Friday, September 18, 2009

Change will do you good

As I type this, a new member of the family is watching "Everybody Loves Raymond" with me.

Koa, a three-year-old German Shepherd, joined us last night. We adopted him from the local animal shelter in what seemed like a predestined move. He became available just a week after we'd saved up enough to put up a fence in the back yard, pay adoption fees and buy a whole mess of doggie gear.

I fell in love when I first saw him: He's a beautiful specimen of the breed. But more than that, I was amazed at his calm nature. Despite the dozens of barking, kennel-crazed dogs going mad all around him (and an escaped Pomeranian yipping at his heels), Koa just sniffed around. He is apparently impervious to provocation of the animal variety.

The only time he's barked is when Matt--against my wishes, mind you--tried to get him to jump up on the bed. Koa refused, and barked to rebuke his master for bad behavior. GOOD DOG!

He doesn't bark, he doesn't bite, and he doesn't chew. He doesn't even enjoy his chew toys in the house. He circles the rooms we're in, then finds a cool spot on the tile and lays down, sighing.

Walking him was a breeze. After awhile, I stopped holding the leash ... he just walked calmly beside me.

At bedtime, we discovered his herding instinct. First it was just me in bed, and Koa searched the house for Matt. When Matt got into bed, Koa immediately settled himself on the floor next to me ... until I got up to get some water. He followed me into the kitchen. Then Matt got up to use the bathroom. I swear, Koa heaved a massive sigh, rolled his eyes, got out of his doggie bed and waited by the bathroom door to nudge Matt back into bed.

Despite his excellent behavior, I was a nervous wreck last night. I have an extremely low tolerance for change, you see, and a dog is a pretty big one.

He's doing a great job at assuaging my fears, though. Today, home with me, he apparently sensed that I was the "laid-back dog lady," and adjusted his behavior accordingly. He spent the day sleeping and relaxing, sprawled out on the floor.

When Matt got home, however, he was ready to play. I guess he gets that Matt is the roughhouser in the family.

Pictures to be posted later. In the meantime, I'm going to go back to enjoying this honeymoon period with my new pup!
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Last weekend, life handed me lemons.

Literally. We were watching the neighbor's garden, and his lemon tree started producing. We picked the ripe ones and put them in a basket on the counter. I flipped through several recipe books trying to decide what to do with them ... and they remained on the counter.

As my dear husband worked his tail off in the backyard on Sunday, I was struck by inspiration.

Lemonade! Or, as my stepson called it at age 4, "bembomade."

Matt was deftly pruning trees, cutting back plants, raking leaves and mowing the grass, so I heated 2.5 cups of water and 1.5 cups of sugar on the stove and squeezed 1.25 cups of juice from a handful of lemons and one lime (they were not particularly juicy lemons). When the sugar dissolved, I took the mixture off the stove, let it cool and poured in the juice through a strainer, then put the whole shebang in the fridge until my hubby came into the house.

All that was missing was my Donna Reed skirt and pearls as I poured the fresh-squeezed lemonade into an cup filled to the brim with ice.

"Wow," he said, his face contorting. "That's ... that's sure homemade, babe."

He drank the whole glass, but hasn't taken another one. I, on the other hand, love it. The tang makes my cheeks tingle, while the sugar-water covers up the tart nicely.

I love bembomade!
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bad words

I'm considering something radical.

I'm thinking about not referring to myself as a liberal anymore. Or to my husband as a conservative. In the most broad strokes, painted with an enormous brush, that's what we are--sort of a James Carville/Mary Maitlin situation, but without the civility surrounding politics.

I started thinking after one of our very rare political arguments last night that we have become so attached to those ambiguous labels that they have come to define the A to Z of the person they describe.

I'm pretty sure it doesn't work like that. I think what started out as guiding words have become something even the political parties don't represent anymore.

I'm also fairly certain that the terms "Democrat" and "Republican" have changes so many times over the years that they are useless anymore.

So I'm going to start thinking of myself as a collection of beliefs. They may not all be well thought out beliefs, and I may be more passionate about some than about others, but that's OK. Unless I run for office, I am fine as a work-in-progress.

Here are some of my beliefs:
  1. Discrimination based on gender, race or sexual orientation is wrong. We need to stop justifying bad behavior and creating equality.
  2. We should spend more money on educating the next generation of leaders; and less money killing other countries' next generation of leaders.
  3. Nobody should go without health care.
  4. People should be more self-sufficient, not expecting the government to come in and save them every time they get in trouble.
  5. I should make decisions about myself and my family; not the government.
  6. Family values are a good thing. Dicipline, respect, modesty and faith aren't bad words. Love is not ALL you need!

There are more, but six is enough to start with. Maybe I fall in line more with one ideology than the other, and that's fine. But if the other side has something great to say, I should be able to agree with that, too.

Maybe if open-mindedness were a political asset, we could get more things done in this country.

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