Sunday, November 11, 2018

My Dog Only Eats Meat (Unless It's On the Counter. Or In the Trash)

So I recently switched to a different wet cat food because the cans were smaller and Crow was dying and not eating as much, and then she finished dying and wasn't eating anything, and now Guido is taking his own turn on the lymphoma merry-go-round and -- wait, the point of that sentence was to say that I switched brands and suddenly the cats were finishing everything on the plate. Sometimes I would open a second can and it would be gone, too.

Except... Yeah, it wasn't the cats. The big dog has discovered that he can get to everything on the counter. Also, if I'm not paying attention and forget to put up the barrier, everything in the trash. Somehow this took him two years. He's not really a sneaky dog in general, so I think he honestly doesn't get that he's not supposed to do these things even when I'm not in the house. I mean, it's not like he tries to hide it because he either takes things to his bed or onto the couch.

Anyhow, I think fully half of his calories in the last week have come from his scavenging. The list includes:
  • about two cups of safflower seeds (?)
  • (different day) a cup of small bird pellets (and he also broke the scoop, which is sort of irritating)
  • (different day) a tub of sour cream so old I couldn't remember what I bought it for
  • (multiple days) cat food
  • a bottle of dog skin supplements that came with him two years ago that I finally remembered to start giving again just to get rid of, so maybe 30 tablets? Luckily, there's nothing in there that would cause a problem.
I swear I haven't been starving him. Also, I don't understand how a dog that can't be bothered to lick all the Velveeta from the inside of a Kong has the patience to break open a thick plastic pill bottle. Luckily he has not gotten into Guido's steroids (and yes, I have moved them to a safer place).

So I could try to rig up something to keep him off the counter, but really the smart thing to do is just keep him out of the kitchen altogether.  The baby gates shipped two days ago.

Silly big dog.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

"How to Write Sex"

(This post started as a Slack conversation I was having with some friends and it made me laugh so much that I had to save it for posterity. My friend Hilary came up with the title, and she was completely making fun of me at the time, but after I wrote out the rules she changed her tune. Anyhow, now it's here for everyone to laugh at.)

"How to Write Sex" by Theresa Baumgartner

Step one: Uh, make them want to have sexy times. Somehow.

Step two: Have the sexy times. Or maybe not.

Step three: How can the sexy times have caused problems? Let me count the ways!

Step four: That wasn't good enough? Wait another quarter of the book and we'll revisit this idea.

If I can't sell my fiction I think I should totally sell a book on how to write a novel...

And because I have a feeling this title is going to generate some traffic from people who don't know me... Here, oh great Internet, have a picture of my cat Guido who is not long for this world (lymphoma) but is living his best life by napping and picking fights with everyone in the household in the meantime:

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Georgie the Grouch

The big dog is keeping me busy lately. I came home yesterday from a NaNoWriMo meet and greet and found that somebody had gotten into the trash. There were well-licked plastic wrappers, a few pieces of butternut squash, and a few egg shell sprinkles pretty much all over the living room. (Note: this is entirely my fault. I looked at the unprotected trash can before I left and thought about putting up the barrier and then I forgot about it.)

From my detailed forensic examination, it appears he first settled in on the dog bed with his ill-gotten gains and then moved onto the couch (maybe because the little dog was trying to get her share? maybe just because he likes to hang out on the couch?) The addition of the couch narrows down the culprit; it's not impossible for the little dog to get into the trash, but she refuses to get on the furniture. Anyhow, while on the couch Georgie removed the rest of the items from the bag, although he lost some to the cushion gaps. For a dog who turns up his nose at any hint of a vegetable he sure changes his tune when there are vegetable scraps in the garbage.

It's good that I got the easily-cleaned faux-leather covers for the couch cushions.

In other news, Ripley the cat keeps trying to get the dogs to cuddle with him. I was working from home the other day when I kept hearing grumpy under-the-breath growling from the big dog and I turned around and found this.

The big dog eventually got up and flounced into the other room.

I have to give Ripley points for trying. He eventually got the old dog, Molly, to hang out with him by waiting until she had entered a state of sleep that closely resembled a coma and then moving in next to her. After a few months of that Molly stopped moving away from him when she woke up, although that might have been because she was so arthritic she had a hard time getting off the floor.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Crow the Cat

This is Crow the cat. When I first saw her she was a little bundle of fur whose eyes had just opened. She hissed at me, a less than terrifying gesture in a kitten who couldn't really walk yet and had no teeth. Despite that, she turned into quite a nice cat. (Okay, yes, she bit someone on the face and ended up on rabies quarantine a couple of months ago, but she was provoked.) Her name came from a comparison with the others in the litter. Crow was the smart one, Guido (who is still in the house) was the aggressive one, and Pigeon (who was quickly renamed Cheech and then finally George in his new home) was the one that was a little lacking in the smarts. At five weeks of age Crow and Guido were running around terrorizing each other (and the adult cats in the house) while Pigeon/Cheech/George liked to lie on his back and wave his feet in the air.

Crow and I had nearly sixteen years together, a time which involved two cross-country trips, much purring, and countless episodes of me pushing her off the keyboard. Because of her I know nearly every accidental combination of keys that can be pressed by dainty feline feet, and more importantly, how to undo the damage.

She pretty much lived to eat, so much so that she had to be fed in a separate room to give her siblings a chance to eat at more leisurely pace. She taught me that it's easier to just take the trash out than to try to bury the cheese wrapper under other garbage because burying it just meant more trash would be pulled out of the trash can on the way to the cheese wrapper. Stubborn was her middle name. But she also liked to cuddle and was always in charge of keeping the other cats clean, whether they wanted that or not.

She was a good cat.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Saffron Saturday

It's good to have friends who have big dreams. Even huge crazy dreams. This is why I spent most of Saturday planting a chunk of a 1/2 acre with saffron bulbs.

I have a history of being carried along on crazy quests. And here's the thing -- they almost always turn out to be a ton of fun and give me something else to think about for a while. So when Noah & Elisabeth invited me to help plant saffron bulbs at the rented farm, I said sure, why not?

In case you didn't know (and I'm not even going to pretend that I didn't just look up the wikipedia entry), saffron comes from a species of crocus. I knew the spice came from part of the flower and I spent the day making flower penis jokes because I'm super mature when I'm semi-delirious with heat stroke, but the joke's on me because it's actually the stigmas and styles (aka, the "female" part of the flower) and not the stamen (the "male" part).

The farm is in the middle of a suburb in West Sacramento, so I drove out there early in the morning (ahem, because I'm such a good friend!).  The dirt had been tilled (or whatever is done with dirt to loosen it up and hey, I wasn't the one planning this whole thing so don't make fun of my lack of farming knowledge) and there were rows of mounds about a yard wide with furrows in between. There were eighteen rows that were about fifty feet long.

We had ten people there at various points during the day which should tell you what wonderful people Noah and Elisabeth are, because they know a bunch of people who are willing to spend a Saturday planting bulbs for fun.

Noah had built this clever contraption that would drop six bulbs across at intervals as the thing was pulled through the dirt. Pulled through the dirt by people. In action looked a bit like we were trying to plow using people instead of oxen. I'm kind of surprised the neighbors weren't lined up on the street taking pictures. I wouldn't be shocked if it showed up online somewhere.

So five people were working with the human-powered bulb-o-matic and the rest of us were hand planting. Noah carefully explained that we were aiming for 6 inches deep, with 6 bulbs across the width of each row and four inches (center to center) between the ones on each side. We had yard sticks. We had markings on trowels. I think there may have been just the tiniest discrepancy between the plan and the reality.

Anyhow we grabbed one of the boxes of bulbs, and with Jen on one side of our row and me on the other, we dug down with a trowel, shifted the dirt out of the way long enough to shove a bulb down -- hairy side up, just like a troll doll -- three times, then moved over four inches and repeated the process.

We did this for about an hour before we took a water break and I looked around and realized that we were only a couple feet from the beginning of the row and we couldn't see the end. The bulb-o-matic had its own problems -- the tubes kept clogging I think -- so they weren't too much farther ahead in their row. Then I realized there were twice as many boxes of bulbs as I'd thought there was. The delirium set in.

A really old guy tottered by with his Chihuahua. He didn't speak English, but my two years of Duolingo Spanish were enough for me to tell him that no, it is not onion, it is... (here I had to look up the word for saffron)... azafrán. (And yes, that was in present tense because I don't take my lessons very seriously so I have not progressed to any other tense.) He didn't seem to understand what azafrán meant, but I give it equal odds that my pronunciation was terrible or he just didn't know what saffron was.

It got hotter. Jen and I discussed a variety of things as we moved along, including our plans for NaNoWriMo, and the fact that we would starve to death if we had to depend on our planting skills to eat. The hotter it got, the lower the threshold for jokes. By the end of the afternoon we finally got through our entire box of bulbs and I went to steal some from another box. I used the front of my t-shirt to hold them, then we almost died laughing when I told Jen I didn't need a box to hold them because I was going to use my "shirt bucket". At the time I said it I was completely serious about "shirt bucket" being a real thing.

Anyhow, I think at least one or two of the many, many bulbs I planted were at the correct depth.
As a group we finished four rows, so if you, too, want a saffron planting experience in the next week or so I can hook you up.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Well-trained, My A**

I took the dogs on a walk along Putah Creek this morning both to get some exercise and to get some photos of them.

I'd forgotten that being in a new place means that all training acquired in the past is invalid, so every time I told the dogs to stay and then crouched down to get a picture on their level (which, after many years of truly terrible pictures, I have learned is very important), both dogs would rush toward me. So I have a series of pictures that have vaguely dog-like blobs in them. Oh well. Maybe next time.

Here are the best of the bunch:

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Second Worst New Hobby

Recently I installed a geocaching app on my phone. You know geocaching -- people hide a box with a log book and then other people get the coordinates and go find the box and sign the log book. I've been feeling very lump-like lately since it's been too hot and smoky to run for about six weeks and I've been using the extra time to eat more.

So I decided to try geocaching. When I told my friends my plan one said "Do people still do that?", which is just further proof that I am the sign that a given fad is over.

Anyhow, instead of eating more ice cream for breakfast this morning, I grabbed the dogs and headed for a local spot. It wasn't that far away, just on the edge of town due south from me, and there's a park nearby, so I figured it would be a good one to start on. Also, the difficulty was listed as easy.

It wouldn't surprise me if someone pointed out a cache box in the background.

I probably should have picked a different cache when I read the past comment that said "clever hiding spot!". I'm the world's most unobservant person. Even wearing my glasses I could miss something in plain sight. And something cleverly hidden? Lost cause.

I looked around for a while. I'm a little surprised nobody called the cops. I never found the cache. The app said I was in the right area, but there weren't any more directions. So I took a couple pictures of my dogs and then I was going to take a picture of the sign at the end of the road but half an hour of GPS usage on my phone had killed the battery. Besides, it was getting hot. And I was trying not to get frustrated by my new "hobby".

Should we take bets on how many locations I can visit before I find a cache?

(It's still only the second worst new hobby because of the whole Pokemon-go fiasco a few years ago.)