Psalm 23:4 - Pit Bull Translation

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for I am the baddest dog in the valley"

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cool Endings in Vancouver

The Olympics are coming to a close tonight. Right now we are watching the closing ceremonies. We are all so tired that it's going to take another week to catch up on sleep. These games started out with sadness and maybe because of that they seem to be ending in triumph. From making fun of themselves while relighting the indoor cauldron to their wonderful celebration of a terrific men's hockey finals, and I don't even like hockey. Canada wins their first gold at a home game, then goes on to win a bunch more. Since snowboarding, moguls and other x-game type sports have joined the Olympics camaraderie between the athletes have reached new levels. Instead of the rivalry and political games from the past (remember the US vs USSR men's hockey finals in 1980?) we have hugs and high fives between the medal winners.

After my disappointment in the Beijing games two summers ago I found these games to be quite refreshing.

I didn't mention it earlier but I love to compare cauldrons and Vancouver's will go down as one of my favorites.

When it malfunctioned during the opening ceremonies it bothered me, first the death of an athlete, then the malfunction. I was left with a feeling that these Olympics would have a black cloud over them. Then the death of an athlete's mother seem to seal it. But Canada should be proud of themselves. Their optimism and grace made these games one of the best in a long time.

Neil Young: Sugar Mountain... Good Bye!

Edited to add 3/1/2010: I thought that was the end but it wasn't, proving once again what a loser I can be. To Be or Not To Be a Loser, that is the question. Sorry about that. Anyway, turns out NBC is the loser. Did you get a look at how they cut the end off just to go to some stupid reality show premiere? Oh and if I wanted to see the rest I had to come back at 11:30. Are you kidding me? After 14 days of sleep deprivation I'm not going to sit through some stupid reality show, you lost me and what little respect I had left for NBC. Jerks.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Anything for a buck

When I was 17 years old I joined the local fire company. Over the years I fought many a fire, responded to countless accident scenes and even did my share of public relation programs.

Many times the local newspaper would report on what ever had been going on. Sometimes it was spectacular. Like the time a lumber warehouse burned. The wood and paneling stacked inside burned for days. When we arrived on scene flames were 30 feet in the air. It made good news with great pictures. No need to embellish with that one. As you would expect not every call made for such good copy.

I read the newspaper every day. I don't watch TV news, I'm not interested in traffic accidents, shootings and other mayhem. There are so many things going on that are important, but that doesn't make ratings. Fear mongering does though and TV and newspapers thrive on it. But that's another post. Cable news is worse than Congress when it comes to predilection.

The newspaper isn't much better. There were so many times that I would be at a scene with the fire department, or even later as a 911 dispatcher and I'd read about it in the paper the next day and wonder if we were talking about the same incident. The outline was the same but the devil is in the details and apparently when they couldn't get the facts they'd construct their own version of what may or may not have happened. They also don't have a problem leaving out details that make the story less exciting. Apparently, embellishing details doesn't keep anyone up at night either.

As a pit bull owner I'm affected by this bias more than most. Pit Bulls don't get to make an ass of themselves in public the way other breeds can. They aren't alone in this, German Shepard Dogs, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinchers, Chow Chows and Akitas also have to be twice as good as their brothers the Lab's and Poodles. Pit Bulls are a lot of dog. They are intelligent, strong, tenacious and have a mind of their own. The key to training one is to make it think it wants to do something then reward it for doing it. They are not for everybody. But they are a wonderful, loving, faithful dog. As a general rule they make lousy guard dogs, other than the intimidation factor. Most dogs will protect their owner if the need arises even without protection training, it's instinctual to protect a pack member. So when I read a story of a middle aged woman who was killed by a pit bull recently and how the police had to shoot it to get it to stop I wondered what details were left out of that one. It took a little research but this is what I found. The woman killed was a drug addict who had gone to her mothers house to get money. The mother had previously cut off contact with her daughter and when she showed up at her house an altercation occurred. The dog came to the defense of it's owner and attacked the daughter. Police, who had already been called, arrived on scene and shot and killed the dog. They then shot another dog who came to the defense of the first dog. I can't say that the same thing wouldn't of occurred if it was a different breed. The police aren't going to take statements while a dog is attacking someone. There is a percentage of people who own these types of dogs for the macho factor. Contrary to popular belief the majority of Pit Bull owners do not fit the stereotype. I also have no way of knowing what this family was like and the news doesn't want to go there because that might shine a different light on a breed they love to vilify. They also quoted as "fact" that the dog had the woman by the throat when the police arrived. This is exactly the type of "fact" that I used to find scattered throughout calls I was involved in. Of course this is exactly the type of "fact" that is picked up (or made up) listening to spectators comment on what they think happened.

So a tragedy happened. A woman is dead. Another woman has lost her daughter, first to drugs then when her dogs were protecting her and she lost two of her dogs. And The American Pit Bull Terrier suffers another blow to it's already ravaged reputation. There were no winners, except the media who had another story to sensationalize to boost ratings and sell papers.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


In the last two weeks I have not had a minute to myself. Hours of sleep have been given up just to provide you, faithful readers with entertainment and a look into my twisted view of things.

Cookie Mom duties are coming to a close and it's been a time sucker that's for sure. I'll deny it if anyone asks but it was kinda fun, most of the time. Mainly because the other half of this cookie team made it that way. Getting some blog fodder out of it helped too.

I'm getting ready to test for my last stripe before a belt test in karate and I have not had a moment to practice. At this rate I'll be 50 before I get there. The Engineer makes time to practice, so why can't I you ask? Well, let us see how things go. As an example: Monday night I go to work and The Engineer is home playing Mr. Mom. On the way home from work I grocery shop and I arrive home at about 10PM to find Mr. Mom sitting on the sofa "resting" after spending the last two hours practicing his karate. All three kids dive into the groceries looking for anything quick to eat because what do you know, Mr. Mom hadn't made dinner yet. Yep, he got that workout in but dinner just had to wait. So I made dinner, fed the troops and sent them off to bed. Mr. Mom told me how tired he was, took a shower and went to bed. Mom's are just not wired to be able to blow off feeding the kids just to get in a workout. After some rewiring that night Mr. Mom may rethink his decision next Monday when I go to work.

Schoolwork, theater class, reading club, library trips, boys book club, cookie duties, cookie booths, gym day, play dates, religious school, hamantashen dough for The Vet's class, flour exploded all over the kitchen from hamantashen dough, an extra run to the grocery store because we didn't have enough vanilla for said hamantashen dough, work, karate, violin lessons, piano lesson, guitar lessons, grocery shopping, and for some reason everyone who has ever known me has called me on the phone this week. Tired yet?

Why do men call their wives on the phone and ask them to make a phone call?

We are supposed to get hit with another major snowstorm over the next few days. I can't wait! I might actually get to stay home and do some laundry. Baseball Boy hasn't had socks for a week.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

February Blues

I quit. I want to go to bed and wake up in the spring.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Our Furst Born

There was a little puppy dog, and he was brown all over
His parents couldn't find a name, and wouldn't call him "Rover."
They looked through sources everywhere, found nothing that would suit
By waiting too much longer, though, the point would soon be moot.

He won't be "Lilliputian", maybe "Gulliver" would fit
(that name would tangle up your tongue when telling him to "sit!")
Some people like a funny name and others like them regal
The same dog you name "Bismarck" would seem different if named "Fleagle"

There's doggie heroes too, you know, "Benji" and "Rin-Tin-Tin"
King Arthur's court had "Merlin," "Lancelot" and "Dinadin."
The Military names are nice, like "Admiral" and "Colonel"
Mythology has lots of names of gods and beasts nocturnal!

So don't lose heart in choosing, there's lots of names out there
From quirks in personality to the color of his hair.
He'll be your most devoted friend, dependable and trusty
A good name for a dog like yours is definitely "Rusty!"

by Just Me, March 1995

On March 24, 1995 we met a woman in a parking lot of a local theater and she handed over a 3 month old ball of fire. He had already had 3 homes in one month. Two days before, our vet (who knew we were looking for a puppy) called and said one of her clients was looking to rehome a male German Shepard/Lab mix. They said he was a hand full, but we thought to ourselves, well yeah, he's a puppy, aren't all puppies a hand full? He came with a blanket and a twelve foot long nylon rope as a leash. He gave the phrase "hand full" new meaning.

He was afraid of the car, probably because every time he got in a car he was left with another owner. We spent weeks getting him used to riding in the car. At first he wouldn't even go in the garage if the car was parked in it. Several hundred slices of cheese later and he decided maybe the car wasn't such a bad place after all. Over the next 13 years he travelled up and down the East Coast with us, always jumping in the car with adventure in his eyes.

We signed him up for training classes as soon as we could. I had spoken to the trainer several times before our classes even started looking for advice. The first night of class The Engineer was away on business and I had to take Rusty by myself. As I was pulling into the driveway of the training center Rusty vomited across the dashboard and it ran right down into the defroster vents. Oh gross, and it was only the start. I walk to the office door and as we enter I see about 8 people and their puppies standing around nicely. Rusty bursts through the door and chaos erupts. Before anyone can react 9 puppies have tangled leashes, everyone is tripping over each other and a temporary folding wall is knocked to the ground. The only one calm is the trainer who is standing behind a counter. Once everyone has their pups under control she turns to me and said, "This must be Rusty." It was the beginning of a long relationship. Two puppy kindergartens, three basic obedience classes and two advanced classes later we finally had a dog we could take out into public without embarrassment. Two years later he earned his CGC (Canine Good Citizen) and became a certified therapy dog.

Let's just talk about those two years for a moment now, shall we. For two years this pup spent all his time on a leash when in the house. If left to his own devices he could dismantle anything in the house within minutes. I would say that if it was edible he would eat it but the truth is, it didn't really matter if it was edible, he'd eat it anyway. Some of the things that passed through his gullet were underwear (two pairs in three days), a light bulb (don't even like to think about what it felt like coming out the other end), an unknown amount of trash, tissues (used were his favorite), chicken carcasses, half a lawn sprinkler and the owners manual for the lawn mower, just to name a few. We had to put toddler locks on the fridge and freezer long before we had kids because he would open the doors and help himself. Tupperware containers didn't stop him, he'd pull the lid off with his teeth. He also liked to take the jar of peanut butter from the cabinet and open it up and lick it clean. Came home once and and found blood all over the carpet in the family room. Holy crap, what did he do to himself? Turns out he took an eye roast from the freezer and ate it.

His favorite thing to do when someone came over was to "retrieve" pillows from the sofa and present the slobbery things to our visitors. It was a big improvement over the first two years when he would run upstairs and grab one of my bra's or underwear to show off to his new "friends."
Rusty grew up to be the best dog I have ever owned. All the hard work and frustration turned him into a wonderful pet. He was so smart if he tangled his lead around something he would back track instead of just pulling. He knew if his feet were dirty he had to wait at the door to get them wiped off instead of just running into the house. We could take him any where, any time. His patience with the kids went beyond the call of duty. The super sized hugs, the clothes they dressed him in. The earrings they hung from his ears to match the necklaces and hair ribbons clipped to his fur. He will always be their softest pillow.

Until we had kids he was the worst watch dog ever. If someone knocked on the door the most you would get out of him was an annoyed look because they woke him up. After the kids were born that all changed. A perfect example was the time my mother in law wanted to take The Scientist for a walk and he wouldn't let her leave the driveway with the stroller. He stood in front of it and growled at her. I had to drag him into the house so she could go and he spent the entire time they were gone pacing back and forth in front of the windows looking for them. If he was in the yard with the kids nothing or no one could enter our property.

The kids in the neighborhood loved him. They would bring dog biscuits to school and when the bus would stop in front of our house they would call him over and throw the biscuits out the window to him. He would get all excited whenever he would see a school bus. The UPS truck also got him all worked up, they never came to the house without dog biscuits either.

His favorite time of year was winter. he loved the cold and the snow. King of the Mountain is a nickname he earned for his love of climbing to the top of the biggest piles of snow he could find. When summer came he'd hide out in the air conditioning. We got him a baby pool so he had a place to cool off and he never minded sharing it when kids came to visit.

He always knew when you needed him to be there and rubbing your fingers through his fur would just drain away the stress after a long, hard day.

Two years ago today he had surgery to remove a large tumor from his hip. When they opened him up and removed the benign tumor underneath was a large vascular malignant tumor. He never completely regained consciousness after surgery and passed away quietly in my arms later that evening.
There will always be a special place for him in my heart. He taught me to be patient and consistent. He made me a better parent. I still miss him and think of him every day.

Rusty 1994-2008
Rest in peace my friend, we'll be together again one day.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cookie Sales-Danger at every corner

This weekend we had two cookie booths. The Vet having recovered from her previous injury has been busy making up for lost time selling cookies.

Yesterday was a slow booth in a crowded vestibule at a local grocery store. Outside a group of politicians were handing out flyer's for a cause they were kissing ass supporting. It was pretty crowded outside with them harassing talking to constituents.

People were bursting through the door to escape them and then running right into two girl scouts anxious to sell them a little deadly trans fat in the shape of a delicious box of cookies. Eight flavors take your pick :-)

The Vet was standing by the door as they walked in and as she turned to say something she stepped backward without realizing it. At that moment someone stepped on the electronic mat and the door swung open and smacked her right in the back of the head. No blood, no swelling, just pain and some tears to help wash it away.

The Scientist, always helpful, noted what a great blog post this would make. Hugs and kisses brought things under control and a sale wiped the rest of it away.

Tough kid that she is, she was ready to face another dangerous day just 24 hours after her second injury selling cookies. I'm fed up with putting my kids in such danger over cookie sales. Next weekend we're heading to the skate park so they can work on some tricks on the half pipe.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Just another reason

This morning I'm wasting time reading through my home school groups and there is a post titled, OT - What do you do for Lent? Since the woman who posted it is a secular homeschooler I figured it would be an interesting topic so I take a peek. She is interested in what people do, if anything, for Lent. Two people answer and give very informative responses. My knowledge of Lent previously fit on a pin head, now I have a much better understanding. But, once again, a certain group member, who also happens to be one of the 1st graders from Girl Scouts, has something to say about it. She is a well known, quite vocal (read: know it all), Fundamentalist Christan. Every time someone posts a question regarding religion, no matter what the religion she sticks in her two cents. My other favorite part is at some point in the conversation someone will give something they do with their kids and she will inevitably comment about how she is going to do that with her daughter, yeah right. Today she said she used to be Catholic but now she is in a bible based church. She always has to stick that in there too. If she would of just talked about what she used to do I could have seen her relevance in this thread. But nope, not her, four posts later she's still going on about it. Posting internet sites etc... The internet can be useful for getting information but the original poster wanted personal thoughts and ideas, she could have looked it up (probably already had) on her own if that is the type of information she wanted. One of the other people who commented checked one of the sites she talked about and was offended by it. It provided a very negative interpretation of Lent and said the observers of Lent were "vain". 1st Grade Mom then had the chutzpah to come back at her and tell her that up until two years ago she was Catholic and that she holds these practices VERY (her emphasis, not mine) close to her heart. Oh yea, so close, that's why she's now with a bible based church. After her nasty comment back to the person she offended no one else commented on the thread. I wondered if anyone else would have contributed to this if 1st Grade Mom wouldn't of hijacked the thread. Just another reason why my urge to start a secular group continues to grow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Lost Dog

There are posters up all around for a lost dog. It's a white pit bull. She's been missing for a while now, since the end of January. Pit Bulls are not good outside dogs, they're more like, sleep on the sofa kinda dogs. We've had such miserable weather the last two weeks and I can't imagine how she has survived.

The kids look every where for her. I find myself scanning the fields as we drive around hoping to catch a glimpse of her. Today, The Vet and Baseball Boy spent two hours, outside, walking around calling her name. They got some local dogs barking and Baseball Boy thought he caught a glimpse of a white dog running through a local farmers field but I think it was just wishful thinking. With so much snow on the ground spotting a white dog isn't going to be easy.

Yesterday I let our dogs out in the yard and Mickey came back pretty quickly but Malka wanted to stay outside. After a while I realized she never came back in and called her. She didn't come right away, which started to make me nervous. I got my shoes on and went outside and didn't see her in the yard. Now I'm repeating to myself that I will not panic, then I notice a small section of the construction fence that has served as a temporary repair for our fence for the last two months is lying on the ground. I'm starting to lose the fight against panic and call her one more time. Trying to keep my voice happy so she'll come was my main focus. The Engineer was looking out the front and spots her across the street. When I call her she starts running towards me. She ran across the road without pause. Thank G-d no cars were coming. It happened so fast I didn't have time to react and if a car was coming she would have been slammed.

Last night I go to bed and can't stop thinking about the missing dog and how close we came to losing Malka. I even had a nightmare that I saw the posters for the white dog and they looked different. I was excited because I thought maybe they wrote found across it but then we got closer and it had Malka's picture on it instead.

The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was call the fence company to come fix the fence. We had been holding off to fix it ourselves in the spring after the ground thawed to save some money. I didn't care anymore. They came out an hour later and fixed the fence. It was the best $100.00 we've spent in a long time.

Monday, February 15, 2010

We got the fever

Every two years, for two weeks our household comes to a complete standstill. We eat quickly prepared dinners, in the family room. Dishes pile up and are ignored until morning. We are up until after midnight, every night. We are all tired during the day and the kids can barely keep up with schoolwork. Yet we can't stop night after night.

We talk about slips, falls and missed opportunity. We talk about sacrifice, hard work and devotion. The kids try to add up scores in their head to see if their favorites won. We look up flags to see which one belongs to which country. We love listening to the personal stories of the athletes and wonder what it must be like to work your whole life for something and have it all come together or fall apart in two minutes.

At the end of the two weeks we are exhausted.

When it's over we go through withdrawal and catch up on some sleep; then start our wait for the next Olympic Games to start.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Evil lurkes in the maternity ward...cont

A short time later she returns with a bag full of stuff. I don't remember where he went or why but The Engineer wasn't in the room when she returned. So she starts by informing me that I must wear this suction cup device on my nipples at all times when I'm not feeding. She then proceeds to grab my breast and apply it. Holy shit woman that hurt could you of warned me ahead of time. She is obviously insulted. I guess she feels like I should shut up and suck it up. She then asks me what type of breast pump I purchased. I hadn't gotten one because a good friend with three kids told me not to buy one right away and the hospitals had ones to use if I needed it. That way I would be able to find out what I really needed before I spent all that money. She looked at me like I had just said the stupidest thing she had ever heard. She informed me that I needed to send my husband out right now to purchase one so I would have it available immediately. After that little lecture she pulls out the next trick in her bag of horrors. I don't remember exactly what it was but she squeezed my nipple and I reacted by smacking her hand away. I didn't even think about it, I just did it. She immediately started telling me how I needed to gain control of myself because my emotions would just make it harder for the baby to relax and nurse. Still trying to hold it together for the sake of my child I apologized and let her continue to torture me. At some point I had enough and told her I needed to be alone for a while and just work on this on my own. She said she come back in a little while to help me try to get the baby to latch on. I told her that wouldn't be necessary and the nurses could help me. Once again I got another one of those looks. I burst into tears. At that very moment The Engineer walks into the room, takes one look at me and a look of astonishment crosses his face. That is quickly replaced by anger. This man can probably count on one hand the number of times he's seen me cry in 24 years. He turns to the "The Lactation Consultant" and asks her to please leave. She starts to say something and he cuts her off and informs her that her services will no longer be needed. I don't know if it's the tone of his voice or me crying in the background but she hightails it out of there. After I regained some control I told him the whole story. I finally talked and cried it all out and he asked me what I wanted to do. I took a deep breath and asked him to go get some bottles of formula from the nurses and ask them for any information they had on bottle feeding. He returned 5 minutes later with one of the nurses and a box full of bottles. The nurse asked me if I was okay and if I was sure this was what I wanted. She gave me a couple of pamphlets on bottle feeding, helped me get in a comfortable position with the baby and left us alone to peacefully feed her. I then burped her, swaddled her up and she slept peacefully for the first time since she was born.

The Engineer gathered up the medieval devices left behind and threw them away.

After taking a much needed nap we made a list of what we would need to bottle feed and The Engineer went shopping.

I'd love to say I never looked back. The truth is I beat myself up over my "failure" for a long time after The Scientist was born. But as she grew I realized there were going to be many things that didn't work out the way I planned. In spite of it she was growing up to be a happy and healthy kid.

I don't tell to many people I bottle fed because there are so many women out there who just need to tell me that I didn't do what was best for my child. Maybe not but I'll tell you that by doing what was best for me I did what was best for them. The Engineer got to "bond" with our children by feeding them too, that is a gift he wouldn't of had if I hadn't failed.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Evil lurkes in the maternity ward

When I was pregnant with my first, like most parents, we wanted to do everything right. The problem with "right" is it keeps changing. The other problem with "right" is some people think they are right and no one else could possibly be right.

We got sucked into all sorts of things that we must have if we are going to be able to successfully raise this delicate being to adulthood (and some would say beyond). Wipe warmers, bassinets, portable cribs, slings to carry them, changing tables, a diaper bag with 15 pockets, baby washcloths and towels, a matching crib sheet/comforter set with matching wallpaper border, a little mirror so you can watch the little cherubs while driving, neck supporter for the car seat, toys to hang from the car seat handle so they have something do (overscheduling starts in infancy), Baby Einstein videos (or else there goes Harvard), special diapers that keep baby extra dry, enough safety gadgets to protect even the most adventurous child and a hermetically sealed diaper pail so no one gets a whiff of what goes there. Oh my, I got carried away, sorry about that.
Also available are books on every topic you can imagine related to the gestation, birthing, and raising of said child.

Now some of these new fangled things are good. Car seats are the best thing that ever happened to child safety. If you get past the environmental effect, disposable diapers rock.
But the biggest push for making your baby all she can be was breastfeeding. The stories were everywhere. Breastfeeding improved IQ, prevented eczema, decreased gastrointestinal problems (unless mommy loves legumes or Mexican food), protected them from dreaded diseases, facilitated bonding, it's a list that goes on and on.

I had decided that come hell or high water I was going to breast feed this kid. I wasn't going to risk harming her in any way and how could I bond with her by just sticking a bottle in her mouth. ****WARNING: the following sentence contains what is probably TMI**** I had several obstacles to breastfeeding, "flat" nipples, size "H" breasts, and a complete and utter aversion to the thought of breastfeeding in any type of public situation (public being any where outside my house). None of this mattered though because I was going to do it, damn it, and nothing was going to stop me.

Skip ahead nine months and I deliver a healthy baby girl at a local hospital. The birth went just the way I'd hoped. We were exhausted but proud of ourselves. I even let The Engineer take a picture of me looking like crap holding our brand new baby.

The nurses are trying to help me figure out this whole breastfeeding thing. It certainly isn't as easy as the books make it sound. Is there some reason that no one mentioned that it hurts like hell and curls your toes? And I'm struggling, this whole treating my breasts like they're a hand to shake is freaking me out. And since sweet baby Scientist decided to scream the entire first night fatigue and a total collapse of the "way it should be" had left my nerves raw. All my insecurities came rushing in to laugh at me. Who was I kidding? They can't possibly think that I can take this baby home in less than 48 hours. There must be a rule about that somewhere. She won't survive, I am already showing my complete incompetence as a mother.

Still the nurses are terrific. They can see I'm struggling and their patience and understanding are the only thing keeping me from a complete breakdown. They suggested giving her a bottle. I was adamant, every thing I'd read and everyone said, "Do NOT give her a bottle." There was no way that was going to happen. All sorts of damage would be done to my ability to breastfeed if I succumb to the temptation.

So at some point they gave me what feels like the Holy Grail. They are going to call The Lactation Consultant to help. Surely with her training and experience she will be able to hold my hand and give me direction so I can feed this poor thing before I starve her to death.
An hour later she comes breezing into the room full of confidence and with a calm smile. Wasting no time she gets down to business. She pulls my gown to the side and exposes her prey my breasts without a word. I am mortified and tell her so. She informs me that I will get used to handling them for feeding and I'm being overly sensitive. She looks me over like she picking a roast for dinner and informs me that I have "flat" nipples. She then asks me what I've been doing during my pregnancy to fix them. I didn't know they had to be fixed. After telling her that she sighs and makes an under the breath comment about doctors. I'm trying to hold it together as another hope starts to crumble. She then informs me it just makes it more difficult but not impossible to breastfeed. At this point I'm willing to grasp at anything remotely positive and begin repeating that statement over and over to myself. Plus, I'm tough, I fight fires, I hold a green belt in karate and kicked butt at a big karate tournament, shit I just birthed this baby au natural, I can do whatever it takes. She tells me she'll be back in about a 1/2 hour with some things to help. She leaves a pamphlet for me to read and she breezes right out the door.

A few minutes later The Engineer returns after heading home for a shower and some real food. I tell him that The Lactation Consultant was there and even though she freaked me out in the beginning she did tell me she knew what to do to help and would be back soon.

I usually go with my first instinct, once again it's proven to be correct....

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tragedy at Vancouver

This morning a Georgia luger was killed during a practice run. When I first heard about it all I heard was a luger was killed. My heart skipped a beat. The Engineers partner at work has a cousin who is an Olympic luger. He is very close to his cousin, in fact I hear they talk several times a week no matter where in the world he is at the time. If it turned out to be his cousin I can't imagine the devastation he would experience. You see one year ago this month his 8 year old son died in a tragic accident. He is no longer the man I knew before then. This would be a final blow to a man who is barely hanging on.

So even though I am saddened by the loss of a young man who was reaching the peak of hopes, dreams and goals he worked his whole life for, I am equally relieved that he wasn't a young American luger.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Georgia luger, his team mates and especially his family.

Edited to add 2/14/2010: Last night my Olympic obsessed family stayed up until midnight watching the games. The watched the luger's closely for our only personal link (and a very loose one at that) to the Olympics. It was half way though that they realized that he isn't a luger he does skeleton. It changes nothing I wrote above but it does make me feel like I have a big "L" on my forehead.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!!

Total snow fall at our house is 20 inches. It's laying on top of the 10 inches we got last weekend. Fortunately snow packs down or we wouldn't be able to get out the door.

We've been loving the snow. The dogs and chickens, not so much. The Engineer busted his hiney today even with a snow blower clearing the walkways and driveway. While the kids were busy digging the chicken coop out. The chickens refuse to leave the coop and walk on the snow, babies or should I say "chickens". That doesn't translate well to type, forgive me.

I need to pick up more Girl Scout cookies and the restock warehouse has been closed for two days. I hope its open tomorrow or we are going to have a cookie crisis in this troop.

Tonight I saw a group of about ten teenagers having a giant snowball fight. It was fun to watch them having such a good time. The best part was when I pulled up next to them and parked they didn't turn on my car and pelt it with snow balls. Slight restoration of my faith in teenagers.

This is our first big snowfall since we moved here and I can tell you that the road crew isn't as into getting the roads as clean and dry as where we used to live. It looks beautiful but two days after the bulk of the snow fell the roads are still snow covered.

Poor Mickey was so cold this morning he went to the potty about 1 foot from the front door. Malka is much more adventurous; she hopped like a bunny to get to her favorite spot by a tree to potty.

Why is it when it snows and the public schools are closed everyone feels the need, no more than feels the need, they are drawn to the question like a bug to a light, compelled to ask if my kids get a snow day? Not usually. Why should they? We homeschool, we aren't stuck inside for hours on end doing school work. We spend about 2-3 hours a day on school work then we have the rest of the day to do what we want, including all the fun (and not so fun) things that a good snow fall brings. Besides if we are going to take a whole day off and blow it doing nothing even remotely school related it's going to be in the spring when the sprouting buds and warm breezes are calling to us. So if you don't ask me if we take snow days I won't ask you if you take spring fever days. Cause sometimes we do both :-)

Here's a few pictures:

Sweaters don't keep you very warm once they are snow encrusted. This is on the covered porch. Malka is licking her lips getting off all the yummy snow. Mickey is praying to the door gods that they will soon open the door and release him from his pergatory.

Good thing we didn't have to drive anywhere right away. Did I mention that the wind blows across the driveway and most of the snow has blown off of it?

That blue line is the top edge of our pool.

This is the back door. It's two steps up to the back door, they are buried. That little red triangle next to the house is the top edge of the basement bilco doors.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The height of political correctness.....

The Mayor of Philadelphia (which is known as the City of Brotherly Love) this morning on TV during the height of a blizzard said, and I quote:

"I'd like to thank the residents of this city who have shown it is truely the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection."

I almost puked....

My dogs

When I was a kid I had a Great Dane. She was big, black, and beautiful. Like most Great Danes she didn't live long enough. She passed away at 7, much too young. I loved her and she saved my life, twice. I owe a debt to dogs that can never be repaid, but I'm trying.

You've met Mickey and Malka but two other dogs have played a large part in my adult life and I'd like to introduce you to them.

This is Rusty. He is the only dog I have ever raised from a puppy. He holds a very special place in my heart. He has been gone almost two years and I still think about him every day.

This is Molly. Her first family had a huge breakdown. Her owner went to prison (for some pretty horrible stuff) and his wife fell apart and was unable to care for her. She was 10 years old and had surgery for cancer. She was grossly overweight and they thought she had severe arthritis. None of the rescues wanted her because of her age and the cancer. Lets face it they only have so much room. She was going to wind up at the SPCA (which around here is a kill shelter) and with her age and history she didn't stand a chance. So I worked on The Engineer and he agreed we could take her. She was an absolute sweetheart. We got her down to a reasonable weight and lo and behold her "arthritis" went away. She made the last few years of Rusty's life wonderful. They became inseparable. She lived 3 1/2 years after we got her. It was very hard losing her after such a short time but knowing how happy she was with us made it worth it.

This is how they spent most of their time. It was rare to find them seperated. Molly passed away at home while laying on the floor next to Rusty. After she died he was lost for a long time. Malka came along and made that better for him.

**We did have another dog for a few months but we had to return him to the rescue. It was a very difficult time and I'll have to talk about him later.**

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Nobody's fault but my own..

Last night I left my cell phone at the vet's office. I've done it before and it's not a big deal because I don't live and die by my cell phone. Really, only people who need it to earn a living should be able to say that.

If you remember I am more of an old fashioned girl so this normally isn't a problem. Normally, now that's an interesting word. Since nothing is normal anymore.

Since I've been cookie mom I've added a whole list of new phone numbers to my cell phone. None of which I put in my good old fashioned phone book. Now today I am supposed to have a phone conference (doesn't that sound official, don't be impressed) with the other cookie mom about our next reorder, an important one since we are winding down cookie sales. Only one problem, we only have each other's cell phone numbers and we both have unlisted home numbers. The girls also have a chocolate party (Happy Valentines Day!) they are going to this afternoon and I don't have the phone number for the home they will be at anywhere but in my cell phone. Yep, you're right it's at the house of one of the girlscouts.

So I'm going to head to the vet's office to get my phone and when I come home I'm going to write all the new numbers in my good old fashioned phone book.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Taboo: Politics and Religion

Our synagogue is having a crisis. We are relatively new members since we just moved to this area about a year ago. It is a 100 year old congregation. In the last hundred years they have had 20 Rabbi's. This is not good. Congregations like this are referred to as a "Rabbi eating congregation." We didn't know this when we joined. We might have shopped around a little more before settling here if we had known.
There is an old saying that if you have two Jews you have three opinions. This synagogue isn't any different. Discussion and debate are a common occurrence. Our Talmud commands us to question to help us learn, and it commands us to study and learn. Makes for a lot of questions.
After joining the synagogue we met the Rabbi at a function and he introduced himself but he seemed nervous. We thought it was odd because we had heard that he was quite a "people person" which would be a nice change of pace from our last Rabbi, who was a really good Rabbi but his people skills could have been better. We were a little disappointed after meeting him. But we figured we would just see if he relaxed a little after we met him again, everyone can have a bad day. Not to much longer after that he announces at a Friday night service that he will be taking a medical leave of absence. A murmur goes through the congregation after the announcement. Okay obviously something is going on that we are not aware of. At the oneg (a regular get together after the service) there is a lot of talking going on. Some of it isn't very nice.

Towards the end we get the student Rabbi and ask her what is going on. She doesn't really want to get into it but we aren't letting her get off that easy. We explain that we don't want gory details we just want to know what all the fuss is about. She tells us that the Rabbi didn't think the religious school director was doing a very good job. He decided to approach the Board of Trustees about replacing her. The board agreed and the director (who had been director for 20 years) was fired. Well, apparently the religious school director was very well connected with quite a few influential (read: lots of money) members and they did not take it well that she was let go. Of course that's easy for them to feel that way, their kids are all grown. Our kids are in the educational trenches. Personally, after hearing from others how the religious school was run I was glad she was fired. Better late than never as far as I'm concerned. But I digress....

So now the whole synagogue is in an uproar. People are openly arguing. Somebody who forgot what Judism is all about started passing around a story with some very nasty stories about him which others have claimed are not true. Half the board who supported him have now turned against him. They have hired a lawyer to see if they can get out of his contract. Pretty hard to believe what they are claiming is true since all this blew up exactly one month, yep, just one month after he and the board agreed and signed a five year contract. So you're telling me that he went to hell and you want to fire him when one month ago you were willing to sign a five year contract. Please, do I look like I fell off the turnip truck yesterday? Not that he is perfect, I'm sure, but this stinks to the high heavens of politics as usual.

The Engineer and I are really sad that this has happened. We don't live in an area with many Jews and the synagogue is our only Jewish community. We have less than two years until our daughters are B'nai Mitzvah. It can take years to find and hire a new Rabbi, especially when you have a Rabbi leave under these circumstances. Who's going to want to work here?

We'll for now we wait and see where this leads.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Book Review-Shut Up

Shut Up, I'm Talking And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government.
by Gregory Levey

Hope you're not expecting something literary. Because you're not going to get it.

One word description: Downer

Before reading this book I always harbored a secret desire to live in Israel. Maybe not permanently but for at least a year or two for the experience. Now I'm not so sure. Of course the writers view was from a very different place than what I would see since he worked for the government and lived in the city. I can't see myself living in a city anywhere. I love visiting large cities but the large amount of people so close to each other constantly makes me claustrophobic. So you wouldn't find me living in the city anyway.

The book did give a lightweight insightful view of the government workings and how there are no easy answers in the Middle East.

The author has a negative view of his experience. This does not make for an easy read. I generally read for enjoyment so this was not the type of book I am used to but the subject was interesting enough to keep me going.

I got it from the library. This will not be a book I would be interested in reading again and again so I will not be purchasing this book.

Recommendation: If you're interested in the Middle East from a different point of view I would recommend reading it. If you're looking for a deep insiders view of the workings of the Israel government, this isn't the book.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gays in the Military, Part 2

This article in the Washington Post articulates my point so well. Please take a few minutes and go read it.

It is an inteview with Colin Powell on this topic. I have tremendous respect for him, even though he proved himself to be human with his errors on Iraq. By the way, I think he was used by people he trusted when forming that opinion but that's another post.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Gays in the Military

Lift military ban on gays, officials say

That was today's headline in our local rag newspaper. This on going debate is becoming an old one. Please folks, haven't we had this conversation many times before. First it was blacks in the military, then women fighting next to men, then women as fighter pilots, now it's whether gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military. All of the same excuses have been laid down over the years. You've heard them, it will be to distracting to the heterosexual men to have to live, work, fight, sleep (in the room not bed) with gay men. I haven't heard much from the women and how they feel about lesbians, probably because most of them don't care. They've been harassed by those poor heterosexual men so much they are not worried about a bunch of gay women.

New Flash Folks: Gays have been serving in the military for as long as there has been a military. Since don't ask/don't tell has been in effect many more have joined and are bravely serving our country.

Defense Secretary Gates is saying they are reviewing how to drop the ban, not whether is should be dropped. This has many Republicans in a tither. Like the military is skipping a step by not getting Congress' approval to drop it before they figure out the best way to do it. In 1948 President Truman signed an executive order integrating our military. That caused quite the uproar but what do you know, now blacks and whites serve together without much thought. Do a little research and find that most countries do not ban gays in the military and haven't for a long time. Spain, France, Britain, Sweden, Norway, Israel, Canada and most European countries are many of the examples you will find.

Does that mean that there isn't racism in the military? No. If gays are permitted to openly serve does that mean it will wipe out homophobia, no. Are women still harassed and sometimes worse, yes. Does that mean that we shouldn't have blacks, gays and women in the military? No it doesn't. Are we trying to punish the wrong people?

Whether or not you believe that homosexuality is a sin is not the point. That is a personal opinion to which you are entitled. Just like if you do not like people of a certain race, religion or hair color, that is your opinion to which you are entitled. Is it wrong to punish those people because they do not fit your idea of how people should be? That is the question, you know my answer.

Don't forget that all those men and women (no matter what their race, religion, sexual orientation, or hair color) have protected your right to judge or even hate them, and many have given their lives for you to do so.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Name Dropper

You've met her. She's one of the 1st grade moms from Girl Scouts. Today she calls because she needs more cookies. Her boyfriend said he would sell them at work for her daughter, because you know he's the CEO, so he can do that. Her husband didn't want to sell them at work. I don't get involved in personal stuff so I don't have an answer to the question floating in your head right now. Then she says hold on, her new GPS is telling her to turn and she doesn't want to miss it. After she's back on she asks me if I know anything about sheep or goats. Not really. She said she's trying to decide which one to get and she heard that goats were harder to keep than sheep. Here's an idea, how about doing some research before you take on the responsibility of a living animal, but what do I know. So she says shes going to ask her friend, the vets wife, when she gets back from her vacation in Mexico.

And on an unrelated note: Last week I dropped cookies off at her house and she answered the door in a bra and slacks, invited me in and proceeded to make conversation like that for 10 minutes. I'm not a prude but I tend to invite people in when I'm dressed, but like I said, what do I know. It was a little surreal.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Germaphobe rides again

So tonight the Germaphobe is coughing her head off. She's still hoarse. When I walk in the door she's sitting at the desk with tissues jammed against her nose. I'm thinking she came in sick again and I'm annoyed. I'm not worried about getting sick. It just pisses me off that she comes in sick after all her bitching about me making her sick.

So just for fun I complain to her about her coming in sick and how I don't want to get sick, blah, blah, blah and you know what she said!! Let me just tell you, I couldn't believe it. I'm still speechless (okay, I'm lying about speechless, I've been accused of many things, speechless is not one of them).

SHE SAID, "I don't think I was sick all along, I think it's allergies." What!!! After weeks of listening about how sick she is because of me and how her cats are gonna die because of me and how she has no one to take care of her when she is sick and it's all my fault because I'm selfish and came to work sick. After all that she has now decided that it must be allergies.

I just don't know how to respond to that.


Yahrzeit is the remembrance of a loved one who has passed away. It involves lighting a candle that burns for the 24 hours on the date of their death and saying kaddish for that person on that day.

Today is the 11th anniversary of my father's death. He struggled with COPD and CHF and lived longer than anyone believed he could. He was determined to meet and spend time with his first grandchild. The Scientist brought great joy to his life. When she was 9 months old he could no longer hold on. It was just too much. With great dignity he chose the course his life would take and how it would end.

Before he died he wrote several letters to her which were saved on a disk. Now that she is old enough I will be printing them out for her. I also plan to make copies for all his other grandchildren born after his death. It's just as much for them as for The Scientist.

My father was born during the depression to first generation immigrants. He was one of 13 children. His family had worked hard and done well. They lost everything but never gave up. My father left school and went to work after 8th grade to help support the family. He was completely self educated and one of the most well read, educated people I knew. Wounded during WW II, he returned to fight even though he suffered a partially disabling injury.

His obituary talks about his love for his family. How books and reading were a keystone in his life. How he considered himself a very lucky man.

Even after I had grown and was on my own I talked to him almost every day. After he passed away it was a long time before I stopped catching myself picking up the phone to call him. I admired him in many ways and respected his opinion. Many times I find myself wondering what he would think or say about something. He knew how important is was to discuss and debate, he loved listening to others opinions. He had no time for political correctness or the bullshit that goes along with it.

When I got my drivers license and said I wanted to get a VW Bug he was upset that I would buy a German car. But in his typical fashion he stated his opinion, heard my reply then let me make my own decision (I never got that Bug or any other German car). Yet when he met friends of my husband's family who were born and raised in Germany and immigrated to the US after WW II he was nothing but friendly and accepting. He never judged people except for what he saw in them. It took me a long time to understand how he managed to separate his feelings.

Before he died he told me his only regret was that he wouldn't get to know his grandchildren and they wouldn't know him. Don't worry, The Scientist, The Vet and Baseball Boy know all about their PopPop. You will always be with us. B'Shalom (with peace)