Monthly Archives: August 2007

A little dog action

First week of school — satisfying and exhausting all at once. The livestock, of course, have been feeling deserted and unloved since I’m suddenly gone 6-8 hours a day after being home all summer. So tonight, after some quality parrot time and a good brushing for the cats, I played with the dogs and got a few pics.

Most of the pics are of Violet, the little dog I adopted last spring. She continues to blossom here at Chez Schaechterle. In the last few weeks, she’s started playing, both wrestling gently with my hand and playing growly tug of war with one of Ricky’s old, de-squeeked plush toys. And this week, she’s had two breakthroughs. First, we learned she likes to catch, snatching the toy out of the air when it’s tossed over her head. Second, and even better, just yesterday and today she picked up the toy and came to find me, rather than me initiating all our play time. Pretty nifty.

Enjoy the pics (click to embiggen).

Here’s her “come hither and play” look:


And that classic terrier play pose, butt in air:


Here you can see how hard she’s tugging. Check out that flapping ear action:


And here’s Ricky asking for a bit of play, since Violet’s getting all the attention:


And getting his wish:



It’s mah birfday!

Today, I am 44 years old, although recent evidence suggests I don’t look a day over 62 (scroll down).

Tonight, after roughly 13 hours of meetings over the course of two days (phew — but I got a lot of knitting done), several colleagues took me out to the local Mexican restaurant for drinks and appetizers. I got a couple of small, thoughtful gifts, two fabulous strawberry daiquiris,* and a the entire male workforce of the restaurant singing to me with guitars and concertinas. While they had me distracted and blushing over all this attention, Ninja Stealth Waiter sneaked up behind me and dabbed a spoonful of whipped cream on my nose. The symbolism of that escapes me,** but it did amuse everyone else at the table. And I got sopapillas with honey, ice cream, whipped cream, cinnamon, and chocolate sauce as my birthday treat, which simultaneously makes one feel special and markedly reduces one’s chances of living long enough to celebrate another birthday.

The livestock displayed their excellent taste and deft use of my credit card to buy me this knitting book and some some lovely mohair blend yarn in a stormy gray/shale blue/taupe colorway. They’re either hoping I’ll slowly go blind knitting lace and thus not notice cats on the table and dogs rummaging through the trash, or they’re planning to let me get a project mostly knitted and then play five way dog/cat/parrot tug-a-war. Or heck, they might even hope I enjoy myself. At any rate, I have enough projects and yarn to take me through the long Iowa winter.

My birthday present to myself was to have a service come mow my 8″ tall lawn (we’ve had nonstop rain for a week+) so I can spend the weekend getting ready for classes, which start on Monday. And when I say “ready,” I mean have the syllabi done and enough of a plan for the week that students don’t notice that I’m not giving them a reading calendar until the day after Labor Day (and guess what I’m doing all next weekend?).

All in all, a very satisfactory birthday, highlighting my life of contentment and good fortune here in Storm Lake.

*If you can’t drink frou-frou drinks (with whipped cream and a cherry, no less) on your birthday, when can you?

**What’s the point, if George Clooney isn’t there to lick it off?

A Kingsolver moment…

In Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees, key action happens at the Jesus is Lord Used Tire Shop in Tucson, Arizona. I was always amused by that detail, thinking that Kingsolver had isolated a certain type of business name and then exaggerated it for effect.

But now I know better. Walking past some roadwork near campus today, I saw a white cement mixer truck. As the barrel turned, I read the word “Joe’s”, and then “One God, One Answer” followed by God’s 800 number.* And then — and then — the largest letters, bigger in the center than at either end to mimic shape of the mixer barrel, this:


Yeah. Because Jesus was all about nationalism and when he said, “love thy neighbor,” he obviously meant, at the very most, Canada.**

* God does not take collect calls

**You know, the ones who speak English and not French. 


So I’m much too busy wringing the last drops of goofing off out of my summer to a) post much or b) think of anything worth posting about. Thus, here is a mere snippet for you and I hope soon to a) get more philosophical or b) have a life beyond knitting and library novels.*

Violet, the Havanese mix dog I adopted 4 months ago, has really blossomed into a happy, loving little girl. But she is a bit of a princess, as illustrated by what happened on our walk this a.m.

She stops to sniff a dried worm on the sidewalk. Then she very carefully peels it up, carries it over to a particularly lush patch of lawn, sets it down, and then rolls all over it with glorious abandon. Because rolling on the worm on the sidewalk would be, you know, gauche.

*Actually, I’d love a life centered around knitting and novels, but no one seems to want to pay me for reading and playing with yarn.

Home again, home again, jiggedy-jig

I’ve just returned from spending a week with my eldest sister and her family in Peabody, Kansas. A hot, humid, Scrabble-game-losing week.* We knitted and shopped** and Linda cooked fabulous, rib-(and hip-, no doubt) sticking meals and we watched a couple of DVDs. Just the kind of low-key visit to satisfactorily wind up my low-key, high-enjoyment Summer of Not Moving, Finally.***

I took the dogs, of course, and my BIL and nephew had built fence panels so Ricky and Violet could have a secure area to play (a little — it was hot) and poop (a lot) in. Very generous of the men folk and much appreciated.

And now I must share my moment of my humiliation**** and Linda’s triumph. To fully appreciate this, you must know that Linda is a full 18 years older than I am (62 to my almost-44); she’s not only biologically old enough to be my mother but believably so — it was even less unusual for an 18 year old to become a mother in the early 1960s than it is now. First, though, I must share two other factors that I know led to my downfall, but while I can acknowledge them, they do nothing to lessen the pain: 1) I’ve stopped dyeing my hair, which is significantly gray (I’ve grayed younger than any other of my siblings*****) and 2) in the eyes of a 21 or 22 year-old, anyone much over 30 is simply ancient.

But still….

Linda and I went to a bead store in a nearby town to repair some of her jewelry and to make matching earrings (meaning that I repaired and made, and she was incredibly picky about the color and quality of every. single. freaking. bead. in. the. store). We were sitting at a work table and chatting with a young female employee; when Linda left to get some sodas, I mentioned to the young woman that I was visiting from Iowa and that Linda and I are sisters.

“How nice,” she said, with a big, welcoming Midwest smile, “which one of you is the older sister?”

*I won 1 game and lost 4 (or maybe 5; abject defeats blend together, I find). Linda used all seven letters on the first play of the game TWICE. That’s just not natural, I tell you.

**In a four-town radius. Approximately one funky little shop per little farm town.

*** Summer 2005, I moved from Ohio to Iowa. Summer 2006, I moved into my new home. This summer, I napped. A lot.

****The Scrabble loses aren’t humiliating; nothing that certain and habitual can retain the power to humiliate for 30+ years

*****doubtless because I’m the youngest and have had to endure their abuse my entire life******

****** Think abuse is too strong a word? When I was three or four and walked into the house from the yard, Linda would say to me, “Who are you, little girl? You don’t live here. Go on home,” while pushing me back out the door. I grew up to be me — an old boyfriend once commented that I had abandonment issues. Linda, of course, grew up to be an elementary school teacher.