Small Things 8-21-15

1.  Xena, Warrior Piglet will not be bringing any other piglets into the world. And, in true cattle dog fashion, she’s acting as if there’s not a large incision on her belly, and that she didn’t just have a few internal organs removed.

Dogs are amazing.  Ok, actually, when Nellie was spayed, she whimpered for three days, and I took her back to the vet, sure something had gone horribly wrong.  Nope, just a sighthound, convinced she was dying from discomfort (and having been through a c-section, she was absolutely within her rights to believe it, don’t get me wrong!) But cattle dogs.  I remembered that my first ACD behaved this way too–yeah, physical discomfort, what of it? There’s PLAYING to do!

And, happily, Xena’s not too concerned about licking the incision site. I’m just going to be spending all my time trying to get her to calm the hell down.  She’s been jumping on things, dogs and people since she started feeling better (approximately three hours after getting home.)

2.  Getting the last few things together for school.  Glass containers for applesauce.  A new backpack with a working zipper. Long pants. Winter coat. Hard to imagine needing such a thing when it’s so blessed hot out there, but…

3.  So if a person happened to serve lobster at a family party right before the hottest, most humid days of the year. And if it happened to be several days before garbage pick up when she tossed the inside-garbage into the outside bin.  And if her outdoor garbage bins happened to get completely overrun by lobster-eatin’ maggots, at least she has chickens who found clean-up duty less disgusting than delicious.

I however, found it stomach-rollingly disgusting. The whole thing. From clean-up to chicken feast.  Might be a while before I can face lobster again.  Or dried mealworm treats for the girls.  Or eggs, for that matter. Blech.

Also? While wrestling with Nellie yesterday, Xena dove/rolled onto the spot where a large dog-poo had just been removed from the yard. When I was done with maggots, I got to deal with dog poo.  Yesterday was a day of disgustingness.  Enough said.

4.  In a fit of nostaliga, the kiddo is rewatching shows he grew out of years ago. Like Blue’s Clues. Which is a nice change from, say, Johnny Test, but I’m struck by how well I remember this show. All the little musical numbers, the dog-sounds. It was really the first kids’ programming I’d ever watched since being a kid, and because he was young when he watched it, I was usually in the room with him.  Weird to know this show has entered my brain and is probably not leaving anytime soon.

5.  Next week is the last week of summer for us. Going to The Boy’s old summer camp for ‘family days’ next weekend–a trip that the kiddo cares more about than anything else about summer.  And then school. Oddly, we didn’t make it to the beach this summer. Or even a lake.  We didn’t do as much as I’d planned on, but we all felt busy, so I guess it worked out in the end.

Happy end of summer, everyone.

Small Things 8-13-15

1.   A long weekend spent in San Francisco–first time I’ve ever been there, and it was LOVELY. What a pretty city.  So much fun!

But also good to be home. Good to rescue the pup from the horrors of boarding.  (Kidding. She actually had fun this time, with her big sister Nellie to show her the ropes. Played for the entire time, and ate like the piglet that she is.)

2. She went in for blood work this morning–getting spayed next week. 47#. Seriously. She’s built like a tank. A pudgy tank. Sadly, I think we might need to control this dog’s food intake. It’s a drag, I’d hoped not to, but overweight pups aren’t any healthier than overweight people, and really, it’s my JOB to make sure this dog lives a long and healthy life.

Of course, at the moment, she’s perched on top of the back of a big comfychair like an obscenely large cat, grinning out the window at something.  Not sure what the hell she thinks she’s doing. She might, in fact, be sort of—-yep. She was stuck. That explains it.

Cute she is. Sweet? Absolutely. Super-smart, not so much.

3.  It’s looking like another not-so-great tomato year, however, it’s been peaches-galore around here. So many that even the cadging squirrels & woodchucks haven’t been able to decimate our crop.  Must plant more peach trees…

4. My son brought me flowers. Kindergarten starts in 2.5 weeks. Going to miss having this charming little person around all day long.

5.  Mountain lion sightings in the area have everyone abuzz with speculation. Me, I’m more worried about the fisher cat my neighbor keeps seeing in our back yard, and the skunk that smelled like it was inside the house last night.  Here’s hoping to no dead chickies this year, or any other, for that matter…

Small Things 8-3-15

1.  Home after a weekend away, and because of her stitches, Nellie got to come with us instead of being relegated to the kennel with Xena. Xena thought she had been abandoned forever, and pretty much hasn’t let me out of her sight since she got back.  Of course, it’s all happiness now, but she’s going back INTO the kennel on Friday for part 2 of “crazy August from travel hell.” Poor thing. She can’t wait for September when all good dogs get to spend many hours a day with their person and NO trips anywhere (without her, at least) are scheduled.

She’s a pain in the butt, but I love this dog, and I love that she just wants to be somewhere nearby.  Doesn’t matter what I’m doing, she just, you know, wants to be in on it.

2.  Tried my first smoothie made with lettuce today.  Yeah, I guess it’s a thing. It wasn’t awful. I felt good about, you know, consuming lettuce, rather than letting it rot in the fridge. Plus, it’s been so blasted hot that freezing its green goodness for a couple of hours made the coldness at least as appealing as the taste.  Hoping this week’s CSA share won’t be so lettuce-heavy, but not really expecting it.  More beets, fewer heads of lettuce!

3.  Spent the day doing errands, cleaning, laundry, and rewarded myself by installing blackout blinds in our room.  Mostly for the insulation factor–it’s a south-west facing room, on the top floor, beneath a not-much-of-an-attic. If it’s 86* outside, it’s 92* in our room.  Hoping this changes that a bit, but really, this time of year it’s all just really hot.

Toad says “Blah.”

4.  The kiddo’s night terrors have gotten bad. Don’t know if it’s school-anxiety related, or something else. But he sobs inconsolably for 10 or 20 minutes,  shaking and sweating. And then he drops back to sleep mid-sob and doesn’t remember a thing in the morning. (Small blessing!) I’m wondering if the heat has anything to do with it, but mostly we’re just waiting this phase out. No fun for any of us, and I’m not looking forward to the airplane rides coming up.  Wish us luck and no night-terrors while on vacation!

5.  Did you all know that the word ‘gobsmacked’ only entered usage in the 1980s? Me neither. I feel like a dope, and The Boy feels very etymologically superior tonight.

Small Things 7-29-15

1.  Bad news is, Nellie has another line of stitches.  *sigh*  Good news is, it was made by a branch, or some other single-pointed sharp thing, not dog teeth.  So, while we can surmise that it likely happened while playing, at least it was because of Nellie’s dopey sighthound-ness: “I’m running! Look at me run! I run fast! See me ru—-  Ow.”, and not because of bad behavior on the part of the puppy.

Getting tired of this, though. Really tired…

2.  On the puppy front, the trainer we went to see suggested using a head-halter on Xe to curb some of her more stubborn non-walking behaviors while we’re trying to make some miles. Holy moly, what a difference. Instead of shying at/lunging at cars, she ignores them. Instead of attempting to stop and sniff every. single. blade. of grass. in the town, she stays at my side, matching her pace to mine. She may not be enjoying her walks as much as previously, but I sure am enjoying them more.

It’s a nifty set up. It’s basically set up with a buckle around the back of the head, behind the ears, and then the leash attaches to a loop over the snout. I have hers set really loosely, because she likes to pant with her tongue lolling, but she feels even a finger-twitch of pressure on the leash and anticipates it so her head doesn’t get moved away from whatever she’s looking at. She’s never been horrible on-leash, but this is a whole new level of ease. Hoping to use it for a month or so and then gradually transition her back to the collar simply for ease of set up. But seriously, this is a wonderful product  and one that I feel good about using. I know from experience that pinch-collars work, too, but I never liked the idea of causing even a pain-scoffing dog any pain at all. And this isn’t painful in the slightest–just aggravating to her when she ignores me, which cause/effect I can live with!

3.  Had a small dinner party a couple of nights ago, and it was so nice to have grown ups over!  Granted, we also had a 2yo & an infant, but it was very fun.  Wine was tasty and I was able to use up some of my surplus of lettuce, unset-peach preserves, and radishes.  Plus, I was able to make a pan of lemon bars & send the extras home with them, so I don’t have to have them around to tempt me.  Win all around!

4.  Kiddo was stung by a wasp or a hornet and it hurt him like the dickens.  Happily, he’s apparently not allergic, so yay for a sting happening while I could be hovering with an (expired) epi-pen at the ready.  I’m actually really glad he’s been stung, just so I know…

5. CICADAS ARE HERE! I’m not sure why this makes me so happy, but it’s the one thing I miss about super-hot Arizona summers, so the few weeks of cicada buzz we get around here make the hot nastiness of mid-summer something to look forward to.  (And now, I’m ready for autumn, pumpkins, and tomato harvests…)

Small Things 7-24-15

1.  Turkeys and foxes and toads, oh my!

2.  The kiddo’s swimming lessons have really paid off. It’s amazing to me to watch him swimming on his back all the way down the lap pool at the gym. Crawl is harder, and he’s not there yet, but the kid can book on his side or on his back, and he’s a perfectly capable dog-paddler.  Very cool.

3. Xena, warrior-piglet is actually turning into a very capable chicken-herder. She helps me every night, and I almost italicized that ‘helps’ but then realized that she actually does help.  Nellie, on the other hand, doesn’t understand why Xena is such an inept chicken-killer.  Yikes.  There was a close call with a bird & my too-agile wonder whippet.  Nellie the killer and Warrior-piglet the shepherd.  There ya go!

4. This is disgusting, but also so funny that it gets me every time. I may have mentioned that among her other less-than-admirable qualities, the piglet has copious amounts of, er, wind. Which is bad enough. That it’s room-clearingly bad is worse. But the fact that it surprises her every single time – and she bolts upright and stares at her own butt accusingly? Seeing the look on her face is absolutely worth the stench.

5.  I reorganized the kitchen and feel absolutely rejuvenated over it. This is not normal behavior, I realize. But it was so satisfying to really think about where I wanted everything to live. Might be time to do this with a few more rooms…


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Small Things 7-21-15

1. My word, it’s been hot.  And humid as the devil’s armpit.  Got a bit of a break last night, which meant I got a bit of sleep, but damn, this is my least favorite weather.  Uck.  Going to go take another shower now.

2.  I reorganized my kitchen and feel downright virtuous. Everything’s been in the places where I stuck it when we moved in. Which means some of it made good intuitive sense, and some of it was simply placed there because that was the next box I opened…

So I moved all the food into the pantry and all the often-used pans/casseroles/pots into the front kitchen. I wanted to clean it up visually, get rid of cereal boxes on top of the fridge, etc. We’ll see how the new kitchen ‘flow’ works out, but so far, I like it.  Also, I applied contact paper to the inside of an ancient pantry closet, (and actually enjoyed the experience far more than I should have.) There’s something very satisfying about sticky stuff that you get a couple of chances to get right…

3.  The puppy’s been remarkably good lately. It’s like she’s growing up or something.

4.  This is the last schedule week of day camp, and the kiddo wishes it could go on forever. Oh, how I hope he loves kindergarten as much as he enjoyed Pre-K!  He’s so excited about getting back to school, and being there for a full day (sob!) and is generally such a big-kid these days.  He’s started drawing pictures of my garden to accompany his ubiquitous truck drawings. Which is almost as awesome as being given flowers!

5.  First draft of the new book is coming along nicely, but I’m–once again–wishing I had a good local writing group.  Or at least a stable of beta readers eagerly waiting for the next installment.

Old book got another request-to-read by an agent I’m really excited about, so keeping fingers crossed, but it’s been a long slog, trying to get an agent to offer to represent and I’m almost ready to toss it in on this one for now.  Time to concentrate entirely on new WIP, much though it pains me to admit it. One good thing about my impending weekday loneliness once the kiddo is enrolled full time is that I’ll have the time to really dig in and move a little quicker than I’ve been able to, snatching an hour here or there. And that’s always good for productivity.

I dreamt last night that I decided to stop writing and become a real estate agent instead. Weird dream, hopefully not prophetic…


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Small Things 7-16-15

1.  Cool breeze coming in the window after a hot, muggy day yesterday.  Is there anything better than sleeping cool in the summertime? It looks like the whole day is going to be like this.  Bliss!

2.  Saw turkeys today. Both while walking, and then on the drive to the farm to pick up our week’s worth of veggies.

I do love belonging to this CSA, despite the fact that they give us far too much kohlrabi. But I’ve been overcoming my dislike of beets with their help. And they give us the high end fruit that I’m always too cheap to splurge on. That they also give us lettuce is a cross we must bear. Tomatoes are good. And pickling cucumbers are always nice to look forward to.

Plus, it’s a really nice excursion every week for the kiddo and me. We have about a half-hour on back roads each way to chat, tell silly stories, ask each other what our favorite color is today (mine was the dark gray of the stormclouds overhead, his was the red of a car that passed us), eat cider donuts, and generally just have a peaceful moment in the middle of our week.

3.  Piglet dog is lying here, next to me, panting and snorting and making bad smells.  Today, to inform me she had run out of water, she walked to the fridge door where we get our water, pawed at the lever, and whined.  Then she walked to her empty water bowl.  Damn, I love smart dogs.

Also love dogs who love me right back. It was a busy day, she got crated when I vacuumed, and again while the kiddo had friends over, we took her big sis to the vet without her, and we were gone for an hour or so to get our veggies. And still she waited at the door for me every time I left and was happy to see me–oh so happy!–when I got back.

She’s big, she’s stinky, she’s not learned manners yet, she can be a brat when we’re out walking and she’d rather just be out sniffing, and I think she’s marvelous. So happy she’s part of our family now.

4.  Garden is happy with the hot weather. Lots of green tomatoes out there, and I’ve just started my garlic harvest.  Full of plans for next year–more beets, in a sunnier section, more peas, Big Beef early tomatoes–but really enjoying this year.

5.  And we’re into the second week of July, holy moly. The summer is just picking up steam from this point on, with visits to CT, San Francisco, and VT still to come. Another week or two of day camp for the kiddo, and a visit from his grandparents & aunt. Playdates, doctor appointments, back to school shopping, and hello kindergarten?

Yikes. That whole ‘The days they go so slowly, but the years go by so quickly” thing? It’s the dead-honest truth.

(And on that level, everyone knows that Berke Breathed is releasing Bloom County strips on FB, right? Life is really good right now! OPUS!!!

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Small Things 7-14-15

1.  Two toads in my garden this morning, which makes me very happy.  Also, a warbling, singing (or possibly screaming) frog that cried out when I moved his peat-pot house yesterday. I had no idea frogs could make a sound like that. Total bird-cry noise. Very cool.

2.  Forest honey from Germany.  Man, oh man, I love this stuff.

3.  The kiddo announced today that he really likes dipping things in ketchup. (“Because it makes my lips tangy and frisky, Mommy!”)


4.  Glow in the dark rope at Home Depot.  Why, I cringe to even ask, does a person need glow in the dark rope? And why is g-i-t-d rope the only kind available in the strength I need?

So did I buy it anyway?  Well, yeah. My kid’s playset has glow-in-the-dark rope supporting his pull up rings & bar.  Don’t judge me. Totally the fault of Home Depot.  Also totally hoping that fireflies go nuts with this stuff…

5.  Kiddo brought me a bouquet of flowers from the garden yesterday, and I swear, this never gets old.  I mean, yeah, they’re my flowers, I planted most of them, and take care of them, but him out there with his little kid scissors, bringing me a fistful of yellow flowers?


Puddle on the ground? Yeah, that’s just my heart.  He’s a sweet, sweet child. We are so lucky to have him.

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Small Things 7-13-15

1.  Dog consultation went great, they know & understand herding dogs there, and I think Xena and I will learn a lot. First lesson in a couple of weeks, and I’m looking forward to it.

2.  Batch of Raspberry/black raspberry/oh-shit-we’re-out-of-white-sugar-how-’bout-some-Turbinado? jam done. Also some ‘sour cherry/oh hell no, you want HOW MUCH for another 2# of sour cherries? I guess the rest of the jam will be made from cheap Bings…’ jam that set up beautifully, and is the most gloriously colored jam I’ve ever made. Yay!

I think I’m going to try preserving lemon curd this year, and I may very well attempt a ginger marmalade as well. This nice cool(ish) summer has me itching to put things up.  Well, that, and remembering the long dark winter days when a bit of homemade lemon preserve might have been a welcome bit of sunshine…

3.  Day camp for the kiddo these next two weeks–which means my to-do list is longer than my arm.  But it’s all good.  Getting deliveries of playground chips & gravel today, shall be busy spreading them out.  Must make the garden look beautiful before my FIL arrives for a visit next month…

4.  The puppy is turning into a lovely little dog. Oh, how I love the end of teething!

5.  The next 6 weeks are chock full of things-to-do.  This is good, because, yay, summer! But also, I have a feeling that the first day of kindergarten is going to sneak the hell up on me, and I’m going to be looking around, wondering where in the world the time went.

Shoot, I’m already wondering that!

Small Things 7-8-15

1.  Saw one of these


on my walk this morning.  Maybe 6″ from wing-tip to wing-tip?  Very beautiful, and very large moth!

2.  Dog has her ‘bad dog’ consultation tomorrow.  Hoping to get some help on the mouthiness.  We decided she’s pretty much like ‘Angel’ from the Buffyverse.  Great pal when she’s calm and broody. It’s when she has a moment of perfect happiness (which, since she’s a puppy, happens all the frickin’ time, that you have to watch out.) She gnawed up a pincushion last night. And two old cat beds today.  And it’s NOT because we don’t have dog toys around.  She’s just a puppy.  An evil, evil, puppy.

(But really, I’ll be pleased to ignore the normal, hideously-bad, puppy behavior once we find a way to impress upon her how totally serious I am about the ‘no teeth’ rule.)

3.  Playdates galore this summer.  Kid has had more playdates in his 4 years than I did my entire childhood. What makes all the social gallivanting bearable is that I actually really like the mommies of his 4 closest friends. (Whew!)

4.  Made a batch of strawberry jam from local berries, and have half a batch of black raspberries ready to process tomorrow (when another few cups should be ripe.) I do love canning jam. Beautiful in the jar, tasty, a  nice gift to give. There’s no bad here.

5. (7-8-15  You didn’t think I’d be able to stay away, did you?)