Monday, June 25, 2012

A Tail of Two Puppies

Yes, the spelling is intentional!  (It’s a pun, okay?)

I have to leave my normal theme of this blog today to talk about two puppy dogs.

First there was Spike.  My mom and stepdad found him in their backyard in December 2003, trying to burrow under some pine straw to keep warm.  His mommy had relocated the rest of his litter, but never came back for him.  They brought him inside and made him a little bed, then mom called me.

Our first look at little Spike!
Donnie and I drove to their house to see the pup, and it was love at first sight!  I picked up this little shivery ball of black fur and when he snuggled up against my neck, I was done for!  We brought him home that night and for 8 years, he was the light of our lives. 

He was a stocky little thing, all black except for a couple of brown patches that made him look like a miniature Rottweiler.  Boy, did we have THAT one wrong!  The more he grew, the shaggier he got and most of his black fur gave way to a sandy beige.  Those short little legs got long and lean, and we joked that somebody had replaced the puppy we started out with.

Spike with his octopus - a favorite toy.
We named him Spike.  His favorite food was pizza; his favorite activity was riding in my car and hanging out the window, or in the back of Donnie’s pickup; he was VERY protective of us and our neighbors.  Once a UPS truck drove up the driveway of the lady who lived across from us; Spike was playing outside and ran over to stand between the driver and our neighbor!  He loved little kids, and he somehow knew that he couldn’t play as rough with them as he could with big folks.

All grown up and still adorable!
Was he spoiled?  Absolutely ROTTEN!  Did he ever realize that he was a dog and not the third human in our house?  Nope! 

We had no idea we would lose him so suddenly in August 2011.  It was hot outside, high humidity, like any summer day in Mississippi.  But not the hottest day we’d had by any means, and Spike had been staying outside during the day while we were at work, with no problems.  I left him that morning with a full bowl of water and ice cubes, and Donnie had even come home for something at lunch and Spike was still fine. 

But sometime in the next couple of hours, Spike suffered what our vet believed to be a heart attack or a stroke.  It was fast, whatever it was.  We went through the next few days in a stupor, still not 
believing he was really gone. 

After a few weeks, we started hearing the question we dreaded most: “When are y’all getting another dog?”  We would shrug and smile, but inside we felt like answering, “ANOTHER dog?  There IS no other dog!”  Or somebody would say, “I have the perfect dog for y’all!”  No, thank you, but we HAD the perfect dog already.

Last Thursday, Puppy # 2 came into the picture.  She was one of five little sister black lab-mix pups brought in to our local Humane Society as strays.  A friend had gotten her at an adoption drive at PetSmart earlier this month, but quickly realized that 7-week-old puppies require a LOT of attention and patience.  Not everybody is ready for all that at once.  Rather than see her go back to CLHS, we agreed to take her for a while.  We weren’t even really sure if WE were ready for another pup yet, or if we could give her the time and attention that she needed.  But we decided to try; at the very worst, we promised each other that we would find her another good permanent home later on.


When I turned onto our little cul-de-sac that afternoon after work, I saw this plump pup waddling around in our front yard, falling over her own too-big feet, and any thoughts of keeping her “for a while” just melted away!  I got out of the car and she immediately ran to me; when I picked her up, she gave me the same nuzzles that Spike had done that first night, and I was totally powerless.  I wanted to just hold her forever, or build her a doggie mansion, or buy her a car…anything she wanted!

I think they're born knowing this look!

She’s already started channeling some of Spike’s habits, like taking her treats to the bedroom doorway instead of eating by her food bowl, wanting to sit on the couch with us at night, investigating everything we do, and mastering that “lie on the floor and look up at them” move that could get her out of anything!

Enjoying a treat on the cool tile floor.
We’ve named her Shadow because of her solid black coat, and because she follows us as relentlessly as our own shadows.  She loves to play “tickle” and lie on her back while she kicks her legs in all directions.  It won’t be long before she’s able to jump onto the bed with us.  She’ll be house-trained, eventually.   I’m sure she’ll love pizza once she’s bigger.  And because she’s a girl, I can buy her girl-dog stuff, like hot pink collars and bandanas, or sassy-girl dog treats for her birthday!

"Oh yes, I have these humans under my power now!"

 Is she gonna be spoiled?  Absolutely ROTTEN!  Is she ever going to realize that she’s a dog?  I doubt it!

Until next time....

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wait, I have a bookcase????

As promised, here are some before, during, and after shots of the corner of my computer room, my project for the weekend.

I was a little afraid that this wouldn’t get underway like I’d planned, because, for those of you just tuning in, we added a furbaby to our family Thursday night, so the past couple of days have been taken over by this adorable adoptee that we named Shadow.  I’ve got a WHOLE other blog post about her in a day or so!

Anyway, back to the cleaning.  First, the before photo (Yikes!):

The clean-up in progress...
This picture is a perfect example of why I need to clean up and clean out my whole house!  

I think it's pretty ironic that these two books, bought at different times and never used, are about organization!  *Sigh...

To work through everything, I sat in the floor and literally took one book, one piece of paper, one souvenir, one folder at a time and decided where it was going to go.   

Each item could go in one of 5 banker boxes.  Here are the choices:
One box on the right left to sort through...
-           Give To Church – these are some books I’m going to take to church when I finish this room and let anybody who wants them take them or share them or whatever.  There are books on organizing (hah!), cookbooks, some Max Lucado and Joyce Meyers, devotionals, and books on improving your relationship with God.  I just feel like they might help somebody besides me; somebody who’ll actually read more than a couple of pages before starting something new!
-           To Keep & Place – these are things that I need to keep but that might be better off in another room or stored differently in the computer room.  Some of this is just things that need to go back where they were taken from (like the room spray that migrated out of the cleaning closet or the unopened package of bright red plastic plates!).
-           Electronics & Computer Stuff – I have cables and wires and gadgets that belong to stuff I got rid of years ago.  I kept a couple of CAT-5 and USB cables, and a nice power strip, but the rest of it got tossed.  Why do I still need the car charger to a phone I had 10 years ago!  I’ll also use this for software packages that I need to keep track of.
-           To Shred – Lots of the old papers I’m finding can be tossed (water bills, privacy notices from 5 years ago, receipts I have no need to keep any longer), but some of them need to be shredded.  Once the whole room is finished, I’ll have a huge shredding session and if anybody needs this stuff for confetti or packing, I’m your gal!
-           To Throw Out / the Black Bag – these are my things to dump.  Our trash collectors are gonna hate me for the next few weeks, ‘cause I’ll probably have one or two of the Black Bags a week to sit on the curb!  The box is for stuff that’s kind of odd-shaped or sized; the Black Bag is for papers and smaller stuff.

I got a little supervision from Shadow as I was going through all this stuff, but I made it!  I hadn’t seen that wall or the top of my little bookcase in who knows how long!  Yeah, there’s still stuff there, but I have the boxes set up now and they’ll help me finish the rest of the room.  At the very end, I’ll take the books to church, put all the “keep” stuff in appropriate places, have a useful collection of software and spare cables, shred all the personal stuff, and tossed anything in the Throw Out box or Black Bags.

The whole area took me about two hours total, but I have a spot now in this room that isn’t swallowed up by The Pile.  I’m happy, and I’m actually looking forward to the next section that I clean!

Until next time…

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why Be Organized?

Not my own "Pile", but very similar!

When I write these posts at home, in my computer room, my back is to “The Pile”, so I don’t have to look at it.

“The Pile” takes up about half of my computer room, and appears to have taken on a life of its own.  I’m positive that some of the components of “The Pile” have discovered how to reproduce, and they do so whenever the lights go out. 

I mean, how else could I explain the growing mass of stuff that I conveniently ignore while I’m typing this?  It has to have become a living thing; I’m sure I can  hear it breathing behind me!

Surely I didn’t create this monster and continue to feed it almost daily…not me!

Or…did I?

I am a severe procrastinator.  Look at the gaps I’ve already made in writing on this blog!  So I let “The Pile” start months ago with just a little notebook tossed on the floor that I swore I’d pick up later.  Then it was the keyboard that I quit using when I got a new one.  At this very moment, there are 9 banker’s boxes overflowing with the things that followed the notebook and the keyboard.  There used to be a metal file cabinet in this room, somewhere, I promise!

It’s not just my computer room.  When we moved into this house in 2000, our master bedroom had a large, roomy walk-in closet.  Somewhere along the way, somebody stole that one and replaced it with a much smaller “reach-in” closet! 

Actually, it’s an offspring of “The Pile”, “Pile Jr.”, I guess.  That one is made up of shoes, purses, clothes that fell off their hangers who knows how long ago.  I’m convinced that I have a whole wardrobe on the closet floor that I don’t even know about!

The sad thing is that it isn’t even the family of piles around the house that bothers me so much.  It’s the fact that I’ve gotten used to them; so used to them that I don’t even notice them anymore.  I have to actually MAKE myself see them to even recognize that they still exist.

Why am I suddenly so determined to pare down all this “stuff”? 

1.  I can’t find things that I know I have. 

2.  I forget about something I do have, so I buy another one, only to realize later that I now have 5 whatevers.

3.  It’s not just small stuff, it’s important papers that I can’t lay my hands on when they’re most needed.

4.  I’m showing a real lack of stewardship for the things I own.  They don’t get an appropriate home in my home; they get tossed around like trash; they get crushed under other things that aren’t in their appropriate place.

Along with being a procrastinator, I tend to look at the big picture so much that I get frustrated and discouraged even before I begin a project.  I look at my computer room or my closet, and I see hours and hours of work ahead of me.  It’s so huge and daunting that I just never start.

But this time I am trying something different.  The rest of the house will have to wait while I tackle the computer room.  I’ve broken the whole room into 6 areas.  I believe that each area can be cleaned out and reorganized in small spans of time over one weekend apiece.

My first area will be the side wall against the door.  That’s my project for this coming weekend.  I’ll post my progress then, along with some before and after photos.

It’s time to get this show on the road and get rid of “The Pile” and family for good!  And now I've made my intentions public, so I HAVE to do it, right?

Until next time …

Monday, June 11, 2012

I really didn't want to go ...

…on the motorcycle ride last Friday afternoon.  I would much rather have just come home and lazed around and enjoying the start of another weekend.

But I’d promised.

Donnie had asked me to go with him Thursday after work, and I didn’t go.  In my defense, I’d been to the eye doctor that morning and she’d dilated my pupils, and I ended up with a headache and even after several hours, a nagging sensitivity to bright lights.

So I told him I’d go Friday instead. 

And when Friday afternoon rolled around, I found myself not looking forward to the ride and listing all the negatives I could think of: it was hot outside, I was tired, my hair looks terrible after being smooshed under a helmet, and so on.

But I’d promised.

So we went.

And I had a wonderful time!  It cooled down after we got on the road, and I started looking at two things that were just always in sight while we were riding.  Wild Black-Eyed Susan flowers – they were EVERYWHERE!  They looked so bright and cheerful, I just couldn’t be in a bad mood looking at their ultra-yellow petals.  But I learned something about them from the internet – their “black eyes” are not really black at all, but dark brown and dark purple!  But I guess “Purple-Eyed Susan” just didn’t have as nice a ring to it!

The other plant that I saw tons of is a tree that I’ve known since I was a child, but I never knew its name.  My Gramma Wofford had one in her yard, and I’ve always loved them.  Their leaves look like droopy ferns, and they have a pink puff-ball of a flower – very fuzzy and soft-looking.  It’s called a Mimosa, like the cocktail drink.  But I looked these up on the internet too, and I found out that their fluffy, friendly appearance is deceiving – they are considered invasive plants that reproduce so rapidly that they endanger the native plant life around them.  They also have roots that spread out far from the main trunk and produce “shooters” that can speed up the reproduction process.

On our way home, 2 hours later, we rode through the little town of Carrollton, Alabama.  If you’re from around here, you’ve already associated that name with a ghost story!  If you’re not a local, here’s the story:

Around 1876-1878, the Pickens County Courthouse in Carrollton was burned to the ground.  A former slave, Henry Wells, was accused of the crime and arrested.  There was no jail, but the Courthouse was being rebuilt so Wells was “jailed” in the upper room of the new Courthouse.  A lynch mob gathered on the Courthouse lawn that night, and when Wells looked out the window and saw the group of men, lightning struck nearby and an image of his frightened face was burned into the glass.  Supposedly the image isn’t visible from the inside, just from certain angles on the ground, where the lynch mob had been.  

Now I’ll be honest, there IS some kind of image there that does resemble a face with wide eyes and an open mouth.  Whether it’s the face of Henry Wells or not…I can’t say.  But seeing that image does tend to make the little hairs on your neck stand up!

When we got home from our ride, I was energized and really glad that I’d gone with Donnie.  I got to see some beautiful flowers and trees, revisit a little of the past, and I even learned some things when I got home.

Next time he asks, instead of coming up with a dozen reasons NOT to go on a ride, I’ll just grab my helmet and hop on!

"For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."
Isaiah 55:12 (NIV)