Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Road to Heaven is Cleaned with Dysons

Life for pet owners holds few pleasures greater than possession of a really good vacuum cleaner.

After ten years my faithful old Dyson is starting to fall to pieces.  The Cowboy has fixed it a few times, extending its life for another two years, but the writing was on the wall a couple of weeks ago. It was time to buy a new vacuum.

The writing was mostly there because the hose on my old Dyson tore again (this is the third time) and the Cowboy is God knows where and has been for weeks now so there was no one to fix it.  I also have this Eureka someone gave me that just doesn't even hold a candle to my old Dyson, let alone a new one.

I got my tax return so I figured why not treat myself to a brand new Dyson?  Having researched and read up on the latest models, I discovered that their suction is even stronger than the old ones (and mine has never lost suction), and that they have these balls that apparently make them easier to maneuver (I love mine, but it is heavy and awkward to get around, especially with all the stairs in my house).

The thing about pets is that no matter how much I love them, I am actually allergic and their hair bothers me.  I vacuum at least every other day.  Willow is half Persian which means she has a cobby body, and while her hair is short, it's superfine and thick and gets into EVERYTHING - my clothes, my food, my nose.  I might have a Willow hair stuck perpetually in my nose.  I don't know, I keep sneezing.  Puckett sheds constantly because she doesn't bother to clean herself.  She lets Percy do it.  And Tess, being a German shepherd, just has that kind of fur.  She blows her coat twice a year, but she also sheds continuously, leaving piles of fur wherever she goes.  My animals are allowed to sleep at the foot of the bed or on the arms of the couch, but I can't have them right on top of me or on the pillow next to me.  There is one exception to this.  Percy has slept under the covers with me occasionally and he sometimes curls up against me while I watch TV on the couch.  His fur bothers me the least.  He grooms constantly and he has a different kind of fur than Puckett and Willow.  I think he might be part Russian Blue, a breed with a naturally hypoallergenic coat.

I ended up purchasing the Dyson Ball Multifloor.  I considered the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball but it was a little too pricey even for the comfort of owning a truly amazing vacuum cleaner.

No matter.  I'm quite happy with my purchase.  Now my old Dyson has awesome suction and it hasn't lost it over the years, but this new one packs a wallop.  I'd already vacuumed my bedroom once with the old one and went over the carpet again with my new one just to see what else I could suck up.

Within five minutes the canister was full of powdery dirt mixed with leftover baking soda.  There was also more dog hair and I thought I'd gotten all of it.  I have to say, I was officially grossed out.  If all that has been in my carpet over the years, then ew.

Also after much treatment with carpet cleaners and a pile of baking soda on the spot Willow decided to pee on, the new vacuum cleaner sucked all the nastiness out of there and it doesn't even smell.

Here I thought nothing can get rid of the stench of cat pee.  To be fair, I did dump lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and two different carpet cleaners on it along with a box of baking soda, and then waited for all of it to dry in fresh air before running the vacuum over it.  Still, the result was impressive.

As an aside, for anyone who wants to get cat pee out of their carpet, here is what I discovered:  First I mixed water with carpet cleaner and soaked the pee spot.  Then I squirted lemon juice right over the spot.  I let it dry for a day.  Then I mixed water with dish detergent and hydrogen peroxide and poured that on the spot.  I let that soak for a day.  Then I dumped apple cider vinegar on the spot and added a box of baking soda.  By then the days had gotten nice and warm so I just propped my back door open and let the carpet air dry.  If the soiled carpet isn't near a window or door or it's the middle of winter, a fan can be used to help dry the spot.  Once everything was dry I vacuumed up the baking soda.

So it does take several days, but cat pee can be conquered.

I hope, anyway...

Back to the Dyson.  The wand is pretty amazing too.  I use the wand a lot because I have mostly hard floors now and it's easier to just suck up the loose hair with the wand.  I also use the flat attachment to run over Percy because he follows the vacuum cleaner around while I clean, waiting for his turn.  The new wand sucked up a plastic bag, the loose strands off an old piece of carpet Willow uses as a scratching pad, and it nearly sucked up the cat.  It stuck to him and I couldn't peel it off without shutting off the machine.

Percy was not amused.  The look of disgust on his face told me he preferred the old vacuum as it doesn't try to flay him alive.  This thing could pull the fur off a mink and probably turn it into a coat. I didn't even bother to suck Percy's tail into the wand like I sometimes do because for some reason he likes that too.  If I try that with the new wand, he probably won't get the tail back. I've sucked paws and ears in too just to get a reaction out of him and he purrs and rolls over.  I don't dare try that with this new vacuum.  I"m afraid I won't get my cat back.

And I really don't want to destroy my new vacuum by sucking an entire cat into it.  It wasn't the most expensive vacuum, but it still cost a pretty penny.  I imagine a cat might damage the mechanism.  Also, I don't think he'll fit in the canister.

I have to say it is a sad day for me when the highlight of my last couple of weeks is not drinks with pals on a Friday night; it's not a morning run with my dog in the park; it's not editing my novel; and it's not a fantastic date with some amazing guy.

Nope, the highlight of my last couple of weeks is buying a Dyson and then spending all morning vacuuming my floors.  Yes, and enjoying it too.

I think I might need Evan Marc Katz's help again.  Unfortunately, if I can't afford the Super Dyson I have no hope with his coaching fee.  I suppose the vacuum and I will be very happy together.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How to be a Law Breaking Felon

Boy, do the cops in this town need something to do.

Don't get me wrong.  Cops are cool.  I'm even good friends with a cop (I think.  He might be mad at me after he reads this).  My brother's best friend is a cop.  I love Criminal Minds, Law and Order SVU  (love that Detective Benson), and CSI Miami (there is something about David Caruso and his sunglasses move - you know what I'm talking about).   I have the love jones for Zahn McClarnon who plays a rez cop on the show Longmire.  But the cops around here?  They need a life.

But then, I'm one to talk.  I spend so much time with my pets, they're codependent.

I finally got busted.  It happened.  I knew it would and I was just waiting for it.  I knew I was breaking the law, I knew I deserved a reprimand.  I was just unprepared for how furious it made me.  I think maybe it happened during the worst possible week and I had already been busted twice for stupid things recently, one on my birthday when I was already feeling sensitive.

I've been running Tess loose for months now.  We have a route.  We go down to the river, follow it, go back along the walking path and to the mostly deserted park near my house, and then home.  She is off leash most of the time which is technically against the law in city limits.  Besides the one time she made a jogger wet her pants, Tess has been a model citizen.  If I see other people around or I see dogs loose, I leash her.  Most of the time I make sure the surrounding area is completely deserted before I let Tess off the leash.  I'm not an idiot.  I know how to control my dog.  She does not go up to fenced yards when dogs are barking at her.  If I call her back she comes to me almost immediately.  That poor lady jogger was an anomaly.  It was just her lucky day, I think.  Like cats attracted to anyone who is allergic to them, so Tess is attracted to anyone who is terrified of her.  She just wants to make friends. She doesn't understand that people might find her the devil.

I don't get that anyway.  She's so cute.  I mean, she is the best dog in the world.  Wouldn't hurt a fly.  Okay, she would totally hurt a fly and a wasp and probably a douchebag if he threatened me, but most people?  She loves people.  She loves cats.  She loves most other dogs.  She's a big ball of love.

So the other day Tess was down by the river taking a dump and here comes Mr. Animal Control in his Great Big Truck.  I don't think he's a real cop.  He gets to wear the uniform and drive the marked vehicle, but really, he's driving around looking for loose dogs.  That badge and gun are just for show.  He must have been bored out of his mind.

"Excuse me ma'am, are you aware that you should have your dog leashed within city limits?"

"I'm sorry, officer, she needed to go to the bathroom."

"I understand it's hard when your dog wants to go to the bathroom and sniff around, but you have to keep your dog restrained."

"Yes, officer.  Of course, officer."

They always "understand," don't they?

He proceeded to lecture me, demand my name, address, phone number, and birth date, and then let me off with a warning.  All with "ma'am" at the end of each sentence.  I don't mind leashing my dog. I think what pissed me off the most was asking my birth date and the lecture.  I was probably older than him.  Looks can be deceiving.  I've run into that with cops before.  I look like I'm twenty-four so when they pull me over they act all bad ass, and then when they return my license there's a note of respect in their voices, like they hadn't realized I am old enough to be their mothers.  They lay off the "You dumb kid" attitude and adopt a more "I can actually relate to you because you're an adult" demeanor.  I kind of wanted to ask him if he needed Tess' name and birth date as well.  I asked him if he really needed my birth date.

"Yes, ma'am."

Oh, cut the ma'am.  Seriously, it's so patronizing. Especially when they think I am still only twenty-four.   Do I look like a "ma'am" to you?  Yes, as it turns out, I'm old.  Thanks for rubbing it in.

I should have lied.

I wonder what would have happened if I'd started singing the International Friendship Song?  I think one needs two other siblings to really drive that song home and sufficiently drive a law enforcement officer up a wall, but Tess and I probably could have pulled it off.  I'm sure I would have ended up in jail.  Can you imagine that phone call?  "So, hey, there, person I called from jail.  Can you come bail me out?  They arrested me after I was caught walking my dog off leash and I tried to get away with it by singing the International Friendship Song."

I've been watching way too much Animaniacs.

You're just asking for trouble asking a woman her age.  My cop friend did tell me later that yes, they do need your birth date when you are caught breaking such a serious law because they have to check if there are any warrants out for your arrest.

Well, of course.  I am a dangerous criminal.  I have my license plate sticker in the wrong corner of my license plate.  I go five miles per hour over the speed limit past the library on a deserted road.  I let my well-behaved German shepherd run off leash.  Yes, these are all infractions I have been busted for.  I am a rebel.  I am crazy.  I'm amazed they haven't locked my punk ass up yet.

They might if this blog ever goes viral.  There is nothing cops hate more than a smart ass.  Probably why Yakko, Wakko, and Dot are always getting chased by that security cop.

My cop friend is a smart ass himself, and he's the one who put a Glock in my hands, so really, are cops always playing with a full deck?

Anyway, I was totally expecting to get busted eventually.  I'm not really mad about that.  But in the space of a few weeks I got pulled over for barely speeding, having my license plate sticker in the wrong corner of my plate, and running my dog off leash.  I had a friend who had our resident lady cop pull up behind her at the gas station for speeding and ask her if she did that often. My friend said, "What, pump gas?  Yes, every day before I go to work."  The lady cop was horrified that my friend was aware of her rear radar and still had the nerve to speed.

They just haven't had much to do lately and we've had several new ones come into town, looking for any reason to pull someone over and prove themselves.  This is small-town Wyoming.  I hate to break it to the rookies coming in, but nothing happens here outside of the occasional drug bust (because that's how bored people are).  It's utopia. The cops are just bored and they are taking it out on us placid citizens who aren't really doing anything to endanger the public.  I mean really, there is a registered sex offender across the street from my house creating tattoos for morons (and several of my ex-boyfriends, not that the two are mutually exclusive) probably without a license and the cops are bothering me.

Cops aren't on my happy list right now.  And Tess didn't even bound up to the animal control officer's truck when he stopped and try to climb in.  So obviously she didn't appreciate him interrupting her morning toilette.  Meanwhile my cop friend has the nerve to laugh every time I say something rude about cops.  Like he thinks I'm being cute or something.

At least he hasn't called me "ma'am" yet.

Cops are actually really not that bad.  I just feel like lately they have it out for me. Again like attracts like, and my miserable, law-breaking attitude is obviously attracting the cops.  Plus, I still think they are jealous of the fact that I have this amazing, beautiful, intelligent German shepherd who probably belongs in the K9 Unit and they just wish they had her.  I think they might be following her, gazing at her longingly.

I don't blame them.  If she wasn't mine, I'd be jealous too.

Me with a Glock

My vicious, crazy dog running loose by the river.  Look how happy she is!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


The universe has a funny way of throwing things in your path that you have previously convinced yourself you don't want, need, or care about.

For instance, I had decided, way back when I adopted Tess and Percy, that I did not want more than one cat.  One cat is fine.  More than one cat just causes issues like litter box aversion.

Somehow I now have three cats.  I'm still not sure how that happened, and yes, one of the cats does engage in litter box aversion.  And yet, I stubbornly hang on to her, modifying my life and daily rituals in order to keep her from peeing on the floor, just because I can't imagine my life without her.  When I first got Tess and Percy, I couldn't imagine my life with her and no, absolutely under no circumstances would I consider adopting another cat!

So I adopted two more.

I have also had the same opinion about relationships the last few months, deciding that I neither want nor need one, they are more trouble than they are worth, and they are way too much work.  I can bury my sex drive.  I don't need this shit in my life. 

That was until I realized I still have a sex drive, so of course I did everything I could to force that down and run screaming for my life away from the person who had the nerve to spark it.  Those damn hormones.  They'll get to you every time.

For years now I've been saying one dog is enough.  After my disastrous trial with Harley, the hound from hell that tried to rip Tess' throat out, I decided that I would never again attempt to own two dogs.  Two dogs are just too much work and I already have three cats that are too much work.  Tess is so well-trained, so easygoing, and so settled in a routine that I would never want to add another dog that would come in and teach her all sorts of bad habits.

Then while surfing Petfinder.com I came across Zack, a beautiful long-haired male German shepherd who was eight years old and had the same look on his face that Puckett had when she coerced me into adopting her.  I looked at his profile for a couple of days and finally decided to contact the rescue about him.  I figured the lady in charge would tell me she didn't adopt out that far away (three hours), or he was already spoken for, or he had a list of people waiting to meet him and she'd get back to me.  Instead she gave me some background on Zack and sent me an application.  Frankly, he sounded perfect.  He was close to Tess' age with an extremely quiet temperament.  He'd been neglected as a younger dog and then fell in the hands of a pet hoarder where no one really paid much attention to him.  No vaccinations, he wasn't fixed.  The neighbors eventually found him in the road and brought him to the rescue where he was vetted, fixed, and put in foster care until a forever home could be found.  I asked the lady if he was housebroken, if he was a barker, if he was aggressive or dominant, and she said he was extremely laid back, would do well with another dog, and Tess sounded particularly good for him because Zack was definitely not alpha.  He didn't bark. He was housetrained and could do a few tricks, and most of all he just needed a quiet loving home where he could live out the rest of his life in peace.

I thought he sounded great.  He and Tess could be two old fogies living out there retirement together.  I think Tess is getting kind of lonely, so this might be good for her.  The woman from the rescue sounded enthusiastic as well.  She seemed to be willing to consider adopting him out to me.  She said my application checked out and that Tess sounded perfect for Zack.  I sent an email to her saying that I would love to meet him and...crickets.

I felt like I was online dating again.  Suggest meeting and they disappear never to be heard from again.  Maybe I felt like I was just dating in general again.  Things get too serious and they disappear.  My Texas best friend and I used to joke that our ex-boyfriends joined the army and were on special secret black ops missions so they couldn't contact us anymore or even answer messages.  I believe in today's culture now this is called "ghosting." I am very familiar with "ghosting" and I do not like it.

My Texas friend has been married nine years and no longer needs to worry about this.

I waited several days and finally emailed the lady again, letting her know I was just following up on Zack.  She emailed me back immediately and said he was getting picked up by a family the next day and hopefully this will be his forever home.

Well, thanks for telling me.  Again I felt like I was dating.  Seriously, how hard is it to email someone and say, thanks but no thanks, or you are number two or three on the list and we'll call you if something changes?  I have heard the word "no" many, many times.  It will not devastate me.  I will not go crazy on someone and start threatening to key their cars.  This goes for men too.  If one is no longer interested in seeing me, even a simple text of "Buzz off, I don't want to see you anymore" is better than just disappearing without a trace.  I am a writer.  I handle rejection very well.  I've been dumped by plenty of men. (See? This is why I'm done with relationships).   I've been rejected by all the jobs I've interviewed for in the past few months. I think my favorite rejection was from Durango.  They said, "We've decided to pursue one of our other options."  I appreciated them telling me that, but I still thought, "Wow, that's what all my boyfriends say when they break up with me."

Not really, since most of my boyfriends have just pulled that ghosting shit.

Hey, when I'm told to buzz off, I buzz off.  I'm not going to hang around bothering someone who clearly has no interest in being around me anymore.

All I ask is to please have the courtesy to tell the rejectee that you are rejecting them.  It really isn't that hard.  I remember when breaking up with someone over the phone was considered bad form and now I'm actually happy with at least a text or email that says "Get lost." When I called about adopting Tess all those years ago they told me upfront that she was probably already spoken for but they would call me if something changed and the original adoption fell through.  They called me the next day, and I appreciated that they basically told me not to get my hopes up. 

This is why I don't date anymore.  And I refuse to admit that I still have a sex drive.  And I definitely do not need another dog!  I'm still a glutton for punishment because I can't stop writing and sharing it with the world which guarantees rejection.

I was right the first time and the universe can go hang itself.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Looking Out into the Great Black Abyss

Somewhere along the way, my fearless, overconfident, full-of-herself German shepherd lost her confidence in going outside after dark.  This has been going on for two weeks now.  Since I got her eight years ago, she's been spending almost all of her days outside where she has a porch with a roof, tubs filled with water, a doghouse filled with straw, and a yard filled with interesting things to sniff and watch.  Her favorite thing to do in the summer is snap up wasps and flies.  I can tell it's been a good day when the porch floor is littered with the carcasses of yellow jackets.  This is not a habit I discourage my dog from doing.  She is free to destroy all the yellow jackets she wants.

Some days she sacks out full length on the porch and takes a nap.  Other times she sits on the porch and watches the cars go by, or growls at the crazy neighbor across the street while he putters around, hollering at his dog and just generally making a nuisance of himself.  She is free to glare at him and his customers all she wants.  Being a tattoo artist he has started attracting gutter trash as far as the next town, including several ex-boyfriends, and I don't mind it if Tess wants to sit and glare across the street and make everyone nervous.

Tess and the outdoors are old friends.  I consider her a house dog because she is in the house with me when I'm home and I keep her inside on days when the weather is particularly nasty, but for the most part she enjoys the outdoors.  There is a lot more for her to do and see when she's outside rather than being bored in the house while I'm at work.  Plus she absolutely adores her walks.  As soon as I put my sneakers on she starts doing the doggy happy dance and she's content to be outside all day, running and sniffing.

So what's her deal lately with going outside after dark?  In the past I would open the back door and she'd practically knock the screen out in her hurry to race out and down the steps of the porch to do her business.  She's just an active dog anyway so everything she does requires rushing so as not to miss anything.  These last couple of weeks I call her to go outside, usually around nine o'clock, and she'll race for the door until I open it.  Then she stands there, head lowered ears back, peering around my legs like she thinks the bogeyman is waiting for her out in the yard.  I encourage her to go out, she continues to stand there.  On several occasions she actually turned tail and ran away.

Very perplexing. 

At first I thought she was just being silly so I tossed her butt outside anyway and closed the door, expecting her to get over herself and go do her business.

Instead she crouched on the porch huddled against the door like something was out in the yard that might eat her if I didn't let her in as soon as possible.

I finally had to actually go outside with her, go down the stairs, and stand at the far end of the yard to show her that there was nothing scary in the yard.

Normally she follows me wherever I go.  I stood on the far end of the yard; she crouched on the porch and stared at me with big eyes.

You have got to be kidding me, dog.

For three nights I had to go outside with her, stand at the far end of the yard, call her to come to me, and then stand there and wait for her to pee.  Then the last couple of nights she went outside with  no problem, even after dark, and ran down the porch steps to do her business just like the days of old.  Apparently after witnessing me fling myself into the wild dark unknown and come back unscathed, she decided it was safe to attempt it on her own.

We have had no issues with this since.

I kind of feel like my dog in that respect. Somewhere along the way I lost my confidence. Confidence in my ability to do my job, confidence in my interactions with people, including dating, confidence in my writing.  I've developed fear.  Fear of the unknown.  I stand at the edge of what used to be my life, when I used to know what to expect and be content with that, and stare into the darkness frozen with fear because I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen next.  What will happen if I step out into that unknown darkness?  It used to be a familiar darkness.  We may not know exactly what will happen next every day of our lives, but most of us live a life where we can reasonably expect certain things to go a certain way.  I no longer have that certainty or that expectation.  What was once familiar is now the edge of a cliff and I'm afraid to step over it for fear of falling into something worse.  The alternative is more terrifying - staying frozen in this place for the rest of my life, needing to move forward out into the dark abyss of my backyard but too paralyzed to do it.  Tess doesn't want to go out by herself at night.  She needs me to go out first, cross the yard, and stand at the far end to prove to her that everything is fine and it's safe to pee.  I need a similar guide.  I need someone to walk ahead of me and assure me that everything is going to be okay; to stand at the far end of the yard and encourage me to keep coming because there is nothing to be afraid of.  We're all scared of something though.  The crippling loneliness is what scares me.  It's here in this place I am now if I remain frozen by the door, wishing I could move forward, and it's present should I choose to move forward into the unknown darkness because there is no one to go with me.

Will I lose my job due to economic downturn and budget cuts?

Will I publish my book and become a known author like I've always dreamed?

Will I ever find a kind, decent man to have a relationship with?

Will I recover from my issues, my depression, my anxiety?

What is my purpose in life?

Will I bridge the breaches between me and some friends - breaches I don't understand, breaches I wish never happened?

Will I be okay?  And how can I know?

Tess is different in one respect, though.  She trusts me and follows me blindly.  She is okay now and has no more trouble going out to the yard in the dark.  She had faith that I would lead her into safety even though she didn't know what might await us in the black abyss of my backyard after dark.

I do have someone like that myself.  There is trust and there is belief.  Now I just have to let go and have faith that He will lead me into safety just as I've led Tess.  She trusted me and believed me and she is fine.

Why can't I do the same?

Once again my dog is a wiser role model, someone whose example is worth following.  If she can find the courage to move forward, I should be able to do the same.