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We live in a magical world

This week has been a blur of events, lots of packing, lots of work, and my parents just got in town yesterday. They planned this trip last year, so when we found out we were moving, we asked them if they’d mind flying the cats back to Los Angeles, and they said yes, because they are incredibly awesome. Now we don’t have to worry about driving across the country with two cats — we only have to think about the dogs and the python!

Since things are a little busy right now, I thought we could all distract ourselves with some stuff that proves we live in a magical world.

1. We can now implant tiny telescopes into each other’s eyeballs.

2. There is a highway in the sky, a tiny highway with tiny travelers, thousands and thousands of miles above us.

3. The Great Move of 2010 is in less than three weeks. Dude!! 19 days.

Bits of Esopus

It was such a treasure to spend a few days in the country. As soon as I arrived, I curled up on a bench on the deck and napped with my head in Mike’s lap while he played with my hair. I spent the rest of the afternoon curled up on the sofa with Printer, reading. I was so tired from our life in the city, I could barely move. And for the next several days I just sat, and watched the rain, or read a book, and I took lots of naps. It was perfect. The quiet, the storms, even the little chores. I completely relaxed.

Except for when we lost electricity, but who even remembers that?

I couldn’t post these as I was taking them because I didn’t have all the paraphernalia required to make the camera and the computer talk to each other, but now I’m home and I have the paraphernalia, so here are some of my favorite photos from our country get-away.

Warning: Two of the photos are of dead things.

dragon fly

Lunch! (Not mine.)

humming bird

The country is good for dead things.

rain soaked windows

It’s also good for afternoon sun through rain-soaked windows.

Happy Wednesday!

Valentine has a new boyfriend

They met by accident. She was summering in the catskills with her family and he was a local boy. Her parents had done everything they could to keep her away from him.

He’s dangerous! They said.

He’ll eat you for dinner!

***

The first time they met, she was in the garden, playing with her brother. Off to the side of the house she saw him — the one her parents had warned her about. In a heartbeat she was at the fence, baring her teeth and growling. He yawned, placed one paw gently on the fence between them, and wagged his tail.

The day afterwards, as soon as she’d finished her breakfast and  had her morning toilet, she ran out to the garden again. She was looking for him, she had to see him again, she couldn’t help herself.

And there he was! Tall and proud, broad chested and beautiful. Before her mother could call her back, she ran to the fence and leapt into the air, twirled about and landed, her yellow body a happy, belly-up curl on the grass. So this is love!

V and P 1

If you know dogs, then you’ll recognize what Valentine is doing in these photos as a “play-bow”. If you’re into yoga, a play-bow is the position that gave “downward-facing dog” it’s name. It’s basically dog-speak for, “Hi! Wanna play?”

Valentine is the best rat-dog in the world. She really, really is. I can’t imagine a more wonderful, perfect, yellow, rat-dog. But she is a little, yellow, trash-digging, ratty-assed, pound-dog with the attitude to match. When we met her she was practically hairless, stank of pee, had a missing toenail and a broken tooth. She was also super crazy, froth-at-the-mouth, dog aggressive.

Val Portrait

We have spent the last four-and-a-half years training her and socializing her and working with her and we’ve gotten her to a place where she’s usually ok with uber-submissive male dogs who are smaller than her. In the dog park she tries to start fights with any dog even slightly bigger than her. On-leash walks are terrible, every big dog she leaps at takes a year off my life. However, off-leash in any of our city’s beautiful parks (dogs are allowed in many NYC parks everyday from sunrise to 9:00 a.m.), she will generally ignore a bigger dog, as long as it keeps it’s distance from her. Any dog who approaches her from behind gets a faceful of teeth. Not a bite, just a snarling and swinging of the bared teeth.

V and P 2

So when Valentine invited Printer, a dog who is easily five times her size, to play, I was so happy I cried.

Then, since Malamutes are wolf-like dogs with incredibly high prey-drives, I called my friend, who’s dog Printer is, and asked if it would be ok to let him play with my bite-sized rat-like dog. And she said yes, they should be fine, and they were. They were absolutely wonderful.

V and P 3

You’ve come a long way, kid.

(P.S. We pack up our truck three weeks from today. Holy. Sh**.)

Photographe

A Serious Photog

Saturday before last, Adam and I swapped cameras.

Now I see the world through his eyes…

25 Days Till

Today is twenty-five days until we load our truck. We got home from Esopus around four o’clock, dropped our stuff and headed out to scour the neighborhood for boxes. Between the corner pharmacy, the corner market and someone’s trash pile, we got us enough boxes to last through the whole dang weekend!

So now we’ve made a slightly obvious dent in the packing. I have decided it will be fun to do periodic updates, so all my Internet friends can see how the move is progressing, and so those of you who are so eagerly awaiting my return to Los Angeles (all twenty-eight of you) (what? I have an enormous family) can see how things are coming along.

There will be pictures.

living room 25 till

I loathe my little point-and-shoot camera, fantasize nightly about something decent with changeable lenses and a speed that allows for shooting in low-light without a flash, I have no idea what kind of camera that would be, but it would probably be able to perform magic compared to what my little Olympus does. These pictures are the way they are because I hate flashes and would rather post something that’s fuzzy and orange than something that has flash beams bouncing off of every surface.

We love this room. We really, really, really love this room. When we first moved in we thought we’d rent it out, someone could close the french doors and have complete privacy, you’d be surprised what people will rent in the city. But soon we were too much in love with this room. It’s been our multi-purpose room, our art studio/living space. This was the room where Michael discovered his love of painting, and where he started carving in wood. That coffee table is where we’ve curled up on blue sword-fish cushions for family dinner every night. It’s also where I spent most of my time writing. I love the space, all that room to stretch out and practice yoga in. And all the sun, perfect for our tiny urban garden.

living 2 25 till

This room has held so much happiness — this apartment gave us our first sense of home since we moved to the city. Even full of boxes and half-blank walls, it still feels like home. Which is probably because home isn’t the stuff that makes up a room, it’s the people we share the room with.

Kitchen-25-till

We’ve still got a long ways to go, packing wise. We haven’t even touched the kitchen, except to start emptying some of the cabinets and carrying their contents into the living room. Why? I don’t f-ing know you guys, I was getting tired. That’s when we decided to call it night and stuff our face with some of Mike’s Famous Fancied Pizza. Read more for Mike’s recipe for Mike’s Famous Fancied Pizza!

Read more…

Thunder Storm

T with T and tea

Yesterday we had another huge thunder storm, so huge that for about seven minutes Trouble and I were huddled on the floor in the middle of this beautiful glass house wondering if the wind was going to blow all the windows in. I call this house a “glass house” because most of the walls are windows. I love that about the house, love that no matter which room I’m in the woods and lake are all around me, but in the middle of a fierce thunder storm, with rain pounding the glass and the trees bent by the wind, it’s a little terrifying. Mike took the picture above on his BlackBerry moments before the rain started, when the rolling thunder had first made itself known. Twenty minutes later all the power went out. The wind didn’t blow the house down, but it did blow over several trees, which knocked several power lines across the roads, which meant that we couldn’t leave the house, which meant I wasn’t going to make it back to the train station in Poughkeepsie, which meant I’d be spending another night in Esopus. Which was fine with me!

However, the downed power lines also meant we couldn’t turn on any lights or watch TV or get online or flush the toilets or wash our hands.  The water for this house comes from a well and is pumped through the pipes with electric pumps, so when the power goes out, so does the water. We had about a dozen gallons of bottled water in the basement, a bottle of wine, a lot of food, and a grill, so we decided the rest of the night would be kind of like camping in a super luxurious three-story tent.

We grilled meat and vegetables on the outdoor grill, in the rain, and we drank wine and when the sun started to set we lit candles and curled up with the dogs and whispered about the TV we would be watching if we could turn on the TV. And it was all fine and dandy until the sun completely set and the house was pitch-dark and suddenly I couldn’t relax. I was totally on edge.

“What was that?”

“What was what?”

“That sound.”

“I don’t hear anything.”

“I think there’s someone upstairs.”

“There’s no one upstairs.”

“THAT! You didn’t hear that? That scraping sound?”

“It was probably one of the dogs.”

“Shhhh. Listen.”

“… …. …. …. … …”

“Ok, so it stopped. But I definitely heard something.”

I’m always afraid that with the loss of electricity will come the loss of civilization and before you know it, we’ll be attacked on all sides by brain-hungry zombies with gnashing teeth and rotting flesh. Even while Mike was roasting marshmallows for s’mores I was a nervous wreck. Even with chocolate and graham cracker crumbs dribbling down my chin, my hands were shaking.

Around ten o’clock we put all the dogs to bed and crawled in ourselves, a flashlight between us so we could both read. I was too jumpy to sleep, too jumpy to lay in the dark, but burying myself in a nice fictional romance was just the ticket. Then, at ten forty-five, I heard a strange sound. I froze, held my breath to listen. It was a low buzzing sound, so low it was barely audible. Was it a swarm of flies? The sound of a car coming up the road? When you’re in a glass house on the middle of eighty acres, the last thing you want to hear late at night during a power outage is a car coming up the road. I sat up and looked over at Mike, who’d fallen asleep with his face in his book. I was about to shake him awake when I realized what I was hearing: the gentle hum of central air. I reached over and flicked a light switch and the unnatural, gorgeous glow of electric light filled the room. I shook Mike awake anyway.

“Wha–what??”

I turned the light off. Turned it on again.

“The lights are on! Great! Now will you turn them off and go to sleep?”

He smiled at me and pet my hair and I felt like I could breathe again. So we turned off all the lights, made the house pitch-dark again, and I fell fast asleep. I do love my first-world trimmings.

And speaking of first-world trimmings, I suggest you head over to Kim’s Kitchen Sink and enter to win a $30 CSN gift certificate giveaway!

Yesterday — This and That

We started packing this weekend. Not Michael and I, Adam and I. Michael is taking care of eight Alaskan Malamutes who live on eighty acres of land in Esopus, New York, and so Adam and I spent Saturday in Central Park, then we went to SoHo to do a little shopping, and then we went back to my apartment and started packing. I didn’t want to. We’d shared an idyllic New York afternoon and the last thing I wanted to do was ruin it by packing my home into cardboard boxes. I hemmed and hawed and insisted on cooking a three course meal, which is laughable considering I only starting learning how to cook within this last year, I was obviously just procrastinating. However, Adam is the kind of guy who organizes his underpants by color and cut because he thinks it’s fun, so by the time I had the first course on the table, he’d all ready packed up several boxes of stuff. And I was relieved. It was little like ripping a band-aid off a wound, but once the book shelves are empty, what’s the point in putting off the rest? So we packed and we packed, until we ran out of boxes and only then did I realize how much crap Mike and I have. Seriously. Adam and I packed twenty boxes of stuff from the living room and the only reason you can tell is because now there is a huge stack of packed and labeled boxes along one wall. Mike and I have really got our work cut out for us.

But for now twenty boxes will have to be enough, because on Sunday morning I hopped a train to Poughkeepsie and Mike picked me up at the station and drove me to Esopus, and now I am sitting on a deck with my feet up, laptop perched on my knees, a cup of peppermint tea at my elbow, and I am looking at this:

My View

I don’t know if you can tell from the crappy photo I took with my computer (I forgot the cord that connects my camera to the laptop, so had to use Photo Booth instead) but there is a lake beyond those trees. A perfectly lovely shimmering lake, full of fish to fish if you like to fish, and snapping turtles, and frogs, and all kinds of other wonderful things. There is space for the doglets to run around, so long as I keep them separated from the herd Malamutes, who, friendly as they are, see ten pound dachshunds and fifteen pound chihuahua mutts as snack foods. Of course, if I did let them mingle, we wouldn’t have to worry about driving cross-country with two dogs.

Sunday afternoon it was very hot and so I put our doglets in the air-conditioned, furnished basement and spent my afternoon like this:

P and Ish.

That’s Printer, and he probably weighs about a hundred pounds. He likes to rest his head on your knee for a scratch behind the ears, and if you don’t comply, he will take one of his giant paws, and he will place it gently on your shoulder and push a little. And then huff an exasperated sigh, as if to say, “I ask so little of you, human. PET ME ALL READY.”

This place is heaven. The space, the green, the crickets, the humming birds, the dragon flies, the wind in the trees, it’s all absolutely heaven. It’s a perfect reprieve from our impending move.

Malamute Footrest

Malamutes make good footrests.

T and TT

When Trouble wants to sit in your lap, you let her. All ninety-five pounds of her.

EDIT: This is my 100th post at A Serious Girl! (Just felt like I had to mention it.)

Lunch!

Lunch

Turkey melt on whole grain bread with sliced kalamata olives, chopped scallions and cheddar cheese. And pink homemade pickles. Absolutely delicious.

Also? This past Saturday was One Month Until We Load Our Rental Truck. Ask me if I’ve started packing yet. I dare you.

Thursday Night Family Dinner

family party 2006

A family gathering, November 2005

One of the reasons I am so excited to move home is because finally, finally after three-and-a-half years, finally I get to participate in Thursday Night Family Dinner. My mother always spends Thursday afternoons with my niece, and then my brother and sister-in-law come over for dinner, and often times, at least when I’m in town, most of the other siblings and their partners and various off-spring come over, at least whoever is free that night, and we all sit around the dining room table and eat something wonderful and talk about our day and what’s been going on lately, and sometimes we end up reminiscing and telling family stories, and those are my favorite times of all.

Other times we have a big family fight and someone stomps out of the room and everyone whispers in hushed tones and the person who said something to make the other person mad goes upstairs to apologize and then the mad person and the apologetic person come downstairs and we all eat ice cream. Or graham crackers with peanut butter and honey.

When I was growing up, my parents and I sat around the dinner table every night, ate a meal my mother cooked, and talked about our day. Which usually led to us talking about other things, like something great that happened, or something that was bothering us. Dinner time was our time to reconnect as a family. When I was really little, I would get sleepy listening to Mama and Papa talk and I’d crawl into Papa’s lap and lay my head on his chest and the deep rumbling of his voice would lull me to sleep.  Later he’d carry me upstairs, say my prayers with me, and tuck me in. In the mornings Mama would wake me up singing, she’d fix me breakfast and pack my lunch and Papa would walk me to the bus stop so we could spend a little extra time together. In the afternoons I walked home with the other kids and Mama would be waiting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper and we’d sit and have snacks and visit and then I’d do my homework while she cooked dinner and when Papa came everyone smiled and laughed and kissed and hugged and then we ate dinner and talked about our day. Family dinner made my childhood better.

Mike and I eat dinner together at the table every night we possibly can, which for the last year and a half has been nearly every single night. I adore our dinners together. Next to when we finally curl up at the end of the day, dinner is my favorite time of day. Dinner is when we reconnect, talk about our day, the great things that have happened, something that’s bothering us. It’s our one guaranteed hour of quality time in the day. It’s a gift from one to the other.

When something is bothering me I need a little time to warm up before I can talk about it. I can’t just pin Mike down at the end of a busy week and dump my heart out. I’ve got to spend a little quality time with him, talk about the weather, the dogs, something stupid, anything. I’m slow to warm. Which is not to say I don’t feel safe with Mike, because if there is anyone I feel safe with, it’s him. That man has known me through some of the ugliest moments of my life and he has always stood next to me, arms open and ready to catch me the moment I fell. I’m no psychologist, but I believe that open and honest communication is the only way to have a solid relationship. And open and honest communication only comes when you are able to communicate on a regular and frequent basis, because communication = human connection. Therefore family dinner = human connection = happy marriage = happy family.

I was not at all prepared for the loss of connection with the people I love the most when I moved to New York. Of course we’ve all made the best of it, found ways to connect through social media and lengthy emails and photos and regular visits. But it’s going to be so much better when I’m not so far away! And also more annoying, probably. There is nothing like seeing someone on a regular basis to make you feel like they’re driving you crazy. Even that considered, I’m really excited to go home and take part in Thursday Night Family Dinner. I can’t wait to hear about everyone’s day, what’s on their mind, what’s going on. I can’t wait to be a part of their lives again, and have them a part of mine. I can’t wait for everyone to get to know Mike better, and for me to get to know his family better. And also? I can’t wait until the day we get to bring our own off-spring to dinner, Thursday nights and every night.*

*That’s at least twenty-two months away,** so don’t get excited.

**Not that I’m counting or anything.

Sidewalk Angels

Seriously Catty

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll have figured out by now that I have a thing for animals. I love them. A lot. Maybe more than is natural. I even love them when they are dead and rotting. But mostly I love them when they are alive and well, and I especially love to be able to help them whenever and however I can.

Recently I heard about Sidewalk Angels Foundation, a New York-based non-profit organization established by Rob and Marisol Thomas. Sidewalk Angels works hand-in-hand with charities in and around America’s big cities. They help people who are destitute or homeless, people who can’t afford proper medical care and animals that have been abandoned or abused. One of the organizations they work with is Pets Alive in Middletown, NY, which is the rescue through which I met and fell in love with Theo. So when they asked me to make a video to help promote the Rob Thomas/Sidewalk Angels Auction, I almost peed my pants.

Check it out. Show your support. And bid!! You could win an all expenses paid trip to Las Vegas to see Rob Thomas perform live, all in the name of helping those in need.