Tales of waggin' tails, no tails, and tail feathers . . .

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Caution: Makes Frequent Stops

   So, this past year my brother got divorced.  In the divorce settlement he got his car back.  Translation: Amber got his car.  Woohoo!  My bro told me that as long as I took car of the oil changes and replaced to filter so as not to void the warranty I could drive it as much as I wanted til he got a chance to fly down and drive it back. 
   I can't even tell you how awesome this was.  Of course, this summer I didn't have a job, but it was still nice to have a second car.  And my brother ok'd my trips to my parents' (8 hour drive), as well as back and forth to job interviews (is he great or what!?)
   It was a great car, the Toyota Highlander, but I will say it had to touchiest brakes on any car that I've ever driven.  When I arranged to pick it up, the ex-wifey had left it in the parking lot of her workplace w/ the key under a mat.  Jamie dropped me off, and I jumped in for my first drive in the 'new' car.  Change the radio, adjust the mirrors, buckle the seat belt, and I'm off.  Getting out of the parking lot, I must've looked like a student driver.  I'd be going give or take 4mph and gently depress the brake pedal, only to get slammed to a dead halt.  So, other than a little whiplash getting out of the parking lot I'm doing good. 
   Then I turn onto the road, and notice that a magical leprechaun clearly drove this car previously b/c I'm sitting so close to the steering wheel I'm fairly certain I could touch it w/ my tongue.  No worries I'll merely adjust the seat.  Coming to a stop light, I lean down w/ my left hand reaching in between my legs to pull up the bar to release the seat.  Only when I go to push back on the released seat I inadvertently push on the brake pedal, as I'm slowing for the stoplight.  SCREECH, SLAM!!!  Not only does the SUV stop on a dime, but of course the seat isn't locked and comes flying forward into the steering wheel at what, I'm going to hazard a guess to say, is near the speed I was just traveling only seconds prior. 
   So, here I am stopped randomly thirty yards from the stoplight, pinned awkwardly to the steering wheel by the seat which has now conveniently locked into place.  The seat is so far forward that I can barely breath let alone move, and at this point I could actually lick the wheel b/c my face is awkwardly smashed into it at about two o'clock, with my left arm stuck (yes, you guessed it) between my body and the steering wheel still reaching between my legs.  Sigh.  Placed the car in park, flipped on my flashers w/ my free hand, and then I start to shimmy my arm downward trying to reach the bar to once again release the seat. 
   This is about the time the bicycle cop knocked on my driver's side window . . . needless to say I got the seat released, and then set about the task of convincing him that I had, in fact, not been drinking.  No easy task since understandably he "doesn't often encounter people who get into car accidents w/ themselves, other cars, other people, even trees, but not usually themselves" . . . his words not mine. 

What Amber got in the divorce!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Complaint Reel

So, I'm feelin a little vaporish this morning.  I know I have like a billion things to be thankful for, but I'm not irritated about those things so here come the complaints:

1.  It is abominably cold in Roanoke, VA.  And they tell me it only gets colder: ugh. (on the bright side I did purchase the most outrageous woolly hat ever! and I actually get to wear it here)

2.  Dear Men,  Please cool it w/ the cologne/after shave.  If there is a dense cloud of smell surrounding you, if you walk through a park and birds drop dead out of the trees around you, or if my eyes well up w/ tears just being on the same grocery aisle as you - YOU HAVE TOO MUCH SMELLY CRAP ON!!!  I would call you gay, but even gay dudes know better!  You want just an enticing hint of manly smell, leave the women wanting more, instead of just wanting you to vacate the premises.  Sheesh!

3.  If you have to go on WIC or some other welfare program b/c you can't afford your food/health care here's an idea: STOP PROCREATING!  I got behind a women at the grocery yesterday who was paying w/ WIC (insert groan here), and she had three kids.  I find the whole WIC program utterly obnoxious.  It takes forever to use those stupid little checks they hand out, the people have to make separate purchases, and the items have to match the check description exactly.  Ex. WIC check says: 1 gal whole milk.  There are no substitutions, no half-gallons, no 2%, no organic. 
  While this women was not flaunting her inability to pay, occasionally I get behind those using WIC or EBT to pay who do.  The other day I got behind a women whose WIC check wouldn't clear b/c she had crumpled it up in her sweaty little hand for too long making it illegible.  Translation: I had to wait 30 minutes in line behind her while she made the cashier run it through 18 times til the computer finally gave up and took it. 
   All the while I'm getting more and more annoyed thinking, "Not only as a tax paying citizen am I paying for your food, but now I am made to suffer/wait excruciatingly long times in line behind you, while my irritation builds."  This just gives me more time to examine her person: designer jeans, fake french nails, and dyed hair (ok, admittedly, I wouldn't have paid money for the hair job, so it was prolly an at home kit), but still!  I do not own a pair of designer jeans nor can I afford to get my nails done at a minimum price of $35 a pop, but apparently I can afford to buy her food necessities!  Grrrrrr. 
   I just got out of college where I lived off of overage $5,700 a year!  So, I could make myself better, and support my future family as well as those who can't support their own freakin families.  So, I get a little irritated (understatement).  I no longer frequent either of these groceries as I find the my increase in blood pressure not worth it.

And that my friends concludes my complaint reel . . . I already feel soooo much better after getting that off my chest!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Canoodle My Noodle

   I've mentioned before that I allow Moxi to eat with me.  I know this is a terrible idea, but up until today I worked out a few tricks to make it easier.  If I'm eating something that she could have a bite of like a lean cuisine w/ veggies and noodles I'll pull something out for her make sure it's cool enough and then give it to her to have her merry way with.  She takes an inordinate amount of time to eat just about anything so she never gets more that one or two bites usually. 
   When she first came home I tried to feed her all kinds of goodies I had purchased for her fresh fruits and veggies, and much to my disappointment she was not interested in taking food from my hand.  Fast forward to today and she'll take just about anything from my hand, taste it, and then either eat it or throw it down.  I'm always interested to see what she likes and doesn't like.  I eat a canned vegetable soup and she likes just about every veggie out of it except for the celery.  So, if I give a piece of celery she usually gives it to the dogs and comes right back for something else.  She really likes the peas out of the soup, and I find it interesting that even though they are cooked she still won't eat the thin layer of skin on the outside of the pea.  She very carefully peals the pea and eats the inside only. 
   If I sit down to eat something that she can't have any of like chocolate or something, I usually try to plan ahead and have one of her treats available to keep her busy and make her think she is getting some, like a piece of pretzel. 
   When I eat spaghetti, which is often cuz it's super easy, I always pull out a couple of noodles before I add the sauce to give Moxi.  She really likes noodles and I use the organic, all wheat noodles.  She does have a little bit more trouble with the spaghetti noodles than something bigger like linguini I think because she ends up biting straight through it and most of it ends up going to the dogs.
   So, I'd just given Moxi one of her plain noodles and I started to dig into my spaghetti.  I was reading an intriguing article about forensic pharmacy which is why I didn't notice that the dogs had gotten Moxi's noodle and not Moxi.  She started to sidle down my left arm toward the spaghetti and she was at my wrist before I knew it. 
   "Well, hello."  Too late did I realize she was coming for another noodle . . . she dipped her head onto the plate and grabbed not one but three noodles all covered in red spaghetti sauce.  What followed was an excellent example of her 'snatch and run.'
   "Noooo!"  Ugh . . .  There she went: a little green blur racing up my arm w/ three noodles covered in red marinara sauce flapping wildly behind her - o the horror.  Both bird and owner are now much "bloodier" looking that just minutes prior, w/ the trail beginning at my wrist, through my hair, and ending on the couch behind my neck.  Sheesh.  And just FYI, apparently red sauce does, in fact, stain a birds feathers PERMANENTLY!
Cutest bird EVER!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Rundown

   I know, I know I'm a terrible blogger.  Clearly I have a responsibility to my adoring fans, and over the past two and half months I've really left you hangin.  Please accept my sincerest apologies, and know that it's probably not the last time I'll take an unexpected leave of absence.  I have just been super busy lately, SO much has happened that I need to fill you in about.  After going to countless job interviews I finally got a job, YAY!  So, here's a quick rundown of what the last couple of months have been like:

Graduate w/ PharmD
Get house ready to sell.
Put house on market.

Apply for jobs.

Apply for more jobs.
Pass Pharmacy Boards.

Apply for jobs.
Interview for jobs.
Get turned down for jobs.

See August.

Get HIRED!!!
Find rental house.
Start work/training.
Need to pass Virginia Law: Study
Get furniture moved in.

Jamie interviews for jobs.
Jamie gets job.
Jamie moves.
Pass VA Law. (Yay, no more studying!)
Get VA Pharmer's license.
Buy transportation.
Celebrate Turkey Day w/ the fam!
Give Adam car back/meet the girl

Apply to get vaccination certified: comes w/ 121 page study manual: crap.

Needless to say I am really loving my new job!  I'm part time in a store and part time floater, so I have my first 12 hour shift on Tuesday which is gonna be super fun b/c it also happens to be a 2 hour drive from home making it a 16 hour day, phew!  Rinse and repeat again on Friday.  I'll let you know if I still love my job so much after that!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Moxi Goes Nite, Nite

   I absolutely HATE Moxi's bedtime.  I have read countless articles and done an abundance of research on parrots to know that they need anywhere from 8-12 hours of good sleep each night. 
   Being jobless, my schedule is not always very firm, but I try to keep the animals on somewhat of a schedule.  And Moxi's bedtime is around 11:00p.  This is when I can tell she's getting tired.  She gets a little ancy sometimes pacing back and forth on the couch or fluttering down to the floor repeatedly and then she'll settle into one spot.  I'll take her to her room put a piece of a pretzel in the brim of the big yellow cowboy hat she sleeps with in her cage, turn off the light and say, "Nite, nite.  I love you!"  Then I shut the door for the night and I make it a firm practice not to enter her room until I wake up (usually late) the next morning. 
   I've read a number of horror stories about people putting their birds (and/or toddlers) to bed who will shriek and carry on refusing to go calmly to bed, and seriously I don't get any of that from Moxi.  Typically she is ready for her 'nite-nite treat' and she lets me calmly place her on her comfy perch, where she side-steps over obtain her treat.  But the reason I hate bedtime, is b/c I know that I am going to be up for several hours after she goes to bed.  And I can't help but miss her.  Sad I know, but she is just soooo sweet at night.  After her little agitated phase, she'll hop down on my shoulder, burrow into my thick hair, and snuggle up next to my neck softly cooing.  As if I'm not hooked already???
I think it's so cute when she tucks her little beak behind her wing for a lil nap

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hit Woman for Hire

   Jamie is under the misconception that I am trying to kill him.  Well, that's just blatantly false.  Not only to I love him, but I NEED him . . . I mean who else is gonna suffer through all of my eccentricities, be willing to eat Mexican food nearly every day of the week, rush back to the market for a bottle of wine after a rough day, make me laugh so hard that I get hiccups almost every day, and sprint through the house and up a flight of stairs when I scream, "BUG!"  (As you've been made aware, the dogs are completely useless in this arena.) 
   But, never the less, he thinks I'm out to kill him.  One might wonder what would give him this horrific idea?  Am I perhaps trying to poison him?  (Easy on the cooking jokes here!)  No.  Am I trying to electrocute him?  No.  Am I trying to stab, shoot, or strangle him?  No, no, and no.  (Although, occasionally he does make me wanna strangle him . . .) 
   No folks, the method I'm apparently using to do him in is: shoes.  Shoes, bookbag, roller skates . . . sometimes the vacuum, just depends.  I have a terrible tendency to leave shoes most likely on the bathroom floor or in the bedroom at the end of the bed . . . and since Jamie usually goes to bed after me, it can be a little treacherous for him to make it to his side of the bed in the dark.  It's no picnic for me either to awaken from a dead sleep to a to a tall, dark figure lurking around my bedroom: THUD, stumble, stumble, EXPLETIVE!  I tried to help him out with a nightlight, but he kept unplugging it saying he couldn't sleep w/ it on, and I have gotten much better since I've gotten rid of so much clutter to move. 
   But then the other night all of the lights are on and Jamie is walking through the TV room when he kicks the dog bowl (which lay empty and had been shoved toward the middle of the floor by the dogs), and trips forward.  He turns around to look at the bowl, then gives me a glare: "Are you trying to kill me?"  First, the dogs put that bowl there.  Second, there are so many lights on right now you could probably see that bowl from the Hubble.  Third, I have some theories of my own: I'm kindof thinking that maybe you're just a little clumsy or perhaps too tall to actually see all the way down to the floor, or my personal fav theory your feet are just clownishly large . . . Whatever the reason, it is my solemn vow that I'm not trying to kill Jamie.  I mean I watch CSI, I would never get away with it.  How would I hide the body?  I mean I can't even lift an 80lbs bag of concrete!

Jamie and Me

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cheap Thrills

  I finished off the last of the peanut butter and saved the jar to give to the dogs.  The result was priceless!  Conker said, "We don't need no stinkin Kong!"  Kindof makes me think back to the days when Adam and I were little and my mom would wash out her empty Windex bottles and give them to us as squirt guns . . . aaah memories.
But the video of Gumbo was the best:

Conker and the PB Jar

Gumbo's tongue is just ridiculously long!

Chiquita REALLY got into it!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fill 'Er Up

  I loooove going to places where you get to fill up your own drink.  I fully admit that I am one of those annoying people who makes their very own special drink concoctions at the soda fountain.  Little bit of this, little of that, sip . . . little more of that, sip: perfection.  I've found that the best concoctions always include a healthy dose of Root Beer and just a pinch of fruit punch.  This is why Jamie refuses to stand by me when we go to fill up our cups.  I think it embarrasses him.  He once told me that was something a five-year old would do.  I thought about it a minute and said, "Well, that's just silly.  I mean can a five-year old even reach the soda fountain?"  This is also the reason he stoutly refuses to allow me to refill his drink.  I usually try to sneak a squirt of something else in his Mountain Dew just to 'enhance' the flavor, and ya know to see if I can get away with it, so far not yet.  Don't judge me, I'm poor I gotta my kicks in where I can. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Keepin it Classy

   Woke up this morning with a crick in my neck.  I guess I just slept on it wrong.  I had job interview today (yay), but I'm fairly certain I didn't get the position (boo).  I was the fourteenth candidate that they had interviewed!  I digress.  On the two hour drive to my interview I could feel the tightness escalating in the right side of my neck and shoulder.  I tried massaging it and stretching it to no avail, so by the time I was on the drive back my neck felt like it was in full 'riggor.'  Don't you just hate that?  Makes the simplest things difficult.  Just checking my blind spot to change lanes turns into a whole body experience.  Because instead of just being able to turn my head and the neck, I now have to turn at the torso.  I have to say I'm sure it adds a creepy vibe for that person driving in the lane next to me . . . And just FYI pulling a U-turn apparently takes a great deal of neck maneuverability - trust me, I know.   Of course, I didn't realize this til I was already committed to the turn and ouch.  I made the most awkward and jerky U-turn in history today in the middle of Wade Hampton Avenue.  Kinda glad I don't live there.    
   When I got home after my hard day of not bringing in a paycheck, I asked Jamie to return to the market for a bottle of red wine (is he a catch or what?).  Here I am sitting on the couch Indian style in mismatched pajamas, blogging with a heating pad wrapped around my neck, drinking my coveted red wine.  (I know I paint a sexy picture, what can I say?)  And I'm not gonna lie, it hurts my neck/shoulder to even bring the glass up to drink. (insert pitiful whimper here)  Sooo, I'm thinking of how practical it would be to get a straw . . . or a sippy cup perhaps . . . no, I think a straw would work better.  Yeah, cuz we like to keep it classy here.  I would NEVER suggest this otherwise, but desperate times call for desperate measures . . .

Monday, September 13, 2010

Primed and Ready

   Over the course of the last year or so I have painted just about everything.  I've painted every room in my house (some of them twice . . . in fact, most of them twice).  I've painted furniture, appliances, a couple of paintings, and even my shower curtain rings.  What can I say?  I get bored.  So, this last week I embarked on my latest whim: painting my bedroom furniture.  The nightstand especially needed to be painted.  It went perfectly in my old bedroom that was lime green on the bottom and even limier green on the top.  (But apparently lime green walls are a turnoff to the vanilla people who have money to purchase a house, so I had to paint it neutral: as in beige as in blah.)  After that was completed my charming little nightstand stuck out like a sore thumb. 
   Previously, some brilliant aspiring artisan (who may or may not read this very blog . . . :) ) had painted the nightstand white w/ green accents and purple flowers.  But alas I finally decided it was time to paint it to blend in with it's surroundings better, hopefully help sell my house, and b/c, quite frankly, I've painted everything else.  So, I emptied the nightstand and dragged in out into the TV room onto a sheet in front of the television.  This way I could sand AND watch football: shizzam! 

   I sanded it down, and then a couple of days later I primed it.  I did the body first in a basic, white, fast-dry, water based primer (one that I've had in my garage for years and I use to prime everything).  I had just finished painting the drawer when Jamie popped in to check on my progress and give me some words of encouragement.  So, he was standing right there when it happened.  (As if I needed a witness to my crazy.)  Having painted all sides of the drawer I was balancing it on two fingers judging just how I was going to set it up to dry, when I lost control.  It started to lean precariously to the left, so I quickly over compensated pushing it to the right.  There I was bobbling this wet nightstand drawer like a hot potatoe.  Wet nightstand in front of me and a cardboard box by my foot, all sitting on top of a drop cloth spread out a yard around me on all sides . . . but noooooo I fumble the drawer end over end away from all of those safe places and it lands wet side down on my couch.  Crap.


Newly decorated couch.
   First words out of my mouth, "Weeeell, that was unfortunate."  And, indeed it was.  Primer does not come off of anything, even in the best of circumstances.  Jamie tried to get the spotbot on it, but it dried rather quickly.  I suppose we'll just have to artfully drape a throw blanket over that part of the couch when we go to show the house.  Everytime I look over there I can't help but to sigh balefully.  I mean do these things happen to other people, or is it just me?  But looking on the bright side I have been wanting some new furniture . . .

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fast Learner

  Of course as Moxi's doting owner I have to say she is extremely intelligent.  She is such a fast learner, sometimes, much to my dismay.  For instance, one morning Moxi learned how to pluck the keys off of my computer keyboard.  Then that afternoon she executed the what I refer to as the "Pluck and Run."   And that evening, she finished perfecting her escape technique by running in a zigzag pattern while I'm in hot pursuit screaming, "Drop it! Drop the 'J' key this instant!"  Then when I did catch the little mongrel she stoutly refused to turn over the key.  She had that 'J' firmly between her beak, with her two spindly little legs firmly planted, and she was NOT giving it up!  Thought it was going to take the Jaws of Life to get it out!  Never fear I did get the key back and popped it back into place on the keyboard.  Whew.
   So, since I got my new laptop (an awesome refurbed Asus, thanks Jamie for finding it!) by edict from Jamie, Moxi is no longer allowed to perch on the computer.  Nooooo problem.  We would never want to be guilty of breaking Jamie's 'One Rule' . . . .

She's merely looking for something she lost . . .
Bird on the run.
Moxi: "This never happened."
Moxi: "I was never here."

She's just so cute here!
I mean seriously can she get any cuter?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Insurance Woes - The Prequel

   O the stories I could tell . . . about a year and a half ago we had torrential rains and I had recently dug up my front yard area inadvertently funneling water toward the house.  So, our basement took on some water.  Naturally, I moved to file a claim with my insurance company . . . . and, naturally, it wasn't covered.  That would've been fine I understand that, but it took the insurance adjuster nearly three days to come out and survey the damage just to tell me, and meanwhile I have standing water in the corner of my basement.  Not only that, but in the course of me asking the adjuster to come out sooner (as in ASAP) he lied to me. 
   At the beginning of the convo he tells me that the people ahead of me had their appointments in the books for several weeks.  When I scoffed and asked him if they could not then wait a few more days he changed his story.  He said these were homes that flooded in that same heavy rain and they just filed ahead of me . . . riiiight.  When I asked him just how it was that they knew their homes were going to flood that they could make an appointment w/ him several days in advance . . . he stuttered, backtracked, stuttered some more and then started in on what I like to call "The Insurance Two-Step" (not invented by, but most certainly perfected by Nationwide) when I hung up on him. 
   At this point I don't care who pays for it, I just want my basement back.  And I have to say that having insurance with a nationally known and recognized insurance carrier I pay top dollar premiums for top dollar service i.e. in the event of a freak heavy rain, having an adjuster come out QUICKLY, and which last time I checked did not include lying.  Grrr. 
   To top it all off I filed a complaint with Nationwide about the lying adjuster and the delay.  The phone operator took my complaint, asking me a couple of questions and said, "Thank you for your imput.  We will look into this matter, and be back in touch with you in two business days."  I kid you not they called me back a month and a half later.  The guy gave me alllllll kinds of excuses, apologized profusely, but in actuality did nothing about the lying little weasel. 
   The gentleman made the comment that he had listened to the recording of my complaint, and was citing a couple of random things I said.  For instance, he decided to dilligently defend the fact that the adjuster's voicemail greeting was annoying, seriously?  Finally, after losing several minutes of my life to this looooong phone conversation that was in the fast lane to no where I cut him off saying:
"Wait, wait . . . didn't you just say you listened to the recording?"
"Well, uh, yes ma'am.  I did -"
"Could you tell me, then, what the operator told me at the end of the phone call?"
"Well, I, uh, believe you were talking about .-"
"No, the very end, please."
"Uh . . . he said someone would contact you in two business days . . . "
"Really?  You're kidding!  Hah!  I, for the life of me, thought he said two weeks!  And yet here it is six weeks later - that's gotta be some kinda record in horrible service.  I mean you're calling me back weeks late about a complaint I made for 'inattentive' service.  Bahaha!  You know I didn't think it was possible, but Nationwide, you continue to underwhelm me.  I believe this conversation is over - good day." Click.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Insurance Woes

This week I call to inquire as to my insurance coverage. A tree has fallen on my house and I would like it removed as quickly as possible - why do I have such high hopes?

Agent: "Call a tree guy and get an estimate. Here's a name."

Called that tree guy - took a day to call me back just to say he doesn't do that anymore. Called the tree guy he recommended. He doesn't call me back. Finally I google'd somebody. He gets right over the next morning.

Me: "Called the tree guy. Here's the estimate. What's covered?"
Agent: "Blah, blah, blah. Some about a tornado ten years ago . . . blah, blah, blah -"
Me: "No, I just need to know what's covered?"
Agent: "Blah, blah, blabbidy blah. Something about the great ice storm of '96. More blah."
Me: "Soooo, is this covered?"
Agent: "Well, yes and no. We'll have to get an 'approved' guy out there to look at it and give an estimate."
Me: "Another guy? You couldn't have told me that guy in the first place?"
Agent: "Blah, blah, blah."
Me: "Ugh, ok. Fine."
Approved Guy: "Yup, that's a tree . . . . and it is definitely on your house."
Me: "Estimate?"
Approved Guy: "Hard to say . . . . I'll have to get my tree guy out here . . . "
Me: "Get out."

   Needless to say it's Friday now, and I'm just a prayin my luck holds out and strong breeze doesn't come along this weekend and send this tree through my living room. I think I have 'em figured out - stall and annoy until I give up and just do it myself. O, tricky, tricky insurance companies - I'm on to you!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mall Madness

  One may have noticed that I did not make a post on Labor Day.  One might assume that I was in some sort of distress, and that I was somehow unable to post.  And One would be correct.  I had a very distressing day on Monday - I went to the mall.  Gasp!  I know, I know . . . the obvious question being: what would possess me to venture out into the depths of the shopping jungle on what (unbeknownst to me) is considered the 14th busiest shopping day of the year (ya know following the 12 days of Christmas and Black Friday)? 
   It is common knowledge that I am looking for a job and being jobless I have no money and having no money clearly I should not ever being going to the mall on any day of the year.  But, in my defense, I have some job interviews lined up (yay) and I needed something professional to wear (blah), and all that talk about 'big Labor Day sales' drew me in like a lamb to the slaughter (eek). 
   I already knew this wasn't going to be a pleasant outing due to the fact that I might've gained a few pounds over the summer (apparently, blogging does not burn many calories . . .) and as anyone w/ half a brain could tell you a woman would rather chew off her own arm rather that go up a dress size.  So, begrudgingly I set off to go to the mall. 
   I should've known that it was going to be helter skelter the minute I pulled into the parking lot - there wasn't a parking spot to be had.  I circled around, swooped into the first one I saw, and trudged into the nearest department store that shall remain nameless (but it starts w/ a 'D' and ends in 'illards').  The second I walked in the door I knew I had just stepped out of cozy, comfy Columbia, SC and directly into the seventh circle of purgatory.  There were people EVERYWHERE.  To my left the handbag area was in tatters and to my right the shoe department looked like a shoe-bomb had exploded.  Then as I tried to skirt around the shoe department chaos a child came out of nowhere and flung itself onto the floor directly front of me in what appeared to be a full body-convulsing rage of a tantrum, screams piercing the air (shudder).  It was madness I tell you, madness . . . needless to say I did not find anything before I simply couldn't take it any longer and I scurried home. 
   So, yesterday I went back to the mall (I know, glutton for punishment, right? ) . . . but it was completely different.  It was like that fantastical, mythical place you hear about in fairy stories . . . the parking lot was empty, things were neat and tidy in the stores, there wasn't a mass of people crowed around me cramming into me on all sides, no screaming children.  It was downright blissful.  Of course, I got in and out of there as soon as I could: no use pushing it.  And yes, thank you for asking, I found a pair of pants.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Apple of My Eye

   Even though I probably spend the most time with Chiquita, she doesn't get a lot of face time on the blog.  She's just so well behaved.  Let's face it, she's an angel.  She's such a sweet girl, even as I sit here typing she's curled up on my lap and from this angle I can just barely make out the circle of light revolving directly over her beautiful head, aah.  She has her moments, but she hates to get in trouble.  I very rarely have to yell at her, and I'm sure it's been years since I popped her on the butt - Conker on the other hand . . . not so much. 
   Not unlike me, Chiquita is extremely food motivated, and we've pretty much ruined her w/ people food.  No doubt she spoiled us even, b/c she has an cast iron stomach - again Conker . . . not so much.  She can eat practically anything and HAS (much to my chagrin).  Of course she would never even think of eating roach poison - Conker (sigh) . . . not so much. 
   While she's never been an obese chihuahua, she did lose a few pounds when one of my roommates moved out.  She adored Chiquita (as everyone does) and she always shared her food w/ her.  One day I came home to find them both sitting on the couch watching Jerry Springer eating Thai food. 
Roomie: "A noodle for you . . . a noodle for me.  A noodle for you . . . a noodle for me . . . " 
Me: "Ugh, I thought we talked about not feeding her so much people food?"
Roomie: "But Thai food is her favorite!"
(Insert eye roll here)  Yeah, right.  My roomie said that last time about the hummus and crackers the night before . . . needless to say Chiquita misses it.  (And, for the record, everyone knows cheese is Chiquita's fav, duh)

Trick "Sitting Pretty" which
for Chiquita is redundant
since no matter how she sits,
she's always pretty!

Chiquita all curled up: yup still pretty
  The other night I was eating an apple that I had cut up (saving a sliver for Moxi, of course) I was taking a bite of the last piece when it squirted out of my hand and landed on the floor.  Man!  No way I was 'dusting' that puppy off and eating it, no matter how bad I wanted to: I've told you how hairy my house is.  But before I could pick it up Chiquita pounced on it, took it into the middle of the floor and started to chow down.  I found this amusing and snapped a few pix of my little 'rabbit.'

Chiquita eating and apple.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bird vs Man

   Jamie and Moxi have kindof a love-hate relationship going on.  She was a gift from Jamie, that doesn't necessarily mean that he was in favor of adding a bird to our little collection of beasts.  He just can't fathom what kind of joy I could get out of owning a bird that you can't get out of owning a dog (or three).  I try to get them together at least once a day, b/c it's good for Moxi's socialization.  Both of them tried to fight it.  The minute she would lean in to 'taste' Jamie as birds do to get a feel for things automatically, "See.  She's trying to bite me . . ."   

Moxi with a peanut
   He's also wary of the fact that you can't discipline a bird like a dog i.e. can't pop her on the nose with a newspaper when she's bad (as that would probably kill her) or yell at her when she shrieks (that's just encouragment for a parrot, and he still hasn't quite figured this one out . . .).  I've also noticed that Jamie tends to want to 'tattle' on Moxi.  For example, Moxi has clips about her cage for clipping food/treats on the side and keeping the doors closed when need be.  He'll observe Moxi in the cage for a few moments then turn to me and say something like, "She's trying to unclip the doors you know."  
   Then there is the fact that Moxi is a super quiet little bird . . . until Jamie tries to talk.  For whatever reason, she likes to talk when he does (over him really).  I think he should take this as a compliment, clearly this means she just finds the deep timbre of his voice alluring: Jamie just finds it irritating.
You talkin to me?
   There was also that time that Moxi went to investigate his dinner and got a little too close for comfort (not for her comfort, she was quite comfortable, but too close for Jamie's comfort).  He had microwaved some jambalaya and was just sitting down on the couch to eat it when Moxi sidled over to investigate.  I know it's wrong, but I often let her eat with me pulling out a noodle or a veggie for her.  So, naturally, she smells his dinner and expects to get some.  Jamie, however, had no intention of sharing.  Both of us start to shoo her and instead of moving AWAY from the food she dodges us and moves towards the food, well, through it actually.  Much to Jamie's dismay.  There she went like a South American tribesman trotting over hot, firey coals!  She raced across his jambalaya rice and sausage dinner.  Oops.  Needless to say Jamie was adament about not eating it exclaiming hurtful things like, "She walks in her own poop!"  So, I removed the top layer of rice and he managed to suffer through the rest of his meal, but not without shooting Moxi several dirty looks.
   But the other night, the unthinkable happened!  Moxi fluttered down off of the couch as is seemingly this has become her nightly ritual: to get ancy about an hour before bedtime.  But instead of heading back to me, this time she veered to the right towards Jamie.  She walked over to him and stepped up on his big toe, much to his surprise, climbed up to his shoulder, and remained there contentedly for about an hour or so before heading back to me.   Aaaah, harmony.  Until Jamie realized she had pooped on his hat . . . sigh.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

"Whatcha Doin?"

   Despite the chaos that occasionally breaks looks in my house, it's usually pretty quiet here.  No, really.  For most of the day my dogs are fairly docile, and as of yet Moxi is the quietest bird I've ever known.  I wouldn't go rushing out to get a Quaker, based on that observation alone.  I did a lot of research on parrots and other companion birds before I decided upon a Quaker.  These birds have the capacity to be very loud 'shriekers.' 
   I think I got really lucky.  I remember the day I brought her home.  I had made several trips to the bird-man before, each time hanging about generally 'pestering' him and peppering him with questions while I played with all of the birds.  A jolly old man who adores his birds, he answered all of my questions and provided lots of advice and insight.  But the day I decided on Moxi was a crazy day.  I had dragged Jamie along with me that day.  There were several people in the tiny bird store when we arrived, including a woman with clearly more money than sense purchasing birds as pets for each of her three rambunctious children.  I picked up Moxi as she was trying her best to be ignored by the crazy kids hunkering down on a low perch.  It took a little bit of effort to convince her to get off the perch, but soon enough she was snuggled up against my chest cooing sweetly.  It was love.

The day she came home!

   I don't know if she'll get more vocal as she gets older, but right now she hardly ever shrieks.  The only times she has shrieking times is when there is noise in the house.  She loves to sit on the shower rod while I take a shower or bath.  She will make a lot of noise then yammering in her birdy talk about who only knows what.  But as soon as the water gets turned off she settles down on the rod happy and content to pick at the shower curtain or preen or chitter/coo sweetly. 

Moxi on the shower rod just a talkin away!

   Occasionally I play music for her to encourage her to talk to me, but this usually only works if she's in the mood usually around 3-4p.  I did get her first words on video b/c of this: "Whatcha doin?"  It's a pretty poor video b/c I took it w/ my phone and I was sitting on a bed on the other side of the room, she would clam up if I got close.  But you can hear her loud and clear on the video and you can also hear my giddy glee at not only getting her first words on record, but also making my first video.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Baked Potato Anyone?

   Everyone knows I don't cook.  It's not that I don't have the ABILITY to cook . . . . ok, so that's a bald-faced lie.  I can't cook.  I mean I've messed up Easy Mac before . . . sigh.  But I can't help from thinking that maybe deep down on some base level I was just not made to be a chef. 
   I remember when I was about ten years old my first failed attempt at cooking.  As a child I used to spend the summers with my Grandparents.  They had a cabin up in the Rocky Mountains near Pikes Peak and some of my most cherished memories of time spent with my Grandparents are from those days at the cabin. 
   Anyway, one day I decided I wanted a baked potato.  I had the potato.  I had a microwave.  I had seen my mom do this a million times.  The answer seemed obvious.  So, I threw the potato in the microwave and set the timer.  I stood there for the first few seconds w/ my face nearly touching the glass watching my potato slowly revolve on the the little turn table (probably absorbing detrimental amounts of microwave radiation), when of course something else (probably something shiny) caught my eye and I lost interest in the potato and wondered off. 
   A few minutes go by . . . a few more . . . . and then: BOOM! CRASH!  The little cabin shook.  Everyone came running to find me standing there just staring at the smoking microwave, completely flabbergasted all the way down to my toes.  I looked up guiltily to my grandfather, "Uh . . .that never happened when Mom did it . . ."  The potato had exploded - and I don't mean that it just made a mess in the microwave.  O no, I mean it EXPLODED!  It blew that microwave door clean OFF!  Potato guts everywhere!  The poor abused appliance door lying half way across the kitchen where it had skidded to a stop.
   Moral of the story: Apparently you have to poke holes in the skin of a potato before you put it in the microwave.  Who knew?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Conker Crisis

   Conker is just soooo bad!  People don't believe me b/c he's so sweet and snuggly and adorable but here are two specific instances (when really I have several examples): 
   One day I come home to find some purple tin foil pieces in the middle of my floor.  It looks as if one of the dogs as gotten into my roommate's Espresso Hershey Kisses.  Crap.  I look at all three of the dogs, "Who did this!?"  Of course, they all get that guilty look b/c I'm using my mom-voice.  Fine.  So, I smell Chiquita's breath: smells like dog breath. I smell Gumbo's breath: smells like dog breath.  I smell Conker's breath: smells like Starbucks - Ahah!  I watched him closely for the next several hours, and amazingly he never got sick (which is especially odd since not only is chocolate bad for dogs, but Conker has a pretty sensitive stomach)!   Lucky little snot.  Except, he did poop out purple flecks of tin foil for the next couple of days.
   The second instance happened only yesterday, his badness reached a whole new heart stopping level.  Jamie and I had gone for a late lunch and we had just gotten back.  I was sitting on the couch saying hello to all my darlings when Jamie walks in the room with it in his hand: on of those roach bait thingys.  We put them around earlier in the week especially out on the deck area where the Mutant Roach Spawns of Satan seem to be the worst.  You guessed it: this one has been chewed on and ripped open.  My stomach drops to my feet.  So, again: I perform the smell test (I swear, the things I do for my dogs . . . ).  I smell Chiquita's breath: smells like dog breath.  I smell Gumbo's breath: smells like dog breath.  I smell Conker's breath: smells like pesticide - Aaaaaaah!  So, I jump into action - we weren't gone that long, I immediately grab the car keys and head out the door.  I'm going to get hydrogen peroxide as it's an emetic.  I direct Jamie to find the poison box and call the 1-800 number that should be on there.  I drive the quarter mile or so to the nearest pharmacy with my heart in my throat.  I'm also calculating the enormous emergency vet bill in my head and which vital organ I'm going to have to sell to pay it.  On my way back I'm running through everything I can remember about toxicology and antidotes, in my haste I maaay have broken a few traffic laws. 
   I fly in the front door and Jamie has just gotten off the phone.  Jamie had a little trouble finding the box, he even went out and dug in the outside trashcan to get it.  He says we're safe.  The medical helpline said that the poison is specifically designed for insects and should not be harmful for dogs.  Until then I hadn't realized I was holding my breath . . . Whoooosh!  I just can't even imagine my life without the little troublemaker!  I picked him up and, much to his delight, covered him in kisses, lavished him w/ attention and told him how much I loved him and then how bad he was to give me heart palpitations!  He's our littlest dog and the most expressive.  He has so much personality, it's no wonder that he practically wraps everyone around his little paw w/in minutes of meeting him!

Taken last night.  He appears to be ok, as he is beggin for
some of my dinner here. :)

Taken last night.  Conker is pensive.  He's thinking
about how terrribly he worried me . . . he's really sorry.

At this point he just wants me to quit following him
around looking for possible 'symptoms' and snapping
pics of his 'miraculous recovery'

In Other, Totally Unrelated, News

   Watched the Gamecocks kick booty last night - Goooo Cocks!  But just before the half time, the announcers we're talking about one of the players and they said, "He's gotta lot of moxi!"  Another announcer wanted to clarify b/c apparently there were differing opinions of what "moxi" means.  Laughingly he explained that most times people say, 'He's got moxi!' when they mean that the player's got a lot of heart and passion, but not much talent . . . Bahahaha!  How much more perfectly named could my blog be!?!?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Telemarketer Joe

   Don't you just hate those annoying telemarketer calls?  We used to have BellSouth's people calling morning, noon, and night trying to get us to switch from cable back to DSL internet (you know back in the dark ages). Of course we maintained a stolid wall of silence, i.e. we had caller i.d. and we never answered the phone.
   One day my roomie and I were both headed out the door when the phone started ringing. We exchange a look, I roll my eyes and go back to check the caller i.d. Sure enough, it was BellSouth. By this time I'd had enough. I picked up the phone:

Me: "HELLO."
Teleman: "Hi, My name is Joe and I'm calling on behalf of BellSouth and -"
Me: "Not interested. Please take us off of your calling list."
Joe: "Yes, ma'am. But if I could just have a moment of your time I -"
Me: "We're not interested. Please take us off of your calling list."
Joe: "I could do that for you if I could just have a moment -"
Me: "Uuugh." (He's a persistant little bugger!)
Joe: "Well, ma'am, if you would just take a moment to consider switching back to BellSouth DSL internet -"
Me: "We're not switching back. Now please take us OFF your calling list."
Joe: "May I ask why?"
Me: "Why? WHY? I dunno, maybe b/c of the bad service, the internet constantly cutting out, or the hidden fees! I could go on."
Joe: "Oh, but there are no hidden fees. Everything is up front and -"
Me: "No hidden fees? Joe, BellSouth is practically French for hidden fees!"
Joe: "This month we are running a special promotion -"
Me: "We're not switching! Stop calling!"  (I may be starting to loose it at this point . . .)
Joe: "May I ask if you have any other reasons for-"
Me: "Yeah, I'm screwing the cable guy!!!"  (Ok, I've lost it.)
Joe: (Choking sound) "I . . . uh . . .well . . .pardon me?"
Me: "You heard me. I said I'm screwing the cable guy. So, really there's really no better 'promotion' you can offer me now is there? Not to mention the serious damper it would put on our 'relationship' if I switched back to DSL."
Joe: (Laughingly) "Uh . . . I see . . . " (more choking laughter) "Well, if you're ever not getting what you need from cable, give us a call here at BellSouth. Good day." Click.
They never called again.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Concrete: 1 Amber: 0

   My parents are the best.  I mean it. They are always helping me out, always there for me no matter what.  My mom and dad spend an inordinate amount of their hard earned vacation days at my house working their tails off at some cooked up home improvement scheme I have dreamed up, but just can't quite complete on my own.  They've helped me do it all. New doors/deadbolts: check.  Tree-trimming: check.  Painting: check.  Hardwood floors: check.  Fence: check.  Installing appliances, light fixtures, and ceiling fans: check, check, aaaaand check. 
   Take the fence for instance.  I plotted and planned it all out, I wanted a small fenced in area for the dogs so I wouldn't have to take them out on leashes ALL the time.  I was using cheap, pre-fabricated wooden picket fencing: just throw it up there and it's done . . . if only it were that simple. 
   First step is to head to Lowes for the materials.  We get inside, divide the list, and split up into our respective teams: Dad vs. Mom and Me.  Ready, set, go.  So, Mom and I grab one of those impossible to maneuver flat-cart thingys used when you buy lumber and we set off.  We grab the first couple of items on our list easy peezy, and then we come to the concrete. 
   We move over the the concrete aisle (and yes they have an entire aisle devoted to concrete).  My mother and I have a short discussion: despite all of the concrete being in different color bags, they're all the same, right?  I mean concrete is concrete.  So, we shrug at each other and I casually bend down to reach for the nearest bag of concrete, and WOW concrete is heavy!  I took a step back, and took a much harder look at the bag: 80lbs.  Holy crap!  That's ok, I got this . . . I mean I can squat more than twice that at the gym . . . Moving forward I try again this time 'bending with the knees.'  Straining and my face turning bright red my mother says, "Well, are you going to try or what?"  Grr. 
   Well, now it's just a matter of pride . . . so, I heave and I grunt, push, pull, tug, and finally through what I can only describe as an act of God I manage to get the 80lbs bag of concrete onto the cart.  Me: "Whew!"  My mother: "Good.  We need five of those."  Seriously!?  I'm pretty sure I'm on the precipice of a coronary and you want me to do that FOUR more times???  By the expectant look on her ageless face, clearly, she does. 
   Fine.  Round two.  Again I bend with the knees.  I get the bag of concrete into a bear hug, and I start maneuvering it to the edge of the pile.  Taking a deep breath I move in for the big lift.  I lift just slightly and pivot to put the concrete onto the cart.  Only I didn't make it the four perilous inches to the cart . . . and this is where things start to fall apart.  Instead of straightening as I intended, I start sinking.  Added to the fact that I'm no longer in a healthy and sanctioned squat position as well as standing on the slick surface of concrete dust on polished concrete floors my left foot starts to slide . . . and the slow sink is now a fast plunge.  By this time my dainty mother is trying, very ineffectively I might add, to help me, tugging at my arm.  I landed bum-first on the concrete floor with a THUNK!  All 80lbs of the concrete slamming into my chest knocking me backward. HUMPH!  
   So, this is how my father finds us: my mom sitting beside me leaning against the bags on concrete, me sprawled out on the floor of Lowes, both of us covered in gray concrete dust and laughing uncontrollably.  My dad casually walks over to us. Taking it all in, he says, "You know this is the wrong kinda concrete."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gumbo Thinks I Suck

   Gumbo is our biggest dog and she is also the biggest weeny.  She's scared of thunder, she detests water, and she hates the vacuum.  I miiiiiiight have something to do with that last one, but with dogs you never really can tell . . . .
   Ok, so I was at my wits end one day in late spring: this is when the shedding tends to be at its worst.  There is dog hair EVERYWHERE!  I take them outside twice a day and brush them down and still when they come inside the hair will come off of them by the handful - it's not natural I tell ya.  So, I'm vacuuming the house AGAIN, when (lightbulb) I have a brilliant idea.  Why not vacuum the dogs??? 
   The more I thought about it, the more logical my plan sounded in my head.  The dogs might even learn to love it.  It could be just like a little doggie massage.  So, with this in mind I moved a chair or two to block off the hallway and shut all the doors leading into the living room (not to keep them from getting away or anything . . . merely for their own safety).  I put the little brush attachment on the vacuum hose and I grab Conker first.  He takes it like a little champ.  You can tell he is not happy about it, but what can he do when I outweigh him by like a million to one.  Then I grab Chiquita.  She's a little less enthusiastic about it alternating between giving her 'pathetic-why-are-you-doing-this-to-me' eyes and growling and the vacuum hose. 
   Then I move on to Gumbo who has been keeping a wary eye on me from across the room. (Just some background: while she's our biggest dog her back only comes up to below my knee so she's several inches smaller than the average Lab.)  I approach her with the vacuum hose in hand, making soft encouraging noises just like I've seen Jack Hanna do on Animal Planet.  Still uttering words of encouragement I flip on the vacuum and make contact with Gumbo's coat.  That was it, she snapped!  She jumped up and took off!  But she had no where to go as I had blocked off all the exits . . . or so I thought.  In one majestic leap Gumbo jumps straight up and over the kitchen bar area and bounds away to safety. 
   I just stood there dumbfounded still holding the vacuum hose . . . I have to say I did NOT see that one coming.  At any rate I had to abandon that 'brilliant' plan especially after Gumbo went and hid and wouldn't come out for almost an hour!  To this day when I vacuum she very cautiously steers clear of me and my hair-sucking monster.
Gumbo hiding under the bed from thunder.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Chiggers Explained

   Ok, so I'm sorry I mentioned it. Have you ever tried to explain "chiggers" to a Yankee? The conversation went a little something like this:

Yank: "Amber, I just read your totally awesome blog! It's really fantastic! You're so cool, I wish I could be like you!" (I . . . may have embellished here and there, but hang w/ me)
Me: "Why, thank you!"
Yank: "But I've just got one question - what the heck is a chigger?"
Me: "Well, firstly it's chiggers - I mean I don't think you can have just one. . .and they are bugs we have here in the South"
Yank: "O yeah, so what are they? They're humongous, right?"
Me: "Well, no. They're tiny red bugs. They make you itch, they make you itch like crazy."
Yank: "O, so like a mosquito? "
Me: "Nooo, not like a mosquito. They don't really bite. They infest themselves in the skin."
Yank: "Do what?"
Me: "They are these tiny, tiny little red bugs that get on you from the grass or the woods, all over really, and they crawl into your skin and lay their eggs. Itches like crazy."
Yank: "You mean you have bugs that crawl under you skin and lay eggs in you!?!?"
Me: "Yeah, that pretty much sums it up."
Yank: "I think I'm gonna be sick . . . "

Sunday, August 29, 2010

One Small Step for Moxi, One Giant Leap for Bird-kind

   The whole bird-owner thing is pretty new to me.  We haven't even had Moxi for two months yet, but I think I might be getting the hang of it.  The first week she was home she barely moved.  She was pretty scared and while she would come out of the cage willingly, she wasn't always too happy about it.  She has slowly come out of her shell and I feel like she is getting more adventurous every day.  At first when I would offer her a piece of fruit or a veggie she would run from it and hide, and if I clipped it to the side of her cage she just wouldn't go near it.  But she's come a long way since then, immediately investigating something as soon as I put it in her cage. 
   So, being jobless and bored out of my mind I set out to make Moxi a play gym.  According to bird owners worldwide and YouTube birdie play gyms are all the rage.  Of course I couldn't buy one so we set off on a scavenger hunt for materials which led us down the the garage, known to some as the Pit of Despair.  So, we dug about and I got some materials together.  Since I was making this play gym for her, I asked Moxi's opinion on every detail. 
   An hour or two later I had the most perfect home-made, ghetto fabulous play gym ever.  I could hardly contain my glee as I trotted the finished product up to my living room to show it to Moxi.  I got quite the reaction . . . of course, shrieking and fluttering away as well as refusing to even be in the same room w/ it . . . nooooot really what I was going for . . . sigh. 
   Using a little velcro I added a stable but removable food bowl and water dish so occasionally she would wander near it to grab a bite.  But the play gym has been in a closet all week since I shoved it there for the open house (don't judge, you know you shove stuff in closests for open houses, too).  Tonight I decided to give it a whirl and bring it back out.  She still wasn't that interested in it until I hung a pretzel from it.  I have learned that there are very few things this bird will not do for a pretzel (I buy the unsalted ones for Mox and yes, apparently, the salt does indeed make the pretzel b/c I tried them and they are gross just fyi).  Later I hung a nutriberry wrapped in a coffee filter: she loves to rip it apart to get the treat!  Afterward she spent a while on it playing with some of the toys and even breaking into a peanut I've had on there since the beginning.  I feel we've breached and entirely new frontier: I'm soooo excited!!!


Moxi: Chowin down on a pretzel

Moxi going after her nutriberry!

Notice the destruction she has rained down below
I just think this is a cute Quaker face!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Science of Toenail Clipping

Conker getting a well deserved
treat for toenail clipping
   With three dogs you can imagine toenail clipping day can be a big to-do in this household.  I don't know if you've ever tried to clip a Chihuahua's toenails, but if you have you probably deserve a medal of honor.  Chihuahuas, by in large, do not like to have their feet or their ears messed with.  So, from a very young age we make it a point to mess in their ears and play with their feet as much as possible in the hopes of making life less stressful down the road. 
   I typically choose to clip nails at home, and over the years I have managed to work it down to a science.  Conker, of course, has to go first.  I have to act completely natural, b/c if that little delinquent gets even the vaguest notion of whats to come he runs and burrows himself in the deepest darkest hole he can find. 
   One time I grabbed Chiquita first and started clipping away, next thing I know Conker is off like a shot into the bedroom where he goes to hide under the bed.  Chiquita squirmed and squealed trying to get away, and from the bedroom I hear a weak, mournful little whimper, Conker commiserating w/ his poor sister.  I clip quickly and efficiently and bribe them with cheese. 
   Of course, it wasn't always that way we used to take the dogs to Petsmart to have it done.  But we can't go back there anymore . . . oh no, our dogs didn't bite or fight to the death, our little chi wailed. That's right I said wailed: wailed, cried, whimpered, mourned, and yowled. The sounds coming out of this little dog would have ripped your heart out. This dog wailed bloody murder. The groomer tried everything from holding from different angles to plying the dog w/ treats: nothing.  Meanwhile I'm standing there with tears in my eyes b/c it sounds as if they are flaying him alive! And the girl swears up and down that she's not hurting my dog. She demonstrates by moving the clippers toward the next toenail, they haven't even made contact yet and already an earth shattering scream is ripped from his throat.
   Apparently some worried shoppers inquired as to what was happening b/c you could hear his cries echoing throughout the store (and probably throughout the state), so, after the tortuous affair the groomer took us aside and very politely asked us not to return . . . they couldn't have the other customers in the store thinking that they were killing dogs . . . o my . . .

Friday, August 27, 2010

Glug, Glug

  There comes a time in every person's life when you go to flush the toilet and amidst the rhythmic swish and swirl of water and debris you hear it: glug, glug.  It seems a harmless enough sound, but it stops me dead in my tracks.  I wince and turn slowly dreading what I might find . . . and after a mere second of casual observation my deepest fears are confirmed: my toilet is clogged and upon depressing the lever I have unwittingly executed the "backwards flush." 
   Years of training and experience from living in shoddy apartment dwellings and a deep regard for Mexican food have prepared me for this moment.  I spring into action leaping toward the wall, reaching behind the toilet, awkwardly placing my face close to the rapidly filling toilet and I manage to suck it up and cut off the water.  Whew.  That was a close one. 
   So, first things first: I try the plunger.  After a few hefty plunges the water appears to have gone down a bit: gurgle, gurgle.  Whipping my head to the right looking in the direction of the sound I spy dirty water gurgling up the bathtub drain.  Not only is this gross, but it, apparently, is also not a good sign.  So, having exhausted my vast surplus of plumbing knowledge, I do what every girl does in this situation: I call my father.  That's right: I'm breakin out the big guns. 
   He instructs me via speaker phone to open some pipe in my backyard where raw sewage is puddling.  Let me just say the next few lines are not for the faint of heart.  So, here I am hunched over, sweating and elbow deep in sewage trying some of my father's cooked up schemes to knock loose a clog when I finally ask, "Daddy, I don't think this is working.  I hate to ask, but how much do you think it would cost to get a plumber out here?"  He nonchalantly replies, "Oooo, I dunno, maybe a hundred bucks"  Excuse me, but what did you just say?  One hundred dollars?  U.S. dollars?  Ok, I am digging about in SEWAGE here! 
   At this point I would give my first born child to fix this and it's only gonna cost me $100?!?!?  "Gotta go, Dad.  Luv ya." Click.  At this point dusk has arrived and after running over to the neighbors and taking a shower in Clorox I get in touch w/ the plumber.  He's sending someone over, but since it's after normal business hours there will be an extra charge and it might be a couple of hours before he can make it.  Nooooo problem. 
   The plumber comes to the door and I direct him out back, jabbering the whole time in explanation.  He views the puddle from a couple of different angles, grunts and walks back to his truck.  Ok, so he's not a social butterfly: who cares?  He gets his gear and starts to work, I'm still jabbering.  He looks up and as if noticing me for the first time he points to his ear.  What?  He scrawls something on a little pad of paper: DEAF.  Ooooo, ok.  So, I head back inside to await the verdict. 
   After about an hour with his little (admittedly somewhat loud) machine, he signals for met to flush the toilets.  Success!  After packing up he meets me at the front door with the invoice.  By this point it's probably about 1am, and he is extremely agitated.  He's scrawling rapidly on his little notepad and I'm trying to figure it out.  Something about a neighbor . . . a neighbor came out . . . a neighbor came out and yelled at him?  More scrawls.  A neighbor came out and yelled at him to stop making so much racket???  Ooo, ok, so one of my neighbors came out and told him to stop making so much noise and with the obvious 'language barrier' they didn't realize he was a plumber or that he was deaf and now . . . now they are calling the cops.  Awesome.  Seriously, I can't make this stuff up.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nothin Could Be Finer

  South Carolina is the perfect place to live.  Of course I might be a little biased b/c I grew up here, but let me explain.  This state boasts both beautiful glittering beaches as well as breathtaking mountain retreats.  South Carolina is currently fostering relationships w/ some big name industries from BMW in the upstate to Boeing putting down roots in Charleston, the landscape is lush and green year round, and the winters are mild at their worst.  The state flag is iconic with its palmetto tree and crescent moon, Southern Charm runs rampant here, and let's face it Carolina Girls ARE the best in the world! 
   While every state has it's good points (and I feel certain that South Carolina's good points far out-weigh the bad), there are obviously some counterpoints to consider as well.  While the winters are moderate with the average yearly snowfall measured in number of flakes, not inches or even God forbid feet, the summers can be blisteringly hot with humidity that upon walking outside will smack you in the face like a sock full of quarters.  Our politicians are almost always complete morons and it never fails that should the great state of South Carolina make national headlines you can bet that the dumbest, most illiterate, cockeyed and toothless red neck will be interviewed for the world to see, "What had happen'd wuz . . . " (Insert emphatic eye roll here.)  But probably the worst part about South Carolina is the wildlife, yup I'm talking about the bugs.  We have bugs here that people from other parts of the U.S. have never even HEARD of: fire ants, chiggers, Palmetto Bugs (which I affectionately refer to as Mutant Roach Spawns of Satan) just to name a few. 
   It is a darn good thing I have three fearless canines to protect me should I come upon one.  So fearless, in fact, that yesterday when I did see one of the gargantuan cockroaches (insert inward shudder here), that they can't possibly see the problem with a bug the size of a Buick darting across the floor!  Meanwhile I get all squeamish alternating between yelling, encouraging and desperately pleading w/ my dogs to kill it.  And by this time I'm hopping frantically from foot to foot, b/c even while I have to pee like there's no tomorrow I am NOT going to drop trou in the same room w/ that creepy, crawly, crunchy vermin!  While my voice gets higher pitched w/ every passing moment, my three dogs just continue to calmly observe me occasionally blinking and exchanging a questioning glance with each other as if to say, "What's got her panties in a wad?" 
   Seeing that the dogs are absolutely no help, I move on to Plan C. (Just to recap in case you missed it: Plan A = screaming bloody murder, Plan B = command the dogs to attack both of which are dismal failures bringing us to Plan C)  I hectically scan the bathroom for something that might come in handy as a weapon, and my eyes alight on a pair of flip flops: ah-hah!  Grabbing the flip-flops I fling the first one at the mutant bug and grabbing the second one I jump on to the counter (which wasn't easy and in my haste I'm fairly certain I pulled a muscle).  With a banshee yell I fling the other flip-flop at the now wildly zig-zagging bug and . . . well, I miss, I missed by a lot.  (I played soccer ok, not softball!)  Thinking quickly I pushed a jar of face cream/sunscreen off the counter w/ my toe and SPLAT!  Success!  I immediately jumped off the counter and sidled by crusty carcass to the toilet for my sweet relief.  But other than that I mean South Carolina really is the perfect place to live.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow? Nope, Still Hair!

   I live in the hairiest house in America. I have three dogs that despite the fact that they are short-haired seem to shed hair by the pound. Jamie and I both have long hair (his is to his shoulders now giving him a decidedly roguish look, and mine is past my waist for the first time ever). For this reason I invest in only top quality air filters, I vacuum/sweep more than your average person, as well as spend countless hours pulling hair out of places like drains, hair brushes, and the vacuum cleaner.
  I feel that this is just another sign from fate that Moxi and I belong together: Moxi LOVES hair. She loves to be on my shoulders preening me or at night snuggling under my curtain of hair. I've decided that Moxi was clearly a hairstylist in a previous life: not only does she try to ninja-poop in my hair as often as possible (obviously for the nutrient benefit), but she also spends a great deal of her time restyling my hair. The fact that during the day I choose to wear my hair in a simple bun with a couple of serviceable brown bobby pins here and there clearly offends her delicate hair-styling sensibilities! She sits on my shoulder carefully pulling hair out of my bun in her efforts to make my hair more chic.  Removing all of the offensive bobby pins, scattering them haphazardly.  To the casual observer it might appear that she is just a crazy bird pulling the hair out willy-nilly, but I know that she has a great vision. If I try to tuck a piece of hair that she has purposefully removed, she dutifully pulls it right back out and occasionally scolds me for my impertinence.
  Just today I had cut off a piece of a delicious red apple and put it on her plate. At first she viewed the apple a little skeptically, but then she decided to chow down. And when she had her fill of apple, where to you think she turned to clean her beak? That's right my hair.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Takin This Show on the Road

  I'm trying to sell my house.  It's a great house: the rooms are huge, tons of space, and there are more closets than I can count, but I am in no way under the delusion that I'll be able to obtain a job in Columbia on the doorstep of the school ergo I must sell.  The house hit the market at the beginning of the summer and since then we have had one, yes I said one, person come through the house.  At this point when I do get a job, I suppose we are going to have to rent the place out til the market decides to come back around. 
   Anywho my agent has been trying for weeks to get an "Agent Open House" together w/ the other real estate agents who have homes in the neighborhood.  Everybody is gung-ho about it til the day before when everybody drops out last minute.  So, naturally after having this happen three or four times I didn't count on it actually happening this week either, haha wrong.  My agent called me yesterday afternoon and said everything was in order and good to go.  I smiled looking at the wreckage that was my kitchen, "Ooooh, that's good news . . ." So, I spent the evening cleaning the house to sparkly.  And today we had to vacate the house from 10:30 to 1:30. 
   So, here we go: three dogs, bird (complete w/massively awkward cage), and myself.  I felt like all we were missing was the pear tree.  I loaded in shifts.  We finally got on the road and went over to a friends house to spend the afternoon.  While driving across town, I couldn't help but think how my life has turned into a little three ring circus.  Not hard to see the similarities when I look to my right and there's Moxi sitting in her cage that is strapped awkwardly into the passenger seat w/ the toys, ropes, and treats all swaying with the motion of the car and Moxi happily munching on a pretzel cooing at me occasionally.  Gumbo is in the back seat moving from window to window and drooling on absolutely everything (she has excited drool).  At one point she tried to get in the far back and in her graceless attempt to hop over the seats she became immobilized w/ her belly over the seats and neither her front legs or her back legs touching down anywhere.  So, for a short time the rearview mirror displayed nothing but the disturbing sight of Gumbo bum flailing to get over the seat, tail just waggin away the entire time.  Chiquita is frozen in one spot legs all sprawled outward as if to brace herself, refusing to move, and growling at Gumbo tromping all over and being generally happy.  She is extremely peeved to be riding in the back seat when the rest of the 'common folk' (she's kindof a diva).  While Conker, in an attempt to get to the front, has wedged his little body underneath my seat where he gets stuck for three quarters of a mile til I can safely pull over and remove him. 
   O yes, we are like a traveling three ring circus, next thing you know someone will have pitched a tent and started charging admission.
Godzilla Bird!