Yesterday my doctoral program flung open its doors, let some sunshine in, and asked prospective students come for a visit.  We host this event annually, and the prospective students make camp at various current students’ residences.  Since I have a house with a spare bedroom, I tend to be more willing to loan the space so the person won’t have to sleep on a couch.  
Part of this process is to have a potluck dinner at the program director’s house.  She has a beautiful residence that lends itself well to hosting events, and we all bring dishes to share.  Joel and I planned to bring chorizo empanadillas, stuffed pimientos, spinach and feta hummus, and Russian salad, plus wine from local vineyards.  
I had made the Russian salad the night before in order for it to chill in the fridge overnight.  I cleaned up the kitchen as my guest arrived, and we chatted about her experiences in her master’s program and mine in my doctoral program.  The next day brought with it a busy schedule, and I left my guest with the open house commitments as I went off to teach and make some attempt at progress in my day.  
Joel and I went back to the house in the afternoon to make the rest of the dishes.  I had already forgotten the pita bread to accompany my hummus, so Joel volunteered to make a run to the grocery store.  I worked diligently on the two additional dishes I was prepping, and set the stuffed pimientos in the fridge to chill for two hours.  Joel returned back with the pita, and I took an entire package and began cutting the pieces into triangles, perfect for hummus loading.  I stacked them all neatly in rows, and left them on the cutting board so I could heat them up later.  
I walked to my office to respond to a few e-mails that were piling up, and then walked back to the kitchen to finish cleaning up what I wouldn’t use any more.  I glanced around the kitchen, and my eyes settled on the cutting board.  Only one row of pita was there, and it was knocked over.  I frowned, and looked around confused.  Had Joel already put them in the oven?  No.  I went and found Joel and asked, “Did you do anything with the pita?”  He confusingly responded, “Nooo…why?”  I wheeled around to where Cosette was standing in the doorway, watching curiously.  I extended my arm and pointed my finger.  “COSETTE?  DID YOU EAT THE PITA?!?”  She briefly wagged her tail and then stopped.  Her head drooped.  I turned to Joel.  “Cosette ate the pita.”  “She ate the pita?”  “She ate the pita.”  
I deduced that showing up to a party with hummus but without pita bread would not be acceptable.  I quickly grabbed my purse and my keys, and headed back to the grocery store.  I bought two packages, just in case the disastrous happened.  The newly-bought pita was again cut into triangles and added to the party trays.  The dinner was fine, and everyone enjoyed the various dishes.
Then, we came home.  Cosette bounced around wildly for about an hour, willing us to feed her dinner.  It was late in the evening, and I just thought, “You know, dog, you can deal with a later dinnertime because your tummy is full of pita!”  I ended up feeding her about a cup of dry food after she calmed down.   I undressed, and I took off my knee-high hose and placed them outside my bedroom door, as Cosette has a history of eating one or two or thirty of my knee-high hose.  I usually scoop them up in the morning and take them into the laundry room.  Last night, however, I put them outside the door, then went into the kitchen to drink some water.  I walked back towards my bedroom, and Cosette was nosing the hose.  I yelped, “No!” but it was already too late.  She had swallowed one of the hose and was licking the other.  I threw away the leftover sock, and ushered her into my bedroom.
At 1:45 a.m., I heard her beside my bed, starting with what sounded like farts but following with a squirty sound.  I rose from my slumber, my hair and limbs askew, and looked down where she was at.  I saw two dark puddles shining in the ambient light in the room, and I groaned.  “Pita diarrhea?”  I walked over to the door to grab my robe, and right as I was opening the door, I put my foot in something cold and runny.  I would have paid serious money to see the look on my face.  I hopped to the bathroom to run my foot under the bath, and looked at Cosette standing in the doorway.  “This is totally your fault, pita dog.”  I finished washing the poop off my foot, and took her outside, where she strained for several minutes.  She finally came back inside, and I put her in the (tiled) kitchen and pulled up all the rugs.  “Sorry girl, I know you don’t feel good, but I don’t want to clean up any more carpet messes and I think you are still sick.”  I closed the door gently and returned t o my bedroom to clean up the mess.
In the morning, we returned to the kitchen to find multiple puddles of vomit and diarrhea.   She was let outside, and then we let her lie on her dog bed in the spare bedroom while Joel cleaned up the mess with paper towels and Simple Green, which is a marvelous product.  I sat down next to her, stroking her soft fur.  Her stomach began heaving and she started to cough, and I urged her up and walked her over to the kitchen tile, where she vomited again.  We cleaned up the new mess, and then brought her doggie bed into the kitchen.  I sat down on it and asked her to lay down next to me, to which she happily obliged.  
I feel very bad for my dog when she becomes sick – for whatever reason – and much like a child, she seems more vulnerable and soft when she’s sick.  I covered her up in a blanket as I sat stroking her, cuddling up to her, telling her it was okay.  She’s currently curled up the kitchen, recovering.  Joel and I started talking about what was in her various piles in the kitchen that he had cleaned up, and realized she had thrown up the knee-high hose and a part of a rib bone.  Ouch.  It total, we figured out that she had eaten breakfast  of dog food that morning, about a teaspoonful of goat cheese, a bit of leftover teriyaki chicken (both things placed into her bowl – she is not allowed to beg), a rib bone, 5 rows of chopped pita bread (so about 50 pieces), a cup of dog food for late dinner, and a knee-high hose.  I don’t blame her.  I’d have it coming out both ends if I had eaten all that.  

 
 

Taken August, 2007.

 
 

Joel bought a book for me entitled Winery Dogs, and as a frequent visitor to wineries, I concur with the quote, "You can't make wine without a dog."  They are an integral part of a winery and all good wineries have one (or more!).  The even better wineries let you bring your own dogs to sit with you as you enjoy the afternoon.

When I traveled to Missouri, I went to one of my favorite wineries.  They have several dogs, two of which are Labs. 

Exhibit A:  Boomer, a.k.a. "Goober!"

Exhibit B:  Luke, a.k.a. The Parking Attendant, The Ultimate Ruler and Supreme Master of the Guests of the Winery

Luke, sniffing wine and getting drunk and passing out by my chair.  Just kidding.  He loved the constant petting.

It's not a bad life for a dog at a winery. 

 
 

This past weekend I traveled to visit Cosette's breeder.  Cosette's older sister, Lacy, was bred last fall and she delivered about 4.5 weeks ago. 

Two male chocolates, one female chocolate, two male blacks, one female black.  Lacy is yellow and the sire is chocolate.

The photo below is the little Lab we have earmarked for us.  He's a deep, rich chocolate color and was very mellow as I held him.  The puppies just started walking and opening their eyes a few short weeks ago, so it's hard to tell their personalities as of yet, but he was laid back compared with some of his litter mates.

This is puppy climbing through his litter mates to lie down and take a nap.  He's the only one standing.  :)


Here is puppy and I.  He was so cute and just snuggled right up into me and fell asleep after a while.  So precious!!


 
 

I am back and I have puppy PICTURES and VIDEO!  Coming soon!

 
 

Cosette at 3.5 months.

I will be gone to Missouri this weekend to visit Cosette's breeder (among other things).  Hopefully I will come back with tons of puppy pictures!!  Enjoy your weekend.

 
 

Dear Little Guy,

Happy 5th Birthday!  Even though you entered my life only a short while ago, I feel as if I know you very well.  I just wanted to let you know how extraordinarily special we think you are.  You keep us smiling, and you draw us closer together.  Your favorite thing to do right now is play Legos, Transformers, go hiking with us, pester the dog, and have books read to you.  And, movies.  You love watching movies.  If you could play legos, watch a movie, pester the dog, AND hike all at the same time, you would be in 5-year-old heaven.

Your skills at eating and not complaining about what is set in front of you never ceases to amaze me.  You are willing to try most anything, and hey, it's fair if you don't like something.  For instance, tonight you resisted a little bit when we asked you to try the restaurant's dumplins.  As soon as you tasted a bite though, a smile spread across your face and you couldn't get enough.  And, oh, your smile.  Oh, your smile.  That smile of yours is going to win over so many people in your life.  You use it when you are being coy, but my favorite smile from you is when it is genuine.  A big smile will light up your entire face when you realize you have made someone laugh.  You also have the cutest giggle.  I love tickling you and hearing your joyful giggles and seeing your adorable smiles.  

Tonight we celebrated your birthday with cake and presents.  Just the four of us, Cosette included, enjoying cake having a pow-wow on the floor together (well, Cosette abstained from the cake).  I had a massive headache, unfortunately, so after we had eaten our share of cake, I crawled back to my comfy spot on the couch and curled up to watch you and Daddy play Legos.  You were building a pirate ship, and you took interest in the instructions but ultimately decided to just build the pirate ship yourself.  And you know what?  It turned out pretty good.  Sure, there were extra pieces leftover, but I thought your ship was more creative.  

But what I wanted to tell you was the feeling that came over me.  Maybe it was the headache.  Maybe it was the sugar rush.  As I laid there watching your small hands picking up even smaller pieces and manipulating them confidently, watched you interacting with Daddy, and saw Cosette nestled among us, her family all in place -- I was overcome with such a feeling of fulfilled happiness.  I don't think it was sugar or delusions from the headache.  It was love.

You bring us joy and so much love.

Love,
Me

 
 

The other day I was driving around town and had Little Guy with me.  It had been mostly quiet driving around because LG was chewing on his fruit snacks.  All of a sudden from the back I heard, "This says zero.  That means it didn't cost anything."  I glanced back to see what he was talking about, and realized he was holding up the fruit snack package and looking at it.  One of the numbers on there said 1.0 oz or something similar.  I said, "Oh, no, it costs money.  That just means how much the snack pack weighs."  He went silent for a moment and then said with authority, "No.  Then if it is a zero, that means it doesn't weigh anything."

I was impressed with his ability to deduce that from what I told him, but shocked at my own inability to explain a decimal point to him.  I tried to explain that it was just a number to tell us how much all the snacks weighed, but he kept coming back to the zero because he knew it meant a quantity of nothing. 

People, I have a masters degree and am semi-skilled with numbers.  I couldn't think of how to explain this to a four-year-old.  Decimal points.  Freakin' decimal points.  Something tells me I need to stop lecturing to undergraduates, and start prepping myself for five-year-old math questions.  Something also tells me this feat will be harder.

 
 

This morning I ignited a passionate discussion on motorcycles with my significant other.  In his former life (before me), he rode motorcycles both alone and with his (ex) wife.  He owned several, enjoyed the activity, and like most things in our life, became knowledgeable and passionate about it. 

I most decidedly am not a fan.  Although I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, the limits of safety are always there:  cycling but not speeding down hills as if I’m invincible, riding extreme roller coasters but only ones that are visibly up kept, riding a horse at top speed but not dangerously so.  You get the drift.  To me, no matter the safety courses, no matter the statistics on road bikes versus sport bikes (is that the right terminology?), no matter the emphasis on who the riders are, the idea of motorcycling does not feel safe to me.

I freely admit I have never been on the back of a motorcycle, with the exception of one at a children’s museum that was clearly not going anywhere.  The closest I’ve ever been to one purposefully was standing at the back of my cousin’s truck that had one of his racing motorcycles on it – when I was 12.  “Do you want to sit on it?  I can take you for a ride.”  “No,” I said shakily, “I don’t.” 

I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of this innocent neurosis.  I have no reason to dislike them.  I have no reason to avoid them.  I have had no personal experience with them.  I come up with reasons that I don’t like them, like this morning’s “I don’t like bikers, they look like they might rape me.”  The reasoning changes every time, and I recognize this.

So, Joel, I’m really sorry I have such a negative reaction to something you like so much.  I may be eating my words in a few years when you have me on the back of one.  But for now, for whatever reason, recognize that the thought of me climbing on one scares me.  It does.  I have no real reason for it.  I can actually feel my legs quivering and my heart start to ramp up when I think about riding one, or even being very near to one.

Maybe it was my mother’s insistence that I never ride motorcycles because they were unsafe.  Maybe it was me, seven years old, turning down my neighborhood friend and his dad for a ride knowing that if my mom had found out she would have been angry, only to find out 15 minutes later they had managed to flip their bike over and my friend broke his arm.  Maybe it was me, thirteen years old, watching my twenty-five year old cousin have my aunt on my grandmother’s bed take out his stitches above his eye after wrecking his bike.  Maybe it’s my aversion to loud noises.  Maybe it’s my distrustfulness of my stereotype of who rides motorcycles.  Maybe I don’t need a reason.

I’m of the opinion never to discount something unless I’ve tried it.  Something may work for someone else, it may work for me; I won’t ever know until I’ve done it.  So I say never say never; however, today is not the day I will try riding a motorcycle.  Tomorrow doesn’t look promising.  Someday, maybe.  But definitely not next week, either.


 
 

Y'all, I am having some serious puppy withdrawals.  I've been going back through the picture and video archives and reminiscing about puppy time with Cosette.  I think until these pups are old enough to come home, I am going to be in need of serious puppy fixes.  Just go ahead and start an I.V. drip of puppy cuteness, because I am addicted.

(Pictured at 2.5 weeks)