Archive for December, 2011

31
Dec
11

New Years Eve Dinner 2011

First, make Husband an eggnog.

Shake 1 egg, 2 T. sugar, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and 4 or 5 ice cubes together in a jar. Add 2 c. milk. Shake again. Put 5 ice cubes in a tall glass. Add a shot of brandy. Fill with egg mixture.

Now make yourself a Manhattan.

Put 5 ice cubes in a glass. Shake Angostora bitters over the ice. Add a generous shot of Crown Royal and a 1/2 shot of sweet vermouth. Add 2 maraschino cherries and pour in a bit of the cherry juice. Sip slowly. This is serious stuff.

Put 1 c. of faro in a saucepan, add 3 c. water. Bring the water to a boil, and then turn down as low as you can so it doesn’t boil all over and make a mess on your stove. Cover and simmer (carefully! carefully!) for 15 minutes. Drain the extra water off, cover, and let sit until you’re ready to eat.

Meanwhile, mix 2 T. of black sesame seeds and 2 T. of white sesame seeds in a flat dish. Coat 3 or 4 tuna steaks with sesame seeds. If Husband realizes that there aren’t enough sesame seeds in dish, quickly add more.

Peel and finely chop (slice it one way, then slice it the other way, then chop it against the “grains” you’ve just created) a 2″ piece of ginger that you dug out of the back of the freezer.
Cut 1/2-1 lb of broccolini into 2″ pieces.
Open the package of edamame so it’s ready to roll.
Mix 2 T. canola oil, 2 T. rice vinegar (unseasoned!), 1 T. soy sauce in a bowl or 1 c. liquid measuring cup.

Find out when the 1st period of the hockey game is ending so you can time the rest of the dinner preparations accordingly.

When the 1st period of the hockey game is about to be over, put a wok on the 2nd-largest burner, because Husband will need the largest burner for the tuna steaks.

Add 2 T. dark sesame oil to the hot wok. When the oil is almost smoking, add the chopped ginger.

Throw in the broccolini and edamame and ask Husband to start the tuna steaks.
(He should brown them in hot canola oil in a non-stick skillet, 1 minute on each side.)

Keep stirring the vegetables until they start to brown, Pour in the oil/rice vinegar/soy sauce mixture. When it starts to bubble, add 1/2 c. cashews. Stir for 30 seconds or so until everything’s hot, then turn off the heat.

When the tuna steaks are done (no more than one minute per side!), put them on a board and cut them into strips.

Make a bed of arugula in one corner of a large dinner plate. Top with the vegetables, then the strips of tuna. Serve the faro on the side. Spoon out some of the sauce from the pan and drizzle over the tuna.

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Serve with a good sparkling white, dry “champagne” of your choice.

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Watch the rest of the hockey game.

Toast 2012, and each other, and your children, and your life.

It’s all good.

27
Dec
11

disturbing

I don’t like this image. Looks like the police officer has a gun in the guy’s mouth. Is this on purpose? Driving home some subliminal message?

Maybe it’s just me.

27
Dec
11

. . .on second thought

This doesn’t make me hungry, this just makes me feel guilty. And I haven’t even ordered yet.

27
Dec
11

what she said, revisited

A few days ago, I linked to this post from another blogger.

It’s a recounting of the blogger’s experience in a coffee shop, where she overhears a very stylish looking woman chastise her 4-year old daughter, who is asking for a cookie. The woman’s response is that the girl doesn’t need a cookie, because she “needs to lose weight.”

The blogger is so upset by this that she finds a way to treat the woman and her daughter each to a cup of hot chocolate. She seems to handle it with grace and aplomb, and the woman seems to be grateful, and maybe a little chastened, by the experience.

A commenter wrote: “At the risk of being contrarian, I have a different take on this story. The woman buying the hot chocolate did a very nice thing and she handled it well. But. She really has no business judging and interfering with the mother. Child obesity is a huge problem and so is impulse control. The woman has no idea what sort of issues the mother is dealing with. She doesn’t say if the kid was fat or skinny. Maybe she has diabetes or something. A little kid not getting his or her way isn’t an act of abuse or failed parenting and telling a kid she has to lose weight might be the truth and what is called for in this case. The woman seems to have jumped to the conclusion that the mother is trying to give the kid an eating disorder. But maybe the kid already has one. Just saying.”

While I don’t disagree at all with the possibilities the commenter proposes, my gut reaction says no.

First of all, the woman didn’t tell her daughter that she had already had some sweets that day, or that she knew she couldn’t have a cookie because she had diabetes, or that they were going out for a big dinner shortly, or anything like that. I also believe that the blogger would have mentioned if the girl had been overweight. While I am a firm believer in feeding children in a healthful way, I also believe that life is to be lived, and a cookie or cup of hot chocolate or slice of cake now and then is part of living life richly.

That blog post, and the comment to my re-posting, have had me thinking for the past couple of days, about several things — namely:

1. What my children have learned from me that I kind of wish they hadn’t.

2. What my children haven’t learned/are still learning that I really wish they would.

3. What the world tells us about ourselves and whether we should or shouldn’t listen.

4. When the “world” needs us to step in and do something, and when we shouldn’t.

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

1. What my children have learned from me that I kind of wish they hadn’t.

My need for external validation, a tendency toward defensiveness and sarcasm (acceptable when it’s funny, but the line between funny and disrespectful when it’s coming from children can be awfully hard to see), the feeling that most people don’t really understand me, a recurring dissatisfaction with my physical appearance (just my daughter, the “boys” are pretty confident of their general attractive- and badass- ness), a fear of the unknown/uncontrollable which leads to over-cautiousness rather than adventurousness — even though my greatest leaps of courage have led me to the most happiness, I still fear.

2. What my children haven’t learned/are still learning that I really wish they would.

To put things away when they’re done with them, to look around and see when people might need a little help, that politeness and decency and other people’s feelings sometimes trump honesty or self-interest, that sometimes I do actually know what I’m talking about and that my offering of advice doesn’t come from a lack of belief in them but out of concern and love, that the easiest road to the easiest money isn’t necessarily the best road to choose, the basics of consideration: help with dinner/the dishes/laundry, always put the toilet seat down, hold doors for people with packages or strollers or just because, that belching at the table is only funny if the other people at the table think so (and I really, really don’t).

There have been so many things I’ve tried to teach my children that I wonder if they would have learned more successfully if they had been hearing it from someone besides me. Don’t interrupt. Take turns. Use inside voices. Say please and thank you. Stop talking and listen.

3. What the world tells us about ourselves and whether we should or shouldn’t listen.

When should someone’s criticism be taken to heart, as an opportunity for self-reflection and self-improvement, and when should they be mentally told to take a flying @#$ in a rolling doughnut? If someone’s bothered by my ambition, should I tone it down or look for a different outlet? If someone’s bothered by my wealth of opinions and willingness to share them, should I consider it to be a result of their lack of curiosity and/or intellectual rigor, or should I just keep my mouth shut?

I would like to believe that the problems the world might have with me are the world’s problems, but what if they aren’t?

4. When the “world” needs us to step in and do something, and when we shouldn’t.

This is really the question that presents itself by the commenter to my re-posting. Should the blogger have just minded her own business? A casual observer can’t know the history of the day/week/month with that particular issue with that particular child. But, for the sake of argument, let’s take this a little bit further. When we see someone striking a child in a grocery store, do we just consider it not to be our business, turn our heads and walk away? Is someone telling a child, who by all appearances (again, I’m assuming this) is of a perfectly normal size, that she “needs to lose weight” a form of emotional abuse? Do we still turn our heads and walk away? What if the validation provided by the person who says, no, really, you’re beautiful the way you are is exactly what that child most needs?

When the urge to “interfere” strikes, how do we know if we should or if we shouldn’t?

I think this is particularly striking to me because it’s about women and their issues with weight and body image. The women we see in magazines are basically freaks of nature; the pressures put on us by these images can be debilitating. How much worse are these pressures if they’re reinforced, perhaps unfairly, if, as I believe, this girl was of a perfectly normal weight and size, by the person who should be building us up rather than tearing us down? I look at my beautiful daughter and watch her curse at a practically-invisible pimple or worry that she has fat calves or thighs (she’s in the 45th percentile height, 10th percentile weight; she doesn’t have fat anything) or hear her wish she had my (unruly, just-curly-enough-to-be-annoying) hair rather than her thick, lustrous locks. Who is doing this to her? How can she look in the mirror and not see how beautiful she is? She’s a gymnast, and wants to be a model, with a milk allergy and shades of hypochondria; will she end up with an eating disorder? Will her awareness of my unhappiness with my weight contribute? How do I model a balance of healthful eating, regular exercise, and awareness of treating my body as something I want to live from rather than merely in without encouraging an unhealthy obsession with something that is, at least partially, genetic and uncontrollable? Is this even possible?

The blogger might be right, the commenter might be right, who can really know? At least the blogger handled it with tact and care — the mother could feel free to handle it however she choose, and was not confronted directly with an accusation of emotional/verbal abuse, and therefore did not have to react defensively.

I also think that sometimes we are teaching our children things we don’t necessarily want them to learn, and someone else making a kind/friendly offer is just enough to shake us out of it.

24
Dec
11

what she said

Read this.

That’s all.

22
Dec
11

for those who will buy anything if you call it a “deal”

Like the ads that show .99 each, 2 for $2, and people decide they better buy two.

What kind of urgency does it create, knowing one can save $1.01?

 

22
Dec
11

life, in dance

21
Dec
11

Christmas music that won’t require a follow-up insulin injection

 

 

21
Dec
11

fascinating!

Fascinating: extremely interesting or charming : captivating

Barbara Walters’s list of the 10 most fascinating people of 2011:

American Reality Royalty the Kardashian family, Simon Cowell, stars of television’s hit comedy “Modern Family” Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, MLB star and New York Yankees Captain Derek Jeter, American business tycoon/author/television personality Donald Trump, pop singing sensation Katy Perry, and quite possibly the most famous sister in the world — Pippa Middleton.

Um, no.

Modern Family I’ll give her, because it’s television, and she probably has some kind of quote for having to have so many TV people, and it’s not the worst show in the world.

New York Yankees Captain Derek Jeter because he’s actually a good athlete, and not the worst role model in the world.

But the rest of them? Ugh. Nothing remotely interesting. Exactly the opposite, actually.

You mean like which of the Kardashian’s supposedly has the biggest behind? How snarky/not snarky is Simon these days? What’s up with The Donald’s hair? What would Katy Perry do/be if she actually could sing? And Pippa? What’s her claim to being interesting? being Kate’s sister? Bet she loves that distinction, as we all have throughout eternity. (“Oh, you’re _________’s sister/daughter/mother/friend!” Can’t I just be me?)

I don’t even know if I can come up with 10 for 2011. Maybe that’s the problem — she has so little to work with.

1. The Sand Dancer guy I posted about yesterday.

2. Leo DiCaprio

3. Julien Barnes

4. Christopher Hitchens (can I nominate someone posthumously?)

5. Jude Law

6. Melinda Gates?

7. Amanda Palmer?

8. Theo Jansen

9.

10.

Little help?

20
Dec
11

absolutely lovely

Besides its beauty is its transience, which becomes part of its beauty; the fact that he knows when he begins that it will be gone shortly after he finishes; the many who stand to watch, and shout out warnings, “The tide’s coming in!” Even the water itself contributes.

And his obvious joy.

18
Dec
11

am I the only one who thinks this is inappropriate?

Went with Husband yesterday while he got his hair cut (at Jude’s Barbershop: “where men get their hair cut”) before braving Target eight days before Christmas on a Saturday afternoon.

I took a Sunday NYTimes magazine to read during the shearing, but he got put in the chair right in front of me, so I spent some of the time making helpful suggestions, such as pointing out to the “barber” (an 18 year-old girl with spiky black hair and tight jeans*) where he had over-clipped his sideburns. (Her diagnosis: “It can’t be fixed.”)

[*Apparently you have to look like this to work there:

I say this because that’s how all of the women who worked there looked. Is there a Jude’s-“Barber”-cookie-cutter out there somewhere?]

Anyway, I actually spent most of the time watching the two early-adolescent boys in the corner waiting for their dad or brother or whoever gaping at the photos on the wall.

Here’s a sampling:

The differences being:

1.  There were a lot more naked or nearly-naked women in provocative poses at the store itself than Jude’s displays on their website, including a topless woman, facing away, with her jeans halfway down her behind (poster ~ 2.5′ x 5′); and a naked woman in a shower, her modesty protected by one hand and a sponge (poster ~ 3′ x 7′).  Maybe they at least have the sense to be just a wee bit ashamed so they try to play this element down in their publicity?

I think I might be giving them too much credit.

2.  On the wall in the store we were in, the woman in the upper right quadrant above, in the skimpy bathing suit and the (for the sake of delicacy) “Do Me” pose, was at my eye level right inside the door.

I was going to take a picture with my phone, but didn’t want to embarrass Husband.

While I was waiting, a father came in with his two young boys, one two years old, one around four.

Really?

As if there aren’t already enough men who grow up to over-sexualize and objectify women, let’s make sure it happens and start them young.

Two things I want to make clear: 1. I am not a prude, and 2. Jude’s can put whatever they want on their walls. But I would much prefer that the beauty of the female body be displayed artistically rather than pornographically, and maybe in balance with depictions of male bodies; and I certainly wouldn’t take my young sons there.

Maybe it’s just me.

15
Dec
11

who knew fashion was so important at the age of 10?

Only Daughter went through her daily fashion crisis this morning. I don’t remember it being this big of a deal how I dressed when I was ten, but I guess I was wearing uniforms to school until I was in high school (good Catholic girl that I was), so the only choice in the matter was what color shorts we wore under our skirts so we could play soccer and climb trees and not be made fun of by the boys. Even the color of our socks was regimented.

Anyway, this is obviously a big deal to her, and I would like to be more sympathetic, but the logical part of me wants to point out that 1. she’s only 10 and 2. aren’t there more important things to worry about, like eating breakfast and packing a decent lunch and making sure she put her homework in her backpack and maybe taking the dog out to pee?

I guess not.

The specifics vary, but the crises can usually be categorized into one of two groups:

1. This outfit was made for a 10 year old (and she’d rather look 20).

2. This shirt/jacket is too “baggy.”

The solution to each problem is, in order:

1. Wear big loud flashy jewelry or the sparkliest scarf she can find

2. Rubber band the shirt into a big knot in the back, cinch the waist with a belt, and/or tuck the bottom 1/3 of the jacket up underneath itself so it looks like a shrug, never mind if the jacket is made of denim or filled with down.

When she comes and asks how it looks, and it usually looks either chronologically inappropriate, or ridiculous, I feel the need, out of concern for honesty, to tell her what I think, no matter how hard it may be for her to hear. Inevitably she stomps off in a huff with a toss of her hair over her shoulder and a lot of muttering as she goes off to find something else. Often my suggestion is simple, such as “remove that rubber band from the back of your shirt, you look like you’re growing a tail,” or “you really shouldn’t wear a tank top, a sweater, a jacket, AND a belt, plus you’re going to need a coat. . .”

. . .and yet it requires a complete wardrobe change.

After 25 minutes of trying to look like Tavi

this morning, she came back out in jeans and a tie-dye sweatshirt.

15
Dec
11

week 4, but who’s counting?

Many interesting things have been learned in the past few weeks.

Dexter would like to share some of them with you:

1. Sniffing nonchalantly all around the kitchen as a decoy from the true destination — the cat’s food dish — has not been entirely effective. Thinking in a Mr. Magoo voice “What, I’m just wandering around, and just happen to be over here by the cat’s food, but that doesn’t mean anything” doesn’t seem to help either.

2. They still want me to pee outside, even when it’s raining. This seems unreasonable, and I would like to appeal, but I’m not sure of the proper channels, nor that my case would be heard with impartial minds. The cat seems to think I’m a Philistine, but I’m too frightened by all those stairs to see where it is she goes, which leads me to

3. The cat seems to think I’m a Philistine, which reeks of discrimination, and to resent the fact that I “get” to go outside, while she seems to have earned some type of privileged status, of which she does not seem to be the least bit grateful. She stays in the warm comfort of home, and to add insult to injury, gets to eat whenever she bloody well feels like it, whereas I have to wait for The Superior Beings to deign to put my food dish down for what seems like, like 10 seconds? This does not, on the whole, seem to be fair. I would present this argument, but imagine there might be a pithy, meaningless response such as “life’s not fair,” and no meaningful action taken. One must choose how one spends one’s energy, after all.

4. The cat also does not like to “play.” I don’t understand this. I’m nothing if not a barrel of monkeys. I prance, I jump, I prowl, I chase things around the kitchen and bite at their legs. This is “fun.” She, on the other hand, only minces around the kitchen on her dainty little paws, and yowls and hisses at the slightest provocation, and seems particularly perturbed when I try to initiate the bite-her-legs game while she is eating from her omnipresent cat dish. On second thought, perhaps she just does not like to have her meals interrupted. I will try again tomorrow.

5.  There are yummy things to be found out in the greenery out by the back fence (near where the “hammock” whatevertheheckthatis used to be), and under the deck. I can’t understand why my owners are so distressed when I try to bring bits of these things into the house, nor what they mean when they say I have “dog breath” and “might end up with worms,” or perchance need to have something called “greenies.” Note to self: research this at the first opportunity. I think they might be overreacting.

6. They give me these stick things I like to chew, (Yum!), but they won’t stay in my crate. I need either solid walls, or opposable thumbs.  I also need to learn how to spell opposable.

7. I hate to keep returning to this peeing thing, but sometimes, when I pee outside, I get a treat, and sometimes I only get pats and cheers. This inconsistency is confusing. Does anyone know if something could be done about this? I also like to pee and poo where I choose, and having to be on this thing called a “leash” is really messing up my mojo. Even if I run over to the neighbor’s yard, I’ll come back, eventually. What’s the worry?

Finally, here’s a clip of a humiliating moment from this morning. The things I do to make these people happy.

Dancing Dexter, kind of

12
Dec
11

is it?

Are they highlights if they’re grey?

12
Dec
11

now I AM depressed

Just tried to watch 40 minutes of a Woody Allen movie.

Now I want to kill myself.

How does this man have a following?

 

12
Dec
11

where’s the line between service and harassment?

Husband and I have decided to take advantage of the not-to-be-believed low mortgage interest rates, and are refinancing our home. We’re basically taking 15 years off the mortgage at an increase in our monthly payment of about $45. That must be a good deal.

We are going with a local bank/banker that was recommended by one of my piano student’s parents, who works in finance, so we figured he would know a good bank/banker to work with. Unfortunately this is a bank with which I have previous experience; the type of experience which caused me to close all of my accounts with them ~ 15 years ago and never look back.

But they are offering the best rate at the lowest closing costs, so what can you do?

Part of the deal, though, is that we have to open an account with their bank to have our payments automatically deducted. As we have other bills that are automatically paid from our current accounts, I speculated, (correctly, as we found out later), that this was so that we would decide having accounts at two banks was too much of a hassle and we would just move all of our accounts to their bank. As the bank officer told us, we only need to have that account open for 12 months, because they figure, if we haven’t switched our accounts by then, we won’t. Strangely, he did not reply to my inquiry as to whether it would make any difference at all if I just told them that now.

I call this coercion.

But, they are offering the best rate at the lowest closing costs, so what can you do?

To make the whole thing even more fun, we have been getting repeated phone calls from their customer service department(s) asking us to rate our banking experience. Including a call after I went into one of their branch offices to deposit the $100 required to open the account. I think I was in the building for 3 minutes. I walked up to the counter, handed the probably-overqualified-and-underpaid teller my check and deposit slip, received my receipt, selected a cherry lollipop out of the festively decorated red pail, and made my departure. At 9:00 p.m. that night some poor probably-overqualified-and-underpaid schmuck calls to ask about our banking experience.

I call this harassment.

I am, already, supremely annoyed, and we haven’t even closed yet.

But, they are offering the best rate at the lowest closing costs.

What’s a person to do?

10
Dec
11

more idiocy from the Republican Party

Maybe they should just go with the one person who actually seems to know anything.
Anybody know who that might be?

09
Dec
11

Rick’s latest idiocy

Ugh.

He seems not to have read the Constitution, especially the part about the separation of church and state.

And what about freedom of religion? Doesn’t that, if one so chooses, also include freedom from religion? Why should some people’s religious celebrations — i.e. Christmas, be forced on every child in the room?

And what does being gay in the military have to do with anything? As far as I know, working next to someone who is gay not only doesn’t make me gay (last I checked it wasn’t contagious), but it doesn’t make me feel badly (other, separate, different) for not being gay. That is not the experience of children being forced to pray — either directly, or through the peer pressure of being the one of few in the room who are not.

And religion, of any sort, is a personal choice, and has no place in a state-run organization.

(Nice coat)

08
Dec
11

older, yes, but wiser?

I turn 47 tomorrow.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m none too excited about this. None of my previous birthdays have really bothered me — no problem turning 30, or 40, or even 45 for that matter, and I find myself in a happier place personally than I’ve been for any of those landmarks, so what’supwiththat?

As I’ve also mentioned before, 47 seems a lot closer to 50 than 46 did, so I don’t think that’s helping.

Why does this matter?

We’re all getting older, and it certainly beats the alternative, but are we all, no matter how sensible or philosophical, susceptible to the clichés of marking our progress professionally, personally, at the decade increments? What’s the difference really between turning 47 and turning 50? Maybe I should just continue as I have been, and get all the angst out of the way now — if I really don’t like turning 47, and admit that freely to myself, will that make it that much easier when I actually turn 50? Is that even it?

I know I imagined myself at 47 in a different place professionally than I find myself now, but that was true for 46, and 45, and 40, so so what?

I’m discouraged sometimes by life: my children sometimes seem to lack the characteristics of discipline, nobility, responsibility, thoughtfulness, which I had hoped to instill in them, (but they’re relatively young yet, so maybe it’s not hopeless); the professional world seems to be filled with people riddled by insecurity or pettiness or hubris; politics grind on as usual while many seem unable or unwilling to see the big picture and actual societal progress continues to be thwarted by selfish self-interest, religious narrow-mindedness, and/or apathy; students don’t really seem to care, even a fraction, as much as I do, or as much as I think they should. But do any of these things have anything to do with how I feel about how old I am?

It does seem to me that every single day is too short. So many things to do — delicious meals to cook and great wines to savor and books to read and projects to knit and friends to talk to and puppies to train and random crap to rant about on my blog and poems to write and movies to watch on the couch with my wonderful husband — and there never seems to be enough time to do them all. I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way: a full life is a life well-lived; but I want to pay attention to all of it while at the same time wishing I had time to take a nap.

And so it flies by.

Happy Birthday to me. 🙂

08
Dec
11

yesterday’s weirdness

Scrolling through the NYTimes headlines yesterday, and seemed to have fallen down the rabbit hole.

Headlines/stories I never expected to see:

Newt Gingrich has apparently gained more support from Republicans than Mitt Romney. Yet another example of the dangerous consequences of the average American’s short attention span.

The United States is going to support gay rights abroad. Seems like they should start by supporting gay rights here, but I guess something is better than nothing.

Angelina Jolie has now directed a movie. I would have guessed that good directing would require a certain level of acting ability, but I guess Clint Eastwood has already disproved that theory, so maybe I’m wrong.

Curious to see what headlines I run across today. Sarah Palin admits she’s a brainless, ambitious twit and is better suited to relative obscurity than to the presidency? CEOs across the country agree they only need to make 30 times the salary of their average worker? Countries at upcoming world environmental conferences agree that it’s not a good idea if the world’s glaciers melt and/or move at alarming speeds?

One can hope, I guess.

02
Dec
11

(cats and) dogs and what Cesar doesn’t tell you

Those of you who have been here before know we have recently acquired a dog.

He’s a very sweet dog, and very fun. He springs around like the little dog in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons and dances on his hind feet when he’s excited and as soft as a puff of cotton, and, when he’s doing the things that puppies do, like pee and poo in the house or whimper in their crates at night because they’d rather cuddle up with you on your nice warm down comforter, he brings out the impatient side of me I haven’t seen since my children were toddlers. It seems to be kind of mild rage that surges, just below the surface, when they — puppies, small children — refuse (!) to behave in a rational manner.

Such as: Dexter hates to get his feet wet. It’s November, in Michigan. This means, when we go out to the “potty place” he has to walk across a deck and out into the leaves, and it being November (and now December) in Michigan, it’s often raining or trying to snow, and the deck and leaves are therefore cold, and wet. So I coax him out the back door with the smell of bits of hot dog in my hand, and coax him across the deck with gentle tugs on the leash, and then he stands there, shivering on the leaves, looking at me pathetically over his shoulder, and not peeing. I try “calm/assertive” (Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer; CW: “Cesar’s Way“): “Dexter, go potty.” (I say this every time he goes potty. I try not to feel ridiculous. Like, Duh? Why else would we be standing out here shivering in the rain at 3:30 a.m.?) I try calm/very assertive: “Dexter, go POTTY.” I try beseeching: “Dexter, go potty, PLEASE?.” Then I try reason: “If you’d go potty we could go back in the house.”

It doesn’t work.

CW: Don’t use too many words. Words aren’t words to a dog, they’re just noises, so keep the commands simple: go potty, no, tsssst (bad), click/click with your tongue (good), etc.

He also doesn’t eat much. I measured out 3/4 c. of food yesterday morning, there’s still 5/8 c. in his bowl. We don’t give him that many treats. He had 2/32 of a hot dog this morning to get him across the deck (after he peed on the deck step), and a half of a Kong (the smallest size available) worth of peanut butter yesterday. This is not enough food. I put the bowl down 3 times a day for 15 minutes each time; I coax him over by shaking it, he eats three kibbles. He then sniffs the whole perimeter of the kitchen, while I try to decide if it’s benign-dog-investigating-the-terrain sniffing or a I-wonder-where-is-a-good-place-to-pee sniffing, which means I don’t get a single thing done when I’m home because I’m constantly craning my neck trying to keep him in sight. After 15 minutes I put his food up, and then spend the next 5 hours trying to keep him from eating the cat food.

CW: Stand in front of the cat food, make eye contact with the dog (the dog is 5″ high, btw) and say, in a calm/assertive way, “No.” You should only have to do this 3 times.

Right.

Maybe he means three times per half hour. Maybe the eye contact is important, and would work better if the dog weren’t 5″ high.

Dexter also doesn’t like to be left alone. If I leave the kitchen (where he is kept for now, until he can be trusted not to pee wherever the urge strikes him, which, as far as I can tell, might be NEVER), he stands at the door and whimpers. Of course, if I’m in the room with him he pays very little attention to my presence. The same thing happens outside. We have a pretty big yard, and a fair portion of the back of it was fenced by a previous owner, and he loves to run around on the deck and sniff the knothole that serves as the entrance to the chipmunk’s home*, and scoot acorns around with his nose, and jump through the leaves (wet or not; it doesn’t seem to matter if the leaves are wet unless he’s supposed to be peeing). But if I go inside, even for a minute, he gallops to the door and stands there and whimpers. Of course, if I come out, he runs off and completely ignores me, so I guess I’m supposed to just stand there with my hands in my pockets.

CW: A dog can be cured of his/her separation anxiety very easily. When he/she is distracted by play, walk around a corner or to another side of the fence. When he/she begins to display anxiety over your absence, step into view, say “Quiet,” and wait for him/her to calm down. Then walk away again. After doing this a few times, your dog will learn to relax, comfort themselves, and go about their play.

I tried this today. He was outside, running around through the puddles (it was okay, he didn’t need to pee), scooting acorns around with his nose, etc. I walked into the house so I could peep through the front windows to see if Only Daughter’s bus had come, and he ran to the sliding glass door and pawed at it with his paws and whimpered. I came into view, said “Quiet,” he stopped whimpering, etc. We did this twenty seven times over ten minutes. He would wander off for 20-30 seconds after he could see me. But then some little puppy voice in his head would say “Wait; Where is She? Is She Still There? What if She’s Left Me All Alone or Never Lets Me in the House Again?” (If only that voice would say, “This would be a lot less likely if I stopped shitting on the kitchen floor, chewing on the kitchen table legs, and whining at 3:00 a.m.” I can dream I guess.)

I want a level of rationality that I’m just not going to get. I know this.

Cesar claims that, if you are completely consistent in your housebreaking habits, it can happen in a few days. Cesar is lying. We try to take comfort that he (Dexter, not Cesar) now whimpers in his crate if he has peed in it (so we can clean it up for him, I presume), and that occasionally he paws at the sliding door to go out, and sometimes this means that he needs to go out to go potty. Sometimes he’s just trying to get us to let him outside to play, so now we somehow have to teach him the difference between pawing at the door to go outside to pee, vs. waiting for us to take him outside to play.

Right.

And the cat, Sophie, is pissed.

She’s a Siamese. I think she might have played the role of the one on the right.

I can imagine her complaints:

First of all, he just got here, and gets to go outside already.

If she wants to eat she has to climb over the wall of boots or shoes or towels we’ve created to keep Dexter out of her food.

And she looks at him with utter disdain. She thinks he’s a total cretin. “You pee and poop in your house? You don’t clean up after yourself? What’s the MATTER with you?”

I mean, think about it — you show a cat ONCE where the litter box is, and you never need to show him or her again.

This ought to at least get her some kind of elite status or something.

She does balance it out by her insistence on trying to climb the Christmas tree, so it’s not like she’s perfect or something. She just thinks she is.

Dexter just wants to play. That’s probably not helping.

Anyway, puppies are cute for the same reason babies are cute. It’s the single most important factor in their survival to adolescence. Not sure what kicks in then; investment of time, I guess.

Dexter asleep in my lap. Look how cute he is!

And now a brief tribute to Husband. He didn’t really want a dog. They are a lot of work, and he likes for us to have freedom to come and go if things come up on weekends or road trips, etc. He also likes life to be as regular and calm and predictable as possible, and none of these things are true when you have a puppy in the house. But he conceded that if we really wanted a dog, he wasn’t going to stand in our way, and that he would be perfectly fine with taking care of the dog when I or Only Daughter were unavailable.

Every time the dog wakes us up at night, or pees in the kitchen, or whatever, Husband is calm and patient and just does what needs to be done. He also comforts and reassures me in the middle of the night when I am upset or worried that puppyhood is going to last forever and I’ve ruined our lives. He is the Best Husband Ever, although I sometimes wonder if maybe we would all be better off if, rather than comforting and humoring me, someone tempered my Pathological Optimism a little wee bit.

But maybe not.

In any case, as Husband says, we now have a dog. We will Make the Most of It.

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

*These chipmunks are, in his own words, Husband’s “Mortal Enemy.” They burrow around under trees and plants and weaken foundations. Every once in a while we’ll be talking in the kitchen, and he’ll look out the back door and get this pensive, distant look in his eye, and I imagine he is thinking some profound thought or discovering the cure for cancer or something, and then he suddenly, quietly leaves the house. I have learned that this signals a chipmunk sighting, and wait expectantly for the sound of the pellet gun (or whatever it is; what I know about guns is only exceeded by what I know about everything else) and either his victorious reappearance or a prolonged absence as he lurks in the shadows, waiting for the little rodent to reappear.




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