Sep. 30th, 2011 11:44 pm
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My grandmother got home from Tennessee yesterday, where she spends about four months a year with my aunt and uncle, so today after the boys got out of school, we headed to Casa de My Parents to see her.

It was a nice afternoon and evening, and we returned home to the Little Pink House to discover that it's that time of year again--housekeeper spider time!

Housekeepers are not poisonous, and they're a good sort of spider to have around, but they're huge and creepy. So we do not squish them (they're too big for me to even want to try ~shudder~); we capture them and let them outside.

Scott spent part of the evening chasing "Mr. Spider" around the living room and into the bedroom. Unlike our recent frog-hunts, this was somewhat lackadaisical, and when he went to bed it was Scott: 0, spider: 1 (and hiding in the bookcase).

So I'm reading on the couch. The book is good, but I'm tired and my fleecy blanket is making me even sleepier. Time to retire. But I'm thirsty, and there's a little detritus on the side table, so I figure I'll toss that as I go to get my drink ...

... zoiks! Mr. Spider is on the floor by the side table. (They're not poisonous, but seriously, you see one of those things on the floor and you startle.)

Okay. Take a breath, head to the kitchen, toss detritus, grab glass and laminated card of measurement conversions. Return to Mr. Spider, drop glass over him, slide card under, head to door ...

... zoiks! There's another housekeeper spider in front of the door!

Do not drop glass. Take a breath. Finangle the door open, toss Mr. Spider into the shadows of the front porch. Time to address Mrs. Spider ...

... zoiks! Are you kidding me?! Rather than a breath, take a moment to consider the various and sundry possibilities of this third spider's identity, and what sorts of marital/familial configurations spiders might have, before placing glass over Mrs. Spider, card beneath, finangling door, and tossing her out to join her husband.

Only pull the door to, rather than closed. The Other Mr. Spider (I went with adulterous lover; I like drAma in spIderland) has scrunched himself into the corner where the doorframe meets the wall. Harry him out of the corner and onto the floor, except he stays half on the bottom part of the doorframe. Harry him along that, at which point he heads out under the partly open door and makes his escape (after some prodding with the card).

Look around, carefully. No more spiders. Take glass and card back to kitchen.

And realize ... I am wide bloody awake.
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We've had a very rainy August down here. Our little town is supposedly the result of a real-estate scheme--some guys dredged out a bunch of canals, some leading to the Gulf, some not, with an eye to selling the land near them as "waterfront property." I'm not sure how true that is, but a) It worked for a while, and b) we have a lot of canals. One is about two blocks away from us.

In general, when we get serious rain, our street floods at both ends. This is not so much the canals flooding as it is the lack of drainage. Our part of the street tends to stay dry, but the ditches and the yard (which is built up in a slight hill from the ditch) tend to flood. Once the rain stops for a few hours, though, the water drains off the road, and by afternoon it's obvious we had some serious rain, but you don't have to worry about whether or not your car is going to be floating down the street.

Hence, Scott has not seen this phenomenon very often, since usually by the time he got home from work, the roads would be clear.

Okay. So, one day in early August, it starts pouring after we drop the boy off at day camp. We pick the boyo up from day camp and drive home in the deluge, which starts to slack off once we get inside. While I and the Z are having lunch, Scott is looking out the windows at the flooded back yard, then the flooded front yard. He gets the camera and takes photos of both to post on Facebook (because, really, why does anyone take pictures anymore beyond posting them on Facebook?).

Suddenly I hear, "What the hell is that?"

I get up, Z following, and go look out the window.

There's something moving in the water in the front yard ditch. It is obviously not a mammal. And very definitely not a turtle. But it's in the ditch, so ...

... we all traipse outside in the rain to see.


I kid you not, a catfish was in our ditch. It was swimming in a squirming sort of way, but we could see it was about a foot long.


Looking up and down the street, all of the ditches and the bottoms of everyone's driveways are covered in water. This fish could probably have swum from one end of the street to the other via ditches and driveways. The main intersection from our road to town also floods like whoa, so we think that it was swept into a drainage/sewer pipe form a canal, then out again into the street or a ditch.

We watched this fish swim across the driveway to the other side of our yard and then into the empty lot next door. It had to swim under Scott's car.

So our wildlife sightings since we've lived in our Little Pink House are: an owl when we bought the lot (we have more now, we hear them in the evenings), ospreys, bald eagles, various songbirds and woodpeckers, lizards, a black snake, ring-necked snakes, a possum, 2 crawfish, various frogs, and a CATFISH.


Mar. 17th, 2011 10:05 am
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The dog across the street is barking, as is its wont. This has sparked barking from other dogs in the vicinity.

Z, shouting out the window to them: "Dogs, can you keep the racket down?!" (more barking) "I don't know Dog, so I can't understand what you're saying!"
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Had our first parent/teacher conference.

The teacher thanked us for coming, and said this showed how interested we were in our child's success, and I was thinking there are people who aren't interested in how their kids are doing in school? I mean, yes, I am aware that a lot of people suck, don't misunderstand. And I'm sure people figure it's preschool and blow it off, but still. The teacher asks you to come in, you come in.

This was a yearly thing they do, so it wasn't a disciplinary issue. We got to see how the Zweeble is doing academically, and it looks like he's either ahead of the curve or right on it, not behind in anything. He's a good kid who occasionally can't keep his hands to himself, and that's a pretty apt description of the kid I see at home, so I'm okay with it. She said he's very imaginative, and showed us where he stands on the things they teach him--he actually knows a bit more than they're aware of, because he can do a lot more of the phonetics than apparently they have the kids doing, and he already knows some of the stuff they haven't introduced yet. But there are other things that I didn't know they were doing (months, days, that sort of thing) that I can reinforce at home now that I do.

This weekend he and I were doing letter sounds--we started off because he has a Flumbrella toy (flamingo crossed with umbrealla) and was trying to pronounce the word, but it kept coming out "Frumbrella." He still has issues with L and -th sounds. His teacher had taught him about putting his tongue on the tip of his teeth to say 'L,' so we were doing that: Luh, luh, L. Then he started doing some other sounds, and we got into this thing of:

"Mom, what does 'broom' start with?"

"Buh-buh-broom--B! What does 'mouse' start with?"


He was getting a lot of the letters right. It was fun.

So, anyway, back to the conference. Last week, Z. came out of school and told me that his teacher had found a snake and it was in the classroom, in a drawer, and she showed it to them. It, apparently, just wanted to say hi to him, and his friend F. wanted to touch it, but he ran and hid in the bathroom. The snake was gray, he said, and real. He insisted it was real and not stuffed or a puppet.

So when she asked us today if we had any questions, Scott said, "Yeah, what was the deal with the snake?"

Well, she has a snake at home that shed its skin. So she brought the skin in to show the class, along with a bird's nest and some other nature things. She said she had never seen a kid run so fast in her life as he did. And apparently he also told her, "Miss M., you need to put that away!"

She likes him a lot, and he digs her, and I will be very sad in May when he moves to the four-year-olds room for summer camp. I'm sure his new teachers will be great, too, but still. Miss M. and Miss K. have really been the best teachers he could have started off with.
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Before I begin, let me lay out the following facts, the order of how much they factor into my not wanting a dog:

1. My husband has severe allergies. His allergist has told us that if we get a furry pet, Scott will very likely develop asthma.

2. The Zweeble is uncomfortable and very nervous around any dog bigger than a poodle.

3. We cannot afford an animal right now. No, seriously, we can't.

4. I am way too much of a neat freak to own a dog. This may or may not be a moral failing on my part, but it would definitely be a moral failing to figure this out after we got one.

All that said, I like dogs. I might get over the neat freak thing for a German shepherd. Sadly, they don't make tiny, hairless and dander-free German shepherd dogs, so I think I am out of luck.

Yesterday, in the yard, Z. and I were approached by a medium-sized, brown, floppy-eared mutt that I think is female. The dog is super-friendly--no barking, no growling, no nothing--though prone to jumping up. I checked the dog for a collar and found a collar but no tags. Very wet and super-smelly, and untrimmed nails. Z. was getting a little freaked out, so I took him inside and we both had to bathe to get the incredibly wet dog smell off of us.

When Scott got home, he found the dog eating our garbage. He tried to shoo her away to no avail--apparently my five minutes of being nice in order to check for tags means we've been adopted.

I called animal control and left a message. The dog stayed in the yard, barking occasionally (I know there are possums and such that tend to migrate through our yard at night, so I assume that was what she was barking at). At midnight, when I went to bed, she was still in the yard in that classic lying down but keeping watch dog pose. At 12:30, when I had to soothe the boy after a nightmare, the dog was asleep in the yard.

When we got in the car this morning and opened the garage door, the dog came in and stood up to look in the car window at us. I got her shooed out of the garage, managed not to hit her on our way out. When I got home, she was lying curled up in the driveway, and now she's sleeping on the front walk.

Now, see, somewhere in there is the moment when someone else, without those 4 issues listed above, would have taken the dog in, washed it, headed to the vet, and the story would end with us naming her something like Sadie and having a dog.


I don't have an enclosed porch. I can't be here all day, so I can't put her in the garage to wait for Animal Control because they can't get in. My son is afraid of her, so I can't just take them both to the shelter--not to mention that as friendly as she seems, she is a strange dog that I do not know, and I am not taking chances with that and my three year old.

So ... I think I've done all I can. I may give her some water later, though.


ETA: Animal control just picked the dog up! I hope she gets a bath and a good meal today.
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I meant to post this last week, actually.

Last Friday, Z. and I had a playdate with Miss B and Miss A. It was a good one--for a while there I deapaired of our ever having a good playdate; they're both good kids, but they're both only children and they're both three--at the Imaginarium. We've been there before, but they'd rearranged things somewhat, so it was exciting in that regard.

I had a free pass, from back when Erin was down and we'd taken her to the Imgainarium (it was a cloudy day, so we didn't hit the park). We'd stood in line at the gift shop while the woman at the counter set up a bunch of memberships; it took her a while, she was short-staffed, and we were chatting and Z. was bouncy but not obnoxious, and I don't think we even noticed we were waiting that long, but the lady was so grateful that we weren't annoyed or rude about the wait that she gave me a free pass for two adults and two kids.

Anyway, we used that, and let the kids run around like nuts. They played together and played apart. Z. was actually, I think, bugging A. on purpose--like, when your spouse/partner person gets in your way as you're doing something, or steals your seat on the couch when you get up to do something. A. was in the mini-block pit, making towers, and Z flopped down across it (he's tall!) and just proceeded to play his hand-held ring toss game with this little grin on his face that reminded me of his father.

So A. and I buried him in blocks.

B. and I got to chat while the kids played in the sandbox (they dumped sand in each others' hair; it was cute but we had to get after them about it), which was nice because lately a lot of our playdates are at really loud places where you can't just talk.

We fed fish, ran around, did science experiments, looked at rays, saw a godawful depressing (and also just godawful) 3-D movie about extinction, and finally went to the animal show.

We've done the animal show before, Z. and I. He is an expert at the two-fingered petting technique they ask you to use to touch the snakes and alligators. Z. has touched snakes and alligators--they usually do a volunteer section to the show where a couple kids get to go up and handle the animals, and then at the end everyone can file by and touch one critter.

Today the audience for the show included a group of kids on a field trip. They were on a schedule, so the lady running the show stopped it a little early and went out with the alligator so the kids could touch him on their way out. But she asked the rest of us to stay so our kids could have a chance.

Well, once the field trip cleared out there were about seven kids left, so the lady just had any of them who wanted to come up to the front. So Z. got to wear a ball python on his shoulders and hold a tarantula.

The python, he said, felt like a cardboard box. The tarantula (named Mrs. Fuzzy Feet) did, in fact, have fuzzy feet.

I went up with him and just held his hands while he tried on the snake, and then put my hands under his so that if he flinched from the spider he wouldn't drop it. But he didn't flinch at all. He was awesome, and just carefully held and looked at it.

After ward we stopped by the station to see Scott. We took the elevator upstairs and exited into the upper lobby area, where these guys were sitting. Z. and I were babbling on about puffer fish (a new addition to the Imaginarium) and Mrs. Fuzzy Feet, and the guys smiled like you do when you see a babbling kid. Scott asked if they were being helped, they said yes, we went on in.

Found out later? Those guys were 2 Live Crew.

2 Live Crew smiled at my kid because he was cute.

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For the past couple of days I've been mulling taking Z. to the beach. And not our little tiny strip of local beach, but a real beach. It's an enormous undertaking, much more so than a trip to the park, but with the oil spill in the Gulf ... well, I don't know when we'll be able to go to the beach and have it be a nice day--maybe next weekend, or maybe not for a long time. I just don't know.

Plus, the last time we went to the beach I got massively, scarily sunburned.

So today I decided to haul us out to the touristy beach. I began the preparations by sunblocking every bit of me not covered by my bathing ensemble.* Then I got Z. in a swim diaper and sunblocked every bit of him not covered by it, and got him in his suit.

After a couple of detours, we got to the beach. There's a high bridge you cross to get there, and at the top Z. said, "Is that the beach, right there? I LOVE it! It's FANTASTIC!"

And, after I got cash and change for parking, I discovered that the damn beach finally got parking ticket machines that take debit cards.

Z. was entranced by the sheer tacky tourist hell that this particular area is, and claimed he wanted to go shopping until I reminded him that there was water in the other direction. Then we were all over that.

So we headed down, got two steps off the boardwalk, and my son laid on his stomach in the sugar sand, pretending to be a dog. When he tired of that, we found a spot to put our towel and stuff, got his swim vest on, and headed out to the water.

It was murky, but you could see schools of minnows. We waded out a ways and Z. tried floating on back and tummy, kicking, and sort of vaguely moving his arms in a swimming-esque motion.

Now, it's May. May is sting ray season. Season lasts until October. In my entire life, I have seen one ray in the wild**, and that was on Lover's Key and it was a pancake ray (round like a pancake). But I dutifully shuffle my feet to disturb any rays that might be on the bottom, in the sand, because I remember the summer of my senior year when a girl I hung out with stepped on a ray and, well, it sucked. Still, I've only ever seen one ray in the wild, and I have lived down here for thirty years.

Well, gang, today I saw sting rays. A lot of them. Z. and I shared the water with them. Now, there may have just been two and we saw them a lot, or there may have actually been eight or nine different ones, but every other thing there were sting rays swimming nearby.

On the one hand--stinging things! Near my baby! Who likes to jump up and down in the water! ACK!

On the other hand--my favorite form of sea life a bloody foot away from me! Looking sleek and awesome and fast! And flipping the tips of their wings out of the water! AWESOME!

So we were moving back toward shore, me explaining that we need to drag our feet to Z., and a ray swam in front of us. Then I saw movement to the side of us, and saw a ray swimming behind us. We were surrounded!

Figuring better I got stung than the boyo, I scooped Z. up and made my way cautiously around the rays to shore. We stayed in the shallows after that, but we saw more (or more of the same) rays periodically. One man was trying to get a photo of one, and told us that when he got really close, the ray buried itself in the sand. Z. found this hilarious.

We played in the waves for a bit, then gathered our things, rinsed our feet, and headed for the playground, where Z. ran around while I re-applied sunblock in a fairly OCD manner. Then I grabbed him and re-applied it to him. It takes a while, but I do learn.

Now we wanted ice cream! Actually, we wanted juice from the soda machine, but all I had was a ten, so we were distracted from Mommy-fail by the siren song of ice cream.

Since it was Big Adventure Friday, Z. got a small strawberry sundae and a blue drink (aka the Arctic Blast blue raspberry frozen toddler-crack), and I got a strawberry lemonade. And after about a quarter of it, I couldn't stand it anymore (dear god, the syrupy sweetness of its unblinking eye!) ... and Z. commandeered the rest of it. He was like a little hummingbird, sampling the nectar of three sugary treats.

Surprisingly, he was not that wired when we left. But we had to take the blue drink with us.

So we walked the pier and checked out the little gift shop there. (I think everyone I know needs a coconut purse for Christmas, by the way, so don't be surprised in December!) Then we went farther down the pier to where the old men who fish hang out, and charmed an older couple:

Z: I LOVE to fish!

L: Well, we'll have to get Grandpa to take you.

Lady: Our granddaughter loves to fish, too, and she's three.

Z: I'm three, too!

Gentleman: Want to see the fish I caught? Look in the bucket.

So we looked in the bucket at his fish, then got to see him catch another one, which went into the bucket, too, where the two fish began chasing each other around and around.

We now had an hour left on our parking permit, so we hit the water one last time (after the long walk down the pier, where Z. complained about his legs being tired and I explained that I couldn't carry him and the blue drink, and the blue drink proved it's made of toddler-crack because the kid wouldn't let me throw it away and stopped complaining).

Z. was content to sit in my lap and kick waves ("My feet can defeat them, Mommy!" he said, without realizing the pun) for the most part, though he finally did want to move farther into the water. And when we did, what did we see? Well, we saw three college-age girls in bikinis (one of whom was pretty hot, and made me sorry my husband wasn't there to check her out) who suddenly started gliding their way quickly out of the water.

"Okay, Cathy, that was freaking creepy," said (not the hot) girl, in the age old tone of voice that means, "you're the Floridian and you brought my yankee ass down here without telling me about the stinging wildlife, what the hell?"

"Just keep shuffling your feet," said Cathy, looking--like all of us Floridians do in these situations--both sheepish and secretly pleased.

Yes, that's right, we enjoy it when you freak out over the ginormous palmetto bugs and the alligators sunning themselves outside our places of business. Bwa-hahahahahaha!

A little while later, I saw two more rays zipping along under the water. One of them veered off and started heading directly toward us, so I started backing off--and I swear to god, this ray herded us back up into the ankle-deep shallows.

By now it was time to leave, and that prompted a meltdown. Plus I threw away the toddler crack, so you can imagine how that went. But the boy fell asleep in the car, I managed to scrape up enough change for bridge toll, and neither of us is more than slightly pink. All in all, a successful trip to the beach.

(I just hope and pray we can have another one. And another after that, and so on.)

*a sports bra, tank top, and my bathing suit bottom. The tank top covers most of the area where the worst of the sunburn was, and comes up high enough in the back that I can get sunblock on the rest of me. Until Z. is old enough to actually put sunblock on his old mother, this will be my bathing attire when he and I go to the beach alone. Well, until I can get some cool board shorts.

**wait, hang on. We did a walk-a-thon over a bridge ages ago, and I saw one in the water from the top of the bridge, but I don't think that really counts in the same way.
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1. Saw a possum wandering through our back yard today. It may or may not be the same possum I saw crossing the road three weeks ago. But the cats and dogs (save the black lab) better watch out, because that thing is huge, man.

2. I beat Scott 3 out of 3 games of Magic yesterday. The first two were kind of routs, but then he pulled out the assassins deck, and it was basically neck and neck--he had, like, 1 point left and I had 3, and I managed to eke out the mana for a big flying creature without summoning sickness and take him down.

3. Today's naptime book was Guess How Much I Love You, which ends with "I love you to the moon and back."

ZQOTD: "Mommy, I love you to Skeleton World and back!" (No, I have no idea where or what Skeleton World might be, either.)
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The Zweeble and I went down to the mailbox. There was what looked like gravel strewn partway across the bottom of the driveway. Upon closer glance, I discovered it wasn't gravel--it was snails! Lots and lots of little snails! All in the shell, none out or moving, but some stuck together in clumps.

The Zweeble looks, too, and is excited: "Hi little snails! Hi!" I check the mail and make my way back through the crowd of snails. The Zweeble pauses, looks around, sees he's surrounded. Then he carefully makes his way through them, saying (I kid you not), "Excuse me please!"
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more cat pictures

This post brought to you by People For Making Scott Say, "Dear God, Why Are You Trying To Kill Me?"

And I so want a hairless cat. Seriously.
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The Zweeble knows something's in the air ... and by god, he was going to keep an eye on me at all costs!

Good lord that was one cranky, fussy, angry, exhausted one-year-old.

He slumbers for now.

I did manage to get all the packing done that I can do, at least until Scott gets home. I still need to fill the bird feeders, though at this point I don't know if it's feeding the birds or feeding the cats.

There are stray/feral cats in the neighborhood. I've been seeing them around for a while. There are, I think, three adults. There's Orange Cat, Dark Multicolored Cat, and Looks Like a Psychotic Pirate Cat. Or Medium, Small, and Large, respectively. It looks to me like Small had kittens--there are two kittens roaming about, and Small seems to have the post-kitten belly going on.

The kittens have been "adopted" (I hope) by the lady who lives behind us, the one without kids. We saw her feeding them both. The other three were mostly hanging out at the abandoned house down the street, and in the overgrown lot directly behind our house. Occasionally they've come onto our porch, probably because I have bird feeders on our porch.

Yesterday Small, Medium, and Large were hanging out on my porch all morning long. The Zweeble loves this. I'm not quite so keen. For one thing, I like my birds. For another, [ profile] dealio and I are seriously allergic to cats. I would probably adopt Small and/or Medium were it not for the allergy thing, budget be damned, but we've been told that any furry pets would probably lead to Scott developing asthma, and that ain't happening for anything other than a dog. :)

Then there's the matter of Large making my spider-sense tingle. I dunno, he gives off bad vibes.

Anyway, my point is ... if I don't have a home base for these cats to give to animal control, can I even call them? I mean, yes, I want them to go away and leave my birds alone, but I also know they're in danger of all kinds of things out here in the boonies (monitor lizards, cars, dogs, possibly even alligators) and Large was looking pretty rough when I saw him. I'm not sure how domesticated he's likely to ever become, but the other two are very cute and very likely to be adopted out of a shelter, I'd think.

Not that I can do a whole lot right this minute, anyway, as I'm about to leave on vacation, but I *am* about to feed the birds, so I may have three cats who've set up camp on my porch when we return.

In bird news, I've had a flock of blue jays on and off the feeders today. There were six and a couple of doves a little earlier.
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So I had to take my car in for an oil change (and a brake light replacement, and new tires, and an alignment--god help me and my credit card), which meant the Zweeble and I ended up with the Escape Pod (aka [ profile] dealio's Yaris) to head home in. And on the way home, we passed a big pickup truck towing an enormous animal trailer, containing ... a camel! It stuck its head out the side to look around!

My first thought was, "Oh, a giraffe!" Which couldn't have been true, because the normal-ceilinged trailer would have been animal cruelty, but a camel is still pretty cool.

When I was a kid, we went to Venice to see my dentist and we'd pass where the circus would winter its animals. So you'd drive along and suddenly see giraffes and zebras and the occasional elephant out in the field by the road. That's the reason we have a law about where you may or may not tie up your elephant in town. :)

Literally five minutes from home, the Zweeble fell asleep. I got him in the house, gave him some milk, got him halfway sleepy again ... and the phone rang. The dealership called to say the car's ready. Great. Get the Zweeble settled again, FedEx shows up with my new shoes. Great, again. Get the Zweeble settled for a third time, but this time he sees the mail lady drive by in her red SUV and perks up for that. For god's sake, he needs a nap! He's fussy and cranky and yawning in the middle of screaming his head off, rubbing his eyes ... just let the kid sleep!

So, finally, he's napping.

gah! gah!

May. 15th, 2008 10:52 am
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Damn cat just tried to catch a bird on my porch!!!!

I like cats just fine--I am horribly allergic, but we used to have cats before the allergies kicked in--but I do not like cats that are obviously too cared-for to be strays, wandering my neighborhood all the freaking time** and trying to eat my birds! My son likes the birds, and due to his parents' combined allergies, they're as close to pets as he's going to get for a while!

Plus, along with my crankiness at unleashed dogs running around the neighborhood, I am cranky at the cats because there are a lot of people with large trucks living out here, and they like to drive very fast down these roads, and I like cats and dogs and don't want them killed. For a variety of reasons, some noble, some not.

**Every pet gets loose at some point, but you don't have to let them make a habit of it, people!
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The Zweeble being suspiciously quiet, I crept into his room to check on him, and he's gazing out of his crib with glassy eyes while chewing the foot of his stuffed monkey.

We've been adventurous lately, wandering the new mall and trying out the grocery store's infant-seat shopping carts. He's been in a pretty good mood the past few days--he likes getting out and seeing the world, I think. I can't wait until it cools off and he and I can go to the park.

And people literally come up to me and tell me how cute he is. They also tell him that. Today's lady did it while he was spitting up all over himself, which really is not his best look, but whatever.

Yesterday, as we wandered the new open-air mall, I ducked us into Petco so we could cool off. Had I known how big a hit this would be, I'd have done it *ages* ago. The Zweeble is a big fan of the birds and the fish, could care less about bunnies and guinea pigs, and is a ferret magnet. Seriously, I parked him in front of the round ferret tank, so he could see the one active ferret in there. Said ferret sat up and looked at the Zweeble, and then followed as I pushed the stroller around the tank. I'm half-expecting a knock on the door one night, revealed to be this ferret wearing a fedora and carrying a suitcase.

We shall have to call him Fungo ...
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[ profile] sugarcoatedlie posted yesterday about the football player who was arrested for dog fighting--well done, police!--but it led her to all kinds of sad stories about dogs and she got kind of bummed. She's a dog lover, is Miss T. And while I do not want to in any way de-emphasize that dog fighting is evil (actually, doing that sort of thing with any animal is just wrong and horrible), I thought a happy dog story was in order. It's also a slightly evil dog story, but in a good way.

My Dad had a friend in our neighborhood: R. R. was elderly and had had dogs before, but he lost his pet to old age and was doing that sad kind of fading thing that can sometimes happen when people get older, live alone, and lose their pets. (This is not starting out happy--hang on.) Now, another neighbor up the road had this small dog and no longer wanted it. Dad felt that this would be the perfect dog for R. R. disagreed. He didn't want another dog; his last dog was it because there was no dog that could ever replace him. This stream of protest continued until Dad arranged for R. to meet the new dog.


So there's R. with his scrappy little mutt, and Dad with his behemoth malamute/Belgian shepherd mix. And eventually Dad's dog passes away from old age. "No more dogs!" says Dad.

Now, there's a bar up the road from where my parents live, and R. has a daily drink up there. And the bartender has a German shepherd that she can't keep anymore, as she's moving to a new place. She'd like to give him to someone she knows will take really good care of him. Next thing you know, R. is telling Dad about the dog. "No more dogs!" says Dad. "My dog was the best dog, and there can be no other dog as good as he was."

"Just meet the dog," says R. "Maybe you can think of someone who could take him."

So Dad agrees, and they go to meet the dog.


And that, my friends, is how Mac the Dog joined the family. He had ten really great years with my parents, and both my grandmothers adored him, and while he's gone now too, he left me with a lot of happy doggie stories. Like how he learned to flip Dad's book shut with his nose when he wanted to go out. When we stayed with my parents after grad school, Scott would take the dog out, as well, so if Dad wasn't around he'd come get Scott. And if Scott was playing his Game Boy, Mac would try and flip the Game Boy shut with his nose.

He also loved to chew on tennis balls. And every so often, if you took him into the back yard, he felt the need to RUN. So he'd run around and around the shed in the back yard--and he was a really big shepherd, so he'd run with this galloping noise. On this particular day, Scott and I were pulling up amaryllis bulbs for my mother while the dog swooped past us on his orbit around the shed. Scott, a bulb hanging from his hand by the leaves, turned to say something to me; the blur that was Mac snatched the bulb from his hand and skidded to stop. He gave the bulb an experimental chew--once, twice--then spit it out and gave us this look like, "What the hell kind of tennis ball is *that*?!"


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Laura E. Price

September 2017

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