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Meh

It’s so windy today! And also, it’s 85* and oh-so-sunshiney, so I am not complaining about the wind, not one little bit. It’s a gorgeous day in the valley and I wish I could spend it frolicking outdoors, but instead I’m cooped up with my face pressed against a computer. Bummer.

There’s a lot of life going on right now and I’m very tired and anxious and exhausted so how about we don’t talk about anything else today and just take a break to look at some wieners?

wiener

Maybe if I lay real still, she’ll give me some cheese?

sleepy

He’s awfully pretty for someone that eats poo and likes it.

And let’s not forget this one:

P1010003

Whatever you do, DON’T FEED IT AFTER MIDNIGHT.

Melly Klistmas and a Happy New Lease

This is probably the longest stretch of time I’ve ever gone without writing in my blog. It’s been almost a whole month, you guys. So what’s been taking up all of my time, you ask? All fifty-six and a half hours a week not spent sleeping, showering, eating, working, and commuting? First, there were the holidays.

snowy village

Christmas was lovely. I didn’t get the Sylvanian’s out of their Thanksgiving outfits until December 21st, but it was totally worth the wait.

sylvanian xmas

I didn’t bake my traditional gingerbread people this year, but I did make all my own gift-wrap.

recycled wrapping

We had a wonderful New Year. Mike had to work New Year’s Eve, but I got to spend the evening with my brother and his wife, just the three of us, and it was absolutely lovely. Since Mike and I weren’t going to spend New Year’s Eve-ning together, we spent the afternoon together instead. And what does a young starting-out for the third-time couple do on a sunny So Cal winter day? They apartment hunt.

I had been hoping for a two-bedroom apartment, some outdoor space, and hardwood or laminate floors, but two-bedrooms with all those amenities in the San Fernando Valley are more expensive than you’d think. We looked at a couple of cute places, all brand-new laminate floors, lots of sun, one-bedrooms totally within our budget.  We looked at a couple of awful places, one-bedrooms outside our budget that looked good on paper but turned out to be carpeted windowless dens of misery.

We were getting ready to wrap it up for the day when Mike convinced me to take a look at a little apartment off Saticoy he’d seen the day before. A two-bedroom with a dishwasher, a balcony, a fireplace, and carpeting, it was right within our budget. However, as far as I was concerned, the carpeting cancelled out the dishwasher, the fireplace, and the second bedroom. I was determined to hold out for hardwood floors. And by that I mean laminate flooring would have been equally awesome, but carpet was out of the question. If we had carpet I would spend the next five years scrubbing dog butt-smear out of it.

“But the landlord said she didn’t care that we have dogs, she doesn’t care what happens to the carpet, so you don’t have to worry about it.”
“Dog butt-smear in the carpet is disgusting. I’m not living with carpet.”
“I’ll buy a carpet cleaner and I’ll shampoo it once a week.”
“No.”
“There are two bathrooms.”
“Fine. But we’re only looking.”

He turned onto a street lined with 1920’s Craftsman bungalows and palm trees. “This is probably where we’ll walk the dogs in the mornings. There’s a coffee shop at the end of the block.” I rolled my eyes and coughed the words “butt smear”. He turned a corner and parked in front of a little six-unit building. There were two kids sitting on the lawn out front, playing with a puppy under the shade of a big beautiful tree.

The minute I walked into our Harlem apartment, I knew I was home. I loved that apartment from the first moment I saw it, like it was a part of Mike and me and who we are together. I loved it’s tall windows with the deep sills, the shining original hardwood floors. I loved our neighbors and our community, but mostly I loved how happy we were while we lived there.

When Michael opened the front door of this new apartment and I saw the fireplace nestled in the built-in bookcases, I knew we were home.  We signed the lease three days later and started moving in right away.  Life has been incredibly upside down ever since we left New York, but never as much as it has been in the last fifteen days. We’ve been overwhelmed and frustrated and of course there is always some butt-smear, but you know what? That’s life. And a little at a time the boxes are vanishing, our things are finding their place in cabinets and cupboards, and we’re making this apartment ours. Welcome to another new beginning. Welcome to the Valley.

welcome-to-the-valley

The sunset off our balcony

Sunday Afternoon

Sunday Afternoon Web

We haven’t had a Sunday afternoon like this in ages. The kind of Sunday when you stay in your jammies with a coffee  and the paper until noon. An afternoon for reading in the shade of a tree, a little dog on your lap. A long, lazy, quiet day of rest.

Usually Mike has to work on Sundays, but he was running in the woods yesterday and tripped over a piece of barbed wire and hurt his hip really badly. He can’t put any weight on his right leg at all, and it’s hard to wait tables standing on one leg. So he’s home resting and I’m resting right alongside him. Or, I’m doing my version of resting, which is to say I’ve given myself a manicure and a pedicure, and washed four loads of laundry. Heaven.

Close Call

my wiener

I was chopping tomatoes at the kitchen counter just before family dinner the other night, when I heard my brother yelling, “Where’s the wiener? Where’s the wiener?”

The fencing in my parent’s yard is just wide enough that both little dogs can slip through without any effort at all. The first day we were home we found Valentine sniffing around in the front yard of the house across the street and down two. An hour later we caught Theo lapping water out of the next-door neighbor’s pool. As a result, those little dogs are no longer allowed in the backyard unattended.

On this particular evening, I’d spent the entire day working in the yard with the dogs off leash and they hadn’t tried to go through the fence, not once. When I went inside to chop tomatoes, I didn’t think anything of leaving them alone in the yard. They’d done nothing but sleep in the sun all day and I could see them right through the kitchen window. It wasn’t like they were going to slip through the fence while I watched.

But I wasn’t watching the little dogs asleep on the shearling cushion. I was watching the tips of my fingers. So when Ty started yelling, “Where’s the wiener? Where’s the wiener?” my heart leapt into my throat. Most likely drowned in the neighbor’s pool, I thought, because I am the worst dog-mother in the world. I dropped the knife and ran into the yard.

“Wiener! Wiener! Wiener!” Ty yelled.

I joined in, “Theo! Theo! Theo!”

Nothing. Not a sound.

Usually when I call Theo, the tags on his collar jingle. He doesn’t always come right away, but at least his tail starts wagging, and on that hot dog body of his, a little tail wagging goes a long way. His butt gets going and the movement travels down his long spine and his tags jingle till they sound like church bells to my worried ears. But not that night.

That night we called him and called him and the yard was silent. We ran around the yard, our calls getting louder and more frantic, but he was nowhere. I rounded the side of the house and there he was, safe and sound under the roses, happily eating a pile of shit like it was a fresh london broil. I couldn’t kiss him for a week.

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…

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.

Not A Cubicle

This is my current work space:

not a corner office

I’m thinking of filing a complaint.  I mean, seriously. I was expecting a cubicle and they gave me THAT. (Alas, it is only temporary, so I am enjoying every moment of it.)

Today I saw nine golden finches feeding at the bird feeder, I watched dozens of lizards scamper by, Valentine and I sat in the sun while I typed all the dictation, and I took all my phone calls with my nose in the roses. Eight hours at a computer balanced by flowers and birds and squirrels! I forgot to mention the squirrels! My father keeps a squirrel feeder full of peanuts, only today it was empty and this big, fat squirrel came clambering up to it and when he realized it was empty, started banging on it with his little squirrel fists and I just know he was thinking, “Where my nuts? Gimme my nuts!”

I don’t miss New York at all.