Sunday, July 30, 2006


According to Wikpedia, it's a German term meaning "pleasure taken from someone else's misfortune." It's not something I'm proud of, but I do indulge from time to time, especially when someone who adopts a holier-than-thou stance is brought down by their own human failings, as in the recent case with Mel Gibson, uber Catholic who was recently arrested in Malibu for a DUI, and proceeded to launch into anti-Semitic and sexist comments directed at the officers on the scene.

What Would Jesus Do? I never met the guy, but from all accounts he probably wouldn't have called the female officer "sugar tits" or complained that the "Jews run everything."

Friday, July 28, 2006

We Love The Manolo!

One of my favorite blogs is Manolo's Shoe Blog. "The Manolo" serves up shoes and dishes celebrities, all with a certain panache and wit. Here's his most recent entry, shoe advice for a congressional aide:

Manolo says, the Manolo he can think of few jobs more demanding and less appreciated than to be the assistant to the congressperson.

It is like being the governess for the very head-strong and naughty young child, whom you must continually retrieve from one potentially dangerous or embarrassing situation after the next.

You are in charge of so many important things, such as arranging all of the play-dates with the lobbyists, and insuring that the committee homework gets done on time. You must endure the silly temper tantrums graciously and make certain that the self-esteem of your congresschild is properly cultivated.

Read the whole thing here, along with The Manolo's shoe recommendation.

Interestingly enough, I discovered Twisty through The Manolo's blog (it's one of his links). He also has very eclectic tastes in books and music, and has keyed me into some very interesting books. Oh, and if you're a fan of Project Runway, his Project Runway weekly episode recaps just don't get any better.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Never A Dull Moment

Our kitchen counter looks like a pharmacy right now. There's medicine for Sam (two different anti-seizure meds), medicine for Doug (allergy and herbal stuff for his liver), medicine for Byron (antibiotics following his surgery for the abcess), and medicine for Coco (anti-inflammatories following her spay operation last week).

So Monday night, as is my usual M.O. when I get home from work, I set out everyone's evening round of meds so I wouldn't forget to give them. Fortunately, both of the dogs are good medicine takers: a Mighty Dog meatball and just about any pill goes down in a gulp. So I made Bryon his meatball with the blue and white antibiotic capsule, fed it to him, turned back to the counter and realized I'd given him one of Sam's Depakote (also a blue and white capsule!). Frantically, I called the vet; their office had already closed for the evening. Their message referred me to a 24-hour animal hospital, which I then dialed. After being put on hold for about 10 minutes (all the while hyperventilating while watching Bryon to see if he was going to keel over foaming at the mouth), they referred me to the Animal Poison Control Center. After being on hold with them for another 5 minutes (and still no sign of immenent violent death in Byron) a very nice vet, Dr. Yousef, talked me down off the ceiling. Turns out the amount of Depakote for a dog Byron's size wasn't even enough to give him a buzz. Dr. Yousef said he would've had to ingest 5-6 Depakote capsules before he'd be worried. Whew. That'll be $55, please. Visa or Mastercard?

At any rate, I was relived tonight when Byron gulped down his last antibiotic to finish the course. Now I only have to worry about Sam's and Coco's meds, and I don't think I'll confuse those; Coco's has a picture of a doggy on the bottle.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Not Too Strong A Word

Monsters. Or, Compassion, Schmompassion For Anyone Who's Not An Embryo.

Digby's blog is one of the few political blogs I read daily (besides Echidne ), because of the insightful and passionate commentary.

Monsters is not too strong a word for the pieces of shit who are currently in charge of this country. They'll sell us all down the river for the sake of the next election. They're ginning up WWIII just in time for the 2006 midterms, and to keep the Fundanutters happy. I haven't been so full of dread about the future of the world since Reagan's Rapturists were in power. And even then, it was less a fear about global war than the immenent destruction of the environment.

Maybe Bush really is an idiot child (or so hopped up on drugs he's lost it ) and being manipulated by sociopaths. Maybe he's a sociopath himself as many have suggested. The only thing I can hope for (and probably in vain) is that someday there will be some accountability at the top, and these monsters do some hard time in prison.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Some funny stuff for a Friday

Your Co-Workers Will Wonder What's So Funny...

Courtesy Bitch. PhD., indeed a "cheeky monkey."

From Twisty, truly a classic.

Monday, July 17, 2006

More Assorted Shit

Your 1950s Name is:

Victoria Beverly

But my friends call me Bev, natch! (Hat tip to Crazy Dust In My Coffee. )

Speaking of coffee, I thought I was a coffee Connoisseur until I ran across Damn. Once again the universe reminds me what a total Dilettante I am. These coffeegeek folks are Ser.I.Ous. about their coffee. I am totally intimidated.

Byron is doing much better. We went to the vet this afternoon to get the drainage tube out (have to believe that feels better) but he still has to wear the satellite dish for another three days, until his incisions close completely. We joke that we can hook him up to the TV and get the networks' East Coast feeds.

Yesterday we managed to get a babysitter and went to a movie. Saw "The Devil Wears Prada," which I'd wanted to see mostly because of Meryl Streep in the Miranda role. It was entertaining, and wasn't as bad as it could have been (actually the Miranda character had a lot more depth than in the book), but it also wasn't as good as it could have been either. Here's the premise: Andrea, fresh out of college and wanting to be a Serious Journalist lands a job as a personal assitant to Miranda who is the editor-in-chief of a preeminent women's fashion magazine, "Runway" (which is a thinly disguised "Vogue"). Miranda (supposedly based on Anna Wintour of Vogue), of course is known as a Dragon Lady, but anyone who can stick it out for a year and win her approval and recommendation has doors opened to work at just about any national publication they want. The interesting thing, though, is that the Miranda character, though demanding and bitchy and impossible to please is also shown to be smart and savvy and one step ahead of everyone else. There's also a moment where the Andrea character is complaining to a colleague about how hard it all is, and he (rightly) tells her that she's only "deigning" to be there, and isn't really committed (she's made it quite clear that she looks down on the fashion industry and is only doing this until she can get a "real" job). He reminds her that she chose to take the job, she's choosing not to quit, so she should buck up and do the best she can with it. From there, unfortunately, it becomes so much about how she becomes a fashion plate, and overshadows that she becomes much more efficient at anticipating and meeting Miranda's needs. And even though Miranda turns out to be the biggest shark in the shark tank, she's also a clear-headed realist about what it takes to stay on top in the field she's chosen, and is unapologetic about doing what she needs to do to keep from becoming some other shark's dinner. I don't think I could work in that kind of environment; I'm just not politically savvy and ruthless enough.

But I can relate to the "you choose to be here, so why not do your best" premise. Not many of my staff at work start out choosing what we do as a career (my department does very unglamorous "administrative" work in the TV industry). Many of them are aspiring actors or screenwriters or producers looking for a "day job" or to get a foot in the door. Some of them limp along, miserable for years, doing just enough to keep their jobs, and complaining about every little thing. If we're lucky, they leave after a while. Some discover they like the work and the (mostly) regular hours and paycheck, and do much more than "phone it in." And then there are the people who don't want to be Shane Black or Jim Cameron or Jamie Foxx, and who just want an intersting, challenging job with a chance for some advancement. We've got a majority of those folks now, and morale in the department is pretty good. The thing is, whatever job you have, it is what it is. As it says in The Inner Game Of Tennis, "The ball is never where it should be, but it's always where it is." Meaning of course, that if you swing at where you think the ball should be, you'll miss most of the time, that it's our expectations that get in the way of seeing things as they really are and choosing and acting based on that reality, which is necessary to achieve your objectives. Anyway, I think that's the more interesting story that the movie touched on but chose not to tell, in favor of fluffy, eye-candy, Hollywood fare. There were some clever lines, though. I had to laugh in spite of myself when one of the women says, "I'm just one bout of stomach flu away from my goal weight." I've so been there.

After the movie, we went to dinner at one of our favorite places, Napa Valley Grill which is a splurge but is always so consistenly good, we tend to keep going back when we have the opportunity for a nice dinner out. If you go, you must try the Shaved Artichoke Salad. It's my favorite and I have it every time. They have a super wine list, and if you have saved any room for dessert, their selections are excellent. We decided this time that discretion was the better part of valour, and skipped dessert in favor of a good night's sleep.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Why I'm Not A Veterinarian

Not For Those With Delicate Sensibilities

I'm home with Byron this morning. He had to have surgery yesterday for impacted/abcessed anal glands, and they sent him home with a drainage shunt that has to stay in until Monday, a satellite dish around his neck, some pain medication, and antibiotics. I stayed home today because he seems to be in a lot of pain, at times crying and yelping and trying in vain to lick/chew at his bottom. I hate seeing animals in pain or suffering; it just breaks my heart. I had to stop watching those animal rescue shows on Animal Planet because I'd end up in tears every time. He won't lie down, keeps starting to fall asleep sitting up until the pain wakes him again. The vet said they don't know what causes the glands to become infected, but that some dogs are prone to it. (Oh goody.)

I used to want to be a vet. I love animals, and as a kid thought it would be a great way to be around animals all the time. One of the vets in the town where I grew up used to let kids who expressed an interest in becoming vets watch him perform operations. I did that once or twice, and once I got over the blood, I was fascinated. But then I started noticing that vets, like doctors, have to distance themselves from the suffering of their patients, and I knew I'd have trouble doing that. However the main event that put me off a career in animal medicine, was a demonstration of veterinary arts that I witnessed during one of my horse's not infrequent bouts of colic.

Those of you who have been around horses know that for a horse, colic isn't just a tummyache. Horses can't vomit, and if they get intestinal blockages, it can kill them, either from the blockage itself, or from twisted/ruptured intestines that can result if they are able to get down on the ground and roll. So when a horse has colic, you walk them. And walk them. And walk them. Sometimes for hours until they finally pass stools. And sometimes you walk them for hours and still nothing is happening and you can't hear any intestinal rumbling when you press your ear to their belly, so you call the vet. In this particular case, the vet gave our horse a shot to relax his intestines, and we walked him again for an hour, but nothing. So the vet returned, and donned an elbow-length plastic glove. "Hold his head," he said to me and I did. My horse's eyes almost popped out of his head as the vet proceeded to reach up into the horse's butt all the way up to his elbow, until he found the blockage and pulled it out...and like pulling the cork out of a shaken bottle of champagne, was showered head to toe with a fine mist of pent up manure. We hosed him off, and he went off on his next call.

So I'm waiting for the vet to call me back to see if it's OK to give him a little more pain medication, or if I can maybe get some doggie downers so that he'll at least sleep a little. Wish us luck, or it might be a very long three days...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I Wanna Be Katha Pollitt When I Grow Up

Or Possess, At Least, A Scintilla Of Her Wit And Grace

I've been reading Katha Pollitt's new book, Virginity or Death! which is a collection of her essays for The Nation from the last five years. I've found it to be witty, insightful, witty, angry, witty and spot on. Did I mention witty?

So the big flap occurred last week in the feminist blogosphere after Ana Marie Cox of Wonkette reviewed the book in the NY Times. For those of you not familiar with political blogs, Wonkette gained notariety for being a "Washington insider" political blog that makes frequent references to anal sex. Ana Marie has become a sort of media darling, supposedly the representative of the Left Blogosphere. When a review of this book starts with the sentence "Strident feminism can seem out of place — even tacky — in a world where women have come so demonstrably far," and then references Katie Couric as a symbol of You've-Come-A-Long-Way-Babyism, you immediately realize that the reviewer is a lightweight who neither supports nor understands feminism or what these essays are about.

Echidne does an excellent job dissecting this review:

Let's unpack this post-feminist pink little purse. Strident feminism is "tacky" because we have token women in high places? Would it be ever so tacky and depressing of me to remind all of us that the number of women in politics and in the leadership positions in the media is indeed very tiny, small enough to fit into the most expensive Jimmy Choos? It's so boring and unfashionable to "stubbornly" try to defend the vanishing abortion rights? Sure. Why not go with the flow and start a firm designing really fab maternity clothes for all the pregnant mothers who didn't really want to become pregnant. Yeah, that's the ticket. They can wear tiny shoes, too. Choice is good, ladies. And to talk about all those poor women in the Middle East: such a downer. We can't help them so why bother our beautiful minds with all that shit (to paraphraze Barbara Bush the Elder). It's not fun.

The big problem with Pollitt's writing for Cox seems to be that Pollitt is b-o-o-o-ring. She's all serious in her wittiness and righteously angry and not willing to entertain the great appeals of anal sex. She's so 1970s, you know, and we don't want to burn bras anymore. We prefer bras that make our breasts the vanguard of the new feminism. Which is whatever we decide it might be. Oops. I forgot in this revelry of nasty writing that nobody actually ever burned any bras in that distant and evil-smelling unfashionable era, and that someone writing about feminism really should be aware of that.

As does Barbara Ehrenreich:

Cox is not the first post-feminist to denounce paleo-feminists as sexless prudes. Ever since Andrea Dworkin -- a truly puritanical feminist -- waged war on pornography, there've been plenty of feisty women ready to defend Victoria's Secret as a beachhead of liberation. Something similar happened in the 1920s, when newly enfranchised young women blew off those frumpy old suffragists and declared their right to smoke cigarettes, wear short skirts, and dance the Charleston all night.

Maybe there's a cycle at work here: militant feminism followed by lipstick and cocktails, followed, in a generation or two, by another gust of militancy. But this time around the circumstances are vastly different. In the 1920s, women were seeing their collective fortunes advance. The Western nations were granting them suffrage; contraceptives were moving beyond the status of contraband. Contrast those happy developments to today's steadily advancing war against women's reproductive choice: the banning of abortion in South Dakota, fundamentalist pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control.

But the best responses so far have been from Pollitt herself, both in this interview with Jessica Valenti of and in her own Op-Ed in the NY Times, shredding again the old myth about feminists having no sense of humor. Throughout this collection of essays, Pollitt demonstrates why feminism isn't a dead issue, and why a feminist movement is still necessary even if Katie Couric is now a news anchor.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Desparately Seeking Style

In Which, Gentle Reader, I Consign Myself To Fashion Fuddy-Duddydom

I've always had a love/hate relationship with clothes. ("Who among us does not?", might be a better question.) As I near 50, I'm not sure that I'm making peace, but I think I'm getting better at sorting out the wheat from the chaff.

Love: As a kid, I used to design dresses for my paper dolls and sewed costumes out of squares of felt for my Troll dolls. I started reading Seventeen magazine when I was about twelve (apparently right on target) and occasionally tried to copy the styles. I continued to read fashion mags pretty regularly up until my late 20's (I know, I know!) and would covet or dissect the styles presented on those glossy pages. Even when I had no money to spend on clothes, I used to pore over the Spiegel catalog looking at the clothes and daydreaming about how I'd someday be able to dress, when I was rich/thin enough, which leads to...

Hate: Growing up, there were still a lot of ironclad sartorial edicts. You didn't mix prints, you didn't wear white in the wintertime, and for the non-skinny girls, there were extra rules: no horizontal stripes, no shirts tucked into skirts, no big patterns. It took me many years to let go of those, but two fashion rules I still follow are no big prints (I'm short and they overwhelm me) and not mixing prints. Every year, commencing with the very first day of summer vacation, my mother would begin the excruciating process of shopping for the next year's school clothes. Put yourself in my shoes: it's hot, you'd rather be outside playing or in the shade under a tree somewhere reading a book, you're being forced to spend hours trying on clothes and being critiqued on whether they make you look fatter or not, being chided for being fat, having someone tug and adjust to see if they can be made to look right, and repeating this process at least a couple of times a week all the way through August until your mother is satisfied with her choices. All the way through my 20's, I was convinced that nothing I put on ever looked right on me, plus from the time I went to college until my mid-30's I made crap wages and had to do most of my clothes shopping in thrift and discount stores, so was limited by whatever was available in my size. "Personal style" meant that it fit and I could afford it, so shopping remained a teeth-gritting experience, and usually left me in such a state of self-loathing that I wanted to go home and binge.

After many years and working on my self image and body image, and having to live and work in the real world, what I've come to is that I like stylish clothes, but that I don't care much for Fashion, other than as kind of Kabuki theater. Most of what is "fashionable" is totally inappropriate for work anyway. You don't really see people dressed up like the women in Sex And The City, even in midtown Manhattan. (Maybe if you go out to clubs, but certainly not in offices or restaurants or on the street.) Most women have the sense to dress, well, more sensibly. And though dressing like a sexbot may initially garner some women attention, ultimately I think it prevents them from being taken seriously in the workplace, or at least in the types of workplaces I've been exposed to.

My taste these days runs mostly to "classics" (think Talbots ) but I struggle not to cross the line into "frumpy." It's tough sometimes to find clothing that's somewhere between the Teenage-Hoochie-Mama and The-Golden-Girls-On-A-Cruise extremes. A lot of younger women in my office have no problem with the THM end of the spectrum; last year I had to explain to one of my staff that a midriff-baring camisole with BOOTYLICIOUS in glittery letters across the chest wasn't really appropriate for the office.

So yes, Oprah and the What Not To Wear women would probably have a field day with my closet. I mean, I think these are cute shoes, Maude help me. I can appreciate different, more trendy looks on other people, but have come to the conclusion that they don't work for me. Plus, I mean who can really walk more than 2 blocks in these????

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Miss Lorraine's School of Charm and Modelling

When I was a child in the early 60's, Jackie Kennedy was a national icon, and up until I was about 7 or 8 years old, we dressed up for dinner at Grandma's, trips on an airplane, and holidays. "Dress up" meant stiff dresses with starched petticoats, black patent leather Mary Janes, and often little white cotton gloves. Here's a picture from Christmas, probably 1962.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
The pedal-powered race car was a present from our Grandma. That's me in the car, and my sister, who shall be known only as Spot (her request) in the cowboy hat.

It's not for nothing that I threw in the Jackie Kennedy reference above. For white, middle-class women my mother's age, she was The Ideal Woman. From her taste in clothes, her slender figure, her bouffant hairdo's and uber feminine mannerisms, she set the standard that upwardly-mobile women aspired to. I don't think my mother was the only one in our neighborhood who harbored visions of slender, cultured, tennis-playing, French-speaking debutante daughters to live out their Jackie fantasies.

The light years between that vision and the reality of the two daughters she had to work with caused my mother much consternation. First, there was me: chubby, clumsy, with fine mousy brown hair that looked stringy if not brushed constantly (note the Pixie cut in the picture...I spent my childhood pining for hair long enough to braid) and horse crazy on top of all that, forget the tennis lessons. My sister, though thin, was a confirmed tomboy, who hated those stiff dresses even more than I and who preferred to play with Matchbox cars and GI Joes. She climbed trees and did James Bond kid-karate with the neighbor boys (breaking her collarbone once while practicing being flipped one's shoulder). We picked our noses, scraped our knees, had to be reminded to chew with our mouths closed and had no interest in the girly arts, such as walking up and down the hall balancing books on our heads like Hayley Mills in "Summer Magic."

The sign outside Miss Lorraine's School of Charm and Modelling must have glowed like a beacon for my mother. Situated on San Antonio Road, just north of El Camino (about a block from where Chef Chu's now continues to serve up some pretty consistently awesome Chinese food) in a small 60's "ranch style" shopping center, Miss Lorraines offered classes in "cotillion", manners, ballroom dancing for children and, of course, modelling. We passed it on our occasional family trips to Sears for garden hoses and such, and soon my mother began holding it over our heads like a switch. "If you can't start behaving like young ladies, I'm going to send you to Miss Lorraine's!" she'd threaten. (This replaced the threat from earlier days in which our bad behavior would result in being sent to live with The Indians, an idea that actually held a certain attraction for me because I figured I'd get my own pony.) Probably the only thing that actually stopped her from signing us up for indenture there was the worry of being judged pretentious by the other neighbor ladies.

My sister and I managed to elude Miss Lorraine's manicured clutches until the year I was seven, and a new upscale children's clothing store opened up on Main Street (and I believe is still there to this day). Unlike most children's clothing of the day, many of their ensembles mimicked contemporary adult styles. I particularly remember a couple of dresses designed to look like miniature Chanel suits that I regularly wore in second grade (of course not without commentary from my mother that they'd look so much better on me if I were thin). Presumably because she became an immediate and regular customer of this shop (ka-ching!), the owner asked my mother if she'd be willing to allow my sister and I to model some of the clothes in local fashion shows. But we'd have to take a modelling class to learn to navigate a catwalk. Eureka! This was the rock-solid excuse my mother needed to justify a set of classes at Miss Lorraine's. I think she figured she'd get us in the door on the modelling pretext, and before you could say "foxtrot" we'd be enrolled the Debutante Intesive Study program.

I honestly don't remember much about the modelling classes. I know that we went for 2 or 3 weeks for an hour at a time, and that there were about six kids in each class. We learned how to walk and turn and to SMILE! (dammit) and that we should want people to think we were having a good time. I do remember that my sister hated the whole idea, and would stomp across the dance floor like a construction worker in steel-toed boots.

Somewhere, there is the Super-8 evidence of our debut as child models which if I'm lucky has by now dissolved to dust. I remember the venue was outdoors, the day was hot, and that I was in a velvet dress and doing my best not to sweat. As part of the package, I was assigned to carry a brass trumpet. By the time it was my turn to go onstage, I was sweltering in the dress, and the trumpet felt as heavy as a bag of bricks. I remember little of my turn on the runway, but the home movies show a chubby girl with short hair in a red velvet dress shlepping that trumpet on her shoulder like a fireman rescuing an invalid from a burning building. My sister clomped down the runway, hunched over and with a scowl on her face, the very picture of seething resentment. (I always give my sister credit for being true to herself and honest about her feelings, regarless of whether that made anyone else happy or not. I've spent far too much of my life trying to be a Good Girl and to please others, and it's taken me decades to cultivate some of the chutzpah and sense of self she seems to have been born with.) My mother did not hide her disappoinment well that we had not been transformed into Poised Young Ladies. I think we did one more fashion show after that, and then she and the shop proprietor gave up on us. If I remember correctly, the second time I was selected to wear a baggy flannel nightgown as presumably this would not point up my obvious chubbiness. So much for the glamour of it all.

Threats of Saturday afternoon "charm" classes Miss Lorraine's were dropped not long afterward. Funny thing is, I can still do those model pivot-turns.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

How Us Eeeevil Hollywood Libruls Celebrate July 4th....

OK, so maybe I'm not "evil." I've been known to feed stray cats and hold doors open for elderly people or even younger folks with arms full of groceries or kids. And I let people merge in front of me on the freeway. Oh, and I've never invaded another country or had anyone killed or tortured.

And maybe we don't technically live in Hollywood, though our city motto is "Heart of Screenland" and we do have a major movie studio in town.

But I am an unrepentant Liberal, dammit, and proud of it!!! So what wholly disgusting and America-hating activities did we engage in to celebrate this Independence Day? Did we burn flags? Piss on the Constitution? (Nah, we'll leave that last one to the Bush administration.)

Nope, we started off the day with the annual neighborhood parade...

Families walking in the parade together and kids with patriotic decorations on bikes and wagons?


Homemade "floats" with loudspeakers blaring John Phillip Sousa marches?


Antique fire engine that later parks in the neighborhood for kiddie photo ops?


We sure are out of touch with Mainstream America here, and should be ashamed of our America-hating activities.

Even more radical, we follow up this scandalous display with [gasp!] block parties and grilling of hot dogs and hamburgers, consumption of same enjoyed with soft drinks (some "diet", oh my!) and beers (domestic AND imported!), and followed up with pie and cookies in the park while waiting for the fireworks show. And the fireworks! The most shocking display of pyrotechnics ever to grace the night skies.

I love the 4th of July!!!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Dawgs

I've always been a cat person. There were some dogs I liked, but I loved every cat I met. Then I met my husband, who I love even more than cats, and he's violently allergic to them. A few hours spend in the presence of cat dander renders him unable to breathe without medication. When we moved into our house which had been inhabited by the previous owners' indoor cats, we took great care to have the rugs thoroughly cleaned, and even removed in a couple of the rooms (exposing the hardwood floors underneath....gotta love an older house!). He still ended up in the emergency room a few days after we moved in, and had to sleep with a HEPA filter running for months afterward. So for 13 years, we lived without pets.

My in-laws had been making noises for some time that we should get Sam a dog. He'd gone through a period of several years starting when he was about a year old where he'd been primally terrified by animals, and over the last couple of years had been getting over it. MIL kept hearing stories from friends about how great dogs were for kids with special needs. We resisted the idea for a couple of years; our lives were crazy enough already, why bring another dependent creature into the mix? Then last September at a party, a co-worker showed me pictures of her Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. I'd always said if I ever get a dog, this was the breed I wanted. They're small but not yappy, they're good with kids, fairly mellow, and best of all, they don't smell. So I contacted the breeder that her dogs came from and two months later, Voila! Byron enters the picture:

So fast forward 5 months, and I get an e-mail from Byron's breeder saying she has some pups that she's looking for homes for, at a discounted price yet. I'd been having some pangs of guilt about Byron being alone during the day while Sam is at school, and kept having people tell me that dogs, especially Cavaliers, are so much happier with another doggie companion, and....

Coco joins the family! She's Byron's half-sister (same father) and they get along like brother and sister...fighting over a toy one minute and curling up together to nap the next. She's much more of a cuddly dog than Byron, and so far much easier to train. So we've gone in the space of 7 months from a no-pet family to a Two Dog Family, and it seems to be working out very well. Oh, and Doug's allergies don't seem to be triggered by the dogs.

They both love Sam and vie for his attention. When he wants puppy kisses, he sits down on the floor and purses his lips, and soon both pups are eagerly licking his face. It's amazing how Byron especially seems to understand him; he'll let Sam take a toy right out of his mouth, and is so tolerant of Sam's sometimes clumsy attempts to pet or hug him. I still can't say that I love all dogs, but I sure love ours!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

It's the Small Things...

Our son, Sam has just graduated to shoe-insert orthotics. This wouldn't be a big deal, except in comparison to what he's graduated from: stiff, over-the-ankle, tough-to-slip-on, fastened-with-two-velcro-straps, next-to-impossible-to-find-shoes-that-fit-over type orthotics, which made putting on shoes into a 5-minute ordeal, and pretty much prevented him from learning to put his shoes on himself. He'll be 9 in August.

A little background: he's mentally retarded, has mild hypotonic CP, seizure disorder, moderate hearing loss, and profound speech, cognitive and fine motor delays as a result of lack of oxygen in utero the last few days (or maybe weeks...nobody knows) of my pregnancy. He was born by crash C-section three days after my due date, after we'd gone to the hospital because I hadn't felt any movement from him in several hours. By the time they got him out his heart had stopped, and they performed CPR for nineteen minutes before they got it started again. His Apgar at nineteen minutes was 0-0-1. At first they told us he probably wouldn't survive, then after we took him off the ventilator at 11 days, that he probably wouldn't have a suck reflex, then that he'd probably never sit up or walk or talk (they didn't use the word "vegetable", but that was pretty much the picture being painted) and then at some point after he'd defied each one of those predictions, they stopped predicting and just said "we don't know." Today he functions at anywhere from a 2-4 year old level, depending on the particular function and how motivated he is. He's a wonderful, sweet, loving, handsome, flirtatious kid with a joie de vivre that puts most of us to shame, and a deep and abiding love of roller coasters (which he refers to as "the fast train"), Thomas The Tank Engine, and "his"dogs, Byron and Coco.

So today we went and got new shoes. The first pair we tried--magic. The orthotic slipped right into place in the shoe, and the shoes slipped effortlessly onto his feet. Little by little, it gets easier. Slowly, but it does. Days like today remind me of that.