Conversations With My Dog


“C’mon, Max.  Time to come out of your kennel.”

Tick Tick TICK!  TICKTICKTICK!  TICKETYTICKTICKTICK!  TICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICK...

“Max, no running in the house.  Settle down, you’re going to wake up the babies.  Here, go outside and go potty.”

TICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICK –

“MAX!  Get back here.  Max, COME.  Good boy.  Now go outside.”

Tick. 😦 Tick. 😦  Tick.  😦 Tick.  😦

Silence.

“Max, you actually need to pee before you can come back inside.”

Silence.

“I am completely unmoved by the big, sad, “I’m-so-abused” look you’re giving me.  GO.  Go potty, Max.  Good boy.  There, see, was that so hard?  You can come inside now.”

TICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICK!  TICKETY! TICKETY! TICKETY! TICKTICKTICKTICKTICKETY!

“Max!  No running in the house – relax, dog.  You’re going to wake up the DragonMonkey.”

TICKETYTICKETY!  TICKETYTICKETY!  TICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICK—

“LAY DOWN, MAX.  Good boy.  Geez, didn’t we just trim your nails?”

Tick.  Tickticktick.  Tickticktick.  WHUMP.  Sigh.

“Good boy.”

Tick?  😀  Tick? 😀  Tick? 😀 Ticktick :D?

“I said ‘Good boy’, not come here.  Go lay down.”

Tick 😦  Tick 😦  TickTick 😦 😦

“Okay, fine.  C’mere.”

TICK 😀 😀 !!!! Tickticktick!!!! 😀 😀 😀 🙂 🙂 🙂 TICKTICKTICKTICKTICK!

“Yes, you’re a good boy.  Good dog.  Here, let me get the eye crumblies out of the corner of your eye.  Ewww.  There.  All better?  Good boy, yes you are.  You’re a good boy.  Now lay down, right here.”

WHUMP.  Sigh.

…..

………

…………….

Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.  Tick, tick, tick –

“Maaaaaax!”

Tickticktick?

“You better not be going down that hallway to drink out of the toilet.”

Ticktickticktick 😦  WHUMP.  Sigh.

“That’s right.  You stay out out of there.  Good boy.”

……

……….

…………….

tickticktickticktickticktickticktickticktick

“Hi, Max!  Mama, Max open doowr!  Hi, Max.  Up?  Up on da bed?  Sweep wif Max?”

“Max, get out of there!  Quit sneaking down the hall and waking him up!  No, DragonMonkey, you can’t sleep with Max.  Max, GO.  And you – go back to sleep, DM.”

“Pwease?  PWEASE?  PWEASE SWEEP WIF MAX?  PWEASE?”

“No.  He’ll go pee in your room in the middle of the night.  Max sleeps in his bed.  Now go back to sleep.  Max, GO.  Go lay down”

Tick 😦  Tick 😦  Tick 😦 Tick 😦 

WHUMP.  Sigh.

………

……………..

………………………

tickticktickticktickticktickticktickticktick

“Max, come here.  I see you sneaking down the hallway.  Come lay by me so I can keep you out of mischief.  The DragonMonkey’s fine. Quit trying to check on him – you’re just waking him up.”

Tick 😦  Tick 😦  Tick 😦 Tick 😦  

Tickticktick.  Tickticktick.  Tickticktick.

Tickticktick.  Tickticktick.  Tickticktick.

Tickticktick.  Tickticktick.  Tickticktick.

Tickticktick.  Tickticktick. Tickticktick.

“Max, you’re stuck on circle mode.  Just lay down and relax, dog.  Your nails are driving me crazy.”

Tickticktick.  Tickticktick.  Tickticktick.  WHUMP.  Sigh.

“Good boy, Max.”

Tick? 😀  Tick? 😀  Ticktick? 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

“No, I didn’t call you.  Just lay down, Max.  You’re a good boy, but just lay down.”

Tickticktick.  Tickticktick.  Tickticktick.

Tickticktick.  Tickticktick. Tickticktick.

Ticktick—

I swear the next place I live is going to have floor to ceiling carpet. 

Either Really Complain or Quit Complaining

Look, it boils down to this:

You can’t just complain about SOPA and PIPA. 

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just google the terms.  The internet is on fire over these issues, and you’ll learn more than you ever wanted with a few clicks of your mouse.  The over-simplified explanation is that they are legislation to censor the internet that are being hidden beneath the guise of “protecting copyright infringement”.

You’ll have to go somewhere other than Wikipedia to learn about them though.  Today, Wikipedia is down.

So is Craigslist.

And WordPress.

And Mozilla.

In fact, there are quite a few hugely popular sites that have gone dark today in order to raise awareness. It’s kind of neat to see the unity.

Here’s the thing, though.  You can’t just complain about it.  If you just sit there and get outraged, discuss it with your friends and family, “rally” behind all the sites going dark, and dedicate your Facebook for a day by making a meaningful post about it…

You’ve done diddly squat.  You’re about as effective at preventing the legislation as if you were in complete support of it.

Talking and complaining about stuff accomplishes nothing.

You actually have to DO something about it.

So go here.

Write Congress.

Tell them how you really feel about it.

You know, if you don’t want to, you don’t actually have to write Congress.  I understand.  Life is busy.  There are kids to run after, and the car needs an oil change, and the never-ending stacks of laundry don’t wash themselves.

But here’s the thing:  if you do nothing, and this thing passes, then I don’t want to hear you complaining about it.

Email from My Mom

Here is a little background information you need to know:

We are deep in the throes of potty training the DragonMonkey, a process that has good days, bad days, and oh-wow-is-this-kid-really-my-responsibility days.

Apparently he is shy when it comes to using the toilet, because as soon as you put him on the toilet he immediately begins waving you away with his hand.   It’s almost a ritual at this point.

“Go away, Mama.  GO AWAY!” he orders rudely.

“You do NOT talk to adults in that tone of voice, young man.  You apologize this instant.”

“Sowwy, Mama.”

Pause.

“Pwease go away, Mama?  Pwease?  Shut da doowr?  Pwease go away?”

I am mollified by his polite tone, and leave him behind, shutting the door behind me and standing outside for what seems like hours, awaiting  his demanding bellow of, “Awww done, Mama!  Awwwl done!”. At that point I am graciously allowed to enter the bathroom again where I have the unbelievable priviledge of wiping his heiny for him.

It’s the little joys in life that make it all worth it.

The other bit of information you need to know is that the DragonMonkey is the proud owner of a cute little purple octopus bath toy.  It’s a cheap plastic toy that floats in the water. It’s made up of three parts:  the top part (the body) the bottom part (the legs) and and a string you pull on which causes the the legs to spin around like a boat propeller, causing the toy to move sluggishly through the water. 

Okay, now onto the email from my mom:

*****

Dear Becky,


When the DragonMonkey goes to use the toilet, we shall no longer let him have his privacy anymore,


After pooing a truckload in the toilet, he then took his little purple octopus, pulled the string, put it on top of the poop, and then had a blending party in the toilet.  After he was done with the blending he tossed it in the tub and proceeded to further his fun and games.


Your stepfather was not very happy.


At the time, I was in my studio blending for real with a real blender, making baby food for the Squidgelet.  I came in and saw a face on your stepdad that I do not ever want to see again, and the little DragonMonkey taking a much-needed bath.


Have a good day,


The Nanny

*******

Come on.  Admit it.  Aren’t you glad he’s not yours?

Rooster Pinata: The Best Sport in the World

For those of you who don’t know, I love chickens.  Seriously – they’re awesome.  I love them.  Read this post if you don’t believe me.

Okay, now that I’ve cleared my good name I can tell you about Evil.

Back when I was living in the Kern County area I used to board my horse at a little stables off the main highway.  The stalls were fantastic, the rent was incredibly cheap, and even though it was in a small town the stables themselves seemed to have less drama than most barns I’ve been at.  All in all it was a really great place.

The only downside to the barn was the location – as it was situated off of a main highway, most people could see it from the road.  I don’t know what your experience has been, but when normal, non-horsey people see a stables they don’t think, “Hey, look!  A stables!  I bet they keep horses there.  Neat.”

They seem to think, “Hey, look!  Horse Stables!  That’s where my latest unwanted puppy/cat/dog/kitten/chicken needs to be abandoned!”

I’m sure they mean well, even if what they’re doing is incredibly selfish, lazy, and rather cruel.  They probably have this nice idea of their animal living a comfortable, happy lifestyle, surrounded by laughing people and sweet-smelling hay bales.  “The kittens are playful!  They can eat mice, and run around, and live a good life!  All barns need a cat, right?”

Look,I don’t know about the rest of you, but we had a term for abandoned kittens at a horse barn.  We called them “Coyote Candy”. 

Maybe it was the area we lived in, but the animals which were constantly abandoned at our barn never really lived all that long.  It was a race against time, trying to find them homes before they were eaten.  Someone would drop off a litter of kittens.  By Tuesday, there would only be three little fluffballs.  On Friday there would only be one.  By Monday the barns would once again be cat-free, and someone would drop off an abandoned puppy.

Cats, kittens, puppies, chickens…. None of them seemed to last.  The coyotes in the area seemed to consider our barn their own personal buffet, and none of the abandoned animals seemed to live very long. 

That is, except for Evil.  Evil was a ratty, ragged, ill-tempered rooster.  He was a mottled red, had two or three drooping, pathetic tail feathers, and evil, beady little eyes.

I have no idea who dropped Evil off, but for all I know they knew all about our coyote issue and thought they were assigning Evil to a very deserved death.  To be honest, I wouldn’t blame them.

From the day he arrived Evil took over the stables.  He went wherever he wanted to go…. and heaven help you if you tried to make him leave before he was ready.

He was fine as long as you approached him directly.  If you walked towards him he’d stand up and saunter off, bobbing slowly away.  He always managed to make it look like it was his idea, too.

What’s that?  Oh, I just felt like getting up and walking over here.  See how I’m not meeting your eye?  You’re not making me do this at all. I *want* to go over here.

Yeah, getting him to move away from your stall/barn/hay stack wasn’t a problem.

The problem was when you turned your back.

I still remember the first time I saw him.  “Oh, hey!  A rooster!  Someone dropped off some chickens.  Cool!”  I squatted down, waggling my fingers at him.  “Heeeeeere, chook,chook, chook.  Heeeeere, chook, chook, chook.”

Evil stared at me silently, ignoring my outstretched hand.

“Tcht, tcht…heeeeeere, chook, chook.”

“Bakwaaaaaaaaak….” Evil growled ominously, and sauntered off.

I stood up, dusting my pants in disappointment, then turned around to head back to Jubilee’s stall.

“BCKWAAAAAAK!”  With a triumphant scream of rage, Evil launched himself at my back in a furious scrabble of flapping wings, scratching legs, and pointy, stabby little pecks of his beak.

Naturally, I did what any sane person would do when ambushed by an evil, attacking rooster bent on world domination: 

I  dropped my car keys, screamed like a little girl, and bolted about 10 feet in the opposite direction before turning around to see what was after me.

Evil stood in a cloud of dust, glaring at me, then smugly scratched the ground twice before sauntering off.  He’d showed me. 

I stared at him, mouth agape.  Had I…. had I just been beaten up by a chicken?

Why, yes.  Yes I had.  And it wasn’t the last time, either.

If Evil had just come at me fairly, I would have shown him who was boss, and that would have been that.  The problem was that Evil was smart.  He knew his only hope lay in ambush, so he never attacked you face-to-face. 

He was oddly stealthy for a chicken, and would creep up on you silently while you were distracted.  One second I’d be calmly cleaning Jubilee’s stall, lulled into a peaceful state through the steady scooping and sifting of the clean shavings through the tines of the manure fork…

And the next second I’d have a giant rooster stabbing me with his claws, screaming his rage into my ear as he scrabbled and clawed at my back.

I’d scream and bolt every time, and every time I’d turn around and see that stupid chicken standing there, smugly eyeballing me before he sauntered out of the pen.

No matter how vigilant I remained, he always managed to wait until my guard was down before attacking.  He bothered other people at the stables, but for some reason he took a particular aversion to me.  I swear that rooster was hunting me. 

I hated that rooster.  I felt a little guilty, but to be honest, I couldn’t wait for the coyotes to get him.
 
For once, the coyotes failed to do their job.  That stupid rooster refused to be eaten.  I think even the coyotes realized he was a little too evil for them to mess with.

Within a few weeks I was twitchy and spooky, jumping at the slightest noise and doing my best to look over my shoulder every thirty seconds.  It’s not like I didn’t try to fight back.  I remember the time he spooked me so hard I jumped into the barn wall, scraping my nose.  I completely lost it.   That was IT.  Love of chickens or not, I’d had enough.  Evil the rooster was going DOWN.

I flew out the front of the stall, manure fork carried over my head like an angry villager’s torch.  Evil tried sauntering away from me for a few steps, but once he realized I meant business he took off.  I don’t know if you know this or not, but chickens are FAST when they want to be.

Unfortunately for evil roosters, so are Beckys.

That stupid rooster and I tore up one row of stalls and down the other in an eerie silence.  He didn’t make a single sound as he ran, and the only sound coming from me was a steady, determined breathing.

He fluttered through stalls, doubled back through the manure spreader, scurried over pipes, dashed through the round pen…. All with me hot on his heels. We were spooking every horse we went past, but I didn’t care.

I’m not sure how the situation would have resolved itself if the barn manager hadn’t come by to feed her horse.  She pulled in front of her stall just in time to see me round a corner, red-faced and sweaty, four steps behind that stupid rooster, manure fork cocked and loaded against my shoulder like a bat.

“Becky!  What are you doing?!”

“Killing him,” I huffed as I sprinted past her, spooking her horse.

It didn’t do to spook the barn manager’s horse.

“BECKY!  KNOCK IT OFF.  LEAVE THAT CHICKEN ALONE!”  For such a short woman, she had an impressively loud voice.

I slid to stop and watched angrily as Evil immediately slowed down to a saunter.  He wasn’t running away.  He was just out for an evening stroll… although for once I did catch him looking directly at me as he panted as heavily as I did. 

“I’m sick of that rooster, Diane.”

“Then leave it alone, Becky.”  An animal lover to her core, I could see that Diane wasn’t going to see my side of the equation. I was just an evil, chicken-chasing animal hater. She shook her head in disappointment.

“Fine,” I snapped, stalking back to my barn to fume.

Life continued along the same lines for a couple of weeks.  I did my best to ignore the idiot, evil rooster, hoping the coyotes would finally man up and do their job.  They didn’t, and Evil continued to ambush and scare the living crap out of me every time he got a chance.

That is, until that one, beautiful, magical day.

I had just finished cleaning pens and was on my way to go dump the manure in the manure pile, when I saw him.  I know you probably won’t believe me, but the stupid rooster was sneaking around the corner of my barn so he could lay in wait and attack me the moment I walked past him to put my manure fork away.

Ha.  Gotcha, Evil.

I did my best to pretend I didn’t know he was there.  Casually, I dumped the load of manure and went to go replace the wheelbarrow in its spot by the barn.  Even more casually I turned to head back on my usual path to Jubilee’s stall.

As I walked past the corner where he was hidden, I just happened to raise the manure fork and rest it on my shovel.  I wasn’t doing it on purpose… it was just a casual thing.  I had a manure fork.. why not rest it on my shoulder?  It had nothing to do with the fact I was getting ready to take a swing.  Nope.  I was Casual Becky.  I was Unaware Becky.  I was Victim Becky, just continuing along with my chores.  La, la, la, laaaa, laaa……

About three steps after I passed his hiding spot, I saw him make his move out of the corner of my eyes.  Head low and limp tail feathers spread, he rushed forward, preparing to leap for his attack.

Tightning my grip on the handle, I pivoted on my left foot, straightened my elbows and started a downhill golf swing with the manure fork, driving through with the force of my hips and the experience of too many mornings practicing at the driving range with my dad…

And I connected.

The second I felt the back of that manure fork connect with that idiotic, evil bird, I knew it was a good shot. 

THWAAAACK!!!!  The sound of that solid, square, perfectly on-target hit resonating through the evening air was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever heard.  I can’t even begin to describe how good it felt.  It was a cool drink on a really hot day.  It was the first taste of ice cream.  It was stepping into a Jacuzzi after getting chilled spending too many hours in the pool.  It was all those things… but better.

It was incredible.

“BAKWAAAAK!” Evil sounded genuinely surprised as the rush of his charge met with the swing of the manure fork. 

“BAKWAAAK!”  He complained.  “BAKWAAAAAAK!” He said, as he flew an incredibly satisfying distance, landing about 15 or 20 feet away in a disheveled heap in a cloud of dust.

“HA!” I shouted in my most mature, intelligent fashion.  “HA!  Take that, you stupid, evil rooster.  Who’s the man, now?  Huh?  Who’s the one who won that bout?  ME, that’s who!  What’s that?” 

I may or may not have stomped threateningly in his direction.

“What’s that?  You want some more of this?”  It’s possible I may have throw my arms wide at this point – not that I’d ever to admit to such childish, infantile behavior.

Evil stared me, and for a brief second it I saw a brief flash of respect, bordering on fear in his eyes.

I met his look, squaring my shoulders and facing him defiantly, trusty manure fork by my side.

“Bakwawk,” he muttered disdainfully, turning around to saunter off in the opposite direction.

He never attacked me again.

New Year’s From Thailand: Guest Post


What do you get when you cross:

A week long cold with whiny babies and snotty noses…

Followed by two babies with a week long stomach flu….

Followed by everyone getting some kind of Death flu bronchitis thingie that makes the babies cough hard enough to start the puking again….

Followed by 3 days of hurried preparations for Christmas…..

Followed by a lovely 2 days riding horses in Bakersfield for the New Year?

Well, what do you get?

You get a guest post from my dad. 

*******************************************************

Thailand New Year, 2012

 I just thought I would write and let you know how my New Year’s Eve went.

 I was kind of obligated to go to Nong’s parent’s house for the occasion – Oh boy. Another Thai party. I have been to quite a few of them and some were kind of fun… That is, if you can have fun being the only English speaking person in the room.

Usually what will happen is beer and Thai whiskey is bought, a bottle is opened, and then magically ALL of the relatives show up within a short period of time. Imagine a party with 30 people drinking beer, eating and talking really loud in order to be heard over all the other people that are talking loud for the same exact reason. Now, all of this loud talking is done in the standard Thai as well as the different northern Thai dialect, which (of course) is actually a completely different language. In the middle of all of this loud, multi-language sits Stevw, muttering to myself   “It is only one night…it is only one night…”

 Out the door I head for some fresh air. This is where everyone goes to have their cigarettes, so inevitably a conversation is attempted.

“You go Christmas America?”

OK, now I know the tenses of the verbs are always messed up during these attempts at conversing in English, so I mentally try to figure out exactly what was said. “You go Christmas America” …? 

Hmmm. 

This could mean “Did you go to America for Christmas?” or it could be an attempt at “Do you like Christmas in America?” which would translate to “Do you prefer spending Christmas in Thailand or America?” or even “Do they celebrate Christmas in America?”

It’s important to note that conversation = they talk and stop and then I talk…. So now it’s my turn.

How do I answer that? I haven’t even deciphered it yet, but he is waiting.

OK, it’s time to fall back to the standard, “I don’t understand him, so don’t let him understand me” defense….just make it something with Christmas and America in it. 

“Yes, we celebrate Christmas in America in many different ways, some religious, some not.  Almost everyone gets a Christmas tree. Not all of the trees are real.  Some are made out of plastic and can be used year after year…. Do they sell plastic trees here in Thailand?”  Ha! Now he has to answer.

I wait. I can see the wheels turning in his head, the thoughts forming and then he says,  “I have sister spoken.” 

Oh Jesus, does this mean his sister speaks English, or does she live in Spokane, Washington?

 “I am sorry.  I need to go back inside now. I am sure someone needs to talk to me……”  I get a blank smile and a nod, and I return inside.

Once inside, Nong approaches, “Why were you talking to that guy outside? What were you talking about?”

I admit, “I don’t really know what we were talking about. I was confused.”

 “Well, he isn’t a relative.  He just shows up at people’s houses trying to get free drinks.  He has been insane for years.” 

I give up! You try to be nice and have a conversation and suddenly you are the foreigner on the front porch talking to the crazy neighbor that no one wants there.

Anyway, New Year’s Eve…. That is what I expected, so I bought a box of wine to take to the party. No, not a box of wine as in bottles, but an actual box of wine – the kind with the spigot built into the box. That should liven things up! If I get everyone drunk I might have a slim chance of actually fitting in and being part of the crowd.

We arrive for the New Year’s Eve party, but no one there. This doesn’t bother me – I will use the never-fail method of opening a beer to attract the hidden crowd that is always just steps away. I pour myself a glass and offer one to Nong’s father…

“No thanks, I already drank a beer earlier.” 

“Nong…want a beer?”

“Not now, maybe later.”

I know! I will give the wine box a chance! This will start things. I hand it to her father, and ZOOM! It is gone – put away for another occasion.

 I sit down, beer in hand, and watch a kid watching Thai cartoons on the TV.

After a few moments I have to ask, so I approach “them” in the kitchen.

“I thought we were having a party for New Year’s?”

“Oh, no, the village chief has asked everyone not to get drunk this year. There is a singing contest at the village center later that we can go to and of course there is the count down to the New Year.”

Gee, let me think.  I can wait 2 or 3 hours to go to a village square to watch someone I don’t know sing songs I don’t understand, until at the right time I can count “3…2…1…”

….. or I could have another beer and watch foreign cartoons with an eight year old.

So there I was, the only one drinking anything on New Year’s Eve, sitting with an eight year old kid watching Thai cartoons.  It wasn’t much better than talking to crazy unwanted neighbors on the porch. I was asleep by nine.  How was your New Year?