Welcome to the world of the Adventurous Bug!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Howdy Stranger

It's come to my attention that I have, somehow, mysteriously and wonderfully, gained a set of readers from countries that I've never been to. In fact, there are now readers in countries I've only ever visited briefly (Bonjour, Guten Tag, and Hej Danskere!). And, to the Croatians and Slovenian, hello! And I'm sorry I don't have a more extensive knowledge of European languages to welcome you in your own tongue! To the Irish, Canadians, Brits and Americans--I'm heartily glad you're here. I hope you're having a good day!

My day today has been a bit...well, odd. It started off great. Like GREAT, great. We were up and around and running errands and out of town by nine. We got to our first stop of the day and WHOOSH--in and out and on to the next task. And ZIP! Through the next thing and on to the next stop on our to do list. And ZING! Like lightning we flashed through the store and back onto the road...

and then everything started unravelling. There was a dog on the side of the road, and I couldn't stop for him. It was a Boxer with a collar fitted with one of those electric-fence-shocker-box-thingies. It killed me to pass him. SLAYED me. I have no doubt I'll be feeling guilty, and hoping the best for that doggie long after his natural life has been and gone. I hate that I didn't stop--schedule be damned, I should've. But I didn't. Instead we buzzed along to the social security office. Or we tried to buzz along, anyway.

We used Baxter's Navigation system for the first time. I can tell you now, I'm not very impressed with the lady voice we've taken to calling "Mrs. Baxter." First of all, the address we had was the OLD address. However, Mrs. Baxter directed us to a house. Just a house. In the middle of a residential neighborhood. Clearly NOT the social security administration. In fact, it wasn't even the address we'd entered. We found the wrong/old address by ourselves. Then we snatched our phones (thank goodness for 3G!) and started searching for the new/correct address. Finally found, we entered that into Mrs. Baxter's map. Guess what? She led us to another house. In the middle of another residential neighborhood. Stupid lady! Luckily Nearly Husband and I are fairly clever (sometimes...) and we managed to find it for ourselves.

It was pretty nearly empty. "Your wait time should be approximately 14 minutes." It was significantly quicker than 14 minutes. And the woman... the infuriating woman behind the horrible counter said, "Oh, well, if you'd waited until tomorrow we could have had it to you in two weeks, but since you're not in the system yet it'll be two to six weeks." SIX WEEKS?! Because we came ON THE DAY WE WERE TOLD WE COULD COME?! WHA?!

Aghast. Seriously. I was raging. Nearly Husband was very calm, perhaps a bit disappointed and frustrated, but he didn't even turn colors. Unlike me. I checked the mirror and I was a pretty bright shade of pink. (you horrible woman. you couldn't have offered to let us come back tomorrow, or maybe hold on to his paperwork and file it tomorrow? you had to give us the SIX WEEKS line? I have nothing nice to say about you. DIRTY WORDS.) So we took Baxter to the Jeep dealership for his first ever oil change. *sigh* They grow up so fast, don't they?

I'd been told there would be a loaner vehicle to get around in while the car was being serviced. And there was...kinda. It was a 1996 Dodge Stratus, gold, with gold and beige interior. It... um... well, uh... I hated it. Nearly Husband hated it. It took thirty minutes to find a place to eat lunch because the Gold Bandit could barely budge itself. I feel like the service department guys keep it solely because they have a bet going as to how many people see it and decide they'll just sit in the dealership, thanks. Oh...*shudder* Gross. "Honey, I think something may have died in the back," says Nearly. "Just don't look...or breathe if you can help it." "That's not helpful, Bug."

But, you know what? I've never been more grateful to sit in my beautiful, shiny, black, clean, beast of a vehicle. He was WARM! And CLEAN! And DIDN'T SMELL OF DECAY! I love you Baxter Black!

And, for your entertainment:

You're welcome!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Half Of It

What a week. Has it been just a week? It feels like it's been a month. Well, it feels like it's been a month except for the days when it feels like it's been no time at all! My Nearly Husband is even more nearly my husband! He's in the US, and his arrival was swift and trouble-free. In fact, I really don't think you could ask for a more pleasant entry into the United States. He even laughed with the customs officials. (I know, right?!)

We've wandered around the state Christmas shopping, getting a tree (I let him pick it out, and string all the lights himself), and trying to sort out the last of our details. It's been interesting. I think he's impressed with the hillier/tree...ier side of Kansas, and I can see us moving there eventually. For now, though, he'll have to suffer through the flat/beige side a little longer. I say suffer, but can you possibly suffer through sunsets that take 180 degrees of horizon and paint it with the most beautiful pinks, reds, oranges, and purples imaginable? No. I didn't think so.

Tomorrow I'm taking him to a major city to get his Social Security card. I'm afraid this is going to be a nightmare, but it's necessary. There are so many things that require a Soc.Sec... I guess I'd never realized how many. Banks, drivers licenses, wedding applications...*sigh* It feels like a rather never ending list, to be honest. The catch? His visa doesn't allow him to work--that's the post-marriage part we have to tackle next. But GETTING a marriage license will be easier with a social security card. Oh, the round-and-round with government offices gives me a headache, and I just don't get headaches. Ick.

In cheerier news, my favorite furry little Einstein learned "High Five" in less than five minutes today. Yeah, I know. She's amazing! I am continuously impressed with Doodle smarts. I'm very excited to go fetch the Nearly Hubby's puppy (a doodle, of course) at the first of the year. Hopefully it won't be long before he, Cassie, future puppy and I will be able to move out into a place of our very own. Maybe a place with a couple of acres for Belle, a barn for hay and future cats, and a pond for future ducks. What? You think I'm asking too much of our first house? C'mon--a girl can dream, can't she?!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Puffy Vest Debacle

It went a little something like this.... (cue dream fog)

Nannie: Oh! Hey, Kid. Are you here to babysit?
Me: Hey Nannie! Yeah, I'm gonna sit with you this morning. What ya reading?
Nannie: Oh... (looks at book) *sigh* I don't even know. (looks at me) What, um...what is that? (pointing to my chest)
Me: My shirt?
Nannie: No, the other thing.
Me: My vest?
Nannie: Vest. That's it. (frowns)
Me: What about my vest?
Nannie: It makes you look heavy.
Me: ... (consisider making "he's not heavy, he's my vest" joke... decide against it) ... Oh. I like it.
Nannie: You're not heavy, though. Sometimes I think you're too thin.
Me: ... Oh. Well... I like my vest.
Nannie: It looks like you made it out of a... oh, you know. Like you sleep under when it's cold.
Me: A comforter?
Nannie: Right, a comforter.
Me: It's really warm, like a comforter.
Nannie: Maybe it needs... (motions to her arms)
Me: Sleeves?
Nannie: Right, yes. Sleeves. (pauses) But then it would just make your arms look fat.
Me: (thinks about puffy jacket currently in closet at home) Oh... well... I like it anyway.
Nannie: Your arms aren't fat, Kid. I just don't know about that thing.
Me: Well, that's alright. Maybe I don't know about it either.

See, the point here is this: I'm a size 4 in pretty much everything. Occasionally I'm a 2, sometimes (and to much mental disturbance) I'm a 6. Most of my clothes are an S, and all of my North Face clothing (including my THREE Nuptse vests and ONE Nuptse jacket) is an XS. But my Nannie has a point. I'll wait here while you google North Face Nuptse... *hums Jeopardy theme song*

Are you back? Can you see where Nannie was coming from? Unfortunately, now I can see where she's coming from too! I love my vests (in black, brown and teal)-- I love my jacket (black)! They are ludicrously warm, and comfy, and I enjoy the puffiness. One of the things I love most is that it feels precisely like my comforter! I mostly don't CARE if they make me look "heavy"-- I'm NOT heavy, and I know that.

...but I have been "heavy." Actually, having sorted through three million pictures this week, I feel fairly confident in saying that I have been truly fat in the past. I don't mean this in a judgmental, or negative way--I just didn't realize just how round I was. I have issues, sure--find me a lady who doesn't admit to having some issues about her body image and I'll show you a woman in pretty deep denial. But I really thought I was well on my way to being past all that. I eat what I feel like eating, usually in moderation but I don't beat myself up if I want a little more pizza on homemade pizza night sometimes. I work out regularly, though I go through phases of being very scheduled and rigorous, and I have sporadic bouts of not pushing myself very hard (you might call it bouts of laziness, and you probably wouldn't be wrong). I just mostly don't fuss so much about my shape. I am what I am, how I am, when I am (oh fluctuation, how you toy with the fit of my jeans), where I am, etc. Now, suddenly, even when I'm not wearing the blasted puffy vest, I can't pass a mirror without thinking, "Jeez, DO my arms look fatter than normal?" or "Is my waist wider than it was a couple of weeks ago?"

The answer is no. I know this because I've been measuring myself with a tape measure (scales are an instrument of the devil, and should be avoided accordingly) regularly for the last five years. I stay within an inch or so. Hmm....

Alright then. Part of me thinks, "Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead." I love my vests, and who cares if I look oddly plump around the midsection when I wear them! But... maybe I care. And then again, maybe I don't.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ho-Ho-Oh Humbug!

I beg your pardon. I don't mean to seem miserly, or curmudgeonly, or even grumpy--I've just been completely overwhelmed by the season. The storage room is nearly clean. It's tidy and completely organized. Alright, fine, you got me. It's ALMOST completely organized. At some point I moved from "Mom's History" to "Bug's History" to "Camping" to "Christmas" and only then realized I still had bits of my history scattered all over the living room and the rest of my allotted historical space had a sleeping bag and a tent in it. Hmm. I guess that part will be "Bug's History/Camping/Japanese Hanging Lanterns."

Here we have a box "Things I Remember." And here is "Things I Feel I Should Remember, But Don't." Above that, because it could have no other place, is "Things I Remember, But Try Not To If I Can Possibly Help It." That's on the highest shelf--the sort of shelf that you need a Sherpa guide to navigate. Beside that, a box full of... well, they might be obscure kitchen gadgets, or my mom may have done a stint as an 18th century anatomist and just forgotten to tell me about her gruesome and grisly adventures as a body-napper/autopsist (is that even a word?). Underneath that, kerosene lamps. Beside those, a moose made of tree bark. Next to that, pictures. Four hundred thousand pictures...at least. Minimum.

Other than that today, I've spent time with Nannie and attempted to make a start at Christmas decorations. I have, thus far, managed this:

Aaaaaand, I spent.

(Pardon the decoration box, boots, mason jars and doggy tail.)

Literally, I have no more Christmas spirit. I thought I'd plug in the iPod and try to Jingle Bell Rock myself into a state of Christmas euphoria... but I can't even find the iPod dock thingie.

I don't want to bake. I don't want to clean. I don't want to decorate. What on earth is WRONG with me?! I love decorating! I love organizing! I LOVE baking! Wait, hold the phone, I think I got it. I had 30-45 minutes of sleep last night...max. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping against hope that tomorrow morning, when I wake up, I'm so full of decorating enthusiasm it spills over and I decorate until there's tinsel draped around the Golden Retriever. (It's gold tinsel, after all!) If not... I guess the Nearly Husband will have to learn to pull his weight in ornaments and ribbon pretty fast!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy Time

Yesterday I received a mission. I could say a favor was asked, but let's not kid ourselves here. I wasn't asked, I was straight up TOLD. My aunt called from work. "Bug," she said. "Cinnamon rolls with pecans. I found you a recipe--make it happen." And that, as they say, was that. I got home from taking Mom to the train depot at twelve past midnight (12:12... I delight in numerical things like that. I think of them as little gifts), and I was up and baking by 8am. The result (minus one pan which flew out of the house in record time-- hey, I guess she DID request them) was this:

My usual recipe calls for a glaze, but I have to say--this drizzle is pretty. I even kind of like the crazier, swirlier lines and blobs better, which is totally against my better (OCD) judgement. They make the house smell beeeeautiful, and since I've been cleaning and organizing the storage room for the better part of the last two days (AAAA-CHOO!), the smell of baking bread and cinnamon is incredibly welcome. I won't try one of these, but I'm sure I'll hear reports from Peggy, Grandpa John and Mom!

So, there were two things that were fabulous today. I was awake and paying attention to the clock at 12:12, the cinnamon rolls made the whole house smell of Christmas, and I put this up on the refrigerator:

Makes your heart melt a little, doesn't it? I don't know if you can tell, but the redheaded stunner on the left--yeah, that's me. My adorable sidekick there is my cousin Morgann. The dogs... well, there are no fewer than a dozen dogs on this page both front and back. Which, of course, is precisely as many dogs would have if I'd brought home every stray I'd found. I wonder how she knew...

Anyway, this is the first piece of artwork that has ever been rewarded a place of importance on that fridge. Morgann and I have only met once, but we became buddies pretty fast. Really, that happens a lot with me and kids. I think it's because I like them, and they see me as a fun-size adult. Not intimidating, just little and full of wonder.

Also, just now, I've found out another thing that makes me so full of smiles I could nearly burst. Cassie knows the sound of a hand sliding into a box of Cheez-its, and it will call her from any room of the house. She's hooked. She'll do anything. Sit, stay, down, grovel, high-five--if it's for a Cheez-it, she's all in. Kind of like me, actually.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Been Too Long, I'm Glad To Be Back

If you can ignore the redheaded doofus in front of him (freezing her lady bollocks off, by the way, despite the massive puffy coat), Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Baxter Black--Jeep Extraordinaire. Baxter Black has been named thus for two reasons.

1) because he came from Baxter Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge in Omaha, NE.

and 2) because THE Baxter Black is my favorite (only?) cowboy poet, and Baxter the car is SERIOUSLY black. Shiny black. Clear night sky black. Oh, people, stellar really is the right word for him. He's amazing! Love, loveitty, love! If you need a ride, and you're within an hour or so distance, holler. We'll come fetch you. Because, mmm, yes, we love to drive!

Also on the topic of things I'm madly in love with:

Doggies with natural camouflage. Here Cassie (without her idiot bell... oh yes, I forgot to post you a picture of her after-spaying headgear) poses on her Gramma's new comforter. Oh okay, fine. She wasn't posing she was napping. Alright, she wasn't napping either. That dog was hard-core sleeping. In fact, last night when I took this, she and her bestest-buddy Sandy Claws were BOTH snoring at me so loudly it sounded like I'd accidentally curled up in a lumber-mill.

In a few short hours Cassie, Baxter Black and I will be driving South a ways to pick up my mom. Currently Mom can't drive herself anywhere. She can't drive herself anywhere because she can't see properly. She can't see properly because, just before Thanksgiving, she had bilateral-somethingty-extraocular-something-tendon-repositioning-something-else surgery. Now... well, I wasn't kidding about the length of the surgery's name. It was about eleven words long, and I think it just means she doesn't have to work so hard to keep her eyes open anymore, but who the hell cares because she won't be able to see anything anyway for at least six weeks. Yay? It's hard to stay positive when it takes her fifteen minutes to read one email using a heavy-duty magnifying glass and a squint. When she says things like, "Is that Peggy in the car in front of the car in front of us?" when there ISN'T a car in front of the car in front of us. When she says things like, "Jeez, where does this turn-lane actually turn to?" when there ISN'T a turn-lane. Anyway, you can understand why she isn't being allowed to drive ANYWHERE. I love you Mom, and that's why I've hidden your keys.

At any rate, in case you are in need of a good laugh this evening (or whenever it is you read this), I'll leave you with this:

I wish I knew what she was thinking.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Officially Speaking

I am so desperately in love with the United States government right now I almost don't know how to contain myself. They have granted my wonderful Nearly Husband his visa, and he will be arriving in the US on Sunday. Yes, you read that right, Sunday. The 12th of December (barring any hideous weather events).

He's cute, isn't he?

Yes, soon I'll be Mrs. Moustache-Coffee-Cup.

Can't tell you how excited I am about that!

Our plans (though, to be honest, we're getting a bit skeptical about "making plans" now that we're on approximately our 74,368th Plan) are as follows:

1) on the 11th of January (it's an otherwise inconspicuous Tuesday, though it's numbers hold some special meaning to us), my parents, his parents, and the two of us will take a casual trip to a Judge's office where we'll sign some documentation and become legally Mister and Missus Moustache-Coffee-Cup.

2) A few months later, once we're well into his next round of governmental paperwork, and once the weather has a chance to turn warm and bright, and once the plants around here start greening up-- we'll have a marriage ceremony and a delightfully raucous reception with, it is my sincerest hope, everyone we know in attendance.

3) Live happily ever after.

4) Also, sprinkled in there should be a new puppy. Probably as a precursor to step #1. Because, really, puppies are the most important thing next to babies and we're just not prepared for the baby stage. (Though we have decided on names because, well, I like a good Plan.) *(names for puppies, AND for babies.)

I have a lot of emotions about all this. I am blissfully happy about being privileged to spend my life with this funny, handsome, intensely caring and sweet man. But I do feel overwhelmed when I think about the fact that he's leaving his family, his home, and the only life he's ever known to be with me. Can you keep a secret? I struggle to believe that I'm worth the sacrifice he's making. The thing that keeps me strong is his faith in us--the excitement in his voice, and the joy on his face when he talks about our future together. The way he gets giddy when he talks about teaching his son to ride a bike. The way he comes up with clever and thoughtful names for our future dogs--the way he has taught himself all about different dog breeds so that he's well informed about what he wants and why. The way he talks about what a good gramma my mom will be, and how much he smiles when he says it. People, I'm scared that I don't deserve this fella, but I strive to every single day. If you haven't had the pleasure of meeting him yet, I hope you get to meet him soon... I mean, you ARE coming to the reception--RIGHT?!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Humanity Makes Me Sick (sometimes)

I had found my new car. I was excited-- I was more than excited, I was THRILLED. ECSTATIC. I was any number of words that can only be properly expressed by using ALL CAPS. Mom and I were driving home in the Tahoe, counting down the days until my 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee would arrive from Nebraska, giddy at having found a car that was so very perfectly suited to me.

And then I saw her. Wandering along the highway, looking scared and confused, was a young chocolate lab. There was no way I was passing that dog without trying to help. That kind of thing just isn't in my nature. She was very sweet and came right up to me when I got out of the Tahoe--flopped over for tummy scratches showing me the red-raw teats that I knew had to have finished nursing a litter of puppies not more than a week or so before. "She's got to be somebody's hunting dog that's lost, right?" I said to Mom. It's hunting season, and she wouldn't be the first gun-shy pup we'd found and returned to its owner. She had no collar. Mom just looked at me a little sadly, and nodded. "Sure, Hon. I'm sure that's it."

Now, two weeks later, we know that wasn't it. Two more labs, one going blind and the other very young, were also found around the same area wandering hungry and dehydrated and cold. I wanted to believe she was a hunting dog that separated from the pack--but she isn't. Somebody got tired of having dogs, couldn't afford them, needed to get rid of them, whatever-- and they drove out into the country and kicked them out. Luckily the veterinarian in Ulysses, Kansas has a big heart. His name is Tim Cantrell, and as far as I'm concerned the man deserves a knighthood, or sainthood, or at least as big a check as you're willing to write. He took her in (I named her Molly, and it seems to have stuck for everyone), cleaned her up, made sure she's healthy and as happy as she can be. And now we may have found two homes that want her and her cohorts.

The fact that these dogs were abandoned makes me physically sick. I can not begin to FATHOM the kind of selfish, self-centered idiot that believes that to have been the correct course of action. Where are Molly's puppies? I hope with my entire soul that they were sold, and sold to homes with families that will love and cherish them as they deserve--as every dog deserves. I'm terrified of alternative options, and refuse to speak of them even though they swarm my mind with yelping nightmares the minute I drift off to sleep.

But the fact that finding the dogs homes has been relatively quick and easy fills me with hope. Bless you, beautiful people, for being willing to open your hearts and doggie doors to these lost little souls. You have a stockpile of karma to see you through the next decade.

I understand that sometimes things happen that knock you for six. The economy is depressing right now (to say the very least), and there are people who find themselves unable to care for their human children let alone their furry ones. But there is NO excuse for abandonment. If I could find the people who left Molly and her friends, they wouldn't escape with less than a bloody nose and a severely bent ear. And that is the absolute truth.

One last thing, for those of you who have a minute and a couple of pennies to rub together. If you were thinking of getting me a christmas present this year, but wondering what I might like--I'll tell you. I'd like you to write a check to your local no-kill shelter, or rescue society, in the name of Molly Dowd-Morrison, Chocolate Lab, and lucky little pup.

Friday, November 19, 2010

To Bake Or Not To Bake

There really isn't a question there. At least, not for me. If given the opportunity to bake-- I will do it. In a heartbeat. Without hesitation. Aside from teaching the Muttley Crew new tricks, and cuddling with Nearly Husband, it is my absolute favorite thing to do in the whole wide world.

This is probably why I get asked to bake things quite frequently. Sometimes it's requests from family, or a favor for a friend, and occasionally I even get paid to make things. Really, baking makes me happy. That kind of deep down, warm-all-over, utterly contented kind of happy. I don't even eat most of the things I bake (I am, regretfully, a ridiculously picky eater), but seeing others enjoy what I've made is enough.

Now, Grandpa John is in the habit of getting cinnamon rolls from the Senior Center every week. To be perfectly honest, it's not just a habit anymore, it's become a part of The Routine. May God help you if you are responsible for putting a wrench in Grandpa John's Routine. (It's so serious it even comes with it's own capital R.) With his complete devotion to The Routine, he becomes quite agitated when he can't get cinnamon rolls. And we have just begun a three week stint of no cinnamon rolls. In fact, these next couple of months play utter havoc with The Routine in general. Post Office closing randomly in the middle of the week (okay, so it isn't random, it just feels that way), companies holding funny holiday hours, the golf course (where he used to play golf, but now just sits in the clubhouse with the other Town Elders playing cribbage and pitch) closes-- MY GOD! Not the golf course! But, yes. Sadly, even the golf course is susceptible to the Thanksgiving-New Years disturbance.

The point is the cinnamon rolls. When he can't get the Senior Center cinnamon rolls, mine will have to do. They aren't a part of The Routine, but a cinnamon roll is a cinnamon roll in hard times. Any roll in a storm, or something. I guess you can't always afford to be picky. Luckily there are people who LOVE the rolls I make, and who don't treat my beautiful, handcrafted rolls like second best. Yesterday, for Grandpa John, I made a pan of cinnamon rolls. But, for other people who love me and those delightful cinnamon rolls, I made a further five pans. People, you're welcome. (And you're all doubly welcome for not having to suffer Grandpa John's wrath when he has to start his morning by deviating from The Routine!) They turned out, I believe, pretty good. I tried one. It was satisfactorily mouth-watering. I might even go so far as to call it "Yummy" or "Scrumptious" but since I'M the one who made them, that might be pushing it a bit far. (But they were!)

Today I took Mom out to see Miss Belle (she was looking lovely, as always), and we bought her some apple-and-oat treats, because, I mean, c'mon. Who doesn't love spoiling an adorable, sweet, lovey equine?

And then... I made an experimental cake. It's ingredients included cake flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and heavy cream. I was, I must admit, intrigued. No milk? No water? No oil? or butter? or sour cream? Not even cream cheese? Are you sure? So, in order to find out what this bizarre conglomeration is like--I made it. It's presently cooling on a wire rack.

I know what you're going to say. Bug, it doesn't look suspicious.

Don't be fooled! This cake doesn't have any liquid ingredients other than a couple of eggs and heavy cream. HEAVY CREAM, people! I will dust it with some powdered sugar, and whip up (haha) some homemade whipped cream... and we'll see. We'll. Just. See. About. THIS.

And then this happened and it made the whole day completely perfect:

Now... on to that suspect cake!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WAR Liberty Belle

I dreamt of it all night. I woke up at 2am, 2.30, 3.15, 3.45, 4.30, 5.00, 6.00, 6.45-- every time with the same dream. I was late! Every time I awakened it was in that dream-fog. Had he really called? Had I missed him? Had he driven away never to return?

His name is Kavin. Not Kevin, Kavin. He drives for Nationwide Horse Transport, and today he was supposed to arrive in J-City at 6am. He said he'd call when he was an hour out. I kept waking up with that heart-in-your-throat feeling that he'd called and I'd fallen back asleep and forgotten to go meet him. (In my dreams he was a woman named Karen... apparently because DreamBug can't handle names that don't make sense. Kavin? Really?) Most of the great state of Kansas was under a Wind Advisory today-- it was gusting pretty fiercely. By 10am I'd heard nothing, and I was pretty much convinced that the transport had blown over leaving Kavin and his cargo dead in a ditch somewhere.

As it turns out, there is also a J-Town Kansas. This is where Kavin arrived at 6am this morning. J-Town is nearly 300 miles away from J-City, and Kavin didn't arrive here until nearly 1pm. But he arrived.
And this is what he brought me:

Okay, perhaps this is not her most flattering angle. She wasn't feeling very photogenic, for Pete's sake she's been in a horse box for four days! I would rather get stabbed in the foot with a pitchfork than have my picture taken after being on the road for four days.

Her name is 'WAR Liberty Belle' or just Belle for short, and she's a Morgan horse. In fact, back in 1995, she was my first Morgan horse. We owned her for seven happy years, and then, when I went to college, Belle went to go live with my cousin Mary Ellen in Connecticut. She lived with Mary Ellen for another eight very happy years, but recently Mary Ellen's health troubles have meant that she doesn't have the time we all think Belle deserves-- so she's coming home to me. For those of you keeping track, this means Belle has lived in Kansas, Utah, Connecticut and now Kansas again--which, I believe, makes her more well-traveled than a lot of Americans.

Sending her back has been very tough on my poor cousin. I know exactly how that feels because it nearly tore my heart out when I sent her away. Luckily Mary Ellen has a Dachsund named Moxie (Moxie the Dachsie--get it? HA! Love it!), who is helping her through her sadness. I had Ellie the Shepherd when Belle left for Connecticut, and it never ceases to amaze me how very therapeutic petting a canine friend can be. There is a reason I live with a pack of Doodles, you know!

At any rate, it makes me happy that our menagerie is rebuilding now that I'm home. It makes me especially happy that the rebuilding is starting with the return of our beautiful Belle (I know, I know, redundant--gimme a break)! At one time we had three dogs, three horses, three (barn) cats, and three ducks. This was the perfect household, and I won't rest until it's recreated. STAY TUNED!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday With Nannie

I had intended to grit my teeth and tackle the storage room today. I had a Plan. Really, it was a Plan of Attack. I knew exactly where I was going to start and how many boxes I intended to get through before the sun went down, how many Charity bags I'd fill, and how many trash bags I'd need. As always I ended up with a strange sing-song loop in my head chanting, "The best laid plans of mice and men..."

Instead I spent the day with my Nannie. She fell yesterday trying to do a load of laundry, so I sat with her today in case she decided to go for a tumble again. She didn't, though she was very wobbly. Nannie's been fighting dizziness all her life, and now that she's 85-years-old with weak legs... well. She usually doesn't fall more than once every few months. Unfortunately this month isn't a normal month. She waited until Grandpa John had come home and I'd gone back across the alley to our house. Then she fell trying to get into bed. Will I ever be able to express how thankful I am that Nannie falls, quite literally, in slow-motion? No. I don't think so. I don't know how she manages it, but I am thankful for it every single day.

*sigh* My wonderful Nannie. My adorable, silly, sarcastic, clever Nannie. My funny, white haired story-teller. Always with her nose in a book.

She is not impressed with shenanigans.

I caught flashes of my Nannie today through the vascular dementia that is trying to steal her from us. We were discussing a cousin and Nannie said, "She's not real big--you know, she's not fat, but she's not very tall." And I said, "She's taller than me, though." And Nannie said, "Honey, everybody's taller than you." HA! THERE'S my Nannie! Most of the time, though, her sentences start vague and end up with her saying, "Oh, nevermind." She knows the words--we know she knows them. They're in her head. Her whole life has been devoted to books--she KNOWS those damn words... they just won't come out. They're stuck in her head like a hair in overcooked caramel. It breaks my heart, and it's breaking the heart of everyone who has known her. She clings to the words the Mayo Clinic doctors told her-- It's Not Alzheimers. And, it isn't. But she's forgotten that they said vascular dementia would progress as she aged, and that, one day, it would act just like Alzheimers. She HATES Alzheimers. It took her father away from her, and then it took her sister. This is not Alzheimers, but it might as well be. We all HATE vascular dementia. We hate it so much worse because, with Alzheimers, many times the sufferer doesn't know they're losing their mind. My Nannie knows. She feels every lost word, confused story, forgotten ending. She knows, but there's nothing she can do. There's nothing any of us can do but sit with her when we can, and try to help her move as steadily as she can through this. She helped teach me how to walk, talk, read, tie my shoes and use the toilet. That woman, incredible Nannie--I miss her so much. But I SAW her today--and that made today wonderful.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Weekend of WHOOSH

First thing's first. My dress fits! Even with this dratted water retention (which I'm sure a Dr. Pepper--or three--a day doesn't help with), it fits, it fits, it fits! And, of all miraculous things, the shoes I picked match the sash very nearly perfectly. I know, right? Shockingly good luck! I probably shouldn't say much more than that, as I'm afraid my Nearly Husband might get bored looking at mountain biking websites and decide to see what it is I'm doing here on this "Blog Thing." I would love to post you a picture. But I mustn't!

While in the Big City, Mom and I saw our Aunt Felicia and her husband, Cal, and their two wonderful Doodles, Sammy and Roxxy. Luckily we get to see them (and the rest of their wonderful clan) again around Thanksgiving! We had a very nice visit as we heard tales of the National Quilting Convention and their trip down the West coast. It makes me so happy to see people I love doing well, and enjoying their lives and loved ones!

We also test drove a few vehicles, as I am in desperate need of wheels (I haven't had a car since I went away to Scotland in 2005) and my mom is hoping to consolidate down to one car. Now, Bug, you might ask me, why don't you just take your Mom's excess vehicle? Well, let me tell you. She bought her second car by selling my car when I left, but I don't want her '02 Tahoe, or her '05 VW Beetle. I want something that's MINE. Just mine. Something that I can comfortably drive around the U.S. in, showing Nearly Husband all the wonders of his new home.

Oh, that reminds me. Nearly Husband isn't American. He's Scottish. In fact, he's still living in Scotland. We're going through the process of getting him a K-1 Fiance Visa so that he can relocate here to Kansas with me, and we can be married and live happily ever after. One of the things I want to do after he's here, but before he's allowed to work, is introduce him to this land I call home. The U.S. of A., with all its amazing sights, and interesting history-- though I think he wants to start by looking at Carhenge. Oh, and I think he said the Grand Canyon too. He threw it in at the end of the sentence like, "OH! Can we go see that place where they're put cars on their noses to look like Stonehenge? I'd really like to see that, cause you know how I love old cars. And, maybe the Grand Canyon too?" That's reason #14 that I love that boy/man-- his complete enthusiasm about silly things. In fact, that probably explains why he loves ME so much, because I am nothing if not a very silly thing.

Sorry about that non-sequitur, I feel full of words and news and nothing is being particular about what order they want to gush out of my head! We got home tremendously late on Saturday night, and I tidied while Mom made an egg souffle for Sunday breakfast. We had company Sunday morning, our cousins Penny, her daughter Jen, and Jen's daughter and son, Morgann and Gavin. I don't think I've had the chance to see Jen since 2000, and I'd never met her kids before. They were so cute, and Morgann just oohed and aahed at the dresses in my closet. She wanted to know if my hometown, let's for the sake of privacy call it J-City, throws a lot of balls. "This," she said, "is the perfect dress for a ball." When she hits 16, I'm definitely sending her that dress.

Sunday night we trekked across the alleyway to Nannie and Grandpa John's house for homemade pizza. This is usually our Saturday night tradition. We used to play cards, but now that the elders are getting elder-er we mostly watch COPS. There's probably less cheating on COPS than there was at the card table anyway!

Today I started "Little Bug's March Toward Household Organization" with the Dog Shelf. This is, to be precise, a seven or eight foot long shelf that holds dog miscellany. Rawhide bones, flavored rawhide bones, rawhide curls, half-chewed bones, hooves, ears, puppy chews, dental sticks, treats of every size, shape and flavor, duck strips, chicken strips, venison jerky, dietary supplements, shampoo, conditioner, special non-shedding shampoo and conditioner, white dog shampoo and conditioner, ear cleansing solution, ear drying solution, ear wipes, eye wipes, pills to make the grass stay green, pills to help joints, pills to help incontinence (my 11-year-old German Shepherd died last May and it got hard for her at the end), soft toys, toys to fetch, toys to pull, parts of old toys, nail trimmers, nail grinders, nail files, an electric razor, and eleventy-seven different kinds of brushes. Oh, and also three years worth of dust. AH-CHOO! I should've taken a picture of it before, but I have the suspicion Mom might read this and she'd beat me to death with a rawhide if I showed anyone. It now looks so very tidy.

I give it one month before it needs done again. But, really, what's the fun of organizing if you only have to do it once?
And, I'll leave you with something to think about.

Now, how thankful are you that you didn't have to give this dog a bath? Because I didn't, and I'm EXTREMELY thankful for it!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Make It Yes-vember

I have a cold. My body has been trying to fight it off for a week (the rest of my family that were exposed came down with all the symptoms within a few days), but I'm afraid this is one battle I'm just not going to win. I'm coughing, my nose is running like a faucet, I'm achy, tired, and I may be trying to swallow my body weight in sinus drainage. It's pretty gross.

I tried talking Mom into staying home to make me chocolate chip cookies. I haven't seen her laugh that hard in a while, actually. I kept laying it on. "It's nice you're getting dressed up so nice to make me cookies," I said. "Those are beautiful cookie making earrings!" She did kiss me on the forehead before she left which was, to be honest, the least she could do. I realize she's a psychologist, and I understand there are people in the world who need her help--but sometimes I need help too, people. I probably even need a psychologist, and ESPECIALLY a psychologist who makes chocolate chip cookies from scratch.

So, having been left alone with just the Muttley Crew, I made a plan. (I am, as you either know or will soon find out, a very big fan of Having A Plan.) The Plan was thus:

Step One--Make My Own Damn Cookies.

Step Two--Turn On Fireplace.

And, finally, Step Three--Curl Up On Good Couch (after brushing off dog hair from yesterday's post-bath play time) To Read And Nap.

I thought this seemed like a reasonable plan for a sick person. (I also planned to spend the evening alternately packing and introducing my mother to 'Sons of Anarchy', but we haven't ruled that bit out yet.) I was especially looking forward to the fireplace heat and the nap--especially if I could enjoy them both at the SAME TIME.

So I went about implementing my plan. Butter softened, things mixed--oh. Rats. No chocolate chips. (How does a house with someone residing in it who loves to bake as much as I do NOT have chocolate chips?) Okay, I thought. I have baking squares and an idiotically sharp knife. I can make this work. (Helpful hint: when someone tells you their new knife set is "idiotically sharp," it's best if you believe them and act accordingly.)

After bandaging my hand, and (VERY awkwardly) making the world's least round dough balls, I put the first set of cookies in the oven. Cue the telephone! It was Grandpa John asking if I'll take Nannie to her hair appointment because he doesn't want to leave "the cribbage" to come take her, and then pick her up again. This is, technically, the reason I moved home, people. To be of service to my family. I can be of use! I'll do it! Cue some cough drops, the fastest shower I've ever taken, a messy french braid, hastily applied mascara, my SAMCRO hoodie and BAM! Out the door.

Did you forget about the cookies? I did.

Turns out chocolate chip cookies don't burn so much as they turn into little charcoal briquettes. Seems like I would've learned this lesson back in 1990 when I tried making them to surprise Nannie after her migrane-nap. She was surprised then, and I was surprised today! Full circle, folks, just like that.

For the record, the rest of them turned out just fine. OBSERVE:

No naps. No reading. No curling up by the fire. But maybe we'll still watch 'Sons of Anarchy' and eat chocolate chip cookies!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Very Beginning

Let's start small, shall we? This is Cassie. She's a Golden Doodle, she's nearly six months old, and I think she's a tiny Einstein. At least, she LOOKS like a tiny Einstein. She acts like a tiny Aretha Franklin.

I think she's fabulous. Okay, I know, I may be slightly prejudiced. But, honestly. She really is fabulous! She's clever, and silly, and completely full of diva-licious attitude. She barks at couch cushions when they refuse to play with her. Seriously, she's a diva.

She's also completely infatuated with my mom's 9-year-old Golden Retriever, Sandy. They both got baths this morning, and then (after a goodly amount of running around and rolling on Mom's good couch... oops!) they napped together in Sandy's crate. It wasn't Sandy's idea, but she's a very sweet (very harangued) dog and she doesn't seem to mind too much.

Sandy's saintliness probably comes from being harassed for a couple of years by the other two dogs of the house, 3-year-old Golden Doodle sisters, Abby and Macy. Then again, it may also just be the Tao of Golden Retrievers.

Abby and Macy are Cassie's half-sisters, and everybody in the house is at least part Golden Retriever. I think I probably inhaled so much fur during bath time this morning even I'M part Golden Retriever now. When Sandy is trying to hold her head up while the Doodles lick her face, I remind her she's the only one in the house with any real breeding. I think she looks a little proud at that notion. With my blend of Irish/Scottish/Welsh/English/Cherokee, I can't even say I'm as well-bred as Sandy. How sad is that?