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White Knuckles

I’ve posted OK Go videos before, and I’m doing it again. Because these guys are so joyful, so fun, so creative, and they make me so happy I cry.

Coyoting II

Coyoting I

We made it all the way to our turning point without stopping once, something I have never done before or since. We took a minute to stretch and sip water, but only a minute. There were two people and a big dog coming down the trail, and since Smelmut doesn’t like big dogs, I didn’t want to stop and chance an interaction. We circled the old oak that marks our turning point and headed home. We’d really hit a groove, Smelmut and me. He was running at a perfect heel, his nose to my knee, no pulling. And then I heard someone yelling, “Coyote!”

The other day I was at a lunch meeting at this great little Indian buffet in The Valley. We were shown to a table and while I pulled out my seat, everyone else put their things down and wandered off to the buffet table.

“Come on, Trish! There’s no line!”

I looked around at the cell phones, car keys, and eyeglasses littering the tabletop. Mrs. Toots had left her purse draped over a chair, Big Boss’ briefcase leaned carefully against the table. I shook my head at my co-workers, who were staring expectantly. How can she leave her purse on the chair like that! I thought to myself. And their car keys and everything! Unattended! One time, my friend left her purse on a bar stool that she was standing next to, and someone totally stole her wallet! And this other time, my other friend was sitting at a café, her bag over her shoulder, and her laptop was stolen right out of it!

“We shouldn’t leave our things unattended!” I shrieked. The restaurant went silent. Everyone turned and stared. My co-worker, Mr. Hahpimon, made a face. “It’s a BUFFET. We can watch our stuff while we fill our plates.”

What can I say? I’ve been living in New York for four years. You don’t leave your stuff on a table in New York and expect it to be there when you get back. You also don’t turn around when someone starts yelling at you, because they’re probably wearing a newspaper suit and if you turn around you’ll be forced to endure a lecture on why one should get brain implants if one plans to visit Sleringula, a star that orbits Mars.

“Watch it! Coyote!”

Coyote? I looked over my shoulder and there, not four feet behind us, was indeed a coyote.  The biggest, fastest, snarliest coyote I’ve ever seen. And he was chasing us.

I stopped dead in my tracks, my eyes on his, and watched as he veered off the path and into the brush. I started to walk back to the people who’d been yelling and he made a move like he was ready to pounce. I faced him again and backed away slowly. He didn’t take his eyes off us for a minute. By then the people, newlyweds out for a morning hike with their German Shepherd, had caught up to us.

“Oh man! That coyote was hunting you! He wanted your little dog! We were watching him hunt something, but we didn’t know what, and then we came over the hill right when he started running, and we saw you! That was so messed up. You shouldn’t run out here with your little dog. Do you want us to walk you home?”

Yes, yes, I absolutely did, because do you know what? That coyote was still staring at us.

Coyoting

This weekend we dogsat for my brother and his fiancé. They’ve got this funny little dog who looks just like this stuffed toy I had when I was a kid. He’s exactly my favorite kind of dog. Gorgeous, smart, and scrappy.

Internet, meet Smelmut:

Smelmut!

If only I’d managed to catch a photo of Smelmut playing with his new cousins! They are adorable together. Whenever Smelmut comes over for Thursday Night Family Dinner, there is much bouncing and dancing in small circles and play bowing. The three little dogs tussle and frolic and fight over scraps. They take turns curling up in each other’s beds and in the laps of each other’s masters. It’s wonderful to see them together.

This weekend was no different, only this time I got to spend some one-on-one time getting to know him. I also almost got him eaten.

Thursday and Friday were really hard on sweet little Smelmut. It was his first time away from his family, and we made him sleep all alone in the kitchen. Except it’s not like that, we’re not evil. Valentine and Theo sleep in a crate next to the backdoor, and he had his little bed right next to them, so he wasn’t actually alone. But he sure felt alone. I could tell by all the barking.

Saturday morning I got up early to run before the heat set in. By seven-thirty it was already seventy-six degrees and rising. Mike was in class, and rather than run alone, I thought I’d bring my back-up. Normally when Mike can’t run, I’ll go with Valentine. If there is one thing that little yellow mutt loves, it’s running. She can go and go and go and go, and I swear to you, there is absolute joy on her face all the while.

Smelmut is another little dog who loves to run. My brother is always talking about how fun it is to take him running, and since he’d seemed so sad and lonesome, I thought a nice run would be just the thing to cheer him. So I leashed him up and off we went.

Read the rest here…

Weather Check

Yesterday marked one-month since we arrived in Los Angeles and started living with my parents. One month with all of our belongings in boxes in their garage. One month of shared dinners and shared errands and shared Sundays. One month of little dogs with muddy feet on white linen slacks, one month of cats leaping from dark bookcase corners.

My parents are incredibly gracious. They even seem to enjoy having us here, and thank goodness, because being able to land here, with them, to have a home base while we gather ourselves together and get ready to move on to the next phase in our life has been invaluable. And wonderful.

Friends keep asking how the apartment hunt is going, but we haven’t even started looking. For one thing, I’ve been too busy at work to do anything else, and as long as Mike is still looking for an apartment manager job, why should we sign a lease? In the meantime we’re enjoying the shared dinners and shared errands and shared Sundays. Mike’s been wonderful about chipping in with chores and cooking, and I’m trying too. The dogs are enjoying the backyard and the cats are taking full advantage of sharing a room with us. They spend their nights tracing our faces with their whiskers, leaping back and forth from our bellies to our pillows and back again.

I’m sure it’s not easy for my parents to share their home with another family, especially one that consists of so many animals. But every time I ask them if we’re driving them crazy yet, they just laugh and insist that Mike’s cooking is worth it. And honestly? I’m a little surprised at how easy it’s been for Mike and me to adjust to sharing our life with another family. Granted the other family is our family too, but I was a little worried that we wouldn’t have enough privacy, or we’d impede on their privacy, or Theo would pee all over the garden furniture and drive my mother nuts, but so far it’s been fine.

Mike and I started running in the mornings, and since he started a part-time job our run has become our one chance to touch base during the day. He’s working nights, I’m working days, so it’s morning runs or nuthin’. As close as we are, it’s become really important for us to have the opportunity, every day, to clue each other in as to how we’re feeling, what’s going on, and where our heads are at. I’ve found that when we miss that hour alone together too many days in a row, I end up feeling disconnected, insecure, and uneasy. Then when we  run we get awkward. We trot side by side, talking small about the weather, our plans for the day. But by the end, sweaty and out of breath, we’re excited and talking about our future, the fixer-upper we hope to buy, the trip to Nepal, the degree Mike will earn, the family we hope to begin.

Do a “weather” check during the day Call your partner at home or at work to see how his or her day is going. This is a great way to adjust expectations so that you’re more in sync when you connect after work. For instance, if your partner is having an awful day, it might be unreasonable to expect him or her to be enthusiastic about something good that happened to you. — From 10 Tips for Happy Couples, by Dr. Mark Goulston.

Mike’s working in a restaurant, so calling him at work is out of the question. And I really don’t feel comfortable taking personal calls while I’m working, because they distract me too much. But the idea is what’s important, and for us, the hour of running is what is keeping us in tune. So what about you? What do you do to stay connected to your partner? Do you have a weekly date night? Do you share a daily meal? How do you manage sharing a life with opposite schedules?

And I shall call her Georges.

praying mantis 3

I made friends with a praying mantis on Saturday. Isn’t she beautiful?

praying mantis 2

She let me pet her wings, and touch her feelers, too. She seemed to think I was as odd as I thought she was.

praying mantis 1

Don’t you just want to kiss her on her little mouth-bits?

And then, just because, I re-wrote my About page. Oh what a thrilling life I lead!

God Bless Suburbia

After dinner last night, right before we headed upstairs to get ready for bed, we realized we’d forgotten to run the errands we needed to run. We were supposed to pick up coffee, sugar, a GFCI electrical socket, and the required black pants/black shirt Mike needs for his new part-time job. (Yay for the part-time job!)

Luckily, it was only seven-thirty, so we tucked the dogs in for the night, grabbed sweaters to protect against the freezing sixty-degree weather, and hopped in the car.

Yes, we get ready for bed at seven-thirty. What can I say? We’re an old married couple.

By eight-thirty we were brushing our teeth and marveling at how we’d just run three hours worth of errands in one. It was because of the strip mall. And the trunk of the car.

You see, most people who live in suburbia take for granted their ability to run multiple errands in a short period of time. I know, because I used to be one of those people. And then I moved to New York and figured out how the rest of the world works. Or at least the part of the world situated in Manhattan.

If we were still living in Manhattan, we’d have had to make three separate stops, instead of the one we were able to make last night. First we’d have gone to K-Mart for black Dickies and a generic black button-up. It would have taken us thirty minutes to get there, plus a ten minute walk off the train, and it would’ve been a miserable experience because that K-Mart was never fully stocked and it was always so full of people there ought to be signs out front warning shoppers not to enter if they fear large crowds. Next we’d spend another twenty minutes on the subway, another fifteen minutes walking, and then we’d be at Home Depot, also terribly crowded, with checkout lines thirty people deep. Fifteen more minutes walking and an hour on the subway before we got to our neighborhood market, all while carrying everything we’d purchased elsewhere. By the time we finally got home we’d have spent at least three hours, probably four, and we’d be exhausted, sweaty, and praying for an early death.

Instead we hopped in a car, drove to a strip mall, purchased everything we needed at a Target and a Home Depot sitting back-to-back, and were home in sixty minutes. Yes, it’s a little freaky that we can buy groceries and clothing in one location, I’ll be honest. Target’s new grocery section makes me feel a little bit dirty, I don’t know why, but still. I do not miss the city at all.

P.S. There’s a wiener in the lantana.

wiener in the lantana

The Valley After Sunrise

All that weight I lost while I was taking the pill for a test drive last spring came back in July and August when our regular work-outs were replaced with packing, cleaning, and freaking the f*** out. I’ve been slim and athletic my whole life, except for that time in college when I was in the habit of making midnight runs to 7-11 for Ding Dongs and Twinkies, and except for every winter I ever spent in NYC, so it’s incredibly frustrating to feel my body folding over itself whenever I sit down in a pair of pants that fit perfectly only two months ago. I know, I know, poor me and my little first world problems. I feel fat, wah.

But still.

So we’re running again. Mike and I. Huffing and puffing and marveling at our inability to make it through a run without stopping a squillion times so we don’t puke breakfast all over our sneakers. But the nice thing about running here, even when it’s awful and you can’t see that it’s making any difference in your physique, is the view at the top of the hill.

early morning

At least with a view like that, I can pretend I’m breathless not from poor physical condition, but from the beauty flung out before my very eyes.

Little Houses

little houses

One of these little houses belongs to me. (At least, in my heart it does.)

Exoskeleton

exoskeleton

This was a gift from my mother today.  She dropped it on my keyboard while I was working and scared the living day lights out of me. Me, who likes dead things and reptiles and taxidermy.  Then I realized what it was and started laughing.  A much needed moment of brightness during a very long and frustrating day.

Something. Anything.

wild flowers

Work is going really well, but it is all consuming. In the mornings, sometimes, when we’re able to drag ourselves out of bed early enough, Mike and I have been taking the dogs for hikes, because all four of us need the exercise.  Then I spend the day working and Mike spends the day job hunting. Then we have dinner with my parents, and then we crash. And I just haven’t figured out where to make time for my writing. But I have got to figure it out, and I’ve got to figure it out soon, because I can feel myself getting out of practice.

My bosses are writing a book, and when I finish transcribing it, it will be my job to edit it, which is the part I’m really excited about.  Editing has always been one of my fantasy careers. But in the meantime, I spent over four hours typing today and I swear to you, my fingers ache in a way that I cannot even begin to describe. So for now, even though I miss you terribly, I must let my fingers and wrists rest. There is probably another four hours of typing to do tomorrow, in between meetings and phone calls and Thursday Night Family Dinner, which is surely the highlight of my week.

One day I’ll get back to regularly scheduled posting, and until then, may all our days be full of sunshine and wildflowers.

(I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore.)