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

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!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Conker: Backwards Evolution

   I'm not going to make any qualms about it: my dogs are heathens.  I am probably the worst dog owner ever.  Ok probably not ever, I mean I have seen that heartbreaking show Animal Cops on Animal Planet, but lets just say my dogs are spoiled to the point of rotten.  The discipline they do have is a little iffy at best.  Of course Chiquita is well behaved (I think that goes w/out saying).  They can follow simple commands easily enough: sit, come, lay down, get down.  (Notice how 'stay' was not included on that list as this command has completely eluded them!)  That being said Conker can only sit, and usually only if there is a treat involved. 
   When I tried to teach the little mongrel how to lay down he wasn't having it.  I tried a couple of times putting the treat very close to him on the ground saying the command as this worked for the other two.  In their excitement to get the treat they would flop to the ground.  Conker not so much.  So, then I tried a couple of times to show him what I wanted by putting him in the laying position: hah!  You would've thought I was strapping him to a nuclear weapon aimed at evil space aliens the way he contorted his body so as not to lay on the floor!  Then I tried to command, sweep the front legs, and quickly reward.  I have to say the little devil learned very quickly: he learned after the FIRST time that when I say 'Lay Down' I am going to sweep his front legs so he had better get out of the way.  So, now as you've probably guessed for Conker the command 'Lay Down' simply means 'Back up Really Quick!' 
   So, now even years later I can have all my little doggies lined up in a row and give the command, "Lay Down" and Gumbo and Chiquita will flop to the floor w/ lightening speed and Conker takes three fast little steps backwards: sigh.

Conker layin on the couch w/ Jamie

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Come one, come all! Welcome to my blog!

  Congratulations, you've successfully navigated the world wide web and landed safely in my blog!  A noble feat, I can assure you, as not many ever will. :)  This blog is sure to be full of my own personal views and yammerings.  Disclaimer: I would 83% of the time never do what I report doing in my blog as it is 74% of the time misguided and 26% of the time just totally wrong.  That being said I am an avid animal lover and pet owner currently looking for work and engaged to the love of my life, and aside from the jobless part my life is pretty sweet.  I live with my fiance, three dogs, and a bird; i.e. my life is like a circus!