Archive for July, 2011

There’s something about having a Sheriff come to your door that’s just so much more impressive than having a cop come to your door. It feels like small-town personal attention when the Sheriff arrives.

When I got home today there was a strange dog in the driveway (ugh, now trouble with someone else’s dog!). He didn’t leave when I drove in and he didn’t leave when I forcefully asked him to leave. In fact, he barked at me.

A few minutes later I went back out to my car for some groceries and he was threatening me. Barking and approaching rather than backing off. I felt like I’d better seek some shelter before I really pissed him off. The Mad Scientist said the dog had been doing this on and off for a while and he could neither get close enough to read his tags nor convince the dog to leave the yard and stay gone.

So we called 9-1-1 and told them we had our own little Cujo situation going on and they called animal control, and no more than 5 minutes later the Sheriff arrived. I know he was the Sheriff because it said so on his car and on the badges sewn to his shirt. I called to him from my office window and said I’d meet him in the driveway in a second. I’d taken a few looks out the window since we’d called and the last I’d seen, the dog had headed down the street towards the neighbor’s yard. So I went downstairs and out the door into the driveway and confidently said to the Sheriff, — who was slowly walking towards me with his hand on his gun  — “he went that way” while pointing down the street.

And the Sheriff said, “he’s right behind you“.

Well, that explained why he was ready to draw his gun — because, you know, the dog could have been rabid or something and then he’d have to shoot the dog to save me. As I mentioned, it was a bit of a Cujo situation.

I turned, a little startled by just how close the dog was, and the dog started angrily barking again, but at least moved away while doing so. The Sheriff asked if we knew where the dog lived (no) and if we’d seen him before (only very recently). I told him that the dog seemed to be interested in the chickens and the Sheriff asked if we’d lost any (no). And then the Sheriff said that he was going to try to get the dog to lead him to his home. And then the dog left and the Sheriff followed.

The end.

[The Sheriff rocks.]

I know you were hoping for some real excitement there…like attacking and biting and shooting and blood and gore and neighbors racing to find out what was going on and volunteer EMT guys racing in with their sirens blaring. Sorry to disappoint. But then, that’s exactly why the Sheriff rocks — because there was none of that.

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House Rules

http://www.etsy.com/people/InitialYou is making this lovely decal for me

The trouble with dogs is that there is always trouble with dogs. One of them is puking on the carpet while another is chasing the chickens while another is barking at the neighbor who’s simply cutting his grass. You get them all re-focused and quiet and then 10 minutes later someone has started a brawl over a bone or a ball or a stick or a small pat on the head that got delivered to someone else’s head. They run through the (expensive) plants and break and trample them, chew on shoes and bedding and dish towels, chase the cat, and patrol the kitchen counters for food accidentally left too close to the edge. It is a never-ending battle around here to just keep from killing them all or bringing at least one of them to the shelter — final consequences be damned. It’s a bigger problem than it probably needs to be because the Mad Scientist and I don’t always agree on which behaviors deserve correcting. I’m very sensitive to any kind of noise, whereas he’s half-deaf. Barking for 2 or 5 or 10 minutes at a time drives me absolutely bonkers, but the Mad Scientist hardly notices and doesn’t care when he does notice. (Of course, he also has his TV and/or radio set to “stun” most of the time (and some blasted noise-making device is playing 24/7 in his space, even if he’s not there to listen…), so what’s a little background barking?)

Barking is my number one annoyance, followed very closely by jumping. Some days I have multiple bruises and scratches from the daily stampede when I arrive home. I try to thwart the attacks by entering through the basement if the dogs are at the gate and visa versa, but no matter what, when I finally get through the door it’s little ol’ me against 16 frantic paws and I’m no match for all that energy and enthusiasm. Then there’s the growling/nipping/wrestling period right after I get home when everyone wants the pleasure of my attention and affections, but they want to make sure that they are the sole recipients of such.

Individually, I love every one of these dogs, but as a pack they are all stomping incessantly on my very last nerve. Jake is the biggest offender, as he’s the youngest and still hasn’t outgrown all the puppy annoyances. He’s also adding new bad behaviors lately that need to be nipped in the bud. But it’s not just Jake. Comet barks. Duke growls and wrestles. They all jump on me and on guests. Comet harasses the chickens and maliciously chases the cat (when he gets the chance). Really, Molé is the only one who’s pretty consistently well-behaved and quiet. But she’s muscular and puts all her weight behind jumping and is the one who bruises and scratches the most. It’s all too much. And so I am taking action. We’re separating dogs, removing triggers for jealousies and fights, and having long talks about the need for some manners around here. Training of both dogs and humans commences on August 6th. If we can’t salvage the situation after some intensive training, then at least one of the dogs is going to find a new home. It’s a zero tolerance policy because I have zero tolerance left in me after battling this for 11 months. It shouldn’t be this unpleasant to live with critters that, when quiet and calm, I otherwise adore.

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Not long after we moved here, the Mad Scientist took up bird-house building. At first they were quite primitive, though they gradually improved. He hung all 300 or so on trees around the property before tiring of the hobby. Then he started building and buying bird feeders. The birds flocked in. Birds of all shapes and sizes and colors. Some quite beautiful, some quite plain. Following right behind the birds were the squirrels. Squirrels really like bird food too, as it turns out. But the Mad Scientist doesn’t want the squirrels eating the bird food, so he tries to get them to leave it alone. The dog chases them, the Mad Scientist shoos them…they return in a few minutes.

Now, the Mad Scientist claims to be a Buddhist. I say claims, because he engages in some very non-buddhist-like activity from time to time. Recently he has started to shoot the squirrels with pellet guns. I’m not sure if he actually hits them, but he sure spends a lot of time trying. This seems particularly unkind to me. It’s like enticing small children into the gingerbread house with candy and then throwing them into the oven.

I told him this and one day he said he’d decided I was right. The food was there for all creatures to enjoy and if the squirrels got to it first, then so be it. That lasted about 30 seconds and then he went back to shooting the squirrels. I heard him shooting his plastic pellet gun earlier today, which sounds like some sort of toy machine gun and shoots super light-weight plastic balls. Sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh…

He seems to have decided to switch to heftier ammunition though, because now I hear a steady stream of thwack! thwack! thwack! thwack!

Yesterday he told me that there was a squirrel hanging around the underside of his car and he couldn’t figure out what it was doing there. I told him I knew exactly what it was doing there.

It’s chewing through your brake lines”.

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<rant> It’s hard to believe it’s mid-July already, and yet it took so long for mid-July to get here that I thought I’d slit my wrists while waiting. We had the longest, coldest spring on record and it hasn’t gotten dramatically better yet. It did finally get warm enough to shed sweaters and jackets between the hours of 11 am and 5 pm. The temperatures are still lower than normal, but I’m not really complaining about the temperature, mostly just the lack of sunshine. It’s quite pleasant to start the day in the 50s, have it rise to about 70, and go to bed while it still hovers in the 60 degree range. Last year we had a week in the 90s and the year before a week of 104-degree mega-dramas. We can do without a repeat of those weeks.

We’ve had a few days of sunshine and perfect 75-80 degree weather. Fourth of July weekend, most notably. Last weekend was nice too, with Saturday sunny and in the 70s. Sunday was a bit more cloudy and cool. I’d like a few more sunny days. In fact, I’d like about 120 more sunny days before the rains of October descend. It was cloudy and dark this morning though, and was yesterday too.  Supposed to be tomorrow too. The Mad Scientist had his propane stove turned on (in the middle of July!), and all the windows and doors in the house were closed tightly against the morning chill. Making coffee and reading my email in the morning gloom made me feel as though it was already November.

On the way home today the sun was shining brightly while at the same time it was raining – hard.

I know I’m whining about weather that at least 1/2 the world wishes they had right now. I know it’s not tornadoes and tsunamis and hurricanes and oppressive heat and humidity. I know that in a lot of ways we are lucky to have this cool, wet weather — even in July. But here’s the thing. I had no summer last year. We decided to move on June 8th and we spent the next 2.5 months looking at houses, packing everything we owned, arranging to have 2 houses cleaned and repaired and painted and the gardening freshened. And we moved. There wasn’t a spare moment in all of summer in which I had the luxury of sitting in the garden and reading a book, while watching a bird or a butterfly take wing nearby. I had zero days in which I was able to lie in bed with the windows and doors open and listen to nature while cat-napping in the sunshine. I had multiple trips planned, but I canceled all except a trip to Lopez Island for the Fourth of July. It was rainy and cold for most of that weekend.

So I feel like I haven’t seen the sun in not just 10 months, but 22. If you don’t live here you may not realize that the weather tales are true. It rains 9 months a year. But normally those 9 months have strings of days — and sometimes even a week or more — of sunshine in January, April, and May. We’re on the tenth month of rain and those sequential days of warmth and sunshine did not happen this year. Oh, we had an afternoon here and there of sunshine and chill breezes, but it never lasted long enough to say “hey, it’s super nice out, let’s go out and enjoy it!” If you took the time to shed your sweater and find your sunglasses, you’d find that the rain had started again when you finally managed to get out the door.

So yeah. It could be worse. And it may yet get worse. But after months of silence on this blog — silence induced by the depression that was induced by the endless rain and cold — I’m just going to go ahead and rant about it and get it out of my system. It’s still $%&#@*(&! raining here.

I hope and hope and hope some more that this changes. I have a week off in August and I want to spend my days off in sunshine and warmth. I want to be able to open the windows and doors as soon as I get up in the morning and enjoy not just the warmth of the day, but the balmy cross-breezes as evening approaches. I want at least a week during which closing the doors and windows at night is absolutely unthinkable.

My tomatoes are stunted and turning yellow. The weeds are flourishing, while the flowers and fruits are far, far, behind schedule. And though things are in bloom and the yard is full of birds and bees and butterflies and bunnies, it’s hard to enjoy them from inside the house, wrapped in sweaters and socks, staring longingly out the windows and doors. I want to have my morning coffee on deck, in the sunshine. I want to spend at least 20 minutes enjoying the summer weather before I get dressed and go to work, but I can’t do that when everything is wet and there’s no place to sit or stand where I won’t get wet or chilled or both.

Someone send us summer.


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