modern technology. That even someone like me, who is hard to screen, can be screened for this disease thanks to the work of foundations like this.

So my dear church put together my absences and my Komen letter and came up with me dying of breast cancer.

I'm not. But I do have a pretty bad cold. I feel like death warmed over, but I'm pretty sure I'll recover.


(Many thanks to those of you who have donated to the Komen Race. I'd love to have more. It's not a competition of any kind--well, Mary of "Shoe Dawg Shoe" and I are kind of having a Komen pledge throwdown--but really? It's just a good thing to do. I'd love to have more of you contribute!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pants Death

The death of a favorite pair of pants is a tragic thing. I still remember when my favorite pair of light blue denim Eddie Bauer shorts bit the dust. They finally had become hole-y enough so as to seriously compromise my integrity as a mother. I never found a pair of shorts that I liked as much. (Okay. That was exaggerating. I have a pair of "Life is Good" shorts that I love more than just about anything in my closet. I'm really going to hate not wearing them this winter)

Today my buddy Sarah called to tell me that she had to give last rites to her favorite Gap pants. "Those pants always brought me compliments," she said as she poured out her heart to me on the phone. "And I put them on and found a hole."

Not a repairable hole.

She told me how those pants would feel good on bloated days...making her feel and look skinny. They went with so much of her wardrobe and were a joy to wear.

Oh yes, she hit the first stage of grief immediately: denial. But now it's been several hours and she has already worked to acceptance.

We're talking about a memorial now.

Alienation of Affection

Mensa Boy is very paranoid about germs. It's worse when he is about to go out of town. At my first mention of a viral-feeling headache the other day, he immediately took up his "you are a germy person" persona.

He now waves at me.

And so yes...I am snotty today. I'm remembering that I was hideously sick last year the week before the library festival too. But last year I was not good sleeping drugs were in my arsenal. This year I have sleep on my side. And I'm getting stuff done for the paper, so I'm able to take naps in the afternoon.

This morning it's an early-morning trip to the dentist. The appointment is at 8 a.m, which means we pretty much have to leave here in 10 minutes. It's not very far, but the traffic situation is really terrible, so we'll have to leave plenty of time for travel.

I read this article in yesterday's Observer and it resonated so strongly with me that I'm going to paste the entire text here. I've been a fan of Tony Campolo's for years now, but this is the best compilation of what he's about that I've ever seen. It makes me happy to know that we have some evangelicals that make sense to me. I'm particularly pleased about what he says about the death penalty.


Trying to see today through the eyes of Jesus

Left-leaning Baptist author's article asked WWJD about Iraq?


"What would Jesus do about Iraq?"

That's the question the Rev. Tony Campolo recently posed -- and answered -- in Tikkun, a left-leaning Jewish magazine.

Campolo is a left-leaning evangelical Baptist who's written 34 books on Christianity and social justice. He was President Bill Clinton's spiritual adviser. And on Sunday, he was in Charlotte to speak at Dilworth United Methodist Church.

In an interview, the Observer asked the Philadelphia-based Campolo what Jesus would do not only about Iraq, but about other issues dividing U.S. Christian churches.

Here are his answers, edited for space and clarity.

Q. What would Jesus do about ...

Iraq: "I think what Jesus would have us do is repent. I would love to see (President Bush) go to the (United Nations) and say, `I really believed there were weapons of mass destruction when I asked for the invasion five years ago. I was wrong. Thousands and thousands of people have died, thousands and thousands of people are wounded and ruined for life. I ask for forgiveness.'

"I don't think you lose your stature when you ask for forgiveness. I think to be able to confess and to ask for forgiveness is a sign of strength. Jesus would have said, `Power is not the evidence of what I'm looking for. I'm looking for something better than guns and planes and armies. I'm looking for the kind of authority that people look up to.' "

Gays and lesbians: "He'd love them and accept them. When we sing at my church, `Just As I Am,' I think we need to mean it." We shouldn't be saying to gay and lesbian people, `You have to become what you're not in order to be welcome by Jesus.' "

Abortion: "I'm sure that the destruction of life in abortion would break his heart. However, I feel like if he were speaking to the church today in America, he would ask not the question, `Are you going to make it illegal and arrest women who have abortions?' I think Jesus would say, `What are you going to do to reduce the number of abortions?'

(A new survey reported that) 70 percent of all abortions are economically driven. You have a poor woman working on minimum wage with no hospitalization. She gets pregnant. She can't afford to have the kid, she can't afford to pay the hospital bills, she can't afford day care after the child is born. So she says, `I'm going to have an abortion.' Can Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives agree on one thing: that it's wrong for women who want to have their babies to have abortions? And that's about 70 percent of them. Then we can start talking about the other 30 percent."

The death penalty: "(If you support capital punishment), you cannot believe in the Beatitudes -- `Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.' You cannot say, `I'm going to overcome evil with good.' You cannot say all those things that Jesus said and believe in the death penalty. When you say there's going to be a death penalty, what you basically say is that there are some people who are beyond redemption. There are many times I feel that way. But I'm sure Jesus never feels that way."

Muslims: "He would love them. Jesus said some very interesting things. He said, `Other sheep I have who are not of this fold.'

"I know I'll get in trouble for this because I'm an evangelical, but (in deciding who gets into heaven), the questions (Jesus) asks on Judgment Day are not theological. I wish they were because I'm an evangelical.... Here are the questions -- the only descriptions he gives of Judgement Day. `I was hungry: Did you feed me? I was naked: Did you clothe me? I was the alien, the (immigrant) from the other country: Did you make room for me in your country? For if you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.' I think there's a wideness in God's mercy that's greater than mine."

Young people: "Jesus would say to them, `Youth was made for heroism and not for pleasure. And the church has been entertaining you. What I am here to do is call you to sacrifice all that you are and all that you have for love and justice in the world in my name. I want you to live out your life heroically for my kingdom and not get sucked into the dominant values of the culture.' "

Sunday, September 16, 2007

This n That

First, the Komen Race. I'm getting pledges already and have met the $125 goal that they automatically put on my site! Cool! Thank you. I have not listed it, but I think my personal goal should be $700. I raised a little over $600 last year. But this year I sent the notices out a little later, and I haven't done any talking about it around the neighborhood, so I've been reluctant to go on record with the goal.

But thank you, Candy J, Julia, Sheryl B, and Steve P, for your donations! Sheryl is giving in honor of her Mother, who is currently battling cancer...not breast cancer, but mantle cell lymphoma. I've not heard of that before. And also in honor of Elaine Lidke, a mutual friend we have that currently has breast cancer. I didn't know Elaine was going through this. Our prayers are with you, my friend.

So keep the pledges coming, folks! I'll have this little link up here every day for the next three weeks.

The puppy training is going quite well. He's notified us more and more that he wants to go out, so that's a relief. The main thing is that he's so darn quiet. If someone is in the kitchen area, it's noticed right away and all is well. But if not...then we've got trouble. For two nights now he's woken us up with a couple of yips while he's in his kennel. We get up, take him outside, he does double duty and then goes right back to bed. I'm grateful that he's telling us, grateful that he goes right back to bed without saying anything, but not really excited about losing the sleep. The first night, Mensa Boy heard him. That's good because MB falls right back to sleep immediately. Last night it was me. That's bad, because I lost about 90 minutes of sleep after that. Once I wake up in the middle of the night, it's pretty hard for me to get back to sleep. I do learn a lot about the world that way, though. I listen to the BBC.

Julia asked if we are having him go potty in the same spot every time. Not by design, but yeah...pretty much. The bad thing is that it's right there on the edge of the patio. So we could have dead grass right there instead of in a less conspicuous spot.

She also asked if we are using clickers to train him. We are using treats. Mainly because he doesn't eat much. And he really likes treats. If we used clickers then I think we'd have to have several of them around so everyone could use them, and they'd get lost, etc. Treats are easy because the bag is right on the counter and we all can grab handfuls for our pockets. Also? I suspect the clicker would bother the pack leader...ME! Sharp loud noises like clicking tend to wreak havoc on my nerves.

Enough about the dog.

This weekend I had a chance to go hang out with some guys from our community there were competing in a BBQ competition. The competition was to benefit the Anne Springs Close Greenway in Fort Mill. Our guys, who have a team called "Pork O Butts," invited me to tag along, help out, shoot photos and in general just be underfoot while the prepped their butts and ribs Friday night and then took them off the smoker for judging Saturday morning. We had a great time. They are wonderful guys and even promised to share their rub and sauce recipes with me. They've agreed to let me print the rub recipe, but the sauce one...NOT! So I'll devise a sauce of my own to print with the food story I'm writing for the paper.
I haven't found out yet how they did.

Here is the gang getting their pulled pork ready for judging:


And here are some ribs on the grill: