Her Ladyship

Notes from the gutter.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Howdy neighbor

We live at an end of a cul-de-sac, which is nice and quiet. After having lived so many years in earshot of drunks having fights outside my window and fire engines racing up and down the street, it's a rather pleasant change of pace.

I fear that all will change. Our next-door neighbor up and left yesterday without saying a word. After all these years of, um, nodding at each other and occasionally saying hello, she didn't bother to say good-bye. Hmm, maybe not such a shock after all. We knew the move was permanent when we noticed her string of xmas lights was finally down from her side window.

I haven't met the people who took her place, but they're already there, or at least some of them are. And they have a darling little dog too, which is nice. The woman who'd lived there had two wiener dogs, one of whom was good friends with ours. They'd race up and down the fence together and have a great time.

I think I'm a little too invested in making sure Che has a replacement buddy. Today I took him outside and in vain tried to get him to show an interest in the other dog, who was wagging his tail, shrinking down on the ground in a submissive position, and practically holding up a sign that says "I'm friendly." I even got to the point to where I was throwing Che's ball over to the fence to try and force him to interact with the other dog. Nada. I guess I should be grateful, as Che's usual MO is to bark like crazy at unknown dogs. But dammit I want him to have a friend!

This is also the problem with working at home: you become far too entwined in your pets' emotional health. The other day, I turned to The Texan and said in all seriousness, "I worry sometimes that Shrapnel is bored." HE IS A CAT. He sleeps 16 hours a day and spends the rest of his time driving me nuts. He has a full schedule.

Just let Che out. Maybe this time he'll notice the new dog.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

In need of adult supervision

So the very first day The Texan was in Colorado, I found that I have less sense than your average kindergartner.

Here's the deal: Friday morning, I was puttering around the house, reading through emails and having my coffee. I got up for my second cup, went to pull the clothes out of the dryer, put the wet ones in the washer, etc. Really exciting stuff. I fix myself a bowl of yogurt and take it to my desk.

I was focused on some news stories and not really paying attention to what I was doing. So when I realized that I had something on my left hand, I figured it was some splashed-out yogurt and casually licked it off. What? Stop judging me, I work at home and my standards are pretty low.

Within about one second of having licked what I'd thought was yogurt, I realized two things: 1) I was eating blueberry yogurt, which was blue, but the liquid I'd ingested was white. 2) I felt sick. Very, very sick.

As soon as I finished thinking, "Hmm, I don't feel good," my body's like, I don't know what you put in me, but we're getting it back out. NOW. And the heaving and gagging began.

I'll spare a graphic description of the next few minutes. Let's just say it involved a lot of gargling with water and rinsing of the mouth.

The only thing I could think that would've caused that sort of reaction was that somehow, when I'd been pulling the laundry out of the dryer, some laundry detergent dripped on my hand. I'd been exposed to absolutely nothing else that could've caused that sort of reaction.

So I checked out the box for directions on what to do if you accidentally swallowed some. I'd done the first part - drink a big glass of water - and decided to do the second thing that they recommended, which was call a doctor.

My health insurance has this program where you can call in to talk to a nurse to see what you should do. The woman I spoke with said as long as my lips weren't blue and I didn't have trouble breathing, I didn't need to call 911. But she did recommend I call the poison hotline.

I remember when I was little that was a really big deal - whenever your parents left you with a babysitter, the name/number of the restaurant, the doctor's number, and the poison hotline were left in the "just in case" instructions. But I'd never had cause to call them before.

Let me tell you, they pick up a hell of a lot faster than 911 does. The guy was very nice and said that unless some new symptoms emerged, I'd be just fine. He did want to know how old I was. I guess not many 34-year-olds call in having accidentally eaten laundry detergent. Sigh.

The back of my throat burned all day, and I had this persistent nauseated feeling I'm willing to believe may have been psychosomatic. Other than that, I don't think any serious damage was done.

The ten minutes when I was desperately trying to get that shit out of me, all I could think of was that The Texan wasn't expected to be home for three more days; how long would the cat wait before snacking on my corpse? How long would The Texan hang out at the airport, expecting me to pick him up, before realizing I wasn't going to be there? And I had one very strong thought overriding everything: I did not want to shuffle off this mortal coil in my bathrobe with unwashed hair (again, I work at home - all the stereotypes are true). What an asinine way to go. It's even worse than the time I was eating beef kabobs with Grits a few years ago and tried to swallow far too big of a piece that stuck for an excruciating long second in my throat.

At any rate, I learned a very important lesson: always, ALWAYS use a napkin. Mom was right after all.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Holding the dog hostage

I dropped The Texan off at the airport today, a startling change of pace, since I'm the traveller of the two of us. But he'd gotten wind of a Shire horse*...convention? Meeting? Whatever you'd call a conflagration of them, and it's occurring in Denver this week. When he first learned of this event, I told him, sounds nice but um I think I have to work that week. So he's flying solo, and I'm by myself with the pets until next week, at which point I will be the one leaving for a trip and all will be right in the world again.

This jaunt to Colorado is a dream trip for The Texan: despite his name, he lived in central Colorado for the better part of the decade and still dreams of living in the mountains again. Plus he gets to look at horses for a whole weekend. I told him that if he called and said he was staying, I was keeping the dog but sending him the cat.** That should get him back home ASAP.

Anyways, this is the first time I've been on my own in SA since I've moved here nearly three years ago. I am getting all the Indian and Thai food I can choke down (stuff that The Texan does like, but in much smaller doses than I do), plus it's all indie movies, all the time! And the bed is going to stay unmade, just because I am feeling cah-RAZY. Of course, this is the perfect chance to see if I've truly changed my slovenly ways or if I'll backslide into a pit of discarded newspapers, dirty clothes, and empty soda cans. I'm putting my money on #2.

* Shires, for those of you who like myself aren't horsey, are the overgrown horses Budweiser uses in their Christmas commercials. Imagine elephants, except a little more graceful. I hope they reinforce the floor of wherever they're hosting the Shire show.

** Whenever we hear about divorcing couples fighting over the pets, we always laugh. That's one thing we won't ever have to experience, as there is no way either of us would let go of "our" pet (the cat for me, the dog for him). Oh, and the fact that we really hope not to get divorced. We agreed to stick it out for the first 44 years; after that, we'll consider our options.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Desert crossing

Well, for the two of you who read this blog who I'm not in regular email contact with, yes, The Texan and I survived our trip across the desert. We arrived in Vegas around 9pm last Saturday, and my first thought when I stepped outside the terminal was why in the world they had heaters on, the wind was so fierce and hot (think it was around 105 degrees). We had an awesome dinner at an only-could-be-in-Vegas restaurant (the Peppermill, whose indoor "greenery" had to be seen to be believed), then went straight to bed. The only good thing about getting up at 5:30 am was that we got up before Dust Bunny and Roadrunner's cats got frisky.

But the drive itself wasn't that bad. On the first day, we drove to and on top of the Hoover Dam. I've been told that traffic there is intense. Well, go at 7am on a Sunday and it'll be surprisingly light. We also drove to Flagstaff, Arizona, which you may recognize from a certain song lyric.* It's quite purty there - pine trees, mountains, fresh air, and best of all, cool temperatures. On the way out, we also drove through Sedona, which has red rocks reminiscent of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. I understand that it's where McCain has a summer home, and it does have that kind of super-wealthy on vacation sort of atmosphere.

The second day was mostly spent driving through West Texas. Not the most exciting scenery there is.

It wasn't until hour 18 of our trip that the Texan goes, hmm, I know they said that the cruise control doesn't work, but let's just check it out anyways. And behold! A Texas-sized miracle, as the cruise control supposedly had been dead and unfixable for the better part of a decade. Of course, it would've been nice to have learned that earlier in our trip, but at least now we know.

And we're absolutely delighted with the Neon. It's 13 years old and has 150K on it, but it's in really good condition and runs very well. There are a few things here and there that need to be fixed, but overall I think (knock wood) it's going to work out nicely. Nothing like a two-day, 21-hour road trip through the desert in August to find out if it's going to hold up under duress.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Asshole, or arthritic?

Shrapnel is going to be 17 next month, which puts him at holy christ, is he old levels for a cat (or as the vet calls it, "geriatric"). Now, as much as he is the best cat in the whole wide world and my little sweetheart, I have to admit that also at times he can be kind of difficult. Some might even say...an asshole. I don't mind, so much, as I think that little spark has kept him fat and sassy for all this time.

But it makes diagnosing him somewhat difficult. When we'd gotten back from Yellowstone in June, he was super-cranky, much like he always is when we're back from a trip. But then he kept it up and kept it up and finally we realized hmm, maybe it's something else. Turned out he'd either fallen or knocked something over on him and hurt his back. A few days' worth of steroids and he was back to full evil capacity again.

Now, though, we have to monitor his behavior to see if he's feeling bad again. Which, for a cat who has been pissy for the past decade, is somewhat challenging. So we play the game, is he being an asshole or arthritic? Or perhaps some combination thereof? We think we've figured out the right combination of meds, but who knows for sure.

One of the most annoying things about this - well, for me, I'm sure for the cat it's the back pain - is that we had to move his food and water dish to a more accessible spot. Before, we'd had his food on the bathroom counter. Classy, yes, but it was safe from the predations of the dog. Now, though, because he can't jump (or at least shouldn't. Try and tell him that he can't), we had to move it to the floor. So he can reach it, but alas so can the dog. Who has gained ten pounds (seriously) from all the cat food he's been snacking on. Trouble is, we can't catch him eating the cat's food, so we can't train him not to eat it.


And in the tradition of abandoning the pets, we're off again for another road trip. This isn't the fun kind, unfortunately. A few weeks ago, The Texan and I were at a party at a gated community. We got lost on the way to the party and on the way out, discovered another reason to hate gated communities: their damn gates spring out of nowhere. We're fine, but the car has gone on to greener pastures. So we have been looking at new (and new-to-us) cars, but since we're leaving Texas in a few years once The Texan is done with school, we didn't want to spend money on a car we'd just be selling anyways.

After looking at many, many piece of shit cars and getting depressed about having to buy an over-priced car that we wouldn't need in two years, my sister came to the rescue and offered to sell us her '95 Neon for a song. Hence, we're flying out to Vegas (using frequent flyer miles, otherwise this car would be a lot more expensive), spending the night with Dust Bunny and Road Runner, then driving the Neon back to San Antonio. Through the desert, during the heat of summer. Should be fun!