Friday, March 30, 2007

Whole-house Preg?

All this time, I thought that I wanted to be pregnant, and it turns out that what I really wanted was ... the baby. I guess I had this idea that I would be SO HAPPY about being pregnant that I just wouldn't feel the effects, or something naive like that. I'm so tired and out-of-it now that sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm pregnant and that I'm thrilled about it, otherwise it just feels a bit like the flu. Every night, I come home from work and just crash onto the sofa or bed. The apartment is a mess, I've made a real dinner once in the last 3 weeks. Don is working extra-crazy hours so he's also exhausted, plus I think he's experiencing pregnancy sympathy. He keeps manifesting all these weird symptoms that mirror mine pretty closely-- he's tired, queasy, demanding unusual foods. The dog is also acting wierd, even for her. Extra-needy and very protective. I once woke up on the sofa to find her standing over me, growling out the window at some innocent passers-by. It's like a whole-household pregnancy, except that the cat seems normal.

I think the perfect schedule would be 18 hours of sleep and 6 of eating. Work? Nah.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Haiku for My Sister

At work, Bob Marley:
A nice break from the Eagles
Makes me think of you.

She doesn't read this blog, but it's kinda hard to text-message a poem, it loses something...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Protein, Lovely Protein

I am now obsessed, obsessed, with protein and fiber. Those of you who suggested that protein was key, thank you. Protein and fiber keep me filled up, which keeps me from feeling sick. I've never been the type to diet and count calories or fat grams, so this new preoccupation with labels is unfamiliar. I can tell you, for example, that 8 ounces of milk has more protein than an egg and that my new breakfast cereal has more than both, as well as loads of fiber. I always thought that eggs were the protein over-achiever, when all this time my morning latte had more protein than an omelet. Go figure.

In other news, beautiful weather, flowering trees everywhere, Don: terrible sinus headaches and allergies. Work extra-stressy due to expected any-day-now audit. Have developed a strange fascination with Rachel Ray and her Thirty-Minute Meals, probably because I've been too wiped out to do anything but lay on the sofa and watch Food Network. I don't know what she's on, but I'd like some of it.

Friday, March 23, 2007


I've been feeling kind of bleh all week. Guess it goes with the territory and all, but the complete lack of energy is annoying. There's so much I want to be doing and I just can't. Don has been doing all the dinners lately, bless him, as I am glued to the couch and can't move... baked potatoes seem to be prominently featured. The only way to not be queasy is to eat. For me, being constantly, simultaneously nauseous and hungry is a new experience, not one that I'm particularly enjoying. I'm also a bit worried about all the eating, because I really, really don't want to gain too much weight. Partly because I don't want an enormous 10-pound baby complicating the delivery. Partly also because I know myself, and I know that if I gain 60 pounds this year, it ain't coming off without a lot of effort. I'm not very good with effort, so I'd rather try to gain only the recommended 20-35 pounds.

Knowing how much worse it can or may get is not making me feel better... I keep having thoughts like "this may be just the tip of the iceberg...", "I'm not even 8 weeks along yet" (when The Books suggest that the worst part of "morning sickness" really hits) "I'm not even throwing up, what if that's next..."

I'm so exited to be pregnant, and really looking forward to the next year. But I'm kind of wanting to fast-forward through the next 6 weeks or so...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I don't have a good memory for faces and names. If you're a regular customer at the bank, I probably won't remember your name until I've got your account on my screen or your driver's license in my hand. If you're a new coworker, I'm grateful if you wear your name tag for a few days. But, I have a great memory for dogs. If I meet you and your dog on the street and we chat, the next time we run into each other, I will remember that your dog's name is Molly, she's 5 years old, from the shelter and very shy. I have a tally of the 'dog regulars' that Alice and I meet on our morning walks: the lady with the two Bichons, the guy with the brown hound-mix...

I feel a certain kind of solidarity with these other dog-walkers: like me, they are the kind of dog-lovers who take the time and effort to walk their dogs every day. I think that like me, they keep their dogs in the house, let them sleep on the sofa... talk to them, scratch behind their ears. To me, this is the only way to be a dog owner.

Every day on our walk, we pass a dog that is tied to his doghouse. He's always out there, whether it's freezing cold, raining, whatever. I've never seen a person with him, he's always alone. He always barks as we go by, and his bark sounds hoarse and tired, as though he barks all day long... which I know he does: I once got into a conversation with the across-the-street neighbor (another dog-person, of course) who confirmed that the dog was always outside and constantly barking. What good is it? What could possibly be the point of even having a dog that you never see, never interact with? It's not as though he's a guard dog; his barking doesn't elicit the slightest response from within the house, and why would it when he barks all day: at other dogs, squirrels, passing pedestrians? He's a friendly-looking yellow retriever mix, not at all intimidating. His doghouse is by the side of the house, pretty far from both the front door and the back door... not what you could call a security dog or something. It just pisses me off and makes me so sad, because... why? Why is this seemingly nice dog chained to his doghouse all day and night? He should belong to a family that would treat him as dogs should be treated. Dogs are social animals; they wither in isolation. They need to be part of a family, to interact, to play. Why would anybody go to the trouble and expense of procuring a dog just to chain it and abandon it? Why doesn't his owner come outside, leash him up, and take him on a stroll around the neighborhood, so that he can meet-and-sniff other dogs instead of just barking at them from a distance?

If you don't know what it means to have a dog, don't get one. If you don't understand that they shed, mess up your house, make noise, and require training, exercise, socialization, time, and understanding...don't get one. Or, get one and be prepared to make sacrifices you weren't expecting. Don't get a dog just to banish him from the house for being a dog.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Believing It, Now

If Stage One of pregnancy is not quite believing that it's real, then Stage Two is total belief, because it's knocked you flat on your ass. I don't understand "morning sickness". I love mornings. Mornings, I'm full of energy, or at least I have enough to hop out of bed and walk the dog and hop over to work. But yesterday and today I just sort of slowly felt worse and worse throughout the day. Yesterday I got a wicked sinus headache, complete with nausea, the works. Except, I couldn't just take some Advil, some Sudafed, and maybe some coffee to feel better. All those things are on the Bad list.

I'm starting to realize how dependent I am on those drugs, because without them I don't have a lot of coping strategies for these headaches. I took a really long, really hot shower... that worked until I got out again. I had my back and neck massaged, and the base of my skull. Which felt great, but didn't do anything long-term for the headache. I drank water, drank tea, drank more water. Finally, Don went to the store for some Tylenol, apparently the only pain-killer on the OK list... probably because it's such a pansy-assed drug. Actually it helped, but when it says 4-6 hours, that's what it means; headache came back like clockwork. Today: plenty of energy in the morning! No sign of a headache! Leash up the dog, take a long walk. But in the afternoon, I got all lightheaded and queasy and dizzyish. Anytime I'm not lying down, my head spins; it feels just like being on an airplane, for me. Stop the room, I want to get off! I'm scared of work tomorrow, I don't know how I'm going to cope if the afternoon is bad again. I haven't told them yet so there won't be any leniency if I have to fall asleep or something.

I called my parents to complain (because they're good for that!) and my dad panicked about the dizziness. But he was thinking of late-in-pregnancy dizziness, when it's a sign of pre-eclampsia or something, not this queasy-stomach, lightheaded kind.

On the bright side, though: the new washer came Friday and I loooove it. I never thought I could be so fond of something that is laundry-related. I've been doing laundry all day. It's so quiet. When the clothes come out, they're damp: not soaking, dripping wet. It's Energy Star rating is incredible. And it uses so little water! I can actually do dishes, or take a shower, while the washer is running! If there were room in front of it, I'd sit on the floor just to watch the clothes spin in the little window. Front-loaders are awesome. Although when I look at it, I don't think front-loader, I think sideways-assed-washer. (But I think it with love.)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Dogwood By Any Other Name...

A few days ago, I listed some signs of spring... since then it's as though Spring has erupted willy-nilly all over town. The weather is alternately warm and sunny or gently raining. Birds singing in the morning. Flowers? Try daffodils all around, tulip stems up, pansies, violets, redbuds. And they have this tree here, this beautiful tree that comes out in beautiful scented pink-and-white flowers as big as my palm. I didn't know what they were... it turns out that they are the famous Dogwood trees native to this region. Well, how was I to know? I've only lived in Texas and Vermont, both of which are sadly, sadly deprived of these 'Dogwoods'. I haven't been taking my camera with me lately, so this photo is from the Web instead. What an awful name for such a beautiful tree-- sounds like something 'dog-ugly'. I think they deserve a prettier name, something more evocative of what they are. I feel as though my senses are exta-refined right now, partly from the pregnancy and partly because I'm trying to see and feel everything about my first spring in this city. I walk around with my eyes wide open, trying to catch everything...

There's a scene in the movie Half Baked in which the main characters discuss all the different kinds of weed-smokers there are: the rebellious teenager, his middle-aged dad who still trying to be cool, the little old lady using it as pain relief... you get the picture. One of their portraits is of the guy who thinks that every experience in life is enhanced by the stuff.
"Have you ever looked at the back of a five-dollar bill, man? Yeah? Well, have
you ever looked at the back of a five-dollar bill, ON WEED?"
That's kind of how I'm feeling right now about pregnancy; that every experience I was already looking forward to for the next year is going to somehow be magically enhanced by being pregnant. Like, I can't wait to go swimming... while pregnant! I can't wait to go hiking... pregnant! I can't wait to go camping, to go to the farm (the CSA we joined requires a few hours' labor), wait in line at midnight for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, go on vacation... etc. I know it doesn't make sense and is based completely in fantasy, because most likely being pregnant is going to be rather detrimental to those plans and will make a lot of things uncomfortable. But I keep picturing myself floating through the summer, through my second trimester, doing all the fun things that we've planned.


Well, I'm finally seeing more signs of this pregnancy. I hate the term 'syptoms' in regards to pregnancy. Diseases have syptoms. Pregnancy is not a disease or a medical condition. It seems like everyone I talk to online who's around the same stage as me is already experiencing the whole range of yes-you're-preggers signs, and I was feeling a bit left out and possibly nuts because I need some kind of physical confirmation from my body that I'm not just imagining this whole thing. So, in chronological order, here's what I got:

1. The missing period. A good sign-- it's still missing!

2. The positive pee-on-a-stick: I took a photo for posterity, because I couldn't quite believe it and they do fade quickly.

3. The appetite. Oh my god, the appetite. Seriously, I thought this was something that would only kick in later in pregnancy. I am eating enough for a farmer or construction worker or something right now. Last night, I heated up some of this Italian-based casserole I made called cavatelli (think all the flavors of lasagna without the tedious layering) but it looked a little dry so I drenched the top in some Alfredo sauce. After dinner (throughout the evening), had half a grapefruit, some toast with almond butter, toast with regular butter, the other half of the grapefruit, and my usual yogurt-with-prenatal vitamins. I only stopped eating because I was sleepy and had to go to bed...

4. The fatigue. It has hit me pretty hard; all of my energy (the energy I should be getting from eating all the fucking time!) is being re-routed, I suppose, and there's none left for me. At work, I want a nap after lunch. By 3:00pm, I'm sagging against the counter thinking, "I can't do this, I want to go home, I need to sleep..." Keep in mind that I'm a bank teller and the physical aspect of my job is, like, standing at a counter; it's not exactly taxing work. Of course, I'm cutting back on the caffeine, which is probably also contributing to the afternoon crash, but still... that's *after* going to bed at 10:00pm the night before and sleeping till 7:30. I used to make plans tp go to bed early, maybe 10:30, in order to better-organize my day, get more rest, make better use of the morning, etc. Now, I struggle to at least stay awake until then.

Unfortunately for neurotic people like me, things like appetite and tiredness can seem like they're all in the head, as in "if you *expect* to be tired, you *will* be tired", ditto for hungry. Ditto for crazy-emotional. Which brings us to... the boobs!

5. My breasts are changing. What's strange to me is not that they are changing from their pre-pregnancy state but that they are not changing at the same rate or direction at all, so they are also changing from each other. Um, I kind of liked having a 'matched set' so I hope this is temporary and that lefty catches up here soon. I've read that breast-feeding babies often have a preference for one over the other and I thought, well that's silly. I guess I was thinking of breasts that were more or less the same. Looking in the mirror, I could totally understand that behavior now. I would personally prefer the right one at this point.

I haven't felt any nausea yet (fingers crossed) and the spotting seems to have been a sporadic, fluky thing, at least so far. I made a doctor's appointment with an OB team that's highly reccommended here by the crunchy-granola set, but it's not until April 10. What I would like to have is a midwife, one who will come to my house to catch the baby. That would be ideal... But, that is also expensive and the doc is covered by my insurance plan. So I'm hoping that with him I can have a hospital birth free from interventions, that he'll just let me do my own thing. Based on what I've read about this doctor, it looks good.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Scary Stuff

Last night and today, I've been spotting a little bit. It's not too bad and I'm trying to stay calm and not panic, but it's not easy... I'm basically waiting for it to get worse...

I want my mom.

OK. I know it's probably not a big deal, but for someone terrified of miscarrying, nothing is scarier than blood, right?

Hang in there, little hobbit, hang in there.


Update at 3:30pm...

Well I feel better, nothing else happening, so that's good. I'm thinking happy thoughts, visualizing (if 'daydreaming' is the same thing as 'visualizing') and looking forward to getting my books in the mail. I'm pretty sure they'll tell me that this is normal and nothing to worry about. It's a beautiful day outside, I get off work in 2 hours, and our new washer should be arriving at the house right this minute.


Update at 10:00am...

The books didn't arrive in the mail. The washer won't be delivered until Friday. But, I'm not seeing any more scary scary spots, so I really couldn't care less about anything else.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Blueberries, Tofu and Aliens

Last night, we played darts with some friends from the bookstore, like we do most Sunday nights. And I DIDN'T TELL ANYONE. I'm writing this from work, where I am currently, RIGHT THIS MINUTE, not sharing the news. I didn't tell the cashier at Whole Foods, who rung me up for my Mothering. I didn't stop the (visibly) pregnant mother I passed on the street to say, "Me too!"

I said this was going to be hard, right? It is. Although actually, I'm sort of enjoying having this little secret of my own, too. I am in the first steps of trying to fix up my diet, so that it sort of resembles what a preggy woman should eat in order to (a) grow a healthy baby and (b) not gain seventy pounds. My "old" breakfast routine involved getting a mocha with Alice. Then, four hours later, lunch! I generally don't do breakfast. But today, I made a breakfast smoothie!

Orange juice
Soft tofu
Wheat germ
Flax seed

The only thing that's really new to my diet is the tofu, which I'm slightly suspicious of but so far can't taste. The thing is, I've been jonesing for meat since about a week before finding out. Holding the positive test I had a bunch of light-bulb moments, most of which went, "Oh, so THAT'S why..."

like, so THAT'S why I've eaten five roast beef sandwiches in a week. THAT'S why I bought pounds of bacon, sausage, steak and hamburger... not my usual shopping habits! THAT'S whjy everything smells funny! And etc. Yesterday I found a package of raw pork chops highly appealing... they were calling out to be grilled. I'm no nutritionist, but I think craving meat could be a sign that I need more protein, and tofu is high in protein, so I'm incorporating it into breakfast. It doesn't have as much fat and cholesterol as meat or eggs do. Because as Don says, I really shouldn't eat roast-beef sandwiches every day for lunch indefinitely. I brought my lunch from home, too, as much for financial reasons as nutrition. We have to start spending a little less and saving more; bag lunches and home-cooked dinners are a painless way to start.

Don has had a switch flipped in him, I think. He has started talking to 'the baby'. Insisting that we come up with a temporary name so that we can stop calling it 'It'. Reassuring me how happy and exited he is to have a baby coming. Now, he's the one bouncing off the walls and grinning like an idiot. I'm the one raining on his parade, saying things like, "It can't hear you yet, hon, it has no ears. It looks like this. It still has a tail, for crying out loud." And speaking of which? Pictures of fetuses totally freak me out. I love babies. Adore them, actually. But pictures of the unborn disturb me. I just don't think that we were ever psychologically meant to see what a six-week embryo or even a six-month fetus looks like. In fact I think it's why our iconic image of 'Alien from Outer Space' looks so fetal: fetuses are alien to us.

I have promised Don that I will tell him on the very day that our little embryo grows some ears, so that he can start talkin' to the bump. And, we've agreed to call it the Little Hobbit instead of 'It', at least for the time being. And, I've promised to not say things about embryonic tails.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Signs of Spring today:

This beautiful, warm, sunny, breezy, day.
Crocuses, and the beginnings of daffodils.
Neighbors, doing yard work.
Neighbors, hanging laundry outside.
Grills for sale.

Things that have made me cry spontaneously:

A country song on the radio.
Burning part of dinner.
Five different completely imagined scenarios.
Don coming home from work half-an-hour later than I was expecting him.

As Don says, my brain is more pregnant than my body, right now. Physically, I feel great. Wonderful. Not just not bad, but actively good. I think this may be because I've been taking vitamins continuously for 3 weeks now, which is probably longer than I've ever taken vitamins. They're probably stopping up all kinds of dietary gaps or something. Or, my body is really enjoying this very very first stage of pregnancy, getting high on hormones or something. Or, because I'm so happy to be pregnant, I feel good. I don't really care, to be honest, I'm just enjoying myself.

Unfortunately I seem to be spending money like a mad woman, money that I'm trying to save! Because, hello! Baby coming, need every last dime, right? So far I've bought:


Dr. Sears' Guide to Pregnancy* (used)
Dr. Sears' Birth Book* (used)
A book on pre- and post-natal nutrition (used)
A prenatal yoga DVD

From Old Navy:

Yoga pants (you know, to go with the DVD!)
a really cute, *longer* sweater

From Mountain Rose Herbals:

2 pounds of Red Raspberry Leaf tea
1 pound of Nettle leaf
1/2 pound of Red Clover

From the grocery store: 100 dollars' worth of healthy, nourishing food.

From Whole Foods: Natural peanut butter, almond butter, flax seed, wheat germ, whole-wheat pitas, frozen berries, and the new Mothering magazine--another 30 dollars' worth of stuff.

From Lowe's:

A grill, so that Don won't feel left out.
Bag of hickory chips for the grill.

Please, somebody stop me! I can't help myself! Usually I'm not much of a shopper, but I have a reason and a motive like never before. I have an excuse to buy the best, healthiest, (most expensive!) foods that I usually avoid. Books and magazines that I've held off on in the past so as not to be crazy. Now, it's like the floodgates have opened and they have a debit card. Stand back people: she's pregnant, hormonal and ready to shop! Actually, I think I'm done for awhile now. I've got what I need, or I will once it all arrives in the mail. I just went a little nuts with the ordering is all.

*Don't worry, Amanda, I've read through the books before, and they're not scary like What to Expect-- they don't list EVERY SINGLE THING THAT CAN GO WRONG to the point where having a normal pregnancy seems almost impossible. The birth book is pretty empowering, I think.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Guess What?!?!?!?

Remember back in December, when I discussed the possibility of Don and me starting a family? Yeah, we totally did it!


(Me! In case it wasn't clear!)

I have waited 4 WHOLE days, between taking THE TEST and posting about it here. I think that shows admirable reserve--4 days! It was so hard. But, I've learned not once but twice now, that you never know who's reading your blog. (I know, I shouldn't have to learn the same lesson twice, but I'm a slow learner sometimes.) I wanted to make sure all of the principal parties had been informed before putting this information "out there"-- it would not be right for my mom to learn of something like this from anybody but me, for example!!

So, yeah. I'm utterly shocked and amazed. I was so convinced that I had fertility "issues", that it would be very difficult and time-consuming for us to make a baby... I was wrong! Chalk one up for Don on this one. He always tried to tell me that I was normal, and that even for a completely healthy, fertile couple conception it takes an average of 6 months or something, and we weren't really even trying very hard until last month anyways. So, apparently I am fertile. Fecund, even. I have been so sure, for so long that I would have problems getting pregnant that I can't wrap my mind around the fact that it just happened, just as I wanted it to.

I was so nervous, taking that test. I read the directions three times, as though they were that hard to figure out. The directions insist that you wait for three minutes after using it, before checking the results. I thought, "OK. Take the test, set it on the edge of the sink. Go into the kitchen and set the chicken-timer for 3 minutes. Drink some orange juice, and then go look." Yeah, right! The second I took the test the colors just whooshed across it. It was as though it couldn't tell me fast enough that it was positive; more like 3 seconds than 3 minutes. I could have tested a few days earlier, maybe even a week, had I not been in such great denial about the possibility.

Don and I are, of course, reacting differently. My happiness is mostly the dance-through-the-house-in-my-underwear type happiness, saying things like, "Do I look pregnant yet? Do I?" It's a very exuberant, joyous happiness. Don is more cautiously happy. He's a planner, a thinker, a problem-solver-- he's, "This is wonderful. But we need to think about X, Y, Z. What will we do about this, about that, and the other? What is going to change for the coming year, and what will go on as planned?" He's also quite a bit of, "I TOLD YOU SO, HAHAHAHAHA!"

I will admit it, I'm totally scared of miscarrying. I know there's basically nothing I can do except wait through these super-early weeks and take care of myself, but my fear-of-infertility is basically being replaced with fear-of-losing-the-embryo. I guess when it comes to "telling people", we have to divide the world into two categories: those people that we would tell about a miscarriage, and those we would rather not. For example, my parents, my siblings, my closest friends, my blog: I tell all of them right now, because if something happened I wouldn't keep that a secret either. My co-workers, on the other hand, I'm holding out on, as well as casual acquaintences and the like. It's HARD, though! I feel like making a sandwhich board that says, "I'm Pregnant!" on the front, and "November" on the back. Not telling everybody is going to be a real challenge for the next few months.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Community Supported Agriculture

This year, Don and I finally took the plunge and joined a CSA. When I say "Don and I", I of course mean "I" with some pestering and one-sided dialogue about ecology, local economics, supporting small business, the environment, and our health until Don finally said, OK Honey. It's a big step for us. It's about making decisions that support what we believe in, instead of choosing the easiest, cheapest path available.

It's one thing for us to mouth support for, say, environmentally sound practices. Or for small family businesses. For buying local and organic. For making our diets a little more vegetable based and a little less meaty. It's another to actually make a choice that's more than just a gesture; to commit a big (big!) chunk of our food budget to something like this. Don is all for supporting small farmers, and he's in favor of organically grown foods. He even agrees that it's worth making a financial commitment to those ideals. What worries him is that I'll be making him eat more vegetables... strange things that we don't eat yet, like "eggplant", "kale", or "Swiss chard".

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a farming system in which small-scale farmers sell shares of their crops ahead of time to local consumers. So Don and I send a check now that is for the entire growing season of 2007. Starting in May we will get a weekly supply of all kinds of vegetables, fruits, herbs, even flowers, whatever is being harvested that week, until the season ends in late October. There are multiple benefits for farmers, consumers, and the community in general. The farmer gets guaranteed buyers for their crops and they get that money before the growing season when it's most needed, which provides a buffer against a bad season or a failed crop. CSA's tend to be small family or co-op farms that grow a very wide variety of stuff. Ours, for example, is offering dozens of different items, from strawberries in the Spring to garlic in the Fall. They also tend to be organic, or at least practice ecologically sound growing methods. Those qualities make the kind of farms that do CSA much, much better for the environment than the enormous, mono-cropping corporate farms that supply grocery stores nationwide. The two tenets of ecological eating are, 'buy organic' and 'buy local'... CSA's fulfill both, or at least this one does as it's certified organic.

Don's one requirement before signing up was that we actually drive by and see the farm, to make sure that it didn't just exist in Internet-land. It's about 20 minutes away, in the same county as our town. It's nice to think that such a large percentage of the food we'll be eating this year is coming from right here. This is something I've wanted to do for a long time, since living in Vermont. I'm exited, jazzed that we're finally going for it. No more guilt-inducing Chilean tomatoes! No more spinach, bagged and shipped from California! I can't wait for spring.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Essay: My First Dog

I have two dogs. One is Alice, the dog I write about all the time. She's my baby, the doggie that lives with Don and me, walks with me every morning, sits between us on the couch every evening, and regularly gets into the kitchen trash and thoughtfully spreads it around the house. She's our rescue dog, our shelter-puppy, our no-breed-at-all is-she-even-all-dog problem child. Seriously, when Don and I talk about having a baby, Alice comes into the conversation, as in How Will This Affect the Dog? or Will This Be Detrimental To Our Relationship With Alice?

But long before Alice came into my life, I had Max. Max is my family's dog, and when I was nine he was my dream-come-true. Seriously, is there anything more iconic than a Dad walking into the house with a cardboard box full of squirming puppy for his children? I will never forget that first evening, my sister and I racing all over the backyard with this tiny, fluffy baby dog. Max was and is a perfect family dog: he loves people, any and all people. Always a runner, if he got free we could shout to a random stranger-- "Catch that dog!"-- he'd run to them because Hey! New People! A house-full of family is his dream come true, and nothing upsets him more than an empty house. Max is a papered Bichon Frise, a perfect example of the breed and the cutest one I've ever seen. Bichons are frequently mistaken for puppies, even late in life. Many times after Max perfected his Houdini escape act, we'd get calls from neighbors... "We found your puppy in our yard, poor little baby!" Even after he was 5 years old, or 9, or 12. Bichons also don't shed, they don't smell like "dog", and are the best possible breed for dog-allergic folk or asthmatics like my dad. At 12-14 pounds for most of his life, Max is the perfect lap-dog size, and loves nothing more than curling up in someone's lap, against their leg on the couch, or at the foot of the bed.

Max is pure alpha-dog... nothing scares him or intimidates him. I've never seen him look sorry, sheepish or hang-dog--which is Alice's usual expression. He has never tucked his tail between his legs, or turned and ran from anything. The only member of the household he ever listened to occasionally was my mother. In a larger dog this may have been obnoxious, but in an adorable little Bichon it was nothing but charming; so self-confident! He is quite self-serving for a dog, and very self-sufficient. He has always known how to get what he wants-- a biscuit, a scratch behind the ears, up on the couch. When my parents' house burned down, he was the first out of the house, and that was in 2001 when he was already a "senior" doggie. He was found, as usual, in the arms of a neighbor.

Max is turning 17 years old this month. The puppy that we got when I was nine, is still chugging along now that I'm twenty-six. He weighs only 10 pounds now, and he feels fragile when I pick him up. His vision and hearing are both mostly gone, but not his sense of smell or love of a good cuddle. Even so, every time I go home and see him, I fear that it may be the last. It's hard to imagine loosing something that's been part of my life for so long, but I have to face reality; he's an elder doggie now. Having a dog like Max, though, has guaranteed that I will always have a canine member in my family. It made me a "dog-person" for life.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Don and I are yuppies. I wish it weren't so, but all the signs are there. We go to Starbucks before our weekly trip to the grocery store. Then we grumble, because the carts don't have cupholders. What kind of grocery carts don't have a cupholder in this day and age? we mutter.

We drove an hour and half to get to the D.C. area, just to go to IKEA. Not a museum, not the White House, nor any of the historically, culturally or politically important sights of the nation's capital. No, we just went to the IKEA, spent our little hearts out, ate dinner at the Olive Garden (because they don't have one here!) and drove home again, flat pointy boxes full of bookcases jammed into the back of my seat. Because we love that store, and because this small, adorable, boxy little house was simply calling out for nifty furniture and accessories from those people that understand small spaces.

2 bookcases
1 coffeetable
2 little lights that go on top of the bookcases
1 desk lamp

You'd think my car would hold more than that, wouldn't you? I mean if you knew what my car was, which you may or may not. But either way, it does not. Photos of the wondrous IKEA goods to follow, when I feel like it.

Friday was my last day at the bookstore, and damn, did that feel good. This whole week, I just... worked at the bank! That's it! Then I came home and did home-stuff! My new work schedule is perfect. 9:30 till 4:30/5:00. Does it get any better than that? Not too early, not too late. The second job filled its purpose, and I'm glad and grateful that I had it, but I'm so much gladder to be free of it. No more 16-hour Fridays after working till midnight on Thursday. No more spending half the weekend just recovering from that. It really hit me today on the drive home, because of the radio. Every day at the same time (around 4:45 I think), NPR has a little geography quiz, the Geo-Quiz, sandwiched between other news bits. I always caught it on the way to the bookstore, when I was mentally gearing up for another 7-hour shift. Today, I heard it on the way home.

And the most valuable aspect of the bookstore, I get to keep: the folks that we go out with regularly now. Don and I have people to hang out with, to play darts or shoot pool. It's a nice feeling. I don't know if any of them will become close friends, or if they will remain casual acquaintances. Either way is OK.